Re-Extending Your Extended Benefits

The recent Unemployment Extension Act will provide relief to thousands of Americans still looking for work. Before benefits can be paid, applicants must fill out the following survey each week of the extension.
1.       Are you currently employed? (Yes/No)
2.       Are you currently able to work? (Yes/No)
3.       Really hard? (Yes/No)
4.      Have you looked for work during the past week? (Yes/No)
5.       In every single nook and cranny? (Yes/No)
6.      You've been claiming benefits for a while now. Are you even trying to find a job? (Yes/No)
7.      Really? (Yes/No)
8.       You know you're not going to be a marine biologist, right? That ship has sailed, my friend. (I know/News to me.)
9.       And you realize that you're kidding yourself with dreams of being a rapper? (I understand/Dreams can come true!)
10.       Have you considered farming? (Yes/No)
11.      If No,  why not? -- what, you're too good to be a farmer? (Yes/No)
12.     Have you considered working at the mall? (Yes/No, my ex works there and it would be weird/But I have a bachelor's degree.)


13.     What about going to Bartending School? (You sound like my dad/I'll give it a shot--ha ha.)
14.     How's your novel coming along? (So far, so good/I gave up because my sister needed to use the computer.)
15.     You're not taking this seriously, are you? (Yes I am/Enh)
16.     Have you considered selling your plasma? (Yes/No)
17.    Have you considered selling your dog's plasma? (Yes/No/You can do that?)
18.    Have you tried selling your CDs and DVDs on E-bay? How many times can you watch "Rain Man," anyway? (That's an interesting idea/I watch "Rain Man" more and more  often, it seems.)
19.   Would you be willing to help my cousin Jeff move this weekend? The gig pays $50. He's a good guy. (Yes/Well, um … My back is all messed up and … you know.)
20.   What about gambling? Do you feel lucky, today? (Yes/No)
21.    If No, come on--don't be such as tight ass. (You have a point/I don't like you when you talk to me like this.)
22.   What was the last job you applied for? (Ice Road Trucker/Two years ago I auditioned for "American Idol"--that counts, right?)
23.   How broke are you? (I'm behind on my bills/I ate road kill mixed with ketchup for dinner last night.)
24.   Are you discouraged? (Yes/[Silence, as single tear rolls down cheek])
25.   Stop crying. You don't have it that bad. Would you rather live in Ethiopia? (You're right/Does Ethiopia need a rapper?)
26.   Maybe we can write a screenplay together? (Yes/No, I don't work well with others.)
27.   Can you marry someone wealthy? (Yes/No)
28.   Down at the gas station, there's a guy who pays people to … Never mind. You're probably not interested. (I only take legitimate work/No, please go on. I'm intrigued and desperate.)


Thank you. We will evaluate your answers and determine if you are eligible for benefits this week. If you have lied to us on this questionnaire, there will be no punishment, except that which your guilt will inevitably visit upon you.    

Dan Bergstein pronounces his last name "Drawbridge."


July 24: On this day in 1725 John Newton, the slave trader-preacher who wrote the hymn "Amazing Grace," was born.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.


When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).