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Category Archives: Future Tom Blog Force

Future Tom Blog Force: Stupid Rising

Spang and I were wearing cowboy hats for some reason, getting some sweet, Eastwood-caliber lighting going on our profiles, so we made sure to use really serious, scratchy voices when we talked to each other, because we’d already agreed to be fictional today.  And we were floating on an iceberg in the Arctic Ocean, our ostriches tethered next to us, and yes, they were wearing hats, too.

Spang smacked his lips and shivered and said, “Why so fictional?  This is kind of distracting and my toes hurt.”

“Aliens,” I told him, and then we squinted at the sunset for a solid forty seconds, nodding.  It had been exactly three and a half days since either of us had shaved.

Spang finally said, “I’m not following you.  I was talking about conservatives, and how after eight years of staunchly insisting that war protesters were unpatriotic for speaking out against the President, they’re suddenly perfectly fine with talking about Barack Obama like he’s a hunchbacked busboy in a Victorian Era nut house, and throwing garbage at him, too.”

“They’re pretty comfortable with that,” I agreed.  “How about when that one guy stood up and screamed ‘You lie!’  Can you imagine if a liberal Congressman did that to Bush circa 2002?  Now go ahead and imagine a black liberal Congressman.”

“Pandemonium, that’s what it would be,” Spang said.  “I mean, the whole thing begs the question:  What exactly is Barack Obama allowed to do that doesn’t suck?  I mean, can he go to the bathroom?  Eat a cheeseburger?  Have sex with his wife?  Pet his dog?  What?”

Absolutely true – it was all over Facebook. “The guy fills out a bracket and shoots a round of golf, and instantly every Johnny Conservative on Facebook is wondering why with all the trouble in the world, the President has time for anything except constant, solid, 24-hour Presidenting.”

“And then God forbid the guy should actually fly to Japan,” Spang pointed out.  “First thing you’ll hear is, how much did it cost for Obama to go to Japan?  Is Obama wasting your tax dollars in Japan?  Did he bow too low?”

“And not just that,” I said.  “All over Facebook it would then say, hey, why’s he helping Japan when we have plenty of problems over here?”

“Where’s our bailout!?”

“It’s disrespectful, plain and simple.  So blatantly disrespectful that it’s hard to let it slide.” 

Spang shook his head and said, “But damn it, you know – I’m trying to just ignore it, because it’s so unbelievably, irrationally, nauseatingly stupid I hate to justify it with a response.  And also, I’m afraid to find out if these people I know and hang out with sometimes – are they actually the rock stupid idiots they appear to be when they talk like that?  Or do they know that what they’re saying is bullshit, but they say it anyway just to carpet bomb Facebook with Obama negativity?”

“Like a digital cropduster,” I mused.  “Spreading stupid on purpose, instead of just standing around with your finger up your nose, being that way.  Which would be worse?”

We watched a few neon pink and blue dolphins honk at us as they leapt past us in the emerald waves.  It was pretty fictional down this way, that was for sure.  I said it again:  “Aliens.”

“Yeah, why don’t you go ahead and finish that thought.”

“You ever read Majestic by Whitley Strieber?”

And that gave Spang a good laugh.  He arched his eyebrow at me and said, “No, I’m quite sure I haven’t read any Whitley Strieber books, Tom.  That’s where the gray aliens and the anal probes came from, right?”

“That’s right.  But listen, the book opens up…”

“You want a buy a crystal or some beads, Tommy C.?”

“No.  No, I sure don’t.  Listen, this is important.  The novel – and that’s what it is, a novel, in the fiction section – ”

“Like us,” Spang said proudly, patting his ostrich on the head.

“Yes, like us.  The narrator is talking to someone he knows, a publisher I think, and he’s saying that he’s worried about putting his book out because it contains all this super top-secret U.S. Government alien conspiracy stuff, and he’s worried that he’ll get killed.”

“Naturally.”

“Yes, naturally.  So the guy says to him, hey, just write it as fiction.  That way if they kill you, then they legitimize the fiction.  They’ll be the opposite of motivated to kill you.  And if they leave you alone, then they can continue denying everything and point out that your book is in the fiction section.”

“So he tells you in the first chapter of his fictional novel that he’s only calling it fiction so he won’t get killed.”

“Right.  So you can choose to believe he’s telling the truth.  But you can’t argue with him, because he’s writing fiction.  This is from 2002 by the way.”

“Ah ha.  And that’s the problem with these asinine attacks on the President – the reaction is all that they need.  It’s very clear that both historically and recently, the President is entitled to personal time, every single day.  There’s always something going on that’s important, but still – he gets vacation days whether he’s a white conservative or a black Democrat.  And again, when Michael Moore was criticizing Bush for playing golf and hanging out on his ranch so much post-9/11, this same exact crowd was calling Michael Moore a terrorist for it.”

“How dare he speak out against the President in a time of war!”

“Right.  Now we’re in the middle of two wars, and they’re feeling free to knock his books out of his hands whenever they get the chance.  I’ll be real honest with you – it makes me think it was a mistake to retire the dreaded N-word.  At least in the seventies, the racists were easy to spot.”

“And I think that’s your point.  Any response to these absolutely submoronic insinuations only causes a discussion about them.  An argument.  And just having the argument with them legitimizes the topic.”

Both the ostriches started nodding, because yes, that was my point all right, and they were pretty smart ostriches.  I told him, “That’s why I thought we should meet fictionally.  Because then we can express to anyone attacking the President for innocuous bullshit, that to rational adults, they sound like simpering, adolescent imbeciles, and that we would no sooner argue with them about it than we would argue with a Holocaust denier.”

Spang nodded at me and hopped up onto his ostrich.  “And then if they show up to argue about it -”

“Then we just point out that we’re riding flying arctic ostriches over an ocean we’ve never seen, and if they want to argue with us while we do that, well we certainly won’t have legitimized anything will we?”

“The Reverse Bangkok Bullshit Switcharoo.  Why meet absurdity with anything else?”

And so Spang and I rode off into the frigid sunset, the words “You Are Poisoning The Earth With Your Stupidity,” coming out of our ostriches butts in rainbow letters, and it was up to anyone watching us to determine if the words were meant for them. 

Oh yes and then one of the ostriches farted and it sounded like either me or Spang saying, “Screw you if you don’t think the President of the United States should get to fill out a bracket, we both know you filled one out at work, on the company dime.  Racist.”

But it wasn’t really either one of us saying that, it was just an ostrich farting.  So don’t worry about it.

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Earlier:  Rein In Your Idiots, Please

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And:  Future Tom Blog Force: Crisis On The Internet

 

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Why Melissa Should Let Me Use Her Van Today

As the Emergency Broadcast System has hopefully already alerted you, my washing machine died yesterday, and no it was not a drill.  It’s an actual emergency, that’s why the signal you just heard was followed by specific instructions, etc.

Since I’m a square-jawed American who plays by his own rules, I sprang right into action once a replacement set of equipment was located – I went to Facebook and said, who’s got a truck for old Tommy C.?

And guess who showed up?  Mrs. Steve Spangler Herself.

That’s right – it seems like it was just last week she was chasing me off her front porch with a rolling pin when I brought Spang home two days later than the hour and a half or so we’d indicated earlier.  She was going all Andy Capp’s Wife on us – “You two goodfernothings!  You spent my butter and egg money!”

Thank God I had my pogo stick – she could have killed me.

Anyway, she pipes up like she’s forgotten all about the dozen and a half blowgun darts her Amish Furniture Store employees shot into my butt cheeks while I was pogo sticking away.  You should have seen the look on the pilot’s face when I came up over the hill.

Yes, and I do apologize, but for copyright reasons I had to digitally remove the pogo stick.

She says to me – get this – she says I have a moving van, but you asked for a truck.  So long, sucker!

And I said you stay right here I’m going to go blog the hell out of this and then you’ll be powerless.  Behold,  SIX reasons why Spang’s Wife Melissa should help me pick up my washer and dryer:

1.  Because if you send me and Spang we’ll just end up in a bar.  A serious matter calls for some Wife Chaperoning, and I know that Mrs. Spangler-Gilmore-Picard wouldn’t set foot in a bar.  She has her reputation to think of, thank you very much.  So, that’s the best reason:  You can’t watch your van and your husband all day long unless he’s sitting in the van.  And if you don’t help me out, I’ll come get one and then the other, and pretty soon the mystic cycle begins again.

2.  Because I Am A Celebrity.  Like Marge Simpson’s high school boyfriend, and I am SO RESPECTED, that if I don’t get my washer and dryer today, it would damage the town.  

3.  Because You’re A Girl And Girls Don’t Know Anything About Moving.  Moving heavy objects is Man’s Work – you wouldn’t understand.  I’m frankly surprised that the van salesman let you drive a real moving van off the lot – what did you put it in Spang’s name or something?

In any case, Moving Van decisions are best left to the Men who understand them.  That’s why you’re thinking, no, I’m drunk and I don’t feel like helping old Tommy C move stuff – it’s cause you don’t know what you’re talking about, you poor thing.

Just don’t worry your pretty little head about it, missie.  I’ll do the deciding for you.  All you need to do is clear off your afternoon and maybe get some gloves and a two-wheeler, and also your husband – I have a bad back and don’t really care for physical labor.  I find it crass and boorish.

4.  Your Mother-In-Law would dig it.  Very true, you must consider that.  Your stock would go through the ROOF.  I happen to have it on good authority that you’ve already been booted out of the will – this could be your ticket back in.  Don’t do it for me, Melissa – do it for yourself.

5.  I am Amish.  So, it’s kind of like we’re in the same gang.  If any fools ever step to you, I will without hesitation whip out my jammy and flat blast them, in keeping with Amish Customs As I Understand Them.  That goes for degrading ice cream cone attacks, too.  As you know, the Amish Murder Code is very clear – I’m willing to put some suckers on ice for disrespecting you, so it’s considered obligatory at that point that if you have a van you drive me around in it.  And Massey’s Pizza – the Amish are very specific about that, you’re supposed to bring a Massey’s Pizza with you since it’s right there down the road from you. 

Let’s flip a coin to see who’s buying.  I’m going to say tails.

It’s tails!  YES!  In your face, Melissa.  See you in half an hour.  No pineapple, for crying out loud.

6.  I’m Handicapped, You Monster.  I’m sure you think my physical disability is reeeeaaaallll funny, but I can assure you, anosmia is no laughing matter.  It’s in fact one reason why I should never be without a washing machine.  As a matter of fact, in fairness to me and my nap schedule, what you ought to do is just bring me your washer and dryer (I voted for Obama and he said I could have it) and then I’ll give you directions to where the other ones are, which you can then just pick up, take to the next place, swap out for another set, take that set home, and hook them up. 

Easy Peasy.  Zip Zam Zoom.  I’m going to get my shoes on and then start texting you every six minutes until you’re here.

Oh, I need some detergent, too, and some dryer sheets and a gallon of your second least expensive tequila.  Hurry up, too, I don’t have all day.

There.  Now that ought to do it.

 
 

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Future Tom Blog Force: The Riddle Of The Whiny Students

It was a pretty big deal, and it had happened in the blogosphere – that was why they’d called us.  Spang and I were tough-as-nails blog detectives, heartless and uncaring in our relentless pursuit of the truth.  We didn’t care who we had to hurt as long as we cracked the case, and no one understood us but our women.  And they were all like, whatever, dorks.

So when Pennsylvania teacher Natalie Munroe was suspended from her position for her blog posts about “whiny” students, we started drinking whiskey and shooting pool right away.  Then we took cabs, went to our respective homes and woke up our wives at one-thirty in the morning by noisily making hand-cut French Fries in our kitchens. We hadn’t even called each other or mentioned French Fries at all the whole night – isn’t that crazy?

I caught fire to my kitchen, but Steve’s kitchen was fine, and 66% of my daughters are Red Cross Certified Babysitters, so I guess they must have put it out.  Then we forgot about it for a day although we did exchange unrelated texts.  Then I’m afraid we hit the bottle again, and woke up the following afternoon on a boxcar to Philly with that Golden Voice guy, except he wasn’t singing anything because Spang had broken his jaw with a length of two-by-four, in one of those Kirk Vs. Picard arguments. 

And so anyway, we figured, hell, while we’re here, why don’t we look into that Class Three Blog Crime we read about?

And it turned out we didn’t need to go to Pennsylvania to do that.  Some of the story is at this link – Teacher Natalie Munroe Defends Blog Comments About ‘Whiny’ Students and if you’d prefer not to have CNN give you the gist of it, you can go to Natalie Monroe herself at Bloggate Day 1: The Scandal Begins.

For our part, we got into a high stakes card game and ended up eleven hundred dollars in the hole, and Spang almost lost a toe and there was a trip to the Western Union and a lot of people yelling over telephones, and then finally we got back to our investigation.  Using the Internet, which is really where most Blog Detective Work takes place anyway.

Spang said, “I like how she got fired for blogging and the first thing she did is go home and blog about it.”

“Absolutely,” I agreed.  “And her blog is called Where Are We Going And Why Are We In This Handbasket.  I’m pretty much ready to call this one in her favor right now.”

I looked at the camera.  “Hey you stupid parents of whiny kids – don’t read her blog if you don’t like her blog.  And furthermore, please reflect on the irony of whining about your kids being called ‘whiny.’  Gee, I wonder if they’re really whiny and where on Earth they might have picked up that trait?”

But Steve cleared his throat and moved around a little in his hammock.  I forgot to tell you he has a hammock set up in our office, and he likes to get up in there wearing one of those fuzzy zip-up one piece pajama things that you usually see on toddlers.

Hey I don’t tell you how to work so don’t get all over Spang for whatever he needs to do to get in his groove.  In this case, I knew he was right.  He said, “That would not be a very thorough analysis, though, Tom.”

Sigh.  “All right.  I guess we can walk through it.  What exactly are we arguing about here?  Did she mention these kids by name or what?”

Spang consulted his laptop and said, “No.  She did not.  She doesn’t even call herself by her name, just by the not-very-clever Natalie M.”

“Yeah, that’s not very anonymous.  But it’s not like it’s called Ms. Munroe’s Dipshit Student Round-Up or anything.”

“Before she made the national news, you had to go looking for her and then surmise that she was who you were thinking of, and then she also didn’t say anyone’s name.  So it wasn’t like she was saying, ‘Tom’s daughter is whiny.'”

“Well, right.  But the thing is, every single one of my daughters is whiny, sometimes.  You might even say, depending on what part of their lives we’re talking about, that they are whiny often or frequently.”

“If you say so,” Spang said.  “That is certainly right in line with my limited experiences with children.  I know that when I was a child, and I wanted something I didn’t have, I would frequently try whining about it.”

“You stick with what works.”

“The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”

“Right.”

I had my feet up on my desk, eating a turkey leg in my bathrobe, while Spang creaked back and forth above me, popping Pez in his mouth from a Mr. T Pez dispenser.  We chewed and looked at the ceiling and thought and chewed some more.

Finally I said, “Are these parents suggesting that their children are never whiny?  Or is it that teachers are supposed to pretend like they’re not whiny, on their blogs?”

“I’m sure I have no idea.”

“Hold on a second.  Computer!”

Everything was quiet for a few seconds and then Spang said, “We’ve never had a computer like that, TC.  One named Computer, that you could talk to.  I don’t know why you keep doing that and it’s freaking me out a little bit.”

So I had to use my mouse to click back to the article and see if CNN bothered telling me what the specific problem was with saying something so obviously true on your blog.  “Holy shit, it doesn’t tell us what’s wrong with it.  It just says that she said a lot of her students were lazy and whiny and out of control-”

Spang squinted, considering the words.  “All of those terms seem like they would very likely fit the average high school student.  That seems like a good description of me or you as a teenager.  That seems true of a lot of modern teenagers I’ve met in my – again, somewhat limited – experiences with them.”

“-and then we’re left to simply assume that teachers are not allowed to say such things on their blogs.”

“That would be troubling,” Spang said.  “If being a teacher meant that you forfeited your freedom of speech and self-expression.”

“Troubling indeed.  Why would we want to limit the minds of the people forming our young minds?”

“I mean, if she was calling them that in class, or by name, that’d be one thing.  And I guess you could argue that since she was identifiable – I mean, obviously, right? – she might have actually been talking to some specific students.  She took the relevant posts down-”

“And I don’t blame her,” I said.

“-but that being the case, we can’t really read them and find out if she was being petulant on her blog.  You know like how you can be a petulant little bitch with your blog, Tommy C?”

“Yes, I know.”

“Like when sometimes you sound like a thirteen year-old girl who didn’t make the cheerleading squad, you know what I mean?”

“I do.  Thank you.”

“I mean I know you got a lot of girls over there but do you even wear boy’s underwear anymore or what?  Half the time you sound like Jan Brady when Marsha’s getting too much attention.”

“All right, Spang.  Let’s move on.”

“Well, I think it’s possible that she could have been pulling a Tommy C. on her post, and that’s what drew attention to her blog.”

“See, I just – I’m going to need you to quit calling it that.”

“I’ll bet she got that Blogtastic God Complex you get, where you just sort of drag a soap box right out into the middle of the Internet and start ranting like a preacher at the park.”

“Yes, that’s possible.  But we can’t assume that.  All we can go by is what she says now.”

So we went on back and read her most recent post, in which she says no she wasn’t doing that, but again, of course she’d say that.   “Well, someone must have figured out who she was talking about, or we wouldn’t be reading about it in the news.”

“Let’s assume she did,” I said.  “That’s the safest thing to do.  Let’s assume she got a little too specific in that last post – that’d be the worst case scenario, right”

“Well I think a name would be-”

“But if she’d said a name, they’d be saying SHE SAID A NAME!  They’re not.  So at worst, she implied it, which means she isn’t a very experienced blogger, but I’m not sure it means she’s a bad teacher, and I’m not sure it means she needs fired.”

Spang snapped at me and pointed and kept doing that until I saw the Pez on the desk and tossed him a new clip.  He said, “You show me a high school teacher who doesn’t think a good chunk of high school students are lazy, rude, or whatever else she said, and I’ll show you a high school teacher who’s abusing some kind of prescription medication.”

“That’s what I’m saying.  Why can’t she vent?  Anyone else want to spend a freaking week in her shoes and then watch your mouth every day when you get off work?”

“Well, anyway, it does appear that she detailed some stuff about ‘canned comments’ on report cards, which maybe she shouldn’t have gone into,” Spang said.

“That’s correct.  She’s talking I imagine about how tedious it is to come up with comments, and how they are encouraged to use the general ones that you find all the time.  The same ones you remember from when you were a kid.”

Spang snapped his fingers.  “Ah. Like ‘works well with others.’ or ‘a pleasure to have in class.'”

“Yes.  Apparently it outraged parents to hear that these were canned comments, and not personal messages for their own special snowflakes.”

“I am losing patience with parents and their special little snowflakes.  You guys all know, nobody’s going to teach school at all if the rule is you have t 24/7 shut your word hole and pretend everybody’s kid is special little snowflake.”

“Agreed.  And you know what else, writing is – blogging is – separate from life.  For example, have you ever noticed how much I appear to be hammered on my blog?  But I think it’s obvious that as a father of three, that’s all an act.  It’s tongue-in-cheek.”

“You think that’s obvious, do you?”

“I think we’ve arrived at the bottom of this case, Spang.  It’s like this – did she call your specific kid whiny?”

“If not don’t worry about it.”

“Right.  And if she implied your kid was whiny, then axe yourself – Is my kid whiny?  Ever?”

“And if you’re saying no, then blast your head against the wall as hard as you can, because you’re a filthy liar.”

“Correct.  And if you’re saying yes, then again – don’t worry about it, except to the extent that your whiny kid reflects poorly on you.  Get to work butching your kid up a little bit, so he or she doesn’t start getting regular beatings.  Also – is this woman a good teacher?”

“That does seem to be a relevant question, and not surprisingly, it does not appear to be addressed in CNN’s crappy tabloid paint job.  You know, I’m starting to hate those guys?”

“Yes.  I know.  I am, too, Spang.  The fact is that if they had a single shred of evidence that Natalie Munroe was a bad teacher, off of her blog that is, and in the actual classroom, then it would be on the front page of CNN with that one loud-mouthed hairdresser girl who always sounds like she’s in a bar stool next to you at Rooster’s circa 1am, bitching at the television -”

“Nancy Grace.”

“-Nancy Grace, yes. Nancy Grace would be plastering a Natalie Munroe parking ticket on the screen right now if she could squeeze one out of her.  And if there’s no evidence that Munroe’s a bad teacher, I mean not a single shred-”

“Then maybe leave her the hell alone.  We’re short on teachers, yes, especially good ones?”

“Yes,” I tell him firmly, and it’s true.  “And you know what else?  Remember that teacher in Ohio who burned a freaking cross into a kid’s arm and got fired for it?  Well, he sued them and won – got $800,000.  So I have to imagine Natalie will do the same, and so is that going to be a big victory, Parents of Whiny Kids?  You’re going to pay her for not teaching the next twenty years?”

“So then everybody just stay off her blog if you don’t like her blog.  I’m pretty sure she’s going to extra super watch herself from now on.”

“Another case cracked, Spang.  That was a tough one.”

“Not really, TC.  A lot of your fellow parents are simply morons with staggering entitlement issues and delusional attitudes about their whiny-ass kids.  I wonder if these parents realize for even a second how fortunate they are to have been born in a country where they have teachers at all, even if they are the kind who accurately diagnose whininess sometimes.”

“Aw, that’s mean.  You’re mean, Spang.”

“But I’m allowed to be.”

“Thank God,” I tell him.  “That’s what freedom of speech is all about, right?”

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Earlier:  Future Tom Blog Force: Crisis On The Internet

And:  Onward, Christian Science Teacher

 

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