The Last Word

Issue #467

August 2013

The price is wrong

My recent toy sorting escapade is still yielding hilarity. My memory has come alive to recall the travails of the home version of The Price Is Right. Decades ago, the popular game show put out a board game that bore little resemblance to the show. For us, the price wasn’t right: When I was about 9 years old, my mom buyed this game at a yard sale—I think it only cost a nickel—but I don’t think we ever played it. I remember sorting through the pieces as a youngster and thinking the game wasn’t very impressive. The parts were mostly just numbers in the Electric Company font on little pieces of paper. There were no loser horns, no contestants with a tube top that flew open, and no stoners bidding $420 on every item. Maybe a couple years later, I hauled the game out of mothballs for some reason. It rested on the blue carpet in the den, while I daily slogged through piles of homework and jammed to WCLU as it blared from the boom box propped against the bookshelf. One day—as the Price Is Right game leered at us from the floor—the predictable happened. A silent-butdeadly bunker blast wafted through the den. It was a trouser sneeze. A loominsky. A pooteroony. A backdoor breeze. Somebody passed the gas! Then the even more predictable happened. Cries of accusation sprang up throughout the room. Who ate too much beans? Who needs to inspect their drawers? A family member pointed a finger at me. Always blame the youngest, right? (The dogs were younger, but they must not have been in the room.) Scientists believe the average person releases 14 bunker blasts per day, study says. I bet some mighty important people do it. Monarchs, presidents, judges, bishops, and baronesses probably all do it hourly. But the idea of it actually stinking is another matter. It wasn’t me who generated this hovering stinker. And the logistics of the situation prevented me from assigning blame to any other motile organism. So I did what any other normal, wise, industrious, intelligent person in this situation would do. As I eyed the cardboard Price Is Right box, I noticed it featured a drawing of a contestant celebrating her winnings. She was standing in front of a famous pricing game along with a host who looked nothing like Bob Barker, Dennis James, or anybody else who regularly hosted The Price Is Right in that era. The woman sported a goofy grin. The drawing looked something like this...

It didn’t look much like that, of course. I’m sure the copyright on the original hasn’t expired yet. But you get the idea. So—when I was confronted about the invisible cloud of flatulence that filled the den—I pointed at the woman on the Price Is Right box. “It wasn’t me,” I said. “It was her.” After all, there had to be some reason she was smiling. It couldn’t have been because she just won a new car, a grandfather clock, and a box of Stove Top. Nope, it was because she let loose with a silent salute that had been fermenting in her intestines for many an hour. After I blamed the Price Is Right box for the silent-but-deadly, I still fell victim to logistics—especially after I burst out laughing at my own sophisticated sense of humor. Logistics often were a problem. By logistics, I don’t necessarily mean the possibility of another person choppin’ the cheese. It can also mean the reaction that ensues upon denying responsibility. Where I come from, flatulence is governed by a complicated code. The code is so detailed that I could almost write a whole book on it. There are certain ways you’re supposed to react when someone rips a biffer. And there’s also supposed to be due process: No conviction without proof. Unfortunately, that safeguard was too often ignored by those who had no respect for the code. Come on down!

Blame AdSense
“Blame AdSense...Blame AdSense...It seems that everything’s gone wrong since AdSense came along...” —to the tune of “Blame Canada” from South Park After Google’s AdSense not only cheated me out of an untold amount of blog revenues but also placed me on a blacklist, guess who pays for their assholism? U! That’s who! There’s been a minor mutiny among Last Word fans over the fact that I now sell my work instead of giving it away for free. Their insurrection is wholly justifiable— though I am not to blame. But there’s plenty of blame to go around. The most immediate debtor is AdSense. As the proprietor of The Online Lunchpail—my durable leftist blog—I placed ads on the blog using AdSense, which helped put goodies on the table for me. The quality of commentary on

the ‘Pail was—and still is—much higher than that of the right-wing noise machine that pays most of its talking heads millions a year even though there’s no market justification for it. So it’s only fair that I raked in some real dough in those days. Then BadSense yanked my account and refused to gimme the reason. Their pretext was that my blog “poses a risk of generating invalid activity.” But that’s not a reason, because they didn’t say how. I wasn’t clicking my own ads, and it couldn’t have been that anyway—because AdSense is engineered to make this impossible. The real reason they pulled my account was because of my political views. Period. Full stop. This was obvious almost right away—because I couldn’t find a single conservative blog that had its AdSense account disabled. Then Google—which owns AdSense—refused to pay me the ad revenues it still owed me. This despite the fact that the contract I had signed earlier made it crystal clear that even if your account is pulled, you still get the money you’ve already earned. Not paying me also violates labor laws and the Constitution’s ban on involuntary servitude. Furthermore, I don’t even know how much money AdSense stole, because I wasn’t allowed to access my account. I also couldn’t get a new account, because once you’re banned from AdSense, you’re banned for life. Why would I even want a new account? So they could steal from me again? Sometime later, I signed up with a different ad server. This worked for awhile, until these clowns set up a blank “zone” in my account without telling me, and then when it failed to get any traffic (because I didn’t know it existed), they used that as an excuse to deactivate the ads on my blog. When I informed them that my blog ads were improperly deactivated, they played dumb and acted as if it wasn’t so. They kept playing that babyish game until I realized what they were up to. This epiphany came when I repeatedly asked them to close my account so I could collect my revenues, and the e-mails kept bouncing. So that was more money stolen. Then I signed up for yet another ad server. They refused to activate my account at all. When I signed up for a fourth server, they refused to send me the ad code for it. By that point, it was obvious AdSense had placed me on a blacklist because of my political views. There’s simply no other explanation for being banned from 4 different ad services. While there’s probably a denial cult that insists I wasn’t blackballed, people who think know better. One of the surest ways to be blacklisted from most activities that might lead to your advancement is to be a leftist. If I wasn’t blacklisted by the online advertising industry, I could finance The Last Word with online ads. Then you wouldn’t have to pay to read my keen insights. But why should I even have to do that, considering The Last Word was free and had no ads for 20 years? The phenomenon of politically motivated blacklisting only underscores how much blame there is to go around. Why don’t you try finding a job in northern Kentucky when you have neither a college degree nor a Republican Party membership card? If I wasn’t also blackballed by a cabal of local employers because of my political views, I could afford to give this zine away for free. I started The Last Word in 1993, when I worked at the library and had a career in broadcasting lined up. Congress dashed my broadcasting future by passing the NAMBLA-backed 1996 Telecommunications Act—which killed jobs via media consolidation. I originally intended The Last Word to be free, because I didn’t expect a bunch of spoiled, unhinged fucks to legislate me out of my

job and be cheered by The Media for it. (Recently someone on a website said radio “went down the toilets” in 1996.) A host of circumstances leads me to sell this zine instead of handing it out for free—and I had absolutely no role in creating any of these circumstances. I will be employed gainfully in some way or another until I am either dead, elderly, or no longer able—because work and demanding fair compensation for it are part of my very nature. I agree that you shouldn’t be the one paying—but what choice do I have? I don’t do anything for the purpose of getting rich. I do what I do to stay alive and live in harmony with nature. If I cared about getting rich, I wouldn’t continue to live in a county that lacks a functioning economy. I’ve always wanted to use The Last Word as a force for good, not a cash cow. Most zines are not free. The Last Word should be free. But I refuse to accept blame for the fact that I can’t provide it for free. But feel free to insurrect against the idea of having to pay for this zine. Even that beats those on the right who blame me for my own history of poverty and attack me because I supposedly haven’t learned how to make it under capitalism. To hear them tell it, capitalism is infallible, and if we fail, it’s our fault. On the other hand, I still publish the ‘Pail for free. If anything urgent comes up, this is where I’ll post it... http://onlinelunchpail.blogspot.com Meanwhile, I’ve joined the National Writers Union in case any scammers like AdSense try to stiff me again. One drawback of the new Last Word format is the difficulty of people accessing it without a bank account. Then again, it appears that any household will be able to get a debit card through the new Occupy Money Cooperative—as long as that project doesn’t go the way of Occupy’s main Facebook page. This is just the latest story that shows how when somebody—in this case, AdSense—fucks up, everybody else pays the price.

Microapartments costing macro money
When the press covers a new trend in a positive light, you know there has to be a catch. Somewhere down the line, America’s corporate overlords must be Making Money off our backs. Again. Microapartments are tiny apartments—often as small as 150 square feet—that have been a mainstay in major foreign cities and are now making their way to America. They’re often marketed to individuals in urban areas who live alone. Could you live in such a small space? If you’re like me, you can probably adapt. If microapartments were cheap, they might be a real innovation. But they’re not. They cost much more to live in than a regular apartment did just a few years ago. In San Francisco, one developer rents out microapartments for $1,600 a month. Who pays anywhere close to that for even an average-sized apartment? Good gravy, I know hardly anyone who even makes $1,600 a month! A developer in New York plans to charge over $2,000 a month for microapartments. But one news site says of microapartments, “The key selling point is affordability.” That’s a laugh and a half. It truly is mind-numbing that any news outlet would say that with a straight face. Another piece says most microapartment tenants have an annual income of below $35,000. So the rise of microapartments truly is a form of price-gouging. People who can least afford it are paying more and more to receive less and less. The microapartment biz is jacking up housing costs and trying to tell people it’s a bargain. I guess they think people will believe anything. What’s especially mind-boggling is how right-wingers who hate the poor are now trying to stop microapartments in their neighborhoods because they think

they’re cheap enough to attract people who make less money than them. Indeed, land was once free. Look at what land costs now after centuries of unchecked land runs, corporate monopolies, and other abuse. As far as I’m concerned, developers can build microapartments to their little hearts’ desires—as long as they don’t overcharge to use them. Just don’t expect me to pretend like it’s a bargain to pay $2,000 a month for an apartment that’s the size of a walk-in closet.

Wowww-ee!
As our decades-long study of stinkage continues, it’s important to get to the heart of why nature created stink. Stinking teaches us to avoid danger. When objects stink, it means keep your distance. The aroma might be indicative of toxic chemicals or other poisons. A significant percentage of common items that people handle daily stink. Why some folks continue to deal with these items so much is a mystery to me. My estimate of these individuals’ life expectancy is not optimistic. For a while in my youth, I even developed a stink test. Upon acquiring a new possession, I often took a whiff of it and made a mental note of the odor that it produced. This practice took me into some interesting areas and led to some wild speculation about what these items were made of. Was my toy race car made of grass? Was my calculator made of feces? There was a whole category of bad odors that had loomed large for many a year. It had different subspecies that would crop up from time to time. It’s like how farts sometimes smell of rotten eggs, sometimes of natural gas, and sometimes of plain old fartiness—but either way, it’s still a fart. The source of the indescribable smell that I’m talking about could occasionally be pinpointed, but at other times it was a mystery. Smelling a fart actually would have been preferable (and funnier). When I was a youngster, this funk would sometimes fill the kitchen while I was eating lunch. My folks must have known about it, but I guess I wasn’t supposed to say anything. The stench was powerful. I remember declaring, “Wowww-ee! Something stinks in here!” The “wowww-ee!” was inspired by the “yee-haw!” popularized by The Dukes Of Hazzard and by Billy Joel’s yelp at the end of his song “It’s Still Rock & Roll To Me.” I kept looking under the table to try to locate the source of the smell. And my mom got mad! She scolded, “Tim, eat your food and stop complaining.” Also in that era, I detected a variant of this reprehensible scent in the waiting room of an eye doctor’s office. I don’t have the foggiest clue where it was coming from. I kept grumbling about it for many reasons— not the least of which was because there were places I’d rather be on a rare sunny day. It seemed so unfair. The sky was clear, the air outside was crisp, and I was holed up at an eye doctor appointment breathing who-knowswhat. I’m smelling it now—for the first time in years! Once in high school, the classroom was plagued by a gag-inducing chemical stink. The doings of yours truly were drawn to a standstill. Other subordinates to the school’s totalitarian order surely endured the same effects. But some schoolmates appeared oblivious to the insufferable bouquet. Perhaps they lacked the biological sophistication to process it. They were mere machines in a world of advanced organisms. And don’t even get me started on the variety of revolting odors that have plagued fast food restaurants lately. Can stink be avoided 100% of the time? Of course not. But companies that produce everyday items have got a lot to learn about this phenomenon. The goal shouldn’t be reducing stink but the toxins that create it. Wowww-ee!

The displeasure principal
One saving grace about shaking you down to read this zine instead of giving it away for free like I used to is that now I have freedom. Freedom to edify you with the tribulations of the many offensive characters I’ve met in life without having to worry too much that they’ll read it. Do you really think people who despise everything I stand for are going to put money in my pocket?

Oh, I’ve exposed several school administrators over the years, even when this zine was free. They deserved it. And everything I said about them was true. But now I’ve noticed that another has spent his retirement proving to the world what a ghastly and judgmental man he is. This bloke is well-known in the Campbell County Schools and he was my principal briefly. I’ll never forget the time he bawled me out in his office, whisked his “board of education” out from next to his desk, and threatened to paddle me back to the Stone Age if I ever got sent to his office again. Eventually I brainwashed myself into thinking that maybe—just maybe—I actually deserved to be yelled at. (Threatening corporal punishment though was a little extreme.) And maybe—just maybe—the principal was a respectable guy deep down. Yes, we all know the Campbell County Schools are a wholly owned subsidiary of the Heritage Foundation, and I suffered a campaign of personal destruction carried out largely by another administrator at the same school. But sometimes you have to give people the benefit of a doubt. I’ve known for years that my former principal was involved in local Republican politics, but that wasn’t a surprise, considering the school system’s leanings. But in recent months I’ve finally learned that my former principal is a sick, sick man. I happened to stumble upon his Facebook page. It would be uproarious—if it wasn’t for the fact that he was granted responsibility for educating thousands of Campbell County’s young people. He may look like Bob Taft, but his statements make him sound like Evan Mecham. His Facebook page was filled almost entirely with embarrassing right-wing vitriol that would have seemed downright unpublishable outside the 104th Congress. At least he’s smart enough that now he’s limited access to his Facebook timeline to just members of his friends list—but not until after I saw it. I bet he would lose a lot of respect from former students if they saw what he posts. It’s that bad. All he does is rant and rave about the big, mean, “liberal” world he doesn’t understand. I think it’s safe to say there’s at least 2 demographic groups he doesn’t like: Muslims and the poor. For a while he was touting a movie that blamed Muslims for America’s slave trade. Later I noticed he was spreading the tired old Facebook meme promoting warrantless drug testing of welfare recipients. This gimmick was pumped up by the Tea Party and the Republican National Committee on Facebook several years ago, but—as with the deceptive FairTax—Occupy pretty much knocked the wind out of its sails. I don’t remember the Campbell County Schools having many Muslims, but it certainly had lots of poor people. What does it say about the school system when it hires a principal who has such a negative attitude towards so many students? What does the public think about a school that hires a principal who openly spews invective against people because of their religion or economic class? It doesn’t do his reputation any favors that he’s a member of a certain Facebook group titled “Republicans of our GREAT Commonwealth of Kentucky”—which is full of racist propaganda and birther garbage. My former principal is ridiculous. If he’d instead visited Kmart, microwaved all the light bulbs, and smeared Krazy Glue on his glasses in view of dozens of shoppers, this story would be no more ridiculous. (And I’m sure he’ll do that too!) This ranks right up there with that principal in Texas who kept calling students “communists” or that police chief in Pennsylvania who made the videos where he threatens to start a civil war. It gets crazier. Can you believe this guy is now on the board of TANK, our local bus system? Why should somebody who spreads so much prejudice even be on a publicly appointed board? Not like it’s that surprising, because local officials keep appointing Tea Party members to various public boards just for the asking—even while the Tea Party attacks those who appointed them as “liberals.” Hate to have to tell it like it is, but this is the way it wafts. Show me one damn thing in this article that’s a lie. You can’t. When you see a professional educator behaving this way, it’s no wonder nobody trusts our education system.

Scribblings about the Scribble Pad
The Scribble Pad plot thickens! I was utterly tickled to rescue a Scribble Pad during my recent toy sort, decades after I thought it had been consigned to the refuse pile. There’s a story behind this pad of letter-sized paper. Back in 2001, The Last Word featured an article that contrasted the Scribble Pad with oaptag—a type of thick, expensive paper that got ruined in 5th grade when some classmates drew pictures of He-Man, Mr. T, and G.I. Joe all over it. This story described oaptag as “the Rolls Royce of paper.” The Scribble Pad though was cheaper stuff. We each got a Scribble Pad in kindergarten or 1st grade, and when we did, I vented my boredom with the education system by “wasting” my Scribble Pad by writing a number smack-dab in the middle of each sheet using an indelible pen. A few years later, my mom matter-of-factly told me that she had thrown my Scribble Pad in the garbage. She said something like, “I threw out that Scribble Pad. It didn’t have anything except a number on each page.” My heart sank. For 30 years, I lived in despair. Until recently when I unearthed what appeared to be that very Scribble Pad. Then I discovered that I may have simply misremembered it wrong (as a certain right-wing politician would say). The pad does indeed have a number on most pages. But it’s in the corner of the page, and it’s in pencil. Looking more closely, it appears that it’s not even my handwriting. Were there actually 2 Scribble Pads? Was one ruined more spectacularly than the other and ended up being thrown away while only this one survives? I fear yes. I can just picture what you’re saying right now: “I spend 99 copper cartwheels a month on this guy’s zine, and all he does is go on and on about his stupid Scribble Pad.” I know your day is divided into tight 15-minute blocks and you don’t have time to read about Scribble Pads all day anyway. But here’s some food for thought. The first number in a counting sequence is 1. The number that comes after 1 is 2. Then comes 3. Then there’s 4, which Sesame Street usually draws differently than in the standard Sesame Street font that the Weston Art Gallery seems to use. After that is 5. Then 6. And then 7. Personally I have nothing against 7, but I always get hung up on dividing numbers by 7. But somewhere along the line is 150. The Scribble Pad purports to possess 150 sheets. I just distilled 150 pages of numbers into a single paragraph! You should be glad! If only I can find my drawing of the Wolley— an anatomically correct yellow monster that I dreamed up—then we’re all set.

Grover bastes
Grover bastes. Indeed he does. He beats his meat. He yanks his FlightSim yoke. He pulls out his fiddle and rosins up his bow. I am of course referring to Grover the lovable Sesame Street Muppet. And he’s the subject of one of several funny TV clips I’ve found on YouTube for you to examine. Back in 2010, The Online Lunchpail discussed a Sesame Street segment in which Grover appeared to be masturbating. This was so important that it had to be mentioned on a political blog at the height of a midterm election campaign... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_K5PHakJwz0 Pay attention to the Grovemeister one minute into that clip. Yep, that’s right! He’s polishin’ the ol’ trophy! “Boing boing boing boing boing...Hahahahaha.” I guess it’s a good thing he ordered too many underpants! What’s really entertaining is when a commercial hits the airwaves that’s hilarious without intending to be. I’ve stumbled upon an ad for Denny’s restaurants dated 1981 in which the voiceover guy sounds just like Toucan Sam! I remember seeing these ads back when I was about 8 years old and thinking the same thing...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whNgHZzS8Yk For all we know, the announcer in that commersh might actually be the same guy who did Toucan Sam! But you’d think the Denny’s people would be wise enough not to have the voice of the animated Froot Loops bird do their ads, because it distracts from the message. You keep waiting for the guy to sing, “Follow your nose!” And now it’s time for you to be scared. Boo! It’s another 1981 commercial, and this one is for Centrum vitamins. I don’t remember seeing this ad, but I know I heard it blaring in from the living room when my mom was watching her soap operas. It uses one of the creepiest music beds I’ve ever heard in a commersh. When I heard it in my childhood, I found it so unnerving that I asked myself, “What in the hell is going on out there?” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XK19-eK1I4Y Particularly frightening is the music’s abrupt ending—which is evocative of a person dancing around, slipping on an icy sidewalk, and freezing in place as they fall down. But on a less scary note, that ad liberally uses the Sesame Street font! After all, Grover does baste.

2 years, 8 mishes
During the Occupy era—since Constitution Day 2011—I’ve been on 8 overnight road trips. That doesn’t count Occupy the Super Bowl in Indianapolis—where I got in a brawl with some right-wing thug who punched me in the face during our march—as that trip was all within a calendar day. I call these 8 trips fact-finding missions. That’s what members of Congress call it whenever they go on vacation. The difference is that they do it on the taxpayers’ dime. I don’t. My jaunts generally have nothing to do with Occupy though. My first such trip after September 2011 was my journey to the Big Bend region of Texas. The mischief rating on this mish was notched up a little when we stuck a sign that said “RUINED” on a broken ice machine at a San Angelo motel. Plus, the crudeness of the campsite at Big Bend necessitated pouring grease from our meals down the sink at the campsite restroom— which clogged it hilariously. Also, at a hotel in Laredo, a phone book landed in the toilet. We also witnessed a teenage girl being kicked out of a Houston restaurant because she kept pestering customers by selling flowers. My next mish was to Charleston, South Carolina. On the way down, I noticed Occupy Charlotte had erected some of their signs in rural North Carolina. And we had a great time loudly cussing out a gas pump in Myrtle Beach because it lacked pay-at-thepump. The following summer was my trip to Springfield, Missouri. I call this the Super Bubble trip, because I spotted a truck hauling this brand of bubble gum. Not long after that was my trip to the Badlands of South Dakota. The mischief rating was ratcheted up on this outing when I shoved a Mountain Dew can

coated with soda residue under the bed at a North Dakota hotel because they charged us more than the price they gave us when we booked our stay. It’ll draw ants. And, at the Badlands campsite, I was kept awake late by other travelers talking loudly and passing gas. That was the same night we ate dinner at a restaurant that was absolutely filthy! A couple stormed out of the eatery without paying for their meal when they discovered the cream for their coffee was spoiled. The roll of toilet paper in the restroom there had a telltale stain indicating it had been dunked in the toilet and left to dry. Then came the uneventful Tallahassee mish, and then my trip to Washington, D.C. The D.C. mish is the one during which a deodorant lid famously fell in the commode. It happened at a motel in Richmond, Virginia. When we walked down by the White House, I noticed several people gathered on the roof. Could one of them have been...President Obama?!?!?! After that was my meeting with road enthusiasts in the Huntington, West Virginia, area. The meet drew about 25 peeps, and we formed a motorcade that was harried out of the town of Ironton, Ohio, when a passing motorist called the fuzz on us. Also, somebody ripped a silent-but-deadly bunker blast as we were walking up a staircase over an old tunnel. More recently, my brother invited me to help him out on a storm-chasing mish in Kansas and Oklahoma. I picked up a business reply postcard at a Love’s gas station. After I got home, I wrote “We are the 99%” on it and mailed it to Love’s corporate headquarters. Of course, the start of the Occupy era closely followed a glut of mishes. That includes my camping trip to Nebraska. At a restaurant in Sargent, Nebraska, some kid spilled an entire Coke on the floor. At the campsite, much of our garbage had to be thrown in the toilet, as there was no trash can. A hotel room in Leon, Iowa, was infested with tarantulas. That itself came a few months after my trip to Montgomery, Alabama, where the motel was quite an experience in its own right. Hair from an electric razor got dumped down inside the heater. Guests kept loudly arguing with each other right outside my door when I was trying to get to sleep. I almost stepped in a puddle of vomit while walking to the lobby. Best all, while I was getting ready to leave, I noticed a small morsel of brown matter on the floor. Could it be? Might it be? Must it be? Should it be? You guessed it. It was. There was a piece of poo-poo on the floor of our hotel room! Before some villager out there who makes more money than me groans that they never get to go on mishes, I bet they could if they really tried. My recent fact-finding tours cost me next to nil: Even when you’re not on a road trip, you have to eat, and if you’re going on a trip with a family member who was going anyway, lodging doesn’t cost any extra. Plus, how much does it cost to camp in a national park? Probably the biggest expense for me on any of these mishes was about $60 for a bus ticket on the Huntington trip. See, you too can be an underemployed scavenger with 9 toes in the grave and still see the whole country.

Are you listening, Work-for-Less Jamie? This is how it’s done. Then again, I guess the Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner doesn’t have to worry about spending his own money on trips, because he just sticks Kentucky taxpayers with the bill for his Crowne Plaza stays and steak dinners. More mishes loom. August already has one on tap. It’s also remotely conceivable that I’ll go to Kalamazoo for the Occupy National Gathering. It would be a mish in Mich! September has more action in store, and I’m even looking ahead to next spring. If any of these events are exciting enough, I shall regale you with them in these pages—as I often did in the last decade.

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