Buckley vs Vidal: The 11th Debate


In 1968, ABC, the generic cereal of news organizations, (the set literally collapsed during the RNC) decided to host ten debates during the Democratic and Republican conventions. They chose two people from opposite sides of the political spectrum, to debate one another. William F. Buckley, a conservative, had his own show called, Firing Line, which was like Carlson Tucker’s show, only smugger. Gore Vidal, a liberal, and Carry Grant look alike, was a writer and playwright. The moderator of the debate, was Howard K Smith, an ABC political commentator. The debaters detested one another and the debates got really heated. The two men were polar opposites and the only thing they had in common, was that they were both elitists. Most people don’t know, there was actually an eleventh debate, which they decided not to air. Below is a complete transcript.

Smith: Good evening, we are here tonight for our eleventh and final debate, between Mr. William Buckley and Mr. Gore Vidal. Now gentlemen, it got a little too heated on our last debate and resulted in some hate speech, with the words, ‘crypto-Nazi’ and ‘queer,’ being used. Let’s try and keep it civil and stick to the issues. I mean, no one is watching, but still, it’s a family network.

Buckley: {holds pinky up} Of course Howard, and I’d like to explicate on what I was saying in the last debate about Vietnam. I wasn’t finished using my extensive vocabulary.

Smith: Our time is limited, because we have to show commercials advertising household products, in a misogynist  manner that condescends women. So, let’s get to the issues. Mr. Vidal, I will start with you. People wonder if you are a communist, because of your ideological beliefs. Can you answer that charge once and for all?

Vidal: {holds pinky up higher than Buckley} Yes, but first I’d like to insult Mr. Buckley in a defunct patrician accent.

Smith: Again, our time is limited and we have a lot of ground to cover.

Vidal: To answer your question, I am not a communist. I agree with many of its tenants, especially with Karl Marx, who defined communism as, ‘the doctrine of the conditions of the liberation of the proletariat.’

Smith: So, you are a champion of the working class?

Vidal: Yes, the working class are the pillar that hold up society and please stop making direct eye contact with me.

Buckley: Pay no attention to him Mr. Smith, he’s an elitist, who scoffs at a hard days work. He has never done a hard days work in his life. You do need to advert your eyes though.

Smith: {looks down}

Buckley: You need to bow your head a little lower. Maybe just turn your chair and face the wall.

Smith: {turns chair around} Mr. Buckley, do you think religion should have any place in politics?

Buckley: As you know, I’m a member of the Knight’s of Columbus. We go around taking any remaining lands, still owned by Native Americans. Also, we have the occasional fish fry.

Vidal: [snickers] What balderdash!

Buckley: Mr. Vidal interrupted me and I wasn’t finished enunciating. Dear God man, look at me when I am speaking to you.

Smith: {Turning his chair back around} Gentleman please, we don’t have a lot of time and the people want to hear the issues. Also, this set may collapse again at any moment. We are on a shoestring budget and we will have to pay you both with a roll of quarters and a vat of Bactine Medicated Skin Cream. Mr Vidal, do you think if Nixon becomes President, that he will get us out of the war in Vietnam?

Vidal: Mr. Nixon’s stance on Vietnam is vague and unclear. He, however, is a hawk, so one would doubt it. What is clear though, is that Mr. Buckley is a conservative philistine with no humane qualities.

Buckley: You are a depraved liberal degenerate!

Vidal: You sir are a conservative villian!

Smith: Gentlemen please!

Buckley: Why don’t you go expatriate yourself.

Vidal: I am not an expatriate; I just choose to live in Italy, to be far away from you and your banal views. {mumbles} crypto-Nazi.

Buckley: {rises angrily} I heard that. {picks up his chair and swings it at Vidal. It misses and hits Howard on the head knocking him unconscious}

Buckley: I am leaving; I can not debate a man with no morals and whose prose is obscene.

Vidal: {nudges the unconscious Smith} Do I still get my facial cream?

{Cameraman cuts to a cigarette commercial, where a whole family is smoking a pack of Pall Mall’s at the dinner table}

Training video: How to insult your opponent in a debate with class.



3 Alternative Script Changes to Make Film Genres Less Predictable



A building explodes. Our hero, Johnny Awesome, is wearing a tailored Hugo Boss suit. His perfectly coiffed hair, remains unvarnished, as debris and ash rain down all around him, while lesser human beings are running for their lives, flapping their arms in panic, like a bunch of uncouth animals looking for safety.  Johnny Awesome looks directly into the camera and winks, as the flames are getting closer. He looks at the camera again and mouths the words, “Oh, fuck me.” The camera pans to his feet, revealing a pair of Egyptian blue crocs. He’s still wearing his love-making crocs and forgot to slip on his wingtip Oxfords, before leaving his flat. The confidence he had in the beginning, is starting to slip away and is replaced with a fear that he might not make it, because he is after all, walking slower than the flames are spreading. He shakes his head, this was no time to be thinking about the laws of physics. At the risk of looking uncool, he starts to power walk, with really exaggerated arm swings, to build up momentum, because he can feel the heat from the flames that are almost upon him. Johnny Awesome is no longer gliding effortlessly, but stumbling, as he tries desperately not to die and have the movie end at a reasonable time. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees a, Wings N Things, food truck, parked on the corner. With a last ditch effort to survive, he leaps in the air, like an Olympic high jumper. As he extends his legs, one of his love-making crocs, flies off and hits an elderly woman in the face, who is carrying grocery bags. The unsuspecting woman loses her grip on her bags and the force of the croc, knocks her to the ground, rendering her unconscious. Produce begins rolling out of the grocery bags and into the street. Johnny Awesome breathes a sigh of relief; he made his landing safely, as the elderly woman gets engulfed in flames. The croc, which ricocheted off the old woman’s face, had skittered underneath the food truck. Johnny reaches underneath the truck, grabs the slightly-singed, Egyptian blue croc and places it back on his foot. Nothing, not even the threat of death, was going to stand in the way of his twenty-four hour love making.

Felicia Raven, is the last marine left alive from her squad, that was sent to eradicate a hostile alien species called the, Candoborgs, from the planet, Ultar. This planet of unlicensed proctologists, like to probe human asses with all the vigor of … well, licensed  proctologists. The Queen has gotten aboard Felicia’s ship and has damaged the primary flight controls, so that she is unable to set a course for home. She has been searching frantically, trying to find the secondary controls, so that she can program another path home, while the Queen is in hot pursuit. Felicia sees a switch, conveniently marked, “secondary.”  Felicia pulls the switch and the ship has a new heading home, but now the Queen Candoborg has her cornered. Felicia knows there is only one tried and true way to kill an alien, and that is for it to get sucked out the airlock. The airlock always worked, in fact, Felicia shoved her mother-in-law out the airlock last month, when she kept complaining about her pot roast being dry. It’s been a source of contention between her and her husband ever since. The Candoborgs are over eight feet tall and can easily lift you up and tear you apart, but only after they give you your free colonoscopy. Felicia darts under a table and quickly maneuvers just around the Queen and away from her mighty grasp. She runs to the rear of the ship, where the airlock is located. The Queen, who is irate at this point, because she has already missed her son’s clarinet recital, scrambles to catch her. Felicia judges that the Queen is standing close enough to the airlock and hits the open button. The Queen is blown toward the door, while reaching in vain to try and grab something to hold onto. They both look at each other at first in surprise and then the Queen looks at Felicia in mortification. Her ass has gotten stuck in the door and it’s plugging up the entire exit. The Queen, who has learned to speak English by watching 80’s reruns of Dynasty, tells her that she’s gained a lot of weight over the holidays. Felicia sympathizes with this, because she has put on a few pounds herself. The Queen proposes a deal, that if she helps her out of this and never tells anyone, she promises to leave the planet alone. She also tells Felicia, that they are less interested in asses and more into breasts now anyway. Felicia considers this proposition and decides that a chance at saving the planet, is worth her own personal risk and she can tell the Queen is sincere. She pushes the button to close the airlock, so that it won’t suck them out, once she is able to free the Queen. Felicia finds a crowbar and tries to wedge it in between the Queen’s ass and the door. She pushes on the crowbar with all of her might, but her ass just won’t budge. Felicia has another idea and leaves the Queen to go to the kitchen. She reaches into the fridge and pulls out two sticks of butter. When Felicia returns with the butter, she realizes that there is no way that the Queen will be able to butter her own ass, so she will have to do it. Felicia sighs, and with a stick of butter in each hand, she wriggles her hands in and starts to grease up the alien’s rump, like she is trying to keep food from sticking to a frying pan. She greases the sides of the airlock too. Felicia determines that she’s added enough butter and takes the Queens hands into hers, pulling with all of her might. The Queen’s ass slides through the door with an audible, squish. The two look at one another and begin to laugh. Felicia returns to Earth with a hero’s welcome. The mayor commends her bravery for buttering an alien’s ass and saving the Earth. Felicia is then awarded a key to the city.

Baxter Price, looks at his phone’s screen saver and sighs. It’s a picture of him and his girlfriend of three years, Emma Singer. They are both wearing a, I’m with stupid, t-shirt with arrows pointing at him. She’s gone now, about to get on a plane, leaving to a far away wasteland. Her plane was leaving for Cleveland in another half hour and he was all alone watching his, Police Academy box set. Baxter starts to text her, to tell her not to go, while Michael Winslow is making sound effects in the background. He puts his phone down, deciding that would be too reasonable and expedient. Instead, he’s going to rush over to the airport and stop her from getting on her flight. He hops in his Pontiac Aztek, which needs new shocks, tires, brakes and motor, but other than that, it runs like a dream. He starts the car and it makes a, please just let me die sound before it begins to run. Baxter looks at the clock, her plane leaves in thirty minutes and it takes forty minutes to get to the airport from his house. He can do it, he determines, by driving fast, sheer tenacity and completely ignoring the laws of space and time. Baxter takes off down his street, a 25 mph residential area, going as fast as possible. He weaves around pedestrians, honking his horn at them, until he makes it to the exit ramp for the highway. He speeds along at 100 mph, with a Bayside Breeze, pine-scented car freshener, dangling from his rear-view mirror, silently screaming for help. He doesn’t see the police car, that’s parked off on the shoulder and whizzes past it without stopping. The policeman starts to turn on his blue lights and then switches them back off, deciding that he was driving a Pontiac Aztek and probably had enough problems. Baxter pulls into the airport and parks the car right in front of the US Airway lane, not caring about getting his car towed, or a ticket, or important life choices. He dashes towards gate 7, before he realizes, that is the wrong gate and turns around. As he does, he stops dead in his tracks. His olfactory nerve, transmits an impulse to his tiny brain receptors, that he smells cinnamon. He looks around, and there by a Sunglass Hut, like a shiny beacon of hope, is a Cinnabon. He glances at his phone and realizes he still has a few minutes before Emma’s flight is supposed to leave. Baxter walks in and can’t believe his luck, there’s no one else in line. He orders a large caramel PeaconBon and doesn’t even notice, that the Cinnabon employee doesn’t make a new one, but takes the one that has been sitting out there since the morning and hands it to Baxter. Baxter, who is mesmerized by the sight of caramel, pecans, frosting and it’s squishy dough, a phrase also used by Emma, to describe his love handles, sits down and slowly savors every morsel. When he’s done, he yawns and stretches his legs. He has completely forgotten the reason he came to the airport. Baxter walks out of the airport and rides off into the sunset in his Aztek, with a two hundred dollar parking ticket and icing still clinging to his chin.


80’s Sitcoms: 5 Ways Every Problem in Life Can be Resolved in 30 Minutes.


If 80’s sitcoms have taught us anything, it’s that all of life’s difficulties can be solved in just 30 minutes. Every problem, from finding a prom date, to battling anorexia, can be remedied by highly predictable plot lines, ending with really trite and overly simplified dialogue, from a well meaning parent or teacher. Having watched countless 80’s shows and wasting precious hours of my life that I can never get back, I’ve come up with five things that must be present, in order for you to learn a valuable life lesson.

The Cable Knit Sweater. Yes, they’re itchy and make you as unattractive as possible, but goddamit, they solve problems! When some authority figure, usually a father, who doesn’t have a steady job, yet his family is middle class, has one of these bad boys on, it means it’s time to cut the shit. Whether it’s braided lattice in gaudy neon colors, or a Christmas sweater in July, you are about to get a stern talking to my friend, using every blunt and unsophisticated means at their disposal. The recipients of these pearls of wisdom, also wearing their own miniature version of this brash and unappealing garment, sit on their beds, with their heads down, hoping the show will hurry up and get canceled. After what feels like a painfully long time, but only thirty minutes have gone by, your teen pregnancy has been dealt with and you no longer have dyslexia. How do we know the issues have really been resolved? We know, because dad’s bulky, mock-neck cable knit sweater said so.

The Catch Phrase. In order for things to run along smoothly, to reach it’s anticlimactic zenith, it’s very helpful if one or more characters has a catch phrase. The catch phrase is reliable and oddly comforting, like your grandmother. The phrase could be a question, “whatcha talkin’ about Willis?” or just a two-word phrase, “have mercy.” Every episode, you’re lying on the couch, staring dead-eyed into a wooden behemoth, with antenna that can reach Mars and waiting to hear, “kiss my grits!” When one of the Olsen twins (you didn’t know there were two of them at the time and now you somehow feel betrayed) utters, “you got it dude,” you feel like your life of never solving that Rubik’s Cube and crying into your pillow, while the Smiths are playing, can now proceed. GI Joe taught us that, “knowing is half the battle” and we just assumed the other half, was how to accessorize urban warfare couture. Sometimes we knew precisely when the catch phrase was going to be spoken, because it signified the end of the show like Hannibals, “I love it when a plan comes together.” The catch phrase was essential, because take away that and you’re just left with an absurd premise about aliens who like to eat cats.

The Stereotype. If there is one thing that 80’s sitcoms had no shortage of, it was stereotypes. How can problems get resolved, if there aren’t slightly racist and homophobic token characters. The wise cracker, the square, the very gay man, the fat funny girl, the bully…ad nauseam. Every Asian American had to speak like Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid. Any non-Murcian, had to speak in broken English, otherwise, how would we know they’re foreign. The Spanish American from Fantasy Island shouting, “De plane! de plane!” It was essential that the disabled person have down syndrome, to be the representative for the entire disabled community. Every show hired a bunch of lazy writers to compete for the best, one-dimensional character they could contrive. (Fuck character arc!) You simply can’t get to that all important resolution, unless your show has major and ancillary characters that we can predict.  I’m sorry, but if you’re overweight, you better be funny or at least mildly amusing, because what else have you got.

The Wacky Neighbor. It can’t all properly come together, without the crazy, but lovable (not really) neighbor like Steve Urkel, Kimie Gibbler, or the man we only new as, “Wilson” from Home Improvement, who apparently never worked, ate or went to the bathroom, because he was always in his yard and available to dispense advice, to all of Tim’s, macho bullshit problems. The wacky neighbor never knocked, because that would be for normal human beings. Oh no, this neighbor burst into your house unannounced, without knocking, made a few wise cracks that were funny, as indicated by the laugh track and then left, as unceremoniously as they came. They could only come in while you were talking, vacuuming or doing some other inconsequential thing, never while you were doing something embarrassing. Can you imagine if Mr. Roper burst in, while they were having a menage a trois on Three’s Company! Well, you can now, in fact that’s probably all you’ll think about from now on. There was nothing untoward about male neighbors like Lenny and Squiggy, walking right into a females apartment, without knocking. It’s not predatory behavior; it’s quaint damn it!

The Single Dad. Whether it’s a divorce, or mom died in a freak accident involving leg warmers, no one cares, as long as this attractive dad is available. Typically, it’s a  stay at home dad, who is always and I do mean always, on hand to be the voice of reason. This great dad tackles all of the kids problems, even if the problem is, that their dad never leaves the house, except to go on a date. Single dad, did we mention that he was single, can be preachy or a jokester, as long as he uses sarcasm as part of his parenting style. Danny Tanner, from Full House, might be a narcissistic control freak, but he cares about the well-being, of the fifty extended family members that live in his house. Only single dad, can elicit the background elevator music in those tender loving family moments.

Me, circa 1988

Look at it! Do not avert your eyes! Stare into the geometric patterns, of my heinous sweater, until you become hypnotized or feel mildly nauseous.

Smokey the Bear: Advocate for Forest Fire Prevention? Not so Much, Experts Say


His name is Smokey Bear; there isn’t a, ‘the’ in the middle. Smokey, although one of the most recognizable figures in forest fire prevention, is not a God; he’s just a bear and he puts his jeans on the same as everyone else, one leg at a time. It’s always just been Smokey Bear, people began to add, ‘the’ in middle of his name, after a song that was written about him, by Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins. There was also a children’s story by the same title.

Smokey, an American Black Bear, has insisted, “that only you can prevent forest fires,” for nearly 70 years now, and has recently come under fire by wildfire policy experts. Scientist from the Food and Agriculture Organization, claim that he knows nothing about the ecology of trees & shrubs, biodiversity, and the role of fire as an ecosystem process.  In a computerized, modern age, Smokey is behind the times. Only recently, did he change his slogan from preventing, “forest fires” to preventing, “wildfires,” to include the many other kinds of habitats.

One agroforestry scientist said about Smokey, “He didn’t even know about grasslands.  He’s still talking about campfire safety and how to safely burn your lawn care debris.” Another scientist was more severe on the bear, “It’s a joke really. Nobody goes camping anymore and who the hell is still burning shit in their yard?” Smokey, when asked to comment on the scientific advancements said, “I’m a fucking bear.”

Smokey got his start as a mascot, for the United States Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters, to educate the public about the dangers of forest fires. His first slogan was, “Care will prevent 9 out of 10 forest fires.” The forest fire prevention campaign first began during WWII, when the Japanese military set fire to the coastal forests in southwest Oregon. Since then, Smokey has become synonymous with forest fire safety. How much does he really know though, about wildfires and what is the actual success rate using his safety tips? Has he ever personally prevented a forest fire? Botanists have been clamoring for answers to these questions. Some recent investigating revealed, that his claim, “care will prevent 9 out of 10 forest fires,” is simply unfounded. The scientific data taken from one recent poll, said that care only prevented 1 out of 10 forest fires at best. Ecologists from the Nature Conservancy have called for Smokey’s resignation saying, he isn’t equipped to deal with modern fire ecology and that he is out of touch. “He doesn’t even have a Twitter page,” said one member.

The Sierra Club has gone even further and has called for an investigation by the EPA. They allege, that he’s even started some of the recent fires out in California, to stay relevant, keep his position and maintain his status. Smokey, was unable to be reached to comment on the allegation, because he was on his cigarette break in between shooting commercials.

Whether you see him as the voice of fire safety, or part of an old-fashioned campaign that needs to be overhauled, one thing is certain, those broad shoulders and hairy chest are way too provocative not to be covered with a shirt.

Funny People Tell the True Meaning of Halloween II: This Time It’s Personal

halloween candy corn

It’s Halloween time again, a time when your neighbor puts out his giant inflatable pumpkin and you let a little air out of it each day, so it can die a slow death. It’s a time when pumpkin spice invades every corner of the Earth and Rob Zombie gets scarier than his movies, with each passing year. Here today are some very funny people of Twitter, to tell you about the true meaning of Halloween.

I’d like to thank everyone that contributed their tweets and non-vital organs. Please visit these talented individuals:

@ObscureGent –  www.theobscuregentlemen.com


@bourgeoisalien – http://amzn.to/2xTbU3O


@lanceburson –  https://www.lulu.com/shop/search.ep?keyWords=Lance+Burson&type=


@Bob_Janke – https://t.co/NngAxGi8qp

@yonewt – https://t.co/rFf7GAVK9L

@bornmiserable – https://www.youtube.com/theblackoutchoir

@Chyld – https://mariettarodgers.com/category/bacon-saves-the-world/

@rccromwell4 – thefederalist.com/author/richcro…

@HatfieldAnne – http://www.annehatfieldvo.com

@distracted_monk – http://amzn.to/2gwd1nk

@singwithTaffy – https://t.co/9aO38SuOr2

@gmatt63 – http://lupo.net/


@PlainTravis – http://www.plainzero.com/

You can find these very funny people on their Twitter page & down at your local disco car wash:

@Mr._Kapowski  @4SLars  @Jake_Vig  @caseytduncan  @Mardigroan  @seamussaid  @ThePocketJustin  @2tickytacky  @Henry_3000  @wittwitbarista  @FuckabillyRex  @underchilde  @bananagrvyrd  @skullpuppy11

I’m just updating my farmersonly.com profile pic.













Death, Be Not Proud…Not Proud at All


I dwell on death a lot; it’s a morbid hobby of mine. Here are my 16 hilarious thoughts about death. I’m available for eulogies and birthday parties.


Review of, But Did You Die?: Setting the Parenting Bar Low

But Did You Die

This is the 5th book in the, I Just Want to Pee Alone series and it did not disappoint. BDYD, is a series of essays written by some very funny people, about the rigors of being a parent. You always have anxieties as a parent, no matter how much experience you have, but when you’re a new parent, the prospects of doing or saying the wrong thing, that results in your child losing the power of speech, so they just point to a picture of you to their therapist for the rest of their lives, is palpable. What if I raise a serial killer? What if my child joins a ska band? These are legitimate fears, especially the latter.

Before the birth of my first child, I read everything from Penelope Leach, to yes, Dr. Spock. (not the one from Star Trek unfortunately) Most of the information in these books, although informative, either isn’t practical, or doesn’t fit your situation. That’s not to say you shouldn’t read books on parenting, because some facts come in handy, like in the essay, “Me, My Inferior Boobs and My Green Baby,” where the author, Elizabeth Argyropoulos, notices when her water breaks, that it’s tinted green, which is a sign the baby might be in distress. Overall though, the information in the books, isn’t going to help you at 3:30 in the morning, when your baby is projectile vomiting and has diarrhea. Most parenting books are, ‘how to’ books, where as BDYD, is more of a, ‘how the hell?’ type of a book.

I grew up back in the days before safety was invented. Like most of us, I didn’t wear a helmet riding my bike and seat belts were optional. I managed to live through it all, which is also the premise of this book and the title comes from a response, that author Jen Mann, gets from her mom, after criticizing her parenting methods, mainly not putting sunscreen on her at the beach, and stuffing her under a beach chair instead. Her mom’s reply was, “Well, but did you die?” And there you have it, this was the gold standard of parenting when we were growing up. Needless to say, a lot has changed since then.

What I love most about this book, is that not only is it funny, it’s totally relatable, because I have faced similar mortifying situations. Granted, I never caught my baby’s shit in my hands, so that the couch doesn’t get stained, as author Mike Cruse did in, “Parents Catch ALL the Shit,” but that’s because I would catch scorpions being hurled at me, before I’d catch shit in my hands. These essays, let you know that you’re not alone in your parental faux pas. You’re not going to do everything right; you’re probably going to nod off at your daughter’s dance recital, after watching 80 kids before it’s her turn. All parents dread children’s birthday parties, because if you check under their fingernails, they will be bloody, from their attempt at trying to claw their way out of a Chuck E. Cheese, like some kind of Edgar Allan Poe character, whose been buried alive. You are not by yourself, things happen and life doesn’t exist in a vacuum, even though it may seem like it from that one (or two or three) annoying friend on FB, whose family seems perfect and is always posting how her kid is a prodigy and can whittle a house out of a block of wood. Meanwhile, your kid is poking the cat with a stick. Just take a deep breath, because chances are, even if your friend’s kid can whittle a house out of a block of wood, they are probably also poking the cat with a stick.

But Did You Die? is a wonderfully hilarious book, filled with truisms, that kept me entertained at every turn of the page. I highly recommend buying the book for yourself or as a gift to a friend, who has kids. It’s a book that every parent can appreciate.

But Did You Die?: Setting the Parenting Bar Low is available on Amazon. http://amzn.to/2fP2Lpj




Helpful Tips on How to Get a Job


The process of trying to get a job can be very stressful. You want your resume to really highlight your accomplishments, like your certificate of completion from the Mime Academy of Dramatic Arts. Showcase those skills, like the one time you were able to get that Lego Storm Trooper out of your toddler’s nose, without going to the emergency room. Once you’ve landed the interview, be confident and speak your mind. Let them know you will kick ass for their company and are willing to die slowly, over a five to ten year period, sitting in a cubicle and staring lifelessly at your computer. Here are some helpful tips on how to get the Jobby Job of your dreams.


List of 10 Operator Messages


There are few things that try your patience more, than waiting on hold for customer service. The same generic message is played every few minutes, followed up with elevator music, in the hopes that you will take a cyanide capsule and they don’t have to deal with you. Here’s a list of 10 messages they could use, in order to more creatively ignore you.


10 Favorite Lovable Literary Characters


Captain John Yossarian in Catch-22, by Joseph Heller – One of my favorite anti-heroes of all time. I don’t know what Jesus would do, but I know exactly what Yossarian would do, and that is either drink or pretend to be insane. Yossarian is the Bombardier, in the Fighting 256th Squadron during WWII. He is a mischievous ladies man, who has a penchant for walking around naked and many other odd things, like not wearing his uniform at his own medal ceremony. Yossarian increasingly becomes all about self-preservation, as his his tour of duty keeps getting extended. He tries to get discharged on the grounds that he is insane. The psychiatrist, Sanderson, diagnosis him with, “a morbid aversion to dying” (I have that too) but Doc Daneeka tells him he can not possibly be insane because, “there is only one catch and that is Catch-22, which specifies that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of danger is the process of a rational mind.” Catch-22 becomes a catch phrase throughout the book, it is invoked as justification for everyone’s actions in any given situation. He becomes increasingly jaded, but does not give up entirely on helping others. Yossarian is the type of guy, who would help you move your couch, maybe not on the day you need it moved, but eventually he’ll come through for you.

Tom Bombadil in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and Adventures of Tom Bombadil, by J.R.R. Tolkien Tom is an obscure, but interesting character from LOTR. You won’t find him in Peter Jackson’s movie trilogy; he is only mentioned in the book. Tom is not a man, in fact, Tolkien does not say what he is precisely, except the oldest living being on Middle Earth. He claims to be older than Tree Beard. When his wife, Goldberry, is asked who he is, she only replies, “He is.” Everything about him is silly, from the way he dresses, to how he speaks in rhymes and sings in a whimsical manner. Even his name suggests he is harmless. I feel like Tolkien got a little lazy there. There are so many other cool names like, Gandalf, Sauron, Lord Elrond…it’s as if he ran out of good names and just said, “fuck it, I’m tired. I’m going with Tom.” He could have least spelled it, Thom. His simple name does not do him justice, because he is a being of extraordinary power. He is the one being in all of Middle Earth, who is unaffected by the ring. When Frodo puts the ring on and disappears, Tom can still see him. Tom flips the ring in the air and it disappears; then he opens his other hand and it reapers. His careless attitude is the reason the ring can not stay with him. The ring is nothing to him; he would probably just leave it by a tree and it would fall into the wrong hands. Tom teaches the hobbits a rhyme to summon him, which they use, when encountering the Barrow-wights, wraith like creatures, who live in burial mounds, creatures who also did not make it into the movies. Most people view Tom as an unnecessary character, who has no place in the story. I like him, because in a book that is very clearly divided between good and evil, Tom represents neutrality. He is unaffected by war, greed and pettiness. Mostly though, he is the embodiment of a nerd fun fact.

Chief Bromden in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey – Chief Bromden or “Chief,” to use the stereotype he is known by in the novel, is perhaps the most lovable, yet shrewdest character in literature. In the novel, he is the narrator telling the story of Randle McMurphy, as opposed to the movie version. Chief pretends to be deaf and mute, keeping his head down, pushing a mop up and down the floors and as a result, he is able to observe everything, while no one is observing him. Throughout the novel, Chief is overlooked and underestimated, even though he has one of the most prominent backgrounds there, because he was a football star, war hero and son of a Chief of the Columbia Indians. Chief gains confidence, by McMurphy’s willingness to challenge the system and take on Nurse Ratched, so he reveals to him that he can actually speak and understand. I love Chief for his shrewdness, viewing the institution for what it really is, a combine. Like Chief, we’ve all entertained the idea at one time or other, of lifting something heavy and tossing it out the window, to make our escape out into the world. Sometimes keeping a low profile is the better option, instead of taking something head on, because one ends up in freedom, the other with a lobotomy.

Sir John Falstaff in King Henry IV, by William Shakespeare – He’s a fat, boisterous, cowardly drunk; those are his main hobbies. He’s also a bad influence on Prince Hal, future king of England. He gets Prince Hal to engage in petty crimes with him in the London underground.  They hang out at the Boars Head Inn, which is the equivalent of a modern day Motel 6. There he drinks, brags and jokes with Prince Hal, making him forsake all of his duties. Falstaff is loud, but he’s also charismatic, with a zest for life, so Hal falls easily under his spell. When Hal later becomes King, he realizes he has to put his old life behind, which includes John. This is the part of the play, where I find Falstaff most endearing, after he is rejected by King Henry V, when he says to him, “I know thee not, old man.” After that, he becomes a melancholy figure, but I mostly remember him as the cowardly knight, who pretends to be dead on the battlefield, so he doesn’t have to fight, because getting killed with a sword sucks.

Sancho Panza in Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes – Sancho is just an everyday guy, who becomes the squire to the delusional Don Quixote. He’s perfectly sane, but delights in the delusions of Don Quixote, like fighting windmills that he thinks are dragons. The fact that he knows Don Quixote is delusional, but loves him anyway, makes him a very endearing figure. His name in Spanish means, “paunch.” (Also my middle name) Sancho rides around on a donkey, but Don Quixote thinks it’s a noble squire’s horse. As a joke, he is made a governor, by a Duke and Duchess they encounter of a fictitious island, the island of Barataria. He is a faithful and loyal sidekick, but only to a point, he’s not going to battle anyone, or take a whipping on the bum, in order to lift a curse from Don Quixote’s love, Dulcinea. His proverbs sound like a string of absurdities to his educated master, such as, “you’re worth as much as you have” and “it’s better to have God’s help than to get up early,” but by the end of the novel, he finds them to be wise and true. All of these qualities make Sancho a terrible squire, but a wonderful companion.

Vladimir & Estragon in Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Beckett –  This is probably the best play I ever read about nothing. In this theater of the absurd, Vladimir & Estragon are hobos, who are waiting on a man with one name, Godot, but they can’t quite remember the time and place they are supposed to meet him. It is not clear exactly who Godot is, given the use of one name and a vague description as to time and place, I like to think Godot is their pot dealer, but the more popular interpretation is that Godot is God. Estragon seems to spend most of his time trying to pull off his boots that are hurting his feet, because they don’t fit properly. Out of the two, Estragon is the bigger doofus and everything has to be constantly explained to him. At one point, Estragon gets so bored, he suggests hanging themselves, but they can’t be bothered with getting a rope or finding a suitable tree and Vladimir is worried about getting an erection, as said in this weird exchange. Vladimir: What do we do now while we are waiting? Estragon: What about hanging ourselves? V: It’d give us an erection. E: Let’s hang ourselves immediately!  Vladimir is more philosophical and Estragon is caught up in the mundane. I love Estragon, because he’s like a pet goldfish with a short memory, swimming around in circles and always shouting, “nothing to be done.” Beckett doesn’t bother giving these characters a backstory or even a physical description and you find them more intriguing because of it.

Ignatius Reilly in A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole –  Ignatius Reilly is the biggest jackass ever produced in literature. He’s sometimes a lovable jackass, but definitely always a hilarious one. Ignatius is a fat, pompous, egotistical, belching, lazy slob with bad hygiene. He lives in New Orleans in a dilapidated house, with his mother and the two have a contentious relationship. “Mother doesn’t cook. She burns.” Ignatius is always complaining about the, “closing of his valve,” and he uses it as an excuse to get out of doing things. He’s delusional, yet idealistic and has a disdain for anything modern. His favorite thing is to go to the movies, mostly to complain about how indecent they are, which is really just a cover-up, for the fact that he fines them titillating. He creates havoc and chaos wherever he goes, which is mostly spurred by his desire to outdo his rival, Myrna Minkoff, a girl he met in college, whom he regularly corresponds with. He has a stint of meaningless jobs, as a file clerk and a hot dog vendor. He’s so extremely narcissistic, that I can almost admire his lack of shame and complete disregard of what other people think. I am never good at thinking up insults on the spot, but Ignatius is always spot on. “Go and dangle your withered parts over the toilet.” He’s appalling and always reads a situation wrong, but just occasionally, his analysis is correct. “You can always tell employees of the government, by the vacancy which occupies the space, where other people have faces.” Words that were never more relevant than they are now.

Binx Bolling in The Moviegoer, by Walker Percy –  Binx Bolling, (great porn name) whose real name is John, is a character that goes to the movies obsessively. He finds more meaning in movies and books than he does in real life. I first read this novel in college and could really identify with Binx, because I had a sort of detached view of the world and no real sense of self. The movie moments seemed more authentic than the real life moments and as a cinephile, I can often relate most things that happen to me, to a scene in a movie. Binx goes on a spiritual journey in order to escape what he calls the, “everydayness.” He gets involved with his first cousin, (this was back before match.com) Kate feels exactly like Binx, that her life is a malaise of meaningless events. At first I felt like he was just going through an identity crisis, but you find out later there is some real suffering there. He was wounded in Korea and possibly suffered from PTSD. His brother died when he was eight years old. What I love most about Binx, is that he’s a self-deprecating daydreamer.

Bartleby in Bartleby, the Scrivener, a short story by Herman Melville –  In case you’re wondering what the hell a ‘Scrivener’ is, it’s basically a scribe or copyist and in Bartleby’s case, he copies legal documents. At first Bartleby is the ideal employee, he does a large volume of work with no complaints, until one day, inexplicably when asked to copy something, he says like a god damn baller, “I would prefer not to.” This made me giggle the first time I heard him say it, because instead of getting fired on the spot, the lawyer simply gives the task to another employee. Bartleby starts doing less and less work, until finally he is just staring at the wall, or out a window all day. One day the lawyer comes to the office on the weekend to find that Bartleby is living there. The astounding part, is that the lawyer is sympathetic and so passive, that rather than fire him, call the police and have him removed, he relocates his own office, leaving Bartleby there with new tenants, who want him out. The new tenants aren’t as sympathetic and the police come to haul him off to prison. I feel like Bartleby is a lost soul, who is depressed and has lost the will to live. He is self-isolated and doesn’t adhere to social norms. I think that already having a gloomy disposition, the repetition of doing the same thing day in and day out, pushed him into a deep depression.  Melville gives very little detail about Bartleby. The other employees just have one word nicknames and he doesn’t even bother giving the name of the lawyer, which makes it seem like they are defined by their jobs, rather than who they are. They don’t have an identity. Bartleby is the quintessential drone, the cog in the machine that can not be differentiated from the other cogs.

Kilgore Trout in Breakfast oChampions, Slaughterhouse-Five, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, Timequake and Jailbird by Kurt Vonnegut – Also, the ghost of Kilgore’s son is the narrator in Galapagos. Trout is a wonderfully weird character, who varies from story to story, but typically he is an unsuccessful science fiction author, whose work is largely published as filler material in pornographic magazines. Usually no one outside the main characters have ever heard of him, yet oddly, he’s always being invited to speak at lectures and attend festivals. He is always there to witness the dramatic events in the lives of others. In some of Vonnegut’s novels, he’s a father figure and mentor and in others, he’s an outright cad. I love Trout, because of his name and because he dismisses the grotesque, distorted, banal and perverted, all with a shoulder shrug. Trout is a dead pan comic, who is chalk full of uninspiring truisms like, “You were sick and now you’re well again and there’s work to do.” In reading these novels, you wonder if Trout is just an inside joke of Vonneguts’, like some kind of Andy Kaufman performance piece. Kilgore is irascible, reclusive, sarcastic and sometimes a sympathetic character. Most of all, Kilgore Trout is Kurt Vonnegut personified; he’s a great storyteller, who makes you laugh, by just raising an eyebrow.

There is nothing funnier than telling Kurt Vonnegut, that you’re going to stop payment on his check.