Cruzin’ For A Losin’

The following is an essay read at The Paper Machete, a wonderful “live magazine” show that takes place in Chicago every Saturday at The Green Mill in Uptown. It was read (and was relevant) on April 30th.

Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz has been hot, hot news this week—which is the first time the words “Ted Cruz” and “hot” have been used in the same sentence.

This week the Texas Senator and possible Zodiac Killer has been making all sorts of hopeless attempts to steal the delegate lead, and even more hopeless attempts to appear likable. Cruz even released a video of him a little-too-excitedly doing impressions of Simpsons characters, which were so hard to watch it made Simpsons Season 24 look like “Marge Vs The Monorail.”

In a bland attempt to write and direct his own “Whitehouse of Horror,” Ted Cruz has teamed up with the less-evil-by-comparison John Kasich. In order to keep Donald Trump from winning the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the nomination, these two dweebs are being forced to work together for…well, not the greater “good,” but the greater “less-apocalyptic .”

Despicable as these two are, it’s always good to see two unlikely friends team up to stop a force more monstrous, more evil, and more orange than themselves. As a country, we are now lucky enough to watch the most boring remake of Rush Hour ever.

At this point, though, these two goons are so far behind the frontrunner, their collaboration is like two dudes in a horse costume trying to win a race against an actual horse. And they’re both the ass part of the costume.

The CEO of Trump Steaks called their alliance “weak” and “pathetic,” and don’t you hate it when he’s actually right about something?

Cruz and Kasich are acting like this team-up is going to help each of them, but their plan is easier to see through than Trump’s hair. Donald has called their team-up a “collusion,” but it’s more like a “collision,” because they don’t actually know how to help other people. Kasich agreed to pull out of Indiana to give Cruz a head-to-head shot against Trump, before firing a bullet into his partnership’s collective foot by suggesting that Indiana voters cast his name anyway, saying “I don’t see this is as any big deal.” In Pennsylvania the Ohio Governor and half-basset hound became agitated at a reporter’s suggestion that the unity reflected desperation:

“Me? No, I’m not desperate—are you?” he asked the reporter.

Well, whatever desperation Kasich doesn’t have, Cruz has more than made up for it.

Just days after the pact was formed, the friendship looked to be a lemon, and so Cruz went ahead and announced his Vice President, because you know the old adage: “Give the people what they didn’t ask for!” It’s a pretty last-ditch publicity stunt: Cruz picking a VP is like Vin Diesel writing an Oscar Acceptance Speech. Surprisingly, his VP is not 50 cans of soup in a trench coat, and instead is Carly Fiorina, AKA Ann Coulter Lite. That’s right, Ted picked a woman, so you know he’s desperate, because he hates women. It’s probably the only thing he and Carly have in common.

After the announcement, Cruz said, “Over and over again Carly has shattered glass ceilings.” And if this is true, Cruz would know, as he’s worked tirelessly to put them there.

Together they’re going to try to stop Trump, and also learn how to make normal, likable human faces. They have an equal chance of accomplishing either.

It’s a primary Hail Mary: Cruz has no nomination, he has no lead, but he has a running mate. You get the feeling that Ted Cruz just wants friends at this point. Which makes sense, because no one really likes him. Not republicans, not his daughters, not anybody.

Ex-Speaker and forever-Bronzed John Boehner called Cruz “Lucifer in the flesh,” which is very insulting to Lucifer.

Super-virgin, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, compared electing Trump or Cruz to being “shot or poisoned,” respectively, and clarified after reluctantly throwing support behind Cruz that, “you might find an antidote for poisoning.”

Cruz would agree that a President Trump would be akin to being shot in the head, but if his plan works, it’s Cruz’s weird melted rubber mask face that may wind up taking the bullet.

Even Cruz at this point knows he isn’t going to snatch up the most delegates, so this is all a desperate attempt to keep Trump from getting enough delegates, so that a contested convention can happen. A contested convention occurs when no candidate cannot lock up the necessary number of delegates in time to pick a presidential nominee, or when a candidate has the majority of delegates but their rivals just wont take a hint and back down.

So if no Republican claims 1,237 delegates, chaos is unleashed. Well, possibly. All delegates will arrive for the voting, many bound to a candidate, but only for the first vote. So if after one round of voting, still no Republican is agreed upon, many delegates will become unbound, and can cast whichever name they want, round after round, until Anybody McGoodEnough is determined. The record is 103 rounds of voting, which took place by the democrats in 1924.

So that’s what the Cruz/Kasich tandem of nonsense is all about; that’s what Carly Fiorina humiliating herself in song at a rally is all about: trying to keep states from Trumpeting, so delegates at the convention can become unbound to Trump after a round or two of voting, and select anyone else as the nominee. But despite Cruz’s best efforts, this person is not going to be him. Everyone hates him. Cruz has no chance. Best case scenario for Ted is his scheme works, which renders him just a footnote in history. Sadly, or luckily, we all realize this, but it’s uncertain if he does.

Good thing too: or he might not be trying. A contested convention is bad for Trump, and almost certainly good for Democrats. So while most people don’t like “Lucifer in the Flesh,” you’ve gotta admit: he’s doing the Dark Lord’s work.

We Still Like You and “The Dark Side of Comedy”

My storytelling show, WE STILL LIKE YOU, got mentioned in a Splitsider write up about how dark stories mix with comedy.

Check it out here!

“There’s a lot to be said for realizing that you don’t necessarily need to be redeemed. You’re fine how you are. Everyone does stupid stuff. Everyone fucks up. What’s important is that it’s universal. We can all pretend as much as we want that we don’t have any shame in our lives but I think that celebrating all the dark and misshapen little corners of our pasts brings everyone involved with our show a little closer together. The show is undeniably real.”

A Fortnight From The Heart: The Finale

The day has finally come: Valentine’s Day. We’ve been celebrating or bemoaning love now for two weeks (or longer if your life is quite good, or extra miserable) with Power Ballads, Monster Ballads, and love songs fit for an arena.

Today, I have TWO songs for you, to help close out this holiday season:

Day 14 part 1: “Keep On Loving You” by REO Speedwagon

The song that put REO Speedwagon on the map, “Keep On Loving You” is one of the most emotional rock songs around. While easily mistaken for a “soft rock” song, I insist this song is pure Power Ballad. Though it was released in 1980, much earlier than pretty much any other Ballad on this list, making it arguably a Proto-Power Ballad. Unlike some of the songs on this list, this tune is one you’ll still hear on the radio, in movie soundtracks, and even in video games. My favorite fact about it is that it was released on the album Hi Infidelity, which is just one of the many silly titles REO has given their album titles.

Day 14 part 2: “Love Is Only A Feeling” by The Darkness

The Darkness is one of the few bands out there creating new hair metal and glam rock songs. And they are doing it well, too! They do it better than most of the groups that influenced them, if you ask me. Their first album is probably their greatest release to date (it happens…though Hot Cakes, their third LP, is also very good), and it contains the wonderful Power Ballad, “Love is Only A Feeling.” Do yourself a favor and give it a listen.

See you next year for A Fortnight From The Heart.

A Fortnight From The Heart: Day 13

I’ll be sharing one of my favorite Power Ballads, each day on Facebook and on this blog, from now until February 14th. I think of these songs as the Valentine’s Day equivalent of Christmas Carols. I call it A Fortnight From The Heart.

Day 13: “When Doves Cry” by Prince and The Revolution

A lot of folks might question the decision to put Prince’s major hit “When Doves Cry” on a list of Power Ballads. And while it isn’t traditionally considered part of the genre, the song has a lot of Power Ballad qualities. Sick guitar licks, emotional lyrics, shrieking lyrics, the song is performed by a glamorous singer with intense hair… The big difference is this song is around six minutes long, and remains liked by many to this day.

Here’s a link to the full video:


A Fortnight From The Heart: Day 12

I’ll be sharing one of my favorite Power Ballads, each day on Facebook and on this blog, from now until February 14th. I think of these songs as the Valentine’s Day equivalent of Christmas Carols. I call it A Fortnight From The Heart.

Day 12: “Don’t Close Your Eyes” by Kix

These days Kix the band is even more forgotten than Kix the cereal. While they don’t get a lot radio play these days, even on classic rock stations, they were commercially successful for a brief time, mostly thanks to their album Blow My Fuse (which is a pretty straightforward innuendo). That album contained their biggest Power Ballad, “Don’t Close Your Eyes.”

A Fortnight From The Heart: Day 11

I’ll be sharing one of my favorite Power Ballads, each day on Facebook and on this blog, from now until February 14th. I think of these songs as the Valentine’s Day equivalent of Christmas Carols. I call it A Fortnight From The Heart.

“Poison” is one of my favorite Power Ballads, and is my favorite Alice Cooper song. It’s upbeat, intense, and a little creepy (and not like “Two Steps Behind” by Def Leppard creepy, like a fun creepy). This was also a big hit for Alice, and it’s pretty cool he was still scoring big hits after 18 studio albums in 1989.

There are two versions of the music video. A perfectly normal, seemingly low-budget one featuring Alice singing, a lady or two being sexy, and a rocking band draped in shadows. There is also an UNCENSORED version, featuring the exact same stuff, but with additional bare nipples and Alice being chained to some weird mechanism while a ghost woman hangs around him.

A Fortnight From The Heart: Day 10

I’ll be sharing one of my favorite Power Ballads, each day on Facebook and on this blog, from now until February 14th. I think of these songs as the Valentine’s Day equivalent of Christmas Carols. I call it A Fortnight From The Heart.

Day 10: “The Flame” by Cheap Trick

This is one of the hits off Cheap Trick’s 1988 Lap of Luxury album, widely considered to be their comeback album. The song was a departure for the band not only because it was a Power Ballad, but because they didn’t even write it! “The Flame” is written by Bob Mitchell and Nick Graham, two people you’ve probably never heard of. Supposedly, the band disliked the song at first, but we all love it now.