Last weekend, under direction from Jerry Jones, Roger Goodell, President Barack Obama, the Knights Templar, the descendants of Adam Weishaupt, Nicolae Carpathia, the political engine resourced by the estate of T. Boone Pickens, an eight-hooved centaur-squad who lives in the Earth's core and exhales volcanoes, the dude in the bathrobe at the front of the train in Snowpiercer, a levitating Bible that once belonged to Thomas Aquinas and shrieks when opened, Rupert Murdoch, and Jim Bankoff, the officials working the Cowboys-Lions game reversed a pass interference call moments after calling it against Dallas. It was a unique instance, in that the penalty was actually announced over the PA system before being picked up. This moment was the sole determining factor of the game; had the penalty stood, the Lions would have won the game by a minimum of seven touchdowns.
Instead, the Cowboys have moved into the divisional round of the playoffs, where they meet the Packers. All conspiracy theories are true and the Illuminati is real; it is only the destruction of the Illuminati that is confined to make-believe. And that is what this week's episode of Breaking Madden is for:
Music: "Kaputt" by Destroyer
I don't actually hate the Dallas Cowboys, but I acknowledge that they are very fun to hate and that a lot of folks hate them, and I'm delighted to placate y'all. Returning to destroy the Cowboys is Clarence BEEFTANK, the 400-pound, always-running, never-throwing quarterback who has been with us since the very beginning of Breaking Madden. He has doubled his intake of milk, which he refers to in plural as "milks," and as such, the former five-foot-nothing signal-ignorer now stands seven feet tall.
As you may have noticed in the video, the Cowboys' defense has been completely overhauled. The secondary is now made up entirely of quarterbacks from Dallas' present and recent past: Tony Romo, Troy Aikman, Jon Kitna, Quincy Carter, Ryan Leaf, Drew Bledsoe, et al.
The rest of the defense is made up of the tiniest, worst players Madden would allow me to create. I recruited them, as usual, via Twitter.
if you would like to be in the next Breaking Madden, please tell me about something you weren't supposed to do but totally got away with— Jon Bois (@jon_bois) January 5, 2015
Let's meet our newest Dallas Cowboys.
Defensive end: Brian
@jon_bois paying regular fruit price for organic fruit at the self checkout— Brian (@ohheybrian) January 5, 2015
Just about every Child of The U-Scan Era has a story like this, I reckon. I've got one. But first, if y'all don't mind, I'd like to establish the setting.
I used to live near Mid-City Mall in Louisville, Kentucky. It's one of the most wonderful places in America, and is without question its greatest shopping mall. It features:
1. A bar, The Back Door, that will charge you $2.25 for a pour of well bourbon that is easily six ounces.
2. A basement that houses what is now a cavernous thrift store, and used to be an underground roller rink.
3. A large wall of vacant mall space featuring a giant mural of the parking lot that is right outside. Actually, it's a painting of what the artist apparently wished it looked like, because the artist added a bunch of bronze sculptures and fountains and pillars and basically made it look like Valhalla.
4. The Mid-City Art Gallery! It is not an actual art gallery. It's the most meta thing you could imagine. Instead of opening an actual art gallery, they painted on the wall what it would look like if there were an art gallery there. No, for real, look at this shit.
Its design is beautifully seamless. Look! They even painted fake legs to hold up the real sign!
To recap this one: inside of a building is a painting of a building that has paintings in it, and in one of the paintings inside the building in the painting, there are buildings. META-BLIGHT.
So now we arrive at ValuMarket, a grocery store, and one of the anchor stores of Mid-City Mall. I used to shop here all the time. It's the sort of place where you're liable to see a sign like this in the meat department, completely out of context, without explanation, striking the perfect balance between "ominous" and "gregarious."
And finally, back to the matter of produce U-Scanning. For the longest time, produce wouldn't ring up correctly. You'd buy four pounds of tomatoes, for example, and no matter what you did, the system would only ring you up for one tomato. You could almost hear the money leaking out of this establishment.
ValuMarket isn't a 300-store grocery giant, and this store really is an integral part of the neighborhood, so like a lot of people, I'd try to get someone's attention and have my produce rung up correctly. And man, they were sick of my Boy Scout do-gooder ass. They'd let out exasperated sighs and roll their eyes when I bothered them. So what I had here was the guilt of quasi-theft versus the guilt of bothering people. Eventually, I went one way as often as I went the other.
That magic is gone, as the store recently bought new U-Scan systems. But the murals are still there. So is the bar, the comedy club, the library, the everything else. If you're in Louisville, please stop by and tell it I miss it.
Linebacker: Zack Kaplan
Zack is an investor in Vox Media, which started as SB Nation, but is now much, much larger than SB Nation. Perhaps you've seen and enjoyed our other websites, such as The Verge and Eater. I strongly urge you to check them out, because I worked very hard on them. I write every article that all of these websites has ever published. I also produce all the videos and design all the sites. I am the president and CEO, and also I am Zack.
Defensive end: Henry Baumgart
@jon_bois found Waldo but didn't notify him of my findings Let him burn in children's book hell— Henry Baumgart (@Baum__Diggity) January 5, 2015
In Find Waldo Now, which I consider to be the magnum opus of the series, there was an illustration full of nothing but five hundred or so near-identical Waldos. I was charged with the task of finding the one with the slightly different poof on his hat. I never found him. At least he did not die alone.
Defensive end: Sorry Everyone
@jon_bois refuse to sleep— Sorry Everyone (@sorryeveryone) January 5, 2015
This, if any of y'all missed it, really is the first great Internet triumph of 2015. There are 128 episodes of Dawson's Creek. My friend Pete, who had never seen the show and had no real opinion of it at all, resolved to watch every single one of them in a row. Exhausted, he collapsed into sleep a couple times, but he made it all the way through:
I'll have some kinda recap up this week but if'n you were curious, final pattern was 41 hours awake, 6 asleep, 22 up, 2 down, 34 up. 95/103— Sorry Everyone (@sorryeveryone) January 6, 2015
Yep. Across a span of 103 hours, he slept only eight, and watched the entire run of the show. Before you call shenanigans, be sure to check his Twitter feed, where he live-tweeted the entire dang thing. Pete did this for charity, and raised more than $6000 along the way.
We have a lot of 2015 ahead of us, but I don't know whether this achievement will be bested.
Linebacker: Stephen Ford
@jon_bois Worked at Albertsons. Instead of disposing of spoiled dairy products, poured them into floor waxing machine. Store smelled awful.— Stephen Ford (@Hightower8585) January 5, 2015
Linebacker: Sammy G
@jon_bois I used to go in the supermarket through the doors that said exit only— Sämmy G (@OMGSameer) January 5, 2015
As usual, I'm totally betraying my fondness for grocery stores and what they are like and the things that happen inside of them. A lot of small-ish big-city grocery stores are arranged in such a way that you can't just walk in and out as you choose.
I once walked into such a grocery store in Montreal to buy one item, which, it turned out, they did not have. The entrance was fixed with a one-way turnstile that made sure that you couldn't walk out the way you walked in, and the only way out was through the checkout lanes. So despite having nothing to purchase, I had to stand in line at a checkout lane to earn my freedom.
This, I should note, was in a very Francophone neighborhood of Montreal. Despite the language wars the city is known for, most Montrealers were perfectly helpful and respectful toward me. Even so, as a dumb American who didn't speak French, making others placate me kind of made me feel dumb. Even more so when I had to walk up to the cashier, say SORRY I'M NOT BUYING ANYTHING HA HA, and walk away. Like I was purchasing nothing but a fleeting moment of unflattering attention. HI I AM HERE TO PURCHASE I AM AN IDIOT.
@jon_bois 1 time in college I was at a McDonald's with a 2nd floor eating area that was closed/blocked off, I moved the sign & ate in peace— Bill.i.Am (@Roobstickles) January 5, 2015
Mhmm, I get you though. I'm most comfortable in high places. I love flying, and can fall asleep 0.5 seconds after hitting 10,000 feet. Most of my apartments have been at the very top floors of their buildings, and at any sort of bar or venue, I immediately gravitate as upstairs as I can get. Also, I've never been in an earthquake and don't know what you're supposed to do, and also, I habitually rip the batteries out of all my smoke alarms because I'm tired of them going off while I'm cooking. This is how I'm dying. Book that shit.
Linebacker: Max Bielfeldt's Calves
@jon_bois the whizzinator.— MaxBielfeldt'sCalves (@BigWhiteCalves) January 5, 2015
The Whizzinator, if you're unfamiliar, is a fake penis attached to a reservoir. You fill the reservoir with clean urine and strap it on before you head in for a drug test. It's a remarkably sophisticated device, complete with a heating mechanism that ensures the urine stays at body temperature and doesn't shoot up any red flags.
A few years ago, a friend of mine needed a sample without THC in it, and I was happy to oblige. I handed it to him in a container I honestly thought was completely sealed, and that is how my piss got all over the inside of his car. He passed.
Linebacker: Perpetual Dumb Machine
@jon_bois 2nd grd, in line: bully being mean. I reach past & shove the bigger kid in front of him. Kid in front spins around & slugs bully.— PerpetualDumbMachine (@blakewrites) January 5, 2015
My story isn't as brilliant as this one, but I still got away with it. In second grade, a shrill-voiced, mean-ass bully arbitrarily picked me out as a target during recess. This went on for weeks, and for weeks, I just shrugged it off. One day, we're playing football and I throw an interception, and he just lets me have it. Just screaming at me, using words adults shouldn't say, the whole thing. I walk away, he follows me and shoves me in the back.
So then I turn around and punch him right in the gut, as hard as I can. His eyes bug up and he hits the ground, gasping for air and crying. I'm a pretty well-behaved kid who doesn't do stuff like this, so naturally, I instantly worry that I'm in tons of trouble. Then I look up at a couple of teachers who are standing not far off. They're not doing or saying anything. I think one of them's even smirking a little, and now I know I just got to do that for free, and that nobody will save that little crapsack.
Defensive end: Andrew Hiscock
Oh man, that was a good time. Last week, I created a Twitter account and then tweeted out the login info to everybody. Dozens, maybe hundreds, of people logged in to tweet from the account, and there were so many different agendas at work. Some people wanted to tweet sports news and maintain an honest-to-got sports Twitter account. Others did nothing but spam the account with photos of puppies. Still others just tweeted complete nonsense.
And among this sea of noise, this man, who we now know to be Andrew Hiscock, was determined to use the account as a means to talk about Grøtris, a Norwegian rice dish. Given enough time, I feel this Twitter account could have been all things for all people. It is dead now, and it is Grøtris, and it is for you.
Defensive tackle: Kunks
@jon_bois manually retweeted someone's hilarious image macro and got a ton of RTs and Faves and a hot girlfriend and a new sprots car— Kunks Even (@Kunk7) January 5, 2015
It's killing me that I can't completely remember this anecdote, but this much I know: Prince was hanging out with some other black pop musicians, who were lamenting the fact that time and again, other (white) musicians were essentially thieving their style. "What do we do?" they said. "How can we stop them from doing this?" And Prince just shrugged and said, "you can't. Just go do something new."
Or! Continue to benefit from the content of people, but do it out in the open. Take, for example, this entire post.
Defensive tackle: Dan Rosart
@jon_bois accidentally pulled a fire alarm while doing a relief rubbing of it.— Dan Rosart (@_Torgen) January 5, 2015
oh come on now
Defensive tackle: Adam Nightmare
@jon_bois got pulled over in CT with a suspended NY driver’s license. Police didn’t run my ID, let off with a warning.— AdamBarnello (@AdamNightmare) January 5, 2015
And finally, we arrive at a "thing you shouldn't have gotten away with" story that I think I can outdo.
Previous editions of Breaking Madden: Roster Cuts have sufficiently and fairly painted Young Twentysomething Me as a generally well-meaning but completely irresponsible human being. Ten years ago, at age 22, I was driving down I-81 in Virginia one morning:
a) with no insurance
b) with expired registration
c) with an expired driver's license
d) about 15 miles per hour above the speed limit
e) bangin' some Ice Cube
I was headed back to Kentucky in part to fix some of those things, since I had to be there in person to do so. I zoom past a state trooper's car, hidden behind some bushes, and I see his brake lights turn on, and I know I'm dead. The police lights soon follow, and as I pull over, I contemplate the logistics of sitting in a remote Virginia jail hours away from any human being i know.
A few minutes later, I'm sitting in the passenger's seat of the trooper's car.
Trooper. So ... you have nothing? No identification at all?
Me. I, uh, I've got a business card.
Trooper. RadioShack, huh? You in college?
Trooper. So you moved out to Virginia to work at RadioShack?
Me. Not really. I moved in with a couple of friends to write on the Internet with.
Trooper. So ... you moved somewhere to write on the Internet?
Me. Yeah ...
A long pause. He looks through some things.
Trooper. Listen. What I'm supposed to do here is take you before the magistrate. That puts you in jail for a night, probably more. So what I want you do is go back into your car, and drive exactly the speed limit, to go exactly where you were going to go.
Me. Thank you ... God, thank you.
Trooper. Don't thank me. Neither of us were ever here. Go.
And the lesson, as usual, is that you should just always do whatever you want because consequences are imaginary.