Wizard of Odds
I’m Art Kumbalek and man oh manischewitz what a world, ain’a? So listen up ladies and lassies, I hear another Milwaukee Irish Fest has come upon us, which reminds me of a little story:
This, a wee tale of this Englishman, a Frenchman and an Irishman who were at the pub discussing families. The talk turned to children and surprised they are to learn they each have a 15-year-old daughter they struggle to understand. The Englishman’s problem is that he found cigarette butts under his daughter’s bed. “I didn’t know she smoked,” was his complaint. The Frenchman then says that he’d found cognac bottles under his daughter’s bed. “I was not aware that she drank,” he confessed. And the Irishman says his situation is the toughest—he’d found condoms under his daughter’s bed. “Ah lads, what kind of father am I that I did not know my daughter even had a dick?” Ba-ding!
Anyways, these days I’m liking my chances to be your next president more and more, what the fock. If elected, I abso-focking-lutely ought to represent a gentle return to some kind of normalcy, I kid you not.
(Hold on, I got a phone call. It’s my buddy Little Jimmy Iodine. I got to take this ’cause he owes me some dough. Smoke ’em if you got ’em. Be right back.)
“Hey Artie, you got two bucks you can spot me?”
“You got to be jerking my beefaroni, Jimmy.”
“Yeah yeah, I know I owe you but listen, I’m short of dough and if you give me a couple bucks I can buy a Powerball ticket that’s guaranteed to win the $430 million jackpot. Then, we take that dough to Potawatomi and double it on the 25-cent slots—then we split it and I can pay you back that fiver I owe you from before, plus you got enough dough to run for president, not to mention a nice down payment on that used Buick Park Avenue you’re always talking about, ain’a?”
“So Jimmy, how are you so sure you can win this Powerball? The odds are one in 292, 201, 338.”
“But I got the numbers, Artie. Got ’em but good ’cause I did some research. You ever heard of this writer, some kind of William S. Burroughs?”
“Yeah, wrote the book Naked Lunch, died at the age of 83 in 1997 to serve as a lesson to the young people that a drugged and vagabond kind of lifestyle of lurid dissipation more than often snuffs out even the best of us too soon. So?”
“He died in August, Artie—it’s August now—plus it’s the 20-year anniversary. I did some research ’cause I saw that book in a used bookstore the other day and I wondered how a lunch could be naked. Didn’t add up. Lunchers can be naked ’cause they’re people. But lunch is food and food doesn’t wear clothes, ain’a? And then it hit me: This year is also the 40-year anniversary of the unconfirmed death of Elvis Presley, August 16. And then I remembered that the Memphis minstrel’s middle name was Aaron, and that Aaron was also the surname of the first man to go past George Herman Ruth’s total of career baseball home runs. And I wondered, could there be another connection between the King of Rock & Roll and the Sultan of Swat besides that they were both known to dine like pigs? I rushed to my baseball encyclopedia and there it was: Babe Ruth passed away on an August 16, the same date as the man who starred in Viva Las Vegas.”
“Jimmy, I got to go.”
“Wait, Artie. Then I heard about some closet Nazis who are celebrating the 30-year anniversary of nutty Rudolf Hess who hung himself in Spandau prison at the age of 93 on August 17, 1987—Rudy Hess, Hitler’s deputy and Nazi solo peace negotiator who parachuted into Scotland in 1941 and said, ‘Hi, my name’s Rudy. Want to surrender?’”
“Powerball numbers, Jimmy?”
“For starters, think of the anniversaries I just mentioned, Artie—20, 30, 40—plus the name connections. Then chew on this: Bill Burroughs was born February 5, 1914; Babe Ruth, February 6, who then first stepped onto a major league team with the Boston Red Sox in 1914. Burroughs was once cleared of obscenity charges in Boston. Babe played right field. Rudy Hess flew in out of left field. Bill did drugs, shot and killed his wife in Mexico. Elvis did drugs, shot and wounded his career in Fun in Acapulco. OK, Middle East connection: Rudy was born in Egypt; Bill regurgitated Naked Lunch onto the page in Morocco; in the bible there’s a Book of Ruth; Elvis starred in Harum Scarum. Also, Rudy spent years and years in Spandau. Elvis spent years and years in Spandex…”
“Piece of cake, Artie: 16-17-20-30-40. Powerball is 8, for August, eighth month of the year. See you on Easy Street, pally.”
All right listen, I got to run up to the Pick ’n Save, so I can’t finish the essay for you’s. Yeah, campaign financing is a bitch, but once I’m in the White House I’ll be set for life, so what the fock ’cause I’m Art Kumbalek and I told you so.