Displaying articles for: March 2010

Easter Bunny Confidential

As Easter approaches, we have decided to confront the myth that is the Easter Bunny. We pondered the idea of a rabbit that somehow produces eggs, then distributes them to kids everywhere without benefit of helpers or reindeer or a flying sled or even the missus. Just hopping, it seems like, from the outside. Hopping? Hopping. Given the magnitude of these tasks,  we had our doubts, so we conducted a behind-the-scenes investigation, and we've found that, as we suspected, the Bunny is not the innocent and omnipotent figure he seems to be. He has help:


Alan, the Easter Chocolate Factory Worker.  Ever stopped to think about where the Bunny gets the candy in the first place? No Arctic workshops, no elves--the goodies just kind of show up. Well, mystery solved: We tracked down Alan, a regular guy,  who works for a massive chocolate syndicate.  He admitted to  being the Bunny's supplier, in return for preferential treatment for his own kids.    


The Easter Raccoons – The job of hiding every egg for every egg hunt had to be too much for any one Bunny. Sure enough, much of the work is subcontracted to a massive underground network of Easter Raccoons, skilled at grabbing eggs and stashing them away in obscure places. Several of the raccoons have been let go over the years for hissing at children who are about to find the eggs.  Disturbingly,  it turns out that Easter Raccoons aren’t all that bright and sometimes forget the point of what they’re doing. Also, they’re often drunk.


The Plastic Grass Cow – Did you really think the Bunny somehow provided all that unconvincing "grass" for Easter baskets?   No, it's the Plastic Grass Cow. She does this by eating tremendous amounts of regular grass and then converting it into plastic grass, which she then, uhhhhh, produces. We couldn't find out how she did it, because we didn't want to know.


Retired NBA Players – Speaking of Easter baskets, sure, Easter baskets and basketball baskets are two different things. The sports version isn’t even a basket--just a string cylinder that contradicts the very concept and essence of "basket." Still, these players have plenty of time on their generally huge and skilled hands and have been looking at something that is at least called a “basket” for years. So they’re assigned to the region where they played most during their careers and fill their days constructing Easter baskets.  The kids in Miami are extra-lucky--they get the masterpieces woven by former Heat center Rony Seikaly! Denver children also luck out--they get the precision-crafted work of retired Nuggets forward LaPhonso Ellis!  (Look for the tiny "LPE" on the bottom.)


The Jelly Bean Tree – Finally, how about the jelly beans? Well, our investigators have discovered that they all grow on a massive 300-foot-tall tree on a secret government site in the Nevada desert. When the beans have ripened, the tree's propulsive stems shoot out the beans at tremendous speeds directly into Easter baskets worldwide, owing to secret trade agreements with other nations. This always happens when no one is looking. Always. No, our investigators didn't actually see it, either. But they heard the unmistakable rat-a-tat of jellybeans being shot out of a Nevada jellybean tree's propulsive stems and then other investigators heard the similarly unmistakable prat-a-prat of jellybeans hitting easter baskets, and they put two and two together. 


So really,  the Bunny is more of an executive figure, the one who coordinates the whole operation. Oh, we also found out that he is elected by a secret cabal of cloaked elders in a cave in France.   


John Moe is a public radio host with American Public Media and lives in St Paul, Minnesota. He is a contributor to McSweeneys.net and author of Conservatize Me.

Quality Time

4:57 PM
“Hey, I’m really glad we’re getting together tonight. It’s been way too long since we spent some quality time with each other.”
“I know, I can’t wait to see you, either! There’s so much I have to tell you.”
“Same here. You’re the one friend I can count on to really listen and give me good advice.”
“So, 8 o’clock at the Rainbow Grill on Parkway Avenue?”
“Sounds great. But we’ll check in with each other as the hour approaches, right?”
“As we always do. See ya!”
7:52 PM
“Hey, I called to say I’m running a little late and my ETA now is ... uh ... let me think. How does 8:15 sound? I got sidetracked by my cat, Lulu. She was attacking my pillow and it was too good not to get on video. You are going to laugh your head off when you see it. Don’t worry, I’ll bring it on my iPhone to the restaurant.”
8:21 PM 
“I just got your message and 8:15 is fine. I’m still at home myself. Oh wow, I’m looking at my cellphone clock. How’d it get to be 8:21? Okay, so I’m walking over to my closet and throwing my boots on. Where are my boots? In any case, I’ll see you no later than 8:40. No, wait a minute -- can we do 8:41 instead?”
9:14 PM
“Hey, no problem. I stopped off at the comic book store on State to kill some time rather than wait for you at the Rainbow. Did you know that there’s a new Frank Miller graphic novel out? I have got to get it, but first I need to find an ATM because they don’t take credit cards at this place.”
10 PM
“Where are you?”
10:12 PM
“Where are you?”
11 PM
“I’m not sure. I think I just walked into a Walgreen’s.”
11:27 PM
“Hey, what’s with the pharmacy? Are you all right?”
11:46 PM
“I’m fine. I passed the 24-hour Walgreen’s on the corner of Parkway and Fourth and saw they were having a special on toothbrushes. Now I’m back in my car headed to the Rainbow.”
12 AM
“Hey, you picked up. It’s a real live person on the other end of this phone! You do know it’s illegal to talk on your cellphone while driving.”
“Don’t make me laugh! I nearly ran over a bicyclist.”
“Wait, I just drove past you at the intersection of Parkway and Temple Street. You’re going the wrong way to the Rainbow.”
“That’s not possible.”
“My GPS doesn’t lie.”
“My GPS says it does.”
“Oops, there’s a cop. Gotta hang up.”
12:35 AM
“Hey, I’m driving up to the Rainbow and I saw your car pulling out of their parking lot right now.”
12:40 AM
“Yeah, they closed up at midnight. Can you believe it? What is it with this town? Don’t they want for friends to get together? Anyway, no problem. I know this lounge on lower State that stays open ‘til 4. At least I think it’s on State. At any rate it’s a rockin’ place. Just wish I could remember the name of it. But you’ll know it when you see it.”
1:16 AM
“Hey, I’m not finding any lounge here on lower State. There are, however, three dive bars and none of them look like any place I want to walk into.”
2:32 AM
“That’s okay, I suddenly realized I might have left my laptop on and went home to make sure the battery hadn’t run down. I’m actually kind of tired now. Don’t know why. But I’m going to turn off my cellphone and get some sleep. Let’s connect in the morning and make a plan to get together. Can’t wait to see you! Hey--how about coffee at 10 at the Beanery?”


Polly Frost is a playwright whose humor has appeared in The Atlantic and The New Yorker. She can be found on the web at  http://pollyfrost.com.

New Carbs

Along with everyone else, you’ve probably been reading a lot about carbs recently:  “Good carbs,” with their fiber and vitamins, and “bad carbs,” which we need to start avoiding. I don’t know about you, but when I read these reports something seems amiss. As someone who has spent decades devotedly exploring the world of carbs, I know in my bones that there’s far more to the carb picture than the scientists have puzzled out.  Recently I decided to do my own close-observational study and record my findings about different kinds of carbs. The results:

FOREIGN CARBS: How is it that a foreign name can add innumerable benefits to any dish? For example, on Tuesday I had the chance to compare two identical food items. The first was a donut at a 7-11; the second was a beignet I purchased not long after, across the street at Patisserie Antoine. 

The donut produced a heedless urge in me to wolf it down, followed by an avalanche of remorse. The experience with the beignet could not have been more different, although I suspect that Antoine buys his beignets from the same supplier as 7-11. As he pronounced the word “beignet” and placed the pastry on the tiny table I was seated at, I found myself purring. Instead of hurriedly zooming off, I lingered, eating in a civilized manner, and engaging in a most delightful flirtation with Antoine, despite the fact that I had flunked high school French! I spent the rest of the day smiling. Regrets? Zero -- especially about having given my phone number to Antoine.

SILLY CARBS: Next I decided to delve into some carbohydrate-related mysteries. Why do we 1) have a sense of well-being when we nibble candy that’s molded like a high heeled shoe? 2) Feel rapturously giddy when we drink a cocktail that’s a preposterous color? 3) Forget about waistlines when pasta shows up on our plates in adorable curlicue shapes? 

I mused about these questions as I waited for Antoine the next evening at a waterside bar. I played with my Blue Hawaii’s little parasol and asked myself: Why is it that scientists are so damned obsessed by the intricate chains of oligosaccharides they find in complex carbs?

Feeling woozy inspiration, I challenged the hunky, sunburned stranger next to me to a contest: whichever one of us said “oligosaccharide” slower would have to buy the next round of Blue Hawaiis. He eyed me up and down, then agreed. Soon everyone in the place was shouting “oligosaccharide” and demanding that I dance on top of the bar. How could I refuse? Never before had I cared less about how my behavior appeared to others.  My conclusion: Silly Carbs often lead to excellent exercise sessions.

Antoine never did show up. Frenchmen! 

OVERPRICED CARBS: As I nursed a hangover the next day, my intercom buzzer sounded. It was Antoine, pleading in French. I buzzed him up and, in response to his knock, opened the door. There he stood, holding out an exquisitely wrapped box.

“Chocolates?” I snapped. “I’m not that easy.”

“Do you know how adorable you are when you are angry?” he murmured.

“Don’t try that suave stuff on me,” I said. 

But I grabbed the box of chocolates from him anyway. As I did so, I saw his eyes fall on a label the store hadn’t removed from the box. He swore as he reached over and tore it off. But I’d caught a glimpse of much he’d spent. That’s when I experienced the miraculous effect of Overpriced Carbs. Indeed, even before I’d tasted a single one of the candies, I felt overwhelmed with forgiveness. 

Antoine popped a  truffle into my mouth. It was a fitting ending to my carbohydrate research, and I was pleased with my contributions to science.  For a moment, I did wonder if Antoine had planted a phony price tag on the box, but even if he had, wasn't that sweet in its own way?   


Polly Frost is a playwright whose humor has appeared in The Atlantic and The New Yorker. She can be found on the web at  http://pollyfrost.com.

Tabloid Dreams

SCENE: The office of OLIVIA MORTON, editor-in-chief of the gossip weekly, Them Magazine. 


TYLER, a young male staffer, enters.


OLIVIA: Well, hello, Tyler. Have you finished the headlines for this week’s cover?


TYLER: That’s why I’m here. With all due respect, Olivia, I can’t do this any longer. 


OLIVIA: But you’re so good! I was just looking at our last issue. (She holds it up, points at a photo of a gorgeous woman in dark glasses and reads) “Madison: Out to destroy another marriage or just to get a latte?” I love love LOVE it!


TYLER: I can’t write any more blather about what Madison is up to. 


OLIVIA: But there hasn’t been a celebrity as exciting, glamorous, and scandalous since Liz Taylor. 


TYLER: Madison doesn’t even exist.


OLIVIA: Her greatest asset!


TYLER: Look, it was all great fun when you had the idea for the June 8th issue. 


OLIVIA: To invent a celebrity -- my finest moment as an editor.


TYLER: But you didn’t even give her a last name!


OLIVIA: Tyler, that makes readers think she’s someone they should be aware of.


TYLER: Well, I’m drawing a line. Inventing Madison was a cute inside joke. But then there was Matthew.


OLIVIA: She needed a hunky married co-star to run off with.


TYLER: And they became Madishew. But you weren’t satisfied.


OLIVIA: Matthew needed a humiliated former child star ex-wife, Kaitlyn, who needed a lesbian lover slash personal trainer, Desiree, to help her get into the kind of shape that would get the attention of billionaire hottie Brayden. 


TYLER: And now half the people in this week’s issue are made up! Worse: you want me to give Madison a baby bump that’s growing in reverse. This can’t go any further. 


OLIVIA: We’re selling more copies than ever! We’ve got Perez Hilton obsessed with Madishew. Paparazzi are convinced they’re getting priceless shots of them when they’re only snapping anonymous couples. Countless fansites are being created. My biggest triumph of all was when both People and Us put Madishew on their covers!


TYLER: Why, Olivia, why? We could be like The Enquirer and get nominated for a Pulitzer.


OLIVIA: Tyler, you’re too young to remember, but when I started out as a tabloid editor, fame really meant something. Celebrities were bigger and better than the rest of us. And then it changed. There were the people who were famous for their Warhol fifteen minutes. Then there were the people who were famous for being famous, followed by people who were famous for no reason at all. Now we have people who are famous just because they had a bunch of kids and fight all the time. They don’t even look like celebrities. They look like the next door neighbors you wish would move away. I didn’t devote my entire adult life to celebrities to see them descend to this level. 


TYLER: What you’re doing will be the death of fame. 


OLIVIA: No, Tyler, the rebirth of it. Madison is only the beginning.  Soon, there won’t be any more reality tv stars on tabloid covers. Certainly no Food Network chefs. And definitely no dog trainers. Tabloid covers will be filled once more with true superstars!


TYLER: I’m going public with this. I believe in the importance of real celebrities.


OLIVIA: You won’t do that. Think for a moment. When did you first start working here?


TYLER: In May.


OLIVIA: Right before we started the June 8th issue.




OLIVIA: Tyler, what’s your last name?


TYLER (desperately searching): Uh...uh... Damn! -- I must have one!


OLIVIA: No, Tyler, you don’t. 


TYLER: That can’t be. You wouldn’t have!


OLIVIA: I did. I made you up. And I’ve become very attached to you. You’re the best headline writer I’ve ever had. Now back to work! We’ve got a magazine to put out.



Polly Frost is a playwright whose humor has appeared in The Atlantic and The New Yorker. She can be found on the web at  http://pollyfrost.com.

36 Hours In: My Apartment

(after the New York Times Sunday Travel Section feature)


Taking a weekend vacation need not be a complicated, expensive hassle that’s ultimately unsatisfying and only makes you feel more stressed. It can also be an affordable, easy-to-arrange hassle that’s ultimately unsatisfying and only makes you feel more stressed. If you’re looking for a quick getaway that offers peace and quiet without any of those pesky “amenities,” why not try my apartment?

FRIDAY   4 p.m.
Welcome to my apartment! Prepare yourself for 36 hours of the kind of luxury only a poorly lit, construction-site-adjacent alcove studio can provide. Settle in and relax, and don’t forget the first rule of traveling: respect the local customs, which in this case means nobody but the apartment’s primary resident (me) is allowed to sit on the toilet. Public restrooms are available at the Barnes &  Noble, conveniently located 15 minutes away by subway.


7 p.m.
As the evening cools and the threat of being accosted by shopping cart-pushing lunatics grows less serious, it’s the perfect time to take a restorative stroll around my apartment. Known for its impressive natural formations of dust, hair, and food particles, my apartment is habitat to a variety of indigenous creatures specially evolved to thrive in an environment lacking in sunlight, fresh air, and hope. While you dodge the skittering insects, take a moment to admire the large sofa cushion crater, formed by hours of my lying on the couch in a fetal position. 


SATURDAY   2 p.m.
Rise and shine! While it’s tempting to lounge away the afternoon in bed, don’t forget that Xbox isn’t going to play itself! If you’re itching for a more outdoorsy experience, convince yourself that you’re being productive by taking a walk down the block to the local café, which offers free wi-fi, as well as an exotic selection of day-old pastries. The feeling of staring into space while drinking enough coffee to make your heart explode is one you will not soon forget.


6:30 p.m.

Satisfy the cravings brought on by an afternoon of inactivity with a hearty, authentic meal of whatever can be scrounged up from my kitchen. Dried foods and canned goods are always a safe choice, but more adventurous gourmands will steer towards those items with bygone expiration dates, a thrilling experience some have compared to sampling the potentially lethal Japanese fugu. Diners lucky enough to score prime seats near the window are afforded a stunning view of the sunset over downtown Brooklyn, or would be, if I ever opened my window shades.


1 a.m.
No visit to my apartment would be complete without sampling the area’s active nightlife. Who needs fancy mixologists when you can pour the cheap off-brand whiskey directly from the bottle into your mouth? Pace yourself, night owls, because the paralyzing anxiety doesn’t really get going until the wee hours. Worry the night away obsessing over your stagnant career, or spend some time in the romantic glow of the laptop, comparing your unusual birthmarks to photos of terrible diseases on disreputable medical websites.



Your weekend is almost at an end, but before you go, refresh yourself with one more bracing dip in the apartment’s famous “Arctic Shower,” so named because of the superintendent’s negligence in repairing the water heater. You’ll bid a fond farewell to my apartment, knowing you’ll be taking with you a trove of memories and a musty odor in your clothes that will resist even the most vigorous of Febreezings. And as you wait for the unreliable elevator to carry you back down to the outside world, you’ll surely want to take one last look around, because if you leave anything behind I’m keeping it. 


Jason Reich is a television writer whose credits include The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and VH1's Best Week Ever.

Bar Dreams

Some politicians in Washington are pushing for banks to offer more small business loans. Well, I want to open a bar. These are some of my ideas:
Location: San Francisco, CA
The Bar: The Glass Ceiling—Accessible only by a glass elevator, this rooftop dance-party venue overlooks both the women’s studies department of UC-Berkeley and the former office of Bitch Magazine. Its main attraction is a glass dance floor so shiny that patrons can see the reflection of their 5-inch stiletto heels in it. At The Glass Ceiling, every night is Ladies’ Night, but get there early—the bar closes at 10, as most patrons give up and head downtown to troll for men around that time, anyway.  

Signature Drink: The Third Wave—We take your regular old Sex on the Beach and add sugar to make it more palatable. With a Third Wave in your hand, you’ll feel justified Slutting It Up on the Beach, Withholding on the Beach, or trolling for men downtown.
Locations: Havana, Cuba; Oak Park, IL; New York, NY; Key West, FL; Paris, France; Ketchum, ID

The Bar: The No Effin Hemingway—Here is what will not happen at any of the bars in this laid-back, no-frills chain: No one in your party will say, “Ernest Hemingway used to drink here! Isn’t that fascinating?!” Someone else will not chime in with a Hemingway fact and conjecture such as “He could have penned A Goodbye to Arms right here at this table!” No one else will correct person number two. (“Actually, it’s A Farewell to Arms, Dave.”) And you will not sit there weeping with boredom because you know the ghost of Hemingway trivia will haunt your night, as it has done so many times before.


Signature Drink: The Moveable Feast—This is just a pitcher of Miller Lite— one of the few alcoholic beverages there is no record of Hemingway ever drinking.  
Location: Los Angeles, CA

The Bar: The Strip Tease—Like many bars in LA, The Strip Tease is in a strip mall. After paying a $10 cover, patrons are admitted into a room of red leather couches surrounding five shiny metal poles. This new LA hotspot is as perfect for a date night as it is for a guys’ night, since there are actually no strippers here. (That’s the tease.)

Signature Drink: The Stripper Crippler—Before trying our secret recipe, most people demand their $10 back. But after their first Stripper Crippler, patrons tend to cancel their subsequent plans and spend the entire evening with us, though sometimes they don't know it.  

Location: Portland, OR

 The Bar: The Hipster Who Failed at Life—Talented, witty, unemployed writers and musicians flock from near and nearer to bask in the irony of this glorious dive. A back room called “the creative space” is equipped with dozens of electrical sockets and tabletops the exact size of a MacBook Pro, though regulars just know it as a place to buy and sell Oregon's famed "prescribed medicinal" herb.
Signature Drink: The Whine-O. Schlitz is poured into a wine glass and served on a silver tray with a hot dog for $26. Parents’ credit cards are accepted.
Location: Cambridge, MA

 The Bar: The Wet Teachers’ Conference—Finally, a place for professors to let loose in a college kids’ town. Profs get dirty—and then get clean again—at The Wet Teachers’ Conference, where you must be at least 35 to get in. Every Wednesday is Tenure Night, which features half off Jell-O shots and an 8 o’clock Hose Down, wherein world-renowned tenured professors get really snockered and use garden hoses to spray teaching adjuncts in white t-shirts.


Signature Drink: The Harvard Crimson—White wine spritzer is mixed with the blood of the smart-aleck Harvard freshman who answered all his midterm questions with “Your mom.”
Location: Detroit, MI
The Bar: The Truck Stops—This comfortable, affordable new bar opens at 9 a.m. and, with conscious irony and sadness, runs on energy from solar panels imported from Japan.
Signature Drink: The Guzzler—Invest 20 beers of your life into this place, and surprise! –it's closing time.
Emily Winter is an editor at SparkNotes.com.

My Tea Party Candidacy

When the school year began six months ago, I would never have considered running for Class Gerbil Monitor. I was just an average third grader with average worries about tetherball, book reports, and Lunchables. What did I care about the insider deals and backroom horse-trading  of professional Gerbil Monitor politics? But like many of you, I have been increasingly concerned by the direction our classroom is taking under the rule of Tommy Masters. The Stevenson Elementary we used to know is under attack by Tommy and his radical Marxist cronies. I'm looking at you, Jenny Whitman. Or should I call you Eva Braun?

Comrade Masters is out to ruin this classroom for all third graders to come. What will we write in the time capsule we leave for the third grade class of 2020? Will we ask them if they have flying cars? If robots do their chores for them? I think not. The only things we can rationally inquire about will be  the quality of their reeducation-camp gruel and whether or not they speak Russian. And so, even though I am an outsider, I feel I must announce my intentions to run for Class Gerbil Monitor against Tommy and his Socio-Fascist gerbil-monitoring cabal.

In an unconscionable breach of the classroom constitution we signed in magic marker so many months ago, Tommy has brazenly increased the power and scope of his position in a manner not seen since the Reichstag burned in 1933. Now we are all forced to shoulder the burden of classroom gerbil care, donating 75 cents of our hard-earned allowances every week to the gerbil food fund. Sure, that may be no big deal to Kommandant Masters, with his enormous split level home, Nintendo Wii, and opulent birthday parties at LazerZone, but I'm an ordinary third grader. I live in a duplex. I ride the bus. I have my parties at a bowling alley. And to me, 75 cents is the difference between a pack of Fun Dip or nothing.

Our situation may be grim, but let us not lose hope. I say we still have a chance. We don't have to let Kaiser Masters and his pack of elitist, fifth-grade-reading-level pinkos push us around. So please, stand with me this lunch period and vote for your freedom and the freedom of the humble, God-fearing, paste-eating third graders who will follow us. With your heads down on your desks and your arms high in the air, vote for the rights of the common kid against the threat of Stalinist-Nazi gerbil oppression!

 Michael Lacher is a writer, designer, and actor in Chicago. He is the creator of wonder-tonic.com and an occasional contributor to McSweeney's.


If I were crowned emperor this morning,

every child who is playing Marco Polo

in the swimming pool of this motel,

shouting the name Marco Polo back and forth 

Marco         Polo          Marco          Polo 

would be required to read a biography

of Marco Polo—a long one with fine print—

as well as a history of China and of Venice,

the birthplace of the venerated explorer 

Marco          Polo         Marco          Polo 

after which each child would be quizzed

by me then executed by drowning

regardless how much they managed

to retain about the glorious life and times of  

Marco           Polo         Marco          Polo 


Billy Collins is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Ballistics and The Trouble with Poetry, and served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001-2003.


All we need is fourteen lines, well, thirteen now,
and after this one just a dozen
to launch a little ship on love's storm-tossed seas,
then only ten more left like rows of beans.
How easily it goes unless you get Elizabethan
and insist the iambic bongos must be played
and rhymes positioned at the ends of lines,
one for every station of the cross.
But hang on here while we make the turn
into the final six where all will be resolved,
where longing and heartache will find an end,
where Laura will tell Petrarch to put down his pen,
take off those crazy medieval tights,
blow out the lights, and come at last to bed.


Billy Collins is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Ballistics and The Trouble with Poetry, and served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001-2003. 

Child Development

As sure as prehistoric fish grew legs
and sauntered off the beaches into forests
working up some irregular verbs for their
first conversation, so three-year-old children
enter the phase of name-calling.


Every day a new one arrives and is added
to the repertoire. You Dumb Goopyhead,
You Big Sewerface, You Poop-on-the-Floor
(a kind of Navaho ring to that one)
they yell from knee level, their little mugs
flushed with challenge.

Nothing Samuel Johnson would bother tossing out
in a pub, but then the toddlers are not trying
to devastate some fatuous Enlightenment hack.


They are just tormenting their fellow squirts
or going after the attention of the giants
way up there with their cocktails and bad breath
talking baritone nonsense to other giants,
waiting to call them names after thanking
them for the lovely party and hearing the door close.


The mature save their hothead invective
for things: an errant hammer, tire chains,
or receding trains missed by seconds,
though they know in their adult hearts,
even as they threaten to banish Timmy to bed
for his appalling behavior,
that their bosses are Big Fatty Stupids,
their wives are Dopey Dopeheads
and that they themselves are Mr. Sillypants.


Billy Collins is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Ballistics and The Trouble with Poetry, and served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001-2003. 

The Rival Poet

The column of your book titles,
always introducing your latest one,
looms over me like Roman architecture.
It is longer than the name
of an Italian countess, longer
than this poem will probably be.
Etched on the head of a pin,
my own production would leave room for
The Lord's Prayer and many dancing angels.
No matter.
In my revenge daydream I am the one
poised on the marble staircase
high above the crowded ballroom.
A retainer in livery announces me
and the Contessa Maria Teresa Isabella
Veronica Multalire Eleganza de Bella Ferrari.
You are the one below
fidgeting in your rented tux
with some local Cindy hanging all over you. 



Billy Collins is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Ballistics and The Trouble with Poetry, and served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001-2003. 

Bar Time

In keeping with universal saloon practice,
the clock here is set 15 minutes ahead
of all the clocks in the outside world.
This makes us a rather advanced group,
doing our drinking in the unknown future,
immune from the cares of the present,
safely harbored a quarter of an hour
beyond the woes of the contemporary scene.
No wonder such thoughtless pleasure derives
from tending the small fire of a cigarette,
from observing this class of whiskey and ice,
the cold rust I am sipping,
or from having an eye on the street outside
when Ordinary Time slouches past in a topcoat,
rain running off the brim of his hat,
the late edition like a flag in his pocket.


Billy Collins is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Ballistics and The Trouble with Poetry, and served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001-2003. 

Mommyblog Like Me

Let’s face it: You’re a mommyblog addict. Right now your breakfast is getting cold as you read this posting. Being a fan, you’re naturally tempted to create your own mommyblog. Woohoo! Are you in luck. Yours truly -- who garnered a rave review as an “Alpha mommyblogger” from Lifehacker and who’s been blogging since well before the subprime meltdown -- is here to help. Visitors read my hilariously indiscreet postings about Zack, me, and the kids, and it all looks like fun-fun-fun. What they don’t appreciate is how hard I’ve worked to thrive in the mommysphere by bringing real literary values into my blogging --something that critic at Jezebel missed when she called my writing “illiterate diaper rash." Are you ready for inspiration and guidance?  


KNOW YOUR COMPETITION! Don’t be fooled: cyberspace motherhood is anything but warm and fuzzy. The lice your kid picked up at the day care center refuse to go away? Robert Bernes or however you spell it covered that territory two hundred years ago. You’ve decided to support the Child Leash League? Surprise! There are gazillions of blogs on that theme, too. In my case, I’ve established a loyal readership by focusing on the special uniqueness of my own kids: Lysette’s 6-and-under-beauty-pageant career, straight out of Louis Carroll, and Caleb’s record-breaking diagnosis as a borderline Aspie at only three hours old. The occasional sidebar about keeping my man Zack’s ego up as he logs 80 hour weeks managing the local Wendy’s is a special bonus!  


KEEP IT HONEST! It’s no longer enough to rhapsodize about unconditional love for your children or post a surefire recipe for Broccoli Jamboree Salad. You need to score with stories that will make your postings timeless and retweetable. For instance, like Checkoff, I don’t try to conceal the tensions between Zack’s sister Aurora and me ever since he and I defaulted on our final mortgage and moved in with her. Gosh, Aurora, not all of us can be so lucky as to land a cushy government job disbursing local stimulus funds!  


KEEP IT UPBEAT! You don’t think Target and Toys ‘R’ Us want their ads popping up on some sourpuss’s site, do you? You don’t want to depress your readers until you write your first literary novel. Even if you got an A+ on your paper about Samuel Beckket in college like I almost did, this is not the time to emulate his style. Insider tip: Putting a few “Woohoo!”s into a posting when you’re feeling bitchy will persuade almost everyone you’re a sweetiepie or like Hunter F. Thompson. Maybe even yourself!  


DECORATE, DECORATE, DECORATE! Get to know the funner fonts, emphasize the pink-and-turquoise color family and go just a wee bit more into debt to commission a jazzy, carefree logo. And be ready for some in-house resistance. When Zack complained that I’d gotten to know WordPress better than our own kids, I read to him from Wikipedia about how much Leonard Wolf supported Virginia’s writing.  


REMEMBER WHY YOU’RE DOING IT! There’ll be times when the tots are tugging at your bathrobe and the hubby’s rattling in the kitchen. You'll need to dig deep and remind yourself that posterity needs your next posting. Just the other day Zack started in again, insisting I get what he called “a real job.” The oafster sometimes needs to be reminded that I’m doing this for the kids' place in history. “But you’ve made a grand total of $18.16 so far!” he yelled. Here’s how I handled it. I resourcefully wrote my next blogposting about how wage men don’t understand what it takes to get a home business up on its feet. “Take notes!” F. Scot Fitzgerald advised. Or was it Delia Efron? So, that’s enough for now! The coffeemaker’s belching smoke, like something out of Carl Sandberg (take that, Jezebel!) and Caleb is drawing on the walls with Lysette’s new glitter lipstick! Come back tomorrow for tips about the challenges every mommyblogger hopes to run into: digital rights management, Lifetime TV movie options, and the anthology offer from the Modern Library. Oh, and Aurora? Leave another snarky comment and I’ll never empty the dishwasher again. Woohoo!


Polly Frost is a playwright whose humor has appeared in The Atlantic and The New Yorker. She can be found on the web at  http://pollyfrost.com.

Dating Me: A Scouting Report

Teddy Wayne has been playing around long enough to expose various tendencies and vulnerabilities as he hits on the opposite sex and to the opposite field; if you stay one step ahead of his games, you can emerge from a relationship the winner.  Here’s the scouting report:
The first date: Once your mutual friend and set-up man has arranged a tryout at a dive, Wayne will warm up with a starting pitcher of margaritas; balk at a second-round draft beer, as it will result in increased mental errors.  After he squeezes out an awkward goodnight, you’ll have 0.4 seconds before he zooms in for a kiss.  Making contact with a peck on the cheek is sufficient to keep his interest alive; remember, he strikes out a lot and is under the impression that succeeding three out of every ten times is a respectable average.
The fourth date: At this point, Wayne will have to exceed his shoestring salary cap for a prime-time Saturday dinner.  Let him insert the least expensive, non-corked bottle of wine into the night’s lineup, but go ahead and lead off with that $17 lobster-cake appetizer with extra mustard on it.  Afterwards, take out your purse and give a token check-swing, but if you don’t lay off his faux-protests, you will end up in an undesirable revenue-sharing plan.  He’ll intentionally walk you home to force the tough call: Should you invite him up?  Either way, your friends will second-guess you the next day in email relays, so just go with your gut.  If he overzealously swings for the fences, respond with a conservative prevent defense and block home plate against a squeeze play.  Don’t forget that, like most men, he’s happy just to be off the bench.
The morning after (if he's still the visiting team): Attempts to converse with Wayne as he reads the Sunday Times over brunch will reveal a deceptive changeup from the previous night’s amorous chatter.  Sacrifice the Week in Review and concede a loss of intimacy; once he's scored, he tends to show a lack of relationship-building hustle.
Having "the conversation": When you initiate a pep talk about "taking it to the next level," stop his frequent attempts to call "time" by issuing an ultimatum.  Wayne won’t challenge you, as he’s too fearful of being sent back down to singledom.  Caution: Wait at least two weeks until you introduce him as your "boyfriend," or risk relationship forfeiture.
Meeting your parents for dinner: Wayne will have marginally better chemistry with Mom, so play a shift to seat him next to her, and do everything you can to keep him from facing off in a mismatch against your overpowering father.  Don’t abandon him for a pre-dessert restroom stretch, as he’s a notorious choker in pressure situations.  Keep in mind that he’s a southpaw and has trouble eating next to righties.
Breaking up: After a season, Wayne will explain that he needs a "change of scenery" and ask to be released for what he mistakenly believes is the bonanza of free agency.  If you’re the one giving him the hook, stave off a comeback rally as he appeals your decision by deploying everything from dirty tricks like guilt-tripping to desperation-time vows such as "I guarantee I can change" and "I'll sign off on a multiyear commitment" and "You won't ever find me sampling your birth-control pills 'just to see what happens.' "
Post-relationship wrap-up: About six months after you’ve parted ways, Wayne will suss out if you’re amenable to any winter meetings.  You may be tempted to give him one more shot next spring, but he’s in his early thirties now, and with each passing year resembles less an All-Star catch and more a career journeyman who may soon have to turn to performance-enhancing drugs.  Shut him out of your life unless you have no other prospects you can call up.
Date Teddy Wayne one outing at a time, stay emotionally tough, and whatever happens, do not play with all your heart.


Teddy Wayne's debut novel, "Kapitoil," will be published by Harper Perennial this April.

Contact Info

Dear Everyone I Know Who Has E-mail:

Hi. I apologize for this e-mail blast, but things are "heating up"a little for me right now.   As many of you have read in my latest blog and heard in last night’s podcast, I am switching to new Twitter and Facebook accounts. I hope this transition will be easy, and help to put the past behind me. But it will take some getting used to.

First, please continue to follow my "Food for Thought"  Twitter page. Despite the current fire-related scandals, posting TwitPics of the various foods I eat, especially flame-broiled items,  is what keeps me going. This page has over 67 followers, and I hate to let any one of them down. As long as I do not discuss the fire, my lawyer says this site can remain up and running.  However, I will no longer be using my page entitled, “What I Drank Today,” as this site is where the authorities mistakenly believe the trouble originally started.

For somewhat related reasons, the Facebook page devoted to my career as a child barber will no longer be updated. (You should know that Jimmy L. is doing well. He's really happy that his scar looks just like Harry Potter’s.)

The Web page I made for Lee’s Happy Hairdos on Lumbar Street will also be deactivated, since it seems that the forum section was being used only by people trying to send me hate mail over the Jimmy incident, and for prostitution. I attempted to simply shut down the “Casual Encounters” section, but the prostitutes moved over to the section about bangs styles. The entire site is now closed, and I’m officially retired. And of course, as you know, and purely coincidentally, Lee’s Happy Hairdos on Lumbar St. has burned down. Police suspect foul play. I personally favor the theory that it was ball lightning that somehow came all the way here from Wyoming.

I’m deactivating my MySpace pages, both of them, because the first one became too cluttered with spam, and the second one, Hothead, could possibly be linked to the recent fire and, obviously, the prostitution.

I’ve limited my number of Facebook pages to a skeletal four. The first Facebook page is for professional use only (i.e., it will no longer feature my erotic poems). The second is meant for keeping up with friends. The third is for keeping tabs on my enemies, especially Carl Miller, who owns the pastry shop next to where Lee's Happy Hairdos used to be. And the last is a page where I type those enchanting messages in the voice of my cat Harold. (e.g., “I’m so sleeeeeepy." )

My YouTube Channel will be closed, and all videos will be moved over to my new Vimeo Video Sharing site. (Except, of course, the videos I made about lightning-insurance ripoffs.)

Since I’m currently out of work, I encourage you to pass along my resume. I was using the popular employment networking site LinkedIn.com, but have found their policy on nudity and libel to be incompatible  with my needs. For the time being, you can find my resume on gofer.com, along with some straight talk regarding my neighbor Carl Miller, under the tab "Mr. Tattletale."

I appreciate your support over the past two years, and I look forward to moving ahead with these new accounts, Web sites, and poems. If you have any questions, please post them to my new ChatBuddy page, lightninglee, which I have created for the sole purpose of something that is to be determined at a later time.
Thank you.
Lee Thornwell



Dan Bergstein is taller than you might think he is.

Dear Mr. Don DeLillo

by Scott Rothman and Mike Sacks



Thank you for taking the time to open this envelope. As you are no doubt aware, since you may not have had time to read my last three letters, time, the very whitest of white noises, is of the essence.


Anyway:  I am a writer named Rhon Penny (silent h) and I am no longer married. I am writing to you today (again) with an exciting proposition that is going to be very difficult to decline. But first, a little background about this crazy "game" we call the "literary world"


Have you heard of a writer named James Patterson? Of course you have. He’s only the biggest selling writer in the book business (nothing personal), churning out two or three best-sellers a year! So, you’re thinking, what’s his secret? Guess what? He uses writing partners. This is where I come into the picture. It’s my thinking, that if we  join forces—preferably right now—we can make this happen for you.


Being somewhat familiar with your oevre (I misspelled that on  purpose as an "inside joke"), I realize that you might not be so quick when it comes to creating book ideas—but I’m incredibly fast. How fast? Since I started this letter, I have come up with three rock-solid concepts:


     A "what if" premise. What if the United States had lost World War II and another country - perhaps Belgium - had somehow won? Would we all have strange accents and eat mussels all the time?


     A more "high brow" literary idea: A man no longer loves a woman and vice-versa.  Or so they think.I bet a lot could be done with this.


     Something racial. A guy is bitten by a radioactive chameleon and wakes up to find he can change skin color depending on who’s standing next to him.


Can we now talk author to author? Are you worried about how we’ll split the payment? Or whether your name will go first on the byline? Or  who will take the "lead" on talk shows? Me on Oprah, you on The View?  Here’s my answer to all such questions: Let’s not jump the gun, okay?


Here’s my question for you, though: do you have any old ideas sitting around in your "trunk" that need freshening up? Most writers, as you no doubt are aware, are constantly working on a few things at once. This is what’s in my trunk:


     A young man discovers a portal into another world…the vampire world. But there's a twist: they are all werewolves.  (Manuscript ends at page 52.)


     An unauthorized biography of my mother.


     A guy goes to modern-day Afghanistan for some reason and realizes he wants to leave because of all the current craziness. What does he need all of this madness for in his life?


For each of these manuscripts, I will give you what I have so far, along with a very detailed outline—I have plenty of time, as I’m currently receiving disability payments. You will do the same for your half-baked ideas. I’m sorry to be so brusque with you, but if we are to become literary partners, it’s better that you know my shortcomings from the very start. (For the record, I also become easily carsick.)


For other medical reasons I can’t get into, I must end this correspondence immediately. But I will not sign off without saying the following: Mr. DeLillo—Don . . . I am a very sick man. I happen to suffer  from a little disease called optimism. Is it catching? I hope so.


Your future partner in the words,


Rhon Penny



Scott Rothman is a screenwriter living in New York City.


Mike Sacks is a writer on the editorial staff of Vanity Fair. His first book, "And Here’s the Kicker," was published in summer, 2009.


With Dispatch

The following is a transcript of a 911 call that could have been made today, March 8, 2010 to the NYPD at 9:57 p.m.:
911 Dispatch: 911 -- where’s your emergency?
Caller: (sobbing) I’m on (deleted).  At an Italian restaurant called (deleted).
911 Dispatch: What’s your emergency, sir?
Caller:  It's bad… so bad.
Dispatch:  Just tell me what’s going on.
Caller: My girlfriend just dumped me.  My God, saying it out loud stings…
Dispatch: Is anyone hurt?
Caller: Yes, Ma’am. 
Dispatch: Do they need an ambulance? 
Caller: (sobbing ) Yeah.  Send a heart surgeon.  ‘Cuz mine’s broken…
Dispatch: (no answer)
Caller: Hello? I can hear you breathing, Ma’am…
Dispatch: I can’t send anyone for what you’re describing, sir.  I’m sorry but I need to free the line.  I’m hanging --
Caller: What if she was stabbed?
Dispatch: Did… Did you stab your girlfriend, sir?
Caller:  No.  Uhhh… hoodlums did.  Hoodlums ran in here and shot her right after she dumped me.
Dispatch: You said she had been stabbed.
Caller: Uhhh…yeah. They shot her with a knife.
Dispatch: I can give you a number for psychiatric assistance, sir, but I really must free this --
Caller: I’m sorry. But I’m not crazy.  I’m just… sad. 
Dispatch: Maybe you should just go home then.
Caller: Just send someone please.   Man, she’s been in that bathroom a long time…What’s your name, anyway?
Dispatch: I can’t tell you that.
Caller: Why not? 
Dispatch: I can’t tell you my name.  
Caller: Can you at least tell me where you live then?  It’s just…You sound really nice and if you lived around me    maybe we could go grab a Mai Tai and talk about Obamacare--
Dispatch: I really need to free this line.

Caller: Oh, I see! It's like that.  You think when people come in to my job, I say, “I’m sorry.  I know you want me to give you a haircut here at Supercuts but I don’t feel like it today!”?

Dispatch: Sir--
Caller: That’s it.  I want to talk to your supervisor.  I pay taxes.  Put him on.  Or her.  I’m not sexist.      
Dispatch: Hold please.
Dispatch: (muffled) Hello?  This is the supervisor here.  How can I help you?
Caller: Jesus Christ...
Dispatch: What seems to be the problem, sir? 
Caller: I know it's still you.  You're disguising your voice.
Dispatch: This is Supervisor Number 67.  Go ahead. 
Caller: It’s you.  It’s so obvious.  You should be ashamed of yourself.
(Long pause.)
Dispatch:  I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t have done that.  The truth is, I don’t  really have a supervisor.
Caller: Of course you do.  Everyone has a supervisor.  Mine’s name is Bobby.  He’s twenty, he's super nice and I hate him.
Dispatch: Well, that’s not how things work here.  No one has time to have long meetings about the calls we get. 
Caller: Well, then… Who do you answer to?
Dispatch: I guess we all answer to God, ultimately, don't we?

Caller: Yeah?  Well, I used to believe in God.  That is, until he made the bottom fall out of the haircut market and gave me this fish-face that women find so unpleasant. 

Dispatch: Look...I’m sorry your girlfriend dumped you. Things will get better. 
Caller: You really think so? 
Dispatch: I do.  But I need to clear this line.
Caller: Wow.  Thanks a lot, uhhh...female dispatch person. 
Dispatch: My name is...Kathie Lee.
Caller: That’s so weird. My primary care physician’s name is Regis. 
Dispatch: Huh.
Caller: You’re right, Kathie Lee.  Things will get better.  I just need to move on.  If someone wants to be back with her ex, Bobby, just because he’s making that sweet Supercuts supervisory dough, so be it.  You know, I've really enjoyed talking to you, Kathie Lee. Hey, if you do live anywhere near me, maybe you and I--
Dispatch: I don’t spend time with callers.  Not after what happened last time.
Caller: Wait.  What happened last--
Dispatch: Let's just say I could have used a heart surgeon too.
Caller: What does that mean?
Dispatch: (sobbing) Because mine was broken... 
Caller: That's great!  I mean...that's terrible but...you know...this is a positive--
Dispatch: Sir? 
Caller: Yes, Kathie Lee? 
Dispatch: The answer is no. 
Caller:  Okay, fine.  (sobbing) She’s coming back from the bathroom now anyway.


Scott Rothman is a screenwriter living in New York City.


No Direction

PRESENTER: The Academy is proud to present five films in the new category “Accidental Cinema.”  Using the extraordinary output of tens of millions of security and surveillance cameras around the world, these films show what can be done without overpriced directors, coked-up stars or ego-fueled screenwriters.  These spontaneous stories capture the full range of formerly unobserved behavior and provide dramatic demonstrations of why they  should often remain unobserved.  


It was Truffaut who once said “The camera is a beast that needs to be fed.”   Or maybe it was Orson Welles who said “Even the camera does not fulfill me. I am a beast who needs to be fed.”   No matter, because either way, these films are unforgettable examples of the camera gorging on life.


The nominees are:


“Dave’s House of Birds” -   Influenced by Warhol and Wiseman, this daunting viewer experience is 24 continuous hours of an African Grey parrot in a San Francisco pet store.  The parrot had been the subject of repeated death threats due to its incessant repetition of  “Homosexuality is a sin, I like my guacamole mild.”


“Three Items Per Customer” –  Displaying a Haneke-like voyeurism, this highly controversial film consists of an hour of clips of fluorescent truth shot in dressing rooms around the world.  It cinematically addresses the question “How could anyone buy an outfit like that?  Don’t they ever look at a mirror?” and brilliantly fails to answer it.


“Midnight Protection” – From the sub-genre called “Mini-Mart Emo”, touching footage of a young man awkwardly buying his first condom while his increasingly bored girlfriend flirts with a man buying grapes and batteries and wearing  a Tiger Woods Halloween mask.


“Lock and Key” -  Chosen from over 5,000 bank-cam videos, this 60-minute montage of customers in the safe deposit room at a Moscow bank captures everyone from cashmere-clad oligarchs to Krushchev-era grandmas as they pull cash out of coats, shopping bags, and even matryoshka dolls to stuff into their boxes.   The film ends suddenly and dramatically when a furious babushka approaches the lens brandishing a large root vegetable.


“Just Browsing” - Over a 24-hour period, 5 baguettes, a two roast Bresse chickens and a six foot standing cut-out of a chef dancing with a large saucisson are taken from a Monoprix store in Lyon by a series of creative shoplifters.  The whimsical footage is an unintended homage to Jacque Tati.


“Unsanitized” - Powerful vérité footage shot over six-month period in the washroom of unidentified state legislature.   You’ll find it hard to judge which is more shocking--the lack of personal ethics or the lack of personal hygiene.


The envelope please. 


Adam Hanft is the founder and CEO of Hanft Unlimited. He blogs for the Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, and Fast Company and is a frequent commentator on National Public Radio's Marketplace. He is the co-writer, with Faith Popcorn, of The Dictionary of the Future.

The iMe

People, I'm up here onstage yet again to introduce the i-Me--the most advanced self-contained communication, entertainment, and connective device in the history of the world. (Applause)

Before you at this very moment stands off-the-chart I.Q. performance and lightning synapses -- faster than the fastest micro-chip. Makes every other search engine look Amish. Like: Capital of Delaware? Wilmington! That took only as long as it took to say it! (Loud applause) Watch as the i-Me actually closes its eyes--no sensory input at all -- and instantly remembers what it's wearing: jeans and a black pullover. (More loud applause.)  Did anyone have to mash down on an icon? No! How cool is that? (Louder applause)

And hey!--the i-Me, doesn't need a plug-in or wires or cables or batteries or even a wi-fi connection. For power supply, plain steamed green vegetables do the trick.  And get this: there are no accessories. Nada! And you don't need to put the i-Me in a separate tray at the airport. (Tremendous applause)

Look the i-Me over: pretty damn handsome, if I do say so my-Me-self. All this brilliance crammed into a trim hundred and seventy-five pound unit barely six feet high. Not an ounce of plastic anywhere. So rugged, no carrying case needed. Yet portable enough to move from one side of this stage to the other, like this, and back again doing the buck-and-wing all the while.  Does the i-Me look any the worse for wear? (Applause)

I said, No accessories. But apps? We lost count at half a million and --well, just watch as the i-Me unicycles. Showers . Imitates Marcel Marceau . Does jungle birdcalls.  Operates inferior technology gadgets, and continues to give this presentation in between. If you prick the i-Me, does it not bleed and then acquire your company?  Watch carefully as the i-Me raises both hands and makes the V-for- victory symbol.  No wonder: ten super-flexible digits that can't snap off and a literally infinite number of voice commands.  "Buy more i-stuff!" How's that for a voice command? (Laughter, applause)   

Operating life is so long we can only guesstimate. I'd put it at ninety years minimum, barring glitches like a fatal virus, or someone taking a hammer to it merely  because it tends to be a little self-congratulatory.

You probably want to know when the i-Me will ship, and its price point. Well, the i-Me you see before you is actually the prototype. The value is incalculable, in i-My opinion, and so there is no price point yet. And, after all, there's only this one. But, speaking of voice commands, come back next week, and see the first i-Meclone, which will be able answer all your questions and at the same time vigorously pat itself on the back. (Applause)


Bruce McCall is a New York artist and writer whose work frequently appears in the New Yorker and Vanity Fair.

Viewer Caution Advised

I write today, during Oscar Season,  not only as a licensed psychotherapist but as an avid lover of film. There’s a motion picture in theaters right now that many say has changed the way we experience movies.  Based on the reactions of many of my patients who have seen it, this movie has not only revolutionized the medium but it also has a lingering effect on the viewer long after the lights come up.  People who have seen this movie claim to feel palpable depression over the fact that the world they saw on the screen isn’t real, and they long to escape from their everyday reality and live in that beautiful, fantastical world they got to experience only for a handful of hours.  It’s an unprecedented phenomenon among moviegoers, and it’s a testament to the visual and emotional power of this movie.  I am of course speaking of "Sorority Panty Raid 2: The Revenge of Double D." 

I've been trying to help my own patients try to process their emotions following a viewing of SPR2.  “It felt like a kind of utopia,” one patient told me, speaking of the otherworldly Cleland College campus of SPR2 as “a place where hidden shower cams go undetected and a local orphanage can be saved from evil developers with nothing more than a jello wrestling contest. Where a dean who comes out against partying gets what’s coming to him.  Then I look at my world, and there’s not a single shower cam in sight.  In the real world, the orphanage would have been allowed to close, and the dean would probably be rewarded for expelling Booter.”

“I just keep reliving the Tabasco condom scene,” another patient confessed.  “I’d like to believe that if I ran naked through a bingo hall while wearing a condom full of Tabasco sauce, all the old ladies would get up and dance and shout hilarious old lady come-ons at me, but they’d probably just call the police, wouldn’t they?  Wouldn’t they?”

“It’s like the director had a dream of a world,” said another patient.  “And his dream was built from the dreams we all share.  Who among us has never dreamed of wet tee-shirt car wash gone deliciously bonkers?”

While it can be difficult to return to the mundane responsibilities of our lives after having been carried off to the digitally created, perfectly landscaped college campus of SPR2, I would suggest that it’s important to view the world of Cleland College not in contrast to our world but more as a model for how to live--an aspiration, a prayer that with a little effort we too can live in a world of trampolines made out of bras, where a graduation ceremony can turn into a celebration of wild frivolity with nothing more than the introduction of a single uncooked hot dog and several tanker trucks full of mayonnaise.

I say let's try to build the world of "Sorority Panty Raid 2" out of the world in which we live.  If we don’t, many more of us could end up like another of my patients, who left the following message on my answering machine:

"I can’t do it anymore, doc.  I’m not meant to live this life.  I’m taking some pills and in a few hours will be enrolling as a freshman in the beautiful Cleland College in the sky.  Goodbye, Doc.  To quote the beautiful words of Double D, ‘Omega Pi Forever.  Booga booga booga, Wacka Wacka Wee!’ "


Bob Powers is the author of several humor books, including The Werewolf's Guide To Life and Happy Cruelty Day. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

July 28: Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin eloped on this day in 1814.

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).