Category: Culture

Madden NFL: Geriatric Checkers Edition

I’ve been doing some writing and editing at a cool new company called Houston Preeminence that covers Houstonian sports and culture. Here’s an article that I published in their humor section. They’ve got it behind a paywall, but I’m putting the whole thing here to give you some idea of what they offer their subscribers. They’ve also got a 24-hour radio station, so go check it out!


For the upcoming Texans at Redskins game on Nov. 18, our editors assigned us a challenge: use Madden NFL to simulate the game and attempt to correctly predict the outcome.

It’s a great idea; the game has an excellent record of predicting winners, with correct calls in ten of the last 15 Super Bowls. We leapt at the opportunity, but our XBox is currently having difficulty running Madden, thanks to a minor equipment malfunction.

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The Excruciating Pain of Christmas Music, Scientifically Measured

If you’ve visited this blog during the holidays, you know my feelings about Christmas music. It’s my tradition to unleash a primal, Munchian scream against the unbearable, tinny, maudlin, manipulative, manufactured dreck that the Sentimental-Industrial Complex annually sees fit to inflict on us. But this time, science is here to help us.

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What we’ve lost

On the morning of November 9, when the votes were counted and we all knew that Donald Trump would become our next president, I put the following statement on social media:

Well, folks, it’s been a nice republic.

It got a positive response from friends on the left and the right. They all sensed that something very important had been lost, though it was hard to pinpoint what. But those who find profit in that loss are leaving no end of clues, and it’s our job to read those clues.

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If the clown nose fits, wear it

(Warning: It’s possible that I’m about to directly insult some of you.)

There’s a stupid and wasteful tradition, dishonestly masquerading as “charity,” that’s been going on in the UK for some years now, that has recently made its way to the United States. I’m talking about Red Nose Day. It’s coming up on May 26. The gimmick is: you buy a red clown nose for a dollar, and your dollar (or at least a small fraction of it, after multiple layers of administrative costs) gets used to “fight” something called “child poverty.”

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The Angry Reviewer

I got a book through Amazon Prime called “The Good Neighbor,” by A. J. Banner. It was billed as a suspense novel from “a phenomenal new voice,” and it was praised to the heavens. It would, they promised, “forever change the way you look at the people closest to you.”

Big promises, right? And based on all this hype, the book quickly became a bestseller. But I’m not convinced that those things were written by conscious human beings—because this book is godawful bad. By the time I was only a couple chapters in, I was already angry at them (the publisher and promoters, not the poor inept author) for tricking me into choosing it. So I annotated my copy with all the things that made me roll my eyes, grumble frustratedly, or laugh out loud. Then, based on my notes, I went back to Amazon and wrote the following review (which leaves out a lot):

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If you don’t vote, you must complain

“If you don’t vote, you can’t complain.” It’s universally accepted—and exactly backwards. Consider this scenario that (I hope) remains far away.

Smith: Help! The president signed an executive order criminalizing my beliefs! They’re seizing my home and taking me away! Tell someone!

Jones: Sorry, neighbor, but I didn’t vote, so I can’t complain. You’re on your own. Good luck!

Brown: I voted for the current administration, so my complaint would be hypocritical. You’re on your own. Good luck!

If you see an injustice being done, do you really think it’s your duty to silently go along with it just because you didn’t vote? Should others, if they see it being done to you?

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How to Reject Rejection

Today I did something that will make every writer want to be me.

As part of the job, I’m always submitting my beautiful words here and there, and the inevitable rejections have a way of toughening the skin. But last night I got whacked in the face by a whole new level of rejection. A place that had already rejected me apparently lost track of their place in the process, and sent me a second rejection notice, months after the first one. You know, just in case I had forgotten that I wasn’t good enough for them.

I could have been dejected, but I realized they had handed me a stunning opportunity. I wrote back, and I rejected their rejection. Here’s what I sent:

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