- The Beverly Hills Teens Lived a Cursed World
What if we’re in hell and we just don’t know it? That’s the question explored by every single episode of Beverly Hills Teens, last seen in my 1-900-HOTDOG debut. We return to that poisoned well today with “Look Deep Into My Eyes,” a hypnotism episode that asks, “What if young Donald Trump had been given complete mental command of everyone he met?” It will not shock you to learn that it goes horribly awry! Pierce Thorndyke III steals a hypnotic eye marble and immediately–I mean this, without ANY hesitation–enslaves everyone he’s ever met who isn’t his mother, who is also Margaret Thatcher. I’m not saying you have to read this new comedy article of mine right now, but I am saying if you wait, it could be too late.
What’s a HOTDOG membership these days, $3 a month? You can’t even buy beer that cheap at a bar, and that’s a mere 20 minutes of happy conversation with a friend. This site gives you about 10 hours of belly laughs a month for that price. Are your friends that funny? Really? All your friends equal a Brockway + Seanbaby hybrid with a smattering of Us Usual Gang of Idiots? Well dang, good luck buying their company with $3 of beer a month, then.
Anyway, of course this episode’s about Pierce again, because as Radley says, “Pierce and hot dogs just go together.” I tried so hard not to make Trump comparisons throughout this piece, since Pierce was pretty clearly the snooty Transatlantic type from your Caddyshacks and Porky’ses.
Sidebar: Radley is voiced by a guy named Hadley, and this makes me gladly. Hadley Kay also did some adorable car commercials when he was six and seems to be a very good guy today, so I’m officially adding Radley to the list of ’80s cartoon characters I would invite to my next BBQ. I think he’d hit it off with Quick Kick from The Bionic Six.
But God, this episode oozes Trump. You know how Eric Cartman seemed ridiculously impossible until we saw Trump as he is? The ironclad ego from the most outlandish satire on TV was suddenly real and had nukes? Well this is the functional version. Pierce’s dysmorphia about being on a diet while eating nothing but sweets the entire episode…having someone else do his push-ups for him because he thinks he has a limited amount of life energy…so much Trump is in here. Pierce slips and trips half a dozen times in this episode, and that’s not counting his fall from the heavens from a runaway kite. No wonder the old man version, with much less cartilage, has the characteristically Trumpy fear of falling.
Pierce honestly believes he’s the most unselfish, self-sacrificing person seconds before he flash-boots his friends’ minds. Tell me that’s not the work of a guy who said, “I’m the most humble person you’ve ever met, believe me.”
And why does he do it? Because THEY ALL LAUGH AT HIM. This is exactly how Trump decided to run for president. It’s just the White House Correspondents’ Dinner if he’d been surrounded by teens in swimsuits, which is a thing he has bragged about doing.
It just continues. Pierce is buying everything he wants but will never use, and spending others’ money to do it. This entire episode is futilely warning us about our future Angry Bullfrog President: well-trod ground for this show, but note that he even hogs all the ice cream for himself: another Trump boast.
All of this without getting into the non-consensual cornering of women, too dark for me to analyze on a Tuesday morning. I’m…I’m scared to watch the rest of the episodes and see what other warnings await us.
- Buster Brown Is an Evil Ifrit (and Other Revelations From Our End Times)
Over at my most-beloved gig as a monthly columnist in the comedy website/burgeoning cult known as 1-900-HOTDOG, I wrote about the bug-eyed beauty Buster Brown. Buster is a very early character from the history of comics, who has not aged, sold more merch than Garfield, once adjusted for world population and production costs, and absolutely wants you to see and understand the meaning of his great work dissembling your loved ones. By the end, you too shall laugh. You cannot look away. You cannot blink. Buster’s eyes are your eyes now. Oh help. This is comedy.
Anyway, that kid Buster Brown is an evil little guy, and I made fun of him. Free to read, but wouldn’t you rather subscribe for mere pennies and get access to the funnier writers than me on 1-900-HOTDOG? You already pay $50 a month or more for streaming services that don’t make you laugh, so huck a buck at the comedians who do.
- I’m on Secretly Incredibly Fascinating’s Maps Episode
My old pal from Cracked and my current pal from 1-900-HOTDOG, Alex Schmidt, invited me and our fellow tubed-meat comedy colleague Dennard Dayle onto his big-fun podcast Secretly, Incredibly Fascinating. As a long-time listener, first-time caller, it was a pleasure to see Schmidty’s smiling face again now that he’s rolling in Jeopardy money and can lend me $5.
We had fun! How often can you say that in the 2020s? Go listen on the platform of your choice, and maybe support Alex’s efforts via Patreon.
Art of all three of us above is by still another Hot Dog chum and one-time She’s Famous Now concept artist Rusty Shackles! That’s it. That’s all of the links you need for today. Go listen to us make jokes about Ptolemy while you work out.
- Pumblechook & Figg 2022: 2023 Edition: Tumblefook & Pygge
Does that title make no sense to you? Then you have successfully filtered yourself out of the morass of old-timey obfuscation that is the first American edition of the annual Pumblechook & Figg Christ-Mass catalog: Tumblefook & Pygge.
Today’s piece is like the Appalachian Trail: very long, you do only as much of it as you want, and almost everyone in it is a filthy savage who will kill you for your fillings. No one will blame you if you quit while it’s still fun. The Tumblefook & Pygge catalog is a walk-a-thon, not a race circuit. If it’s hard going for you to read, just know it nearly murdered me to write. I started in November and put in double-shifts and still absolutely blasted my deadline. That joke about old west trains being late by weeks is based on fact, and I wrote it before I knew I was cursing the actual piece.
Anyway, the important thing is I have once again expunged the demon that begins to well in my brain on Black Friday, thanks to the hospitality of Brockway & Seanbaby. Please enjoy this extended Christmas season with cursed gifts.
- 1-900-HOTDOG Megajam: Japanese Commercials, American Celebrities
Teamworking Day! It’s Teamworking Day! All the Hot Dogs wrote up our favorite Japanese Ads starring U.S. celebrities, a topic I know a little something about. Our mandate: write a paragraph about short TV spots. Our execution: mini-essays, because no word count on this topic can compress comprehensively. If I hadn’t already covered some spots about the exceptionally high-strung Arnie ads in previous discourse, I might have zeroed in on very real groper Arnold Schwarzenegger getting accused of train-touching before energy drinks turn him into Scrooge McHomelander. But again: one paragraph, already exploded by something shorter and saner, like Sylvester Stallone squicking hot dogs with a fork to the most cursed snap of a casing ever recorded. On this micro-madness, I bid you and 2022 farewell.
- It’s Me Day Over at 1-900-HOTDOG
The Top Doggz are running a Columnist Appreciation Week in order of assimilation. You can read it (for free!) along with all their picks for my best articles of the year at 1900hotdog.com—or on the Patreon version if you’re feeling finicky. No one will blame you for taking a serving of the the internet’s best comments section with its worst 1-900-HOTDOG columnist. Anyway, here’s The Best Hot Dogs of 2022: Brendan McGinley Day. I hope Santa brings you better columnists if you’ve been good, or better columnists, but from the treacherous right, if you’ve been bad.
- Bill O’Reilly Can’t Conceive the Kids Are Alright
Last year I put on my hazmat suit and opened up The O’Reilly Factor for Kids, Bill O’Reilly’s scolding scribejob on the millennial youth. This year, I drank again from the well of my hatred, and 5000 words later, I had to cut out 1000 words that had no jokes, only vitriol. What’s left is the second installment of the annual Thanksgiving lecture from your ultimate Blustery Fox Uncle, a man who is not a dumbass, but too arrogant to ever inform himself of more than he needs to yell at everyone else.
It was one of the toughest articles I ever wrote, but it was also weeks of fun to put together, and I am pretty confident this is the funniest piece I’ve turned in over at 1-900-HOTDOG. Please enjoy The O’Reilly Factor for Kids II: Your Private Life, in which Unca Bill waxes and indeed froths on Money, Sex, Drugs, and other fun vices. This is peak and piqued and peaked Bill O’Reilly, so enjoy it; next year he’s going to take this bullshit into the public forum with what I’m confident will be terrible advice about navigating school from a man who, by his own telling, got frozen out of his own friend group because he was so likely to ruin a fun dance.
- ‘Dogs of Glory’ Is Good Music, Middling Christianity, Bad Dog
Today at 1-900-HOTDOG, I have completed my examination of “Dogs of Glory,” a Christian children’s song that is pretty good at music, a matter of personal taste in its Christianity, barely passing as kids’ entertainment, and very confused about what a dog acts like. It’s free to read, because the Overlords are running a Columnist Appreciation Week. What a great time for you to enjoy our fare and realize that it was worth the penny a month you could be paying. Heck, I write for the site and I still subscribe monthly.
This was one of the easiest Hot Dog articles I’ve ever written in terms of the jokes flowing, spending no more than a reasonable amount of time landing the completed version, and not being up until dawn finishing the images. At the same time, it was a challenge on two levels.
The first was I thought this was legitimately a nice song, and I wanted to avoid mocking Jim Steager for whatever faith gets him through the day. There’s not a thing wrong with singing a good tune about something that enriches your life. Believe it or not, I try not to be mean with my comedy unless I’m making fun of bonafide assholes (see The O’Reilly Factor for Kids). So I tried to engage with “Dogs of Glory” on a peer level of, “But come on, you know this isn’t a kids’ tune. You just wedged in a refrain that’s fun for the children to sing along with.”
The second hurdle was that even though the running premise of the site is that all these pop culture artifacts hail from a cursed world adjacent to ours, I felt I’d been leaning into the “Archons in meat suits” bit a lot, percentage-wise. It’s there in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, in The Hood, and probably a couple others not leaping to mind. I thought a neat idea instead would be “What if it worked and this song did bring him closer to God?” at the cost of diverting the faith of little children Jesus said was so powerful into his own personal golden ticket?
And the more I did that, the more I ran afoul of Problem A, above. Let’s be honest, this song is weird and silly, and not wholly cogent, but Steager’s a talented guitar player who’s done nothing worse than try to share something that enriches his life. The makeup’s well-done! This is a perfectly fine video from the dawn of the YouTube age that’s juuuust odd enough to be Hot Dog material. And why is it odd? Because like this column, it tries to do a few things that quarter its intent, rendering (or rending) it a kids’ song that isn’t for kids, a Christian song that sends a mixed message about a life of faith, and an internet-ancient artifact that, to our eyes now combines low-res video with religion and uncanny anthropomorphism to seem more sinister.
So yeah, I committed again to the Outside Thynges. It seemed kinder than a direct assault on a man’s relationship to his God. In this version, he tried to do a nice thing and it just plain turned weird. I wish I’d been able to, as my screenwriting teacher said, “look between a rock and a hard place to find a banana,” but no option C manifested to me.
Still, it was fun to write about and I think I made a decent rebuttal. Good dogs disobey, too. As the owner of a very smart dog, I like watching him think about whether to heed my commands or not. I can see him growing and making judgments. I just wish he’d listen 100% of the time I tell him to stop bothering the cat.
- I Completed Kevin Nash’s ’90s Image Comic
Do you remember 1999’s action sci-fi comic book Nash? Sure, we all don’t. I don’t even think 1999 remembered it, because wrestler/writer Kevin Nash put out two issues through Image Comics, but not a third. Regardless, it’s a trip, and I reviewed it for 1-900-HOTDOG before falling under its spell and fulfilling my longstanding vow to complete its tale. This was a heavy lift, but it was also a fun one for me, because I’ve always wanted to do a MAD-style spoof for a comedy article, which I don’t think will surprise anyone who’s opened a copy of DOSE!
Anyway, read and enjoy. It’s free, but you should subscribe to 1-900-HOTDOG on Patreon anyway, because a penny a month gets you 20+ days of laughter.
If you want to buy any of the original art or prints of the lettered pages, I’ve got a store now, where you can buy those along with my comics, maybe some limited edition merch will come along too. I have no desire to flood the planet with crap, but once in a while there’s a one liner or drawing that a few people want on a shirt or a button.Product successfully added to your cart. View Cart
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- ‘Now & Forever’ Is The Most Vanilla Ice Song
Sure, name one Vanilla Ice song and survey says it’s “Ice, Ice, Baby.” Name two and it’s “Ninja Rap.” Name three and I am growing uncomfortable with this line of questioning, sir, get out of my living room. But if you want the most characteristic Vanilla Ice song, it has to be the confused seduction of “Now & Forever” from his sophomore album, Mind Blowin’. Its supremely mixed messages are the basis of today’s column over at 1-900-HOTDOG, and I will definitively answer every question you have about it, while somehow leaving you with more than you came in with.
Whenever I’m stumped for a 1-900-HOTDOG pitch, I just ask myself what madness was so incongruent to my understanding of the world I have spent years trying to convince others of it. There’s always a CD or a comic or a bootleg VHS in my life’s purchases that furnishes new artifacts. You have to subscribe to read it, but you get a couple years’ worth of daily comedy articles for a penny a month, so what the hell? Here’s a buck, go buy yourself a lifetime subscription. (Note: You will die in the next decade. Sorry to tell you this way.)
- Remember the Experimental Theatre Ad for Legend of Zelda?
Advertisers in the ’80s had no idea what to do with video games. Think of everything you’ve seen depicted in Mad Men, now picture those exact same survivors of childhood in the Depression, but older and just burning their days until retirement, trying to sell 8-bit computer games to children in a decade exultant in its excess and overconsumption. The hippest among them was some Boomer with a coke habit that was taking its first steps into a problem. Now you understand how one of the very first commercials for the NES was an utterly bonkers avant-garde performance by a lone actor in a dimly lit soundstage running from imagined enemies. It is a guarantee that nobody involved knew what was happening in this game, and even less likely that they cared.
With all that in mind, I tried to devise how such a commercial could have been made, through the only medium it understands: experimental theatre. And yes, I do believe they rushed this ad out while waiting for a FedEx shipment of game footage to arrive from Japan. Enjoy it at the good, old-fashioned 1-900-HOTDOG or the Patreon of your choice.
- Baby Boxing Is the Secret Origin of the Navy SEALs
That’s my theory and you can’t convince me otherwise. The Navy sponsored baby boxing and 20 years later we got the first SEALs. Coincidence? An awfully convenient one, I say.
Oh, what’s that? Yes, you heard correctly. Toddler. Goddamn. BOXING.
Sure, we know about the kids brutalized in coke mines and upon printing presses, but the old days were also nuts for treating children like inexpensive toys. Come watch with me as a tiny tot is pressed to the mat relentlessly by a kid with six months’ growth and development over him. That is a significant portion of both their lives!
- Comedy at Ground Zero
Over at the ol’ 1-900-HOTDOG, I watched a couple of vintage U.S. Civil Defense videos on how to survive nuclear fallout without your shadow being burnt into a wall or puking up your own internal organs. “Walt Builds a Family Fallout Shelter” segues into “Fallout: When and How to Protect Yourself” with so much existential awe that there’s not even time for this puppet nightmare. Ah well, perhaps there will be time in our ongoing nuclear dread.
If you want the complete experience, read it while listening to Tom Lehrer, whom I played on loop with a couple quick breaks for Fishbone and Weird Al’s ground zero gallows glee.
- The Most Faithful* DCEU Production Ever Is a 1979 TV Movie
Are you scared about the future? Scared about the present? Scared there’s no future? Let the past reassure you, thanks to the most devoted* adaptation of the DC Universe ever put to film. Over at 1-900-HOTDOG I reviewed Legends of the Superheroes: The Challenge and The Roast, and found them strangely wonderful? They do exactly what they set out to do. I think they just caught the wrong part of the comedic era they nailed. Existing in the same universe as Adam West’s Batman, they indulged similar humor, but it had gone from sly and self-mocking to a post-Steve Martin ironic cheese.
Regardless, I was surprised how much more I enjoyed it than when I originally purchased a bootleg VHS of it at a comic shop in the ’90s. It’s exactly what it’s supposed to be. And yes, the people at the time knew how cheesy it was, and yes, that immediately hampered it. But it’s kind of fun and charming all the same. Go read my comedic take on Legends of the Superheroes at the very affordable price of one penny or more with 1-900-HOTDOG.
*One caveat: faithful to the Adam West version of Batman’s Earth.
- Red Shoe Diaries: “Kidnap”
Beautiful people! Boxy clothes! A narrowly heteronormative view of sexuality! Zero fear of AIDS! Welcome to Hollywood’s view of sexy in the ’90s. Oh, it was a strange time, when it was still shameful to be a Nazi, but The Simpsons caused an uproar for saying “Hell…”
The stage thus set, the early ’90s was a meager time to hit puberty. If you wanted eroticism, you had to steal your friend’s dad’s porn, only to learn that you weren’t much into Shitty-Titty Biddies Vol. XIV – The Biddies Hit the City. We had internet but barely any web to speak of. If you were willing to burn four of your ten AOL hours for the month, you could download LesbianPicnic2.jpg but there was a double-digit chance it would turn out to be Lemon Party, the rickroll of elder porn.
No wonder, then, that so many of us sexually imprinted on the wavy lines of scrambled premium cable. True, the photo-negative skin was blue, but it was bare. Besides, we had Stone Temple Pilots videos and AIDS panic; even unscrambled sex culture was weirdly distorted.
In this miasma did we find ourselves staring at the scrambled lines of Zalman King’s Red Shoe Diaries, whose incredibly troubling episode “Kidnap” is the subject of my latest for 1-900-HOTDOG. You may have watched it as the in-universe Friends episode S0E14, “The One Where Joey Films Another Softcore.” And like most hotdoggery, the longer you look, the darker it gets.
- ‘City Dragon’: This Indie Drama Doesn’t Know It’s a Kung-Fu Video Game
As I roll into another year as a 1-900-HOTDOG columnist, I’m starting to notice that the bulk of my accepted pitches are the DVDs or even VHS tapes that I bought as bootlegs in comic book stores more than half a lifetime ago, sprinkled with the occasional e-book I saved to mock back in the ’00s. Today’s latest offering was a street purchase around 2007 with the thought that I might send it to Seanbaby for him to work his genius on. Funny little world that it’s 2022 and now I’m taking a comedic look at City Dragon at long last under his employ. I think after years of sitting on this, I finally watched it in 2017? Good lord, life accelerates the more mass it acquires.
And yet with all that time–ten years to watch it (oops) and five to think about it, this was one of the hardest pieces I ever put together. There is so much insanity outside of the usual constraints of a low-budget action film. I exploded my word count, then refined EVERYTHING, and I think I spent almost a week alone working on the GIFs. To contemplate City Dragon is to become City Dragon and lose all perspective on it.
As proof, I make the case that the movie itself is actually a side-scrolling martial arts video game that gets infected by one of those “life is bland but hard” indie dramas for middle-aged people to smirk at thinking it’s witty even though nothing about them feels clever or amusing. The retrovirus rewrites the creative product into a host vessel for itself, until City Dragon becomes City Drag-On.
I will not recant my pun. I am infected by the brain-virus myself. If you want my good punchlines, you’ll have to pay for them by subscribing to 1-900-HOTDOG. I swear a lot in this article, so I can make all the dad jokes I want here.
- The Pumblechook & Figg 2021 Christmas Catalogue Is Here!
Not every year, but every year in the hearts of children around the world, I find enough time to put together the H.P. Dickenscraftian index of purchasable commerce-goods known as The Pumblechook & Figg Catalogue. This Skymall of nightmares is a lot of extra work, but so worth it when it runs and it looks like a real magazine page. Which it did! Today, over at 1-900-HOTDOG. Or on the Patreon if you prefer.
I can’t think of another type of article I enjoy doing so much as Pumblechook & Figg. It combines my love for ridiculous neologisms with playing around with language, specifically diction and inflection, of which British English is rich in choice. Also the fusion of the sacred and profane, if not downright eldritch, comes easily to a holiday about warmth and caring in a context of abused orphans, avoidable disease, a debt funnel, and downright war on women’s rights. The fact that I don’t even know if I mean 19th C. England or right now shows why the entries come easily to me compared to a regular article about some recent and real-life, cursed cultural artifact. Though this one’s made up, I think it’s still to spec for the Hot Dog mandate of innately wrong items from another world.
Speaking of appropriate subject matter: all of the Cracked entries for Pumblechook & Figg have focused on the various archons trying to push into our realm from Outside. But I’ve also leaned into that mighty hard for my first few Hot Dog articles. So I thought this one would transition a bit and set up a new storyline about a League of Extraordinary Ruffians. But just wait, they have an as-yet unrevealed Niles Caulder who will be revealed in 2022…
- Bill O’Reilly Was the Most Emblematic Asshole of the ’00s
I could fill a list with what’s great about writing for the 1-900-HOTDOG pirate ship and its kind yet twisted crew, and I wouldn’t be too many entries in before it comes up that no era or area are off-limits. If you can make a fighting manual from the 19th Century into comedy that fits the site’s voice, go for it. This is extremely cathartic for those of who watched the truth get mutilated in the W years, while Justice get covered up for modesty by a guy who thought marijuana was equivalent to crack.
There’s a lot I’ve written here, and most of it I’ve deleted, because I think the simplest thing to say was Bill O’Reilly was an asshole well before he was outed as a hypocrite. So for this Thanksgiving and the next couple following, I’ll be using his patronizing kids’ book to help prepare you for the same brand of bullshit from your extended family at dinner. (Shout out to the commenter on the 1-900-HOTDOG version; that singularity line was my favorite, too. Thanks!)
Play a fun game and guess which chyrons I’ve really seen on Fox’s news crawl, vs. which I was inspired to cobble up over the course of 90 minutes while listening to the channel’s anthem (“Tomorrow Belongs to Me”) on repeat the entire time.
(Sidebar: The Authoritarians is an incredible free read from the same time period that warned of the danger that being a willfully stupid asshole brings, and portended everything in the Trump administration in an urgent warning not to…y’know, elect a Trump-like administration. It’s also funny, smart, kind, and reads like supplemental material from The Handmaid’s Tale to make you mourn the lost society…except Robert Altemeyer lives in Canada, so I suppose he’s safe.)
- Jack Chick’s ‘The Crusaders’ Is a Yawn That Never Ends
If you didn’t get a Chick tract in your Halloween pillowcase this year, I’ve got you covered. I read Jack Chick’s The Crusaders #1 over at 1-900-HOT-DOG (and its Patreon). The Crusaders was Jack Chick’s first full-sized and full-length comic book. I grew up Catholic—definitely too Catholic, if you had to suffer through my company in high school and college—so I was used to both Chick tracts and their very deluded view on Roman Catholicism as a kid. The added hilarity, in a “laugh so you don’t scream forever” way, is just how much actual criminal activity the Catholic Church was guilty of in perpetuity while Chick was convinced they were involved in the lesser crimes of Satanic Illuminati conspiracy.
This issue the villain is the atheist and anti-religious USSR, which serves up special combo #3 in your Jack Chick evangelical themes menu: Persecution Complex. In these pages we meet The Crusaders, even though nobody calls them that and they’re not on a crusade so much as a supply run. Thrill as they visit Latvia, elude Soviet spies without realizing, escape a completely different middling-stakes trap than their mission, and lure an exploited woman to her death. Fun times in the ’70s!
- ‘Verotika’ Is the Worst Movie Ever Made
Do you think that’s a clickbait headline? Those are the most carefully chosen words of my existence, and I’ve had to counsel friends through trauma. I have never seen a film so ignorant in the language of film. It’s as though Glenn Danzig is inventing the medium from scratch in the 1880s, except if Glenn had directed A Trip to the Moon, it would be from the moon’s perspective, through the lens of the head trauma he suffers from the rocket, after the travelers left, and only concerned with what happens on the side facing away from Earth.
I get into the whyfores, wherefroms, and whatthefs in my latest 1-900-HOT-DOG column. (Also available in Patreon form.)
- Captain Marvel vs. Captain Ghost!
Hoo boy, this is a Golden Age villain like no other: a murderous 13-year-old child from Chattanooga. I examined his only appearance, a face-off against Captain Marvel (the Shazam one) to figure out which of this kids was the grimmest in their crimefighting. The answer is the one you’d think, but the reason–hoo boy, nobody could have seen that coming. Read the rest at 1-900-HOT-DOG.
- Light Emerging Is Quite the Rainbow of Bullshit
My second monthly column is up at 1-900-HOT-DOG (and on its Patreon), and hoo boy, it was a doozy. Light Emerging is a whole lot of wild claims, and even with hard cuts, I had to cram it into 800 words past my target word count.
I tried not to make fun of the author’s metaphysical beliefs so much as her assertions that science backed them up, even using an extremely broad definition of “science.” I grew up in a religion that taught me men in frocks can shoo away the devil with a splash of water, as if the lord of lies were an alley cat. And what’s extra crazy about that is the devil isn’t real. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled is convincing the world he exists.
But while the Catholic Church generally just publishes vague treatises on how the dawn of cloning affirms the dignity of humanity, and why an old man on a throne of gold wants you to send money, Light Emerging asserts many noumena that cannot be measured or determined as observable phenomena for anyone with enough midichlorians. Along the way, it gets so deep up its own ass about the fourth dimension and souls playing your
And to stave off the criticism that I don’t understand it, I get it perfectly. I spent all of 2020 researching emanative Gnosticism, and what that didn’t inform for this book’s overboiled Liber AL, you can almost entirely glean from reading Promethea and The Invisibles. In fact, you should. Those books are way more entertaining, and the made-up characters are likable.
Things like the Holy Spirit being a retcon of God’s wife Asherah, the energetic circuit from the Monad to the total sum of all possibilities and back again…you’d come to this in a short period of reading 20th century mysticism. It’s not that the mysteries of this book are over anyone’s head, it’s that it goes just as far as what feels right, makes up an immense amount without any basis beyond “Ancient peoples knew this,” and then dusts its hands, nodding “Just so!” in satisfaction.
Naturally the book has five stars across Amazon and GoodReads from readers who already had its premises in hand. The mark of any cult is how much time its members have to waste sitting around and asserting, “This is so true.” Like the entirety of comments on this bullshit TED Talk. Garbage like this makes The Daily Mail, of all dishrags, seem like the reasonable party, and that I can’t forgive.
I read a theory once that all this post-modern mysticism arises from our being wired to seek out threats and opportunities. In the absence of the former and the abundance of the latter, that animal instinct seeks out a channel, and so you get our current spate of anti-vaccine concerned moms who are “jUsT tRYiNg to eDucATe to make informed decisions!” But the volume of information isn’t equal to the quality of that information, and a widely repeated lie doesn’t have more merit
You want actual guidance from someone who has faced adversity? Here’s a TED Talk from Sam Berns, who passed away from progeria.
This kid had more emotional and mental balance by 17 than most of us figure out in our entire lives. He loved sports and band and scouting and comic books, and I think we could have had some nice conversations. The world needed more of him, and less of this spiritual filler.
Here’s another great talk. Robert Hoge was a child with a facial deformity, and suffered the most painful rejections from family and society from his cradle. That’s horrific for anyone, but especially a child who hasn’t been given the tools to deal with other people’s bullshit. The pain radiates from his speech, but so does the humor and the triumph of learning to love himself. I’d take five minutes of his life advice over a year of having my auric field’s soul-bonds reattached by a bullshit artist. It’s one of the most powerful speeches it’s ever been my pleasure to watch.
If I sound extra snotty about this, I’m tired. I’m tired of our national pastime of adding bullshit to things to sell solutions to it. Each country, as Fargo‘s Loy Cannon observed, has its own type of criminal, and America’s is the con artist. We have so much and share so little, our culture is not to get what we need to be healthy and happy, but to secure against fear of not having enough. Our national talent is for hucksters to trick us into robbing ourselves.
So I’m tired of the Joel Osteens, the Trumps, the Falwells, and the endless array of purported psychics showing up to sell you books about seeing leprechauns pretending to contact dead celebrities, or extending parents’ grief with false hope of aid in the search for lost children. It’s bullshit: the unnecessary addition of material makes a situation worse, and no other country does bullshit better than America.
And I’m tired of how hard we make it to get actual help. I found out while I was working on this column that cancer had claimed my fellow Cracked and CBS writer E. Reid Ross. Ezra was a must-see when I’d get anywhere near Baltimore, or if he’d be in NYC. He was funny and he was smart and he loved this planet’s wealth of weird animals, and I miss him. No amount of gold could cure his cancer, Barbara Ann Benton. His 2020 was full of a lot of pain and struggle and doctors, who were probably volunteering their every free minute to repel the holographic vibration known as COVID-19. They took exceptional steps to help him. I couldn’t go see him.
There’s a society among Cracked contributors: we recognized that we had found the focal point for the smart-aleck kids in class who now just wanted to make each other laugh. The best compliment and the fastest camaraderie was how often one of us would chuckle or guffaw reading each other’s work. Ezra’s work was always entertaining to read through for pleasure before giving it editorial eyes. If you’ve ever laughed at his work on Cracked or CBS, I hope you’ll plant a tree in his memory or buy his books or donate to help cover his family’s costs.
Anyway, enjoy the lines I had to cut for space, I guess.
Why does really good soup smell indistinguishable from terrible body odor?
What does the human soul taste like?
Cleaning crystals of low vibrations with an energy blast from your third eye and a karate chop.
Who needs data and peer-review when you possess the Eye of Agamotto?
Name two things in your life that cave dwellers made better than you enjoy now, and neither of them can be “tender love under the stars.” Food, medicine, and video games are all a thousand times better than any point in history.
- War Crime Comics: The Hood
I am now a monthly columnist at 1-900-HOT-DOG, building upon my previous guest posts. Featuring a snazzy new painting of moi by old friend and polymath comic wizard Michael Bramley!
First article: War Crime Comics: The Hood, a Nerding Day adventure in which I look into the Golden Age of superhero comics to examine not all that glitters there. It turns out there was a superhero who was racist even by the standards of the 1940s, an era when our most successful left-wing President was creating concentration camps for Japanese people, and segregating Black soldiers was military policy.
It’s free to read, so you can have your bitter laugh on Patreon or the website, your pick.
I don’t think history will look with exceptional favor on our current state of affairs, either, and the sheer number of people cool with racism’s tenacious grip on our society: the pushback on securing basic human rights for–cripes, everybody right now–is depressing. Latin American families are getting separated and caged at the border, Black people have to plea not to be murdered while many white folks are more concerned that they’re protesting their killings in the “wrong way,” Asians are getting randomly attacked by idiots, Middle-Eastern and Muslim folks are entering their third decade of institutional mistreatment like they’re not “real” Americans.
White folks…well, a lot of us are trying to do the right thing and support everyone else’s bid for fair treatment, but then again, a lot of Nazi dickheads are enjoying a moment. The whole damn world’s more insane than ever. So click above for jokes at the expense of racists and below for sober musings on comics’ long (and modern) history of racism.
The summer I interned at DC, one of the editors had an astonishing collection of racist memorabilia on his wall. He was Black, and I recall his collection was meant to mock the small minds who had produced it. Each item was like a bagged trophy, one more invasive species pulled out of the mental landscape and detained forever.
Or maybe he just thought it was hilarious how wrong people could be, I don’t know. He was a cool guy and it’s amazing that a midtown office would permit such a thing in the 21st century, but Warner Bros. was only vaguely conscious of DC at that time, despite Bat-bucks rolling in through the ‘90s. I don’t recall anyone having a problem with it; everyone knew it was, one way or another, meant to show how wrong the original intent was.
I also wonder if it wasn’t a solid declaration of intent in a very white space and an old boy network. I think at the time there were more Black creators than Black characters, and not many of those, either. Christopher Priest has written about the kind of casual racism he endured, and Harvey Richards, whom I spent more than a few happy afternoons chatting with and learning from, absolutely languished at the assistant level far longer than I’d seen other editors do. I remember wondering about it at the time.
It’s worth noting that in Priest’s essay, he mentions Larry Hama as a bastion of humanity, based on his own experiences. I had the good fortune to meet Hama at a convention a few years back and we had a lovely chat about G.I. Joe. I’ve never been lucky enough to meet Priest and chat with him about his work on Green Lantern.
I don’t know. I’ve said and done a hundred things I’m mortified to think back on, and I’ve been lucky enough to apologize for some of them, but I like to think I’ve at least tried to grow as a person and question my sense that I’m a good guy, at least enough to stress-test my self-image. There are times when I think being somewhat frozen out of comics is a mark of good character. The people who have had custody of our heroic ideals for decades often seem more like villains lurking among the heroes.
It’s inevitable we all do bad, dumb, wrong things. I think the difference is it’s not okay to not question those things if someone tries to point out to you they’re wrong. I’ve been called out for stuff I’ve written. Some I’ve stood by, some I’ve realized my error. Sometimes the former reaction grows into the latter. But you have to keep trying to grow yourself.
Anyway, like Batman with his cave trophies, these racist relics were stripped of some malevolence in the aforementioned editor’s possession. He controlled them now. To display them was to boast of their defeat. Any interlopers into the Bat-Cave would have known to beware; their gruesome ideologies were thin.
Or maybe I’m just spitballing, I dunno, it’s been 10 years since I’ve seen him. I’ll ask him about it if I ever do again. Maybe he just thought they were funny because they showed how stupid their authors were.
DC gave interns compilations of all its releases, including The Spirit collections featuring Ebony White—whom I didn’t even recognize as supposed to be human the first time I encountered him in The Smithsonian Collection of Comics at age 10. I thought he was an imp or some other type of Mxyzptlxian creature. That same collection featured Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo and Impy, who was an imp but whom I definitely recognized as an archaic stereotype, even at that tender age.
(Although I did recently find out that the word impi means war regiment in Zulu. Zulu warrior garb seems to be the visual basis for the character, so there’s that. If Darwyn Cooke turned Ebony into a normal kid I guess any reboot is possible.)
They also passed me a reprint of Detective Comics #1, where a white dude goes to a restaurant and just starts beating up Asian people because he thinks they look shifty. Its cover was astonishing in its caricature of a Chinese villain as a gargoyle. In a tightly framed headshot, the book has nothing to declare, no selling message other than “here there be dragons.”
All of which is to establish that you can’t study comics without encountering a lot of racism in its native environment. All of this stuff is still out there, and while less is being produced, it’s also embedded in the otherwise greats like Eisner and McCay. So I wrote this piece on a particularly egregious example for 1-900-HOTDOG. The Hood spent a couple of years espousing hateful opinions, before crescending into full-out war crimes. All of it is presented as heroic. These days, it’s an artifact of an uglier time, but not one as dead as I’d like it to be.
DC’s bringing back the Milestone line as I write this. Though I read them somewhat late, I remember clipping all the newspaper articles about them at the time—any article about comics was validating in the ’90s. I read a few of my cousin’s and related most to Hardware, a more realistic-tech Iron Man with a great premise that his civilian identity’s mentor was his superhero persona’s arch-enemy. When I finally revisited them, I was old enough to appreciate the subversions of tropes. A particular standout was Icon, who finally gets woke about injustice and saves the day, only to end his first issue surrounded by policemen who are convinced he’s the criminal.
Just before Dwayne McDuffie passed away, I was having drinks with Ivan Cohen, who had hired me for my DC internship. I was talking about belatedly reading the Milestone line, and how it showed all of the man’s talent for creation that blossomed on the Justice League animated series. Just how consummately great he was. We toasted him in absentia, a comic writer I’d never met, but one I could admire enough to envy. A few days later he was gone. It’s one of comics’ greatest losses, and it grieves me I’ll never get to say thanks for the stories. But his influence and works have rippled, and I think, if I can end all this on an upbeat note, he proved why diversity matters for comics: how many great stories have to be told that can only work from certain character’s perspectives.
Cheers to you, Mr. McDuffie. I hope we can live up to your vision for the industry and its output.
- 1-900-HOT-DOG: The Return of Count Spirochete
Our tour of Etiquette: Naval Style continues at 1-900-HOT-DOG with The Return of Count Spirochete. Newly empowered to seduce blondes and brunettes, our brave sailors found their lives now imperiled by the dreaded VD. I learned a lot watching this PSA for comedy, and most of what I learned involved terrible things happening to babies, which–gang, is not comedy, not at all. I think we’ve all learned today that there’s a dark side to sexually transmitted infections. Anyway, read it on the site above or Patreon, it’s free on both.
- 1-900-HOT-DOG: Blondes Prefer Gentlemen
Back in the ’60s the Navy realized that trapping a bunch of young men in metal canisters far from daily society was not the incubator for social poise that they needed. Discipline? Yes. Grace and charm? Not innately, no. So they made two films, “Blondes Prefer Gentlemen” and “How to Succeed With Brunettes” that have since passed into legend. I would summarize them as “Stop being a disgusting, selfish pig, you pig,” and since Brockway and Seanbaby gave me the green light to do so, summarize I did. Enjoy my latest comedic entry at 1-900-HOT-DOG, free to read on the website, though if you enjoy it, you should really join their Patreon. Five bucks a month gets you thirty mornings of content: a worthy price for your only guaranteed laughs in this dire world.
Honestly, though, the real get is the $10 tier. That gets you into the belly-shaking viewing parties that have become my biweekly joy. Anyway, enjoy my stuff! Tell them you want me to do more, and we’ll all share these fun times together…in naval hell.
- 1-900-HOT-DOG: Where Are the Beverly Hills Teens Now?
Ugh, teens, they’re the worst. Except for the elderly, who are trying to take us all with them when they die. And middle-aged people, we’re boring. And children, who are irrational animals. And babies, who pollute everything. Anyway, the worst teens, as you might expect, are the rich ones. That’s why over at 1-900-HOT-DOG I checked in on the 1980s to see where the Beverly Hills Teens are now. Did any of them gain any manners or personality? Lucky you, you can read it to find out, because it’s the free article this week.
- I’m Talking Comics on ‘The Dogg Zzone 9000’
If you’re not following the Robert Brockway/Seanbaby weaponized comedy of 1-900-HOT-DOG, what a terrible way to find out you are your own antagonist. And speaking of secret identities, I’m talking superhero comics with the Hot Dog top dogs themselves in the latest episode of their Dogg Zzone 9000 podcast, “Comic Books That HAD to Be Comics.” We found ourselves some interesections of awesomeness and absurdity in graphic novel format–or in the case of my pick, disposable pulp newsprint where the writers couldn’t even remember that The Puppeteer was actually Captain V and his pet raven was actually an eagle.
Then there’s a weirdly Catholic (or maybe Catholically weird) X-Men storyline that doesn’t deal nearly as much with death and resurrection as Sean’s Avengers pick. All this, couched in me vs. Brockway for winner of the saddest recipe from Sean’s dueling Microwave Meals for One cookbooks! Listen below!