Wednesday, April 30, 2008

McBone Presents: A Mayonnaise Tragedy

As loyal McBone readers already know, my friend Josh Shalek is the creator of official McBone comic, Welcome to Falling Rock National Park. Josh also has a beard, which is the envy of my life. He, not me, got to see Cat Power in concert this month, but that's neither here nor there.

What you may not know is that Josh, who coined the phrase "white menace," is also a founding member of the Anti-Mayonnaise Alliance (AMA), and he has a story he would like to share:

It was like a nightmare
, except it was so real. What I thought would be a simple exercise in food education turned into a one-way ticket to hell.

It began innocently. I had finished 3rd grade, soon to join the ranks of those able-bodied men and women of the 4th. It was summer, a season for spiritual growth and goofing off. My routine of doing nothing was to be suspended, however, because my mom insisted I take a summer class.

I suppose it was because I was still too young to work in the salt mines. My mom had had enough of me swimming in the pool and playing Super Mario Brothers. In short, she wanted me to learn that the world is a horrible place filled with sorrow. She wanted me to know the stench of mortality. It was a life lesson I've carried to this day; a scar on my psyche that can never be removed.

Of the choices offered that summer were a number of "fun" classes. The aim was to make you believe that, even though you were going to a school, sitting in a classroom, being lectured by a teacher, this was still the summer and therefore playtime. It was a thin disguise I saw right through. I chose, seemingly at random, a class on the science of food. I say random because I was not especially fond of food; at that age, I liked eating dessert but had no burning desire to find out how they were made. Maybe I thought I would at least get to try some new delights my parents wouldn't buy for me. I was wrong.

They say the devil can take many forms, but for me it was a nice-enough looking lady named Mrs. Sherman. There is no amount of penance she can do to erase the horrific crimes against children she committed in that classroom.

The worst part of the Mayonnaise Tragedy was that there was warning. Like prisoners being forced to dig the graves that they will soon lie in, we made the mayonnaise although we didn't know to what end it would be used. I should've known that something was amiss when we concocted something in large mason jars and, instead of putting them in the refrigerator, let them sit at room temperature for a week. I don't recall all the ingredients Mrs. Sherman had us throw into those cauldrons - honestly, to raise them in my memory would be simply too much, even now. I do remember there being dairy and eggs, and a few other evil-smelling additives.

At the time I allowed myself to think it fun. "Let's see how bad this will smell when we put it all together." I was right about the smell. What I hadn't counted on was what we were forced to do with it.

After the week had passed, Mrs. Sherman took one of the mason jars and set it on a desk in the center of the classroom. She opened the lid. Half of us gagged instantly at the putrid odor that arose from its depths. It was an ancient odor, a foul and terrifying one.

Then Mrs. Sherman did the unthinkable: she made us smell the mayonnaise.

"Come on over. Stick your nose in it," she said. I thought she was joking until I found myself peering into the jar, inhaling the mayonnaise.

It was like death. It was like torture. I wished vainly for it to end. Looking into the jar was somehow worse than seeing it from a distance. Moist, chunky white globs of mayonnaise. The bile of the earth. This was the stuff preachers speak of when they condemn science as anti-God. I nearly vomited.

That done, Mrs. Sherman produced a number of plastic spoons. She made each of us take one.

"Maybe she'll give us ice cream," I thought hopefully. I'm sure I was in shock.

"Let's all try some," Mrs. Sherman said. As the words left her lips, each of them raising the hair on the back of my neck, I realized adults really do hate children. My mother and father hated me. Mrs. Sherman certainly hated me. Every adult I would see on the street for the rest of my childhood, hated me.

Some braver souls had already begun dipping their spoons into the jar of mayonnaise. I watched them put the gelatinous white goo into their mouths. None seemed to perish. I felt so alone. Soon it would be my turn. I tried to hide, to pretend I'd already had a bite.

Mrs. Sherman noticed me cowering. "Come on Josh, you helped make this. You should try it. Everybody will try it." Was that a glint in her eye?

I crept toward the jar, spoon in hand. I dipped the spoon down into the mayonnaise.

"That's not enough," said Mrs. Sherman. "Get a good dollop." She forced my hand downward, so that when I raised the spoon there was a mass of mayonnaise quivering on it. The White Menace.

She watched me bring the spoon toward my lips. The mayonnaise was in my mouth. I closed my lips over the spoon. I pulled the spoon out of my mouth through my tight lips. I swallowed.

Blacking out would have been a relief. So would dying. Unfortunately my strong little body remained conscious for the horrifying moments after swallowing the mayonnaise. Mrs. Sherman let us go on our break. I ran to the nearest drinking fountain and drank the pure, sweet water. It did nothing to erase the taste of mayonnaise on my tongue. That taste remained for a long time afterward.

After that day I begged my mom not to make me go any longer. She was unmoved. I finished out the class.

It was a glorious day to begin 4th grade that fall, when I knew there would be no forced mayonnaise eatings. My friends asked about my summer vacation. I told them, "fine." It would have been too much to relive the pain so soon. I was also too young to understand the lasting scars that would ensue.

Today I am mostly functional. The Mayonnaise Tragedy still figures prominently in my dreams, but during the day I can push it back. I do the grocery shopping and don't scream when I pass the mayonnaise, sitting so innocuously on the shelf. Even my wife doesn't know the extent of my pain. I am a broken man, humbled and wary.

Josh Shalek
April, 2008

Stories like this are exactly why the AMA was formed. Josh courageously tells his tale because he knows the youth of today is at risk. Together let's stop the Mrs. Shermans of the world before another child is irreparably harmed. Remember, the white menace never rests.


PS: You can buy Josh's comic book here.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Nate's Monday Sports Extravaganza!

So this really has become more like Nate's Monthly Sports Extravaganza, but what the hell?


The Washington Wizards are down 3 games to one and stand on the brink of first-round extinction at the hands of the Cavs for the third consecutive year. I like it. I like it a lot. Sunday's tight 100-97 Cavaliers victory (which I had to TRY to watch at work, thanks to a ludicrous 1:00 PM tipoff. Arg!) restored much of the on-court drama that had been missing in the previous two games, both blowouts. While I've never been a Delonte West fan, the dude is beginning to grow on me in a major way. Game winning three pointers can do that. The shot in question came after the Wizards had clawed their way back from a 15 point deficit, eventually tying the game in the final minute on an acrobatic Gilbert Arenas jumper. With the game clock winding down, LeBron James set up for the last shot. Seeing the defense collapse on his dribble drive, he kicked it out to an open (though not nearly as open as everyone would have it) West, and, well, this says it so much better than I can:

The Cavs won this game because they murdered the Wizards on the boards, 51-31. They won because LeBron James made a picture-perfect pass to an open West instead of forcing a godawful shot like the one Gilbert Arenas took as time expired. They won because West, 5 of 8, and Daniel Gibson, 4 of 7, were raining threes. They won because DeShawn Stevenson ignited a huge second quarter Cavs run when he whacked LeBron on the head and picked up a flagrant 1. They won because Ben Wallace and Joe Smith gave their team so many second and third chances on the offensive end, snagging missed shots and never giving up on a possession. They won because the "big three" of Washington was no match for our superstar.

But the game was hardly perfect. The Cavs almost lost because their defense was porous in the first quarter. They almost lost because Washington made so, so many off-balance garbage shots. They almost lost because they turned the ball over 19 times, mostly on careless passes and drives. They almost lost because Washington's offense is sophisticated and has many weapons that can break down even the best defenses. I give the Wizards credit--they wanted these last two games on their home court badly. Luckily, they only got one.

Look for the Cavs to close this series out on Wednesday. Look for me in the crowd.

Some observations:

The Wizards have been a way better team without Arenas, who, in spite of being hobbled by bad knees and the extra weight he is obviously carrying around, still elected to heave wild shots on the Wizards final two possessions. He was right when he said the Wizards are Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison's team, but why did he not defer to the hot Butler on that last shot?

The off-court drama has been at fever pitch all along. Boring. Give us the games and shut up. OK, a little gamesmanship is all right from time to time, but enough is enough with this series. Do we really need to get Soulja Boy involved? I mean, the Cavs have won 11 of 14 playoff games against this crew. Hey, Wizards: talk shit after you win a series.

When Stevenson took his cheap swipe at LeBron's head, he ended up on the floor. That pretty much sums up the series. The Wizards try to bully LeBron, LeBron wins.

When asked in his postgame press conference if he thought the Wizards could come back in this series, LeBron flatly said, "no." That is as cold-blooded as it gets, particularly in a p.c. sports world of canned answers like, "Washington has a great team and they're perfectly capable of bouncing back and we know we can't relax and we have to continue to be aggressive and blah, blah, blah. LeBron's succinct "no" was so very disrespectful and refreshing.


Welcome back C.C. Sabathia. After four unspeakable starts to begin the season, the Tribe ace has settled down. In two starts and fourteen innings since, he has allowed two runs and has struck out 19. His ERA has fallen from a ghastly 13.50 to a merely embarrassing 7.88. Some have speculated that C.C. has been distracted by his contract situation. I say he was in a slump. His stuff has been there, and his track record speaks for itself. It's a long, long season. He'll be all right.

And as C.C. goes, so go the Indians, who were on a six game roll before splitting a four game series with the Yankees. This team's pitching is good enough to keep them in the race all season long, barring injury.

And speaking of which, Jake Westbrook was enjoying one of his best starts to a season before being shelved for a month with a back strain. This we do not need. Fortunately...

Cliff Lee has put together one of the best four-game spans I've ever seen in my 32 years of watching baseball, and has basically been Sabathia's diametric opposite. Just take a glance at Lee's four starts this year: 31.2 innings pitched, ONE earned runs allowed. That's good for a microscopic 0.28 ERA. Lee has given up only 11 hits and 2 walks, which is pretty much impossible. I don't expect Cliff to keep this up. That would be unfair. He is, after all, mortal. but what a turnaround from last year, when injuries and a bad attitude resulted in a very forgettable season.

Just how has he done it? His fastball has been perfection. While never a flamethrower, Lee is putting his 90-91 MPH heater wherever he wants to, using his offspeed stuff to keep hitters honest. That's a simple formula that has wielded frankly shocking results.

McBone asks: where is your bat, Travis Hafner? You have gone from one of the most devastating hitters in the game to one of the easiest outs in the Tribe lineup. It seems like ages since you got good wood on the ball and your lack of production renders impotent the offensive attack of your team. Last year I was saying, "when Travis Hafner snaps out of this, watch out." Now I'm wondering if it's ever gonna happen. As I said, it's a long season. We'll see.


I'm tired. I'll touch on the Browns' draft in a later post.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Moist and Delicious? Think Again. An Urgent Message from McBone.

Mayonnaise, condiment of the damned. Like Satan, who tempted Eve in the guise of a snake, mayonnaise can lurk in the most improbable of places:

McBone urges you to be mindful during every course of every meal. Remember, the White Menace never sleeps.

This public service announcement was paid for by the AMA, a McBone subsidiary group.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

McBone, AMA Uncover Evil Underground Mayonnaise Ring!

Risking contamination and other long-term health risks, McBone agents last night uncovered an underground mayonnaise ring in Bath, Ohio, an affluent suburb of Akron. Fronting as a popular neighborhood eatery, the mayo dispensary had long been under the vigilant eye of McBone and its subsidiary group, the Anti-Mayonnaise Alliance, which acted upon multiple suspected mayonnaise offenses.

The raid, taking place just after midnight, quickly uncovered myriad violations, including the mishandling and possession of mass quantities of mayonnaise with the intent to sell.

The mayonnaise was stored in 5 gallon drums, each lined with a flimsy plastic membrane. Cursory investigations report that the mayonnaise was in its typically dangerous state of putrefaction and aggressively eating through the insufficient containers. Special, lead-reinforced transportation units carried the mayonnaise to a mayonnaise disposal center, where it was immediately destroyed. While the exact amount confiscated is unknown, it is rumored to be no less than 25 gallons, enough to cause a county-wide environmental catastrophe.

Pictured left: the secret mayonnaise cache.

The eatery, one of the many holdings of Stabbone, ltd., has been closed indefinitely. Proprietor and sinister arch-criminal Stabbone, already implicated in numerous mayonnaise scandals, has been missing since 1967. The McBone prosecution team plans to seek felony charges against his diabolical network of cronies, stooges and henchmen.

Mayonnaise abuse in northern Ohio has been spiking in recent months, and the crackdown on the Bath outlet is seen as a major victory at a time when state officials, parents and activist groups are demanding action.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Cavs Lead 1-0!

And this was the play that changed the game:

Oh my god!


Friday, April 18, 2008

Nate's Playoff Preview--Cavaliers vs. Wizards

So begins the second season. The regular season is mercifully over and done with for the defending Eastern Conference Champs, and the Cavaliers withstood the inexplicable holdouts of Sasha Pavlovic and Anderson Varejao, myriad injuries to just about everyone, and a massive 11 player trade to notch 45 wins and earn the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. A disappointing season? You bet, but I don't think the Cavs are as big an underdog to win the East as everyone seems to believe. Consider: 1) Without LeBron James, the Cavs were a miserable 0-7. They are not without James now. 2) The following players missed multiple games due to injury: James, Varejao, Pavlovic, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Daniel Gibson, Ben Wallace. With the notable exception of Pavlovic, the team is relatively intact. 3) This season the team seemed to be listless and unfocused for major chunks of some games, often playing down to the level of inferior opponents. Their record against the execrable Bucks, Bulls and Nets? An equally execrable 3-9. I doubt that passion will be missing come 12:30 tomorrow at Quicken Loans Arena. Bring on the Wizards.

There are several legitimate concerns heading into this best of seven series with Washington, the third consecutive year the teams will match up in the first round. Last year the Cavs had a cakewalk with Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler sidelined. This year the Wizards are healthy. What challenges do the Cavs face in a series they really should win? How about 1) staying healthy? LeBron's back has been marginal for much of the latter part of the season. Often he would start a game strong, only to have it tighten up with spasms that would limit his mobility. That simply cannot happen. For the Cavs to win, LeBron must be healthy and productive. I am less concerned about Zydrunas Ilgauskas' back, which responded well to a week-long shutdown during the season. Fortunately for Z, back-to-back games are a rarity in the playoffs so he should have ample time to recuperate between starts. Then there is the Ben Wallace issue. Wallace has been day-to-day pretty much since the Cavaliers acquired him. I strongly favored shutting him down as well, which the Cavs did not do. The physical nature of NBA playoffs will be a real test for these three. Expect the Wizards to exploit these weaknesses.

Then you have the problem of 2) shooting. Daniel Gibson's shot has been broke ever since returning from his second ankle sprain of the season. Wally Szczerbiak has hardly made a jumper since his arrival from Seattle in midseason, particularly when he's on the floor with LeBron. Clearly, his struggle is a mental one. He's shown signs of life lately, but can he handle playoff pressure and the high expectations of the Cavs? Sasha Pavlovic's season has been a total waste. Through his absurd holdout, a midseason foot sprain and a late-season ankle sprain, he has struggled to regain the form that made him so valuable in last year's playoffs. He will miss the first round completely. With such inconsistency from the perimeter, it will be interesting to see if Damon Jones returns to the rotation. Jones was putting together a fine season on both ends of the court when he was strangely benched by coach Mike Brown. Someone, somehow, will have to make a jump shot. I would never say that playoff series depends on outside shooting, but it would be nice if someone could spread the floor.

And of course you have the puzzling question of 3) defense. The Cavs rode their elite defense and rebounding all the way to the finals last year. This year, defense has been almost an afterthought, with occasional moments of brilliance. The loss of Pavlovic hurts, as his role will be filled by inferior perimeter defenders Wally Szczerbiak and Devin Brown, though it remains to be seen which player will replace Sasha in the starting rotation.

That said, the Wizards are hardly a defensive powerhouse. The Cavs' big men should exploit Washington's weak interior play all series long. Conversely, the talented trio of Antawn Jamison, Gilbert Arenas, and, the Wizards' finest player, Caron Butler, represents a big problem for a Cavs team that has struggled with its defensive identity all season long.

Let's take a look at individual matchups:

PG: Delonte West vs. Antonio Daniels. I've never been a big fan of West's game, and I was less than excited when the Cavs brought him in from Seattle. That said, he's picked a fine time to start playing the best basketball of his life. He seems more comfortable every day and is meshing well with LeBron. He's proving himself a capable rebounder from the guard spot, a fair distributer of the ball, a feisty--if limited--defender, and he has been one of the few consistent backcourt shooters in recent weeks. Still, West has limited playoff experience and is still rounding into an NBA player. In Daniels the Wiz have a capable ballhandler who will get the offense in motion and won't make many mistakes. An ideal backup, Daniels is merely mediocre as a starter, in all phases of the game. Advantage: West.

SG: Wally Szczerbiak??? vs. DeShawn Stevenson. Mark my words, the Cavs are really going to miss Pavlovic here, if for no other reason than Sasha has no problem playing mean and sticking an elbow into weaker opposing guards. He did it last year in subduing Vince Carter, and he would do it to Stevenson, too. Alas, Sasha is out. I really hope that Wally starts, not because he will set the world on fire, but because he can. Now would be a great time for Wally to find that stroke that made him an all-star once upon a time. I also favor this matchup because I love Devin Brown off the bench. Should Wally fail, Devin will be ready. Stevenson is, of course, the dipshit who called LeBron overrated earlier this year, which does not merit a response. I fully expect Stevenson to annoy the Cavs with three pointers throughout the series. Advantage: even.
SF: LeBron James vs. Caron Butler. The Cavs 0-7 record without LeBron tells me he the league's MVP, though he has no chance of winning it. We all know about his offensive tools, but his defense, especially in big games, is way better than people realize. Caron Butler is a superb basketball player, and, as I said before, the best player on his team. If LeBron is healthy, and if his teammates can hit a shot or two, he will turn Butler into mince pie and devour him. If LeBron is forced to make every shot himself, he will be triple teamed and the series just might end in Washington's favor. Advantage: James. James. James.

PF: Ben Wallace vs. Antawn Jamison. Defense vs. offense, sort of. For a player who once thrived in the rough-and-tumble environs of NBA playoffs, I don't know if Wallace has enough left in the legs to impact this series like he once could have. I can see him altering and blocking some shots, snagging some boards, but I don't know if he can keep up with the likes of Jamison, who is still very much in his prime as an excellent scorer and rebounder. My prediction? Anderson Varejao will be spending a lot of time draped over Jamison, who was gallant in defeat in last year's playoff, averaging 32 ppg. Prove me wrong, Ben. Please. Advantage: Jamison.

C: Zydrunas Ilgauskas vs. Brendan Haywood. I'm not sure why Haywood plays so well against the Cavs, but he does. Still, Ilgauskas has been energized all year, and I expect big Z to thrive against the Wizards' weak paint play. Haywood has always impressed me as a sort of lumbering hod with menial skills, a constant aggravation who is most likely to roll up the ankle of one our guards. With so much attention being paid to LeBron, the Cavs must get Z the ball, so he can take on Haywood one-on-one. Advantage: Z.

Bench: How many times can I say it? The Cavs are going to need shooting, and the most likely source, theoretically, is Daniel Gibson. But Gibson has been dismal since his high ankle sprain. Otherwise we have Devin Brown, who has been a pleasant surprise this season with his hustle and all-around competence off the bench, where he belongs! Anderson Varejao has also struggled with his injuries, but he can be a dominant rebounder and defender and has added some small offensive skills to his game. Joe Smith is an ace at the backup forward spot. He should provide much needed scoring and rebounding. I still say that Damon Jones will be needed at some point this series, and Jones has a flair for making big shots where they're least expected. The Cavs are in big trouble if Lance Allred, Dwayne Jones or Billy Thomas see meaningful minutes.

The Wizards counter with, um, Gilbert Arenas, who we hope will not catch fire at any point or make any dumbass, game-winning 48-foot three pointers. We all know what Arenas can do, and he is fully capable of changing this series, but I'm not going to bet on him. He can blog about wanting to play the Cavs all he wants. Everything about Darius Songalia says "scrub," but he plays very well against the Cavs, who seem to have no interest in defending this lifetime 7 point scorer. The Cavs had better put a body on young, raw, athletic Andray Blatche, or he will be a real nuisance in the paint Backup PG Roger Mason is going to shoot a lot of threes, and he's been on fire of late. He will make his shots if the Cavs don't pay attention to him, so...hand in the face, please. Don't let the guy go off. Rookies Nick Young, Oleksiy Pecherov and Dominic McGuire do not scare me. Should they? Advantage: Cavs by far, because Arenas is as much a bench player as Manu Ginobili is.

Coach: Mike Brown, as ever, was criticized for his lame offense in the regular season. Not entirely unjustified. Also bizarre were his rotations, though to be fair, he was searching for chemistry through all the turmoil. But Brown is a playoff coach, and in the playoffs he has been pretty darn successful. In a mere two years of coaching, his postseason record is a sparkling 19-14 and includes a trip to the finals. I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt and saying that he'll get his crew to play with passion and solidify on defense. Eddie Jordan. He got his troops to fight and scratch in last year's hopeless matchup with the Cavs, and that's saying something. Still, Jordan's postseason record is a weak 6-14. Advantage: Cavs

Official Prediction: Cavs in six. All told, the Cavs still have the best player in the game. In the playoffs, strong interior play wins series, and the Wizards are sorely undermanned in that department. Even if the Cavs struggle shooting the ball, the frontcourt play should at least keep them in the game, and close enough that LeBron can take over late.

LET'S. GO. CAVS!!!!!!!!!

Around the NBA

Eastern Conference

Celtics vs. Hawks: Forget it, ATL. Celts sweep you into oblivion.

Pistons vs. 76ers: This should be a fun series to watch. An up-and-coming team vs. a canny bunch of veterans. It won't be easy, but Detroit wins in six. Warning to the Pistons--try putting aside your stupid sense of entitlement for one series. Not one team is handing you the East, so don't look forward to the Celtics.

Raptors vs. Magic: This is not an intriguing series. Magic in five. Maybe four.

Western Conference

Nuggets vs. Lakers: Carmelo & Co. will have to wait yet another year to win a playoff series. Lakers in six, just because Iverson won't let Denver be embarrassed. God I hate run-and-gun teams.

Mavs. vs. Hornets: Chris Paul has been amazing all season long, a worthy MVP candidate. Let's see what he can really do. Mavs in seven.

Suns vs. Spurs: Forget the Suns. The cream of the NBA win in six.

Rockets vs. Jazz: Too bad Yao ain't around. This will still be a good series, and I love the defensive mindset of the Rockets. Still, Jazz in seven.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

M. Patrick Foliglio, Poet Par Excellence

Genius. An overused term? Absolutely. But in rare circumstances, the label applies unequivocally:

Van Gogh

Today the preeminent poet M. Patrick Foliglio celebrates his 32nd birthday. Though his body of work consists of a small collection of poems produced in a furious, alcohol-fueled burst of creativity one night in 1985, his profound and lasting influence on modern poetry cannot be overstated.

And from this handful of poems, one masterwork stands out above all others: 

Ho Ho Moe 

Ho Ho Moe is back,
He gets you. Ho Ho in,
and you Moe Ho Ho,
an Ho Ho Ho Ho Ho Ho Ho.

The words of a haunted man, but whence comes such dark imagery? What inner torment was Foliglio divining when he poured this terror onto a page, without, as legend has it, a single revision? These are the questions that have long daunted students and scholars. More than two decades later, the questions remain.

A famous recluse, Foliglio has lived in seclusion with his family in a sprawling compound in western Ohio since shortly after the publication of his thin volume, The Diz-aster Book of Poems. Rumors have reported him joining outlandish religious sects and hoarding jars of his own urine. Though he has not granted an interview since sitting down briefly with Arsenio Hall in 1993, Foliglio recently agreed to an exclusive face-to-face with McBone, on the condition that the questions be screened and the interview conducted by McBone Co-Captain, Rock McGraw.

McBone: Thank you for joining us today.
M. Patrick Foliglio: (snapping his fingers) Questions. Ask.

McB: Very well.

MPF: And no personal stuff. If you even mention the words "jars of urine," I'm outta here.

McB: As you like. Are you writing?

MPF: No.

McB: Why is that?

MPF: Next question.

McB: All right. You've been called a modern-day Rilke with all the tortured lyricism of a young Edgar Al--

MPF: This interview is over.

And thus he stormed off, but can we blame him? Why do we demand so much of our geniuses when they give so much already? Happy birthday, M. Patrick Foliglio. Your immortal name will ring through the ages!

: A rare photo of Foliglio, circa 1998.


Happy Birthday, Dear Sister

Today is my sister’s birthday. There are thousands of reasons I haven’t spoken to Kristin in over 17 years. Here are a mere ten of the things she used to delight in doing when I was a small boy:

1. Pinning me to the ground and letting a rope of saliva hang just above my face before sucking it back in, over and over again.*

2. Raking her razor-sharp fingernails across my face.

3. Telling me that no one would ever love me because I'm "so ugly."

4. Putting her cigarettes out on my eyelids.

5. Making me drink gin from the dog's bowl.

6. Choking me to the verge of unconsciousness.

7. Driving me out to the country, forcing me out of the car and saying, "good luck finding your way home, idiot."

8. Making me bleed.

9. Laughing at my failures.

10. Dipping my baseball cards in mayonnaise.**

Kristin, wherever you are, I forgive you! I forgive you, dear sister, and I love you. Call me, so we can be a family again.

Happy birthday!

Pictured above: Kristin with another unsuspecting victim in her vile clutches.


*Actually happened

**Would be unforgivable

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Damn You, Portland, Oregon!

Here are just a few of the awesome acts that have come our way in recent months here in northern Ohio:

Neil Diamond

Hannah Montana

Barry Manilow

As you may or may not have noticed, none of these performers are Cat Power, who recently made a tour stop in the remote desert wastes of Portland, Oregon. But Cleveland? Ohio? Anywhere in the Midwest? Nope. Instead we're stuck with the Copacabana, Sweet Caroline and the daughter of that insufferable mullethead:

Chan! Chan! Hear McBone's plea! Please come to Ohio!


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Here Is a Picture of Flowers

Yesterday I was looking for a place to toss my empty beer can when found these flowers growing in the ditch outside of our house. My first thought was, "flowers are for girls," and I started to walk away. But then it dawned on me how nice it was of these flowers to grow in our ditch where all the detritus is and remind us that the cruel, punishing winter is no more. I whipped out my cell phone, snapped a photo and tossed the can in the neighbor's ditch, where no flowers grow.

And here they are. Flowers, forever immortalized at McBone. As you can see, they are yellow. I think they're called daffodils or something, but I really wouldn't know.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Reason #98 to Love Cleveland Sports: Trough Urinals at Municipal Stadium

I've heard it said that death is the great equalizer of men. That's all well and good for people who are dead, but what about those of us who have yet to cash in our chips? In a world where social classes are increasingly divided, I say it's sports, where people from every strata of life convoke for single, unifying cause: to cheer our teams to victory. And what better symbol of unity, of equality, of the fundamental sameness of every man, than a trough urinal?

Now combine the two.

Cleveland Municipal Stadium opened in 1931 as a multi use facility for the Indians and the Browns. By the time I came around, it was known as one of the worst stadiums in all of sports, a great, ugly, hulking, sticky, reeking thing. Not to me. Brown and magnificent, cavernous and capable of seating 80,000 fans, as far as I was concerned there was no grander place in all the world. I have many memories of the stadium, mostly of getting great seats for Tribe games and watching them lose. There were some Browns games too along the way. And, of course, I remember pissing into the trough urinals.

The experience was daunting at first, urinating side by side with grown men, largely drunk and cussing, and me barely tall enough to clear the lip of the trough. Inside was more than piss. Gum and spit and always a drenched cigarette butt or two loitering near the drain. The more I used those troughs over the years the more I liked and understood them. A trough urinal is where beer-filled men, from the rank and file to the rich, come together on common purpose. No walls or barriers of any kind, and who knows what two men you might get? A truck driver and an accountant. A lawyer and an out of work, ten-time divorcé. Fat guys, skinny guys, old guys, young guys. It didn't matter. All were contributing to the constant yellow stream flowing toward a single drain and, ultimately, that great open sewer called Lake Erie.

The Indians moved into Jacob's Field in 1994. Arch traitor Art Modell relocated the Browns to Baltimore in '95. A year later, the empty Cleveland Municipal Stadium was torn down. Cleveland Browns Stadium stands in its place, along with its PSLs, rows of luxury suites and, alas, single-user urinals. Sure the team is still our team, and sure we'll cheer them to the end, but somehow it's all so sterile and stratified these days. Call me a commie, but how I long for the egalitarian days of the trough!


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Rutherford B. Hayes Was a President, too

I've always had a thing for underdogs, which is the only rationale I can think of for my curious fascination with our phenomenally irrelevant 19th president, Rutherford Birchard Hayes. That and his lush beard, of course.

How big of an underdog was Hayes? Well, He graduated top of his class at Kenyon College and went on to Harvard Law School. After practicing law in Ohio for several years, he was ready to join the war effort, where he distinguished himself in battle and rose through the ranks all the way to Major General. Hayes, though not the only president to have served in the Civil War, was the only one ever wounded, a feat he accomplished four times.  All in all, not bad for an orphaned Ohio boy.

The war ended with Hayes intact enough to pursue a career in politics. He served in congress and as Ohio's 29th and 32nd governor, then became the unlikely candidate for president on the Republican ticket. Hayes was positively walloped by his rival, Democrat Samuel Tilden, by a whopping 250,000 votes out of 8.5 million cast. And yet, with some 20 electoral votes in dispute, Hayes was chosen by a special electoral commission to be our 19th president. Sound familiar?

Still, regardless of the reeking corruption that propelled Hayes to office, he was known as a thoroughly decent and honest man who was determined to restore dignity to the White House after years of scandal under U.S. Grant. Does any of this sound familiar?

So just what did "Honest Rutherford" accomplish during his lone term in office, that rip roaring time in history from 1877 to 1881? Try some of these on for size:

Desert Land Act (1877). Offered arid land at bargain prices to those willing to irrigate.

Bland-Allison Act (1878). Something about the cost of silver bullion that passed in spite of a Hayes veto.

Timber and Stone Act (1878). Offered cheap land to those willing to log and quarry.

And as if all that wasn't enough, here are some other juicy morsels:

Hayes was president during the Great Railroad Strike of 1877. When the strikes became riots, he ordered in federal troops, who subsequently killed 70 railroad workers--a first for a US president.

Hayes is, or at least was, a hero in Paraguay, when he arbitrated in the country's favor over a land dispute with Argentina. A city in Paraguay, Villa Hayes, is named for him, as is a governmental department, thus making Paraguay the world’s record holder for most things named after Rutherford B. Hayes.

The annual Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn was initiated during the Hayes Administration. The feel-good tradition continues to this day.

Ever on the cutting edge of technology, Hayes' White House was the first to have a typewriter and a telephone. Hayes also invented the internet.

Hayes’ most famous quote: "he serves his party best who serves his country best," ranks with Warren G. Harding's, "I am not fit for this office and should never have been here," as the least inspiring of all time.
Hayes was the only president outfitted with a bionic limb (left arm).
First Lady Lucy Webb Hayes was a resolute teetotaler, putting her in direct opposition with McBone's pro-alcohol policy. Pictured left: a beardless Hayes and his wife, Lucy, on their wedding day.

Hayes’ dying words, “I know that I’m going where Lucy is,” are disputed in favor of, “I just wish I had time for one more bowl of chili.”

In popularity polls, Hayes ranks among these other obscure presidents:

John Tyler
Franklin Pierce
Abraham Lincoln
Anatole Stanko

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Nate Reads the Bible: Homosexuality? Nay! Incest? Yea!

You know the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, right? About how the Lord destroyed the two cities because the men were all having sex with men? Well, not all the men were so depraved.

It so happened that Lot was playing host to some men one night, only these men weren't really men--they were angels (actually it seems they were a sort of tripartite manifestation of God, but that's really confusing and beside the point). Well, when word got out to the men of Sodom that Lot had taken these angel-men in as guests, they surrounded Lot's house and demanded he give them up, so that they might "know" them. Lot, desperate to be a gracious host, went as far as to offer his two daughters instead: "do to them as you please; only do nothing to these two men." But being rank homosexuals, the men of Sodom refused.

Bad move.

God ordered Lot, his wife and daughters to get the fuck out of Dodge, and so they did. Fire and brimstone rained down shortly thereafter and, boy, did those gay dudes get theirs.'s the part you don't hear so much about. Lot and his daughters (his wife, of course, got turned into a pillar of salt during the evacuation when she looked back on the city) found themselves seeking refuge in a cave. The firstborn daughter, knowing full well they were living in a world full of homosexual men (dead homosexual men, actually), hatched a plan: "Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, so that we may preserve offspring through our father." And so the daughters in turn get the old man liquored up and have their way with him. Both get knocked up and both give birth to sons, Moab and Bennami, who give rise to great nations.

So, clearly gay sex is out. But sex with Dad? That, by God, is pretty much a-okay. Count incest (along with slavery and offering your daughters to appease a mob of angry men) as something that the Old Testament doesn't really have a problem with.


Friday, April 4, 2008

This is Me

I like this picture of me in the NY subways. You gotta problem with that? I think I look "cool," as kids like to say these days.

I'm not sure where we're headed in this photo, but it's probably to some extremely cool place, like a jazz club in the Village, or Lou Reed's apartment for drinks.

If only I had a beard.


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Happy Birthday, Alec Guinness!

Like many people, I was introduced to Sir Alec Guinness de Cuffe (1914-2000) the first time I watched Star Wars. The bearded and wise Obi-wan Kenobi lent the films a certain grace and gravitas that made him my favorite character in the series. But not until I spotted Guinness years later in a small role in David Lean's 1946 interpretation of Great Expectations did I begin to understand what a long and important career he had in the movies.

Since then I have watched nearly every film in his oeuvre. What I love about Alec is his ability to make himself almost unrecognizable from one film to the next. While many actors achieve greatness by leaving a sort of personal signature on a film, a la John Wayne, Alec seemed to enjoy disappearing into his roles, never allowing the actor to overshadow the film and never settling for formula. This to me is the mark of an artist, and what makes him the consummate actor, if not an icon. Perhaps it also explains why, aside from his Jedi Knight, such a vast body of work is largely ignored today. What a shame.

Here are just a few of his essential, non-Star Wars films:

Kind Hearts and Coronets. Guinness plays no less than eight members of the D'Ascoyne family, including a woman, in what I consider the greatest film comedy ever scripted in the English language. This would be the first of many films that Alec made at the celebrated Ealing Studios.

The Lavender Hill Mob. Another Ealing product, Alec is a genial bank employee with a master plan in this classic caper, an examination of the drudgery of everyday life. Look for a young Audrey Hepburn's cameo.

The Man in the White Suit. Alec plays an inventor who discovers a fabric that cannot stain and gets a lesson on the hysteria that technology can cause.

The Ladykillers. Forget the Tom Hanks remake. The Ladykillers is a dark comedy for the ages. Four hardened criminals meet their match against a dotty old lady. This Ealing masterpiece also stars a young Peter Sellers.

The Bridge on the River Kwai. Teamed again with David Lean and starring opposite the great William Holden, Alec takes a dramatic turn as the obsessive Colonel Nicholson and wins an Oscar for the effort. River Kwai is a film to rival any ever made.

The Horse's Mouth. Guinness wrote the screenplay for this obscure gem, and his portrayal of artist Gulley Jimson highlights how hard the actor worked to avoid being formulaic. One of his least subtle and most memorable performances.

Tunes of Glory. Alec plays brutish, boorish, Scottish Colonel Jock Sinclair, who has a grand time swilling whiskey and torturing his disciplined counterpart, Colonel Barrow. A fascinating look at Scottish military tradition.

Lawrence of Arabia. The film belongs to Peter O'Toole, but Alec was a deft character actor too. He had mixed results playing characters of different ethnic backgrounds (he once did a ludicrous turn as a Japanese businessman), but with David Lean he was never anything but spot on. Here he plays Prince Feisal in Lean's epic tour de force.

Edwin. Star Wars made Guinness a rich man, and afterwards he was able to work at his own pace, choosing the parts that appealed to him. This surreal made-for-TV comedy highlights how he never lost the comic touch that made him a star.

Monsignor Quixote. Another made-for-TV gem, this modern day Don Quixote adventure features perfect chemistry between Alec and his own Sancho Panza, Leo McKern.

About Star Wars Alec was always ambivalent. While he acknowledged that he might have been forgotten if not for the series, he abhorred the dialogue and seemed somewhat resentful that he should be remembered for what really amounted to a fragment of a distinguished career. After all, Obi-wan Kenobi tried to make an icon out of Alec, a status he spent a lifetime undermining.

Happy 94th, Alec.


Cartoonist for a Day

Cartoonist. I know what the word brings to mind, but believe me a lot more goes into being a cartoonist than dating supermodels and driving Bentleys. The Rolexes, the botox injections, the trips to Monte Carlo--behind all the bling is a lot of hard work. I know because as of April 1st 2008, I am a published cartoonist. My friend, Josh, creator of Welcome to Falling Rock National Park, invited me to be his annual April 1st guest cartoonist. I jumped at the chance, and you can see the final results right here.

So how did it go? Well, after sketching out a rough draft, I discovered that you can't just use any old pen and paper lying around the house for the final project. So I made a trip to Ruple's art supply store in downtown Akron (where Chuck Ayers of Funky Winkerbean buys his supplies, incidentally) and procured the proper equipment. That done, I set about the task. You can't imagine the time I had just creating the panels. After many false starts, I was ready to fill the two boxes with my take on Falling Rock.

I knew I wanted to use my two favorite characters--Pam the javelina and Carver the owl. Carver has always seemed like a natural born republican to me, so the Richard Nixon theme was obvious. Being a fan of disembodied heads under glass, the joke just sort of grew from there.

Drawing the characters was, surprisingly enough, the easiest part of the process. This being an April Fool's gag, I was free of the impossible task of creating replicas. After taking a thorough glance at Pam and Carver on Josh's website, I drew from memory. Nixon proved more of a challenge. How to create a cartoon image of someone everybody knows? Nixon's is easily one of the more caricatured faces in American history, but I am not a cartoonist. What I came up with is, in my opinion, a passing resemblance.

Then came the scenery. Falling Rock takes place in a mythical national park in the American southwest. I was too nervous about stuffing the strip with bad desert art, so I settled for a lone cactus to do the job, along with a jagged line that I hoped would resemble a kind of rugged terrain. What really struck me during this process is how cool Josh's backgrounds look, and how much detail he adds without it ever looking cluttered.

After completing the first panel, I encountered the challenge of making the characters and, especially the static landscape, look similar from one panel to the next. Obviously with the characters, there is room for movement, but with Nixon and his machinery I was more restricted. Overall, I think I did a fair job recreating the scene in the second panel.

All of these difficulties pale, however, to the task of lettering. Having naturally sloppy handwriting, I tried my damndest to make the words neat and readable. Screwing up the lettering, after all, meant starting over. While the words are certainly readable, I hate how messy and poorly spaced they are, and how they blend into the background in some places. The spot that really bothers me is where Nixon speaks in the second panel. I don't think the part where he is meant to be whispering is very clear at all.

All-in-all I'd have to say that I'm pleased with my first attempt at a comic strip, and I thank Josh for the opportunity. I don't know how funny it is, but I did have a great time. I've always loved Falling Rock (the official comic of McBone) but I think I have a better understanding of how awesome an artist Josh is, and how much effort goes into creating five great cartoons every week. Hell, making one just about wore me out.

I hope all of you out there will check it out, and, more importantly, click on to Welcome to Falling Rock National Park every day. You will not be disappointed. I, and McBone, guarantee it.


PS: Hey, syndicators! Syndicate Falling Rock now!

PPS: Being published is really cool.