Shitty Moderate Jokes 

How do you find a moderate in a crowded room? Decry Fascism and wait for them to run up and moderatesplain politics to you.

How do you find a moderate online? Post about the weaknesses of Capitalism with regard to health care, the environment, civil rights, well anything really, and wait for someone to post Josef Stalin/Fidel Castro/Chairman Mao/Pol Pot memes.

How do you find a moderate when a blowhard Fascist demagogue threatens the American public in an unprecedented way? They’re the one who tells you to donate to your local Democrat Congressperson and rest assured those “checks and balances” will keep him at bay.

How do you find a moderate at a solidarity meeting for a local minority group? They’re the one who will say that the Framers of the Constitution had this situation in mind, and that there is nothing to be concerned about as long as Senator Chuck Schumer is on the job!

Where do you find a moderate during protest actions? At home researching both sides, because they deserve equal time.

Where do you find a moderate in a relocation camp? In the guard tower “Trying to make it a better place.”

Where do you find a moderate in the post-apocalyptic wasteland? EATING YOUR LEG AND APOLOGIZING THE ENTIRE TIME.

WHERE DO YOU FIND A MODERATE ON THE COLD IRRADIATED CINDER WE USED TO CALL MOTHER EARTH? EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

Leg Day

I bent to put a book away
And thought “Perhaps I’ll stay down here,”
And then “Will this fit in a tweet?”
Into my office I retreat
The largest stall, I’ll multitask
While choking pissy dribbles out
Into this handy WordPress app
And in the toilet, not my pants
Until The Spot shows up, the dreaded harbinger
Of age or something
Maybe that I’m bad at shaking out my own urethra
At almost 40 years you would have thought I’d have improved.

I should have curled up on the floor
Until they dragged me off, away
Instead I rose, arose, I get up
Get up get up get up
Thousands, millions, squatting, pushing
Every day is leg day
Leg day
Stand up
That’s the curse of lifting
Living
Leg day
If you lift or not
Leg day’s the one you cannot skip
Until you’re chained to chair or bed
Or box
The earth

They should have sent a poet
To the work restroom
But all you’ve got
Is pissy Bob
Still pissing, dribbling
Moaning, pissing
On this spot

Here comes the headache
Pounding
Will this fit a tweet?
No, it will not.

Indiana

I’ve arrived at the home of preeminent archaeologist and professor emeritus at Marshall College, Dr. Henry Walton Jones, Jr., whose most recent adventure, an identity suit brought forth by the American Veterans Committee, ended six months ago. After a series of lectures on Brushy Bill Roberts, in which Dr. Jones debunked the recently popular theory that Roberts was actually western outlaw William H. Bonney, otherwise known as Billy the Kid, a movement arose, led by Fox News commentator and self-described “historian” Bill O’ Reilly, to question the identity of Jones himself.

The lawsuit cited his impossibly young demeanor and record-breaking longevity as proof of his fraud. Dr. Jones is mobile, and doesn’t appear to be a day over 80. He is also, by all official accounts, the only surviving veteran of World War I and the oldest man to have ever lived, unless you take the Old Testament literally. At 117 years and 147 days, he has long surpassed Jiroemon Kimura of Japan, who lived to age 116 years and 54 days.

Thanks to his oft-cited research and nearly unbroken record of speaking engagements since the early 1980s, the professor’s attorneys made quick work of what was clearly a politically-motivated hit job. Dr. Jones has been increasingly vocal in recent years about the spread of false information, in a series of lectures called “The Cloud of Nonsense.” He often warns audiences of what he refers to as creeping fascism. When asked if he was surprised or disappointed by attacks on his character, Dr. Jones replied, “I’m too old to be disappointed. There’s always room for a little surprise, but not today, kid. Consider the source.”

Dr. Jones sequestered himself at the end of that debacle, and this is the first interview he has accepted since. The terms of the discussion are that the trial is off limits, as are other well-tread topics, such as the series of docudramas bearing his name, which he has disavowed as “poppycock,” and his family, namely his late wife Marion, and his father, Dr. Henry Jones, Sr.

He answers the door in clean but well worn pajamas. He hasn’t shaved today, or any day this week from the looks of it, as has been his style for the better part of a century. My first question is off the cuff when I wonder aloud about the age of the lone chestnut tree that dwarfs his house. He says it predates the home and it’s one of the few that survived the blight. “I was going to offer you tea,” he says, “but it looks like the interview has already started.”

He leads me into his front room, which doubles as his office. I am embarrassingly ignorant of his work, aside from the content of the films I’ve viewed over a dozen times, so the various trinkets that line the dusty shelves fill me with trepidation, as if he’s going to pick one up and ask me to identify it in some sort of vetting process.

I remind myself that he knows I’m not a student of archaeology, which is why he took this interview in the first place, as stated in his reply letter. We take seats facing each other there, in two upholstered chairs in front of his desk. The room is dim, and although it is Friday morning, it feels like Sunday afternoon.

Since it is fresh on my mind, I ask him first about our correspondence. “You touched on this in your letter,” I say, “but why did you choose a blogger with a readership of about a dozen for your first interview?”

“Well,” he says, “you actually wrote a letter, which I respect. I’m not ignorant of computers, but there’s something to putting pen to paper.”

“You also mentioned the media-”

“Look, kid,” he begins. I’m pretty sure he calls everyone “kid” at this point. “If you’re trying to build a narrative about the news, it’s only as good as the people writing it. These days I regard it with about as much precision as Tom Swift. Flights of fancy based on something, maybe.”

“But obviously you keep up,” I say.

“I have to,” he says, leaning forward a bit and clasping his hands over his knees, “but the best source of information is living life with an open mind, as long as you realize that you’re the one screwing it up. The only solution to that problem is having good friends who will call you on your bullshit. People you trust. That’s rare. It’s the greatest treasure I’ve found. You have to hang onto that as long as you can.” His voice is gravelly.

“As an archaeologist, though, you can’t just believe what you see?”

“Not at all,” Dr. Jones replies. He furrows his brow. “We’re standing on the shoulders of giants. That doesn’t recuse me from discovery.” He sits up straight and looks over my shoulder, into the distance. Into nothing. “The curse of man is that what we learn is repeatedly lost, buried, rediscovered, and lost again.” He looks back at me, right into my eyes. “We’ve forgotten some things recently. Things that will be unearthed.”

“I wanted to ask you about that,” I say. “Recent events. Some people have tried to relate that to your adventures-”

“Adventures? Heh.” He’s wily. Incredulous. “I would have said ‘work.’ I know you kids were raised on movies, and that looks fun, but we fought two world wars. It was done from necessity, with grim determination.”

“There’s something appealing, though,” I say, “about the imagery of punching Nazis.” I’m pushing it with this. We’re dancing around film territory, but he mentioned it first, so I feel comfortable pressing on.

He has a glint in his eye that confirms my precarious position on this thin ice, but he answers. “It’s all propaganda, though, isn’t it? You have evil men, and then you have a guy who made some bad choices and now he’s guarding a castle. It’s all the same when I have to throw him out a window, but don’t confuse the two.”

“There’s a theme you return to in your lectures, what you call ‘creeping fascism.’ What’s changed?”

“Well,” he begins, “The clown is still a clown. That much is certain. The debate is over which lies to believe, and that’s where you’re caught in the quicksand. When nothing is certain, you have to get down to the evidence. Facts.” He holds out his left palm and punctuates each word by stabbing at it with his right pointer finger. “When your view is obscured by a cloud of nonsense, you have to get close to the ground.”

“That sounds good in theory, but what do you do down there?” I smile a bit, so he knows I’m not ridiculing him.

He catches it. “Observe. Pay attention. Dig, if need be.”

Dr. Jones puts his hands on the armrests of his chair, as if he is about to arise, and he offers the tea he alluded to earlier. I accept and he goes into the kitchen to put on a kettle. I’m invited in from the doorway because, as he says, “it’s brighter in here.” He sets our cups on a small, white table with fold-down extensions. There are two chairs, painted yellow. His is worn down to the wood where his hand grips it now to pull it out. Mine is immaculate, with a flower-patterned cushion.

We are seated, and he says,”Oh, the kettle.” I make to get back up and he holds up a finger. His knees pop, but he’s spry. He delivers the goods, and after a flurry of sugar and stirring, I take a sip. “It’s good tea,” I remark. He says that he has no business knowing tea, but his father did. There’s silence after that, and I feel the period at the end of his sentence. I decide it’s time to get back to work.

“I’m not telling you anything you don’t know,” I say, “but you’re the oldest man alive. You were around before manned flight.”

“Well,” he says, looking into his tea. His trademark crooked grin creeps up. “There were hot air balloons before this hot air arrived. But the Wright Brothers? Yeah. I was around.” Mischievous.

“In all that time, what, to you, was, or is, the biggest threat to mankind? Or civilization, however I worded it. I left my notebook in the sitting room.”

He cocks an eyebrow. “You can go get it if you want.”

“No, I’m fine. Steel trap,” I say, tapping on my head.

“It’s your funeral,” he says. “If you’re talking about threats, hubris is it. Things come and go but the underlying problem is how great we all think we are. A little humility goes a long way.”

“You keep mentioning the repetition of old mistakes. Are we doomed that way?”

“Doomed?” He looks at the ceiling. “I’ve been there. The thing about doom is that we’ve all got it coming. Even me, believe it or not.” His eyes are locked on me now, his arms crossed on the table in front of him. “I never thought I’d be here this long, but I’ve got a hunch that I’m just about done. Whether the human race is, well son, that’s up to you.”

“I gotta be honest,” I say. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.”

“Do?” he says. “Live. Breathe. Keep living.” He chuckles. “It’s worked for me so far. You know, kid, there’s more to all this than fortune and glory. The pursuit of knowledge, the retention, that’s the fight. The hope that maybe someday we’ll stop forgetting. That’s why ‘it belongs in a museum.’ That’s its proper place. When it’s in the museum, we know its location, we can display it, point it out, and when we’re gone, our children will know where it can be found. It isn’t buried, forgotten, destroyed. The museum is all we have.”

I hope I can retain all this until I make it to a keyboard. I have a feeling I will.

We make small talk while he cleans our dishes and I make motions to collect my things and leave. He recognizes my cues and thanks me for the discussion. “I don’t regret my decision,” he says.

I ask him what’s next. I try not to let it show, but his previous comments have sparked concern that he’s planning to languish in his home, alone, hiding from suspicious journalists. He puts that notion to rest as we walk to the front door.

“I’m giving this house back to the college. They’re discussing turning it into an exhibit, but I gave anything of importance to the museum decades ago. I’d rather have Mutt box it up and give it to the grandkids.” He pauses for a moment, as if he’s considering telling me something, then he speaks. “I’m headed to North Dakota.”

“Sounds like you’re planning on staying there.”

“Maybe,” he says, “but that’s between you and me, kid. All I know is there’s a bit of life left in me yet, so I better get living while I can.”

I extend my hand. “It was a pleasure to meet you, Dr. Jones.”

He accepts my handshake and returns it, firm. “Please,” he says, “call me Indiana.”

“Indiana,” I say.

He releases my hand, nods, and slowly shuts the door.

I’m standing on the porch. It’s unseasonably warm, but still crisp. Jacket weather. I look up at the lone chestnut and remember playing under the one in my granny’s yard as a child, pulling apart those spiny, sea urchin spheres to get at the nuts inside.

I take a deep breath and head down the steps and onto the sidewalk, striding. Resolute.

Have a Day

I was born on Thanksgiving Day. I don’t often request a day off for my birthday because I know I’ll have one off that week anyhow. This almost always results in the regrets, but I keep doing it anyway, which sums up my entire life well enough.

I’ve long been on a love-hate rollercoaster with this turkey-addled mess, as has society. At first, it was kinda neat to be born on a holiday, but disappointment set in when I learned it was hit-or-miss thanks to our calendar. I still wore it as a badge of honor in elementary school, the Kid Born on Thanksgiving.

As I grew older, I began to realize how it wrecks everything when it comes to planning a birthday celebration, sometimes making it logistically impossible. (I want to say highly improbable, as Commander Data would, because nothing is impossible. Then again, some things are so improbable that they might as well be.)

When the social justice bug bit me I started rallying against Thanksgiving shopping. The Glorious People’s Revolution would not tolerate late nights and early mornings of work on that sacred day, but then the origins of the deal tend to sully the whole affair. I view it as a much earned day off, while others can’t forget the fairy tale Disney-fied handshakes between musket-brandishing guys with pilgrim hats and shirtless feathered dudes in fetching buckskin trousers.

It’s much more real now, today, while our government assaults and maims the descendants of the original inhabitants of this land on their land. State-sponsored violence on the Great Plains seemed like something long gone to a white kid in the 1980s and 1990s. Chalk it up to an inadequate Southern public school education, but it was supposed to be history, like bugles and cavalry charges. I was a young dude with long hair who still thought it was hilarious to do war whoops when my anthropology instructor, the late John Thomas, told us about the brutality of life on the reservation.

He conveyed tales of inter-tribal violence, which he compared to the gangs we were so familiar with here, in Arkansas, during the 1990s when Little Rock and Pine Bluff were the most dangerous places in the nation. He hinted at murders that would never be solved. He said that we didn’t know, we couldn’t know what it was like. A class full of white kids sat silent, stunned.

It sure is tough having to think about what you’re doing living on stolen land. My old friend John Weems, Advocatus Diaboli, whose birthday, as luck would have it, is tomorrow, would say that everyone lives on stolen land. There’s something to that, and while I still cling to the urgency of what is happening now, I concede that our governments (ancestors, kingdoms, elders, warlords) have never stopped committing crimes against humanity whether we support them or not.

I’ve gone on at length before about the violence we do to our fellow humans just by living. That Thai worker chained up in an ice house slicing shrimp probably appreciates the overpriced platter you just ordered at Red Lobster. Our slavery footprint is astounding, yet we can all watch Glory and get a tear in our eye. (12 Years a Slave? I’m showing my age.)

Whatever you do today, maybe take a moment to think about how you got here, and how the things you have got here. I’ll help you out a bit. It was probably given to you, and it was most likely taken from someone else if it didn’t come over on a container ship.

When you’re done with the socially prerequisite self-flagellation, have a good time. Don’t try to have a good time, because trying is setting course to break your ship up on the cliffs of failure. Just do it, as that old sweatshop empire of cobbling children would tell you. Embrace solipsism for two minutes and relax, like Frankie said.

Relax because you’re not always going to be able to, guys. You might find yourself in a hospital room on this hallowed day. I have. You might find yourself sitting in a nursing home. Been there too, and while I was just visiting, someday it might be permanent if I’m lucky (or unlucky, take your pick).

Maybe I’m talking to myself here. I can’t assume you don’t know how to enjoy things and require my magnificent wisdom to lead you to the promised land. I hope that’s the case. It means that you’re solid and I’m giving myself a pep talk, which is par for the fucking course. I have difficulty operating without bouncing everything off the world. Thanks for the pingback. I’d be blind without it.

That said, no matter what it means to you, have a day. Relaxation, revolution, revulsion, rest. Have a day then have another tomorrow. Have a day to hold as a beacon in the darkness ahead. Have a day, you silly fucks. Have a day. Have a day.

Have a day.

 

Cold Open

INT. TRUMP’S OFFICE

TRUMP

Wow, I have no idea what I am doing. Helga, Helga get in here.

HELGA

Yes, Mr. Trump, I mean President, uh, President-Elect Trump.

TRUMP

Hey could you call someone to give me some tips? Yeah. I need some tips. Great tips. I am so out of my element here I need some tips and hints. I am just a useless guy.

HELGA

Oh well as luck would have it Mr., uh I mean Governor, um Vice President Elect Pence just walked in.

TRUMP

Oh great just great I love that guy, send him in I’m not sure how to do anything.

PENCE

SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS HGKKKK HGKKKKK FTHTHHHLBBB SSSSSSSSSSSSSSS KIK KIK KIK EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE SNGT.

TRUMP

Thanks Mike, I mean, really, I am so out of my element. This is a big deal. Huge. Such a huge deal and I’m not really-

PENCE

FTTT! SSSSSSSSSSSNKGH. HSSSSSSNGL. FT. FT. KIK! PTHHHHH RGNNNGHHHH.

TRUMP

Well, I don’t know Mike, I mean Servator Xinth. You guys recruited me. I’m just a regular guy. I love taco bowls and my bed in Trump Tower. I’m not sure I can-

PENCE/XINTH

RINK! LZZZZZZNARG FFFFFFFFFFFFFFT. HKKKKK SNGT HRNGHK. HRNGKGH. FFFFFFFFFFFT FTT FTT KIK RHGNNNN.

TRUMP

I hear you, but maybe, maybe all that stuff we did with the country folks and the angry guys, we just cancel all that. What was Hillary going to do? Maybe we can ask her.

PENCE/XINTH

HRKKK! SNRGKK NIK FRTHGNNNHH SNT KIK FFFT FT FT KRGHGNNNN STNIK FTHRRRRRFFFF.

TRUMP

Well I can’t do that Mike, I want to make America great again not-

PENCE/XINTH

GHHFFT HGKCHKT!

TRUMP

That’s it, you scaly jerk! You’re fired! I’m going to do this my way. I know the art of the deal. I invented deals! I’m going to be the greatest President of all time, just the best guy.

The camera pulls back and Servator Xinth has a long tentacle protruding from its groin. The shot tracks left and follows it across the floor, into Donald Trump’s left pantsleg. There is no shoe or foot visible. The tentacle IS his leg.

PENCE/XINTH shakes TRUMP/PUPPET around on its tentacle and emits a gurgling chuckle as HELGA walks back in.

HELGA

Oh, practicing for the Inauguration, are we?

PENCE/XINTH undulates and begins to emit a frothy substance from TRUMP/PUPPET’s orifices.

HELGA

Servator Xinth, you cad! Not until we’ve united America with everyone’s best interests at heart!

PENCE/XINTH

HRGLHGLHLBFHH KHHH SHLNGHHH KIK FFT HRNNNGH!

HELGA

Oh, Servator!

EVERYONE

Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!

The Ultimate Solution

countymaprb1024
The constant Berlin Airlift-type situation will stimulate the shipping industry, leading to employment opportunities for everyone. Learn to Fly!

Has it been difficult deciding which particular states you’ll have to eject from the union in order to spark Neoliberal Spring? That’s because every state had mixed election results. The geopolitical scientists here at The Bob Talbot dot com have come up with a county-by-county solution, which provides a much more accurate picture of where you may live without having to interact with the quarter of America who didn’t vote for your candidate.

Granted, the results aren’t 100% in any direction, but having the political majority in those counties should make it much easier to round up your opponents and politely suggest they relocate to the wide open spaces indicated in red. Don’t worry about the largest group of Americans, the half of all eligible voters who didn’t show up at the polls. If they couldn’t be bothered to do that, they certainly won’t get in your way now.

Salute Your Shorts

The rise of Bob Talbot 2016’s FULL COMMUNISM (BABY) was contingent on the inevitable coronation of our NeoLiberal, incrementalist Madam President. It was certain that once America had gotten a bitter taste of more deportations, more hospital bombings, more international meddling, more destabilized nations bleeding refugees, more crooked trade deals, more militarized police murders of poor minorities, more, oh Hell. This is getting exhausting.

Once they’d experienced Shittier Obama, the clear alternative of FULL COMMUNISM (BABY) would burst forth, blossoming, bringing to fruition my vision of Pansexual Polyamorous Post-scarcity Luxury Space Communism.

Then, something happened.

She lost.

Now, we’re facing the specter of Actual Fascism, as opposed to Creeping Oligarchic “We Can Still Have Semantic Arguments About Whether This Is a Police State” Fascism, and it’s time to reevaluate our approach.

It would be a futile act to once again throw our weight behind an aging Sanders, or shift to the comparably worn-out Warren (slow clap for Hill-dawg, Liz). The flaccid, non-existent American Left has already rejected this obvious post-Obama scoot in the proper direction with their lack of attendance at the polls. Surely there’s a sub-septuagenarian politician capable of running the show? (Pro Tip: if someone rhetorically uses the word “surely,” the answer is almost always,  “No.”)

What we must do (and by “we” I mean, as usual, “white people with money”) is take this cloud and find the silver lining. We can’t afford to lose our jobs for attempting to organize labor. We won’t risk being arrested for civil disobedience.

No. If there will be camps, we can make them the best damned camps they can be. Less Schindler’s List, more Hogan’s Heroes.

Some of us don’t have the people skills to properly run a camp. I’d suggest that those of you who don’t work well with others seek occupation in the burgeoning Wall Maintenance industry.

For the rest of you, tap into that expertise you gained reading the Patrick Lencioni books you were forced to digest when you became shift manager at Starbucks and Make Camp Great Again.

Just imagine it, folks. You’ll be the cool older guy, gal or gx counselor (commandant, Wokesturmführer) plucked straight from Wet Hot American Summer, heading up basket weaving, pony rides, and discussions about possible liberation in 2018, or 2020 at the latest, but only on an election year! Nothing could possibly happen at any other moment. Dat Vote.

The time for using MS paint to carve up the US map into a collection of states that would ensure the eruption of NeoLiberal Spring has passed. There’s only one way you can help now, and that’s by making life as comfortable as you can for our soon-to-be sleepaway camp denizens.

Sing them into complacency with ballads of the mighty Chris Rock/Dwayne Johnson, “Rock the Rock” ticket coming to rescue them in 2020. More Mary Poppins than Amon Göth, it will be your duty to assuage their fears. Maybe it’s Obama/Winfrey 2020 that lulls them into sweet slumber. Regardless, it’s your lifted voice and stern, matronly hand that will keep hope alive while they await freedom.

We’ll always wear safety pins at Safe Camp to let everyone know we’re the Good Guys. We’ll practice talking in Mandarin about how much we love the Transformers franchise, we’ll design our own heroic monuments with toothpicks and Elmer’s Glue, and we’ll wait.

That’s really all we can do, right? Wait and see. There’s always another election to look forward to. Surely someone will come along?

Surely?

Wokemandias 

The elevator doors open. “Good morning, Mr. Talbot,” she says. “Punching down?” 

And then:

Two dark and endless rows of servers
Stand in the ruins. On them, in the muck,
So dank, a broken web site stored, whose memeposts
And thinkpieces and a slew of hot takes
Tell that its author well those missives fired
Which dare survive, stored on these lifeless machines,
The hand that typed them and the heart that burned. 

She connects a battery to a terminal,  
And on the front page these words appear:
“My name is Wokemandias, wokest of woke:
Look on my screeds, ye bigots, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains: round the data loss
Of that colossal failure, boundless and bare,
The cold and dark servers stretch far away.