2018: A Look Back

Yes, you heard right. It’s time for a new annual tradition of looking backward into the future! What will you be able to say you have achieved at the end of the year that is just beginning? This representative checklist will help empow-WOW-er you toward ending 2018 on a high note so that you can begin 2018 on a note that’s even higher! Okay, I’m lost now, too, so let’s just get to it.

2018 IS OVER. HAVE YOU…?

  1. Taken a moment each day to go on Facebook and post a meme about life so that every one of your long suffering friends can experience it?

2. Smiled at strangers? Suffered a concussion at the hands of any strangers?

3. Demanded that your employer compensate you at a level commensurate with your experience? (This action is particularly rewarding if you actually have a job.)

4. Taken responsibility for your life by forgiving all the ass hats that have ruined it?

5. Attended at least one motivational seminar?

6. Paid off the credit card company for the motivational seminar you attended?

7. Accepted yourself as a divine being created by a loving universe but never, ever, ever telling anybody about it for fear of being labeled a New Age douchebag?

8. Been eating more bland, but healthy foods and consequently putting up with ridicule at the hands of happier people who will die before you?

9. Taken a yoga class at least long enough to realize that nobody there is interested in dating you?

10. Allowed yourself at least one 24-hour period away from your devices? (Does not include brief email checks, brief text messages [just for the essential stuff like telling someone I’ll be there in five], brief posting of a picture of me in front of the mall onto Facebook and Instagram, or brief check to see if my Amazon order has shipped.)

Keep this list handy and consult it at the end of the New Year. And then ask yourself, with all candor and honesty: what was the question again?

White House Moves to Ban Wimpy, Socialist “It’s a Wonderful Life”

Sources close to the Mr. Paul Maul organization report that if a Republican-led Congress has its way, Americans may soon face stiff fines and even imprisonment for viewing the once-beloved Frank Capra-helmed Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life.

The bill to ban the 1946 film, which starred James Stewart and Donna Reed, will go before the House next week, and a majority ruling is anticipated. Citing socialist overtones and a wimpy, bleeding-heart protagonist, champions of the bill say it is about time “citizens of this country stop sympathizing with a degenerate radical like George Bailey.”

In the holiday-themed film, a favorite on television each year, George Bailey, a family man and savings & loan operator in the fictional community of Bedford Falls, is brought back from the brink of suicidal disaster by a bumbling angel named Clarence, and the help of a community he thought had abandoned him. In the process, Bailey falls afoul of a local real estate mogul named Mr. Potter, whose quest to develop expensive real estate that squeezes out the poor is rapidly taking hold in the small town.  

“George Bailey was offered a perfectly good position in Potter’s company,” said an unnamed House Republican who is supporting what has become known as the “Zuzu’s Petals” bill. “What kind of loser, in a seller’s economy, clings to his stupid ideals—and gives up a life of wealth and ease for his family—just to avoid doing business with a soulless real estate magnate? I mean, where are this libtard’s priorities?

“Not to mention,” said a House staffer who shares what may soon be revealed as the majority opinion, “the dude can’t even afford to fix the wonky banister in his own house, but he’s still working to make life better for people from foreign countries without even doing background checks or caring that they are there to take jobs away from everyone in Bedford Falls.”

“This idea of providing equal opportunity to people at the bottom of the heap is completely un-American,” he added. “It’s absolutely counter to everything this country stands for. If you ask me, it’s socialist talk.”

“It’s about time George Bailey was outed as the sickeningly soft-hearted milquetoast that he is, and that the film itself be revealed for the cold, sentimental and downright evil piece of celluloid that it is.”

Should the Zuzu’s Petals bill become law, not only will viewing or owning It’s a Wonderful Life in any analog or digital format become illegal, but also anyone caught doing Jimmy Stewart impersonations as they playfully blurt out famous lines from the film or reenact the drugstore scene where Mr. Gower boxes young George’s ear, will be publicly humiliated on Twitter.

No word yet on whether or not the song “Buffalo Gals” will be allowed to exist as a separate entity.

If Santa Was Jesus: The Passion of the Claus

 
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Gather round, children as I tell you a tale from a time long ago. A time before we lived in the perfect world you and I know today. The happy world we so enjoy, in which peace reigns on earth and no one wants more than they already have.

But it was not always this way.

The Three Wise Guys, Carmine, Vinnie and Dominic, were the first to hear of the wonderful new prophet: the prophet who would bring to the world heedless commerce and an endless array of unnecessary products. Guided by whatever star looked the most like the one they saw when they last looked up at the night sky, the Three Wise Guys made their pilgrimage to witness the birth of the baby Claus.

His name was Norbert. Mary and Joe Claus were nonplussed upon hearing that their infant Norbert would one day lead the world into a bold new era of trade and commerce. “He’s gonna be the first prophet to make a profit,” quipped Carmine, at which point the Three Wise Guys were asked to leave. Indeed, they would have been consigned to the scrap heap of history but for their miniaturized likenesses, which appeared in dioramas of the birth of the Claus. These were merchandised to unsuspecting citizens during the brief but unsettling time in which Santa Claus and his movement held the land in its grip. Which was soon to come.

When Norbert Claus was 10 years old, he was working tirelessly in Joe Claus’ functional furniture shop when he was beset by a vision. “Father,” he confided, “I see a time when we will craft more frivolous, more diversionary objects. Little vehicles with wheels that can spin, for example, called toys.”

Joe thought this odd, but continued to listen. “You see, dad, people will soon be feeling a sucking void of meaninglessness in their lives. And they will need to buy all manner of toys to make them feel better. Then, by extension, when they are unable to communicate their feelings to those they love, they can buy things for them, too. These will be called presents.” As Joe Claus chalked up young Norbert’s musings to going a bit hard on the Red Bull, Norbert abruptly announced his departure, declaring that he must now roam from village to village, preaching this new way of life.

Before long, Norbert attracted a cadre of follower elves and a former telemarketer named Mary Marmalade, who helped him craft his ‘toys’ in a workshop and sell them on street corners. In this way, Norbert healed all those who wanted to use products to cure their ennui. It was Rumpo, Norbert’s closest elf confidant, who suggested the beard, fat suit and boots; and the name change to the more reverent Santa. This image makeover, combined with the Sermon on the Snow Mound (“blessed are the customer service centers, for they shall help build brand loyalty…”) changed the course of history. Soon, demand exceeded supply. And the news of the public’s mania for gadgets and toys reached the unhappy ear of the local king, whose name was King King.

King King could not abide anybody becoming more popular than he was. He bribed Rumpo with a stack of Visa gift cards, and when Rumpo kissed his master in the Garden of GetSomeForMe, Santa Claus was jailed. Mary Marmalade sat beneath his window each night, lulling him to sleep with the moving ballad I Don’t Know What To Buy Him. But with their shopping savior out of sight, the populous soon awoke as from a dream, wondering how they could ever have felt that buying useless baubles could ever replace human love.

But King King was kind, and on the day set aside for public banishment, he gave the crowd a choice. On his left: Santa Claus, accused of employing elfin accomplices and introducing the purchase of worthless objects as an opiate to an otherwise fairly well-adjusted citizenry. On his right: a man named Barnabas, who had been arrested on four counts of assault, and one count of attempting to marry an alpaca. “Which one would you have me banish?” King King asked of the assembly.

“The other guy!” shouted the crowd as one, throwing the easily flustered King into a tailspin with which he decided to contend by playing rock-paper-scissors with each of the accused. Santa Claus lost. And so he was run out of town on a sleigh pulled by nine reindeer from the stables of Rankin/Bass and angrily pelted with plush stuffed animals as he went. In a later filmed version, these violent moments were captured in hideous slow motion by director Mel Gibson.

Happily, as we know, the message of consumerism never really caught on. And from our perspective as a highly evolved society in which buying things to fill a hole inside of us is an almost laughable concept, we can look upon the legend of the Santa Claus as nothing more than a charming folk tale. A folk tale, however, that did make an excellent movie, which would be pretty awesome to watch on a brand new HD, 3D ready flat screen. That is, if you’re cool enough to have one of those.

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BREAKING: Even Those Who DO Remember History Are Still Doomed to Repeat It

I was as shocked as anyone to learn that one of the great cautionary maxims of all time was recently modified by a top-secret council of world leaders.

These visionary wordsmiths assembled in an undisclosed European location to debate the continuing validity of various well-known aphorisms. According to a majority vote by the council, the notion that someone could actually avoid repeating massive gaffes from the past simply through the act of remembering them reflects an embarrassingly naïve point of view completely out of step with the hideous state of things in the year 2017.

The actual quote from philosopher George Santayana is, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” but, hey, it was only a matter of time before somebody exposed this supposedly deep musing as being about as spurious as they come. I mean, if we can’t even look back on our own sorry individual dating histories and realize we learned absolutely nothing despite being in possession of a perfectly functioning memory apparatus, how the hell can we claim that we aren’t walking into a sociological sh*t storm just because we have a vague recollection of the last time we brought about a hell on earth by behaving like barely sentient troglodytes? Clearly, we are just not wired that way.

The members of the quotation-correcting symposium have also suggested that Santayana’s phrase be modified to the more reasonable, “Those who are capable of remembering the past still seem to get off on repeating it,” but intellectual property lawyers are already getting out in front of that bid for a rewriting of a beloved, sage old saying.

The council has also suggested the world take a good, hard look at some other long-accepted quotes and consider re-fabricating them to reflect a more realistic outlook on where we are as a people in the 21st century. Highlights of their suggestions include:

Life is a comedy to those who think and a tragedy to those who feel.

Suggested modification: “Life is a tragedy, let’s face it.”

You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.”

Suggested modification: “Don’t take any shots, it’s just not worth it.”

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

Suggested modification: “Fear itself is actually pretty damn scary.

In closing, may I say that I hope you will remember this blog. Whether or not you will be doomed to repeat it is up to you.

I Want to Be Politically Engaged, But Unfortunately There’s a Cat on My Lap

This is an incredibly volatile and precarious time in the annals of history. Crucial votes on our governmental policy could shake the very foundations of our democracy. The ideologies of those in power are so polarizing that to remain on the sidelines is nothing short of unconscionable. There is a lot at stake, and I so want to engage in the political process and make a difference.

Unfortunately, there is a cat on my lap.

I can’t move. I mustn’t move. For to move would be to disrupt this peaceful, purring creature from the sanctuary of its Zen-like state. And we can’t have that. Not to mention, this furry, four-legged entity is providing me with perhaps the only true affirmation of my worth as a human being I may ever receive. “Your lap is good,” it seems to say as it gratefully receives a robust chin scratch, “therefore you are good.”

So, as I say, it would be nice to get online and maybe sign a few petitions, or mark up by sample ballot or even post an angry, politically-charged meme to Facebook. But, none of that is going to occur because even though my laptop is within reach, it would be far too awkward to have to balance it on top of this cat’s rump. Not to mention placing a foreign object directly on top of said cat would most surely cause it to dart away from its position of being perched across my thighs. And that simply cannot happen.

This cat must never leave my lap. It is right and good that it should be there, and all activity must cease while it rests, sphinx-like, on my legs. And if that ceasing of activity includes failing to work toward change for the very life’s blood of my nation, well so be it.

In fact, this cat’s basic lap-sit could easily progress to a full-on splay, wherein the feline goes into an even further relaxed state and dissolves across me in a heart-achingly beautiful display of complete trust and comfort. If you think I am going to pass that up just to have an impact on some legislation that could make it easier on the people with whom I share this precious planet, you are crazy.

Yes, my phone is within easy reach. I could probably accomplish some Internet advocacy with Wi-Fi, but, you know, I don’t think that’s going to work, either. I mean, just the slightest movement from me could cause kitty to bolt, and I simply cannot take that chance. You guys probably all know about the studies they’ve done on the therapeutic aspect of pets. It can result in lower blood pressure, reduced feelings of hopelessness and fewer bouts of anxiety. When’s the last time the political process could claim to do any of that good stuff? I ask you! So, my apologies, various web sites soliciting for my virtual signature on petitions to my representatives in Washington—not gonna happen.  Who’s gonna get a good chin rub?

In closing, I guess I should apologize for whatever nightmare scenario you could all end up living through just because one citizen willfully refused to become engaged politically.

But, hey, I’m sorry. There’s a cat on my lap.

90 is the New Dead

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We live in a wondrous age of age-defying wonder. If you’ve made it to 30, hey, it’s pretty much the new 20. Then comes that other big milestone, 40. Have no fear; it’s the new 30. For a while now, 50 has been either the new 40 or the new 30, depending upon just how invigorated one can claim to feel when hitting the big 5-0. Even more incredibly, 60 has itself been declared the new 40 as well, which is a boon and a half to folks entering what used to be called the golden years but have now, if the names of vitamins are any indication, been reclassified as silver.

 

In any case, you may be experiencing some confusion as to how all this will apply to you, as you get older. While it is true that you are as young as you feel, and it is perfectly acceptable to shave as much as 20 psychological years off your actual progression on this planet, it can be comforting to know that, when all is said and done, it’s a fairly good bet that 90 is the new dead.

 

Kudos to the centenarians; they will certainly defy this. In fact, statistics show that they will number a little over 100,000 in 20 years.

 

These same figures indicate that 6 million people will be over 80 during that same period of time.

 

Ninety, though, is still a pretty tough nut to crack, so it’s probably time we put a general cap on our ability to keep ratcheting down our aging processes and, again, come out and say, for the sake of argument, that 90 is the new dead.

 

It’s not that bad. When you hit 70, you can still call it the new 60 if you want. In fact, a crapload of people have already declared it the new 50, anyway.

 

And when you make it to 80, you don’t even need to shave a paltry 10 years off your age and make it the new 70, no! It’s already out there in the mainstream that 80, you guessed it, is the new 60.

 

One thing is for sure. All this conflation in the world of aging is freaking exhausting. I should think any of us would be glad to kick it, after spending anywhere from 10 to 50 years constantly declaring ourselves the same age as people who are actually going to nightclubs and keeping track of contemporary music. It’s a hell of a lot of work to keep aging backwards, so giving up the ghost at 90 should work out just about right.

 

Yes, 90 is the new dead. Live with it.

 

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Top Ten Benefits of a Mr. Paul Maul Presidency

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The candidates are telling us they have the answers, but it’s pretty easy to see that all the problems in the world stem from a lack of self-examination. So here is my ten-step plan to reform politics in America once and for all. Won’t you join me in tapping into your truths, whatever that means?

TOP TEN PROMISES OF MR. PAUL MAUL’S  EMPOW-WOW-ERMENT PARTY

  1. I will begin each day by talking to the economy and making sure it realizes how important it is to all of us.  Soon, the economy will develop a better sense of self-worth and pass that worth onto the American people in the form of new jobs.
  2. Constitution to be replaced with copies of “The Secret.”
  3. As long as they provide a convincing written explanation of what is wrong with them to politicians on the far right, LGBT people can do anything they want.
  4. As part of my five-year plan to reduce stress in everyday life, I will institute the death penalty for taking more than ten items through the ten items or less line.
  5. I will continue to allow tax cuts for the rich as long as the rich promise to learn more about sharing.
  6. I will balance the budget by making sure to put a Libra in charge of the budget.
  7. I will replace the Pledge of Allegiance in our schools with the Pledge of Empow-WOW-erment (full text below).
  8. I will impose severe tax penalties on anyone who makes another comic book movie. 
  9. I will end our dependence on foreign oil with the power of my mind alone by using law of attraction principles as outlined in the new Constitution (see #2).
  10. Finally, I will pay no attention to the constant, nagging critical voice in my head that keeps saying the first nine promises are ridiculous.  By refusing to embrace any negativity, I will be able to implement all the steps in this political platform no matter what anybody thinks. So even if everything goes right down the shitter, I will be remembered as someone with the strength of my convictions.  And that’s how it works, people.

Thank you for your support.

THE PLEDGE OF EMPOW-WOW-ERMENT

I pledge allegiance to myself

And occasionally to Deepak Chopra

And to my development

For which I stand

One person

Fully realized

With inner strength

And awesomeness

For all

.

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Report: World Has Lost Over 100 Billion Hours Sitting Through DVD Anti-Piracy Warnings

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Motivational muckraker Mr. Paul Maul has uncovered formerly classified government documents which could have tremendous implications for the empow-WOW-erment industry, and deeply impact everyone’s ability to reach their peak productivity potential potentiality.  As entertainment consumers turn more and more toward streaming content, a staggering new finding has made the world’s population acutely aware of trillions of minutes they will never get back. Officials report that the average viewer of DVD or Blu-ray home entertainment has lost over 35 hours waiting to get through the anti-piracy warnings that appear at the start of most home video content, for a worldwide total of over 120 billion lost hours.

 

The statistics were assembled using figures taken from 1997 onward, and do not include any metrics regarding VHS technology which, although allowing the viewer to fast-forward much more readily than most modern digital content, might still have accounted for lost time in consumers who simply sat like dullards waiting for the warning to be over so that their movie could start.

 

“You figure an average of 30 seconds per warning, with the, again, average viewer going through at least two DVDs or, now, Blu-Rays a week, and sometimes a lot more than that,” observed Daniel Bunting, the head researcher in the loss-of-time study. “That’s fifty-two minutes a year times seven billion people times a little over twenty years….I mean, good God, that’s, like seven trillion, two hundred and eight billion minutes gone. Over a hundred billion hours.”

 

“I don’t even want to think about how productive we all could have been with those trillions of minutes,” says scientific researcher Laurie Ptolemy. “We might have brought about world peace, or figured out how LinkedIn works.”

 

Shocked by the recent findings, the President has called upon citizens of the United States to lead the world in making up for the potentially further billions of hours squandered on anti-piracy warnings during the recent phenomenon of binge watching. In a statement issued earlier this week, the President said, “Look, people, when you binge, all the episodes blend together anyway. Let’s be more sensible in the way we take in product with anti-piracy messages.”

 

The organizers of the study took pains to emphasize that, despite their anecdotal research, piracy of intellectual property is still a crime, and that perhaps the massive time suck involved in sitting through anti-piracy warnings will sear the messages into our brains. This, in turn, officials say, “…may one day prevent you from taking food out of the mouths of decent hard-working people, you uncaring bastards.”

 

Mr. Paul Maul was not available for comment. Which is pretty weird, since this is his blog post.

 

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My Decision Whether or Not to Become an Atheist is in God’s Hands

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I’m still not sure if I am ready to actually declare myself an atheist, so I guess I am just going to leave it up to God.

I mean, what do you think, big guy, or gal? I need a little guidance, here. Should I stop believing in you? I know, I know, you’re bored out of your skull with that tired old trope about why would a loving God allow suffering in the world, but I have to admit it does crop up now and then. Especially when I need an explanation for what I see on the news, and why human beings can’t seem to stop hurting each other, or why people on Facebook insist on posting pictures of their dinner entrees.

See, if you came down this instant and told me that you were cool with me being an atheist, then I wouldn’t need to have an answer for why things happen at all. They would just happen, and I wouldn’t be able to blame it on you, prostrate myself to you or bargain with you, or any of the things that grow naturally out of an emotional investment in your God-forsaken existence. But since you haven’t seen fit to become involved in my decision about whether or not to claim you aren’t real, I’m back to square one: asking why: why you aren’t fighting a little harder when you know one of your pitiful, imperfect subjects is considering dropping your ass?

You haven’t seen fit to show me a sign, which is what you have done for a lot of famous religious figures over the years, let’s face it. Okay, maybe I’m just a piker who isn’t exactly worthy of a burning bush or being asked to sacrifice someone to prove my loyalty, but give me a break, this is a big decision! We’re talking atheism here! So, if we are all equal in your eyes, would it kill you to send some sort of clue or miracle down to Earth so I can know how to proceed? Maybe I could be walking around thinking about becoming an atheist and then a lightning bolt could narrowly miss me, or a Bichon Frisé could suddenly start telling my fortune in perfect English, or my parents could inexplicably start understanding who I am as a person.

Clearly, Lord, you spoke to Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins, informing them that they could get the hell (if there is a hell) out of Dodge (if there is a Dodge) and I suspect you did the same for Christopher Hitchens, God rest his soul. So I know you are capable of swaying people in one direction or another. And of all the heinous, unspeakable things that have been done in your name, one citizen simply asking you whether or not he should switch sides does not seem like that big a deal.

And hey, at least I’m asking! I want you to know I would not fling myself rashly into declaring you don’t exist. No way. You’re God, and you’ve earned the right to a fair trial. So how about meeting me halfway at least? Let me know if I should become an atheist, will you? I’ll be honest, sometimes I get the feeling you would feel more of a call to action from overhearing the hidden thoughts of a Red Sox fan who’s considering supporting the Yankees for the rest of his life.

Okay, sorry, don’t mean to sound bitter. I’ll just sit here and wait for a nudge from on high. Until such time, I will try to be comfortable with the question that continues to plague me.

Should I become an atheist? God only knows.

For God’s sake, become a Mr. Paul Man fan on Facebook!  The link is right over there on the sidebar!

Stay Back or I’ll Crowdfund You

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I’m warning you. Keep away from me. Back the eff off. I’m serious. If you come any closer, I’ll crowdfund you.

Don’t think I won’t do it, either. I have plenty of projects I could use some financial backing for. Like, last year, I invented this pen that you can program to sign your name, hands-free. Seriously, we tried it and it worked once. It was like the pen was hovering, all by itself. It was pretty cool. We couldn’t get it to work a second time, and it’s just in the prototype stage right now, but with enough investor support, we can offer it to the public and you can be part of history.

For reals, I could crowdfund your ass so bad. I’m working on a documentary about Words with Friends. You know, it’s like that movie about crossword puzzle fanatics, only it’s about people who are addicted to inventing screwed up words and seeing if the Words with Friends dictionary allows them to be used in-game play. We’re giving away an official mini-poster for the movie on a lanyard if you donate at the 25 dollar and up level. Besides, there are big stars now doing crowdfunding, and if they can raise a few hundred thousand bucks based on nothing more than an immense fan base of millions who are already familiar with their brand, then anyone can do it.

Seriously, if you don’t step off, I will hit you up for cash in a heartbeat. Somebody has to pay for my root canal, and it’s sure as hell not going to be me.

Hey, wait a minute. Where are you going? What’s that? If one more lifelong friend hits you up for starter funds for some esoteric project you’re going to do what? Come on, come back, will ya? Please? Can’t we talk this over? Unfriend me? Unfollow me? Aw, man, that’s cold! How am I supposed to crowdfund you if I can’t let you know about it on Facebook and Twit–oh, oh, nice, that’s real nice, thanks a lot pal. No, go ahead, just go, see if I care. That’s right, walk away!

Well, this is just great. I guess when it comes to crowdfunding, two’s a crowd.

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