Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I think a televised Starcraft match might be more interesting than a Tampa Bay football game. (The "I Guess It's Time To Try To Do An NFL Preview" NFL Preview: Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

You'd think, what with the GOP convention going on in Tampa -- a convention that promises to double the money strippers in the area make, family values be damned -- I'd be all set to make a bunch of jokes about Republicans in lieu of actually previewing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and that kind of post would be apropos for me in light of the fact that my Cleveland Browns preview failed to note that Peyton Hillis wasn't a Cleveland Brown anymore, but you'd think wrong.

After all, who wants to talk about Republicans? It's bad enough they're going to win the elections this year, raise taxes on the middle class, cut social services, declare rape legal, end Medicare and Social Security, and subject us to years of looking at Eric Cantor's lying, autism-defunding face:

This man hates children.  He especially hates kids with autism.
But I don't want to make things worse by talking about them, too.  I'm trying to avoid being depressed and I'm hoping, really hoping, that if the GOP wins, then it will also turn out that the Mayans were right.

Unless that's what the Mayans were predicting?

This is the face of the Apocalypse.
Anyhow, on to the preview of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

What I Know About Them Without Researching: I heard somewhere I think that the Buccaneers had a new coach this year.  That came as a surprise to me because when I think about the Buccaneers, I can only name two coaches they've had in their entire history:  Tony Dungy, and John Gruden, and I really only count those as one coach because Gruden just sort of waltzed in there and took over a team Dungy had built and won a Super Bowl and gets all kind of credit, even though he probably shouldn't, right?

Think about John Gruden: Is he a good coach, or not?  He gets all this credit for being a great coach but I'm not so sure that he ever did anything worth lauding.  He went 40-28 with the Raiders, and made the playoffs a lot, but I'm not sure there were any good teams in his division back then.  That was when the Seahawks were still in the AFC West and the year that Gruden had his best year, going 12-4 and reaching the AFC Championship, he had the Broncos, Seahawks, Chiefs, and Chargers in his division.  The Chargers went 1-15 that year, and the Raiders were 5-3 in their division.  There wasn't really a very good team on their schedule that season.

Anyway, the Bucs apparently have a new coach this year.  I don't know who he is. I can't name a single player on the Buccaneers.  I'm not sure who they play this year.  And none of that bothers me because this:

Is there any scenario in which it matters whether or not anyone knows anything about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this year? 

Seriously: Can you say that for fantasy football it's important I know about them? Can it be important for me to know anything about the Buccaneers to have an informed view of the NFL season? To have an idea who might make the playoffs?  No, no, and no.  I can't foresee that the Buccaneers will have any impact on the season, negative or positive.  They haven't mattered since Gruden won Dungy's Super Bowl, and so I'm not going to worry about whether I know something about them.

What Somebody Else Said About Them:  I googled "Buccaneers Fantasy 2012," which really is a phrase that describes anyone who thinks the Buccaneers will still be playing in January, 2013, and I got this article from something called Athlon Sports, which mentions that Josh Freeman, who it seems is Tampa's quarterback, is not as fat this year as he was last year; that seems like it's a good thing.

Athlon's fantasy outlook for Tampa is as follows:

Fantasy Impact: New coach Greg Schiano wants to build the offense around a powerful rushing attack, so it was no surprise when he selected Doug Martin to pair with LeGarrette Blount in the backfield. Blount has started the last two years for the Buccaneers, but Martin is expected to lead the team in carries and yards this season. Michael Smith brings a different dimension to the backfield and will see carries as a change-of-pace threat. Lavonte David and Mark Barron are two impact defensive acquisitions and should be monitored in IDP leagues.

That seems unhelpful.  The wrap-up Athlon provides is this look at whether you want Tampa during your fantasy team's playoff run:

Tampa Bay ranked 27th in the NFL in scoring offense and last in scoring defense last season. No offensive players were top-12 fantasy players at their position. Playing the Eagles and Saints in the fantasy playoffs means playing catch-up, so there should be some production. St. Louis was equally bad — 32nd scoring offense, 26th scoring defense. The fantasy title game is a wild card. 

 That is, if you have a Tampa player on your team, you will be playing that person in your fantasy championship as he takes on St. Louis, which Athlon helpfully tells you is "a wild card."  Then they take credit for helping you analyze it.

At least I admit when I don't know something.  At Athlon, they basically shrug and say "Eh. Who knows what'll happen? Can we get paid now?"

What 1980s one-hit wonder song adequately conveys how Tampa will do this year? I have held off until this long mentioning that the strip clubs in Tampa have a choice: offer liquor, or offer fully-naked women, but not both: You can't get drunk and look at a live naked woman in Tampa.

But you can get a lap dance in a spaceship on the roof of a strip club:

That's the 2001 Odyssey, a strip club in Tampa where you can, for $80, get a lapdance in the spaceship on the roof.  Here is a review of that club on Yelp:

I have been to this club twice and after the second try, I never went back. I basically walked in at around 6-7 pm while the admission was supposed to be free. The rude lady at the door led me into a room with 4-5 other dudes sitting around waiting for some action while the only dancer in the room was standing in the corner doing her own thing (NOBODY was on the stage). While I'm depressed by this scene, the rude lady comes up to me and asks me to buy a mandatory drink. At that point I walked out of the club and went across the street for a much better experience. 

There is just too much typical strip club shady stuff going on at this place. The first time I was there, I put up with it just to see what it's like. Aside from the mandatory drinks, they charge you $15 for every time you take a girl in the level 1 dance rooms. If I remember correctly, they have a level 2 room and the space room as well which can cost around $500. The girls are trained to talk you into going to the space room and while they promise the world to you, everybody knows those champaigne rooms are nothing but a big scam. I could call a 10 times better looking girl for half that price. Anyway, if they had no competition, I would understand the arrogance and the shady business tactics. But, when there is a real world class club right across the street, why would anyone settle for less?
 The Odyssey, one article notes, was named one of the seven wonders of the Tampa region, so way to class up the city, Tampa: one of the seven most notable things about your city is a strip club.

I wasn't able to find a complete list of the other six wonders, but I did find out that "Plant Hall" at the University of Tampa also made the list.

Plant Hall is:

the main academic and administrative building for the University, already had an extraordinary history. Formerly the Tampa Bay Hotel, the building represented, and still remains, a symbol of the city and its history. Local historians credit its builder, railroad and shipping magnate Henry B. Plant, with the transformation of Tampa from a sleepy fishing village to what would become a vibrant city of the 21st century.

Also, the Potions class is in the far minaret.
 So the song I've picked out is I Beg Your Pardon, by Kon Kan:

The lyrics say:

There once was a time and there once was a way 
We had something going and to my dismay 
Attention to me seemed to drift 
 Nailed it.

Kon Kan is a Canadian duo that won two "Junos," an award nobody outside of Canada cares about.  More interestingly, the lead singer, Kevin Wynne, is, according to Wikipedia, a "semi-pro video golfer."

But a secret one.  Googling "Kevin Wynne semi-pro video golfer" yields nothing but links back to that article on Wikipedia.  I couldn't even find any information on video golf leagues, but I did find out that there is a professional league devoted to playing the game Starcraft, with the top prize being $40,000-$50,000, which, okay, it isn't Scrabble money, but it still pays more than many jobs at ESPN.


Cleveland Browns

Minnesota Vikings.

St. Louis Rams

Indianapolis Colts.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

John Kuhn isn't going to be a Packer for very long.

Last night, Green Bay Packers' running back John Kuhn hit The Anointed One, Aaron Rodgers, in the face with a towel full of shaving cream during an interview:

A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter said Rodgers "didn't look very happy at all.

Apparently, "pieing", which is what this is called, caught on in baseball when A.J. Burnett began doing it to people during interviews about big moments.  And there's been at least one pieing injury in sports, back in 2010:

Marlins outfielder Chris Coghlan tore the meniscus in his left knee while trying to pie his teammate Wes Helms.

And now, thanks to Pieing, the world was deprived of the opportunity to find out how A-Rodg felt the practice went yesterday.  O, the humanity!


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cleveland: Home of Not-So-Secret Racists. (The "I Guess It's Time To Try To Do An NFL Preview" NFL Preview: Cleveland Browns)

Did you know "football" has already started?  I guess I kind of knew that, but I'm never that crazy about preseason football.  NFL preseason football is on a part, to me, with any college football game that doesn't involve the SEC or Ohio State: meaningless, unless something wacky happens.

That's why I think the NFL (and maybe all college football programs outside of the SEC and Ohio State) ought to let fans be more involved, or work harder to make preseason games entertaining.  Bring bands in.  Have giveaways.  Pick one fan out of the crowd and let him or her be the kicker on point-after attempts.  Let a player's mom call the plays for a quarter.

It's not like anything gets accomplished in the games: coaches are always saying how they don't really run their "real" offense or defense for fear other teams will get tape on them and figure out how to defend them, a double-edged sword of a strategy because yeah, your opponents have slightly less of a clue how you'll play (assuming that you have completely changed things up from last year and the year before) but your team hasn't really practiced its schemes, either, which is why I always say the season doesn't really count until about week 4.

(And the let's not show them our schemes only matters for the first 1-3 opponents, anyway; the teams you play in week 7, say, will have plenty of tape no matter what you did in the preseason.)

So here's what you should think about the Cleveland Browns this year:

What I Know About Them Without Researching:  Oh, man, nothing.  Do they have that one running back, Peyton Hillis? Why do I think the Browns have a guy named Peyton Hillis and why do I think he was on The Dan Patrick Show last year defending himself against claims that he was milking a so-called injury as a contract ploy?

That is quite honestly every single thing I know about the Browns.  Oh, and that they play in Cleveland.  I got that, too.

What Somebody Else Said About Them:  So I googled Dan Patrick Peyton Hillis and I was right:  Kind of.  Hillis claimed he was too sick to play last year's week 3 game against the Dolphins, but was then slammed for seeming to say that if he was making $10,000,000 a year he might have been able to suit up. by ProFootballTalk.  Then, early this year, Hill "discussed his whiteness" on the Dan Patrick Show:  

“I try not be covenant to it." 

Hillis said, making no sense whatsoever.  He also discussed nicknames he's been given, so let's list some of those.  Back in 2010, the DawgPoundDaily had a poll to pick a nickname for Hillis, and here were the results:

The Albino Rhino (35%, 227 Votes)
 The Hilldebeest (17%, 109 Votes)
None of the Above (Add Yours in the Comment Section) (15%, 99 Votes)
Bamm-Bamm (12%, 78 Votes)
The Hulk (9%, 62 Votes)
Run for the Hillis (4%, 24 Votes)
 The White Ford Bronco (3%, 18 Votes)
 Brown Bronco (3%, 17 Votes)
The Pasty Punisher (2%, 14 Votes)
 The White Wallop (1%, 5 Votes)
The Ashen Bash (0%, 0 Votes)

Let's reflect on how far we've gotten, in a post-racial America, since the election of Obama in 2008, an event that drove about 25% of the white people in America to spend the next four years voting against every single government program that didn't involve shooting Arabs while proclaiming that their opposition was based on taxes, not skin color, with our progress being shown by the fact that we can expressly focus on the race of a running back.

More importantly, perhaps, let's consider the state of mind of the 18 people who thought The White Ford Bronco was an appropriate nickname, period: "Hey, you know what's the best way to honor a white running back based solely on his race? To remind people that a black guy killed a white woman once and got away with it."

The third-runner up, you'll note, is "Add Yours In The Comment Section," and if you read the comment section you'll see that 99 people did not add theirs, and most of the comments section is a celebration of Hillis' whiteness.  Except for the guy who suggested "Brown Thunder." I guess he didn't get the memo.  (PS, Brown Thunder guy: You like him because he's white.)

What 1980s One Hit Wonder Song Describes The Browns This Year?  How can I predict a record that adequately reflects the sentiment I don't care, nobody does with an undercurrent of Cleveland loves the white folks?  Let's say 5-11, and here's their song:

Stand By Me, by Mickey Gilley:

It's okay, Cleveland: This is the white guy version.  You'll love it.


Minnesota Vikings.

St. Louis Rams

Indianapolis Colts.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Aaron Rodgers Doesn't Like Cedric Benson.

The Green Bay Packers just signed Cedric Benson, who powered the Bengals to a first-round playoff lost against the Houston Texans last year, and Pro Bowl Quarterback Aaron Rodgers* is saying all the right things, by which I mean, he's again pointing out that he's not too big a man to carry a grudge.  In a story about Benson, The Official Website Of The 13-Time World Champion Green Bay Packers notes:

Regardless of the backstory, his new teammates sounded welcoming. QuarterbackAaron Rodgers said he has followed Benson’s career as a fellow 2005 draftee, joking that Benson left the “green room” at Radio City Music Hall “a little bit earlier than I did,” a reference to Rodgers’ excruciating, well-publicized wait that lasted until the 24th pick.

That could be a slam on Benson, and should be treated as such, since Rodgers' disdain of his teammates, coaches, and dates (as well as cancer patients) is well-known, so it's not beneath him to point out that Benson got drafted higher but hasn't had the same storied career, but it's also yet another reference by Rodgers to the lingering grudge he has over not being the number one pick in the draft.

So to him, I say (since he seems unable to realize it himself):

Aaron Rodgers.  You feel unloved, or felt unloved, and have spent most of your pro career reminding people of it, and seemingly forgetting that:

You were basically handed the keys to the city, and a historic football franchise, by a management team that then hired a public relations firm to badmouth your predecessor and ensure you would be beloved.

You have been linked to beautiful women and perhaps even dated them.  

You were paid $13,200,000 in 2008 alone to play. a. game.

The team, and coach, and management you keep knocking for letting you fall that far (and the league they play in) have guaranteed you pay of at least $20,000,000.

Guaranteed.  You are 28 years old.  If you live to be 100, you could spend $277,776 per year and not run out of money.

You have been voted the Most Valuable Player by the league you want to keep knocking and reminding that you slipped on draft day.

We all know that you didn't like sitting there until Green Bay picked you.  But keeping in mind everything I just said:


If you wanted proof that people want you to play a game for a living, you have it.  If you wanted public recognition that you are God's Gift to Football, you have it.  Fame, fortune, adulation, a spot in the Packer Hall of Fame: it's all yours.  Quit bitching about how much better it should have been.

Because ALSO: In your life, you won the "Insight Bowl," lost the big game against USC in your junior year (blowing it yourself, in part), lost to Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl, lost your first playoff game as a Packer when you fumbled in overtime, and lost against the Giants last year in round one of the NFC playoffs, becoming only the second Packer quarterback to lose at home in the playoffs.  You are thus, by my count, 5-4 in big games, with a Super Bowl win coming against a team that cared so little about the game they went out drinking all week before it... so maybe you were picked exactly where you belonged.

*Legally, you are required to say Pro Bowl Quarterback before speaking Aaron Rodgers' name.  Also, if you say Aaron Rodgers three times really fast while looking into a mirror, you will disappear from the first round of the playoffs.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

(The "I Guess It's Time I Try To Do An NFL Preview" NFL Preview: The Minnesota Vikings)

Want to have some fun? Say this to someone from Minneapolis or St. Paul (the "Twin Cities"):

"Hey, when will they just admit that's all one big city and cut out the nonsense?"

I say that to everyone I meet from either Minneapolis or St. Paul, and the response is always amazing as the person defends the existence of two cities that are so close to being one city that they're named twin cities.  PLUS, people get really worked up over the issue, almost as worked up as they get over which sports team they like.

I've mentioned before how silly it is that we like a sports team based on where we are born and arbitrary geographical boundaries drawn in 1787 or some such, and I finally found a kindred spirit in Simon Amstell, a comedian who appeared on NPR's "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" and who, when asked about whether he was proud to be British, had this to say:

“I think it’s stupid. To be proud of where you come from, it’s just where you fall out…’oh I’m so  proud to be British or American’ you might as well be proud to be Caesarean..” 
 Simon Amstell is my new hero.  And if it's silly to be proud of being born on a specific piece of soil, how much sillier is it to get worked up about a team that is temporarily located in the same general geographic region as the one you are currently residing in?

On to the Minnesota Vikings' NFL preview:

What I Know About Them Without ResearchingI'm pretty sure the Vikings have a guy named Christian Ponder at quarterback.  I'm also about 95% sure that they still have Adrian Peterson at running back.  Adrian Peterson is, if you ask me, the most overrated running back in the NFL.  If you want to know what Adrian Peterson brings to an NFL team, try this:

Stand in your backyard, holding a football.

Drop that football.

Congratulations! You have just imitated Adrian Peterson's contributions to his team, those being (A) fumbling, and (B) not being a visible part of the team when it really matters, i.e., crunch time.

Everyone blames Brett Favre for the Vikings not going to the Super Bowl that year when the Saints had a license to kill because the NFL turned a blind eye to the bounty system it had already warned the Saints about, the NFL wanting the Saints in the Super Bowl to avoid having two teams vying to move to Los Angeles (it's a conspiracy!)(But not the kind Drew Brees keeps prattling on about), but nobody blames the three fumbles -- 60% of the Vikings total! -- and people still think Adrian Peterson is worth the paper he's printed on, or some saying like that.

What Somebody Else Said About Them: Here's ESPN's fantasy football preview of Adrian Peterson, nicely working in a reference to the Mars lander that nobody at ESPN actually understood or cared about because the Mars Lander doesn't say "booyah!"

You don't have to be one of those really amazing NASA scientists who aided in the historic landing on Mars to know that drafting Adrian Peterson this season comes with risk. However, it's not necessary to actually calculate just what level of risk Peterson presents, it's more important to understand how that risk can be parlayed into a championship season.
Let's start with this simple fact: Nobody knows what Peterson will deliver this season. 

But they go on:

Our team of experts is projecting a season of 1,321 total yards and eight scores from Peterson.  

Did you get that? There's a lot to mull over there. 

 First, remember: nobody knows what Peterson will deliver this season.  That's what they said -- but that didn't stop them from hiring a team of experts to tell you what Peterson will deliver this season, predictions made on a guy who is recovering from a terrible injury, as a team nobody knows anything about gets ready to play a bunch of games that can't be predicted, either.

I'm sorry I wasted my time reading it -- but not as sorry as the sadness I feel in my soul for people who spend so much time thinking about their fantasy football teams that they want to know that Adrian Peterson is projected, by a shadowy Star Chamber of ESPN experts, to finish 7th in running backs with a hypothetical 177 points on the year.

Or,  rather, not want to know, but need to know, need with a desperate wrenching rending desperation and I know I used desperate twice there but how else could I sum it up?  There are people out there to whom Fantasy Football is the girl in Wuthering Heights, I want to say Jane Eyre but I know that's not right, and in return they are Heathcliff, whose name I remember because he was named after a cat and I thought that was funny when I read Wuthering Heights, so let's begin again with The Chronicles of Desperate Desperation Analogy:

There are people who are Heathcliff to Fantasy Football's Jane Eyre or Whoever, and they need to know how Adrian Peterson will finish this year or they will hurl their weakened, need-ravaged bodies off the cliffs of Wuthering Heights into the sea below, never to love again (because they are dead).

And I am sad for those people, whose half-lives I cannot even imagine beyond poorly-remembered Bronte analogies.

But this, too:  a team of experts.  I find it remarkable to think that we are somehow in a recession in a country where we not only employ people to work as Hot Wheels' Track Designers (you know that has to be an occupation because those things aren't just dreaming themselves up) but also where people can find employment as a team of experts on a fantasy football preview, an "expert" on a subject that is thrice, if not quadrice, removed from any real meaning in the world.

Or, to put another way: USA! USA! USA!  Forget tearing apart Medicare, Not-Going-To-Be-VP Paul "Candy Man" Ryan.  We will fully fund it by having people voluntarily contribute $5 per fantasy football tip.

What 1980s One-Hit Wonder Song Accurately Exemplifies The Vikings This Year?  I'm going to say the Vikings will go 8-8: comfortably mediocre, giving their fans something to cling to until Christmas takes over, but not anything worth caring about if you live outside of MinneapolSaintPaulis.  (Send whining emails about the differences between the cities to

 The song, anyway, is Sugar Don't Bite by Sam Harris, a guy you've never heard of, either, but if you go by his obviously-self-written Wikipedia entry, Sam Harris is a force of music the likes of which you can only imagine, and then, after imagining the Greatness That Is Sam Harris, you can be thankful to the Gods of Music for letting him bestow his glory on us via songs like Sugar Don't Bite

If you did not watch the video, you are doing yourself a disservice, because the video made me say to Sweetie, as I watched it, "I can't believe the 80s existed," but they did, and Sam Harris' video captures exactly what it was like to live in the 1980s, as shown by:

A.  The ability to look up a woman's dress in a bar after dropping one's sunglasses without getting sued for sexual harassment,

B.  White suits featuring glittery vests underneath, worn sans shirt,

C.  Fight-dancing in a club filled with people who are inexplicably dressed as extras from Olivia Newton John's Physical, and

D.  Glittery Chuck Taylor Converse shoes which we all wore in the 1980s, even Caspar Weinberger.

Sam Harris won Star Search singing Over the Rainbow and then went on to dominate the music industry for decades -- it's not his fault you haven't heard of him -- and more recently began changing the world directly with his music, as shown by this actual quote from that Wikipedia page:

On February 12, 2008, he released a new single entitled "War on War" that became an internet phenom with music videos made by the general public. The song became a part of his album, "Free," which was released that summer. The single "Change Is On The Way" was written to support the Obama campaign and was heard on numerous television shows and behind internet videos around the time of the election. In 2010, Sam wrote and released "My Reclamation" - which has become the anthem for marriage equality.

You remember that internet phenomenon, don't you?  And why do you think Chick-Fil-A had to up its war on gay this year? Because Sam Harris had practically won the war with his song, that's why.

Don't mess with Sam Harris, is the point, I guess.  Lest you be fight-danced into submitting to his awesome charisma, which is so powerful it can end war and bring marriage equality to all, and also so powerful that Sugar did not, in the end, bite.


St. Louis Rams

Indianapolis Colts.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


It's that time of the week when I post one post from one blog on all my blogs.  Today's is the first installment of The Dysprosians, a new story I'm starting up on Afterdark.

"I mean, really, Fish Man?" Tom frowned at his fingernails, which needed to be cut.

"Look, Tom..." but at a warning glance, Chet corrected himself. Above all, Higgs had warned him, Tom likes the rules of The Dysprosians.  Especially...and Higgs had paused for dramatic effect... the one about using only code names in the Skylab.

"Look, Whatever's Handyman, I gave a lot of thought to a bunch of different names. Aqua, I thought, and liked that but it's too close to that comic book guy"


interrupted a blaring voice that echoed around them.  Tom stopped inspecting his fingernails and leaned forward, tapping the touchscreen.

"Soul Destroyer leaves the volume way too loud," he muttered.

"And I thought about Aquarius because that also would fit but it's too hippyish, and I considered a couple others but..."

The silence hung between them in the hot, still air of the Skylab.  Tom leaned forward and turned a knob a little, feeling the vents blow cool air on him.

Outside, the tree branches skriiittched on the roof of the satellite as a squirrel ran along them.

"But what?" Tom sighed.

"But then Anthony looked at my costume and said Fish Man and, well, I don't like to disappoint him, so I decided to go with that."

Tom looked appraisingly at the costume in question.

"It does have fins," he said.

"And scales," he added after a second, still looking.  Then he considered, and asked "Why scales?"

"They're bulletproof," Chet said proudly, and he figured that the interest Tom was showing would keep building.  Just keep him hooked.  "I found this..." Chet paused and kind of chuckled to himself.  Keep him hookedGot to remember that.  "I found this place on line, out of Syria, they sell bulletproof metal stuff, and you can buy little plates for it, and so I got it and we cut it into scales and managed to sew each one onto the suit itself."

He struck a pose, a fighting stance somewhere between Muhammad Ali coming out of the corner and Bruce Lee coming out of retirement, and tried to suck in his stomach a little.  "I've been working out," he said.  "At the Y.  I take the Zumba classes and some yoga, and I got this DVD of Tae Bo."

Tom listened to the scales tinkle and clink, and shrugged.

"It's not really up to me."

He tapped a box on the touch screen and it lit up with options.  "Voice control," he said.

**VOICE CONTROL ACTIVATED** came the voice again.

"Computeratrons, Fish Man wants in.  Calculate."

There were no lights flashing, no whirring sounds, no panels of blinking bulbs or anything.  This was 2012.  The touch screen he carried with him linked in wirelessly to the Computeratrons, which were simply two small servers at the back of the only air-conditioned room in the Skylab.

The screen lit up.

"Says here," Tom leaned over so Chet could see, "That your powers provide a compliment to us, and that in at least three recent adventures your presence would have added at 5-10% improvement in the odds of a successful outcome."

"So I'm in?" Chet couldn't believe it -- Anthony would be so happy!

"When Higgs Boson wanted to join, the Computeratrons calculated that he would improve the odds of success by 90-98%, even with the uncontrollable nature of his power.  Neon was 70%.  Soul Destroyer, 100%."

The Skylab grew quiet, and Chet slumped over.  I'm not telling Anthony I didn't make it in.

 "Even Smiley added 20% to our odds of success." Tom said quietly.

Chet put his hands over his face.

"I've got nothing, T... Whatever's Handyman.  Nothing.  I go to work, every day, and I come home every day.  Poor Anthony, he mostly just sits around the house, with our neighbor watching him since Lorrie..."

Tom filled in the words Chet couldn't bring himself to say:  "Tried to reverse the fusion reaction that powers the sun using ordinary household chemicals she had rearranged on an elemental level and then launched using a rocket she unwittingly got your sun to create as part of his Scouts' project, all because she thought you were having an affair with your secretary."

"I don't even have a secretary," Chet added.  Tears filled his eyes.  "And now she's serving 300,000 consecutive life sentences in that Belarussian prison and Anthony misses her.  He doesn't even know what she did.  Every day, I come home and he says where's Mom? and every day I say she's working and we'll go visit her soon and then we eat dinner and we watch some of the movies he likes and he goes to bed and I sit up, drinking and watching Conan O' Brien, of all things, and that's how it was for weeks and weeks and months and months until I realized that there could be more to it than that."

Tom tried not to meet Chet's eye.  Everyone these days tried not to meet Chet's eye.  Granted, Lorrie's plan had not worked but it had come awfully close and while most people in the world didn't hold that against Chet, it also made meeting him awkward.  Tom couldn't imagine how Chet's food cart even stayed in business,  let alone earned enough money to support him and Anthony.

He wondered if Lorrie gave them money.

"The thing is, too, um... Fish Man, how would it look if we let a guy who is still married to one of the world's most notorious criminal masterminds join The Dysprosians?"

"I have to stay married to her.   She's got the health insurance.  And Anthony..."

There was a flicker.

Tom knew the flicker.

Chet did not.

Tom looked down at the touch-screen.

"So he was listening," he whispered.

"Who?" Chet asked.

Tom watched as the touchscreen numbers changed and glanced up at Chet.

"Do you feel different?"

Chet flexed his muscles a little, looked at his hands, rubbed his head where his mask would ordinarily sit. "Maybe a little."

Tom held up the touchscreen, which now was filled with numbers.  Chet couldn't make heads or tails of it.

"It says that you would improve our odds of success by 80% on our most recent three adventures."

"How...?" Chet asked.

"He did it."

"Who?"  Chet looked around.

"I can't tell you yet.  We've got to get you sworn in," Tom said.  He pulled his own mask up over his head, and tapped the touch screen again.  "We'll have to get you your own one of these, too."  Tap-tap-tap, and a bunch of little windows opened, each showing rooms where webcams were looking at people at computers, or empty rooms, or in the case of one window, a television tuned to Jersey Shore.

"Everyone: We've got a swearing-in to do."

A little alert-box popped up on the touchscreen.


it read, and below that:


"And we've got to hurry," Tom said.  He frowned at Fish Man.  "Hope your neighbor can stay late.  You're going to see some action, fast."


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