Mr. Charlton Learns from the Internet

Every morning, I start the day with some math problems. No joke. I head over to Khan Academy, log myself in, and for anywhere from 15 minutes to half an hour, I either do math problems or watch videos on how to solve math problems. Now, these aren’t difficult math problems. Right now I’m challenging anything from grade 3 math all the way up to grade 8, and once I’ve mastered all of those, I’ll start back into more advanced stuff from the later stages of high school. In the end, I’m hoping to get a better grasp of mathematics as a whole.

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It just so happens I’m at the quarter mark

What’s really cool about this is the website breaks everything down for you. Fell like you’re ahead of the curve? You can challenge the questions and master the lesson without having to watch a video or practice any problems. Get stumped on some of the homework? You can ask someone about it through the forums. And no matter what choice you make, there are points to be had. Badges to be earned! These people over at Khan Academy have figured out how to get me addicted to learning math!

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PUT THE ACHIEVEMENTS RIGHT INTO MY VEINS!!!

Oh, and it’s not just Khan Academy that’s teaching people new things. There’s Coursera, Udemy, the MIT open courseware (yes, that MIT), I mean, damn, there’s a bunch of websites teaching people a bunch of cool stuff.

The kid in me is ecstatic about learning new things. The cynical adult is a little wary of the whole deal. Because we run into a small issue with many (not all) of the free learning that’s going on over the intertubes; are these skills transferable to the real world?

Obviously, they are, but a lot of these things don’t come with a certificate of any kind. Some of them do offer certification, but then again, are employers willing to….

Willing to….

Oh no. I’m talking about something boring. I read over this and I’m boring the shit out of myself, and I love nothing more than listening to myself talk. Am… am I talking about websites that most people already know about? I mean, at least people who have a regular attention span and don’t spend most of their day drinking by themselves and browsing cat memes.

Christ. Is this what I’ve been reduced to? This is the most interesting thing that’s been going on in my life recently? Oh god, it actually is. Mathematics in the morning has been my little routine for a while now, and that’s the most interesting thing that’s been taking place in Mr. Charlton’s world.

People are traveling the world. I’m seeing pictures of Austrailia, and Thailand, and Denver, and a whole slew of places I’ve never been. Well, except for Denver, I’ve been to Denver. Nice airport. But these people are traveling, and living life to the fullest. The fullest! And here I am, stuck writing about doing morning math problems.

People are having babies. A whole mess of babies! Not that I’m really jealous of that, mind you. Not really a baby guy, never really been interested in the whole ‘trying to replicate part of my genetic strain’ thing. Just not my bag. But babies are interesting, and people seem to be having them. And that’s gotta shake things up a bit. It’s a lot more of a shake up than 15 minutes of arithmatic first thing after a cup of coffee.

You know what? Screw math. I’m also going to shake things up in a big way. Writing is pretty boring to begin with too, you know? Only nerds are reading, anyways, so I’m going to express myself in a dynamic way. Like, like…. music. I’ll become a rockstar. Yeah, that’s sexy.

Can’t really play a music instrument and it seems like a pain in the ass. I need inspiration, some sort of quick fix to make me cool almost instantly and give me the edge to write hit records and become super famous. How did these other rock losers do this? Hold on a sec.

Author’s note: For the next 15 minutes, Mr. Charlton’s house is filled with  the sounds of rummaging, quiet sobbing, the noise a fist makes as it hits a wall, loud sobbing, and a few wild eyed “Eurekas”.

Ok, I’ve got it. It’s heroin. How did I miss that? Instead of an early morning dose of boring old math, I’ll be shooting up some sweet China lily right into the old veins here. It’s what the greats did. People who want to be nerds can do math in the morning. I want to be famous. And it seems like heroin is a great way to start. Screw math. Right now, the only thing going into my body is black tar heroin.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. I remember going to see ‘System of a Down’ a few years ago, when their lead guitarist was going through some of his rougher days. Dude was just wigging out on stage.

Dear 90’s Kids; Your Childhood was Stupid

I was born in 1983, which puts me in the category of Millenial, a term used by dumb people who figure generational differences can be neatly divided into decade-size chunks. At the same time, this generation, who’s formative years was in the late 80’s and early 90’s, for whatever reason, thinks this was clearly winning some sort of lottery. Anyone born from 1980 to about 1990 will rant and rave about their childhood, bragging about their upbringing with anyone they have on their social media list. The reverberation from the rest of the internet echoes right back at them. “Remember this?” Everyone nods in affirmation. Apparently, 1990’s nostalgia is the best nostalgia.

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I try not to.

Mr. Charlton is here to tell you that your memory is pretty terrible. I used to be like you, 90’s kid. I used to say things like “Well, this new computer game is pretty fancy, but it’s not nearly as cool as my Super Nintendo”. I too used to swallow the Kool-Aid of 90’s nostalgia, drinking it in like cheap gin. Reality smacked me back in the face when instead of thinking about memory lane, I took a stroll down it. For the first time in over two decades, I sat down and watched my favorite cartoon from my childhood; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

It’s fucking awful.

I’m not saying this lightly. I love cartoons. I watch cartoons all the time. I’m not judging a medium here, people. What I’m saying is that objectively, and I say this with conviction in my heart, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the 1980’s cartoon I cherished as a child, is an utter pile of crap. It sucks. The first season of the show is sort of passable, but then it completely goes off the rails. There’s no real character development, there’s no structure, the plot is stupid, and the whole show reeks of lousy writing.

There’s a reason for this, though. You see, kids are smart, but they’re also pretty dumb. It’s just what kids do. Saturday morning cartoons were designed to do one thing, and one thing only. Sell toys. And it worked. Really, really well.

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Maybe too well.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came out in 1987, so I was four years old when I was introduced to the show. That’s young. I mean, that’s brain formative, crazy impressionable young. These shows were so effective, a law had to be put in place to let children know when the show took a break and the advertisements began. It was called the Children’s Television Act.

It wasn’t just TMNT that was trying to sell my childhood to me, there was a number of shows that pulled this kind of trash.

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David Koresh couldn’t get this kind of following.

If you’re part of the earlier generations, the Gen X’s or the Baby Boomers, and you’ve always wondered why our generation was so obsessed with weird pop culture like Transformers and Nintendo, well, it’s because that’s how you inadvertently raised us. You sat us down in front of the television every Saturday morning, and let us watch six hours of programming designed to get us to buy toys. And it was done when our brains were spongy and pliable.

Now I’m not pointing the finger at anyone. I’m also not really writing this for the older generations, or my generation either. I’m writing this for the younger generation, for the kids who were born after the naughts. If you’re wondering why mommy and daddy will have an actual argument about which Pokemon is better, it’s because your parents were brainwashed when they were kids. It’s why the adult neighbors will solemnly nod in agreement when they mention how Micheal Bay destroyed their childhood with the new Transformer movies. The adults you’ll have to work with when you grow to get a job will forever be sitting around the water cooler, discussing which Power Ranger they would have been.

If you’re a 90’s “Kid” reading this, there is still hope. The cartoons being made today are spearheaded by the same generation, and they are way better than anything we ever had. If you’re actually a Ninja Turtles fan, then I suggest you go watch the new 3D remake from Nickelodeon that premiered in 2012. It actually has a plot and is well written for a kid’s show. A lot of other famous franchises are getting reboots, and many of them are pretty good.

The kids growing up today have it better than I did as a kid when it comes to entertainment, and that’s a good thing. Cartoons are more engaging and smart, video games are bigger and brighter, and if all else fails, it’s not like the old stuff vanished. Heck, I was playing the old arcade game ‘Asteroids’ on my computer the other day. It’s nice to look back every now and again. You just have to make should you’re only glancing back at the past, not staring intently.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. The Super Nintendo is still fun and all, but it doesn’t compare with playing online against crazy Russian people in CounterStrike.

Mr. Charlton is Fake News

Every once and a while Mr. Charlton makes a bold claim. I’ve been known to say some pretty outlandish stuff. I once told a guy at a bar that one day, one day, I’d become the world’s greatest farmer. Which is strange, seeing as how I can barely keep a houseplant alive. I’ve said that I’m not the second coming, but rather Jesus was a precursor to Mr. Charlton. This is coming from a guy who would burst into flames if he stepped into a church.

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Kat takes care of this thing. If she wasn’t here, this would be dead.

Not too long ago, I made a bold claim; I was going to get to the bottom of this whole global warming issue. I figured there are not enough journalists covering the topic, and I said to myself, you know what? I might as well get my feet wet. Might as well read some books on the topic of journalism. Might as well learn to dig for facts and report out some hard hitting news.

Well…

That was back in the summer of 2016, the halcyonic days where journalism was, at least from my perspective, still being taken somewhat seriously. Then Trump happened, and the world of the Republican fringe spilled out onto the rest of the planet. The newly appointed administration started to talk about ‘Alternative Facts’ and how anything critical of the White House was now ‘Fake News’. It’s only been a month, and it’s been a goddamn shit show.

I’ve always been wary of emotions. I don’t really like having them. They’re a pain in the ass, distorting logic and reason with feelings and sentimentality. I despise it when organizations use emotions to sway others. Trying to make me afraid and not having any data to back it up, in my opinion, should be a crime. It should be illegal to try and stir the pot without having anything substantial in the pot. An incredibly good example is when a politician tries to use crime as a scapegoat, in an effort to seem tough on an issue. Here’s the statistics for crime in Canada and here it is for the United States. Doesn’t matter in either case if the current administration was left-wing or right-wing on the political spectrum, crimes of all types have consistently been on the decline for decades. Arguing otherwise should result in some sort of penalty.

But I’m not here to talk about crime. I’m here to talk about bullshit. There’s too much of it out there, and I’m not helping the problem. I’m not a journalist. I do not have a degree in political science. I’m not an expert on anything. In fact, I know very little about the things many people consider me to be an authority on. The truth is, the more I learn about a topic, the more I find out I don’t know. The amount of ignorance that erupts when learning something new is staggering. When I took a class on wine years ago, I went from thinking I knew a little, to realizing I knew nothing at all about rotting grapes. You could spend your entire life learning about wine and never learn everything.

And here I was, plucky little Mr. Charlton, thinking I was going to set the record straight on journalism. That is some goddamn hubris right there.

Somewhere along the line, I got a face full of humble pie. It could be the fact that I have friends who are actual journalists. Maybe it’s that no one is going to bother to be interviewed for a website that gets five or six hits per post. But maybe, just maybe, it’s because it takes a lot of work to fact check your sources. Writing a post takes an hour, maybe an hour and a half. Proper research (and yes, I’ve done research on at least three of my posts) can take anywhere from an hour to three hours. Now, with all this goddamn journalism and research, my dumbass blog would take anywhere from two to four hours. Man (or woman), I’ve got a life! I have things to do. I have other things to write. I’ve got hobbies. Sometimes I want to just sit back and play video games or watch a cartoon. If I wanted to become a journalist so bad, I’d go back to school to become a journalist, and I’m already trying to go back to school to fulfill my dream of becoming a lion tamer.

My point is, my opinion isn’t fact. Facts are facts, and good journalism seeks out these facts. Me? I’m gonna keep writing, going to keep reaching for the lion taming stars. If you do care about facts, and you want them to be heard, do facts a favor and subscribe to some real journalism. In a world where facts are under attack, the only way to fight back is to support those who are seeking the truth.

It’s easy to rile people up with inflammatory opinion. It’s almost impossible to calm them down with rationality. Someone out there is selling you emotion, and that makes me so angry I could remember everything I just said, calm my ass down, look up the numbers on the situation, realize it’s not as bad as I think it is, and be slightly ticked off someone was manipulating my emotions in the first place.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. I’m going to probably stick to satire mostly from now on, it’s the most fun to write.

 

No. 45 – Presidential Line

“What do you mean, illegal?”

The President leaned up against the desk. The Rookie never saw him sit down at the desk. Occasionally Steve would sit behind the smooth oak, twirling his pen, but Steve had been absent from the Oval Office as of late. It was probably because the media was reporting Steve was running the show, not the President. If there was one thing the Rookie had learned in the last few weeks, it was to never upstage the President. There’s only one spotlight, and the President needs all the light he could get.

Spicer stood in front of the President, trembling slightly. He was stumbling through his words and was looking forward past the desk, into the drapes that had recently been purchased for the Oval Office. They were gold, the President’s favorite color.

The President’s face was perfectly still as he asked Spicer the question. His eyebrows were raised, waiting for an explanation. The Rookie looked down at the coffee cups he was carrying from Starbucks. The President’s cinnamon caramel macchiato was getting cold, and if Spicer didn’t hurry up and tell the President what he wanted to hear, then he’d be handing the President a cold coffee. The Rookie wasn’t about to let this sissy make him look bad.

“Well, sir, it’s illegal. That’s what I mean.” The Rookie cursed silently under his breath. The sissy decided to play the wrong hand and tell the President the truth.

The President grabbed the bridge of his nose and shook his head. “C’mon Sean, you aren’t answering my question here. I get that you’re telling me it’s illegal. My question is, why is it illegal? That’s what I want to know. Why can’t KellyAnne tell people to buy my daughter’s brand? I don’t understand.” The President looked up at Sean. “I’m not sure what’s illegal about telling people your opinion on television. KA said she happened to like a brand, and it just so happened that the brand is my daughter’s. Would KellyAnne be breaking the law if she said how much she liked Louis Vitton? Or Gucci? Never mind that my daughter’s brand is better than those two, I mean they’re good brands, just not of the same caliber as my daughter’s. That’s what I’m trying to figure out here. Because as far as I’m concerned, KA did a great job.” He made his signature ‘A-OK’ sign with his hand. “A terrific job. You telling the press that she’s been punished is a bonehead move.”

Spice stammered and rolled his eyes. The President pursed his lips. “Something wrong, there Sean? You didn’t seem to like what I just said.”

The Rookie felt the coffee. It was still warm, but barely. The sissy was taking up too much time answering a simple question.

“Sir, with all due respect, I didn’t say she was punished, I said she was consoled.”

The President didn’t budge. “You made it sound like she did something wrong.”

Spice’s face went flush. He was losing his cool. “She broke the law!”

The President shrugged. “Maybe. But she did so in defending my daughter.” The President looked away. “Get out of here. Maybe I’ll take you seriously when you’re no longer played by a girl on television.”

Spice didn’t say a word as he spun and stormed out of the room. The moment the door latched the Rookie sped over to the President. “Your coffee, Mr. President,” he said as he handed over the cinnamon caramel macchiato.

The President took a sip from the coffee and looked at the Rookie, nodding in approval. “You got them to add extra syrup, just like I asked. Good job, Matt. I like people who can follow orders,” he said, then sweeping his arm out for dramatic effect. “Not like these god damn judges. Christ. I can’t believe how this place is run. Disgraceful.”

The Rookie nodded. He saw an opening. “I agree one hundred percent, Mr. President.”

The President took another sip from his coffee. “What would you do?”

“Excuse me?”

The President put the coffee down on the desk. “Let’s say you were the Press Secretary. What would you have done differently?”

The Rookie smiled. “You mean if I were in the sissy’s shoes?”

The President’s face lit up. “Hoy-yo! That’s pretty funny. I like it. I’m going to use it. Sissy boy Sean.”

The Rookie thought about it for a moment. “You know what I’d do? I’d filibuster ’em.”

The President pressed. “Filibuster?”

The Rookie backed up, letting his arms swing a bit, bringing them both in front of him. He started failing them about while he spoke. “Yeah, yeah. Filibustering. You ever see one of these senators or congresspeople or whoever do this? If they really, really don’t want something brought up, they do a filibuster. They basically go up and talk for, like, hours. About whatever. You could go up and read a book for twelve hours. And the other people, they get so sick of it, they drop whatever they were trying to pass in the first place. I’d do that. The press asks me a question, I’d be like ‘Hey, my cat did this cute thing yesterday. Let me tell you about it.’ or ‘You know what’s American? Beef Jerky.’

The President chuckled. “I like that idea, Matt. Keep coming to me with great ideas like that, and maybe you’ll find yourself working directly for me.” He gave the Rookie a wink. “Still, though. These founding fathers of ours, of this great nation. They were entrepreneurs, businessmen, go-getters like you and me. Why would these go-getters make it illegal to keep a business when running the country? My wife, beautiful woman, wants to start a new line of clothing. A presidential line. She can’t though. Her dreams, all of a sudden… Poof. Gone. Seems a little strange to me. Seems weird the founding fathers, great men these founding fathers, would hamper any kind of business.”

The Rookie nodded in agreement. “Seems unAmerican is what it seems like, Mr. President.”

The President gave him a finger gun. “Pow. Bingo Matt. I’m going to let you know one thing right now. The wall? Not a huge deal. The Muzzie ban? I can take it or leave it. What will truly make America great again is business, and I’ll be damned if I can’t help the people by making them my employees.”

A smile broke out over the Rookies face. “If… if you could hire everyone to work for you, well, that would solve all the problems.”

The President smiled back. “It would. I know it would. I’m going to make this country great again. Soon, everyone will be cheering my name. Soon, everyone will be working for me.” He grabbed the coffee next to him and took another sip. He frowned. “Hmm. Coffee’s cold. Do me a favour, kid, and grab me another one. Extra syrup.”

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton.

p.s. What will happen next? Will Spicer go crazy? Will KellyAnne start selling Trump merchandise outside the trunk of her car? Does the Rookie have no shame? Find out next week!

 

Let’s Talk About Bells “Let’s Talk”

If you’re not a Canadian, this topic might be a little foreign to you, so I’m going to break it down. Bell Canada is a telecommunications company operating in the Great White North. A few years ago, they started their “Let’s Talk” campaign, which is designed to bring mental health to the forefront of conversation. The campaign takes place at the beginning of the year, and if you are a Canadian citizen, you start to see commercials like these.

Micheal Landsberg is a famous Canadian sports guy.

Howie Mandel is a famous Canadian game show host.

I’m not sure who this is. But she’s probably Canadian.

Bringing up the stigma of mental health issues is a tough one, and I commend Bell for trying to bring this into the public arena. The other day, though, a friend of mine brought up a very important piece of the mental health puzzle faced here in Canada. Specifically, he brought up this guy.

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)

This is Will Baker, formally known as Vincent Li. On July 30th, 2008, he decapitated a fellow passenger, Tim McLean, on a Greyhound bus traveling to Winnipeg. After cutting off his head, he began to cannibalize parts of the young man. As of the writing of this post, Will is living alone, under supervision, in Winnipeg. Will is asking for an absolute discharge, which would grant him total freedom. Currently, his case is being reviewed by the Crown.

Will Baker was found not criminally responsible (NCR) for his actions, as he has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. At the time of the killing, he heard the ‘Voice of God’ tell him to kill the young man or die himself.

Every January, Facebook fills with stories about people wanting to open up and share their own experiences with mental health. I hear from folks about eating disordered, anxiety attacks, depression. It’s both incredibly brave and important because it strips away the stigma surrounding mental health issues.

Understand I’m not here to disparage any form of mental disorder. Depression, anxiety, these are real conditions that affect thousands of Canadians every year. It’s important we talk about them. The problem is Bell using these conditions as the face of mental health issues. While Bell is more than happy to hire successful spokespeople to talk about their struggles and how they overcame them, like the videos posted above, they tend to go quiet about subjects like Mr. Baker.

The conversation changes in tone when we bring up people who’ve committed violent acts while suffering a mental disorder. It slides from sharing videos like these on Twitter, all the way down to locking a person up and throwing away the key. People want to have a conversation about mental health when it’s told by photogenic actors, but the conversation stops when it’s discussing cases like the killing of Tim McLean, or the Calgary Stabbings, where five people were killed at a house party by someone claiming aliens were talking to him.

I’m going to relate my own story here. I spent some time in Golden in the spring of 2015, a few months. It was enough time to meet some of the towns more interesting folks. There was one person, in particular, who stood out. We’ll call him Greg. Now, Greg went to the library a lot. I was at the library every once and a while, as my mom works there. Greg made me pretty uncomfortable because Greg talked to ghosts. I asked some of the other people in town about Greg, including my mom. “He’s harmless,” I was told “and the truth is, we can’t really do anything about him.” And it’s completely true, even though it was clear that Greg was obviously suffering from some sort of mental disorder, there wasn’t anything anyone could do about it. The police couldn’t do anything, as he hadn’t broken any laws. And there’s no facility in a small place like Golden that could have intervened.

Greg made me uncomfortable for another reason. While he seemed friendly enough to other people, the ghosts had beef with me and were letting Greg know. Once, when I was leaving the library, Greg was standing outside. I said hello, and he replied with “They’re saying you’re very dangerous. I don’t like dangerous people.” He also said this while looking right through me with the classic ‘thousand yard stare’. Not long after, he moved somewhere else, somewhere in northern BC.

I’m telling this story because even though it was clear society had a person suffering from head problems on their hands, there was no protocol in place to deal with him. That’s a glaring issue, one that Bell’s “Let’s Talk” campaign doesn’t address. What would have happened had the ghosts decided I was threat? What would have happened if Greg acted upon the ghosts suggestions?

Bell did raise 6.5 million dollars for mental health, which is a win.  But, if we want to get serious about mental health, we need to do more than just talk about it. We need to start addressing it. Not just addressing what we do with violent patients after they’ve recovered and have been treated, but how to prevent them from becoming violent in the first place. The last thing I want to hear about is a man named Greg committing an act of violence in northern BC, because ghosts were telling him space pirates were coming to get him.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. #LetsDoSomethingAboutIt

First, Pass the Pancakes

Sophie Trudeau was humming in the kitchen as she brewed some coffee and got tea ready. It was Sunday, which meant the staff was given the day off and the family would sit down and have breakfast together. Normally, Sophie was in charge of the meal, and she would make either a quiche or a tourtiere for the morning meal. Today was different, however. Today Justin promised to make pancakes.

Justin strode into the room and walked over to his wife. Taking her by the waist, he firmly planted a kiss on her cheek. “Morning, sweetie” he said as he stared into her eyes.

“Morning, mon cheri. I am looking forward to breakfast. This is going to be quite a treat.”

“I know,” he replied as he released himself from the embrace and sat down at the table with the children. “I absolutely love your quiche and/or tourtiere.”

She stood there, mouth agape for a moment, trying to figure out what her husband was up to. “Perhaps you have forgotten, mon cheri, but you said earlier in the week that you’d be making pancakes. I was looking forward to, how do you say, taking my feet off this morning.”

Trudeau leaned forward, placing his hand on his chin. He nodded. “I understand that I said I would be making pancakes this morning. It was one of the issues brought to my attention when we decided to have breakfast. I truly believe my pancakes are in the best interests of everyone in our family. Unfortunately, after some polling, we haven’t been able to draw consensus on what we should be having for breakfast this morning. Currently, half of the family wants pancakes for breakfast, and that isn’t broad enough support to justify a change from the usual delicious quiche and/or tourtiere that you usually make.”

Sophie’s eyes widened. “Mon cheri, what are you talking about? Poll? Alright, let us take a vote right now. Xavier, do you want pancakes for breakfast?” The eldest Trudeau child nodded. “And you, Ella-Grace, do you want the normal quiche or do you want pancakes with syrup and whipped cream?” Ella-Grace nodded in agreement. “Yes, Mama, I want pancakes for breakfast.” Sophie began to smile. “Hadrian, do you want cakes for breakfast?” The youngest child, almost three, banged his plastic cutlery on the table. “Cakes, cakes, cakes. I want cakes!” Sophie smirked at her husband. “You see, Mr. Prime Minister, that is four against one. Looks like you are in charge of pancakes this morning, as you promised.”

Justin didn’t move. His hand was still on his chin, and he continued to nod. “I understand you are passionate about pancakes, and I want you to know that I am too. I’m committed to making this a great breakfast. Not only for us but for everyone. Although four out the five members of the family here agree pancakes should be for breakfast, not every member of the family are here. I sent out a poll yesterday to some of the other family members and they all agree that your quiche and/or tourtiere is far better than my pancakes.”

Sophie crossed her arms and put her weight on her right hip. Her words became far more pronounced and enunciated. “Who, exactly, did you send this poll out to?” she asked.

“I sent it to Alexandre, Zoe, and Margaret.” he replied.

Sophie’s shoulders thrust forward, her arms still crossed. “You sent this to your mother?” she shook her head. “Incredible. I can’t believe you would work this hard to get out of making pancakes.”

Justin looked over at the children. “Kids, can you cover your ears for a minute? Mommy and Daddy have to have a parent talk, okay?” The two eldest children nodded and covered their ears, the youngest was oblivious to the conversation. Justin looked back at his wife.

“I’ll level with you, sweetie. My pancakes aren’t very good. I’m a lot of things. I’m a great politician, a fantastic boxer, and an amazing lover.” Sophie started to cough loudly. “…but I’m not a good cook. At first, I thought making the pancakes would make me look better in the kids eyes, put me in the ‘cool dad’ books. The truth is, if they have my pancakes, I’ll drop a peg. It simply doesn’t benefit me to make pancakes at this stage anymore.”

Sophie’s face turned crimson, and she stamped her foot. “You promised me, though, you’d be making pancakes. You are breaking your promise.”

Trudeau gave her a shit-eating grin. “I know. But there needs to be consensus, sweetie. Now, if you could start making a quiche/tourtiere, that would be wonderful. I’m really hungry.”

Sophie spun around and started taking out the necessary hardware to make breakfast, slamming each one down on the counter. “I’m glad I only have to put up with your bullshit for another two years, mon cheri. Then you can go back to being a teacher and not a prick.”

“You mean another decade, sweetie.” he said.

He couldn’t see it, but she was rolling her eyes. “Of course, sure, whatever you say Mr. Prime Minister.”

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Pancakes are my least favorite cakes.

p.s.s. People might be saying, “But Mr. Charlton, what about Yellowcake?” My statement stands.

p.s.s.s. This is a Canadian thing if it doesn’t make sense.

No. 45 – Lunch

“I’ve got everything here”.

The Veteran had to double check. If anything was missing, well, he wouldn’t yell at you, he’d just think you were incapable. Unreliable. A dumbass, in his own words. So the Veteran opened the insulated bag and had a look. A big Mac from McDonald’s. Two cheese and beef melts from Arby’s. A bucket of KFC – Extra Crispy. A small loaded pizza from Papa Johns. Two bottles of coke.

“Seems like everything’s in order. Go on in, he’ll be waiting for you” the Veteran told the Rookie intern. The Rookie looked up at him. The Veteran finished his thought for him before he opened his mouth. “Yes, all of that is for him. Steve might grab a slice of pizza, but… besides that, yeah, it’s all his. No, he’s not going to eat it all in one go. He sets it up like a little buffet and picks at it throughout the afternoon. Go on, he’s expecting you. He might seem scary, but he’s an alright guy.”

The Rookie nodded and trotted off. The Veteran ducked off to the washroom to tweet this. They were cracking down on leaks. But this was too damn good of an opportunity to pass up.

***

The Rookie opened the door to the Oval Office. There was the President of the United States, yelling at the television.”Those fucking liars! Those fucking sons-a-bitches! I didn’t tell the Aussie Prime Minister to go fuck himself.”

The Vice-President was pacing behind him. “No sir, you didn’t say that. But you were rather curt.”

The President of the United States spun around. “Yeah, and I hung up on the clown. Over a thousand refugee he says he’s sending over. Said he made a deal with the last guy. What a lousy deal. You know what we get? Nothing. We get a bunch of broken sand hicks and their shitty offspring.”

Steve was sitting in the chair behind the desk, twirling a pen. “It was good of you to show your strong hand there, Mr. President. We can’t be letting just anyone into the country. The last guy was soft. You need to be strong.”

The President walked over to the desk, put his hands on it and leaned right over to look at Steve. “I am strong. I’m the strongest. There’s nobody out there who’s stronger than me.” Steve looked right at the President and didn’t break eye contact. There was a pause. “Good. That’s exactly what this country needs. Mr. President”. Steve flashed a grin and soon the President of the United States was beaming. “You’re my guy Steve, this is why you’re my guy.” The Vice-President shook his head in the corner.

“Lunch! I can smell it. New guy. Thank you so much for running out and grabbing this for me. You’re a rockstar, you know that? Just put it on the desk”. The Rookie intern walked over to the desk and placed to order down. The Vice-President finally spoke again. “Look, with all due respect Mr. President, at your age you shouldn’t be eating this kind of…” The President of the United States waved his hand at the Vice-Pres. “Now, now, we’ve talked about this, okay? I’m healthy. I’ve got a body like, like, hey, who’s that superhero that can rejuvenate himself? Played by that hairy guy.”

The Rookie’s eyes brightened. “You mean Wolverine?”

The President clapped his hands and pointed at the Rookie. “This kid. This kid right here. RockStar. You’re going places kid, I can see it. What’s your name?”

The Rookie thrust out his hand. “The name’s Matt, sir. Matt Goading.” The President shook his hand. “Whoa there, Matt, strong grip you’ve got. I like that in a man. Good business skill”.

Suddenly there was a buzz from the President’s pocket. He pulled out his cell phone. He looked at it, and then his face curdled. His jovial, round features became hard lines, and he started turning red as the blood rushed to his face.

“Fuck!” he screamed. It was clear now that, even though he might have been disappointed with the television earlier, he didn’t lose his cool. Now, the calm seas in the oval office became a torrential storm of scorching emotions.

“How the fuck did they know? This @RoguePOTUSStaff on Twitter. How the fuck did this shit for brains asshole knew what I was eating? He’s got the whole list right here.”

Steve looked at the Rookie, his dropping eyes piercing right through him to the back of his skull. “Mr. President, we might have a traitor in our midst right here.”

The President looked at Steve, then over at the Rookie. He started pointing his finger right in the Rookie’s face. “Do you know who the fuck I am? I will wipe the fucking floor with you. I will ram so many lawsuits down your goddamn throat you’ll be begging me to stop. You-will-be-begging-me. I will go to fucking war over this. Who the fuck are you?” The Rookie tried to say something but was shot down immediately. “I do not give a shit who the fuck Matt Goading is. I will bury you, your family and your goddamn children.”

The President straighten his tie, threw a hand through his hair. The red drained from his face. He held out his phone. “Your phone. Lemme see it.” The Rookie was pale, shaking nervously as beads of sweat started running down his face. “C’mon, don’t make this harder on yourself kid. Gimme your phone.” The Rookie pulled out his cell phone and handed it over. The President swiped at it. “What’s your password?” The Rookie stuttered slightly “It… It’s 5468…” The President tapped the phone a couple times, then started swiping again. After a while, he cocked an eyebrow and looked up at the Rookie. “Where’s your Twitter app? I can’t find it.” The Rookie gulped nervously. “C’mon kid, I don’t have all day. Where’s the app?” The Rookie was looking down at his feet. “I… ummm. I…” The President poked him with the phone. “C’mon, big man, where’s Twitter? You’re saying something. Say it.” The Rookie shuffled in place. “I don’t…. I don’t have Twitter. I don’t even have a Twitter account.”

The President’s eyes bulged, then rolled back. “Jesus Christ, I thought we were only hiring kids who understood cyber.” He shook his head and handed the phone back. His face went scarlet and he kicked at a chair. “Goddamnit!” The entire time, Steve hadn’t taken his eyes off the Rookie. “Mr. President, we don’t have a traitor here. But we might have a tool. A Trojan Horse.”

The President was still red in the face and walked towards the desk. “Not in the mood for riddles about horses, Steve. You have an idea, spit it out.”

Steve broke his gaze with the Rookie and looked over at the President. “The person in charge of this account, it’s obviously a brat. What we need is someone to find out this brat, sniff ’em out. We need a younger person, someone fresh.” he continued twirling the pen.

The President threw up his hands. “Stop with the games Steve, who are you talking about?”

Steve sighed. “The RockStar here. He goes out, makes himself chummy with all the other staff members, finds out who’s in charge of the handle @RoguePOTUSStaff. Our solution is right here in the room.”

The President looked over at the Rookie, back to Steve, then back to the Rookie. His eyes lit up when the pieces came together. “Good idea. I like that idea. I like that idea a lot.” He walked back to the Rookie and put his hands on his shoulders. “Listen, Matt, sorry about earlier. But I’m surrounded, surrounded by losers who want to bring me down. I need loyal people. If you’re loyal to me, I’ll be loyal to you. You get whatever you want. You want a new car? I’ll get you a new car. You want to fuck a bus full of models? I will personally hand pick the models myself. I’m offering you the key to a new life, a life of success, a key that will open every door for you. All you need to do is be loyal to me. Can you do that, Matt?”

The Rookie, still pale as a ghost and sweating profusely, nodded in agreement.

“Not good enough Matt. How do businessmen do business?” The President put out his hand. The Rookie extended his own and shook his. “Beautiful. What a handshake. You’re going to go far, Matt. You help us find this leak, and we’ll plug it up.” The President reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet. He opened it and produced a stack of hundred dollar bills. “Here’s some money. You make friends out there. Take them out for drinks, take them to dinner, buy them whatever they want. Grease ’em up and make ’em talk.” the President said as he handed the stack of hundreds to the Rookie. “I’m counting on you. Now get at it, tiger.” The President smiled and winked.

The Rookie gave a grin, just about tripped over his feet as he turned and walked out of the room. Just before he was out the door, the President spoke.

“One last thing, kid. Get a Twitter app. It’ll help you find this loser.” The Rookie nodded once and pushed the door open.

On the other side of the door, the White House was bustling as usual, but the air was less heavy. The door latch clicked. The Rookie closed his eyes and took a deep breath. It was only his first day, and already he making waves. He opened his eyes and he saw the Veteran, the guy who double checked his order, on the other side of the hall. The Veteran grinned and gave the Rookie a thumbs up. The Rookie returned the thumbs up, even though his hand was trembling. It was going to be a long four years.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. I’m not even sure this even counts as satire anymore.

 

 

What the Hell is Going On?

Alright, before we even begin, I want you to put on some music. I’ve got the perfect tracks. They’re happy, they’re fun, and most importantly, they’re royalty free.

Okay. So, I’ve seen a bunch of news. A smattering of news. I’m getting bamboozled with news, and feeds, and half-truths, and it’s been non-stop. You probably feel the same way. And if you’re reading this, you’re probably in two camps. You’re either terrified at what the new president of the United States is doing, or you’re terrified someone is going to stop you. Thankfully, Mr. Charlton is here to talk some sense into you lovely people.

No one really seems to know what’s going on outside of the White House. A lot of what’s floating around is speculation.

angryman

BUT TRUMP IS DESTROYING THE WORLD! HE’S BANNING MUSLIMS AND BUILDING A WALL AND CANCELING BLACK HISTORY MONTH AND STEVE BANNON IS RELLY IN CHARGE!

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Calm down there for a minute. Yes, Trump is forcing through a crazy pile of executive orders. And a lot of people are resisting. This is good, and this is how a democracy works. You don’t like something your government is doing? Say something about it. Start making phone calls, start protesting. But don’t spread misinformation. It’s getting harder and harder to disseminate what are real facts and what are alternative facts. In all likelihood, President Trump will get impeached before his term is over.

angrywoman

BUT THE PEOPLE VOTED FOR TRUMP AND HE’S FIGHTING THE ESTABLISHMENT! IF HE GETS IMPEACHED, WE’LL GO TO WAR AGAINST THESE GLOBALIST ELITES LIKE GEORGE SOROS!

Okay, I hear you. There’re a couple issues here, though. Trump is President of the United States. He’s not PrinceGod of AmericaLand. He can sign all the orders he likes, that doesn’t mean they’re constitutional or legal. These deals he’s making have to get checked out by other people. You have to pick and choose your battles, and Trump has decided to pick all the fights. It’s not even the unlawful choices, either. It’s becoming clearer and clearer that Trump and his team don’t understand how politics work. The big example, for me at least, is appointing Steve Bannon to the National Security Council. Well, Trump can’t just appoint Steve to do that. The spots on the National Security Council need to be approved by the Senate, from my understanding. You need to be somewhere on this list in order to be part of the council. Steve Bannon isn’t. This might not seem like a big deal, but it’s just one of the many issues that keep coming up with the Trump administration. If the issues keep adding up, and I’ve got a feeling they will, they’ll declare Trump unfit to be Commander in Chief.

Here’s the other thing. I keep hearing about Globalism and Elites and George Soros when we’re talking about the dangers of the future. Let’s unbox that.

  • There’s no shadowy cabal of billionaires trying to put the world under a new world order. Billionaires are usually interested in one thing; their billions of dollars. Don’t say something like “Follow the paper trail”. I will follow the paper trail if it’s coming from an accountant or a journalist that’s been talking to accountants. You want to know who’s actually part of a shadowy cabal? Vladmir Putin. And Trump has been getting awfully cozy with him lately.
  • There’s a pretty good reason why people are getting nervous when Trump tears up trade deals. See, back in the day, nations were pretty nationalistic, way more than today. You were really proud to be from Britain, or France, or what have you. And you really thought less of the other nations. Trading among nation wasn’t nearly as prevalent as it is today. Then the world had a couple of really big and nasty wars. The idea was toted around to start trading among nations. If nations are benefitting economically from each other, then they are way less likely to go war. Tearing up all of your trade deals is the worldly equivalent of slamming a beer mug down and demanding a tussle from someone else at the bar.
  • The whole banning Muslim immigrants isn’t a smart move. First, it’s unconstitutional. Second, it creates something utterly devastating for a nation: The brain drain. Back in WW2, Germany started getting rid of Jews, including all the really smart ones, (Einstien for instance). That turned out great for the Allies because we took those smart people and put ’em to work. Among those immigrants and refugees are some utterly smart Muslim folks. America just told them to go somewhere else. Hopefully up here to Canada. We could always use more smart people.
  • I’m not sure if you noticed, but Trump is an elite billionaire. He’s not “A blue-collar billionaire”. Having lousy taste doesn’t make you blue collar. I know plenty of blue collar workers who have style and taste. He didn’t drain the swamp and he’s not going to. If you like Trump, understand that this is what you sound like when you’re telling me Trump is different than the establishment. I’m simply going to replace billionaire with the word ‘King’.

thinking

These goddamn King’s are running the government. We need representation. You know what we need? A King.

It’s unprecedented that a president is already as unpopular as Trump is, and if his numbers keep sliding, then it’s almost inevitable that he’ll get impeached. If Trump wants to remain president, then he’ll have to keep his head down and lay low for a little bit. But knowing his need for attention and approval, it’s likely we’ll be hearing more about Trump. And you are going to hear about Trump as long as he’s president. The man loves attention, whether it’s good or bad.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. I mean, he hung up on the Austrailian Prime Minister. He’s spatting with Mexico. Trump is poking the dragon in China. Who isn’t he picking a fight with?

p.s.s. This is just my opinion, by the way. I really don’t have a clue what’s going on either. But I re-iterate. There’s no shadow Illuminati running the show. There’s shadow spy networks, but every country seems to have those (or at least tries to).

The Little Weaponized Germ That Could

Note: Recently, Russian largest tank manufacturer, Uralvagonzavod has contracted award-winning children’s writer Svetlana Lavrova to write a kid’s story about tanks. It’s intended to teach children about the patriotic values of war machines, and follows a character known as “The Little Tank”. Not happy to see prestige and wealth go to some jerk in Russia, Mr. Charlton has decided to step into the game and produce his own children’s book. Not only will the child learn the phonetics of the English language, he or she will be more comfortable of the likelihood of a disease ridden Apocalypse. Mr. Charlton will now gladly accept submission’s from artists to have to honor of creating pictures for his new story.

Blankie was sad. Even though he’d been Timmy’s frien his entire existence, Timmy was now forgetting Blankie more and more often. Timmy used to bring Blankie everywhere! Now, as Timmy was growing older, he was taking Blankie out with him less often. Timmy was also forgetting Blankie in the strangest of places. Timmy was walking away as Blankie laid on the floor of Site 42-X, a laboratory (LA-BRA-TO-RY) located in New Mexico, in the US of A. Timmy’s dad was a scientist here, and worked on weaponized (WE-PON-IZED)  germs. Blankie wasn’t really sure what that meant. What isimportant to Blankie is Timmy had forgotten him once again, and now he was left in the laboratory overnight. Tears welled up in Blankies eyes as he began to cry.

“Now now there, young fella. No need to shed tears when you’re among friends.” Blankie looks around. Through the dark, he saw three strangers appear through the darkness. The was a test tube, a syringe (SUR-INGE), and a small beaker full of green liquid. They approached slowly. Blankie stopped crying, and looked up at these new friends.

“Who… who are you?” he asked. They began to chuckle. The test tube stepped forwards, and she spoke. “Why, we’re diseases. We make weak people very sick, and then die. The great government (GO-VERN-MENT) of the United States keeps us a secret, but in case of extreme situations (SI-TU-A-SHUN), the president tears up the Geneva convention and puts us to work”.

The syringe sighed. “That’s only if the Apocalypse takes place, and the entire world goes to hell. Things have been pretty quiet up there, and we might not ever leave this laboratory.”

“Gosh, it’s nice to meet you all. What’s your names? My name is Blankie.”

The test tube curtsied (CURT-SEED). “My name is Small Pox , this syringe here goes by Anthrax, and the cute little beaker on the end is weaponized Ebola (EE-BOL-A)”. The syringe and the beaker nodded. “It’s nice to meet you Blankie. We don’t meet a lot of others down here in the lab”.

Blankie looked down at the floor. “Shucks, the only reason I’m here is because my friend Timmy left me behind…” The other gasped. “He left you behind? That doesn’t sound like a friend to me, Blankie.” said Small Pox. “We’d never leave behind a friend.” said Anthrax. Ebola spoke up, in his squeaky (SKWEE-KEE) voice. “It’s Un-American!”

Blankie got mad. The edges of the blanket became little fists. “I wish I could take you all with me, but I know that Timmy’s dad is mean. He won’t let us be friends. He’s always saying how ‘If anything got out, it would be the end of the world’. And Timmy will remember me eventually (EV- EN-TCHU-LY, and he’ll come back to get me.”

They were all sad. Then, weaponized Ebola had an idea. “I know! We can get out of here, together! It’s you Blankie. Even though you aren’t a disease like we are, you can be the vessel (VES-ELL) that transports us.” Small Pox piped up. “You know, that just might work!”

Blankie looked up at his new friends. “You think that would work?” Ebola chimed in. “Would it? That’s one of the ways the noble Europeans decimated (DES-E-MATE-ED) the dirty horde that was festering in God’s new land!” he said, in his squeaky voice. “Yeah, they just took the blankets from their sick soldiers (SOL-GERS), and gave them to the natives. They almost wiped them out completely to finish their holy genocide.” said Anthrax.

Blankie puffed out his chest. He was only a blanket before, but now he was going to usher in a new age of darkness. He was beaming (BEEM-EENE) with pride. All three of the diseases blessed Blankie with their power. “Soon, my new friends, we’ll all leave this place, and sing the song that will end the world!” And with that, they all began to sing.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. I could also use a song writer here, I think I’m striking gold with this kid’s stuff. If anyone wants to jam out a couple songs about the harbinger of death, drop me a line.

p.s.s. If you hadn’t noticed, I’m not very good at spelling things out phonetically. I really struggled with that part, just so you know.

Here Come the (Hip-Hop) Clowns

Trump sat in the Oval Office. Even though the room was empty, his face was contorting slightly as he ran through conversations in his head. Occasionally, he’d make little hand gestures. There was a knock on the door. It cracked open, and Sean Spicer stuck his head through the gap.

“You wanted to see me, sir?”

Trump massaged the bridge of his nose. “Seanie, we’ve been through this. You’re supposed to be in here on the hour, every hour, to give me updates on what’s happening out there. Of course I want to see you. You need to burst through that door, though. I want you exploding through that door. I want energy. Can you give me energy Seanie?”

“I believe so, sir.”

Trump gestured a small explosion with his tiny hands. “Boom, Seanie. Energy. Let me see some energy.”

Sean Spicer sighed, then threw the door open and jumped into the room. “Sir! Sean Spicer reporting the word on the Presidency, sir!”

Trump nodded slightly. “Much better, Seanie. I want to see that sort of performance at your press conferences. So far you’ve been lackluster. I need winners on my team, Seanie.” Trump leaned back into his chair. “Alright, gimme the bad news first.”

Sean squirmed and scanned the entire room even though it was empty. “Are you sure, sir? The last time I gave you the bad news first, you had a bit of an incident.”

Trump shook his head. “Don’t worry about it Seanie boy, give it to me straight. I had a television in here, but they took it away. Said I have a bunch of…” he waved at the paper work on his desk “…stuff to read and sign. Just give me the word”.

“Okay. Well, seems like you angered a lot of scientists lately.”

Trump shrugged. “So what. I hate eggheads. They think they’re smarter than me? I went to school too, you know. I built a bunch of schools. Take away their Twitter privileges. What are they going to do?”

Sean scratched his head. “They… they kinda went and made their own Twitter accounts.”

Trump frowned. “I don’t understand. Just phone up Twitter and tell them to cancel them. Shouldn’t be hard”.

Sweat started forming on his brow. “That’s not how it works. Even if they banned those accounts, they could just make more accounts, truthfully. Also, scientists are forming their own political party.”

“Losers. I’ve never seen an egghead get laid. The only thing scientists ever win are science fairs. Look, just make them go away, okay? Easy problem, go solve it. Next piece of news”.

“Okay, well it seems that a bunch of Juggalos will march on Washington this year sometime.”

Trump squinted. “What’s a Juggalo?”

Sean threw his hands up. “Goddamned if I know, sir. I did some research, but they’re some sort of loosely organized gang that worships the Insane Clown Posse.”

“The Insane Clown… what?” Trump stared at Sean for a while.

“It’s… it’s a rap group, based out of Detroit. They have a cult like following all over the nation, mostly in poor, rural regions.”

Trump put his child-sized hand up. “I don’t like clowns, Seanie. Had one at my birthday party as a kid. You come to my party, you’re going to act with dignity. I don’t want buffoons surrounding me. What are these clowns doing? What do they want?”

Sean looked around for a chair. “Sir, can I sit down?”

Trump thought about this for a moment, then raised a finger. “No. Now, get on with the clowns.”

Sean’s shoulders slumped. “I don’t know what their agenda is. Right now it’s stating that they’re marching “For all the weirdos, freaks, and side shows” and that they’re going to “Soak the town in Faygo”.

Trump waved it off. “Whatever, they sound dangerous. We’ll send in the army when they get here.”

Sean raised an eyebrow. “You mean the National Guard, sir?”

Trump’s face twisted. “Army, National Guard. The guys with guns, Seanie, same thing. Stop being an egghead. You’re not smarter than me.” Trump clicked his pen a bunch, then looked back at Sean. “Well, Mr. Smart guy, anything else?”

Stains immediately appeared around Sean’s armpits. He started trembling slightly. “It’s bad, sir. Please don’t throw anything at me.”

Trump raised both his hands, showing Sean his palms. “Nothing here, Seanie. You just let me have it.”

Sean stared directly at the window, not looking Trump in the eyes as he spoke. “They’re giving Alec Baldwin an entire episode of Saturday Night Live“.

There was a loud crash from the Oval Office. Sean Spicer tore out of the room. Loud cussing could be heard in every part of the White House. It soon subsided, until the only sound that could be heard was gentle sobbing into incredibly minuscule hands.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Faygo is a small brand of soda pop that comes from Detroit. It is incredibly popular with both the Insane Clown Posse and its followers the Juggalos. ICP shows usually have the rap duo spraying the drink into the crowd.

p.s.s. It hasn’t even been a week people.