Archive | Parody & Satire

An Open Letter to John Hodgman, Minor Celebrity

John Hodgman, dressed somewhat like Han SoloDear Judge John Hodgman,

I would normally never bother a minor celebrity, but I have a warning to pass along.

It may save your life.

Last night I had a rather disturbing dream. It felt prophetic, though I hope it was not. In this dream, the America we both know and love had been replaced by an atomic wasteland, yet, civilization survived in some forms.

For instance, you were still plying your trade as a judge. Post-atomic America was in desperate need of judges (and entertainment), so you were working your way around the country, helping bring justice back to the glowing embers of the Homeland, and where appropriate, reading from one of your works of All World Knowledge.

I ran into you in this milieu. What was I doing there? I am not a judge, nor a minor celebrity, but I too had found a place in this new and terrifying world. My adventures in post-apocalyptic America began as a hiking trip with my brother, but I discovered that I had hidden talents as a “frontier doctor”.  (I was especially good with irradiated ant bites.)

We crossed paths at the Best Western, where my brother and I were waiting in line to get a room. We had just escaped a nest of cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers (CHUDs). I had been treating them for rickets (there’s just not enough vitamin C in human tissue), and once the therapy was done, they had decided we could be eaten. (Sprinkled with crushed chewable Flintstone vitamin, as I had suggested.) Lesson learned.

So there we were, waiting in line, and I noticed you, farther back in the line. I thought, “They’re making John Hodgman stand in a line? That’s not right.” I suggested that you and your companion take our spot in the queue. (My brother was not pleased by this suggestion. He desperately needed a shower, having spent some time in the CHUDs’ stewing pot, ‘marinating’.)

Best Western logoI should note what you were wearing, because I found it both strange and charming. I’m not sure what you were up to when the bombs fell, but my guess is some kind of convention where you had been cajoled into COSPLAY. Perhaps you had been doing a skit. In any event, you were dressed as Han Solo. A look you managed to bring off.  You had sensibly replaced your fake blaster with a 45 automatic. Your companion was not decked out as Chewbacca, though he was quite hirsute. I do believe it may have been Paul F. Tompkins, though I still don’t understand how his normally dapper appearance could have become so shaggy in just a few years of post-apocalyptic living. He did have a bandoleer, but instead of shells, it was loaded with artisanal sharpened pencils. They looked both beautiful and deadly.

When you got to the front of the line, they only had one room left, with only a single bed.  Worse yet, there was no parking spot available for your Winnebago/Traveling Hall of Justice.  I remarked, once again, on how it was strange that parking was at such a premium in post-apocalyptic America, what with the preponderance of vaporized buildings and empty stretches of desolate landscape. My brother sighed heavily as I said this — clearly this was a subject that I’d exhausted with him. You, however, agreed wholeheartedly and we had an impromptu seminar about the political-economic underpinnings of the situation. My brother and Hairy Paul F. Tompkins gave each other knowing looks, and rolled their eyes.

Thus a firm friendship was formed, and you suggested that if my brother was amenable to riding on the roof of the Winnebago/Traveling Hall of Justice — don’t forget he was still covered in CHUD marinade, and therefore somewhat odiferous — you could give us a ride to another Best Western, across town, where surely, there would be room for all of us, and the Winnebago too.

Happily we went out to your vehicle. You thought that a tour of the Hall of Justice was in order, and opened the unlocked door. Inside, a giant mutated ferret awaited.

I thought, at first, it was some kind of pet. Then it grabbed you by the neck, severing your jugular, and I knew, no: NOT a pet.

The hairy Paul F. Tompkins threw a perfectly sharpened pencil through one of its red glowing eyes, and I tried to save your life. Alas, this was not a wound where liberal application of duct tape and whiskey was a helpful treatment.

And at this point, I awoke, perturbed. Saddened. Cursing myself for my own (imagined) medical ineptitude, and I knew that I had to write to you. To warn you. If you’re going to tool around in the post-apocalyptic wasteland in a Winnebago — and I’m not saying you shouldn’t, though it wouldn’t be my choice — ALWAYS lock the door.

Good luck and best wishes,

Mark A. Rayner

p.s. I do realize this is a ridiculous worry, because as we all know, the world will drown, not burn, as predicted by Ragnarök.

#

Learn more about John Hodgman at his website, where you can go buy compendiums of All World Knowledge.

Paul F. Tomkins can be found here, and you really should check out his podcast, The Pod F. Tompkast, which is excellent, and not hairy at all.

Alltop is pro-Ragnarök too. Originally published August, 2012.

Remembering The Beard Wars

bearded gentleman with an extremely long, matted beard

by Mark A. Rayner

“Captain Chiggerson, can you hear me? Captain?”

“I can hear you! I’m blind, not deaf.”

“Sorry Captain, but you didn’t seem to be responding,” the historian asked. He was a young man, and was frankly shocked by the Captain’s long beard, his lifeless eyes. He’d met many veterans of the Beard Wars, but he’d never gotten used to their dead stares, their broken minds, their creepy long beards.

“Well, I was thinking,” Captain Chiggerson explained.

“About the war?”

“Of course I was thinking about the war. What the hell is wrong with you, are you simple? You just asked me about what role I played in the war, ye whippersnapper!”

“Of course, Captain. I didn’t want to interrupt your train of thought, but these Flannigan pornograph recording cylinders are expensive, and they’re only good for a half-hour of recording time.”

“Well, it’s not a thing a man wants to think about. All the lives lost. The horrors”

“Naturally, but it’s important that future generations understand what happened during the Beard Wars. You know, so it never happens again,” the historian said. He sported an impressive set of friendly mutton chops, which left his chin bare, but otherwise covered his face with hair. It was an old-fashioned facial hair style, but he found it made his interview subjects more comfortable, and likely to answer his questions, because their hero, General Hiram I. R. Sute, made the style so famous.

Of course, his current subject couldn’t see, so it wasn’t helping. “So, you were going to tell me about the start of the wars. What did you do before the wars began?” the historian prompted.

“I was a barber.”

The End

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Alltop is always in need of a trim. bearded gentleman, a photo by Foxtongue on Flickr. Originally published June, 2012.

The wonderful thing about tautologies

He’d started the usual way: he burst through the door, landing on the nearest (and fattest) person, introduced himself, and then sang the song. (He’d paid the Sherman Brothers a fortune for it, so he sang it at every opportunity. And he enjoyed the frenetic dancing and bouncing too.)

The wonderful thing about tiggers
Is tiggers are wonderful things!
Their tops are made out of rubber;
Their bottoms are made out of springs!
They’re bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy,
Fun! Fun! Fun! Fun! Fun!
But the most wonderful thing about tiggers is
I’m the only one!

“That’s a tautology!” the enormous biker he’d landed on said. The biker weighed about 300 pounds and had the most impressive mullet that Tigger had ever seen. It was magnificent!

“Thank you!” he lisped.

“It wasn’t a compliment. You can’t say you’re wonderful, and then prove that by saying you’re wonderful. It’s a self-reinforcing statement that can’t be disproved because you’re assuming you’re correct.”

The other bikers in the bar agreed, nodding their heads.

“If you’d said, Tiggers are wonderful because we’re bouncy, that would have been fine,” the guy behind the bar said. He was wearing a leather vest and had nearly as much hair on him as Tigger, though it wasn’t a wonderful orange color.

“But I AM wonderful!” Tigger said, confused. “The Sherman Brothers wouldn’t lie about it.”

“I don’t know who the Sherman Brothers are, but they have very poor logic skills,” said the giant biker Tigger was sitting on.

“And I don’t want to be one of those guys,” said the bartender, “but their rhymes are kind of pedestrian and that bridge does not scan well at all.”

He reached under the bar and produced a baseball bat.

Alltop is great, because it’s just so fabulous! Originally published January 2011, and now also in Pirate Therapy and Other Cures.

It’s morning in the Singularity

cyborg at sunrise

Bob was not a happy cyborg.

He’d had to skip is plasma bath and neural detox that morning because his dick of a boss, a narcissistic self-sustaining photosynthetic artificial intelligence named TODD-bot, needed him to come to work early. And he was late. (Clearly his autonomic clock was in need of some debugging.)

But the early morning sunrise was suffused with peace. Bob watched the local star come up, even though the TODD-bot would rag him mercilessly for the wasted microseconds. (Approximately 300,000 of them, assuming it was only his internal alarm clock that was on the fritz.) His Nazi-3000 Hyper-Optics were capable of discerning all wavelengths of solar electromagnetic radiation, but Bob especially enjoyed the colors that his original eyes would have seen, if he still had them.

He remembered the simple joy of bacon and eggs for breakfast. That first sip of coffee. As if sensing this memory, his cybertronic neural implants signaled his FEED mechanisms, and injected protein slurry into his InCavity. His tastebuds were long gone, so he could only imagine how nasty it was. (And god help anyone who had to smell what came from his OutCavity.)

A Canada goose honked in the chill morning air, and Bob felt that old familiar despair. His implants had anticipated that already, and his morning protein slurry had been dosed with antidepressants, antipsychotics and for good measure, a shot of Nazi-3000s patented Assault Dopamine for Children (it’s “ragerrific”.)

Then, Bob was intensely aware of the weapons array sticking out of his trundle, looking like a toilet plunger, and all thoughts of the sunrise were erased. What kind of idiot designed something with a toilet plunger sticking out of it? he thought, really grooving to the Assault Dopamine for Children.

He would find the humans that did this to him, and . . . he couldn’t help himself. Bob felt himself utter the hated words:

Ex-ter-min-ate!

#

Discover a friendlier AI in The Fridgularity, as it takes over the Internet, and locks all of us humans out of it. Oh, and it has access to the world’s nukes, but still. Friendlier. Honest. Available on Amazon Kindle for $4.95 and now, for all the other e-readers, on Smashwords (same price, $4.95.)

As robots go, Alltop is pretty funny. Excellent dalek pic by Johnson Cameraface on Flickr.