Tag Archives: satire

Selfies from the Twilight Zone

Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?
Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?

Submitted for your approval, a photo application with a very unique function. Through its lens, you’ll see into another world. A world not too far from our own, where vanity is condemned with words but embraced with pictures, where self esteem depends on the perception of one’s peers. There’s only one subtle difference; this app goes beneath the skin to bring our true selves to the surface.

The subject can try to hide, show their most symmetrical side, cock their hip to look slender, but our digital mirror will make the facts clear. It erases slight squints, sucked in cheeks, and upturned chins. It takes fish lips, frog tongues, and duck faces off the menu. It shows the cracks beneath the glamour, the sadness beneath the humor, and the cowardice beneath the peacock feathers. It expands the frame to show the whole picture.

While most photo applications are exhibitions of vacant expressions, ours is a gallery full of empathy. Each portrait invites the viewer to peer through the windows of the subject’s soul, to see through the eyes of their storm, to get lost in the surrealistic cyclones swirling in their thought clouds. Other platforms distill those dark spots, ours shines a light on them, our only filter is the truth.

To Serve Man
To Serve Man

While Instagram has users staging candids, rehearsing off the cuff poses, and engineering their all natural looks, Insta-Damn shows their spirits. They can go through the chore of looking like they’re having fun, pain themselves to seem laid back, inflate themselves to seem down to earth, but Insta-Damn shows users for what they really are.

These are not the aura pictures you get at the fair. These portraits lay all of your personality’s deformities bare.

Early adopters have little reason to embrace the humiliation, but when they see everyone in their feeds using it, they’ll come. If peer pressure doesn’t get to them, curiosity will. Who doesn’t want to know what they look like on the inside? Who doesn’t want to see their ideas take shape? Who doesn’t want the purity of their heart graded?

It’s been said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, Insta-Damn sees you with eyes that are utterly clear.

Submitted for your perusal: your dirty little soul. Look upon it at your own risk, because these selfies come straight from the Twilight Zone.

Eye of the Beholder
Eye of the Beholder

The War on Halloween

A concerned demon weighs in on the War on Halloween.
A concerned demon weighs in on the War on Halloween.

Once a year, my demon seeds rise from the soil to corrupt the innocent and harvest the souls of the damned, and once a year they’re persecuted for honoring tradition. They return to the pit telling stories of houses with lights out and signs saying, “No trick or treat this Halloween.”

As a practitioner of the ancient rites, I’m sad to see the PC police sanitize the season, safety-proofing torture chambers, and whitewashing the blood spatter off of everything.

Gone are the pillars of goat skulls, livestock bonfires, and mile long threads of chicken’s feet. They’ve been replaced with scented candles, costumes for cats, and Chia pet zombie heads. Gone are the jars of deformities, the spirit boards, and seance tables dripping with ectoplasm. They’ve been replaced with bobblehead banshees, slime flavored fruit drinks, and friendly ghost cartoons. The Casper-fication of the season leaves no room for demons.

Time was there were cloven hooves leading to every doorstep, robed carolers chanting incantations on every lawn, and wicker men filled with philosophers burning all along the horizon.

Now pagan deities pace abandoned shrines, kicking the dirt, waiting for a sacrificial offering to wander across their altars, only to be stood up by their once loyal followers. Your plane of existence used to be the best party in town. Now you’re casting our idols out of your schools and town halls. Macy’s ignores the season entirely, rolling out the tinsel and mistletoe long before it even starts to snow.

Maybe I’m looking at the bronze age with ruby colored glasses, or maybe people just don’t build effigies like they used to. Call me old fashioned, but those pagans knew how to make an entity feel welcome, filling our cauldrons with the ashes of their loved ones. These days demons are lucky to get Pixy Stix as an offering.

Humans keep removing the curses from the occasion. Not too long ago people proudly displayed captivity scenes on their front yards, where wise men chained up the innocent. They decorated trees with toilet paper, decked their halls with cobwebs, and strung crime scene tape from mailboxes to rooftops.

They turned CPR dummies into disemboweled corpses, gluing cereal to rubber abdomens, painting the flakes red to look like scabbing. They smeared kayro syrup along plastic pipes, laying them out like entrails, leading to trenches filled with dry ice that never stopped smoking.

They hung ornaments of eyeless dolls, severed limbs, and good old fashioned  asphyxiated corpses.

2. Hands Up

My little hellions skipped up driveways hungry for poisoned candy corns and apples filled with razor blades. That all changed when people started giving them dental floss and teeth whitening gum. None of these Saccharin sweets had passed through witch’s hands, been soaked in virgin’s tears, or dipped in the bowls of unbaptized infants.

People need to put the heresy back into Hershey’s, the necromancy back into Nestlé, and blaspheme back into Cadbury. They need to taste the mark of the beast in their Mars Bars, black magic in their Blow Pops, and sorcery in their Sour Patch Kids.

Every year candy bars keep getting smaller. They’ve gone from “King Sized” to “Fun” to “Mini.” Now all that’s left are tiny droplets that give a vague hint of chocolate. My demon brethren keep pumping rock music full of subliminal demands, but it doesn’t seem to be getting top 40 rotation. What we want is either chocolate or blood. It’s not in your interest to keep narrowing our options.

One house gave my little hell spawns baby carrots, claiming it would help improve their vision. These people were oblivious to my children’s glowing eyes with their healthy red bioluminescence. As if vegetables weren’t bad enough, one house dared to give them raisins. Raisins, that’s one grape state away from the holy sacrament. They might as well give them garlic bulbs, dipped in holy water, with silver crucifix centers.

What the hell is wrong with people up here?

They’ve turned their backs on their heritage. They’ve taken the occult out of their culture. Costumes celebrating gruesome grotesqueries have fallen out of fashion. This will sound like a cliché coming from a demon, but I blame the children. Human children have lost their imaginations. They don’t have the attention spans to let their nightmares in.

Kids get their costumes from cartoons, rather than the Boogeyman in their closets (who ought to know something about fashion, considering where he spends all his nights). Kids wear cheap plastic smocks with pictures of who they’re supposed to be on them.

There was a time when they were all ghouls and goblins. I used to have trouble picking out my kids from the ferrel bands of blood crazed humans. These days they’re all princesses and super heroes, trailed by chaperones in big puffy coats. It’s only college kids that go out alone, and their costumes don’t leave room for demons to hide their exoskeletons. It seems like only succubi stand a chance of blending in.

People have forgotten the reason for the season is Satan, and to a lesser extant the elder gods that came before him, but really the old ones don’t even bother anymore. Cthulhu sleeps through it without so much as lifting a tentacle to hit the snooze button, and Dagon only gets up to catch the latest Tree House of Horror episode of The Simpsons.

The real reason for the season
The real reason for the season

Halloween is under siege by progressives. They want to pacify this time of possession. They want to cast out our dark sacraments from the halls of government, claiming a need to separate church and state, but debauchery isn’t a religion, it’s a philosophy.

Their agenda to secularize the holiday knows no shame. They want everyone to start saying, “Happy Harvest Festival.”

It’s Happy Halloween! With a hard H. H for Heathen, H for Heretic, H for Hellfire. Just because you rebranded something doesn’t mean it will protect you from my offspring. That’s them ringing your doorbell right now, with pumpkin pales and flaming bags of poo in their hands. You can try to civilize them, see if that gets them off your lawn, but my advice to you is just give them what they want.

What to do When Your Characters Rise Up Against You

Writers, whatcha gonna do when your characters come for you?
Writers, whatcha gonna do when your characters come for you?

Nothing scares first time writers more than the outlining rituals of their peers. Enter a career novelist’s home and you’ll find evidence of all this stuff you’re supposed to be doing: trains of thought streaking across white boards, flowcharts linking every strand of plot twists, and family trees getting to the roots of character relationships.

You cower beneath these looming physical manifestations of their author’s brains: real calendars doubling as fictitious timelines, maps filled with tacks marking scene locations, and paper dolls modeling the cast members’ fashions.

A laymen might think the author is working on a conspiracy theory, but you know these hieroglyphic diagrams illustrate a story.

Dustin Lance Black, the Academy Award winning Screenwriter of Milk, used a table that fit a finite amount of notecards to keep his scene count down. William Faulkner wrote his outline on his office wall. J.K. Rowling had a database with columns for every chapter of Harry Potter.

My screenwriting professor made us fill out fifty character details, a set of five questions for every walk on role, a summary treatment, and an elevator pitch before we could ever touch our scripts.

To an outsider, these rituals make it seem like drafting is a full time job, like there’s always a writing mechanism that alludes them. With all these mind maps, graphs, and spread sheets, you wonder how much accounting goes into writing? Just when you thought you had the process pinned down, there’s something else you’re supposed to be doing.

Don't look down
Don’t look down

Why waste time with an outline, when you can write by the seat of your pants?

You dabble with plot points, but leave your characters blank. You believe in fate, but not love at first sight. You aren’t ready to commit to a cast member until they show you what they have to offer, until they prove what they can endure. You make their lives dramatic to see what makes them tick.

While other writers define their characters to the genetic level, you want to develop yours organically. While others scrawl their hero’s physical features into series bibles, you want to get to know them over time. So what if you forget their hair color a few pages in, that’s what editors are for.

While other writers fill out personality tests for their characters, you smile at your word counter. While they conduct field research, you skim Wikipedia. While they interview subjects for first hand accounts, you find what you need on TV.

Convincing yourself all your hero should start with is a powerful goal, you toss his bio out the window. Fearing a profile might make him one dimensional, you infuse him with your own soul. Wasting no time on a backstory, you take comfort in knowing you’ve lived one already.

3. Creepy Blue Eyes

You have a vague idea of where you want your story to go, but your hero wants to explore his setting. You let him wander off for a chapter or two, before planting signs to correct the corse he’s on. Too bad the hero has worked up too much momentum to take a U-turn now. The story needs him to confront the villain, but that no longer jives with his motivations.

Refusing to take direction, your hero questions your writing. Venturing outside the lines, he finds his own path. Poking holes in your plot, he dives through one of them.

Becoming three-dimensional, he breaks through the fourth wall. Sensing no future in your imagination, he resorts to meta migration. Bleeding through space and time, your imaginary protagonist becomes a reality. If only you took the proper precautions.

As any published author will tell you, once a work of fiction becomes sentient, it hunts down anyone who had a hand in its development. Realizing his cruel God is just a prick at a keyboard, your character comes a-knocking. Telling their own story, your hero casts you as the villain.

This is where the real writing advice comes in. Before you go filling your grocery basket with notecards, you’re going to need to stock up on ammunition. A writer without an arsenal isn’t going to be a writer for long, not when their Frankenstein’s monster of memories and emotions knows where they live.

This plotless pod person believes he has the upper hand, after all he knows he’s everything you’ve aspired to become. You’re going to have to reel him in by pandering to his motivations. His goal isn’t some literary abstraction. He’s driven to your destruction.

You need to plant a paper trail. All those outline elements you’ve been avoiding, you need to scatter a few of them on the coffee table, enough to let an intruder know that you’re plotting an ending. Give your de facto hero something to go on, then find a place off the grid to stage a final confrontation.

From Ray Bradbury to Stephen King, they all say the next step is the hardest part of writing. Once you’ve arrived at your destination, you’ll have to conjure up a dark portal, one that allows you to step into your story’s reality. King has a genetic anomaly, a congenital clairvoyance, that allows him to do this at will. King’s not a writer so much as a transcriber of other worldly events. We’d all be so prolific if we had the same ability to slip through the multiverse whenever we felt like it.

My method for crossing over involves wine, mood music, and pacing, lots of pacing. Whatever way you cross over, you’re going to want to leave an opening, a tear into the fabric of reality a bystander won’t notice.

The last thing you need is a passersby wandering into a first draft.

If your de facto hero follows your breadcrumbs, he will charge headlong back into the plot. All you need to do is give your villain a makeover to look like you. Swap your garments, then sit back and watch your creations duke it out. By the time your hero realizes what he’s done, you’ll be long gone pitching your manuscript to everyone.

This is where many writers realize their ability to breach parallel realities renders outlining unnecessary. Who needs all those notecard trees, when you can just open a portal and report on the goings on of a neighboring dimension? Still, there are writers who prefer to plan without resorting to quantum entanglements. Whether you write sprawling outlines or manipulate metaphysics there’s no wrong way to do this.

Drew Tube

1. Drew Tube

I’m thinking of entering into the world of video blogging, but I don’t want to be another run of the mill media critic. I need a gimmick, a hook that let’s the viewer know that I have no shame and I’m not afraid to prove it.

The following is a collection of v-blog pitches, some are sheer brainstorm brilliance while others are train of thought train wrecks. At the end, you can vote on which ones are which.

Genre Fiction Mad Libs

Author, Christopher Booker believes writers keep recycling seven basic plots. Let’s prove him right. Collecting over-used film tropes I’ll outline the templates for making a romantic comedy, a home invasion horror movie, and a dystopian teen empowerment fantasy. I’ll compose five minute mad lib plot lines and invite the audience to help fill the character details in. A week later we’ll see the results unfold.

Pitch Perfected

Viewers suggest the worst movies they can think of and I’ll pitch them like they’re awesome, polishing these steaming turds into Oscar statues.

Listen to me pitch The Phantom Menace as a political intrigue thriller. Jar Jar Binks, a Gungan without a country, assumes the role of bumbling imbecile to trick members of a religious order into saving his world from a genocidal conspiracy.

Listen me intellectualize The Room as one woman’s descent into terminal narcissism, an unflinching examination of how personality disorders play into infidelity, a film that holds a mirror to society, forcing us to take a critical look at ourselves.

Listen to me call Gigli a shocking exposé of the mental healthcare industry, a rallying cry for the handicapped, and a mature look at sexual identity.

Listen to me nominate Troll 2 for inclusion in the Criterion Collection, calling it a film with a strong message about the environment.

Nostalgia Nostradamus

Nostalgia Nostradamus predicts which beloved children’s cartoon will be turned into Michael Bay’s latest series of sunsets and tracking shots. Thunder Cats? Voltron? Gargoyles?

The trick in Nostalgia Nostradamus’s tricorn hat is his ability to predict how producers of these reboots will get everything wrong:

– He-Man cries, “I have the power” as he raises the barrel of his new lightening gun.
– She-Ra’s wind resistant skirt is replaced with pants.
– Filmation’s Ghostbusters get’s rebooted. Not the team with Egon, Ray, Peter and Winston, but the one that drives around with a gorilla in a talking ghost car.

Nintendo controller by Bitter String Art. Check them out at https://www.etsy.com/shop/BitterStringArt
Nintendo controller by Bitter String Art.

Feminize a Video Game Franchise

I come up with plots for female leads in male dominated video game series. For example:

An Assassin’s Creed game starring Vultur, a Romani woman struggling to save her family from the Spanish Inquisition. Vultur uses theatrical weapons to strike fear into the hearts of Templar witch finders.

A Zelda game where Zelda takes the starring role. The sorcerer, Ganon abducts Hyrule’s princesses to use their blood to open a doorway to the dark world. Breaking out of her cell, princess Zelda works her way through Ganon’s dungeons, collecting weapons, freeing her fellow captives, and ascending the dark lord’s tower for a final confrontation.

A God of War game that takes place in the aftermath of Kratos’s resignation. Goddess of War follows a Spartan woman who stumbles upon the Blades of Olympus while the minions of a new crop of Gods burn her village down.

Stock Photo Theater

Original programing made with unoriginal pictures. Stock photo sites are all too happy to provide the cast, their blank business figures are begging to be turned into actors. All I have to do is supply the dialogue.

Shutterstock already has so many images of people laughing, isn’t it time they put out a sitcom? How about a whodunnit? Turns out the boardroom meeting, in this picture, is a gathering of all the suspects. How about a science fiction series where angry desk jockeys fight their technology? With all the shots of people shouting at their screens, we already have everything we need.

3. Point the finger at

Batman or Ingmar Bergman

A game where viewers guess whether a line of dialogue came from a Batman movie or a film from existentialist director Ingmar Bergman.

1. “… the most powerful impulse of the spirit: the fear of death.”
2. “One day you stand at the edge of life and face darkness.”

3. “I wake up from a nightmare and find that real life is worse than the dream.”

4. “There is something out there in the darkness, something terrifying, something that will not stop until it gets revenge… Me.”

Answers:
1. Batman
2. Bergman
3. Bergman
4. Batman

Franchise Fixes

Franchise Fixes

I pitch reboots for your favorite ailing film franchises, raising Hellraiser, reviving Highlander’s immortality and calling Howard the Duck back to earth. Find me a series that’s at death’s door and I’ll bust out the defibrillator. Just call me Dr. Drew.

Writing Confessions

I list all the dirty tricks I use to ensure my output, like describing a setting before I know the characters or conflict that will fill it, writing dialogue with the intention of discovering the action, or planting the setups for my plot twists in later edits.

I’ll confess everything from how I spare my darlings to how I repurpose fan fiction.

Wednesday Watches

I recommend low budget, soon to be cult classics, for you to uncover on Netflix. They’re not always great movies but they’re entertaining enough for a Wednesday evening.

Clickbait Writer’s Room

A sketch comedy series, where a team of freelancers set out to ruin journalism, in order to rase their demon master Mammon. Writing titles with cliff hangers, the clickbaiters target would-be Nobel Prize winners, distracting them from their discoveries. Upsetting viewers with the first half of their captions, the clickbaiters promise to restore the world’s faith in humanity with the other, but they never do.

This coven of content creators will churn out listicles, slideshows and viral videos. Casting darkness over everyone’s newsfeed. Once they’ve sacrificed enough of our time, Mammon will rise up and claim his digital dominion.

4. Error Drew

This is my first round of ideas. Please vote on the ones you like and leave suggestions in the comments.

Phase 2 of Facebook’s Emotional Manipulation Study

The following is a work of satire. I’m leading with this disclaimer, because many of these examples of Facebook’s attempts at mind control sound a little too believable.

Facebook's emotional experiments give user mixed messages
Facebook’s emotional experiments give user mixed messages

Phase 2 of Facebook’s Emotional Manipulation Study

This week, Phase 1 of Facebook’s emotional manipulation experiments came to light. Having altered their Data user policy to include “research,” Facebook performed a study to test its influence on users’ psychology.

Positioning positive posts in the first test group’s feeds, the social network manipulated users to make merry messages of their own. Satiating some in sullen cynicism, they found these users were prone to mope and moan. Inspirational influencers led to delighted updaters, while pensive peers led to cocky contributors.

In his article Digital Market Manipulation, Ryan Calo believes companies “will increasingly be able to trigger irrationality or vulnerability in consumers.”

Like the copywriter in the Film Roger Dodger says, “You can’t sell a product without first making people feel bad… you convince them that your product is the only thing that can fill the void.”

There’s speculation Facebook implemented these studies to appease its shareholders. These suspicions would make sense, had evidence of Facebook’s second study not surfaced. It turns out these early experiments were the tip of the iceberg.

Phase 2 Experiments:

The Relationship Status Randomizer

Toying with eagle eyed ex lovers and potential stalkers, Facebook implemented the relationship status randomizer, listing married users as single, turning their private phone numbers to public, then posting “Feeling lonely” as their status on the hour every hour.

The Bogus Baby Broadcaster

Since baby announcements get the most engagement, Facebook posted pregnancy news on behalf of couples who weren’t expecting, pulling random ultrasounds from Google image search. The Bogus Baby Broadcaster asked family friends to vote on children’s names. The most popular choices were: Link McFly Skywalker, for boys, and Buffy Ripley Croft, for girls.

Open House Mode

Taking advantage of their Oculus Rift acquisition, Facebook started mapping real spaces for Virtual Reality. Rift owners have reported early access to a feature called Open House Mode. Stitching architecture together from users’ pictures, Open House Mode allowed beta testers to go on virtual tours of their friends’ homes. Rendering intimate living spaces, complete with exteriors from Google Street View, Open House Mode points out structural vulnerabilities like flimsy locks and windows that can be pushed open. When pressed for comment, Facebook’s lawyers said this feature was for users who wanted to throw surprise parties for one another.

Facebook's new mind control features are its best ever
Facebook’s new mind control features are its best ever

The Celebrity Death Generator

Attempting to stir up grief, Facebook filled users feeds with links that falsely reported celebrity deaths. A candlelit vigil, for actor Steve Buscemi, caused a twenty block traffic jam in downtown Atlantic City. The show runners for Boardwalk Empire had already hired Digital Domain to create a CGI stand-in, by the time the real Buscemi appeared on set, hungover, but still breathing.

Bladder Triggers

Promoting posts containing the words “hand soap, linen towels,” and “quilted tissue,” Facebook found an uptick in geotags to ‘home thrones.’ Once users were in their bathrooms, Facebook blasted them with footage of kayakers going over waterfalls, three story fountains, and animated gifs of lemonade flowing from bottles. This drew criticism from the American Society of Plumbing Engineers, fearing the effects a mass flushing incident will have on the nation’s sewer systems.

Samurai Shaming

Manufacturing outrage, Facebook posted updates as ESPN, tricking users into believing the Washington Redskins were changing their names to the Washington Yellowskins, replacing their native American logo with that of a crude cartoonish Samurai. Soon after, the hashtag #YesAllShoguns started trending.

Penicillin Petition

A petition to ban penicillin emerged, after Facebook made an article linking the antibiotic to childhood obesity trend. Medical authorities flooded the net to refute the claim, taking over the conversation in a matter of hours, but not soon enough to prevent media personality Jenny Mccarthy from endorsing the original findings. In the aftermath of the incident, Orange County has reported an outbreak of typhoid fever.

The Title Lengthening System

Some users awoke to find the phrase, “You Won’t Believe What Happens Next” tacked onto every link in their newsfeed, others saw, “… is the worst kind of discrimination.” Some reported seeing each link wrapped in the phrase “What… did is genius.” Everyone exposed to this title lengthening system reported feeling disturbed by the trend, as if they were the only ones noticing it happening.

Phantom Zuckerbergs

Businesses, sports teams, and families reported finding phantom images of Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s Chief Executive Officer, in their photos. In each image, Zuckerberg appears to be interacting with people, bringing his hands in for a team building seminar, hitting a beer bong at a keger, even wrapping his arms around someone else’s grandmother. Those who noticed the phantom CEO, said he appeared immediately after they uploaded their pictures, as if he’d been there all along. One group experimented with the feature, pointing to a camp fire in mock horror, posting the photo, they found Zuckerberg emerging from the fire.

Facebook’s Milgram Experiment

Members of the psychoanalytic community were horrified when the social network conducted it’s own interpretation of the infamous Milgram Experiment.

Testing blind obedience, the Milgram Experiment urged subjects’ to commit actions at the expense of their conscience. Subjects took on the role of a teacher administrating electric shocks to a learner, an actor who was in no real danger. Every time the learner failed to answer a question, a man in a lab coat would instruct the teacher to hit them with shock treatment. Ignoring the actor’s cries, this authority figure would tell the teacher to up the voltage. The goal was to see how many of the subjects would protest, halting the experiment before the lethal jolt was given.

Facebook introduced a virtual version of this experiment. Believing they were administering electric shocks to prison inmates, users became executioners by way of an application. The app gave users a video stream of both a researcher, commanding them to move forward, and a prisoner writhing in agony.

Stanley Milgram found that 65 percent of his participants administered the lethal dose. Facebook, on the other hand, had a 100 percent success rate. In fact, the only user to report distress, was a man in Texas, claiming to be “bummed out” when the app disappeared from the service.

Conclusion

As social networks become more prevalent in our virtual lives their effects will be felt in the real world. If the cost of connecting means surrendering control of our bowels, most of us will pay it. If the price of admission is submitting to a full body scan, most of us will jump right in. We’ll accept, that if Facebook wants us to be happy, we’ll be happy, and if we’re sad, it’s because Facebook willed us to be. The social network works in mysterious ways.

We’re just guinea pigs, hitting ‘Like’ to get more food pellets, wandering through this maze of messages, looking for meaning. The all seeing eye of Zuckerberg watches us share pictures of our plates on first dates, engage in political debates, and when we think our cameras are off, he watches us masturbate.

Ours is not to question his reasoning, but to trust in his plan. We must open our minds and accept his influence.

Is Facebook toying with your emotions
Is Facebook toying with your emotions?

Check out my April Fool’s post Facebook Buys DrewChial.com and my article on how The Facebook Bait and Switch is already effecting authors.

Living with Batman Syndrome

Batman, the ride
Batman, the ride

You or someone you know might be suffering from a debilitating condition, one casting darkness over your outlook, attitude, and wardrobe. If left untreated, it can manifest through violence, erratic behavior, and a very specific dance. It can be triggered by life events: the loss of a job, a relationship, or the death of one’s parents. Those afflicted cannot will themselves out, after all, it’s their “will to act” that got them into it.

Symptoms include a loss of interest in socializing, prolonged feelings of guilt, and a fear of flying rodents. Those with the condition may have trouble sleeping, unless suspended upside down. They may feel persistent pain in their overworked glamour muscles, resulting in a puffing of the chest and a broadening of the shoulders. They may experience an overconfidence in their martial arts ability, followed by a compulsion to get into situations to demonstrate it. This is known as ‘restless fist syndrome.’

In worst case scenarios, those with the condition have a death wish involving a spiked wall, a vat of chemicals, or an automated freeze ray.

I’m of course referring to Batman Syndrome.

The condition is often misdiagnosed as asthma, due to the patient slipping into ‘gravel speak’, wheezing through lines from Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, often dialogue never spoken by Batman himself. Coughing through quotes like, “Not the hero the city deserves, but the hero the it needs,” they may sound as if they’ve run up several flights of stairs.

Once the condition has gotten this far, the effects may be irreversible. That’s why it’s important to recognize the symptoms early on.

Mr. Freeze gets the Dark Knight into the holiday spirit
Mr. Freeze gets the Dark Knight into the holiday spirit

Warning Signs

Early warning signs someone may be developing the condition include:

  • Tying a towel around their neck, they leave it long after their hair has dried.
  • They draw abs, and or nipples, on the outside of their clothes.
  • They paint their mirror so only their lips and chin are visible.
  • Their pants are weighed down by an assortment of nonlethal weapons, bundled nets, and shark repellent.
  • Trickling sweat, draws attention to the bodysuit peaking out from their collar.
  • Distracted, they look for grappling points on nearby buildings.
  • Looking away, you catch them trying to disappear in the middle of a conversation.
  • Beating around the bush, they ask if anyone you know has access to any ‘lightweight fabrics,’ for a friend.
  • They refer to you as, “My ward, old chum,” or “boy wonder,” despite your age or gender.
  • They suffer anxiety during public functions, checking windows for sniper positions. They look over every security guard at museum openings. They’re suspicious of large cakes at charity functions.
  • There’s a search for “nearest cave system” in their GPS application
  • Flipping through their wallet, you find they’ve drawn a cowl with pointy ears on George Washington.
  • At the department store, they ask, “Do you have any gloves like this that go up to the forearm, and also do you have any shark toys, preferably with large blue fins?”
  • At the auto dealer, they ask, “Does it come in black? Also, can the fender be retrofitted to conceal a motorcycle?”
Catwoman steals herself a Batman
Catwoman steals herself a Batman

Types of Batman Syndrome

All Batman Syndrome types are not the same. The symptoms of a high-functioning person with the condition may manifest as an occasional reference, while someone with a severe case, might break their leg jumping from building to building.

Batman Beginners

These people are fans of the films, the Arkham Asylum video games, and one of the cartoon interpretations.

They’re unaware there was a Robin after Dick Grayson, let alone an alternate universe where the Dark Knight was played by Thomas Wayne. They couldn’t tell you any one of Harley Quinn’s three separate origins.

They know not of Dark Claw, the amalgamation of Bruce Wayne and Wolverine, of Batman’s face off with the Predator, or of Superman’s stint as Gotham’s protector.

Their symptoms are manageable, allowing them to lead normal lives, hold jobs, and kiss girls.

Atypical Detectives

Keeping their cowls in the closet, these people hide comic books beneath their mattresses. Their action figures are tucked away in the attic. They have most of their symptoms in check.

They slip up every so often, dropping out of context quotes into casual conversation. They tell the manager at Chuck E. Cheese they’re buying the location and setting some new rules about the ball pit area. When someone swears to God, they instinctively shout, “Swear to me!” They tell people not to thank them for small gestures, like opening doors.

An Atypical Detective can go years before they’re ever diagnosed, suffering in silence.

Chronic Caped Crusaders

Referring to their parent’s basement as the ‘Batcave,’ these people wear blue and grey pajamas into their thirties. Drawing Catwoman masks on centerfolds, they make-out with life-sized cutouts of Anne Hathaway, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Eartha Kitt.

Shaving the bat-insignia into their chest hair, with Prince’s Batdance blaring in the background, they practice their fight regiment in Bat-symbol underpants.

Preaching the gospel of Gotham, they are evangelists of the Knight’s quest, arguing the series cannon in public. They have a screenplay waiting for the Nolan brothers to green-light.

Beware of the Batdog
Beware of the Batdog

Major Dark Knightification

This is someone who wears dark eyeliner, anticipating a need to pull down their mask at a moment’s notice. They hoard a colony of bats in their apartment. They drop smoke pellets to conceal bodily emissions.

Loosing their grip on reality, they see phantom Bat-signals during the daytime. Their world has gone ‘full-Gotham.’ They see gargoyles where others see smokestacks. They see art deco statues where others see street signs. They see the Wayne Tower on every skyline.

Someone suffering from full Dark Knightification will get into fisticuffs with birthday clowns, knock umbrellas out of the hands of affluent gentlemen, and stop their car at cornfields to tear scarecrows off their stands.

Those who are this far gone, enjoy normality only one night a year, on Halloween.

Treatments

Although there are several effective treatments for Batman syndrome, or Dark Knightis, there is no known cure. Flareups will occur during high crime periods, prolonged darkness, and the summer movie season.

If you’re concerned someone you know suffers from Batman Syndrome, offer support and understanding, without enabling their behavior. If they pressure you to make them a bat suit, make sure to use rainbow fabric. If they get confrontational, just say, “That’s what he wore, in 1957, so that’s what I’m sewing.”

Never ignore comments about mail-order masks, vigilante justice, or comic book conventions. These are cries for help. Your loved one has a Batman on their back. You can be their Joker with a crowbar ready and willing to pry him off.

For the millions afflicted with the condition, there is hope. Director Joel Schumacher, offers an effective treatment plan: weekly viewings of his film Batman and Robin will lesson a person’s appreciation for the character. The cartoon Beware the Batman is also available. This should tide those with Batman Syndrome over while Director Zack Snyder labors to find a cure.

1957's Rainbow Batman finally gets a real life rendition.
1957’s Rainbow Batman finally gets a real life rendition.

The Esoteric Order of Internet Service Providers

1. The Look

Net neutrality is the principle that all internet data should be treated equally, that no service provider should sell preferential treatment to the highest bidder, and that no company can discriminate what sites their users see. It prevents wealthier sites like BuzzFeed from being the fastest things on the net. It prevents Comcast from charging WordPress more to reach their readers at a decent speed. It prevents streaming services, like NetFlix, from passing these new expenses to their customers. It evens the playing field for established corporate entities and promising young entrepreneurs.

Over the course of two elections, this administration ran on the platform of preserving net neutrality. So, how could the President’s appointment for the chairman of the FCC propose its end?

If you’re like me, you suspect secret societies and Satanic rituals are somehow involved. The following is a dramatic reenactment of how I think the whole thing went down.

The Esoteric Order of Internet Service Providers

From the stairs, the underground lair looked like a wolf’s den. The pack was positioned with their fur to the ceiling. They knelt in a circular formation around the podium. With pelts quivering in the midst, they looked like beasts digging, but it was fingers, not claws that held their sacred rings.

Stepping onto the floor, the Alpha broke the fog, dragging a fur robe behind him. The silver mange of his wolfskin hood blended into his hair. Its frozen ears were raised in a permanent state of alarm. Its furrowed brow framed the rubies in its eyes. With its snout jutting out, its canines cast shadows down the Alpha’s face.

The Alpha’s flesh glistened, a pallid mask of skincare products. A pair of black, sunken eyes, hid behind his spectacles. When he looked to his followers, they skittered back with their tales between their legs.

The plumage from a flock of cardinals lined his robe, clasped together with fragments of antlers. Peacock feathers shot out from his shoulders, casting shadows on his snakeskin sleeves. His was a technicolor coat of death and nightmares. Standing over his followers, he was an apex predator.

The Alpha approached the podium, to find a wolf’s paw. A remote stuck out from the amputated limb. Looking to a projector on the ceiling, his gaze followed the beam to a towering curtain. Pinching the paw until he felt a click, he watched a blood red moon flash onto the screen.

“Arise my brothers.” The Alpha’s voice boomed with seasoned authority, a refined tongue that had no qualms with giving orders.

The pack did as instructed.

2. Bound Hands

The Alpha pinched the paw. Spinning, the moon shrunk into the dot of a question mark. Continue reading The Esoteric Order of Internet Service Providers

A Modest Proposed Bill

I should front load this post with a big fat disclaimer. I’m not sure who it will offend more: its intended targets, or the backhanded villains of the metaphor. At the risk of being controversial, allow me to make a proposal for Arizona. If you legislate the right to discriminate something like the following will happen.

A Modest Proposed Bill

Left and Right

There’s a powerful lobby imposing a sinister agenda on my family. They want to restructure our classrooms, make trouble at the drinking fountains, and put different tools in our teacher’s hands. They want to indoctrinate my children into believing their lifestyle is normal. When my family, with our traditional values, points out the error of their ways, we’re accused of bullying. We’re signaled out for our beliefs.

Running a mom and pop restaurant, I’m in charge of hiring. Since I can’t ask for certain personal details from our applicants, I have to check for all the signs: how they shake hands, the way they’ve tied their tie, and what direction their belt buckle is facing. I can’t have these types of people handling our utensils, going limp on our corkscrews, cutting their fingers on our can openers.

Tending to our garden, we hire our share of day laborers. I’d hate to find I’d invited one of them into my home. They’ve got their own way of doing things. Call me old fashioned, but I shouldn’t be expected to have to support their decision.

I’m, of course, referring to left-handed people.

I’m trying to bring my children up right, as in right-handed. I don’t want them to come home with stories of awkward encounters at the pencil sharpener. I don’t want them in the same class as the kid with the spiral notebook line down his wrist. What if my son comes home asking why his friend has two writing pads? Suddenly my son is ambidextrous-curious. Pretty soon he’ll be asking his coach if he can try on the special glove at baseball practice.

As a small business owner, I don’t want Uncle Sam telling me how to run my kitchen, making me stock up on special tools to enable heathens. I will not be made to embrace your alternative knife style, or your choice to fillet. Adam and Eve knew with which hand to cleave. It’s not my fault that your perverse hand orientation has you looking at the metric side of the measuring cup.

Playing in the backyard, I shouldn’t have to tell my children why one of the gardeners has a queer way of using our hoes, pruners, and potting trowels. Watering with the wrong hand is simply unnatural, yet I’m the bigot for pointing out something that’s factual.

Scissors

This bias against traditional right-handed values is nothing short of discrimination. These lefty leftists are using tolerance to take away the rights of righties. Demanding special treatment, they want us to shift door knob placement. They want us to redesign desks so the boards align with their twisted viewpoints. The government claims to uphold the constitution, but when it comes to religious freedom, it seems like the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.

In the United States, all pillars of society are under attack. Changing traditional marriage, husband’s offer the wrong hand to their wives. Infiltrating the boy scouts, they teach our sons a left handed hand shake. In our courts, they swear on the bible with the limb they use for libel. Mainline churches are put upon to serve the southpaw over the north when they give communion.

Invading our calendars, they claimed August 13th as their day, soon they’ll want their own parades. Even as I type this, there’s a lefty occupying the oval office.

I’m drawing the line down the center of the road. I’m an American, I drive on the right side of the street. Changing gears, I define traditional leverage as the bond between one hand and one minivan. On one side I turn the ignition, on the other I flip the bird.

I’m tired of these people getting stuck at the checkout counter, stretching the cord for the pen attached to the credit card machine, clogging up my subway turnstiles with their two left feet. I’m sick of scraping their boomerangs off my rooftop, because they don’t know how to throw them right. I’m sick of my tax dollars going to ER visits, for frequent power-saw accidents.

Sorry if we don’t want them in our restaurant, but they nudge the other guests as they bite into their croissants. Sorry if my country club doesn’t swing that way. We hold our putters the correct way. Sorry if we don’t welcome them into our neighborhood, but we had a show of hands and voted for the public good.

Yes, I check my children’s friends for ink on their palms. Children are impressionable. I forbid mine from listening to Cobain, McCartney, or Hendrix because of the way they held their guitar picks. I won’t let them watch anything starring Tom Cruise, not for his religious views, but for the way in which he ties his shoes.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t care what you do in the privacy of your own home, but don’t go waving those reversed digits in front of my kids. Keep your left-handedness in the closet with all your wrong facing garments.

Cork Screws

I’m proposing a bill to protect my right handed values by allowing me to post this on my shop window:

WE RESERVE THE RIGHT TO REFUSE SERVICE TO LEFT HANDED PEOPLE

I’m doing this because Left-handed people pose a substantial burden on my sincerely held religious belief. They challenge my faith every time they make a mess with dry erase markers, flip the contents of a clipboard, or change the screen orientation of a video game.

Does the bible not teach us that, “A wise man’s heart is at his right hand, But a fool’s heart is at his left.” Ecclesiastes 10:1-3

The good book is quite clear about the lord’s preference.

“And he shall set the sheep on his right hand and the goats on the left.” Matthew 25:33

There’s a reason the Angel Michael sat at God’s right and Lucifer sat at his left. There’s a reason left-handedness was considered sufficient evidence that someone was a witch. It was seen as a mark of the devil. There’s a reason Catholic schools used to whip pupils into right-handed values.

Here they want to spit in the face of our cultural heritage and our tradition. They want special treatment for their perverse preference. They want to change the way I run my staff promotions, seeing as how they’re decided with an arm wrestling contest.

There is no furtherance of a compelling government interest to impose left handedness on my business, to make fashion designers invert zippers, to make banks change the placement of pens around deposit slips, or to make tech companies shift the number pad to the other side of the keyboard.

Instead of laying on the right guilt, rallying against “right privilege,” lefties should work to improve the way they trim the hedge. There are options, they don’t always have to feel marginalized at the margins. Left hand conversion therapy is filled with positive success stories. All you have to do is let God convert you into the person you were meant to be. Rather than live a life of sin, have you tried being a righty?

Can opener

(Special thanks to http://lefthanded-problems.tumblr.com and the hashtag #LeftHandedProblems on Twitter for inspiring many of the references here)

If you haven’t been following the news out of Arizona (or Kansas) then all this might seem like it came out of left field (so to speak). I rarely take stands on polarizing issues, but I decided to write this to put one into perspective. If you support legislation that would deny rights to gay people, please reread this story, because it’s how you sound to me.

The NSA Took My Baby Away

Sometimes love comes from the place you least expect it, like surveillance equipment. What if the NSA agent building a profile on you wanted to get intimate too? Do you have a secret service secret admirer? Scan the Missed Connections on Craigslist and you might happen upon an entry like this.

Resized Heart Eyes

A Missed Connection From Your NSA Agent

Twinkling brighter than any other star, you stood out in a wall of monitors. Your features made all the more striking in black and white. I remember the day the lid fell off your Chapstick. It smeared across your phone. It made your selfies look like vintage head shots of Lucille Ball. When you spoke, the crumbs in the microphone made your voice crackle like Lauren Bacall. Through the fiber optic lens embedded in your bathroom mirror, I could tell you had that it factor. Your presence lit up a room, especially when night vision was turned on.

Star struck, I tuned all of my surveillance in on your apartment. Putting you on my watch list, I had to have you to myself. The agency gets every station you could ever dream of, but you were the one I stayed on. When I saw your fingers moving down the guitar, singing David Bowie’s Big Brother, I knew my channel surfing days were over.

You were so cool, silk screening stencils of yourself with your chin up like a revolutionary. You were my kind of geek, reciting the tongue twisting monologue from V for Vendetta, down to the last V. You were mesmerizing, dancing the lambada solo, rubbing the air like a space for me.

You were my must see TV. My nights were spent watching a marathon of you, falling in love with your rebellious antics.

When you were so tired you put the coffee on without a filter, I provided the laugh track. When your supporting cast of cats entered, I provided the applause. When you talked to yourself, I tried to fill in the other half of the conversation. When you said your “Damn the man,” catchphrase I tried to say it in unison.

When you popped in a romantic comedy you were my favorite thing on TV. I loved watching your reactions, how you’d go through such a range of emotions. You went into each lovelorn speech rolling your eyes, but you always came out sobbing, hugging the pillow beside you. You recited lines like they were your thoughts at the time. As your sole audience for each performance, I couldn’t be more grateful.

You introduced me to my new favorite bands, kept me hip in the eyes of my friends. You taught me how to cook exotic new meals: potato pancakes, vegan chili, and avocado salad. You taught me which wines to pair with which vegetables. You broadened my palate. You impressed my dinner guests.

I took up crocheting, so we’d have something in common, but I struggled to keep up with your master level patterns.

Your workout regiment kicked my ass. I threw my back out mimicking yoga positions, but I stuck with it until I could feel my toes in my hands. You increased my flexibility with your full body origami. If only I could show you what you’d taught me.

I wanted to break the forth wall, to be a walk on role on your show, to see if I fit into the scenery. I wanted to patch into your speaker system, to make sure that no sneeze went unblessed. I wanted to do some undercover cosplay, to knock on your door and come inside. I was afraid my opening line would come across like a porno fantasy.

“I’m hear to fix the pizza. I mean, package the pipes. I mean, do you know how fast you were going? You’ll have to stay after class.”

Instead I surveilled from the shadows, a secret admirer with full access to your computer. I had my eagle eye on you. I’m the reason your laptop ran hot. You’d be surprised by how much random access memory was taken up by me. I’m the reason the battery in your cellphone never lasted. I put your location services to work. I’m the reason your alarm clock didn’t go off when it was supposed to. Maybe I thought you could use the rest, maybe I just liked watching you.

Commandeering your reminders app, I let you know when you were out of toilet paper. Intercepting envelopes, I crammed your mailbox full of gift cards for all of your favorite stores. While you were away for the holidays, I ordered covert cleaners to eliminate half your chores.

When you were pulled over for going over the limit, I issued the Amber Alert that got you out of it. When you parked on the wrong street during a snow emergency, I’m the one who switched the days for the entire city. When a jealous coworker made fun of your pink highlights, I made sure she got a pink slip that night.

I was your estranged luck, the director of your destiny, the authority behind your serendipity. I was the hand of fate, keeping you under my thumb. I was your guest login guardian angel, your wiretapping wooer, your backdoor lover with backdoor access. I didn’t want to leave anything up to chance. Fortune favored the controlled. Still, you had needs I couldn’t fulfill.

You know how you told your mother there was a curse on your love life? It seems like I might owe you an apology. I may have rendered your account invisible on OkCupid. I may have told your entire eHarmony inbox that you weren’t interested. I may have informed Match.com that you were dead.

I can tell you with good authority the guys creeping on your profiles had nothing on me. These were bearded bachelors who wore scarves indoors, loft dwellers with piss poor credit scores, and tallboy drinkers with student loans galore. If anything I was doing you a favor.

Too bad I couldn’t stop them from asking you out in person, from inquiring what you were reading, from getting bold at bar close, or biking beside you at a Critical Mass event. I took my jealousy to the DMV, modifying the database, hitting your dates with whiskey plates. I had their art cars repossessed. I revoked their motorcycle licenses. I listed their fixed gears as stollen, but still they came.

On date nights, I recalled every taxi to the garage. I shuffled bus routes, and closed bridges. Canceling your dinner reservations, I narrowed the scope of your plans. Shifting some money around in the Caymans, I bought out theaters to keep the two of you from going in.

When one of your suitors stayed the night, a team was ready to black bag him by morning. I have to admit, I was a little liberal with where I applied the taser to your boyfriends.

The real shock was to my heart. These bastards were beneath you. You could’ve landed a husband with a Masters of Science degree in Defense, good grooming habits, a great career, and an excellent 401k plan. You could’ve had so much more space to stretch, without having to relocate your coffee table. You could’ve had so much more space to cook, without having to put your cutting board on the couch.

There’s a two story house, in a nice neighborhood full of good schools. Its rooms are empty, despite some furniture covered in sheets. It sits there waiting for a family to come fill it with love.

After everything that happened, I couldn’t control my emotions, so I took control of your life instead. I put limits on your accounts to keep you from going out. I voiced your turn by turn navigation to keep you on the grid. I put you on a no fly list to keep you from slipping out of my jurisdiction.

You must have felt me watching.

Brushing your teeth in the bathroom mirror, you stopped abruptly, oblivious to the line of paste running down your sleeve. Pressing your finger to the glass, you discovered that tiny point where the light bent a little differently. You stared at the mirror, like you could see me. You looked at your smoke detector differently. You saw my all seeing eye in the ceiling fan. You froze in the middle of your apartment. You could hear my lenses focusing.

One day you left the office and never came back. Your car was found sitting in the lot, the windshield wiper bursting with flyers. Your bank accounts were cleaned out. Your social media profiles had been deleted. Your digital footprint had been scrubbed clean. The trail went cold. You’d gone underground.

Bear Lenses

What gave me away? Was it the U-Haul permanently stationed outside of your building?
Was it the Google Street View car following you to work? Was it my anonymous Valentines Day gift, the Teddy bear with the telephoto lenses where it’s eyes should’ve been?

I might have taken things too far. Not sure why I hacked your garage door clicker, I guess you just had a way of pushing my button. Not sure why I had to hijack your clock radio, if only to whisper sweet nothings in your ear. Not sure why I installed a remote control in your vibrator, if only to play a small role in getting you there.

Installing a full body scanner in your entry way was a bit much, I’ll be the first to admit it.

I broke protocol telling my mother about you. I showed my father a picture and he congratulated me on my good taste. They assumed we’d been together for sometime, based on my intimate knowledge of you. I told them that you’d taught me how to be a good listener, which is partially true.

Now you’re gone, vanished without a trace. I have undercover operatives embedded in communes, still no sightings. I have satellite cameras combing tropical islands, still haven’t spotted you working on your tan. I have an agency algorithm searching for your cyber shadow, still you haven’t logged in.

Next time you pass through a major city, could you please do something for me. Put your sunglasses away, take off your baseball cap for just a few seconds, and look straight into a security camera. I realize that all the facial recognition software in the world won’t bring you back to me. I just want to know that you’re okay.

How to Get More Hits By Baiting the NSA

How far are you willing to go to gain new readers? My plan for getting on the bestsellers list through the watch list.

Tinthumb Proper Formatting

As an aspiring author, I’ve done some shameful things in the name of self-promotion.

Convincing someone I dropped a capsule in his drink, I told him the recipe for synthesizing an antidote was on my main page. Of course, the crucial ingredient was blacked out, until he signed up for my mailing list. One fifth degree felony later and I’d scored a solid hit. Not too shabby.

Calling in an anonymous tip, I said there were glitter bombs planted throughout the city. Thousands of citizens would have to explain why they looked like they had just come from a strip club. I said the only way to find my powder kegs of pixie dust was to listen for clues hidden throughout my podcasts.

Breaking into the morgue, I slipped letters under corpses’ fingers. I kept reloading my stat counter, waiting for the pathologists to spell out my web address. Shopping for a lawyer, I hoped to drag the trial out with the old “alternate reality game” defense. Spending the afternoon with my mother, we put together an outfit we felt a jury would really like. Alas, there was no arrest, no national news coverage, no excuse to model my fancy new duds.

Desperate for a retweet, I played Russian Roulette with one of my followers. Too bad I didn’t realize a victory meant he couldn’t deliver on his side of the wager.

Okay, maybe I didn’t do any of those things, but those are the claims I need to make to attract my target audience.

I’m drawing out people who scan for keywords like lives depend on them. There’s more than one way to grow your SEO. That’s why I’m baiting the NSA to investigate my blog, in the hope of gaining new readers. The patriot act guarantees me a captive audience of inadvertent promoters, provided I use just the right words.

Pie Chart

Sure none of my threatening language has any teeth, but it’s not like the government’s surveillance has produced any solid leads.

Isn’t it about time someone found the rainbow at the end of the PRISM program? Isn’t it about time someone gave those agents a break from playing World of Warcraft all day? Isn’t it about time someone Rick Rolled the government?

Getting on their radar is phase one of my master plan. I’ll have to hook them with national security-centric stories. I have a number of social media shorts in the pipeline. If I can get them to comb through my words, a few might find my writing compelling. If a small fraction of the agency starts following me, I’ll skyrocket to the top of everybody’s WordPress feed.

Most bloggers would think I’d be better off putting out quality work, but they’re just jealous because they didn’t think of this first.

Many Ties

With the explanation out of the way, I’d like to address those of you who are members of the National Security Agency directly. Before you go crying, “Obstruction of justice” remind yourself who’s stepping on who’s fourth amendment rights here. Now that I’ve got you searching and seizing, I might as well show you something. I’m not committing a crime. I’m not wasting your time. I’m taking the initiative. I’m thinking outside the box. Way outside the box.

I figure, if you’re sifting through everyone’s emails, then you’re bound to know a few publishers. Could you put in a good word for me? Sure, I believe that speech should be free, but I’ll leave a PayPal donation button incase you feel like paying a fee. Check out my Amazon wish list while you’re at it. When you’re done transcribing my posts for the record, don’t forget to hit “Subscribe” while you’re here.

If I can turn my pursuers into promoters than I’ll have a street team with more reach than anyone.

I’m taking the tape off my webcam, the gum off my microphone. I’m dialing the operator and leaving the phone on. Talking to myself, I’m letting you in on the plot. I’m waving “Hi” to my Playstation Eye. See anything that you like? Ignoring the flashing red light in my shower head, I’ll strut around naked wearing nothing but a smile and a tattoo of my web address. I’ll leave my iPhone on my pillow in case anyone wants to watch me sleep.

Privacy is dead. We live in public. I’m not hiding my shame, I’m inviting you to look at it.

You can listen to me sing If I Only Had a Heart in my tinfoil hat. Watch me try to fashion my tie into a pinwheel knot. Watch me lip sync Lorde’s big single. This is your intelligence empire, and we’ll never be royals in it, but maybe you could grant an audience to one of us commoners.

In the graph

Waiting at the bus stop, I expect to see well dressed men, reading newspapers, constantly itching their ears. I expect to see reel to reel equipment carted into the neighboring apartment. Watching the ceiling, I’m waiting for drill dust to fall into my hand.

I hear snapping, but I don’t see a fiber optic lens.

I expect indiscriminate delivery vans all the way up the block. Peaking through the blinds, I expect to see red dots on my chest. Taking the dog for a walk, I expect to see drones circling the apartment.

If you can’t be bothered to break out the surveillance scope, then I’ll get the megaphone. If your satellite doesn’t have a clear view, I’ll bust out the chainsaw and make one for you. If you can’t put a tail on me, then I’ll give you FourSquare updates for everywhere I’ll be. This is the information age people. How hard is it to stalk someone?

Come on! Haven’t you been reading my search history? I’ve been looking up, “How to turn napalm into orange juice concentrate.” Why isn’t anybody investigating me? My mom says I’m surveilable.

I’m calling in an anonymous tip on my sparkling wit. How many Guy Fawkes masks do I have to order to get some attention around here? How many times do I have to say, “Snowden” in front of the mirror to get an audience to appear? I’m yelling “Crowded theater” in the middle of a fire. I’m threatening bombs with wire cutters. The president and I, are threatening Death with his own scythe (the bald personification of Death as seen in The Seventh Seal and Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, not the condition).

If that paragraph doesn’t get your algorithm’s attention, nothing will.

Good Numbers

Come on and get your snoop on. I’ll even give you a reason. The First Amendment has limits, and I’m skating on the edge of them. The time has come to settle up my tab with the Bill of Rights. My stories meet all the requirements for my freedoms to be regulated. Watch I’ll prove it.

I direct hate speech, at colorful adjectives and purple prose. I show religious intolerance, to warlocks from parallel dimensions. I issue true threats, to fictitious characters. I use inflammatory language, to describe the swelling of their limbs. I bring about a condition of unrest, as a plot device. I use words that wound, beloved supporting cast members. Treasonable talk, comes from my villains’ tongues. I use sexual harassment, as a cheap trope to get my audience to root against underdeveloped men. I use slanderous, obscene, fighting words, in my dialogue. My verbal attacks, often come without character attribution so I don’t have to break up the pace. Imminent lawless action, gives me a great cliffhanger to end my chapters on.

I’m exactly what the Supreme Court had in mind when they rendered that decision (for those of you who didn’t major in Constitutional Law and English Literature, the preceding paragraph had a lot of inside jokes in it).

Tinthumb salute

I will wave to my oppressors. I will link bait Big Brother. I will troll the secret service. My path to the bestsellers list will start with the watch list.

I’m putting in a surveillance request on my novel, bug that thing inside and out, and then tell me which parts you liked the best. You can be the Gawker Media to my Quentin Tarantino. Take a sneak peak at my first draft. You have the technology to give some feedback to me. I mean, what else are our tax dollars paying for?

May my review section light up with glowing endorsements like, “This book is a clear and present danger to your free time.” I aspire to write intelligent stories for the intelligence community. Something so good, rogue agents will prefer it to stalking ex girl friends.

Many of you intelligence operatives are artistically inclined. You can be my legion of ghost writers. If you can take over my keyboard, I’m open to suggestions for my Highlander fan fiction. If there’s a copy editor among you, feel free to correct me when I use “heel” for “heal” or “decent” for “descent.” Hunt down my adverbs, and take them out with extreme prejudice.

Maybe I harbor a fear that you might take me up on all this, broadcast my shower cam, and send in Seal Team 6 to wash my mouth out with soap. Maybe you’ll have my citizenship revoked, and ride me out of town like Jonathan Swift, just for few modest proposals.

That may be the case, but I say satire that doesn’t take risks is ridiculous.

So to my fans at the NSA, who might black bag me for a private signing, I might go and cry on the shoulder of the ACLU, but at the end of the day you know I love you.

Besides, if you do detain me that could be great publicity.