How to Shape a Cowboy Hat

Oh, my poor cowboy hat. The indignities, the mistreatment, the suffering I’ve put you through. You’ve been used, abused, treated horribly and then tossed onto on the scrap heap the moment I no longer needed you. You must have felt like Newt Gingrich’s first couple of wives.

I’ve stuffed you into suitcases and crammed you under truck seats. I wore you when I was plunged into a dunk tank by a lucky throw (come on, hat, it was for a good cause). I’ve flung you across many a crowded barroom, and once even set you on fire. A previous version of you was stolen, and photographed sitting on dozens of different heads around Missoula while I put up flyers trying to find you.

I’ve slammed you to the ground, sat on your crown, and crumpled your brim until you looked like a love letter that had been smuggled into a prison cell. The hard way.

So now, my heavily autographed sombrero, you have moved on to a better life where you’ll receive the care and admiration you so richly deserve.

And that means it’s time for a new hat.

The cowboy hat is a recognizable part of my look, like Jack White’s ghostly pallor or Lindsay Lohan’s court-appointed ankle bracelet. I tend to go through them frequently, so I’ve usually picked them up at yard sales or thrift shops. I find one that fits my ever-expanding noggin, then I break ‘em in and wear ‘em out. I get a lot of mileage out of those things for five bucks a pop.

But this time I have decided to start with a brand new specimen, a crisp, sleek Bailey hat from Murdoch’s Ranch Supply in Missoula. It’s a top-quality hat, and I’m going to get this thing whipped into Bob Wire shape. Literally.

Shaping a straw cowboy hat is a personal art, and the shape of the hat reflects the attitude and personality of its wearer. Case in point: Hank III. That thing he wears is barely recognizable as a cowboy hat. It looks like a flying squirrel that was run over by a bread truck. That makes a pretty big statement about how Hank Williams’ grandson feels about the country music industry.

Tim McGraw’s hat, on the other hand, is a spotless, focus group-tested black straw icon that is as clean and straight as Taylor Swift. No personality, no deviation from the norm, it’s as bland as a Big Mac. It’s the sartorial embodiment of modern country.

My personal hat bend lies somewhere in between these two extremes. My chosen style starts with the crown. I prefer the “law enforcement” style pinch crown over the teardrop, or peaked-front fedora style. That way if I get liquored up and put it on backwards, it won’t be immediately obvious.

There are places where you can take your hat to have it steamed and shaped into the desired style if you don’t feel like putting in the effort. There are also people who will run your dog through the woods, play with your kids, and service your wife. (I mean, clean your pool.) But I feel that the satisfaction (and potential second-degree burns) you get from steaming up your own cowboy hat is worth the time and effort of doing it yourself.

We all have our own method, and I’ve perfected my approach over several years and several straw hats. (Note: I don’t wear felted beaver hats because I don’t want anything on my head that’s heavier than a pompadour.)

You’ll need a few things: a generous teakettle, long-handled tongs (first clean off the barbecue sauce), and a metal ladle or the big spoon like the one your mom uses to serve macaroni and cheese.

Before

Straw cowboy hat, straight off the rack.

Cowboy hats come off the rack with a gentle, ready-to-wear curve to the brim. I’m talking about real cowboy hats, not those rolled-brim fake wear-and-tear Toby Keith jobs you can buy at Hot Topic or a souvenir shop that sells baby alligator heads and boot-shaped shot glasses. Real hats start out spotless and subtle.

Some hats feature the currently popular “square front” style, where the front of the brim is straight across. Others are barely curved, slightly dipping at the front. Either way, you could buy a hat right off the shelf, wear it out of the store, and within minutes people will be pointing at you and saying, “Hey, a cowboy.”

But that off-the-rack shape is not for me. Nor do I like the Junior Brown/Bob Dylan “taco” style that simply bends the sides of the brim straight up along the crown. While this style enables 4 cowboys to fit in the cab of a pickup, it’s not for me.

So let’s boil some water.

To be honest, steam isn’t absolutely necessary for a straw hat. But in my experience it helps set the shape better. You’ll want to steam the surface on the inside of the bend. This is where you might want to use the tongs to hold it over the steam. Hold the surface just a couple inches from the kettle, and let the steam billow up around the edges. If you did buy your straw hat at a yard sale or thrift shop, at this point you’ll be smelling all that dust and shady history vaporizing off the hat.

Keep moving the hat slowly so it heats evenly. When the straw is feeling floppy, grab the edge of the brim between your hands and start rolling like you’re rolling up a beach towel. At the same time, try to stretch it laterally.

Roll it so the sides come closer together in the front than the back. If it starts to stiffen up, hold it over the steam again. That’s the beauty part of this: if you overdo it or don’t like the shape, you can always start over. You know, like Newt Gingrich.

Keep steaming and rolling, and try to get a good bend going so the front and back droop down. If you do this just right, you’ll be able to look into the camera with just one eye peeking out from the front of the brim like Dwight Yoakam.

Start with bending the brim. When you have multiple third degree burns on your hand, the bend should be just about right.

Use the spoon or ladle to smooth out the inside of the brim against your palm, especially in the back. It’ll help you maintain a smooth curve. Important tip: make sure and wash the spoon first. I once shaped my hat with a spoon that was used to serve sausage gravy, and I was followed around by a herd of feral cats for two weeks.

Shape the hat when it’s hot and floppy, and when you get it where you want it, wave it around in the air for a bit to let it cool and “set.”

Straw hats are rimmed with a wire, which enables them to hold the shape. If you’re like me, the hat will see some action that dents it or bends it. Just go back to the teakettle, and you can crank it back into near-new shape in no time.

Nothing to it. Find your own bend, develop your own style. Get that hat shaped up and you’ll look like you were born in the saddle.

After

See, isn’t that better? Now git!

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Rehberg Boat Crash Back In the News, Satirists Delighted

So the redacted report on Congressman Denny Rehberg’s late-night boat crash at the hands of former state Representative Greg Barkus has been released this week. Nothing too shocking has been revealed, but I was immediately moved to dig up this report I filed at the time of the crash 3 years ago. We may never learn the truth of what transpired that night, but until we do this is a hell of a lot more entertaining:

September 8, 2009, Missoula, Montana – As the wagons are circled and information is slowly pried out of the Barkus/Rehberg camps like so much pork between your molars after a BLT, Montanans are left in the dark about one thing: what really happened on that boat that night?

For those of you who’ve just returned from a tour of the subcontinent, Rep. Denny Rehberg and four others were injured last Thursday night when the boat in which they were swashbuckling crashed head-on into a rocky bank on the east side of Flathead Lake. State Senate Majority Whip Greg Barkus was at the wheel of the boat, which is registered to his wife. Also on board, and injured in high-speed docking were Barkus’ wife and two Rehberg staffers.

Since a complete picture of the accident has yet to coalesce, I’ve decided to paint a scenario of what might have gone down that dark, calm night on Flathead Lake. All we know at this point is that Rep. Rehberg had a BAC of .05 three hours after the wreck, one of his staffers is in a coma, and Barkus has lawyered up.

For the sake of argument (and entertainment), let’s imagine what might have been learned if boats, like airliners, were required to be fitted with a black box.

~~~X~~~~~X~~~~~X~~~~~X~~~~~

[Sound of a high speed motor, hull of a boat bumping against swells in the water]

Rehberg: [yelling] Hey, Barkie! Why don’t you slow this thing down to the speed of light, huh? It’s pretty dark out here. You know where you’re going?

Barkus: [yelling] Ah, come on, Denny, grow a pair. I got the need! For SPEED! [sound of ice tinkling in a glass, engine revs even higher.] Ah, this is just like driving my Vette down Highway 93, man! Whoooo hooooo!

Rehberg: [screaming] I’m SERIOUS, man! [reaches across Barkus and pulls back on throttle]. There. That’s better. Damn, it feels like we’ve been through a wind tunnel.

Barkus: Aw, quit whining, Eddie Munster. You said you wanted to get back to the condo in time to catch CSI:NY. I like that show too. That Greek chick is hot. Hey, babe, why don’t you freshen my drink for me? [sound of ice tinkling in a glass]

Rehberg: Hey, your wife doesn’t look too good, Barkie. And I told you about that Eddie Munster crap. Can it.

Barkus: Hey, shweet pants, you okay? You’re lookin’ kinda green. You had the swordfish tonight, didn’t you? How many times have I told you not to order seafood in a landlocked state? Jesus. Hey, Denny, take the wheel for a minute. I’m gonna help my wife chum the waters. Haw haw!

Rehberg: All right, but I’m not sure which way to steer. I guess I’ll keep to the right. [soft chuckle]

Barkus: [yelling to be heard over the sound of Mrs. Barkus vomiting over side of boat] Don’t worry about it, skipper! It’s a big lake. We won’t hit nothin’.

Rehberg: [sound of ice tinkling in a glass] Hey, Barkie, you’re from Kalispell. What’s the deal with that stream access bill? You must’ve had to twist some arms on that one, huh?

Barkus: [sound of comforting wife, pouring another drink] Yeah, we had to sneak some stuff in there, like the part where it says wood rail fences are a fair place for access? Well, we didn’t say your couldn’t wrap the rails in barbed wire! Buh-bye new waders! Haw haw! [sound of two glasses clinking together]

Rehberg: Here, take the wheel back. I gotta check the ropes.

Barkus: Benny, I still can’t believe you’re having your staffers ski all the way across the lake. They must be freezing their asses off. [sound of ice tinkling in a glass. A burp. A high-pitched fart.]

Rehberg: [voice coming from stern of boat] Aw, they’re okay. Look, they’re giving me the thumbs up. I think that’s their thumbs. I hope Kristin doesn’t drop her briefcase. [voice moving closer to cockpit] Hey, listen, I need your help on this health bill.

Barkus: [laughing] What you need MY help for, Renny? For once Max is coming down on our side of the fence. He’s so deep in the insurance lobby’s pockets, he’s got lint in his hair. Haw! I just made that up!

Rehberg: Yeah, that helps, for sure. But it’s gonna hit the fan if the press ever finds out about…whoa! That rock is coming right at us!

Barkus: Don’t worry, man. That’s not a rock, I think it’s just…

[Here there is the sound of a huge crash, motor suddenly revving way too high, fiberglass crunching, glass breaking, water skiers screaming.]

[End of recording.]

Posted in Current Events, Drinking, In the News, Montana, Outdoors, Politics, Travel, Uncategorized | Comments Off

Finally! A Truly Entertaining Debate

These Presidential Debates have become anything but Presidential. Contentious, rude, overbearing and disingenuous, both candidates have turned me off like a Jagermeister spigot at an AA meeting.

Other than rising to new levels of disrespect and condescension, are President Obama and Governor Romney saying anything new, really? They’re both just spewing the same cherry-picked “facts” and cheerleading slogans they’ve been repeating at various campaign events for the last two years.

I think they’re missing a great opportunity. Just once, I’d like to see one of these guys drop his guard and not worry about how he’s moving that little approval line at the bottom of the screen. You know who would also appreciate some honesty from a candidate? Whole binders full of women.

Here’s how it should go:

The moderator is Charlie Sheen, and the debate is being held Town Hall style at the Elks Lodge in Gardiner, Montana. The four undecided voters in Montana are in the audience, along with Girl Scout Troop #331, the Bozeman chapter of Magic the Gathering Addicts Anonymous, and former Montana State Senator Greg Barkus.

Sheen: Welcome, Mr. President, and Governor…hey, Romney, you’re the Governor of something?

“I respectfully yield the floor to the President.”
“Thank you kindly, Mr. Governor. Much appreciated.”

Romney: Yes, I served as the Governor of Massachusetts. And while I was Governor, I balanced the…

Sheen: Oh yeah? Well, I served as the Grand Master Whipsmith of Winning. I won Best Picture at twenty. I wasn’t even trying.

Romney: Is that a question?

Sen. Barkus: Never ashk a shailor if he’ll have another DRINK!

Sheen: Hey, old balcony dude from the Muppets—sit down. You’re not winning.

Obama: Can I just say one thing? Look. I’m the President. When “Governor” [smirks at Romney] Romney says he balanced the budget, that’s nothing to brag about. How much did he allocate to the defense budget of Massachusetts? How did he fund Massachusetts’ Medicaid program? Their food stamps? Their Navy? [Cups hand to oversized ear] What? Huh? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Romney: Look. I also won the…I mean, I went to the Olympics and balanced their budget.

Sheen: Big deal. The Olympics is full of droopy-eyed armless children.

Romney: What?

Obama: Sit down, Mitt. First question goes to me. I’m the President. Mr. Sheen, what is the first question? Looking forward to it.

Sheen: First question comes from Ajax Ledbetter, a llama rancher from White Sulfur Springs. You know what eats llamas? A tiger. With tiger’s blood.

Obama: Welcome, Mr. Bedwetter. What’s your question?

Ajax Ledbetter: Actually, it’s Ledbetter…

Obama: I’m the President.

Ledbetter: Uh, all right. My question is this: If our government is borrowing money to finance two wars, and you say we will take the money we save by ending these wars, and spend it on stuff like infrastructure and job creation, won’t we just be borrowing the money to do that?

Sheen: I don’t understand the question. And I have Adonis DNA. Look at what I’m dealing with, man, I’m dealing with fools and trolls.

Obama: Shut up, Charlie. Mr. Bedwetter asks an excellent question…

[Romney jumps up from his stool and steps in between Obama and the camera] Yes, it IS an excellent question, Mr. Tenpinner, and I intend to answer it by addressing an entirely different question. When I was staffing my cabinet as Governor of the Olympics, I really wanted to surround myself with women. You know, like Brigham Young and Joseph Smith and those guys. So I looked around, and there were so few qualified women. “Where are the chicks?” I said. Next thing I know, my staff is bringing me binders full of women…

Sheen: Was this before the internet? Because now you can use the internet.

Bakus: Oh snap!

[Obama shoves Romney into a folding table of sliced cheese and cold cuts. The table collapses as Romney falls on top of it, getting covered with Ritz crumbs and bits of gorgonzola and extra sharp cheddar.]

Obama: Hey, look. I didn’t start this mess. But I am trying to clean it up. Do you know how hard it is to clean something up when the Republicans in Congress keep taking away your broom? Your vacuum cleaner? You mop and bucket? I do. Because I’m the President.

[As Romney stands and brushes food off his $4,000 Armani suit, a shout is heard from offstage.]

Offstage voice: Ask them where you can find Welfare and Medicaid in the Constitution!

Obama: Who let Ron Paul in here? Get him out of here.

[A scuffle is heard offstage, amid angry shouts that “Drugs should be legal” and “Ayn Rand is a babe!”]

Romney: You know, he has a point, Barry. Why are we supporting a nation of welfare queens and drug dealers and food stamp cheats, when that money should rightfully be going back into the pockets of people who inherited their fortune from their hardworking parents?

Obama: Do you mean black people?

Romney: [nodding his head in the affirmative] No.

Sheen: We have another question from the audience. He’s a total bitchin’ rock star from Mars. No, wait, that’s me.

Romney: You know, my friends, it doesn’t matter what the question is, because this is going to be my answer. We can’t afford four more years of this man. He has doubled our national debt from ten trillion dollars to sixteen trillion. Unemployment was at eight percent when he took office four years ago, and that figure has tripled to twelve and a half percent!

Obama: Actually, “Governor,” that’s…

Romney: Sit back down, Dumbo, I’m talking .

Obama: [appealing to moderator Sheen, who is doing a line of coke off Chelsea Handler’s bare midriff] I was told I’d get a chance to…

Romney: [wheeling to point at Obama] Not another word! See, friends, he’s real good at giving speeches and saluting at coffins and all that, but we simply can’t afford another four years of this man’s policies. Well, I can, actually. I can afford anything. But you people can’t. Because you’re all victims who have become dependent on the government teat…

[Romney advisor stands just off-camera, frantically drawing a finger across his throat]

Romney: …and people like Ann and I, well, we don’t feel sorry for you in the least. We’ve got it wired. I have more money than God, and even He doesn’t know where I keep it.

[Romney begins loosening his tie, becomes visibly more relaxed] You know, it’s like I was telling that young Negro boy who was shining my shoes on the tarmac this summer, you might as well give it up, son. The rich, white plutocracy has been running things for a long time. We’re simply trying to put one of our own at the head of the table. If I lose this election? Big deal. I’m a professional campaigner. It’s what I do. I’ll while away the next four years buying companies, squeezing all their cash out like caviar from a sturgeon, and destroying the lives of all its employees when I toss the worthless carcass on the bankruptcy pile.

Obama: Wow.

Sheen: Wow.

Barkus: Barkeep!

Romney: [lights up a foot-long cigar with a hundred dollar bill] That’s right, peons. I win, no matter what. Hey, Sheen, you want to go back to the hotel with me? I have a couple of premium hookers in a cage on top of my Escalade.

Sheen: Hey, let’s do it. I have only one speed: Go.

[Obama stand up, extends his arm straight out and drops the microphone to the stage.] Screw this. I’ve got a country to run. I’m the President.

[Fade to black.]

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Oh My God! Classic Rock Radio! I’m Going To Kill You!

I’m washing dishes one night, listening to classic rock on the radio. I’ve already gone to the bathroom to move my bowels while waiting out some pre-Van Halen Sammy Hagar piece of crap, but my disgust skyrockets when I’m elbow-deep in suds and the opening guitar riff of “Shine” comes on.

Before I can stop myself, I hurl a wet saucepan to the Pergo floor as Ed Roland’s wish-I-was-in-Seattle voice starts singing, “Give me a word, give me a sign.”

“Here’s a word: fuck you, you fuck! And here’s a sign!” I fling a soapy middle finger toward the kitchen boom box. I cannot STAND this song.

A lot of people cannot stand this song. Hey, radio programmers and DJs, especially those of you working the classic rock genre: we’ve had forty-plus years of classic rock. You have hundreds of thousands of great rock songs to choose from. Why do we have to hear this one-hit-wonder piece of shit twice a day, for God’s sake?

Shit, man, let me give you some perspective. Friggin’ Billy Squier gets several spins a week, and I always change the station when he comes on. ALWAYS. You know why? Billy Squier is NOT classic rock. Some music deserves to be sealed away in a 1980s time capsule. Billy Squier is no more timeless than Rick Springfield, for crying out loud. Besides, he pissed away what little chance he had at rock credibility with his video for “Rock Me Tonight,” which was so twee that even the homosexual community denounced it as “too gay.”

Back to “Shine.” For some reason it was a hit. The hacks in Collective Soul probably made enough money off that one goddamn song to buy each band member three houses, a medium-sized yacht and an Arizona burro ranch, and it was all because of the hook. That’s the part at the end of the chorus when they play a two-chord, swing-your-hair riff and then the band stops and the singer says, “Yeah.” Then they jump in with this amazing THIRD chord for a second, then they repeat the money shot – um, I mean the riff.

My beef  is not with one-hit wonders. There are a million of ‘em. My beef is with this annoying ONE HIT being played over and over, two or three times a day, when hundreds of superior songs by better artists like the Beatles and the Doors and Nirvana and a thousand other bands go unheard.

Playing “Shine” on the radio is like a lazy man saying, I’m not even gonna try to get laid. I’m just gonna sit here and rub one out.

Goddammit, classic rock, you have to try a little harder than the rest. You know why? The only way you add to your playlist is by attrition. As a band puts out less and less good shit, like, say, Aerosmith, their older material comes into sharper focus. There’s a cutoff point. Like when Joe Perry did his last line of China white off some hooker’s crack. Or when Eddie Van Halen plugged in his keyboard.

There’s a galaxy of killer rock songs that will fire the memories of rock fans like me and have us dancing across our kitchens, flecking the walls with dishwater while we relive the various golden moments of our lives that have been soundtracked by forty years of kick-ass rock and roll.

“Shine” does not pass the test of time. Come on, man, just quit playing that song. It should be treated like a meteorite, not a fucking planet.

Posted in Culture (or lack thereof), Music | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

School Lunch: It’s Complicated

This morning, as the kids were filling their mouths with cereal the way I fill the emotional hole in my psyche with booze, I read the school lunch offering from the menu on the refrigerator door. “Today’s hot lunch is pizza. Your choice of pepperoni or cheese.”

“What else?” asked Speaker.

“I’m in,” said Rusty, through a dripping mouthful of Crunch Berries. I ate Crunch Berries when I was a kid, too. Hell, I knew Cap’n Crunch when he was just an Ensign.

“Salad,” I continued. “Pineapple chunks, green beans, and a dirt cup. That must be a misprint. That’s pretty funny, though—a cup of dirt. Yummy.”

“Dirt cup!! Dirt cup!!” they chanted. “Yeah!!”

That sealed the deal, although Rusty, who thinks there’s no such thing as bad pizza, was sold on the first item. I quizzed them about the dirt cup. Seems it’s different than the one I had to ingest when I joined that fraternity in college.

“It’s awesome,” said Rusty, eyes wide with excitement and surging glucose levels. “They grind up Oreo cookies and put a gummy worm in it and top it with whip cream.”

I’m so relieved that the kids are receiving good nutrition during their school day, I think sarcastically, returning the boxes of Crunch Berries and Chocolate Lucky Charms to the cupboard. That’s all they need, more sugar.

I am the self-appointed Candy Sheriff at the Wire compound, fighting mightily to keep my kids from growing up fat and stupid with the attention span of a fruit fly. I try to be stingy with the sweet stuff at home, but I know they’re still getting it on the outside. How do I know this? Simple. I do the laundry. When you do the laundry, you know things.

I always find the wrapper from a Jolly Rancher or Starburst in Rusty’s jeans pocket. I mean, like, every frickin’ pair. Last year when he was in middle school, I confronted him. “Hey, buddy, where’d this come from?” I showed him a handful of baby Tootsie Roll wrappers.

“I don’t know,” he said, jamming his hands deep in his pockets and cutting his eyes from side to side.

“Rusty, I’m just trying to help you eat healthy, buddy, but you keep sabotaging me with this crap. Look at this! I mean, where do you learn habits like this?”

“From YOU, okay?” he yelled. “I learned it from watching you!”

I flushed all the chocolate in the house down the toilet and checked into the Hershey Clinic that night.

So the main meal where I can have the biggest impact, I’ve found, is their school lunch. Back when they were in elementary school, I occasionally joined them for lunch in the cafeteria. (I quit doing that when they hit middle school. Those kids are scary as hell.) I was surprised—yet strangely comforted—that the school lunches have not changed since I was a kid. Salisbury Steak. Spaghetti. They even use the same prison-grade rice I ate in the third grade. I don’t mean just the same kind of rice, I mean the very same rice. It hasn’t aged well.

I still remember the first time I packed their lunches. I was papa bear proud, having provided for my brood. They came home from school hungry, though, and pissed off at papa bear. They hadn’t eaten their lunches. I asked what the problem was.

“Dad,” whined Speaker, “you made me a beef jerky sandwich. I couldn’t even bite it!”

“Well, there was some other stuff in the bag,” I countered. “Why didn’t you eat that?”

“You mean the can of tomato paste and the bag of marshmallows?” she asked, hands on her hips.

“Yeah,” said Rusty. “Thanks a lot for the smoked clams. And what am I supposed to do with this jar of green olives?”

I tried to tell him that pimientos are loaded with vitamin C, but it was clear that my approach to the brown bag lunch wasn’t going to cut it. So now, several years into the School Lunch Era, I send them off every day with more food than they can eat, and it’s all healthy stuff they like. I just have to keep up with their ever-evolving tastes.

Of course, they always request more sweets, and I try to compromise by giving them each a packet of fruit snacks on Fridays. Fruit snacks, my ass. I know a gummy bear when I see one.

A few years ago, Rusty would come home after school and I’d open his lunchbox to find nothing but Ziploc bags of crumbs and powder, a lumpy wad that used to be a sandwich, and an unused napkin.

“Hey, man, what happened to your lunch? It’s completely pulverized.”

Rusty shrugged, seemingly as mystified as I was, until I dropped him off one morning at the school yard. As soon as he saw someone he knew, they dropped their backpacks and started swinging their lunchboxes over their heads like maces, and battering each other mercilessly until the first bell rang. Powdered lunch. There you go.

It’s still a challenge trying to provide these kids with a healthy lunch that they’ll like, when they’re bombarded with commercials for all this processed crap in brightly colored boxes that are supposed to be fun to eat. I mean, shit, man—candy canes are fun to eat, too, but I’m not going to put a bunch of them in my kids’ lunchboxes.

Well, not any more.

 

This is what happened last time I let Rusty pack his own lunch.

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Ice Fishing: The Aromatic Sport of Kings

In the winter I’m usually a pretty indoorsy guy. But here I was, outdoors, sitting on an overturned 5-gallon bucket, staring down a hole through two feet of ice, flicking the fishing line to make the maggot on the hook appear alive. In the near pitch-dark of our ice shack, three other idiots sat on buckets, flicking their maggots.

Welcome to an elaborate intelligence test we like to call ice fishing. Three friends and I were huddled in a canvas ice shack about the size of a phone booth. The air was foul with coffee breath, body odor, egg salad farts, and Brokeback Mountain jokes. We were sitting close enough together to predict the movement of the occasional fish who’d swim by to investigate the four evenly spaced maggots that seemed to be having spasms in the frigid water of Georgetown Lake.

“Ooh! There’s one! He’s checking me out…nope, turned up his nose. He’s heading your way, Benny, about six feet down.”

“Yeah, there his is! I think it’s a salmon. He’s cutting across, Tim, heading straight for your hole.”

Straight for your hole. This comment launched a fusillade of Santorum jokes, and in a couple of minutes, the fish was gone, perhaps realizing that housefly larvae doesn’t naturally occur in a frozen mountain lake in February.

Every winter, usually in the cold limbo between the Super Bowl and the Masters, a half-dozen of us will drive up to Ron’s cabin at Georgetown Lake for an ice fishing weekend. Ron has nothing to do with this madness, and spends the daylight hours skiing the back side of Discovery. Ron is no dummy; he prefers to ice fish in the summer. When it’s warm.

Kevin, our ice fishing guru, joined the fray a few years back. He owns the ice shack, a gas-powered auger, all the stubby ice fishing rods, and a seemingly endless supply of Crown Royal.

Before Kevin came along we were total pikers, dragging our sorry pile of gear out onto the ice in a kid’s stolen plastic toboggan, looking for some abandoned hole we could dig the slush out of. Then we’d lie on our bellies, trying to see down the hole while being whipped by 50 mph arctic blasts, going deaf from the loud chorus of our chattering teeth. We’d give up in fifteen minutes and run back to the cabin, where we would drink beer and play poker for two days. Georgetown’s trout population remained safe.

But now, thanks to Kevin, we have all the comforts of home and the best equipment. Kevin fishes first class. In fact, on this last excursion, he treated all of us to a round of martinis from his thermos as we stood around outside the shack during our lunch break, enjoying the morning sunshine.

“Great martini,” said Benny, with an appreciative smacking of the lips.

“My olives are frozen,” I complained, shivering.

“Just hold them in your mouth for a minute,” said Kevin. “They’ll thaw out.”

“Number one, I ain’t talking about these olives,” I said. “And B, if I could do that, I’d never leave the cabin.”

A few lame Brokeback jokes later, our butts were back on the buckets as we tried to bolster our position atop the food chain by plucking a few more 8-inch Kokanee salmon from the lake. Nobody seemed able to hook a trout.

Before long, Dan arrived and knocked on the shack.

“Stimpy!” I said to Tim, in my best Ren Høek voice, “Answer the flap!”

Dan stepped into the funky, dark shack, made a face, and gave us a progress report on his cooking project back at the cabin: a molé-rubbed pork butt. Dan is the wine buyer at a local market that purports to sell good food, and is also involved in the cooking classes. The man knows his way around a kitchen.

“Pork butt?” asked Kevin, trying to talk around the maggots stored in his lower lip. “That thoundth kinda thekthy. When we get back, can I thtick my finger in it?”

“Sure,” said Dan with a shrug. “That’s how you tell if it’s done.”

Sensing an onslaught of Brokeback comments, I cut in with a stale old joke about how an Eskimo traps a polar bear. I’ll spare you the set-up, but the punch line is: “…and when he comes up to take a pea, you kick him in the ice hole!”

Even in the darkness I could feel their eyes rolling.

Someone cut a crisp fart to break the awkward silence. The fart reverberated like thunder through the five-gallon bucket, causing a momentary panic because we thought the ice was cracking. I think Kevin even swallowed his maggots.

“Hey, can somebody pass Bob the Crown Royal?” said Tim.

Doug left to return to his pork butt, and we fished for a couple more hours. Kevin’s cousin had beat us to the lake and parked his ice shanty on Kevin’s usual spot, and what appeared to be a second tent next to it turned out to be a pile of trout he and his boy had pulled through the ice. Seemed everyone out there who’d started fishing before 10:00 caught a lot of fish early in the day.

At 10:00 we were at the Club Bar in Philipsburg, drinking red beer, asking for the Shake-A-Day dice.

So it wasn’t the most productive ice fishing trip, fish-wise. I think we caught eight dinky salmon between the four of us. But, like hunting and going to college, it’s really about hanging out with your buddies and drinking beer and playing poker and reverting to the 15-year-olds all men really are.

Dan’s pork butt smelled incredible. He even dressed it up in a pair of Dallas Cowboy cheerleader shorts, which was a nice touch. We also had some garlic mashed potatoes and a big pot of chili I’d made ahead of time.

While we sat around the table playing cards, waiting for the pork butt to finish, Kevin was at the cutting board, making a huge bowl of guacamole. Dan was sitting on a chair in front of the oven, glass of wine in hand, watching the butt cook through the little window in the oven door.

“Hey, Dan—can you get ESPN on that thing?” Much laughter, then sudden concern as we began to dig our chips into Kevin’s guacamole.

“Dude, what’s in here?”

Kevin answered with a mouthful of guacamole, tears running down his cheeks, a stray maggot crawling across his chin. “Avocados, of course, tomatoes, and some onion. And some lime juice. What do you think? Too much lime juice?”

“How many avocados?” I asked him.

“Three.”

“How many onions?”

“Seven,” he answered. “No, eight. There was an extra one on the counter.”

We ate it, of course. There was plenty of bitching and moaning, a little bit of crying, and we had to open a second bag of chips to finish off the bowl. That’s how guys are. But later that night, after all the beer, more martinis, garlic mashed potatoes, potent chili, and spicy pork butt, the air became so rank that I began to long for the relatively pleasant aroma of the ice shack.

Everyone dragged himself out of bed the next morning, and Tim was already busy cooking a big fry-up—English bacon, home fries, eggs scrambled with sharp cheddar cheese, and a big stack of Birdman toast. We sat around the dining table and shoveled the food in, our hangovers peeling away like so many onion layers.

“Hey,” I said, “you know what would go really great with this breakfast? Some pan-fried trout.”

Have you ever had a big spoonful of mostly onion guacamole forced down the front of your pants? It burns. It burns real bad. I love being a sportsman.

 

This is what ice fishing looks like in your dreams. In reality, you only catch fish sticks.

Posted in Drinking, Montana, Outdoors, Sports | 1 Comment

Facebook IPO: Should You or Shouldn’t You?

Foundation-rattling news this week: Facebook has filed with the SEC to set the stage for an initial public offering (IPO), meaning they’re getting ready to sell shares to the public. Once this happens, Facebook Svengali Mark Zuckerberg (“With a name like Zuckerberg, it has to be delicious!”) will probably see his $17.5 billion fortune increase by $10 billion or more in a single day. That’s almost as much as Adam Sandler gets paid to star in a shitty movie that insults the intelligence of a four-year-old.

If there’s anything Americans love to hate, it’s a snotty young billionaire. But that’s not the issue here. What really has people dry-washing their hands is what’s going to happen to their personal information once Facebook goes public. In the S-1 form filed earlier this week, Facebook revealed that it brings in about $4.50 annually for each of its 850 active users. That comes to about $3.7 billion in 2011, roughly equal to the net worth of the remaining old rich white lawyers in the Republican presidential race. Or, the GNP of about 25 nations. That’s a lot of cheddar.

How does Facebook make this money? Well, they sure ain’t raking it in from all those jagoffs playing Farmville. It comes from advertisers who pay for the information all of us Facebook users so willingly serve up on a daily basis. But this is nothing new. Facebook has been selling your information since the day you signed up. Any time you click on a website or like a page, the content is categorized and funneled to Facebook advertisers who then populate your page with stuff they think you’re into. This is why I am not surprised at all when I open my Facebook page and it’s covered with ads for industrial chicken gizzard fryers, Flip Wilson DVDs, orthopedic condoms, and some book about the Giant Beavers of South Florida.
Zuckerberg is smart, shrewd, opportunistic and ruthless in his business dealings. “Facebook was not originally created to be a company,” he wrote in an open letter. “It was built to accomplish a social mission—to make the world more open and connected.” Riiiiight, then we’ll all go for chai together after our hot yoga class and compare the ribbons on our lapels. But I don’t know why he even bothers to mention the social network’s original mission. Facebook is the biggest cash cow ever, and Zuckerberg has made enough money to fill the Grand Canyon with dinero because he was smart and lucky. He was in the right place at the right time. Had he not created Facebook, someone else would have come up with it within a month (actually, someone did. Hey there, Winkelvoss twins!).

At least he’s up front with his ambition. Wanting to parlay his massive fortune into an obscenely humongous fortune is his right, and if he didn’t take Facebook public, we’d be inundated by editorials and blogging jackanapes decrying his lack of ambition. Hell, as long as people are going to resent you, might as well make a few billion in the process. So, yeah, that naked ambition annoys a lot of people. But the real vitriol and horrified shock are leveled at the harvesting and selling of Facebook users’ personal information.

All the outrage over this “invasion of privacy” is utterly disingenuous. Zuckerberg and his investors are capitalizing on a bottomless wellspring of human nature: narcissism. Man, if we could somehow use bathroom mirror pictures of needy college girls striking awkwardly slutty poses to generate energy, Facebook could get us off the fossil fuel teat in no time. The vast majority of Facebook users are convinced that they are the most interesting people on the planet, and who are they to deprive others of their every passing thought? They think all their “friends” need constant updates on their location in meat space, and they’ll never pass up a chance to share some shopworn, Pollyanna bromide to fill you with inspiration. Spend five minutes on Facebook and you’ll see that the desire to overshare outweighs people’s need for dignity or privacy. It’s the way we’re wired; Zuckerberg knows it.

If you hate that these guys are making wheelbarrows full of Benjamins off your personal info, it’s simple. Don’t click. You can still see all the Hipstamatic prints of your sister’s dog and watch various lunatics have their very public meltdowns and fits of rage over some perceived Real Life slight. If you don’t click, your preferences stay in your head where they belong. If the naked capitalism of Facebook ads turns your stomach, start your own social network. It’s a free country.
All this moral indignation over privacy issues is bullshit. Nobody’s holding a gun to your head. But if they are, I hope you’ll post a photo.

 

Posted in Business, Culture (or lack thereof), Current Events | Comments Off

This Ain’t No Normal Fishing Tournament

Mack Days are winding down. What’s that mean? It means hundreds of fishermen plying the waters of Flathead Lake to see who can reel in the biggest pile of lake trout, a non-native fish that can grow to the size of one of Katie Couric’s legs. Will these hale and hardy sportsmen eat their catch? Oh, hale no—they will likely fill the Dumpsters at the Polson boat launch with tons of dead trout, which will then putrefy, filling the air with a stench not unlike the one that will be emanating from the Adams Center when Toby Keith appeared in Missoula five years ago.

The idea of the trout tournament is to help control the population of the predacious lake trout, which feed on the smaller, more fun-loving native cutthroat and bull trout. If you’ve ever fished Flathead Lake, you know when you’ve caught a lake trout. It has a large underbite, sports a leather jacket, has a number of crude, prison-style tattoos. Also, it is probably smoking a cigarette. I hauled one into my canoe last summer, and it had three Daredevil spoons hanging off its lower lip, and one eye was frosted over. It spit out its cigarette, grunted, smacked me in the face with its caudal fin, and flipped back into the water. Tough fish.

In order to lure (sorry) fishermen into the tournament, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes is offering huge cash prizes for the most fish caught. Top prize is over $1,000, so you can bet there is a veritable navy of anglers out there every day, harvesting the lake trout.

(I’m sorry, but when sportsmen use the term “harvesting” as a euphemism for hooking, shooting, stabbing, spearing, trapping or otherwise killing wildlife, I picture them driving around the woodlands in a New Holland combine or something. Harvesting. Psht.)

Curious, I drove up there this morning to find out how the tournament was going, and to check out the action for myself. I cajoled a ride out to one of their boats, which was anchored just off the north side of Wildhorse Island, away from the prying binoculars of tournament officials. I had contacted them on their marine band radio (I first tried my Marine Band harmonica, but got nothing), and told them I was a journalist. They invited me aboard. Once my water taxi was gone, I asked them about their totals for the day.

 

Note to fishermen: Chumming for lake trout is illegal.

 

“Been kinda slow today,” said Marshall Watson, the skipper, opening the lid of a coffin-sized Styrofoam ice chest. “Maybe 20 so far, but we’ve only been here for about”—he looked at his digital wristwatch—“two cold-packs.”

Wading through the ankle-deep pile of crushed Hamm’s cans, I peered into the cooler. They were lake trout, all right. The tattoos are unmistakable. But something was wrong. All the fish seemed to have been burned or scorched somehow. As I turned to ask Watson about the fish, his partner, Oliver Klosov, handed me a stick of dynamite. The fuse was lit and spitting sparks.

He burped in my face. “You gonna yap, or you gonna fish?”

After the Search and Rescue helicopter dropped me off back at the boat launch, I wandered over to the weigh-in table on the main dock, where the officials were tallying the catch of another boat. It was a large Pro-Line cabin cruiser dubbed the Perspicacious Princess. I watched as the fishermen transferred their catch from the boat’s hold onto the dock.

“Hold it!” yelled Howard Skin-So-Soft, the tribal marine biologist in charge. “These fish are illegal. They are definitely NOT lake trout.” He indicated a pile of flat, orange-colored objects in a 5-gallon plastic bucket.

“Oh, they’re lake trout, we just, uh, field-dressed them,” said the Perspicacious Princess’s first mate, with a thick but indeterminate accent. “We filet them special and coat them in a corn meal breading, Norwegian style. It’s how we always do it in the old country.”

Shaking his head, muttering about “that asshole Columbus,” Howard Skin-So-Soft took the bucket of fish sticks and emptied it into the Dumpster. He returned to the Princess just as the fishermen were carefully pulling a mounted, 8-foot-long blue marlin from the boat’s cabin.

Skin-So-Soft looked at me sadly, and said, “You know, I’ve been a marine biologist for 13 years, and I can tell you that the blue marlin is rarely seen in a land-locked body of fresh water 500 miles from the nearest ocean. I’m pretty sure we won’t count that.” He looked back at the boat’s crew, which was now struggling to open a huge bag of frozen calamari. “Perspicacious my Indian ass.”

I had seen enough. On the drive home, I thought about the futility of it all. Flathead Lake is the largest natural freshwater lake in the Lower 48. It’s 28 miles long, and as much as 15 miles wide. And judging from my one-hundred-foot anchor rope, it’s at least 101 feet deep. That’s a lot of water. By my calculations, it’s, well, it’s more than a thousand cubic feet of water. A lot more. I doubt that any trout tournament that allows a limitless number of fish to be plucked from the lake is going to make a significant dent in the population of said fish.

On the contrary, it’s pretty much a given that the fish who are stupid enough to believe they can eat something that looks like a fork that got caught in the garbage disposal are not the sharpest hemostat in the tackle box. So what these anglers are doing is simply culling the dumbest specimens from the lake, leaving behind a smarter, craftier population. The Superior Lake Trout, if you will, are going to continue to chip away at the native cutthroat and bull trout populations, like so many Sunnis car-bombing a Shiite fish market.

Indeed, we are probably at the tail-end (sorry) of the Golden Age of Trout Fishing in America. Up until recently, daily limits have been easily filled, and the mercury level in the fish was somewhat less than that of a gas station thermometer. I’m one of the lucky ones whose youth was filled with fishing trips that ended with a photo of the anglers holding a sapling dripping with a dozen decent-sized rainbow or cutthroat trout, which we would frequently cook and eat on the spot. Now, catch-and-release is the M.O. of most fishermen, and the trout numbers have dwindled due to whirling disease, dammed tributaries, and widespread use of the fearsome Eagle Claw™ Quintuple-Hook Super Deadly Lethal Trout Killer Special© lure.

So the Mack Days tournament is probably hastening, not forestalling, the demise of natural trout populations in Flathead Lake. This summer when you’re hanging out at the Lake, take a closer look at those water skiers skimming past your waterfront cabin. If they’re wearing leather jackets and smoking cigarettes, better high-tail it (sorry) back to town.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Revisiting Osama bin Laden’s Final Day

He picked the wrong day to quit sniffing glue.

He picked the wrong day to quit sniffing glue.

 

A source who is intimately familiar with the day-to-day inner workings of Osama bin Laden’s fortified compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, has released an account of the Al Qaeda mastermind’s last day. The source spoke on the condition of anonymity, on account of I made him up. Here is his report:

Sunday, May 1, 2011. 5:15 A.M.
[a bedside clock radio clicks on]
“Let’s get mooooooving, Abbottabad! Wakey wakey, eggs and bakie! Well, not real bakie, of course!”

“No way, date-breath, because we don’t eat bacon! It’s swine! Hey, it’s your morning tractor crew zoo, Jarangi and Qalat, coming to you on Super FM 90, Bahawal Nagar. The only station in the Bahahwal Region!”

“That’s right, Jarangi, it’s another beautiful day in Pakistan, and this morning we’ll be prank-calling Prime Minister Gillani…”

[A hand slaps the snooze button on the radio, and it goes silent.]

“Oh, great and giving Allah, just five more minutes of sleep. I was just about to unwrap a virgin in my dream. They are so fast!” Osama bin Laden removes his dental mouthguard and drops it in a glass of filmy water on the nightstand. He reaches under the sheet and scratches at his groin. “I need some coffee.” He pulls on a dirty bathrobe and walks down the stairs to the second floor kitchen. He passes his one of his wives in the hallway.

“Close your robe, Osama,” she says. “You look like you are smuggling a badger.”

Bin Laden obliges, and gives her a dirty look. “You will pay for your insolence, filthy wench. One day Allah will rain down…”

“Yeah, yeah, rain down fire and demons on all the infidels who have mocked you, blah blah blah. Whatever. Hey, where is that messenger, Abu Ahmad? When he gets back here send him back to the market because I need some feminine products.” She walks away from bin Laden and locks herself in the bathroom.

Bin Laden pulls the belt tight on his robe and continues walking to the kitchen. “Crazy chamcha,” he mutters.

6:05 A.M.
[bin Laden is seated at a small formica kitchen table, drinking black coffee from a promotional travel mug bearing the logo of a Russian arms manufacturer, and working on a laptop.]
“Durani!” he calls. “Where is Abu with my paper? I can only listen to these old NPR recordings for so long. I wish there was some way we could hook up to the internet without being detected. I miss the Twitter. I haven’t updated my Facebook page in years. I would kill a village of Kurds just to see one funny video on the YouTube. Ah, the good old days. But I still need my daily copy of the Mahasib, see if those American bastards are still looking for me. ”

[A lackey runs quickly into the kitchen.] “Yes, Lion Sheik, I will find the courier immediately.” He bows obsequiously and backs slowly out of the kitchen.

“I need to drop off a socialist at the pool, and I’ll be in there for a while,” says bin Laden. “And make sure that sheep-for-brains doesn’t forget my breakfast burrito! No sausage,” he yells after the minion. He shakes his head and mutters to himself. “Allah, why is it so hard to find henchmen with a decent work ethic these days?”

6: 50 A.M.
[Bin Laden is back in the main bedroom, sitting at a desk, looking at a computer screen. Several small children are running in and out of the room, playing, and a middle-aged woman is picking up clothes from the floor and putting them in a hamper.]
“Sam, are you going to just play Asteroids all day, or are you going to get to work on the Amtrack attack in Detroit?” she says, stuffing a soiled burnoose into her basket.

Bin Laden, tapping furiously on the keyboard, yells, “Hyperspace! Hyperspace! Ah, damn it. That was my last ship.” He turns to the woman. “Relax, woman, the Americans are busy watching the Jersey Shore and eating Rolos while their children starve in the streets. And stop calling me Sam! These attacks take time to plan and they must occur on dates that are significant to those capitalist devils. Like July of the Fourth, or Grandparent’s Day. You need to be patient. And how about a little respect? I am the most wanted terrorist in the world, you know!”

The woman holds a grubby article of clothing up to her nose. “Shew! This dishdasha smells like you have been wrestling with a diseased ibex. Why don’t you take a shower once in a while? You might be a little more wanted around here, if you catch my drift. And when was the last time you dyed your beard? You look like that man in ZZ Top, the silly one who plays the khartaloon.”

Bin Laden turns back to his computer game, grumbling about having too many wives. He’s in a bad mood, and his day is starting out poorly. The cacophony of the children has reached a deafening pitch, and he throws his hands up in the air. “Enough! You little beasts go play in the basement! I can’t even hear myself terrorize!” He mutters to himself: “Oh, if only I could go back in time I would trade one thousand goats for a single package of condoms.”

7:25 A.M.
[bin Laden is seated in a small broom closet on the third floor. A board hinged to the wall creates a desk, and he is writing in a spiral notebook.]

“Dear Diary, it is a sad day in the Muslim world when a man has to escape into his own storage room to have some peace. No internet, no telephone, no escape from this mansion. I am like the Gilligan of that American sex show, Gilligan and the Two Whores. Only my whores are shrews who only complain and make my life a living Jahannam.

“I long for the simpler days, when that Texas oaf George Bush was the supreme leader in United States. I could have lived in a large recreational vehicle on the White House lawn and he still would not have found me. But this new man, Obama, and his shrewd minions like Hilary Clinton and Oprah Winfrey, they are making my life very difficult. Hounded by women! It is so embarrassing. Sometimes I feel like I am still a little boy in Saudi Arabia, being pushed around by the girls in primary school.

“I don’t know what it is about today, just a weird feeling that things are just not going to go my way. Like that! I just heard a tremendous crash outside. It is probably my son, trying to back the Mercedes out of the compound. I love that boy, but I swear, he could not find his asshole with a funnel. How many cars has he wrecked just driving down to the sandal factory to pick up couple of flash drives full of Al Qaeda gossip? Ach. On days like this, my head hurts as if my kufiyyah is too tight.

“Was that a gunshot? Impossible. It is probably the kids, playing cricket in the living room. If I have told them once, I have told them a thousand times to take it to the basement. I would hate to send one of them to his afterlife reward with his own bat, but a man can only take so much, right, Diary?

“Hold on, someone is coming up the stairs. I hope it is the brothers with some new Adam Sandler DVDs. I know, I know, he’s a rich American imperialist goat dog, but he makes me laugh so hard I almost pee in my kurta!

“Hey, someone’s at the door. What the…?”

[End of transmission.]

Posted in Current Events, In the News, Marriage, Politics, Sexual hijinks, Testicles, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off

State of the Union 2012: The Translation

As is my tradition (dating all the way back to early 2011), I have put together a partial translation of President Obama’s State of the Union Speech. That’s right—not commentary, not rebuttal, not opinion nor argument. What follows is the President’s true meaning, stripped of all euphemism, double-talk and Capitol-speak.

I encourage you to leave a comment and let us know your impressions. Unless you’re from the Secret Service, in which case this entire column has been hacked and written by Tom Catmull. Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States of America:

“Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans.”

Translation: Welcome to my wingman Joey B, Mr. Boner of the House, Congressional radio contest winners, and the three women who have not slept with Newt Gingrich. I haven’t seen this much power in one room since I dropped a deuce in the Oval Office bathroom fifteen minutes ago.

“For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country.”

Translation: As Robert De Niro said to Samuel L. Jackson in Jackie Brown, ‘He’s pretty dead.’

[At this point the camera cuts to a group of stone-faced Marines in the front  row. Most of them are thinking that Joe Biden needs a haircut.]

“These achievements are a testament to the courage, selflessness, and teamwork of America’s Armed Forces. They’re not consumed with personal ambition. They don’t obsess over their differences. They focus on the mission at hand. They work together. Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example. ”

Translation: If Congress had half the guts and discipline and integrity as these guys, our country would be debt-free. Millionaires would be paying more taxes than the 1971 Rolling Stones, and Canada would be hitting us up for peace-keeping tips.

“Think about…a future where we’re in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren’t so tied to unstable parts of the world.”

Translation: Sure, bin Laden might be searching the Marianas Trench for his 72 virgins, but there are still thousands of  pissed off terrorists who would love nothing better than to burn down our country. It’s too bad Israel isn’t sitting on an ocean of oil. They owe us.

“My grandfather, a veteran of Patton’s Army, got the chance to go to college on the GI Bill.”

Translation: My grandfather spent seven years studying glass blowing at Saint Copious of Northern Nebraska, where he mastered the reverse spiral and basically invented the one-hitter.

“We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by. Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.”

Translation: Look, I won’t bullshit you. We’re living in a plutocracy. Have been for a long time. Hell, we should have Ayn Rand’s picture on the hundred dollar bill. Of course, we’d have to lose the “In God We Trust” line.

“Let’s remember how we got here. Long before the recession, jobs and manufacturing began leaving our shores.”

Translation: The suit I’m wearing was made in Singapore.

“Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last – an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values. This blueprint begins with American manufacturing.”

Translation: Men’s suits will be made in an old wheelbarrow factory in the Midwest that is being retrofitted. And they’ll be made out of corn.

“On the day I took office, our auto industry was on the verge of collapse. Some even said we should let it die. With a million jobs at stake, I refused to let that happen. In exchange for help, we demanded responsibility.”

Translation: I got Ford, Chrysler and GM to agree that the answer was not “more cupholders.

“A few weeks ago, the CEO of Master Lock told me that it now makes business sense for him to bring jobs back home. Today, for the first time in fifteen years, Master Lock’s unionized plant in Milwaukee is running at full capacity.”

Translation: Turns out those bamboo padlocks were not a boon to the security industry.

“So we have a huge opportunity, at this moment, to bring manufacturing back.”

Translation: I’ve already brought sexy back, and this is next on my list.

“Tonight, my message to business leaders is simple: Ask yourselves what you can do to bring jobs back to your country, and your country will do everything we can to help you succeed.”

Translation: If we outlaw video games and masturbation, the streets will be flooded with a teenage workforce desperate for something to do.

“I will go anywhere in the world to open new markets for American products.”

Translation: I’ll start with Tahiti, and from there I’ll investigate the economic opportunities along the French Riviera, in Cozumél, and Cabo San Lucas.

“At a time when other countries are doubling down on education, tight budgets have forced States to lay off thousands of teachers. Every person in this chamber can point to a teacher who changed the trajectory of their lives.”

Translation: Except Eric Cantor, who apparently never passed a math class. You can’t run two wars without raising taxes, dumb ass.

“Tonight, I call on every State to require that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn eighteen.”

Translation: We’ll be invading Iran soon, and we need soldiers who can at least read the top of a gearshift knob.

“Of course, it’s not enough for us to increase student aid. We can’t just keep subsidizing skyrocketing tuition; we’ll run out of money.”

Translation: As I proved by running our debt from here to the moon, we’ll run out of zeroes before we run out of money.

“I believe as strongly as ever that we should take on illegal immigration. That’s why my Administration has put more boots on the border than ever before. That’s why there are fewer illegal crossings than when I took office.”

Translation: Jan Brewer, I’m the President. You’re merely the governor of Newer Mexico. If you don’t get your fucking finger out of my face, I’m going to cram it so far up your ass that you’ll be able to pick that thing you call a nose from the inside.

“We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly one hundred years, and my Administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy. Experts believe this will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade. And I’m requiring all companies that drill for gas on public lands to disclose the chemicals they use. America will develop this resource without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk.

Translation: Thousands will eventually die from horrible tumors and cancers brought on by the side effects of fracking, but at least you’ll die in a nice home heated by cheap natural gas.

“We can also spur energy innovation with new incentives. The differences in this chamber may be too deep right now to pass a comprehensive plan to fight climate change.”

Translation: These assholes couldn’t agree on a salad dressing for their lunch if the only two choices were bleu cheese and fresh dog shit.

“I’m proud to announce that the Department of Defense, the world’s largest consumer of energy, will make one of the largest commitments to clean energy in history.”

Translation: The Navy is going back to schooners.

“We need smart regulations to prevent irresponsible behavior. Rules to prevent financial fraud, or toxic dumping, or faulty medical devices, don’t destroy the free market. They make the free market work better.”

Translation: If you anti-government clowns get your way and Ron Paul gets elected, say goodbye to molester-free daycares, non-poisonous food and drinkable water.

“We got rid of one rule from 40 years ago that could have forced some dairy farmers to spend $10,000 a year proving that they could contain a spill – because milk was somehow classified as an oil. With a rule like that, I guess it was worth crying over spilled milk.”

Translation: What do you call a cow with two legs? Lean meat. Buhzinga!

“I’m confident a farmer can contain a milk spill without a federal agency looking over his shoulder.”

Translation: Hey, I’ll tell you what. You can get a good look at a butcher’s ass by sticking your head up there. But, wouldn’t you rather to take his word for it? Sorry. I watched ‘Tommy Boy’ with Malea and Sasha this afternoon. Love that movie.

“Right now, our most immediate priority is stopping a tax hike on 160 million working Americans while the recovery is still fragile. There are plenty of ways to get this done. So let’s agree right here, right now: No side issues. No drama. Pass the payroll tax cut without delay.”

Translation: Get real. This is Congress we’re talking about. There will be so much drama and posturing and backbiting that it will make ‘All My Children’ look like a Red Cross documentary.

“Right now, because of loopholes and shelters in the tax code, a quarter of all millionaires pay lower tax rates than millions of middle-class households. Right now, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.”

Translation: Millionaires are smart.

“Do we want to keep these tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans?”

Translation: Should we cut federal aid to impoverished women and children so that Mitt  Romney and his polo buddies can keep flying their horses to Boca Raton during Lobsterfest?

“If you make under $250,000 a year, like 98 percent of American families, your taxes shouldn’t go up. You’re the ones struggling with rising costs and stagnant wages. You’re the ones who need relief.”

Translation: Your taxes are going up. All of you.

“Now, you can call this class warfare all you want. But asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary in taxes? Most Americans would call that common sense.”

Translation: Secretaries need to hire smarter accountants.

“Let’s limit any elected official from owning stocks in industries they impact. Let’s make sure people who bundle campaign contributions for Congress can’t lobby Congress.”

Translation: Stop graft and corruption on Capitol Hill? It would be easier to repeal gravity and banish the stars from the night sky. But I have to say it. It’s in my contract.

“We need to end the notion that the two parties must be locked in a perpetual campaign of mutual destruction; that politics is about clinging to rigid ideologies instead of building consensus around common sense ideas.”

Translation: Yeaaahhh. And Jay-Z will join Lynyrd Skynyrd and Khloe Kardashian will be a finalist on ‘Jeopardy!’

“I’m a Democrat.”

Translation: I think people are more important than money.

“On the other hand, even my Republican friends who complain the most about Government spending have supported federally-financed roads, and clean energy projects, and federal offices for the folks back home.”

Translation: You can fool some of the people all of the time.

“With or without this Congress, I will keep taking actions that help the economy grow. But I can do a whole lot more with your help. Because when we act together, there is nothing the United States of America can’t achieve.”

Translation: I have found the Koch brothers’ checkbook.

“From Pakistan to Yemen, the al Qaeda operatives who remain are scrambling, knowing that they can’t escape the reach of the United States of America.”

Translation: Check your pizza delivery guy for explosives.

“Look at Iran. Through the power of our diplomacy, a world that was once divided about how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program now stands as one. The regime is more isolated than ever before; its leaders are faced with crippling sanctions, and as long as they shirk their responsibilities, this pressure will not relent.”

Translation: We have suspended Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Netflix account.

“The renewal of American leadership can be felt across the globe. America is back.

Anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, doesn’t know what they’re talking about.”

Translation: Don’t listen to Fox News.

“To stay one step ahead of our adversaries, I have already sent this Congress legislation that will secure our country from the growing danger of cyber-threats.”

Translation: We have hacked Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Facebook account.

“Above all, our freedom endures because of the men and women in uniform who defend it. One of my proudest possessions is the flag that the SEAL Team took with them on the mission to get bin Laden.”

Translation: You should get a load of the new tablecloth in my man cave.

“This Nation is great because we built it together. This Nation is great because we worked as a team. This Nation is great because we get each other’s backs. And if we hold fast to that truth, in this moment of trial, there is no challenge too great; no mission too hard. As long as we’re joined in common purpose, as long as we maintain our common resolve, our journey moves forward, our future is hopeful, and the state of our Union will always be strong.”

Translation: Give me one more term, and I will whip this flat-ass economy into shape like Warren Oates did with Bill Murray in Stripes. Except my shit won’t get blown up.

Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.

Translation: Peace off.

 

"Hey kids! It's time for my campaign speech, er, State of the Union address!"

 

 

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