What does the world cost? Oh well, then we'll just take a small coke.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Aye Pee

"She can't write on the blackboard. For the life of me, I don't understand how you can get into teaching with such atrocious and illegible markermanship." I wasn't really frustrated with my teacher's writing, but students start conversations by complaining. So I was complaining. Class was in a few minutes and something had to be said that would keep us from standing around awkwardly like social misfits with rich parents.

"Powerpoint. That's the life saver of the modern teacher. And its 'markerwomanship,' as long as we are making up terms." My comrade was Konrad (note that I resisted the temptation to spell "comrade" with a K), an international studies major who somehow wound up in French.

"Well, why doesn't she use a computer presentation then? Why insist on the illegible scribbles?"

"Funny you should say that, I had a teacher in my high school Aye Pee honors chemistry once who did something just like that. This was a class for promising seniors with stellar GPAs and PSAT scores, but I took it my junior year because I met all the prerequisites and my principle wanted to find something challenging for me. Anyway, my teacher did the same thing." Konrad threw out this statement as if he'd said it a thousand times before. He was perfectly comfortable recounting his educational resume.

The acronyms left me spinning, not to mention the academic achievements that I am positive are necessary to qualify for a class like that. This kid was a real genius. A little insecure to be flouting his prowess so easily, but a first rate prodigy.

"Congratulations," I said after I'd sorted out GPA and PSAT.

"On the teacher?" Konrad was genuinely confused. Had his compliment bait slipped his mind so easily?

"Your AP class. That's impressive."

"Oh, my Aye Pee class?" Konrad beamed with pride. His question was a rebaiting of the compliment rod. I wasn't going to bite.

"Yeah." I kept my face straight and turned toward the door as if our conversation was over. An awkward pause followed in which Konrad, unwilling to move the conversation from the threshold of praise, waited expectantly for whatever bone I could throw in his direction. I had none to offer. Our impasse ended when another student showed up.

"Hey guys!"

"Morning Melissa." Konrad and I had an unintended harmony as we answered the newcomer.

"You would not believe my history teacher this morning. He droned on and on about Marian Jones like it's going to be on the test. In fact, he was almost as bad as my high school Aye Pee teacher. He would grab every tangent possible and run with it. I almost got a four because of his antics. Almost." Melanie Melissa made sure we didn't come away with a misinterpretation of her academic abilities.

Konrad felt the need to clarify.

"Aye Pee history, eh? Did you take 20th or 19th century? Because I had to pick 20th to make time for an honors lit class." Konrad had the look of a lawyer in open court. Slick, smooth and sly.

"Both." Melanie Melissa shrugged as if her accomplishment was nothing. "And I did honors lit, too."

In class, the teacher explained a difficult grammar concept that we students struggled mightily to understand. Queen, a girl with a disposition to match her name, piped up:

"My Aye Pee French teacher explained to my honors class that the direct object pronoun follows the indirect object pronoun in the 'Est-ce que' form." Queen's manner was defiant; she trusted her AP high school teacher more than her college instructor.

Our professor should have said something smart like "Well, your AP teacher is lucky to still have a job" or "You want to know the French word for where people like that end up after they die?" Instead our teacher kindly suggested that maybe Queen was not remembering her old instructor accurately. Despite the professor's gentle put down, Queen got her message across: I took AP French!

Incidentally, I didn't take AP French. But, boy, I would be such a better speaker and writer now if I had just taken that extra course. In my inadequacy, I feel so left out, so incomplete. I have nothing to bring to the bragging table and am completely outshined by these academic overachievers. I feel inferior. But deep down, in that place where the truth doesn't lie and the esophagus is the next door neighbor, I know I'll never be as good as my peers. And I am at peace with that reality.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Life Tip #45

Don't drive under the influence.

If you must drive under the influence, don't do so with your 11-year old son.

If you must drive under the influence with your 11-year old son and get pulled over, don't call your inebriated wife to come pick you up.

If you are the inebriated wife, leave your 9-year old daughter behind as you drive intoxicated to meet your drunk husband.

25 Things I Learned the Hard Way

1. Laundry doesn't get cleaner by sitting on the floor for a week.
2. Teachers bite back.
3. Not everything is a toy.
4. She really doesn't want to play Halo with you.
5. Before pulling into the street, it's best to look right AND left.
6. Some people actually read source citations.
7. Beer bellies aren't hot.
8. It's a good idea to look away from the screen and blink every half hour or so.
9. Having a girl doesn't get easier.
10. Meal replacement shakes don't actually replace meals.
11. Just because she said something bad about herself doesn't mean you're allowed to agree.
12. Orthodontists aren't the enemy.
13. If she's shrugging her shoulders, clamming up, glaring at you, crying, and yelling, it's her way of saying you did something wrong.
14. Fourteen year-olds do not have enough information to decide who they want to spend the rest of their life with.
15. There is a difference between artsy and art.
16. Calculators are good. Answers in the back of the book are better.
17. Everyone says they want to hear the truth but only one in ten actually mean it.
18. Everyone your age is emo. You're not special.
19. Even people from the opposing party have feelings.
20. Sometimes, violence is not the answer.
21. If it says use protective eye wear, use protective eye wear.
22. Save your work often.
23. Showing up in class can significantly increase your final grade.
24. Eventually, you reach an age where watching Barney is frowned on.
25. Just because she's emailing you doesn't mean she wants to marry you.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Plant Pathology Blues

It's true. We're uploading another movie.

This one was written and directed by someone who is only tangentially (read: familiarly) related to the FCN Team. But F was behind the camera, and he edited it. So we're uploading it.

This movie was presented last Friday at the Annual Plant Pathology Social at UC Davis. It's basically a place for a nerds to hang out in one of the smallest, most obscure departments on a world-famous campus and scratch each other's backs. Traditionally, such movies are really really cheap and cheesy, and are full of inside jokes. This year was no exception.

This year, the lot fell to Ryan H to produce the movie for the social, and he contacted his movie-freak brother to get it done. The movie-freak brother agreed when the university promised to compensate him with 2 free shirts.

While this movie was never intended for general consumption, we decided to upload it because:

1) We're starved for new content.
2) Some of it is funny even if you don't know the inside jokes.
3) An FCN reader asked us to post another movie.
4) See point 1.

And so we present, without further ado, the Plant Pathology Blues, presented in 3 formats for you discriminating readers.

Part 1 and Part 2


Friday, October 26, 2007

Part the Seventh: She has 'Crush' on you

It was like connecting positive and negative energy, but Luce and I were finally able to reconnect and set up a reconciliatory date. She had scheduling conflicts for most of my available times (school, a babysitting commitment and a best friend's birthday party were all pesky obstacles) so I ended up taking a couple hours off work so we could meet for a leisurely lunch and then walk around a local park.

If you're new to this tragic but all too real tale of failed attempts at love, you can check out the sordid and choppy history of Luce and my relationship here. Or, if you're the kind of person who flips to the back of the book to read the annotated version, it suffices to say that Luce and I have never clicked. I've either been too late, too dumb, too condemning or too verbose. Luce, on the other hand, has been everything; she's a charming date and beautiful companion. I've been borderline comatose.

Before heading out for date number four (or three, depending on whether your definition of a date includes an actual meeting), I sat down with a number of guy friends to put together a strategy. In retrospect, I probably should have had a girl on the consulting team, but I preferred the brand of advice my male friends provided.

Before asking for their input, I laid out my situation clearly, saying that my sensitive ego would not take another throw-it-down rejection. I needed to go into this meeting with a crash the board's mentality and approach Luce with a full court press. I wasn't going to be on the sidelines anymore.

OK, enough with the basketball idioms. Maybe I should add a girl to my team of advisers...

The guys and I reviewed my past experience and weighed reader comments for input. We were pretty sure that Luce's sister was in the military, which ruled out jdb and Adrialien's theory of a familial stand-in (the Luce of Part the Sixth had hair that was beyond regulation length). We also rejected matchmaker's input because it involved going to see a chick flick. In the end we settled on a variant of Frederic's idea and decided to strap on some metaphorical peacock feathers.

Throughout the date, I would be a bold, courageous beast in human form. By the end of our conversation, Luce would know every exploit, achievement and success I had ever caused or been a part of. I would pin her ears back with wordy tales of mighty victories, some embellished for grandeur and all told with wide eyes and guttural voice. I would spare no exaggeration and pull no punches. I would be Leonidas against the Persians, Achilles against the Trojans and William Wallace against the English. By the time I got through detailing my credentials of valor, Luce's crush would be that much more resolved and her affection secured.

"Spartans? Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!"

The end of our meeting involved some manly shouting, chest thumping and an arm wrestling match and one of my friends twisted his ankle while demonstrating a Bruce Lee wall-chop, but I was in the right frame of mind for a date as I hopped into my car and drove to the sandwich shop were Luce and I were meeting.

Luce was there when I arrived and, after we exchanged brief pleasantries, she felt a need to explain and justify her previous outburst. I put her at ease with the following reply:

"You know, Luce, a weaker man might have taken offense at your comments. A wuss or the guys who trim their eyebrows might have a hard time coping with such a letdown. I'll bet you Ewan McGregor would still be reeling. But not me. I once faced a whole room full of angry, condemning women. They were mad and I still don't know what I did. To this day, it doesn't bother me a bit. Not a bit. Your words were a drop in bucket compared to the kind of estrogen-filled hate I've been on the business end of. A drop in the bucket."

I think it worked, because she grinned while I was talking and shook her head slightly during the more fantastic portions. She even laughed when I mentioned Ewan McGregor and I made a mental note to thank Reginald for the line.

I didn't get a chance to be macho again until Luce had almost finished her sandwich. She looked down at her plate and said something about how "Mr. Pickles," makes large portions. Deep down inside, I think she was fishing for a compliment about her figure, but for me it was an opportunity to brag:

"Hah! This is nothing. How many calories do you think this sandwich has? 1,200? 1,500?"

"I have no idea."

"Well, I once ate almost 3,000 calories in ten minutes. I wasn't even hungry. I was like Takeru Kobayashi at the Thanksgiving table. Just boom; down the hatch. It was all gone before you could say "anorexia." They called me the Alimentary Vacuum and I considered a few sponsorship offers before staying an amateur. In fact, I'm going to have another sandwich. You want one?"

I don't think Luce knew who Takeru Kobayashi was and she looked more disgusted than anything at my comments.

Despite the fact that I was stuffed to the esophagus with a Mr. Pickles sandwich that was, admittedly, quite large, I walked over to the counter and ordered another. Food was never so painful.

Our walk in the park started off very well. It was a beautiful day and we made small talk for the first few minutes of our promenade. Then Luce brought up Reginald.

Luce wanted to make sure I didn't feel competition from my no-good house mate. She felt the time they were spending together might be perceived as more than friendship and she assured me the only reason she went out with him was because she felt sorry for his plight. I wanted to ask what Reginald's plight was, but my desire to appear strong lead me to feign confidence:

"You know, a lesser man might be concerned, but seriously, I've got this situation covered. Did I ever tell you the story about the guy at the place who tried to steal the girl from me? No? Well, he, you know, ended up...looking...less manly after I, uh, you know, finished with him. The girl's serving some time for an unrelated incident right now so you don't have to worry about her, you know, interfering with us. In fact, you could go out with the guy if you felt sorry for him and I wouldn't take that as a slight. I might even beat him up again although his reconstructive surgeon might not appreciate that..."

The more I spoke, the more ridiculous it sounded and I knew my face reflected my personal feelings of incredulity, so eventually I just shut up. My voice trailed off some and that's when I heard Luce's response.

"Why can't you just be the same person all the time?" She asked with a very feminine fire in here eyes. "One date you're Mr. Nice Guy and now you're trying on Macho Man...just give me the straight story. Don't be an arrogant tool. Be yourself. You don't have to try to impress me. You impress me; when you try you just look impotent and weak. And Ewan McGregor? That sounds like something from Reginald's playbook. Look, I know you're trying, but this isn't working. Call me when you are ready to be yourself."

With that, Luce marched to her car and, after a couple tries at the starter, chug-chugged her Bronco out of the parking lot.

I walked over to the playground set and began banging my head against a protruding monkey bar. How could I have been so idiotic? What could have been a great afternoon was ruined by my own meddling. What was that she'd called me? An arrogant tool? Ouch. I could count on one hand the number of times I'd been called that. And my stomach hurt like something fierce. Why did I have to eat that second sandwich? Why had I taken time off work for this torture?

Maybe Luce was right. Maybe I should try a date without any particular "strategy" and just wing it. I could try being spontaneously attractive. Or, maybe I could try coloring my hair or growing a mustache or something subtle but radical and very "me," whatever that is. How do you try to be yourself, when you've been working so hard to be something else?

I don't know. I definitely want to think about it before I call her again.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Enforcement of the Authority of the Certificate of Authenticity

Here's the short version of a long story: Mommy G hounded us about fraudulent comments all week. At first we were able to placate her with meaningless buzz phrases like: "I appreciate your concern," and later: "We'll get right on it." But eventually she threatened to cut the flow of brownies, and we immediately held an emergency staff meeting to determine what was to be done. The decision was unanimous, thanks in large part to the silent but conspicuous presence of Mommy G and her wooden spoon in the corner of the room.

Uncle Wally has been ordered to delete all comments from fake Mommy Gs starting the moment this post goes online. In addition, all comments from fake Mommy Gs from before this post are to be deleted at Uncle Wally's leisure.

It's been a great run, you guys. We'll tell you honestly: we found the whole thing absolutely hysterical (but don't tell Mommy G we said so). But when you stand between us and the brownies, something has got to give. And while we may not be able to tell the difference, Uncle Wally and his nifty snifty formula can. So beware, fraudulent fraudsters everywhere. Your Mommy G days are over.

In other news, we were recently asked to create a way for other FCN fans, friends, and family to put their own names on the Certificate. We have provided just such a way. If you're interested (Trevor, you should be reading carefully right around here), just send an email to FunnyClassNotes@Gmail.com and explain how you meet the following criteria:

1) FCN Reader
2) Regular commenter with blogger profile (provide a link)
3) In danger of being fraudulated or fraudulized, I didn't have time to consult a dictionary.

Of course, even if you meet none of these criteria, you can still make it on. Our integrity can be bought pretty cheaply. Money talks. Also brownies.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Life Tip #44

Don't create fake identification cards.

If you must create fake identification cards, don't steal the printer used by your state to manufacture driver's licenses.

If you must steal the printer used by the state to manufacture driver's licenses to help your quest to create fake identification cards, don't call technical support.

Selbmarcd Lrettes

Wlihe smoe wdros are hrad to dehpicer wehn the ioiretnr lrettes are selbmarcd, oreths are pttery esay to frugie out. In fcat, you may jsut be albe to raed tihs scnetnee wtihout so mcuh as a hctih if you hvae lenraed to shgit raed iaetsnd of snidnoug out erevy wrod pllacitenopy. Yuor mromey ptus the wdors tehtgeor for you form shgit and you unatsredd slaml wdors qlkciuy and legrar wdros aetfr smoe tniknihg.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Twenty foot Screeeeeeeeech mark

Me alone. An empty car and an open road. Me and God in a three door. No police cars or emergency vehicles behind. Only traffic ahead. Blake Shelton in the speakers. New shopping mall on the left, older shopping mall on the right. Thinking about elasticity of demand for lead-based Chinese toys. Trying not to think about a test I just took on the same subject. Worried about the upcoming workday at General Mills. Wondering whether my mother will notice my unfinished chores. Watching the traffic. Glazing just a bit.

The track on the stereo changed. Ain't Easy Bein' Me, also by Blake Shelton. Shelton has the same initials as Britney Spears. I wonder if he gets that a lot. I wonder if he's ever made the connection. Would Britney Spears have made it in country music? Maybe she should try that genre as a comeback strategy. She could be the un-Dixie Chicks.

Traffic in my lane is slowing. It's faster in the left lane. I am in the left lane. The car ahead of me has a "Baby on Board" bumper sticker. Is that supposed to keep you safe from the unsafe driver? I tap my breaks. Maybe I should get a sticker like that. Might keep me safer. I wonder how many people lie on their bumper stickers. Statement not a question.

Red light. Durn. Baby on Board made it through. I'm the first car in my lane. I like the feeling of control. Dominance. I can set my own takeoff. I can test my car's zero to sixty. I smile then think. Who is in the first car in my lane in my life? Is my life at a stoplight? I frown. Green light. Ten seconds. Dang. Should have wrapped it up more in third gear. Maybe I shouldn't be pushing my car like this.

Back under the speed limit. Sure a pretty sky this time of year. Eyes back to road. Green light turns to yellow. Ain't Easy Bein' Me. I calculate quickly. I can't make it. I shift down and floor the accelerator pedal. Jump ahead. 50,55,60 miles per hour. I'm within fifty feet. I'll make it. Yellow turns red.

Right foot leaves the gas. Left foot engages clutch. Right hand disengages and leaves shift. Left hand clenches. Right foot smashes brakes hard. Left foot braces against clutch. Right hand pulls on parking brake. Hard. Left hand is strained.

Tires lose traction. I feel the drift before I hear it. SCREEECH. I fishtale some but retain control. SCREEECH. The stop is sudden and, legally, just before the write line. Lady in car to my right looks at me. Scared and surprised. More surprised. Very motherly. I look sheepish. I feel sheepish. She admonishes with only her face. Nobody else seems to notice.

A screech mark stretches twenty feet behind my car. A long screech mark. Maybe you will see it the next time you go to the intersection. When the light turns green, I look around at the other traffic to gage their reaction. No other cars are in sight. I am all alone. I drive on, with more caution and less rubber. Me alone. An empty car and an open road. Me and God in a three door.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Brow Documents

FCN recently received the following email:

Dear FCN,

It has been brought to my attention that 2/3rds of FCN staff edit their eyebrows, as result of their teasing by someone who had purple hair, to which the retort was, "Oh yeah? Well, I don't have one eyebrow."
Out of curiosity, I would like to know three things (feel free to embellish with as many lies as you want…I think it makes the stories more interesting).

1. The real (or completely hammed) story behind the unibrow
2. How long the F of FCN plans to leave his hair the way it is (including facial hair!) and how he decided to bring it to that state

3. If any of the FCN staff has experimented with electrical nose hair trimmers, and the resulting experiences (I've heard that they tickle).

Lady Éowyn

This email may have been more dead-on that its author intended. The fact is, all three of us trim. The story is an intensely complex issue - very close to all of our hearts. But we decided to bare our souls and expose ourselves to a short video documentary by an objective interviewer so we could tell our stories (the first video production from FCN since the Minnie the Moocher music video). At the last minute, C backed out of the operation, but F and N pressed on and created the video, which can be found here, which for those of you who don't click on things, is:



Friday, October 19, 2007

Pop Quiz #4

Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls please clear your desk of all notebooks, papers and digital assistants and prepare yourselves for an FCN Pop Quiz! You may, of course, keep your computer on, just don't click on the answer hyperlinks until you've answered all the questions. That includes you, Adrialien; you may be outside the country, but it's still no fair clicking on the hyperlinks until after taking the quiz. Simply select the best solution you can, maybe scratch a notation on a pad of paper to signify your decision and force a modicum of honesty and look at the bottom of the post for the answers.

1) Who is Shinzo Abe?

a) Japanese Businessman who committed suicide after a failed business dealing.
b) Japanese Agriculture and Forestry minister who committed suicide after a cabinet shakeup.
c) Former Japanese Prime Minister.
d) Champion Japanese Sumo wrestler.

2) How old is the first Baby Boomer to have filed for Social Security benefits?

a) 60 (born in 1947)
b) 61 (born in 1946)
c) 62 (born in 1945)
d) 63 (born in 1944)

3) Which of the following songs does Leann Rimes perform in her hit album Family?

a) "Nothin' Better to Do"
b) "Stupid Boy"
c) "Fall"
d) "Before He Cheats"

4) Name the two undefeated teams in the National Football League right now.

a) Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts.
b) New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys.
c) New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers.
d) New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts.

5) Which of the following products has Greenpeace accused of containing "hazardous products?"

a) Microsoft Zoon.
b) LG Camera Phone.
c) Apple iPhone.
d) Motorola Moto Q9h
e) Greenpeace has accused none of the above of containing "hazardous products."

Ok, have you finished? That took you a long time. Are you sure you don't want to go back and change one of your answers? You can still do so without losing face. That Leann Rimes question really had you going, you might want to rethink it.

Unlike past pop quizzes, the answers were organized in a simple reverse rolling algorithm. If you haven't tried to predict the right response by guessing ahead and using a little math, we are sorry to inconvenience you with the change. If you have treated these little quizzes as math exams, we gotcha. Hah!

Here are the answers, see if you can find the pattern:


If you got all the questions right, you did excellently. You are very bright. You may want to start developing Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technologies. (That stands for SMART). Or you could humble yourself by taking any of FCN's past Pop Quizzes.

If you got all but one right, don't feel too badly about the one you missed. Think about the ones you did get. And don't, whatever you do, consider your performance a "B."

If you missed 2-4 questions, you may want to consider a course of treatment with a monoamine oxidase inhibitor.

If you missed all the questions, take heart, the quiz was probably a complete fabrication anyway. Be happy in knowing you are more intelligent than everyone else.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

News Flash: 10/18/07

Holiday will not play World Series due to injury sustained during postgame celebration

Matt Holiday, who was named Most Valuable Player of Baseball’s National League Championship series will be unable to play in his team’s first ever World Series due to an injury sustained during his team’s wild postgame celebration. Holiday, an outfielder for the Colorado Rockies, was wildly shaking a bottle of champagne and screaming at the top of his lungs when he pulled a key muscle in his lower back.

Team mates and witnesses to the incident say Holiday fell on the ground and began writhing; a move many thought was an unorthodox but acceptable form of celebration. It wasn’t until Holiday began shouting “my back, you fools! My back!” that the injury was attended.

The Rockies, who had been sustaining a Cinderella type playoff run and had won 21 of their last 22 games, will have to find another left fielder for the World Series.

Torre considers run at high political office

In the wake of his team’s elimination from playoff contention, New York Yankees manager Joe Torre says he may throw his hat into the ring of Presidential hopefuls and challenge fellow New Yorkers Rudy Guliani and Hillary Clinton in their bid for the Oval Office.

“I want to try my hand at managing the nation,” Torre told a group of beat journalists outside the Yankee’s front office. “If I can’t lead this team to another World Series, maybe I can balance the budget.”

Torre also said he felt working with the opposition party might be easier than negotiating with Alex Rodriguez.

Halo 3 Easter Eggs Discovered

A significant collection of easter eggs (hidden parts of the game that can be unlocked by strange player behavior) were laid bare yesterday by Cody Miller, the current world record holder for speed-running Halo 2 on Legendary without dying (he pulled it off in 3 and a half hours). Miller's latest discoveries include how Master Chief has used the bathroom without taking off his suit for the last few decades (he holds it), where the pistol from Halo 1 went (to Louis Wu), where the Flood come from (they teleported in from Doom), and why vehicles never run out of ammo (it's complicated). Perhaps most significant, he dug up a rare cut scene showing the true identity of the Chief. It shows a brief tiff between Master Chief and Cortana, in which the Chief removes his helmet to reveal that he is actually Samus Aran.

United States declares war on Qatar

It wasn’t supposed to work out this way, but it did.

US forces “accidentally” fired a high powered missile at an unpopulated farm in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar. Lt. Gen. Carter Ham, director of operations for the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, responded to inquiry from the Qatar embassy by issuing a declaration of war. No apologies were made for the incident, other than to say that “these things aren’t supposed to happen, but it did, so we’ll have to live with it.” A press release from military brass added that “it’s about time we got Qatar out of the way.”

Arab news source, Al Jazeera responded by broadcasting the exact location of the base where the missile was fired.

President Bush has yet to be informed of the declaration.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Why its OK to give liberals the pass

Warning: The content of this post is unintentionally mature. If you are mature, please read on. If you are unsure of your maturity, but are deathly curious, there isn't anything this paragraph can say to stop you, so read on. If you are immature, find a mature friend or parent to read the post first and, after the reader has sullied his mind or corrupted her heart with the vile contents, you may weigh the value of reading on.

And don't feel lonely, you can always check out today's Life Tip!

Those of you who have taken a break from your busy class schedule to peek at the news may have noticed a slightly alarming, politically delicious and highly concupiscent episode involving a duly elected United States Senator, an airport and a men's restroom.

If you aren't up to speed, let's just say that the honorable Senator was caught doing some perverted and illegal things in the bathroom and that the evidence against him was so strong that he plead guilty to the resulting misdemeanor charge without much of a fight. The honorable Senator than tried to remove his guilty plea and his request was denied. The honorable Senator is now trying to remove his guilty plea on appeal. The newspapers are loving it, bloggers are making hay of the story and every passing day has the image and reputation of Larry Craig dragged further through the mud.

The story of Larry Craig is one that seems more at place in a cheap paperback novel then on the front pages of such widely read publications as the New York Times. Or did I just repeat myself?

Regardless, the point is that anytime you have an elected politician soliciting anything other than votes in a public restroom, you also have a great deal of eyebrow raising.

Or do you?

I certainly raise my eyebrows when I hear these kinds of stories. I also lean forward, purse my lips and squint my eyes, all nonverbal expressions of titillation and interest. But if you are like most Americans, you only really care about sex scandals when they impugn a conservative leader.

No, it's true.

Consider Hugh Grant, an outspoken critic of former PM Tony Blair, who was caught misbehaving lewdly a few years ago. Grant took care of the "problem" by apologizing on Leno and then starring in a bunch of big budget movies. In fact, unless you have a photographic memory for news - one that can recall stories like this from thirteen years ago - you forgot all about GrantGate.

Or, more politically, openly homosexual congressman Barney Frank was at the center of a prostitution ring while serving as a Democrat representative from Massachusetts. When the scandal broke and the skeleton came waltzing out of Frank's closet, the politician did what politicians do best and easily sidestepped the problem. Only he did so by challenging his opponents to explain why his actions were wrong and defiantly defended his ties with prostitution. Frank continues to serve today.

Or consider Ang Lee and Tom Brady, a movie director and a sports star who's relationship dalliances are overshadowed by their liberal politics.

At the same time, conservative leaders like Clarence Thomas, Newt Gingrich, Mark Foley and Ted Haggard have had their voices eliminated or substantially tarnished by the allegations of sexual misconduct that have been levied against them.

Some would look at this disparity and become concerned with the apparent double standard in contemporary politics, but FCN sees this another way.

Standing for liberal ideologies is a great way to expunge crimes of indiscretion. Said differently, a host of moral sins are forgiven by support for the environment or advocating redistributing wealth to the poor. If you mess up, no matter how egregious the mistake, find a liberal cause to espouse and all will be made right.

This approach to justification gives people an out. Instead of having to suffer through the conviction of untreated iniquity, the sinner can search out some liberal pet project to support. And remember to stay consistent, because a relapse into conservativism invites criticism for your wayward behavior.

If you ever get caught in an insidious sin, deride the military or blame a conservative; you'll get out of the jam every time. Guaranteed.

So Larry Craig, burn in torment for your actions, you pervert. But rock on Barney Frank.

Life Tip #43

Don't drive while intoxicated.

If you must drive while intoxicated, don't speed.

If you must speed while intoxicated, don't text message your friends.

If you must speed while intoxicated while text messaging your friends, don't drive next to a set of railroad tracks.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Desperate Student, Episode 13: Dung Collector

This story continues the sad, sad story of the Desperate Student. If you're not up to speed, catch up here.

Warning: This episode contains brutally vivid descriptions of desperate survival in the wilderness. While this tale of human tenacity and hardiness may inspire some, it will probably be unsuitable to our more disturbable readers. So, as if you needed anything more than the title to warn you: proceed with caution.

We pitched camp in a man-made clearing several miles from a war-torn Zimbabwean airport, deep in native-infested jungle. Jane was a beacon of assurance and stability. She stood calmly on the hood of the jeep cradling her sniper rifle, supervising the men and giving orders without raising her voice. I'm sure that without her, we would all have panicked and started killing each other. Our Nikes would have squished with blood.

Anyway, we eventually got the two large tents erected. One was for storing and testing the samples and equipment. The other was for living quarters. The latter tent had a partition running halfway down the middle, delineating men's and women's areas. In retrospect, it seems a bit strange that no one complained about how much space Jane took up.

We slept an uneasy and very sweaty six hours. Uneasy because we were surrounded on all sides by loyalist soldiers, well-armed rebels, and extremely indigenous tribal peoples. Sweaty because Jane's partition didn't give the thirteen of us enough room to spread our sleeping bags so we ended up lying all over each other like someone forgot to put away the lincoln logs. I kept waking up with a start, believing I'd heard a low whistle - which everyone knows is the signal to move in quietly and kill everyone in their sleep - and then Vince, who was mostly on top of me, would shout: "Ginger! Ginger don't leave me!" and everyone else would wake up grumbling.

"Join up, she say," Muttered Xavier, whose head was under Gordon, the burliest man there. "It'll be fun, she say."

We used the crack of dawn as an excuse to crawl out of the tent to catch some hot and muggy morning breeze. Jane was already awake, still cradling the rifle. She had erected a small table in the middle of camp, on which she was lighting a small propane stove. Her makeup was flawless.

"Oatmeal will be served in ten minutes," She said. "Go clean yourselves up."

"How?" Vince asked. I noticed that he was the only male who looked even remotely well-rested. "There's no showers anywhere."

"There's a river half a mile north of here. Just watch for piranha. They're especially voracious in the morning."

We all moved away from the camp into the trees, half expecting to be stabbed by tribesmen before we even reached the river.

"Watch out for piranha, she says." Muttered Xavier. "It'll be fun, she says."

"Well, I don't know about you guys," Said Vince, "But I'm all for telling her we cleaned but actually just hiding in the jungle for ten minutes."

"She'll know," I warned.

"Better than being thrown to the carnivorous fish!"

"That's debatable," Said Ned, a tall fellow with thick glasses.

"He's got a point," Vince conceded. "So maybe we should just splash water on ourselves from the shore."

"And get out hands eaten clean off?" Xavier cried.

"Good point," Vince conceded again. "Maybe we should rub ourselves with large, juicy leaves."

Seven minutes later, we licked ourselves clean.

The moment I looked Jane in the eye, I knew she saw right through our cheap scam. The corners of her mouth turned down slightly but she said nothing. We ate our breakfast in awkward silence from biodegradable bowls. Then we dug a compost pit and put the bowls in, followed by the coffee grounds and Gordon's sleeping bag.

With that, we got down to the business of collecting samples. Jane split us up into groups of 3 and four and had us spread out with 2-way radios in search of Orangutan habitat, the defining characteristic of which would be big orange monkeys lounging in the overhead canopy. I went with Vince, Xavier, and Ned. Ned took the walkie, the rest of us used machetes. We brought meals and water, but everything was gone by noon.

We wandered all day. The going was definitively arduous. The sticky heat melded skin and shirt together. The tough vines yielded only to several harsh blows from our machetes. We left a sweat trail so deep we were afraid the piranhas would use it to catch up to us.

Eventually we reached a place where the overhead canopy was thicker, which meant it was cooler down on the floor and the vegetation was sparser.

"I say we take a break here," Said Vince, collapsing against a tree.

"She'll know," I warned.

"And she'll probably have you thrown to the natives," Ned added.

Vince slid slowly down until he was lying on his back. His eyes rolled back into his head. "There's no way she'll know if I just take a half hour break. And even if she does - I really don't care anymore. You know, this has got to be the worst job ever! I can't believe I agreed to come here for minimum wage!"

"Look at the bright side," I urged. "At least you're not ..."

At that moment, Jane appeared up ahead, with Gordon, Bob, and Harry in tow.

Vince had his eyes closed and didn't notice. "There is no bright side," He said. "We're being paid a pittance to collect mammal mud in blazing heat with all manner of flora and fauna out to kill us! Jane Goodall is a loon."

"Gordon," Jane said calmly, "Throw Vince into the river."

"Oh great," Said Vince, not opening his eyes. Gordon scooped Vince up and tossed him over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes, then marched toward the river.

"How goes the search?" Jane asked.

There was an awkward silence. Everyone was watching Gordon and Vince disappear into the trees. Then Ned shook himself as if from a daze. "We have yet to find any habitats, ma'am."

She nodded, unsurprised. "Keep looking." Then, with a motion to Bob and Harry, she pushed on into the jungle.

We searched for the rest of the day, and never encountered anything bigger than a chihuahua. Note that we didn't see a chihuahua, either. We returned to camp suffering from near-total exhaustion and ravenous thirst.

Jane was by the picnic table, staring calmly at the jungle with her ever-present rifle ready. Bob was lying face-down in the mud and Harry was pulling two blue arrows from his back. Three others were leaning against trees looking like they were in a London bombing shelter listening to the Luftwaffe overhead.

"Hey guys," I said. "What's up?"

"Injun attack," Said Ferguson. "They got Ian's squad - him, Jack, and Wes."

"They weren't injuns, you doofus," Cried Bob, lifting his head from the ground enough to speak clearly. "They were natives. Injuns don't run this far south. Where were you in fourth grade?"

"Learning how to save you from injuns," Said Ferguson stubbornly.

"That's a burn," Harry reported, yanking the last arrow out with a satisfied grunt. "Nice one, Ferguson."

Jane stirred from her place at the table. "Three of our men perished in the jungle due to carelessness and poor coordination with the rest of the team. I'm sure the rest of you won't make the same mistake."

"We won't," Said Bob, rising slowly. "Say, where's Gordon and Vince gotten to? Shouldn't they be here by now?"

"It matter little," Jane said. "This team was deliberately overstaffed in anticipation of near-certain casualties. Now, let's focus on the task at hand - collecting samples of Orangutan dung for further study. Ferguson's squad spotted an excellent habitat about three miles north of here. Ferguson, your squad will rise at dawn and go to the position to collect samples. Ned, your squad will relieve him at noon. We will relieve you at four with further orders. Are there any questions?"

There weren't any.

"Then get some sleep. We have a big day tommorow."

We all crawled glumly into our side of the tent. "Get some sleep, she say," Growled Xavier. "It'll be fun, she say."

"I heard that," Jane said calmly from the other side of the partition.

We passed the night in silent discomfort. Of course, with five of the team members missing, we had a lot more room than we'd had the night before.

Ned shook me awake around eleven the next morning. Without getting too disgusting, let me just say that peeling my sleeping bag off preempted breakfast. I joined Ned and Xavier outside and we followed Ferguson's well-macheted trail to the Orangutan breeding grounds. We found our hapless team members engaged in an activity that made even me pause. I can honestly say that in all my history - serving as everything from Santa Clause to an assassinated body double - orangutan dung collection may have been the worst job I have ever held down to date.

Ferguson briefed us on the details, and then he and his boys fled down the trail, screaming.

The job was this. We patrolled an area covering approximately a square quarter mile. It contained perhaps twenty orangutans, which are sloths which orange shaggy fur. When we suspected that one of them was going to do its thing, we would signal to the others, and together, we'd hold a tarp under the creature and collect the specimen. Then we'd wrap it up, label and date it, and put it in a pile near the trail head.

A few things that made the job nasty: First, the obvious downside of collecting monkey doodoo. Second, the heat. Third, the bugs. Fourth, the humidity. Fifth, the swampy river running straight through the patrol zone, which forced us to swing across like Tarzan while crocodiles watched from below with greedy eyes. Sixth, the obvious downside of collecting monkey doodoo.
It was four of the worst hours of my life, perhaps comparable only with the time a bunch of FDA freaks spoon-fed poison into my eyes. Finally, Jane made her much-anticipated appearance, with a haggard Bob and Harry close behind. She took one look at the specimen stack and sniffed disdainfully. "We'll have to step up the collection pace," She said.

"Hey, come on," Xavier whined. "You can't just snap your fingers and make these things ..."

"I am perfectly aware of what you can and cannot do to communicate to Orangutans. May I remind you that I spent six months among them in disguise until they incorporated me into their culture."

"You what!?"

"Come on," I said, tugging him by the arm. "Let's go."

"Yes," Said Jane. "Go back to camp. Ferguson picked up signs of increased hostile native activity. He's fortifying now. Help him dig rifle pits. It'll be fun."

We double-timed it back to camp. My utter misery grew more intense with every step. I wished I'd never taken this job. Unemployment was a better option. Why had I accepted, anyway? It wasn't like I needed to fool Suzy into thinking I was financially solvent. She'd already dumped me.

Camp was deserted. I didn't see any signs of fortification, but most of the supplies were gone and there was a trail of dropped provisions running down the path back to the airport. The stuff that had been left behind - mostly scientific equipment - was covered with tooth marks made by very large jaws.

"Fortify, she say," Xavier moaned. "It'll be fun, she say."

It took us about five minutes to salvage what was left from the camp and load it into the other jeep. Ned got behind the wheel with Xavier riding shotgun. I loaded into the back and readied the machine gun.

We were about to punch it when Vince came back into camp from the direction Ferguson had left. He was covered with chew marks and pieces of him were missing all over, but he was still going strong. "Dinosaurs," He rasped, pointing ominously down the trail. "We ... we'll all die!"

"Not if I can help it," I said, grimly patting the top of the gun. "Load up, Vince. Let's get you out of here."

Vince loaded up, looking totally defeated, and pulled a few grenades out of his pockets. "Just in case," He explained, putting them on the floor between the extra gasoline tank and the dynamite.

"Hit the road, Ned!" I cried. Ned floored the gas. Moments later, we were whizzing through the dense jungle as fast as the four wheeler could take us. I watched the path ahead with total concentration, ready to shred anything that moved. Eventually we lost the trail. I don't pretend to know how it happened. The path ahead was simply not penetrable. It took me just seconds to find a solution. I squeezed the triggers and poured a whithering hail of lead into the foliage. The leaves and branches stripped and tore, then collapsed on themselves. Within seconds, the line of fire had opened a new path through the jungle.

"Go!" I shouted without releasing the triggers. We pushed onward, with me clearing the way. We went about twenty miles, during which time more damage was done to the rain forest than had been in done in the past decade by global warming, acid rain, urbanization, American Imperialism, and the Ford Motor Company combined. Finally the jungle began to thin out, and moments later, our jeep leapt from the cover of the trees and out onto the airport tarmac.

The terminal was in flames, and dozens of rebels were dancing around Jane Goodall's plane squeezing shots off into the air. I stopped firing and Ned slammed the brakes. We stared at each other for a full ten seconds of very awkward silence, punctuated by the hiss of the barrel as it cooled.

"Hit the road, he say," Xavier whispered. "It'll be fun, he say."

One of the rebels who appeared to hold a position of authority signaled to the others. A dozen rebels pointed the AK-47s in our direction with menacing grins.

"Gentlemen," I said quietly, "No matter what happens, I want to make sure you know that I regret coming to Africa. This was a waste of time and an unworthy cause to die for. I should have stayed home eating Milky Way bars and collecting unemployment benefits."

"Amen," Said Vince solemnly. We shook hands all around and prepared to meet our fates.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Would the real Mommy G please take a bow?

I would first like to say that this is my first post on this blog, and I am very excited about that. My nephews have not treated me with much respect, but they are finally letting me speak for myself. I am very happy about this. Did I mention that I was very excited to be posting?

The FCN Team asked me to get to the bottom of the Mommy G problem so our readers would know who they could trust (which apparently means beg for brownies). I have created an authentication system so everyone can know who is in and who is out. Let me explain how it works and then how to use it.

It works by first assuming that given users have characteristics T1:Tn which indicate identities. The parameter d is a dampening factor that can be set between 0 and 1. I usually set d to 0.85. I define C(A) as the number of characteristics stemming from the user. So the identity breakdown of user A is given as follows:

I(A) = (1-d) + d(I(T1)/C(T1)+...+I(Tn)/C(Tn))

Identity of I(A) can be calculated using a simple iterative algorithm which corresponds to the principal eigenvector of the normalized characteristic matrix, which can then be scaled according to the centralized networking architecture of the verification system.

Now that you know how it works, let me tell you how to use it.

If the identity of a person is called into question, click on their user name. This will take you to their profile information. At the bottom of the profile, a list of blogs will appear. One of these blogs should be the FCN Certificate of Authenticity (FCNAuthentic.BlogSpot.Com). If no such certificate appears, this person is a fraud.

I have tracked down the real Mommy G by computing alternative identity vectors and cross-referencing them with known and implicit characteristics. The closest match was given the certificate. All Mommy Gs appearing without this certificate presumably serve burnt brownies.

Now if only she would accept my blog invite. 

- Uncle Wally

Friday, October 12, 2007

All Things Patriots

I am a huge New England Patriots fan. I know Tom Brady, Asante Samuel, Teddy Bruschi, Randy Moss and Lawrence Maroney by name. I regularly watch the highlights of Patriots games and am ecstatic when my team wins. I know players stats by heart and can tell you how many points per game the Pats defense has allowed since 2003 (16.5), how many consecutive seasons the Pats have won in the Playoffs (4) and the number of times Brady has lost on artificial turf (1). I know the nature of Lawrence Maroney's injury and can describe Samuel's lanky stride to a T.

I also cheer on the Patriots no matter what. When head coach Bill Belichick admitted to using illegal field level videotaping to catch opponent signal calling, I compared football to baseball, where such a practice is legal and expected. When Brady left his pregnant supermodel girlfriend to date the world's richest supermodel, I sighed and dug desperately for words of justification. When Rodney Harrison was suspended for taking Human Growth Hormone (HGH), I argued the substance, while illegal, served to help the athlete tackle his knee injury. When NFL bad boy Randy Moss was signed by the Pats, I got to my knees and prayed with all the sincerity of a teenager that Moss would become a choir boy. I am still on my knees.

And don't go thinking that I'm a late blooming band-wagon hopper. I've been rooting for the Pats since they started Brady back in 2000. I liked the mascot and I figured, even at a tender age, that I should decide which sports teams I would support for life and stand consistently by my prognostications through all weather. The fact that my football team has since won three Superbowl titles and has established itself as the class of the league is extra icing. In other sports I've been humiliated. My baseball team, for example, is the San Francisco Giants and my NBA squad is the Sacramento Kings. Neither of those teams are playoff caliber, but that doesn't keep me from ardently cheering them on.

This brings me to the recent past. I was looking around my room the other day and noticed I had no Patriots memorabilia. My wall is adorned with posters for the Sacramento Kings and the Marine Corps, a couple pieces of art, and a few maps, but nothing to commemorate my NFL team.

Using Bruce Willis' internet, I navigated to the Patriots paraphernalia and memorabilia page and looked among the Patriots stuff for what might best reflect my fanaticism. The site looks like an organized dump with all manner of useless items and hokey souvenirs listed in neat rows. The interested fan can purchase a throwback trailer hitch which allows the owner to tow a trailer while advertising his fanaticism, a Brady 16 ounce glass with Brady's number 12 emblazoned on the side or a salt and pepper shaker with the Pats logo. More usefully, you can purchase a padded folding chair, set of four placemats, BBQ set or air freshener, all plastered with the Patriots mascot.

Although not available today, I am sure the competitive market for NFL memorabilia will soon drive sports teams to produce a wider variety of trademarked goods. Anyone who wants to use Vince Willfork's deodorant, brush their teeth with the same paste as Mike Vrabel or shampoo with Troy Brown's hair wash will have a product designed just for them.

I, for one, don't want to drink Randy Moss' Kool Aid.

(Incidentally, Bob Kraft, the owner of the Patriots, also owns Kool Aid, so don't scoff.)

Anyway, all of this is making me wonder why fanaticism is OK in sports but not in religion or politics. I mean, you would have to be flat out, certifiably crazy to max out a credit card buying the emblazoned junk the Pats webpage offers. You would have to be Amy Winehouse about to go on tour in the US. You would have to be Toshikatsu Matsuoka on a Seppuku-free spending spree. But such behavior is normal. People actually wear the Bellicheck hoodie. I've seen it. And it looks awful.

Put a message about your God on your shirt and some circles call you preachie. A bumper sticker for a political candidate means you are inviting conflict and tension. But be a fan of a sports team and all manner of irrational purchases are reasonable.

I just wanted a poster, hat or T-Shirt, not a velvet winebag, steering wheel cover or beverage opener keychain. Oh well, I guess that's what it means to be a fan: put up with all the junk your team sends your way.

Regardless, you know where I'll be Sunday afternoon: Watching as the Patriots take on the NFL's top rated offense and try to remain undefeated. And I'll be wearing an unmarked shirt, sitting in a normal chair and drinking from an unemblazoned cup.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Undocumented Workers Hope to Change California's Flag

MAYBRIDGE, CA (FCN) -- Illegal immigrants in the agricultural heart of the Golden State have made a a concerted effort to change the Californian Flag. Pedro Cortes of the Sociedad por Liber California (roughly translated the Society for Free California) told FCN in a recent interview, "We really feel the current symbol of California is wrong. Just plain malo, as we would say. It's not fair to the illegals in this area, much less to the millions of undocumented workers in many of California's regions. And what's up the bear anyway? How many bears do you see roaming in a central valley vineyard?" Cortes also criticized the red star in the upper left hand corner of the flag, calling it "a symbol of communism."

Aside from the fact that many
undocumented immigrants disprove of the "no es frio" or "uncool" look of the flag, many also feel that the current symbol of California is in conflict with the rights granted to illegal immigrants by the U.N. While these arguments are often dismissed by government officials, so-called sojourners take these claims very seriously. Cortes noted in the same interview, "the U.N. human rights charter says that is it the priority of all governments to help individuals living in its borders get jobs - and that's the opposite of what the plans of the status quo do. How in the world does the current flag help me or my buddies get jobs?"

Experts fear that the current situation will only get worse as pilgrimaging workers move to the United States. Dr. Schultz author of Illegal Migrations, explained in a recent interview, "Illegals get what they want - and by Jorge, they want California."

Many undocumented workers want the Californian flag to be changed to resemble the Mexican flag. Some hope a compromise will be made, suggesting that the California background be changed to include red, white and green stripes. While this proposed change may calm the offended immigrants temporarily, others fear that an appeasement will only escalate the controversy.

Illegally immigrating Hispanics aren't the only ones pushing for a flag change. Proclaimed free spirit Daisy Moon argued, "You know man, it's so unfair to the other dudes. Totally. And we so need to get rid of the bear. Enchilada, taco, burrito, world peace, man." Moon was last seen enjoying a lazy afternoon beneath an interstate bridge.

Regardless of what change is made to the flag, Mexican-Californian's feel that it should reflect the multicultural diversity that has marked the state's heritage for the last few decades. The new flag shouldn't be too white or brown either.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Green SUV

Environmentalist extremists are hypocrites. It seems that that's the message sent by every major "green" political figure from Al Gore III to Paris Hilton. I don't want to believe that, though; I want to think that every conservationist who puts plants and animals before human beings has the purist of intentions and a consistent heart. I want to believe that environmentalist extremists put the same fervor behind their convictions as Tookie Williams. I really really do.

In fact, I put myself to sleep every night not by counting sheep, but by saying over and over again "Greens are people too, Greens are people too, Greens are people too..." My room mate says he wants me to find help.

Anyway, that's the overly elaborate setup for my trip to work from school the other day that had me zipping (siren sounds) along the interstate listening to Emerson Drive's rendition of Devil Went Down to Georgia. I really think the Campbell Creek Gang has a better version, but regardless the devil was just getting his fiddle licks in when I noticed a Chevrolet Suburban up ahead of me. The Suburban was guzzling along at the speed limit so I quickly gained the distance to its bumper and had to tap the brakes to keep from tailgating.

That's when I noticed that the car was adorned with several bumper stickers. Seven to be exact. They covered the back window and bumper like a poorly applied wallpaper and left small gaps where I could see the car's original color.

The bumper stickers were, as you may have anticipated, strongly from a Green persuasion. "Vote Green," "TREEHUGGER," "Treehugging Dirt Worshipper," "Plant Seeds and Sing Songs," and "Love Your MOTHER" with a small avatar of the globe are the only five I remember, but you get the idea. The driver of the car had obviously bought out the campaign offices of Ralph Nader and done a number on her vehicle immediately thereafter. I didn't even want to think about resale value.

The obvious question in my mind is why in the wold a Greenie would be driving a Guzzler. A little research reveals that the 2006 Suburban gets a meager 15 miles per gallon in the city. Each additional gallon burned, according to the propagandists who write those bumper stickers, is more environmental pollution and further propels our nation toward global warming or cooling, whichever doomsday scenario is in vogue.

It was plain hypocrisy and a laughable inconsistency to see an environmentally unfriendly vehicle with Greenie stickers.

But FCN isn't a blog that just sit backs and snipes. No! We offer solutions and find ways around hypocrisy. What the driver of this vehicle (a female, in case you just had to know) should do is purchase a bike or SMART car (0 to 60 in sixty seconds!) and paste all her messages onto this green form of transportation. Or, if she were really environmentally conscious, she could just walk everywhere and save the manufacturers of the bike the pollution of corrugating the steel and place her favorite bumpersticker on her back. (Notice I didn't say backside, because that would have been inappropriate).

I consulted a friend in search of the reasons that might drive (note the pun!) a young woman to such ironic hypocrisy, and my friend pointed out that maybe she is a new driver, put-putting around in her parent's vehicle. If so, maybe she felt the need to express her individuality without shelling out the big bucks for a ride of her own. Or, and this is my idea, someone vandalized her vehicle with the stickers and she has yet to notice.

This episode does present a rule of thumb that you, the faithful FCN few, can draw from: whatever you are driving, make sure your bumper stickers match the make and model. If you are driving a hybrid (Prius, Camry), you can roll with the greenie tags. If your whip is a slick sports car (Porsche, Mustang), you can ride with an arogant and speedster sticker. If you ride around in a truck or beater sedan (S-10, F-150), a military pride message or something having to do with beers after work works well. Expensive cars that send a message on their own (Beamers, Escalades) should generally leave their bumpers with their factory installed shine; they should be clear of anything that would block the natural beauty of the car.

And, as always, FCN readers should consider the FCN bumpersticker collection for their cars. OK, terribly sorry for ending an otherwise solid post with a shameless stub, but, well, that's the kind of car I drive.

"And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs."
~ Genesis 9:4

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Life Tip #42

Don't text votes for yourself in an online beauty contest in an effort to win a little over $200 worth of makeup.

If you must text votes for yourself in an effort to win a little over $200 worth of makeup, don't spend $2,384.54 sending nearly 2,000 text messages.

If you must spend $2,384.54 to text nearly 2,000 votes for yourself in an effort to win a little over $200 worth of makeup, win the contest.

I am Not a Reader - Part 2

After a spasm of confusing and conflicting comments to the first post in this series, we sent Trevor an email to make sure we were still on speaking terms. He wrote from his hospital bed to assure us that we were still chums, and then followed up this display of good nature by writing a second part to his I am Not a Reader note, which we present here.

I am 98.156542% sure that there is a small doubt nagging at the back of your mind. At random times, and even awkward moments, it whispers to you: “Trevor wrote that comment. Trevor no liiiiike you. Or he have a split personalityyyy….”

In order to quell that doubt, or perhaps to negate the aftereffects, I set out one day to find the imposter.

I was… released… from the hospital at 12:12 P.M. By 12:13 I pulled up to my driveway in a stolen ambulance. I rushed inside with a single thought -- to change from the embarrassing hospital gown to something more befitting a secret agent. You would have thought that I would have learned from my previous encounter, but as I burst into my room I was knocked flat by a full-sized ninja with pink tights and a gorilla mask.

Later I discovered why ninjas seem to enjoy robbing my house. It’s a migration instinct left over from the mass population flood of Siamese midgets… but you’ll hear more about that later.

To make a short story long, the ugly ninja which makes this story popular ran out of the room. Immediately afterward, a random popular pirate crashed through the ceiling and landed on my head, asking me the way to the Caribbean. I pointed vaguely in the direction of Texas, and told him to have fun.

It was 12:20 by the time I was fully rigged out in my spy gear. Tux, pistol, handcuffs, and those spiffy plastic watches that contain every gadget from telescopes to decoders. I actually looked like James Bond, especially after I greased up my hair with floor wax. A few adjustments to advantageously accent my modest figure, and I was ready for some hard core spying.

First I pinged the IP address of the imposter who left the comment in my name. It turned out to be a randomly assigned portal commonly used by Soviets in Africa. ‘Course, we all know who that is (chah, rFCN).

I don’t want to bore you with stupid details. With only a few casualties, I managed to hijack a plane from the local airport, where security is less than cautious. After a short flight to the African continent, I kindly left the plane in Ouagadougou, so that the airline company could find it easily. Yaddah yaddah yaddah, you don’t wanna hear about that garbage.

So. After landing, I found a hidden cache of weapons. I stole a machine gun, a grenade or two, then blew the rest up -- I am truly a pyromaniac at heart. I regretted it immediately afterward, however, as I was chased by angry tribesmen who believed that I had set fire to their village. It wasn’t true at all, really. How was I to know that those little huts were inhabited by people?

I was chased for a couple hundred yards, until I got tired. So I let the tribesmen catch up to me, and gave them guns in exchange for the damage done to their village. They seemed pretty happy with the deal.

Blah blah blah. Let’s see… the rampaging rhinos, berserk pygmy shrews, pirate ninjas, ninja pirates… ah, yes. I ended up in Erg d'Agmer, a sandy portion of Africa where only evil spirits and Communists reside. With some high-tech equipment pillaged from Le village et les gorges de Yi Yerra, I began tracking the name usurpers. I was little surprised to discover an advanced civilization of pink-clad ninja minja midget warriors residing in underground caves in the region. If you will kindly read on, momentarily I will make the connection between the civilization, my house, migration, and the pink tights.

It was obvious that rFCN had set up base nearby. I snuck past the local Wal-Mart before I was attacked by ninja children, who were emo. I made peace by giving them a grenade, then asked them where I could find the local rFCN headquarters. They chattered excitedly in Russian, then pointed to a nearby shack with antennas and wires poking crazily from the roof.

As I walked stealthily toward the house, I heard smothered laughter and an explosion behind me. I glanced back to see Wal-Mart on fire… oh well, none of my business.

The shack turned out to be empty of life. It was well stocked with computers and scientific equipment, however. I busted a window and crept inside, stealing up to one of the computers. After a quick hack, I discovered that it was indeed these people who had stolen my identity. They were soviets from Europe, who had moved to China and from there to Africa during the war of 1812. They had picked up the ninja way in Siam, and had acquired their manner of dress from ballets in Italy. My house had once been a communications base for NaBB, Ninja and Ballerina Broadcast. It seems that it was now a popular attraction for local ninjas.

Enough said. To abbreviate things, I blew up the shack and headed home on a stolen cruise liner. As I piloted my way home, I remembered that I had destroyed the evidence by blowing up the computers. Ahh, well… FCN will believe me anyway, right?

So really, I accomplished nothing in the end. But know this, FCN, subsidiaries and affiliates: I, Trevor, believe wholeheartedly in FCN’s right to publish content sent to their e-mail address. It is stated clearly that FCN will probably post any e-mail sent to them; whether caustically, or spitefully, or in an unrighteous manner. I attest that I know this, and that I sent my e-mail with every intention of my story being treated in this way. To the imposter who still lurks out there, I say “Yah boo sucks! Hope you fall into a sewer, or get kissed by Millary Clinton. Or both, necessarily in that order.”

Good for you, Trevor. And yes, we believe every word. We ran your post through a special device in the FCN Lab that evaluates the truthfulness of statements and it didn't beep once, so we know you're in the clear.

Readers, if you want more fun stuff from Trevor, check out his blog, Class C2. It's delicious.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Part Four: “You Will Never Learn”

For a few minutes after Carrie agreed to accompany me to one of our town’s better steakhouses for dinner, I felt strong feelings of elation and relief: Elation because Carrie had said “yes” and relief because she hadn’t said “no.” But I didn’t get much time to enjoy these emotions because my overactive mind began thinking about the ramifications of the commitment I'd made.

Yes, I’d made a date for dinner, but maybe Carrie would think of it as more than that. To me, dinner is a meal. Fifty bites, 70 swallows (if you count the beverage) and a little conversation. Sounds like a song, no? To Carrie, a nice meal with some charming company might be suggestive of something more; something more permanent and lasting. Maybe she would cling to me thereafter like cheap aftershave and never let me live my own life. Maybe I was signing a stalker request and ruining my love life ever after. I know, not really losing anything, but maybe it would tip my hand too much and give Carrie the ammunition to really hurt me.

But who was I kidding? How could I possibly be engaging enough to entertain someone through an entire meal, especially someone as engaging as Carrie? Maybe she would get more enjoyment out of looking in a mirror the whole time. Maybe she would never want to talk to me again. Or maybe she would sick her 120 pound male companion after me.

That's a lot of maybes for two paragraphs. Dang Bentham's utiles.

To help assuage my concerns, I checked the FCN comments page from Part 3 of this series and, to be perfectly honest, studied the reader comments like class notes before a mid term. Some of the advice was perfectly absurd. Go roller blading, don't schmooze her and don't do anything stupid are great rules of thumb unless you happen to be me. Rollerblading is out of the question, stupidity is inevitable and Schmooze is my middle name (it's German).

Other bits of advice were just reasonable enough to drive me to action. So much so that by the time yesterday evening rolled around, I had seen Hitch, practiced pouring coke without spilling, opened the door a million times for my mother, built a cake and, yes, checked rFCN.

I was so ready for the date, all the wild steeds in Wyoming couldn't keep me from making the evening a success. But Carrie could.

As I've mentioned before, my prior interaction with Carrie was very brief. All I really knew her by was my own hormone driven infatuation and our conversations had never lasted more than a few minutes. For all of you out there who have never been in a one-on-one dating situation, conversations need to last longer than a few minutes or things get really awkward. At least I think.

But with Carrie, things got awkward even before our conversation expired.

"Hey Carrie! So good to see you!" Our table was three paces from the door, so I rushed over to open it when I saw her coming. Apparently she neither saw me coming, nor the door opening, since it swung into her with a rapidity unbecoming hardwood and some part of her face emitted an abrupt squishy sound as flesh came in contact with machine. Not good.

"I can open the door myself, silly. Goodness. Clumsy oaf." Carrie had a way with words.

There was no blood, but her forehead had a nasty bruise that looked like it was itching to swell. The kitchen brought out some ice and I kept apologizing until the waiter came to take our order.

Only then, after I had selected my favorite item from the menu, did Carrie actually engage in serious, non accusatory conversation.

Carrie and 120 pound nerd just broke up. I would recount the long and painful circumstances that precipitated this separation, but that's neither here nor there. Suffice to say that the story is long and emotional. And that Carrie is pretty torn up about it.

Picture me, across the table from an exceedingly attractive young woman for whom I hold a skin deep interest that may very well flourish into something more genuine, listening to an episode of Days. This wasn't a chick flick, this was chick torture.

The more Carrie talked, the more she seemed to cling.

Carrie told me about her love life, her needs, her idiotic ex, her school, more about the jerk of an idiotic ex, the problems with boys in general, the problems with boys in specific, especially with regard to the jerk of an idiotic ex, etc. In return, she found out I like my steak medium rare.

I was Jimmy Stewart at a meeting of the Red Hat Society.

But other than Carrie's incessant verbal diarrhea, the evening wasn't so bad. In fact, I could see a very one sided relationship developing. On dates, one of us would talk, the other eat. Carrie could dump her emotional problems on my lap and I would do relationship dog duty.

My imaginative reverie was broken by the soft buzzing of my shell phone in my right hip pocket. At first, I thought the call was from one of my guy friends wanting to set up a run or maybe from my brother asking how the date went. Hey, man! Date is still in progress! I help up my finger to pause Carrie and glanced at the name on the screen: Luce.


She'd said she didn't want to talk with me anymore. She'd shunned me after our disastrous encounter, and rightly so. Why in the world was she calling? Did a renewed crush for me drive her to the phone? And why call now of all times?

With an apologetic "I've gotta take this" look, I answered the phone. That was the mistake that made me lose Carrie.

Luce was sorry she had acted like a sophomoric twit (my words) and wanted to go out again. She still had a crush on me and wanted to know about the new Brad Pitt western in theaters. Was I interested?

Was I interested? Present company included, I had pretty much struck out on every date I'd tried. Luce was giving me another chance at feminine redemption.

That's when I realized that Carrie had gone from lost in her recantation of woe to completely focused on our conversation. When I hung up the phone after five minutes of talking, Carrie asked me sharply: "Who was that?"

"Well, uh, well, let's see..." The fact I had euphorically shouted Luce's name when I picked up the phone and given my verbal consent for a date next week eliminated most of the nondamaging lies. So I told the truth.

Ballistic is too contained a word to describe Carrie's reaction. Apparently going out on a date with some girl while scheduling one with another one doesn't fly in her book. So she left.

The cold outside air that was swept in by the closing hardwood door served as a rationalizing force and I didn't follow her outside. Those at the adjacent tables had already witnessed enough of a scene.

So that was Carrie. I'll see her in class on Tuesday and maybe we can patch things up. Maybe. But I doubt it. A girl like her can have her pick and there are plenty of other welterweight dweebs who will lineup for some attention.

For now, I've got a date with Luce to look forward to and a severely battered ego to patch up. Oh yeah, my fortune cookie read "YOU WILL NEVER LEARN." Depressing, but true.