News From the Front

“Never apologize, never explain,” Hunter S. Thompson was fond of saying and the good doctor knew more than a little about blowing deadlines and breaking promises.

Unfortunately for me, however, I don’t think that excellent (if somewhat selfish) credo is going to work here. I’ve tried it before and it seems to make some people angry. Gets their hackles up. It’d be akin to the captain of a ship lunging out of the water and crawling aboard a lifeboat full of drenched passengers then casually lighting his pipe and start cracking jokes rather than explaining exactly why the goddamn ship suddenly nose-dived into Davy Jones’ Locker.

He should have some explanations, or at least some theories about what went so terribly, terribly wrong.

It was a dark time, my fellow drunks, a dark and terrible time. But before we get into the sordid details, I want to take this opportunity to roundly salute our subscribers for their colorful encouragements. The sheer stunning breadth and inventiveness of those threats goes a long way toward proving drinkers are a much more creative breed of character; you can bet Teetotaler Digest or whatever those uptight bastards read doesn’t get the quality and color of language we receive. And if I may return to the sea captain analogy, it was the hoarse cursing and shouting from those passengers that encouraged me to swim toward the lifeboat, counterintuitive as that may seem.

So, what happened? Did the fickle sea become angry and drown the ship with a mighty wave? Did the steam boilers blow asunder, massacring the long-suffering crew? Did the vainglorious captain, far gone on the rum, arrogantly turn aside the wise advice of his officers and demand the good ship be steered into the shoals because he thought he saw something shiny glittering in the shallows? Or perhaps the captain, that good, clean captain, was overpowered by a mutinous crew who revealed themselves to be a sadistic gang of blackguards and cutthroats.

Personally, I lean toward the latter theory, but to be honest there’s a taint of truth in all those nifty figuratives. I wish I could blame it entirely on the recession, rising print costs and the reluctance of some of our advertisers to fork over cash during what the evil media kept swearing was about to become an actual goddamn depression, but there was more to it than that. Those conditions wouldn’t have daunted Eric the Red, that’s for sure. That ferocious Viking captain would have drawn his axe and told his crew to lay into the oars and row into the face of the storm or he would start laying into them. Instead of, say, cravenly retreating to his cabin to consult his jug of mead and hope the storm eventually blew over.

But we worked it out, as you can see. There has been some dancing with the devil, to be sure, shameful deals and cruel bargains, but they paid off because here we are.

Oh, it may bear a superficial resemblance to that same insanely unsafe ship we steamed out of port with last time, but I can assure you this one is watertight, expertly crewed and equipped with fresh maps. Why, it’s practically unsinkable.

So let’s raise our glasses and lift our eyes toward the almost blindingly bright horizon, shall we?