Hidden Jokes

I’m rewatching early Simpsons seasons again, and discovering new favorite jokes all the time.

When I was a child, I thought as a child, and my favorite gags were simple: Things like the snare Homer builds in the forest that just catapults the bunny into eternity.

Then I grew older, but no less obtuse, and my favorite gags were the stuff of memes: Stuff like “My eyes! The goggle’s do nothing!”

Then I thought myself grown, and began to appreciate the less direct bits: Gags like The Hammock District, where the joke is more of an implication that such a niche demand exists and thrives.

Only just now, as a man, am I even realizing the jokes hidden in bits that I wrote off as simple: The episode where Flanders is a child with anger problems and he runs around the daycare hitting the other kids and yelling “I’m Dick Tracy! Take that, Pruneface! Now I’m Pruneface! Take that, Dick Tracy! Now I’m Prune Tracy!” The doctor runs over and stops him before he can finish the logical conclusion of the chain: “Now I’m Dickface!”


But the one that truly gets me is in the Krusty/Gabbo episode, where Krusty says he once owned a race horse with Bette Midler.

“We called it Krudler!”

I used to stop thinking right there, because my lazy brain was given no cues to dig deeper.

“Okay, that’s just a funny name,” I thought. “Joke registered. Moving on.”

But that’s not the joke at all – the real joke is only ever implied: That they chose such a terrible name over the perfect and obvious name for their horse. Because if you combine their two names in the other way, the horse’s name would have been “Misty.”

Layers and layers.

Problems with self and esteem

I’m always on the lookout for a good solid joke car: A make and model of automobile that can serve as its own punchline. This is more complicated than it seems. There are criteria.
First, it can’t be too common. A Kia Soul is an excellent joke car, but they’re everywhere. Their ubiquity takes away from the humor. But you also can’t go so obscure that nobody knows what you’re talking about. I’m sure foreign market only cars have some hilarious names, but nobody will laugh if they have to pause and think “what is that?”
Further, the car itself has to be a piece of shit. The Ferrari LaFerrari is a really stupid name, but it’s too fancy a car to net a laugh.
Now, back in the day, my go to was a Ford Fiesta. It hit all the right notes: Common but not everywhere, generally a piece of shit, and a hilarious name.
You step into my Ford and every day is a fiesta!
No, it’s really not. The AC smells like dead rats and the reverse doesn’t work so you can only park on hills.
But then fucking Ford had to go and bring the Fiesta back, sell a ton of them, and to add insult to injury — apparently make them pretty good cars! You assholes.
And then, oh god, it finally happened. I found the perfect new joke car: The Suzuki Esteem. It was like angels parted the clouds just to shine the light of comedy on that horrible rattling deathtrap. I was so happy.
Last night, I started watching Better Call Saul. He drives a Suzuki Esteem. They beat me to it.
God damn everything.

Don’t cry for me; I’m already dead

Sometimes I can actually feel myself begin to imagine something that I really don’t want to, and I enter into an epic struggle to distract my brain by creating ever more detailed, intricate, absurd scenarios – a unicorn whose horn unravels into helicopter blades, a beach where every grain of sand is a tiny yelling face, a flesh Voltron made out of the cast of Predator — before the visuals of what I’m trying NOT to imagine kick in and scar me for life. That’s how I felt after reading ‘woman that looks like Ted Cruz agrees to do porn.’ My defense mechanisms didn’t work. Anyway, that’s why I’m committing suicide. Not your fault, so much love, no more pain, don’t touch my stuff, yadda yadda yadda.

On Aliens and “dick tubes.”

I rewatched Aliens, and I have some thoughts: First and foremost, it’s remarkable how solid of a film it is. There’s such an effective economy of storytelling, and such memorable characters that get so little screentime. That’s a tough writing trick to pull off. It’s also surprising to me just how well practical effects of the ’80s hold up — from Blade Runner to Aliens to The Thing — while all CGI, even from just a few years ago, seems to age horribly. And finally, perhaps most importantly: When the movie first came out I knew a kid that told me he thought the queen alien’s egg tube was “hot” and he “couldn’t stop thinking about putting his dick in it.” I hadn’t even gone through puberty at the time, so I didn’t have much of a reply for him. But I assumed that was normal. Well, Warren, I’ve had some time to reflect on it, and I feel I can definitively say “that was not normal” and “I disagree.”

The Fold and 14, by Peter Clines


I finished Peter Clines’ The Fold over the weekend. Long story short: It, and 14, are great and you should read them. Setting-based mysteries, cosmic horror and hard sci-fi that know how to deliver.

Long story long: It’s not strictly necessary to read 14 first. It is a stand alone book. But it just functions much better as a sequel. I heard that from everybody, and everybody was right. I stopped reading The Fold to pick up 14, and that’s the way to do it. Just be aware that 14 is more of a slow burn, while the Fold is tight and focused. 14 is a TV show, while The Fold is a movie.

And now you’ve read like 100 words of this garbage when you could be reading 100 words of the actual books. You’re wasting time. Go buy them, if only so he has the financial incentive to write more books in that universe. I’m a selfish, selfish man.

WonderCon Appearance Info

Your last reminder: I’m going to be at WonderCon, tomorrow 3/26. Here are the details:

2:00-3:00PM It’s a Horrible Life (or UnLife) Room 151
What is it about grim and gritty, dark and dystopian, that readers crave? And how can humor exist in the midst thereof? Tap into the noir side of existence with R.S. Belcher (The Six-Gun Tarot, The Brotherhood of the Wheel, TOR), Robert Brockway (The Unnoticeables), Stephen Blackmoore (“Heroes Reborn: Dirty Deeds”), Scott Sigler (Generations Trilogy), Amber Benson (The Echo Park Coven novels), and David Mariotte of Mysterious Galaxy.

3:15-4:00PM Signing Autograph Booth #3000
With Robert Brockway (The Unnoticeables), R.S. Belcher (The Six-Gun Tarot, The Brotherhood of the Wheel), Stephen Blackmoore (“Heroes Reborn: Dirty Deeds”), Scott Sigler (Generations Trilogy),Amber Benson (The Echo Park Coven novels), and Heather Nuhfer (Weirdest)

Come hang out! Get something signed! Make ill-advised bets and then welch on them, knowing my memory is worse than yours!

Sign Up For My Mailing List, Get Cool Shit

I’m moving a lot of my online presence to a mailing list. It’s old-school, I know, but it’s a much neater solution. If you want to know about contests, free content, sales and new books – sign up! Then you’re guaranteed to never miss a thing, rather than just sitting back and hoping my inane jokes wade through the quagmire of your Twitter feed or fight their way through your cold and unforgiving Facebook algorithms.

Well now I’m just freaking out.

Audible’s crazy Daily Deal on The Unnoticeables just made it the #10 book in all Literature and Fiction, #4 book in all of Science Fiction and Fantasy. #2 in just Fantasy and #2 in Horror! It is, for right now, the 10th best selling novel (out of all the novels ever written, mind you) in the largest bookstore in the world.


If I crack the top 100 of all books, I will poop everywhere. That’s not an incentive or anything. That’s just an unfortunate, but understandable reaction.