Home Page Photo

The Big Stupid Review


American Dream Serialization (Early Chapters)
Introduction to Jim Chaffee's Studies in Mathematical Pornography by Maurice Stoker
Introduction to Jim Chaffee's Studies in Mathematical Pornography by Tom Bradley
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: American Dream Title Page by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 1 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 2 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 3 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 4 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 5 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 6 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 7 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 8 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 9 by Jim Chaffee
Modern Tragedy, or Parodies of Ourselves by Robert Castle
Totally Enchanté, Dahling by Thor Garcia
Hastini by Rudy Ravindra
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 5 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
Unexpected Pastures by Kim Farleigh
Nonviolence by Jim Courter
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 4 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
The Poet Laureate of Greenville by Al Po
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part VI by Thor Garcia
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 3 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part V by Thor Garcia
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part IV by Thor Garcia
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 2 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part I by Thor Garcia
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part II by Thor Garcia
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part III by Thor Garcia
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 1 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
DADDY KNOWS WORST: Clown Cowers as Father Flounders! by Thor Garcia
RESURRECTON: Excerpt from Breakfast at Midnight by Louis Armand
Review of The Volcker Virus (Donald Strauss) by Kane X Faucher: Excerpt from the forthcoming Infinite Grey by Kane X Faucher
Little Red Light by Suvi Mahonen and Luke Waldrip
TEXECUTION: Klown Konfab as Killer Kroaked! by Thor Garcia
Miranda's Poop by Jimmy Grist
Paul Fabulan by Kane X Faucher: Excerpt from the forthcoming Infinite Grey by Kane X Faucher
Operation Scumbag by Thor Garcia
Take-Out Dick by Holly Day
Patience by Ward Webb
The Moon Hides Behind a Cloud by Barrie Darke
The Golden Limo of Slipback City by Ken Valenti
Chapter from The Infinite Atrocity by Kane X. Faucher
Support the Troops By Giving Them Posthumous Boners by Tom Bradley
When Good Pistols Do Bad Things by Kurt Mueller
Corporate Strategies by Bruce Douglas Reeves
The Dead Sea by Kim Farleigh
The Perfect Knot by Ernest Alanki
Girlish by Bob Bartholomew
The Little Ganges by Joshua Willey
The Invisible World: René Magritte by Nick Bertelson
Honk for Jesus by Mitchell Waldman
Red's Dead by Eli Richardson
The Memphis Showdown by Gabriel Ricard
Someday Man by John Grochalski
I Was a Teenage Rent-a-Frankenstein by Tom Bradley
Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Fred Bubbers
Believe in These Men by Adam Greenfield
The Magnus Effect by Robert Edward Sullivan
Performance Piece by Jim Chaffee
Injustice for All by D. E. Fredd
The Polysyllogistic Curse by Gary J. Shipley
How It's Done by Anjoli Roy
Ghost Dance by Connor Caddigan
Two in a Van by Pavlo Kravchenko
Uncreated Creatures by Connor Caddigan
Invisible by Anjoli Roy
One of Us by Sonia Ramos Rossi
Storyteller by Alan McCormick
Idolatry by Robert Smith
P H I L E M A T O P H I L I A by Traci Chee
They Do! by Al Po
Full TEX Archive
Side Photo for The Big Stupid Review

Axiom of Choice

By Jim Chaffee

And he went up from thence unto Beth-el; and as he was going up by the way, there came forth young lads out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou baldhead; go up, thou baldhead. And he looked behind him and saw them, and cursed them in the name of Jehovah. And there came forth two she-bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two lads of them.
—2 Kings 2:23-24

American Standard Version of the Bible

hiking to Takatori-yama, 1967

When the Lord called me I wasn’t ready. I protested. I resisted. I went on a long vacation. No, I said. Why me?

Jehovah is tough to convince. When something fixes there it stays there.

I remembered my predecessor, Eli James. He'd had nothing but trouble with Jehovah. He’d been an investment banker, been in politics. I’d seen the old photos: buttoned down and pinstriped, lace-up wingtips. The real thing.

When I met him he was a vagabond, homeless and stinking. His dense, graying beard reached to his waist and his hair hung like a filthy old rug, a salt and pepper cascade beyond his shoulders matted into shapeless clumps of vermin hideaways. A black smile greeted everyone, friend or foe, though it was never clear he had friends. Supporters, more like it. Many thought him mentally ill.

You’d think from listening to the preachers that God’s decisions would be final, but they aren’t. He’s a flip-flopper. The old testament has him letting Ahab slide after he killed his neighbor, even though Lord God Jehovah said he'd wipe him out. All Ahab had to do was cry and plead contrition. Old Thunder relented, waiting until Ahab’s death to deliver the vengeance on his wife and son. And there stood Elijah, with egg on his face.

The same thing happened to poor old Eli. Jehovah tells him to go to this real estate developer who uses some false witnesses to get his hands on a local Sonoma family’s vineyard, Zinfandel vines more than a hundred years old. The owner dies in prison on some phony charges after the developer and his cronies frame him. The developer gets the land for a song, tears out the old vines and puts up condos. God says, Eli go see this guy and tell him that he and his family are finished. God will wipe him out and the dogs will eat the carcass of his wife and lap up her blood and his son will be killed and there will be no heirs.

Eli’s work with Jehovah had earned him a local reputation as a kind of sorcerer. When he said bad things would happen, they did. Usually. And anyway, everyone knows how superstitious Californians are, especially those of San Francisco and points north. So this developer gets all weak-kneed and starts going on about how it was a mistake and his wife’s idea and he’s sorry. God relents. Eli, Jehovah says, tell him he will be okay but his wife and kid will suffer after he dies.

Two years later, the developer dies of a massive myocardial infarction. His wife is mauled to death by a loose pit bull in the parking lot of a shopping center her husband’s company had built. Their son, their only child, sues the company, but before he can bring the suit to trial he dies in a car wreck, childless.

No one believed it had anything to do with Jehovah. Everyone thinks God is level-headed, not too hostile. God is love. Which is, of course, hogwash. Maybe tough love. Very tough love.

Anyway, Eli James sought me out a few years ago. I came to work and he was waiting. Not in the waiting room, but sitting in my office, wearing that black hole of a smile in the middle of his unkempt beard.

I asked my secretary how the hell he got into my office. She didn’t know he was there.

Moving those blue black lips, he smiled and told me that I was to be his replacement. I called the police to have him removed. They never arrived. Their cars wouldn’t start. None of them. I was helpless, stuck in my own office listening to this tall, skinny nut-case wearing a wooly, once-white sheep-hide vest, going on about how Jehovah had chosen me to replace him. That I was to begin training immediately.

hiking to Takatori-yama, 1967

I told him to go away, but he wouldn’t. He sat smiling at me, staring. He left in his own time, after an hour or so, leaving behind a rancid odor of urine and sour sweat that lingered for weeks, even after I had the office fumigated.

He began to follow me, dogging my tracks, waiting for me at the least expected times in the least expected places. He was impossible to shake.

My cases went south, my career and business following them. I lost every case I took. No client would touch me. When I went into legal research, every piece of advice I came up with was deadly to my advisees. My wife divorced me and took the house; my kids cursed me. I went from a multimillion dollar lawyer representing a select list of corporations to homelessness.

Eli was always there when I turned around. It was bizarre. Here I was, living in Marin County, and Eli James would be there waiting for me whenever I ventured out. Meanwhile, his photo would show up in the newspapers all the time. He was in Washington D. C., he was in Seattle, he was in Los Angeles, New York, Santa Fe, talking about Jehovah’s coming wrath. He had become a back-page celebrity.

I asked him, How are you getting to these places? You have no job, no money, and you don’t even have a place to live.

He would produce his trademark black, placid smile and say in his deep, clear, booming voice, The Lord God Jehovah provides.

His answer was that I would learn, that I would come to fear Jehovah. Jehovah had read my heart and knew it better than I.

Maybe, but I said no. This can’t be happening to me.

It happened.

Eli James disappeared exactly one year ago to the day. He is supposed to have been carted off in a UFO. I can’t say what really happened, though I was there. One minute he was talking to me, the next he was gone and there was a tiny silver object glinting in the sunlight. He wouldn’t have fit inside that thing if he’d been cremated, but it sat on the ground reflecting sunlight and then it was gone too.

That was in the vicinity of Mt. Eden, near the San Francisco Bay down from Oakland and San Leandro. After Eli James disappeared from my life there in Mt. Eden, I trudged back up the coast. I made my way across the bay and then up and across the peninsula to Mount Tamalpais and the Muir Wilderness, Jehovah directing my steps to a new hiding place. I walked like a blind man, unmindful of my surroundings, like I was on automatic pilot.

One incident brought me around. It was as I was passing near Corte Madera. A bunch of unruly kids came out of a subdivision and starting hassling me. They must have seen me as an old man, homeless and balding, because they taunted me, calling me Old Baldhead and throwing garbage at me. I turned around to confront them, cursing them in the name of Jehovah, and two grizzly bears came roaring out of the woods. They were in the midst of those brats in no time, slashing with fury, ripping off limbs and crushing skulls with their jaws, their mouths and teeth dripping bloody saliva. I still see one shaggy monster standing in the midst of the broken bodies with an armless child in its jaws, crushing the torso, abruptly ending its small prey’s scream.

According to the news, those were the first grizzly bears anyone had seen in California since the species was presumed exterminated in 1922. They tore forty-two children to pieces and then ambled off, leaving a pair of tracks that diverged and then vanished at Alameda Creek.

Sometimes it pays to have God on your side.

hiking to Takatori-yama, 1967

I bided my time in the wilderness for a week, living on what a couple of ravens brought me while I hid out in a cave. It seemed the government was after me in connection with the massacre of the brats, but they were having a problem tracking me down. Some hikers noticed me while I was out wandering and notified the park rangers, who came for me.

The first pair of rangers came to the foot of the ledge that was the entrance to my cave and ordered me to come down, but I didn’t move. There was a hissing like a knife slicing through the air and a blue flash at their feet. When the air cleared, the earth where they had stood was black and burned and only their scorched footprints remained. In the air hung a smell like cinders and sulfur mingled with burned hair and flesh.

Before the end of the day, another pair of rangers showed up, this time accompanied by three Sheriff’s deputies, fat men in dull brown uniforms carrying shotguns. They ordered me to come to town with them but they were incinerated where they stood, leaving more scorched footprints and a stronger stench.

A day later they sent a single deputy, backed up by national guard troops. The deputy made the troops wait at the base of the hill, out of my sight, and came alone. He was contrite. He got down on his knees and begged me to accompany him to town.