Author Archive

NotGraphs Short(er) Form: An Actual, Final Swansong


I was ready. I had received last sacraments, and the important thing about last sacraments is that, vis-à-vis the other sacraments, they’re last. Sacrament-wise, it doesn’t get more poignant than that. I had also eaten my last meal. Do you want to know what it was? Sure you do. Now that we’ve been granted a bit more time, you want all the details of what turned out to be my penultimate meal, because, yeah, given last night’s stay of execution, I did have a small bowl of cereal this morning.

Anyway, since all reasonable predictions had indicated an earlier NotGraphs expiration, my “last meal,” as scheduled, had been what I call NotGraphs Lasagna, i.e., a base of meaty insight topped with layers of blistering wit and simmering genius, all crowned with lasagna noodles and ricotta cheese … and, OK, perhaps a sprinkling of “I’m not unpopular, just misunderstood.” I had made my peace.

But then the Royals had to go and score seven runs in the second inning of last night’s game, prompting not only a rousing chorus of “Yay, baseball!” but also an 11th-hour call from the Internet governor and a quick return to my cell, i.e., my desk, in which custody, reintroduced, I was forced to plot my actual valediction.

What does one write, one thinks, when one has already written THE END?
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The Story From Those Story Ideas: The End


The noon sun broke early through the writer’s window. It fell across his face like the white-hot glare of a thousand pissed-off editors, especially if those editors were using Twin Turbo hair dryers on the high-heat setting and also directing the sun’s rays onto his left cheek by way of a large magnifying glass.

“Ow,” he muttered to himself. “Also: ohhhhh.”

Roused into an aching sense of awareness, he opened his eyes and felt the wet goo beneath his face, his body. He groaned. Was it some kind of stew?

“Oh,” he muttered, again to himself. “Also: ewwwww.”

Granted, he had woken in someone else’s vomit on several occasions, often three or four times in a single morning, but until today, never his own.

No, never his own.

After showering, and also after tossing his vomit-covered business attire (i.e., terry cloth robe) into the neighbor’s yard, he brewed a cup of Sanka and returned to his desk. There would be no moonshine today. There would be only Sanka – no, wait. There would be only Folgers. Folgers Instant! Because Sanka, he suddenly and depressingly discovered, has no caffeine!

“Stupid Sanka,” he muttered. “No wonder I couldn’t stay awake.”

Sipping Folgers now, he sparked up the laptop and looked back on the previous day’s work, none of which, currently, he could even faintly recall.

In an instant his eyes went wide, like ocular pantomimes of Vaudevillian shock.

“Whoa, what the hell is all this?” he said to himself, the same self – well, no, a different self entirely – who had authored this carnival of the truly bizarre.

“Secret time portal?”

“Meat-Is-Murderers’ Row?”

“Billy and the Giambisaurus?”

“Drew Butera in ‘The Ballad Of Gregor Blanco’?”

And that, he realized, was just Part 1.

“Oy,” he muttered. “Also: ugh.”

And yet despite his disgust, he was committed to the finishing the story. “It’s what the readers would have wanted,” he said, “if either were still reading.”
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NotGraphs Longform: The Story From Those Story Ideas Part 2


Minnie Prospect, a Minneapolis lawyer who was once a Twins prospect, leans against the rusted fence of the first-base dugout and gazes at his ragtag team. He never thought he’d be here, at a derelict diamond in the heart of the inner-city rough, but here, he’s discovered, is not only where he has to be, owing to the creative sentencing he accepted after his DUI conviction, but where he wants to be, molding his motley squad of scamps and rapscallions into a winning outfit.

The writer nodded. This was good – really good, like Disney good.

“I mean, you couldn’t write a script like this!” Coach Prospect declares, just as the final inning of the David Versus Goliath Little League championship game begins.

He turns to little Jimmy Dugan, sitting on the bench while his teammates man their positions. “I mean you couldn’t write a script like this. You’re only 12, and, as I understand it, something of a math whiz but otherwise a bit of a dullard. No, only a gifted writer could write something like this, something so inconceivable that Disney couldn’t help but pay a milllllion dollars for it: Seriously, a ragtag team of scamps and rapscallions whose now-sober coach has lifted them, against all odds, to the title game against a heavily favored Yankees team composed entirely of spoiled rich kids whose parents make the typical stage mom look like a Marianite nun?!”

Again the writer nodded. He pictured himself on the red carpet with Kate Winslet, though Kates Beckinsale and/or Blanchett would do.

“And yet, despite our shot at the championship,” the coach intones, to no one in particular, “it’s not just the game of baseball that’s important. No, what’s important is the most important game of all – the game of …”

The writer searched for just the right word: Existence? Sentience? Poker?


Now, just as the Yankees’ Richie “Affluent Richard” Richierich strokes a bases-loaded line drive to left-center field, Minnie Prospect calls out to his team: “Game Of Life!” Having practiced the GOL drill many times, the Mini Prospects promptly assume a large “V” configuration. Then, speeding headlong as an unstoppable unit, they obliterate Richierich before moving on to a local mall, where, in the form of a spirited flash mob, they perform the original musical “V Really Is For Vendetta,” after which they are signed to a three-year engagement at Wynn Las Vegas.

Envisioning a lucrative homonymic tie-in, the coach declares, “We win!”

The writer leaned back, triumphant. Hollywood, here he came!

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NotGraphs Longform: The Story From Those Story Ideas


Part 1

Flummoxed, anxious and angry that he had done this to himself, the writer took a big swig of tequila and gazed once more at the list of 30-plus story ideas, in search of the one idea he could turn into the promised, and surely long-awaited, narrative.

Idea 1: More stories from the future about how people celebrate Jeter Day.

“Hmmm. Jeter Day. In the future,” he muttered. “Well, that’s a pretty long time away. How the hell am I supposed to …?” Confounded, he turned to the second idea, which he called Idea 2. A boy’s parents are murdered by a mugger, so, as a rich adult, he fights crime at night in New York City while wearing a cape.

The writer took another swig and muttered, “OK, this is ridiculous.”

When muttering to himself, he had always got right to the point.

“It’s only 8 a.m.!”

And so he brewed a cup of Sanka and poured it into his bottle of Cuervo.

“OK,” he said, more softly now, and taking a sip. “Where were we?”

By “we” he meant himself (even if the sentence “Where were himself?” sounded not quite right), the same “self” that had done this to himself. For indeed, on Sept. 26, the writer had challenged readers to concoct story ideas, and from the best of those ideas, he’d written, he would craft an intriguing and perhaps titillating story! This was the time. Armageddon was nigh. It was now, as they say, or not ever.

But how, from among the dozens of ideas, could he pick just one?

He turned to Idea 3, which was the third idea on the list: With lower starts, greater bullpen use and injuries, have we seen the last 300-game winner?

“Oh, c’mon,” he muttered, “who do you think I am … Jeff Sullivan?”

It was then that he had an idea, his first, which he called Idea 1A: Lounging on the velvet balcony of his luxe Manhattan loft, which he had purchased with profits from his three-part series, “Have We Seen The Last 300-Game Winner?”, the writer John Paschal reaches out and, with the fiery tip of his Cuban cigar, pops the Tino Martinez balloon that hovers above the weekly Jeter Day parade. Laughing maniacally, he summons his butler, Jeeves Jr., to come hither and hold the cigar while he unzips his (i.e., Mr. Paschal’s) ermine trousers, upon which achievement he (i.e., Mr. Paschal) proceeds to pee on the great procession. Then, just as Mr. Paschal has achieved an arc of golden magnificence, a caped avenger swoops in and – BIF! BAM! POW! – takes him in for questioning in the theft of Jeff Sullivan’s work.
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Introducing the First (And Last) Notty Awards


Here at NotGraphs, we like to write the words “Here at NotGraphs.” This helps to distinguish us from people at other locations – people who might write the words “Here at Mensa” or “Here at Sticky Steve’s Wonderful World of Gently Pre-Owned Hustler Magazines.” Here at NotGraphs, writing “Here at NotGraphs” also gives us a shared identity, even if, here at NotGraphs, we actually live far apart from each other and only rarely invite the others over for pepper pickling or quilt quilting. (This is to say nothing of pepper quilting, which, if done incorrectly, can sting.)

Here at NotGraphs, this inclination to write “Here at NotGraphs” also serves to remind us that, you know, we really do write for NotGraphs, often in the same calendar week and always with the same source material, i.e., Shecky Greene’s Wonderful World of Gently Pre-Owned Jokes, even though there is no actual here here. Sadly, however, this sharing of identity and material will have its rendering unto immutable history when upon the final out of Joe Buck’s Global Series of Base-ball our blog shall notch its appointment with the executioner.

Here at NotGraphs, we will no longer be here at NotGraphs.

And so, in recognition of the many achievements here at NotGraphs, and in a valediction to the writers who are still – what’s the word I’m looking for here? – here (sort of), I present to you the First (And Last) Notty Awards.

Exit through the gift shop.

Best Writer Of A Post About The First And Last Notty Awards

John Paschal

Best Editor Of A Post About First And Lust Notty Awards

John Paschal

Best Writer Who Goes By The Name Carson Cistulli

Carson Cistulli

Best Writer Whose Name Includes That Of A U.S. State

Mississippi Matt Smith, Iowa Mike Bates (tie)

Best Writer Whose Name Evokes The State Of Iowa

Iowa Mike Bates, Patrick Dubuque (tie)

Best Use Of A Middle Initial

David G. Temple, Robert J. Baumann, Carson C. Stulli (tie)

Best Misspelling Of The Name “Dane”

Eno Sarris

Best Alternate Spelling Of The Name “Dane”

Navin Vaswani, Dayn Perry (tie)

Best Englishman Living In Central Mexico

Craig Robinson, Nigel Smythe-Gonzalez (tie)

Best Non-Englishman Living In The United States

’Murcan John Paschal

Best Writer To Enter Witness Protection As Rolando Blackman

Jeremy Blachman

Best Writer Whose Name Sounds Like That Of A Network Anchor

Zach Reynolds

Best Writer Whose Name Could Have Been Spelled “Zack”

Zach Reynolds, Dayn Perry (tie)

Best Writer Whose Surname Includes The Word For A Distilled Liquor

Bradley Woodrum, Bradley Steeltequila (tie)

Best Writer Whose First Name Is “Bradley”

Bradley Woodrum, Bradley Steeltequila (tie)

Best Writer Whose Surname Is The Word For A Place Of Worship

David G. Temple, Patrick Dubuque (tie)

Best Writer At Assuming Dubuque, Iowa, Has Many Places Of Worship

John Paschal, Pat Robertson (tie)

Best Writer At Not Actually Writing For NotGraphs

Pat Robertson, Nigel Smythe-Rodriguez, Rodney Steeltequila (tie)

Best Writer Of The Hopeless Joe Series

Hopeless Joe (accepting for Mr. Joe will be Rolando Blackman)

Best Writer Of The Ironic Jersey Omnibus Series

Patrick Dubuque (accepting for Mr. Dubuque will be Patrick Des Moines)

Best Writer Of Minimalist Short Fiction Starring Adrian Beltre

Adrian Beltre (with Dayn Perry and Mitch Albom)
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Report: Prophet Ned Yost is Predicting More Than the ALCS


Reports out of Kansas City this week have indicated that Royals manager Ned Yost is something of a fortuneteller, a seer of future events. According to Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star, Yost pulled shortstop Alcides Escobar aside in the ninth inning of Game 2 of the ALCS and predicted how his club would score.

Escobar was scheduled to bat third in the top of the ninth against Baltimore, and Yost wanted to share his vision.

Here is what will happen, Yost told him. Omar Infante will lead off with a hit. Yost will insert pinch runner Terrance Gore. Mike Moustakas will lay down a bunt. And then Escobar will record the hit that wins the Royals the second game of the American League Championship Series.

“Great plan,” Escobar replied.

Of course that’s how it unfolded.

Now, confirming a prediction in Magic 8-Ball Monthly, Yost has announced that he is “sharing this gift with the world.” What follows is correspondent Johnny Ondaspot’s exclusive account of the Prophet’s first public event.

KANSAS CITY—Royals manager Ned Yost gazed across the crowded room of eager supplicants, many of whom had traveled thousands of miles to heed his prophecies, and asked for the silence necessary for his endeavor.

“Only with your cooperation,” he announced to his ardent followers, packed into a conference room at the Ramada Kansas City Hotel and Conference Center on Shawnee Mission Parkway, “might I access the mystical sources that inspire – nay, supply – my capacities as an oracular agent, and thus issue the predictions that you have traveled so far to hear.”

Silence promptly followed. The lone sound came now from the washing of the Prophet’s feet – his right foot in Milanese gremolata olive oil and his left in Persian lime, each from The Olive Oilery in Overland Park.

Seated in a velveteen chair on an elevated stage, Yost cleared his throat and announced, “First, I predict that The Olive Oilery will be open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 8 to 5, and that its owners will eagerly renew their advertising contract in the coming year.”

Mystified, the audience gasped and murmured.

Yost looked down at his attendant and whispered, “Hey, c’mon, that tickles.”

Dressed in faux-gilded vestments and a costume-jeweled mitre featuring the likeness of Nostradamus, Yost reached down and swept a piece of toasted bagel through the Persian lime olive oil and drew it toward his parted lips.

“I am hungry,” he declared, nodding slowly and sweeping his eyes across the earnest faces. “And I will tell you that about two hours ago, I knew I would be.”

Again the crowd gasped and murmured. Some adherents nodded at one another, engaging in the mutual recognition of a faith affirmed, while others fainted, whereupon they were dragged into a double-occupancy and charged the standard room rate, which includes a continental breakfast.

Yost called out after them, “You will find that the bagels are delicious!”

Once more the people murmured, their eyes wide with wonder.

Risking censure, a disciple then asked, “How, oh Great One, did you know at such a preliminary stage that you would be hungry in two hours’ time?”
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I.M. Bitterman’s Acerbic Guide to Watching the %*#@! Playoffs


My name is I.M. Bitterman, and I’m here to tell you how to watch the stupid playoffs and all the stupid sons of bitches who are playing in the stupid playoffs. First, some background: I am a bitter man. The surname is not a coincidence. Upon arriving at Ellis Island, my great-great-grandfather Ignatius Meriwether Biedermann was suspected of having a “struma,” which is now called a goiter, and detained for a further inspection. Embittered, he poisoned authorities until such time that they gave in and permitted his entry, but not before they changed his name to Bitterman and suggested he move to Alaska, which, by coincidence, was called “Struma” at the time.

So, basically, bitterness is a Bitterman birthright. And if you’re anything like me, you’re pretty damn bitter that the Princesses, the Birds, the Birds and the Elephantiases are in the playoffs and your team isn’t. Why do their fans get to have all the fun? I mean, instead of watching that magnificent son of a bitch of a doctor on old House episodes, you sit there 162 times for four hours at a stretch and watch your crappy team play, and what do you get in return?


You get bupkis, while all those other fans are all, “Ooooh, look at me, my team is in the playoffs, I’m better than you, I’m great, I’m the best person, ooooh, look at me!”

Screw them. And if you’re one of them, screw you. Go play in traffic.

But yeah, if you’re anything like me, you still enjoy baseball and want to watch the stupid playoffs, despite the fact that you also want to torch entire cities and let all the animals out of the zoo and also punch walls in the dark.

So, what do you do? Here’s what you do:
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Report: Angels Also Gathered in Bar After Game 3


You probably saw the report that after their ALCS-clinching defeat of the Angels on Sunday night, members of the Royals journeyed to a local bar and partied with happy fans, spraying them with champagne and generally making sure that those fine folks would be late for work the following day. The report you didn’t see, because we are publishing it now the first time, is that members of the Anaheim Angels of Orange County, California, U.S.A., also gathered in a bar – namely, the Rough Landing Tavern at the Kansas City International Airport – to share the moment with a few of their own supporters while waiting for the grounds crew to remove the “Royals Rule!” and “Angels Blow!” graffiti from the team plane.

What follows is an exclusive report from correspondent Johnny Ondaspot.

KANSAS CITY—Albert Pujols leaned on the long oak bar and stirred his whiskey sour with a short plastic straw, its dry end scarred with the bite marks he’d administered during a soundless hour of gloomy contemplation.

“Man,” he muttered at last, and darkly, with a shake of the head. “I just…”

Finally, amid the tinkling of ice that had melted less quickly than his World Series dreams, Pujols turned to Julie Widenour, 26, of San Clemente, and said, “Could you pass me those pretzels? I probably need to eat something.”

A moment later, as the lifelong Angels fan passed the bowl of Rold Gold to the big first baseman, Widenour shook her head and bit her lip in efforts to stifle the tears. Turning to a reporter, she whispered hoarsely, “I really thought we were going to win that series. Instead, as you might’ve noticed, we lost. Now, rather doing body shots off of (Angels bench coach Dino) Ebel and Jagerbombs with (shortstop Erik) Aybar, I’m sitting here next to Pujols as he eats stale pretzels and stares blankly at The Weather Channel on a TV with its volume turned down.”
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5 Things You Can Do With Your Team Out of the Playoffs


So, your team is out of the playoffs, eh?

Well, like it says up there in the headline, here are five things you can do.

1) Plant a Hoegaarden. Have you never done this? No? Here’s what you do: Take one bottle of Hoegaarden, preferably of the Grand Cru variety but Witbier and Julius are also acceptable, and drink the bejeebers out of it. Open another bottle, preferably with your eye socket, and drink it while miming the Belgian national anthem. If not yet taken into custody, drink a third beer. Now, convinced of its properties, dig a small hole in an open field and, into it, drop another full bottle. Water liberally with a Miller, Coors or Budweiser.

2) Get in shape. I know you hear this a lot. Get in shape! Or, alternately, In shape, is what you should get! Or, also alternately, Should, as it concerns you, is the appropriate approach to getting in shape! And with your team out of the playoffs, now is finally the time. In keeping with that desire, the shape I suggest to you – again, now that you have little to live for – is all curled up, in the far corner of a dark room, with a pillow over your head.
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Dejuve A Nation: Or, How to Youthenize the American Pastime


Many American commenters – OK, one American commenter* has exercised his American commentary of late by claiming that a recent headline, like the ending of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Cupcake, should have been different, that instead of reading, “How to Youthify the Yada Yada,” it should have read, “How to Youthenize the Yada Yada,” a claim to which its author (me!) has now given due deliberation, with much furrowing of brow and drinking of cheap tequila.

Ultimately I’ve decided that though the commenter’s comment was clever and thus wholly indicative of my own mental vacuum of elite waggery, the proposed headline would have suggested a much different story, one centered not on drawing America’s youth to the Pastime and giving it new life, but, rather, on luring America’s youth to the Pastime and subsequently driving them away, thereby administering a slow mercy killing to this moribund sport.

What follows, then, is that very story, in handy sequential suggestions:

In the top of the first, show Frozen – and also hand out popsicles made of frozen cough medicine, Sriracha, hair from the shower drain at the Y, salt, shredded newspapers from Novosibirsk, paprika, Dr. Scholl’s Foot Powder and cumin.

In the bottom of the first, keep showing Frozen – and also dub the voices of Elsa and Anna with voices from a 1950s Yugoslavian physical fitness film that centers on the performance of deep knee bends whilst hoisting sacks of poultry byproducts.

In the top of the second, dress the infielders as an astronaut, a fireman, a policeman and a football player, respectively – and also compel those same infielders to perform a Baroque opera based on the 1546 scientific text De Natura Fossilium.

In the bottom of the second … cupcakes! – with icing made of quartz!
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