OMG! Here we go! A full seven months away and Bryant Singer dropped a BOMB on us today with the new Trailer for X-MEN: FIRST CLASS 2: DAYS OF FUTURE PASSED.

The whole world is losing their minds, and JUST when you thought you couldn’t hyperventilate any more about the pure awesomeness of the whole 2 minute, 18 second trailer, I’m about to drop the eight biggest secrets about the trailer that you PROBABLY missed!

X-Men: First Class 2: Days of Future Passed

X-Men: First Class 2: Days of Future Passed

Let’s get right to it! Potential SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!!!!!

1) There might be more than two Professor Xaviers.

Oh sure, both James McAvoy and Sir Patrick Stewart are playing the same character from two different time periods, but there was a JAW-DROPPING three seconds where the TWO Xaviers are both played by Stewart. Don’t believe me? Then who is the guy in the foreground talking to?? I suppose the post-credits sequence of the third movie can let us assume more than one clone of Xavier was made.

"You're handsome." "No, you're handsome."

“You’re handsome.” “No, you’re handsome.”

2) Iceman has a multi-colored-hair fetish.

What?? Ellen Page is back as Kitty Pryde, and she’s sporting a brand new hairdo. Check it out!

Your hair is so hot right now

Your hair is so hot right now

As you recall from X-MEN and X-MEN 2: X-MEN UNITE, Bobby Drake courted young Rogue through her tumultuous years at “Mutant High,” and she absorbed physical traits from Magneto at the end of the first movie, e.g. his white hair. (GROSS OUT ALERT: Now that Michael Fassbender plays the character Magneto, technically that means Rogue could have absorbed his well-known monster dong, too. Bleck!) So Rogue sports brown hair with a white streak for two movies. And here, IN THE FUTURE, Iceman is comforting Kitty Pryde, who is strutting around with brown hair with a red streak (possibly to honor the now-dead Jean Grey?). At least the guy knows what he likes!

3) Wolverine’s mutant powers might be gone in the future.

As we saw in X-MEN ORIGINALS: WOLVERINE, Logan grew into a full sized adult in the 1860s and lived another 130-140 years without changing much, physically speaking. In this trailer, he has gray hair on his temples (possibly to honor the now-dead Jean Grey?), which demonstrates that the film takes place no more than another 15-20 years from the end of X-MEN 3: X-MEN STANDING. After all, Xavier and Magneto are still alive, putting them both in their 90s. But how would Logan suddenly be much older and have gray hair if his healing factor was still with him? If you didn’t see this past summer’s X-MEN 4: THE WOLVERINE, this is an even greater mystery.

4) Christian Slater and SNL star Bobby Moynihan have cameos as future versions of themselves.

The next great buddy teamup!

The next great buddy teamup!

More like, PUMP UP THE AWESOME, am I right? Singer must be a huge fan of both of them to give them supporting roles, or maybe they’re such huge fans they begged for a seat at the table. Either way, we likey some Slater and Moynihan!

5) There is a cadre of NEW MUTANTS featured.

Go, Go, Power Rangers!

Go, Go, Power Rangers!

If you sneezed, then you might have missed them. Bishop, Warpath, Sunspot, and Blink, two of which are known EXILES of their own time periods, show up in the post-apocalyptic setting. Anyone familiar with the comics knows these characters are FORCES to be reckoned with. Aside from our core cast, we haven’t really seen a band of mutants of such a CALIBER. And with all these mutants being featured, this is looking more and more like a GIANT SIZE movie. Without a doubt, the scope of Bryant Singer’s story is nothing short of ASTONISHING.

6) In the 1970s, Logan’s veins are literally 3/4 inches in diameter.



Holey sha-moley. That can’t be healthy!!

7) The X-Men of the future travel to a place outside time and space to accomplish their mission.

Snowy mountaintops? Looks like the Himalayas! Funky stone carvings? Looks Egyptian! Stained glass chapels? Looks European! Perhaps in the Nexus of Time, different geographies and cultures will merge. Maybe we’ll see a Burger King in the background of one of the reverse angles! Who knows what Bryant Singer has cooking for this epic!!!!

8) Mystique, who clearly prefers to go without clothing, wears a wristwatch.

How else could young Magneto scrape her along the concrete with his powers over magnetism? Conveniently, her wrists are out of frame for this cut of the trailer, but it has to be there. Her wearing a wristwatch would also fall in line with Singer’s use of motif. Much like his use of a Southwestern motif in X-MEN 2: X-MEN UNITE, this film’s motif is obviously going to be Time itself. Look for clocks all over this thing.

Come to Magnus

Come to Magnus

We’ll be spending the next few weeks combing through this trailer frame by frame to find out more secrets about the new movie. We’ll be sure to update this page with our findings. Stay tuned, X-fans!

X-MEN: FIRST CLASS 2: DAYS OF FUTURE PASSED, directed by Bryant Singer, opens May 23, 2014.

Three Contestants Enter, One Giant Hamster Exits

This is it, folks! After six grueling months, we’ve whittled down 30 contestants to the final three! We’ve witnessed tests of stamina, shocking betrayals, delicious Mexican meals, and even some forbidden love between spouses on the other side of the arena wall. Tonight, the final three will square off in the battle stadium for the right to enter the Metamorpho Chamber and become America’s Top Giant Hamster of 2013! Let’s get reacquainted with our finalists, proudly presented by Taco Bell!

First up is Derek Montoya of Kansas City, Kansas! Derek was seen as an early favorite to win the competition this season, exhibiting extraordinary speed and agility and winning 8 of the first 13 endurance challenges. He outpaced other competitors in the Hamster Wheel by no less than ten seconds each time, he completed the Taco Tube Maze a record three times without ever phoning a friend, and no one else could name more U.S. Presidents from memory than he could. Derek’s successes on the field awarded him seven pellet bonuses, two whisker trophies, and a record fifteen pounds of cotton which he used to make suitable bedding. Plus his victories earned his team three delicious FourthMeals in the early weeks of the show. His military training surely contributed to his physical dominance, but I wouldn’t discount his daily 4-hour exercise routine as an excuse to avoid that crazy wife. Let’s recall that Derek’s wife, Jean, was the first audience member in the show’s history to threaten other contestants with a crossbow live on-camera.

Our 2012 winner, Rebecca Shwinke, attending a celebrity charity event last month

Our 2012 winner, Rebecca Shwinke, attending a celebrity charity event last month

Our second contender is Denise Gauershot. She is from Lebanon, Pennsylvania and was considered an underdog throughout most of the year. She was placed in the Coffee Can of Expulsion nearly seventy percent of the time in the first half of the season, but she always managed to avoid a complete Burial. She became a fan favorite after she got into a heated argument with Buck Langdon after losing the Water Bottle Management team challenge in week 6, finally telling him off for the way he stole his teammates’ tasty Chips and Guacamole. Buck Langdon was a fierce competitor and it seems like after he was sent to the Coffee Can and then Buried, Denise filled the void he left behind. She ended up earning her team four chewing stick rewards, two pellet bonuses and three hours in the Hamster Ball.

Finally, we have Chet Polecki from Buffalo, NY. Chet played in the NHL for the Sabres for a total of 13 minutes before a career-ending injury involving a sharp skate blade and his remaining testicle. While he never played professional hockey again, he adapted to the world of sports as an eunuch with a renewed sense of competition and a laundry list of testosterone supplements. He underwent a number of extensive surgeries and months of rehabilitation only to later explode as a world-ranked Iron Man and Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating competitor. His charity, Ball Strong, has raised nearly $41,000 in the last 12 years to benefit other professional and semiprofessional hockey players who have lost their single remaining testicle to horrific accidents and sometimes cancer.

The Taco Tube Maze hours before the audience was let into the stadium

The Taco Tube Maze hours before the audience was let into the stadium

Since Chet’s appearance on the show, Ball Strong raised nearly $2,400 in donations, and only a third of that money came from donations of plasma from family members and homeless guys who accepted a 30/70 offer up front. Chet has become an inspiration to viewers everywhere, only appearing in the Coffee Can elimination once, winning a record seven Wood Chip Tasks and being a true leader to his teammates in the Weekly Taco Bell Crunchy Gordita Value Meal Challengizer Event.

Tonight, Derek, Denise and Chet will take one more trip through the five-story Taco Tube House Maze, have another go ’round in the Hamster Wheel Steel Cage Arena, and face off in the Beefy Burrito Endurance Match. Now that we are in the finals, the intensity of this competition has reached Critically Hot salsa levels, which can only be satisfied by awarding just one of our contestants a year’s supply of icy and refreshing Pepsi Max. In the end, just one player will make history and be crowned champion. Only one will Live Más as an enormous crepuscular rodent with a brand new beach house in Santa Barbara! Only one will become… America’s Top Giant Hamster 2013!!

Join us after these tasty words from our sponsor!

Where I pre-write all of the comments I will leave on students’ work for the year and only use once, part 1

I start teaching 6th grade next week, and I still have a lot of preparations to make! Today I started pre-writing all the comments I will write on my students’ returned homework assignments and tests. The toughest part is knowing I can only use each of these once per year. I’ll need thousands, but here’s the first small part of my list:

Great job!You're killing it!


Half credit — didn’t show work

See me after school!

Remarkable improvement! Keep it up!


Please apply yourself. You’re smarter than this!

Nice try. Lincoln never publicly commented on Douglas’ looks.

Pirates can be sea captains. Not all sea captains are pirates.

OJ Simpson ran for over 11,000 career yards.

I like breakfast for dinner, too! +1

The President was born in Hawaii. Lose two points.

Spooktacular effort!

I don’t know what it means, but Geronimo was never referred to as 1337.

If you’re going to be racist, at least go all in. -1

Good first poem! Try rhyming more. (ABAB or AABB)

Banquo’s ghost, NOT Slimer. -3

Very creative! +1

a² + b² = c², duh.

MAXIM is not a valid “book” on which to write a “report.” Zero.

Have your parents sign this and return to me!!

Use blue or black ink from now on, please.

Good use of “niggardly”! +1

Well done! Merry Christmas!

Your third paragraph is just a 125-word run-on sentence. -3

???? What is Quidditch???

Wonderful summary of last year’s Oscars race. Has nothing to do with The Resurrection of Christ.


This was an open book test!! Do better!

Statement contradicts your thesis. -2

Fine use of the Scientific Method!

Did you even read the assignment?

Egg-cellent work!

Insightful but boring essay. Rewrite, add more explosions. B-

Roommate Wanted!

Well, folks, it’s that time of year again. Less than a month before Autumn begins and I’m about to lose yet another roommate!  Throughout the last ten years, I’ve had exactly ten people tell me during the month of July that they were moving out in September. You can set your watch by it, and by “set your watch,” I mean “open your monthly calendar to July and circle the date printed on today’s issue of USA Today.” Let’s face it, sometimes it’s during the first week of the month, sometimes it’s the middle, and some hang in there right to end. So when August rolls around, I try to make our last few weeks together worth something special before I’m left to find someone new to share this cozy little dumpster behind the Shop N Save.

What is it about Summer in this man’s America that makes people want to up and change everything? Every year, I search for a roommate to share this place with me and keep costs low. I set up multiple interviews with the likely candidates so we can get to know each other and discover how we would function living in the same space. Once we feel we are a match, they move right in and we’re off to a strong start. We get into a solid routine, we get used to each other’s habits and quirks, and we look out for each other. I feel I’m pretty adaptable and I know I have extended myself to get along with the person who “splits the rent” with me. I’ve had three girlfriends, one boyfriend, a med student, two different mimes, a business partner, a Rhodes Scholar, and an old man who I’m pretty sure (well, 40% sure) was a version of myself from the future all move in with me in September, and by the following July it’s “Sayonara, Chester! I’m giving you approximately 45 days notice!”

The Neighbors

The neighbors lost their home AND guest house recently

Am I just having an Alanis moment when I realize that in same the month the Colonies declared their independence from the Brits, my roommates always declare their independence from me and this dumpster?

Ten years, ten roommates. I’d be crazy to think that they are always the problem and I just didn’t see it. Sometimes when you’re the one looking for a problem, the best place to find it is in the mirror. And I suppose that means I should go buy a mirror, and maybe some fresh linens. And some scented candles.

But was it really just me? My instincts tell me there has to be other factors instead, but when I go through them one by one, they all seem like pretty flimsy excuses. For example, I think maybe they don’t like the close quarters, but they knew the place was small and cozy when they agreed to move in. Maybe it’s because I spend a lot of time at home, but we didn’t have three interviews at Starbucks AND Seattle’s Best AND the Wal-Mart parking lot without me mentioning that I’m a homebody and kind of agoraphobic. You know, Woody Allen is agoraphobic, and he’s a very famous and successful man. Maybe their sense of adventure diminished over time and they just couldn’t bear the thought of one more year in this place.  This place is absolutely an adventure! The city changes the twice-a-week pickup schedule every six months, lots of strange people try to rummage through our belongings, and holding a dinner party presents its own set of trying but not impossible challenges. One of my ex-roommates lived for two years in a tent in the Gobi desert! Surely she could handle this place, right? Then again, there is nary a dinosaur fossil to unearth around here, so I can see how it’s not the same type of adventure.

Parking is hard

Parking’s a little tough around the neighborhood

I guess I have to accept that their feelings changed and I can’t do anything about it. It’s not any one thing; it’s not me and it’s not this apartment. Eventually the appeal to split the rent diminishes and the urge to move on bubbles to the surface. And when I say “split the rent,” that’s just my euphemism for splitting the meat of an alley rat that inevitably becomes a midweek dinner. Free meals, very few expenses to speak of, and all the sky in the world to enjoy. Yes, it’s about as “alternative living” as you can get in this urban environment. Who wants to live in a four story walkup with it’s own set of problems?

Two years ago, I deeply considered moving out of this place myself, but after thoroughly weighing the pros and cons, I realized that staying here was my best option. Here’s just a taste of what I came up with. PRO: Adjustable skylight/moonroof. CON: No in-unit laundry. PRO: Most meals are taken care of on the cheap or for free. CON: Difficult to stay “heart healthy.” PRO: It’s very easy to meet and get to know the neighbors. CON: Floor is made of steel. PRO: Automatic twice-weekly maid service. CON: No HVAC system. PRO: Little to no expenses for upkeep. CON: Walls are made of steel/hard to hang pictures.

As you can see, the pros far outweigh the cons. I’ve grown accustomed to my minimalist lifestyle and I don’t think I’ll be making a change anytime soon. This is the life for a select few in this world. And my previous ten roommates — while enthusiastic — discovered it was not the life for them.

Whoops, forgot my wallet. Meet you at the car.

My old fishing buddy, Robbie, said maybe I should leave this time, too. He says maybe I’ve simply become attached to this place and I should try out something different. He tells me I’m too close to this place to ever see that sticking around here year after year could be damaging my sense of self worth. On paper, that sounds like an interesting perspective. And you know, I trust Robbie with my life on and off the fishing boat, but he’s too dumb to realize his mechanic has been nailing his wife Janice for the last three years. How much perspective can he really have?

Anyway, these classified ads are expensive when you’re paying by the letter, so any interested parties please call me at the listed number to set up a time to meet and see the place. Good day!

Tackling Common Myths

Albert Einstein once chatted up an unseemly New Jersey woman in a saloon, regaling her with his stories about trolling through New England with Neils Bohr, a man who would be Einstein’s academic nemesis but closest drinking buddy. At the end of the night, he gave her a napkin with his phone number (Woodcock 781) and the following quote, “Information is not knowledge.” Einstein was always concerned about the spread of information without context, application, and reasoning.

Today, we’re in the Informational Age, where humanity has never had greater access to all of the world’s knowledge. As more people “go online” and “Check-in at Jamba Juice,” roadblocks to information continue to break down, unless of course you’re a Chinaman. Nearly any bit of data can be Bing’ed at a moment’s notice. Want to know all the Olympic medal winners of the 1980s? Just Bing it. The names of all the satellites of all the planets in our solar system? It’s Bing time. People Magazine’s Sexiest Men Alive in 1942? Let me Bing that for you. (Hint: It’s Josef Stalin.)

A Default Bing Search

These are facts that can be quickly listed, indexed, and stored for lightning-fast access from any number of sites within Bing’s reach, all of them corroborating each other’s facts. And even still, there are many things The Internet, and — by proxy, people — gets wrong. It is less about undeniable and measurable truths, and more about the anecdotes, conjecture and tall tales that folks like to spin to sound like some Clever Carl.

Did you know there is a stunning number of people who still believe a penny thrown from the top of the Empire State Building could strike and kill a passerby, even though we all learned about terminal velocity and wind resistance in our physical science classes freshmen year? And even though The Truth is Out There on Bing, it’s still a common misconception, an old wives’ tale that is usually passed along from mother to daughter after silly questions about dandelions or the hipster bands that were on this week’s installment of Yo Gabba Gabba!

So today we’ll tackle some common beliefs that still pervade our collective consciousness in this modern post-9/11, Web 2.0, synergistic, blogonet society.

Spell it out for us, Bing!

1. The “Snap, Crackle, Pop” you hear when you pour milk over a certain brand of toasted rice cereal is actually the sound of small discharges of ozone.

FALSE. This patently false claim came from, of all places, NASA scientists circa 1965! The true origin is lost, but the widely accepted theory talks about some kind of practical joke from the aeronautics upper management team to fool the ladies in the steno pool. They warned the beehive-haired ladies to never allow their children or husband to eat the cereal without first dousing it in milk or cocoa water, lest their loved ones might suffer a stroke or a temporary case of Brain Float.

A darker account describes a purposeful, overt attempt by the scientists to spread misinformation and propaganda to the populace of certain communist Asian cultures who enjoy rice products, but there is no evidence that it ever had any impact across the Pacific.

In 1994, the U.S. Congress put together a commission to study the phenomenon. After three years and $89 million, it turns out it was the fragile, crispy walls of the toasted rice being destroyed by the change in temperature when the cold milk was added. Kellogg’s capitalized on the sound in their marketing campaigns with, “The Rice That Toots,” only to change it after 14 months to “Snap, Crackle, Pop.” Still, scores of people, particularly in rural parts of the country and in towns within a small radius of Johnson Space Center, still perpetuate the ozone story as fact. Sales of the cereal are relatively poor compared to top-selling Fruity Pebbles (which were never made from any sort of soft stone) in these regions.

Rumors need to be verified

2. As a young boy, George Washington chopped down a cherry tree with an axe and he confessed to his father after being confronted with the evidence, exclaiming “I cannot tell a lie!”

MOSTLY TRUE. For nearly two centuries, elementary schools across the United States and Bhutan have recounted the story as a lesson in ethics. The moral of the story: take responsibility for your actions and do not lie about them. (Most teachers are quick to point out that blaming the dog on unexpected flatulence is one of the rare exceptions to this morality line.) The details get a little mixed up until you dig deeper.

It is true that the Washington family’s Virginia land was littered with cherry trees and young George had taken an axe to one. But it wasn’t Washington’s father who confronted him over the act, but Bartram, the family’s house negro. Bartram found the dead tree’s remains in his quarters after supper on a summer evening, the six foot branches sprawling out from underneath his bed. He knew George often planted evidence of his troublesome pranks and vandalism to shift blame toward an innocent, which is why Bartram’s father’s shins were burned with scalding hot spoons a few years prior.

Bartram confronted the boy in the field where George was practicing his golf swing, and after much denial, George challenged him to a distance challenge. If the servant could hit the ball farther than young Washington, the boy would confess his crime. George was actually horrible at golf and he had the strength of an eight year old, so his ball traveled no more than thirty or forty yards. Bartram, on the other hand, hit the ball so hard that it nearly fell out of sight near the horizon where the future President could not see it. Impressed, young George Washington stated, “I cannot tell the lie,” and conceded Bartram’s win. Washington then confessed to his father and Bartram was not allowed any food until the next sunset.

Now we’re talking

3. Homo sapiens share 95% of their DNA with unicorns.

FALSE. Humans share 98% of their DNA with chimpanzees, but the relationship to unicorns isn’t as close. To clarify, we do share 96% of our DNA with cows, 50% with bananas, and a staggering 12% with most Buick models. There is a misconception that a unicorn is simply a pretty horse with a narwahl horn jutting from the forehead, but they are more complex creatures than that. The facts have been muddied over time and it can difficult to separate them from the myths. There is near-universal acceptance that unicorns actually share traits of other species, like the beard of a goat, the tail of a lion, and the mane of a silverback gorilla, but those are some of the most ridiculous “facts” that have been scientifically proven false.

There is confusion about some of the other truths, so let us break it down. Yes, some breeds of unicorns can fly (akin to some Northern Reindeer) and all can survive up to six minutes on the surface of the moon. It is also true that unicorn blood can be used for emergency transfusions for people, but the usual side effects make the procedure risky. One out of every twenty cases results in the recipient’s soul transported to the Plane of Wailing, and only five percent of those people return mentally unharmed.

Anecdotal evidence suggests most recipients also experience Hysterical Lactation within 24 hours.

50,000 people type this exact search phrase every day

With the unicorn population in sharp decline since 1900, there have been limited opportunities for proper verification. As you can tell, it would take even some of the most industrious Bing user a few hours to work through all the websites out there offering conflicting information. But to answer the myth: Bronx Zoo scientists completed DNA sequencing from tissues of the last unicorn held in captivity (Lula, who perished by choking on errant fairydust in 1943) and concluded human and unicorn DNA are only 8% alike. Common traits are related to having two eyeballs and the capacity to feel jealousy.

The results of scientific studies and accurate historical facts often take a back seat to bedtime stories that are repeated every generation. Separate the facts from the myths, as Einstein would, or you may end up like Richard Nixon, who famously lost Final Jeopardy! in 1985 with his question, “What are Lee Jeans?”

The Official FAQ for my Mr. Ed/Quantum Leap Fanfiction Series, “Quantum Ed”

1. What is this?

This is the Official FAQ for my Mister Ed/Quantum Leap fanfiction series, “Quantum Ed.”

2. What is “Quantum Ed”?

“Quantum Ed” is a fanfiction series that combines the popular late 80s NBC sci-fi show “Quantum Leap” and the 1960s CBS show, “Mister Ed.” It is currently nearing the end of its second season of 22 episodes.

Quantum Ed

Quantum Ed Season 2 “cover art”

3. How many episodes are there?

Season 1 had 12 regular episodes and a 13th that was almost double in size. Season 2 will end up at 22 regularly sized episodes.

4. Who are these characters?

You can get complete dossiers on the main site where you can read detailed biographies on Sam, Al, Ziggy, Gushie, Mister Ed, Wilbur Post, etc.

5. What is with all the shorthand and acronyms all over the descriptions, etc?

It’s just easier to use acronyms instead of typing long phrases out a million times. Here’s a guide that should get you through most of it:

QL stands for Quantum Leap, usually also referring to a season and/or episode. ME stands for Mister Ed. QE is my show, Quantum Ed. For example, if an episode of Quantum Ed takes place right after QLS1E11, and right before MES1E6 then it would fall right after Sam’s main storyline Leap in Quantum Leap, Season 1, Episode 11, and right before all the action seen in Mister Ed, Season 1, Episode 6. BE stands for “Before-Event,” which is a reference to a nearly cataclysmic event that occurred in the beginning of QES2 but that also solidified Sam’s place in Mister Ed canon. You’ll often see editorial notes referring to previous episodes or memories that are either BE or PE (Before-Event or Post-Event).

6. Post-Event. That’s clever.

Thank you. 🙂

7. Do you adhere to established continuity for either show?

My show, “Quantum Ed,” is designed to fit into the continuity of both shows without affecting the ‘canon’ of either one.

8. How is that?

The magic of time travel! And Sam’s Swiss cheese memory. And Mister Ed’s penchant for keeping things close to the vest. Sam leaps in and out of the Mister Ed-iverse multiple times throughout his time-traveling career. As we’ve seen, he leaped 15 times during QLS1, 3 ‘lost’ times sometime between QLS1 and QLS2, and now 15 times during QLS2.

9. In Quantum Leap, Sam leaps into the lives of people all around him. Why would he still leap into the lives of Ed, Wilbur, and all the rest?

Why wouldn’t he? Everybody needs saving, and sometimes more than once. The great thing is that Sam leaps in and out of their lives at different times.

10. Season 1 and Season 2 of Quantum Ed seem to have different feels to them.

Good catch! Season 1, as with most of my fanfiction series, was designed as a one-off season where Project Quantum Leap and the Mister Ed-iverse found themselves inexorably linked multiple times. Because of the series’ huge popularity, I knew it would survive at least another season. But as a careful reader will notice, more time and care has been taken to establish a ‘mythology’ and some overarching storylines for season 2.

11. How far ahead have you planned?

My dream would be to have 5 seasons, mirroring the run of the original Quantum Leap, but I’ve plotted out most major points through season 4. If we’re still going strong at the start of QES4, I will have set up a sweet story that will take us to the end of QES5. And it is extremely doubtful we’ll see beyond season 5.

12. So who is this guy Sam keeps Leaping into?

Jack Barnes. Jack is a neighbor of Wilbur’s and Roger’s, who technically shows up late in MES5 for one episode, but was never a major character. But just because Jack never appeared in the first four seasons doesn’t mean he wasn’t around the whole time. It’s the same reason we never see Ed talking to Sam during MES1 either. ;-).

13. Any chance we’ll see any other Leapers?

Some readers have posited that the reason Wilbur and Ed continue to need Sam’s help is because of another unseen Leaper. Stay tuned to find out what’s really going on!

Ed and Al

Ed and Al: True Friends

14. So Mr. Ed never travels through time?

Well, even Al Leaped in QLS4, so anything is possible. 🙂

15. I have a great idea for a story/episode/arc….

I can’t accept unsolicited submissions, but if you want to have a discussion off-site about how you can contribute to the Quantum Ed-iverse, I’d be happy to chat. Skype me or drop me an e-mail anytime. I’m not against talented individuals helming spin-off mini-series type things, but the stories would have to match my vision for the series, and that’s not exactly clear to the readers. 🙂

16. I have a theory….

Check out the forums (they’re free to register and use) and discuss your theories with other fans. I like hearing what you guys think is really going on, and I’ll often tease some info for the upcoming episodes.

17. Will Sam’s next Leap ever be the Leap Home?

The last episode of QLS5 kind of prevents that from being permanent. I’d like to think that Sam makes it home one day, even for a short visit. Stay tuned..!

18. Ed and Al seem to be kindred spirits these days. Did you plan that all along?

Sometimes characters and their relationships evolve while you’re putting words on the page, and you can’t do anything but just let it happen. So, it wasn’t my original intention, but their relationship just became so perfect as the series progressed. When I have to write an Ed/Al scene, I just get out of the way and let the characters do all the work.

19. In QES2E02, Sam Leaped into a character that was stuck underneath a bunch of rubble after a big earthquake. Did he Leap into Ed?

Sam Leaped into that character for only a few minutes, but that was all that was necessary for the purposes of that character. We’ll revisit that Leap in the future, but I’m not saying when. All will be revealed by the end..!

20. Thanks for this FAQ.

Thanks for reading!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Batman 3 Dark Knight Sequel, Casting, Title, News and Rumors

Batman!Welcome back, kids! This post will serve as the authoritative source for all things related to the next Batman movie, so keep it bookmarked!  The Innernet’s been abuzz about some definitive news coming out of Hollywood about the final chapter in the Batman Begins Thrillogy Trilogy. Director Christopher Noland has let loose some facts to finally add to the dearth of info and quash some rumors that have circulated since 2008’s cash-swollen earner, “Batman Begins 2: The Dark Night.” Warner Brothers must have put the pressure on him after he spent two years crafting the commercial and artistic flop that was this past summer’s “Inception.” So when the boss starts hounding you, you get to work!

Let’s start by getting to the meat of what we do know.

OUT! Joseph Gordon-Levitt so far has not been cast as the Riddler, and Noland has rejected all rumors about the Riddler showing up in the movie. But I’m still holding onto hope that he’s handing out red herrings and we’ll get an appearance by a more cerebral and reserved Riddler, rather than the cartoonish version Jim Carrey brilliantly portrayed in the Burton/Schumacher Fourpeat Quadranglogy. Now I’m just spitballing here… as a nod to that series, Riddler could have a connection to Two-Face, like they were brought together in a Big Brothers program years ago and Harvey Dent mentored a young Edward Nigma.

Tom Hardy and Joseph Godron-Levitt

Badass. Now put them both in a Batman movie!

IN! Tom Hardy, who made a name for himself in 2002’s “Star Trek: Nemesis,” has been cast in an unnamed but pivotal role. Rampant nerd speculation favors him to be playing one of three different roles: Mister Freeze, Mad Hatter, or Joe Chill. The underdog favorite, of course, is Nightwing. Some have said he could play Alfred’s son OR Alfred from 40 years ago, but I don’t know if Noland is ready to introduce time travel into the series. I figure the time-traveling Pennyworth angle is bunk, because Noland probably wants to get away from the sci-fi aspect, like in the second film with Joker’s overuse of teleportation.

MAYBE! Speaking of… there has been no talk of the Joker whatsoever, and Noland has stated the third film will feature a new villain taking center stage. Seeing as Scarecrow showed up in the first act of The Dark Night, though, might we see a Heath Ledger cameo in the third movie? The director has been mum on that so far, but let’s not waste too much time on it just in case he has a surprise in store for the fans. Bringing the Joker back would be nothing short of legendary.

RUMOR! Gene Hackman returns as Lex Luthor! Well, “returns” might be a stretch, since he was never in a Batman movie, but the idea that Noland could shoehorn his epic Batman series into the same universe as the Richard Donner Superman films is three parts mind-blowing, two parts mega-ballsy, and one part extra-brilliant. Hackman’s camp has so-far denied any committed involvement in the franchise, but actors have to play coy until they actually sign the contracts. I just don’t think there is a better way to reintroduce audiences to Lex Luthor than by having him set up shop in Gotham in the next Batman movie, played by the man who redefined the character for the ages!

Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor with Christian Bale as Batman

If only!

TITLE SPECULATION! I guess we can rule out the long-running favorite title, “Batman Begins 3: Trial of the Riddler,” for obvious reasons. I still think Christian Bale’s Batman on the Prosecution team trying to put Riddler behind bars would be epic, because it would be a battle of wits never before seen on film. Imagine the Riddler going all In Propria Persona up against the Batman while Gotham’s protector growls that in stopping Riddler from destroying the city’s financial infrastructure, breaking his collar bone was de minimis. Anything’s possible… so why can’t a Batman movie be a courtroom drama? And you know the judge would have to quiet him every time a witness swore the oath. “Swear to mmmmeee!!!!”

The other popular title that’s been preferred by 2 out of 5 geeks is, “Batman Begins 3: Nightfall,” where the story could feature Bane (Tom Hardy??) breaking the back of Gotham’s hero, only to see Azrael (Tom Hardy in a dual role??) step in an take over the mantle of Batman, just as we saw in the comics in the early 1990s. To do this story right, Christian Bale would probably only be featured in the film for maybe 20-30 minutes total, maybe just bookending the movie in the first and third act. The franchise is getting kind of old and audiences are growing tired of Bale’s Batman, anyway, so using Azrael would allow for the franchise to continue with a fresh, new Batman in place. That way, Bale and Noland don’t have to worry about making more installments together. Don’t tell anyone, but I probably wouldn’t mind if Commissioner Gordon was transferred to Coast City or somewhere in between the second and third movie so we can move on from that character, too.

Other titles that have made the rounds but Noland and Warner Brothers won’t comment on is “Batman Begins 3: Enter Clayface,” “Ventriloquist Rising,” and “Revenge of Killer Croc.”

Maggie Gyllenhaal

T-.5 seconds to awesome

OTHER THOUGHTS! “Batman Begins 2: The Dark Night” was a pretty bland Batman movie, but it did have some great scenes like the Lower Wacker Drive chase and the explosion of Maggie Gyllenhaal. Audiences came in droves and plunked down big money to watch Gyllenhaal get obliterated in IMAX, so a third movie was inevitable. But how does any filmmaker top the demolition of the old Brach’s Candy factory (A U.S. landmark if there ever was one, which also doubled for Gotham General Hospital), Gyllenhaal’s funeral pyre, and a teleporting psychopath in white facepaint? The Batman rogue’s gallery is full of fun and interesting villains, like the Penguin, Poison Ivy, and Calendar Man, plus great supporting characters like Robin, Batgirl and Catwoman. It has to be incredibly difficult for an auteur like Christopher Noland to decide which ones to include on his probable final entry in the franchise. Does he bring in Talia Al Ghul and pick up where the first movie left off, or does decide to move production to Rome and again pretend the exterior of Gotham City is the same as the other movies? Will he keep the story closely related to the Batman mythos, or does he play ball with Warner Brothers and let Ryan Reynolds make a cameo to bridge the release of “Green Lantern 2: Green Lantern Lives,” the purported sequel to next summer’s inevitable smash hit, “The Green Lantern?”

More news is certainly going to be coming down the pipe in the next few months, so stay tuned for all the latest Batman talk while we sort through the news and rumors! Don’t forget to post your theories and wish-lists for the next film. And be sure to check out my original review of BB2: The Dark Night when you get a chance. Thanks for stopping by!

Diabetes Medication Commercials Are Biased

A Typical American Family Watching Television

A Typical American Family Watching Television

I read books. But I also watch television, and plenty of it. To say that I actively monitor and follow 46 television shows during the usual Fall to Spring television season would be no hyperbole. Forty-six! Do you know how much of that can be classified as hour-long? Seventy percent!! I track shows broadcast on network TV, cable, pay channels, and specialty package cable! So when it comes to having a finger on the pulse of America and a hand in a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, let’s just say I’m the freaking best. And being the best means navigating the entertainment world with a sharp eye, keen button-pushing reflexes, and the stamina of a Golden Glove winner. Seriously, try keeping up with even 10 shows a season and you’ll realize how much work it really takes.

Anyway, some of these shows I watch live, so I can’t perform the now-classic DVR Commercial Skip Maneuver™. It’s like I’m watching TV in 1999, and I get to experience television commercials the way the sponsors intended. Quiz me about Five Dollar Footlongs, Biz Stain Fighter, and soda swilling Ursus maritimus, and I’ll have your head spinning with my lightning-fast recall of advertising factoids. One thing I’ve gleaned from my incredibly obnoxious intake of television is that ads can come off a little biased against one group or another. Sometimes it’s a gender bias, like the AXE Body Spray ads where they depict hot women as complete nymphomaniacs who have somehow contracted Group Rapemind™ when they detect some layabout wearing AXE. On the flip side, commercials for almost every household cleaner, banking service, frozen meal, and color printer feature a shlubby guy ignorant about something and his attractive, smart, and confident wife comes in and teaches him a lesson and reminds him who really wears the pants. Just imagine an ad with ten dudes ripping off a woman’s clothes because she smells nice, or imagine a husband talking down to his dolt of a wife who didn’t know one doesn’t have to make appointments at Jiffy Lube. There would be rioting in the streets! Bias, and sometimes even extreme prejudice, can seep into the media messages.

Let’s not forget that famous 1997 vacuum cleaner spot where the one guy calls the other guy a faggot in front of his mother. By today’s standards, it’s hard to believe that ran for 6 months and won a CLIO.

Another thing I’ve noticed while giving in to my disturbing habit is that all diabetes medication commercials are extremely biased against people without diabetes. None of these ads talk about how the medication could affect individuals who have no need for it, which makes it feel like only certain people are targeted in these ads. Some spots talk about how you can get free blood sugar testers if you have diabetes and are on Medicare. What about the folks who don’t have diabetes, you say? Is there an avenue for them to get free testing equipment? You’d never hear about it in these commercials!

Of course, advertisers have certain demographics they want to reach. That’s why you normally won’t see Fruit By The Foot commercials during CSI: Miami and you won’t often see Cialis spots during reruns of iCarly. However, diabetes affects nearly 1 in 10 Americans, plus the 1 in 6 who are basically pre-diabetic, so I think everyone has a stake in folks getting all the facts. Something must be done against these biased commercials. You might say that if I don’t like the commercials, then I can turn the channel or not patronize the companies, but that sounds defeatist.

USA!The truth is racism in America isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s only growing and there is nothing we can do to stop it. But one thing we can do is get the word out to make everyone understand there is bias in our diabetes advertisements. I think we can agree all Americans deserve to be addressed in the spots, not just the ones with the illness. Once everyone is on the same page, we can begin to move beyond the dark age of diabetes medication commercials. So let’s all do our part make this country great again so I can get back to the newest episode of Burn Notice.

Slumdog Millionaire: A Touching Fairytale

Warning: This review contains extensive spoilers!! So if you have not seen the movie and you don’t care if you find out about major plot developments, like who lives, who dies, and that head-scratching twist ending, READ ON!

Run, Latika, Run!

Run, Latika, Run!

Well folks, it’s that time of year again, Academy Awards Season. And while I’m sitting here at the 1-hour cleaners getting my tuxedo dry cleaned for my big Oscars viewing party that I host every year, I thought I’d whip out my brand new MacBook and put together a review of the film I saw yesterday. Because I’ll be honest, since seeing Slumdog Millionaire, I can’t stop talking about it. I’ve been going on and on about it to my friends, co-workers, and doorman. Sha’nandra, the checkout girl at the A&P, also got an earful from me today about how amazing this movie is.

Never before has such an uplifting and beautiful tale been presented on celluloid. Without a doubt, it is a masterpiece that pulls at the heart strings and reminds you about the best parts of youth and humanity.

Slumdog Millionaire is about a young Mexican man’s battle with poverty, sibling rivalry, love, and game show hosts. It opens with a ringside seat to a young contestant’s final trivia question on a particularly popular game show. How does he win the big bucks? How did he get here? What will he do with those winnings? But before we learn the answers, we are whisked away to a Mexican jail, where the same young man is, how would say…exposed to enhanced interrogation techniques. Superstar director Danny Boyle isn’t afraid to get right in your face immediately with some inhumane acts. Fine, you think to yourself, you’ve got my attention, Mr. Boyle. Now impress me. And for the next 117 minutes, he does just that.

The jailed victim is Jamal Malik, a young man being held on suspicion of cheating on Mexico’s most popular game show, “Who Wants To Be Un Millonario?” We learn that even the brightest minds in the country — scholars, philosophers, and scientists — never make it past a handful of questions. But Jamal has made his way to the top, one final question away from 20,000,000 rupees. The police sergeant has some questions for Jamal about how he could know the answers to such a wide range of questions. What is so odd about Jamal defying all the odds? He comes from the poorest area of Mumbai, Mexico, which is not known to produce geniuses with extensive world knowledge or the technological know-how to cheat on a game show in this day and age. As Jamal and the sergeant watch the show taping from the night before and go through each question, Jamal describes how he knows about famous actors in India, Native American poets, ingredients in a Shepherd’s Pie, the original members of the Justice League, and so on. Many amateur storytellers forget the sage advice passed down from their creative writing professors and acting coaches, “Don’t tell me, SHOW ME,” but not Boyle, who neither forgetful or an amateur. He shows us exactly how a young Mexican ‘slumdog’ knows so many amazing disparate trivia questions by taking us back to events in Jamal’s childhood where he picked up this information. (Slumdog, by the way, is a Spanish word imported from the British term “slimedigger,” which is — as we all know — a term commonly used to refer to poor street urchins who used to scrape the slime from underneath roadway cobblestones to sell to soapmakers for 2 bits and a slap in the face.) Each answer in Jamal’s mind is not simply a trivia fact he picked up on the back of cereal box or a discarded New York Times; each bit of information has its own backstory, replete with drama and explosive character development. Boyle uses the flashbacks, in a tip of the hat to TV’s LOST, to weave together a complete picture of our protagonist.

Lens Flare, or something else entirely?

Lens Flare, or something else entirely?

We see Jamal as a young child and a preteen, growing up on the streets with his brother Salim and their companion Latika. Like thousands of other poor Mexican youths, they must survive with only a few tools at their disposal: one part cuteness, three parts wit, and probably a dash of health insurance with a presumably high deductible. Boyle keeps the tone mostly light, but with a hastened pace. The kids grow before our eyes and their inner natures become heightened. Latika always does what’s necessary to survive. Jamal enjoys more and more the companionship in his life. But Salim derives too much pleasure from manipulating strangers and his younger partners. In one pivotal scene, after a hard day taking advantage of ignorant American tourists, they celebrate the spoils of their work, enjoying burritos and nips of alcohol. Now older and enjoying the taste of greed, Salim, once his brother’s rescuer, betrays Jamal’s desires and sends him away.

You root for Jamal and Latika to reunite after being split apart twice by Salim’s machinations. Salim’s actions were once to protect his hermano and they later devolve to only protect his own interests. But Jamal is unable to not love his brother, and the power of his optimism and capacity for compassion is what brings Salim to finally act in Jamal’s interest. After the hardships they all endure, each of them finds redemption, whether in becoming a game show champion, or in the arms of their soulmate, or in an artistically over-the-top death in a bathtub full of cash.

We Can Dance If You Want To

We Can Dance If You Want To

It’s a fairytale about young love, set against the backdrop of the Mexican streets where survival means taking advantage of all opportunities as they come along. Well, for as long as they have the means to beam it onto a giant screen, you will have the opportunity to see this uplifting story for anywhere from five to twelve dollars per viewing. Please do yourself the favor and run, don’t walk, to the theater!

And yes, it’s not a perfect movie. Like any work of art, it has its problems. For example, the uniquely designed narrative structure lifted from the popular television show LOST that I mentioned earlier is cheap, but forgivable. The utterly strange native dialect that I couldn’t pick one word out of, despite four years of high school Spanish, takes you out of the story a little bit. Oh, and the big twist ending that had everyone in the theater texting WTF? Turns out, they were all ghosts.

Anyway, my tux is ready. After the Oscars, be sure to come back to check out my wrap-up special and sign my letter of petition to get Paul Blart: Mall Cop onto IMAX screens. See you next time!

Our Warp Drive Problem Requires A Sexy Engineering Solution

Sorry, is there a problem I can solve for you?

Engineering problems? How about I give you a hand?

Being an engineer on a starship is at once an extremely difficult and incredibly fulfilling profession. Interstellar travel requires you to know so many levels of physics and math and mechanics that go way beyond the standards for inter-atmospheric propulsion. We’re talking about traveling at multiples of the speed of light through space! It’s no easy thing. I’m not even qualified to be Chief Engineer; I’m still years away from being good enough for that level of responsibility. So I spend most of my days monitoring, cleaning and calibrating plasma manifolds and anti-matter injectors and power relays. But do you want to know the best part of the job these days? Whenever there is a major engineering problem, especially with our quantum warp drive, it usually requires a sexy solution.

Last year, a consultant joined our crew after one of our more harrowing adventures through this vast frontier. She has made a tremendous impact in all areas of the ship, including Engineering, Communications, Navigation, and Astrometrics. Also, one hundred percent of all major Engineering problems she has worked on required some sort of sexy solution. She is utterly brilliant and extremely attractive, and she has this grace about her that reminds you of a ballet dancer. She moves so calmly and smoothly, never with any unnecessary movements. When she solves problems and saves the ship from near disaster, she practically glides through the ship, fluidly entering rooms with unmatched poise. Her brains and beauty and crisis management skills are so damn sexy.

Our Consultant

Would you like to see my scans?

Take last month, for example. We made a detour from our original course to travel through a Class 2 nebula and get some sensor readings because our goofy captain just looooves to do scientific exploration at every turn. To our horror, the nebula turned out to be a sentient being that quickly enveloped us and completely shut down our systems by draining power from the ship. We could not communicate with the creature at first, and everyone in Engineering was scrambling to figure out how to escape before we lost life support. But then our cool-headed consultant fired up a console and noticed a pattern in our sensor readings. She correctly determined that the creature was trying to communicate through minute radiation bursts off our port side. She recommended that we manually adjust the frequency of our shield harmonics to simulate the same patterns to tell the creature we meant no harm. I went with her deep into the narrow conduits with my portable phase inducer to make the proper adjustments, but those trips always require unusual contorting body movements, forcing us to reach and stretch deep into the panel to make any changes. The way she had to bend over the neutrino collection tube and twist her torso to reach the power nodes was beyond sexy.

Listen, I’m not just some perverted grease monkey.  Just about everyone on the ship agrees with me on this. No one has any illusions about her skills and intellect, but she has other assets that get the job done. She is the most intelligent and analytical person the ship, but there is more going on with her. And I swear, I think I once heard our female captain say to her over the communication system, “Report to the bridge. We have a problem and we need your sexy expertise. Your sexpertise.”

There was an incident two weeks ago where the characters on our holographic simulation theater became self-aware for, like, the tenth time in three years. They basically held the Commander, our Captain’s second-in-command, hostage. We were locked out of all hologram systems and time was running out to save him. Well, Engineering powers the entire ship so our department had to come up with a solution. We couldn’t cut power to the holo-systems without frying the circuits on half the ship because our feedback redundancies were turned off. But our consultant was monitoring the situation and determined the leader in the holo-sim, a character called Al Capone, was directly linked to all system interfaces. If we deactivated him, we could restore control to all ship systems and save our Commander’s life. But how do you kill a hologram? She said a magnetic field inverter placed on Capone would destabilize his program and destroy him, but it was impossible to get close to him without Capone killing the Commander. Fortunately, Capone had one weakness: “foxy dames with killer gams.” Enter our consultant in heels and a slim red dress with a slit that went all the way up. Some playful banter and two holo-tinis later she was able to slam the inverter onto his chest and deactivate him, saving the Commander. The sexy solution wins again.

Ready to consult for you.

Reporting for duty

She really has got it all, but even she is not perfect; every now and then she loses her mind and tries to kill everybody on board. But I suppose one would have the occasional psychotic episode after being disconnected from a hive mind of billions and have to explore your humanity while serving on a starship that is nearly destroyed every few days by astrological phenomena and aggressive weirdo aliens with proton cannons. It’s fortunate our captain can talk her down from the ledge when necessary, because our brilliant life-saving engineering maneuvers wouldn’t be nearly as sexy.

I don’t even have time to describe what happened last week, but let’s just say this. In saving the ship from some photonic-based lifeforms that invaded our infuser coils, she ended up drenched head to toe in warp coolant, and I had to hose her down with decontamination fluid to make sure she did not suffer any ill-effects.

Yes, life on a starship can be both hazardous and monotonous for a low-level engineer, but the excitement and sexy problem-solving that comes with the territory makes the job all the more worthwhile.

50 Things To Do Before I Go Splat

It may sound so trite, but the recent assassination attempts on my life have really given me time to realize that life is a precious gift. I now understand that we have limited time on this earth and that we should strive to do new and exciting and unique things every chance we get. Upon reflection, I see that I haven’t done much of anything noteworthy with my life. This is not counting my highly successful humor blog or my 1141 lbs. prize winning pumpkin at the county fair last year (Take that, ol’ man Weatherspoon!) which came in 2nd place (I’ll get you next year, Farmer Todd!).

After considering that, I spent a good deal of time on the Internet and I became inspired some of the brilliant goals people set for themselves in their lives. I decided that I should also make a list of the things I need to accomplish before I die. I don’t want to be an old man and have a bucket list that I race to complete before the end. I want a huge motherfucker that should take years to finish. With any luck, I should be able to get most of it done before I turn 40, the age where I will be long overdue to be dead and buried. Many of these are more like chores, but others satisfy my impotent sense of adventure and personal curiosities. I would not doubt that some of you would have a few of these crossed off your list, but these are things I feel I need to do. I will cross them off as they are completed.

Here are the first 50 items in my soon to be extensive list (in no particular order):

  • Tour through Europe
  • Acquire a passport
  • Grow a handlebar mustache
  • Attend the Source Awards
  • Master the rock the cradle move with that damn Yo-Yo
  • Read War and Peace
  • Throw myself from a plane, float gently to the ground
  • Slay a wolverine (rabid or sleeping)
  • Adopt a highway
  • Run for City Dogcatcher
  • Spit on Derek Jeter
  • Make a hole-in-one
  • Sit through an entire poetry slam without leaving early
  • Get a tattoo
  • Attend a Beck concert
  • Build, treat, later burn down a deck
  • Visit a nude beach
  • Support the troops
  • Eat 50,000 49,983 chocolate chip cookies (cumulative)
  • Watch, review the entire Jim Carrey oeuvre
  • Maintain ant farm for 2 weeks
  • Meet Jared Fogle
  • Have my portrait painted
  • Sink a hole-in-one (mini golf)
  • Witness sunset from the highest natural point in Kansas
  • Buy 10 shares in Google
  • Shame first born in front of his/her mates
  • Get back hair lasered off
  • Mail a chain letter
  • Count the number of licks to the center of a Tootsie Pop
  • Meet Internet girlfriend face-to-face
  • Build 1:3 scale model of St. Louis Gateway Arch out of Lego
  • Interview Maya Angelou
  • See “Cats”
  • Bowl a 295 or better
  • Listen to own heartbeat with stethoscope
  • Have a Napa weekend
  • View all Academy Award Best Picture winners
  • Learn how to make my own pasta
  • Perfect butterfly stroke
  • Attend a World Cup match
  • Determine once and for all if I am allergic to clam chowder or just clams, if either
  • Befriend a Jew, black guy, and a fireman, walk into a bar together
  • Visit all Major League Baseball stadiums in one season
  • Judge a beauty or talent contest
  • Go 365 364 363 362 consecutive days without accidentally biting my tongue
  • Participate in guerilla marketing for a cell phone company or oatmeal product
  • Study and master the Waltz, Lambada, Charleston
  • Visit the pyramids in Egypt
  • Have a fight set to techno music

And there we are! The first 50 of many great things I will accomplish before I die! Keep checking in on the list over the years to see how I’m doing with it. I am adding to the list as time goes on, but I’m not posting them right away. If any of you have some amazing and unique experiences you think I should do to further expand the fullness of life, your suggestions would be very welcome!

I Was A Target Of Assassination!

Not My Wife. Yet.

Not My Wife. Yet.

So, after my startlingly successful post over a month ago about Sarah Palin’s MAXIM cover, it seems like I dropped off the face of the Earth. No new posts since August 29 and barely a peep out of me otherwise. Speculation has been running rampant through the blogosphere, and as each day passes, the rumors get more and more outrageous. I thought I’d set the record straight on some of the more plausible, but still completely false, rumors. I did not, in fact, decide to retire after my highly successful 7-week run at humor blogging. Nor did I run off and elope with model/actress Gemma Atkinson. I did not, in fact, get a job with Carnival Cruiseline as a Morale Officer. I did not, in fact, return to college as president of the Delta Gamma Beta sorority (more specifically, I am not a 20 year old co-ed).

I should just leave it at that and be on my way, but it seems that the masses will never stop clamoring for more Free Soup With Purchase. So even though doing so may cause me to relive some emotional stress, I have decided to let everyone know where I have been. I will tell you in six words or less: I was a target of assassination! And while I survived, I have not done so without some scars to show for it. These past few weeks have been mentally and physically brutal, but I would say I am stronger for it. Without exaggeration, this has been the most harrowing and stressful time of my life!

The first attempt on my life begins six weeks ago this past Friday. While I was hard at work scanning and retouching my completely legitimate MAXIM issue that featured a sexy Sarah Palin on the cover, I enjoyed a hearty sandwich piled high with extremely American ingredients, including but not limited to delicacies such as orange cheese slices, Oscar Mayer bologna, and mayonnaise. It wasn’t until a few hours later on the racquetball court that I realized something was wrong. I doubled over in sudden pain after a particularly good volley, confused and worried that I was in my final moments of life. Fortunately, I was with my good friend, Broadway actor Anthony Rapp, who dialed 911 and got me to the hospital in time for an emergency surgery. Little did I know just how hearty that sandwich was; it contained a foreign substance that would have easily removed all stability in my digestive system. The staple of what keeps my health together was put in jeopardy, and I could have experienced a painful death. Luckily, the surgeons took care of me and said I would be back on the court in no time. Like with all of my celebrity friends, I do not mention Anthony on my blog, and he has always asked that I keep our association off the blogosphere. But I think it is more because I handily beat him in racquetball nearly every time we play.  Either way, I owe the man my life, and I must give credit where credit is due. He is my hero and I would not be here if not for him.

Assassination Attempt #1

Assassination Attempt #1

Now, you might think that the poisoning of my sandwich was an accident. I mean, it happens. How many times have you accidentally put some sort of office supply between a few slices of lunchmeat? “Enough,” you might reply, and so would I! That’s what I thought; this was just a simple mistake that turned deadly. I didn’t suspect assassination until days later, when attempt #2 occurred!!

I was released from the hospital after a few days to recover and I took a cab home. I stopped off for a quick walk through the park to take in the fresh air and reflect on my renewed value for life. Satisfied that I took in enough nature and annoyed at the stupid chirping birds everywhere, I set off for home. I arrived at my apartment on the second floor and unlocked the door. As I pushed it open, I noticed a few small twigs had become entwined in my shoelace during my walk. So I bent forward to pull them out and I pushed the door open wide to make room. That’s when I heard a click and suddenly three large arrows plunged into the door right where my face would have been. Now, I knew I hadn’t set that booby trap since Christmas ’04; someone else had to put that together when I was in the hospital!

Shaken, I called the police and they investigated but could not come up with any clues. I mentioned the sandwich incident and they said I may have become a target. It made some sense, but I couldn’t think of why. I had no known enemies, I hadn’t angered anyone recently who might seek revenge, and with my mounting debts I’m technically worth more alive than not. It was reasonable to assume no one stood to benefit from my demise!

I decided I would be cautious and more attentive, just in case the theory was true. And for two solid weeks it seemed like everything was fine. Nothing was different about my life. My highly successful part-time dog walking service was steady, all the regular gals showed up at Bingo night, my whore ex-wife was still dead. I managed to convince myself that maybe I really did set up the flying arrows booby trap before the sandwich incident. I’ve been known to sleepwalk and sleepdance, why not sleeptrapmaking? Finally after a few weeks, I could unclench and relax. Everything else was normal, so it was time for me to get back to my life without constantly looking over my shoulder.

Turns out, I was wrong. Dead wrong. After a particularly hazy night full of Midori Sours and LSD, I woke up early to start the morning walks. No matter how hard I party, my customers come first. Spot and Miss Periwinkle certainly can’t walk themselves! Hungover and with only one eye open to guide me, I made it into the bathroom. I reached though the shower curtain to turn the shower faucets on, looking forward to a hot scrubbing. Then I turned and took a look in the mirror and suddenly felt a cold gooeyness under my foot. I leapt backward in shock, remembering that I firecely vomited there after I got home the night before, and at that moment a large arm with a huge knife swung out of the shower. Had I not jumped backward, I would have been adding my own warm gooeyness to the bathroom tile.

Seeing only red, I leapt at my attacker and pinned him to the tub floor with the curtain between us. I pummeled him with the might of half a man in my blind frustration and anger. I began hearing a thumping beat as I swung wildly, and the noise became more and more melodious as I suddenly recognized it. It was the old A-Team theme song, and I realized it was coming from me. I was humming it to pump myself up as I laid waste to my assassin. Once he stopped struggling, my humming stopped and I peeled back the curtain to reveal a huge and unconscious German-looking man. I covered the tub drain and put some water in the tub. When he woke up, he saw me standing over him holding a hair dryer, which was plugged in the wall.

“One false move, and you’re fried,” I said with an added bit of gravel in my voice. He nodded that he understood. “Now start talking.”

He explained in his German accent that he was hired by some so-and-so crime boss in Latvia to come kill a man with my name. This man had stolen a ton of cash from the Latvian and now he was to die. One strong piece of intel he had was the target had once attended Lincoln Community College in southern Iowa. Well, I did in fact go to that school, but there was another guy with my exact name and we went there at the same time. Class registration was always a problem for us, let me tell you! Me in his Physics class, him in my Music Appreciation class, etc. I told Mr. Assassin that he screwed up his research and he had the wrong guy. I showed him an old yearbook, my bank statements, and my hilarious blog, trying to convince him of his error. He considered it, glanced around my apartment, and he concurred he made a mistake.

I told him that if he still intended to kill me because I saw his face, I was ready to defend myself. He quietly said he would not attempt any harm. When I asked him why he would let me live, he glanced over at my computer monitor and then looked back at me. There was a small sadness in his eyes. He patted my shoulder and slowly walked out the door without saying a word. Over on the monitor, the Sarah Palin MAXIM picture on my highly successful blog stared at me. Then it made sense. But when I recount this story to others, they tell me it was out of pity, and not the prospect of robbing the world of my incredible humor and talent, that the German spared me. I choose to believe my theory, and not the one of my bastard friends and family.

So, my friends, this last month and a half was especially tough, and you have all been great just hanging in there waiting for me to return. I am alive and well, and I will likely be spending much more time here to continue giving you the only gift I can.

You can thank the German for that.

Sarah Palin – MAXIM Cover

Good luck, Barack Obama. The race for President just took an interesting turn. I don’t have to remind people of McCain’s stunning Veep pick today. It was out of left field, but then again John McCain has been known to defy conventional wisdom and buck the system. That reflects well with his choice of Gov. Sarah Palin, who has also often played by her own set of rules in fighting corruption and running the state of Alaska. Even during her campaign for governor in 2006, she decided to appeal to the young voters by giving an exclusive interview and pictorial with MAXIM Magazine. See the cover below. I’m sure McCain’s people took this into consideration when they vetted her.

Sarah Palin in Maxim

Sarah Palin in MAXIM

They Ruined My Script for Airplane!

You know, as a young man, I never would have even believed that I could ever become a bitter individual. I always believed that you get dealt your hand dealt in life, and sometimes you’re ahead and sometimes the other guy’s ahead. I was never the type to begrudge someone else for their artistic success. That is, until Airplane! came along. Curse Jim Abrahams and those Zucker brothers!

Back in the 60s and the 70s, I wrote some of the most memorable dramas in Hollywood. Love Letters From Spain, Love In Madrid, The Spaniard Said He Loved Me, and Delicatessen Love, just to name a few. The Zucker brothers came to me and told me they wanted to give heavy drama a try; they wanted a love story they could sink their teeth into. So for $20,000, I wrote the first draft of Airplane! (it was called Love On An Airplane, then) for those idiots two years before it was released. But to put it simply, they took my script and destroyed it. You won’t see my name anywhere near that movie; once shooting began, I had my name redacted. The first draft is largely what you saw in the final product, except the Zucker brothers turned my serious drama about a young couple’s attempt to rekindle their diminished love amidst a potential airliner disaster into a pie-throwing farce. Just about all of my characters can be seen in the movie, but the Zuckers turned them into cartoons, their personal tragedies transformed into supposedly humorous situations.

What kind of airline is this?

What kind of airline is this?

Ted, the Air Force veteran-turned-cab driver races to the airport to find his love Elaine, who is ready to leave him after years of unhappiness. He catches her before she boards the flight bound for Chicago as a flight attendant (we would have called her a stewardess in those days), and she rejects his plea to give him another chance. Realizing how his life has taken a bad turn since his decisions during the war led to the death of his entire squadron, Ted Striker seeks to find the happiness Elaine’s love once gave him, but she cannot wait for him forever to get over the sins of his past. It’s the classic love story, but Abrahams and the Zuckers perverted the story and used it as a device for silly gags and “ironic” jokes to ensue. The characters’ flaws were exploited as a way to get cheap laughs that didn’t even make much sense. Okay, Ted is long-winded. He tries to sort out his post-traumatic stress and neurosis by talking to other passengers, but how could a woman just hang herself in the cabin? And where did that one fellow get a gasoline can? Ludicrous.

True Love.

True Love.

Captain Rex Kramer, Ted’s foil played by Robert Stack, was a man filled with tragedy and a bloated sense of self-hatred. That is why I chose to depict him rejecting religion and social issues as he walked through the airport. His self-loathing is so strong that he believes it will never change. He believes he cannot save himself, but he ends up guiding our protagonist Ted through the difficulty of saving that plane full of people. But Kramer was not supposed to strike out at his potential saviors, he was supposed to feel utterly defeated by the time he reached his destination and ignored his chance at finding redemption. Only then was he supposed to put up his air of confidence, a flawed leader in disastrous times. But the Zuckers clearly could not stand Robert Stack exemplifying this tragic figure through his acting, oh no. They had him beat all of those people up as some sort of joke. Simply ridiculous.



My script had it all. The hardened doctor (Leslie Nielsen) who tried to keep the passengers and crew together in times of crisis. The child traveling for a heart transplant, who represented that even the innocence of humanity can be victim to a cruel hand of Fate. I actually had the jive-talking woman, played by Barbara Billingsley, in there. But in my original draft she used her knowledge and abilities to bridge the cultural differences between the plane full of white people and a couple of negroes. But what did the Zuckers do when the passengers lose control and scream themselves silly at the thought of their own doom? They go ahead and flash naked breasts on the screen! Lunacy! The representation of man’s realization of his own flaws and resistance to his inevitable demise before he can fix his life’s mistakes cannot be – nay, should not be – obscured by hot tits!


Surely, you can't be serious!

McCrosky, played by Lloyd Bridges, had a serious drug problem in my original script, just like you saw on the screen. But it was an internal battle, not something that he openly and repeatedly mentions to his co-workers. What you didn’t see was which of our heroes on the ground was enabling McCrosky during the crisis, and guess what? You’ll never know! What’s the point on that big reveal, anyway? A strong ensemble was originally developed to help our flawed heroes in the air make safely to Chicago. But all of the characters are played for laughs, forcing some of Hollywood’s most well known and respected dramatic actors to do vomit jokes and act like buffoons.

Johnny had the darkest backstory of all

Johnny had the darkest backstory of all.

I can’t say for sure if it was the Zuckers’ intent all along. Perhaps it was always their goal to take a brilliantly written screenplay about two powerful themes, love and inevitability, and transform it into a bunch of gags that I’m sure got heavy applause from their fraternity brothers. It makes me sick to think my art was turned into that wildly successful comedy that grossed over $80 million back in 1980. Christ, if only I didn’t take my name off that script I would have been rolling in it. But to protect the integrity of my profession and my art, I cannot live with that regret. Besides, $20,000 went a looong way back then.

I suppose, though, just like I could never ever write a childish screenplay like that or The Naked Gun, perhaps the Zuckers could never really embrace heavy drama. Perhaps they tried to force some personal growth on themselves and later realized they could not fight their true nature, as immature pot-smoking manboys who will always play and never take life seriously. We cannot fight who we are, it seems. But that still doesn’t change the fact that they ruined my script for Airplane!!!

Believe It or Don’t!

Welcome to Free Soup With Purchase’s first installment of what is soon to be a wildly popular segment, Believe It or Don’t! I’m pretty sure I ripped off the name from a Jim Davis Garfield book. Not the title of one of the collections, but it was the title of a segment for some strips or some bit in a treasury book. Without Googling it, or really caring either way, I’m going to confidently say that’s exactly where I got it from. And it’s highly probable that the genius who is Jim Davis was not the first person to ever use that particular turn of phrase.

ANYWAY, this segment will deal with some seemingly startling supposed fact, and you, humble reader, can do what you wish with that information! Okay, ladies and gentleman, here it is:

I plucked at least 25 nose hairs today while watching a Star Trek episode… using only my hands.


(And you don’t have to go and Google the phrase and then tell me where it was used. No one likes a little bitch.)

Gut Check Time!

Alright boys and girls, it’s gut check time! Get pumped! Get primed! Who-rah!

The battle is nigh, bitches! You heard me, I said nigh! In mere minutes our mettle will be put to the test. You need to give 150% at all times, do you understand!? There is no backing down! There is no giving up!!

Everything we’ve trained for is staring us in the face like a bengal tiger ready to leap up at us and rip us open! They leap right for the neck, but we’re ready for that! You duck and weave and strike! STRIIIKE!!!! DO YOU FOLLOW ME?! That tiger has got nothing on you, because you’ve just sharpened your bowie knife on some granite and you are going to SLICE and DICE a motherfucker from jugular to gentials!

Everybody, did you shotgun your Red Bull?! Lewiston, down that damn Red Bull before I come over there and put you over my knee! That’s right, Lewiston, I’ll spank you in front of the gang and you’ll be crying for your momma before I’m done with you! You need all the strength and energy you can muster! Find that determination and hang on to it! You need all the pistons going if you want to stand up and win on this night!

WHOO-RAAH!!! You are not stupid! You are not weak! You are better than any of those bed-wetting little girls out there! You are going to crush them under your boot and you are not going to feel sorry for them. They wanted this; they know what they signed up for! So you go out there and you give them what they are asking for! You all have your assignments and you all are the best at what you do! And at the end of the day, only you are responsible for your own survival out there! What did I say before? It’s gut check time, bitches, who-rah!!

Alright, everybody bring it in! Say your little prayers to the almighty Jesus or Vishnu or whoever the hell you think has to balls to care about you, because the shit is about to go down and you need to be ready! Let’s do this for our mothers and fathers and show them that you are not one of their many, many mistakes in their pathetic miserable lives! Let’s give each of our mommies one reason to stop crying herself to sleep every night!!

Let’s show those bastards over at Harry S. Truman High School who has the better debate team!!!! Go get ’em!!!! WHO-RAHH!!!

10 Quick Tips for a First Date

In my travels as a swinging bachelor in this post-9/11 America, I’ve seen and done plenty of crazy things. And I’ve been on enough first dates to get a general understanding of what does and doesn’t work for either party involved. Here are some quick tips for those of you who have not picked up on the nuances of a successful first date.

1. Avoid being too passive-aggressive in your compliments. “I bet you would look really good if you put some effort in,” won’t really fly too well with anyone.

2. Don’t ever ask, “So, how do you feel about Roe v. Wade?” without any natural segue.

3. Say, “Do you have your tickets?” and they will say, “What tickets?” or “Tickets to what?” Then you flex your biceps and say, “To the gun show!” Works every time.

4. Don’t mention that you ever went to a psychic or a palm reader, even if it was “just for fun.” That’s not attractive at all.

5. No one ever wants to hear that they look like your mother or father.

6. If Don Rickles gives you or your date a good ribbing, don’t get upset. It ruins the mood, and besides, it’s just Rickles being Rickles.

7. Only talk about your fraternity or sorority days if your date was also in the Greek system and still cares about that.

8. Limit yourself to two cocktails before dinner. There is no reason to be slurry over your duck a l’orange.

9. Don’t talk about your highly successful humor blog too much. It can be very intimidating to your date.

10. If you haven’t earned a major athletic award in more than five years, don’t mention any of the awards you have won. It’s no longer impressive that you were the best at anything in 1988.

Now, feel free to offer any of your own suggestions and if it’s any good I will make sure to put it in my new book, “10 and More Tips for a First Date.” Full credit, a copy of the book and a t-shirt with my face on it (size XXXXL only) will be sent to each contributor.

Letter to My Unborn Crack Baby

Dear Baby,

There are so many things I want to want to tell you about, like the night your mother and I spent making you. How it felt to hear your were on the way. Or how amazing it was to feel you moving in your mother’s belly. But it’s highly likely none of these moments will be anything I remember with any clarity.

As I write this, you do not yet exist, but you are an inevitability. Because if there is one thing I enjoy, it’s throwing it down with a crack whore. And even now, I must burden you with a request. I must ask that you open your heart to grant forgiveness. First, please forgive me for playing my part in bringing you into this world. As you will learn, this can be a harsh place to grow up in. Please also forgive your mother, too. Her addiction does not make her a bad person. You will be born with that same addiction, so you will be even closer to your mother than most children are. You will share her desire for that sweet, sweet crack. I admit I also share the addiction, but our connection over the crack will be so different than the one with your mother.

Speaking of your mother, at this point, she will be one of three different crack-addled harpies I’m currently shtooping. It is very possible you will have a half-brother or sister who receive a photocopy of this same letter. But understand that doesn’t mean I will care for you any less than your crack-addicted siblings. You will all be equally important to me. But no matter which mother is yours, the story of how I met her is pretty much the same. My insatiable desires led me to her in a crack den in the bad part of town. We shared a crack pipe on a heavily stained mattress on the floor. We laughed and shared tales of adventure and smoked a lot of crack together. It’s the same old story each time, just with a different woman.

I dream about your birth sometimes. You arrive, a full three months early. You have the smallest little fingers and toes I have ever seen. I can see your ribs through your translucent skin. Your tiny cries break my heart because your body wants crack but cannot have it; withdrawal is always the hardest. I imagine you growing tall and strong, becoming a star athlete and academic whiz-kid. You will be better than your mom and dad, because you will have the strength to refuse to smoke crack with us. You and your possible half-brothers and sisters will be born with the crack addiction, but you will have the strength to cast it aside.

Studies have shown that crack babies are not necessarily predisposed to any specific developmental problems, so you could very well turn out okay. If you develop problems, though, know that it may not be from the crack or even from me. My genes are strong; all of my grandparents lived well into their 90s and died of old age. If something makes you “special,” then it probably came from that crack-smoking whore mother of yours, whichever one she turns out to be. So, again, I ask you to find the ability to forgive.

I’d like to believe I will be there for your little league games or cheerleading competitions or karate matches or first pony ride or whatever you end up doing, but please understand, the crack really takes up a lot of my time. It can be really hard to stay organized when you’re looking for a fix. And I may not be entirely coherent some days, or I might disappear for a week sometimes. I imagine your mother may come up short with some of these things, too, but know that I will try my best to be there.

One thing a child cannot often understand is that his father is not invincible. And even though I will say that in this letter, you still will not understand right away. You will slowly learn early on that I am entirely too weak to give up the delicious crack. But maybe I will find strength in you. I hope that I can.

There is so much I wish to teach you, but I cannot put it all in this letter. I look forward to meeting you, my little one. But right now, I’m really looking forward to smoking some crack. See you one day, soon!



[Inspired in part by Joe Cetta’s fantastic letter.]

Being the Parent of a Child in Competitive Sports is Hard!

If you’re like me, and let’s hope you are, then you have a child who competes in sand castle building tournaments. And if you’re like me, you further understand the added stress and frustration of being the parent of a champion. Yes, I’m certainly proud of my son, that’s a given. But like some parents out there, I take his victories and his losses to heart just a bit too much. My therapist says I need to relax and maybe not attend one or two of his matches. He says he might help his independence and it will help me not have a goddamn heart attack right there on the beach. But I can’t disagree more. I have to be there to let my son know I will always be in his corner.

But how can sand castle building be stressful, you might ask? You can’t even imagine, my friend. The competition is fierce out there, and his opponents are hungry for victory. He may as well play for the Dallas Cowboys or Manchester United or the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics team. And Douglas has been dominating the 11-15 age bracket for years, but this is his last year in that group. And he had some flubs that may be psychologically detrimental to him before he enters the ultra-fierce 16-18 age bracket, which is the least populated bracket in competitive sand castle building. Least populated? Big surprise! you may think. But it’s not because the kids that age quit sand castle building to embrace their hormonal interests, not at all. It’s because it’s war and only the best and smartest survive.

Just to get into the 16-18 bracket, the kids have to compete in a 5-day battle royale to see who has the chops. A different project for each day. Failure to impress the judges means the kid sits out for the season and has to try to get in the following year. I try not to put much pressure on Douglas, because he seems to put enough on himself. I encourage him to be the best he can be and push himself farther than he’s ever gone. On days when he seems very down on himself and his abilities, I throw out a casual comment or two to make sure he presses on. Something like, “Your mother ran out on us because she thought we were losers. You don’t want to prove her right, do you?” is highly effective, believe me!

I strive to find the right balance of encouragement, pride, and coaching to make him be a winner. When he does well with a top three finish, I let him eat dinner that night. When he suffers a painful loss due to a stupid mistake, I tell him to do better next time and make him sleep in the back yard. But I really feel everything he goes through. When Douglas earns that medal, I share his joy. When he is defeated, I wipe away his tears with my own. Maybe it is selfish to think this, but I feel like when he knows how proud of him I am every single day, it makes each win even better and every loss a little easier to bear.

One day, when he is an old man and he looks back on his days as a competitive sand castle builder, I’m sure he will think fondly of when I was there, cheering for him at the beach. Douglas will remember me helping him by telling him that his Arc de Triomphe isn’t quite to scale as much as little Steve Goldberg’s. He will smile, remembering me clapping louder than the other parents and taking pictures of his medal ceremonies. He will remember me shoving his face in his toppled Gold Gate Bridge because he did not take into account the moisture changes throughout the day, forever learning the inherent dangers of too much cloud cover. He won three tournaments in a row after that day, and the medals kept stacking up from there. I helped make Douglas a winner.

My therapist doesn’t know jack shit about being a winner.

It’s Not The Heat

Boy oh boy, what a hot one today! I’m sweating worse than a pig in the slaughterhouse, or some such thing! I know the ol’ weatherman says to try and keep cool on mid-summer days like this, but gosh darn it, there’s only so much I can do. I won’t drink no fancy bottled water or buy me no air conditioner, nosiree. Just give me one of those fans on a stick, a glass of lemonade, and a shady spot and I will make the best of it. It just feels so dang hot!

But you know, it’s like they say, isn’t it? It’s not the heat, it’s the intense animosity between us. That’s what’s making this day just unbearable, I’ll tell you what! Just being within a few hundred feet of you, and good golly, I feel like I’m suffocating like a goldfish lying on the linoleum floor. And not the good kind of linoleum, neither. There are hot days and all, but then there are hot days when you and me’s gotta be here together. An 80 degree day feels like 110, on account of the animosity between us.

I know you don’t like it any more than I do, but we just have to grit our teeth and bear it. I can’t stand you so very much, and I know you ain’t sending me no birthday cards any times soon. But we’re forced to be here on Tuesdays and Thursdays to mind that there art collection and this here history exhibit, so let’s just continue to do our jobs like men. We ain’t little boys who settle things with fists and shouting. We can be respectful gentleman in this here museum and do our community proud by keeping these artifacts safe. And that is what I intend to do here.

Good god damn, son, this has been a real scorcher of a day. And I ain’t never lie when I say I hate you as much as the day is long. And I don’t know if that makes any kind of sense, but it’s as true my daddy’s aim with a six shooter. And even though the Earth will start tilting away from the sun and we will have a cooler time of things and the days will get shorter, I can’t imagine that I would begin hating you less. Why, every single day it takes just about all the fibers of my being not to smash your face with that priceless vase over there. Nothing would make me happier than to knock you out, but then you wouldn’t have to suffer this here hot day and I would still have to. I’m not giving you that satisfaction, believe you me.

I was telling the boys over at Sal’s Pub about your stupid slack-jawed face, and they says to me, “Eugene,” they says, “Why don’t one of ya’ll just work on different days?” And I explained what you and I both already know. You get the kids from that she-devil ex-wife of yours on Fridays through Mondays. And my weekend is filled up with my bowling league, my bridge club, my Sunday of drinking, and my Monday of sleeping off the drinking. And we’re stuck with the museum being closed on Wednesday. And goodness gracious, are we stuck.

You a dang fool, that’s a truth as good as any. And your brainless antics got us all tripped up and stuck in this Le Brea Tar Pits exhibit. This muck is impossible to get out of, but at least it ain’t so deep that we’ll die in here. No one is even gonna come find us here until morning. So that’s the last time I try to help you out. Next time you think you see something shiny in the tar, don’t go chasing after it. And I’ll remember not to try to pull your dumb ass out if you do. Shoot, this is the worst thing you ever gone and did.

There May Have Been An Ulterior Motive in Rescuing You From That House Fire

Hi Mrs. Kolczanksi! Boy, you look great today, how are you feeling? Are the nurses treating you okay? I bet they love having you here! You’ve got some setup here, eh? Nice TV up there in the ceiling and what a great view over there! What is that behind those trees? Is that a Wal-Mart? Not bad, Mrs. Kolczanski!

Listen, I heard things took a bit of a bad turn for you. I know you’ve lost the ability to speak and your mobility has become a bit of an issue. Can you write very well? No? The nurse told me that you were saying some strange things before your speech went, like one of your children came to visit even though he passed away last year. I guess it’s hard to keep everything straight, sometimes you don’t make a lot of sense, eh? Well, that’s okay! You’re a strong individual, you will be fine! I mean, you really do look great, and this place is fantastic. And you’ve got the Wal-Mart over there….

Anyway, I know I haven’t come by lately, but I wanted to talk to you. I wanted to discuss the night we met. There is something that’s been tearing me up inside about it, and I have to tell you. I know the circumstances were not typical or ideal, but you became a really good friend to me since then. It’s not every day that a guy like me becomes friends with the Car Wash Queen of Wichita. I mean, who could believe that could happen, right? It would take some extreme circumstances for an influential community leader to associate with a good-for-nothing schmo like me. No one could have predicted the end result, not even me. All of that said, though, I have to admit something. There may have been an ulterior motive in rescuing you from that house fire.

I know, that doesn’t make much sense. People help each other in times of crisis all the time. How could I, a ne’er-do-well from the wrong side of the tracks, have an ulterior motive in rescuing you from your burning home? You woke up, choking on thick smoke, flames burning the walls around you. Before you could react, I burst through the door and scooped you up and kept you underneath a blanket while I fought through the flames to bring you to safety. I risked certain death to make sure you lived to see another day. Why? Was it a selfless act? Temporary insanity disguised as bravery? A man with nothing to lose, trying to do one last good deed? Perhaps all of these.

And yet….

Okay, Mrs. Kolczanki, I’ll level with you. I rescued you in the hope of getting free car washes for life! And at this moment, right now, three things are quite obvious. One, you came through with flying colors on those free car washes. Two, you sat through my entire speech just now probably expecting that exact admission from me. Three, you probably expect me to reveal that I also set the fire. And why wouldn’t you think that? I admitted to having selfish reasons for saving your life. You’re unable to talk and even if you could communicate, no one would really believe you because your mental state has recently come into question. It seems like the ideal picture was already painted for me to deliver that shocker.

But, no, I did not set the fire. As the investigators discovered, there was an electrical surge in the basement and some boxes caught on fire. Like I told you five years ago, I was driving by your home after a particularly rough shift at the bowling alley. And of course I knew where old Mrs. Kolczanski lived! Everybody knew you. But I saw the smoke billowing up to the sky, I saw the flames through the windows. And, I swear before holy God, my first thought was, “Free Car Washes!” So I busted through the front door and finally found you without a moment to spare! Who knew that when you asked what you could do to repay me, I would say, “How about free car washes for life?” and that you would actually grant it?

But your friendship over these years has meant the world to me, and that is no joke. But I just had to tell you that my true motivation that night. You need to understand the type of selfish human being I really am. I’m telling you this not only because of the guilt, but because I am leaving Wichita. I’m heading to New York to see if I have the chops to make it in a bigger town. I’ve come to say goodbye, Mrs. Kolczanski. I promise to write, but you won’t have to write back. I’m going to miss being inside of you very much, and I know you will too. Please take care of yourself.

Justin Timberlake New Album Track List!!

The track list for Justin Timberlake’s new untitled album has been leaked onto the Internet, and it sounds HOT!!!!!!!!!!! Things can still change, but according to an anonymous source, Justin signed off on this two days ago! Instead of ignoring it or trying to prevent information from getting out, Jive, the label who released JT’s last two albums, has decided to embrace this as a marketing opportunity. They issued a statement mere hours after the track list made the rounds:

“Justin Timberlake once again is out to show that he is on the cutting edge with his hotly anticipated new album, currently untitled, which is due out next spring. The superstar will deliver hot new tracks featuring all of the patented Timberlake staples: love, beautiful women, falling in love, making love, dancing, and going to clubs. And don’t forget the overly done production that will digitally distort JT’s voice to almost unintelligble levels on at least three or four songs. 2009 will have JT all over the radio, so get ready.”

And below are the official track titles!!!!!!

Dance With Me
Hot N Sexy
Lovin’ You
Sexy Sexy Girl
Monthly Lover
Love Taking You Home – I Will Stay
Grilled Cheese and Sex
Morning Love
See You At The Club
Dance, Girl, Dance
Sex It More


A Feminist Critique on “I Fired My Publicist, and Here’s Why”

– by Shelly McTannen, student.

[Note: You must first read yesterday’s entry, I Fired My Publicist, and Here’s Why to follow this critique by our guest author.]

While Munch most often spotlights a man as the protagonist of his cheesy ‘humor’ essays, he recently found an opportunity to use a fictitious woman at the center of yesterday’s attempt at comedy, entitled, “I Fired My Publicist, and Here’s Why.” Today, I will apply a feminist critique to the piece and demonstrate how the author himself lacks the intelligence and self-awareness to create a satirical piece that would boldly push the bias of most Americans to the forefront of their consciousness. We will see that instead of satirizing the stereotypes, he merely exemplifies them.

From word one, Munch crafts a portrait of a woman who supposes to “tolerate” the rest of the world. The narrator is elevated above things like drinking anything but sparkling water and being anywhere that is not perfect or operating at full efficiency. Early on, the reader can detect Munch’s obvious and immature worldview where a successful woman who has high expectations, strong convictions about her likes and dislikes, and the confidence to express these things openly is a ‘bitch.’ Of course, he does not use allow the female author to describe herself as a bitch, as that would be overt. But he does attempt to tap into the stereotypes ingrained in the minds of most readers that any woman with a hard stance on an issue, whether it is about her job, the people who work for her, or her perception of any other woman not living up to her expectations, supposedly can only see how the rest of the world wrongs her and nothing further. This is the classic ‘strong bitch’ formula trying to pass as a standard in entertainment by the men who perpetuate it.

Remember, the argument of the narrator being empowered by her strong convictions could not hold up in this entry, as the point of it supposedly is satire and exaggeration. However, in his blind attempt to the push stereotypes to the edge, the author merely reinforces those stereotypes for himself and his readers. By removing any possibility of humanity from the one-note protagonist, Munch succeeds in mocking a female who possesses power and influence, because every Alpha woman in his world also has a false sense of self-awareness (e.g. she is in charge, but she does not really know she is a man’s version of a bitch).

The author also manages to indict the female gender in more than one way. While using the narrator as the ‘bitch’ of the story, Munch delivers the one-two punch by describing the only other female character, Shana, as at once a subservient, victimized, over-sensitive woman who does not readily acknowledge or understand the value system of her employer. Shana is the narrator’s publicist and the subject of her story, and she is portrayed as having a separate identity outside of her job, which brings the ire of the protagonist. The unnamed narrator believes she is the most important subject in her own universe, and so should it be for her employee, Shana.

Munch also goes to great lengths to portray a woman who is the victim of a crime and who has deep love for a man as incredibly weak. Shana cannot function if her husband is in a life-or-death surgery. She cannot function if she is attacked in the middle of the night. Once Shana confronts both of those realities with her employer, our trusty bitch narrator, Shana breaks down and is immediately categorized as a fragile, “blubbering… mess.” Munch’s apparent contempt for the female gender shines through as he pushes further the dichotomy of a successful and confident woman employing a weak woman with supposedly misplaced values.

Shana is counter to the narrator, and while they exist on the opposite ends of Munch’s sexist world, they need one another. The alpha bitch with all the power is too stupid to understand the mission statement of the charity she joined, and only her “crybaby” publicist is capable of keeping her on track. Whether the narrator chooses to be ignorant or if her ignorance is a result of her reliance on others is not clear, but that is not the point. Woman plus power equals bitch equals ignorant. Her publicist is the opposite: Woman plus love plus victimized equals dependent equals weak. But neither equation is favorable.

The author’s worldview is limited by his underexposure to adult women and his overexposure to immature males who would applaud his type of so-called humor. He lacks the intelligence to understand the point of view of any realistic woman with power and emotion, so he crafts this cartoon where those traits are, without irony, pushed to the extreme. If the author does not allow himself to become more open-minded and cognizant of the world around him, his writings will never be thoughtful musings about the state of things, but instead will always be poor attempts at humor featuring childish jokes about bitches, various forms of physical abuse, and women with big cans.

I Fired My Publicist, and Here’s Why

I’m the type of woman who can tolerate many horrible situations, like waiting a few extra minutes for a table at a restaurant, drinking sparkling water that has been refrigerated, and having a poorly stocked minibar in the back of my stretch limo. But if there is one thing that really gets my goat, it’s paying the salary of incompetent people who only have their best interests in mind, instead of keeping my best interests at the forefront, like I pay them to do. So I fired my publicist, and here’s why.

Three days ago, I had a full schedule of stopping by the headquarters of various philanthropic causes my name is attached to. Photo-ops galore, but did Shana even schedule the photographers to be at any of them? No, she did not, even though she had my full schedule. Where was she? County General, that’s where. All damn day. Supposedly her husband was in emergency surgery. ALL DAY! What, was she performing the surgery that she couldn’t have made a few phone calls? And he turned out okay; he’s recovering in the I.C.U. I think.

Then two days ago, there was the charity event for the Sea Turtles with AIDS Foundation, which I recently joined and donated a large sum to. There was an auction and a comedian performing and plenty of hype, it really was something else. Well, I didn’t hear from Shana all day, and of course she did not show up to help me with the media frenzy. Where was she then? Well, it seems that after she crawled into bed after her husband’s surgery the day before, her home was invaded by three thugs in the middle of the night. She was “too traumatized” to even pick up the phone to even let me know. And God forbid she make alternate arrangements to help me out at the charity event. It’s not like they assaulted her.

And, of course, yesterday I took a pummeling in the papers for sounding like a complete moron at the STAF event. As it turns out, it’s not Sea Turtles with AIDS Foundation, it’s Sea Turtles Need Aid Foundation. Why the hell do they call themselves STAF if there is “need” in the name? Besides, how the hell would I know sea turtles don’t get AIDS? I heard some lady on a plane once say her cat had ‘kitty leukemia,’ so does something like zebras with Multiple Sclerosis or sea turtles with AIDS sound all that far-fetched? Not to this girl!

So when I called Shana to make her fix this, there was complete silence and then she just started crying and carrying on! She was a total mess. What am I supposed to do with the blubbering little Polack who refuses to pull it together? So I just put an end to everything right there. And you know, I still sent flowers to her husband today while he is in the hospital, because he needs something to be positive about. Boy, I wonder why he would bother to pull through if he knew he was coming back to selfish ol’ Bitchy McCrybaby.

Now I need a new publicist.

Here Comes Poor Charlie!

Uh oh, here comes poor, destitute Charlie! Hey Charlie, what’s happening? Still poor? Aw, poor ol’ poor Charlie! Look at you, you wear the same clothes to school every other day! You only got, like, two shirts! What’s the matter, your broke-ass parents can’t afford you no new clothes to wear to school?

It’s alright, Charlie, I heard your mom found some work over on 10th street. I hear she keeps the hot dog vendor’s wieners warm for three bucks an hour. Whoa-ho! Not a bad gig for someone who never made it past the 5th grade. I guess with her working at least your dad doesn’t have to be the sole bread-winner of the family. I know he’s bringing in the big bucks with his job taste-testing cat food. Yeah, that’s right, your old man eats cat food all day! What do you think of that?

So, Charlie, tell me, what did you think of The Sopranos finale? Oh wait a minute, I forgot. Your food-stamp-collecting ass can’t afford cable TV! Well maybe you can watch it on your computer at home. What do you have, a 386? You’re probably so poor you don’t even know what a computer is! Haw haw, what a joke you are!

Hey, listen, come here. I want to show you something. This here is a ten dollar bill, check it out. Have you ever seen one of these? Bet you haven’t. But I bet your mom has a roll of one-dollar bills in a drawer with her delicates! No wait, come back here, Charlie. Listen, anyway, if you take this over to 7-11 and buy me a Snapple Peach Iced Tea, I’ll give you 50 cents. It takes your mom ten minutes to earn that keeping the wieners warm, but you can earn it in three. What do you say?

Great, now hurry up, get my tea and get your penniless ass back here in a jiff so I can get out of here. I have three patients with impacted molars to see today.

What To Do With This Chicken Suit

What to do, what to do. What to do with this chicken suit. Boy, if that isn’t the problem of the year, I don’t know what is!

My life has been a mess because of this chicken suit since the third day after I bought it back in 2006. And I can’t seem to get rid of it! No matter what I do, this chicken suit finds its way back to me. Was my ex right? Maybe I’m unconsciously keeping it in my life. Maybe I really just want to be miserable all of my life.

But you know, when I first bought it, the world was so different. We were living in idealistic times. Democrats were elected to a majority in Congress, HEROES and 30 ROCK were exciting new shows that were changing minds of an apathetic America, Zacarias Moussaoui was convicted of conspiracy in the 9/11 attacks, and the United States was still celebrating the Bronze win for Curling at the Olympics in Turin. What exactly could go wrong by purchasing my very own chicken suit? As it turns out, everything.

I’ve always lived life with the philosophy that when you find a unique opportunity, if it appeals to you in any way, you should just go for it. Life is easier if your regrets are for the choices you make, not for the chances you don’t take. So, yeah, when a costume rental shop is closing its door and liquidating its inventory, there isn’t much room to debate paying $115 for a full-sized yellow chicken suit. It’s do or die, sink or swim time when an opportunity like that like comes along. And, oh yeah, I swam.

My wife at the time, Ashanti (not the singer), tried to be supportive, but she was against the purchase from the start. We were still trying to pay off my loans from law school, and her ballooning medical bills also put a strain on things. Chemotherapy ain’t cheap, son! She didn’t choose to have cancer and she was not going to choose to forgo treatment. In that same way, I didn’t really have a choice when it came to the chicken suit. As much as I tried to tell her, she couldn’t see the parallels.

It wasn’t like I didn’t have a plan. I bought the suit knowing that it would serve multiple purposes. First, I would be all set for next Halloween, which was nearly a year away! Second, if there ever was a reason to jump start my singing telegram business, it was having a chicken suit in the house. I didn’t pull the trigger on the business because I didn’t have any gimmicks for it, Ashanti was in the hospital coughing up blood and pus, and the partners at my firm were really riding me. Now I had the gimmick, Ashanti’s condition was improving, and I adjusted to my workload. Sammy the Singing Chicken would be knocking on doors delivering musical messages of whimsy to the masses in no time. Finally, if the business failed, I could sell the suit and probably get about 80% of my money back.

But on the third day of owning the suit was when things went awry. I gave the suit a trial run around the neighborhood, delivering to my friends and neighbors songs of congratulations for a new baby, for graduating dental school, for a recent show of heroism. The songs were clever enough, and it looked like it would be a rousing success. Soon I would make some side cash to pay for the crushing debt we were in, I thought.

On my walk home, still fully in Sammy gear, I passed a few street toughs. Long story short, they beat me pretty severely, tore my suit badly, and I found myself in the hospital with a broken collarbone, three cracked ribs, and some internal bleeding. Full recovery took 3 months, and I had the suit repaired and cleaned. I swore I would be more careful about walking around Detroit as Sammy. I didn’t want to walk around with a backpack with a change of clothes, it would ruin the fun of the costume!

After I was comfortable with walking again, I gave another test run as Sammy a try. But in my stubbornness, I again foolishly walked around the neighborhood in the suit and I got chased by another group of hoodlums. I escaped harm but it didn’t help my mood. The next day, angry at myself and those damn street thugs, I cursed the chicken suit and said the hell with getting my money back. I went down to the alley to dispose of the chicken suit in the dumpster. Little did I know that there was an All Points Bulletin out for a man in a chicken suit who robbed the First National Bank three blocks away. I was spotted by a few police officers and got taken down hard. It took a few weeks, but the mix-up was resolved. The police cleaned the suit as a sign of no hard feelings and sent me packing. Good thing I’m a lawyer; I didn’t have to pay for my services!

Ashanti left me a week later, citing among other things, my “silly” side business venture, my financial irresponsibility, and our “sexual incompatibility,” for divorce proceedings.

I sold the chicken suit on an online auction to man who lived in town and I thought it was over. Two weeks later, I received a promotion at the firm and things were at least looking up on that end. But wouldn’t you know, my boss sent over a singing telegram to congratulate me on the promotion. And guess what, DARRYL the Singing Chicken delivered the telegram. My chicken suit was back! I told Darryl (or Tom, the guy I sold the suit to) to be careful in the neighborhood, and related the attacks I experienced as Sammy. He laughed it off and told me to have a good day.

The next day, at my door was the chicken suit with a note.

“Cliff, you were right. I got jumped by two guys and they smashed my face good. You can have the suit back. It’s cursed. -Tom”

And here I am! What do I do now? I’m supposed to head over to my boss’ house for his daughter’s 10th birthday party. Hey, maybe I can entertain the kids! It’s just a short 30 minute bus ride through town. I’ll just slip old Sammy on and be on my way. If I can impress his daughter with my songs and few card tricks, well, it certainly can’t hurt things when that next promotion rolls around!

The Kind of Guy I Am

What kind of guy am I? I’ll tell you.

I tip 20% without question.
I grill my vegetables and douse them in ketchup every time.
I drive the babysitter home and ignore every word she says.
I will let you shave my back for a nickel and then stiff you on the payment.
I apply a feminist critique to everything I read, especially cereal boxes.
I make a mean batch of banana pancakes without needing a special occasion.
I separate my recyclables.
I would shoot a baby seal in the face if it threatened to shoot me first.
I sew my own repairs on all of my clohtes.
I am not correcting that typo, ever.
I enjoy meteorologists with appropriately punny names, like Gail Sandstorm or Steve Iceslick.
I walk to the dry cleaner’s to save on gas.
I likes me the boobies.
I throw every game of Trivial Pursuit I play to make my opponents feel good.
I think Marky Mark should cut a new album.
I host dinner parties with my worst enemies and flirt with their wives.
I never drink gin on Sundays.
I own three hamsters.
I put spare change in parking meters I’m not even using.

That’s the kind of guy I am, mofo.

Celebrating 30 Days of Terrible Humor!

Hey gang, thanks for stopping by. My amnesia post today marked the 30th straight day of new content here at the old blog. Click the big icon on the side bar for more info, or click here or on the bottom, and you’ll see a rundown of the awful entries I’ve done for one continuous month!

Thanks for reading!

30 Days of Content

I Love This Amnesia!

My name is Frank T. Waters. That’s what it says on my driver’s license, my bills and my checkbook. I have to believe it’s true, because I just lost my memory. And I have to tell you without any bit of exaggeration that I’m really enjoying this amnesia thing! This is probably the best thing to happen to me, but then again I wouldn’t know that for sure because I don’t even know who I am. Every day is full of new surprises and wonder. People are generally pretty nice and understanding because I can’t remember simple things like where I live, what my name is, and who the hell that guy is in my basement!

Every day is an adventure for exploration and discovery. Take yesterday as a for instance; I found out that I like sandwiches, denim, the History Channel, Frisbee, and the taste of envelope glue. Plus, I discovered I definitely don’t like rap music, crunchy peanut butter, my next door neighbor Jerry, and clementines. I guess that would be pretty mundane for people like you who have a complete identity and perfectly functioning long and short-term memories.

It’s really been fun meeting new people every day. Most of these people are so comfortable around me because they already know me, so it’s easy to relax into these new friendships. Apparently I have this hot girlfriend, Tammy. She seems a little neurotic but I suppose that’s why I loved her. Besides, no one’s perfect, right? It’s been fun getting to know her and hearing stories about us. Apparently we knew each other for a long time and had a great platonic friendship, then we slept together and the friendship ended because things got really weird. But after realizing my true feelings, I raced to the annual New Years party we usually always went to together, my breath reeking of something called Mallomars, and professed my love to her in the street. It sounds like it was really romantic.

And I’ve been trying to learn as much about myself as possible. I’ve been in my house for a week, but nothing has really clicked. That’s okay, though, because I still get to learn so many things. I see all these pictures of myself with strangers, but boy if I don’t look like a stranger myself! I see pictures of me playing rugby but I look a bit younger. Tammy says I haven’t played for years because of a traumatic accident a few years back. Apparently I was on an international flight with the rest of my team and we crashed in the cold peaks of the Andes mountains. We were stranded for weeks and to survive before the rescue party could reach us we had to eat the remains of our friends. Tammy says I only told her what really happened up there. It sounds like it was absolutely horrible, so I guess there’s another benefit of this amnesia!

I have extended family all over the country, but I haven’t met any of them yet. I talked to a cousin in Des Moines, but she didn’t inspire any more memories. She talked fondly of my parents, though. They seem like they were really great people before they died. Tammy said my mother died in a war in the Gulf in the 90s. She was a chopper pilot who was killed after her squad was downed and there was an engagement on the ground. Apparently there was a big investigation into whether or not she should receive the Medal of Honor posthumously. In the final analysis, it seems like she had a lot of bravery, especially with all those bullets flying over her head.

And as far as I know, my father was a good man, and he and I got along alright before he died. Tammy said that while I loved him, I always resented that he hid his true feelings behind tall tales about his past. He was never straight with me or my mother; all he did was tell stories, as though reality always needed an augmentation to make his life seem more interesting. Tammy said that in the last days before his death, I finally cracked through his facade and got to know him through the reality of his triumphs and failures.

See, how interesting and exciting is all of that? My life certainly seems to have some bit of drama, but whose life doesn’t? I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings. Tammy and I are going to see if I like roller coasters, laser tag, coffee, and Jägermeister. She says she knows already knows the answers, but that’s part of the fun. I love this amnesia!

Oh right, the guy who lives in the basement evidentally has been renting it from me for three months. He even showed me the cashed checks in my old bank statements. He also insists we have a lot of sex together, but I think he’s trying to manipulate me into trying that. I don’t think that any of that nonsense is true. If he keeps it up, I think I’m going to kick him out. But other than that, this amnesia is working out great!

Space Station Status Report

Okay, gentlemen, thanks for coming. We’re going to have to make this quick because we’re going to have reporters here any minute and we all need to be on the same page when the questions start flying. This is all highly sensitive information and we have to continue handling it that way, especially when our crews’ loved ones start calling. The boys in Analytics looked over the latest data from the space station and came up with a single conclusion: those astronauts are fucked.

The latest secret transmission from Commander Baines included the following information:

  • Pilot Hicks and Officer Michaels are dead. Their bodies were eviscerated, likely by the horrifying lizard beast that escaped last week from Dr. Morgan’s lab. Baines is convinced fusing the DNA sequences of a T-Rex and a chameleon and bathing it all in pure solar radiation was a severe error in judgment; Jones in Analytics doesn’t disagree. With O’Hara, Wang and Sanchez missing and presumed dead, this brings the body count to 21.
  • The Rotation Algorithms were taken offline, so now the artificial gravity is of course deactivated throughout the space station. This has created additional problems as the liquid waste disposal system began working in reverse and has been expelling its contents throughout all areas of the station.
  • Security officers Montoya and Wood are nearly out of plasma ammunition, but are working on a rudimentary slingshot system for the remaining crew members.

Nothing else has changed. We still have 25 people alive up there. For those not here at the last report, I will give you a rundown of what we’ve got.

Now, we know there is no disposable silver anywhere on the station, so if Alvaro, Philips, and Stern manage to escape from their makeshift prison in the galley, there may be significant difficulty in subduing or killing them. I still have Mr. Chang looking into who signed off on Dr. Morgan developing a lycanthropy ray in space “for the medical benefits.” The full benefits remain to be seen at this time, but the ray did reduce cancer cells in the stomach of mice by 12%, so I suppose there is some progress there. I just hope it was worth the accidental transformation of our guys into space werewolves.

Remember that station psychologist Dr. Belmont may have made some headway in the mystery of why crew members began seeing ghosts of loved ones and recently dead crew. Her first theory of space dementia may still hold up, but it doesn’t help that the factory that made 30% of the station’s interchangable components stands on an ancient Indian burial ground in Montana. I have the gang in research calling on some local natives in the area to see if they can shed some light on this and find out what incantations, if any, can be used to dispel them. With no news about Dr. Belmont, we can assume she’s still working on the problem or she’s dead.

The entire eastern wing of the station was evacuated after the botany lab was overrun by gigantic sentient vines. Our lead in that section, the coincidentally named Dr. Botany, suffered from vine burns on his arms and legs, but otherwise escaped unharmed. He reported that mixing Earth soil with irradiated moon dust may have attributed to this gross mutation. We ordered the engineers to only detach that section of the station if the vines begin to extend their reach beyond that wing. In the meantime, I have Dr. Botany working with the station’s translator, Joan Dawson, to devise a way to communicate with the vines.

Dr. Morgan’s lizard beast has a steel-like hide and the plasma weapons proved ineffective against it. So the beast has already taken the lives of 12 crew members, and it will likely never be taken down unless Baines can lure it into an airlock. It does seem to hunt and kill the fattest and slowest crew members, so the thinner, more athletic crew members have made strides to stay away from them.

Finally, the really big problem on our hands is that Baines’ second-in-command, Lieutenant Mallory Singh, has supposedly been possessed by the spirit of Bal-Luna, ancient Queen of the Moon People. She has holed up in the command room and has completely taken over the station’s computer systems. She claims to be very upset we have invaded her “territory” by positioning the station “so close to the moon,” which is still just in a standard Earth orbit. She insists on complete fealty from the rest of the crew and has made very specific demands. As of right now, the crew has 32 hours to sacrifice someone in her honor and allow her to take Baines as a husband, otherwise she will initiate the station’s self-destruct sequence. Dr. Belmont says it’s space dementia, but that doesn’t explain Singh’s sudden telekinesis, speaking in unknown space tongues, taking the lives of Kolchak, Goldstein, Ramirez and O’Malley with her Moon Beam Death Stare, and her control over the independent rotation of the moon on three axises. And she can probably pull off destroying the station, considering she has all of Singh’s knowledge. In 32 hours the station will be directly over the United States and if it explodes, it will likely land in parts of Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin, if the gang in Telemetry has their numbers right.

We’re still checking, but this is probably the worst disaster the space program has ever faced, and it is likely no one will make it out alive. So, let’s be conservative about the information we communicate until we figure this thing out.

Thanks, everybody. I think a good thing for us to do is pray for everyone’s safe return. But, really, understand everybody up there is pretty fucked.

Clean: My Battle With Sobriety

Below is an excerpt from Chapter 4 of my new memoir, Clean: My Battle With Sobriety. My book recounts my vicious fight against sobriety, with all the peaks and valleys, laughter and tears, successes and failures. I’m proud to say I’ve been drunk for 49 months now and, while every day is difficult, I will never forget the journey of how I got here.

Chapter 4, Surgin’ Urge:

I was in a meeting with Ken, my boss, Roger, his boss, and Louis, our VP of Marketing and Sales. I was pretty buzzed, but being a long-practicing functional alcoholic allowed me dazzle Louis (as usual) with the new plans to saturate the Midwest market with our new outdoor and print campaign. But it was when Louis said to me, “Carmine, your ideas really feel like a breath of fresh air,” that I felt it. The tingle in the back of my neck was back after months of absence. That small voice in my head started to speak to me. Fresh air, it told me, can be enjoyed when you think clearly. I thought I pushed that voice back down, but now it was coming back more fierce than ever. Fresh air, bright skies, optimism, accurate tastebuds; the things enjoyed by a sober man.

I went back to my office and got ripped out of my mind on peppermint schnapps. I had to drown out that tiny voice, which I nicknamed The Urge because always urged me to make a change. The Urge started small, but they always gnawed away at me. I would resist, but eventually I knew I would succumb. The Urge to put down the flask or the bottle or the can or the NyQuil tugged at me. It felt like it would be so easy to give in and just enjoy a ‘normal’ day of waking up refreshed, eager to start the day, being exceptionally productive, establishing and maintaining relationships. I spat at the very thought. I woke up three hours later, my drool-soaked desktop portfolio beneath my face. I took two long swigs of the schnapps and straightened my tie. I decided to fight the Urge. If it wanted to come back stronger, I would fight harder.

That meant removing all temptation to keep alcohol out of my system. I cancelled my weekly racquetball game with Mike. I hired a housekeeper to come by twice a week so I wouldn’t have to worry about cleaning. I bought a second Kegerator to keep in the bedroom and upped the delivery schedule. I went only to 21-and-over rock shows to be sure I would be around people who drank. I kept my gym flask full at all times so I’d be ready to go after a workout. I sold my car so I wouldn’t be tempted to not drink because I had to drive somewhere. I created as many opportunities as possible to remove responsibilities and distractions so I could refocus my energies. The Urge would not let up, so neither would I.

But, as things go when you have a goal, sometimes the obstacles lead you to failures. I was at the office late on a Friday, working on copy for a Monday presentation. It was 7pm and I just finished off the last of my Chivas when I grabbed my coat to head down for a cocktail at Morton’s. With my office on the 42nd floor, I usually take the express elevator. That night, of course, I was drunk as a skunk and feeling saucy enough to take a regular car down. As luck would have it, the elevator got stuck between floors 17 and 18, the exact middle of the 6 floors that were completely empty because of renovations. My calls on the emergency phone went unanswered. My cell phone had no reception. Worst of all, my work flask was due for a refill.

I was stuck in an empty building on a Friday night. My drunken screams and banging went unheard. The anxiety of being trapped for potentially three days and the sweating due to the 80 degree heat in the car meant my buzz was completely killed in about 3 hours. The Urge moved right in, telling me I didn’t have to live like I was living. I could see the world with clear senses, I didn’t have to feel numb all the time. I should be able to feel my teeth all the time, It told me. I cursed the forced sobriety, and I cursed myself for finding it appealing.

I was in that elevator for 14 hours before security noticed a problem. It was another hour before I was home to funnel six beers in a row. The Urge had become so loud and nagging, and the beers quieted it only a little bit. So I pulled out one of my Power Hour CDs and played it twice. I blacked out until Sunday night, but apparently I performed one my signature standbys: downing half of each bottle in my 4J Cabinet. The 4J stands for José, Johnny, Jack and Jim. The Urge was at bay for awhile as I went back to my routine of screwdrivers at breakfast, a four-Bass Ale lunch, and vodka tonics with dinner. It was nice to relax into my routine, I always found a certain security and peace with it.

Little did I know that my constant benders would soon halt due to incredibly great news with my family. Not only did my brother and his wife announce the birth of their new son, but my favorite aunt married a fine gentleman and my sister received a huge promotion. All these personal triumphs for my loved ones gave me an intense joy, and I neglected the drink much more than I would have liked. It allowed the Urge to take over and tragically, I did not touch a drop of alcohol for three months. It would take some real reflection and determination to turn things around and push away the Urge once and for all.

Read the rest of Chapter 4 and the details of my heroic journey to complete alcoholism when Clean is released in Q2 of 2009, available wherever books are sold.

First of All, Your Mom Came on to Me

Listen, Marty, I know we haven’t spoken in twenty years. But I saw your name on that popular social networking site and it made me think about the old days. It’s been such a long time, but I remember when we met as kids that we immediately clicked, like we were brothers. We had so many good times together. Remember fishing at Manitoba Lake? Remember that time I hid out under your bed for two days because I accidentally set fire to my garage? Remember all the laughs when we’d pal around town after midnight, pretending to be badasses? We were children when we met but we became older and wiser as we grew up together, learning so much about life from each other.

Our old friendship still means a lot to me. Those were some of great years that I will never forget and I’m willing to bet it you haven’t forgotten them, either. And while they were great, well, things changed between us. Obviously, you know this. I swore to myself that I wouldn’t keep apologizing for it, but maybe that’s why we haven’t spoken in all this time.

So I’m writing to apologize again, hoping that the time since then has allowed the pain to heal. I’m sorry for what happened, I know it hurt you a great deal. I wasn’t thinking straight and I didn’t consider your feelings whatsoever.

The best thing I can do is try to explain everything. First of all, your mom came on to me. It was not the other way around; I wouldn’t have actively pursued your mom behind your back. I need you to believe that because we were best friends I wouldn’t do that to you. Second, it was only that one time; it’s not like we had this ongoing thing. There was no plan, it was just a heat of the moment kind of thing.

She looked at me like no other woman had. I was going through a rough patch and I definitely had some self-esteem issues then. Most of the time, I didn’t really feel like much of a man, but when she spoke to me she made me feel like one. Plus, that night started to get crazy, remember? Everybody was acting a little unlike themselves and things just got a out of control at your 8th grade graduation party. It was hard to resist what developed that night. Again, it just sort of happened and I’m really sorry about it and I know she was too.

Look, I know we’re adults and we’re probably so much different now that trying to resurrect this friendship may not even make a lot of sense. But I felt like I was part of your family back then, and I owe it to our history to try one last time to apologize and explain. My life would have been so different if not for your friendship. And I really don’t think I would have lost my virginity as early as I did, and that was a huge thing for me. Okay, that probably wasn’t the right thing to say there, but I’m trying to be honest.

You have to understand, I was a stud in high school from day one, and it was all because of your mom. Plus, the whole thing was colored with danger and mystery and edge because she died a week later. I was likely her last sexual encounter before she died. Doesn’t it give you some comfort that she had some happiness from someone who was so close to you all?

I guess maybe it woudn’t.

Still, I’d like to hear what you have to say about this. Write me back, tell me how you’re feeling. I can understand if you never want to speak to me, but I had to try one more time to apologize to my best friend for wronging him. Whether or not you can forgive me, I’ve done all I can to fix this. I hope your are well, Marty, and I hope to hear from you.


I Hate Your Jacket and Everything You Stand For

Look, dude, stop beating around the bush already. You’re sitting here with me, probing for some answers. You probably heard that I was talking some smack about you to the gang or some such, but whatever you heard I guarantee it’s not accurate. You’re in your over-sensitive guy mode, as usual. You always think someone is out to get you or that everybody hates you. You probably think I hate you, but that’s just not the case. Listen, Skylar, I do not hate you, I just hate your jacket and everything you stand for.

Seriously, look at that jacket. What exactly were you thinking? It’s entirely wrong for you. Look at the length and sleeves. It’s completely inappropriate for your height. You’re not tall enough to pull that off. No, you’re not short, but you’re not tall ENOUGH. You paid $115 for THAT?

And you say things like you need to do good things for other people because you “need to keep your karma in good standing?” What exactly is that? It’s all well and good to try ‘pay it forward’ as they say, but you always get upset when other people don’t return the favor. You know, I can respect the need to do and say nice things for others, but you can’t be upset that people don’t always reciprocate. You’re going out of your way to make others feel good or help them out or whatever, but that doesn’t mean you suddenly top their lists of priorities to pay it back. Stop putting the expectations you hold for yourself on other people. Jesus.

And what is that fabric? That looks god-awful. Is that from the 60s or something? You absolutely cannot pull off the retro-chic hip style, not in that jacket. The color doesn’t make it any better. What sort of deep burnt orange is that? Holy Jesus Christ.

I have to admit that it really gets to me when you say you’re okay with the government illegally wire-tapping its citizens. Why should you be okay with this? We have rights granted to us by the Constitution. I know you “have nothing to hide,” but you we all have civil liberties. We can’t just give those up just to catch terrorists.

Plus, with your body type, that jacket is completely unflattering. You’re not fat, but you’re not exactly a marathon runner either. The shape and the cut absolutely doesn’t work on your frame. And your shoulders aren’t broad enough, it looks like you’re wearing a big jacket made with shoulder pads, but it had the shoulder pads removed. It looks terrible!

By the way, what do you mean that you have a problem with people under thirty who have children? Firstly, age is not a qualifier of what makes a good parent. Secondly, this country is founded on choices and freedom, so people should be able to start a family whenever they choose. Sure, it doesn’t work for everyone.  Like you with that jacket, for example. But so what if young people want to make the commitment to each other and have children together? They don’t have to be young and single to experience a happy life; having a family can bring untold joy and happiness to countless people. You’re not special that you are the one person living the ultimate single lifestyle. Goddamn, get over yourself! Let people live their lives!

And your skin is just too pale. No one who came off the Mayflower could pull that off, either. You look like a homeless person who’s also colorblind. You need to have a clean-shaven face if you’re going to try that, too. If not clean-shaven, then you need stubble that grows in evenly. You’re a mess up there!

And how exactly can you be okay with torturing prisoners of war or enemy combatants or suspects? These are human beings, and most of them don’t have the information their torturers are looking for. They’re just being used to get answers that don’t exist. They are pawns, becoming for examples of the supposed terrorists that we don’t have in custody. Torture is not the answer!

I’ll be honest with you here, it doesn’t help that your hair is thinning out. I didn’t want to say this, but it really does look like you have cancer. You’re wearing a terrible jacket and you have cancer. That is what people will think to themselves if they see you on the street wearing that. You know that I’m your friend and I can say this to you. If I can’t be honest with you, then what am I supposed to do? I’m not going to be like everyone else and tell you that jacket works for you, because it absolutely doesn’t. You deserve the honestly you’ve come to expect from a friend like me.

Listen, you’re generally an alright guy; I don’t hate you. But I can only offer two bits of advice: get rid of the jacket and kill yourself.

So I’m Thinking About Taking Up Smoking

God, I’ve just been itching for something new to keep busy with. I recently completed my third screenplay (still shopping around those other two!!!), that albino kid I tutor math and geography to on Tuesdays and Thursdays is traveling with his family to New Zealand for the next three months, and I just Swiffer’d the hardwood floors! I need something to occupy all this free time!

So, I’m thinking about taking up smoking. And I know what you’re thinking, how late to the party can you get? Without doing any research whatsoever, I can confidently say people have been smoking since at least 1200 B.C. and in the U.S. it had a huge upsurge in the 1950s all the way through the late 1980s. Smoking was it, you know? And now it’s 2008, and it seems like everyone’s quitting for some reason or another. Cancer takes thousands of lives. Towns across America are placing bans on smoking in public. The taxes on the sweet, sweet tobacco sticks are going through the roof.

But this really feels like a habit it that fits well with me; I won’t lie, I was arrested at the oral stage. I’ve been putting things in my mouth to pass the time for years. Pens and pen caps. Ice cubes long after the Sunny D has been consumed. Tooth picks after a satisfying dinner. The funny thing about it is I’ve never choked on any of these inorganic things. No major scares, no hazard-filled moments, no life flashing before my eyes experiences, nothing. It doesn’t make much sense, seeing as I bump into stuff and fall over all the time. All these years of walking and using visual cues to keep me safe and I still crash into things and take big tumbles. I’ve bitten my tongue and the side of my mouth more times than I care to remember, but three meals a day plus snacks for over 25 years is plenty of practice and you’d think that wouldn’t still happen. So how I’ve never actually sucked a pen cap down the ol’ windpipe is a complete mystery. I’ve either used all of my good luck on keeping myself alive all this time, or our old pal God still has work for me to do.

But like the Bible says, idle hands..!!! So, why not keep myself busy with the refreshing taste of a menthol deep in my lungs? I can’t stop putting things in my mouth, so instead of that third or first Pop-Tart, why not try an oh-so-divine cigarette? Truly, there is nothing like the sulfur scent after a freshly lit match igniting the packed end of a loosey.

The smoking sub-culture has always fascinated me, too. People gather in rain or shine, blazing hot sun or deeply cold evenings to share a few brief moments away from life. Their shared experience is literally a time-out from life. Everything stops for the smokers: working class folks take upwards of 10 smoke breaks per shift![citation needed]; drinking games come to a halt while the smokers go take their moment to catch their breath. “I’ll be back in a minute,” is their war-cry that, in effect, means, “I can’t really deal with this right now, I need time to consider my options while you stay here and face reality.” For the insane people who are comfortable smoking indoors and stinking up everything, that little phrase gets punched up to include, “I may have to face life, which causes me eternal grief, but I’m going to enjoy this and make you suffer a little while I’m at it. Plus, I don’t care if my couch stinks.”

So, yeah, I’m definitely going to look into putting this together. With all this time I’ve got lately, I’m sure I can learn to love tobacco, like I love the drink. For you expert smokers out there, I’ll need tips on a few things:

1) How to hold a cigarette
2) Frequency of puff-taking
3) How to flick the butt and look cool as hell (advanced)
4) Pretending like it isn’t the most awesome habit in the world (stop your faux grumbling already!)

Please feel free to offer any further advice on getting started with this new habit!