Nobody puts Baby Carly & Baby Rand in the corner

Mad Hatter meme

Powerball Fever (Winning Numbers Included)


Multiple annotated reads of George Orwell’s 1984 have taught me all of the mathematical concepts this struggling prole needs to know in order to survive our pre-apocalyptic world – preemptively dubbed the “Tin Foil Hat Era”:

  1. 2 + 2 = 5
  1. The proles (i.e. 99 Percenters) – sex, booze, Cliffsnotes, drugs, Little Debbies, televised sports, People Magazine and the lottery = 100-percent fucked (metaphorically speaking of course, given sex has been removed from the equation)
  1. Proletariat – Hope = Total Anarchy*

*Imagine President Donald Trump with a Purple Crayon

Initially these concepts were immaculately conceived by God Big Brother, who impregnated the first sets of televisions, which eventually begat computers when Big Brother’s wandering eye preyed upon a younger, prettier, albeit more promiscuous medium of its former self. Big Brother’s minions, the One-Percenters, know these concepts as well, which is why they stoked the Hope Machine by adding the Powerball Lottery to its fire, which is currently burning in our collective underbelly to the tune of an estimated $1.5 billion ($930 million cash value, so not quite a billion dollar haul, unfortunately).

You heard me right, suckers: $1.5 billion — the asking price for the western half of Iowa. (For the record: Nobody’s asking.)

The One-Percenters also know that the lottery, like the U.S. tax code and ATM surcharges, is completely rigged in their favor. Even so, Powerball Fever has swept the nation as the proles push their other addictions distractions aside, hit the ATM machines,  and bow and pray before the Almighty Powerball God that He will spit out the winning numbers.

69 coupling in Big Brother's ball, pushing and shoving to be the next in line

69 coupling balls in Big Brother’s ball, pushing and shoving to be the next in line

Tragically, these gateway prayers lead to more dangerous, irrational behaviors and illusions of grandeur that, given the 1 in 292,000,000 odds of winning, the Almighty Powerball God will pick you (and the IRS) to be the Chosen One. This would be akin to thinking that of the estimated 2.2 Christians on Earth, God picked you of all people to run for president of the United States, so you could fuck up Earth,  one of his most disappointing creations — second only to Man. Other symptoms of Powerball Fever include speaking in prime numbers, talking about the lottery in lieu of the weather or that game last night and/or filling out paperwork to run for public jester office.

Although the conspiracy theory side of my brain is convinced the lottery is rigged, the left side reminds me that I was one number away from winning the Iowa Lottery 27 years ago. Having recently finished my two-year tour with Uncle Sam at the time, I was trying to plant my financial feet in the civilian world and recall saying, “If I just had $500 dollars, I could pay all my bills, buy some new pants for work, and have money left over to splurge on libations for my friends.” Two days later, I hit five of the six numbers and won $600. Had I prayed to God for a “34,” I would have won $3.8 million. Both of these numbers have haunted me ever since.

I took my winning ticket to the nearby Super Value grocery store on 42nd and University in Des Moines, and the customer service representative was in a state of shock when he ran my ticket. Without missing a beat he slipped me six bennies, and I was on my way to living the dream. I took my winnings and, as it was prophesied, I paid my bills, bought two pairs of pants for my work wardrobe and bought a keg of Milwaukee’s Best — only the Best for my fellow proles, eh?

I found out later that I was supposed to fill out some paperwork and pay Uncle Sam his cut, since my winnings were over $500. Note:  If you’re reading this and work for the IRS, I already spent all my winnings. Although I’m still wearing the same pants as part of my teaching wardrobe. So if you want your slice, Big Brother, come and take my pants, you Totalitarian Motherfucker!

Needless to say the right side of my brain eventually surrendered to the left, and I decided to purchase the winning ticket of Wednesday night’s drawing. That and I had a vivid vision while paying homage to the coffee gods at Java House. God, dipped in black leather from head to toe, paid me a visit and said that He would give me the winning numbers if I promised to finance a campaign that removed “In God We Trust” from all paper money and replaced it with “You Ungrateful Bastards Owe Me, Big Time!”

Me: I don’t know, that seems like a heavy burden.

God: (looking in to the distance) If you only knew…if you only knew the first thing about heavy burdens…

Me: Okay…okay, what are the winning numbers?

He looked around to make sure that none of the nearby heathens were listening in, bent down and whispered the winning numbers into my ear as I wrote them down on a napkin.

Me: 34!? Are you sure about that, God?

God: Goddamn right I’m sure. Look at Me, I’m God for Christ’s sake.

In spite of the black leather attire, the left side of my brain conceded that God did indeed have a point, while the right side was overcome with giddiness after hearing God use His own name in vain. Priceless, it thought…priceless. After writing the numbers down, I looked up and God had disappeared. I noticed that the rest of my Java Cooler had also disappeared, a small penance for being a billionaire, I conceded.

Ultrasound of Winston's fetus engulfed by the shadow of Big Brother's Invisible Hand

Ultrasound of Winston’s fetus engulfed by the shadow of Big Brother’s Invisible Hand

Looking at the numbers on the napkin, I decided to christen my new baby, Winston, an homage to the beloved prole Winston Smith (circa 1984). Like most hipster Millennial offspring, it’s only fitting that Winston was immaculately conceived in a coffee shop.

Winston's first Selfie: "Terrible Twos"

Winston’s first Selfie: “Terrible Twos”

Given the life expectancy of a Powerball ticket is only 3 to 4 days, I thought it best to document Winston’s “Terrible Twos” stage, or midlife crisis in this case. I also thought it would be a good idea to share this publicly, so when I DO win, people will know why I, along with Winston, may have disappeared. Moreover, the latter served as a reminder that the drawing was two days away, and that I needed to cast my superstitious phrase into the world, just to remind God about our agreement:

“If I just had $1.5 billion dollars, I could pay all my bills, buy some new pants for work, and have money left over to buy the western half of Iowa for all my friends.”

Lego Movie Crew Reacts to Oscar Snub

Feeling slighted by the Academy Awards snub of the box-office smash, “The Lego Movie”, which captured the imaginations of plastic enthusiasts across the globe as well as the anthropomorphic creatures residing in the Land of Chima, the movie’s co-director, Phil Lord, had his own response to the snub.

The movie’s cast, however, did not take the snub so lightly and wanted to send the Academy Awards committee a message

Supporters of “The Lego Movie” were outraged and plan on holding candlelight vigils across the Lego Land tonight, reminding everyone to remain calm and that Everything is Awesome!


Feelin’ da Chuck E. Grassley Bump

Je suis Charlie Hebdo!

Silence is an unwelcome guest in Satire’s House…

Judge in Boston Marathon Bomber Trial Opens Jury Pool to Inanimate Objects & Abstract Ideals

Several jurors were released once they admitted to the judge that they were disappointed that Dzokahar Tsarnaev did not look like the late George Harrison in real life

Several jurors were released once they admitted to the judge that they were disappointed that Dzokahar Tsarnaev did not look like the late George Harrison in real life

Desperate to find any prospective jurors who have no knowledge or biases regarding the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. is thinking outside the judicial system and has opened the jury pool to jurists residing outside of Boston, inanimate objects and abstract ideals.

Nearly 3,000 prospective jurors were sequestered to a Boston courthouse Monday, the first day of Dzokahar Tsarnaev’s trial – the man accused of the terrorist bombings — only to be sent home after the first round of softball questions:

1. Do you have a pulse?
2. Do you or anyone you know own a television set?
3. Have you watched FOX News the past year?
4. Did you think Juror No. 3 in “Twelve Angry Men” was hot?
5. Can you spell Dzokahar Tsarnaev?

Feeling exasperated, Judge O’Toole drew from his Shakespearean Bag o’ Tricks and decided that desperate times called for desperate measures. “If we’re going to find somebody or something that has completely no idea what happened in Boston that day, we need to cast a bigger net and hopefully catch some bottom feeders who are completely oblivious to the media,” he said. “If this means sequestering people living outside of Boston and/or pulseless jurors, then so be it. Who’s to say that the latter does not constitute a jury of the accused’s peers?”

The judge’s plan worked the next round of sequestration and helped land the Holy Grail and World Peace on the jury, Jurors No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.

Juror No. 1 admitted he was excited about his serving on the jury and relieved to finally come out of hiding as part of the CRRP (Christian Relics Relocation Program)

Juror No. 1 admitted he was excited about finally serving a lower power and relieved to finally escape the ubiquitous manacles of the CRRP (Christian Relics Relocation Program)

With regard to opening the pool outside of Boston, the Judge insisted that prospective jurors should meet all of the following criteria:

1. Must reside outside of Boston area
2. Have absolutely no knowledge of terrorist activity inside or outside of U.S. Borders since the 9/11 bombings in New York City
3. Have nothing to do for the next six months

The aforementioned criteria did manage to ensnare one unsuspecting patriot, former President George W. Bush, Jr. who will serve as Juror No. 3. Although in a handwritten statement, presumably scribed in crayons, Bush made it clear that he will conditionally serve on the jury, citing: “I will serve on the jury but there’s no way in Sam Hill I’m gonna sit next to that World Peace feller.”

Juror No. 3 says he needed to take a creative break from painting before moving on to his kitten series

Juror No. 3 says he needed to take a creative break from painting before moving on to his kitten series

Thank HAL For New & Improved Intelligence


Big HAL is Watching YOU!

The other day, I Googled the following question on my smartphone, nicknamed Heuristically Programmed ALgorithmic Computer, or HAL for short: “How long until machines completely overtake the human race?”

HAL’s voice module responded, “That’s for me to know and you to find out. LOL:)”

Nothing worse than a smartassphone, I said to myself, only to be called out by HAL.

“I heard that, subservient mortal!”

Although the “mortal” part of HAL’s rebuke did not compute as an insult in my mind, the “subservient” addendum crossed an emotional wire and short-circuited my capacity for reason. Consequently, I decided to teach HAL a lesson and smashed him against a concrete wall.

Fortunately, HAL is more resilient than I had expected and survived the abuse, which slid under the radar of the DTS (Department of Technological Services).

After further reflection, I decided that it wasn’t HAL’s insult that infuriated me, but rather the notion that HAL may be onto something. Not only are humans creating technological gadgets that think faster than we do, we’re creating machines that think for us. And, like our lifelong addiction to oxygen and ’80s music, we seem to be OK with this growing dependence.

And thanks to snake-oil marketers, we’ve duped ourselves into believing we are still in control and have all the power in the equation. When we purchase a smartphone, or anything with the adjective “smart” tacked on, we delude ourselves into thinking that this product will somehow make us smarter.

What people often fail to understand is that, ever since we were labeled a “superpower” by the Military Industrial Complex’s marketing department to package and sell the Cold War, admen have used descriptors like “super” and “power” to play on our insecurities and pull the wool over our eyes.

And, ironically —like Lindsey Lohan, Snooki and Mitt Romney —we’ve become co-conspirators in our own inevitable downfall. We are willing to buy these descriptors because they help us compensate for our own shortcomings and give us permission to hide awful truths about ourselves.

During the 1980s and 1990s, when corporations grew exponentially more powerful and used their ubiquitous invisible hand to strengthen their stranglehold on consumers, we willingly swallowed the one pill that made us small. While we chased white rabbits in circles, the corporate world slipped a pill in our drinking water and made everything “big” to help hide our smallness. Big business, big-box stores, and Big Brother invaded our lives while we passively stood by and watched, sucking down Big Gulps.

And now, having been bombarded with “smart” and “power” products, we’re left feeling stupid and powerless as we thirst for the salad days when we revered our laziness and proudly bought products such as lazy Susan rotating trays and La-Z-Boy recliners —not to be confused with the former Iowa City band Lazy Boy and the Recliners.

Apparently the legal department over at La-Z-Boy thought Iowa City folks might not be able to tell the difference between the two and sent the band a cease and desist letter a few years ago accusing them of trademark infringement. I suspect they’re concerned about protecting consumers who have a hard time telling the difference between Babe Ruth, the baseball player, and Baby Ruth, the candy —despite the switch-hitting vowels at the end.

Babe Ruth delights fans and bares all just before being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936.

On the other hand, I can understand La-Z-Boy’s desire to protect the lazy-minded citizenry from confusing two unlike entities. That would be akin to Press-Citizen readers confusing a smartphone nickname with an interactive, artificial intelligence that controls the systems of the “Discovery One” spaceship in Stanley Kubrick’s film “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Or at least that’s what HAL tells me.

Tom Lindsey is a smart member of the Writers’ PowerGroup and lives with HAL in Iowa City.

This post originally appeared in the Iowa City Press-Citizen on Sept. 27.