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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.


The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood and more HBO greats now on Amazon Prime

According to the mighty, all the HBO goodness went live on Amazon Prime Instant View today. 

Help support Oblogatory and get Amazon Prime for $99 bucks a year. We’ve had it for a little more than a year and feel it’s been well worth it. 


Top 10 (funny ha-ha) Reasons to Donate to My Kickstarter Campaign


Today is Day 2 of my ManChildATX Kickstarter campaign. I’m raising funds to cover the costs of duplicating and promoting my already completed second CD, My Mouse Finger Is Insured for $10M.

Earlier today, I posted the 10 sincere reasons for donating to my Kickstarter campaign. Just to prove that slight progress towards eventual success hasn’t changed me, here’s the smartass version: 

1. I can’t be rollin’ with these punkass 24s on my Maybach, dawg. I need to upgrade them shits to 26s!

2. Need to resupply my digital recording studio with 1s and 0s.

3. Something, something, something… big piles of cocaine.

4. My wife thinks I still have a job.

5. My psychiatrist advised me to avoid humiliating defeats for the rest of the decade.

6. I promised Yeti that if I made my goal, he could be the hype man in my next video.

7. It will bring me that much closer to my goal of being bigger than Radiohead by the year 2157.

8. My Mouse Finger insurance agent informed me that my premiums are going up again this year thanks to my hangnail claim.

9. Failure makes me all cranky and stabby and stuff.

10. You’d just spend that money on stupid things like food and shelter.

Thanks so much for your help!



Top 10 (sincere) Reasons to Donate to My Kickstarter Campaign

Today is Day 2 of my ManChildATX Kickstarter campaign. I’m raising funds to cover the costs of duplicating and promoting my already completed second CD, My Mouse Finger Is Insured for $10M.

Traditionally the second day of a Kickstarter campaign is deadsville. I’m trying not to let that happen. Here are some reasons why you might consider helping make Day 2 a success. Thank you! (PS: Look for the Top 10 bullshit/funny reasons to donate to my Kickstarter campaign later today.)

1. There’s something in it for you. For just $5 you can get a download of my new album; $12 for a CD. This is not a “potential” or “vaporware” album. It’s already done, and it’s great. I’m really proud of it. And there are lots of other cool rewards at higher donation levels.

2. You’ll be disruptive. The music business is broken, especially for undiscovered talent like me. By discovering my music through Kickstarter, you’ll skip the industry gatekeepers who are looking for the next big thing that sounds exactly like the last big thing.

3. You will make a difference. Every new supporter/fan is precious to me. I am trying to build a following person-by-person. You matter.

4. You are momentum. I need momentum. When people see other people supporting a campaign, they’re more likely to support it, too.

5. I am responsible. I take this campaign very seriously and I’ll work my ass off to fulfill all campaign rewards and responsibly use any leftover funds to promote the CD.

6. I represent the era of “Fun, Fun, Fun.” I started playing in the Austin punk/indie music scene in the early ‘80s. The spirit, edge and creativity of that time are still what drive my music. I know that means something to some people. Maybe you’re one of them.

7. You’re backing passion. My work writing, recording and producing as ManChildATX has been the most incredible, intense and fulfilling creative work I’ve ever done, and that’s especially true for this album. I really want to continue doing this. The success of this campaign will determine how realistic it is for me to keep on keeping on. If I were considering giving someone a few bucks, that would matter to me.

8. You’ll be part of an august group. 16 incredible people backed me on my first day. Among them are artists, writers, publishers, architects, moms, dads, nurse practitioners, comics and musicians. What I’m missing is you!

9. The most important number to me doesn’t have a dollar sign. Do I want and need the money?  Sure, of course. We all do. But the most important total to me is the number of backers I get. Because, again, I’m trying to build a following here. Yes, I need to add to my dollar total in whatever increments I can. But there’s only one way I can add to my backer total, and that is one by one. I need you to be one of them.

10.  You will be appreciated. When I donate to a Kickstarter campaign, it makes me feel good to help someone whose passions and desires are real. It’s incredibly difficult to put into words just how much each new backer means to me. But I’ll send you a note doing my best to let you know.

Again, here’s my Kickstarter campaign page. Thank you so much.



Please check out the Kickstarter for the 2nd ManChildATX album

Photo by George Brainard—click to see my KickstarterDear Readers:
That’s a photo of me as my musical alter ego, ManChildATX. I’ve been keeping it kinda quiet (irony), but for the past several months I’ve been working on launching a Kickstarter campaign to release the second ManChildATX album, My Mouse Finger Is Insured for $10M. (The album is already recorded and mastered—the Kickstarter campaign is to raise funds to manufacture the CDs and packaging, and send out promos.)

BIG NEWS: My Kickstarter is now live

Please check it out. The video is funny and weird like me and I think you’ll enjoy it. And I really hope you will donate to my campaign. Donations of only $5 or $12 get you the album on download or CD, respectively. 

And getting the album in the hands of new listeners is what it is all about for me. I worked my ass off making the album. It was the most thrilling and rewarding creative experience of my life. But as much as I’d like to say that the process is its own reward, I can’t. I’ve got an ego (ask my wife!). I want people to hear my work. I’m smart enough to know it’s not for everyone, but confident enough to believe there is an audience out there for what I’m doing. 

So I need to create my own virtual record label to get the thing out there. And I need you on my board of directors. Please check it out and do what you can. 

Thank you so much.

Rich Malley a/ka/ ManChildATX


Cat Ambivalent about My Kickstarter Campaign


T-minus 24 hours until I launch my Kickstarter campaign.

Watch this space for news and updates about my Kickstarter campaign to finance the duplication and promotion of my second ManChildATX CD.

I’m excited! Nervous! Hopeful! Nervous!


Trigger Warnings for Certain Children's Classics

“Colleges across the country this spring have been wrestling with student requests for what are known as ‘trigger warnings,’ explicit alerts that the material they are about to read or see in a classroom might upset them or, as some students assert, cause symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in victims of rape or in war veterans.”—Warning: The Literary Canon Could Make Students Squirm, by Jennifer Medina, New York Times, 5/17/2014

Where the Wild Things Are—WARNING: This work includes disturbing depictions of stern parenting, including a child being sent to his room with no dinner. Sensitive readers may find this triggers unpleasant memories of that time Mommy got upset with them for misbehaving at the mall.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn—WARNING: This work includes about 11,000 casual uses of the “N” word. Though elemental to the theme of the book and representative of actual usage and vernacular among many residents of 19th century America, sensitive readers may find this triggers a personal confrontation with America’s unpleasant and inconvenient history of slavery, and an awareness of how persistent racism continues to inform the complex state of race relations in the U.S. today. Thoughtful reflection may result.

Green Eggs and Ham—WARNING: This work includes depictions of a character being offered a meal that initially seems highly unappealing to him. Sensitive individuals may find this triggers memories of that time Mommy made them try stewed zucchini.

Goodnight Moon—WARNING: This book includes rhyming couplets. Sensitive individuals may find this triggers involuntary rhyming chiming through their heads. Oh, dammit.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory—WARNING: This book includes depictions of a child living in extreme poverty. Children who have been sheltered from the knowledge that such children exist may find that this triggers fears that someone is going to come and take away their things.

Harold and the Purple Crayon—WARNING: This book includes depictions of a child forsaking crayons of all other colors for a purple crayon. This may trigger fears of exclusion in sensitive children who aren’t purple.

Charlotte’s Web—WARNING: This book includes depictions of a cute talking piglet. Young vegetarians may find that this tempts them to try bacon.



Other Affluenza-style Modern Afflictions

Evidence of microscopic douchebug infestation

You remember Affluenza right? It was the diagnosis that helped a Dallas-area teen get off easy after causing a fatal drunk driving accident.

Now this week we learned that paralympian/murderer Oscar Pistorius may get a similar break: the judge in his case ordered that his trial be halted so that Pistorius could get a psychiatric evaluation for “general anxiety disorder.” And I thought, well, gee, that’s a pretty lame name. Why not call it what it really is: Oh, Shit—I’m Going to Prison Disease?

But it made me realize that all of us regularly come into contact with people afflicted with all sorts of modern ills for which no good names exist. Until now.

Temporary Inane-ity—”Yes, OK, my clients did coat those campus wheelchair ramps with silicone lubricant, leading to the plaintiffs’ grievous injuries. But is it not plain to everyone that towards the end of the semester my clients were overcome by Temporary Inane-ity?”

Douchebugs—”Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, please do not look at my client as someone who forced an ambulance off the road so that he wouldn’t miss out on a $2 Jaegermeister happy hour. No, please look at my client for what he is: a victim of an insidious Douchebug infestation.”

Nice Blindness—”Objection! Not to minimize the victim’s beating injuries, but I refuse to hear my client referred to as a bully and a thug when right here in this courtroom we have heard an expert witness attesting to the fact that he suffers from Nice Blindness.”

Involuntarily Situational Morality—”Ladies and gentlemen, all you have to do is look at my client and see that Involuntary Situational Morality is real. Does this look like a man who would date rape? No! But once the victim passed out, what could he do? My client was helpless. His ISM took over.”

Fail-to-Give-a-Shit-itis—”Your honor, you heard our medical expert. It’s not that my client didn’t want to stop the criminal conduct of his associates. It’s just that he has chronic Fail-to-Give-a-Shit-itis.”



Machine tool porn


Are you into power turning? How about gear hobbing, threat milling, boring, or eccentric machining? Well, they’re all here—and the music is kinda porny, too.

I’ve been a sucker for assembly line films since I was a little kid, and I watched every second of this almost 9 minute clip. What are they making with the CTX gamma 2000 TC? Who cares! It’s a beautiful hunk of metal.


Found on


Fake service dog trend must be stopped: one victim's story

The victim, who was not seriously injured, in a happier moment

That’s my precious pup Lupita. As I recounted in a breathless, adrenalized Facebook post last night, she was attacked with no provocation by a German Shepherd on Austin’s Ladybird Lake hike and bike trail yesterday evening. It took all my strength to get the shepherd, which had its jaws clamped on Lupita’s back, off of her. Once Lupita got free, she collapsed and couldn’t use her legs. For a few terrifying seconds I thought my dog could have been paralyzed from a serious injury, or even mortally wounded. Honestly, I’ve been through some pretty bad shit, but I can’t think of a time when I was more traumatized in the moment. 

Luckily, after a few more scary seconds, Lupita got to her feet, and though she was scared, she seemed (and still seems) none the worse for wear. Despite the fact that I saw the German Shepherd sink its jaws into her several times, Lupita had no puncture wounds. I believe this is because the shepherd was trying to take such a big bite out of her that the force was spread over a wide area. If this dog had gone for a leg, an ear or Lupita’s head and face, it would have been a bloody—and possibly truly life threatening—mess. But as it was, once I outwardly regained my composure and continued on our walk as if nothing had happened, Lupita got over it. But inwardly, I did not really regain my composure—I was pretty wigged out for several hours. 

The reason I bring this up is because I now understand my little scary incident is part of a growing problem: the misrepresentation of pet dogs as service animals by selfish people who want to skirt the rules and bring their dogs into places where other pets aren’t allowed. Because, you see, the German Shepherd that attacked my dog was wearing a phony “service dog” vest.

I knew this was no true service dog just before the attack happened. Or, at least, I was coming to that realization. I noticed the vest on the dog just as I registered that the dog’s owner, who was in a mobility chair, was clearly concerned about how her dog would react as I walked by with Lupita (and Louis, her Boston Terrier boyfriend, whom we are dog-sitting). The lady pulled her dog up short and started saying the stupid things clueless dog owners say in those situations, which all essentially translate to, “I want you to ignore that approaching dog that I have stopped us to stare at and am reacting to with great anxiety.” (The stupid owners think their dogs listen to their words; meanwhile their anxious body language is saying “Danger!”)

In the same brief moment, I saw the “service dog” vest and the gears in my brain started turning, forming the thought, “Something’s up. No one needs to worry about how their true service dog will react in the presence of other dogs.” As we were attempting to walk by the lady and her dog, I saw in a glimpse that the dog’s vest was in fact a cheap-looking thing emblazoned with hot pink “Service Dog” lettering. All of this went through my mind in a split second. And then the attack started. 

I’m not sure anything would have changed had the dog not been wearing the vest, but I do know for sure that the vest gave me pause for a split second (just until the lady went into her “don’t attack the dog I am fixating on” act). I can easily see how this misdirection could lull someone into a false sense of security that would have a material effect on whether an attack happened or not. 

As I recounted the story to my sister, who works for the Veterans Administration, she mentioned that her agency is having more and more problems stemming from victims of PTSD who want to be able to take their pet companions where only true service dogs are allowed. Then, this morning, I did a search; by the time I had typed in, “P-H-O-N-Y  S-E-R…” Google was returning thousands of hits for “phony service dogs.”

Turns out, it is against federal law to misrepresent a dog as a service dog. Problem is, the law is toothless and virtually unenforceable. And according to Service Dog Central, fake service dog credentials are widely available. In fact, if someone attempts to show you their service dog’s certification, it’s almost a sure bet that it’s phony, because owners of true service dogs aren’t required by law to carry any special certification or info that otherwise verifies their dog as a true service dog. And the issue is by and large moot with a true service dog, because a true service dog’s behavior never gives anyone reason to question its legitimacy. 

It’s a mess and it’s liable to get better before it gets worse. There are legitimate privacy concerns about buttonholing someone to ask for credentials just because they are with a service dog. So it’s not a problem with an easy answer. But my eyes are opened. 

A true service dog performs a service or task that helps a person with a disability adapt and function in daily living. And a true service dog is born with the right temperment and goes through months of very, very extensive—and expensive—training. People who slap those phony service dog vests on their companion animals are doing real harm to the owners of true service dogs—and everyone else.

As a non-funny ironic postscript, I’ll link to this LA Times article: Businesses say fake service dogs are a growing problem. Your results may vary, but for me the first ad embedded in the body of the article was for a company selling fake service dog vests.

PPS: I was going to use the phrase “one near-victim’s story” for the title of this post, but screw that: my dog may not have been seriously hurt, but she and I were both victims. No one should have to go through that on their afternoon walk. 


Countdown to Kickstarter: Things I've Learned on My Way to Launch

A preview of my Kickstarter preview page

Next Tuesday, May 20, barring any unforeseen obstacles, I will launch my first Kickstarter campaign. The intent is to try to raise funds to duplicate and promote the CD for my second ManChildATX album, My Mouse Finger Is Insured for $10M. If you are reading this, there is a very excellent chance you will also hear about the launch of my campaign next week. 

Kickstarter, for those of you living on Mars, is the wildly successful crowd-funding site that I wish I had invented. The way it works is you get an idea; you need money to realize the idea; you create a Kickstarter campaign to raise the money; you offer rewards to your contributors related to the realization of the idea; you have a set period of time to convince people to help out; and if you make your fundraising goal, you get the money (minus a cut for Kickstarter and Amazon Payments—like I said, I really wish I had invented it). If you don’t make your fundraising goal, you don’t get the money, and none of your contributors pay a thing.

Theoretically, it could take someone a couple of hours end-to-end to create a Kickstarter campaign. But I’ve been working on mine, off and on, for months. I’ve remade my campaign video a couple of times, and rewritten my entire Kickstarter page over and over again, with literally hundreds of incremental changes in between.

Part of the reason it has taken me so long to launch my campaign is fear and anxiety. Once I launch the thing, there’s no turning back. If I fail to make my goal, well, I can picture that being a pretty big blow to my always-sensitive ego. And if I do make my goal, of course there’s built-in anxiety anytime you put your creative work out in the world for others to judge. Boo hoo for me.

Fear might slow me down, but I won’t let it stop me. Really, the main reason it has taken me so long to launch is that the more I’ve messed around in the Kickstarter world, the more I’ve learned that there are right ways and wrongs ways to go about it. It’s my nature to want to get something done and put it out there, and I was all ready to do that with my Kickstarter campaign in the fall of last year. But the more I looked at what I’d done to put together my Kickstarter page, the more dissatisfied I felt, and convinced I could do better. That’s when I discovered that there is a virtual cottage industry of Kickstarter advice.

First, of course, there’s Kickstarter itself. They want people to create successful campaigns that will make their goals. The more successful campaigns, the more success for them. Toward that end they offer a Kickstarter School page, to help newbies like me create appealing campaigns. The most useful info I got from Kickstarter’s primer was the importance of creating a lot of appealing campaign rewards, especially at the lower contribution levels. In light of this, I slashed the contribution levels for all of my reward categories, and added a bunch of reward categories to the few I started with originally.

This was hard for me, since my “act,” ManChildATX, is essentially unknown, which is a big reason I’m going the Kickstarter route to begin with—I’m hoping it helps create some buzz as well as raise some money. There are a lot of music acts on Kickstarter who already have significant followings, and many of them offer rewards that only diehard fans would want, like autographed items, personal house concerts, the chance to sniff their underwear, or what have you. (I don’t even want to sniff my own underwear.)

It’s hard for me to imagine that anyone will care enough to up their contribution enough to get an autographed ManChildATX CD or a glossy photo, or a trucker hat. But over and over again during this process I’ve had to tell myself, You don’t know what works and what doesn’t, so listen to the people who do. So, I’ll have many more rewards than I originally intended.

The second thing that’s had the most influence on my Kickstarter strategy has been this study by Georgia Tech researchers on “Kickstarter phrases that pay.” Basically, these geeks loaded a whole bunch of Kickstarter campaigns into their computer and had it spit out common phrases used in successful campaigns and phrases used in unsuccessful campaigns.The top entries (out of bajillions). I didn’t take this list literally, but did let it inform my overall tone.

OK, I skimmed but did not read the entire study. And I didn’t literally seed my campaign with any of their successful phrases. I also didn’t comb through my copy for the unsuccessful ones either. But I did let the study convince me that my tone and turns of phrase mattered more than I was admitting in my initial rush to launch my campaign and be done with it.

The first page I wrote was too earnest and there wasn’t enough me in it. Reading between the lines, it read like it was written by someone who was afraid he wasn’t going to make his fundraising goal—because it was. So my first rewrite was just an attempt to insert more of a sense of inevitable success into the narrative, and also inject it with more of my personality and off-the-wall absurdist humor.

My subsequent rewrites have largely been an attempt to tone down my personality and off-the-wall absurdist humor. Because another thing I’ve learned about Kickstarter is that it helps to have people with a critical eye look at your campaign before you launch. Again, this is advice you get from Kickstarter itself, and they have a preview function built into their interface that makes it easy to send your campaign page to folks, and easy for them to respond with feedback.

And the people I asked for feedback from really stepped up. Which sucked. Because they pointed out a lot of things I could be doing better. That meant I had to swallow my pride, admit they were right, and then get back to work.

Which I did. I pretty much addressed each feedback item individually, and incorporated almost all of them—even some I disagreed with. For one thing, asking for feedback is a tacit admission that it’s impossible to truly be objective in judging our own work. For another, I wanted to show the people I asked that I value their opinions and that I heard them. And maybe as a bonus that will inspire one or two of them to be social media cheerleaders for me. At any rate, I feel much better about the quality of my Kickstarter campaign page since making changes based on their feedback.

The final thing I’ll share was that even though I had originally planned to launch my Kickstarter campaign last October, I learned that it’s OK that I didn’t. In fact, it’s much better that I didn’t. Just yesterday I came across “Kickstarter Lesson #68: You Don’t Need to Launch Today,” on a site called Stonemaier Games, a company that has launched multiple successful Kickstarter projects. The post lists all of the wrong reasons for launching a Kickstarter too early, and I saw myself reflected back in every one of them. So I’m glad I waited and continued working.

But the wait is just about over. At a certain point, there’s a time to fish or cut bait. My Kickstarter campaign may not be perfect—in fact I’m sure it’s not—but it’s much better than it would have been had I launched last fall, and it’s much truer to me as a person than it was.

So, next Tuesday, May 20th, at 10am I will launch. Why Tuesday? Oh, because one more thing I learned is that Tuesday seems to be a good day to launch a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Thanks for reading, and please consider helping me out when my campaign launches. I’ll need it, and it will be much appreciated. You can keep up with how my campaign is going and other ManChildATX goings on at the ManChildATX Facebook page



Recent highlights from my neighborhood listserv



Hi, folks. We’re new in the “‘hood,” and have a lot to learn. Could someone please tell us when the ice cream trucks start coming around? Our kids are new to city living and we think they’d get a kick out of this old fashioned tradition.
Bill and Cassie on Shunk St.

Neighbors, I have some good news: I have successfully lobbied the City Council to add an agenda item to discuss a potential neighborhood-by-neighborhood referendum that has the potential to ban those parasitic ice cream vendors from our neighborhood forever. People in other neighborhoods can suffer through an endless loop of Popeye the Sailor Man performed on the synthesized glockenspiel, but as for me, I’m going to do everything in my power to get those blood-sucking weasels off OUR streets. And your little sugar-addicted munchkins be damned!
Harry on Muenster Cir.


Who do I talk to about moving polling place locations in the neighborhood? I feel the current locations are entirely too accessible to certain people who I do not feel should have such an easy time voting, if you catch my drift. If we moved polling places to a gated subdivision in the neighborhood, I feel our democracy would be better served. Or I’m open to the idea of limiting the franchise to property owners, if folks think that’d do the trick. Thoughts?
Sylvia on Marchan Ct.

Peace be upon all our neighbors. We, the members of the Hoffman Living Cooperative, are pleased to announce that we have a bumper crop of ragweed sprouts to share. Many find these sprouts to build up their natural immunity to allergies. Just two or three pounds of them yields enough juice for a delicious ragweed sprout and hay pollen smoothie. We’ll have flats of sprouts set out by the curb over the weekend. Take all you want but use all you take, and leave some for others. Don’t worry about the smell—that’s just the growth medium we recycled from our composting toilets. Enjoy!
Brother Fred of Hoffman Living Cooperative on Rapple Way

Hi, there. Does anyone know a good, reliable company to call for fire suppression? There’s a little conflagration at the back of our house and we’d like to get some recommendations for reputable fire suppression contractors fairly soon, and certainly before the fire reaches the baby’s nursery. Thanks.
Sally and Brad on Adnan St.




Cat not digging "canine clowntime"


Photo Gallery: Abandoned Full Poo Bags, Spring 2014

ARTIST’S STATEMENT: My work photographing full dog poo bags left lying around Austin’s Lady Bird Lake continues. As I spend more time with full dog poo bags, I can’t help find myself humanizing them. Who did they belong to? Who filled them with poo and then abandoned them for someone else to deal with? And what is wrong with those people that they would leave behind an innocent sac of polyethylene to represent their craven, callous selfishness? The imponderables draw me further into the poo bags’ world, and my art. Enjoy.

R. Malley


This poo bag casts a shadow as if to say, “Look at me! I’m a castoff!”

Taking the trouble to knot the bag, and then tossing it on the ground. Who is the real artist here? I’d submit it’s not me.

I was tempted to check to see whether this bag did indeed contain as large a dog log as it appears, or whether it had been “fluffed up” to help the dog’s owner feel like a “big shot.” But I didn’t.

Is that just another rock? No, it’s a full poo bag. Oh. Gross.

What does this say, if not, “I’m lonely?”Like me, you probably find the composition of this shot inspiring. All credit must go to the selfish asshole who discarded this poo bag on the ground.

Desolation and dread. And nothing else.

New growth, old, bad habits.

The simplicity of spring, captured in its essence. Plus, a full poo bag.


What's going on?

Greetings, Oblogatorians. Just a few quick notes on the sporadic and inconsistent posting schedule of late.

•I’ve been very busy with work, which is really great from a paying the bills standpoint, but kinda overwhelming.

•I’ve also been very busy getting ready to launch the Kickstarter campaign for my second ManChildATX album. I’ve been getting some great constructive feedback on my Kickstarter page, which means I need to do a little more work before I launch. I also need to have some breathing space in my work schedule around the time I launch, so I can obsessively hype it, monitor it and respond to any feedback I get from it. And breathing space in the schedule has been hard to come by. Finally, I’m also really, really nervous and scared to death about the whole thing. But my birthday is at the end of the month, and I definitely want to have it launched by then, so I can use that as a hook to guilt people into helping out. Great strategy, no?

•Lastly, thank you very, very much for reading Oblogatory. It means more to me than you could ever know.



Forget the Humor Code, here's why things are funny

For this they wrote a book?!

You’ve probably heard about The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, a new book by Peter McGraw and Joel Warner. The book is the source of news stories you may have read about the 10 funniest cities in America.

I’ve always thought that analyzing humor is a silly pursuit, both literally and figuratively. If McGraw and Warner really wanted to know what makes things funny, I could’ve saved them the trouble of writing a book and making all that money. There aren’t that many things that make things funny. In fact, here’s the entire list:

Expulsions of air, (any) body orifice from

Balls, appearance of, descriptions of, getting racked in

Old Jewish women, visits to the gynecologist of

Priests, rabbis and ministers, walking into a bar of

“The other,” otherness of

Intense sexual desire, desperate, ill-considered attempts to fulfill

Stereotypes, stereotyped behavior of

Farmers, daughters of

Donkeys, dicks of

“It’s the parrot.”



This Week in Chutzpah: The News Quiz

Which entity just announced that it discovered an accounting error that meant it had $4 billion less than it originally reported?
A) Vladimir Putin’s interior decorator
B) Bank of America
C) My lying cousin Stevie
D) Pfizer Pharmaceuticals
Answer: B

What is the approximate ratio of the penalty Bank of America will likely pay for their error to the penalty they would charge you if you overdrew your checking account by $7?
A) 1,000:1
B) I hate math
C) Will this be on the test?
D) Incalculably large
Answer: D

Where are the masked, highly-trained, Russian-speaking pro-Russian paramilitaries in eastern Ukraine most definitely NOT from?
A) Russia
B) Russia
C) Russia
D) Russia
Answer: A, B, C or D

When Vladimir Putin asserts that Russia has absolutely no designs on eastern Ukraine he means what?
A) Russia has designs on eastern Ukraine
B) Who wouldn’t want eastern Ukraine?
C) With those beautiful eastern Ukrainian women, come on?!
D) All of the above

Which news organization gave the most favorable coverage to racist/rancher/protest leader Cliven Bundy, whose main argument is that he should get to mooch off the federal government for free?
A) The Nation
B) Liberal Freeloaders Weekly
C) Government Teat Suckers Gazette
D) Fox News
Answer: D

The virtual silence from Fox News in reaction to rancher Bundy’s virulently racist remarks that African-Americans might be better off as cotton-picking slaves could best be compared to what?
A) A turd falling in a snow drift
B) A duck farting the Star Spangled Banner in a soundproof booth
C) Sean Hannity blowing smoke up his own ass
D) Any of the above
Answer: D

Speaking of racism, the most shocking thing about the tape secretly recorded by NBA owner Donald Sterling’s ex-girlfriend in which he revealed his racist attitudes was what?
A) His racist attitudes
B) His magnanimity at suggesting that the woman he was cheating on his wife with could have sex with Magic Johnson if she wanted to, so long as she didn’t post pictures of it on Instagram
C) The fact that Donald Sterling did not use the word “shvartza” one single time
D) Any of the above
Answer: D


Cat apparently unmoved by switch to indoor-only status


Netflix sleeper: Let the Fire Burn, a doc about the 1985 MOVE debacle

It’s interesting to watch a documentary about an event I remember reading about in the news. Invariably my perceptions of the event are revealed as superficial and colored by my own biases. So it was with “Let the Fire Burn,” a 2013 documentary produced and directed by Jason Osder and now available on Netflix I.V. The film covers the city of Philadelphia’s action to evict the group MOVE, a kind of back-to-nature urban charismatic cult, from a neighborhood row house, which resulted in the deaths of everyone in the house, including innocent children, and a raging fire that destroyed over 60 neighborhood homes. Comprised entirely of found footage, Let the Fire Burn doesn’t seem to want to foist conclusions on the viewer, aside from the obvious one that bombing a home and letting it burn while you know there are children inside is a craven, immoral law enforcement tactic. This film, along with Waco: The Rules of Engagement should be compulsory viewing for anyone in government tasked with confronting a messianic cult. Rule #1: when a group is predicated on the belief that the rest of the world is against them, don’t fuel their paranoia and sense of persecution. MOVE was far from blameless, but it’s easy to believe they became much more radicalized in response to violent, heavy-handed treatment as directed by the city government and police than they would have had they been left alone. 


NYT map shows boundaries of baseball loyalties

Austin: on the wrong side of the Nolan Ryan line

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.