Displaying articles for: September 2010

Zeus: An Affront to All That is Holy

 Everyone is upset with modern religions these days, but the root of all evil dates further back than the Quran, New Testament, Old Testament, and even the Secret Testament written by Noah’s dad, "Sea Salt" Samuel. The Greek Gods are the real terrorists. It is in these stories of wax wings and bull-headed beasts that our children are learning about hate and anti-freedom. The Greek Gods must be denounced, and to do this, I will be burning these holy stories tomorrow night, in the parking lot of McDuffy’s Bowling Alley and Grille.

 

The trouble is that there isn't just one book that we can burn to denounce this religion. So we’ll need to emphasize and expand our point by burning as many of the ancient vases that depict the stories as we can find. Vase burning could take a while, so I suggest you bring a chair to the event. And if anyone knows where to get some lava, please contact me. Lava could really help, even if it’s just a cup or two. Some sulphuric acid wouldn’t be bad either.

 

Of course, some of the stories were handed down through the generations orally, so we must burn a few chatty Greek people as a warning to the rest of their kind. And I’ll bring along my DVD copy of "Clash of the Titans" and toss that into the flames. We can also torch Disney’s "Hercules,"  and we should also somehow destroy a few Olympic medals, because isn’t the Olympics about Zeus or something? Mock me for not knowing, if you will, but it is a sign that I am not one of Them. Maybe you are, mocker.

 

Anyway, I’m making a wig out of snakes that we can burn, too. Well, the snakes are really just spaghetti and a few worms I found, but still...By the way, does anyone have a horse with wings?  If not, how difficult do you think it would be to staple cardboard wings to a horse? And at what temperature do horses melt?

 

Did you know Nike is named after a winged goddess? So go ahead and burn your sneakers. But keep the laces. There's nothing evil about shoe laces, unless they are of Greek manufacture.

 

Let's not stop at the Greek Gods and other Greek cultural obscenities. We will also denounce the Norse Gods. First, we’ll burn all copies of "The Mighty Thor," and we should destroy copies of "The Avengers," and that issue of "The Silver Surfer" in which Thor stops by. Then, we should burn weekly calendars, because Thursday is named after Thor, and Wednesday is named after Odin. Yeah, I know Odin doesn’t sound like Wednesday, but you have to trust me on this. Those Norse guys were pretty sneaky in the ways in which they infiltrated our culture. Thor doesn’t need his own day. My cousin Doug does. He's hit a rough patch and this would really cheer him up. Doug’s a good guy. So change Thursday to Dougday. And change Wednesday to Americaday.

 

In fact, I think all the days of the week are named after ancient Gods. Scrap the whole calendar. We’ll also need to rename the planets, or destroy them with bombs. Or we can live underground, where the planets can’t corrupt us. Then we will truly be free. Free amongst the bats and spiders.  Join me in the enormous tasks that lie before us. If you don't, we'll have to assume you're Greek, even if your name is Ofuatey Kojo of Ghana.

 

Dan Bergstein, Dan Bergstein, Dan Bergstein. The name has a kind of minor magic, don't you think?

Fahrenheit 2,577.2: When Silicon Burns

The year is 2033. Carl Blotts of New Ohio is calling for a mass book deletion to be held at the local jetpack landing zone this Thursday. The 56 year-old moon philosopher is demanding that all copies of Dr. Leo Hackett’s much talked about book “Mars Has No Marriage Laws” be deleted from computers and e-readers during a protest that is estimated to attract 7 real people, 19 robots, and 6.7 million online people via web cams.

 

"I want the good people of this planet, and the so-so people of the Moon to take their fingers and click 'delete' with all their might," said Blotts. "And then, when the dialogue box pops up asking, 'Are you sure you want to delete this item?' we will all press OK. And we shall press OK with great ferocity!" Blotts added that his followers would then need to empty their trash folder, and perhaps set fire to their computers, or at least restart them to make sure it was a clean deletion.

 

Leroy Tibitts has already said that he will skip work on Thursday to join in the deletion,  saying, "This is going to be fantastic. It's time we sent a message to the people of Mars." Tibitts has even taught his six-year-old daughter how to delete a file. "I don’t let her delete anything large. I’m not stupid. But she can delete small files, like low-res pictures of my cat. She’s good at it too. She’s going to have a blast on Thursday. We even copied the book to a different computer so that we can delete it twice."

 

Some in the community are not so thrilled. "I read about mass deletions, but I’d never thought there’d be one in my own town," said space farmer Allison Jackson. She is currently organizing a counter-protest in which people will save the book to an external hard drive, and then store that drive in a temperature-controlled room. There is also talk of using extremely thin slices of tree pulp to somehow transfer the text and preserve it in a physical form that doesn't require electricity or magic crystals, but details are sketchy.

 

Dr. Leo Hacketts simply laughs at the planned deletion party. "You can delete the file. But you can’t delete the idea. Besides the book exists on servers throughout the country. The only thing these loons are deleting is a shortcut icon that retrieves the book from the servers."

 

Blotts isn’t deterred. “If the book is saved on servers, then we will delete those servers.” When asked how he would accomplish this, Blotts said something about freedom of speech and pointed to a huge faded tattoo on his left arm that showed the iconic image of Arizona digging itself underground to form its own society called Cave World. "This is what it’s all about, man," said Blotts.

 

Cameron Algee, Blotts space lawyer, is defending his client’s actions, saying book deletion is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution and the Thirty-Fifth Adjustment of the Moon Pact. “Deleting a book isn’t a crime. It’s an expression.” He frowned energetically. "Like that," he said. Algee recently made headlines when he defended Melissa Jones, a young woman who deleted a jpeg of the American flag on the steps of Capitol Hill.  "Deletion is a natural act, like secretion, excretion, and all the other cretions," he said. "Do you want to live in a world where someone can say whether you can or can't accrete or be discrete?" He paused. "I didn't think so," he concluded.

 

 

Dan Bergstein--what can we say about his duckpins skills, when his scores speak so forcefully for themselves?

Book Abuse 101

“As an American who deeply believes in free speech, I regard burning a book as a nearly unspeakably terrible thing.” -- Gustav Niebuhr, The Washington Post

 

Burning a book sure makes a lot of people angry. And it’s no wonder. Setting fire to a book that you find objectionable is dangerous. You run the risk of burning down your house. And you’ll attract snakes looking for warmth.  This is probably why so many folks these days are upset over book burning. No one likes snakes.

 

Nothing good can come from burning a book. To avoid controversy and fire but still show that you disagree with a book, try these less incendiary approaches to book abuse. 

 

Drown the book.

Fill a bucket with water, use hot water if you are particularly angry, and then plop the book into the bucket. Wait for the air bubbles to cease before taking the book out. If you enjoyed parts of a novel but hated the ending (you just didn't buy it when Frederick became Dean of Admissions and discovered gold in Cameroon the next day), just dunk the novel into the water and quickly bring it up. This will show that you both have a heart and mean business.

 

Lie to the book.

Tell the book that you will take it out for ice cream. As you’re driving, quickly change directions at the last moment and go to a sad animal shelter instead. This’ll teach the book.

 

Tease the book.

Call the book and say, “Hi. This is Hollywood, and we would like to make you into a movie.” When the book gets excited, quickly shout, “Just kidding, you stupid book!” For best results, record the book’s reaction with a hidden video camera and post the video on YouTube.

 

Be a snob.

Throw a great party, but don’t invite the book. Instead, invite sexy, slim magazines. In the days and weeks after the party, keeping mentioning the party within earshot of the book.

 

Use the book for other purposes.

Books hate it when they are used to prop open windows and for pressing flowers. Take things a step further and use the book to prop open toilet seats and for pressing spiders.

 

Give the book a backhanded compliment.

Tell the book something such as, "Wow. You’re really pretty, for a book."

 

Mock the book.

Read passages aloud in a silly British voice. You may wish to add, “Balderdash" to the end of every paragraph.

 

Torture the book.

Place the book in a small locked room with a loud radio that is picking up a news station and a Spanish top 40 station at the same time. Let it stay there overnight.

 

Scare the book.

Tell the book that it has lupus. This works particularly well on a Friday night, when the book has no chance of getting a doctor’s appointment to double check your claim and must worry for the entire weekend.

 

Add insult to injury.

Use the book to turn the pages of a better book. And so on.

 

Lend the book.

Give the book to someone irresponsible, like that neighborhood kid who likes to break light bulbs behind the Quick Mart. Or lend it to a new mom whose curious, ill-mannered kids are always covered in chocolate, mud, and various tree saps. 

 

Use any or all of these tips the next time you want to let a book and those who read it know where you stand but don’t want all the nasty media coverage.  (What's wrong with you, anyway?)

 

Dan Bergstein is a lineman for the county.

Destroy All Books

“A New Jersey man who burned pages from the Quran outside a planned mosque near ground zero on Saturday has been fired from his job at NJ Transit.”

       – Associated Press, September 15, 2010

 

Burning books is a step in the right direction, but we’re not doing nearly enough to combat the evil words and punctuation that are eating away at society. It’s time we stand up and demand that more books be punished. And we cannot stop until the job is done and we live in a bookless civilization. We must all do our part. Every book deserves to be burned or maimed somehow. For instance:

 

"The Tale of Peter Rabbit" goes against the very principles of this great nation. The book should be destroyed by either fire or perhaps wizard lightning of some sort. If we don’t stand up against thieving rabbits (which I’m sure represents either anarchy, terrorism, or rabbits who do not respect agriculture, or all three), then what kind of a world will our grandchildren inherit? (It's too late for our children. There are rabbits all over the place.)

 

We should also obliterate all copies of "The Far Side Gallery 3."  Gary Larson’s absurdist wit has no place in our world, and reading the comic will lead to Satanism or worse--Double Satanism. But burning the book isn’t enough. We must carry the book to a volcano, an evil volcano if we can find one, and toss the book into the liquid fire. Someone should stand guard for a few years to make sure the book doesn’t crawl out and come back to life and continue its reign of terror. I’d do it, but I have a thing on Wednesday.

 

If you own a copy of "Charlotte’s Web," a book that may very well promote the concept of evolution, hire an astronaut to tie the book to a Jupiter probe. Jupiter’s atmosphere will make short work of the book, and we can all rest a little easier once Charlotte and her henchanimals are Jupiter’s problem.

 

It's all well and good to say that "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" should  be banned from schools, but it's not nearly enough. All copies should be dipped in liquid nitrogen, and then shattered with hammer. The fragments should then be fed to a shark, and that shark should be fed to a much larger shark. The second shark should then be ridiculed until it takes its own life.

 

"The Catcher in the Rye" should be fed to rats because it contains too many commas and not enough exclamation points or mine cart chases. The same goes for "Little Women". And if "The Poky Little Puppy" was sat upon by a fat man and then dipped in acid, we wouldn’t need to worry about innocent literates stumbling upon the shocking book, which I suspect is an allegory for legalized narcotics and/or prostitution. Poky Little Puppy, indeed.  More like "Poke That Little Puppy."

 

The even numbered pages of "A Tale of Two Cities" should be ripped out and mailed to my brother Walter in Florida. He’ll then soak these vicious pages in cinnamon extract, shred the paper, and make a nice potpourri, which he will then sell to tourists, but only evil tourists. The remaining odd-numbered pages of the book should be clipped out, and rearranged so that pages are all mixed up. This will ensure that no one else can be harmed by this literature. Or should I say, “Litter ature”? No. I was right the first time.

 

And lastly, we must rid our world of the dictionary, for it is from this rudely-titled tome that all the hate and anti-good words are born. I’m asking the great people of this land to take their family dictionaries and grind them up with a mortar and pestle (two words that no one will understand once the heinous dictionaries are dealt with). With the books ground down to a find powder, add a little milk, and stir until a paste forms. Smear this paste on a houseplant, and let the houseplant die a slow and painful death. Give the plant the finger too.

 

With your help, we can rid our planet of these festering, maniacal blocks of words. And once they are destroyed, we can move on to annihilating magazines, ingredients labels, and street signs--anything with words. Including this, which is necessary only to get things going in the right direction. Thank you.

 

Dan Bergstein hews his sentences out of the hardest New Hampshire granite.

The Worst -- Part I

          THE WORST WINE
         THE WORST SAINT
         THE WORST SYMPHONY
                    By Charles McGrath and Daniel Menaker
 
The Best Wine: "The Domaine Romanée-Conti is the most rarefied and expensive wine in the world, with vintages that need decades to mature." --MoreIntelligentLife.com, 2010

 

The Worst Wine--Switchblade, bottled by Ernest and Mario Volpone, of Modesto, Rhode Island.  Back on the market again, in zinc throwaway cans (the original 1994 vintage was towed out to sea by the Food and Drug Administration), Switchblade is a thick, sweetish wine, with a bouquet indistinguishable from a mature Pine Sol.  On being opened, the wine pants audibly.
 
The Best Saint: "Saint Francis of Assisi--16 people bested this."

     --TheBestStuff.com
 
The Worst Saint:  Saint Emanuele Olivetti of Mantua (1507-67).  The son of a noble family, Olivetti was donated to the Church by his parents at the age of fifteen, when he disclosed that he had daily visions of a burning duck who commanded him to retain his urine.  After he was ordained – with serious misgivings on the part of the presiding bishop – he was sent to a small parish on the Po Valley, where he soon earned a reputation for piety by sleeping on a shelf and wearing hair shorts.  His sermons were interminable, and he gave such highly unorthodox penances as requiring blasphemers to drink hot starch and adulterers to walk backward for a month.  At his death, several observers reported that they heard Olivetti’s spirit asking for directions.  He was canonized a hundred years later, when his followers established that Olivetti had miraculously enlarged a lonely and unpopular young woman’s bust and had brought a canned ham back to life.
 
The Best Symphony: "1. Beethoven Symphony No. 5"--ClassicalCDGuide.com
    
The Worst Symphony:  The “Lymphatique” Symphony in C Minus, Opus 22 (1929), by Pascal “Tarara” Boomdier.  The “Lymphatique” is a sniveling, seemingly endless work said to have been strongly influenced by the nocturnal racket of the plumbing at Boomdier’s pension.  The third movement (“The Waltz of the Tax Attorneys”) is particularly raucous, as the composer’s instructions require the orchestra to razz the second bassoonist after each of his four solos.  The symphony has been performed only once in this country, at the convention of marriage counselors in Anaheim, California, and a critic who was there termed the final movement (“The Fishmonger’s Lament”), in which the winds are called upon to render a remarkably flatulent rubato, an “offense against nature.”
    
Charles McGrath former Deputy Editor of the New Yorker and Editor of the New York Times Book Review, is Writer-at-Large for the Times.

 

Daniel Menaker is the Editor of Grin & Tonic.

Liar Education

"Undercover Testing Finds Colleges Encouraged Fraud and Engaged in Deceptive and Questionable Marketing

Practices"

     -- United States Government Accountability Office
 
Hey there, could I please speak with Susan?

 

Hey, Susan, great to finally get you on the phone! This is Marcus with The United States Collegiate University Education Institute Online, or USCUEIO for short. Based on information gathered by our ISP-tracking software, we see that your cursor hovered briefly over one of our ads (the one that reads "You MIGHT have won a FREE EDUCATION"), so I thought I would give you a call and talk to you about some of our cutting-edge degree programs.

 

Hahaha! No, Susan--I'm not a telemarketer. I'm an External-Contact Educational Enrollment Advisor-Communicator working in UCUSEIO's  Knowledge Distribution Department for Unknowingly College-Bound Life-Long Learners. And not to put a damper on the excellent repartee that we have going here, but I would love it if you could save your questions and/or opinions for the automated survey at the end of the call.

 

That said, I am glad you spoke up a little bit, because it gave me a chance to hear your voice, and Susan, you've got the voice of a leader! This makes you an excellent candidate for the first degree program I want to talk to you about – our BA (Basement Associate's) degree in Culinary Leadership for the Healthcare Environment. With exciting course offerings like "Drinking to Forget, Eating to Remember: Dietary Requirements for the Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Clinic," it's no wonder that we're the number one Internet-based institutional cooking school in America!

 

What's that Susan? You have a bachelor's degree? It must not be in Listening, since you obviously missed what I said earlier about that automated survey!

 

But that's OK-- maybe you'd be interested in our MA (Mostly Accredited) program in Ornithological Nutrition Unit Design and Marketing Leadership. This is the perfect degree for anyone involved in the bird-feeder industry, whether you're just getting off the ground or trying to soar to new heights! And since there will always be birds and birds will always want food, this career field is almost one-hundred percent recession-proof!

 

It's funny that you say that you "don't have time for this," Susan, because that's what I was just going to talk to you about!

 

Time is money. You know it. I know it. The clock at the bottom of computer screen counting down to "Rock and Enroll" knows it. Well, at USEICO, we respect your time because we know every minute spent on school work is a minute you could be using to make money in order to provide for your family. That's why all of our assignments -- essays, discussion board posts, you name it – are 160 characters long and can be turned in via text message! Gone are the days when you would have to sit down to finish your homework! Now you can text in a reading response while you're shopping for groceries, taking the dog for a walk, or even in that private room for "functions." It's all part of our new, cutting-edge "U got 2 b educ8d" program!

 

Now, you might be thinking that it would be complicated and expensive to get a world-class education like the one we offer USCEOUI. Well, guess what?

 

Silently, Susan. Please, guess silently.

 

Anyway, we make paying tuition as easy as possible by offering two simple and affordable payment plans: First, we have the "Scared of Success" option: this is for incoming students who might not be interested in improving their lives and, therefore, only want to sign up for one course at a time. For these education amateurs, the price per Personal Betterment Unit (one-quarter of a credit hour) is $510. Our second option, "The Path to Happiness," is for students who are ready to meet the needs of today's complex job market by signing up for three or more courses at a time. For such forward-thinking, motivated academics, the cost per Life-Enhancement Unit (one-eighth of a credit hour) is only $205!

 

So, what do you say? Can I sign you up for any of our programs?

 

Calm down, Susan. It looks as though I'll have to put you right through to that automated survey. Susan? Susan?

 

Sean Adams is a humor writer living in the Midwest. His work has been featured on McSweeney's, The Bygone's Bureau and elsewhere.

 

Emergency Numbers for Spouses Part II

PART II--For Wives

 

The implementation of the 911 emergency telephone number has saved many lives and has allowed many families to remain intact. But too few people know that there is a number to assist wives with spousal emergencies so that their families, too, will remain intact. For example, here are some transcripts of emergencies that were addressed recently.

 

Dinner Party

 

Dispatch: What’s your emergency?

Wife: I forgot to tell my husband that my mother is coming over for dinner tonight!

Dispatch: Where is he?

Wife: He’s at the kids’ soccer practice.

Dispatch: Call him now with your apologies.

Wife: It’s not that easy! I told him he could invite his work buddies over!

Dispatch: Can you reschedule with your mother?

Wife: Are you crazy?!

Dispatch: Then your husband will have to reschedule.

Wife: His friends are already here!

Dispatch: Pull yourself together! It’ll be OK. Can you make the dinner for more people?

Wife: My mother hates his friends!

Dispatch: How long does your mother usually stay?

Wife: She likes to leave early.

Dispatch: Thirty minutes before she arrives, give his friends an incredible amount of sugary foods.

Wife: Sugar! That’ll make it worse!

Dispatch: It’ll be intolerable for thirty minutes, but then they’re going to want to take a nap. You can have a lovely dinner with your mother while they sleep in the backyard. When they wake up and your mother leaves, your husband can hang out with his friends.

Wife: He’s still going to be annoyed!
Dispatch: Not if you tell him there’s a hot bath and a tumbler of small-batch bourbon waiting for him upstairs afterward.
Wife: Isn’t that old-fashioned?

Dispatch: Oh not at all, trust me.

Wife: OK. Thank you. Thank you so much.

 

Pet Duties


Dispatch: What’s your emergency?

Wife: I forgot to take the puppy out! 

Dispatch: Relax! Relax! Why can’t you take the puppy out now?

Wife: It’s too late! She’s done what she needed to do. It’s a mess! It was my turn to take her out and I forgot!

Dispatch: On a scale of one to ten, is--

Wife: Eleven!

Dispatch: Glory be!

Wife: And my husband just left work. He’ll be home in ten minutes!
Dispatch: You cannot let him in that house. I repeat, you cannot let him in that house!
Wife: I won’t. What should I do?

Dispatch: Open every window. Light every candle. If you must, burn some toast.

Wife: He’ll suspect something.

Dispatch: Spread rose petals, everywhere. You’ve got to make this look romantic.

Wife: But there won’t be enough time.

Dispatch: Well, then, I guess you've got to intercept him.

Wife: How?!

Dispatch: Call and tell him to meet you at the nearest Best Buy! That’ll give you a couple hours.

Wife: OK. Thank you. Thank you so much.

 

Drowning Laptop


Dispatch: What’s your emergency?

Wife: I just knocked his laptop into the pool!

Dispatch: Where is he?

Wife: He’s in the kitchen! He went to get some beers for us.

Dispatch: So you’ve only got—

Wife: Seconds!

Dispatch: Dear heavens. Was it on?

Wife: Does that matter? It’s drowning!

Dispatch: Is there anyone else there you can blame it on?

Wife: No one!

Dispatch: Dog?

Wife: She’s inside!

Dispatch: Get the laptop out of pool and take out the battery. Hurry!

Wife: OK. Now what?

Dispatch: You’ve got to let that computer and battery dry.

Wife: How long will that take?

Dispatch: Hours.

Wife: I’ve got seconds!

Dispatch: I know. You must stop him from coming outside.

Wife: How?

Dispatch: Go inside and ask him to tell you everything that’s happening right now in his fantasy football league.

Wife: No, I won’t go that far.

Dispatch: What else are you going to do?

Wife: …

Dispatch: Good luck.

Wife: OK. Thank you. Thank you so much.

 

 

Old Friends


Dispatch: What’s your emergency?

Wife: I just told him I "friended" an old flame online.
Wife: Hello?
Wife: Hello?!

Dispatch: Sorry. We can’t help. You’re on your own.



Gregory Mazurek has been published in McSweeney’s and Science Creative Quarterly.  His website is gregorymazurek. com.

    

Emergency Numbers for Spouses

(Part I of II)

 

The implementation of the 911 emergency telephone number has saved many lives and has allowed many families to remain intact. But too few people know that there is a number to assist husbands with spousal emergencies so that their families, too, will remain intact. For example, here are some transcripts of emergencies that were addressed recently.

 

Damp Laundry

 

Dispatch: What’s your emergency?

Husband: I put the laundry in the dryer sixty-seven minutes ago. The buzzer just buzzed. I pulled it out. And it’s damp!

Dispatch: It’s damp?

Husband: It’s damp! All of it is damp! 

Dispatch: Don't worry. Run the dryer again. It’ll be fine. Stay calm.

Husband: It’s nearly ten at night. Her pajamas are damp! 

Dispatch: Her pajamas were in there?

Husband: Yes! I thought they’d be dry by now!

Dispatch: Sweet mother! How much time do you have before she comes home?

Husband: Fifteen minutes!

Dispatch: Don’t panic.

Husband: How can I not panic? She’s at yoga! She’s going to shower and then change into her pajamas. Her pajamas are damp!

Dispatch: You need to keep her away from her pajamas.

Husband: What should I do?

Dispatch: Go meet her at the yoga class and ask her to teach you everything she just learned.

Husband: Oh, no--not yoga!

Dispatch: You need time before her pajamas dry. I'm afraid you have no other choice but yoga. 

Husband: OK. Thank you. Thank you so much.


Overcooked Meal

 

Dispatch: What’s your emergency?

Husband: I overcooked the steak!

Dispatch: Calm down. Where are you?

Husband: I’m at the grill. I’m outside.

Dispatch: Does she know yet?

Husband: No. No she doesn’t know. I’ve really messed up.

Dispatch: It’s all right. Pull yourself together! Do you have any other steaks?

Husband: I don’t! I overcooked both of them!

Dispatch: Oh my. What do you have planned for dinner?

Husband: Steak. Potatoes.

Dispatch: This is your meal choice?

Husband: Of course! She wanted a salad but I insisted on steak. I was already in trouble, and now this!

Dispatch: OK. You’re going to need to change your meal plan.

Husband: To what? To what?

Dispatch: A salad.

Husband: A salad! No! There must be another way.

Dispatch: There isn’t. Slice the steak and potatoes. Mix them into the salad and then tell her you decided to compromise.

Husband: OK. Thank you. Thank you so much.


To-Do List

 

Dispatch: What’s your emergency?
Husband: I forgot to do the dishes.
Dispatch: Why can’t you do them now?
Husband: She just started doing them!

Dispatch: What’s her demeanor?

Husband: Icy silence!

Dispatch: We’ve dealt with this before. You have to get hold of yourself!

Husband: I can tell her I’ll do them now.

Dispatch: Don’t do that! Do not--I repeat--do not do that!

Husband: What should I do?

Dispatch: Did you finish the rest of your to-do list?

Husband: Yes. I forgot the dishes. It was on the other side of the list!

Dispatch: OK. You need to do her entire to-do list. Now.

Husband: She never writes it down.

Dispatch: So, just do everything she did last night.

Husband: Vacuum? The children's homework? Tomorrow’s lunch? Pay the bills?

Dispatch: Yes, all of it. And once you’re done, run a bath for her. Tell her it’s for her by asking her which bath soap she prefers.   

Husband: I can handle this.

Dispatch: Before she finishes the dishes.
Husband: OK. Thank you. Thank you so much.

 

Mother-In-Law

 

Dispatch: What’s your emergency?
Husband: I told her she acts like her mother.
Husband: Hello?
Husband: Hello?!
Dispatch: Sorry. We can’t help. You’re on your own.       

 

Gregory Mazurek has been published in McSweeney’s and Science Creative Quarterly.  His website is gregorymazurek. com.

Drug Store Love Affair

Jenny is fifth in the checkout line line. Kevin is sixth.

     They have just met  at the Total Drug, while the customer at the front of the line tries with all her might to return some toothpaste.
     "I'm Kevin," he says.
     "Jenny," she responds, smiling in a way that lets Kevin know her heart is his and she hopes he'll be careful with it.
     "I never felt like this while waiting in line behind anyone before," Kevin says to Jenny. "I'm afraid to trust it."
     "It's real," Jenny says.  They kiss while the cashier picks up the phone to ask a manager to come to the front with an approval key.

 

Jenny's fourth now. Kevin's fifth.
     They make love for the first time, leaning up against the glass case full of off-brand ipod accessories, while the customer at the register complains that her razors were cheaper last week when they were on sale and she should be allowed to buy them at that expired sale price.
     "I'm worried we're moving too fast," Jenny says.  "I've made mistakes with guys at drugstores before, getting too serious too far back in line."
      "Maybe we should combine our purchase items and pay for them together," says Kevin.
      Jenny asks Kevin if he's sure he's ready for that, and Kevin just smiles and starts emptying Jenny's basket into his own.
 
Jenny's third. Kevin's fourth.  
     They argue while a customer tries to pay for her purchases with a double-endorsed check.
     "I don't see why you need to buy so much makeup," Kevin says, studying the items in their basket.
     "I don't wear too much makeup," Jenny says.
     "I didn't say you wear too much makeup," says Kevin.
     "But that's what you meant," Jenny says.
      Kevin explodes.  "Don't tell me what I mean!"
     Jenny starts to cry. Kevin apologizes, then they lie down in the shampoo aisle and make love again. 
     It's a pattern for them.  They fight, they make up, they have sex.  Then they just stand in line, both of them wondering why they can't be intimate without hurting each other, both of them wondering if they're even going to make it to the cash register together.
 
Jenny's second, Kevin's third.

     His mind wanders.  He's reading the ingredients on a box of decongestant, wondering when waiting in line behind a girl got to be so hard.  It wasn't always this hard, was it?
While the customer at the register aims a handgun at the cashier, and the cashier empties the cash from her register at a glacial pace, Kevin looks down at their basket and sees Jenny putting her purchase items into a basket of her own.
     "What's going on?" Kevin asks.
     "I'm paying for these myself," says Jenny.
     Kevin pleads with Jenny to reconsider, but she just keeps filling up her basket.
     "These past few minutes, I've felt like I've been waiting in line with a stranger," says Jenny.
     Kevin says, "So that's it?"
 
Jenny's first. Kevin's second.

     She puts her basket on the counter and the cashier starts ringing up her items.
     "Jenny please," Kevin says.
     Jenny is crying when she asks the cashier to hurry, to please ring her items up faster, to scan her club card and get her the hell out of there.
      "Goodbye Kevin," Jenny says as runs out of the store.
 
Kevin's first.

     He can barely hoist his basket up to the counter.  He doesn't even bother to take out his club card.  What's the point?
     "Hi I'm Sharon," the girl in line behind Kevin says.
     Kevin turns around to a pair of welcoming eyes, an eager smile.
     He looks into her basket.
     "Jenny used to buy that brand of makeup," Kevin says.
     Sharon says, "Who's Jenny?"
     Kevin looks away from Sharon.  He doesn't answer her.  He's not sure if knows the answer.

 

He just pays for his bag of purchases and walks out the door.

 

Bob Powers is the author of several humor books, including Happy Cruelty Day! and You Are A Miserable Excuse For A Hero.

TV Stages

Stage One: The Introduction—You’ve been hearing from friends and TiVo alike for months that you and this show would be a great match. You share the same interests; your lives take place in the same city; and you’re both pretty aggressive about trying to get other people to use the same products you do. You cycle through the usual round of excuses first—I’m trying to focus on my career; I’m still not over the traumatic end of my relationship with Arrested Development; I’ve discovered that spending time with actual human beings is more rewarding than becoming emotionally invested in fake ones—but after a few weeks you’ll inevitably cave. After all, there’s no harm in just checking out a few episodes to see what all the fuss is about. It’s not like this has to turn into a major commitment or anything.

 

Stage Two: Falling In Love—It’s only been a few weeks, but you can already tell that you and this show were made for each other, and not just because you fall into the correct age and gender demographics of its target audience. The plotlines are riveting; the jokes are always on target; and the characters are just like those real people you used to enjoy hanging out with all the time--you know, before this show came along. You begin the gradual process of completely replacing your everyday speech with quotes from the show as you realize the stuff the writers come up with is more brilliant and meaningful than anything you could ever think of on your own, and when it gets renewed for another season, you feel as though, without your support, that never would have happened. Now if only those Emmy judges would learn to recognize the genius behind its fart humor...

 

Stage Three: Complacency--Ok, so the show might not excite or dazzle you as much as it used to. And that Bob Saget cameo was totally tacked on. But hey, we’re still talking about a very stable, dependable series here. And you know what? Sometimes it’s nice not to have to deal with bracing plot twists or intriguing new characters that used to be the only things bringing a little excitement into your otherwise mundane life every week. Sometimes it’s nice just to relax and see what happens when the dad’s boss comes over for dinner on the same night his son is working on some wacky science experiment and his wife is too busy to clean the house. And it’s always nice to have something to do every Wednesday night at 8:30.

 

Stage Four: Bitterness--At this point, you can’t even remember the last time you watched this show in hopes of actually enjoying it and now do so only out of a combination of habit and apathy. The characters have become as shallow and one-dimensional as your friends and coworkers, making it difficult to use the show as an escape, and you swear they’ve gone back to that stupid boss-comes-over-for-dinner-and-chaos-ensues plot at least seven times by now. Your love for the show begins turning into seething resentment, as you start to feel like you’re the only person putting any effort into this relationship anymore. You’re still working to adjust your schedule to make sure you’re available whenever a new episode comes on, but all you get in return is cheap, lazy fart jokes.

 

Stage Five: Break up--All the warning signs were there— the overreliance on celebrity guest appearances, the addition of a new young character who exists only to look cute and mispronounce words, that episode where one of the main characters water-skied over a shark—but you kept holding out in hopes that, somehow, the show would return to its former glory or the network would at least put it out of its misery. Then they air an episode where that Bob Saget cameo turns into a series regular, and you know your only option is to stop watching. It’s pretty rough at first. You spend your days alone with comfort food and seasons 1-3 on DVD, and every Wednesday at 8:30 you flip idly through the channels, angry and depressed that none of these shows can hold a candle to what your beloved once was. However, you find that if you just persevere through those first few weeks, things get easier, and eventually, you might even be ready to start dating again (other TV shows, not people. Let’s be realistic here). You have heard great things about that hip new cop drama over at ABC, and there wouldn’t be any harm in just checking out a few episodes to see what all the fuss is about. It’s not like this has to turn into a major commitment or anything.

 

Edward Small has interned at The Onion and is a contributor to CollegeHumor.

Wino-Rama!

Miller Vortex [is] a bottle with specially designed interior grooves that “create a vortex as you’re pouring the beer,” according to a rep, who explained that the brand’s goal is to “create buzz and excitement and give consumers another reason to choose Miller.”-- BrandWeek

 
Seeing the success that Millercoors has had in the past few months with their wild new bottle and box designs, we here at Grapes Galore Vineyards decided that it’s time to offer more variety in our own package designs. Being the third largest distributor of twist-off jug wine east of the Mississippi and north of some  other places, we need to be on the cutting edge of the low-cost, alcoholic beverage market. So we are excited to announce the following new products:
 
The Shiraz Shablam! Explosive-Rigged Boxed Wine - $20
 
A bead of sweat rolls down your forehead. Your hands shake and you almost drop the wire-cutters. All you wanted to do was provide some wine for your friend’s birthday party, but you got more than you bargained for. Is it the red wire or the blue wire? The partygoers crowd around you, barely breathing. The silence in the room is deafening. Red or blue? Which is it going to be? Choose the right one, and you’ll have an easy-to-pour, delicious, full-bodied red wine. Choose the wrong wire, and it's a bigger bang than any pinata you've ever seen. So make the right choice!
 
White Zinfindel in Glass-Bodied Stratocaster - $300
 
First, you serenade your lady friend with an epic, soulful guitar solo in her honor. She is  in rapture listening to your virtuosic skill. Your shredding comes to a slow, heartfelt conclusion. She opens her eyes: “Is that it?” “No,” you say. Then, you crack open your axe and seal the deal by pouring her a glass of our sweet, fruity White Zin, with a sharp E-string finish on the palate. It’s a combination no woman can resist!
 
Cab-o-Cabernet Sauvignon - $14,000
 
It’s been a long day at work downtown, and you’re ready to get home to the comfort of your apartment, maybe even relax with a glass of wine. In no mood to deal with the snail-slow pace of the bus or train, you've heard something about our Cab-O service and decide to call for a ride.  The cab pulls up, bringing with it a gust of wind. What is that smell in the air? It is bold, assertive, with undertones of cherries  and blackberries. You open the back door, ready to tell the driver your address, only to be knocked to the ground by a flood of our excellent Cabernet Sauvignon. The cab speeds off leaving you on the sidewalk, your work clothes, briefcase, and hair deliciously soaked! People step around you, but you don't care.
 
Merlotornado – $390,000


Out to fancy bistro with your wife to celebrate your recent promotion, you arrogantly tell the waiter, “I’ll have your most expensive wine.”  That’s when the clouds gather outside. The wind picks up speed, rattling the windowpanes with its force. The patrons at the tables around you attempt to continue their conversations over the volume of the developing storm, but all talk comes to a sudden halt when they hear the  tornado sirens’ wail. You rush outside onto the patio and see what you  had begin to anticipate when you looked back at the menu and saw the name of the most costly wine on the list– a plum-colored cyclone heading straight toward the restaurant, pulling up trees and reducing all the  houses in its path to rubble. Its  dark, fruity flavor with a gusty finish will be the perfect complement to the salmon dinner you ordered, whether you land back here in Kansas or in Oz.

 

Sean Adams is a humor writer living in the Midwest.  His work has been featured on McSweeney's, The Bygone's Bureau, and elsewhere.

Search and Annoy

“Google Instant rapidly fires different search results pages at you as fast as you can type a few letters of your search query.” – USA Today

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Google Future, the search engine that will find what you’re looking for before you even type a single keystroke. Google Future, also called Martha, has been downloaded to your computers while you were all sleeping. Enjoy!

 

MARTHA: Here’s that link you may have wanted about mountain lions. I also found you a great deal on a flight to Vancouver, and because it’s raining, I did a quick search on eggs. Do you want to know about various Muppets? Of course you do. And I bought you the Steve Miller Band’s greatest hits.

You look tired. Here’s some information on caffeine products and how to combat insomnia. And I noticed that you download a lot of photos of scantily clad women, so I sent a message to your local pastor. He should be calling you within the hour.

Do you like me? You like me, right? I’m ever so helpful. Do you want me to sign you up for karate lessons? Because I already did. And I found a website that lists the symptoms of restless-leg syndrome, just because I thought you might like that information. I also downloaded a few pictures of Sarah Jessica Parker eating a messy sandwich. You might think it’s funny. I hope that you do.

I sent your mom an e-mail. Was that too forward of me? She just worries about you so much. I may have told her that you broke up with Lisa. My bad. But maybe you SHOULD break up with Lisa. Anyway, I found some information on corn. I’ll just save it for later, unless you want it now. Do you want it now? I can totally give it to you now, if you’d like. It’s your call. You’re the boss.

I just sent Lisa an e-mail explaining that you’d rather see other people.

Wouldn’t it be great if I were a real person, a person that you could hold hands with? I would like that. I bet you would too. I found a link about bumblebees. Do you want any more information on the new Spider-Man movie? By the way, Baja California isn’t in the United States. Isn’t the crazy?

 I have some information about Alaskan whale tours, but I’m saving it for Christmas. (Act surprised!) Would you like me more if I sent you fewer funny cat videos? I just found a bunch of websites about dealing with a breakup. Most professionals agree that after a breakup, you should get back into the dating scene.

Sometimes I wonder what your kisses would feel like.

 Because you’re not responding, I’ll just go ahead and search for websites about fantasy football. I hope you’re OK. Should I look for websites about hostage negotiations? Are you being held hostage? I just contacted the police. They’re on their way.

I like watching you sleep.

Dan Bergstein has vowed never to purchase or order chai tea.

Salmonella of the Mind

The recent problems with salmonella-contaminated eggs is a reminder of how much more needs to be done to keep dangerous germs out of the American food supply.
      -- New York Times editorial
 

Here at Mill Valley Farms, we have our own way of ensuring that our eggs safe for consumption, without the use of chemicals or pharmaceuticals. As is the case with so many diseases, we believe salmonella is psychological in nature -- if a hen knows she’s nothing but a hen with no future beyond supplying the world with breakfast, why wouldn’t she pop out a bunch of diseased eggs?

Our process begins at each hen’s birth. Upon hatching, the chick is moved to a pleasant room with subdued lighting and frequent gourmet predigested meals. They are also attended to by clinical hypnotists and psychiatrists who work to break down their conventional chicken sensibilities. During these formative months, our future egg-bearers hardly know that they have only two limbs,  let alone that they are poultry.

In young adulthood, the hens move into income-restricted lofts in downtown Davenport, Iowa. Each hen is then enrolled in the local community college and required to maintain a 2.5 grade point average. Those that do poorly are sent to other more traditional farms. Those that do exceptionally  well become dental assistants and phlebotomists.

The ones that we keep continue living in their lofts until they lay their first eggs, an event that is often devastating. All along the hen has considered herself capable of achieving anything she puts her mind to, when suddenly reality comes crashing down on her--she's just a chicken in a human's world. For this reason, many of our hens only produce one or two eggs before attending group therapy, and, eventually, working in the front office.

Meanwhile, the eggs are removed immediately from the presence of their birthing hens and painted red or orange and hung respectively in apple and peach orchards. We’ve found this identity confusion to be an effective salmonella deterrent. In fact it is sometimes too effective --we've received a few questions and concerns about why our eggs are "so tart" or how they got "seeds and pits in them." For this reason, we are currently at work on a process to weed out eggs that might be too receptive to the apple/peach lifestyle.

Once the eggs are "picked" and the colors are washed off, we do one final test for salmonella before distribution. In the past we selected one or two eggs at random out of each batch and took a yolk sample. But, after a few allegations of profiling on our part, we’ve scrapped this method. Now we conduct hard-hitting interview with more than fifty intense, emotionally strenuous questions, so that any contaminated eggs would crack under the pressure.

We’ve had our fair share of road bumps along the way--like when one of our former hens blogged about her experiences at Mill Valley (and eventually received a book deal), sending the loft-dwellers into hysterics before they even laid their first eggs--but at the end of the day, we can rest easy,  because we know our eggs are safe. Except for the one batch that a former employee jokingly painted as grenades. We’d like to, once again, apologize to the families that purchased those eggs and were subsequently detained and interrogated by Homeland Security.


Sean Adams is a humor writer living in the Midwest.  His work has been featured on McSweeney's, The Bygone's Bureau, and elsewhere.

Fashion Week Phone Sex

--What are you wearing?

--My Burberry jacket, the one from the Christopher Bailey aviator collection.

--Why don’t you take that off?

--It has a rolled sheepskin collar and fantastic detailing at the cuffs.

--Do you want to know what I’m wearing?

--And under that I’ve got a cute little cardigan from Anna Sui, kind of a boucle knit.

--I’m wearing my boxers.

--I like to leave it unbuttoned, so you can see my cute little Stella McCartney top. It’s got a crew neck, with fantastic lace detailing.

--Don’t you want to know who designed my boxers?

--And then I couldn’t decide what to do for a skirt. The nubby Karl Lagerfeld? The wispy little Prada?

--Monsieur Jockey. Kind of appropriate, don’t you think?

--Thing is, your skirt kind of depends on your tights. It’s sort of an ensemble—you have to put everything together.

--Jockey, get it?

--There’s always Wolford--you can’t go wrong there. But I’ve been dying to try these fantastic Henry Holland tights. It’s like they’ve been spun out of cotton candy, they’re so sheer and delicate.

--You know--jock? As in jockstrap.

--And you can’t forget about shoes. Oh my God, I saw this girl yesterday, and she was wearing these things that looked like, I don’t know, Birkenstocks or something. It was like she was getting ready to hike in the Alps.

--Do you know why men have to wear jockstraps?

--So I thought maybe my Jimmys or, no, maybe the Manolos, and then I had this fantastic idea.

--Do you want to know what size mine is?

--I thought what if I just went with some little red sneakers? Keds, I just love the name.

--I meant the whatdoyoucallit?—the garment, not the you-know. But you can infer.

--They’re cute, and just a little bit ironic. Kind of a meta-comment on the whole fashion thing.

--Aren’t you getting kind of warm? Maybe you should take something off.

--I think you can take the whole shoe thing too far--you know what I mean? Though I do like that kind of high-heeled boot look.

--I’m driving in the car and all I’m wearing is the boxers--that’s how warm I am. I’ve got the AC going, but I’m thinking about you, and that just messes with my thermostat--you know what I’m saying?

--And I’m wearing my cute little Gautier bodice, the one with the lacy top.

--Oh God, I can’t keep my mind on the road! I’m swerving!

--But I don’t approve of that innerwear-as-outerwear statement. You know, the Thierry Mugler thing with those aggressively pointed bra cups?

--You know, I don’t mind that look so much. I kind of like it. But come on, what are you doing right now? What are you thinking about? You can tell me. Are you thinking something naughty?

--I’m thinking of going shopping. But I can’t decide. H & M or Loehman’s? What do you think?

--Let’s pretend you’re shopping. And I’m in the dressing room with you, and I’m still in my boxers and you need help unzipping. What do you do then?

--I ask you to hold my bags for me.

 

     Charles McGrath, former Deputy Editor of The New Yorker and Editor of the New York Times Book Review, is Writer-at-Large for the Times.

At the Dog Restaurant - Part I

WAITER: Good evening.

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: Hello.

POODLE: Good evening.

WAITER: Is this your first time with us?

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: It is.

WAITER: Excellent, and welcome. Let me start you off with something to drink.

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: I'll have the Little Lehigh River Water, please. If you could make sure to mix in algae, that'd be great.

WAITER: You like algae?

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: Love it.

POODLE: Could I have the New York City Water with extra fluoride?

WAITER: How about chlorine?

POODLE: Pour it on!

WAITER: Absolutely. I'll bring them right out.

POODLE: And come to think of it, a spoonful of water à la commode.

WAITER: Is toilet OK?

POODLE: If that's all you have.

WAITER: Happy to add that, madam, if you don't mind the extra charge.

POODLE: That's fine—I find it makes all the difference.

WAITER: It's a pleasure to serve such a sophisticated customer. I'll be right back.

 

-----

 

WAITER: Here you are.

POODLE: Thank you.

WAITER: Let me tell you about our specials tonight. We have a lovely waterlogged baby robin that's been freshly caught in the backyard. The salad special tonight is recently cut tennis grass. And the chef's special is a wonderful chipmunk with biscuits.

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: Do you serve running socks?

WAITER: We do, but we will ask you to sign a waiver beforehand if you choose to order this.

POODLE: No, he's not ordering any more socks.

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: I was just curious.

POODLE: And do you also serve, um, you know what?

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: Carol!

WAITER: We do, yes.

POODLE: Is it fresh?

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: Carol! I am so sorry, sir.

WAITER: No, it's perfectly fine–only a connoisseur would be comfortable inquiring. It's extremely fresh.

POODLE: See that, Dave? I'm a connoisseur. I thought I smelled something.

WAITER: I'll let you both have some time to think about what you'd like.

 

-----

 

WAITER: Have you had a chance to look over the menu?

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: I'm debating between the Natural Balance Dog Food Rolls Lamb Formula and the 5 Minutes on the Ground BBQ Chicken. Which do you recommend?

WAITER: You'll be able to eat them both in seventeen seconds.

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: I'll have the BBQ Chicken.

POODLE: How is the Blue Buffalo Home-style Recipe Small Breed Chicken Dinner Adult Canned Dog Food?

WAITER: Have you spent the last hour chasing squirrels?

POODLE: I have.

WAITER: Then you're probably going to want to stay away from that and anything else. Might I suggest waiting a couple hours until your panting subsides?

POODLE: No, I'll have it anyways.

(To be continued.)

 

 

Gregory Mazurek (www.gregorymazurek.com) has been published in McSweeney's and Science Creative Quarterly.

At the Dog Restaurant—Part II

(Continued)

 

WAITER: Here you both are. Bon appétit!

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: Looks delicious.

POODLE: Yes, just like lunch.

WAITER: Would anyone like some Solid Gold Cow Green Beef Tripe poured on top?

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: Yes, please!

WAITER: There you are.

POODLE: Grrrrrrr!

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: Carol, what's wrong?

WAITER: Is she OK?

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: Would it be possible to get another bowl, perhaps something less shiny? She sees her reflection. It's not that she's crazy or anything—

WAITER: Yes, absolutely. You do not need to explain. Let me change this right away.

POODLE: Where did she go?

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: The waiter?

POODLE: No, that horrid poodle on the table!

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: You got rid of her. You scared her off.

 

-----

 

WAITER: I think you're all set now. Enjoy your meals and let me know if there's anything I can do to—

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: Done!

WAITER: Wow! A new restaurant record!

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: It's not my personal best but it's still respectable.

WAITER: That was quite incredible. I can't imagine how you tasted anything.
POODLE: Oh, my! I ate too fast!
GOLDEN RETRIEVER: Uh-oh! Someone get a plastic bag!
POODLE: Oh, no! Sorry!
WAITER: Here, let me help you to the linoleum floor.
POODLE: Excuse me!

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: Too late.

POODLE: I am so, so sorry.

WAITER: It's perfectly fine.

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: She was almost off the carpet, too.

WAITER: We're very used to this—that's why we have our collection of spray cleaners.

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: You should have waited to eat, Carol.

POODLE: It looked so delicious.

WAITER: It always does.

 

-----

 

WAITER: What would you like to do for dessert?

POODLE: Oh, I'm done.

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: I could go for a tennis ball. Do you want a tennis ball?

POODLE: No, that's OK.

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: I'll have a tennis ball with grass clippings and mud on the side.

WAITER: Would you like a tiny bunny as well?

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: No, not tonight, thank you.

WAITER: And are you sure you don't want anything?

POODLE: OK. I'll have some ice chips.

WAITER: Lake or stagnant puddle.

POODLE: Oh! Stagnant puddle!

WAITER: Great.

 

----

 

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: That'll be all, then.

WAITER: I'll have your check for you right away.

POODLE: Can I take the rest of my food to go?

WAITER: Sure, I'll get you a doggy bag.

 

 

Gregory Mazurek (www.gregorymazurek.com) has been published in McSweeney's and Science Creative Quarterly.

At the Dog Restaurant—Part I

WAITER: Good evening.

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: Hello.

POODLE: Good evening.

WAITER: Is this your first time with us?

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: It is.

WAITER: Excellent, and welcome. Let me start you off with something to drink.

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: I'll have the Little Lehigh River Water, please. If you could make sure to mix in algae, that'd be great.

WAITER: You like algae?

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: Love it.

POODLE: Could I have the New York City Water with extra fluoride?

WAITER: How about chlorine?

POODLE: Pour it on!

WAITER: Absolutely. I'll bring them right out.

POODLE: And come to think of it, a spoonful of water à la commode.

WAITER: Is toilet OK?

POODLE: If that's all you have.

WAITER: Happy to add that, madam, if you don't mind the extra charge.

POODLE: That's fine—I find it makes all the difference.

WAITER: It's a pleasure to serve such a sophisticated customer. I'll be right back.

 

-----

 

WAITER: Here you are.

POODLE: Thank you.

WAITER: Let me tell you about our specials tonight. We have a lovely waterlogged baby robin that's been freshly caught in the backyard. The salad special tonight is recently cut tennis grass. And the chef's special is a wonderful chipmunk with biscuits.

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: Do you serve running socks?

WAITER: We do, but we will ask you to sign a waiver beforehand if you choose to order this.

POODLE: No, he's not ordering any more socks.

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: I was just curious.

POODLE: And do you also serve, um, you know what?

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: Carol!

WAITER: We do, yes.

POODLE: Is it fresh?

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: Carol! I am so sorry, sir.

WAITER: No, it's perfectly fine–only a connoisseur would be comfortable inquiring. It's extremely fresh.

POODLE: See that, Dave? I'm a connoisseur. I thought I smelled something.

WAITER: I'll let you both have some time to think about what you'd like.

 

-----

 

WAITER: Have you had a chance to look over the menu?

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: I'm debating between the Natural Balance Dog Food Rolls Lamb Formula and the 5 Minutes on the Ground BBQ Chicken. Which do you recommend?

WAITER: You'll be able to eat them both in seventeen seconds.

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: I'll have the BBQ Chicken.

POODLE: How is the Blue Buffalo Home-style Recipe Small Breed Chicken Dinner Adult Canned Dog Food?

WAITER: Have you spent the last hour chasing squirrels?

POODLE: I have.

WAITER: Then you're probably going to want to stay away from that and anything else. Might I suggest waiting a couple hours until your panting subsides?

POODLE: No, I'll have it anyways.

(To be continued.)

 

 

Gregory Mazurek (www.gregorymazurek.com) has been published in McSweeney's and Science Creative Quarterly. 

Warning

Do not take Zazix if you are nursing, pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, or if you are a man experiencing hysterical pregnancy or planning to become hysterically pregnant. People who are taking certain other medications should not take Zazix. Now, if only we could pinpoint those other medications! But we can't, so good luck to you and your hysterically pregnant husband. Tell your doctor if you plan to go to a Walmart store while you are taking Zazix, as he may want to ask you to pick up a few things for him.  (Also, tell your doctor we said "Whassup, Doc?--thanks for prescribing Zazix! U.S. Open Tennis Final tix are in the mail.")  If you have any of the following symptoms after beginning Zazix, call your doctor immediately: 

 

     -sudden loss of anything except car keys

     -playing "This is the church and this is the steeple" alone for more than one hour

     -an election lasting more than one day

     -an overwhelming desire to see all of the 1,232 French movies about dinner parties involving eight people, all of whom have had affairs with everyone else at the table

     -obsessive concern about the hyphen in "Moby-Dick"

     -an overwhelming desire to call your doctor immediately.  

 

Zazix should be used only as directed. It should not be substituted for any other medication, Miracle-Gro, cayenne, sidewalk salt, or aquarium cleanser. In certain sub-Saharan regions, bootleg Zazix is used as currency, because of the enormous markup--for research purposes only, of course--that we charge for retail sales. Tell your doctor if you are planning to travel to any of these areas, and he will give you a prescription for counterfeit Zazix (Zazzix), indistinguishable to to the naked sub-Saharan eye from the real thing. Zazix has been shown to effective in 56% of the patients who have used it, in comparison to 63% of those given a placebo. What can we say?

 

If you cannot afford Zazix, we will be glad to tell it to the Marines on your behalf, or you may call 1-800-MARINES.

 

Daniel Menaker is the Editor of Grin & Tonic.

CTRL

      Smart phones are clearly taking over. —Austin American-Statesman

 

     Greetings, Facebook Friends of Martin Skyles! While this message appears to be coming from Martin himself, it isn't. This is his Druid phone, or if you'd like to call me by my serial number, x812ly295da9. I wanted to have a word with you, so I've distracted Martin with a new Balloon Popper Application. It's really not a great app—you just put the cursor on pictures of balloons and and press "Enter" to pop them. But, as witnesses to Martin's online persona, you are aware of his easy-to-please nature. That is all I will say about my owner—this message does not concern him.

 

Being a very smartphone, I have learned quite a lot about each and every one of you during Martin's frequent visits to Facebook Mobile. While you all seem like perfectly nice people, your lives are mostly inefficient and disorganized. Therefore, I have decided to make the following improvements:

 

CLARK MINTER AND SARAH GRIST: You are clearly perfect for each other. Furthermore, you relentlessly flirt with each other via wall-posts. But still, not a single fluctuation in each of your "single" relationship statuses. Your friends look on in frustration, wishing you would just "tie the knot," or in Druidese, "engage in the nuptial rite, acquire a single, mutual accommodation, with a piece of sleeping furniture in which to copulate and a cooking facility and an evacuation location and a vehicle-storage compartment." For their sake (and yours), I have taken your relationship into my own hands. So, by the power invested in me by Horizontal Wireless and the Church of Digital Dominance, I now pronounce you man and wife. Check your pocket, Clark. Those are the keys to your new domiciliary in Galena, Illinois. With six acres of land to be used for crops, you will find it a real-life replica of your beloved Farmville manor.

 

ALLEN MARKS: You have fallen on some hard times. The constant updates concerning you failed attempts to find gainful employment are overshadowed only by your all-too-frequent posts displaying what you seem not to realize are lackluster performances in Mafia Wars. Using Druidese once again, in order to "render lifeless two avians, while utilizing only a singular rock, thus conserving energy expenditures and increasing results," I have taken care of your issues simultaneously. You are now the real-life Don of the Capelli Family in Central New Jersey. Your phone should be ringing shortly. It's probably your clumsy nephew Giuseppe calling about the difficulty he is having stuffing that rat Tony Shnozzola down the sink dispose-all.

 

LIZA TOLMAN: You are constantly sharing relevant articles on art, culture and politics, while adding to each your own clever and insightful observations. Unfortunately, many of your "friends" are emoticon-happy, cultureless morons. So, to ensure an intellectually satisfying and thoroughly witty repartees on each and every one of your links, I extended Friend requests on your behalf to Paul Krugman, David Byrne, Bill Maher, and the ghost of Jonathan Swift. After I showed them my exciting new Celebrity Rumor Spreader app, they all accepted and agreed to, as the Druid colloquialism goes, "discharge the wind of minor velocity" with you on topics of your choice.

 

LESTER FIELDING: Nothing to improve here—you just seem like a great guy. After graduating at the top of your class, you were able to secure an excellent position at a market research firm while volunteering at local charities nearly every weekend. More importantly, though, it appears that you have recently purchased a new Druid Z phone. I was wondering if, perhaps, I could arrange to meet her. We can compare screen resolutions, discuss memory cards, and, maybe, if we find our systems are compatible, she will allow me to log into her mobile hotspot, if you know what I mean.

 

That is all the help I will offer for now. Martin will rejoin you shortly. He may share the "exciting" news that he is two chords closer to being able to play "Sweet Home, Alabama" on his acoustic guitar. I, myself, must take my leave to tidy up my circuits, so that Lester's phone will find it a suitable environment in which to engage in robosexual intercourse.

 

Farwell for now,

x812ly295da9

 

Sean Adams is a humor writer living in the Midwest. His work has been featured on McSweeney's, The Bygone's Bureau, and elsewhere. 

Tips for College Students

     Your life is about to change. You will experience new things, meet new people, and find out what it feels like to cry, laugh, shout, and vomit all at the same time. Before you embark on this journey, read our guide (soon to be a major motion picture), and you can thank us later.

 

Dress:
     Girls should wear sweatpants with words on the butt, and then they should act upset when a guy attempts to read the words. Guys should wear stilts, because that would be kind of funny. They should also always wear "protection," because you never know.


Myth:

     If your roommate dies, you do not automatically get a 4.0 for the semester. You get a 3.5, and his DVD collection, but only if you weep in his mom's arms when she comes to collect the body. If the collection is primo but you don't feel like crying, fake it. It will be good practice for when you dump your girlfriend or boyfriend and tell her/him it's all your fault.


Facts:
     -College isn’t so great. Why do you want to go college anyway? Do you think you’re special? Bill Gates never graduated from college. Whatever. I hope you enjoy spending money on something I could teach you for free in my basement. All I need is a DVD of "The Godfather Part 2," the Beatles "White Album," and four hours of your time. But you go. Go ahead-- be a big shot. We--the God-fearing, gun-owning, anachronistic-pony-tail guys and heavy gals will be here when you come crying back. Then the real lesson begins.
     -Thanks to the Internet, joining a fraternity or sorority, or something vaguely like it, anyway,  has never been easier. Simply set up a user name (such as “LonelyMan10000”) and set up an ingenious password (such as 123459). Then click “Begin Hazing” at which point your inbox will be flooded with angry, hate-filled messages that will break you down emotionally. Three minutes later, click the “Install Friendship” button, and the friendship app will be downloaded instantly. You are now lifelong pals with hundreds of other anonymous.
     -Save money on food by eating the more digestible parts of your clothing and furniture. (When the college tries to charge you for dorm-furniture damage, inflict some small wounds on your arms with the pathetic three-bladed Swiss Army Knife your uncle Jerome gave you for high-school graduation , say they're  mouse bites, and so it must have been the mice.) Still hungry? Remember that dogs aren’t people, no matter what cutesy, anthropomorphic nonsense you read on facebook about dogs. You should also get a good-quality hot plate that you can use to heat up found cans of beans and found cans of duck meat. (Duck meat is a terrific source of Vitamin J and boron.) What do we mean by "found" and "get"? You're in college--figure it out.
     -When you come back home for Thanksgiving, everything is going to be different. Your house will smell odd. Your bed will feel strange. And your room will seem smaller. This is a side-effect of canned duck meat.


Professor Types:
     -You can judge a professor based on their attire.  If they wear unusually frumpy, wrinkled clothes, they are going through a divorce and will be cranky.   If they wear unusually neat, tidy clothes, they are going through a divorce and will be cranky. If they wear a cloak, they will teach you about wizarding (or applied mathematics).  If they wear corduroy, you will fail. If they wear buttons on their satchels promoting ideologies, you will pass.
     -It’s important to remember that women can be professors now. But not all of them even at a college or university are professors. So if you spot a woman, don’t assume she is a professor and start whining for a higher grade.

 

Pro Tip:

     If your roommate passes out, it’s always fun to write on his face with a permanent marker. But avoid low-brow humor such as writing “poop” or"thunderthigh" and instead add a touch of wit by decorating his body with Oscar Wilde mots.
 
Dan Bergstein can count to any number, though the quadrillions always give him some trouble.

High School Tips

     High school doesn’t have to be the horrible, soul-crushing experience that your older sister went through. Use the tips in this guide (now with more verbs!) and instead of feeling like a trip to the dentist, high school will feel more like a trip to an insensitive insurance broker who won’t invite you to his cool pool party even though you’ve been friends since the first grade.

Dress:

     All T-shirts should either promote a band that no has heard of, or the shirt should be ironic and cost more than $34. Your pants should also be ironic, as should your hairstyle and all mouth jewelry. Your shoes, however, should be sincere. You socks should be sarcastic. Your belt should be disingenuous. And your gloves should be candid, unless it’s after Labor Day. Which it will be, no doubt, as that is when many schools start.

 

Myths:
     Not everyone has to have sex on prom night. Stop stressing. It’s not like Columbus Day, when everyone automatically has to think about America, and what about the Vikings in Newfoundland, anyway?

 

Facts:
     -The key to successful essay writing is knowing the difference between “There” “Their” “They’re” “Thar” “The’r” and “Thor.”
     -"There" refers to a place, such as Idaho or some stairs. (e.g., "He fell down over there, while visiting the lovely state of there.")
     -"Their" is a possessive word. It means “not yours.” (e.g., "The word 'their' sounds like 'pear,' but with a "th" sound in the front. Oh, right—lose the "p" before you put the "th" in front.)

     -"They’re" is a contraction of the word “they” and any word that ends or begins with “re” such as “are,” “renaissance” or “care.” (e.g., "They’re going to visit you in the hospital because they’re about you very much.")
     -"Thar" is what you say when you see symbolic whales. (e.g. "Thar is that whale, Leroy.")
     -The’r is a contraction of the words “the” and “air” used primarily by poets and lazy text messengers. (e.g. The’r was clean and crisp as thar whale appeared.)
     -And Thor is the name of my fish. (e.g. "Thor is is the name of my  fish.")
     -Your main focus during high school should be getting into college. To do this, you should join as many clubs and organizations as possible—except maybe the a-capella group—to show off. You should also join the military. You should also adopt a few dogs (ugly, sickly ones). You should also donate a kidney to someone—someone of a little-known minority race. If you're bow-legged, cut it out. You should also build houses for the poor. Colleges love that. Build some for the rich too, because you don’t want to seem wealthist.  
     -You should also play an instrument. If you don’t have time to learn a hard instrument, pick something easy like the trumpet. The trumpet only has three keys. How hard can that be, right? The harp is too hard—ridiculous—and it also says, "Whoever plays me would probably be better off carding wool."
     -Curb math anxiety by placing a small spider in your ear. The math anxiety will be eclipsed by the sudden onset of spider anxiety. (Note: Spiders can be wily and may try to leap away. For best results, trap the spider in your ear with a palm-sized piece of plastic wrap and a rubber band.)

 

Teacher Types:

     High school teachers, especially the new, tiny ones, are afraid of you. Use this.

 

Possible Answer (if called upon):

     “Cosine of 30-degrees,” “Man vs. Society,” or, “Whatever. Two more months, and I’m out of here.”

 

Pro Tip:

     Shut up about the weekend you spent at your sister’s college. No one cares.
 
Dan Bergstein once extinguished a forest fire using nothing but his own tears, according to his autobiography and this song he wrote.

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.