Category Archives: Satire

Bewildering Stories’ Third Quarterly Review, 2016

bwblueship

From Bewildering Stories:

Bewildering Stories ends the season — winter or summer, depending on your hemisphere — with the Review Editors’ selection of favorites from the third quarter of 2016. New readers will have easy access to the recent best of Bewildering Stories, and veteran readers will have a chance to catch up on anything they may have missed.

The Quarterly Reviews are not a contest, competition or poll. And there are no quotas: anything — from everything to nothing — may qualify in any genre. Rather, they answer a practical question: “If a friend asked you to recommend something outstanding from the past quarter of Bewildering Stories, what would you choose?”

I’m happy to announce the editors at Bewildering Stories included my piece “Whisper Listing” in their short list of best flash fiction stories.

Whisper Listing

Whisper Listing

“In transactions involving haunted real estate, the rule is not only caveat emptor but also caveat venditor.”

The looming presidential election is shaping up as a combination fiasco and tragedy of such staggering proportions, the only thing we can do is laugh. So in a desperate act of escapism, I wrote a satirical flash fiction piece entitled “Whisper Listing.” It’s featured in the latest issue of Bewildering Stories. Here’s hoping it provides a bit of comic relief to our ongoing political agony.

(In real estate, a “whisper listing” is a house for sale in a market restricted to a select group of potential buyers. Celebrities often use them to avoid publicity.)

* Be sure to check out Challenge 680 linked at the end of my story!

Charlotte Observer Limerick Contest

Limerick

The Charlotte Observer hosts a limerick competition every year that runs from Saint Patrick’s Day to April 1st. They call it their “Politics & Public Policy Limericks Contest.” This year the paper encouraged entries lampooning the presidential campaign, but the current campaign is so bizarre and depressing, I just couldn’t imagine making a humorous rhyme about it. So instead, I decided to write limericks about local disasters.

The editors published my limerick on Charlotte’s I-77 toll lanes controversy. The public hates the idea of paying tolls, but there’s the added sting of a Spanish company (?!?) building the lanes and keeping all the profits they generate. Weird, huh? But so ripe for ridicule! From the Charlotte Observer editorial page:

It wasn’t all presidential politics, though. Give Mike Tuggle bonus degree-of-difficulty points for rhyming the word ‘criteria’ and going the foreign language route to finish his piece about the Interstate 77 toll lanes:

I can’t understand the criteria

That mandate toll lanes from Iberia.

The gain from those lanes

Stays mainly in Spain.

It’s Charlotte’s camino mysteria.

Stay tuned for future satirical entries in the coming weeks. Yes, I live in a target-rich environment.

Salman Rushdie on Fantasy

Rushdie

Salman Rushdie, who was knighted in 2007 for his contributions to literature, will speak here in Charlotte at Queens University tomorrow night. He’s earned his honors. Because of Rushdie’s unblinking portrayal of what he deemed religious fanaticism, both Ayatollah Khamenei and Al-Qaeda have called for his murder. In London a few years back, only dumb luck saved him from a fanatic’s book bomb (a real one, not to be confused with one of Larry Correia’s book bombs!).

This is a man who has risked his life for his art. So when Rushdie speaks, he’s worth paying attention to. His observations on fantasy fiction deserve wide circulation:

I think that magical realism is one version of a kind of literature that is found all over the world. It is much older form with, in many ways, a richer tradition than the realist tradition.

These stories are very old. I just thought one of the things I like about the old stories is while they are full of flying carpets and ogres and dragons and things like that, they are completely realistic about human beings. The people you find in the stories are beautifully drawn.

“Ogres and dragons and things like that.” Works for me. And Rushdie’s comment about the power of satire struck me as pitch-perfect: “Satire is the classic weapon that artists have always had against hypocrisy and tyranny.”

Jonathan Swift and Ambrose Bierce would be proud.

The Condoleezza Tales

Condoleezza Tales

What better way to welcome April than with a satirical poem that takes place in that lovely and tempestuous month? I wrote it in 2004, and the anti-war site LewRockwell.com published it. It’s a takeoff of The Canterbury Tales that targets the Iraq War and the Neocons who lied us into it. I’ve dusted it off, revised it a bit, and added links to names and places that may not be as well known as they were eleven years ago. Enjoy!

When that April, with its fickle weather,
Reflects spring madness altogether,
And pounds the District with such fury
The politicians curse and scurry.
When newsmen chase them seeking answers
About leaks from CIA necromancers,
The press secretary concocts such theories
That the head does spin, and the eyes grow bleary.
And young bloggers compose Internet discourses
They research all night with help from secret sources.

So crazy does become the Capital City,
Then congressmen gather in committee.
And pundits skewer the president’s invasion
Of foreign lands that had not harmed this nation.
And specially from every TV station
Of the USA to Condoleezza they hasten,
The National Security Adviser for to grill
That she had lied up on Capital Hill.

It so happened in that season on a day,
In the fevered District at Bullfeathers I lay,
Tossing down another gin and tonic
Before attending more testimony moronic.
But then there stormed into that famed saloon
A noisy, cursing Neocon platoon.
So heated they were from congressional hearings
They paid me no mind as they started sneering.

A General stood proud with glistening medals
Awarded for battles he’d helped to settle.
Sad Vietnam did his war doctrine form;
He’d chaired the Joint Chiefs during Desert Storm.
And lately he had well served his nation
With a deft Power Point presentation.
Though the UN rejected his grave proposal,
He was well regarded in the Office Oval.

There was a Wolfowitz at the door,
And at a Rumsfeld his eyes did bore.
“We’ve no time for Congressional hysteria.
Our troops should be marching tonight on Syria.”
The Rumsfeld shrugged. “Yes, it’s all overblown.
Congressional scrutiny’s a known unknown.
But should a new crisis come, thanks to Bin Laden
Congressional hearings will soon be forgotten.”

A Cheney popped in from an undisclosed location
And nearly smiled at his standing ovation.
He checked his own pulse with each shot of liquor.
Though the others would laugh, his scowl did not flicker.
He spoke with a manner that showed he was certain
Of the contracts he’d win for his beloved Halliburton.

At his side stood his student, a prideful young Flyer,
Once a 12-stepper and lusty party goer.
He’d fought the Cong in the war in ‘Nam
From a strategic position in Alabam.
He wore a smart flight suit that shined like the sun,
And swaggered and grinned when he said, “Bring ’em on.”
His teacher, the Cheney, had to act deferential
Toward his eager young student despite low potential.

When into the bar there strode an old Clarke,
With the mind of a scholar and the bite of a shark.
He’d served well his country for one score and ten,
And he roared at the pack like Daniel in the den,
“You are liars and slackers in your sham war on terror.”
And the cowards all shivered, ashamed at their error.
Drinks spilled and men shrieked, and started a-runnin’.
But I knew they’d continue their neo-connin’.