New content every weekday. Sometimes.

Month: November, 2014

Notes from the ER on Black Friday

by Melissa Chiasson

2:35 am: Woman, 35, comes in complaining of numbness in extremities. Upon removal of gloves and socks, frostbite of fingers and toes evident. She reveals she has been camping outside for the past two days to get a cheap foot bath, subsisting on slim jims and “pure adrenaline.” I inform her that I will have to amputate. She promptly bursts into tears, lamenting the fact that the foot bath is of little use to her now. I offer her $15 for it.

4:55 am: Boy, 14, arrives with gunshot wound to anterior thoracic region. Immediately scrub in for surgery, start operation with Dr. Nguyen to stop bleeding and extract bullet. A half hour into the operation, Dr. Wilson charges into the room, carrying shopping bags and exclaiming “Guys, you have got to get down to the mall, these deals are insane! I just saw a kid get shot for a Playstation 4!”

Dr. Wilson glimpses the operating table, slowly backs out of the room.

6:00 am: The nurse brought in six dozen donuts since it was “Buy one, get five dozen free!” They are all lemon-flavored. This day cannot get any worse.

7:05 am: Man, 52, presents with chainsaw superglued to his right palm. He reports that this was his strategy for preventing anyone from taking it from him in the morning scramble at Home Depot. I lie and say there is nothing I can do, hoping that this will cause some introspective reflection on the transient nature of material objects.

He replies, “That’s cool, I think it’s actually pretty badass having a saw for a hand now.”

9:41 am: Girl, 8, is suffering from severe allergic reaction to peanut traces from morning cereal, accompanied by her mother. I order a shot of epinephrine, at which point the mother asks me how much the shot will cost. I assure her that it will be covered by their insurance, and even if she doesn’t have insurance, the hospital will help them with finances. The mother shakes her head. She tells me that they just came from the other hospital in town, and if I can’t beat their price plus 10%, they are leaving.

10:00 am: Turn over all my patients to Dr. Ramos and head home. Drink a cup of coffee while enjoying my new foot bath.

PIAOR How: So You Want to Cook a Turkey Without Using Your Hands

by Jordy Greenblatt

(1) If you’re looking to set some kind of family record, I strongly recommend using your hands for the preparation phase. Some purists will tell you that it doesn’t count if you use your hands in the prep stage, but I think (based on the word ‘cook’) it’s a gray area and it’s still a pretty impressive accomplishment. If you are here because you don’t have functional arms, I would advise you to have a friend come over and do the prep work for you (it should only take them a few minutes anyway).

(2) Before prep you want to preheat the oven to 325 degrees. If it makes you feel better about using your hands in the prep stage, this is pretty easy to do with your mouth.

(3) Safety prep: Because poultry can have salmonella bacteria, always wash the turkey before you cook and then pat it dry. This step is particularly difficult without the use of your hands, because if you try to use your mouth, you’ll probably be more likely to contract salmonella than if you hadn’t even washed it in the first place. On that note, because you will be using your face throughout the process, fill a shallow bucket or small trough with high powered, anti-bacterial sanitizer for face cleansing.

(4) Food prep: Chop carrots and onions to fill the turkey’s cavity. This not only absorbs excess juice, but it provides the hard-to-reach inside with extra flavor. This is where using hands is most crucial. Many a brave cook before you has tried this step hands-free and many a brave cook has wound up crying salty onion tears from his one remaining eye.

(5) Now put those hands behind your back and get started! Use your feet to place a large roasting pan face up on the floor in front of the turkey. Hold the pan in place by firmly planting your feet on either side and pull your knees close to form an impromptu backboard. Slowly use your chin to pull the turkey over the edge of the counter and use your knees and the cabinets below the counter to guide the bird into the pan.

(6) Crawl like a snake on the floor and, using your forehead, nudge the pan so it’s directly in front of your sliced carrots and onions. You want the edge closest to the vegetables to be a few inches away from the counter. A good rule of thumb is to place it 1.5 inches away for each foot the counter is off the ground. Although it’s faster to kick the pan like a soccer ball, precise placement is crucial and you don’t want to risk foot-to-bird contact.

(7) Crouch on the floor and hold the pan firmly in place with your knees. Then use your nose to orient the turkey so that the cavity is straight up in the air, making sure any nose-to-bird contact involves only the bridge of your nose. Then submerge your entire face in antibacterial sanitizer for no less than 5 seconds.

Note: This step requires very flexible thighs and lower back. Also, that sanitizer is gonna burn in your eyes like Dresden. Nobody said it’d be easy.

(8) Using your neck, slowly sweep the vegetables off the counter towards the turkey. Your goal is to get as much as possible into the cavity, although a few pieces in the pan can be nice because they will cook better than the vegetables inside. Some will land on the floor. There’s really no way around that.

(9) Lying on the ground on your back, use your feet to grip the oven handle and pull it down. Then once again crawl like a snake and nudge the turkey gently until it’s directly in front of the oven. If the cavity is still facing up, carefully use your forehead to lay the turkey down for cooking and submerge your face in sanitizer for 5 seconds.

(10) This is probably the most difficult step. Lay on your back with your head facing away from the oven. The pan should be directly between you and the open oven door. Spread your legs and bend your knees as far as you can, preferably so that the heels are within 2 inches of your glutes. Placing your feet under the lip of the pan, press them together firmly, and extend your legs so that the pan’s edge goes over the door. Then slide the pan as far as you can along the door until it’s center of gravity is on the door and it can sit unaided. You may need to writhe around on your back for a while once the edge of the pan clears the oven door if your legs are too short or stumpy.

(11) Now place your toes on the edge of the pan facing you and ease it into the oven. If you can lift it onto a rack, more power to you, but probably you’ll have to settle for leaving the pan on the bottom of the oven. Sometimes you have to compromise for greatness.

(12) Leave the turkey to cook about 13 minutes per pound (12 if you didn’t manage to get a lot of vegetables in there). Every 20 minutes baste the turkey in its own juices and any butter you were able to unwrap using only your teeth. You can hold the baster between the toes of one foot while pressing the pump with the other. Alternatively you can place the entire pump in your mouth and pump with your tongue and cheeks.

(13) When time is up, grip a meat thermometer between your toes and, making sure not to touch the bird directly, check that the inner thigh is at least 165 degrees. Don’t take remove the bird from the oven until it reaches that temperature inside the thigh (away from the bone).

(14) Open the oven door and, with mitts on your feet, hook the lip of the pan with your toes to ease it out of the oven. Once it’s sitting on the oven door about a third of the way off, perform step (10) in reverse to get the pan out of the oven and onto the floor. Let the turkey sit for 15 minutes while your guests to sit down at the table.

(15) Gripping the sides of the pan with your still mitted feet, elevate it 6 inches to a foot off the ground and wobble on your back towards the dining room. Even if it means some extra wobbling, try to find a path without any doors in the way.

(16) Wobble triumphantly into the dining room. Your guests will probably be stunned. If so, you should break the silence with a clever pun like “all hands on deck for the S.S. Delicious Turkey… because I didn’t use them. My hands I mean.”

If you succeeded, you must be one hell of a chef (and probably a pretty good gymnast). Congratulations and happy Thanksgiving from the folks at Put It All on Red. I for one think you deserve a big hand!

Just in case it flew under the radar, that was another hand pun.

Who Could Have Predicted That the Parade Would Go So Horribly Wrong?

by Lincoln Sedlacek

I want to begin this press conference by telling the public that I’m sorry. Every year, it’s our goal to bring American citizens a fun, entertaining, and safe Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. And today, we failed at one of those goals. Some – my lawyer, for example, in the conversation we had five minutes ago – would say we failed at all three of these goals. But in my defense, who could have predicted that the parade would go so horribly wrong?

I knew opening the parade with a Hunger Games-themed float might be controversial. The subject matter of the series is admittedly not the most heart-warming. But I loved the idea of the image of Katniss Everdeen shooting a flaming arrow to light a torch of hope and warmth that would lead the parade. Maybe it was slightly out-of-taste to have “tributes” from all five boroughs on the float with her, but the six of them singing “Where Is Love?” from Oliver! really could have been a heart-warming image. I truly believe that.

I will fully admit, however, that no matter how much cheaper it was, we should not have filled the Snoopy balloon just behind that float with highly flammable hydrogen gas.

In light of what happened next, many are criticizing parade organizers for not having proper safety procedures planned. I would like to state, for the record, that we did have emergency protocols in place, in case a balloon deflated or otherwise malfunctioned. We simply did not foresee the instantaneous immolation of the much-loved Snoopy balloon as it careened out of control, shedding blazing bits of material that forced crew members to run for cover.

As an aside: I would like to take a moment to thank the parade’s audio manager for cutting the by-then screaming children’s mics and playing the song “Flash Beagle” instead. It was a stroke of genius for which I cannot possibly thank him enough.

I’d like to preface what happened next by noting that I did not, in fact, approve of the third float in the parade. While I respect PETA’s mission, I felt today was neither the time nor the place to try to induce guilt over the consumption of turkey. The parade’s board of trustees, however, overruled me. So I really couldn’t have done anything to stop the burning, deflated shell of Snoopy from falling upon a large, turkey-filled cage sporting a sign reading, “Give turkeys something to be thankful for!” Nor could I have stopped the well-intentioned but ill-advised decision of one of the float’s crew members to let the turkeys out. Let’s all just be grateful that most of the flaming birds were already too far gone to flee toward the hysterical crowds.

I guess I’d just like to conclude by pointing out that parades always make traffic a nightmare, so the time it took for first-responders to arrive on the scene was actually impressively short. Oh, and whatever PETA says, that fireman’s decision to unleash the full power of the hose upon that poor, suffering turkey was about the most humane thing he could have done.

Oh, but I now recognize that having the Kids Bop float sing full, uncensored versions of Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty” was extremely inappropriate. I’m a man who takes responsibility for his mistakes, and that one’s on me.

It’s a Good Thing We Didn’t Throw Out That Jack-O-Lantern Because There’s No Way in Hell I’m Paying for an Entire Can of Pie Filling on Thanksgiving

by Jordy Greenblatt

When I was a kid we never wasted a scrap of food from the holidays. For dessert we would have shards of chocolate bunny from Spring until December 24 and then we’d have stale fruitcakes and spoiled eggnog til Easter. And we never used the stove the entire summer; we just heated our food over extra fireworks from the 4th of July.

Now I didn’t pay $9.99 for a single use giant orange candleholder. I held my tongue when Tara threw out 7 seeds that fell on the floor so I could only roast 91 of them. Then I let it slide when you guys got rid of 0.79 pounds of perfectly good pumpkin meat because you insisted on carving out eyes and a mouth. I hope you realize you’re not fooling anybody; real faces don’t have orange ridges or woody stems.

But I absolutely refuse to throw out the remaining 9.05 pounds because you kids are afraid of a little mold. Cheese has mold. You want to stop eating cheese in this house? As for the wax, I’m pretty sure it’s nontoxic. If you’re worried, it’s okay with me if you pick it out, as long as you put back any bits of pumpkin that stick to it. We all want dessert and we all love pumpkin pie and really I don’t see why this should be any more complicated than that.

Anyway, the discussion’s over because your grandparents are going to be here in 30 minutes and we still gotta get this thing into the oven. The good news is we don’t need the cuisinart because the texture’s about right already. Sam, try to make sure the pumpkin doesn’t collapse before you get it into the crust. And Tara, go upstairs and say goodbye to your parakeet because I’m not buying a damn turkey.

Things I’m Thankful For

by Jordy Greenblatt

  • My loving family, except my meddling half brother Steve
  • A warm fire on a cold day
  • Cuddles from my golden doodle
  • My mom’s 5 spice pumpkin pie recipe
  • Steve’s weakness for 5 spice pumpkin pie
  • A warm bed at the end of an exhausting day
  • The smell of freshly raked leaves
  • Steve’s childlike gullibility
  • The first snow flurry before winter really starts
  • My mom’s tradition of writing everyone’s initials in whipped cream on their pie slice, thus leaving no ambiguity about who will be eating which piece
  • The guests that she then greets, leaving the pie unattended for a few minutes
  • The park where I used to play catch with my step dad before Steve came along
  • Online vendors of tasteless, odorless cyanide compounds

-Melissa Chiasson and Jordy Greenblatt

A Report from Mayor McCheese’s Fiscal Policy Chief

by Melissa Chiasson

Dear Mayor McCheese,

As the head of your fiscal policy team, I am honored to help you build a sustainable economic future for Scottsdale. After a tough campaign in which you were slandered as a “McDonald’s corporate cronie” and a “man with a cheeseburger for a head,” I was excited to see what sweeping changes you would make to this town. That said, the team has reviewed your preliminary budget for the next fiscal year, and I have some concerns.


First, you project revenue to be $400 million, yet your projected expenses total $5 billion. At first I thought, wow, he must have gotten confused by all the zeroes, there’s no way he intentionally drafted such an unbalanced budget.


Of that projected revenue, you estimate we will receive $350 million of it in taxes, a reasonable estimate. As for where the remaining $50 million dollars is coming from, you wrote down “Free McDonald’s”. Now, Mr. Mayor, I’m not sure what municipality you came from, but here in Scottsdale, we pay for all goods and services with money. McRibs are not accepted as legal tender. Then you have down here that $5 million will come from “bun royalties.” I don’t even know.


For expenditures, you started out practical, granting budget increases to waste water treatment and street repair, issues that our citizens are extremely concerned about. Things get weird at the next line-item, where you wrote “Public safety”, then added parenthetically “and cheese.” I thought maybe there were specific public health issues related to cheese that you wanted to address during your tenure.

It became clear past that point that you were maximizing budget expenditures with no concordant increase in revenue to purchase vast quantities of cheese along with a party boat and mansion. At one point, you try to hide the purchase of cheese by calling it “queso.” Sir, my last name is Gutierrez, and everybody knows what queso is.

Also, what is a full-time Cheese Wrangler? Honestly, I’d really just like to know.

This explains the salary and benefits package table you sent to your employees (including me) earlier this month.


Mr. Mayor, I’ve drafted a sensible budget (attached) that balances revenues and expenditures while ensuring we meet the needs of our citizens. This budget would eliminate all cheese-related line items, along with the party boat and mansion.

However, as a sign of goodwill, I am leaving the queso budget intact.

Alice Gutierrez
Chief Fiscal Policy Analyst, McCheese administration

Just a Thought: Academia

by Jordy Greenblatt

At this point in my career, the most important thing I’ve learned about academia is how to look like I’m thinking about something really important so that nobody bothers me.

A Clarification of Our Office’s New Eco-Conscious “If It’s Yellow, Let It Mellow” Policy

by Jordy Greenblatt

It only applies to urine inside the toilet. I’m looking at you, Ken.

Tip of the Day #284

by Lincoln Sedlacek

The abundance of chopsticks makes sushi restaurants the perfect place to fend off surprise vampire attacks.

Famous Sayings Explained

by Lincoln Sedlacek

“I’m as fit as a fiddle.”
Used to express the idea that one’s vocal chords are so painfully taut that if you dragged a horsehair bow across them they would make an awful noise. Usually not spoken aloud.

“Raining cats and dogs.”
While this phrase is used to describe a heavy rainfall, the modern rendition of the saying has strayed quite far from the original, “Reigning cats and dogs,” which is a reference to the time period between 5000 and 4600 B.C.E., when cats and dogs ruled the planet and would often force humans to pour buckets of water on top of them so they could pretend to run through the rain romantically.

“It’s all Greek to me.”
Originally used by the Greeks to express the idea that a conversation topic really felt in their element, this saying is now mostly used to stereotype Mediterranean food.

“It’s not rocket science.”
A statement often used to clarify one of the things that a particular activity is not – usually rocket science. Frequently used to describe activities like riding a bike, learning the rules of a board game, being a good significant other, solving quadratic equations, running a washer/dryer, managing an email account, cooking hamburgers, installing Microsoft Word, writing grammatical sentences, tying a necktie, obeying traffic laws, and making paper snowflakes, among many others.

“Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”
A reference to the famous lyric from the murder-mystery-musical Counting Chickens. The main character, Tabitha, is supposed to finish a song with the recurring line, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch their evil plans!” but is cut short when she is chloroformed by a hen.

“What goes up, must come down.”
A euphemistic reminder that all erect penises will eventually become flaccid. It is meant to remind men that even if they think their erection will last forever, it won’t, so if they and another person want to use the man’s erection to have sex they shouldn’t wait a really long time to do so.

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