Happy Cruelty Day!: Daily Celebrations of Quiet Desperation

Happy Cruelty Day!: Daily Celebrations of Quiet Desperation

by Bob Powers

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For everyone looking to find a little extra magic in a life with little to celebrate, Happy Cruelty Day! is here. Beginning on January 1, this book features 365 new holidays, each accompanied by a strange, dark and humorous short story explaining the day you woke up in and how to celebrate it. These 365 daily doses of delight, perversion, and nonsense

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For everyone looking to find a little extra magic in a life with little to celebrate, Happy Cruelty Day! is here. Beginning on January 1, this book features 365 new holidays, each accompanied by a strange, dark and humorous short story explaining the day you woke up in and how to celebrate it. These 365 daily doses of delight, perversion, and nonsense include "Hire Someone Attractive To Pretend To Love You Day," "Hang on to Your Wide-Eyed Innocence Day," "Sit in Abject Terror Day," and, of course, "Cruelty Day."

Far more than just a humor book, Happy Cruelty Day! is like a daily instructional manual written by a psychopath. On one page, the book has you joining a community crime watch group in an effort to make friends (it won't work). Flip the page, and you'll find the details of your attempt to rescue your husband from a POW camp (you'll fail). Flip it again, and Happy Cruelty Day! will have important insight into how best to befriend a runaway teen (offer her some soup).

These holidays celebrate everything from that pivotal point in your life when everything changes, to the day you're not going to do anything but sit on the edge of your bed and get very drunk. When people realize they've fallen in love, or when they realize their love was just a lie. And of course, when love of whatever incarnation brings an index finger to clench tight around the trigger of a gun.

Raw, ridiculous, and laugh-out-loud funny, this is a sharp-edged satire on the subtleties, shallowness, and stupidity of daily life.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Though comedian Powers may be tongue-in-cheek when he says to disregard the instructions of the 365 short vignettes on how to "devote yourself to a life of passion, vengeance, and heartbreak," readers may ignore this cobbled-together, flat collection. Powers proposes that each day of the year be distinguished by its own unique holiday, a structure he uses as an excuse for his dark and not all that funny musings. Selections include the muddled message on race relations in January 14's "When You Overturn the Hyundai at Tonight's Race Riot, Make Sure the Chicks Are Watching Day!" and May 30's "The Sk8r Boy Who Can Help You Day!" in which the title character provides a cure for cancer and relationship troubles. In March 1's "Sit in Abject Terror Day!" Powers details instructions for a dramatic anxiety attack about one's "flat, static" life. On December 17-"Your Favorite Yoga Position Day!"-Powers reports that when asked why they do yoga, most people say, "Because I was told it will make my bowels stop aching when I am all alone in the night." This volume will only appeal to those with the most tortured sensibilities. 13 b&w photos. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal

Comedian Powers's compilation of 365 vignettes is crass, witty, snarky, and unbelievably funny. It's for anyone—misanthropes and pessimists particularly—who's ever been fed up with books of daily inspiration. Go ahead and replace Christmas with "Stuff Your Underwear into My Mouth and Punch Me in the Nose Until I Can't Breathe Through It Day!" Readers will wonder how July 10 could ever have been anything other than "Tell Everyone You See, All Day Long, That They Can Do Whatever They Want Because It's Not Like It's Going To Bring Your Dead Brother Back Day!" This book is recommended for public libraries with the caveat that it contains profanity and material many readers may consider objectionable (sickwould be an apt descriptor; the words raunchyand tastelessare also applicable here). Academic libraries may wish to add this title to their leisure collections. Reservations about appropriateness of content aside, it is a severely and morosely funny book.
—Audrey Snowden Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

Saturday Night Live cast member Fred Armisen
My kind of book. Mean, but in a way that makes me smile. It's like a pleasant nightmare.
author of Home Land Sam Lipsyte
Never again we will wonder why every day is the same. Now each day can be horribly, hilariously different.
Chris Regan
Wickedly funny work - a writer to be reckoned with, and maybe just a little afraid of.
author of The Underminer Mike Albo
So much more than a humor book - hilarious, wise, and truly original - the daily psalmbook of the absurd.
author of Loser Goes First; McSweeney's advice co Dan Kennedy
Bob Powers is the kind of man who can inform you that you'll be waking up in a dilapidated budget motel in Denver. That you'll be jumped by drug-addled corporate embezzlers; that you're prone to robbing your personal physician for his wedding ring and cash; that you're the last milkman in the country, and that you sleep with any boozed-up piece of office trash who wins the weekly trivia night at the local bar-and when he tells you all of this, it somehow makes your day. Hell, even your entire year.

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St. Martin's Press
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Happy Cruelty Day!

Daily Celebrations of Quiet Desperation

By Bob Powers

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2006 Bob Powers
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-5418-5



1 Tell a Stranger at a Bar Your Story Day!
2 Jill the Sexy Exterminator Day!
3 Gondola Ride Day!
4 Give Up Day!
5 The Way Mail Carriers Have Sex Day!
6 Dance to Nothing Day!
7 Join a Community Crime Watch Program in an Effort to Make Friends Day!
8 Army Men Day!
9 Your Parents Are an Interracial Couple Day!
10 Tie a Mask Around Your Eyes Day!
11 Fourteen Ways to Tell a Cajun Chef to Go Fuck Himself Day!
12 Tell Your Dad You're in Love with a Girl Day!
13 When You Overturn the Hyundai at Tonight's Race Riot, Make Sure Chicks Are Watching Day!
14 S.W.A.T. at First Sight Day!
15 Kurt Cobain Day!
16 Tell People You Took a Friend for an Abortion Day!
17 Tell the Tow Truck Driver Where to Take You Day!
18 Impress Your Mom Day!
19 Do Laundry Until You Get Fucked Day!
20 Model Train Enthusiast Day!
21 Claustrophobia Clint Day!
22 "My Cheating Husband's Volvo" Day!
23 Check the Right Breast Pocket of That Vintage Shirt for an Old, Faded To-Do List Day!
24 Your High School Girlfriend Is Now an Ass Model Day!
25 Police Chase Past Your Girlfriend's House Day!
26 Make a Move on the Lady in Front of You Waiting in Line for Milk Day!
27 Crowd Control Day!
28 Cruelty Day!
29 Hold It All In Day!
30 She's in the Hospital Day!
31 It's Drinkin' Tuesday!


Pick the spot at the bar where it seems like no matter how crowded and rowdy and young it gets all around you, your little section of stools is as solemn as a confessional. Someone is going to approach you with a halfhearted pickup line, but you'll know by her tone that she has no interest in getting inside your pants. She'll approach you because she can tell by the way you're sipping that scotch that you've got one hell of a story in your belly. Whether you respond to her line or not, she'll climb up onto the stool next to yours and wait. You might be suspicious at first, but you know you've got only one choice.

Tell your story tonight, or it dies with you.

No one's saying what your story should be about, but people enjoy hearing about fires being set to things for insurance money. Unfaithful spouses and hitchhiking ghosts on highways can be quite intriguing as well. If your story involves important details like "Pilates class enrollment forms" or the words "math camp," embellish. Just make sure you get it all out before the bartender says, "Last call."

After you tell the story, you should take your audience back to your place and make urgent love. Assuming, of course, that you don't die by your own hand in the rest room first.

Happy Tell a Stranger at a Bar Your Story Day!


When Jill the Sexy Exterminator knocks on your door, you'll be trying to drag a drug dealer's corpse into the bathroom so that you can begin sawing him apart in the tub.

"Am I interrupting something?" Jill the Sexy Exterminator will ask coquettishly.

Say, "It's not what you think."

Jill the Sexy Exterminator will shut the door behind her and say, "What I think is that a very handsome man has a dead body to dispose of and he's so frazzled he might not even have time to make love to his exterminator."

Let the drug dealer's body drop to the floor and say, "I'll make time." Then make love to Jill the Sexy Exterminator.

When you're done making love, go back into the bathroom and start sawing the drug dealer's body apart while Jill the Sexy Exterminator sprays your baseboards and behind the fridge with insecticide.

Happy Jill the Sexy Exterminator Day!


When a young boy and girl in love solicit you for a ride in your gondola, tell them with a sigh that they are on. When they ask you how much the ride will cost, tell them that today, money cannot buy them a gondola ride. Today, if they simply allow their gondola conductor to ask them three questions over the course of the ride, and they answer these questions sincerely, their fare will be paid. Some couples will refuse and go to another gondola because their love depends upon certain questions never being asked. Others will agree to the arrangement, because they are low on money.

At the start of the ride, the couple will be afraid to start making out because their anticipation of the first question will be too great. Put them at ease by posing a very simple question right away. Ask them, "Where did the two of you meet?" in an Italian accent.

They will excitedly recount the interminable tale of a mutual friend's birthday party. Both will say that they didn't like each other very much at first but agreed to a date anyway and before they knew it, the world was new. Just pretend to listen while craning your neck to look up skirts as you pass under footbridges.

Once they finish their story, tell them, "The next question will come in time. Enjoy the ride," in an Italian accent. The boy and the girl will begin making out furiously as the gondola passes through the city. Watch them.

After about ten minutes, their desire will have reached a fever pitch. That's when you should stab your oar into the bed of the canal. The couple will be flung forward from their seats, facedown into the belly of the gondola. Say, "Next question!" in an Italian accent.

The boy will help the girl into her seat and they will wait, annoyed. Employing an Italian accent, ask them how each would like to mourn the other, should the other die. The boy will react with indignation, but the girl will look startled, as if you've revealed a secret. The boy will protest that he would never think such a horrible thought. And the girl will say, "I'd like to disappear."

Silenced, the boy will wait for the girl to continue. She'll say to the boy, "I think about you dying every day. Not like I'm hoping for it. But not with dread either. Just to think about an event. A time when everyone is watching me, everyone is worrying about how I'm holding up. And if I disappear, which I'd like to do, a time when everyone will wonder where I am. When everyone will hope that I'll come home."

For the rest of the ride, the boy and the girl will look off away from each other at the walls of the canal. Avert your eyes from them. Simply pull the craft through the water with gentle strokes of your oar.

After a while, the boy will ask for the final question, saying that he would like to return to their hotel. Tell him, "The final question will come in time. Enjoy the ride," in an Italian accent. The boy will complain of fatigue and request to be brought to land. Using the Italian accent, say, "But I have not asked, and you have not answered, three questions. Therefore you have not paid. If you try to flee from my gondola without paying your fare, I will call the police." The boy will become irate, but don't ask him anything.

Don't let them go.

Happy Gondola Ride Day!


We're all tryin' to climb that wall, aren't we? And sometimes we take on projects that can be a bit challenging. Well today's the day to look challenge in the eye and say, "Fuck this!" Whether it be an unwieldy draft of a screenplay, a savings account, or efforts toward seminal fertilization, just rip one item off your to-do list and throw it in the trash can. You'll feel quite a weight lift off your shoulders, let me tell you, boy.

Happy Give Up Day!


Today, after you sign for an express mail package, you'll wander through the living room and spot your twelve-year-old daughter leaning on the windowsill, peeking through the glass.

"Whatcha doin' there, pumpkin?" you'll say to her.

You'll peek over her shoulder and see her staring at the mail carrier sorting through his mailbag. You'll know what's coming next.

"Daddy, how do they ..."

They gave her the special health class a month ago, and ever since then she's been brimming over with questions.

"How do mail carriers have sex?" you'll ask.

You daughter will turn her beautiful and still babyish eyes up at you and nod.

"Let's sit down on the couch and stop staring, okay?"

Take your daughter away from the window and sit her on your knee. She's almost too big for that now. She's growing up so fast.

"From what I understand," tell her, "sex between mail carriers is born from a place of extreme anger. The old joke goes that whenever you see two mail carriers having sex, you don't have to beat your kids that night. I guess that's supposed to mean that their coupling usurps the anger from everyone within the vicinity of their clenched-fisted love."

"But you've never beaten me, Daddy," your daughter will say.

"No, I never have." Give her a kiss on the top of her head. "And I never will."

"Does that mean you watch mail carriers have sex with each other every day?"

"I wish!" say. "If there was a club like that it'd never go out of business."

You'll laugh at your own joke, but your daughter won't.

Say, "All joking aside, mail carriers get into lots of hair pulling and slapping at each other. To the point where it can go too far."

Your daughter will ask, "But why are they so angry?"

"When I was growing up most of them had just gotten back from Vietnam and they were pissed off at how no one ever gave them a parade. Nowadays, they're mostly cheesed that we can't seem to wean ourselves off of the big sweet tits of Arab oil."

Just then you'll hear a ruckus outside. You and your daughter will go to the window just in time to spy a girl mail carrier run up the sidewalk and smack the boy mail carrier in the face with a wad of Valpaks. They'll wrestle a little before the boy mail carrier throws the girl mail carrier into the back of his mail truck and climbs in after her. The truck will begin to shake.

Pull the shade down on the window. "Let's give those two some privacy, shall we?"

Your daughter will giggle and she'll make the hand gesture for intercourse by touching her index finger and thumb together and then sticking her other index finger through the hole it makes. You'll wish your wife were still alive to see this.

Happy the Way Mail Carriers Have Sex Day!


Today, alcohol and nudity will be a big help. Privacy is a plus as well. You can dance as long as you like, with only one condition. You have to dance boisterously and erotically (if you can muster it) to absolutely nothing. Close the windows and the blinds, unplug the stereo and even the phone, because that ring can provide a rhythm. Just get in front of a mirror and undulate like you want nothing more than to sway with your reflection until the earth caves under. Look at your nipples as your arms fly up into the silence. You're pretty when you dance and that look on your face tells me I did not have to point that out to you.

Happy Dance to Nothing Day!


What have you got to lose? If you go to their weekly meeting at least you can say you only spend six nights a week alone in your apartment reading. Just go and try to fit in.

Someone at the meeting (if a man, he will have a beard; if a woman, she will wear a tight-fitting black turtleneck to reveal breasts of a decidedly aggressive shape and lift) will shout with indignation, "Let's show those bastards whose neighborhood this is!" Make sure that when you shout, "Yeah!" you gesture with your upper body broadly enough that people might notice you, but not so broadly that they can tell you've felt so very alone for as long as you can remember. At the end of the meeting, reach out to others with questions like, "What kind of batteries should I buy for my flashlight?" or, "You ever see any shit go down, man?"

Near the end of your third meeting, following the announcements about privately run self-defense classes and requests for increased coffee and donut donations, when everyone's getting into their coats, just shout out, "Hey, anyone up for getting a beer?" If people say, "Maybe next time," then it's cool. Come back next week. But if no one responds, as if they're pretending you didn't even speak, that'll let you know that you blew it again. They don't like you. And it's safe to assume that they've already planned on getting a beer together, and they will make such a concerted effort to exclude you as to walk off in separate directions and then double back to meet at O'Flannagan's Pub once enough time has passed to ensure that you've already gone home to your apartment.

It's all part of the fun on Join a Community Crime Watch Program in an Effort to Make Friends Day!


You've been seeing a lot more army men walking through the main square of your town in full fatigues, armed to the hilt and looking at everything with that Thousand-Yard Stare™ thing. Sometimes they'll just be waiting in line at the Dairy Queen to get a canteen filled up with water. Other times, they'll be lying flat on their bellies in the middle of the sidewalk, making bird noises at each other. And still other times, they'll open fire on anything that moves.

The next time you see one who doesn't appear to be too involved in any sort of skirmish, go up to him and tug on the ammo belt he wears around his shoulder. When he looks down at you, ask, "Are you all ghosts?"

Happy Army Men Day!


It's been a long while since you congratulated them for their bravery.

Tonight, when you've all finished dinner, and your dad says to your mom, "Black lady, nice food," and your mom says, "Only the best, white motherfucker," say to the both of them, "I hope you've saved some room for dessert."

Then give them the cake you spent all day cooking from scratch.

They'll read the writing on the cake in unison: "Courage?"

Say, "I made it in honor of you guys not being the same race but falling in love anyway. It's a strawberry shortcake."

Your mom will burst into tears. "I didn't think you'd noticed."

"That you guys aren't the same race? Sure I did. That's what everyone's always spray-painting our house about, right?"

Now you'll see that your dad is crying. "No," he'll say. "How hard it was to pull this off. We thought you didn't care. I mean it was really, really hard."

"I know," you'll say. You're going to start getting a little annoyed now. "That's why I made you the cake? Hello?"

Your mom will get ahold of herself. "It's just kind of like that movie about that guy. The one who struggled."

Your dad will smash his fist into the table and say that that movie sucked. They'll start fighting again and you'll run from the table and hide in your room. The fighting will turn them both on and they'll go upstairs and make forbidden love. When you come downstairs in the morning, they won't have touched the cake. But they will have conceived your future baby sister.

Happy Your Parents Are an Interracial Couple Day!


You feel pretty awful starting work as a paperboy at the age of thirty- three. But there's no reason why you can't make something fun out of it. And tying a mask around your eyes is a perfect way to do that. This way, when kids on their way to school see you pushing your shopping cart full of papers and they ask, "You're the paperboy?!" you can respond, "I am the Masked Paperboy! Every morning I shall bring the news to my fellow townsfolk, anonymously feeding people's hearts and minds with objective facts."

"Do you write what's in the paper?" the kids will ask.

Lie. "Yes!"

The kids will walk away giggling. One will say, "I didn't know Donny's brother was retarded."

You're Donny's brother.

Happy Tie a Mask Around Your Eyes Day!


Today at the upscale food court the guy stirring the pots at the "Gumbo Galore" counter is going to piss you off royally when he brings up your dead wife.

He'll be shouting at passersby stuff like, "Git on up and git some gumbo, I guar-on-tee!" With some potential customers he'll offer up a personal pitch. Stuff like, "Man wears a tie that ugly he won't mind spillin' a little bit of this city's finest Cajun gumbo all over that [garbled]." When you walk past, with no desire to eat any Cajun food because, frankly, you think it blows, the chef will shout out, "What's with the sour face, mon frère? Only way a man could frown like that is if he was in week two of mourning over his tragically lost young wife, I guar-on-tee!"

Yes, he's very perceptive, and maybe you are wearing your loss on your sleeve a little bit, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't tell him to go fuck himself. Here's how!

First, say, "What'd you say? As a matter of fact my wife did die recently. Why don't you go fuck yourself?"

The Cajun chef will apologize for hitting a nerve and will suggest you wash away your pain with a bowl of some gumbo.

Say, "How 'bout you shove that gumbo up your flabby ass, you hear me, Mardi Gras?"

The Cajun chef will ask if you'd perhaps care for a nice shrimp po' boy.

Say, "Listen, James Carville, your food's stupid, your accent's stupid, and to top it all off you work in a food court. Even with all that against you, I still say you should go fuck yourself."

The Cajun chef will ask if you'd like some jambalaya.


Excerpted from Happy Cruelty Day! by Bob Powers. Copyright © 2006 Bob Powers. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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