Recently in Joe Blevins Category

Well, naturally, the act has evolved over the years. For business reasons, mainly. I mean, you've gotta change with the times or the crowds... well, the crowds go elsewhere. And in a town like this, there's plenty of elsewhere for them to go, if you get my drift. So you've gotta keep adding new gimmicks to the act, new twists, new cast members. When I started, it was just me. That was enough for 'em in the beginning. Hell, half the act was Q&A with the audience. Now we've got, what, forty people in the cast -- dancers, backup singers, et cetera. Not to mention the pyrotechnics, the lighting. It's quite a production now. A circus. And, of course, all of this costs money. I should know that better than anyone, since it comes outta MY bottom line. But my manager, Gary, keeps giving me the old "spend money to make money" routine.

Where is that bastard, anyway? He's never around when I need him. I'm the Invisible Man, and he's the Invisible Manager. Heh. Probably off snorting more of my money up that big schnoz of his. Don't print that.

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It was halfway through his colonoscopy when Mercer St. Stephens came to a realization that was to affect the entire course of his credit rating. Having been administered only a mild, local anesthetic, Mercer was miserably awake -- if not exactly alert -- for the procedure and distractedly watched the monitor as a fiber-optic camera plumbed the cavernous depths of his bowels. At that moment, Dr. Mark Crenshaw was studying the monitor and talking softly into a headset mic as he worked the remote control.

"Uh, excuse me, Doc," said Mercer. "What are you doing? Who are you talking to on that thing?"

"What, this? I'm recording the DVD commentary," replied Dr. Crenshaw, as if the answer were obvious.

"DVD commentary?"

"Sure. I got the idea from that Monty Python movie, The Meaning of Life. You seen it?"

"Uh, once maybe, a long time ago," Mercer half-fibbed. He didn't think he'd seen it, but he didn't want to come off as culturally illiterate.

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Martin had grown pretty cavalier about sticking his hand down his pants in public. He wore the same pair of loose-fitting blue sweats everywhere he went, and if he got the urge to slip his fingers under under the elastic waistband he just did it. Wherever, whenever. He didn't care much about what other people thought anymore. If they were offended, Martin's philosophy was: screw 'em. They could look away if they wanted to. Concepts like "public" and "private" held very little meaning for him these days. Hygiene and grooming were no longer top priorities for him either, especially since he'd quit his job and decided to live off his savings. He pretty much let his hair and nails do as they pleased, occasionally trimming his bangs with a pair of kitchen shears when the hair got in his eyes. Martin bathed no more frequently than once a week, and his toothpaste and toothbrush sat neglected in his filthy bathroom. His diet now consisted almost entirely of Orange Crush and Hostess snack cakes, though he would occasionally splurge and get himself an order of chili cheese fries. His days were aimless and formless, consisting mainly of long naps, eating binges, marathon viewing sessions of cartoons and pornography, and occasional "field trips" into town where he would mainly wander around and look at things.

Martin was the happiest man on earth.

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The Hubert J. Cromsby Institute for the Advancement of Quantum Botany, Las Calaveras, NM
April 21, 1975 - 8:04 a.m.


And hello to you, Dr. Ackerman! Good to finally meet you! Can I call you Jerry? Super. And please, do call me Dr. Mandelbrot. Haw, haw! Just pullin' your leg there, Jer. No, seriously, "Wayne" will do just fine. We're all friends here. Well, Jerry, let me show you around the place and introduce you to some of the boys you'll be working with here at Cromsby. How's Las Calaveras been treating you, by the by? Settling in to your new home all right? Oh? Well, I sure as heck am sorry to hear that, Jer. My wife was the same way when we first moved out here. But she got used to it, and I'm sure your wife will, too. What's her name, may I ask? What a coincidence. My grandfather's name was Miriam. Haw, haw! But really, Jer, this place isn't too bad once you get used to the heat. The Devil's Crawlspace, my wife Dolores calls it. There's not a whole heck of a lot to do in town -- a few restaurants, coupla stores. Delores thought she'd go stir crazy. But I tell ya, Jer, at night Las Calaveras has a beauty all her own. It's the sky, Jer -- that great big beautiful open sky fulla stars. Makes a person feel, I dunno, free I guess is the word. And here's the best part, Jer: no lawn to mow! Am I right? Haw, haw! The kids took to this place right away. Said it reminded 'em of those old Road Runner cartoons, which I guess it does at that. How you fixed in the offspring department there, Jer? Got two m'self -- Randy's nine and Courtney's eleven. How 'bout you? No? Some particular reason? Well, I guess you're right, Jer. It's not my place to pry. But if it's a medical thing, Jer, I know a coupla doctors who would be glad to... Okay, Jer, I'll lay off. Guess I'm always tryin' to stick my nose in where it doesn't belong. But, heck, that's why we became scientists, huh? Delores says a scientist is just a busybody with a microscope! A regular Nosy Joe, that's me. Haw, haw!

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Dateline: Nepal, 2011.

There it sits, perched serenely upon pillows in its lofty mountain temple: the BastardTron 9000, the most sophisticated artificial-intelligence droid ever created. A full decade of research and development, encompassing countless millions of man-hours and (it is whispered) perhaps a trillion dollars, has gone into its production. Scores of programmers, engineers, clerics, philosophers, mathematicians, poets, and noted academics of every discipline have contributed to its final form. The governments of 17 different countries, including the United States, Germany, Russia, and Red China, have lent financial and technical support. Luminaries ranging from Noam Chomsky and Stephen Hawking to Deepak Chopra and Dr. Phil were seen entering the heavily-fortified BastardTron Labs in Stockholm, where the magnificent machine was created, its every stage of development shrouded in secrecy, cloaked in gossip and innuendo.

The purpose of the BastardTron 9000, according to its makers: to be a sort of Cybernetic Superguru for the Information Age, replacing the monks, swamis, fakirs, and holy men of the past. Embedded within the circuits, wires, and gears of this mighty automaton would be housed the sum total of Man's knowledge of his word, the universe, and the very mysteries of life itself, including the endlessly complex dynamics of interpersonal relations. At last, they reasoned, the Seeker of Truth would finally have a place to go to find real answers to life's most perplexing questions.

Unfortunately, the thing turned out to be a complete bastard.

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The kid was a natural. That much was clear, and we all thought those 24-karat pipes of his would be just the thing to take Weems Boland and His Foggy Knights straight to the top. Hell, even I thought so, and I'd been around long enough to've known better.

The name's not really Weems, by the way. It's William. I got the nickname Weems when I was a kid and my sister Gretchen couldn't pronounce my real name. When she said "William," it came out "Weems," and the name just sorta stuck. And in the interest of full disclosure, I suppose I should also tell you that "Boland" is short for Bollander. Yeah, I'm a phony. What of it?

But the kid was for real. This was '52, see, and boy singers were in. Julius La Rosa was riding high on the Godfrey show then, and suddenly every band had to have a boy singer. I mean, without a boy singer, you were nowhere, and I mean nowhere. Dame singers couldn't get arrested if they were caught hooking in front of a Lutheran church. We had a dame singer, Loretta something, but we had to cut her loose. A shame, too, because she was a heckuva little thrush and none too bad in the kit, either. I guess all the boys in the band took her for a ride at one time or another, including yours truly. Wonder whatever happened to her?

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Ah, good, sir. You're awake.

No, no, Mr. Risling. You don't have to get out of bed. This won't take but a moment. You will forgive me for entering your room like this, sir, but you didn't answer your phone, and the management wanted me to pass along a few items of interest to you.

You gave us quite a scare last night, of course. What, sir? You don't remember? Certainly, you will remember some of it. Nothing, really? Hmm. You are Mr. Erik J. Risling, correct?

Eh? What's that? You don't even know where you are or how you got here? You are kidding, I trust. No? Well, you could start by looking around the room. That should jog some memories. You, sir, are in room 316 of the Applewood Motor Cove. You see that shattered window and those slashed drapes, sir? Yes, those. You did that, sir. And the bloody footprints on the carpet, too, which Rosa is now diligently attempting to remove. Of course, you will be paying for the replacement and cleaning of these items. Your credit card has already been billed, Mr. Risling. No need to fret.

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Jesus. Fifteen years in the life, and it's come to this.

It's 5:49 in the ay-em, and I'm standing here in the alley behind a seedy strip mall on the ass-end of town, waiting for Devin, a pimply-faced little burnout, to show up with the pint of AB positive he owes me. That little shit better show up if he knows what's good for him. I'm not convinced that he does. If he did, he'd have been here at 5:30 like he said he would. Devin's only redeeming quality is that he works at BloodSource, a blood donation place in this very mall, and can occasionally smuggle out some of the good stuff to sell on the side. Other than that, he's a total loss. Some of the people in the life think it's pretty sweet that I have an "inside man" at a blood bank, but they don't know Devin. This arrangement of ours is many things, and "sweet" is not one of them.

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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Interview With Grover Fosdick

Aired January 29, 2008 - 21:00 ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY IS NOT IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY CONTAIN INACCURACIES AND INCONSISTENCIES.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE - OPENING GRAPHICS)

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight. Exclusive. Shocking revlations. Terrible things will be revealed. Terrible, terrible things. Grover Fosdick. You know him as Shingle-Eatin' Sid the Shingle-Eating Kid from the Waverly Roofing Tile commercials of the late Seventies. Also did some softcore in the Eighties. Kinda weak. Not my thing. But anyway, tonight. Here. Our studio. He will reveal a dark secret that might help others who have gone through the same ordeal. Grover Fosdick. An intense and disturbing hour next on LARRY KING LIVE.

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Editor's Note: Earlier this week, Unloosen contributor Craig J. Clark approached fellow writer Joe Blevins about the possibility of collaborating on a story, round robin-style, for the site. Blevins readily agreed and they immediately set to work. Here are the fruits of their joint creation:

(How's this for an opening paragraph:)

Steve held his breath. This was not his first time doing so. Periodically, ever since he was a kid, he would try holding it until he passed out, but his body always rebelled against him and forced him to breathe in. Someday, he vowed, his will would prevail. Someday...

Time passed. Ten seconds. Twenty seconds. Half a minute, and still no ill effects or signs of fatigue! How much longer could he go, Steve wondered? Could this be a new world's record? He tried to think of Shelley Winters in The Poseidon Adventure. This got him to thinking about that Poseidon remake which he'd meant to see but never did. It must be on DVD by now, maybe even basic cable. He wondered who played the Shelley Winters role in the remake. Kurt Russell? That seemed unlikely.

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Editor's note: according to the author, this story is meant to be read aloud. -CL

My day: Thursday, March 15, 2007

6 a.m.
Wake up to the sound of a malfunctioning car alarm... or is that my head ringing? Can't tell anymore. What's the difference? I decide to survey the room, then immediately regret that decision. Good god, what did I do last night? The credenza's overturned. The knick-knacks have been paddy-whacked. There are underpants scattered everywhere, not all of them mine. I notice large purplish-yellow bruises on both forearms. How the hell'd they get there? One of the dogs might be dead. Dunno. Anyway, he's not moving. Note to self: have cleaning lady check to see if dog's dead. P.S. Where am I?

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It was a few minutes after one o'clock on a Sunday afternoon in November when K. noticed (and how could he not?) that his left arm had fallen off.

The purpose of this day's visit to the mall had been to do some early Christmas shopping. It was K.'s practice to buy generic, practical presents -- pens, calendars, refrigerator magnets, oven mitts -- just before the "peak" holiday shopping season and store them in his closet until just before Christmas, at which time he would wrap them and assign them to random people on his gift list. This tradition had served him well in the past, and he had no intention of deviating from it this year.

K. had not yet begun his shopping at the time the incident occurred. Unburdened by packages and yet unaccountably weary, he was walking aimlessly and distractedly through the massive, clogged corridors of the shopping center when he stopped in front of a Spencer Gifts -- not to window shop (K. never did this) but rather because his body was telling him to pause. Finding no nearby bench, K. simply stopped dead in his tracks in the middle of the hallway. That was when his left arm -- of its own accord -- became detached from his body and fell with a thud to the cool, shiny floor, taking K.'s shirtsleeve and wristwatch with it.

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Author's Note: When brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm traveled throughout Germany collecting oral-history folktales during the early 1800s, they actually did their job too well and accumulated many more stories than they could possibly hope to publish. The following is one of the tales the Grimms left on the "cutting room floor," so to speak. This story has been traced to the small German village of Kudgel, which the brothers Grimm visited in 1812. Recently discovered among Wilhelm's private papers in a folder marked "Unpromising Miscellanea," it is published here for the first time.

There once lived a humble woodcutter and his enormous wife in a small cottage in the forest. Their lives were empty and desolate, for they had no children to call their own. As a youth, the near-sighted woodsman had mistaken a witch's leg for an elm and had used it for kindling. Enraged, the witch put a curse upon the woodsman, telling him he would never father a child by natural means and would have "plenty of problems" if he tried to adopt. The woodsman tried to reason with the witch, even offering to pay half the cost of a replacement leg, but the witch would not listen.

And so, all these years later, the witch's curse still held, and the woodsman and his wife were without children. Each night, the wife would kneel at the foot of the bed and pray aloud.

"Oh! How wonderful it would be to have a child! It would give me something to occupy my waking hours until television is invented!"

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After reading this story, I cannot understand my reasoning for shelving Pork Pony. It was a ton of work for me, sure, but the last five issues (excluding the second-to-last which included some of my least favorite material and may have been one of the major reasons I let the site slip into permanent hiatus, come to think of it) were packed solid with excellent stories.

Karl and Me is without a doubt one of the best stories to grace the pages of PP. It tells the tale of a young man's summer fling with Karl Marx. You've got to read it to believe it. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. An absolute must-read. I laughed so hard I snorted. (CL)

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One man, 100 monkeys, 100 chainsaws. I'd put "monkeys" up there with "pants" as one of the most effective comedic words in the English language. Joe Blevins knows his effective comedic words and here, he assembles them once again for your entertainment. (CL)
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The word pants holds up as one of the most entertaining and fun pieces of verbage in all of English. Joe Blevins capitalizes on the power of pants in this very story. Back in the Pork Pony days, Joe came to us via Craig J. Clark, a PP regular and author of the web comic Dada. I lost contact with Mr. Blevins, but would love to see more of his stories here. (CL)

UPDATE 5-4-05: Joe's now in touch with me again and he's going to post new material on Unloosen. Everyone, down a glass of Ovaltine to celebrate. (CL)

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