20 Signs of a Hard Winter

1. Wooly caterpillars wear wooly wool coats and hats, large comical googly-eyed glasses, speak in adorable Capote-like lisp.

2. Bears found hibernating in the attic

3. Sun dead

4. Pluto, Lord of the Underworld, seen carrying Persephone to Hades

5. Glacier onslaught

6. Harvested rutabagas bite like a motherfucker, won’t let go

7. Antifreeze antifreezes

8. Blood hail

9. Snowman-on-snowman crime increases

10. Flocks of geese flock more tightly, creating walking Transformer-like “superflock” with sonic cannons, wave motion gun

11. Swamp Witch done skinned the cat, threw the bones, and watched the Weather Channel

12. Teens engaging in disturbing new trend of “iceberging” and “frost-riming,” with multiple plants of either sex.

13. Frost giants callously ignore ceasefire

14. Ass literally falls off

15. You scream, I scream, we all scream the ice scream

16. Internal icicle pain

17. Snow shovel won’t start up without being primed first

18. Senior citizens’ pelvises heard softly weeping

19. Old Man Winter seen pissing hard frost across your garden, cackling, flipping you off.

20. Tsnownamis

The Creative Process

Mike, Nate, Flynn, and I are on our way to the beach house we rented in Michigan. It’s located some ways off the main road, requiring a series of twisty turns through the greenery. Mike asks me to review the directions on the Post It notes she scribbled out the other night while speaking to the lady who owns the beach house.

Mike: What’s the next turn?

Me: Port Sheldon Road to… Who the hell is Ron Butternut?

Mike: What?

Me: It says right here: “Ron Butternut.” Who is this Ron Butternut? ARE YOU SLEEPING WITH HIM!?!

(I point at the directions, knowing full well it says “R on Butternut” [Right on Butternut Road] Mike laughs.)

Mike: That’s an awesome name. You should make him a character in a story.

Me: Except it would be funnier if it were “Ron Butternuts.” I’d have him address a audience like this: “Hello, everyone, I’m Ron Butternuts. SHUT THE HELL UP.”

(Mike and I laugh.)

Throughout the week we kept speculating on who Ron Butternuts was, and so forth. Finally, one night, on our way to get ice cream in Holland, MI, we bring up Ron one too many times for Nate’s taste.

Nate: (Shouting) No! No! It’s NOT Ron Butternuts!

Mike: Oh really, bud? What should his name be?

Nate: It should be RON SUGARNUTS!!!

Hilarity ensued. Also, he’s absolutely right.

Tonight! On! Inner Whistling Shadow Sanctum Mysteries!

I want a job where I can write old-time radio show scripts.

[Opening Theme Music]

Sepulchral Announcer: Meet Chauncey J. Phillips: restauranteur… pianist…. WOULD-BE MURDERER. Chauncey J. Phillips THOUGHT he could get away with ANYTHING. But he couldn’t… because crime doesn’t pay… Especially for Chauncey J. Phillips… once he entered… the [echoing] INNER WHISTLING SHADOW SANCTUM!!! What an [echoing] IDIOT… IDIOT… IDIOT…

[SFX: Traffic noises, office machinery, a man frantically pacing, all created by playing a 78 rpm TRAFFIC NOISES, OFFICE MACHINERY, NERVOUS PACING sound effects record.]

First Guy: Phillips! What are you doing there, standing by that water cooler and bookshelf with a revolver loaded with five bullets!?!

Second Guy: SIX bullets, Williams (pause) SIX bullets. (pause) Now sit over there in that chair. The one by the mynah boid.

Mynah Bird, Voiced by the First Guy: Awk! Polly wants a cracker! Awk!

Second Guy: Shaddup, boid… All right, youse miserable, filthy stoolie, dirty dog bum! Here’s what’s youse gots coming to youse!

[SFX: Six gunshots created by whacking a trash can lid with a croquet mallet.]

First: Urrrgh… You… Got me… Phillips… But you’ll… never…

Second: Youse got what was coming to youse, Williams… Consider that a Valentine from…

First Guy: …get… away…

Second Guy: …a Valentine from Boss Ril…

First Guy: …with… this…

Second Guy: Uh… that’s right, Williams… A Valentine from Boss Riley. He sends his…

First Guy: …deplorable… crime… you… scala… wag…

[SFX: Loud thump of body hitting ground, created by loading a potato sack with sponsor-provided noodles and gelatin and throwing it against a slab of terrazzo.]

Second Guy: …regards, ya stinking chatty-Kathy galoshes-eater. Now to wipe away all my fingerprints with this silk handkerchief!

[SFX: Wiping sound created by wiping a bald man’s head with a silk handkerchief.]

Mynah Bird: Awk! A Valentine from Boss Riley! Awk!

Second Guy: What the? That boid knows everything!

Mynah Bird: Chauncey J. Phillips of 1253 Maple Lane shot Reginald Von Williams IV with an Ivor Johnson revolver. The bullets came at a 45 degree angle, indicating Phillips is a man of average height! Awk! Cracker!

Second Guy: Shaddup, youse boid! Shaddup! I’ll fix YOUSE, by shooting youse with my revolver!

[SFX: Several clicks created by clicking a clicker.]

Mynah Bird: Awk! SIX bullets! Awk!

Second Guy: Dadblasted crazy-making goony-boid! I’ll strangulate youse! Ding-dong gum-chewing creep! Fooey on youse whole scummy boid family… What th’!?! Youse flew up to that statue of Hammurabi, maker of laws. When I gets my hands on youse…

Mynah Bird: Awk! Phillips motive is apparently profit-based! Awk! He acted as a triggerman for Boss Riley! Awk! $1,000 was recently filed in Phillips’ off-shore bank account! Awk!

Second Guy: Lemme just stand up on this reproduction of the 10 Commandments, then I’ll reach youse. I’m gonna turn youse into my Thanksgiving turkey! Ungh! Ungh!

Mynah Bird: Awk! Blood spattering indicates the decedent expired at 4:04 p.m. Contents of his stomach showed that decedent consumed a spinach calzone! Awk! Pieces of eight!

Second guy: Youse is gonna lead them right back to my Italian restaurant, youse miserable boid! Right after I hold onto this painting of Nemesis,  Greek goddess of retribution, to steady myself, I’m gonna… What? I’m losing my grip! I’m falling now, and all the nearby art representing the law, retribution, and revenge will smack me in the head. Aggh! I’m only five inches from the floor, and mere moments from my death! Youse lousy boid!

[SFX: Body hitting the ground followed by a series of objets d’art crushing a human skull to a bloody pulp, created by playing Naked City’s debut album, Naked City.]

Mynah Bird: Awk! Ironic! Awk!

Sepulchral Announcer: CRIME. DOESN’T. PAY. And, Mom… Use Gelatin brand gelatin for all your eating, cleaning, and douching needs. GELATIN. IT’S MADE FROM COLLAGEN.

[SFX: Closing theme music, created by orchestra playing closing theme music.]