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LOOKING BACK: December 2019

Avatar rules, Napster drools, and Taylor Swift and The Simpsons hit a big milestone

How’s that saying go? If you don’t remember history’s underpants, they’ll get moldy? Something like that? Why are there so many questions in this first paragraph? Should I stop? Yes, yes I should.

Here’s a new thing for me to annoy you with: Looking Back. Once a month I’ll… look back at the events of the past thirty years and see how they relate to today’s world. Sounds fun, right?

…That was rhetorical.


DECEMBER 10: President Barack Obama accepts the Nobel Peace Prize

“‘Sup, bitch?”


The prize was awarded to President Obama for “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between people.” Think about that for a moment. Now think about the Great Orange Whale squatting in the White House right now. The about-face is just about enough to snap your head clean off your damn neck.

DECEMBER 18: Avatar premiers in the US

This was from the movie, right? I actually never watched it, so…

Aye, do ye remember the dark night that the Great Blue Plight was unleashed on our tender population?

I never saw Avatar(aren’t I so fucking cool?) A WHOLE HELL of a lot of other people did. I never saw the draw, and I think there’s a chance a whole bunch of people aren’t going to see it anymore, either.

If Cameron had pooped out an Avatar sequel even three years after the first, I think it would have done reasonably well. The awe of seeing the world of Pandora in 3-D would have waned somewhat, but it would sell tickets. But today? Forget it.


DECEMBER 7: The RIAA sues Napster

Remember when the download time for a song was, you know, longer than the song? *shudder*

We all know how peaceful the Recording Industry Association of America is, so it came as quite a surprise when they decided to sue Napster back out of existence. Eight years(!) later, the RIAA won and Napster went bankrupt…

Then they came roaring back after being bought by Rhapsody and now have over 2.5 million subscribers worldwide. Huh, that turned out all right…

DECEMBER 31: Boris Yeltsin resigns as president of Russia

Whenever he smiled, it always looked like he farted and was just so damn proud of it.

Boris Yeltsin resigned at the end of 1999 after a series of missteps intertwined with a number of unfortunate events. He left then Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in charge in his stead. Yeah, that Vladimir Putin. Hindsight, and all that…


DECEMBER 17: The Simpsons premiers on Fox

It’s hard to imagine an entire town of people surviving jaundice (or Homer Simpson) for three decades, but whatever.

This entry makes me feel violently old. The Simpsons is more than a quarter-century old. If Bart aged like a normal human boy, instead of being some sort of twisted, ageless golem, he’d be MIDDLE AGED, like I ALMOST AM. Shit shit shit shit shit…

Um, anyways… It was a home run for Fox, finally giving them real competition to pit against the animation Goliath that was Disney. I bet the House of Mouse wishes they could get a slice of that pie!

Oh, right

DECEMBER 13: Taylor Swift is born

“Wait, I’m how old this month?”


Yes, T-Swizzle is hitting the big 3-0 this month, and is somehow the same age as The Simpsons. I doubt these facts will bother her too much, seeing how she ages at about the same rate as Baby Yoda.

“Need to calm down, you do.”

Being worth a reported $400 million probably helps too, though. That’s over half the market value of Anheuser-Busch Inbev. Then again, the reported value of The Simpsons is over $13 billion. Eh, somehow I think she’ll shake it off.

BLOGGISH: Thanksgiving

That time of year is coming around again. The day — sometimes days — where we stress the hell out about where we’re eating, who we’re eating with, what we’re doing for entertainment, what stores we’re going to after the eating and entertainment… Sounds like a headache.

What is Thanksgiving for again?

The history books would have you believe it’s to commemorate the pilgrims chillaxing with their new friends, the indians. That would be total bullshit. The basic gist is that a tribe of Native Americans, that had already encountered Europeans(and spoke some english!) were simply looking for somebody to ally with against their own enemies. The pilgrims were just opportunistic assholes.

So, in essence, you have people coming together to do something out of necessity, not because they want to. It was probably very stressful for all involved. It also ended in disaster for at least half those people.

That sounds so familiar. Hmm…

So anyway, Thanksgiving! Spend time with family! So much fun!

So, much, FUN!

It’s um… It’s not always so much fun, is it?

The whole idea of Thanksgiving has changed over the decades. It’s a day we give thanks for all we have. Hopefully it celebrates a successful fall harvest. We remind ourselves of those who help us and love us and remind them that we care about them and that they are appreciated.

Where we’ve gone wrong is that people now think there’s a fucking obligation to put up with their family, their whole family, even if half of them are a raging bag of dicks.

It’s become commonplace to read stories — survival stories, really — of the terrors of Thanksgiving with the in-laws, or even one’s own family. Some of them end with the acknowledgement that, all horrors aside, it’s well worth it to spend one more Thanksgiving with Grandma. But more and more end with a question: Why do I keep doing this to myself?

That’s a damn good question.

Humans are creatures of habit. Once they are told that this is what is done, they’ll do it forever. It doesn’t matter if it kills them. We’ve always done it this way, after all.

So if the entire clan of four-dozen family members have gone to Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving for the past three generations, you damn-well better do it, too. People develop a sense of duty. You suffer for the better of the clan. The question is though, does it actually matter to the clan, beyond an act of obligation?

It shouldn’t, really. If you get along well with your entire family, that’s fantastic. If you get along well with your spouse’s entire family, then you are either Jesus Christ or fictional. Chances are that there are at least a couple of folks on either side of the family tree that you dread encountering.

The question becomes, if you are more stressed out about the people who irk you than you are excited about seeing the people you love, do you really want to do this? The answer eventually should be no, you don’t. That’s okay, and you should listen to yourself.

The time of “you’ll come to dinner and you’ll like it” needs to come to an end. If those people imploring you to come really do love you, they’ll understand if you only want to stop by for an hour. Hell, don’t even stay for dinner. Just visit Grandma and Grandpa, talk to your weird-but-fun uncle, then get out before your asshole cousin Jeb can ruin your day.

You still want a dinner? Cook it your damn self. Hell, have a bowl of cereal if you want. Nowhere in Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation does it say thou shalt devour turkey, or cranberry sauce, or whatever the hell else is supposed to be on the table. Make it a day that reflects what and who you love, what you are thankful for. Remember, that’s what the day is supposed to be about.

“Seriously, tho…”

Consider that a reminder that you should just be thankful for what and who you have, because seriously, fuck Black Friday, you guys.

I don’t have a problem with going shopping on Black Friday, per se. Most of us get excited for Christmas about ten minutes after Halloween, after all. What I have a problem with is how Black Friday is creeping into Thanksgiving.

First and foremost, the myth of Black Friday having the largest sales of the year needs to die. It’s just not true. Sale prices drop the same amount, or even lower, at other times of the year. Sometimes sales items are made extra cheap to allow for the lower price, meaning a higher chance of them failing early(flat-screen TVs, anyone?)

Salesman: “The cardboard makes it lighter! Think of the savings on gas!”

Still, you can tell people the truth and they’ll just ignore you. Creatures of habit, remember? That’s why the accursed day is now part of the Thanksgiving tradition, and now it’s crawling deep into Thanksgiving itself.

Most major retailers are opening their doors for Black Friday in the early afternoon on Thanksgiving day. Hell, Dollar General opens at SEVEN IN THE MORNING, because what do you mean the robots that we employ have lives? Hilarious!

Look, if you took my earlier advice and have decided to have your own special Thanksgiving, then knock yourself out going shopping. Just make sure you do it after doing the whole holiday shtick. Also remember to be extra kind to the employees that drew the short straw and got dropped into the battle arena.

“I was an adventurer like you until I took a Karen to the knee.”

Gods bless those brave men and women, for they face evils the likes of us could never comprehend.

Happy Thanksgiving.


DEEP THOUGHTS: Halloween V Christmas

Satan versus Baby Jesus, Dracula versus Santa, who wins?

See what I did there? With the V? For versus? God, that looks so douchey. Anyway…

The two greatest holidays of the year in one arena! Which one will reign supreme? In one corner, you have an ancient Pagan holiday usurped by the Christians to garner converts. In the other corner, you have an ancient Pagan holiday usurped by the Christians to… WTF. Seriously?

Halloween started as Samhain in Ireland. It was meant to be a celebration of the end of the Fall harvest and serve as light-hearted merriment ahead of the encroaching cold of winter. The Christians were like “Nah, that’s All Hallows Eve now, bitches.”

Likewise, Christmas started as Yule in Germany. You know, the whole Yule log thing, cutting down evergreens and stuffing them in your house cuz everything was dying, etc. The Christians (SURPRISE!) were all like “Nah, Jesus got popped and this is birthday and FUCK YOU, weird Pagan people.”

“Look, we’re only killing you to save your souls!”

Christians can be… forceful. Now obviously, that’s painting with a very broad brush, but it hits close enough to the truth for a zoo-based entertainment website. At any rate…

Eventually, the two holidays found their way to the new world and grew and developed in the United States. The early results were um, mixed.

Oh, shit… What about Christmas, though?
Oh, DAMN. It got better though, right?

Okay well, it was a bit of a learning curve. Then again, living through two world wars and the Great Depression probably didn’t help. So what have we learned so far?

  • The Christians like to steal holidays.
  • Both Halloween and Christmas started off looking creepy as hell.
  • Christmas took longer than it should have to stop looking creepy as hell.

Right. So what would happen if we pitted the two holidays against each other? Where do we even start? Well, let’s look at the major players, shall we?

We’ll start with Halloween. Pretty straightforward, right? If you ask Christians, the lord of Halloween is Satan himself.

Artist Depiction

That’s of course on top of Dracula, the Wolf Man, Frankenstein’s monster… That sounds pretty one-sided, actually. I mean, Christmas has baby Jesus, an exuberant fat man that breaks into houses, several little people… Although, that one Santa…


Yeah… no. He’s probably just working for Satan. I’ll have to give this one to Halloween. I mean, Satan. Even beyond him, a whole legion of legendary horror monsters and the living dead are going to wipe the floor with a bunch of elves and a man one cookie away from a coronary.

Now okay, baby Jesus has the force of God behind him and all but come on. He’s just a baby. And if ancient portrayals of baby Jesus are anything to go by, he’s also a wee bit on the special side, if you know what I mean.

“Take him… Please, just… Jesus…”

Wow, okay. Halloween wins on that front. Let’s look at something else, though: MONEY.

Now I’ll grant you that Christmas has a lot going for it on this front. You have present-buying, Black Friday, decorations, music, egg nog, professional actors to send to the in-law’s in your stead, etc. that said, Halloween has been surging like a motherfucker these last few years.

People are buying more and more elaborate costumes costing into the hundreds of dollars. Haunted house attractions are booming. Everyone’s throwing parties with expensive props and decorations. That surely adds up, right?

It does, but not like the Christmas season. People spent six hundred billion dollars on the “winter holidays” between 2012 and 2013. That’s compared to a teeny-weenie seven billion dollars spent on Halloween in that same time frame. In fact, even Mother’s Day saw more than double the spending. Then again, I mean


Yeah so maybe she should win? Anyway, Christmas takes that fucking cake by at least like, a few dollars. I don’t know, I’m bad with money.

So in conclusion, in the battle between Halloween and Christmas, clearly big business is the winner.


“My wallet thanks you all!”

FlashFic: The Gift

A man fighting for survival finds himself face to face with an other-worldly creature.

So cold.

He didn’t know how long he’d been walking. He started at first light. The last light was rapidly giving way to night, now. The skeletal trees stretched their bare limbs to the skies as if reaching for the last bit of warmth.

The snow was several inches deep, even in the wood. His legs burned with every step. His feet felt nothing. They grew numb hours ago. He paid it no heed. What good are warm feet if the rest of him is dead?

It was no good. He dropped to his knees. His hands sunk deep into the wet snow. It burned his fingers. The sensation served to help clear his dampened mind. Good.

Light began to creep back across the blanket of snow. He suddenly felt warmer than before. No… That’s not right. He sat back on his ankles and stuck his hands into his armpits.

His grandfather taught him long ago that the worst thing you could do is feel warm in such a situation. He’d told him that he’d seen men smiling at their new-found warmth even as they lay dying. But there was something else.

There was the light.

Grandfather had never mentioned this. Was he dying? Hallucinating? He looked up. Hallucinating, then. The most beautiful woman he had ever seen stood before him.

Her body glimmered in a vivid blue-white light. Her eyes shone pure white. An angel? “Yes, an angel.” The woman responded to his thought. “I’ve come to guide you.”

His father had warned him of false prophets, as well. “How can I trust you, spirit?” His voice was a ragged whisper. He coughed crimson onto the pure snow before him.

“How can you not?” The spirit raised an eyebrow and her right hand. She offered it to the fallen traveler. He reluctantly took it.

Half a day’s walk away, a young woman of similar beauty but normal radiance watched the events unfolding in an ornate scrying mirror. “He trusts her!”

The woman beside her, perhaps twenty years her senior, smiled gently as she held a gnarled wooden wand before the mirror. “Does he? Or does he trust that he’ll die otherwise?”

The man found it startlingly easy to stand. The warmth he felt was slowly worming its way into his body like tendrils. The sensation was both welcome and somehow disgusting to him.

The spirit woman’s eyes opened wide, the light within them bathing his face. He squinted his own. Cold tears ran from them. “Please guide me.”

“As you wish.” She gently placed her other hand on his cheek and caressed it. The last thing he saw was the white glow of her eyes turn blood red.

The serene look on her face turned to one of malice, contorting her features into a demonic mask. The hands holding him became twisted claws. The man did not resist even as she grasped his head and pulled him closer.

She closed her eyes and leaned forward, as if to kiss him. Instead, a thin white mist began to pour from his mouth. She drew it into her own, allowing his lifeless body to drop to the ground. Her features returned to normal as she stepped back.

“That was amazing.” The young woman looked at the witch with a mixture of awe and fear.

“It’s a gift.” She began to smile. “It’s one you possess. Would you like to learn how to wield it, child?”

Something dark and hungry laid just behind the woman’s widening eyes. “Yes, please.”

FlashFic: Dark Skies, Cold Hearts

A mysterious sight in the night sky takes a treacherous turn.

“What is it, grandpa?”

The old man stepped out onto the porch and looked up at the night sky. “Looks like a shooting star!” The bright blue object did not fade, though the man’s smile did. “No, that ain’t right…”

The boy’s father stepped out of the house. “What is it, Pop? Meteor shower?”

“I don’t know.” The object had tripled in size and brightness. The sky started to rumble. He shielded his eyes.

“Jesus…” The younger man squinted. “That’s not a meteor, is it?”

“No…” The grandfather took a step back. “That’s an aircraft, or something.”

“I bet it’s a space ship!” The boy ran off into the front yard.

“Danny, no!” His father ran after him.

A screaming sound accompanied the rumbling. The object gleamed in the sky. It was triangular, with three brilliant blue circles beneath it. “I told you! It’s a space ship!”

The boy began waving at the UFO. Danny’s father grabbed him and started pulling him backward. “No, Danny! We don’t know if they’re friendly…”

A beam of pure white energy zapped from the spacecraft and struck the father in the chest, knocking him backward. “GAH!” A brown scorch-mark graced his sky-blue dress-shirt. “I can’t move…”

A second beam, much wider and violet-white, engulfed the boy before he could run to his father. “Dad!” The man watched helplessly as his son lifted off the ground. “Dad! I feel…”

The boy disintegrated before the man’s eyes. The individual bits of matter pulled apart and shot up the beam into the ship. “DANNY! NOOO!”

The grandfather burst back out of the front door with an old service rifle just as the purple beam dissipated. “DON’T YOU TAKE MY GRANDSON, YOU SONS OF BITCHES!” The old man took aim and opened fire.

The shots plinked uselessly off of the spacecraft. The father turned his head towards the grandfather and shouted. “Dad, no!”

There were tears in the old man’s eyes. “Hell YES!” He emptied the gun into the spacecraft. The last round caused sparks to shoot out of the front of the UFO.

A third light beam, this one blood red, shot from the spacecraft and into the old man’s chest. “DAD!” The old man’s body was silhouetted in glowing orange light. It disintegrated like the boy’s body had, but the particulates fell to the ground, burning ash blown in the wind from the UFO’s wake.

The spacecraft turned. It rocketed up into the air at an impossible rate. A wash of blue energy blew backwards into the old farmhouse, setting it ablaze. The still-paralyzed father slipped into the cold black hole of unconsciousness.

He awoke sometime later. Several dark figures stood around him. He cried out and flailed his way backwards. “He’s awake.” The voice was distant and quiet to him.

“Shit,” another voice said. “Grab him.” Two pairs of strong hands grabbed the father’s arms and held him fast. They propped him up on his feet and let go.

One of the figures stepped forward, slowly coming into focus. It was a man in US Army fatigues. The father began to cry. “Please! My son…”

The Army man held up a hand. “We know what happened. Did you call anyone? Call for help?”

The father shook his head. “No… I didn’t have time. They took my…”

“We know.” The man took out a pistol. “Too bad they killed you and whoever that ash pile is.” He aimed it at the father’s head and pulled the trigger.

The father let out a single piercing screech and fell dead to the ground. The man put the gun away. “Secure the area.” He turned and walked back into the shadows.