Using Facebook data, the New York Times built this interactive map of baseball team affiliation. They give the boundaries between regional rivals cute names, like the Munson-Nixon line between Yankeeville and Red Sox Nation. The line separating my Astros from the Texas Rangers is called, predictably, the Nolan Ryan line. If things keep going the way they have been, the Rangers may just annex Astro-land and claim it as one of their minor league territories.
I’m a freelance interactive content strategist and copywriter in Austin, TX. See my work here.
I post about whatever geeky stuff interests me. Sometimes I post funny stuff that I make up. About once a week I post videos of my cat Yeti ignoring me. I welcome reader suggestions and feedback. I seldom get any.
Oh, yeah. I’m also the recording artist currently known as ManChildATX.
Dear Pathological Liar:
I am engaged to a wonderful girl. The problem is I can’t stand her mother. My future mother-in-law is loud, rude, opinionated and ignorant. My fiancé, however, thinks her mother can do no wrong. I’m worried that my true feelings might show and destroy our relationship. What can I do?
What can you do? Hmm, not much, but for starters I’d suggest you stop whining and suck it up. Do you think I was thrilled by the prospect of having Beyoncé’s battleaxe of a mom for a mother-in-law? Hell, no. But when a woman loves you, you deal with it. Fortunately, my affair with one of the Kardashians—I forget which one—broke up my engagement to Bey before I was committed for reals. But things usually work out for the best, don’t they? I mean, now that I’m married to Bristol Palin, I have the fringe benefit of a cougar-in-law, if you know what I mean. So it’s all good.
Hope that helps.
Dear Pathological Liar:
I’m applying for a job that I really, really want. It would truly be my dream job. The problem is, I have a good friend who I know wants the job, too. But she’s already applied and been rejected. With my qualifications, I’m fairly certain I’ll be hired. But that would probably leave my friend crushed and jealous of me. What should I do?
This reminds me of a situation that happened to me once. Back in the ‘90s, when my dad owned Coca-Cola, there was an opening high up in the marketing department. My sister and I both really wanted the job. But since she was older, my dad gave the job to her. He made it up to me by setting me up with my own boutique agency, which I grew into a major industry player and later sold to OmniCron for $750 million. I would suggest you look into a solution like that. Hey, it worked for me!
Dear Pathological Liar:
i stoled sum candy fum the stoar en my dady says i hav to go bak en tel the man at the stoar i stoled his candys. but i dont want to. how kin i do it cuz ill be shamed.
Sally, age 5 ¼
P.S. dont say just tel my dady i went to the stoar wifout rilly i go. dady says he wil go wif me.
Well, I thought there was an easy solution to this, but your postscript put the kibosh on that idea. I don’t have a clue. Serves you right for getting caught.
I thought it might be fun to share the favorite, little-known songs that are part of our individual cranial canons. I’ll go first.
The entire Ultra Wave album by Bootsy Collins is one of my faves and has been a huge influence on my musical sensibility. But this song, which just seems to come out of nowhere, still blows me away. What does it all mean? Does it matter? No. When I die, I hope there’s a party to celebrate my life, and that this is on the playlist.
Your turn. Send me YouTube links to your greatest song that most of us have never heard, and if you can, jot down a thought or two about what it means to you. Now, step off the unenjoyment line and jam on F-Encounter.
Anyone in North America may use any one of these names free of charge to start a comedy club, although an all-expenses-paid trip to the grand opening party to any venue outside the 512 area code would be a nice gesture, don’t you think?
I am seeding the list with these entries, but let’s grow this sucker. Send me your entries on Facebook or Twitter (@richie_boy, hashtag #comedyclubnames).
The Riot Room
Fitz and McGiggle’s
Ye Aulde Laff Shaque
The Hilarity Hole
The LOL Lounge at Goldblatt’s
The Brick Wall
The Bust-a-Gut Hut
Bellylaffs & Brewskis
Junior’s Say What?
Bleeper’s Blue Room
The Hoof and Cackle
Laugh Palace and Bingo Hall
Zoloft’s House of Happy
Drink and Droll
Texas Chuckle Depository
Make With the Funny
Heckle and Chide’s
The Laugh Sac
2 Laugh Minimum
Brick Wall Comedy Factory Ltd.
Mel Brooks’ Beanery
The Irony Board
The ROFL Iron
The Hootnaney Shack
Guffaw Pavilion Suites & Eatery
The Ha Ha Hut
The Tee Hee Hideout
A Laugh Garden (All you can eat breadsticks)
Ribitty McTickle’s Silly Pad
The New York Times goes long and multimedia about the rape case that implicated Heisman Trophy candidate and eventual winner Jameis Winston, of Florida State University. To say that the Tallahassee police botched the investigation is to imply that they made a serious effort at pursuing it at all, and the article is persuasive that they didn’t, despite a plethora of strong leads. But it’s not like no one was punished: Winston’s roommate was censured by FSU for filming the encounter on his cellphone. And the victim, who obviously suffered physical and emotional trauma from the incident itself, was hatefully vilified in the campus community when her accusations were finally made public a month before the Heisman was to be awarded, which was 11 months after she’d reported the incident. If you want to read something that’ll make your blood boil, this is a good bet.
Dear people who knead People (Magazine):
Please bear with me. It’s been awhile since I’ve written and I have a lot of pent up thoughts and feelings. Also, in kind of a new thing for me, this letter will cover two topics, so you may want to break it up and run it as two separate letters. You can use a fake name on one or both of them, so it doesn’t look like I am the only one writing to you, even if that may be true.
OK, topico numero uno: You’ve got Princess Kate DANDLING on the cover. Question: When is it appropriate to show a princess dandling? Answer: Never! I don’t want to see a princess dandling, and I’m pretty sure the rest of America doesn’t want to see it either. It’s disgusting! Ix-nay on the incess-pray andling-day!
I am pleased that Kate has a new nanny though. Thank God!
Topico numero two-o: Yes, we know Mickey Rooney was a horndog! His “many legendary loves?!” Who are you kidding? We know what you are getting at here with your sneaky coded language. You’re implying that just because Mickey was shortish and banged a lot of broads, that makes him a wee oversexed freak. So I suppose William Powell was just fulfilling his height-determined erotic destiny by plowing the fertile fields of Hollywood’s starlet farms? Listen, I have it on good authority that Mickey Rooney was a gentleman, not some love-’em-and-leave-’em roué. He made sure his ladies were satisfied—all the way satisified, if you know what I’m saying—which is more than you can say for Glenn Ford!
M. Ravid Lichlard
PS. If you think my nanny comment warrants it, you can break this into three letters instead of just two.
What I said
…and what I wish I’d said
“Uhn! No fair!”
“What you posit smacks of inequity, you disingenuous churl.”
“Oh, yeah?! Well, but what about, um… ah… you know, that… that one time?”
“You act as if your position has always been consistent. In point of fact, it has not been, which I will illustrate now by recounting in detail an incident from our common experience. (Detailed narrative of incident goes here.)”
“Oh, you… you… big… poopy-head!”
“I find your manner, behavior, language and very being comparable to an excrescence of night soil from the sick ward.”
“That’s not what I meant! What I meant was… not that!”
“Sir, I know very well my meaning on that occasion. And you know very well my meaning on that occasion. And, at present, one of us is misrepresenting what my meaning was, and I aver that it is not me who is so doing.”
“OK. I’m sorry. I was wrong.”
“Had I my wits about me, my rhetoric would render me victorious in our verbal set-to, leaving you as helpless as a filet of poached salmon at a ladies tea. But as I’ve let my emotions get the better of me, leaving my powers of argument temporarily compromised, I’ve decided to declare victory while ceding the field.”
“I hope you’ll forgive me.”
My old friend Spot just reissued the first and only Kamikaze Refrigerators record on CD Baby. Spot is a fine musician, writer and photographer, but back in the day, he was largely known for being a record producer for punk and indie legends such as Black Flag, the Minutemen, the Meat Puppets and on and on and on. In the early 80s, he came to town to produce Austin’s Big Boys, then (and still) one of the greatest acts to come out of Austin. The band I played (drums) in, Kamikaze Refrigerators, had more or less survived to that point on the strength of the imprimatur of the Big Boys’ Chris Gates and Tim Kerr. At their urging, we scraped together our band savings (about $400) to record with Spot while he was still in town working on their record. We recorded eight songs, probably because that’s all we could afford. Then we broke up.
A few years later, when Spot relocated from California to Austin (where he lived until just a couple of years ago), he started a couple of small record labels, one for his own music, and one for other acts he liked. His choice for the first release on the latter was the Kamikaze Refrigerators tracks which had been a-molderin’ on his shelf.
Knowing the limited potential of a debut record from a defunct band that few had ever known about to begin with, I tried to talk Spot out of spending the money to release the record. To no avail. So I got my friend Frank Kozik to do the album cover art, which is apropos of nothing, except that it’s a cool cover, and Kozik is now a very successful artist, whose molded collectibles sell out in pre-order.
So, it’s funny how everything comes around and becomes nostalgic. People still occasionally tell me how much they liked the Kamikaze Refrigerators, although at the time we couldn’t draw a crowd to save our lives. But it was my first band, and I loved what we did, and umpteen bands later, I consider myself lucky to have had the experience.
Here’s a video Spot put up with the album’s first track, which was the first song we worked on and done in a single take! Again, the album is available on CD Baby and should be in the iTunes store soon. Buy, buy, buy!
Chuck Klosterman is The Ethicist for the NYT. I am the Monday Morning Ethicist.
Yesterday’s second question for Chuck: I often hear people talking about how they want to own one of the bigger cars on the road for safety reasons. This has always struck me as kind of terrible. They want to be in the bigger car so that, if they get in an accident, they will be ones doing the smashing rather than being smashed? Is that unethical?
Chuck said (in so many words): No, because that’d mean the ethical alternative would be to drive a smaller car in which you’d take the brunt of the damage.
I say: Yes, it is unethical. This is just another lame rationale people use to justify buying huge SUVs. And what do people, at least in my part of the world, want to do with their SUVs? They want to drive like selfish assholes, using their vehicles’ sheer bulk for intimidation purposes. This is best exhibited in the behavior of the sad excuse for a human being whom I call the Motherfucking Lane Closing Line Jumper (MLCLJ).
The MLCLJ sees a long line of cars in one lane, and a clear lane in front of him, where far ahead a road crew has blocked off the road, forcing everyone to merge. Most people see the blocked lane and start merging immediately, lining up to take their turn squeezing through the traffic bottleneck. But not MLCLJs, who are invariably driving a Toyota Land Crusher, a Ford Exclusion, a Chevrolet Suburb, or the like. Oh, no. They see the drivers who merge promptly as so many naive suckers waiting to be taken advantage of. They floor it down the blocked off lane right up to the choke point, passing dozens of queued up drivers on their way, and then using their large land mass-sized vehichles to barge their way in to the front of the line, daring anyone with a smaller car to stop them.
I hate them. With a serious, serious passion.
And so my next car will be a big car, but not for safety reasons. My next car will be a rolling justice machine. It will be a mid-’70s leviathan, like maybe a ‘74 Olds 98. And it will have reinforced steel bars bolted on everywhere to the exterior. And I am going to drive around town searching for road construction sites where drivers are forced to merge into one lane, and I am going to lay in wait for the MLCLJs, and when they try to jump the line in front of all us ethical drivers, I am going to “accidentally” veer into their lanes. I figure I’ll be doing them a service by helping them test whether driving “one of the bigger cars on the road” is safer. Or not.
Both of my dedicated readers may remember this from back in ought-one-one. It still sits on my desk where I can see it every day.
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” Who said that? Keats? Yeats? One of them poetry dudes, I’m pretty sure. And was he wrong? Hell, no.
We went al fresco for this photo session, me and my little hunk of metal did. If anything, I think the natural lighting only makes it more beautiful. But then again, I’m hardly objective when it comes to this little booger.
Just look at the details in that patina! Why, if I had a daughter, I’d name her Patina. But from the way things are going, I’ll probably die childless. Maybe that’s why I feel so tender towards this thing, which, again, I believe is some kind of ferrule. And it never did nobody no harm, so far as I know.
Dang, y’all. If that doesn’t get you all choked up, I’m not sure what will.
Have any of these things ever happened to you:
- You got chapped lips and paper cuts and your feets are all swollen up and blistered?
- Your shoelace just busted?
- You open a big cut on your cheek trying to even out your sideburns?
- 60 yards of barb wire hits you right smack in the puss?
- You fall down in the mud and a wild animal runs off with your shoes?
If so, you’ve lost a champion. Eddie Lawrence, the creator of the Old Philosopher character, died recently at age 95.
I was surprised he was still living, quite frankly. The Old Philosopher has been a very durable piece of nostalgia, perhaps because it sounded dated when it was new. The entire gag consisted of Lawrence, in a pathetic, sadsack voice, reading a litany of imagined indignities that had befallen his listeners, and then suddenly, with the backing of a loud Sousa-playing brass band, exhort his listeners to, “Lift your head up high! Take a walk in the sun with that dignity and stick-to-it-iveness, and you’ll show the world, you’ll show them where to get off. You’ll never give up, never give up, never give up — that ship!” Odds are you’ve heard some variation of it somewhere, sometime.
According to Eddie Lawrence’s obit in the Times, he was pretty much able to build a career on the routine. I became familiar with the Old Philosopher as a kid because the character was often used in commercials (though often it was someone ripping off the character). As a kid, I always wondered where the hell it had come from. The woes he enumerated—like broken radiators and tweed suits for winter—sounded dated even back then. It was that weird sensation you get when you know something is playing off a cultural referent, but your only knowledge of the referent is from the things that refer to it.
Play this video to hear the original recording that launched a thousand schticks, most of them variations on the same theme. And be happy for Eddie. He made out OK in the end.
We have made changes to the tax code that should make submitting your tax return even easier. Here are just a few of the highlights:
- The filing requirement for Form 309Q, Businesses That May Conduct Certain Transactions with Formerly Bankrupt Entities Now Under the Supervision of the Federal Bankruptcy Master, has been reduced from 352 pages to 323 pages. NOTE: most businesses may now need to supplement this filing with Form 309Qi, Why I Left Out 29 Pages from My 309Q Filing.
- For couples filing individual returns, there may no longer be a need to file Form IRS19INDIV, Reassurance of Marital Solidity for Married Couples Filing Individually (Commonly known as the “We’re good, we’re tight, don’t worry” form). Couples considering filing separately should use new Worksheet IRS19INDIVWKSHT to determine whether filing IRS19INDIV is necessary. Instructions for the new worksheet may be obtained only in quantities of 500 or more.
- Certain individuals earning less than the estimated minimum their mothers would have expected them to be earning by their age may no longer need to file Form 716PRNTS, Why I Am Not a Tax Deadbeat, But Merely an Underachieving Failure. Instead, they can file Form 716PRNTS-EZ. Please do not use fingerpaints to fill in this form.
- A certain subset of degenerate gamblers can waive filing Form 7CUM11, Complete Listing of My Bad Beats for Tax Year 2013, IF AND ONLY IF they attach a brand new $500 bill to their Form 1040. Do not use staples. And do not tell anyone else about this. Seriously.
- Individuals earning less than $75,000 per year can now check a box on their return to indicate their guess as to how much greater a percentage of their gross income they are paying in taxes than the super-wealthy. Those guessing correctly can expect to receive Informational Mailing IM-TAXEMPLOY, How To Supplement Your Income With Seasonal Work Opening Envelopes at the IRS Service Center Nearest You.
Dear Pathological Liar:
My mom promised to take my brother and me to the Justin Bieber concert. As things turned out, she could only get two tickets, so she said that she would take whichever one of us had the best report card, which came a couple of days later. Of course my brother, the nerd of all things, got better grades than me. He always does. The thing is, he hates Justin Bieber. From the beginning the only reason he wanted to go was to act snarky the whole way through the concert and make fun of girls, because he’s dork who will never get a date. Now he has the added bonus of being able to punk me out of going. He’s happy, I’m miserable, and my mom’s a total beeyotch. What do I do?
Leave it to Bieber
Wow, man, that sucks. I can totally relate. Back in the 90s, I missed out on a chance to see the Black Crowes and I was really, really bummed. But my dad cheered me up and we decided to make a father-son project out of it. So together, we invented computerized ticketing software. Eventually we sold it to Ticketmaster. To this day, we get 1/10 of a cent from every ticket sold in North America. You might think that this would mean I have a lot of money, and it’s true—I do. Unfortunately, my dad put my money in a trust in an offshore bank. My lawyers are suing my dad to try to get the PIN number for that account, which my dad claims he gave unseen to late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. It’s gonna be tied up in the international courts for months. But there’s an upside: I still have my old Tandy computer and it’s still wired into a backdoor to Ticketmaster’s original network. So I can get you a ticket to any concert you want, so long as it isn’t sold out, like the Justin Bieber concert you wanted to go to. Sorry. But, hey, I hear Taylor Swift may be touring in your area in early 2015. Gimme a shout if that appeals to you.
Dear Pathological Liar:
My brother was traveling on business to Beijing on Malaysia Air Flight 370. Last year, he split with his loony-tunes wife and was given full custody of their two kids, whom my wife and I were looking after while my brother was traveling. The kids keep asking when daddy will be home. What do we tell them?
Clueless in Canton
What do you tell them when they ask when their dad is coming home? “Soon.” But dude, you really gotta sell it.
Dear Pathological Liar:
I am dating a girl who I am very much in love with. In fact, I want to ask her to marry me. There’s just one problem: early on, when I was trying to impress her, I told her I was an anesthesiologist. In reality, I’m just an anesthesiology assistant. If we get married, she is going to find out. So I feel like I should tell her sooner rather than later. But how?
The Sandman’s Assistant
I agree you should tell her sooner rather than later. I was in a similar situation once. I was working with a guy and we invented the iPod together. Like you, I was trying to impress him and win his favor, so I told him that I patented it in both of our names, when in reality, I excluded him from the patent filing altogether. Then, when I got an insider tip that Apple was going to sue us to try to steal our patent away so that they could claim that they invented the iPod, I amended the patent filing so that my friend was listed as the sole inventor. When he found out, I told him it was because I had made so much money from inventing Teddy Ruxpin that I wanted him to reap all the benefit from our iPod work. He was amazed that I would be so generous. In fact, he was happy for me that I was not named in the lawsuit. Poor broke bastard. Anyway, maybe you can work something like that out. I hope so, because, man, is your lady going to be pissed.
“Charlie Victor Romeo” is the radio call sign for cockpit voice recorder, or CVR. In 1999 an ingenious stage drama of the same name debuted, written by Bob Berger and Patrick Daniels. The play is basically a series of blackout scenes wherein actors in a barebones cockpit set dramatize the final moments of six major airline emergencies by faithfully recreating the dialog of their crews, as recorded on recovered CVRs.
I first heard about the play from my sister. A healthcare worker, she and her hospital colleagues were assigned to attend a daytime staging as a sort of mini-seminar in crisis management. As I recall, she said that some of the scenes depict cockpit crews whom are hopelessly oblivious, but some depict cockpit crews whose calm under crisis prevents bad situations from becoming much worse. She said it was one of the most gripping things she’d ever seen in her life.
I’ve got a morbid fascination with this stuff. Of course, we may never know what happened, exactly, with Malaysia Air flight 370, but that real life slow motion drama reminded me that I need to see this film. Trailer follows.
HI THARe NIEGHGBORS! I’M AM SELING MY EGGS11!!111!!!!! MANY OF WICH ARE FRETILE!!! COME BY!! AND GET YOU!!! SOME!
BERTHA ON HOLMES AVE
Hi, we’re new to the neighborhood. We live over by “the old abandoned railroad tracks,” as our real estate agent called them. We’re just curious, about eight times a day there’s a really loud rumbling noise and a very loud horn honking and it seems to be coming from the direction of “those old abandoned railroad tracks,” as our real estate agent called them. Any idea what’s causing it? Our real estate agent says he doesn’t know what it is.
Candy and Mark on Railyard Ln
I just want to let it be known that I will beat the living shit out of anyone who comes near or even so much as looks at my azaleas this spring. I don’t do all that hard work just so my wacko neighbors can ruin them. Or look at them.
You have been warned.
Gary on Ridgely St.
PS: Yes, my dog bites.
CHICKEN’S’ EGG’S, NIEGHBGHBORS!! SOME OF YOU!1! GOT CONFUSED!!!
BERTHA ON HOLMES AVE
Hey, y’all. We just wanted to let everyone know that we’re going to have a big blowout of a party tonight. So if we don’t answer the door at 3am, don’t worry, we’re OK. It’s just that we won’t be able to hear your knocking because the DJ we hired is blasting the tunes too loud. Just didn’t want anyone to be unduly concerned for our well being.
Lisa on Cravat St.
ALTHO I MIGT HAV E SOME OFF THE OTHER KIND!! IFF YOU NEED M!!! IM’ DONE WITH MY AVIARIES!! HA! HA!
BERTHA ON HOLMES AVE
Hey, does anyone know who owns the little house with the stained glass windows and the tall pointy roof feature? I’ve been by during weekdays and no one ever seems to be home, although they always seem to have a lot of company visiting on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings. At any rate, my development partner and I are interested in buying that property. We have a client who would very much like to tear down that quaint old structure so that he can cover the entire lot—up to the legal limit, of course—with an enormous monolithic steel box of a home that he plans to use once or twice a year on his visits to town. It’s actually a good deal for the neighborhood, because most of the time the house will just sit empty and looming. So any leads on tracking down that homeowner would be appreciated.
Marlon on Alder Cir.
NEEIBGHBORS, HOW DID I KNOW SOME PEPLE WOOD BE OFF ENDED!!?? BECUAUSE THEY ARR TYRING TO HAVEA BABY!!?? AND CANT’!!!??? I DIDNT’ KNOW!! THAT! THERE JUTS EGSS!!!!!
BERTHA ON HOLMES AVE
Old-fashioned reporters were said to build their stories with a lot of shoe leather. In the case of Texas Monthly contributing editor Mike Hall, a good friend, it’s more like sneaker rubber. No matter. After a year of reporting, Hall has delivered a masterpiece of criminal justice journalism that leaves little doubt that six men were falsely convicted for the murders of four people—in two separate, but incredibly entwined cases—in Waco, Texas in the early 80s. Three of the six men were ultimately exonerated. But one died in prison, one still languishes there, and one, David Spence, was executed by the State of Texas in 1998.
Spence’s conviction rested entirely on the testimony of compromised jailhouse snitches and a so-called human bite mark expert whose work was dismissively discredited by the forensic scientists who later reviewed it. After after examining some human remains in another case, this same expert also famously and definitively claimed that they belonged to a missing woman—who later turned up very much alive. And his testimony was the linchpin that cinched Spence’s execution.
This is a story where a relative of one of the victims shouts “Just die!” at a condemned man strapped to the lethal injection gurney, and is then haunted in the following decades over the uncertainty of the executed man’s actual guilt. And with good reason. It’s an incredible—and at 25,000 words—a massive read. Texas Monthly will be releasing it online in four parts, starting today. But if you’re lucky enough to live in the Great State, you can head down to the store, buy a copy of the magazine, and read it all in one mind-blowing whack.
My dedicated readers—and I mean both of y’all—know that the preceding “live blogging” beach vacation posts were facetious. They were my not-so-subtle way of parodying a certain kind of privileged, spoiled brat attitude we see so often online, and I had fun with it.
Because the fact is, you’d have to be pretty damn jaded to go to Playa Zancudo, Costa Rica, where those photos were taken, and not be humbled by its beauty, solitude and tranquility. I’ve gone there almost half a dozen times, and every time I’m leaving to return home, my overriding thought is, When can I get back here? It takes a little effort to get there, but it’s so totally worth it.
We usually rent a little beach front cabina (pictured above) from our friends Susan and Andrew, who for over 30 years have owned and operated Cabinas Los Cocos, a Zancudo landmark. They are really dedicated to helping people access and enjoy this little out-of-the-way slice of paradise, and they do an excellent, excellent job of it.
Here’s a video Andrew made. It will give you some idea of why Playa Zancudo is one of the best ways to experience the easy-going allure of Costa Rica, best expressed in the phrase, “pura vida.”