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Thursday, August 31, 2006

How Are You?

It’s a question that you probably hear a dozen times a day, and one that you answer unthinkingly every time. In almost every case the person asking doesn’t really care about your health; it is just a polite greeting, a bit of linguistic sawdust, more of a verbal tick than a true attempt at communication. After all, why should someone—a complete stranger—working in a coffee shop care about your physical health? Answer: they fucking don’t. Still, they were polite enough to ask so we return the politeness with a lame response.

We say things like “fine,” “OK,” or “Just dandy.” I have taken to saying, “Never better.” This usually elicits shock and surprise from whoever it was that inquired as to my health. Most casual greeters seem suspicious of such an upbeat answer and are thrown for a loop.

Maybe it’s time to change my standard response. If people don’t want to hear that I am doing so well perhaps I’ll spring a downer on them. I did a bit of research to determine the world’s most disgusting diseases and their symptoms. I wanted diseases that no one has ever heard of (you can’t impress a cute bartender with something run-of-the-mill like leprosy). I also wanted illnesses with cool names that fairly ooze with pus and mucus, names that inspire shock and awe in anyone not wearing a Hazmat suit.

Necrotizing fasciitis!
A Group A Streptococcal infection, otherwise known as flesh-eating bacteria. It attacks subcutaneous tissue, which then becomes gangrenous.

“My necrotizing fasciitis is killing me. I think my left foot is going to rot off today. How about you?”

Canthariasis!
Intestinal infestation by beetle larvae or rectal infestation by adult beetles (it’s funny because it’s in your butt).

“Goddamn canthariasis! You don’t happen to have a can of Raid and some KY do you?”

Buruli Ulcer!
Exudes mycolactone which liquefies football-sized gobbets of flesh, fat, and muscle including the face.

“I’m eating for two now. I have a Buruli ulcer.”

Have a nice day!

Friday, August 18, 2006

A Firing Squad Gone Horribly Wrong

As I stand before the firing squad, smoking my last cigarette, I look back over the events that led up to this fateful, sunny afternoon in a country far from my own, and this fucking heat; are you kidding me with this shit? It’s like a sauna, but a sauna is a dry heat and it’s humid as hell, so I mean the other kind…a steam bath…or is that what a Turkish bath is? This cigarette is stale; I don’t smoke, anyway, never have. Nope, I’m kind of a health nut, but I don’t know what the hell else you're supposed to do while you’re standing in front of a firing squad so I took a cigarette, and now I wish that I wouldn’t have, except I thought that if I didn’t they would just shoot me sooner.

Why are you guys cocking your guns? I just lit this thing. The very least that you could do is let me finish. Do I have to remind you how badly you screwed up my last meal? Is it really asking too much to have a bit of fresh tuna in the Niçoise salad? I don’t mind some canned tuna but there should be a little freshly grilled tuna as well. And what’s with the no wine policy as far as last meals go? What are we? Are we animals? I asked for a glass of Chateau Neuf du Pape to go with my boeuf bourguignon and you give me grape juice and Salisbury steak. Just shoot me now.

Ouch. Which one of you shot me in the foot? I was speaking figuratively out of frustration over my botched last meal when I said to shoot me. Now I have to stand here and bleed through my last cigarette. Can I switch this for a menthol? Ouch! Very clever shooting me in the other foot—a real stroke of genius. I’m glad you guys have such a great sense of humor. This was supposed to be my last few minutes on this earth wherein I look back over the course of my life in blissful reflection and now that prospect is pretty much out the window because I got fucking holes in both of my feet. You guys are complete idiots.

How badly do you have to fuck up in the army before they demote you to firing squad detail? That has to be about five steps lower than cleaning latrines. Is that it? Please don’t tell me that you guys fucked up latrine detail? Your folks must be so proud of you. I hope to god that there is no afterlife because I don’t want the last thing that I remember from this life to be six morons pointing rifles at me. This is the thanks I get for surviving two years of torture and sitting in a dank cell? As if I need another reason to be an atheist.

I need a light. No, rules are rules. I get a last smoke and I dropped this one and it fell in my blood and went out so give me a light or I’m going to write a very sternly-worded letter to your superiors. ‘Your superiors.’ What a laugh that is, huh? Like there is anything in the plant or animal kingdom that isn’t superior to you six invertebrates.

Ouch! Great, now I have to hold my last cigarette with my other hand. I don’t think that I can smoke left handed. You know what? Fuck you guys. Just go ahead and get it over with. Fire away, retards.

Ouch. You're fucking kidding me, right? How many of you guys missed? Besides the shots I already took in the feet and hand, I only have one more hole in my stomach. This could be the most incompetent execution in the entire history of capital punishment. Well don’t just stand there. Somebody finish me off, for Christ sakes. What? You don’t have any more bullets? I’d say, “Shoot me,” but I think I’ve had enough irony for one fucking day. Just do me a favor and get out of my sight.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Build Your Own Joke

Build Your Own Joke

Not to disparage the sophistication of the average reader at this web address, but what seems to work best around here is some sort of variation of the ultra-vulgar Aristocrats joke. Any attempt at a more high-minded humor generally meets with confusion and resentment. How about this for the beginning of a joke?

This gay, black, French guy walks into a bar and takes a dump on a whore who is blowing a midget with no arms or legs.

You can see how I skillfully touched on homophobia, racism, xenophobia, scatology, misogyny, sex, and a nugget midget. I will let the reader determine which of the three characters is passing wind. What was that? Have all three people farting? Why didn’t I think of that? You people are geniuses. I learn so much from you.

Perhaps the writers here should work in tandem with the readers to develop a more democratic comedy style. Instead of having readers merely voting on the humor essays they find the most appealing, we will have them actually build their own jokes from a do-it-yourself menu. Jokes generally have three elements: characters, a situation, and a punch-line. We will supply the building blocks and the readers can make their own jokes. Here are your choices.

1) The Characters

a. A toothless nun with a very flat head
b. A well-hung, transvestite, midget, pizza delivery boy
c. An ageing Eskimo prostitute
d. A fat pedophile with a monkey’s head stuck in his butt
e. A priest chasing an alter boy hobbled by his pants around his ankles

2) The Situation

a. walks into a gay amputee bar
b. is lying on an emergency room gurney surrounded by a Mexican family wearing clown suits but no pants
c. is attacked by a gang of Olympic figure skating judges armed with an assortment of marital aids
d. runs barefoot across a blisteringly hot adult video store parking lot in front of a stalled church bus
e. is thrown into a prison cell with a 6’4,” 285 pound Aryan Nation leader who is dressed in a Little Mermaid outfit


3) The Punch-line

a. “You’re scared? After I sodomize and kill you I have to walk back by myself.”
b. “Hey shut up, you asshole; that’s how my dad died.”
c. “I can’t kill him yet: I need the feces.”
d. “He’s been dead for a week but we don’t have the heart to tell her to get off of him.”
e. “Rectum? It damn near killed him.”

As you can see, there lacks a bit of elucidation between parts two and three to tie it all together, but I’m sure that our readers can fill this void with their own wonderful imaginations. Instead of using the comment section to tell us how much we suck, the readers can construct their own jokes from the menu that changes daily, thus taking charge of their own humor destiny.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Television Disaster Grief Index: American Edition

I don’t think that I am giving out any new information when I say that we live in a world rife with terror, disease, famine, war, and crime, as well as a host of natural disasters that can strike without warning. In fact, I found examples of each of those calamities in today’s newspaper—and all I read is the sports section and the comics. Tragedy seems to be a by-product of civilization. Some catastrophes are as naturally-occurring as the air we breathe, but most are man-made. Although I pride myself on being almost completely desensitized to the pain and suffering of others, there are occasions when I come across a news report of some horrific event about which I think I should probably feel bad. That’s almost like caring, isn’t it?

Over the years I have developed something I call the Disaster Grief Index to help me gauge the degree to which I should feign anguish when I read about the misery of others. The model for my index was taken from how television news covers these events. I figure if CNN deems something to be important, then I should, too. Let me walk you through this.

First of all, you should primarily only care about bad things happening to Americans. The way that television news explains it, if tragedy strikes non-Americans then they probably have it coming. Maybe they should try being more careful. If TV is somehow coerced into covering a disaster in some far-off land it is only because the event is of biblical proportions. CNN uses a sliding scale formula in order to calculate when deaths are reported. They have made a computation as to how viewers should regard the deaths of total strangers.

1 American life =
10 English-speaking non-Americans
50 Europeans who speak a language other than English
1,000 Latin Americans
10,000 Asians
1,000,000 Africans (except white, English-speaking Africans)


The way this works is if one American dies then that is news, but it takes ten British people to die to warrant the same coverage as the lone American death. Let’s be honest with ourselves, do any of us have time to hear a story about 5,000 Chinese people whose bus went off a cliff? Anything less than one million Africans perishing will be relegated to a small segment that airs somewhere between celebrity news and a funny security video of someone accidentally being sprayed by a shook-up can of soda. It is called proportionality and it is how we make it through the day without being crippled by anxiety.

Before you accuse television reporters of being heartless pricks, let me remind you that people die every day, or almost every day (I have a birthday coming up so I would appreciate it if everyone whose time is almost out to die either the day before or the day after). You can’t get worked up every time a tidal wave slams into some country you can’t even pronounce, let alone find on a map. According to CNN, what completely shatters the Disaster Grief Index, what you should really get hysterical about is the disappearance of cute white girls. From CNN’s bloated coverage it is apparent that if one cute white girl goes missing that is worth at least five thousand people dying in a volcano eruption in Bolivia. For the value of a dead, ugly American girl you can revert back to the original index.

Just this morning I read that there was an earthquake in Pakistan a few months ago that killed 73,000 people. I don’t even remember hearing about it when it happened, probably because there weren’t any cute American girls among the victims for CNN to report. Foreign disasters please take note: If you want to capture the attention of the American audience, be sure to include a few American victims—preferably cute white girls.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Me, Myself, and I

A tumultuous interior monologue that pits the author’s mind against a recalcitrant body.

I haven’t always been the suave, sophisticated, refined, cultured, urbane, and debonair persona that is the façade of the caricature of the fabrication that I am today. Just a few short years ago I was probably just as big of a slob as you. OK, that may be a bit of an exaggeration. I seriously doubt that anyone in the history of mankind has been as big of a slob as you. I mean, look at yourself in the mirror. I don’t mean to be critical, but they just discovered a moon of Pluto that is smaller than you.

On second thought, let’s not even get distracted by the Katrina-like disaster that passes for your life in its present phase. I’m looking to make some big changes around here and you may not be able to make the cut. You can stick around if you want, but before we get started, please do me a favor. Put on a shirt.

What’s that? You don’t have to shout—I’m right here. Yes, this could take a while. You want to order out for pizza? Isn’t that a half-full bucket of chicken on your lap? OK, don’t get hysterical. What? Yeah, everything on the pizza is fine with me. Sure, whatever you say—go ahead and order two if you want.

So, what I think is that we really need to get our act together around here. A little exercise wouldn’t kill any of us. Let’s all hit the deck and see how many push-ups we can do. On my count. Ready? Uno…dos…ouch! That’s enough for today. You know what the Greeks say, mens sana in corpore sano, sound mind, sound body. That’s Latin but the Greeks said it first. That’s why I’m the brains of this outfit and you are the body, although ‘body’ is too kind of a word for your present condition. Other descriptions that come to mind are ‘sack of shit’ or ‘pile’ or ‘complete load.’ The truth hurts, doesn’t it? Where did you go?

Sure, I can talk a bit louder while you go into the kitchen, but the pizza should be here any second. Oh yeah, I almost forgot about that gallon of rocky road that we bought last night. No, I was not holding out on you. I went to the grocery store last night after the bars closed, which explains my shopping choices: ice cream, two bags of corn chips, and the rest of that stuff was meant as toppings for the ice cream. What did you call me? Yeah, weird like a fox. Have you ever put bacon bits on rocky road ice cream? Then shut up until you’ve tried it.

See what I told you? It’s pretty good, isn’t it? Where was I? So in addition to a vigorous daily exercise program, we are going to work our intellect. Through an exhaustive campaign of reading we will strop our mind like a razor. I have picked up a collection of the classic works of western literature which we will attack from A to Z. Turn off the TV, I’m talking here. Oh wait, this is the episode where the Skipper has prostate cancer and Gilligan operates on him with the monkey as his nurse. This is a classic.

Just put the ice cream on this stack of books next to my chair.

Was I right about the bacon bits? How should I know how the Skipper’s incision kept from getting infected? Who am I, Dr. Phil? They probably made penicillin out of coconuts. Do I have to do all of the thinking around here? What’s that? You do all of the heavy lifting? I suppose that if you consider lifting your big ass out of the chair as heavy lifting. I’m sorry, that was uncalled for.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Cleaning Up Our Act

Anticipating more stringent guidelines on the internet, the Leftbanker staff, in an act of self-regulation, will be providing more family-oriented comedy. A perfunctory survey of the past few months will show that the quality of humor around here seems to have taken a turn for the worse. It seems you can’t read a single article here that isn’t some sort of instruction manual about how to apply a Dirty Sanchez or play a rusty trombone; or someone extolling the finer points of taking a dump, laying cable, or dropping the kids off at the pool; or an author penning a veritable treatise on getting your knob polished, or flogging the bishop; or a how-to guide for trimming the beard off the old goat. I don’t even know what the fuck that last one means but, knowing you people the way that I do, I’m pretty sure it is something completely filthy. I’m sorry to inform you that things are going to change.

Nothing in this essay is going to go anywhere near the human intestinal track. I plan on avoiding everything concerning the stomach, the large and small intestines, the rectum, and the anus. By this I mean the vitals themselves and all material found within aforementioned organs, whether its form is solid, liquid, or gas. This essay will certainly float above any attempt at humor which comes at the expense of the release of gaseous material from the human digestive system, whether it be as loud as a thunder clap, or of the silent variety that is usually quite a bit more offensive, olfactorily speaking—although I think that describing these hushed emissions as ‘lethal’ or ‘deadly’ is a bit hyperbolic, and in this era of heightened concern for terrorism there is no need to sow unwarranted panic.

The penis is another vein this essay will not mine, although if you look at the archives of this web site, that appendage seems to contain the mother lode of comedy. As they say on Oprah, I’m just not going to go there. Female genitalia—be they shaved, trimmed, manicured like something out of Edward Scissorhands, or as overgrown as a vacant lot—represent another forbidden fruit that I will not eat, metaphorically, figuratively, or stylistically speaking. Even if I were to eat this forbidden fruit, it would be the height of bad form to talk about it with my mouth full anyway. We aren’t savages here at the Leftbanker staff.

I am quite sure that this next item will make me very unpopular with the regular readership here, but in some ways I feel that the current supporters at Leftbanker are part of the problem, and not part of the solution in our battle to establish decency. I will quickly become the Osama bin Laden of contributors because I am refusing to discuss mammary glands, both surgically enhanced and as the lord meant them to be. I will not pander to the prurient and salacious interests of readers by making light of boobs as big as your head or those that are just perfect little handfuls. I haven’t checked it out for myself yet, but I have been told that there are other sites on the internet where you can look at somewhat suggestive pictures of women. Find another destination for your animalistic urges, readers; you will no longer find cheap gratification here.

We hope that you will enjoy the new family-friendly format here at Leftbanker. Go ahead, bring the kids along to read the new sanitized material. We can promise you that there won’t be a single mention of bodily injury, bodily functions, dead bodies, hot bodies, anything discharged—both painfully or otherwise—scabs, crabs, blow holes, a-holes, chancres, cankers, wankers, and spankers. Instead of making references to things more suited to men’s room graffiti, we will be shooting above the waist in our attempts at humor. We will avoid themes of scatology, sodomy*, and violence in favor of wholesome subjects like those addressed in the comic strip Family Circus or a rerun of Eight is Enough.

*Microsoft Word offers no synonyms for sodomy; if they did I was going to include them all in that sentence—just another example that humor cannot be fabricated by machines.