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Spoofs & Satire

Constantine XI and Jesus Await Resurrection Under the Mitchell Corn Palace, 2010. Courtesy the artist and Blythe Projects.

This Will Be the Year That Was

Already 2013 has seen America drive off the fiscal cliff, only to freeze momentarily, then either reverse in mid-air or drop straight into the canyon—depending on how you look at it. Here’s more of what to expect over the next 12 months.

January

A tearful Mitch McConnell emerges from budget talks to announce that he and Joe Biden have worked out “a lot of issues.” The precarious financial situation has been set on firm ground, but more importantly, McConnell has come to terms with his demanding mother, understands which colors work with his complexion, and can finally explain Donnie Darko. Biden has also negotiated a night with McConnell’s wife.

Mitt Romney buys an ashram in India.

Estonian-Americans officially become the 50th minority group scapegoated by the Republican Party in the wake of last year’s election.

Hordes of former Mayan apocalypse believers that started payments on expensive burial plots and did not die now find themselves unable to pay for their eternal resting places. Foreclosures begin in earnest, leading to a collapse of the grave market. Plots go for record-low prices, and whole cemeteries are bought up by developers to be turned into condo-mausoleum hybrids.

February

There are comedy podcast wars and rumors of comedy podcast wars.

The frothy, wacky “Gangnam Style” by Psy finally makes it into those mass emails from your uncle, where it is now a horribly racist and bitter animated gif called “Obama Style.”

The NFL abandons Roman numerals in favor of kanji symbols. Super Bowl Banished Horse Petal draws an audience of 112 million viewers.

NBC moves its sitcom Community to Sundays at 8 a.m.

March

In a landmark Supreme Court decision, celebrity sex crimes now fall under the jurisdiction of the tawdry media.

In a landmark Supreme Court decision, celebrity sex crimes now fall under the jurisdiction of the tawdry media.

Facebook marketing tools become so omnipotent that users begin seeing popup ads for drugs to fight diseases they don’t know they have.

Palestine’s UN status is downgraded from non-member observer state to non-member unobservant state for accidentally letting a smelly dog into the Assembly Hall. The New York Times quotes Ban Ki-moon: “I mean, honest to fuck, you guys. He rolled all over the floor, he got into the flags. Unbelievable. You have to shut doors, you know?”

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, first commander of the International Space Station, raises his country’s ire when he offers to sell a one-third share in the station’s fuel and oxygen to China.

April

Despite the respite from the danger of the fiscal cliff, an animated rocky outcropping with googly eyes named Fiscal Cliff becomes public television’s newest breakout character. He features in interstitial cartoons teaching children about the world of budgets and political deadlock. By year’s end, 39 percent of North American adults will base their financial planning on Cliff’s storylines and the songs of his saucy pal Market Bubbles.

Mitt Romney is ousted from his own ashram. He appears to leave quietly, despite the fact that it belongs to him. The fearful holy men who spent time with him on his spiritual journey will not comment, except to imply that there are demons that cannot be overcome. They begin a week of fasting and prayer, but for whom it is not clear.

Monsanto acquires the Farmer’s Almanac.

May

The comedy podcasts gather in their mountain rookeries, roiling in their multitudes, jostling and biting for recognition, building toward a thunderhead whose video is viewed by many, but understood by few.

Doors open at the Museum of Reproductionism, a multimillion-dollar facility in Tennessee with a mission to provide alternate takes on “the misunderstood miracles of wombery.” Features include the Bayer Aspirin Contraception exhibit, short film clips explaining the difference between legitimate rape and the other kind, and a walk-in uterus where patrons can see laser rape defense mechanisms at work.

NBC reassigns Community’s soundstage to Yucca Mountain.

As the cemetery market hits bottom, a new entry appears in the Oxford English Dictionary: mausominium.

June

Alfonso Cuarón is tapped to direct the nine-part adaptation of Tolkien’s Silmarillion. As reported in Variety, Liam Hemsworth and Jennifer Lawrence are attached to Part I: The Pronunciation Guide.

Greece decides to sell western civilization to pay for its ruinous debt.

Greece decides to sell western civilization to pay for its ruinous debt. Sotheby’s Paris is standing room only.

Apple unveils the iPad MidSub, for those who want a device smaller than a full-size iPad and slightly larger than an iPad mini. Customers still line up for the device’s release, but they do so with a notable waxy pallor.

On the same day that Curiosity discovers irrefutable proof of living organisms on Mars, a sleeker, shape-changing version of Curiosity appears on the surface, where it proceeds to do battle with the original rover across miles of landscape. The original, plucky Curiosity is victorious. However, specs of the defeated machine are uploaded by NASA’s Cyber Dynamics Laboratory.

July

The comedy podcasts swirl and billow across the plains. They uproot IT infrastructure and bury unsuspecting newsfeeds. The implications hit North America like a faceful of sarcastic dirt. The last tweet of a subsistence blogger, starved for hits, before he and his family disappear: “OMG y r they all 2 hrs long???????”

The Associated Press reports that Egypt has no plans to become an Islamic republic, nor has it ever. They just find the façade handy for keeping the West respectful and “that damned Sheldon Adelson’s fingers” out of Cairo.

Somehow, Yoko Ono is the sole beneficiary of Ravi Shankar’s estate.

Joyce Carol Oates comes under investigation after a UN task force raids nine literary sweatshops in Bangladesh that have been producing her myriad novels and short stories under the harshest conditions.

August

NBC splits Community into segments of length determined by sunspot activity, to be sent into random rotation as determined by the aurora borealis.

Contract talks between comedy club chains and the Improv Guild of America break down when the bargaining team is asked to call out a salary increase, a special perk, and a medical procedure. In an emergency session held just before the midnight deadline, 80 percent of members vote against the offer of 40 drachmas, an elephant-trunk shower each morning, and nipple ears.

Its popularity plunging to a new low, the National Rifle Association puts all its chips behind the ultimate PR stunt: Musketalia, a tour-de-force Cirque du Soleil show celebrating gun culture. The throughline follows a small boy as he chases a glowing magazine clip across time and space, buffeted by the forces of gun lobbyists, oversize puppet politicians, and clowning gun-control activists. Acrobats dressed as bullets soar through the air as they bounce off trampolines made to look like the Constitution.

September

Further evidence of arctic climate change mounts, as El Cetacean Salvador, the 65-foot-tall whale carved out of ice that overlooks the religious faithful of Ellesmere Island, crumbles into the ocean.

Chris Brown punches a camel, then an anthill, then a wind farm.

OWN begins airing monthly Oprah’s Favorite Things episodes. Wishing to top herself with each installment, Oprah tracks down increasingly impractical things to give away, such as mythical beasts and priceless artifacts. Forced to dial it back, she decides to find worthier and worthier people to gift. She declares her wish to honor ex-first ladies, then religious leaders, and finally historical figures she admires, despite their being dead. Fans last glimpse Winfrey trying to dolly a fridge into Lincoln’s tomb. Gayle King announces Oprah is taking some time off for “a rest.”

All further requests by visiting heads of state to view the original Emancipation Proclamation on its 150th anniversary are denied after the Prime Minister of Finland puts his dong on it.

October

MoveOn.org announces an upcoming interview with Mitt Romney and an unspecified “collaborator.” The next morning MoveOn.org relaunches as a comedy podcast aggregator.

MoveOn.org relaunches as a comedy podcast aggregator.

NBC issues a memo requiring the Community cast to exist as either particles or waves.

American resolve remains untainted by the memory of Hurricane Sandy, as Congress approves funds for construction of a 20-story floating childcare facility off the coast of New Jersey.

November

The IKEA Monkey is awarded the newly established Nobel Prize for Animal Comedy.

The Syrian government declares it is starting a new world organization with only Russia and Turkey—none of the other nations are invited—and that they’ll meet in a super-secret place, and there will be so much weapons trading and economic investment that everyone else will be jealous. The Russian and Turkish ambassadors begin leaving their embassies through different doors.

Windsor Castle scrambles to contain a leaked audio recording in which Queen Elizabeth lists all of the things she secretly hates, including bagpipes, cornices, beards, tribal dance, the smell of rubber, her own chin, Moonraker, shrimp, crinolines, the Tate Modern, the word “innit,” and her son Edward.

S-date, the online singles network of Swaziland, shuts down after it’s revealed that all of the site’s profiles are actually King Mswati III.

December

Most re-gifted items of the holiday season: carcinogenic Furbys, John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John’s Hanukkah album, tickets to Musketalia, DVDs of Finding the Christmas Gene starring Victoria Jackson.

Hipster affectation of the year: harmonica.

The population of Washington, DC, pauses, as if on cue. The air has shifted. There is a low-frequency rumble heard by all. Even those on the outskirts turn involuntarily toward the center. The eyes of those within sight of the National Mall are drawn to a lone figure standing atop the Washington Monument. It is Mitt Romney, his beard grown to Rasputinian proportions, his only garment a long robe made of money. Behind and above him, a vortex of comedy podcasts, crackling with snark. Romney waves a green shirtsleeve toward the Reflecting Pool and the water is drawn up in vapor by the dry, dry humor. Romney extends his hands toward the Capitol, and the comedy podcasts buzz across the Mall in a jaded swarm. As the first Gingrich jokes reach the steps, a bellow echoes across the Potomac basin. An enormous oblong shape explodes out of the river, blocking the sun, propelling itself with a tail. A cry from the gathered crowd: El Cetacean Salvador. The beast soars through the air and opens its massive jaw. The comedy podcasts are sucked in like so many krill. Romney screams in anguish. El Cetacean Salvador circles the Mall once as the citizens cheer, then begins its ascent into the sky. Romney, his power drained, is knocked by a stray barnacle and tumbles from the monument. No one sees him hit the ground—they are transfixed by the whale spirit as it swoops gracefully up and up, their hopes for 2014 rising with it.

biopic

TMN Contributing Writer Michael Rottman lives like a lord in Toronto. His miscellany has appeared in print in The Fiddlehead, Grain, and Opium, and online at Yankee Pot Roast, Cracked, News Groper, and McSweeney’s. More by Michael Rottman