Category Archives: Satire

Happy New Year! The Slatterns Go West

photo courtesy

photo courtesy

Dear Friends and Loving Family,

As most of you know by now, this year the Slattern family left behind the stress, grime and outstanding bench warrants of New York City for a fresh start in sunny San Francisco! After all that fuss and nonsense about young master Slattern’s alleged “hacking” and our subsequent flight to adventure in Kazakstan, the Slattern clan was feeling the need for some sun and fun, so when a position opened up in the San Francisco sorting facility of the good old USPS, Mr. Slattern jumped at the chance. Sure, it was a lateral, some might even say downward, move, but as you might expect, the taint of a mail fraud accusation — even a baseless, trumped up one — tends to linger, and so the family got behind “the old man” and packed up the truck and a-moved to Beverly. Well, actually Oakland, but you get the picture.

photo courtesy

Home Sweet Home! photo courtesy

Upon arriving on the left coast, we soon settled into our charming little bungalow by the freeway (handy off and on!). Out here they call this kind of property a “project house,” and what a project it’s been. Luckily we left the spot welder and acetylene torches back in the NYPD impound room, safely beyond the reach of our family contractor, Uncle Fred. With just a hammer and a handsaw, he worked miracles shoring up the place. I’m pretty sure ours is the only bungalow in the East Bay with flying buttresses, but when the big quake hits, the Slatterns will be ready. “Bring on the tremblers!” says Uncle Fred. Of course there’s more than a little left to do, but with only two rooms, the list is quite manageable. Isn’t it lucky we thought to hitch that pop-up trailer to the minivan before we left? Between the shack house, the trailer and the Caravan, every member of the family has a little corner to call his own.

Uncle Fred goes native! photo courtesy

Uncle Fred goes native!
photo courtesy

With his domestic tasks complete, intrepid traveler Uncle Fred has begun to explore the city and seems to have found his niche at a little cafe over in the Castro where he spends most days nursing a cappuchino and watching the world go by, happily surrounded by like-minded free spirits. As an added bonus, his inner thigh psoriasis is responding beautifully to all that sunshine. And I’m absolutely thrilled to have finally found a use for all those orphaned socks in the laundry basket!

Grandma, too, has found her “peeps” in the wild west. Upon arrival, it was for her the work of minutes to master the bus schedule and make a beeline for Haight-Ashbury, where she’s pretty sure she spent a blissful couple of years back in the Sixties.

His and her chin scruff!

His and her chin scruff = love at first sight!

You’d think an octogenarian with a walker might have trouble with the transfers, but the old girl says she’s “found a new spark.” We think the spark is her friend, Mr. M-dot Six, whom she met over at the senior drop-in center. It’s so sweet. Every week they take the Cannibis-Rex senior bus to Big Sur together and spend the afternoon chasing trails and chair dancing to the sweet sounds of yesteryear — bootleg Dead, the Airplane, the Stones. Apparently, Mr. Six has the lyrics to Panama Red tattooed on his back, which makes bus sing-alongs a whooping good time.

Between work and his five-hour round-trip commute each day, Mr. Slattern is busy, too. He’s finding the workers-first spirit of San Francisco a welcome change from the grind of New York’s rigid rules and regulations, and of course the six-hour work day is quite a boon. Between the city-mandated karma breaks and his drive time, he’s made real progress with his Kazakh language tapes. As he says, “With this family, you never know when a trip to a Central Asian non-extradition state may be necessary, and next time I want to know how to order a goddamned whiskey and something other than goat.” He’s such a panic.

Our boy has found his Mr. Miyagi!

Our boy has found his Mr. Miyagi!

Young Master Slattern seems be settling in despite the upheaval and detentions of the last few years. A real trooper, our boy is following his court-ordered technology ban to the letter, which made it much easier to refute last week’s loose talk and allegations about connections to the DPRK. Now, instead of working on computers, he spends his off-time at the local gym practicing the martial arts, something called UFC. I’m not sure what it is, but he tells us it’s a very spiritual, energy-focused multi-disciplinary sport. We’re just glad he’s found a new obsession hobby. As an added bonus, his baby-fat love handles and computer-screen slouch are both things of the past. We are told the concussive damage passes quickly and is seldom cumulative, so it’s all good.

As you may have heard, our daughter decided to stay in Kazakhstan as Mrs. Nikolai Nikolaiovich, at least until the twins arrive. Last time we spoke, the newlyweds were planning to join us just as soon as the confusion about Nik’s status could be resolved with Homeland Security. Apparently, owing to some business with camels and rocket fuel, his name landed on a watch list, but he is sure it’s all a misunderstanding. What else is new for this family?



As for yours truly, I soldier on. The freeway noise, at first a constant sensory assault not unlike living in a running clothes dryer, has become, for me anyway, more like the sound of waves breaking on the shore, a kind of white noise with diesel fumes. It lulls me to sleep at night, and in the morning the jake brakes and air horns gently rouse me from my Ambien-induced slumber. The doctors out here are lovely and generally agree that my alopecia is most likely stress-induced and temporary. They seem to feel the bald spots on my head will start to fill in on their own as soon as the Lithium kicks in. The good news is, no need for another bout of residential treatment — or ECT — for your favorite slattern!

Once again, we wish all our friends and family (even the ones who no longer speak to us, or accept our calls, or send money) a happy and healthy holiday season. For those of you still in touch, we can best be reached at General Delivery, Daly City Post Office. Or through the Red Cross/Crescent. Happy New Year, everybody!

Tuesday Satire: Confessions on the Cronk

Why would you confess when you haven’t done anything wrong — or even interesting?

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Once again, my funny friends at The Cronk of Higher Education have seen fit to share my off-kilter take on university life, this time in a short satirical article, “Online Confessions Fuel Fraternity Alumni Discontent.” There’s lots of quality satire and snark over there, so take a peek, why don’t you?

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Monday Satire: Postcards from Pyongyang


Welcome, friends!

Regent Holidays — For travellers looking for a truly unique experience, our tours to North Korea offer a privileged glimpse into a secret and propaganda-filled world. As the leading UK experts on North Korea we have worked closely with the authorities since 1985 to develop tours which push the boundaries for tourism.

Part of the fun of a tour to North Korea is to expect the unexpected, so go with the flow and you will be rewarded with an intriguing and memorable holiday.…

15th July

Darling Nicola,

After a fascinating week in Beijing, Daddy and I fly to Pyongyang today. So far lots of “exotic” meals and even a karaoke night. Who’d have guessed your father knew all the words to Livin’ on a Prayer!? The other members of the tour group are calling him “Elvis” Bunstable! Bad luck about the timing of our trip. We’re absolutely crushed to have to miss out on this year’s camping holiday with you and the children. Despite the torrential rains, the mosquitoes and the twins’ stomach flu, we had such a lovely two weeks in the camper van with all of you last year.

Love to James and the children,

Mum and Dad

 * * *

16 July

Dear Nic, James and kiddies,

Our group took an “escorted” tour of the demilitarized zone this morning. Bit dodgy. Apparently they haven’t accounted for all the land mines as yet, and Mum was a bit put off by the Kalashnakovs and the dogs. Still, good fun. Stopped for lunch – rice and what I hope was either chicken or pork – in an abandoned munitions hanger. (Add a cold bath and a bit of flogging, and I might have been back in the Royal Navy!) Went on to look at some rather hideous monuments, but had a celebrity sighting! Turns out it was that mad American basketball player Dennis Rodman – not likely to miss a seven-foot Black man in a pink cap, feather boa and lipstick round these parts. No traffic at all on the roads, and you would not believe what these people can do with concrete.



 * * *

17th July

Dear Nicola,

Last full day behind the barbed wire curtain. Went to a parade this a.m. Not terribly festive — just tanks and missiles. We never did find out what they were celebrating, though I can’t say being in the middle of a crowd of under fed, identically dressed, flag-waving Kim fans was particularly jolly. Unfortunately one of our little band of travellers, Mrs. Fenster from London, somehow got separated from the group and ended up in the People’s Security Palace. Luckily they found nothing questionable when they searched her, and the authorities let her go in exchange for teaching them something called a Gang-Nam Style dance (?).  Our “bon voyage banquet” is tonight. I’m certainly ready to be back in Shropshire. Your father’s been practicing for his karaoke performance all afternoon.

xoxo, Mum

 * * *

18th July

Dear Nicola,

Boarding the plane for Beijing shortly, but I have some rather shocking news, so prepare yourself. Daddy has decided to “follow his star” and remain in North Korea for the time being, abandoning not only his family, but 30 years’ service in the Commemorative Stamp Bureau and his government pension as well. After his rendition of Tainted Love at last night’s banquet, he was approached by representatives for that Rodman fellow, who are recruiting performers for something called a Diggin’ the Worm Goodwill East Tour. Given how poor Mrs. Fenster was violated here, I think your father has gone stark raving mad, but once he zipped up that yellow jumpsuit and switched on the rhinestone microphone there was no reasoning with him. Apparently they’re planning an autumn swing through rural China with a stopover in London on the way to Beirut. He can explain himself to you then, since reaching him in Pyongyang will obviously be impossible. He can do as he likes, but I am coming home. This is one Bunstable the secret police will not be using their filthy hoses on.

Love to all, Mum

 * * *

4th September

My dearest daughter Nicola,

What up, Kimmie?!

What up, Kimmie?!

Day twenty-four in the British Embassy compound. Sending this out in the diplomatic pouch as leaving grounds impossible. The station chief hopes Dennis may be able to secure my release. Not sure what you’ve been told, but let’s just say that when the Great Successor requests “Superfreak” it’s best not to refuse on artistic grounds. Pity really. Rehearsals for the tour were going terribly well. If you speak to your mother, please tell her how very sorry I am. Can’t think what was going through my head, but if she feels she must continue with the divorce proceedings, I understand. Seems we’d have been better off camping with you and the kiddies than swanking off to this barmy corner of the world, but no use crying over spilt state secrets as they say in the safe room. On a happier note, I’m told the Stamp Bureau may have a position in the Commemorative Re-Issues division should I make it out. Apparently they have a very competitive karaoke team and view me as something of a ringer!

Chin up and keep a good thought. Love to all,


From Greek to Geek: The therm has turned

My latest satirical entry on The Cronk of Higher Education can be found RIGHT HERE! Don’t be afraid to click the link — it’s all suitable for work, unless of course your office is near the dean’s.


2012 North American Wife Carrying Championship: Oh yeah, it’s real.

An open letter to the Race Committee

The winners, Taisto Miettinen and Kristiina Haapanen of Finland.  Courtesy Robert F. Bukaty and the Bangor Daily News

Dear Sirs,

As a participant in this year’s contest, I’ve got a bone or two to pick with you. If you will consult your records, you’ll see that me and the missus once again finished dead last as has been the case for the past five years, except for the unforgettable 2008 race in which we bested that pair from Lewiston. You’ll recall that in that contest Mr. Norman French was ultimately disqualified for doping after it was discovered that he’d been taking Viagra for six days straight in the run-up to the race.  Any man that’s been in that state for nigh on to a week — without relief — would surely have an unnatural amount of energy to burn, and so although we were disappointed to again bring up the rear, so to speak, we understood the committee’s decision and accepted it without complaint.

Besting the log.
Courtesy Robert F. Bukaty and the Bangor Daily News.

As you no doubt know, my wife, being locally sourced, is substantially larger than most of the other wives, which brings me to my first point. I think there should be size divisions along the lines of boxing or wrestling. That little boney woman from Finland who won was no bigger than half a minute, barely even a flyweight. I could’ve carried her in my pocket and she’d have jangled like a handful of pennies, ferchrissakes. It’s just not right that I’m competing with twice that load (anyway) on my back. I’d estimate that my better half dresses out somewhere north of 200 pounds, making her a heavyweight, and while she’s still a fine figure of a woman, carrying her is no day at the beach. The log jump is particularly difficult, as it imperils the husband’s more delicate parts. If memory serves, the now disgraced Mr. French, bounced over that obstacle like he’d jumped on a trampoline. Apparently from the navel down he was number than a pounded thumb, but of course Mrs. French was probably no more than a middleweight anyway.

Hardly enough to keep most Mainers going for a week!
Courtesy Robert F. Bukaty and the Bangor Daily News.

I have my suspicions that this weight blindness has something to do with the winner receiving his wife’s weight in beer. Let’s just say that if my wife and I had won, you’d have needed a semi and a log skidder to get our winnings home. I’m not making any accusations, mind you, but I think the folks at Shock Top could be persuaded to be a bit more forthcoming with their prizes.

Since I’ve put pen to paper, I’d also like to call your attention to the issue of carrying style. As this is the NORTH AMERICAN championship, it should, I believe, require participants to carry American style, that is, either the standard fireman’s carry or the piggy back. This Estonian carry, with the wife upside down on the husband’s back, is just not right. In the event you are unfamiliar with its origins, I’d like to remind you that historically it was used to steal women from villages in some God-forsaken part of Europe that’s probably as cold as Maine, but doesn’t even have central heat or free and fair elections. My son-in-law, who’s some kind of smart-ass big brain from out-of-state, told me that and I believe him. He’s a professor at the community college, so I guess he’d know. And anyway, he showed me a map of where this Estonia is and I’d like to point out that it is suspiciously close to Finland, the country of origin of this year’s winners, whose names I can’t hardly pronounce let alone spell. Seems to me something’s fishy about that, and it ain’t pickled herring you smell. In any case, I believe the evidence speaks for itself, so I’ll say no more.

In closing, gentlemen, I’d like to just say that I and many like-minded Mainers look forward to the annual wife carrying contest even if it is dominated by sneaky Europeans and their underfed spouses. I know I am not the only one who would like to see the rules changed to make the contest fairer for indigenous participants with weight classes and a standard carry style. Failing that, perhaps you’d consider adding a cow tipping feature at the end. Just to level the pasture, you know.


Vinal Largay
Cherryfield, Maine

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