Aug. 31 2014 — 9:57 pm | 307 views

The Fable of the President’s New Clothes

By Lewis Grossberger |

Screen shot 2014-08-30 at 6.06.21 PMMany lands ago in a year far away, there was a President who decided to hold a news conference to apprise the populace of his latest deeds and policies.

“Bring me my tan suit,” he told his body man.

“The tan suit, Mr. President?”

“Something wrong with it, body man? Is it moth eaten? Does it have unsightly ketchup stains? Are the lapels too wide?”

“No, sir. It’s just that you’ve never worn tan before. You always do news conferences in a dark suit or a gray suit.”

“Well, it’s a warm August day, which is perfect for a tan suit. I remember reading that in GQ when I was organizing communities.”

“Yes, Mr. President.”

When the President appeared before the reporters and cameramen, they let out a gasp. For they had never seen him in such exotic raiment.

“Is that ecru?” said the correspondent of the Washington Post.

“Or could it be burnt ochre?” said the correspondent of the Istanbul Daily Taffy Pull.

“Tan,” said the reporter from FuzzBead. “It’s definitely tan. Unless it’s beige. Or café au lait.”

At home, the citizens watching on television could not hear the President’s words, which were about the strife in the Middle East. All they could take in was his tan suit. They reached for their phones and tablets, and they began tweeting.

“The President is all in tan!” they tweeted. “OMG, it’s true. The jacket is tan and so are the pants.”

#TANSUIT became a hashtag, and it trended.

Even before the news conference ended, a man of Congress went before the cameras to denounce the President’s suit.

“That suit is not presidential,” he thundered. “Washington never wore a tan suit. Lincoln abjured all hues but black. The fair-skinned Jefferson wouldn’t even venture outside for fear he might get a tan.”

Unaware of the effect his suit was having, the President went on talking about the Middle East. When it came time for questions, they were all about his apparel.

“What is the Constitutional backing for that suit?”

“Do you think your suit will hurt your party’s chances in the midterm elections?”

“Are you sure that tie really goes with the suit?”

Disappointed by the direction the questions were taking, the President said he had time for just one more.

“Would you describe your suit as buff or taupe?”

The President rushed out of the auditorium and back to his private quarters. There, he stripped off the tan suit and threw it on the floor.

“Destroy this tan suit,” he told his body man. “Obviously, some wicked sorcerer has put a curse upon it. As long as I am wearing it, the people cannot concentrate on matters of consequence.”

“Yes, Mr. President,” said the body man.

But three days later, the President’s pollster came to him with surprising news.

“The country has turned around on the suit,” he said. “Seventy-three percent of those polled approve of the way the suit did its job. They think you should wear it again. Though perhaps after having a few minor alterations done by Marvin the tailor, for in truth, the jacket doesn’t really drape well across your neck and shoulders.”

“What are the social media saying?” the President asked his social- media adviser. The adviser, a very bright sixteen-year-old boy, shot him a thumbs up. “The suit has forty-million friends on Facebook and twenty-nine million Twitter followers,” he exulted.

“Darn,” said the President. “Now I’m sorry we burned it.”

“But we didn’t,” said the President’s body man. “I had a hunch, so I hid it way in the back of your closet.” He went to the closet and pulled out the suit with a flourish. “Ta-dah,” he said. It was still as tan as ever.

And so at his next news conference, the President again wore what he now called his lucky ensemble, and it was said by all the media analysts that he rocked the suit.

But still no one paid any attention to his words, because just before the news conference, a major film star had died in a freak elevator accident, and that was all anyone could tweet about for the entire day.

What the President was saying this time was that hostile aliens from outer space were about to attack the country and the citizens should flee for their lives.

The citizens all died.


Aug. 27 2014 — 9:58 pm | 1920 views

No, This Was Not a Gun Tragedy

By Lewis Grossberger |

Screen shot 2014-08-27 at 6.04.15 PMA nine-year-old girl accidentally killed her gun instructor while shooting an Uzi on a firing range in—where else?—Arizona.

After she’d fired in single-shot mode, he switched the thing to full auto and told her to let fly.

Fully automatically predictably, the Uzi’s muzzle violently kicks up and back. Girl not ready for the recoil. Instructor, standing behind girl, becomes defunct.

A Facebook friend refers to this as “tragic.”

Nah. It’s not tragic. It’s too idiotic an event to qualify for tragedy. The better phrase is “hilariously stupid.”

(I’ve just reminded myself of Oscar Wilde’s famous wisecrack about Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop: “One must have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without laughing.”)

Laughter, I say, is the appropriate response to fatal absurdity of this magnitude. Derisive, sardonic laughter.

OK, not all of you can carry it off; I understand that. Hint: Don’t go for Bwaaahaaahaaa. It’s more of a quiet heh heh. Like Dick Cheney would do if a misdirected drone blew up Obama.

According to a website (thus it must be true), 156,000 people die in the world every day. Though not knowing anyone in yesterday’s graduating class, I’m going to contend that 155,999 of those deaths were more tragic than the gun instructor’s.

Now if it had been the kid who died, I might go for tragic. But the associate professor of comparative Uzi studies? Come on.

I mean would you really argue with the concept that any adult who hands a nine-year-old a loaded machine gun is a moron? Who would deny that any adult who does this and is also a firearms instructor is something so far beyond moronic we don’t even have a word for it?

Maybe mironic.

Then there are the parents. They’re probably feeling a little tragic about now. There they were standing behind their daughter, proudly videoing her first machine-gun blast. Wow, isn’t little Beretta growing up fast? Before you know it, she’ll be ready for her first self-propelled artillery. Whoops! Oh, dear.

But really, who can blame them? After all, they live in a country where a sizeable chunk of the populace thinks everyone—even babies and dogs (though not black people, of course)—should be walking around open-carrying Uzis and Glocks and Sig Sauers and Kalashnikovs and Walther PPKs (James Bond’s favorite; also Hitler’s) because that will prevent people from getting shot. How are they supposed to know better? NRAthink rules entire swathes of America.

Yeah, you have to laugh. Because if you start taking this stuff seriously, you feel like you want to shoot somebody.


Jul. 30 2014 — 1:06 am | 1080 views

Yelp Reviews of World War I

By Lewis Grossberger |

Screen shot 2014-07-23 at 5.39.56 PM(Excerpts from soggy old documents recently found in the basement of an ancient cheese store in a village in northern France)

★★★★ I’d never heard of this great war until some acquaintances from Germany came by and insisted that my friends and I try it. Though the combat was much too noisy and the ambience was crap (I found a rat in my trench!), the sheer scale of the conflict was exquisite and the stupendous shelling literally took my breath away. Kudos to the artillery spotters!

★★★  I wasn’t a fan of previous conflicts between France and Germany, but this time they’ve nailed it. The Western Front serves up the biggest, bloodiest battles I’ve ever tasted and this new entry, the “tank,” is an exciting addition to the weapons menu. If there’s any disappointment, it’s the Russian front–hard to get to and a bit raw for my taste. But chacun a son gout!

★ When I enlisted, I was led to believe that this would be a quick, fun fight with lots of opportunities for advancement in rank and personal glory. Instead, I found it to be an appalling quagmire of carnage and mindless destruction. Also, the food is subpar. Having chosen to desert, I won’t be returning to this war and cannot recommend it to anyone who really cares about fine dying.

★★★★★ Superb! I came here with a party of 1,600 and though we were walk-ins, we were immediately shown to the front lines. About 650 of us had the Somme while the others opted for the Verdun special. We were more than satisfied, and a few of us even survived. I’ll definitely be coming back for more, not necessarily by choice, and I can’t wait to see what surprises those wizards Ludendorff and Hindenburg whip up next.

★★ This trendy conflict is so overrated. The enemy spent nearly an hour chatting behind their barbed wire and when they finally attacked us, they were surly and rude. The machine-gunning, which I’d heard so much about, was uninspired, and the so-called aerial combat could best be described as crude. On the upside, at least you do get plenty of complimentary mustard gas. Overall, I hear there’s a bigger and better world war being planned by the proprietors; I’ll wait for that one.