My first experience playing the party game Catchphrase was not a fun one.  The word that I was given to describe to the group was “confused.”

[Star Wipe]

ME: Uh…It’s like, I don’t know what I’m talking about.


ME: No, it’s like when you have no idea how to do something.

EVERYONE ELSE: : It’s easy.  Just describe the word that’s listed without using the word.

ME: I know how to do it, but it’s like when I can’t figure something out…

EVERYONE ELSE: C’mon!  Are you seriously that stupid?

ME: Stupid!  That’s close!  It’s like I’m stupid but I don’t know what I’m talking about.


ME: I quit.

Letters From Smitty: The Child



Dearest Reader,


It appears yet again that I am in great need of your assistance.  During the last few days I have been miserable.  My life more closely resembles the worst type of Hell, typically reserved for murderers, thieves, and deli clerks.  I feel as though I am descending into madness.  Allow me to discuss my situation with you and see if you can make heads or tails or pancakes out of it.

This all began when my roommate “Smitty” received a telegraph message from his sister, “Patty” who lives on the outskirts of Rapids City, SD.  Their family is originally from Boston but at some point they decided as a group that they no longer wanted to live under the oppressive rule of the British Crown and decided to move West.  This was probably around 1982.  They loaded up their truck and settled in the mountainous prairie land that was South Dakota.  (Of course, “Smitty” and I met at a Steampunk Arts Festival several years later, bringing him to Sheridan, WY.)  Patty stayed in South Dakota, eventually meeting a retired firefighter who impregnated her within 4 hours of conversation, and has remained there ever since.

In her message, “Patty” requested a favor from Smitty (and myself obviously).  She had been invited to trek deep into Big Horn National Forest on some sort of survivalist expedition.  She also mentioned something about “human prey” but I’m sure she was just joking.  “Patty” told her brother that he would need to watch her solitary child, “Kyle”, for the six-day period where she would dissipate into the woods, either to be hunted by or to hunt, humans.  “Smitty” to my shock and disgust agreed without giving even the slightest shred of thought to how I might be affected by it.

I am notoriously bad around children, you see.  At one point during my thirteen year stretch of unemployment, I volunteered to read to a local children’s library.  I selected a portion of my favorite children’s book, Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West.  I felt that its brutal violence and nihilistic world-view would teach the children a lesson about the harsh and uncaring nature of existence.  I started with my favorite passage:

Riding down the unhorsed Saxons and spearing and clubbing them and leaping from their mounts with knives and running about on the ground with a peculiar bandylegged trot like creatures driven to alien forms of locomotion and stripping the clothes from the dead and seizing them up by the hair and passing their blades about the skulls of the living and the dead alike and snatching aloft the bloody wigs and hacking and chopping at the naked bodies, ripping off limbs, heads, gutting the strange white torsos and holding up great handfuls of viscera, genitals, some of the savages so slathered up with gore they might have rolled in it like dogs and some who fell upon the dying and sodomized them with loud cries to their fellows.

It’s a classic.  But in the end, the Sheridan PTA Board discovered that my literary choices were not suitable for children.  Also, they got a hold of my criminal background check.  I was summarily stripped of my post.  The embarrassment was great and I felt as though I could never face another child again.  Those bulging, teary, almond-shaped eyes, casting doubt upon me at every turn was certainly more than I cared to bear again.  I swore from that moment on I would never look upon another child, lest my bones turn into dust and my face turn into another slightly uglier face.

Yet there I stood as “Smitty” sat at our telegraph, relaying his sister’s message to me and acquiescing to her demands.

“You fool!”  I cried.  “You damn, damn fool damn!”  “Smitty” grasped my shoulder tightly and told me I needed to overcome my fears by immersing myself in them, like I did with that stationary tub.  Only after I realize that the threat is in my mind alone could I carry onward.  This was sound advice.  However, I decided to bite him anyways.  We grappled for a bit and “Smitty” applied pressure to carotid artery and I fell fast asleep.

The next day I awoke to the shrill laughter of a pre-adult.  “Kyle” had arrived.  A note from “Smitty” was posted on our full-sized Malt Shop jukebox in the corner of our studio apartment.  It read: “I have ascended into the Spirit Realm to sittith on the Right Hand of God, the Father Almighty.  Be back around supper.”  I was left alone to fend for myself.

Although he had already spent 5 seasons on this Earth, “Kyle” was still very dim-witted in my estimation.  For example, I had been warned that he had not yet grasped the social intricacies of bowel movement and bladder evacuation.  This was a shocking revelation. My parents had me attuned to the ins and outs of the commode by the time I was 2 years old.  A heavy regimen of screaming and Chinese water torture helped me gain intestinal independence.

I have the utmost difficulties speaking to children.  I have no capacity to discuss topics that they might find interesting.  I find it demeaning and disrespectful.  “Kyle” and I had a rather dull conversation about the recent NSA scandal (which he knew practically nothing about).  I then decided that physical exertion was a better option than just discussing secret United States Spy Agencies.  I challenged “Kyle” to a push up contest, which I won handily.  However, the child still seemed listless and discontent.

I made the mistake of asking him what he wanted to do, wistfully thinking that it might involve some sort of transcendental meditation or binge eating perhaps.  “Kyle” instructed me that he wished to watch Sesame Street on television.  I regrettably informed him that “Smitty” and I did not keep a television in the house.  Quite frankly, there is no need.  I find it to be a waste of money, especially since “Smitty” and I get most of our news stories from a few select crows that fly by our window at dusk.  Speaking of which, did you hear about the hawk roosting on 31st street?  What’s this world coming to?

“Kyle” did not like this explanation and began to weep.  It was a deep sobbing, whine that reminded me of “Smitty’s” sleep apnea.  I knew that Sesame Street involved puppets of some type.  Little did “Kyle” know that I had myself dabbled in puppetry in my college years.  I leapt to the bedroom, cracked open a hermetically sealed glass case and removed my puppet Dobey from his crystalline coffin.

Within minutes of slipping Dobey over my hand, I was reminded why he was encased in triple-paned glass.  He was haunted.  “Smitty” had found this puppet at a local Sioux reservation yard sale.  In order to increase the value of the doll, “Smitty” asked its Native American owner if he could curse it.  The Sioux man obliged and wouldn’t you know it, it worked.

This brings me to my problem, Dear Reader.  It seems as though both my hand and Dobey the puppet have begun to operate completely independent of my body.  Their actions up to this point could only be described as dubious and malevolent.  “Kyle” has locked himself in the bathroom and I think I hear a hair dryer running.  I don’t want to lop my hand off with a kitchen knife, but at this point, I don’t see how this situation will resolve itself otherwise.

Please Dear Reader, any advice would be greatly appreciated.

– Alan Gibbons

Ratings War Continues; Cast of “Smash” to Up the Ante

New York, NY – In an attempt combat the media’s obsession with Corey Monteith’s death, the cast of NBC’s recently canceled show Smash have announced that they will televise their own live mass suicides Wednesday night.  The decision comes on the heels of the Glee star’s tragic and extremely marketable drug overdose.  

“After Corey’s passing, we just felt that we left something on the table creatively,” said Smash creator Theresa Rebeck.  “We needed a fresh start and something provocative.  We feel that our audience really wants us to dose stars like Angelica Huston and Katherine McPhee with large quantities of phenobarbital-laced Snapple.”

News outlets have been ravenous in covering Monteith’s death and ratings for Glee reruns have jumped considerably.  “Yes it’s tragic.  We all loved him.  Blah, blah, blah.” said Paul Blistone, Fox’s Director of Marketing.  “But you need to see a silver lining in every storm.  His death has created renewed interest in the show.  People want to tune in next season to see how the cast will react.  Will Lea Michelle develop any type of pervasive psychological disorders as a result?  Can Jane Lynch make it through “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” without breaking down completely.  How will Corey’s death affect Kevin McHale’s pitch?  You can’t buy that type of buzz!”

Smash’s similar format led the two shows to a dogged battle in the ratings.  Ultimately Glee came on out on top.  But the battle isn’t over yet.

“I strongly believe that once viewers see the poison slow Debra Messing’s central nervous system to the point of brain death,” said Rebeck, “we’ll be back in the ratings game for sure!  It’s so compelling!   It’s so dramatic.  It’s so Smash!”

Magneto’s Morning

The sounds of Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” opened Magneto groggy eye-lids.  A bare hand swiped the ringing I-Phone off of the night stand and hit snooze.   The world’s most powerful supervillain rolled over in his bed and buried his face in the pillow.  He wasn’t ready to get up yet.  It was still dark on Asteroid M, the secret lair built on a large chunk of rock floating in space.  It was quiet too.  No alarms.  No lasers being fired.  No Blackbird Jet full of X-Men attacking.  Soon Magneto drifted back to sleep, clutching his Ohio State fleece blanket in the crook of his arm. 

Minutes later, the phone went off again.  “But it was Saturday night.  I guess that makes it alright.”  Magneto pushed himself upright and sat in bed staring at the wall of TV monitors.  He was tracking the movement of the winged mutant Archangel, who fit into some evil plan that he couldn’t remember the details of at the moment.  He rubbed his eyes and thought about hitting the snooze button again.  But he had things to do, people to see, humanity to enslave.

He made his way into the master bathroom, peeled off his tighty-whiteys and kicked them into a hamper in the corner.  Magneto looked at himself in the mirror for a moment.  He pinched the front of his tummy and jiggled it around.  “I should really start doing some push-ups in the morning or something,” he thought to himself.  “I’ll start tomorrow.”

Magneto stepped into the running shower and began the ritual.  Anti-dandruff shampoo first, then a loofah scrub with milk and honey-scented soap.  He reached out his hand and beckoned his razor to do his shaving.  The floating Gillette had done this many times before and skimmed the whiskery face of the asteroid’s dictator smooth.  Magneto turned his shower radio to 103.7 WBZZ, the local morning  show.  The show was hosted by Sabertooth, Mr. Sinister, and the Blob.  Occasionally members of the alien race of Shi’iar would call into the show, but they mainly talked about sports and it got boring quickly.

Magneto stepped out of the shower, dressed himself and made his way over to the breakfast nook.  He opened the pantry and found a box of Honey Nut Cheerios, a few packets of Carnation Instant Breakfast and a tub of almonds, which were inexplicably located in the same place as the cereal.  He opened the freezer and saw a stack of sausage patties.  They looked delicious, even in their frozen state.  However, Magneto decided that the clean up for such a meal would be a real headache, so he opted to put a few frozen blueberry waffles into his toaster oven.

He moved his way over to the coach and turned on the Today Show.  Matt Lauer was recapping some silly story about how Justing Bieber collapsed at a German nightclub and some people are speculating that he has an alcohol problem.  Lauer then threw it back over to Savannah Guthrie who attempted to explain a recent string of robberies where the thieves made off with large quantities of iridium, a para-magnetic element capable of withstanding high amounts of corrosive material.  Magneto forgot that he had sent the Hellfire Club off a few weeks ago to complete that task.  He was building a trans-dimensional matter folding device that would allow him to travel to alternate universes. 

His whole day was booked solid with phone calls.  He had to reach back out to Thanos, the Overmaster, who left him some message about the whereabouts of the Infinity Gauntlet.  He had been playing phone tag with Mystique the Shapeshifter for about two days now.  Juggernaut had called him last night too, but Magneto wasn’t ready for that conversation because it was going to be unpleasant.   

He rubbed his face and looked out the window of his asteroid abode.  The sun was shining brightly on this side of his evil complex now.  He thought how nice it would be to work outside more.  He could get some exercise, feel the sun on his skin and wouldn’t have to deal with all this pressure.  Magneto wished somebody else would defeat earth’s mightiest heroes and throw all humans into a state of subjugation.  But the grass is always greener.  He thought about how much a villain like Pyro or Toad would kill to be the leader of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and the feeling quickly subsided. 

It was getting close to 8 AM.  A few more minutes.  Magneto turned off the TV with a flick of his index finger.  He reached for his laptop and decided to check Facebook for a bit.  He scrolled through his list of “friends” and grew increasingly discouraged.  All the other villans he knew were annoying him.  Sauron complained about the weather in the Savage Land.  Dr. Doom posted something like, “Nobody understands…” which was obviously some lame attempt at harvesting sympathetic or encouraging comments.  Apocalypse, who Magneto wasn’t even really friends with, quoted scripture passage.  The annoying part was that they were passages from a scripture that Apocalypse wrote himself, so it just came of as pretentious.

Magneto closed his laptop and looked at the clock on the wall.  8:00 on the dot.  He magnetically levitated off the couch and moved towards the door.  He fastened his cape and picked up his telepathically impenetrable helmet.  He sighed and placed the armour over his head.  Off to work.





Deer Diary



Deer Diary,

                What a crazy day!  I’m walking along the forest, minding my own antlers, when I hear this crashing sound in the distance.  Right away, I’m thinking to myself, “Ooh!  Two male deer fighting over a doe.  I gotta run in there and join the fracas. Those punks probably don’t have anything on my velvety nubs.  I’m gonna fight.  I’m gonna win cause I gots to get me some!”  I know that comes off kind of chauvinistic but hey, it’s mating season and I’m not trying be a virgin going into my third winter.  It’s pathetic.  Dale and the guys would never let me hear the end of it. 

So I prance all the way over to this big open field and I’m really smelling it now.  This broad has got some supple scent glands if I do say so myself.  She must have sprayed the entire meadow.  There’s just something about the smell of Doe-wizz that just…I don’t know.  I just love it!  Does that make me weird?  

I go into this field and I’m like wandering around trying to find this chick so I can get BIZ-AYYY!  Right?  So all of a sudden, I catch a whiff of something else.  It smells like poly urethane and coffee breath.   Yeah, you know what’s coming: human. 

Before I know it I have a carbon fiber arrow with a fixed blade broad head tip lodged between my shoulder and my neck. Holy crap did it scare me!  I ran for a couple of yards but it was just too much.  Meanwhile, I’m thinking, “Man, where’s that doe?  I gotta get something pregnant before I get turned into jerky.”  But I ended up collapsing behind this big rock.

Well here comes old coffee breath, sauntering up to me like he’s God’s gift.  He grabbed me by the antlers.  Big whoop by the way.  I’m a four-point, tough guy.  Then he took a “selfy” with his I-Phone. 

So I think I was pretty much dead at that point.  This is where it gets really messed up.  He takes this big knife and starts cutting out my rectum!  I know!  It’s like, what the heck is that all about?  Is that really necessary?  You just killed me with an arrow, now my rectum???  Then, get this, he ties my rectum like it’s a shoe lace and proceeds to open my chest cavity up like it’s a freaking Ziplock bag.  He takes the knife, the one that was IN MY RECTUM, and slices my belly open.  All the blood and viscera falls out of there and onto the ground.  And I’m like, “Uh hello?  See those internal organs?  I kinda need those!”  To top it all off, he went back down south and cut out my ahem – “buckhood”.  The whole kit n’ caboodle by the way.  I mean, what does that really accomplish?  You jealous, bro?

It must have been at that point where I actually died because I got transported to this really crazy hot place.  I guess it was like Hell for deer.  I don’t know exactly what a deer does to get sent to Hell.  I suppose I’ve witnessed a lot of “non-consensual” procreation and didn’t do anything about it.  Like Dale, he’d always sneak up behind an unsuspecting doe then bam!  Baby in the Spring.  We always thought it was pretty funny.   Anyway, in Hell there were all these deer who were being tortured and all sorts of crazy stuff.   They were like being chased by giant eagles, there were annoying-ass goats everywhere.  I’m like sitting there thinking, “After the knife in the rectum thing, I think I can handle this.”  

Luckily I didn’t have to stay for too long.  Because I got transported to this wonderful place.  It was like Deer Heaven.  It was all leafy and green.  It reminded me a lot of the meadow where that guy spilled my intestines onto the ground actually.  There was plenty of tasty foliage and lots of procreation opportunities (consensual of course) to be had.  Nobody shoo’d us out of their gardens.  It was great!

Suffice it to say that this day has been pretty wild.  Just wanted to share. 

          A Dead Deer