Tax and Technicalities, by Rocky and Bullwinkle

I’m sure you all enjoyed tax season as much as I did!  Now here’s something I hope you’ll really like.  This post is what starts going through your head when you do your taxes while watching episodes of Rocky and Bullwinkle.  If you don’t know who Rocky and Bullwinkle are, a) this post will make no sense to you, and b) get thee to Hulu!  Also, sorry in advance to all Ke$ha fans.  It’s only a joke!

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image in the public domain

Melodramatic Narration:  When we last saw our hero, the Little Blind Moose-Girl, she was submitting the tax returns prepared for her by Rocky, the Squirrelly Accountant, of Fly-By-Night CPAs–

Rocky:  Hey!  You make it sound like I’m the villain of this blog post!

Little Blind Moose-Girl:  Yeah, we only call him the Squirrelly Accountant because he handles all kinds of nuts.

Rocky:  I thought it was because I help you squirrel away your money!

Little Blind Moose-Girl:  Well, if that’s it, how come you let me pay you in cashews?

Rocky:  Don’t feel bad; most people pay me peanuts.

Melodramatic Narration:  *ahem* As I was saying, when we last saw our hero, she had just submitted her taxes.  Little did she know, as she went back to her daily routine of rescuing small puppies and giving them to curly-haired orphans, she was about to become a pawn in the latest scheme of that villainous secret enemy agent, Grigory Gudenov, and his new partner, Ke$ha Fatale.

Gudenov:  So, Ke$ha, you are really secret agent, like me.  I should have guessed.  Are you related to legendary Natasha Fatale, who worked with my uncle Boris?

Ke$ha:  Yes, she is my sire–I mean, mother.  She is my mother.  But wasn’t your uncle’s last name Badenov?

GudenovYes; he is my mother’s brother.  My mother married into Gudenov family of government workers and changed last name, so her brother my uncle is not Gudenov.

Ke$ha:  You can say that again, dahling!  Now, what are Fearless Leader’s orders for us?

Gudenov:  Have you forgotten already?

Ke$ha:  No, but the blog readers have.

Gudenov:  We have crucial role in Fearless Leader’s greatest scheme yet.  After decades of failing to take over country by force, he has finally come up with foolproof plan:  he will get American people to elect him president!

Ke$ha:  But Grigory, the American people will never elect Fearless Leader as president.  He’s been trying to undermine their country his entire life!

Gudenov:  Ah, but you see, Ke$ha, he will be running as Tea Party candidate.  Is perfect disguise!

Ke$ha:  Yes, what a brilliant plan!  Ah, but wait:  the President has to be a natural-born American citizen, does he not?

Gudenov:  Of course!  Fearless Leader always carries gun, blames failure on underlings, and reacts with violence when authority is questioned.  What could be more natural-born American than that?  Now, our assignment is to get money for Fearless Leader’s campaign, and I, master no-goodnik that I am, have perfect fiendish plan:  we will pose as IRS agents conducting audits.

Ke$ha:  (gasps) IRS!  Audits!  Oh, no, Grigory, even we cannot be so evil.

Gudenov:  Is for greater good, Ke$ha, is for greater good.  After all, is not like we have to be real IRS agents.

Ke$ha:  That is true, Grigory.  We have to be able to sleep at night.  Now, tell me the rest of the fiendish plan.

Gudenov:  We will pretend to work for IRS.  We will tell people they owe us money and must pay right away or we will take them to gulag–I mean prison.  If anyone asks questions, we will say is part of new executive order.  No one will suspect we are not actual legitimately, and by time real IRS figures out plan, Fearless Leader will already be in office.

Ke$ha:  Now I understand why our hackers stole all those tax returns!  Grigory, how did you think of such a cunning scheme?

Gudenov:  Is all right here in Villain’s Handbook.  See?  Page 415.

Ke$ha:  I can’t read a word of that.

Gudenov:  Of course not–is written in Tax Code!

Melodramatic Narration:  Meanwhile, back at the offices of Rocky the Squirrelly Accountant, our heroes are facing what looks like certain doom.

Little Blind Moose-Girl:  I can’t understand why I’m being audited.  I submitted copies of all the travel receipts.

Rocky:  I don’t know, Little Blind Moose-Girl, maybe the IRS isn’t sure what a “Professional Johnny Depp Whereabouts and Activities Blogger” is.

Little Blind Moose-GirlBut I included the transcript from the stalking trial!

Rocky:  Well, it says here that you owe them $86,753.09 and that if you don’t pay it right away, they’re going to take you to prison.

Little Blind Moose-Girl:  Prison!  It says that?

Rocky:  Yes, see there?  Right after the part where the word “gulag” is scratched out.

Little Blind Moose-Girl:  Can they really do that?

Rocky:  It says in the letter that this is part of a new executive order, so I guess they can.

Little Blind Moose-Girl:  Wow.  I must have missed that episode of “Schoolhouse Rock.”  I always knew not watching more television would come back to haunt me.

Rocky:  Oh, look, the auditor’s here.  Maybe he’ll have some ideas.

(enter Grigory Gudenov, dressed in non-specific law enforcement uniform and sporting a badge, a gun, a truncheon, a crossbow, some ninja throwing stars, an axe, several sticks of dynamite, and a spreadsheet)

Gudenov:  Allow me to introducing myself:  I am Officer Gregory of your IRS Police Department.  I am here to take away your money.  I am sure we can all agree, is better to do this with peacefully, yes?  No one wants to go to gulag–I mean, prison.

Little Blind Moose-Girl:  You’re a police officer?

Rocky:  He must be; look at all those weapons!

Little Blind Moose-Girl:  Well, Officer Gregory, your letter really surprised me.  I still don’t understand how I can owe that much in taxes.  I mean, that’s practically a year’s supply of Red Bull!

Gudenov:  Perhaps you would like to call my supervisor, just to be sure all is on up-and-up.  She can answer any questions you have.  Her number is on letter we send you.

Rocky:  (looking at letter)  Oh, yes, here it is.  Let me just give her a call.  (Dials number)

Ke$ha:  (on phone)  Hello, Agent Fatale speaking.

Rocky:  Hello, Agent Fatal, this is Rocky the Squirrelly Accountant.  I’m here with Officer Gregory, and I’m just calling to confirm that the Little Blind Moose-Girl owes $86,753.09 in taxes.

Ke$ha:  (still on phone) It’s Fatale, and yes, Mr. Squirrel, that is correct.  Moose-Girl must pay immediately or I am afraid Officer Gregory will have to take her to the gulag–I mean, prison.

Gudenov:  There, you see?  All is legitimately and above-the-board.  As for payment, I can take cash, check, credit card, bitcoin, gold, jewelry, authenticated antiques, or healthy organs.  I cannot take stocks or young children–too much risky for return on investment.  You are understand, I am surely.

Little Blind Moose-Girl:  But I don’t have enough of any of those things to pay this bill.  Does that mean I have to go to the gulag–I mean, prison?

Gudenov:  Oh, that is unhappy to hear.  It makes me crying sad, this part of my job, to ruining lives of good people like Moose-Girl.  Are you sure you cannot pay?  Perhaps you apply for credit card?

Little Blind Moose-Girl:  No, I guess I’d better just go with you.  Do you have a gulag–I mean, prison–that can accommodate my disability?

Ke$ha: (still on phone) I beg your pardon?

Gudenov:  There is disability with Moose-Girl?

Rocky:  That’s right, if you’re going to take the Little Blind Moose-Girl away, your gulag–I mean, prison–must by law provide suitable accommodations for inmates with disabilities.  I learned all about it at a presentation the ACLU gave at lunch one day.  That won’t be a problem, will it?

Gudenov:  Oh, no, no, of course not, we love ACLU, is all perfect fine–oh, look, is miscalculation.  Moose-Girl does not owe taxes and there will be no need for ACLU to asking about disability person in gulag–I mean, prison.  Allow me to seeing myself out.  Have nice day!  (runs out, followed by dust cloud and sound of slamming door)

Rocky:  Well, that’s good news!  It’s nice to see that our IRS employees are so honest and conscientious.  Will you thank Officer Gregory for us, Agent Fatal?  Agent Fatal, hello?  I guess she hung up.

Little Blind Moose-Girl:  I didn’t know you’d been to a presentation by the ACLU.  Are you a member?

Rocky:  Oh, yeah.  I don’t know what I’d do without the Accounting Calculations Looker Uppers.  You know, I’d forgotten all about your disability, Little Blind Moose-Girl.  I wonder what accommodations the gulag–I mean, prison–would have to make for your blindness?

Little Blind Moose-Girl:  Who said anything about blindness?  I was talking about my antlers!

Melodramatic Narrator:  Have our heroes escaped the fiendish pseudo-audit?  Will our villains return to take the Little Blind Moose-Girl to the gulag–I mean, prison??  Or will our heroes have to face the even-more-fiendish ordeal of an actual IRS audit???  Stay tuned for our next episode, The Price of Lateness, or:  It’s High Time!

(Ke$ha Fatale:)

Embed from Getty Images

Prince Was My First

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dove [image in the public domain]

How do I post to a humor blog on the day Prince died?  This is not the same world that existed yesterday.  The sky is not the same sky, the air is not the same air, and I am not the same person.  It stands to reason, I suppose:  everything Prince did changed the world.  Of course his death has done the same.

Prince was my first for a lot of things.  He sang the first song I couldn’t stop listening to, the kind you keep playing in your head even when you’re in church confessing your sins.  I remember my younger self waiting for a confessional to come available, time I was supposed to use to contemplate what bad deeds I should list for the priest, but instead I was playing “I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man” in my head.  My turn at confession came right after the part where Prince is telling a woman that she wouldn’t be satisfied with a one night stand.  I had to scramble into the booth and try to remember all my sins off the top of my head, and my voice was shaking so wildly that I was sure the priest could tell I’d been engaging in near-sacrilege just a few moments before.  Luckily, he regarded the stench of my guilt as a sign of desperate contrition, took pity on me, and told me I’d offered the most genuine confession he’d heard in a long time.  That’s how Prince gave me another couple of firsts:  the first time I realized that priests aren’t all-knowing (yes, I feel bad about tricking the holy man), and the first time I understood that sometimes the things and people that scare me may actually be on my side, if I let them.

I had several other memorable firsts with Prince.  When he changed his name to a symbol and wrote the word “slave” on his face to protest the way his record company treated his work, it was the first time I understood that art can not only convey a message but also fight an entire war that most people will never realize even happened.  Art history lectures in school tried to convey the same point as I nodded and took notes and memorized for the test; when Prince lived the message while I watched and listened, then I understood, and I never forgot.  Another first came from his cover of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You,” which was the first time I saw how the same thing can be perfect in more than one way, and how interpretation can be a form of authorship as valid as any.  My sister can correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the first time we bonded over music our parents would definitely in no uncertain terms never understand, it was Prince.  And, yes, Prince was acting as a musical Cyrano de Bergerac the first time I had sex; for those of us of a certain age, that was practically mandatory.

It’s hard to explain Prince’s allure to anyone who doesn’t already understand, but since this is basically a eulogy, let me try to tell you why this isn’t simply a transference of nostalgia and why I’m grieving over a man I never met.  My childhood was sheltered, relatively privileged, and safe.  Then Prince came along, and he was unlike anyone I’d ever seen or heard.  He assumed his audience was intelligent, he considered danger to be essential to creativity, and he could write a four-minute pop song that had shape and texture and heft.  All the songs I’d heard B.P. (Before Prince) were sanded flat, polished smooth, and as insubstantial as the air that carried them.  A lot of what I hear today is the same.  But Prince’s music always made me think, made me feel, and made me dance–enthusiastically, if not very well.  It’s true that Prince wasn’t the first artist to pitch the rulebook and do something different, but he was the first who made me want to throw my own rulebook away.  He showed me how to find my path away from the ordinary, and then he showed me how to dance along that path while rocking five-inch electric blue satin platform heels, and now he’s gone, and the world will never be the same.

Prince being Prince, though, I don’t see death stopping him from doing his thing.  I think he’s just got a new audience.  In fact, I take strange pleasure in the thought of the Heavenly Host suddenly confronted with The Artist.  He’ll probably be using a halo as some sort of percussion instrument and asking where he can find a pair of wings with glitter.  In my mind, I see the angelic choir looking on in seraphic condescension as Prince gives his first celestial concert, and I can’t help laughing a little at the shock they’re going to feel when they turn and see God the Eternal and Omnipotent dancing on His throne, rocking out to Purple Rain.

R.I.P, Prince Rogers Nelson.  You were my first, and you were the best.

The Tweet Life

In my continuing quest for adventures that accommodate a screen reader (for those who didn’t catch the name of this blog, the blog subtitle, my username, or my avatar, I can’t see very well), I’ve recently begun to be active on Twitter.  I’m still learning my way around while pondering the revolving questions of why someone stopped following me and also why anyone follows me in the first place–hey, wait, don’t get mad and un-follow me!  I like it!  I just don’t understand it.  I also don’t understand Ozzy Osbourne, but I still like Black Sabbath.

Moving on, before I drive away any more followers:  I really just wanted to post some Before and After pictures of my burgeoning Twitter addiction, sort of like those pictures of healthy vs. diseased lungs that people show you to make you stop smoking, or those “this is your brain on drugs” commercials.  I anticipate that this blog post will have a similar success rate. So, kids, before you pick up that smart phone (the first tweet’s always free), remember my tale of woe.  Before I let Twitter take control, this was my life:

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Now, this is my life on Twitter:

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Image by Charlie Cottrell, used by permission.  (c) 2016, all rights reserved

That last image is specifically of me from when I accidentally tweeted a celebrity and I couldn’t understand why I suddenly had fifty notifications that people I’d never met had liked tweets essentially calling me an idiot.  My friend Chuck drew it to cheer me up, and I paid him back with that post about clowns (a high price, but Twitter habits aren’t cheap).

Please, learn from my example.  I know you think you’ve got it under control–a few tweets a day, with friends, just for fun; you can stop any time you like.  But it doesn’t take long before you’re waking up in the middle of the night jonesing to check your Twitter feed; then you start losing followers and can’t remember how.  After that it’s just a matter of time before you’re recklessly retweeting memes and wondering why your mother blocked your account (hint:  it may have something to do with all the memes).

Actually, in all seriousness, it’s turning out to be a lot of fun, but I do advise tweeting responsibly.  When it’s 3 a.m. and you’ve had a few drinks, it’s going to seem like a good idea to tweet your ex-BF’s new girlfriend “just to warn her.”  It’s not.  Trust me on this, for I am now an expert on all things Twitter (I am not an expert on all things Twitter).  Also, stop tweet-stalking your ex-BF.  That’s just rude, and I’m definitely an expert on being rude!

You Can’t Say That In Catholic School!

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Not me.  I’ve got red hair. [image in the public domain]

I attended Catholic school in my halcyon days, and before you ask, no, I don’t still have the uniform.  Despite being a bright student, I somehow gained a reputation as a troublemaker and ended up in hot holy water surprisingly often.  I didn’t exactly mean to be difficult in school, at least not most of the time, but even then I tended to be both curious and rational, which is just awkward around nuns.  It’s especially dispiriting when said nuns have the ability to punish you for perceived disobedience when you’re asking what you think is a perfectly fair question.

My most frequent punishment was probably praying the rosary, which the nuns claimed was intended for reflection and self-correction and I claimed was more likely to produce tedium and resentment.  For which I was punished.  Not with the rosary, though, which was at least a change of pace.  Anyway, I thought I would share with you the things I said that I remember getting me in the most trouble in Catholic school, and what my punishment was for saying them:

6.   What I said: (regarding Adam’s lineage through Noah)  I just don’t think a family tree should be shaped like a circle.

Punishment:  Pray the Rosary and contemplate the nature of faith.  I’m still not sure how this addresses the problem of repeated inbreeding.

5.    What I said:  (regarding the virgin birth; for full effect, imagine this as being said by a bratty 7-year-old)  See, my mom used to teach sex ed, so I know that’s not how it works.

Punishment:  Ten Ave Marias and an essay on the Holy Trinity.  I think there may also have been a letter to my parents.

4.    What I said:  (regarding the Beatitude that ‘the meek shall inherit the earth’)  What if the meek don’t want the Earth?

[Side note:  a fundamental flaw I failed to grasp at the time is that you can’t really count on the meek to be forthright about that]

Punishment:  repeat the Beatitudes and reflect on the sinfulness of pride, which didn’t really answer my question

3.    What I said:  (regarding the Great Flood)  What about all the animals that could swim?

Punishment:  Pray the rosary and reflect on God’s omnipotence.  Again, not terribly instructive.  Could have used another hint.

2.   What I said:  Wait a minute.  If the Bible says the Earth is less than ten thousand years old, and you’re telling me that the Bible is right about everything, then how come we have a test this afternoon on dinosaurs?

Punishment:  For this one, I only had to stay in at lunch and study for the test, which worked out well because I hadn’t actually done any studying up to that point.  Note:  That was probably not the intended moral lesson.

1.    What I said:  If God and Heaven are above us and the Devil and Hell are below us, how come we look down when we pray?

Punishment:  I don’t remember what my punishment was for this one, I just remember being really, really sorry.

These were all genuine questions.  Except for #5, which was more of an objection, but an entirely genuine one.  I think that’s really how the Protestant Reformation came about; Martin Luther kept trying to ask the nuns about things he didn’t understand, but they kept making him pray the rosary, so eventually he just nailed his objections to the church door.  I, being much less enterprising (read:  lazy), am posting to my blog.  I’m also not starting a new religion (see earlier parenthetical comment re:  lazy).  Also, commenters, please have mercy and don’t reply with serious explanations to Past Little Blind Girl’s theological questions.  I’ve been punished enough.

What To Do When You’re Attacked By Clowns

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Know your enemy [image in the public domain]

I’m not afraid of clowns.  I simply acknowledge the fact that they’re evil.  I have a recurring dream in which I’m being menaced by a clown in full clown regalia, really slowly, and no one tries to stop it.  I used to think that this was because either a) no one liked me, which I haven’t ruled out, or b) everyone else was too scared of the clown to try to help me, which may also be true.  Upon deeper reflection, however, I think it’s most likely just because no one knows what to do when clowns attack.  We’re all too busy planning for the zombie apocalypse to prepare a defense against the imminent threat posed by those jumbo-shod, red-nosed, smirking agents of evil.  Let’s face it:  the clown apocalypse is inevitable, isn’t it?

To save the world from that crimson-wigged, pasty-faced, baggy-trousered scourge, and also so my dream self will know what to do in the future, I took the time to analyze the most common battle-clown tactics and strategies.  I then devised countermeasures just as soon as I’d stopped screaming.  But not crying, because I wasn’t crying, I don’t care what you thought you saw.  Because I am heroic and selfless, and because next time I’m dreaming about clowns I’d like you to get off your duff and do something about it, I will now share these plans with you so that we can work together when the clowns decide that the moment is ripe for their attack.  For heaven’s sake, don’t share this with the clowns.  In fact, you should make sure that no clowns are around while you’re reading this.  Did you check behind you?  Clowns love to sneak up from behind.  There could be a clown lurking behind you right this very second.  Go on, check.  I’ll wait.

A moment of silence, please, for the ones who discovered the clowns behind them just that little bit too late.

Okay:  for the survivors, here’s what I’ve learned.  Clowns are crafty, scary not scary but nefarious, terrifying not terrifying but depraved, and evil.  Really, really evil.  But they do have weaknesses, and they can be fought.  The two most effective methods of defense against clowns target the following weaknesses:

 1.  The tiny clown car

As we all know, clowns travel in packs, and they use those ridiculously small cars to fit dozens of clowns into an area designed to accommodate maybe two people.  They do this by manipulating the subatomic particles in their bodies into acting like they’re just empty space, thus bypassing the laws of physics and enabling the clowns to all occupy the same seat and thereby squeeze twenty clowns into a teeny, tiny car.

The manipulation of subatomic particles is a delicate process and requires perfect concentration.  Disrupt that concentration at a crucial moment, for instance just after the clown car narrowly avoids a humorous obstacle, and the entire pack of clowns will implode.  And possibly start a new universe, but no plan is perfect.

For maximum disruption, I recommend placing a small clown doll in the path of the car.  The clowns will become confused, thinking it’s an actual clown, and will believe it’s time to leave the car before they’re ready.  The clowns will then panic, lose concentration, and implode, with any luck taking the doll with them.  Finally, a use for Clown Barbie.

2.  The ridiculously oversized shoes

I know, you thought I was going to say the pasty white makeup. If you wash off the makeup, the clown will lose its powers, right?  The truth is, while I treasure the thought of a clown getting blasted in the face with a pressure hose, it turns out that underneath the makeup is just more makeup; you’ll never get through all of it before the clown gets you with that plastic flower that they claim only squirts water, but actually coats you with a slow-acting venom that gradually turns you into one of their hapless minions, also known as mimes.  Why do you think mimes are always acting like they’re trapped in things?  Poor devils.

No, if you can’t get the clown car, what you want to go for is the shoes.  Contrary to popular belief, clowns don’t have big feet.  Their oversized shoes are where they put the mind-control devices that keep everyone from perceiving them as a threat.  These devices have gotten so good that, not only do we not run away in terror at the very sight of them, we actually laugh, clap, and pay them money for the privilege of infiltrating our society.

The mind-control devices don’t work on children, though, which is why children start crying and screaming when they see clowns.  What you want to do if the clowns make it out of the car is this:  find out what the latest overpriced toy fad is, grab the nearest kid, and tell him there’s a furby/razor scooter/Tickle-Me-Elmo in the clowns’ shoes.  A kid’s greed will always outweigh his fear, which is how so many parents get their kids to go to the dentist.  Once the kids tear into the shoes, the mind control devices will go offline and the adults can recognize the threat and take action.  They won’t need to, though, because the children will have torn the clowns to shreds by that point looking for the toy.  I almost feel sorry for the freaky-wigged creeps.  Hey, I said almost.

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The nose houses the inter-clown communication system.  If you can, pull it off and leave it in a bar on Karaoke Night [image in the public domain]

So when the time comes and the clowns attack, make sure you’ve laid in a stock of clown dolls and rugrats.  In fact, you might want to start training your children right away to attack any clowns they meet, just so you’re ready when the time comes.  Oh, and make sure you film your kids when they come across a clown and go all Manchurian Candidate.  And upload the videos to YouTube.  I like to fall asleep to the sound of clowns wailing in agony.  Hey, we’ve all got our bedtime rituals!

This post has been brought to you by the good people at Charlie Cottrell’s blog (Sketches From Memory), who wanted a post about clowns.  Chuck, don’t say I never did nothing for you.  And let me know how that clown gladiatorial arena‘s coming.  Now that’s entertainment!

Product Review: Political Primaries

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Republican Primary Lineup December  2015 by DonkeyHotey https://flic.kr/p/BLphmC licensed by Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

Here at iliketheworldfuzzy, we’re often asked to review products and offer our opinions on them for the benefit of our readers.  Recently, we were given the chance to review a product that’s been generating a lot of buzz in the media of late:  political primaries.  More and more people have started using them and, while results will always vary, we at iliketheworldfuzzy have worked with industry experts to test the product, explore the pros and cons, and review the alternatives, and we’re ready to share our recommendation as to whether political primaries are worth the purchase price.

Until lately, they’ve been something of a luxury product, which may account for the paucity of material on the subject.  Management overhaul, however, has recently focused on broadening the market, making a previously rarefied commodity available to a much larger demographic.  The question many are asking, and that we aim to answer in this review, is:  has that come at the expense of quality?  Disclaimer:  we at iliketheworldfuzzy were provided with this product free of charge, and indeed against our will, for the purpose of this review.  We will receive no compensation, though we have requested reimbursement for our time, pain and suffering, and lost faith in humanity.

First, a description of the product:  political primaries are marketed to children 18 and up and promise an exciting and interactive way to build a party candidate for a general election.  Unlike previous versions, in which the end result was designed almost entirely behind the scenes, this most recent prototype has a more Choose-Your-Own-Adventure feel to it, in which fans are encouraged to vote for the model they like the best.  Of course, the actual end result is still put together almost entirely behind the scenes, but the fan interaction brings a warm, almost sincere-seeming touch to the product while also promoting that holy grail of advertising, word-of-mouth, which is conveniently free of legal restrictions like accuracy and thus keeps the cost of the product to a minimum.  It’s a clever marketing ploy, but does the product deliver?  Here’s our verdict:

1. Pros and Cons

The most important question in a product review is, does the product do what it’s supposed to do?  The answer to this for political primaries is:  yes and no.  Political primaries promise to deliver a candidate for the general election, and most of the time, they do.  However, after repeated use, the quality of the candidates becomes highly unstable, increasing the potential for the product to catch fire or melt down during especially intense election years.  Though the Howard Dean model has been phased out since the infamous implosion incident, reports still come in about candidates becoming over-inflated and filled with hot air.  Journalists in particular should be aware of this danger, as most models react explosively to being questioned on their facts or on how they plan to implement their platforms.

Most disturbing is the potential of the product not to deliver a candidate at all; this happened with one of our experts while testing the product.  When we called the manufacturer, BigGov Corp, for guidance as to how to proceed after the product broke, we were told to send the model into their Brokered Convention Center for repairs.  Despite repeated requests for clarification, BigGov Corp declined to specify who was working on the product, what was being done, and what was actually wrong in the first place.  After several weeks, we received back a completed candidate for general election and, while the candidate was viable, it was not quite what our tester had in mind when she began the process.  To their credit, BigGov Corp did provide the promised result, but it’s clear that with political primaries, as with all market commodities, it’s buyer beware.

2. Quality and Ease of Use

BigGov Corp assures consumers that there will be no decline in the quality of political primaries as they expand their intended market.  To evaluate this claim, our testers pulled archival information on previous versions of this product.  While the current models appear quite polished and appealing, close scrutiny reveals flaws in character and rationality hidden beneath a thin coating of popular appeal that is unlikely to last past the first-ninety-days warranty.  Though no version has been completely free of imperfections, today’s consumers should not expect quality equivalent to the popular William Jennings Bryan model or to demand the Lincoln-Douglas debates from the product currently offered for sale.

In the positive column comes ease of use; this is where the new version really shines.  BigGov Corp’s recent product overhaul makes political primaries more accessible than ever.  None of the models we tested required a sophisticated understanding of economics, history, international relations, or reality, making this product perfect for those who are looking for an entertaining diversion that takes little to no analytical thinking.  Previous incarnations garnered criticism for the amount of independent research that consumers had to do in order to understand the issues raised, and many complained of headaches after putting in too much thought.  Today’s political primaries have no such drawbacks, and every candidate our testers developed had the ability to appeal to emotion and knee-jerk patriotism while entirely avoiding the pitfalls of logic and reason.  BigGov Corp has really done a remarkably good snow job in this category.

3. Alternatives

While BigGov Corp has essentially cornered the political primary market, lesser-known alternatives do exist.  Those who have a sensitivity to government or the rule of law may want to try caucuses, which are produced and marketed by private political parties and aren’t subject to most election laws.  Also gaining traction are third-party candidacies.  These have great appeal for those who have had bad experiences with BigGov products and come in a wide array of options.  The Green Party has carved out a significant niche market, as has the Libertarian Party, and indeed some enterprising consumers have designed their own third parties, with varying results.

The downside to third-party candidacies, however, is that the end products, while interesting to build and often exhibiting more colorful platforms than their more traditional counterparts, tend to lose power fairly quickly and do not often yield viable candidates.  Still, it’s a market to watch, and may be a worthwhile investment for those thinking long-term.

4.  Conclusion

As always with a product review, the question comes down to cost vs. benefit.  BigGov Corp, while it has made quite a few concessions in its attempt to broaden the appeal of its political primaries, is still selling a high-cost product when all is said and done.  The initial charge is relatively low, but an examination of the final bill includes a number of fees and surcharges not included in the list price.  Many consumers have decried the surcharge for fact-checking, citing the low quality of the truthfulness components in most models, and there’s been some controversy over the legality of the ultimatum fee, which charges the consumer to continue supporting their candidate in the general election “or else”.

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dog in suit by Matt Barber https://flic.kr/p/5Ga2Qr licensed by Creative Commons CC BY 2.0

Still, BigGov Corp is selling the must-have product of the season, and with all its flaws, political primaries do usually deliver on their promises.  We at iliketheworldfuzzy simply caution consumers to read the fine print, know what they’re getting into, and recognize that, while political primaries do produce candidates, they make no promises to produce responsible government officials.  For those who want to purchase a political primary from BigGov Corp and begin building a candidate, the product is available on their website at rightswhatrights.comm; for an easy transaction, have your desired model number ready.  Political primaries are shipped in discreet red, white, and blue bunting and can be purchased for the low, low price of your soul.

Oops, I Accidentally Tweeted A Celebrity

laptop-40935_640So, this Twitter thing:  weird, right?  I couldn’t sleep last night, so I went tweet-hopping.  Twitter suggested that I might find this one guy interesting, and I recognized the name from a guest post I had read online that actually made sense to me.  In retrospect, if I didn’t breeze right past things like introductions on guest posts, I might not be in this predicament.  But I did, and I also jumped right into a philosophical debate he was having with someone on Twitter despite never having met either participant.  I didn’t realize at the time just how perilous this little blind jump of mine was.

My thought process essentially consisted of:  cool!  People are talking about philosophy late at night!  I used to do this for a (sort of) living!  The problem with that reasoning is that, when I used to do this regularly, it was in person, and celebrities very rarely wandered into the bars near my school.  Matthew McConaughey once, but he was pretty drunk (and kind of condescending, too), and Dave Matthews once.  He was actually pretty cool, though also drunk.  It made me feel bad that I don’t like his music.  But, you know, I had fair warning then, and also our conversations weren’t broadcast over the entire internet.

So I said my bit, getting more responses from the non-famous person in the debate than the celebrity, but it’s hardly the first time I’ve had a lop-sided philosophy discussion, so that still didn’t tip me off.  I eventually got tired and got some sleep, got up, saw a response, tweeted back.  I then went on about my day because, you know, I have a life.  After several hours I remembered to unplug my headphones from my iPhone, at which point Twitter started chirping at me every few seconds.  If Twitter could talk, it would have gone like this:

Twitter:  Hey Little Blind Girl!  Hey!  Over here!

Little Blind Girl:  Um, is that you, Twitter?

Twitter:  Of course it’s me.  Who else would it be, Thomas Jefferson?  George Jetson?

Little Blind Girl:  Sorry, you just don’t usually have anything to say to me.

Twitter:  Yeah, well, I’m here now, and you’ve got about fifty million notifications waiting for you.  Would you check ’em, please, because my back’s about to give out from carrying them around.  What am I, your messenger service?

Little Blind Girl:  Well, sort of…

Twitter:  Shut up and check your messages, already.  I don’t got all day.

Twitter’s got a ‘tude.  Anyway, I checked the messages and they nearly all stemmed from that conversation I jumped into last night.  I couldn’t understand why so many people were joining in.  Then, when I was looking through Twitter trying to figure it out, I saw a little blue check mark beside the name of Dude Who Started It.  When I looked that up, and this is probably common knowledge to everyone else, it turns out that the check mark means that person has been verified as famous, or something along those lines.  But, hey, people can be famous for all sorts of reasons, right?  So I looked him up…

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Dude Who Started It, a.k.a. Mark Pellegrino.  Photo by jfer21 from Los Angeles, CA [CC BY-SA 2.0] (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0), via Wikimedia Commons

Dude Who Started It is named Mark Pellegrino, and according to IMDb has been in every television show since Howdy Doody.  Including one I’ve actually seen, which takes away my excuse that I don’t really watch much television, so how would I know.  To be fair, though, the show of his that I’ve seen is Lost, which is nearly impossible to follow even when you watch the episodes in order, which I didn’t, and if I’m being honest I still can’t remember him in it (sorry, Dude.  Can’t see the screen).  As I type this post I can hear Twitter continuing to chirp menacingly at me:  you’ve been mentioned!  You’ve been replied to!  Thousands of people you don’t know want to tell you exactly how wrong, stupid, and ridiculous you are!  Actually, they were fairly nice to me, and it’s interesting to have a vigorous, albeit fairly basic, debate on ethics and epistemology with complete strangers, but it got pretty intense for a while (not to mention difficult to follow).  I kind of feel sorry for Dude Who Started It.  Being famous must suck.

One of the great comforts of my internet life is that very few people are paying attention.  Of course it’s nice to think you’re Being Heard and that you’re Getting Your Message Across, but my message mostly consists of, “Hey, guess what random thought just made me laugh in public for no apparent reason,” which is hardly going to change the world.  I like that I can say whatever I think and no one will attack me for it because no one will notice.  I think it’s great that other people like to have anonymous Xtreme Twitter Debates, but I prefer to have my philosophy discussions the way Plato tells us we should:  while getting plastered with friends.

Unlike Dude Who Started It, I have the luxury of only having to be (not really) famous for fifteen minutes.  Soon enough, Twitter will calm down and start ignoring me again and I’ll be able to go back to my own misguided ways without correction from the entire internet, and I’ll continue to share any funny random thoughts I have with those of you who choose to seek me out.  Though I’ve never been fully convinced that my followers weren’t all just my mother under various screen names.

Ooh, hey!  IMDb says Dude Who Started It was in The Big Lebowski, which I’ve seen at least four times.  If only I’d been sober for even one of them….

Edit:  I kept tweeting because apparently Twitter is the new crack.  I started out the Great Debate of April 2016 by asking the difference between knowledge and wisdom.  I ended by concluding that knowledge is the understanding of how Twitter works and wisdom is leaving it the heck alone.  Words to live by.

Quiz! Cryptic Text Messages and Possible Responses

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Image from http://soft9000.com, licensed by Creative Commons CC BY 3.0

Ever gotten one of those cryptic, completely context-free text messages that you can’t figure out for the life of you?   I’ve gotten what seems like more than my share, and it’s sometimes almost like a spy sign/countersign kind of thing–you know, one person says a secret phrase like “the rain falls sideways in Greenland,” and then you have to know the pre-arranged answer, like “but only in the morning” and then the first person knows you’re his contact.  Sadly, my life isn’t that cool, but it did give me an idea for another quiz:  I’ll give you some cryptic text messages (some of which are real and some of which I made up), and you choose from the possible responses and/or countersigns.  Whoever gives all the correct responses gets the secret plans.  Bonus points for the people who identify the Shadow reference!  Here we go:

A.  Text message:  “The time draws near.”  Possible responses:

  1. The antelope runs in the dark
  2. The chimney sweep draws the flue
  3. The lady doth protest too much
  4. Say what, now?

B.  Text message:  “The fourth time was not a good idea.”  Possible responses:

  1. The stars shine brightest in winter
  2. A footrace with a cobbler is futile
  3. The course of true love never did run smooth
  4. I told you to lay off the tequila!

C.  Text message:  “We went hopping for skittlebits.”  Possible responses:

  1. The kangaroos go hopping at midnight
  2. The sword of a samurai is ever sharp
  3. Neither a borrower nor a lender be
  4. You might want to turn off the autocorrect

D. Text message:  “The treatment has not been effective.”  Possible responses:

  1. The answer lies within
  2. The river must flow to the sea
  3. Thus the whirligig of time brings in his revenges
  4. Oh, man, what am I gonna tell my girlfriend?

E.  Text message:  “Call in the lawyers.”  Possible responses:

  1.  Send in the clowns
  2. The sun is shining, but the ice is slippery
  3. Cry ‘Havoc!’, and let slip the dogs of war
  4. Allow me to remind you of the prenup

So the next time you receive a text message and you can’t figure out what on earth it means, it might be a bad case of autocorrect, it might be your drunk roommate, or it might be the Little Blind Girl waiting for the countersign before she hands you the encrypted files.  Although, really, what would I be doing with encrypted files?  For that matter, why do you want me to give them to you?  Hey, what’s with the men in black suits–wait, no!  Where are you taking me??  It was just a blog post, I swear…

Therapy Sessions of the Fictional and Famous: Lorelai Gilmore

Being famous can be very stressful, particularly if you’re a fictional character into the bargain.  Certain mental health professionals specialize in treating the fictional and famous; true, most insurance companies don’t cover this, but fortunately most of these therapists accept space bucks, Federation credits, and Monopoly money.  Primary among this elite cadre of professionals is Dr. Sidney Freedman, of M*A*S*H fame.  As he is also a fictional character, he can relate to his patients and help them feel at ease.  I, being a quasi-fictional character myself (the Little Blind Girl, or LBG, is a recurring character in Charlie Cottrell’s Hazzard novels and is based on me!) have availed myself of his services from time to time.  Don’t ask how I pay him; this isn’t that kind of blog.

Lauren_Graham,_2008_appearance_(crop)What he doesn’t know (and shh, don’t tell him) is that I planted a listening device in his office the last time I was there.  I was curious about what his other patients had to say, and let me tell you:  what I heard was astounding.  There are so many famous fictional characters whose dirty secrets I could share with you, but I think I’ll start with Cathy Coffee herself, Lorelai Gilmore.  She comes off as sweet and friendly on the surface, but believe me, there are some demons flying around in that head.  Once you hear what she has to say, you’ll never view small towns, quirky neighbors, or questionable eating habits in quite the same way.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Note for those of you who understand that this is a humor blog and I’m just kidding about all this, or at least most of it:  all of Lorelai’s responses are actual quotes from her character on the television show Gilmore Girls.  If you haven’t heard of Gilmore Girls, just turn on the TV or open up any webpage on the entire internet and the indoctrination will begin within ten minutes.  I hope you like coffee.

Without further ado, here is Lorelai Gilmore’s therapy session:

Dr. Freedman:  Hello, Lorelai.  That’s an awfully large cup of coffee you’re carrying.  Are you ready to get started?

Lorelai Gilmore:  (on the phone) I’ll be right in.

Dr. Freedman:  Who are you talking to?

Lorelai Gilmore:  My other two personalities. (Turns off phone)

Dr. Freedman:  Is that why you came to see me, because you have multiple personalities?

Lorelai Gilmore:  Voices in my head–totally normal, right?

Dr. Freedman:  How many voices do you hear in your head?

Lorelai Gilmore:  There’s only two.  That speak English.

Dr. Freedman:  And what are these voices saying?

Lorelai Gilmore:  Oh, I don’t know.  How about “Good morning, Appalachia, I got a mighty cute sister and an extra set of toes.”

Dr. Freedman:  You’ve got an inbred hillbilly in your head with you?

Lorelai Gilmore:  Well, I know how mad you get when I bring the Insane Clown Posse with me.

Dr. Freedman:  Lorelai, you know I only asked you to stop talking to the voices in your head because you said they gave you flashbacks to your alien abduction.

Lorelai Gilmore:  Okay, as long as you’ve got a sane reason from a reliable source.

Dr. Freedman:  I’d like to go back to a concern you raised in a previous session, about your inability to maintain a loving, romantic relationship.  Is that still a problem?

Lorelai Gilmore:  I love pudding.  I worship it.  I have a bowl up on the mantel at home with the Virgin Mary, a glass of wine, and a dollar bill next to it.

Dr. Freedman:  We’ve talked about this.  Your feelings toward food are not appropriate.  I want you to do the exercise I gave you, all right?  Go ahead.

Lorelai Gilmore:  (concentrating hard) I am attracted to pie, but I do not feel the need to date pie.

Dr. Freedman:  That’s good, Lorelai, we’re making progress.  Now, why don’t you try putting down your coffee cup?

Lorelai Gilmore:  If it was physically possible to make love to a hot beverage, this would be the one.

Dr. Freedman:  I can see we’re not going to make any further progress on this front.  Is there anything else you’d like to attempt during our session today?

Lorelai Gilmore:  I hear there’s a shipment of plutonium coming in on the docks.  And I thought we could dress up as nuns and you could fake a stigmata and you could put the plutonium under your habit.

Dr. Freedman:  I see.  And how will we dispose of the plutonium once we have it?

Lorelai Gilmore:  Well, one of those bench ads usually does the trick.

Dr. Freedman:  Lorelai, this is the seventh session in a row during which we’ve accomplished practically nothing.

Lorelai Gilmore:  We should commemorate it with an oil painting or a severed head or something.

Dr. Freedman:  Yet, despite your complete lack of effort, I want you to continue seeing me.

Lorelai Gilmore:  Prove it.  Drop your pants!

Dr. Freedman:  I want you to give me one more session with honest effort.  Will you do that for me?

Lorelai Gilmore:  I’ll give you two because you scare me.

Dr. Freedman:  I’m only asking for one, Lorelai, and there’s no reason to be afraid of me.  I’d like to see you again to work on healthy ways to deal with conflict.  When would be a good time to work on that?

Lorelai Gilmore:  Tomorrow, if you have time, I’m planning on despising everyone who says “Hey, how’s it going?”

Dr. Freedman:  (sighs) Please don’t make me bring out the Hello Kitty straightjacket again.  It makes me feel so silly.

I swear, every line is verbatim as it came out of the mouth of Lorelai Gilmore.  I await the Wrath Of The Fans with trepidation, a plateful of pop tarts, and an IV of caffeine.  Lorelai’s coming over later, once she fast-talks her way out of the asylum, and we’re going to decide once and for all if we’re Team Dean or Team Jess (don’t even talk to me about Team Logan), and then we’re going to go do something even more dangerous.  Have you ever heard of a Brazilian Bikini Wax??

Image credit:  Photographed by Greg Hernandez*derivative work: – Kerαunoςcopia◁galaxies – Lauren Graham, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17574854

 

Meet Super (Blind) Girl

I have a superpower.  Now, if I had a choice as to what superpower I would have, it wouldn’t be this one.  My first choice would be the ability to fly.  After that, I think maybe super-healing (because chopping vegetables while blind never ends well) or maybe immortality, because awesome.  It wasn’t up to me, though, so what I ended up with was this:  when I’m out running errands, I have the ability to go into a store and walk right up to the thing I’m looking for, even when I have no idea where it is and I can’t see it or anything around it.  Useful, but no one’s going to make a movie out of that anytime soon.  I don’t think.  Unless I can figure out how to sparkle while I do it.

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Edward Cullen by Joel Kuiper, licensed by CC

My superpower became apparent a while ago when I was out with a friend shopping for a garlic press.  We were at Overpriced Behemoth Box Store (not the actual name, unless we’re being honest) in which literally thousands of items of varying degrees of usefulness were shelved, hung, and piled up farther than the eye, or my eye at least, could see.  We resigned ourselves to a minimum twenty-minute session of squinting and swearing, girded our loins, and went once more unto the breach.  I forded a nearby aisle, picked something up at random to see what it was, and yes:  it was indeed a garlic press.  Or should I say, it was the garlic press, because not only was it the thing I was looking for, it was the only one in the entire store.  All this while my Totally Sighted Friend was searching fruitlessly right beside me.  Hand to God, and I have a witness.

It’s gotten to the point that my Totally Sighted Friend will take me to the grocery store, tell me what she needs, and then follow me around until I find it.  One day she needed potatoes, so I wandered into the produce aisle, picked up a kumquat, put down the kumquat because I’ve never been sure what a kumquat is, thought I might like some cheese, and on the way to the cheese stand nearly ran into the potatoes.  Totally Sighted Friend seriously and with opportunism aforethought just leaned on the cart and watched me amble around until I stopped and went, “Hey! Potatoes!”  Which were right next to the onions I remembered I needed when two of them fell into my shopping cart.  They were specifically yellow onions, too, which was the kind I  wanted.  That’s really what makes it a super-power:  it’s so freaking specific.

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copyright 2011-2016 by woodstock-chan on deviantart.com http://fav.me/d397ahb

Of course, with great power comes great responsibility.  For instance, I have to be careful when I’m looking for something sharp or heavy that I don’t have anyone near me at the time lest they find themselves minus a finger or plus a concussion, because if I don’t immediately find whatever I’m looking for, it will launch itself at me, and not all coffee-makers have good aim.  I also have to watch out that the things I’m looking for don’t spill themselves all over the floor beside me and trip some innocent bystander who didn’t realize who they were standing next to.  As Super (Blind) Girl, it is my duty to minimize collateral damage in the fight of good against evil, and by good against evil I mean me against whatever idiot decided to reorganize the grocery store aisles I had so carefully memorized (side note to whoever did that:  I hope that when you go home, your mother runs out from under the porch and bites you).

Yea, verily, the life of a superhero is fraught with peril.  As I walk this lonely road, gentle readers, do not envy me, but follow at a safe distance, because there’s a decent chance I’ll accidentally find whatever it is you’re looking for.  By the way, I also have the power to draw smiley faces on the insides of basketballs, but I’m afraid you’re going to have to take that one on faith. 🙂