Category Archives: propaganda

the great transmogrification

da shield_2015

One of the funny little quirks of modern society occurs when an athlete who hasn’t played professionally in years officially announces his retirement. Though maybe it’s not funny so much as depressing, as this is mostly an issue of bureaucracy: no matter how ludicrous the idea of one continuing to play one’s chosen sport may be, due to age, injury, or incarceration, one must file the proper paperwork to truly be retired.

Anyway. Whenever this happens, there’s always a little blip of press and flurry of lame Twitter jokes. And since megastars never drift into obscurity, but flame out like bursting supernovae—you will know when Tom Brady is finished, people—these retirement announcements always serve as a nice little reminder of a player whose career you once enjoyed but might not have thought about for years.

That’s a helluva lot of preamble to say that the National Evil is shifting from an active blog to an archive of past glories—which event some might say happened in, oh, 2012. Or maybe even 2010. But this here is the official announcement.

This isn’t the end, though. Far from it! This is merely a transmogrification, as the True Face of Evil, Edward Cowan, has been hard at work on his novels and eponymous website. Much of the kind of content you’ve come to expect from the Evil will still be churning its way into the ether, but henceforth it will emanate from

A.K.A. Volcano Base Alpha.

So if you’ve just stumbled upon the Evil, enjoy your visit! It’s not going anywhere, and my thoughts on Phil Collins remain as fierce now as they were back in the day. And when you’re done here, come see my new digs. They’re a little fancier, but you can still walk around in your PJs.

. . . Because that’s the fundamental difference between athletes and writers: jocks have to retire because they don’t have it anymore, whereas writers can always get better. Here’s hoping.


The National Evil



the looooong hiatus (or: we are not dead! only . . . um, sleeping)

This guy’s a genius. Do check out his site by clicking on the picture.

Look upon the shameful dates of the posts beneath this one. Yes—go ahead, look; I’m showing you my scars, and you are obliged by a mixture of pity and morbid curiosity to humor me. Like that bunion Grandma keeps forcing you to examine every Thanksgiving.

Lo, it has been long since the National Evil spewed forth invective, praise (OK, mostly invective), and wonder upon the world. What have I been up to, you wonder?

1. Writing (non-blog division);

2. Gradually drifting off to an unbridgeable distance between popular culture and my desperately flailing, outstretched arms;

3. Battling evil!*

*Yes, for the National Evil to battle evil is problematic in a travelling-back-in-time-and-accidentally-crushing-your-great-grandfather-with-your-time-machine kind of way.

Anyway, let’s focus on 1. I’ve been writing novels. My first love, my one true passion. I hope you get to read one someday.

In the meantime, the National Evil isn’t dead dead; like the Cthulhu of blogs, it simply waits dreaming. Continue to worship at its unholy alter, for it shall return . . .

damn you modern world! topic #1: invitation frustration

Recently the National Evil realized this site lacked a crucial element common—perhaps lifegiving—to most of the ten trillion articles, columns, rants, interviews, YouTube confessionals, and recipes on the web: vitriol!

That’s right: you ain’t writing if you ain’t complaining, preferably about something universal to our society that there is no, I say again no, chance of changing.

Sure, sure, Evil has inveighed against the use of the “sexy” to describe nonsexy things. And about all those song titles that lie to us. But in general, you well know that the National Evil is a constant spuming fountain of optimism and good cheer.

No more! Beginning today, I channel my inner octooctogenarian (that would be the eight-limbed senior citizen festering in my heart) and damn the modern world and all it comprises!

Topic #1: Invitation Frustration. (Damn you, rhyming topics!)

Herewith, I damn thee, world, because . . .

Today, as opposed to even five years ago, inviting people to do things has become an infinite pain in the ass. And, like our universe, its painintheassitude is only expanding. To be absolutely sure you’ve done all you can, you must now email, Facebook, e-vite, and text message the entire list. And even then, there will be people complaining, “I had no idea you were getting married! Why didn’t you twitter me? That’s what I check.”

Continue reading damn you modern world! topic #1: invitation frustration

am i rong?

One of the most unfortunate aspects of modern life is the inexorable leakage of illiterospeak into everyday use. “U” for “you,” that kind of thing. While one could trace this tendency back to Prince (“I Would Die 4 U,” “Nothing Compares 2 U,” et. al.), it obviously exploded with the advent of text messaging. Soon illiterospeak crept into email subject lines, then the subject matter itself. And so on.

I don’t actually have a problem with illiteranguage itself, not on its own merits. What I bemoan is how this revolution, crawling from the bottom of basic comprehension, threatens a longstanding goal of those of us perched at the top: reformation of the English language!

When George Bernard Shaw is pressing us to fundamentally alter the mother tongue—well, we don’t, but at least we shake our heads gravely and say, “Something really should be done.” But when tweens are leading the charge, we instead grit our teeth and cling ever more tightly to the Y and O that jumped the line in front of U hundreds of years ago. U gets no justice. U gets no love. (Not to be confused with Queen’s English hardliner Faith Evans’s “You Gets No Love.”)

Is the National Evil the one to lead the charge into a brighter, simpler era of English? Nope. It’s not like you bastards followed the Evil when he lead the charge for uniform microwave keypad standards. (Wait, did I cover that yet?)

But today I would like to propose one tiny change to the language. I invite you to join me in changing the spelling of “wrong” to “rong.”

Continue reading am i rong?

excuse me, amazon, i ordered this WITHOUT the pubic hair


Ambrose Bierce, he of The Devil’s Dictionary and “An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge”—which has lured adolescent writers into the dream sequence/surprise ending dead-end for over a century now—was also a book critic. A critic who produced the single greatest review ever. One sentence, nine words:

“The covers of this book are too far apart.”

I never thought I’d read another critique of such brisk majesty. One that communicated everything you could possibly need to know about the work of art or product in question. One forged from a hardy dram of contempt, then quenched by the critic’s unwillingness to waste more than a breath spewing his disdain.

Too many critics spend their reviews trying to impress the reader with their own wit and/or comprehensive grasp of the medium in question. Nowhere is this more grating than in the no-man’s-land of the Amazon customer review. I don’t require your five-paragraph summary of Victorian erotica leading into how it relates to the current crop of urban vampire novels. Really—is this the best use you’ve found for your M.A. in English Lit? If so, I would suggest you make a career one-eighty and seek your destiny as, oh, a soldier of fortune.

Continue reading excuse me, amazon, i ordered this WITHOUT the pubic hair

dagnabbit! stop adding words to the dictionary!

hacksaw jim duggan

As a word guy, my instincts unerringly set me on an annual task comparable to the upstream struggle of the Pacific salmon during spawning season: locating the bevy of articles published each year reporting which words the dic-heads at Merriam-Webster or Random House have added to our official lexicon. Understand that I do not do this by choice, but rather am impelled by forces hardwired into my lower brain by millions of years of nerd evolution. Often this leads me to a painful place. Such is the case in aught-nine.

It’s not really anything that was added . . . it’s the startling omission of a word I’d always assumed must have its place in any good dictionary:


Yes, I understand that this is a slang, and possibly regional, term. But here’s where the “New Words For 2009” hoo-hah (a dictionary-approved term, by the way) comes in . . . if words like “tweet” and “LOL” are being stamped with the seal of official approval, how can dagnabbit be left behind?

Continue reading dagnabbit! stop adding words to the dictionary!

R.I.P. walkie-talkie. evil will always love you.


Today, as I left my office and strode outside for a break, something struck me. A thought had entered my head, something I needed to communicate with a coworker—nothing earth shattering, nothing that made me reverse course and return to the building. It was just the kind of thing that you’d like to get out of your mental file cabinet, stat.

And I realized: we need walkie-talkies!

And, further, I realized: mine is the last generation of males who will ever wish they had walkie-talkies. Wish? We might be the last generation that knows what a walkie-talkie is.

At the age of six or seven I received a pair of G.I. Joe walkie-talkies—which didn’t actually function beyond having retractable plastic antennae. Nevertheless, since then I’ve always wanted to have a walkie-talkie clipped to my belt, in easy reach for all the blunt orders the adult me would bark at my platoon, crew, and/or minions.

Continue reading R.I.P. walkie-talkie. evil will always love you.