Hey, how 'bout that? This joint is now five years old.
I started this blog with a simple goal in mind: to attract gullible millions into a worldwide online cult and then bilk them of their life savings. Five years, 450-odd posts and almost that many pageviews later, my actual market appeal has proven somewhat more selective. Extremely more selective. Still, it's much more than I deserve, and I'd like offer my very sincere thanks for your patronage. I sure hope you had 1% of the fun reading the junk I post here as had typing it, even if (especially if?) you don't see eye-to-eye with me politically. If any of it annoyed you I hope that deep down, were also a tiny bit amused.
This being a semidecicentennial and all, it seemed like an occasion for a retrospective of some sort. Like on "Happy Days" when the cast would sit around and say "remember the time that Potsie dressed up like a cheerleader and ended up heavy petting with Fonz at the submarine races?" and then the screen would go wiggly and the rest of the episode was filler from older programs. That's basically what's below the fold here: annotated wiggly flashbacks to the 25 Iowahawk episodes over the past five years that I think generated the most positive reaction from readers. Or, at least, the stuff you told me stunk less than normal.
Yes, I know that "Happy Days" eventually had so many flashback retrospective episodes that they started having meta-retro-retro-flashback-on-previous-flashback episodes. My promise to you: this is the last maudlin narcissistic flashbacking you'll see here for the next five years, or 60,000 miles. And, as is my blogiversary tradition, I am temporarily opening the comments for your suggestions, insults, knock knock jokes, Viagra spam, etc. Have at it!
THE 25 LEAST-SUCK IOWAHAWKS 2003-2008
25. Why I Am a Democrat
This one actually predates the blog by several years. It first appeared at CNSNews in 2000 when I had an occasional column there, and was prompted by an actual Democratic Party essay contest. I did a similar bit a few years later after The American Prospect held their own essay contest asking for a liberal "elevator speech." Have to say I was somewhat surprised that TAP took the joke pretty well, and even posted a complimentary link back.
24. Ingmar Bergman's Hazardous Dukes
One of the problems with doing political humor is the 'golf clap' -- the suspicion that the laughs you get are based more on the audience's shared political sympathies than that on actual humor content. Occasionally I like to toss something up that is politics-free to keep myself honest. This low-brow TV / hi-brow cinema mashup was one of those.
23. Cave Profs
Gronk! Academics are are always bitching about Western Culture, so why not take that opinion to its logical conclusion? Another one that predates the blog, having originally appeared at CNS in 1999. Similar, with an environmental twist: Scientists Warn: Sea Gods Angry.
22. Strib Community News
In what is possibly the single most glaring example of newspaper business idiocy in the 21st Century, the Minneapolis Star Tribune in 2007 was considering reassign the great James Lileks to a community reporting beat. Glen Reynolds suggested I put together a parody about it, and this is the result. Happily the Strib came to their senses about Lileks, but I think they cut Shakespeare's wedding announcements last month.
A words-only blog feels kind of anachronistic at a time when the rest of the online world seems increasingly like television. I have posted various videos of my hot rod adventures over the years, but never tried video satire until Hey Barack, the guest appearance by Barack Obama's teleprompter, and It Takes a Village of the Damned, remixing the creepy singing Obama kids.
20. Little Machine Shed of Horrors
True pictures from my Dad's creepy collection of antique farm equipment that got wide circulation via Boing Boing. Pretty much explains where my sense of humor comes from.
19. Look out for People Doing Things
After the London car bombings in July 2007 public officials and media in Britain seemed in the grips of some kind of mass verbal psychosis, rendering them incapable of saying various words or ideas. Oddly enough these words and ideas were being lauded and celebrated in the London media just a few weeks earlier .
18. The Pandagon Trilogy
As a rule I try to avoid the parochial teapot tempests that sometimes consume the blogosphere. But when John Edwards selected a foulmouthed lunatic from the netroots B-list brine pond to serve as his official presidential campaign blogger, it was too much to resist. That particular situation comedy resulted in two F-bomb laced parody bits and a stage musical.
17. I am Joe / I am Bill
The disgusting media treatment of Joe "The Plumber" Wurzelbacher during the 2008 election prompted me to post a very rare straight opinion piece which seemed to strike a chord with a few people; last count I've gotten more than 400 emails about it. It also generated a follow up opportunity to (intentionally) parody myself.
16. The Real Acme
The true story of the Turbonique Company of Orlando, Florida. This one eventually grew into a full length dead tree article for Garage Magazine, and as a result I have become pals with some of the people associated with the legendary rocket automobile maker. In May 2008 I even got a chance to drive the ultimate Turbonique car -- Zach Reynolds' rocket powered Tobacco King Galaxie.
15. Subscribe Now!
14. It is Finally Time to Exit the Oldsmobile
When Ted Kennedy gave a Senate speech in January 2005 calling for immediate retreat from Iraq, it was a golden opportunity for a sucker punch.
13. Fear and Loathing in the Mystery Machine
I have always admired HST's writing, and consider him somewhat of an inspiration. I even had the chance to chat with him in Iowa City many years ago after he gave a riveting, incoherent guest lecture in the Iowa Memorial Union. He was baked on Wild Turkey and, I think, PCP, and graciously granted my request for a signature on a packet of Zig Zag rolling papers. One bit of HST's writing that always stuck with me was a passage in "Fear & Loathing" about the violent, roiling 60s counterculture crashing like a giant wave and rolling back to the sea. By contrast, my 60s were pretty much Saturday mornings in front of a console TV. This piece was my tribute to him, a mashup of our two different 60s.
11. Ten Things You Can Do To Save the Planet
The karate-choppin' mystical fake Indian academic of 70's TV, based on the even-more ridiculous real life Ward Churchill. The germ of this was in an earlier TV parody I did during the 2004 election, Johnny Nuance. I've done a load of TV parodies since then, but Chutch was more fun (and easier) to write than any of them.
9. It's Not Easy Being Dave
8. America Can Take Pride in this Historic, Inspiring Disaster
A summary of my emotions following the election of Barack Obama -- genuine patriotic pride, genuine existential dread. If my inbox is any gauge it seemed to echo what a lot of other people felt on Nov 5.
7. The Media Violence Project
The media has two rules for portraying Americans in the military: they must be either (a) dimwitted victims, or (b) bloodthirsty psychopaths. In January 2008 New York Times completely broke the mold with an "investigative" report portraying American veterans as dimwitted victims and bloodthirsty psychopaths. As a response I decided to fire up Google and subject the media profession to the same bathetic "scientific" scrutiny they love aiming at the military. The Google results were not pretty, and it generated a followup poster campaign.
6. Gorillas in the Mi(dwe)st
I'm always entertained when I read a dispatch from a pith-helmeted Times or Post or NPR reporter, recounting the strange ways of the mysterious Flyover People. The first time I addressed that topic was in the 2001 CNS piece Bush Country and it became a frequent theme here including Mommy Madness, Dollywood Values,and the Conrad riff Heart of Redness. The one I like best in this genre is the 2003 turnabout piece Scrappy Newspaper Struggles for Survival.
5. The Dan Rather Mysteries
What's the frequency, Kenneth? Beats me. All I know is that Dan Rather's inept search into Bush's Texas Air National Guard documents was the funniest true life detective story of the last 5 years. It wasn't much of a stretch to give him the hardboiled gumshoe treatment (with cameo appearances by several of my blogosphere pals). The first one, My Teleprompter is Deadly, appeared in late September 2004, followed by Farewell My Producer, The Big Snooze, and finally The Ratings Always Drop Twice.
4. I Must Say I Do Quite Like the Cut of this Obama Fellow's Jib
Sometimes selective fragging is more useful than shooting at the enemy. This friendly fire was aimed at the country club Republicans who were abandoning ship during the '08 election's final stretch. It's probably the single most read piece here, primarily because it was given a nice on-air plug by Rush Limbaugh, who conjectured I was a liberal.
3. The Strife-Torn Midwest
A month or so after 9/11 I did a bit at CNS playing on the idea of Midwest as Mideast, which evolved into another thematic staple here. I probably recycled that premise too many times because it always generated a big reader response. Probably the best example in the set is the Lombardi Cartoon Riots which gave me an excuse to try out cartooning, and which eventually bought me a lot of free beers up in Packerland.
2. Heere Beginyth the Tale of the Asse-Hatte.
A little poesy prompted by the world's stupidest man: Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. After the good archbishop pronounced that Britons must eventually accept shariah law for Muslims, I grabbed my old college paperback copy of Chaucer from its milk crate and this bit was the result. I was surprised by the amount of attention it eventually received, including a couple of cherished emails I got from people in very high literary places. I returned to epic poem parody more recently (and somewhat less successfully) with The Idiossey.
1. The Zarkman Chronicles
Say what you want about the late Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, but the guy was a comedy writer's dream. The first in the series was a short 4th of July throw-away that ended up causing a thread at DailyKos to go totally apeshit, including a few posted death threats aimed at me (since deleted). In response I posted this bit, which was the first one where Zark found his voice as a cynical sadsack gansta. I milked the premise a few more times (here, here, here, here), even some live election Zarkblogging. It all conclude with Zarkman's report from Paradise, which I believe is still the Iowahawk post with the biggest number of trackbacks. Part of me was sad to see the asshole go, but he sorta lives on in various spinoff posts.
For me, the most satisfying thing about the Zarkman series was the number of emails it brought in from .mil addresses, the real-life Team Satan members who were actually kicking Zarkman's ass in Iraq, telling me they provided a morale boost. If I never get another another single thing from this blogging nonsense, those emails made it all worthwhile.