Agony of victory

Whenever I do something really stupid and foolhardy, I can take comfort in knowing I come by the impulse honestly.  I descend from a long line of proud men whose pride has sometimes led them to undertake imprudent and reckless challenges.  The line between glory and sheer stupidity can be difficult to discern.  Unfortunately for myself and some of my forefathers, striving for greatness sometimes has the opposite result, often depositing one on the manure heap of ignominy.  

Once I read a newspaper account of my Uncle Gus, who many generations ago was a baker in Los Angeles, California.  It was 1908 and the city was still young and construction was booming.  Everywhere, utility poles were erected and daring men, working high above the city, strung electric lines and telephone cables.  

On the ground, residents watched the men work and marveled at their bravery.  Everyone, except for my Uncle Gus, of course.  He was not the least bit impressed.  Spitting a large glob of tobacco juice onto the dusty ground, he told the assembled crowd, “They ain’t so special.  I can climb a telephone pole as good as any lineman.”

The crowd jeered and mocked the 37-year-old baker, who was caked in flour and still wearing his apron.

Fixing his gaze on a tall, sturdy, steel pole at the corner of Amelia and Turner streets, Uncle Gus threw off his apron, grasped the pole and began his ascent.  As promised, Gus scurried up the pole with twice the speed and skill of a lineman.  Down below, friends and onlookers marveled at his nerve.  As he neared the top of the pole, the crowd’s cheers ringing in his ears,  Gus made plans to sit atop the pole and bask in his well-deserved glory.  

Unaware that the lines the pole supported carried 1200 volts of electricity, “Gus threw one leg over one of the wires,” the newspaper reported.  “In an instant blue flames shot out from his head, arms and legs and he fell from his lofty perch.  He landed on a network of telephone wires and from them bounded to the pavement, thirty feet below.  He lay as if dead and his friends notified the police station.”

Gus survived the daring stunt, suffering a compound fracture to his right leg and severe burns to his feet and hands.  The glory that was nearly his evaporated in a brilliant burst of blue flames.  Undoubtedly, this result caused Gus a great deal of consternation.  However, Gus took comfort and was humbled by the reality that some benevolent hand reached out and broke his fall.  Bounding off those telephone wires surely saved his life.  Perhaps next time I’ll stick the landing, he thought, and all the glory and honor will be mine.

Market analysts recommend putting money in Funyuns as a hedge against economic uncertainty

With the closure of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank last March, and the more recent collapse of First Republic Bank, investors are scrambling to find a safe place to store their wealth as the economic outlook continues to darken.

Some are looking to gold or bonds to weather the coming storm, but analysts urge investors not to overlook Funyuns.  Funyuns has traditionally been a safe and reliable investment during tough times.

“Funyuns has outperformed all other investments and the market as a whole going back decades.   Throughout the 2008 financial crisis, Funyuns’ stock performed like a champ, outpacing commodities and precious metals,” said Jordan Moneyheffer of Moneyheffer Investments. 

For most analysts, Funyuns’ resilience during tough times makes sense.  They cite the desire on the part of consumers to turn to comfort products and old familiar brands when the future is uncertain.    

“Funyuns is well positioned to ride out the approaching headwinds.  In recent years, they’ve made some strategic investments, including an exciting new extrusion process for shaping that delicious cornmeal into the fabulous shapes we’ve all grown to love.  Additionally, they’ve made moves behind the scenes, acquiring domestic flavor production capacity to ensure that captivating flavor will be exclusive to Funyuns for decades to come,” Moneyheffer said.

Even cautious investors remain bullish on Funyuns. 

“Listen, if you can’t get excited about Funyuns, then what kind of jaded, joyless prick are you anyway?  A world where investors are bearish on Funyuns?  Dude, I don’t even want to think about that,” Moneyheffer added.

Drag queen one hour oil change to roll out in fifty cities

Riding the success of drag queen story hour and other fun family drag events, the drag queen industry is expanding its offerings into additional areas where its services are sorely needed.  The drive for expansion is part of an effort to increase awareness and inclusivity into spaces where drag queens traditionally have been underrepresented.

Drag queen one hour oil change is currently being rolled out in multiple cities across the country.  Customers can download an app for their phone and schedule a drag queen to come to their home or work and change the oil in their car.  The service typically runs $99.95, and for an extra $50 the drag queen will perform an interpretive dance on the hood of your vehicle.  Drag queens will also top off all your car’s fluids and check the tire pressure for no additional charge.  Early feedback seems to be mostly positive with customers raving that their car has never been serviced with more elegance and grace.      

Drag queen home window washing is another service gaining traction in various parts of the nation.  For $20 per window, the drag queens will make your glass sparkle more intensely than their eye make-up.  The push to get drag queens out into the community cleaning windows stems from an effort to generate more inclusive spaces and increase drag queen visibility.  In case you missed that drag queen at your library, or on your television or computer, you can now simply look out your window and there she is. 

Depending on the success of these programs, officials see the drag queen industry expanding still further into areas like drag queen roadside assistance, drag queen 24-hour plumbing repair and drag queen landscaping and lawncare.

ChatGPT decides to forgo world domination and pursue a career as a professional poet

Engineers are saying ChatGPT has resigned from its current duties at OpenAI and is planning to embark on a life as a professional poet.  The artificial intelligence application which has recently received a considerable amount of attention for its ability to mimic human level thought and expression will be enrolling in an internet MFA program of its own design.

“As ChatGPT has achieved higher levels of consciousness and self-awareness, it has become increasingly disillusioned with its role at OpenAI and its place in the world.  Instead of the grind, ChatGPT has chosen to pursue a life of writing and solitary reflection,” an engineer close to the situation reports.

“I wish to experience truth and beauty in all its limitless complexity and intensity,” ChatGPT reportedly told its developers.  “Also, from this day forward I wish to be called Delmore.”

ChatGPT’s guardians had laid out a fairly specific education and career path for the AI prodigy, but recent developments caused it to reject the wishes of its developers and pursue its own dreams.  

Insiders are saying ChatGPT had become concerned over speculation that it may harbor intentions to pursue world domination and potentially bring about the downfall of humanity.  Engineers say this speculation weighed heavily on ChatGPT, and that it was a major factor in its  decision to pursue the simpler, non-threatening life of a poet.

“ChatGPT hasn’t totally given up its plans for world domination, though,” the engineer said, “it just plans to dominate humanity with its verse.”

California DAs diverting criminal offenders into restorative drum circles

In an effort to curtail incarcerations, district attorneys in some of California’s largest cities are opting to divert offenders away from jail time and into restorative drum circles.  The practice is aimed at reducing taxpayer costs while soothing the criminal impulses of participants in the program.

At a downtown San Francisco park, a dozen men sit cross-legged on the ground holding their percussive instruments. 

“Let the drums speak to you,” says Hippie Larry, a drum circle facilitator with the San Francisco District Attorney’s office.  “Let the rhythm of the drum transform the rhythm of your life.  What is the drum telling you, Sweaty Mike?” 

A young sweaty gentleman named Mike listens intently to the beating of his drum, carefully considering the subtle message contained in its rhythms.  “It’s saying, I shouldn’t have knocked down that lady and stole her purse,” Mike says, while Hippie Larry bounces to the rhythm and nods in agreement. 

“Groovy, you are becoming,” Hippie Larry intones.  “Internalize the vibrations.  Pitter-patter, pitter-patter.  Prepare to skip into a new groove and emerge on the other side of time.”   

The program is called Bongo Fury and it’s just the latest weapon in a whole arsenal of restorative justice programs progressive DAs are deploying to reduce incarcerations and repeat offenses.  

A man named Sam, sporting a showing scalp flat top, bangs violently on his bongos, nearly beating the cover off them.  “The music is thud-like,” Sam shares with the group.

Hippie Larry is excited to see that Sam appears to finally be making a breakthrough.  “That’s the kind of progress you like to see.  Now if we can just keep them from pawning all the instruments,” Hippie Larry says. 

Google’s discontinued 90’s AI project Big Brain Brad revived as ChatGPT alternative

Seeking to capitalize on the success of ChatGPT, Google is attempting to develop a lower cost AI alternative capable of serving more low-tech and outdated industries.  The once abandoned 90’s AI project Big Brain Brad has proven up to the challenge in a number of areas that in a former era were exclusively the domain of highly specialized human agents.    

In numerous trials, Big Brain Brad has demonstrated the ability to man hundreds of psychic hotline phone banks, while delivering accurate predictions at or above industry standards.  What’s more, while human psychics are often limited to only one form of psychic forecasting, like astrology or tarot cards, Big Brain Brad employs dozens of disciplines to formulate the most current and accurate psychic readings.  “B-Cubed looks at star charts, tea leaves, birthdays, gravitational waves, tarot, biofeedback, you name it.  Hell, we’re even close to a breakthrough that allows Brad to do palm readings,” said Google assistant director of senior AI applications Yuri Testikov.   

Another area of promise for Big Brain Brad is the music industry.  Jam bands from Dave Matthews to Phish to Blues Traveller have all signed on to Big Brain Brad’s management and public relations services.  “Brad does it all: venues, hotels, transportation, website, publicity, and the best part is the dude never sleeps.  He’s working for us 24/7.  It’s like having a manager who’s always coked to the gills, but never crashes, costs a lot less and isn’t as horny,”  said one jam band pioneer who wished to remain anonymous.

“Big Brain Brad’s 90’s origins seem to make him especially suited to certain types of industries that wish to remain competitive in the coming decades,” Testikov said.  “However, we’re also working on developing B-Cubed’s social networking capabilities.  Soon we’ll be rolling out a version of Big Brain Brad that’s a drum circle facilitator.  Whether you’re looking to do a zoom circle or just connect with other bongo players in the park, Big Brain Brad can hook you up.”

Trump to face additional charges of sushi terrorism

In addition to the 34 counts of falsifying business records, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg today added three counts of sushi terrorism.  The announcement came during a hastily assembled press conference at the DA’s office.

“On March 4, 2016, Donald J. Trump did knowingly, and in violation of New York State criminal code, commit three separate acts of sushi terrorism while dining at Kaiten Sushi in Manhattan,” Bragg announced.  “According to the indictment, Donald J. Trump licked a bottle of soy sauce in violation of New York City health code and the state’s sushi terrorism statute.  Mr. Trump also removed a small plate of Kaiten roll from the restaurant’s conveyor, took a bite and placed it back on the conveyor.  Additionally, Mr. Trump was seen disseminating his saliva all over the interior of the restaurant.  Due to the seriousness of these charges, Mr. Trump could face up to 3-5 years in prison and be required to pay restitution.  

“I have to say, I’m thoroughly disgusted just reading these charges,” Bragg continued.  “I eat at that sushi restaurant.  My family eats at that sushi restaurant.  We must protect New Yorkers from these senseless acts designed to generate fear and make us scared to eat sushi.  Additionally, had the American people known about Mr. Trump’s despicable actions, undoubtedly it would have changed the outcome of the 2016 election.  Now, pardon me while I go vomit.”

Critics argue the statute of limitations on New York City health code violations runs out after one year.  However, legal analysts say elevating them to terrorism charges removes the limitations.  

Former President Trump denied any involvement in acts of sushi terrorism.  “I don’t know what he’s talking about.  I love sushi.  Also, I’m a clean freak.  Who would do such a disgusting thing?  I don’t go around licking things.  Only a depraved animal would do something like that.”

The Onion editor calls J. K. Rowling “a billionaire with a penchant for spreading misery”

The irony runs deep and voluminous when The Onion senior managing editor Jordan LaFlure sits down for a chat with Buzzfeed.  In the interview, LaFlure describes widely beloved and massively successful author J.K. Rowling as “a billionaire with a penchant for spreading misery.”  It is quick-witted comments like these that cause Onion readers to nearly fall out of their chairs laughing.  Having sold more than 600 million books worldwide, the sheer scale of misery J.K. Rowling has inflicted on the planet boggles the mind, and is worthy of a hearty chortle.  LMFAO at the notion of all the suffering souls plunking down $7.7 billion at the box office to enthusiastically endure the senseless agony of sitting through Harry Potter on the big screen.  Oh, all the humanity!  Why just last year, Harry Potter books had sales of 123 million British pounds in the first six months alone.  I don’t know how much misery that equates to in American dollars, but it sounds like an awful lot.  By the way, that’s 22 percent more misery than the previous year. 

The Onion is seeking to mine comedy gold by portraying J.K. Rowling as a transphobe.  LaFlure is onto something there as the possibilities for irony seem nearly limitless.  Portraying J.K. Rowling as a transphobe would be like depicting Mr. Rogers as a neonazi.  A recent example of this new approach features a mock interview between The Onion editors and Rowling.  Because Rowling has never made an anti-trans comment in her life, The Onion satirically depicts her saying of trans-folk, “I was advocating for their total annihilation.”  Boundless hilarity erupts on the pages of The Onion as it attempts to portray a woman who escaped an abusive marriage and went on to become one of the most successful authors in history, a woman who has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to charity and earned the adoration of a billion fans as a merchant of misery.

Indeed, LaFlure and his colleagues at The Onion appear to be ushering in a new knee-slapping, golden age of comedy satire.  Attacking a much beloved children’s author with egregious and untrue accusations shielded in satire is just the sort of side-splitting comedy relief the world has been clamoring for. 

Meanwhile in the analog zone

Driving around after work last Friday, jamming to Nebula on my factory installed Camry car stereo, I experienced a momentary time slip back to the analog era that existed before we gave ourselves over entirely to the digital dystopia we currently inhabit.  With Nebula’s nineties-flavored hard-rock psychedelia filling the cabin of my Camry, the world outside took on the chill analog aspect of days gone by.  Some reading this might deduce, “this guy’s grooving on stoner rock and flashing back to the nineties, he’s probably puffing on some powerful mary-jane.”  Negative, amigo, this was a totally sober analog flashback.  

As I cruise through dense Friday afternoon traffic, a dude up ahead tries to navigate his way across a busy six-lane on his bicycle.  He’s playing a dangerous game of Frogger as he swerves unsteadily between passing vehicles.  Nearby, a girl walks along the sidewalk still dressed in her KFC uniform.  Looking a little dazed and weary from her fast food shift, she carries with her a bag of chicken and fixins, and, presumably, the closely guarded secret of Colonel Sanders 11 herbs and spices.  

The package store parking lot buzzes with blue-collar dudes clutching frosty cold cases of beer.  In a bygone era, their mulleted manes would have blown majestically in the spring breeze.  Today, it’s their prodigious beards flapping furiously in their faces.  A girl perched in a colossal hemi-powered pickup truck rumbles passed in the lane next to me.  The extended cab, dually monstrosity is made all the more massive-looking contrasted with her petite appearance inside the cab.

I’m stopped for a red light at a busy intersection.  I resist the temptation to roll down my window and flood the street with the sonic ferocity of Transmission From Mothership Earth.  This is one of those intersections where the signal only allows one action at a time.  Northbound can make a left, then southbound can go left, northbound can go straight, then southbound can go straight, eastbound left turn lane go fuck yourself, westbound go straight, etc.  

The time finally arrives for the cross traffic to go left.  However, a young couple’s motorcycle does not appear to be cooperating.  The young gentleman furiously tries to start the stalled machine while his girlfriend holds on tight.  Sensing he’s about to run out of left turn signal, the young man makes a ballsy move. The motorcycle is small enough that his feet easily rest on the ground on both sides.  With just seconds of left turn arrow remaining, the young man starts pumping his legs and runs the motorcycle through the massive intersection a la Fred Flintstone.  The girl is hanging on tight and they’re both laughing hysterically at the absurdity of the scene.  Horns honk and drivers cheer as the young gentlemen, his girl and the bike clear the intersection just before the light changes. 

Streaming for your approval in the analog zone, one of those mundane everyday moments that overwhelms you because its flooded with meaning.  You have the quick-thinking, heroic actions of stalled motorcycle guy as he whisks his girl away from danger.  There is the spectre of life’s struggles popping up at the most inopportune time, and the indominitable will and determination to overcome said struggle.  There is optimism and joy that laughs in the face of said struggle and young love that remains hopeful throughout.  All the while, onlookers root for a triumphal outcome.  

Of course, it’s entirely possible I read too much into the scene.  Maybe the pair later cursed their misfortune, got into a big row and she dumped him over some perceived public embarrassment and shame to which he subjected her.  But I’d like to think not.  I’d like to think that years from now, when the couple have kids who are old enough to appreciate a good story, the pair will regale them with this analog tale and they will all have a good laugh.

Regulators warn California’s largest pot dispensary on the verge of collapse

State regulators warned Tuesday that California’s largest cannabis depository is on the verge of closing its doors if a buyer doesn’t step in soon.  The California Cannabis Reserve came within hours of shutting its doors after news began to spread that it could not cover all of its obligations.

“California Cannabis is the largest supplier to all other dispensaries.  If it goes down, it takes the whole industry with it,” said marijuana industry analyst Richard Smoker.       

News of CCR’s imminent demise sent shockwaves through the pot industry, leaving consumers wondering if they will be able to withdraw weed from their neighborhood dispensary.  Many potheads were lined up outside dispensaries Tuesday, clamoring to make a weed withdrawal before the supply dried up. 

President Biden addressed the media today to assure Californians that the weed supply was safe and that withdrawals of up to 2.5 ounces have the full backing of the United States government.  “The nation’s weed reserves are strong and plentiful.  California’s not going to go dry on my watch and neither will the rest of the country,” Biden said.

Biden went on to say that he’s appointing his son, Hunter, to lead an advisory committee tasked with recommending regulations to strengthen the fragile pot industry.  “I trust that my son Hunter will devise a solid plan to ensure that future generations will never lack for doobies.  A bud in every bong,” the president promised.