Thursday, August 31, 2006

Leaving on a… something or other

Ha! They tried. They tried really hard. Hell, they tried it twice! But I’m stronger than they realized.

After 11 months and some number of days, my imprisonment here in Iraq is at an end. A little thinner, more muscular (paying attention ladies?), bald, and full of terrible memories and nightmares of the suffering and horrible sights of mayhem that I have bared witness to. But enough of the good times. I’m also a little battle weary and tired, with a slight falter in my step, but still strong and determined to continue. As much as they tried, the military (not to mention the American government) couldn’t destroy my will to live, (and eventually make a lot of money as a world-renowned humor writer.) I have emerged triumphant!

This isn’t the first time they’ve tried this you know. Back in 2003, the military, scared by my renegade and free-thinking ways, tried to kill me by sending me to Iraq right when a potentially dangerous land war was breaking out. And if that wasn’t enough, when the powers-that-be saw just how hard to kill I was, they moved me around as much as they could to all the violent places in Iraq. So I had to make my way from the south to the north. Through An Najaf, Karbala, Baghdad, Tikrit and Tal Afar, all the way to Mosul and all points north. And, as if that weren’t enough they sent me to Iran, Syria and Turkey. But after a year of dangerous battles full of gunfire and explosions, (I even almost had to fire my rifle once! It’s crazy!) I made it through, and was allowed to return to the country of my birth, my home, who’s name escapes me since I’ve been over here for so long.

I thought that I was in the clear. I figured that a year spent in Oblivion was enough, I’d served my time and I was free to be a regular person once again. Little did I know that the army hadn’t forgotten about me, nay, they were just lulling me into a false sense of security. The fiends!

A year and a half later they tried again, and I once again found myself in Iraq. Doomed to either die here in some extremely messy way, or make it back to America after another year of hell.

Well, their plan didn’t work. Other than a minor incident with a convoy and a road-side bomb, (not enough damage to get some truly kick ass, government funded cyborg/six million dollar man-style body part enhancements) and some mortars and rockets, nothing happened to me.

So, if all goes well and these trends continue, then by the time you read this entry (and then wait another six or seven days or so) I should be home chillaxing with all the finer points of the American Way of Life: alcohol, greasy fried foods and terribly made porn full of people who look like they’d rather be having root canals than continue in the activities that people buy those movies for.

And this time I’ve got a plan to not get deployed out here again. I’m getting the hell out of the army! Five years as an indentured servant is enough, don’t you think? I’ve served my country or whatever, I’ve spent time with thousands of my mentally retarded military brethren, meeting and fighting all types of smelly foreigners. I think I’m due a rest and the chance to collect on all those free drinks I can get at bars by showing my military I.D. (that and the military groupies are about the only perks of the job. Besides legally killing people, of course.)

There’s only one down side to this plan. The military is that that one ex you had who thinks that just because they were with you once, that they can interrupt your life whenever they want for the rest of your life. See, even though I’m getting out in November, I still technically have another three years when they could call me up and have their perverted way with me. And don’t think it can’t happen. They’ve done it plenty of times before. It’s even worse for officers, you could be in your 60s and they could still force you to come back to the military!

GUY: Hello?
MILITARY: Is this the Shady Acres Nursing Home?
GUY: Speak up young man, I can’t hear you!
MILITARY: We’re looking for Mr. Harold P. Weschierbaum. We want to tell him that he needs to report to his nearest army post.
GUY: What was that? I can’t hear you, my hearing aide’s on the fritz!
MILITARY: We’re looking for Mr. Harold P Weschierbaum!
GUY: Sorry, I can’t talk anymore, my dinner mush is here, and they have to change my diaper and put my bib on before I eat.

Are these the kind of people you want defending the American Way of Life? If not, feel free to enlist, I know of at least one opening coming up soon.

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

I do declare suh!

Last week, while I was cruising the internet for gay midget animal porn, (you know, doing the usual) I was approached by my boss, (since I’m in the Army I have many bosses. Seven in fact. This boss was the top boss tha cappo de tutti cappos, or whatever the hell it is.)

Now typically, being approached by my boss freaks me out because I have to look busy and pretend to have military discipline and bearing, and I’m way too lazy to do that shit.

But this time was different.

He walked up to me with an air of reverence, and dare I say it…awe. In his hand he held two official and important looking documents. He smiled at me and my blood froze in my veins, because his smiles either mean something bad, or that he’s about to tell me a joke that only he thinks is funny, yet I will be compelled (by my stellar upbringing) to chortle along with him.

He handed the official papers to me and told me that the Governor of Kentucky, the honorable Ernie Fletcher, along with the Secretary of State, Trey Grayson, had conferred upon me the rank of Kentucky Colonel!

That’s right, I’m a colonel. And not just any colonel, you plebs, a Kentucky Colonel! And you will all address me with the privilege my rank entails.

How did this happen? You are probably asking yourself. How is it that Joshua managed to obtain that lofty and oft sought after goal of becoming a Kentucky Colonel? Well, that’s for me to know and you to spend the rest of your lives contemplating. A true colonel never tells his secrets.

There is an unfortunate obligation to being a Kentucky Colonel. One I’m not sure I can live with, but I must if I am to retain my commission. I must become a man of honor. A man of integrity, loyalty and high moral standards. In fact, I must be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent, (extra credit to anybody who gets that reference.)

I find that becoming all these things is very difficult, because I’m not a man of my word, I’m a liar and a cheat. I’m also a very gifted manipulator. All of these skills must be unlearned. I have to figure out how to tell the truth! I don’t even know what the truth sounds like! I’m not sure that I can craft my mouth into the proper shapes for truthful words to come out! And having to make promises, and keep them is revolting to me! To say things and mean them is so against my nature that I don’t even know how to start. This isn’t going to be easy.

On the other hand, I am now privy to the 11 secret herbs and spices, so I guess it all evens out.

It will be fun to gather once a year and converse with my fellow colonels whose names escape me for the moment, but I believe they’re all rich and powerful white men of some standing in the respective fields and communities. People like Bill Gates, Bill Clinton and the Hamburglar.

I know what my black brothers and sisters are saying to themselves. They’re calling me a sell out and an Uncle Tom for joining the Confederate Army. But, this isn’t truly the case my friends. Rather, I’m more like a spy, bringing down the army and those racist, southern cracker states from the inside! Black Power!

By this time next year I will have sold all of Kentucky Friend Chicken’s secrets to Popeyes and run them out of business. Then one by one, the southern states will fall before my might and become upstanding states where people don’t have sex with family members, drink moonshine and eat what they find in the road.

After learning of my new title, I immediately had myself a shot of Southern Comfort, a mint julep and commissioned a painter to capture my likeness in a portrait worthy of my splendor. I feel that it is the essence of who I am, and I’m sure that it will make a fine addition over my fireplace next to my stuffed heads of WPs who have gotten on my nerves.

Then it’s on to my next plan: taking control of the French Foreign Legion.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Joshua’s Guide to Being a Super Hero

Your life sucks. Don’t try to lie, don’t pretend it’s not. As interesting as you think your life is, it’s not really that exciting. I mean, when was the last time you jumped a building in a single bound? Can you remember ever being faster than a speeding bullet? Doubtful. How about saving the world from an evil alien invasion? Done that recently? I didn’t think so.

See, the problem is that you are not a super hero. But all that can change. All you have to do is follow my simple guide to being a superhero and in no time you’ll find yourself wearing skin-tight Lycra bodysuits and running around city rooftops.

The Origin

The first thing you have to do is figure out how you’re going to acquire your super powers. Some of the more popular options involve mutation in some way. You can be bitten by some radioactive animal, thereby being imbued with its natural abilities, (just make sure it’s a worthy animal, there’s not much worse than being bitten by and being imbued with the natural abilities of, say, a hamster.) Or you can be doused with radioactive material. But be warned of this second option, you could either end up losing one of your senses, or you could end up a hideously deformed creature of super-human size and strength, and that’s never fun.

There are otherworldly options. You could have your powers given to you by a benevolent alien. Going with this origin is good if you’re the social type and you like meeting new people. Another good one is to actually be born as an alien and come to Earth, but this requires a fair amount of pre-planning, so it might not be the best idea for you.

For those do-it-yourselfers out there, you could study the occult and become a powerful sorcerer, (or sorceress.) If you’re more of a hands-on kind of person you can build your own robotic suit, or suit of armor and use that to fight crime.

You can be disfigured in an accident, or lose body parts and be partially rebuilt with some cool cyborg attachments or give yourself over to the U.S. military and have them turn you super with a serum or something. But I don’t trust our government, so I’d never go that route.

Some people don’t actually want super powers. If you’re one of these people then your origin needs to be filled with personal suffering and misery in order to give you the proper motivation to fight injustice. The typical non-super power background involves entire families dying. If you’re not particularly fond of the people in your family, you might want to consider this origin.

The Powers

Typically, super heroes have two powers, one main, and one secondary. The most popular super power is, of course, super strength, usually followed by flight. But you’re not limited by just those, you can also be invisible, have power over lower life forms, shoot some kind of energy beam from somewhere on your body, move really fast, have super intelligence and so forth. You’re limited only by your imagination. But don’t get greedy. Super heroes with too many super powers, or who are just ridiculously strong usually have some kind of flaw or allergy to something common. Be careful!

If I could pick a super power, it’d be instantaneous transportation. I’d be able to travel anywhere….instantly! It’s better than flying, though I have to admit, it’s more suited for super villains than super heroes. For a secondary power, I guess I’d have to go with telepathy, so I could finally figure out what the hell girls are thinking about that causes such crazy things to come out of their mouths. But I digress.

Whatever powers you pick, don’t be afraid to see how far you can take them. Take the Flash for example. He took his ability to run really fast and experimented with it. Now he can vibrate his hands really fast too. I have no idea how helpful that is as a super power, but he can do it!

That’s all the space I have for this week. Tune in soon when I go over such things as choosing a super hero name, costume and location. Are cities really the best place to battle the forces of evil? What about the suburbs?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Ten years later, who's laughing now?

There was a time in my life when I wasn't all that cool, (I know, shocking to think of isn't it?) and that time was for a brief, crazy period that occurs in everybody's lives called high school. (You can already smell the hallways and disgusting cafeteria in your head can't you?)

In two years my high school reunion will take place. I have been training for this event forever! People talk about athletes being dedicated and training hard? But none of them have been as dedicated as I have over the last eight years to make sure I can show up the majority of my former classmates when the time comes!

I'm like Tim Robbins in The Shawshank Redemption, minus the anal-rapings. He had but one goal for the 20 or so years he was locked up in that prison, and everything he did, no matter how inconsequential was to further that goal. While all of his chums were having fun playing Who Dropped the Soap? He was making moves! Planning! Plotting! Digging a big ass tunnel with a spoon! Now that's dedication.

I feel that I have operated in a very similar manner to the character in that movie. See, when you're a kid you pretty much forced to go to high school, (you're not forced to stay there though, those places were like revolving doors!) and when you graduate, or drop out, or get kicked out, (or all of the above, but not in that order) you're not surrounded by so many people again for the rest of your life. It can be kind of weird. Your social circle can get much smaller and youve got less people to compare yourself with. Because, as we all know, thats the only way to know how successful you are in life.

Back in the day you could have been the biggest loser in your peer group, but at least you weren't as messed up as that one ESL kid who ate thumbtacks for lunch. In high school there was always somebody worse off than you, (unless youre William Hung or a guy named Francis) and you could always take comfort in that.

Now fast forward ten years; many changes have occurred in the last decade. Remember that really popular group of kids? The ones that had cars when they were, like, 13 years old, and ass loads of money without actually having jobs? Remember how you envied them because they had discovered sex, alcohol, drugs and skipping school light-years ahead of you? Remember how they always seemed to have the nicest, most in-style clothes and no problems with oily skin, while you had so many pimples people didn't even know what your natural skin color was? (Do I sound bitter?)

Well, all those kids have gained ridiculous amounts of weight, live about five blocks from their moms' houses and sell shoes at the mall for low-income people. Either that, or they're servers at your local kitchy-family-themed-nausea-inducing restaurant, (would you like to try our stuffed potato zingers tonight? Theyre starchriffic!).

And all those nerdy kids that used to get beat up all the time, wore pants about four inches too short, had haircuts from the seventies and didn't know their reproductive organs could be used for anything besides urine evacuation; are now nerdy adults with pants about four inches too short, haircuts from the seventies and more money then they know what to do with.

And, of course, a bunch of people are dead. Sad, but it happens. Those of us who are more cold-hearted than the rest can clean up by placing bets on wholl be worm food by then. The worst is when kids die while youre still in high school and everybody is pretty apathetic about it. I remember, (and those of you who went to high school with me might remember this) one morning there was an announcement that a student had died in his sleep the previous Saturday morning after being out of school for three weeks with some kind of illness. That's when we all looked around and realized that none of us had seen the kid in weeks and what worse is that none of us seemed to notice he was gone. At least he didn't have to deal with cafeteria food anymore.

What about me? Well, I wasn't in the popular group, (as stated by the first paragraph) nor was I a nerd (as my 1.3 GPA can attest to) I was just that guy. I was there, I went to class most of the time, I did my homework when more important things werent going on, (i.e. cartoons) and I graduated just like the other 600 people in my grade.

But when this reunion comes around, I won't be that goofy, teenaged version of myself. I will be an experienced, interesting, conversation-stealing, mouth-watering, high-octane, fat-pocket-having, collar-popping Dynamo! People who shunned me back in the day will grovel at my feet. People who were smarter than me and proved it by consistently getting straight As (and crying if they got a B; remember those people?) will bow down before my globe-trotting high-stepping lifestyle. I'll be unstoppable!

I'm going to play it cool at first. I'll show up dressed like a bum or something, maybe arrive in a beat up old pickup truck. I'll look unkempt and pitiful, like I did absolutely nothing worthwhile with myself for the last ten years, (which is pretty close to the truth) I might even smell of B.O. and excrement. Then, when I see that everybody is shaking their heads ruefully at me, and wondering what the hell happened to me, I'll drop the facade and be revealed in my true splendor. Women will swoon, men will loose control of their bladders, babies will weep and old people will, umm, I dont know, have heart attacks or something. It will be magnificent!

Don't worry about missing it, I'm going to bring a camera crew.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Whose cuisine reigns supreme?

There are two different types of people in the world, vegetarians and omnivores, (well, I guess three if you want to include vegans, but I don’t because they’re just too depressing to consider and their lifestyle is an aberration, blasphemy against all that is good and decent. Actually, I suppose that there could be some carnivores out there somewhere too, but those people are zombies and don’t count for the purposes of this column.)

Okay, well, that was a rather large digression in the last paragraph, so let me try starting this over.

Other than vegans (which I’ll get into later) and zombies (who don’t count) there are two types of people in the world: vegetarians and omnivores. These two groups have two different approaches when it comes to the consumption of fuel for the body. Which approach is better? you might ask. What is healthier for the body yet also tastes delicious at the same time? What will give my body energy and also keep my mind functioning well?

Do I look like a dietitian to you people? I don’t know any of that junk!

There is no objective side in this debate. Omnivores tend to look down at vegetarians as the misguided reprobates they are, and vegetarians look down at omnivores as stubborn, thick-headed enablers of animal abuse. Who’s right?

Wayyyyyyy back, when I was in college, (I went purely as research for the blog columns where I talk about school) I had a friend, (yes, I had a friend. A few of them in fact, and I didn’t even have to pay them off) we’ll call him “Charlie Brown” (although his real name is Jimmy Fossie, of Cleveland, Ohio.)

Charlie Brown was a typical late-teen, early-20s white American male. He loved good food, good weed and extremely alcoholic liquors. I remember that often was the time when we would enjoy some chicken at the KFC buffet, or burgers or anything meat-related. Those were the halcyon days, my friends. But things can never stay good can they? No, life has an ugly way of showing up in the middle of your good times and repeatedly kicking you in the crotch while wearing soccer cleats.

I don’t know exactly how it happened, but one semester, Charlie Brown took a class, (I don’t know which one, perhaps psychology or some other sort of pseudo-science) where the teacher must have incorporated brain washing in his lectures. One day Charlie was a regular manly-man like the rest of us, the next he was a vegetarian (implying that vegetarians are less manly).

“How did this happen?” his friends wailed. “Who could have done such a thing to our poor Charlie Brown?” There was much pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth that day.

Once we had calmed down, the dust had settled and the police had left the scene, Charlie Brown explained it to us. It seems that animals are treated in incredibly horrible ways in farms and slaughtering houses. They are cut up while still alive, mutilated, forced to live in cages the exact same size as themselves, (but with a dozen other roommates anyway) and victims of conditions that would make the most shocking and brutal horror movies look like Blue Clues in comparison.

It’s much too much for some people. They see how awful the lives of these animals are, and they decide to take a stand in protest, by not eating the meat of our fellow travelers on this big blue marble we call Earth, (don’t get me started that name again!). These people are vegetarians. This was the fate of good ‘ole Charlie Brown.

At first we all thought it was a phase. “Ha!” we’d say to him. “Hahahahaha! You’re not going to last the week! You love meat too much!”

Then it became, “You’re not going to last the month!”

Then, “You’re not going to last the year!”

Until years went by and still the flesh of a dead animal had not passed through his lips. We still try the occasional, half-hearted “You’re not going to last the decade!” but we don’t really mean it anymore.

And so it came to be that Charlie Brown joined the legions of vegetable-eaters.

But at least he’s not a vegan.

See, being a vegetarian is one thing. I personally don’t get it, (to be honest and insensitive and completely like other omnivores, I don’t care how the animals are treated and I don’t care to know how they’re treated. It’s no skin of my back to be apathetic to their plight. That’s why we eat ugly animals. If we ate cute little puppy dogs and kittens every woman in the world would be a vegetarian.) but I can respect it, (after all, I like vegetarian eggrolls, and meatless pizza is still the ultimate food.)

Vegans, on the other hand, are a complete enigma to me. I could never imagine not being able to eat things made with milk, eggs or cheese as well as meat. How limiting is that?! What’s left: cheerios? Blades of grass? And what’s really weird is that vegans know that they’re cutting a major portion of essential (and delicious) stuff out of their diets, which is why they try so hard to find soy and tofu replacements. I almost pity them when they come out with their eggs substitute, (new and improved tofeggs! They almost taste like something!) their soy mayo substitute (Enjoy veganese*, now with a more stupid name!) and their weird, fake cheese made of some unidentifiable substance, (ChReese† is dolphin safe!).

When you’re replacing most of the food you’re supposed to eat with stuff a dog wouldn’t consume, (and remember, they eat their own vomit) then I think you’ve lost sight of what eating is about. It’s about food that tastes good because that’s the way it was made, not food substitutes that taste almost but not quite like something that actually does taste good, (damn that sentence was hard to get through). I mean, if I want to see a titty but there are no girls around, I’m not going to ask a guy to show me his nipple! It’s just not the same! (Though I have seen some girls with nipples hairier than guys’ nipples. Gross!)

On the other hand, we omnivores have scrapple‡, so I guess we’re even.

*A real product


Imagine all the shit left over in slaughterhouses after they get all the possible cuts of meat. All that stuff is made into hotdogs. Now, imagine all the shit left over after they made hotdogs: hooves, snouts, tails, whatever. That’s scrapple. It tastes just like it sounds.