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(Whatever You Do, Don’t) Ask Doug! #2

[Editor’s note: A full year ago, Doug McKelvey debuted his (probably fictional?) advice column “(Whatever You Do, Don’t) Ask Doug!”. In it, he began to trace the curious and entirely improbable tale of Paul Harvey, complete with extensive and dubious footnotes. Well, fret not, for the tale continues. Read on for the next installment in this far-flung adventure, and stay tuned to see what happens next.]

Dear Ask Doug Or Not!1,

I’m a little embarrassed to ask this, but I actually need some romantic advice. There’s a girl I’ve known for a long time. Well, technically I’ve only known of her—but I’ve done that for a really long time. And by that, I mean that I’ve been aware of girls—generally speaking—as a genre, though not necessarily of this particular girl. But now I am. Aware of her in particular, I mean. Kind of.

What I’m trying to say is that I’m going to be a contestant on a reality show this Fall, and 23 other guys will be vying for my woman’s hand. Technically, we haven’t met. But I already know she’s the one for me. How? My palms feel tingly when I think about her. So I’ve got physical science on my side. And also possibly magic.

And if our connection is already this amazing when we haven’t even met yet, think how heartbroken I’ll be if she accidentally chooses one of the wrong guys just because he’s smarter, richer, wittier, more fun and handsome and romantic, and a better listener than me!

Is there anything you can do to help me win this? I guess what I’m really Ask-Doug-ing2 is “Do you know any of the producers on the show, and if so, do you have any dirt on them that I could use for leverage?”


A Lot to Chew On in Chattanooga.


Dear Chattanooga Chew-Chew3,

I’m sorry, but do I frequently interrupt you when you’re talking?


Then pray tell why are you interrupting me?

If you read my most recent4 Ask Doug! column, you would know that I’m still in the middle of telling a story about the golden age of radio—and not about reality dating shows. And if you didn’t read my previous column, how did you even know to write to me with such an off-topic query? Stand down, sir. You are out of order. No, you are out of order!

When last I checked, this column was still devoted to the exploration of sundry things Paul Harvey-ish—namely his popularity as a ruby-throated5 radio star, and the trouble brewing as his research staff grew increasingly lazy and began to feed poor Mr. Harvey less-than-entirely-factual facts for his most successful syndicated show “The Rest of the Story.”

I had only just mentioned, in fact, Mr. Harvey’s small Spanish goat6, and how I was probably not going to write any more about it. So we will begin there, taking special care never to mention the goat again.7

If you really want a sensationalist advice column about torrid reality dating shows, I suggest you either contact Chuck Woolery or pen it yourself. Now please, dear readers, I sincerely beg you to cease these relentless interruptions and allow me to move forward with our story…

Who Was This Paul Harvey & Why Should You Care About Part 2 of Who Was This Paul Harvey and Why Should You Care?

Emboldened by the success of their initial subterfuge, and probably high on cheap adrenaline8, Harvey’s staff grew ever lazier and sloppier in their labors. Having introduced a few story compounds that were a scant 2% false and a walloping 98% true, they now began to experiment with broadcast stories that were 10%, 20%, or even 40% fabrications.9 This steady decline in “reality congruence”10 went on for six years—a time referred to now as “The Half-Score Affront To Honesty In Human Relationships, Specifically In the Area of Broadcasting and as Pertaining to the Question of Trust Between a Broadcaster and His Listeners, More Specifically When that Broadcaster Happens to be Paul Harvey, Good Day!™”11.

Such a gross web of prevarication could not last though. In the spring of 1977 Paul Harvey signed on to the airwaves from his kobold-proof, diamond-studded booth,12 and delivered the following address, having no foreknowledge that his well-enunciated words—uttered in utter innocence and without sibilance—were destined not only to shock an already flabbergasted nation, but to threaten Harvey’s own seemingly impenetrable popularity, shaking both the one, and then the other, to their very foundations. 

The episode told a simple story about an obscure chapter in the life of one of America’s most popular presidents. But the ratio of truth-to-falsehood had been increased to a volatile mix. The story that aired that day was simultaneously 48% TRUE, and 73% FALSE, an unstable super-capacity formula that every mathematician worth his or her salt can tell you will “in igneous fervor combust most roundly and robustly”13 with even the slightest spark.

And Paul Harvey was a chain smoker.14

ORIGINAL Script for PAUL HARVEY’S September 27, 1977 “The Rest of the Story” RADIO BROADCAST


Hello listeners, I’m Paul Harvey, and this… [COUNT SLOWLY TO 46 BEFORE COMPLETING THIS SENTENCE]15 …is the rest of the story!

BOOM! The first blow lands on the man’s nose, like a hurtling meteor intent on extincting16 all dinosaur life on earth, if earth were represented by the man’s nose on which the blow had just landed. A second uppercut follows with lightning speed, catching the base of the jaw and turning the hapless fellow’s knees to jelly, as if part of his legs were jars, or maybe all of his legs were jars, and it just so happened that the jars that just so happened to be where his knees ought to have been just so happened to be jars that contained a fruity jelly, some of which just so happened to have spilled out because the jars just so happened to have cracked and shattered, so that they no longer retained any rigid structure with which to support the man’s imbalanced weight.17 The assailant steps back, hopping lightly on the balls of his feet. He is unusually agile for such a tall, wiry fellow. His fists are split and bloodied, but he continues to dance around, hoping for more.

“Come on, Mr. Davis, you rascal!” he cries, exhilarated by the rapture of the battle, “Come at me like a man and I’ll drive those Dixie Scouts of yours through the back of your head!”

“Wha..? Dixie scouts?” The man is clearly confused. “I thought they changed their name to ‘The Chicks.18’”

“Obviously I’m talking about your front teeth, buddy. Come on, get up!”

But the man addressed as Mr. Davis has been hopelessly felled by the blows that came so suddenly, raining down on him in the cold darkness of the alley, as if those blows were a hail storm, only instead of ice clods, the hail just so happened to be made of iron daggers, daggers that just so happened to hit a man much like a fist. I don’t mean that it was the man who was much like a fist, but that the fists that hit the man were like a raining hail, a hail which just so happened to be like sharp, metal daggers, and what’s more, those daggers just so happened to be of the sort that tend to hit a man much like a fist. Which, again, isn’t to say that it was the man who was much like a fist…

(NOTE TO EXALTED GRAMMARIAN & C.B.: Can you fix this? When Harvey reads this script on air it’s going to sound really confusing if you don’t. Thanks. P.S. I am also filling out the appropriate paperwork requesting that you brew a new pot of “Jolly Joe.” I know this will sound weird, but I think this six-day-old thick, silty stuff in my Harvey Flask™ tastes of wrath and resentment and also possibly of a dark desire to destroy this and perhaps also many other worlds. Thanks much! —Jimmy.19)

The forlorn and dagger-like-hail-fist-pummeled man whispers wearily to himself “Can’t an underemployed minor philosopher find gentle solitude and peace of mind anywhere?” His head is swimming with “donkey whiz” swilled earlier at one of D.C.’s public gin tanks20, and now throbbing from the beating. His lip is swollen, and his nose thrown out of alignment21. He hears one of Schopenhauer’s chants reverberating in his head as he feels about existentially22 on the cobblestones for his glasses, but cannot find them. “What kind of a person would accost and harry a minor philosopher” he wonders, “seeing as how we do so much good for humankind?”23

Warily he raises his eyes and squints at his assailant.

The apparition flitting before him in the lamplight would rival Ichabod Crane for general lankiness. Yet there is something so familiar about the fellow… if only he would hold still. That beard… that stovepipe hat… The victim’s numbed mind struggles to pull the picture together.

“On your feet, General Lee! Or have you had enough of my ‘fists o’ thunder’?” The ominous scarecrow bellows at him a second time.

Suddenly it all comes clear. This man is… is… no, it can’t be! But it is!24

“Oh Captain!” the tipsy philosopher cries mournfully, “My captain!”


The summer of 1885 struck hard and fast, like a golfball slammed home down the windpipe, in a scenario where the golfball represents momentous events and the windpipe represents pretty much everything else. Rumors of war were in the air (and soil), and the Swedish Tobacco Crisis was causing shockwaves on Wall Street that threatened to shutter every last two-dollar mom-and-pop dime store in the country. The country had been too preoccupied to remember to vote, so President Lincoln was enjoying the onset of an unprecedented fifth term in office, when the news reached him over the Pinkerton Telegraph: The South had agreed to unconditional surrender on the basis of one condition—that they be allowed to permanently secede from the Union, and that they receive double compensation for the seventeen potato cruisers torpedoed by the North in the Battle of the Pleiades25, four months prior. Nevermind that the potato boats belonged to the North26 and were destroyed as part of Lincoln’s premature ‘scorched earth’ policy.

Lincoln, whose temper was never a secret, ripped the telegraph wire out of the wall, mildly electrocuting himself in the process.27 Feeling “a great desire to exact some serious vengeance, no bones about it, people,” he then ordered that the entire telegraph line the message had traveled over be felled and burned pole-by-pole, from Washington to Chicago. Then he sent for Pinkerton and had him pilloried and publicly ridiculed, placing upon “his moist and squalid brow” a one-hundred-twenty-pound butternut squash, cultivated specifically for that purpose of “most incogitable and loathsome obloquy28.” These actions, though carried out in a fit of anger, were actually calculated to strike terror in the hearts of Southerners, for, as Lincoln himself said, “If we will not hesitate to so humiliate our truest friends, how much more terrible must be the ponderous and vengeful gourds we shall deposit upon the noggins of our enemies!”29

The South, however, responded with a bizarre string of proactive, preemptive attacks upon their own people, punitively perching ponderous prize pumpkins30 atop the heads of more than two hundred local mayors and mayoral hopefuls31. The state of South Carolina was so devastated by this cannibalistic infighting that she actually surrendered in confusion to the Southern government “like a whipped puppy with its tailward parts tucked neatly ‘neath,” to quote then Georgia Senator Ombudsman “Baconwrap” Montgomery.32

Lincoln, sensing a window of opportunity in this odd turn of events, disguised himself, first as Jefferson Davis, then as Davis’ wife Begonia Cleopatra Happenstance Elizabeth33, and set out by rail for a clandestine tour of South Carolina, hoping to win the beleaguered populace back to the fold of the Union. This may have given rise to the historical myth that Davis’ wife was a tall, gangly, bearded woman.34

Though easily explained in light of Lincoln’s charades, this curious myth still persists, finding its way into numerous history books, movies, and epic poems about Jefferson Davis. In reality, President Davis was an advanced polygamist (LVL 17) who had fifty-five wives, twelve of whom were numbered amongst the “Virginia sharpshooters” that fell in the assault on Sherman’s forces at Appomatox.35

Though enemies never succeeded in identifying and unmasking the well-disguised Lincoln, he was able to effect little in the way of swaying public sentiment. After a two-week bout with the “Carolina Malaria36,” he returned to Washington, D.C., broken, humbled, and deeply frustrated, “like a man with his hindermost parts where his head should have been,” remarked acting Secretary of State John “Cookie-Heart” Admantle.

White House aids silently adopted the “fifty foot” rule, refusing to approach any nearer the chief executive out of fear for their own safety. Those who accidentally violated this dictum more often than not found themselves immobilized in a vicious bear hug, headlock, or full nelson, grappling with the president, who would not release his victims till other staffers came and pried his arms and legs loose from the hapless target, at which point Abe would immediately ensare one of the would-be rescuers.

“A president never lets go!” he would shout.37

This exhausting cycle sometimes repeated for up to six hours before the president tired of the game and fell asleep in a crumpled heap on the floor.

Within a matter of days, Lincoln’s mood had turned even more morose, sullen and angry. He was often overheard muttering his dark thoughts aloud. Even his wife, Mary Toad38 found herself powerless to “pull the tall man” from the icy depths of self.

Abey is scarce himself, she wrote in her diary dated March 17, 1885. He takes his breakfast in the tub, submerging his scrambled eggs for several minutes before consuming them, as he has known the raccoons to do, and he does not sing when his back is scrubbed with the bristle brush, as he used. Even the light tickling of his feet brings scarcely a smile, and once he even rebuked me for my pains. I fear for the Union, and most of all for the minor philosophers.

Mary always feared for the minor philosophers.39

The next evening, Mary Toad, along with Colonel “High-Steppin’” Wilhelm and Vice President Eliazer “Immortal-Biscuit-Mix” York40, cornered Lincoln in his study and bolted the doors behind them. There is no record of what was said in that fateful meeting that lasted less than five minutes, but eyewitnesses report that when the doors were unlocked, Lincoln burst out “like a man stuffed full of angry ants all half-drunk on rancid linseed oil,” ripping off his shirt so that “fiyve buttons did flye moste erratically and did stryke a gentle page upon hyne41 orb of eye.”

The president then rushed from the White House and into the street, where he bellowed an ululating, open-throated cry, hailing one of D.C.’s storied and infamous moose-drawn cabs.

Prickly knees! Sticky knees! Dry, scaley, scabby knees! Say, friends, are your knees too often unsightly and imperfect? Do you dread summer, when your friends and co-workers pressure you to wear shorts, and then you have to walk bent over double with your hands covering your knees, just so random strangers won’t heap deep shame upon you? Well fear no more! There’s a product that can make those unsightly knees glow like yine orb of eye:

Uncle Dorsey’s Premium Knee Shine & Polish. Just three applications is all it takes. Wipe it on. Lie motionless in bed for a debtor’s week42, and wipe it off. Repeat, and repeat again. It’s as easy as that! Uncle Dorsey’s Premium Knee Shine & Polish—available wherever Uncle Dorsey’s Premium Knee Shine & Polish is sold!


And at that commercial break, dear reader, we shall also momentarily leave off lest this, our second installment of “Don’t Ask Doug!” expand to an unwieldy length. Here we shall resume and complete our narrative when next we convene. Till then, may you each remain undisputed champions of whatever spheres and realms you inhabit.

Cordially, and with utmost haste, I remain,

Ask Doug.

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