Better Olympic Narratives

This post originally ran during the LAST Winter Olympics, in 2014. I think it’s STILL VERY RELEVANT.

Like lots of you perhaps, I’m watching bits of the Olympics, and it’s interesting to watch how the same basic narratives are played over and over in an attempt to add drama to the sports. Fundamentally, the Olympics is about world-class athletes competing with one another, so of course they’re all going to be dedicated, and the pride of their country.


i like twitter, twitter can be fun

Fiction: Dispatches from the Mirror Universe



I got to thinking about how dispiriting it must be to be a principled Republican right now, forced to choose between a candidate you can’t comprehend supporting (Clinton) and a candidate who is a total sleazebag maniac.

And I think people who support Clinton might just have easily been the target of Trump (or someone like him) ginning us up and telling us whatever we wanted to hear. We are not so smart that we would never possibly fall for it, and we would happily rationalize away all their flaws.

And I marvel about the place we’re in as a nation where Clinton is so hated that she could even lose to TRUMP, I mean c’mon, and also Trump is such a trashfire that he might even lose to CLINTON, hated as she is.

So I wrote a news report from an alternate universe where Trump decided he wanted to be a Democrat instead, and principled liberals were faced with the choice of either buying into his sales pitch despite his manifest terribleness; or voting against him, which would mean reconciling themselves to the prospect of voting for someone they loathed — his opponent, Dick Cheney.

Now, I think Democrats had something like a promise-the-moon candidate in Sanders, and clearly that didn’t work out. I’d also like to think that Democrats would be less accepting of abhorrent personal behavior than Trump’s ardent supporters seem to be.

The point of this piece isn’t quite “Trump could have fooled Democrats instead, had he chosen to.” The point is to try and give Hillary supporters a visceral way to feel what many conservatives are feeling right now:

“Imagine what it must be like to have to choose between someone your party canonically hates, and Donald Trump.”

Read the whole piece on Medium:

DISPATCHES FROM THE MIRROR UNIVERSE: Republican Dick Cheney and Democrat Donald Trump each remain the only presidential candidates that could possibly lose to the other


Here is a poem I made using only phrases from Jeb Bush’s fundraising emails

beat me to the ! by a good 2 years

We’ve come to the end of Jeb!’s candidacy for president.

While he never had my vote, I have some sympathy for him, because he seems like a fundamentally decent human being — especially compared to the gargoyles and bridge trolls he’s been up against.

This New York times article I think puts it interestingly:

He is a candidate so dry that flights of wit can become indistinguishable from a sober default setting…

Those who defend his comedic instincts are compelled to hedge, contrasting Mr. Bush with his brother George, a wisecracking extrovert.

“Jeb appreciates humor,” Jim Towey, a close friend who served in the administration of George W. Bush, said diplomatically.

“It depends on your definition,” said Mac Stipanovich, a friend and former adviser, when asked if Mr. Bush was funny.

“It’s very droll,” Mike Harrell, a longtime golfing partner and Tallahassee lobbyist, said of Mr. Bush’s sense of humor. “He looks at you like he just told you his mother is dead.”

I, too, am drawn to deadpan. Sometimes that impulse makes it extra difficult to seem, or even to be, sincere. Earnestness can seem boring; it’s more fun to comment or riff on something, rather than respond straightforwardly.

So I know the struggle, Jeb!. You’re a dork, but unlike the other dorks running for president, you tried to embrace it, instead of papering it over with meanness or self-righteousness. Sorry it didn’t work out for you.

A few weeks ago, I signed up for all the candidates’ email lists. The thing that stood out immediately about the fundraising emails coming from the Jeb! camp in particular was their unique tactic of attempting to guilt the recipient into feeling bad for not contributing to the campaign.

In honor of this week’s Jebxit!, I composed a poem, using only phrases from Jeb!’s own fundraising emails.

You can read it here: “A Letter To My Friend.”

The Day After Halloween (A Peanuts Pastiche)


I watched It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown with my family (as is their wont) and a few thoughts went through my mind.

Today’s comic (#1170) explores a few of them, but I also decided to play in the Peanuts ballfield for a little while too, and explore the same question from a different angle.

This was the result!

UNRELATED KICKSTARTER UPDATE: Things are going super great!! Lots of people are ordering the new sets of Multi-Purpose Cards. For a while I had been afraid that if we got too successful, I’d run into certain supply problems, but I’ve spoken with the relevant parties and have been assured that it won’t be an issue. Which is good news!! It means NOTHING CAN EVER GO WRONG.

Seven days remain in the campaign!!

I wrote some Bad Neil Gaiman


Wits is a very fun radio show — it’s a comedy and variety show, hosted by John Moe and produced by American Public Media (don’t call them NPR!).

I like Wits — my only complaint is that I wish it were longer. It’s got a podcast and/or it may be on your local public radio station. Here in Los Angeles, it’s on KPCC on Saturday afternoons.

Last week, one of the guests was author Neil Gaiman. See, there was a contest: The Bad Gaiman Challenge.

Neil’s tremendous imagination can be found in novels, short stories, graphic novels, theater, and film. There’s no one like Neil Gaiman.

Or is there?

No, probably not. Still, we invite you to try and fail to be like Neil. Wits proudly presents THE BAD GAIMAN CHALLENGE.

Submit your worst Neil Gaiman knock-off story…There are no prizes beyond the deep satisfaction that comes with knowing you’re the author of the worst Neil Gaiman-esque short fiction in the world.

I submitted a very short Gaiman pastiche.

And I was very pleased to learn that it was one of the winners! Neil Gaiman read my piece, among a few others, live on the show!

I was very tickled to hear it. Here’s the episode.

The whole thing’s worth a listen, of course, but if you must pick and choose, the Bad Gaiman Challenge begins at about 23:05.

Neil, if you read this, thank you for handling the dramatic pauses so well.

EDIT: Sweet, there is video as well!