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Month: April, 2012

Etiquette

by River Clegg

1. While riding the subway, don’t touch anyone else unless you’re related by blood. If you do accidentally touch someone, apologize, but not too much. (Exchanging words on the subway is bad etiquette.)

2. Urinals aren’t for pooping.

3. Many people think the famous line from Casablanca is “Play it again, Sam.” But that’s not true: the line is simply “Play it, Sam.” Etiquette dictates that you correct this misconception at every opportunity.

4. Along similar lines, Frankenstein is the doctor, not the monster. Christ, are you the only person who knows anything?

5. Holding doors open for women is not only polite, but a good way to show how strong you are and how you think women can’t do things.

6. If you’re playing badminton, there is no need to play for blood.

7. When you see someone walking with a limp, adopt a similar limp.*

8. While at the orchestra, remember not to clap between movements unless you want to be looked down on by some of the world’s most truly awful people.

9. Yes, it’s true, in movies something funny or dramatic often happens at weddings when the priest asks the guests if there are any objections to the union. But in real life it’s more just a tradition, so you actually shouldn’t say anything, even if you think up the perfect zinger about how the groom really should lose a few pounds and probably it affects his sexual stamina.

10. Try to tip around 20%. (Note: This refers to the money you leave your server at a restaurant, not the amount of cows you see grazing as you return home. Tipping cows over is not good etiquette.)

11. You might find yourself over at someone else’s for dinner and they’ll want to say grace. Just go along with it.

**

*This is more of a superstition, actually.

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An Embittered Valedictorian Speech

by Jordy Greenblatt

Four years gone by. Wow. It’s difficult to describe the feeling I have standing at this podium in my blue cap and gown and looking at the faces of all my classmates. It’s almost like I’m seeing a living scrapbook of my high school memories. In the front row is the girl that turned me down for Prom both of the last two years, there’s the guy who left a dead possum in my locker for all of Spring Break until I had to have it rebuilt just to get rid of the smell, the gym teacher who used to shout homophobic slurs at me when I didn’t want to play dodge ball, the girl who told everyone that I got an erection when I saw Mrs. Zeever’s cleavage in ninth grade English, etc. I have to say, standing over all of you, looking down, and holding a piece of paper signed by the principal that says I’m objectively better than each and every one of you, I feel pretty good about the whole thing.

I’m sure everyone remembers when Jeff Saunders pulled down my pants in the packed football stadium. I know because I saw you all laugh and laugh until tears streamed down your cheeks. Well, enjoy your job at the Gas-n-Go, Jeff. When I come back to town in my shiny Porsche and stop for a fill up, I’ll be sure to tip you in pennies.

When the administration asked me to speak today, they said the topic would be “What I Learned at Greenville High and How It Will Guide Me in the Future.” Well, I’ll tell you exactly what I learned; people suck. People are sheep. Cruel, mindless, locker-vandalizing, homework-stealing, wedgie-giving, nipple-twisting sheep. How will it guide me in the future? First off, I will never trust anybody. Ever. Secondly, it’s going to guide me right back here for our tenth reunion to laugh at your minimum wage earning asses as I flash my thousand dollar Rolex under your dirty, plebian faces.

But I don’t hate you; I pity you. Actually, let me clarify: yesterday I hated you, today I pity you. Yesterday you were my tormentors. Yesterday you laughed at my awkward attempts to fit in. Yesterday you tied my shoelaces together and turned my backpack inside out for amusement. But today you sit before me, silent in the face of my indisputable triumph over your perverse, juvenile antics. Today you are mere insects and I am a 7 year old pyromaniac with a magnifying glass on a blindingly sunny day.

Well, it looks like I’m getting a signal from the principal that either means “time’s almost up” or “for the love of God, quit drawing attention to the hopeless inferiority of the overwhelming bulk of the graduating class,” so I’ll start to wrap up. But before I go, I’d like to offer these words of advice to the audience:

Treat others as you would like to be treated because the ones who are weakest now will grow to be your masters in a few years.

Everyone is accountable for his or her actions so think carefully next time you consider putting maggots in someone’s Star Trek lunchbox.

Revenge is a dish best served with visible schadenfreude and fits of uncontrollable laughter. So expect that.

Finally, I’d like to close by wishing good luck to all my classmates; you’re gonna need it, fuckers!

Choose Your Own Adventure: You’re Recently Graduated and Underemployed!

by Melissa Chiasson

Page 1

It’s your first day working an unpaid internship at Metropolis Publishing Corp. You’re well on your way to becoming a novelist who writes about her disillusionment with modern life! Stan, your middle-aged supervisor who smells like hot dogs, introduces himself and asks that you get him coffee. Well, you think, it is my first day; I’m sure Jonathan Franzen and Jeffrey Eugenides did they exact same things when they were interns (they didn’t). You fetch Stan his coffee. He tells you that it’s not warm enough. You return to the kitchen to microwave it, silently pondering if you really went to college for this. When you return with Stan’s coffee, he says it’s still not hot enough. What the fuck? Do you a) throw the steaming cup of coffee in his face and say dramatically, “Is that hot enough for you?” or b) nod your head politely while planning Stan’s doom?

Page 16

You wake up with a cough. Surely it will go away, you think, no need to involve a doctor, especially since I don’t have health insurance. The next day, you’re coughing up blood. Do you a) go to the ER or b) ignore it? I mean, it couldn’t be tuberculosis, right?

Right?

Page 23

After throwing Stan’s body into the East River, you decide to stop and get a meatball sub before catching the F back to the place you’re squatting in renting. You’re so hungry, you start eating it on the train. After a patch of rough track, a lone meatball falls to the floor of the subway car. Do you a) pick it up and eat it or b) pick it up, dust if off, and eat it?

Page 35

You see one of your former classmates walking down Fifth Avenue with his cadre of investment banking buddies. Before you can pretend to be really interested in a Duane Reade window display, he calls out to you. “Broseph,” he says to you, as you try to remind him that you are, in fact, female, “Broseph, listen, we should get together sometime, you know, grab a few beers and talk about what we’ve been up to.” Do you a) enthusiastically respond “Sure thing, dude,” knowing full well you will never take him up on this or b) laugh, and while going in for the embrace, whisper into his ear, “I will fucking end you.”

Page 38

“Yep, that’s classic tuberculosis,” the doctor says, examining the X-ray. “Luckily we caught it early enough so that we—wait a minute, where did you get a meatball sub in the ER?” Do you a) run or b) finishing eating the sub and run?

Page 41

As part of your court-ordered community service, you have to mentor a group of elementary school kids in the Bronx. One day, when you’re reading Animorphs out loud to them, which, let’s face it, is probably rock bottom for you, one of the kids raises his hand. “Would you ever write a book?” he asks. “Oh, I could write a book,” you say, “I could write a book that would blow your mind.”

“Cool,” he says. “There’s no way it could be better than Animorphs, though.”

THE END

Historical Misunderstandings

by River Clegg

The South: Slavery is good.

History: No it’s not.

______________________________________________

Napoleon: I’m taller than my average male contemporaries.

History: That’s true. Still, whenever there’s a short man who’s spiteful at the world, we’re going to compare him to you. We’re going to call it the Napoleon complex.

______________________________________________

John Hancock: By signing my name in large letters, I’ll ensure that everyone will remember all the important things I did to help America gain her independence.

History: Actually, we’re just going to remember the name thing.

______________________________________________

George W. Bush: I’ll let history be the judge of me.

History: Way ahead of you.

______________________________________________

Nickelback: We’re just a band making music we like. Why does everyone hate us so much?

History: Shut the fuck up, Nickelback.

______________________________________________

Nero: I didn’t really play the fiddle when Rome burned; that’s a myth.

History: Another myth is the myth of Pygmalion. He was a sculptor who built a statue of a beautiful woman, and then she came to life and married him.

______________________________________________

Martin Luther King, Jr.: I have a dream.

History: Anything else you want remembered? Maybe about entrenched economic disparity being one of the foundational problems with American race relations and all of society in general? No? Perfect.

______________________________________________

Tyler Hutchinson: I hope I make varsity.

History: You haven’t been born yet.

______________________________________________

Judas: If Jesus isn’t executed, he can never redeem humanity’s sins or ascend to Heaven to sit at the right hand of God. So of course I’ll be celebrated throughout the ages for delivering him to the Roman authorities.

History: …Sure.

My Life as an Actor Who Exclusively Plays Corpses on TV

by Jordy Greenblatt

It’s good to be on top, even if that means lying lifelessly on top of a sewer grate. Half of the big police procedural stars have stood over me at some point or another, shook their heads, and said something like, “Time of death 2:53 AM.” And you can bet your ass the other half wishes they had. If you’ve ever seen Dexter or Law & Order, you’ve probably seen my mangled body splayed out on a coroner’s table and let me tell you, life is good as TV’s favorite rotting pile of flesh.

Aside from the thrill of seeing yourself on TV, there are lots of perks to the job. I’ll walk into bar and someone I’ve never met will come up to me and say, “Aren’t you the guy who was found dead in his pool on CSI: Miami last week?” And I’ll give him a knowing smile and he’ll call his friends over and ask me to play dead for them. I’ll pretend to be shy but I love the attention and before you know it I’m flopped down on the bar so convincingly that the bartender starts to call 911.

Or sometimes a woman will come up to me and say, “Don’t I know you from somewhere?” I’ll respond, “Does this look familiar?” and fall to the ground in a heap. 9 out of 10 times I end up going home with her. Best of all, I never have to search around at the last minute for a Halloween costume!

People always want to know my method. The key is to keep in mind how the character died. If he was strangled to death, maybe you want to put your hands up to your throat as if you were trying to stop the strangler. If he was hit by a car, don’t lie stiff as a board; throw your limbs around in every direction. If it was a slow death like a bludgeoning or a torture case then show some pain on your face. If you’re really serious about the role, you may even want to get into a bar fight the night before to make it look authentic and to understand the pain of being clobbered to the ground.

Also, try not to move or breathe too much.

Do I consider myself an artist? Well, I’m no Ron Goldstein (probably better known to you as “Guy With Ice Pick in Head” in Episode 103 of NYPD Blue). But I think that I am an inspiration to other corpse actors and, when you’ve got more dead bodies on your resume than a New Jersey reservoir, it sure as hell pays the rent.

That said, I didn’t get into it for the money. I do it because I love it. I do it because I’m damn good at it. Most of all, I do it because, when people see a corpse on TV, they shouldn’t think to themselves, “Oh that’s just some guy lying down in a pool of red dye.” They should think, “Wow, there is no doubt in my mind that this guy is dead. I’ve seen living people, and they do not look like that. That is one very dead man.”

To be a good actor, you have to be committed. You’ve gotta love it. Sure it’s a glamorous lifestyle, but it’s not a walk in the park. It’s not easy to day in and day out get up, go to work, lie down, not move, get back up, go home, and lie down again. It’s not for everyone, but I for one couldn’t imagine living a better life or dying better deaths than I do every single day.

The Butterball Turkey Talk-line® in the Off-Season

by Melissa Chiasson

Agent: “Hello, welcome to the Butterball Turkey Talk-line! What turkey-related questions can I answer for you today?”

Caller: “Hi, I’ve got a pound of thinly sliced turkey breast, some bread, mayonnaise, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, you name it.”

Agent: “Sounds like you have the makings for a tasty turkey sandwich!”

Caller: “So I wasn’t supposed to roast that all together in the oven at 400 degrees for five hours?”

______________________________________________

Agent: “This is Butterball, hope you’re having a turkey-rific day! How can I help you?”

Caller: “How would you recommend I get rid of the man from Turkey who lives across the hall from me?”

Agent: “Excuse me, ma’am?”

Caller: “He’s up to no good, I just know it.”

Agent: “Ma’am, I can only answer questions about turkey, the meat item, not Turkish people.”

Caller: “Right, right, of course. How would you prepare poisoned turkey?”

______________________________________________

Agent: “This is the Turkey Talk-line, serving all your turkey-based needs.”

Caller: “Hey! I’ve invited a girl over to my place tonight for dinner, and I need some help deciding what to make.”

Agent: “No problem! What kind of flavors does she like?”

Caller: “She’s really adventurous, you know, she loves trying new things.”

Agent: “Okay, could you be a little more specific?”

Caller: “More specific? Jess, I’ve found someone else.”

______________________________________________

Agent: “Butterball Turkey Talk-line.”

Caller: “Yeah, I’ve got a pretty aggressive turkey waiting outside my front door. He’s looking me straight in the eye right now, like he’s studying me, watching my every move.”

Agent: “Sir, I can’t help you unless you are trying to cook a turkey.”

Caller: “Shut up! He can hear you.”

______________________________________________

Agent: “Please tell me you are actually roasting a turkey.”

Caller: “Wait, is this the suicide hotline?”

Agent: “I wish.”

PIAOR How: So You Want To Avenge Your Father’s Murder at the Hands of a Vicious Drug Cartel

by Jordy Greenblatt

(1) First, you’ll want to know the product they’re trafficking. Most likely it’s marijuana or heroin. Now this might not seem especially germane to your revenge, but if you’re sitting around the cantina, talking about your enemies and how they’ll pay, it will be a lot more convincing if you know what slang to use for the drugs they’re distributing, or “slinging.” This lends you the unhinged and dangerous mystique that all avengers need in order to be taken seriously. Dope works for both marijuana and heroin.

(2) The cartel’s going to have a leader. He may or may not be the one who actually pulled the trigger on your father, but regardless, he’s going to have to answer to you. Make sure he knows that. In fact, you should probably tell him yourself.

(3) It’s possible that they fed your father to some wild animal like an alligator, a wolf, or, if it’s a nautically savvy cartel, a shark. In this case, you’re faced with something of an awkward decision: do you go after the animal or the cartel member who fed it? On the one hand, the animal probably didn’t know any better. On the other hand, he killed your dad. Ultimately it’s a practical issue; you can probably remember the face of the guy who stood by laughing as he watched your father being devoured, but what are the chances that you could pick a given alligator out of a lineup? With this in mind, you probably just want to go after the person.

(4) Make sure that you’re sufficiently armed at all times. Before continuing, we should come clean and admit that we’re not sure why it’s useful to saw the barrels off a shotgun. It might have something to do with the way the shot spreads out of the barrel when you fire it at close-range. Maybe it’s just scarier that way. But whatever the reason, make sure you have a sawed-off shotgun. Also, although actually using nunchucks or throwing stars is impractical in a combat scenario, it really sends a message about whether or not you are to be messed with. In case it wasn’t clear from our phrasing, you’re not.

Note: You don’t need to have liked your father to avenge him; in fact, the more emotionally complex your relationship was, the better.

(5) Your main challenge will be infiltrating the cartel. It may not be the Pentagon, but they won’t just let anyone in. Familiarize yourself with their habits, likes and dislikes, etc. First impressions are key. A useful tip that you might not think of if you’ve never needed to infiltrate a cartel to avenge a parent before is to hire an actor to play along as you pretend to murder him gorily in public. This tells the cartel that you’re one of their own.

(6) You always want the revenge quest to end in a dramatic one on one showdown with the murderer in which he almost bests you but at the last minute you remember his Achilles’ heel and use it to gain the upper hand. Once you have him cornered and you’re about to finish him off, it’s important that you have a nice, stinging final remark for him. Remember, it’s the last thing he’ll ever hear, so make it count. Something like, “I guess the only drugs you’ll be smuggling from now on are hell pills,” but hopefully something that makes more sense.

We hope this guide helps with your quest. It’s important not to get discouraged if it isn’t turning out quite the way you’d hoped. Revenge isn’t a science and it’s hard to get it right on the first try. But, after you lose a few more loved ones to drug cartels, you’ll start to get the hang of it.

Good luck!

-Jordy Greenblatt and River Clegg

Logical Fallacies

by River Clegg

Begging the question: When you argue in a circle such that the soundness of your premises rests on your conclusion being true.

Ad hominem: Meaning literally “to attack the body,” this is when you attack your opponent’s character instead of his or her argument.

Straw man: When you mischaracterize your opponent’s argument by gathering together a bunch of straw and building a dummy out of it, then dressing it in your clothes and yelling about how your opponent’s argument is so stupid that not even the dummy would believe it.

Red herring: When you try to distract from the argument at hand by suggesting that we go fishing.

Arm wrestling fallacy: The belief that any argument can be settled by arm wrestling.

False analogy: Remember analogies from when you were a kid? Like “Michael Jordan is to basketball as Babe Ruth is to baseball”? Those still make no sense to me.

Gambler’s fallacy: The belief that any argument can be settled by Kenny Rogers. (In reality, the only arguments he can settle are ones about conflicting interpretations of Kenny Rogers lyrics. And even then not always, because his songs have a lot of layers.)

Cherry picking: When you refuse to get back on defense, but just wait around under the basket so you can score the ball quickly the next time your team is on offense.

Argument from silence: When you presume your conclusion to be sound simply because your opponent has yet to counter it. (Probably because of how stupid he feels thanks to that straw man dummy you made.)*

Alligators: Basically render the whole idea of logic moot.

False dichotomy: When you assert that one of two opposing statements must be true, when in reality it might be a third thing altogether that’s true — and maybe that thing can accommodate the first two statements together! Boy, doesn’t the turmoil in the Middle East just seem like one big false dichotomy now?

Pornography: Not a logical fallacy in its strictest sense, but masturbating to it sure is fun. Am I right?

Fallacy of exclusive premises: The worst of all logical fallacies.

Robin Williams: When your argument rests on you being Robin Williams.

.

*You should poke pins in the dummy in case voodoo is real.

I’m Not One Hundred Percent Sure What Racketeering Is, But I Want In!

by Jordy Greenblatt

Lately I’ve been feeling like I’m just floating through life without any particular purpose or goal. It’s difficult to be happy if you don’t have your own calling. That’s why, even though I’m not sure I could spit up the dictionary definition for you, I think I’m ready to start racketeering.

First off, I know it has something to do with the mafia and I’ve always seen myself as kind of a “large and in charge” type with a devious streak. Also, I don’t get the sense that it’s a violent crime because I definitely wouldn’t want to hurt anyone. All I know is that it sounds lucrative and it sounds fun.

I was thinking about getting one of those “For Dummies” books but I’m guessing that they don’t have them for criminal activity (I think the company would probably be exposed to all kinds of law suits from racketeering victims, if they exist). I figure if I pick up a gambling habit or something eventually I’ll meet somebody in the mob and they could probably tell me what it is.

Of course, I wouldn’t want to sound stupid in front of a mob boss; I’d try to be really subtle about it. I’d say something like, “You know, as much as I like gambling, my favorite crime is definitely racketeering. If you had to pick, who were your favorite racketeers of all time and why? What about their racketeering did you find particularly imitable?”

I assume that I could infer what the crime is without him being any the wiser. If he asks me questions, I can just give generic, all-purpose answers. For instance:

Mobster: When did you start racketeering?
Me: Oh, who can remember that far back.

Mobster: When do you like to racketeer?
Me: The nighttime.

Mobster: What do you use when you go racketeering?
Me: Just my wits and my bare hands.

Mobster: How did you get into racketeering in the first place?
Me: (holding back tears) I… I don’t think I’m ready to talk about that yet.

These are just a couple examples. It may take a while to get the hang of it but I’m a quick study and I think once my fellow racketeers see the persistence and ferocity of my racketeering, I’ll be known far and wide (except by any law enforcement officers in anti-racketeering units). But I’m sure I can be discreet; after all, how will the police know when I start racketeering if I don’t even know?

The point is that I’m not worried. I’m optimistic that one way or another, I’ll figure it out and, when I do, I think I’m going to be great at it. If not, I’ll just try privateering.

A Page from the Agenda of Buddy Wilson, Bear Wrangler and Concierge

by Melissa Chiasson

8:30 AM Head out to the barn, round up new litter of kittens.

9 AM Feed bears.

10 AM Bear bath time! Wear swim trunks.

11 AM Bear wrestle time! Wear bear suit.

12 PM Meeting with angry neighbors re: “dangerous” bear farm next door. Do not wear bear suit.

1 PM Arts and crafts. Paw paintings, bear calls, squirrel dismemberment.

2 PM Call Clint Eastwood re: dancing bear in next movie. Mr. Winky would be a good fit in terms of age, demeanor.

2:30 PM Acting class. Today’s focus: emotionally intense scenes that do not involve biting.

3:30 PM Appointment with Feds re: accusations of bear fighting.

4 PM Bear fight.

5 PM Costume fittings and grooming. New style idea: bear corn rows?

6 PM Feed bears. Check kitten supply.

7 PM Bear story time! Berenstain Bears enrage them, best saved for bear fight psych-ups.

8 PM Hide and seek. Hide realllly well.

9 PM Meditation and reflection hour. Food for thought: literally, bring food to encourage bears, otherwise they will mutiny.

10 PM Bedtime for bears. Bring sleeping bag, bear suit.

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