The White Shoe Irregular:
It was fun while it lasted.

Merry X-Games

Bit and Bitter

[Bit and Bitter are Ryan "tea and crumbits" Hamilton and Ryan "festering canker of bitterness" Honaker]

The population has obviously gotten too big, because it is again time to thin out the gene pool with another bout of televised Darwinism we like to call "the X-Games." For the uninitiated, the X-Games are a collection of Extreme Sport competitions ("extreme" being defined as anything that could reasonably cause you lose an eye or control of your bowels). There was a time when launching a motorcycle off a ramp, pushing off the bike into space, then trying to get back on before landing was frowned upon. Now it appears three times a week on ESPN 2, whenever they can squeeze in time between the Lumberjack World Series and Extreme Special Olympics. Skateboarding was once viewed as a pastime for potheads, by potheads. But now it's as acceptable a way to earn a living as being a policeman, a fireman, or a prostitute.

The problem is word inflation. Everything has become so extreme that the word "extreme" has lost a lot of its extremity. "Extreme" has rapidly become the "alternative" of the new millennium. With everyone trying so desperately at the same time to become alternative in the mid-1990s, they inadvertently became mainstream and thus formed this bizarre alternate-reality situation, much like in Back to the Future. With everyone now trying to be extreme, extreme has become standard, much like in Back to the Future II and III. We pin the blame squarely on the shoulders of the hair-rock band Extreme and their hit single "More Than Words." Both the band and the song were so blatantly sans extreme, they soiled the word for decades to come.

Sensing it needed a new image, "Extreme" (the word, not the band) hired the same PR firm that counseled former presidential hopeful Bob Dole to star in Viagra ads and the Britney Spears Pepsi spots, filling the void left by Walter Mathau for America's best-loved "horny old man." The PR experts suggested dropping the 'e' and just going with the younger, hipper, more poorly spelled "X-treme." It seemed like a good move at the time because eBay, eTrade, and were making it increasingly expensive to keep 'e' on the payroll.

The games were at first a little hesitant about choosing 'X' as their representative prefix. This most akimbo of all letters has a sordid past, being somehow involved each and every time the word "sex" is used, not to mention its reputed involvement with pirates and moonshine. 'Y,' also quite akimbo, had made a very reasonable bid to sponsor the games and had a stunning audition, with a brilliant tap dance and accompanying vocal performance of "Copa Cabana." But in the end, 'X' was decided upon due to its valiant attempts to change its image, volunteering community service time in x-walks and fighting mutant crimes as an integral part of the X-men (the 'X' part). Plus, "Y-games" would just be stupid.

For those of you who are thinking of becoming involved in the X-Games or just trying to increase your extreme index (it's logarithmic!), we suggest the following relatively simple step: fire. Take any normal, non-extreme activity and add fire. For example: sleeping = non-extreme. Sleeping while on fire = extreme sleeping. National forests = scenic, yet non-extreme. National forests on fire = extreme camping. Candles = waxily non-extreme. Candles on fire = ever so slightly more extreme.