Beware the Aisles of Merch

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Recently, Best Made Co. in New York, they of the high-end outdoor gear, did a search for the great American hardware store. Our local shrine to tool shops from a bygone era made the cut and the catalog cover. And I am here, friend, to spread the Good News about Kraftco.

Kraftco is one of those labyrinthine stores over which one must develop and demonstrate mastery. Through this process one acquires not only useful tools and fasteners but, more importantly, a sense of accomplishment.

When you are new there, you do not go looking for things. You ask where they are. Then the man behind the counter will nod sagely, say he's pretty sure they've still got 12-gauge Romex with ground in stock, and he will grab a map, a torch, and a crumbling copy of the Necronomicon ex Mortis. Do not allow him to get more than three steps ahead if you value your life or those molly bolts you're looking for.

Last year they caused a local uproar by bringing in computers to handle sales and inventory. People felt betrayed.

My favorite Kraftco story centers around my dear friend Claire, who went shopping there one day and walked up to the counter with a big tub of boric acid and a machete. They really do have everything.

Anyway, the old-timer behind the counter eyeballed her purchases and said "So. Whatchoo gonna do with all this?"

Claire, who is possibly 5'4" in heels and who I would not mess with for love or money, looked our man dead in the eye and said, and I'm quoting here, "There's going to be a reckoning."

He said not another word, just nodded and rang her up, then dutifully followed her to the parking lot to take down her license plate.

Down here we call that full service.

Chewie. We're home.

Today is the 40th birthday of Star Wars. I am not exaggerating when I say that I think this should be a national holiday.

It has become popular to throw rocks at George Lucas. Lord knows I've thrown my share, and if there ever was anything in human history that suffered from founder's syndrome, then the Star Wars saga was it. But to say that Star Wars "captivated a generation" is an insult. Star Wars became part of our consciousness. It created culture. You and I will never do what George Lucas did. We won't come close.

Thank you, George. I can't tell you what Luke and Leia and Han meant to me. They and you are partly responsible for the man I am today.

May the Force be with you.

Did You Grow Up as One of My Neighbors?

Normally I can't abide a tweetstorm, but that policy is conflicting with my "always post Fred Rogers stories" policy.

Mister Rogers always wins.

(If you want the really good stuff, Tom Junod's profile of him from years ago should leave you at least a little bit misty, if you aren't a replicant. It's also exceptional writing.)

Why We Camp

It's an hour past dark and we have a decent fire going. For which we are grateful, because the temperature's probably going to drop around forty. I am shod in a beatdown pair of Merrill slip-ons, which I have propped up on one of the rocks ringing the fire. I am so entranced by the flames that it's awhile before the nerve endings in my feet report that my soles are melting. I jerk my shoes away and some of them stays on the rock.

People with guitars at campfires are irritating. They only know old hits. Playing old hits around a campfire is like farting during a funeral.

It's September two (three? I am losing time) years ago and we are around a fire at Lake Ouachita. I am reading aloud to my children from my Father's Day gift. Its best story begins with a woman killing her stepson, tricking her daughter into thinking she had killed him, then cutting him up into stew meat and serving him to his father. From there the story builds into something lyrical and lovely and hopeful, and ends in happy tears. I feel grateful to read this while the smoke of the fire saturates everything. I note that my children don't so much as flinch at the horror of it.

The smoke. The smoke always gets in the hair on my hands, in the knees of my jeans. This is a dad thing to say, but the smoke smells honest to me, as do gasoline and lawn clippings and puppy breath. These things smell only of what they are, as if odors could be onomatopoeia.

It is two days ago and I am soaked through with rain and sweat. I am sick of the wet and squelch. I and my son have hung hammock tents between the trees and among the chiggers. We are using the reserved campsite tent, which has cots and a concrete floor, only to store gear. I have done this to pretend that I am still young, because thumbing my nose at the coming squall is surely going to make me feel young.

Instead I lose half a night's sleep to worrying about my boy every time the storm wakes me. This does not make me feel young. Is it bad enough yet to grab him and run for the cots? What if he's afraid to say that he's afraid? But we wake not long after dawn, bone dry and cozy. I let him sit in the shelter tent while I break his gear down in the rain as penance.

I have perfected my chigger bite remedy. It involves scratching the bites until they bleed, then swabbing them with alcohol and swearing. After that, clear fluid rises out of them, and I swab and swear some more.

It is over a quarter of a century ago and I am at a Church of Christ retreat. They are too polite to let me know that they think I am hellbound. I slide out of my top bunk in the middle of the night and land headfirst onto the concrete cabin floor. I vomit several times, am rushed to the ER and diagnosed with a concussion. They pray over my head. Two days later, I pull a groin muscle during capture the flag. They pray over my dick. It will be years before I realize how funny this is.

I do not remember the first time I felt wind on my dick. But I remember vividly how it felt.

It is early winter and we have gone on a campout with older scouts. We are a thirty-minute drive from the city, but we have gone down what feels like America's longest gravel road. We have pissed off the deer hunters by filling a prized spot with hollering children. We camp in freezing weather, our pack huddling around a log fire whose heat is reflected and amplified by a shallow cave wall. I keep my feet near the fire but remember my Merrills. I will be awakened several times by sore hips and cold and will go home rejuvenated.

It is sometime in the 1980s. I am sleeping on the front bench seat of a pontoon boat in the middle of Truman Lake. I fall onto the floor as I would do in that churchy cabin years later, but the fall is only hard enough to wake me. I sit up and watch the moonlight go hilltopping on the water. I imagine I am a sailor on my first of many nights at sea. Tomorrow we will get soft-serve at the Estes Drive-In on the way back.

It is 1991 and I am eating runny eggs and burned bacon on the side of a Colorado mountain at five in the morning. I am watching goats chase each other over the rocks. My horse has tried to bite me three times. I realize I will remember this meal on my deathbed and pour more gritty coffee into my mouth.

It is last spring and my daughter and I are hammock camping in the backyard. Dogs are barking. Some asshole neighbor is playing country music from a car stereo. The breeze is steady and it's cooling off. It is her first time solo in a tent and I am worried that she will get tangled up in her sleeping bag. I am worried that she will be cold or afraid. She shows me what she is made of.

Later I ask her if she and I could go on a real one sometime, just us, maybe to Pinnacle Mountain, and she jumps. She jumps.

Not with a bang

A few weeks back, I linked Dave Pell saying that the current president wouldn't take much of a hit if we caught him masturbating on the Constitution while defecating on a Bible. Today proved him right.

In the parallel universe where Hillary Clinton was elected president, we are in week six of impeachment talks and hearings about an email server. In our own dimension, the president shared secrets with a hostile power that he hadn't shared with our own allies, and potentially compromised a valuable intelligence source in the process.

The GOP is defending this on the grounds that it's legal. This is what they do when faced with cheerleading the morally indefensible, because everyone loves a rules lawyer. River caught fire? It was legal. People died because their insurance wouldn't cover them? Global economy tanked by hedge fund managers playing grab-ass? Friend, show me where it says they couldn't do that.

It's a diversion, of course. What he did was a violation of his oath. This was, without question, the line. The line where those principled, moderate conservatives I keep hearing about were supposed to finally show up. The line where even faux-moral dirtbags like Mitch McConnell and Tom Cotton and Jason Chaffetz were supposed to grudgingly tap out.

It didn't happen. And it won't. The party of family values and a strong national defense have proven to care about neither. They sold us out for a power fix and a tax cut. So this is how our credibility and our standing in the world ends.

The history books will record their names. Meantime, we're coming for their jobs.

My annual blessing

If anything red and screamy ever emerged from your vagina, then hey, here's a greeting card.

I can do this all day...

76 years ago, two Jewish men from New York who worked for a major comics publisher decided to create a new hero that would be an advocate for the US entering the war against racism, fascism, and anti-semitism.

They created the Aryan ideal, dressed him up in the stars and stripes, and drew him punching Hitler in the goddamn face. It was not subtle.

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The only good Nazi is a punched Nazi.

That character caught on, and his legacy expanded until his real superpower became that he was the moral center of his storytelling universe. Captain America is essentially an avatar for goodness and protection of the weak. His most recognizable element is a shield.

Then Nick Spencer and Marvel turned him into a Nazi. And, worse, revealed that that entire three-quarters-of-a-century legacy didn't actually happen, not really. Not in the really real Marvel universe.

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Now, and it's hard to find images of this because Marvel's whacking them down as they come up, they're going to validate Nazi Cap by showing him effortlessly lifting Mjolnir, Thor's hammer. Which Thor is currently unworthy to lift because he's going through a bit of a personal crisis. But Nazis are worthy. If they're good Nazis.

Oh. I should probably stress that Thor's hammer is one of many Norse mythological symbols treasured by real-world Nazis. So Nazi Cap is being morally validated by a symbol co-opted by white supremacists. A hammer, no less. They are overjoyed.

Will a reversal happen? Of course. But the damage to Kirby and Simon's legacy is done and cannot be undone. And one gets the feeling that Nick Spencer dumped all over that legacy for no better reasons than to be provocative and mess with his critics. He has the luxury of doing this because he doesn't have any ancestors who were rounded up and put into camps, of course. He's gonna do a great toldjuhso dance, you guys.

Does it matter? Yep. There are Nazis in the White House as we speak. Nazis and robber barons looking to line their own pockets by starving the poor. Literal comic book villains. It matters.

The only thing we can do to this turd taco is point out that the taco is in fact full of turds. Or make fun of it. Which Skottie Young has managed to do, on the cover of an actual Marvel comic book:

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Probably should have put him in charge of Cap.

He returns, battle-hardened and wiser

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He managed to escape the yard today and roam for god knows how long. Then straight up killed a chipmunk and made me chase him down to get the poor li'l dude's body respectfully disposed of.

This fearsome warrior. This noble descendant of the goddamn wolf. This John Wick of dogs.

A jailbreak, a sojourn through the wastes of the Forbidden Zone, and a hot-blooded murder. Now he requires only a baptism in the tears of his enemies. And a snuggle with Monkey.

Popular Children's Literature Porn Parodies

  1. Chicka Chicka Bow Bow
  2. Goodnight Poon
  3. The Tales of Uncle Ream Us (by Hole Handler Bareass)
  4. Perry Hotter and the Whore-ceror's Bone(r)
  5. Harold and the "Purple Crayon", by Which I Mean His Engorged Penis
  6. Make Way for Fucklings
  7. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Lay
  8. Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Butt!
  9. Mr. Penguin's Pooper
  10. Frog and Toad are Friends with Benefits
  11. Pervy Jackin' and the "Oh! Limp Penis?"
  12. The Phantom Tollbooth that People Fuck In
  13. Slippi Dongblocking
  14. Curious, Engorged
  15. Holes

Dubya Dubya Jaye Dee

"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, You can also light him up if you're about to run out of people-killin' drugs."

—Euthanasians 5:38-39

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New strategy when I hear anyone talk about our alleged Christian values is to laugh in that horse-assed motherfucker's face.

With a big old hee-haw, hee-haw and handwavey donkey ear pantomimes like I'm George "Speedbag" Bailey.