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Archive for the ‘humor’ Category

A de-Supersized Morgan Spurlock is–just Morgan Spurlock

Posted by Steven on August 24, 2011

Last month McDonald’s went angling for positive publicity when it announced that apple slices will be a mandatory component of their Happy Meals starting in 2012, the first step in a calorie and saturated fat reducing program designed to make their foods healthier by the year 2020. This makes 2020 the equivalent of December 21, 2012 in the minds of fast food consumers, the year in which the Big Mac they knew and loved–while driving home from work every day with one hand on steering wheel in the midst of a hellish gridlock on the expressway–will be destroyed forever.

One could argue that McDonald’s self awareness began back in 2004 when Morgan Spurlock decided to take a page out of Michael Moore’s playbook and bring a camera along as he played a self aggrandizing and manipulative joke on a major corporation, slowly transforming himself into a living confirmation bias in an attempt to win cheap praise for bringing the tired topic of America’s growing obesity epidemic forcibly back into the light. The scheme worked, as people were shocked by the idea that eating McDonald’s every major meal of the day for a month could lead to rapidly deteriorating health and the brink of death .

McDonald’s responded by removing the now infamous Supersize option from their menu, appeasing the masses, but according to the ultimate resource for the intellectually lazy, McDonald’s competitors have managed to escape scrutiny and still serve up giant burgers, fries, and drinks by getting rid of marketing words that draw attention to size, instead selling them under the more neutral sounding small, medium, and large labels, thereby leading customers to think they got a bargain when the item happens to go beyond their perception of what a given size should be.

I was reassured after reading this, since I was under the impression that all fast food chains had caved in to external pressure and were therefore busy working on the next infuriating salad conglomeration and turning their once plump, jovial mascots into weekend warriors who are now depicted in active poses and as having fully embraced a healthy lifestyle, with Ronald McDonald himself at the head of the parade–looking as though he wishes he’d gotten a padded seat before taking up endurance cycling. An eternal penance forced upon these characters by their very creators as they try to shed the image brought on by the food that made them significant in the first place.

For every movie like Super Size Me that tries to push the obesity pendulum into the “this is a major problem with potentially catastrophic implications on future generations if we don’t put down the Triple Whopper and act!” zone, there’s always a study that contradicts whatever dire statistics were generated by the aforementioned study, pushing things back into the apathy zone for those people who don’t happen to be overweight.

With the success of Man vs. Food, the pendulum has swung completely in the opposite direction to the point where people now appreciate those who are willing to attempt consuming the 72 oz Big Texan Steak Dinner for public amusement, because hey, the eater presumably knows the risks going in, and as long as the outcome doesn’t impact their own health, everyone in attendance wants to see that steak go down. They want to collect on the bet they made with the bartender.

In the Happy Meals article referenced above, McDonald’s senior director of nutrition claims the decision to include both apple slices and fries was prompted by consumer demand. Yet the very same article mentions that only 11 percent of customers were ordering the apples when given a choice between the two, so going the conservative, politically correct route in spite of the facts seems to have won out here.

This won’t save a select group of parents from succumbing to the the occasional bout of drive thru rage after their kid, expecting only fries in their Happy Meal, starts throwing a fit upon seeing apple slices in the box.

“I specifically asked for only a burger, fries, and a drink in my child’s Happy Meal and you throw in apples?! Corporate may have told you to put a little gift from Johnny Appleseed in here, but why don’t you go back to not thinking so much about your job and assume I’m coming to McDonald’s because I want, and expect, an unhealthy meal! Now give me a second order of fries and get rid of these fucking apple slices!”

“Sarah, what did you get as a toy with your Happy Meal? Why it’s a snow globe that features Morgan Spurlock writing an apology letter to McDonald’s that is signed… ‘Without you I’d still be a nobody with a camera.’ How nice!”

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Did Caped Tomatoes Ever Populate The Far Side?

Posted by Steven on May 25, 2011

HydroBites tomatoes

“Look, I think we can sell these miniature tomatoes without referring to them as HydroBites and outfitting our mascot in a cape and running shoes. Why is he wearing running shoes when he can fly?”

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Running with steaming entrees is always a hazardous proposition

Posted by Steven on May 3, 2011

The sprinting chef

I’ve always thought this logo to be unrealistic. How often have you seen a chef running from table to table in his restaurant carrying both a gigantic steaming bowl of pasta and a pizza, with a look on his face like he’s about to win the Boston Marathon?

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Rediscovering that old playground bravado Part 1

Posted by Steven on March 17, 2011

Growing up I don’t remember being envious of many obvious talents possessed by friends or family members; only being keenly aware that I didn’t seem to have any overt skills that I could use to readily earn friends within even the most obscure niche groups of people on the playground, including the group of kids that chooses to remain ignorant of, either by choice or parental conditioning, advances in technology and team sport. They are content to play the games of yesteryear . A teacher stands guard in the shadows, making sure nothing more modern than a Mattel electronic football game is allowed to be introduced into their native environment. This is where I come in and make a general inquiry.

“Hey guys, so how exactly do you play tiddlywinks?”

“You play in teams trying to propel your chips into the center pot using a squidger while squoping your opponent’s chips in the process. There’s so much more I could explain to you but it’d probably be better if you just watch Dario here. He has a killer squop shot that obliterates everybody else’s winks and before ya know it he’s totally rabbit bashing the rest of us. Show him Dario,” a kid named Reed says.

Dario, playing with the red winks, eyes a lone green wink some distance away from a larger wink pile and delicately places his squidger towards the end of the wink, angled for distance purposes. Sweat drips off his forehead and threatens to obscure his vision as he tries to calculate how much force is needed to cover the wink. He closes his eyes and fires. With a minute clicking noise the wink leaps forward and bounces up and over the green wink, finally coming to rest near the cup.

“Oh God, I talk you up like that and then you up like that and then you turn into a first class choke artist with a total feeb shot,” Reed moans.
You can’t expect to become a professional winker if you can’t learn to keep your squidger straight when you attempt this shot How many times have I need to tell you that need to fire it from a high enough angle that the wink bounces off the ground twice and lands on the target?”

“I was trying to do that, you idiot. My finger just slipped because I’m hot as an overcooked turkey in this custom made ‘Winks Club’ letter jacket that you insist we all wear. It’s 80 degrees out today!”
“My mom paid good money to have those jackets made and with yours there was a surcharge because she ended up having to go to a big and tall shop and it took her forever to find the right material for your requested Rocky Road color scheme.”

“You leave my favorite ice cream out of this or I’ll pound you into the asphalt.”

“Hey Steven where are you going?” Reed calls out “Next week we’re playing this new game called pickup sticks, you don’t want to miss out.”

Like many around the age of 5-6, my initial belief in what my strengths were came from my parents, who were always quick to point out that I already had a well defined sense of humor at a young age and could read above grade level. I agreed with them for the most part, knowing that the areas in which I could show potential in were severely limited by my physical disability. There was no childhood spent playing a multitude of sports at my parents urging, with the silent hope that I’d develop enough athletic ability to earn a scholarship to a prestigious university. I’ve always had my sense of humor and my writing ability–and that’s it.

Having a high level of reading comprehension really isn’t anything to brag about either. After the first couple of grades teachers stop caring so much about how well you’re reading, assuming of course that you’re not borderline illiterate, and the act loses its qualitative value. According to the statistics generated by this test, most people read an average of 200 WPM and stop trying to improve their reading speed after age 12, so everything evens out in the end. No one wants to watch you employ speed reading techniques to blast through Atlas Shrugged.

My thanks to both The North American Tiddlywinks association and English Tiddlywinks Association (ETwA) websites for giving me a general overview of tiddlywinks jargon and explaining the rules of the game. Between the article on squoping by Larry Kahn and An Introduction to Tiddlywinks by Andy Pervis, Charles Relle and Mapley (both of which can be found on the ETWA’s website), I was almost convinced that Tiddlywinks is engrossing and complex enough to be worthy of my time.

Nothing pushes an issue closer to irrelevancy more than a meaningless Facebook group

Finally…

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Why fast talking YouTubers are killing comedy

Posted by Steven on December 10, 2010

When i got my Dell Studio XPS a year ago I was keen to include a monitor with a built in webcam on the off chance that I wanted to create a couple videos and place them on YouTube as a way of testing partially developed comedic material in front of a worldwide audience. My mom was intrigued by the idea because theoretically we could talk to my brother from his college dorm room and would allow her and my dad to keep an eye on him. Even if he gave only short evasive answers to every question they could at least determine if he was drunk or high. He has yet to talk to us via webcam even once. however, and with my parents now having renewed confidence that my brother will be able to remain motivated and focused enough to ignore outside distractions and graduate in high standing without the threat of a monthly interrogation looming over his head, the webcam’s potential has gone largely untapped, having been forgotten by everyone except for me. I did post a couple of videos, which you can see here and here, but I quickly discovered that my stuttering kept me from talking in the rapid fire setup punchline style used by the comedic video bloggers, supposedly because of viewer’s short attention spans.

By the time I had figured out what I was going to say and overcome any sudden disfluencies brought on by the pressure of having to talk as fast as possible, forty seconds would have already elapsed in the video and the camera’s unwavering, uncompromising eye had already captured my embarrassing stuttering episode in all its gristly detail. This forced me to start over again with no idea how many takes it was going to take to record the video, and given that I was able to do a fluent take, whether it would have the proper amount of energy and emphasis on certain lines to be funny. After a few unsuccessful attempts I’d get discouraged and wonder if I wasn’t just better off writing it down where nothing could get lost in translation. I wasn’t about to truncate something that worked better in long form just so I could get it on YouTube. Unfortunately most of the popular comedic video bloggers, whose content is assumed to be of the highest quality on the site, ignore this fact when creating videos. They’re so busy trying to adhere to the number one rule when trying to attract viewers to their channel, namely, no video must be longer than 3-5 min and other conventions imposed by other hit videos, that many annoying symptoms appear during the humor’s presentation which keep it from leaving a lasting impression.

Perhaps the most annoying habit adopted by today’s successful comedic video bloggers, including Phil Defranco and Natalie Tran, is they all talk as though someone is holding a gun to their head and can’t help but barrage the viewer with, “Like this video if you were stunned by the opening sequence” annotation balloons at the beginning of the video, followed by a flurry of quick jokes and onscreen graphics that correlate with whatever topic is being discussed, all being delivered in a series of quick cut segments that are edited together to form one coherent video. The majority of the time these visuals add little to the presentation and are just another thing trying to compete for your attention and prove to you how funny this person is supposed to be.

How funny these videos actually are is something that’s never really considered by most people beyond liking particular videos and writing the occasional comment on ones they thought were really funny, but the next time you watch the latest video from one of your favorite self made video blogging comedy gods on YouTube, try and count how many jokes actually register with you at first watch, regardless if you laugh at them or not. Since the jokes are being delivered so fast I’m willing to bet it’s a relatively small number and you’ll feel like you just watched a robot recite programmed punch lines. You’ll also likely need to watch it at least twice to get an accurate joke count. This suggests that the fast talking comedy phenomenon isn’t undertaken solely to compensate for viewers short attention spans but also so viewers are forced to watch the video multiple times to fully comprehend everything, thereby driving up the video’s hit count.

If asked what exactly motivates them to make videos, the video bloggers on YouTube upon whom fortune has smiled would go the politically correct route, saying at the most basic level, they’re just trying to convey a message to their audience and entertain them, and that they’d still make videos even if there were no guarantee of hits and receipt of a certain percentage of the overall ad revenue generated by their videos. However you can bet it goes a long way towards inflating their egos and making them hesitant to change an otherwise stale formula, even when users may call for it through a comment mutiny of negative feedback.

Giving the audience time to react to a joke has been a fundamental part of comedy for years, either in the form of dead silence when somebody bombs on open mic nights at their local comedy club, laugh tracks on sitcoms, or the awkward pause used to accentuate the uncomfortable nature of some jokes. This technique was first popularized by The Office in the US and serves a nearly identical purpose as a laugh track without being as obtrusive. When a performer doesn’t give the audience this necessary time to react to a joke they come off as a mix of insecure, arrogant, and disinterested. By laughing at a comedian , the audience is in effect neutralizing the anger that often fuels comedy and showing the comic that they empathize with them, thus validating his or her beliefs and keeping them from feeling as though he is nothing more than a rambling, spiteful idiot. The sketch comedy videos do a better job of respecting the audience by limiting any potential quick one liners to one character and giving other jokes time to develop before a “please subscribe” balloon appears to remind you that they’re ultimately just after subscribers like the video bloggers, but at least they’ve created something that has some staying power and won’t become outdated the day after it’s released, which is the main reason I would hesitate to create a YouTube personality for myself even if I didn’t stutter.

I don’t need that constant pressure of having to come up with something quality nearly every day when the average user doesn’t really care about quality, and YouTube only furthers this notion by promoting every video that has one or more of the following elements: dancing, old ladies, pets doing something out of the ordinary, young children with a five octave vocal range, kids playing instruments, auto tuned mash ups of already popular videos, parodies of pop culture icons that have been ripped to death, among other things. Why should I even try to achieve some level of online fame when it is tenuous at best and I’d have to deal with an ever-present fear that I’d be trumped in popularity by a video of a cat nosing a ball of yarn through an obstacle course in a matter of weeks?

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Socrates lost his lunch ticket

Posted by Steven on November 11, 2009

This an excerpt from a longer story I’m writing about how comments made in a high school lunchroom can spin out of control. I wrote the first half of it back in spring 2007 and am now trying to make the second half mesh with this one by maintaining the same style, and hopefully there won’t be a noticiable shift in tone, which can happen when attemping to finish a piece of writing after a long layoff.

I recently graduated from a community college and moved on to a private university that I thought would be better than the community college, considering how much you have to pay to go there, but I was wrong. The college I’m going to now is worse. The DSL connection borders on dial up speed and tables and chairs are constantly being moved around to accommodate clubs and special interest groups such as the feminist society, meaning that if you wanna sit and relax you have to try to squeeze your ass comfortably into cube shaped couches. Worst of all for a directionally challenged idiot like me, every building on the campus is brick and only labeled on one side with the name of some well respected board member who is probably dead.
When I asked a security guard where a building was, I usually got an answer like this, “You wanna get to the Jackson building? Well then turn right, then left, and then continue on and you’ll see it ahead of ‘ya—a brick building.”

With all the brick used on that campus, you’d think they’d just build some kind of walkway lined with commemorative bricks.
“Today marks a new beginning in the history of this university, and I am proud to commemorate the opening of our first ever walkway. Brad always said he wanted people to remember the contributions he made to this school in a special way, but I just couldn’t come up with a good idea to accomplish this. I thought about naming a star after him, but there’re a million of those things, it was expensive as hell, and I was never good at using a star chart. Plus I’m sure the only constellation his star could be a part of would be one of “Rocking bed”, as he rides that co-worker of his Terra all the way to The Big Dipper. Even before I caught them in bed I knew I couldn’t compete with her. She was 30 years younger than me and had twice my bust size. That’s when I decided the best way to honor him would be with a commemorative brick on this walkway. I take comfort in knowing every day now thousands of students will step on his name and slowly grind his memory down to dust. And so now without further to do I shall cut the ribbon with these giant scissors that are more like pruning shears. Here ya go kids, stomp him out!”

Another weird thing about the students from both schools is the University students are so unlike the community college kids, so—motivated. In my first semester there I found nobody I could relate to, no one like me in my literature class who thought, as I did, that we read too many novels and that our “classroom discussions” had so many awkward pauses they could drive an innocent man to admit to murdering the literary cannon. During these times I wanted to tell the teacher:

“Faulkner titled this book Absalom! Absalom!? It should be called Asshole! Asshole! to describe the arrogant, self sophisticated classical literature loving jerk that happens to read this book out of his own free will. Also, Al Borland called from the set of Tool Time and he wants his wardrobe back.”
I never said any of his though and instead sat in a room of kids who pretended to love the stuff we read and tried hard to come up with thought proving questions to bounce off the Al Borland clone. One girl always came to class with hundreds of sticky notes popping out of her book along with passages she had highlighted in six different colors that’d be sure to iniate at least one discussion question each class. It was disgusting.

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Your mother’s so fat she couldn’t fit down a gopher hole!

Posted by Steven on January 8, 2009

Yesterday my brother commented that I’d gained some weight and that I was eating Twix bars with such wreckless abandon I was eating like “those kids in that one commercial, gobbling Gopher Cakes.”  I instantly  thought of the PSA he was referring to and cracked up. I first saw the commercial on the VHS copy of Dr. Doolittle with Eddie Murphy and I couldn’t stop laughing. In fact, I think it may be funnier than the movie itself. This commercial was followed by a promo for the movie Our Friend Martin

What makes this commercial so funny is that the kids play it straight until the very end when you see the Get Up. Get  Out. message. There’s not the typical PSA set up of a group of popular kids approaching the nerdy kid, pressuring him to try pot, at which point the protagonist says something like “Pot is for losers with no direction in their lives.” Because the setup is atypical, you think it’s a real commercial  and laugh at it, rather than see it as a stupid, patronizing  stereotypical PSA.

But what really elevates this commercial to hall of fame status is the jingle that encourages the kids to sit around and engage in group gluttony. It’s a punky number that lasts only 30 seconds, but it’s so catchy it seems longer. If it were released as a single it surely would’ve topped the Billboard Charts. And just when you think it’s over, the singer shouts “’till you explode!” one more time. Here are the lyrics in case you want to sing the song throughout the day:

Go for a mouthful!
Go for the fun!
Gopher Cakes are for everyone!

Just one snack is what it takes
And it’s Gopher Gopher Gopher Cakes!
Open wide, stuff your face!
There’s always room for more Gopher Cakes!

Empy the box
Every load!
Eat those Gopher Cakes til you explode!

‘Till you explode!

Get Up. Get Out. Kill Some Gophers

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Dickinson-Whitman poetry slam no 1

Posted by Steven on January 8, 2009

Spring semester has started up for me and after a weeks worth of classes, I think I can say I won’t have any really tough classes. I have Logic, Sport Psychology, Computer Communications, and American Lit. I’ve always believed you can get a rough estimate of how tough a class is going to be just by looking at the teacher’s syllabus. If its 4-5 pages including a simple outline schedule for the class, you shouldn’t have a rough go of it provided you work hard. If however the syllabus is over seven pages with long paragraphs, ten dollar words, a lot of bolded underlined text and includes a schedule that indicates what you should have for breakfast on exam days, you’re screwed. Humanities, one of the most difficult classes I’ve ever had, was run by a teacher that handed out a 16 page syllabus and told us that important items were in red–the whole thing was in red.

Anyway in my American Lit class we’ve started out this semester reading some poetry from Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson and it reminded me that I’ve written many poems, but only a few that I thought were any good. To me poetry’s too complicated, too focused on things like rhyme scheme, rhythm and meter, tone, and understated significance. Sure technically you’re allowed to write in free verse and just say FUCK IT! but really–what’s the skill in that? 

I’ve decided to post some of my best poems on here for all to see. I’m not really a poet and I think the typical Haiku is a Japanese equivalent of a sneeze, but I think in the following poems I really caught lightning in a bottle. They all rhyme and attempt to tell a meaningful story. They both have a dark, sarcastic sense of humor and will spit in the face of any Shel Silverstein poem you may happen to find during your nostalgic conquests. Remember: even though you may be falling up in life, you’ll still end up on your ass.

Here’s the first poem written about 4 years ago. It started out as a free write brainstorming exercise in my creative writing class. We were supposed to write poems that conformed to all these conventions and I ended up rebelling, writing this poem. Once I started writing it, I got into a rhythm and found I could actually rhyme other words besides cat and bat. I really started to enjoy myself. I finished it in one night and posted it on the Storymania website. The place where you could say my “online writing career” started in the fall of 2002. Before that I had just written two journals about my middle school years. How are they? Well let’s just say they’re like my journal entries on here, just a lot less focused, filled with bad aside jokes, and a love triangle of sorts.

This first poem is called Is That My Fat Talking Again?

 
The pizza is calling my name.
It calls, but I believe I can resist its playful tease.
Or can I?
The pizza wishes to suffocate me beneath layers of cheese.
I try to resist, but the pizza seems to insist that I eat it.
Oh, what agony, what pain.
Why do I fear weight gain?
But food is the only person or thing
That doesn’t think I’m fat.
Every chair I sit in groans or squeaks.
The ladies whistle and call, “Hey Fat Cat.”
No one understands the pleasures of food.
My meals always end so soon.
All my friends know my job.
When we go out to eat
They eat and drink and chat.
Then I interrupt and ask
“Are you going to finish that?”
 I eat so much; I can barely get out of my seat.
 
I tell my friends stories, tall tales really.
They say, “You’re kidding, you really ate all that in one sitting?”
“Yes it’s true.” I say. This time I’ve bit off more than I can chew.”
Then somebody always says “Why don’t you go marry an elephant at the zoo?”
 
I have considered this, many a time
But I always end up looking for the nearest elevator sign.
I know my unwillingness to exercise will lead to my demise.
I’m getting fatter all the time.
I’m breaking scales left and right.
By know my weight must be out of sight.
 
I ask all the ladies out, they all say no, I think I’ll pass
Not after last time, when you passed gas.
I say, “Well what if we just hang out and chill?”
“I guess that’s OK, as long as you don’t eat the dinner bill.”
 
And if I ever do get a date she says, “What have you been eating? It smells like you’ve been cheating?”
“No I haven’t.” I sigh. “Are you going to finish your pie?”
 Oh the jokes, when will they cease?
 I know I’m obese.
Children laugh and ask their mothers “Mommy is that man pregnant?”
“No Billy that man is a dunce.
 But he does look more pregnant than I was at nine months.”
 
I am not sure what to say at this.
It feels like I am falling into an abyss.
Maybe women are really what I crave.
Ah who am I kidding? I couldn’t get laid in a cave.
 
I stare at the pizza, trying to resist, but I give in.
For fat I will be fat I have been.
Is that my fat talking again?
 
I stumble home, barely making it through the door
It’s always such a chore.
I crash on the couch and turn on the TV.
I put down the remote in shock.
I can’t believe what I’m seeing.
Some guy thin as a rail looks like he just escaped from the local jail.
“Are you overweight? Do you eat constantly?” he screams.
 “It doesn’t matter how much you consume
You can lose 150 pounds by June
using my amazing formula!
All you have to is pick up the phone and call this number!”
 
Suddenly I want ham, turkey, and cheddar.
So what if I’m fat, I’ll hide it all beneath a sweater.
Is that my fat talking again?
 
I watch the TV a little more.
Until I am convinced.
After all people who have used this formula haven’t been the same since.
I decide to pick up the phone.
Who am I kidding? I’ll always be an overweight baboon
I’ll never lose 150 pounds by June.
 
Is that my fat talking again?

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WARNING: Ferns should not be used as substitute for dental floss

Posted by Steven on December 3, 2008

About a month ago I was hanging out in my room and checking out how many books have accumulated over the years in my closet. This something that should only be done during the summer, once you’ve done other time killing activities like checking your e-mail, swatting fruit fries that have invaded the house thanks to the “2 bunches for 1” banana offer from Aldi’s, and listening to every song on your mp3 player twice. Judging by some of the titles in my collection, I’d say it began somewhere in the mid 90’s and ended about 3 years ago. Still, I have some pretty good books to prop up the overall value. You’ve got classic and underrated Stephen King with It and The Eyes of the Dragon respectively, and Seabiscuit, which was made into a movie known as “Spider Man Rides a Horse”

But the one book that really took me back to my younger days was, Where The Red Fern Grows This story is is line with other young adult animal stories such as Old Yeller, and more recently, Shiloh. In most of these stories, a young boy forms a strong bond with a wild dog that is tested by his family, financial obligations, and some asshole who wants the dog dead. By the time it’s all over the kid has learned about the sanctity of life, and how audiences are suckers for an ending where the dog kicks the bucket.

I had gotten the book the summer before 5th grade and decided to read it for a book report that year. The book reports that year were different from others I’d done up to that point because we didn’t have to get up in front of the class and talk about our book’s main points. No, we had to go sit with the teacher at a table in the back of the room and tell her about our book in quiet hushed tones while she wrote down comments on a notepad. Even in 5th grade I could recognize that the whole thing was just a little too intimate and weird for a classroom setting. It was like being on a job interview that had the feel of a speed dating session—rejection starts with a ring of a bell, kids.

Because my book was one of those good ol’ American dog tales, I thought an A+ was in the bag. It was with this confidence that I breezed through my report, talking about the book’s main conflict, the rising action and the falling action, and was even fielding post report questions from my teacher pretty smoothly, until she threw one at me that wasn’t in the manual:

“Do you believe in the secret of the red fern?”

Secret of the…was I supposed to say yes?—she actually believed that shit?

Like a pro I looked her right in the eye and said, “Yes. Yes I do.”
“I see”, she said, scribbling more notes down.
“Well you may believe in the red fern and all of its mysterious power, but your breath killed it—along with any of the surrounding plant life, plus Billy’s hunting dogs Old Dan and Little Ann. It’s terrible.”

I was taken aback. Was that supposed to be a backhanded compliment? First she tried to impose her belief in the red fern on me, and now–she was calling me a murderer with bad breath. It was too much. I looked around, trying to regain my composure. I blamed the extra bowl of Peanut Butter Captain Crunch I’d had that morning—that stuff could stay on your breath for hours. They never mentioned that on the box.

I wondered what else she’d written down on that notepad of hers. Had she written “future homosexual” by my name because I was wearing a hand me down ribbed purple sweater with a coat of arms under interlocking swords on the breast pocket for the third time that week? (It wasn’t my fault, my mom was too stupid to know that injecting purple into my wardrobe would cause other students to call me gay until the end of sixth grade.)

“Do you have a breath mint, Steven?” she whispered.

“Huh? I’m not gay!”

“I never said…listen Steven—

“I don’t answer to that name any more. Just call me The Great Halitosis Fern”

PS According to this link you can check the vibe your breath is giving off to others by licking your wrist and smelling it. Try not to do this in public; you’ll look like a cat. However, if you must, do it in the privacy of a restroom stall. The process will be complicated by the surrounding smells, but I’m sure your breath will win out.

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Cell phone chaos 2

Posted by Steven on May 10, 2007

On Tuesday I got my second cell phone in roughly three years, and like when I got my first cell phone, my brother played a prominent role in how things unfolded. I’ve been out of school since Monday and have been bumming around trying to keep myself busy so my Dad doesn’t bug me about being a college student with no close friends, internships or modes of transportation lined up for the summer, meaning there’s no way for me to leave the house when he’s hard at work—cursing out his computer. Basically for the first time in three years, I have a summer with no immediate responsibilities, so hopefully I can produce some quality journal entries in the coming months.

However my dad thinks I’m at an age where I should be taking charge of my life, and that if I’m not proactive and do something life altering soon, there’s a good chance I’ll never become a successful comedy writer. More likely since I’m handicapped, fate will tie me to a flaming wheelchair and send my helpless body rocketing at 200 miles per hour down a slippery slope lined with rejection letters, pink slips, and angry break up calls from imaginary women. Finally the chair will dump me into my parents basement and I’ll be stranded there for the next 30 years, left to contemplate what a loser I am. Nothing funny about that is there, Mr. Comedian?

I was washing up after lunch at the sink when I heard an alarm sound outside.

“What was that?” my brother asked.
“I don’t know.”
“Didn’t you hear it?”

“Yeah but I don’t know what it was. It sounded like a car alarm. Nothing to worry about,” I said.

My brother bolted down the stairs and entered the kitchen.
“That sound was weird man, are you sure it was nothing? Maybe it was one of the carbon monoxide detectors in the house. Those are working right?”

“I’m telling you it was just a car alarm. The kitchen isn’t filling with poison gas.”

“How do you know? The human eye can’t see CO2. I’m feeling a little woozy. I’m calling mom,” he said.

He pulled out his phone and there was a loud crack as it fell to the floor and the flip section of the phone broke apart, held to the phone limply by a section of exposed cables. He stared at the floor in shock.

“Shit…oh shit,” he muttered, sounding like he was gonna cry. “How am I gonna get all my numbers off of this thing.” He picked it up and tried to turn it on. The phone’s backlit screen flashed white. He probably had a rolodex of numbers in there from girls he had known as far back as middle school and now they were all gone—it would take him years to rebuild it.

“Looks like it’s completely busted. Want me to get the duct tape? I’ve heard it protects against Radon. Forget Corbon Monoxide, I’ve heard that stuff will give ya a tumor in 30 seconds flat ”

“Don’t touch my phone all right? Just shut up!”
“Are you afraid I might break it?”

He called my mom and tied to explain the situation: “…Steven and I heard this weird noise outside and so I went to call you and my phone fell out of my pocket and broke. No it’s really broken, I can’t even get it to turn on. I don’t know where the sound came from. Why would I break it on purpose? That’s just stupid,” he hung up.

She came home later and said that I could go with them to a Verizon store to pick out a new phone. She had wanted to wait until July to get new phones for the both of us so that she could get them for free, but now she was suspicious.

“Mark didn’t break his phone just so he could get a new one. I saw it fall out of his pocket.”
“I believe him. Just be quiet.”

“Now Mark how did this phone break?”
“I dropped it,”

“Really?”
“I just told you—“

“I said I believe him! Now we’re going to the Verizon store and I’m hoping we can still get at least one for free. I don’t wanna spend a ton of money on these.”
Every time my mom or dad pulls more than 20 dollars out of their wallet you can hear it scream in agony.

We ended up getting two Samsung camera/camcorder phones with V Cast, which I’ll doubt I’ll use—it’s just another thing my parents will bitch about being too expensive, even though I pay for everything related to my phone.

It’s only a matter of time before the damn thing comes to life and takes an obituary photo of me in a flaming wheelchair.

UPDATE 7/12/07 Last weekend I had to get a replacement phone for my new Samsung because I unwittingly left it in my shorts pocket after work and it ended up going through a spin cycle in the washing machine. My mom was pissed initally, but I ended up getting the same model phone, (blue this time), for only like $100, so it wasn’t a disaster.

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