Sunday, April 29, 2012

Et Tu, Bully?

My wife wanted to take my 11 year-old daughter to see the documentary Bully.  It's about a kid, or kids, getting picked on by other kids.
     "Over my dead body," I told her.  There was no room for debate in the tone of my voice.
     "But why?" she asked.  She knew I was serious, but she thought that maybe she could change my mind.  "It's supposed to be a good movie."
     "In the first place," I explained, I'm not Michael Corleone, after all.  "In the first place, it's not a movie, it's a documentary, and I'm not in the mood to take a nap.  In the second place, I don't want my little girl to see a documentary about losers."
     I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking I'm being harsh, that I'm a jerk.  Or worse.  But hear me out.  I've seen the trailers for it.  Some poor kid who looks different than the rest of the kids is being picked on, hit, and shunned.  But it's the rest of the world that has to change!
     I'm sorry, but I don't agree to that.  I believe the individual should adapt to the world he's in, and not expect the world to adapt to him.  Why? you ask.  Isn't the world changing to accommodate the individual the politically correct thing to do?
     Well, my friend, let me give you a bit of advice.  When you're in some kid of bullying situation, whether its in pubic school or prison, the general consensus has always been to go up to the biggest, baddest bully in the place... and punch him in the face.  That way, supposedly, you'll gain the respect of the bully and all of his bully friends.
     That's bullshit, man. 
     In the first place, the bully will just shake it off.  In the second place, the bully will then kick your ass.  And then he'll continue to kick your ass.  And then all of his friends will kick your ass.  This is because you've just put yourself in their crosshairs.  Before you punched that bully, they didn't even know you were alive.  Now they know you're alive, and, not only that, you've put yourself on their "to-do" list.  Thirdly, before you punched that bully, one other thing they didn't know was whether they could beat you up or not.  Now they know, dipshit. 
     MY advice would be, in front of the bullies, go up to the smallest, most beat-up-able guy--preferably one who's handicapped--and beat the shit out of HIM!  That way, the bullies will accept you as one of their own, and you can go around terrorizing whatever institution you're in.  Besides the satisfaction you'll get from being feared, being feared is also an easy way to get some extra cash.
     The first rule of being a bully:  Bullies don't pick on other bullies.  Why would they want to work that hard, and maybe, just maybe, lose the fight and their status in the pack?
     Some say bullies are cowards.  That's why they travel in packs, and prey on the weak.  I say, "So what?"  When you find yourself in the middle of a riot...  join the rioters.
     I remember back in 1992, during the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, I was driving behind Reginald Denny.  We were both driving tractor-trailers, on our way to make a delivery.  As the liquor store on the corner of Florence and Normandie was being looted, and white passerbys were taking advantage of their constitutional right to escape a barrage of rocks and bottles, Denny stopped his big rig to avoid running over someone.
     Big mistake.
     "Reggie!" I yelled.  "What are you doing?"
     In horror, I saw my friend being dragged out from his cab, and being beaten nearly to death by a handful of angry black rioters.  The attack unfolded on live TV. 
     One man, Damian Williams, threw a brick against Reginald's skull.  Another man, Henry Keith Watson, added insult to injury by stepping on Reginald's freshly injured head. 
     And what did I do?  I got out of my truck...
     ...and joined the rioters!  I put my hands in the air, and I waved them like I just didn't care.  I ran around and screamed and yelled like an idiot.  I forced my way past the crowd into the liquor store, and retrieved a few bottles of Jack Daniels.  And some Doritos.* 
     Don't judge me.  I was in fear for my life. 
     And that was the day, my friends, I learned a crucial fact about life:  If everyone's a bully, then there are no longer any bullies.
     You're welcome, America.

Fifty Shades of Funny

*Who knew rioting made you so hungry?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

There's Nothing To Do In El Paso

I was graciously putting up with an obnoxious relative who was visiting from out of town.  I'll call her Connie, since that's her name.  Connie was born and raised in El Paso, but left because "there's nothing to do."  To her, the only things worth doing are always somewhere else.
     "Connie," I told her, "did you ever think the problem may not be El Paso.  Maybe you're the prob..."
     "Jim," my wife diplomatically broke in, "why don't you and the kids take the dog out for a walk?"
     So that's what I did.  I took Cody, Connie's 11 year-old son, my 8 year-old daughter, and Buster out for a walk.  The area I live in is still somewhat undeveloped, so we went out into the desert, away from civilization, and let Buster off his leash.  I handed a ball to Cody.
     "Throw it as far as you can," I told him.
     "Okay...  but this is boring."  He's his mom's son, it would seem, but when he threw the ball and saw Buster chase off after it like a missile, his face lit up like he had never seen a dog chase a ball before.  I thought of Connie.  Maybe he hadn't. 
     After he and my daughter threw the ball a few dozen times, they and the dog were too pooped to pop.  We re-leashed Buster, and rested by a nearby tree stump.
     "You know," I told them, "I have a friend who has a big, old tree stump in the middle of his back yard, and do you know what's in that tree stump?  A family of bees live there, and whenever my friend wants honey he just goes out there and gets it."
     "No way," Cody said, his eyes big.
     "Hey," my daughter told Cody, "my daddy's not a liar."
     The kids checked out the tree stump top to bottom, and were disappointed there were no bees there to steal honey from, so instead we picked up some dead branches and had a three-way sword fight.  Then we picked up some smaller branches and pretended we were wizards at Hogwarts.
     Then something down the road caught Cody's attention.
     "That's a reservoir," I told him.  "We can't go inside, but we can go take a look."
     When we got there, I lifted both kids up so they could look through the locked gate into that great big hole in the ground.  I pointed out the three big concrete tunnel openings at the bottom.
     "You see those tunnels?" I asked them.  "They'll take you all the way to China!"
     "No way."
     "Let's do it!" Cody said.  He was ready for adventure.  Or Chinese food.
     "HEY!" my 8 year-old interrupted.  "The sign says 'Danger'."
     So we didn't walk to China that day.  That's what I get for teaching my little girl to read.  Instead we walked home.  As soon as we walked in the front door, Cody ran excitedly to his mother.
     "Mom!" he yelled.  "I thought you said there was nothing to do in El Paso?  We had a blast!"
     Her son made my point better than I ever could.

Fifty Shades of Funny

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Jeffrey Dahmer Show!

Sofia Vergara, the beautiful and sexy--if I'm allowed to express that opinion (These are confusing times we live in, my friend.  You can hire a woman because she's drop-dead gorgeous, but you're not suppose to acknowledge it in any way.  Just ask Ines Sainz.)--actress from the hit TV sitcom Modern Family was recently quoted in USA Weekend, a magazine supplement in the Sunday edition of the El Paso Times, that she thought "times have changed, and it's so great that people have accepted (diversity), and it shows that as a family you have to learn to respect and tolerate each other."
     On the other hand, Dr. Laura Schlessinger--the hideous (my opinion), humorless (my opinion), and probably great in bed--would disagree.  Dr. Laura may be an allegedly evil harridan, but on her soon-to-be-no-more radio program she has often articulated the opinion that it is moral and, indeed, even critical to stand in judgement of your fellow man and wo-man.
     Where do I stand on this issue?  Why, I stand on the side of mucho dinero, my friend.  If it can make me a buck, then it's all right with me.  That's why I love these non-judgemental times we live in.  And that is why I've come up with an idea for a sure-fire hit sitcom, coming soon, I'm sure, to a TV channel near you.  I call it:  That Darn Dahmer!  A family comedy where that lovable goof-ball, Jeffrey Dahmer, keeps eating the guests his other family members bring over.  Hollywood--and Sophia Vergara--will love it.
     Here's a sample of the witty dialogue I've come up with:
     "Jeffrey, do you know my new boyfriend?" his brother might ask.
     "Know him?  I just had him for dinner!"
     Cue the laugh track, and, remember, you're not supposed to judge.
     Another family member might inquire:  "Jeffrey, have you seen Uncle Paul?"
     "Seen him?  I've just had him for dinner!"
     "Oh, Jeffrey...  I told you to MAKE him dinner, not make HIM dinner."
     Cue the Hurricane Katrina of levee-bursting laughter, and, don't forget, if you judge you'll be as allegedly evil as Dr. Laura.
     The single mother next door, who leaves her newborn baby alone while she works nights as a stripper ("It's okay, a little  Jose Cuervo goes a long way."), might come by one morning for a beer.
     "Jeffrey, have you seen my new baby?" she'll innocently ask him, as she's slipping his wallet out of his back pocket.
     "Seen him..."
     Oh, I'm laughing so hard that I can't even finish the line.  (And remember, only allegedly evil people judge.  Like Dr. Laura.)
      Another idea for a sitcom I'm toying with is based on the wacky life of John Wayne Gacey.  The kindly neighbor next door.  A gentle man whose only joy in life is bringing laughter to the hearts of young boys.  Just before he kills them.
     Hollywood will love it!

Fifty Shades of Funny

Friday, April 20, 2012

From The Offices Of...

From:  The Office of Charles Edgren, Editorial Page Editor of the El Paso Times
To:  Robert Moore

     As per your request, I looked into Dear Abby and Hints From Heloise, and I strongly advise against including them in our fine newspaper.  Using my superior investigative reporting abilities, I was able to uncover that "Dear" and "Abby" are not the advise comumnist's first and last name, respectively.  Her name is actually "Abigail Van Buren," and she does not now, nor has she ever existed.  As for Heloise, she died years ago.  I don't know what they're up to, or if they're part of the George Zimmerman/Secret Service Prostitution conspiracy, but I'm determined to find out.  Also, I'm on the verge of a breakthrough on Mr. Clean.  Response?

From:  The Office of Robert Moore, Editor of the El Paso Times
To: Mallard Fillmore

     It's come to my attention that you, sir, are a duck.  That still doesn't excuse you from fabricating a quote and attributing it to President Obama.  For example, in one cartoon you have Obama say:  "Look on the bright side!  Your old car could be worth more now than the day you bought it...  if it has a full tank of gas."  Henceforth, because of these obvious untruths, we shall no longer be featuring your cartoon strip.  What do you mean you'll sue?  Well, Mister Duck, not only are you on probation, but you're on double-secret probation.

From:  The Office of Joe Muench, Editorial Page Writer for the El Paso Times
To:  Walt Disney

     Can you please explain to me why all the animals in your cartoon universe can talk?  All animals, that is, except for Mickey Mouse's dog, Pluto?  Even Goofy, who I can only guess is a dog, can talk.  I expect a quick reply, Mr. Disney.  Being dead is no excuse.

From:  Robert Moore
To:  Celia Rivenbark

     What is up with your last name?  Did you mean to spell "Riverbark," which would make more sense, as there is no such thing as a "riven"?  In which case, I would remind you that rivers do not bark, as a dog does, nor does a river have bark, as a tree does.  Or perhaps you meant Ravenbark, which again would make more sense, but again I would feel obligated to point out that, like rivers, ravens do not bark.  I'm not even sure if they tweet. 
     Please get back to me on this immediately, and explain the above paragraph to me.  (F.Y.I.  You continue to mispell your first name.  It should be Cecilia, not Celia.  Is the economy so bad that you can't afford an extra "c" and "i"?)

From:  Charles Edgren
To:  Mike Doonesbury

     You keep quoting various political figures, up to and including President Obama, but, try as I might, I cannot confirm any of these quotes, and, believe me, I've tried.  I've even used Google.  It's as if you've made them up for your own humorous purposes to make a greater point.  In the future, I will need you to send me the sources of your quotes, as well as any cheesecake photos of your hot Asian wife.

From:  Robert Moore
To:  Pittle

     Per your request, I did look at the comic page of our newspaper, and you are correct; there are several instances of animals talking.  Besides being against the laws of God and nature, it is also untrue.  We shall investigate immediately.

From:  Joe Muench
To:  Edmund Morris

It's come to our attention here at the El Paso Times that you inserted yourself as a fictional character in your biography of President Ronald Reagan (Dutch:  A Memoir of Ronald Reagan).  Care to comment?  What do you mean you it was published in 1999?  Nevermind.

From:  Charles Edgren
To:  Forest Gump

     I find it hard to believe that one man could be the focal point in so many pivotal moments in history.  We've got our eye on you, Mr. Gump.

From:  The Office of Ramon Renteria, Reporter for the El Paso Times
To:  Forest Gump

     Can you send me Bubba's recipe for gilled shrimp & chicken, por favor?  I'm having a barbacoa this weekend.  Gracias.

From:  Joe Muench
To:  Vince McMann, Head Hookah of the WWE, Inc.

     C'mon, be honest.  Wrestling's fake, right?  You can trust me.

From:  Ramon Renteria
To:  Celia Rivenbark

     I used your cooking recommendation in your column we printed in Wednesday's El Paso Times, 4-4-12.  It was your column on "pink slime," and you said:  "I like to take a fresh chicken and soak it in a bucket of clorox right before I cook it, don't you?" 
     You ruined my barbacoa.  I'll see you in court!

From:  The Office of Jim Duchene, Humor Columnist
To:  Constant Reader

     The above is a work of satirical fiction, and is meant for entertainment purposes only.  It should not be taken seriously by anyone for any reason at any time.

Fifty Shades of Funny

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Daddy's Girl

My fifteen year-old daughter, Marie, just recently became a cheerleader in the high school she attends, and, while I am truly proud, I must say I have some problems with how I--as her overly protective father--might react at one of her games.
     "What are YOU looking at?" I might say at the very first football game I go to with her cheering her team on.  "Keep your eyes on the game, buddy, and off the cheerleaders."
     "But how can I sell these hot dogs, sir, if my eyes are on the game?"
     "Don't get smart with me. buddy!  I'll hit you so hard your unborn children will cry!"
     "That's right, everybody keeps their eyes on the field and nobody gets hurt.  The game's where the action's at.  Hey, you!  Yeah, you!  Think dressing in black makes you look cool?  Think I won't notice you eyeballing the cheerleaders?  If I have to come down to where you're at you're going to be in a world of pain, mister!  A WORLD of pain!  Got it?"
     "Mr. Duchene, don't you remember me?  I'm Father Sarducci, the pastor of your church."
     "I don't care  if you're the yellow M&M guy from my candy dish!  If I catch you looking at my little girl one more time I'm gonna ex-communicate you with my foot!"
     "Marie!  Put on that mumu I gave you!"
     "Da-aad!  You're embarrassing me."
     "Just put on that mumu, and...  Hey, you!  Don't act like you can't see me."
     "But I can't see you, sir.  I'm blind."
     "If you're so blind, then what are you doing at a football game?  Yeah, I thought so.  Eyes on the field, everybody.  Eyes on the field.  Marie, I don't see you in that mumu!"
     "Da-aad!  You're embarrassing me."
     "I said PUT IT ON!"
     "Uh, Mr. Duchene..."
     "What do you want?"
     "Um, you're creating a bit of a disturbance here.  I have to ask you to leave."
     "Are you looking at the cheerleaders?"
     "I said, are YOU looking at the cheerleaders?"
     "No, sir.  I'm looking at you.  You have to leave."
     "Me?  Leave?  What did I do?"
     "You've only threatened to beat up everyone here at the game.  Up to, and including, my father."
     "That dirty old man?  He deserved it, the way he was ogling the cheerleading squad."
     "Mr. Duchene, my father is NINETY-EIGHT years old!"
     "So what?  He's still a man."
     "Mr. Duchene, don't make me forcibly kick you out."
     "Oh, yeah?  You and what army?"
     Someone taps me on the shoulder.  I look around and dang if there isn't an army there to forcibly kick me out.
     "Well, Mr. Duchene...  are you going to leave without further incident?"
     I leave, and everybody is finally able to enjoy the game.  And then:

Fifty Shades of Funny

Friday, April 13, 2012

"Is There A Problem, Officer?"

Driving in El Paso stinks.
     I was driving behind a car with New Mexican plates when I saw the flashing lights behind me.  The driver from New Mexico was going ten miles under the speed limit--as they are legally required to do in their home state--and, as a result, so was I.  I pulled over, and the cop pulled in right behind me.  He got out of his cruiser and walked over to where I sat.
     "Is there a problem, officer?" I asked, and the world went so black David Chase could have ended The Sopranos with it.
     I stumbled into consciousness who knows how much time later.  I gingerly put a hand on the side of my neck where I had been tazered.  Looking around, I recognized where I was, even though I had never been here before.  It was The Star Chamber.  A dark, almost barren room where humor column writers were brought to be judged for their truthful fabrications.  Art Buchwald once told me about it on New Year's day back in 2007.  Before the month was out he was dead.  You do the math.
     A few years later, I asked Dave Barry's mentor, Gene Weingarten, about it.
     "Let's just say," he said, being purposely vague, "that the Illuminati can only wish they were The Star Chamber.  That, and for some nice take-out."
     The following week, his column was no longer published in the El Paso Times.  They dropped him like he was Jennifer Anniston after telling her boyfriend du jour "I love you."
     I was bound to a wooden chair in the middle of the room.  A lone light bulb hanging above my head.  Swaying slightly from side to side.  Throwing shadows here and there.  To and fro.  Back and forth.  Simon and Garfunkle.
     The harsh light illuminated a rectangle-shaped table at the far side of the room.  It may have been oak.  Or maybe not.  It was eight feet wide and three feet deep.  There were five chairs on the side of the table furthest from me.  In the chairs were five men.  I recognized them.  Especially the one in the middle.
     "Is there a problem, officer?"
     "So...  you recognize me."  It was a statement, not a question.
     "I recognize all of you," I said, simply.
     At that, they took off their disguises.  Thick, black eyeglass frames with a fake, bulbous nose, and a bushy mustache underneath it.
     Robert Moore, editor of the El Paso Times, was sitting on the far right of the table, my left.  Next to him was editorial page editor, Charles Edgren.  On Edgren's lap sat his dog, Mikey.  His small size didn't fool me.  I knew that dog had a black belt in karate.  The faux police officer sat in the middle.  Next to him was editorial page writer, Joe Muench.  A man reputed to be a mafia hit man and Navy SEAL.  And, finally, Ramon Renteria.  I feared him most of all.  Mainly, because I know he judges me for not speaking Spanish.
     "You are Jim Duchene, is that right?" Charles Edgren asked me.
     "That would depend on what the meaning of the word 'is' is."
     "Don't be so flippant, Mr. Duchene," Robert Moore cut in.  "Treat this as if your life depends on it.  Because it does."
     "Is it true," Renteria interrupted, "you wanted to steal my You-Might-Be-An-El-Paso-Hispanic idea for your blog?"
     "It's a humor blog, and, yes, I wanted to use your idea, but I didn't , because you never gave me permission.  Even though in silencio, consentum est."
     "Is it true that you're so fast you can run around the block and kick your own ass?"  That was from Robert Moore.  Enquiring minds wanted to know.
     "I write a humor blog.  I wouldn't take anything I write in it too seriously."
     Joe Muench leaned forward.  "Is it true you once had a staring contest with the sun, and the sun blinked?"
     "No, that's obviously a fabrication.  And I didn't invent blood, either."
     "Ah ha, I knew it!"
     Charles Edgren gently put Mikey on the floor.  The happy little dog scurried away enthusiastically.
     "He's late for his piano lesson," Mr. Edgren joked.  At least I think he was joking.  With him it's hard to tell, and I've been wrong before.  "Now, Jim," he smiled his cat-caught-the-canary smile.  He oozed freindliness.  "You really don't expect us to believe you can impregnate a woman simply by winking at her, do you?  That flies in the face of everything we know to be true.  Einstein theorized that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.  Can you explain to us how you're able to flip your bedroom light switch and be in bed before the light goes out?"
     "I'm tellin you, it's not true.  None of it." I was beginning to panic.  "I write a humor blog.  None of what I write is true.  I'm not a black, Jewish, gay man from Compton who's been married five times and whose life was saved in Viet Nam by President Obama in the 60's."
     "What kind of beer do you drink?" Renteria suddenly changed the subject.
     "What?" I said.  The question had caught me off-guard, and my brain took a few seconds to shift from first gear into reverse.
     "Did I stutter,  flaco?  What kind of cerveza do you drink?"
     "I don't drink."
     Renteria stood up suddenly, and spat on the floor in disgust.  "Get it over with, Pittle," he told the man in the middle.
     Pittle!  So it was Pittle all along.  He had never forgiven me for making up a humorous quote in a humor column I wrote and attributing it to him.  That, and not sharing my Chico's Tacos with him in high school.  He was hungry.  But so was I.
     He pushed his chair back, got up, and walked over to me.  A cruel, pitiless look on his face.  In his right hand was a syringe.  A large syringe.  A very large syringe.  In fact, it was the largest syringe I had ever seen before in my life.  And the liquid it contained was a diseased, yellowish color.
     "Who's laughing now, funny man?" he hissed, and placed the sharp point of the needle against my neck.
     Just then, the door burst open, wood splinters flew everywhere.  A team of SWAT officers swarmed in, guns raised.  I was saved.  Pittle stood there.  Syringe in hand. Frozen.
     "Is there a problem, officers?" he asked.

Fifty Shades of Funny


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter At The White House

It was an honor to be invited to the White House's annual Easter egg hunt.  Once there, my kids immediately began running and jumping across the beautiful lawn.  We were ready for a good time.
     I walked over to grab something to drink and ran into my old friend, Barack Obama.  The man who once saved my life in 'Nam.
     "Mr. President," I said, respectfully.
     "Jim," the President greeted me warmly, "I'm glad you made it.  Can I get you something?  Bartender, water.  For both of us."
     "Yes, sir," Vice-President Biden said.
     Water?  That was it?  I couldn't believe it.  Disbelief became shock when I saw the bartender fill our glasses from the water hose.
     President Obama could see the surprise on my face.
     "Blame the economy," he explained.  "Everybody's cutting back."
     I could smell something delicious in the air, so all was forgiven.  I didn't know what they were grilling, but I sure wanted some.  That is, until I saw what it was.
     "Baloney?"  I complained to the President.  "You're serving baloney?"
     "Blame George Bush.  He left us with nothing but debts and deficits.  I'm trying hard to turn things around, especially with my re-election coming up, but no matter how much money I spend I just can't seem to get our fiscal house in order."
     Fortunately, it was time for the egg hunt.  The kids all lined up excitedly at the starting line.  After they were frisked by moonlighting TSA agents--a little too enthusiastically in my opinion--the President was ready to begin the countdown.
     However, his wife elbowed him out of the way.
     "I'll do it," Michelle told him.
     I looked around.  I could see that some of the eggs would be more easily found than others.  Aw, who am I kidding?  They were all out in the open!  I was told later that this was because the White House wanted an even playing field.  They didn't want one child to have an unfair advantage over another by virtue of their ability or intellect.
     "Look, dad!  I found an egg!" my daughter yelled, excitedy.  She opened it.  "Hey, it's empty!"
     "Of course it is," Obama explained.  "They're all empty.  Blame the Tea Party.  Gosh forbid we should spend any of the taxpayer's hard-earned money filling Easter eggs with candy."
     By this time I was growing pretty discouraged with the whole affair.  I looked over to where the children should have been able to take their pictures with a real, live Easter Bunny, only there was no Easter Bunny.  Only a cardboard cutout of Secretary of State Hilary Clinton with some bunny ears taped to her head.  Not one child wanted to go near it.  They had to be bribed or coerced.  Just like Congress.
     The celebration, if you could call it that, finally started to wind down.  Obama shook hands with each and every one of us as we left.
     "Vote early and often," he joked.  "It's the Chicago way."
     The First Lady had a big smile on her face as she handed out Easter baskets to the departing kiddies.
     They were empty, too.
     "Sorry," Obama apologized.  "Blame the Republicans.  After the last budget deal, I barely have enough money left for Michelle's next vacation."

Fifty Shades of Funny

My Walk of Shame

I hadn't expected a call from Robert Moore, editor of the El Paso Times and Inter-Continental Champion of last year's WWE's SummerSlam, but it was good to hear from my old comrade-in-arms.  We first worked together in the late 60's for the Washington Post under the psuedonyms Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward.  Not only was Moore a good investigative reporter, but he sure was catnip to the ladies.  I also knew his brother, Dinty, who went on to make a fortune in canned foods.  Like I said, it was good hearing from Robert, that is, until I found out why he was calling.
     "Jim," he said, his voice urgent, "you've got to apologize."
     "Apologize for what?"  He was starting to sound like my wife.  I continued clipping my nose hair.
     "That humor column of yours that we printed.  As it turned out, people thought you were serious."
     I was honestly surprised.  "Who would believe that?"
     "The same people who believe in Bigfoot."
     "I'm sorry, Bobby," I told him, addressing him more casually than I'm sure he would have liked.  "I stand by my fake story.  I'm not apologizing to anybody."
     "You have to," he insisted.  "It's Mr. Pittle.  You never should have attributed that faux quote to him."
     "Like I said, I'm not apologizing to anybody."
     "He's suing you for ten million seven hundred fifty thousand dollars and 37 cents."
     "You didn't let me finish.  I'm not apologizing to anybody...  EXCEPT Mr. Pittle.  A kind, generous, forgiving individual.  Does he need his shoes shined, too?"
     We hung up.  I needed to call in the big guns.  So I called Attorney Gloria Allred.  Unfortunately, since I had a legitimate grievance, she refused to take my case.  Next on my list was Johnny Cochran, the lawyer who invented the famous Distract-The-Jury-With-A-Dancing-Monkey defense.
     "Sorry, Jim, but I can't help you," he told me.  "I'm dead."
     I finally went to see local legal powerhouse Theresa Caballero.
     "My eyes are up here," I told her.
     The consensus was...  I had to apologize.
     So I made my way to the El Paso Times the following morning in Downtown El Paso.  I eventually found a parking space about three miles from where I needed to be, but it was free.  As I walked to, and then into, the Times building, I got the same sense of excitement I got when I brought down the Nixon administration single-handedly.  "Bob Woodward" was on vacation that week.  Things hadn't changed a bit.
     I walked up to the receptionist.  She had a glock in one hand, and was pushing the silent alarm button with the other.  I guess things had changed, after all.
     "Can I help you?"  she asked, pleasantly.
     "I'm Jim Duchene.  I believe Mr. Moore's expecting me."
     She smiled.  "Why, yes, he is.  Just go right through that door."  She pointed to my left, her right.
     I smiled, and nodded my thanks.  I walked through the door the receptionist had pointed at...  and found myself back outside.
     "What the..?"  I thought, and made my way back to the front entrance.  It was now locked.  There was a hand-printed sign hanging inside the glass door.  It was still swaying slightly from side to side.  "Closed For Repairs," it said.
     "Can I help you?"  The voice came from behind me.  I turned.  It was Editorial Page Editor Charles Edgren, known for his dry wit and blunt, to-the-point emails that could be mistaken for dry wit.  There was a cute little dog by his feet.
     "Does your dog bite?"  I asked him, bending down to dog level.
     "No," he answered.
     I reached out to pat the cute little dog on its cute little head...  AND IT BIT ME!
     "I thought you said your dog didn't bite!"
     "That," Mr. Edgren said, a sly hint of a smile on his face, "is not my dog."
     My hand was bleeding.  I had to get to the hospital.  Thank God there was one only a two-hour walk away.  I began walking.  As I passed the employee parking lot across the street I saw a head duck behind a car.
     "Mr. Muench, is that you?"  I called out.
     "No hablo ingles," came the reply.
     "C'mon, Mr. Muench, I know that's you."
     The Editorial Page Writer stood up from his hiding place.
     "Oh, hi, Jim," he said.  "I didn't know it was you.  Who's that behind you?"
     I looked, but there was no one there.  I looked back, and Mr. Muench was gone.  All I could see was a tiny figure running in the distance.  Man, that guy's fast.  I guess you had to be when you worked in a part of town that had bullets flying from across the border.
     "Hey, flaco, do you need a ride?"
     I looked to see who was showing me this act of kindness.  I really needed it.  It was Times reporter Ramon Renteria.  The man comedian George Lopez goes to for material.
     "Don't you know who I am?"  I asked him.  "I seem to be persona non gordita around here."
     "Como que no?  That's my job, vato.  So...  do you want a ride or not?"
     I looked at my hand.  "How 'bout a beer?"

Fifty Shades of Funny

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Barabbas: The Other Easter Story

Everybody knows the story of Jesus Christ, and how Pontius Pilate, the praefectus of Judaea, gave his Jewish subjects the choice between freeing Him or His fellow death-row inmate, Barabbas, in a prevailing Passover custom that allowed Pilate to commute the death sentence of one prisoner.  The praefectus did this by popular acclaim, and, as a result, the Jews chose Barabbas.  But what people don't know is why the Jews chose Barabbas over Jesus. 
     One theory, which most Bible scholars dismiss, is that since Barabbas' first name was also Jesus, Pontius Pilate got confused over whose name the Jews were calling out.
     "My Jewish subjects, I give you Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus Barabbas.  Whom shall I free?" Pilate yelled at the crowd, and, looking down, noticed his hands were dirty.  "Man," he thought to himself, "first chance I get, I've got to wash my hands."
     "Jesus!"  the crowd called back.  "We want Jesus to go free!" 
     "Um...  which Jesus do you mean?"
     "The one we want to go free."
     "Yes, but they're both named Jesus.  Which one are you talking about?"
     "The one with the beard."
     "But they both have beards.  In fact, you all have beards.  Even the women.  Let me ask it another way:  Whom shall I crucify?"
     "Jesus!  Crucify Jesus!"
     "Yes, but which Jesus?  Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Barabbas?"
     "The one with the beard!  Let his blood be upon us and upon our children, but not upon our children's children, because we do not believe children should be having sex!"
     I always found it amazing how these Biblical crowds were able to all yell the same thing word for word.  While this story may be true, I tend to side with the biblical scholars who think it isn't.  And it has nothing to do with the money they paid me.
     What I think happened was that the Jews chose Barabbas because he was such a great guy.  Sure, he was a rapist, a thief, and a murderer, but he was also a lot of fun to be around.  Jesus Christ may have been the Son of God and all that, but He was always telling you what to do.  If you dropped a piece of parchment on the ground He would say, "Hey, pick that up.  Were you born in a barn?  Verily."  The irony that He, Himself, was born in a barn was lost on Jesus.  He was just too serious for His own good.
     Barabbas, on the other hand, was the guy you wanted to invite if you wanted your party to be a success.  He always brought the best wine.  Jesus may have once changed water into wine at a wedding, but His mother had to make Him do it. 
     "Jesus," His mother sweetly hinted, "this wedding blows.  They've run out of wine."
     "And what's it to Me?'" Jesus answered back, somewhat rudely.  Jesus also had the annoying habit of capitilizing all words referencing Himself.
     Barabbas, on the other hand, was the kind of guy who always bought drinks for the house.  He may have bought those drinks with gold picked from the pockets of the people sitting next to him, but, as long as he had a dollar in his pocket, you'd have a drink in front of you. 
     And if someone needed wine for a wedding, Barabbas wouldn't complain.  He was always more than happy to steal wine from the Roman guardhouse down the street.  When the Roman guards would eventually show up and kill everybody, Barabbas would already be long gone.  Off raping the bride somewhere.  Barabbas was never one to overstay his welcome.  I'm sure the bride, on some level, appreciated that.
     Barabbas would also protect the nerdy Jewish kids who were into the biblical equivalent of Star Wars.  "Don't worry," he'd tell them.  "If anybody messes with you, they're messing with me.  Now give me all your money." 
     And then he would rape them.
     If you needed to borrow Barabbas' chariot, he'd lend it to you.  You wouldn't even need a Roman driver's license.  If you were arrested later for riding around in a stolen chariot, hey, that was your problem.  Just make sure that, when you got out of the Roman jail, Barabbas had a chariot for the one you lost.
     If you were underage, and caught him outside of a liquor store, Barabbas would happily buy you a six-pack of Coors or a bottle of Boone's Farm.  "Just stay away from the hard stuff, kids," he'd warn.  "And drugs."
     Barabbas always told the best jokes, and was always the life of the party.  Jesus, on the other hand, was a bit of a wet mop.  Jesus liked to stand around and tell people what they were doing wrong.  "Hey," He'd say, "you're not supposed to re-dip the chip after you've already taken a bite out of it.  Verily." 
     Jesus wasn't interested in what anybody else had to say, mainly because, as the Son of God, He already knew what someone was going to say before they said it.  All He wanted was for Him to talk, and for you to listen.
     "Listen up," He'd say, "I'm telling you this for your own good.  Verily."
     No matter how wild the party, it would die the moment Jesus showed up.  Barabbas would be playing the piano and coaxing everybody into singing a bawdy song, while Jesus would wonder out loud, "Why isn't some girl washing My feet and drying them with her hair?"
     If you were at a bar, and had too much to drink, Barabbas would make sure you made it home safe and sound.  You're pockets might be empty of any gold they may have cointained, and every orifice on your body violated, but you made it home, didn't you?  Quit complaining. 
     And the next morning, while you were suffering from a hangover, what would Barabbas do?  Why, he'd bring you some chicken soup paid for with the gold he stole from you the night before.  If a person was sick or not feeling well, Barabbas would always come to visit to see how they were doing, and, as gesture of good will, he'd politely rape them before he'd leave.  It was his way of telling them, "Get better, little buddy."
     So, you see, the crowd of Jews who called for Barabbas' freedom, instead of the the freedom of the Son of God, had their reasons.  You may disagree with them, you may disagree with their reasoning, but you'd have to agree that your disagreement would be disagreeably disagreeable.
     After all, no one else tried to comfort Peter, one of Jesus' twelve apostles, after he denied Christ three times.  No one tried to comfort Judas, when he finally realized he had kissed a man the night before.
     "I'll never be able to join the Roman Army," he cried.
     "Here," Barabbas told him, "have some rope." 
     No one tried to comfort Mary Magdalene after the crucifiction.  No, really.  I'm telling you.  No one did.
     No one, that is, except Barabbas.

Fifty Shades of Funny