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

Friday, May 30, 2008

Good Morning!

I don't have any right to complain. My misery is entirely self-imposed and it would be disingenuous to wax sentimental about my plight. Did I just use the conditional? Let me rephrase with more accurate grammar: I will be disingenuous as I wax sentimental about my plight.

Evenings are a soft landing. You can miss your bedtime by an hour or two and pay no immediate price. Sleep isn't like mom in that it forgives easily when you don't call. Mornings, on the other hand, are harsh. Commitments made at a less sober time can be pressing and the snooze button only provides so much relief. The light outside only gets brighter as the reality of life's travails dawn with the new day. Mornings are a daily Monday; a regular reminder of the curse of time.

Then there is the bed. Beds are like relationships in that they are really easy to get into but terribly hard to get out of. I've invested quite a bit into making my bed a hospitable place to rest and recharge. I've got a firm mattress, a pillow and I even washed my sheets once. Getting out means leaving behind a cardinal comfort. If you're a heavy guy like me, your body creates a form-fitting mold in the mattress that is so inviting, you'd listen to Nancy Pelosi if it meant curling up inside.

Anyone who is cheerful in the morning be cursed. Smiling within two hours of waking up is like cracking a joke at a funeral. Coup de don't do that. Whilst the normal world is wiping the sleepies out of our eyes, you have to be a danged whippoorwill. Why weren't you so much fun last night?

But mornings can be cheated. At least, that's what I told myself three days ago, when made a soft landing on my evening and stayed up past the godly bedtime. I had to be at work for the early shift at General Mills the next day, but that didn't keep me from fooling away the early morning hours, answering email, surfing the net and doing pretty much what you're doing now.

When I finally cashed it in, my face had the tired rigidity of a corpse. I didn't worry about it; that's why they call it beauty sleep, right?

You know in the movies, when the main character gets out of bed, how the only thing that is at all out of place is a few wisps of their otherwise perfectly coiffed hair? That morning I woke up looking like The Joker. Or maybe it was Sienna Miller without her makeup (you don't want to know). My alarm buzzed and my radio turned on to my favorite sports analysts, who seemed much to chipper for 6:00.

I have an old person problem. When I wake up, I can't get back to sleep. Some of my friends can snore away hours and hours of their lives one morning at a time, but not me. The buzzing alarm is the finale to all my sweet dreams.

Thanks to the miracles of modern chemistry, I managed to survive the day. It actually turned out pretty normal - or as normal a day as a proud derelict with a humor blog can have. So encouraged was I by the feat, that I tried it again the next night.

If I was Sienna Miller without makeup the first morning, I was Queen Latifah on day two. This morning was day three and I am beginning to see why you can't cheat mornings. I have this amazing new skill. I can stare at a clock and watch time pass and actually be entertained by it. My new favorite facial expression is the slack jaw and I have some severe contact lens problems, but the biggest problem is what I'm going to do tomorrow.

My friends now await their 1 AM GTalk messages and I am reconnecting with the night owls in my life. I can't pull the plug on all of them now. I have a big cyber meeting with my new buddies at World of Warcraft tonight, but if I attend I'll be Dick Clark tomorrow morning. Time can be so cruel!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Confessions of a Fat Man

The following was sent to FCN from a good friend and somewhat faithful reader who needed a venue to cry for help. This post is part of his therapy. Please give him an encouraging comment and keep his sad plight in mind next time you visit Sizzler.

I used to think that I was a normal young man. I ate my grandmother's apple pie. I liked baseball. I believed in the American way. I had two dogs and an eccentric family. My mother was an immigrant. I was the classic American boy. Or so I thought.

One lonely new year's eve, I happened to glance at a mirror. What I saw left me dumbstruck. There was a lot more of me in that mirror than I had counted on. Instead of the fit young man I was looking for, staring back at me was an abomination that could serve as a counterweight for the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I was fat.

At the time I tipped the scales at around ** —NOTE: THE EXACT AMOUNT HAS BEEN CONCEALED FOR THE PRIVACY OF THE AUTHOR— It was at that moment that I realized that something must be done. I set for myself a modest goal. To lose five pounds over the course of the year. I failed miserably. That year my weight marched into the triple digits. Each year since that fateful revelation, my New Year's resolution has been to lose five pounds. Sadly instead of losing unwanted adipose, I am consistently gaining weight at such an alarming speed that my mother has had to take me into town each year to purchase new clothes to accommodate my growing paunch. Today, when I step on a scale, I see the needle fly all the way to ***!

The thing about my weight that really bothers me is the way people look at me. When I walk in a supermarket, I see people staring. I know what they are thinking. I know people use words like, fatso, blimp, barge, blubber man, plump, big boned, stocked for famine, pregnant, obese, convex, structurally challenged, couch, Manuel Uribe Garza, and many other words that are too exciting to print, including some that have been banned by weight watchers (who are marvelous loving people, by the way). I see some mothers talk to their children as I walk by, some even point. They are telling their children to eat their fruits and vegetables, but not too many of them. They are telling their children that I am the result of too much candy. The only solace I find in my entire weight situation, is the knowledge that I serve as a waddling warning klaxon to this nation's youth.

I remember when a man approached me and asked“When is the baby due?” This comment hurt me so deeply that I could not think of a suitable response for over 10 minutes. However after some careful thought, I approached the man and asked him “When is YOUR baby due?” I felt that this was an appropriate comment until he demonstrated that he was much stronger than I. So strong, in fact, that he was able to pick me up and throw me through a glass door, which is no small feat given my aforementioned weight.

There is one thing, one person, who makes me more sensitive about my weight than anything else: My girlfriend, the apple of my eye. I know that the joy of my life loves me even with my extra five pounds, but I want to be the best I can for my Jewel. My Ruby is perfect in every way. There is nothing that can stand next to her and scratch even one tenth of one percent of her amazing personality. That smile. The softness of her voice when she greets me. Her very name means pure, and she is the purest of gold. I want my sugar plumb to be happy. I don't want my cookie to be burdened with the sadness of looking at me each day, and knowing that I am overweight; knowing that someday I will die and that my weight problem is only speeding up the process. I know my darling sweetheart would never tell me she is concerned about my weight because she knows how much it hurts for me, but I know it hurts her. I know it when her arms can't quite make it all the way around me when we hug. I see it in my baby's eyes when we pretend to watch a sunset. It is mainly because of the sorrow I cause my guiding light, my love, my soul mate, my honey bee, my 29 out of 29 on eharmony, that I have been diligently working on reducing my weight.

Each year I have employed a different weight loss strategy in the hopes of regaining a svelte appearance.

Year 1) THE YEAR OF IGNORANCE: I ignored my weight in the hopes that my problem would disappear. Though this strategy felt good and was the easiest, it failed miserably.

Year 2) THE YEAR OF LIPOSUCTION: They sucked a good ten pounds out of me. Let me say that liposuction is a real rush. Anyone who has not tried it should definitely give it a shot. It beats any roller coaster I have ever been on. Sadly I could not keep the weight off. I gained that weight back and another 10 pounds afterwards.

Year 3) THE YEAR OF GASTRIC BANDING: Stomach Stapling. It sounds really bad, but it isn't. They give you lots of morphine and other addictive narcotics that make the whole thing truly enjoyable. It certainly made my stomach smaller, but it didn't keep me from eating. I ate constantly and, though I had a reduced stomach capacity, I kept my gizzard stuffed to the brim. I gained more weight that year than the previous two years combined.

Year 4) THE YEAR OF JEREMY: My tape worm...at least he was my tapeworm until my doctor found out. I opted for adoption. Low and behold I had a friend who was searching for a companion. That gentleman took my friend, named him Jeremy and has been treating him with uncommon dignity for many years now. I still go see him sometimes to catch up. I miss him, but I know he is in good care. The surgery that separated me from my friend lost me five pounds. Jeremy had kept me from gaining weight, but once again I could not keep the weight off.

Year 5) THE YEAR OF ELECTRICITY: I got serious. For those of you who have been electrocuted, you know the weight benefits. For twenty minutes a day I would stick my finger in an electrical outlet, and let nature fry my adipose tissue. Let me say that the biggest barrier between me and my weight goal, is my doctor. Right when I have a good thing going, he always steps in and tries to stop it. I think he likes me being fat. One day my mother found me with my finger in the outlet, she immediately took me to the doctor (I wonder if my own mother has turned on me!). The doctor immediately took me off of my weight program (which had been working marvelously) and prescribed me some pills which were supposed to help my heart and liver out after the 'damage' I had caused them. To this day I do not know why losing weight would hurt your heart, much less your liver. I know my heart is important, but I really don't care all that much for my liver, the doctor had put me on 600mg of different medicines a day. I never took a single one of those pills. Imagine how much more I would weigh if you add 600mg a day up. According to Google over one year I would add a whole 219,000mg to my weight.

Year 6) THE YEAR OF THE MACHINE: Kids, don't try this at home. I created an apparatus that would –EDITED FOR CONTENT— I placed myself in the concaver –EDITED FOR CONTENT— needless to say the pain was unbearable –EDITED FOR CONTENT— I really think that my brother chose the wrong moment to enter the room. His shock was understandable after all I had just finished –EDITED FOR CONTENT— That was when they sent me to that doctor again –EDITED FOR CONTENT— I didn't take those pills either. I may get headaches every day, but I think it is worth it. I couldn't keep that weight off though. In one month I gained back the fifty pounds I lost. Talk about demoralizing

Year 7) THE YEAR OF AUXILIARY ORGAN AMPUTATION: This year, is amputation year. My body is chock full of organs and other things I just don't need. I can do without my appendix, and one of my kidneys can go. I heard of one guy who survived with only one lung. Most of my teeth can go. What do the ones in the back do for you? No one can see them unless you choose to make an exposé out of it. I am thinking about removing one of the muscles that makes up my bicep, maybe go for a the unicep look, maybe even do the same operation to my tricep. Really now, who needs two or three muscles when you can have one do the job. I also am going to shave my head, my eyebrows, and cut off my eyelashes. Dedication is a must to seriously lose weight. My ears can go - the outside part is not needed to hear. My nose (which is INCREDIBLY large and weighty) can be removed. If it worked for Michael Jackson, it can work for me. I am also looking into removing large muscles and tendons. Who really needs their Achilles tendon? The only person I know of who did anything with that thing was Achilles, and that killed him. I don't want to die, I figure that tendon can go. If all that doesn't work, I can amputate my head. A friend once told me that head removal is the best way to lose the ugliest eight pounds on your body. I like that, kill two birds with one stone.

The long and the short of it is that I need help. I am writing this to let out some of the frustration that has built up within me. Many people have called me "anorexic," told me I am "skinny" and made other unhelpful remarks about my weight when I bring it up. I have even had some who chose to laugh in my face about it. Only recently did I find someone who showed true understanding and compassion towards my problem. If it weren't for her, I doubt I would have the courage to write this, even if it is anonymous. I am asking for your help, for your collective cybersupport. I am counting on you.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Life Tip #70

Don't hang out in your boyfriend's bathroom.

If you hang out in your boyfriend's bathroom, don't eat and sleep in there.

If you hang out in your boyfriend's bathroom and eat and sleep in it, don't stay there for two years.

If you live, eat, and sleep in your boyfriend's bathroom for two years, get off the toilet seat so you don't get stuck to it!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Punishing a broken watch

Meet my watch. It is one of the few pieces of electronics that I haven't named. I purchased my watch late last year and was so proud of my new toy that I wrote a post about it. In that post, I lauded the features and abilities of my watch, including its 200 lap memory, which actually turned out to be more of a detriment than an advantage.

A week ago my watch broke. Something snapped in its silicon brain and it went all Charles Manson on me, squealing and flashing away in a way that can only be described as chronological. Anyway, it wouldn't tell time anymore.

I couldn't let my watch get away with this rebellion without some kind of punishment. I needed a deterrent to show the rest of the electronic world that giving up - even if that surrender is justified by valid medical reasons - will not be tolerated.

With N toting the camera, I took the offending watch outside to the concrete pad in front of my house and delivered the kind of swift punishment that would have, in another time and place, make me famous. In four strokes of my hammer, the damage was done. My watch will never disappoint another owner again.

Enjoy the photo essay...

Like the snake snuggling with the rat, the crazy watch nestled against the hammer.

The watch is in position and the hammer is poised to smash. I could almost see the watch's face flinch.

The glass is smashed, but the job is not done.

The faceplate broke into a fine powder that shone brightly in the late Spring heat.

This is one watch that will never again tell time.

Two smashes later, my watch was warning all the other electronics in the area to be good.

A million pieces.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Fashion #4: Yeah, I wear a speedo.

People like athletes. They are a tad like airline pilots, military personnel and Carrie Underwood in that few have anything negative to say about them and their good faith and humor is almost universally assumed. Some of my less athletically minded friends have considered introducing themselves as athletes to girls, just to get more positive attention. When asked how he would answer an inquiry about what sport he plays, one of my more innovative friends answered he would brush it off with a "you know, the one with the ball and the points that requires great feats of physical prowess." Yeah, that one.

It may be because people like to watch those who are in shape perform at their best. Or maybe it's just that people are awed and intrigued by all those impressive feats. It could also be that people like the thrill of a being in a cheering stadium, the shocked feeling of seeing someone stomped to a pulp, or the tingling butterflies they get in their tummies when a hush falls over the crowd at the climax of a game.

So when people ask me what I do, I bring up my best feature first. I confess that the first thing I tell them is that I am a swimmer. It usually works well for a few moments. The other person is impressed that I would devote so much time to swimming back and forth in a body of water with no one chasing me and they ask about how many people I've seen drown.

Then comes the test. There is no foolproof profession or extra-curricular activity. Lawyers may be wealthy, smart and well dressed, but their ethics put them in the same category as the smaller members of the Mustelidae family. Plumbers may work hard and have strong bodies, but their salaries and close proximity with "ewwey" substances makes their work imperfect. For extra-curricular activities, members of the debate team may be intelligent and have good prospects for the future, but their meager social skills and utter nerdiness balance out these qualities. Jocks may compensate for the deficiencies of debaters, but they carry their own liabilities.

Turns out, there are two types of people in the world. The ones who ask a swimmer what his favorite stroke is and the ones who ask if you wear a Speedo. Invariably, on a bad day, it will be the latter. The conversation usually goes like this:

"Do you actually wear a Speedo?"

"Well, if you mean Speedo brand, yes." [note, the question is left unanswered]

"Whew, for a second I though you were, uh, one of those kind of people..." [laughs]

"Well, I kind of am. I prefer to call it a competitive suit." [gulps]

"Wait; say what?"

But for a swimmer, wearing a suit isn't a fashion statement. It's a tool for speed. The electrician doesn't remove a pair of pliers for its aesthetic appeal; rather he worries about how well it will snip a wire. Similarly, we swimmers are not concerned about our apparel - until, of course, a friend asks the fateful question.

My new approach is to make like Billary and avoid the question entirely. I talk about how full body suits are becoming the norm for professional athletes (you know, the clothes that Jessica Alba wears to parties?) and start to talk about the greats in our activity. Heck, I'll even get into a conversation about my sister's music before I answer the speedo question straight up.

But just because we're athletes doesn't mean we never think about how we look. Just stop at a finish sometime and watch the guys and girls adjust their hair after a race and we most definitely still care about our tan lines.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

FCN Classic: Potty Humor

Disclaimer: The topic of the following essay is a restroom. This essay was not intended to be read by people with any sense of decency, sanitation, or propriety; that is, it was not written for the fairer sex. It contains descriptions of morbidly revolting (and sometimes friendly) creatures not originally intended for human company. This is the stuff nightmares are made of. My nightmares, anyway.

When we first moved into this house, the restroom was just short of brand new: it wasn't completely finished. The faux marble countertop needed to be caulked into the wall, and the one-piece shower/bathtub needed caulking into the floor. We assured ourselves that we would take care of these tasks as soon as we had time. There were so many other things to worry about at the time that we didn't bother ourselves.

My mother gifted us with a full set of matching restroom items with a sailboat theme, like toothbrush holder, soap dispenser, towels, shower mat, even a nifty picture to hang over the potty depicting a lighthouse on a cliff by the ocean. We had a full arsenal of towels, including a set of green ones with our names on them, and a stockpile of toilet paper and shaving cream. We considered ourselves moved in.

There's something funny about restrooms. You have to clean them. This is something it took us about two years to realize. Understand, for those of you who don't know us personally, that this restroom was used exclusively by a collection of males. Males do not notice filth until it asks them to scoot over. This is exactly what happened.

Two years had gone by, with five males cycling in and out as fast as they could, carrying out restroom tasks like showering, shaving, tooth brushing, and wrestling, day in and day out. The caulking was still unfinished. Multicolored scum started to build up around the potty. Then the shower. Then the walls and mirror. Then the sinks and toothbrushes. One day, while I was examining my ruggedly handsome visage in the mirror (this is after I had carved out a space in the layers of white stuff covering it), I heard a peculiar voice coming from the direction of the shower.

It was a cephalopod. It had come up from the crawl space and wriggled through the a rotted-away crack in the floor to talk to me. I was flattered that it would feel me to be worth the journey. I did not realize at the time how easy this journey was, nor how often it was completed.

"The boys and I have been talking," The cephalopod announced, "And we think the picture over the potty is unsightly." I glanced at the picture, which was of a glob of shaving cream on a cliff by the ocean.

"It is a bit strange," I conceded. "Want me to cover it up?"

"Actually," The cephalopod said, "We want it replaced."

"Well that's nice of you. Did you bring the replacement?" The cephalopod chortled, releasing a viscous yellow fluid that oozed off the potty into the waste basket.

"Don't you see?" It asked. "I'm your replacement." It moved into position just above the flush handle. "And this way, you don't have to flush anymore. I'll do it for you."

"What's a flush?" I asked.

The introduction of the Cephalopod on the Potty marked a new era for the boy's restroom. We call this era the Paleogooey era. It is identified in the layers on the mirror by whitening toothpaste full of small rodents and razor handles.

During this era, we uncovered seven new species formerly unknown to science - all of them rotifers, all of them visible without the use of a microscope. One species in particular had undergone the evolutionary process known as cephalization, which, for those of you unversed in the ways of quack science, is what happened to Cody a few years back. This new species was politically active, and, after a brief power struggle with the boys downstairs, established themselves as the rulers of the restroom, which was okay with us, because, under their leadership, the pond scum unclogged the shower drain. Now that's results.

There are two sinks in our restroom. One of them releases milky water, the other releases clear brown water. We use the milky water for shaving and the brown water for brushing.

We were able to coexist with our flora and fauna friends for the duration of the Paleogooey era. With the emergence of predators, however, we were forced into the Mesogooey era, marked by fossilized rodents and mollusks with faces contorted into expressions of agony.

As with most things in the restroom, predators came in all sizes, shapes, and textures. Some hung from the ceiling and dropped down on passing prey. Some hid in the medicine cabinet and leaped out when the door opened in order to scare people. Some drank the shampoo. Some drank other things. Irritated by these pests, the rotifers declared war on the predators, and marshaled their subjugated life forms into an army.

The battle was fought on the only surface dry enough for organisms that couldn't swim: the countertop. The leaders of both armies stood on bars of soap facing each other and exchanged threats and boasting. Then a dreadful melee occurred, during which more progress was done toward sanitizing the restroom than had ever been achieved in its entire cumulative history.

This astounding record notwithstanding, the rotifers were badly defeated and had to beat a hasty retreat to the liquid soap dispenser, where they negotiated a surrender on very unfair terms. The subjugated organisms gave up their weapons and returned to their homes and families. The normal rotifers were allowed to leave, but had to respect strict lifestyle regulations including taxes on all commerce, curfew, and observance of a no-fly zone. The leading rotifers were sold into slavery to the boys downstairs. The president of the restroom was tortured to death by slow roasting. This was achieved by an ingenious device fabricated just for the purpose by a clever but very rude fungus who used Ryan's contact lenses to magnify the sun's rays (this was back when the window over the shower could still admit light).

The Mesogooey era brought about a number of changes. We had to remove the shower mat because it was a breeding ground for some of the larger, toothier predators. This required special diving and pulling equipment, and a paper barf bag. We also had to put padlocks on the shampoos and conditioners because various grubs were holding conventions in the bottles. We received a petition signed by several thousand shower scum demanding that we remove the sanitizer from under the sink, which we obeyed with great alacrity. There's nothing worse than angry shower scum.

One day we discovered some mushrooms growing behind the potty. These were of a species we styled Fungi Loganhercium, though obviously it is impossible to know exactly who the ancestor was without DNA testing. Though we had been through a lot, we were upset by these mushrooms and decided that something had to be done about them. But I digress.

About this time, we discovered that the white stuff we had been using actually wasn't toothpaste, and the Mesogooey era came to an end. This ushered in the Neogooey era, marked by small mammals and fungi in various embarrassing and scandalous positions. The Neogooey era established a sort of balance. The predators roam free about the restroom, but try to avoid making us so bothered that we actually notice. The rotifers lead an underground resistance, and we can sometimes hear them engaging in strategic sabotage of predator strongholds, or breaking into weapons caches, which left us without basic hygiene equipment for the next day. The creepy crawlers used an all-natural substance to caulk the counter and shower at no charge.

As for the males, we get by with improvisation. Sometimes this means drying off clipped fingernails from the floor to replace stolen hygienic tools. Sometimes this means engaging in eloquent diplomatic and mediatory negotiations while doing one's business. Sometimes this means air drying after a shower, and sometimes it means using the threadbare rags under the sink - the ones with letters smeared across them.

The Cephalopod on the Potty has become a household favorite. He is calm, patient, and wise, to say nothing of being an excellent confidante and advisor, particularly in woman matters. Every morning, as I shower off the night's growth, I tell the Cephalopod on the Potty my troubles, and he invariably comes up with a maxim that sums up just how badly I have been screwed.

If we really wanted it, we could clean our restroom. We could contract with war lords from distant, despotic governments and purchase illegal biological weapons in exchange for national secrets. We could sterilize the restroom and rebuild from the crawl space up. There are two reasons we do not.

First, if we were caught, we would go to jail, and when we got back, we'd be grounded for a month. Second, we have grown to know and love the organisms that make up the restroom community. Sure, it's less than sanitary. Sure, there are unfriendly creatures. Sure, it's the kind of thing bachelors do. But this restroom has something all those clean ones don't: character. Both to the young males of the family and to millions of others, this restroom is home.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Fasion #3: The Fashionista

Meet Bill. Bill was a student in my French class last semester but his was the sort of nondescript behavior that rarely makes it to FCN. Bill has, however, seen a mention on these pages before, although the reference was less than flattering.

In case you don't follow hyperlinks, Bill is automatically a weird person because he is one of the few males in this world to choose to study French. He builds on this eccentric base by wearing his red hair ragged in an undecided way. It's as if his barber started to clip it short but stopped when Bill got scared of how it might look. The result was a keritanized collection of hairs that sprouted from his head with all the organization of the business end of a mop.

Bill is thin and frail. His weight puts him in the same category as anorexic Hollywood, but instead of showing off this corps léger with a Mick Jagger top and emo pants, he sports the kind of unremarkable clothing that says "I'm in college, but my mom bought me this shirt and I'm wearing it for the third straight day." He could have dressed like a music store employee and tried to develop an identity around his sub-100 pound frame ("crack fiend on slim fast" is in, or so I read in TMZ); instead he hid his European figure as if in shame.

Bill had a girlfriend. The fact was a continual source of entertainment for the gossips in class who wondered how such a character could possibly scare up female companionship. I'll admit that I was flummoxed and a little jealous of his success. Then I met the girlfriend and everything became clear. She was the portly opposite of Bill and wore the sort of loose flowing garb you might see Arabian Nights. She walked with a pronounced waddle and had a face reminiscent of the woman in the Planter's Peanut ads. She was a soprano (i.e. the fat lady of the opera) and had a personality to match.

Bill lost his girlfriend. He never told me the juicy details, but I knew the loss hit him hard. He said some nasty things about singers and pledged to move on with his life. At first, Bill was his normal undecided self; then things started to change.

Bill came to class one day in a collared shirt. He still had the forty-year old jeans and ratty tennies, but something about that ironed top was a harbinger of future change. Bill started to grow his hair out and added some product to create an intentioned style. He started showering more and his skin looked more clear. One day he stopped wearing jeans altogether and replaced his old pant selection with pressed slacks. Wingtips followed and some days he even wore a blazer or a suit jacket. Bill purchased a belt which lent his outfit an air of completeness and, even though he was still his abrasive self, he started to act more confident. On the day of the final exam, Bill came to class with greased hair in a Georgio Armani suit with shoulder enhancing pads and silk shirt. He was completely out of place with the PJ bottoms and hoodie tops most of the students wore, but he had managed to find an identity and we were willing to look a little under dressed in order to see him develop a style.

I saw the Bill the other day. He is still lighter than Keira Knightley after an hour in a sauna suit, but now his wardrobe doesn't look like an accident. Whereas before Bill had all the aesthetic appeal of a doorknob, his new outfit made him look approachable and interesting.

I imagine Bill will be working as the CEO of a Fortune 500 company before I can get out of General Mills - he certainly dresses for the part.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Fashion #2: Tigers Are Cool

Funny Class Notes has a new guest contributor! A longtime reader and member of the faithful few has been accepted into the ranks of the writers who call this site their online home. Chip has been reading since August of 2007 and here is how we introduced him back then:

Reader number ten is an exceptionally overweight individual named Chip. Chip's main reason for coming to our page was to find solidarity. That's right, our tenth reader came to FCN because he wanted to find dumb people with whom to associate. Chip has, according to his G-Talk picture, an affinity for tight white undershirts and the style he chooses does little to hide his bulky middle or hairy back. He sent us a long email full of lovingly misspelled words in which he poured out his life's wish to work as a corporate executive at a Fortune 500 company. We assured him in our reply that white collar work isn't all it's cracked up to be and that he would be much happier working graveyard at Taco Bell while supporting eight kids and his own beer belly. We also advised that one major prerequisite to the Chief Executive's chair is teeth brushing and that he might want to consider other personal hygiene innovations as well. Yeah, we really hit it off.
In order to accept Chip as a contributor, we required he wait outside the door of our house for three days without food, shelter or encouragement and endure our verbal abuse without giving up. Chip succeeded and was invited into our ranks. Below is his first post as a guest contributor.

If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring? That's right, a new spring wardrobe! And if you're looking for the hottest trends, you will find no better role model than the perennial tiger, who burns bright in his jungle home. Tigers are slim, sleek, powerful, and always ready to kill. Here are ten eleven reasons that tigers are the greatest fashion and lifestyle freaks around:

1. Tigers have stripes.
I know what you're thinking. So do wasps, zebras, and "construction zone" signs, all three of which are not likely to appear in the latest issue of... whatever you read to keep up with style. But hear me out. You are forgetting that stripes are an old staple when it comes to pajama pants, which, in a glorious merging of hip culture and pariah college derelict culture, have become quite a hit for Spring of this year. So, stripes it is!

2. Tigers work out.
Tigers don't sit around in classes doodling and writing funny class notes, although that is a pretty snazzy thing to do. Nor do tigers pant on the treadmill. No—tigers run 50 miles per hour through snow and consequently they are pretty ripped.

3. Girls like tigers.
Don't believe me? Well, think back to the last time you saw a girl wearing a shirt that said something like "I heart Tigger." Actually, it's more likely to have mentioned Pooh, but that's a different story. Let's just say that A.A. Milne was pretty with it.

4. Tigers are tech-savvy.
Yes, I'm talking about Mac OS 10.4, "OS X Tiger." Since Apple chose a tiger as the mascot for its operating system, tigers must be cool. For one thing, Macs don't run Windows. For another, Macs are chic and youthful, just like Obama.

5. Tigers are down-to-earth.
Every lion claims to be king of the beasts, but have you ever heard of a tiger putting on airs? In fact, the tiger is so humble that it occasionally deigns to breed with a snobby lion and has a liger baby. That's a good thing, because ligers are seriously the greatest animal, and they have skills in magic.

6. Tigers are rich and famous.
At least the Asian Tigers are. Check out your T-shirt: it was probably made in Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, or South Korea. Or if it wasn't, it will be as soon as McCain abolishes trade quotas.

7. Tigers are into sports.
The Detroit Tigers started their season by losing to the White Sox and beating the Red Sox, which shows that they're into clothes (i.e. socks), if not fashion. It also shows that tigers like sports, which is a plus when it comes to trendiness.

8. Tigers kill animals.
Killing animals is a valiant thing to do and, if you're of the male persuasion, you can always count on a good kill to show how macho you really are. Consider that day last Fall when you sauntered into the house of your old family friend, and found yourself staring into the glassy eyes of a giant buck, whose head had been impressively mounted on the wall. Chances are, your friend noticed your glance and offered some welcome explanation:

"Like it? Just had the thing mounted. We'd walked for ten miles, me n' Jim, and our water was running out. Then Jim put his hand on me and pointed. The wind was in our direction, so we knew it was gonna sniff us out fast. I leveled my sight on 'im and Bang! But the durn thing jumped up just then and set off running, so my shot got 'im in the left thigh, and he disappeared into the leaves, so we had to track him. We followed the trail of blood for five miles and found the thing curled up by a stream, with the buzzards circling overhead and the wolves howling in the distance. So we gutted it there and hoisted the meat up our shoulders..." Etc. Then your friend probably showed you the buck's hide, with two bullet holes in it, and told you that the taxonomist had said it was a first-rate piece of skin, et cetera.

9. Tigers kill people.
Have you noticed how popular the Bourne movies are? We're not talking about geek-popular, or even man-popular. Even your glitter-clad, texting teenage teenybopperette has seen them. What's the attraction? Having breathlessly watched all three installments, I can see only one reason for their popularity: the amount of people killed. Deadly is the new sexy. In California, they even made an "exterminator" their governor. Go figure.

10. Tigers procrastinate.
Have you ever been to the tiger cage at the zoo? Those lazy things lie around all day in the sun, their bellies full of free fresh meat and their tails too sleepy to bat a fly off their magnificent fur coats. If you're an average cubicle slave you probably grit your teeth at the sight and wish the government would support you instead of those feline dukes and duchesses. If, on the other hand, you're a college derelict, you probably don't even look twice. Those tigers know the secret of a happy life, just like you.

11. Tigers are carnivores
A tiger is one of the few fell creatures besides a human that would enjoy an animal-style feast from In-N-Out. Tigers don't eat sissy greens or wimpy fruits. If they went to Subway, they'd pass on the peppers and have a sandwich, not a salad. They gorge themselves on bleeding red flesh with the gusto of an obese American.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Fashion #1: Halter Top Ohio

The voters have had their say and, unlike the Democratic Party, we even counted input from Michigan and Florida. Lots of great ideas and a few perfectly good ones were floated around and the general consensus seems to be that FCN and rFCN should blog about fashion for the rest of the week. Why a bunch of guys should choose this topic to write about and why "fashion" is such a pressing issue is as elusive to us as Meagan Fox's beauty, but we have never let lack of understanding keep us from expressing ourselves and we aren't about to start now. Fashion you proposed, fashion you voted and fashion it is.

I was on vacation in Indiana. The reason why my family chose this state over the plethora of others with better weather to spend a week of our leisure time eludes me at this moment, but I've heard it may have had something to do with friends. Regardless, we couldn't wait to get out of Indiana (even Gary is pretty bad, despite rampant rumors that the "town that knew me when" is "the only place that can light my face") so we packed ourselves into a car and drove across a slow moving and very dirty looking river into Ohio.

Once across, we found the only fun thing in Ohio: an amusement park full of nausea inducing rides and cotton candy (there's also an airplane museum, which is ironic given that the first thing to fly from Ohio was an export).

I don't remember too much of what happened at the amusement park but I did endure a very moist rendition of the "Submarine Adventure" which pretty much consisted of dousing a cart full of paying customers with frigid water a la Taylor Swift. Soaked to the skin and feeling about as proud as Kellie Pickler after a trivia quiz, I marched through the park looking for more thrills.

That's when fashion enters this story. See, I knew you were getting impatient; sometimes you have to wait through an elaborate set up and a few references to cute country crooners.

A normal looking guy who carried himself as if he thought he were buff walked up to me and said in his best Brady Quinn voice: "Were you eying my girlfriend?"

I looked at the newcomer with surprise. I'd never seen him before and I certainly didn't remember his girlfriend. "Who?"

"You passed a girl a minute ago...she was wearing a pink halter top. I don't like how you looked at her." The Quinn clone was trying to start a fight.

"Good sir," I answered, trying hard to avoid an English accent, "I've passed about twenty women in the last minute. It is quite possible-" My words were cut short by a clear image behind my questioner. Not twenty feet away was a young woman in the most hideous pink halter top I'd ever seen, and I've seen some pretty hideous halter tops. She wasn't particularly awful looking - in fact she was downright ordinary - but her poor fashion choice detracted from any of her natural good looks. When people looked toward her they didn't see a girl, they saw a bright pink top.

"What?" The Quinn clone had followed my gaze and was seething.

"Look mister," I said, growing some nerve, "you are a pretty dodgy boyfriend, you know that? First, you can't stand anyone looking sideways at your girl when you should view it as a big compliment. You mitigate your own manhood in an overzealous effort to stand up for her and upset the tenuous equanimity of others (me specifically) in the process. Second - don't interrupt me - second, you are a terrible boyfriend for not getting your girl something better to wear. Subpar is the nicest adjective I can think of to describe the outfit and even that doesn't begin to approach the horrendous attire she has chosen and you have allowed, by silent consent or otherwise. The fact that she is halfway good looking does nothing to vitiate her abysmal attire."

Only when I'd finished my monologue did I realize that the drop zone siren had sounded over my words and rendered my remonstrations incomprehensible. My friend who was standing next me shook her head as a warning and I rethought my retort.

"Look man, I didn't look at your girl. If I did, I'm sorry; I didn't mean to. Hey, have a cotton candy on me..." This time my words were heard loud and clear. My new version worked wonders as my accuser's face transformed and he eagerly grabbed the Lincoln I extended his way.

"Hey, no hard feelings bro." He took the money and left, leaving me wet, cold, scarred by the image of his terribly dressed girlfriend and in Ohio. I was out five bucks, but I had a story worth a lot more. And maybe, just maybe, those few dollars would go toward improving the wardrobe of that poor girl.

"A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger." ~Proverbs 15:1

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Blogging Contest

Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, Ellen DeGeneres:

Really Funny Class Notes, the spin-off site that continues to support our sagging egos and protect our derelict attitudes from the dose of reality that would bring us off cloud nine, has challenged FCN to a blogging challenge, of sorts. This contest will pit our dozen readers against their 8,368. The goal is to "out blog" each other. Not to "out bug" each other - we aren't pest exterminators (at least not yet) - but to publish more quality content relating to whatever topics you, the faithful FCN few, submit.

Beginning today and, well, ending today, you will have an opportunity to choose a topic for our next three days of blogging (Wednesday, Thursday and Friday). The best way to submit your topic is to put it down in our comment section. There you can squabble with other readers of what the best topic should be and when we check the site at an ungodly hour tomorrow morning you guys will hopefully have come to some kind of consensus. If not, we will make like the officials at last night's Spurs-Hornets game and toss a coin.

rFCN will then compete with us to produce the best content about whatever you, the readers, desire. Adam Smith argued that competition produces the best product; over the duration of this week we will rigorously test that hypothesis.

When you are the underdog it can be very difficult to summon the gumption to fight on and be competitive. The giant looks like a powerful and very muscular Philistine and your petty smooth stones look like the pebbles they are, despite the leather sling from which they will be thrown. But enough about Stephen Curry. At FCN, we embrace our underdog role with every ounce of our derelict selves. rFCN is now the established site and Robert is a muscular Goliath (although not a Philistine; we wouldn't stoop to calling you that, bro!). This challenge is our big chance, our High School Musical moment. We can turn the spotlight into something grand or let it go like the sunset we all missed last night. The choice is ours and, by extension, yours.

So go. Stop reading this introductionarialism garbage and skip over to the comment section. Then tune in the rest of this week to see how miserably we fumble your requests.

Monday, May 19, 2008

25 Reasons Not to Defenestrate Yourself

1) The wooden desk in front of the window does not give freely.
2) The first pane of glass is painful.
3) The second pane of glass is painful.
4) The plastic molding holding the panes of glass together are stubborn.
5) The plastic dividers on the window are not amenable to breakage.
6) The screen.
7) The drop.
8) The landing.
9) The cost of cleaning up the mess.
10) The cost of repairing the window.
11) Explaining to relatives.
12) There are better ways of leaving a building.
13) Gravity.
14) The laundry.
15) The emulative friends.
16) The friends who won't understand.
17) The friends who will understand.
18) The difficulty of reentering the building.
19) The people on the ground.
20) Trees and other scratchy green things.
21) Your back.
22) Your knees.
23) The fun doesn't last.
24) The "fun" may end up lasting.
25) It's not original.

Friday, May 16, 2008

PreFab Greeting Card 2

A little over a year ago FCN published a treatise for the stereotypical male on how to prepare a greeting card that expresses the heartfelt emotions that are generally communicated by grunts and nods among males. You can't very well growl at someone on her birthday, but most people expect some kind of affection. And since Hallmark, the standards for appropriate celebratory sentiments can be very high. Here's what we said a year ago:

Guys can't write greeting cards. Whether the occasion is Christmas, a birthday or simply a “thank you for the dried rutabaga, it really made my day,” we males are completely inept at developing any kind of decent note. Maybe it's the testosterone that destroys our cheesy receptors and makes us send schlocky cards we regret moments after dropping them into the mailbox. Or maybe its [sic] that we never put in the time to learn how to send a happy notice. Or perhaps the ability to write greeting cards is repelled by the "Y" chromosome. Whatever the reason, the end result is that we can't formulate a decent card. (Emphasis in original)
Our treatise advised a generic card front with an unoffensive and universally appealing image and provided several lines for use, all of which carried a certain happy gravity and a ubiquitous quality that made them perfect for any occasion.

Some of the faithful few didn't like our PreFab card. "Lady A," a reader who has since stopped commenting (thanks for the tissue), groaned and "Anonymous," our most prolific commenter, said that "[t]he idea of a card is that it is personal it is something you took the time to write because you are thankful/happy."

I was unconvinced of the card's deficiencies last weekend when I loaded the PreFab guide to use as a template to prepare a sweet message to my mother for Mother's Day. That's when I realized, we didn't have anything for Mother's Day! None of the generic lines even mentioned the second Sunday in May. I panicked. And, though the wilderness survival people say that you never make your best decisions when you panic, I stumbled across a major breakthrough in derelict social behavior and added another chapter to the FCN Manifesto.

I sprinted down to my local card shop, intending to pick up something cheesy and cheap. When I got to the Mother's Day card rack, my heart skipped a beat. $4.49 for a folded piece of colored paper? Yikes! I could get lunch for that. I thought briefly about pilfering it, but giving your mother a purloined card on a holiday celebrating maternal virtue struck me as nothing short of dodgy. That's when it hit me like the light my roommate turns on when I'm trying to sleep. I didn't actually need to steal the card to take its sentiments.

A pen and paper were quickly produced and I reapproached the card aisle with new resolve. Starring at all those cards felt like looking at Where's Waldo puzzle. I was supposed to pick out a good card from the plethora offered, an impossible task given my genetic deficiency (the pesky Y chromosome). I could hardly tell an insult from a blessing; how could I trust my judgment in this important matter?

This is where the PreFab Greeting Card gets really ingenious. It doesn't matter which card you choose. They all work. These cards are written by women, for women. If we males try to intervene with the intra-gender communication, we could mess everything up. It's best to just leave a beautiful thing alone and let Hallmark make our moms happy.

I reached for the closest card and scribbled down the message it contained. It said something about "through thick and through thin" and "you've always been the best," but that didn't matter, I just wanted the words. When I got home, I inserted the all perfect image -

- and printed it off (color is a good idea). I stuffed the result into an envelope and gave it to her with a big grin and a long hug. The end result is a well packaged sentiment at much less caloric and financial cost than most alternatives. Derelicts the world over can exhale.

I really wish I could have had this out last week so all you guys who struggle with this could have had an easy exit, but now you'll be prepared for next time.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Here's a riddle for you: I'm one in fifty-two; I am stressful but nothing new. I come around with great fanfare. When I'm passed, all will celebrate. What am I?

If you answered Finals Week, you are absolutely right. And now I am celebrating. I am making like Lindsay Lohan on a chick's night out and throwing caution to the breeze as I party like it's 1699. I'm doing the Tony Romo thing and giving it up for what I gave up.

A few days ago as I looked over my notes one last time before my first examination, it seemed like the week would never end. I was queasy like a sailor in the swells and feeling about as smart as one too. From behind, my tests looked really, well, fat. Now they look like petty undertakings that, while polemic, could have been much worse. I need a T-Shirt saying "I survived Finals Week" or some such overused slogan to help commemorate the accomplishment. I'm not done with school or anything satisfying like that, but I did complete another semester which, if you're a derelict like me, is a big deal.

When my last final was over, I shook my professor's hand, thanked him for the class and then ran for the exit. After an embarrassing and altogether gratuitous encounter with the dean of the college (sorry!), I breathed the open air of liberty. Suddenly struck by cinematic inspiration, I made like Mel Gibson and shouted "FREEEEDOM!" at the top of my lungs. I wasn't really free - summer school starts in three weeks and I'm taking more hours at General Mills in the interim - but I shouted anyway. I don't think anyone still taking a final appreciated my display, but it got a couple chuckles from some passersby.

In hindsight, I can look back and laugh about the late nights studying, the three hour examinations, the oral interviews for language class and the excruciating study groups, but the events of the week itself invited little mirth. In fact, the routine got so tiresome that I could not go the whole way through without a break.

Tangent: One summer a few years ago I was in Lake Havasu, Nevada Arizona. You know, the home of the London Bridge. I said summer, not spring, so get that idea out of your head. Anyway, the time of year didn't keep me from doing something crazy. Lake Havasu gets really hot in summertime. It gets so warm that some natives get water directly from the lake and poor in their pasta without putting it on the stove top first. I was sweating like a groom in the heat and needed some relief so I went into a local gas station and purchased a gallon of cold water. Over the next 36 minutes (two stop watches collaborated in cataloging my stupidity), I drank the entire thing. Twenty minutes later, I needed relief. Badly.

The relief I sought mid-Finals week was almost exactly like the palliation my bladder craved, only not physiological, liquid or related to meteorology. Come to think of it, my craving had very little to do with Lake Havasu.

I needed a fortune cookie. Hey, pregnant women have their socially acceptable dietary desires, can't a student in the middle of hell week? Thank you. But you can't just eat a fortune cookie, you've got consummate the exercise of reading the cookie's text by enjoying a meal first. So I zipped over to my favorite Chinese restaurant and ordered the old standby. When I finished the food, I carefully opened my cookie while wondering, as I do every time I enjoy one of these ethnic delicacies, what manner of witchcraft was used to bake the cookie without burning the paper.

My fortune read:

If you're a fortune cookie aficionado, you'll know that most fortunes are nebulous excuses for predictions that could be just as true for me as my imaginary quadriplegic hetero-lifemate. I was used to "AN OLD MAN WILL GIVE YOU WISE WORDS" or "YOU WILL HAVE AN IMPORTANT OPPORTUNITY." This is the advice that is truly useful: so arcane that it can be applied to whatever area the reader wishes yet with a comforting facade of profundity. So deep that it's shallow.

Asia? That couldn't possibly be right! My linguistic skill set does nothing to prepare me for the Orient. I can hardly use chop sticks and my back creaks when I try to bow. Not only will I go to Asia, but I will enjoy the trip. What is the significance of that? Was Asia a metaphor for a person, object or even a location closer than the other side of the world? Part of me wanted to return the cookie as defective and demand a replacement, but I was restrained by the knowledge that fortune cookies are like puppies in that people don't pick them; the fortune cookies pick you. "Asia" had picked me and this fate was incontrovertible. I was stuck with an enjoyable trip. Dang it!

For the duration of my remaining exams, I was plagued by this Asia. When I drew Robert Solow's economic growth model for Japan during the 1990s, my mind drifted back to Panda Express. When I answered a question about the concept of Wu-Wei and related it to modern economic theory, I imagined Confucius, the Asian philosopher. Even my French final had a question about francophone countries and I thought twice about putting Vietnam on the page. These "visits" to Asia were hardly "enjoyable," though.

If I fail any of my classes, I have an excuse. That incessant fortune was louder than it looked in the cookie and it distracted me and drove me batty.

Then again, maybe Asia is the summer I am about to enjoy...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

10th Do It Yourself Post

The best thing about American cuisine is _______.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

This Post has no Actual Content

Oh great, another introspective post ...

I was challenged to write a post that did not add any new content beyond what was presented in the first sentence. This is an opportunity to cover ground already trodden. It is a chance to revisit past thoughts and ideas and find fresh angles with which to present them. It certainly does not involve presenting new ideas - just taking the original ideas, rewrapping them, and presenting them again. It's like giving away a gift certificate to a store you never visit. Only it's a challenge; it's a provocation; it's a task available to be undertaken.

Accomplishing the goal is simple - just repeat what has already been said. One might, with only minimal hesitation, use the word: "rehash." Like a dog to his vomit, I return to a worthless sentence and gobble it up, only to chuck it back moments (or sentences) later. I can theoretically continue in this vein - without introducing new content - for as long as one would expect a post to run.

It's not about thinking outside the box - it's about looking at the same box from a different angle. One never knows how many sides it has until one runs out of sides. In the same way, one never can know how long a post can go without introducing new content until all content has been exhausted. And exhausting all possible content is - in a way - what I have been asked to do. I am to continue writing, not to introduce ideas, and hardly even to develop new ones. I write simply to fill the page; to bring the post to the appropriate length.

Here, in the fourth paragraph, I still have nothing new to say. I can only refer you back to the first sentence in the post, which presented the idea which has not only been the main thrust but the exclusive supplier of ideas for every sentence following, including this one, which is particularly lengthy for no particular reason. To reiterate, the beginning of this post is all you really needed to read to know what was going to follow.

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times, or at least I'm willing to give it an honest shot. Parroting oneself is the key. Having established a basic groundwork in the first sentence, one merely has to duplicate that sentence - or parts of the sentence - over and over again until the correct post length has been reached. And it is in this sentence that I conclude my mirror-like remarks, and, without further ado (by which I mean the ado at the beginning of this post [echoed extensively, as I'm sure you are well aware]), draw this post to a close.

Monday, May 12, 2008

How to Play Traffic

REQUIRED TO PLAY: One serviceable automobile, one valid driver's license. Paranoid friends and relatives add to the fun.

OBJECT OF THE GAME: To obtain the highest possible number of points over a set period of time by completing certain objectives, usually involving tacky violations of road law and/or etiquette, written and unwritten.

HOW TO PLAY: This game is as much a pastime as a sport. You can play anywhere, any time: driving to work, dropping the kids off at soccer, going on a joy ride with friends, moving your father-in-law's jaguar around the block for him. Try to complete as many objectives as possible in the shortest possible time. Style points figure big in this game, as do making up your own objectives on the spur of the moment. Success requires quick thinking, situational awareness, and the sort of mind that brings you to FCN in the first place.

Scoring and objective verification is based on the honor system.

OBJECTIVES (An incomplete list):

Fake forward. While stopped at a red light, edge forward a few inches, then stop.

2 points: Make the car behind you edge forward as well.
4 points: Make the car next to you edge forward.
6 points: Make the car next to you run the light.
9 points: Make the car next to you drive into oncoming traffic.
13 points: Make the car behind you rear-end you. Sue the driver out of house and home.

Zone of Control. Throw a left turn signal indicating a merge into the fast lane, but stay in your current lane indefinitely.

1 point: Make a passing car fall back.
2 points: Make a passing hummer fall back.
4 points: Make a sports car follow behind you indefinitely.
13 points: Make a police car follow behind you indefinitely.

I'm from Europe. Drive a donut in the middle of an intersection.

2 points: Learn a new word from a fellow motorist.
7 points: Learn a new word from a nun.

Litter bug. While stopped at a red light, exit the car to collect a piece of trash lying on the side of the road, then return to the vehicle before the light turns green.

3 points: Get a Spock eyebrow from the driver behind you.
5 points: Collect the litter that the driver behind you just tossed out his window.
9 points: Sell the litter on eBay.
11 points: Catch the litter before it hits the ground.
14 points: Appear on the Village Roadshow with the litter.

Chicken Little. Roll down your window and gesture emphatically skyward.

1 point: Make someone look.
2 points: Catch them looking and laugh at them.
4 points: Make someone leap from their car and run for cover.
8 points: Make everyone in sight leap from their car and run for cover.
15 points: Reverse the flow of traffic.

My favorite song. Roll down your window and sing along with the radio of an adjacent motorist who also has his/her windows down.

2 points: Make the fellow motorist turn his music up.
3 points: Make the fellow motorist turn his music down.
5 points: The song is "Riding Dirty."

Actually, it can be done. Parallel park from across the street by sawing a hard left and closing the hand brake.

2 points: Complete this stunt without damaging anything.
3 points: Complete this stunt and damage a jaguar.
5 points: Complete this stunt and damage your father-in-law's jaguar.
8 points: Complete this stunt in your father-in-law's jaguar.
10 points: Complete this stunt in your prospective father-in-law's jaguar with your sweetheart in the passenger seat.
16 points: Complete this stunt in your prospective father-in-law's jaguar with your prospective mother-in-law in the passenger seat.

Gotcha Going. Rev your engine as a pedestrian passes in front of you on a crosswalk.

-1 point: Get a Spock eyebrow from said pedestrian.
3 points: Get a scream.
5 points: Make said pedestrian break and run.
7 points: Make said pedestrian break and run into oncoming traffic.
12 points: Make an adjacent motorist drive into oncoming traffic.
15 points: The pedestrian is wearing an orange vest and holding a KIDS XING sign.

Cut! Drive off a cliff just before something explodes.

40 points.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

We had all kinds of great plans about what to do for Mother's day. After an extensive staff meeting, during which we tossed around ideas like getting Mommy G a ring with three stones (one for each contributor), we finally settled on something both economical and fitting.

Expect both your leftover Chuck E Cheese's tokens in the mail any day now, Mommy G!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Why don't you link to other blogs?

If you have followed my web publishing career for a long time (by "a long time," I mean at least fourteen dog years), you may recall the tall, vapid list of links that became a staple on my earlier blogging endeavors. These scrawling shout outs cluttered the page unnecessarily and camouflaged new content to such an extent that readers had to hunt for actual posts. I thought I'd created a website adventure but the not-so fun loving who read the site were irritated out of their minds. The blogroll wasn't attractive, useful or necessary, but it reigned supreme on my sidebar like a vestigial organ waiting for it's listectomy.

A well meaning friend asked me the other day why FCN doesn't have any such blogroll. Of course, I say he was "well meaning" because I am about to insult him. Of all the questions to ask about FCN, is our lack of a blogroll the most earth shattering? Why not ask why Todd dies in his second episode only to live on through several more? Why not ask how three derelicts manage to rise so early to get a post on the internet (Pacific Time, doubters!). Why not ask about Desperate Student? There are plenty of valid questions there.

Then again, the germane question is usually the one that goes unasked, so maybe I shouldn't be too hard on my friend.

Here at FCN, we maintain no list of friendly, reciprocal or even fanciful "blogs we like." In fact, our linkage is very minimalistic. While most sites keep at least a small blogroll with friends' sites or other interesting fare, we don't. Why?

There are many easy answers: We don't have any friends. We don't have any friends who blog. Even if we did have friends who blog, we wouldn't link to their sites. We have such varied taste in blogs that the disputes created by a definitive list would cause a rift between us contributors. Linking to other blogs is morally wrong. No other blogs would like to link to us. Linking requires work.

Like most easy answers, all of the above options are false. The real reason has to do with our rebellious nature. Remember those association games you played as a kid? Blue > water, water > thirsty, thirsty > hungry, etc? Well, oe more we can add to that list is "blog > link list." Where a blog is a useless amalgamation of hyperlinks will be also. Links are considered the "currency" of the internet, whatever that means. They open the door for other sites and the truly globalized internet is the blogrolled one, or so they taught us in blogger 101. "You gotta have 'em," as one wizened author once told me.

This culture of "I'll link to you if you'll link to me" has become standardized across the great servers of the world. Blogs have come to demand links from others, as if it is their birthright to see their name underlined. Don't link and you are using cash in a Visa check card world:

To us here at FCN, nonconformity is more than a virtue, it is a creed. We aren't normal people (who is?) and, in case you hadn't noticed, we broadcast that abnormality through this site. When others say jump we think twice and prepare our estate before asking "how high?" When others write sincere essays for their college entrance, we prepare a passel of indefensible lies.

Not publishing a list of links is our version of growing our hair out. My economics professor hasn't cut his hair or shaved since 1964, a fact that is readily apparent from his dilapidated personal appearance and that is a regular source of pride for him. Since they haven't yet found a way to give blogs hair, we make due with what is available.

That doesn't mean we haven't provided some links now and again. To continue an already tenuous analogy beyond its expiration, some hairs do manage to escape our cyber razor. To wit, see here and here.

Keep in mind that our content exists for the entertainment of ourselves and, of course, our moms. We also sometimes consider the faithful few, but only for fleeting moments. If you want us to link to you, your content needs to be entertaining and captivating. It needs to grab us by the chain and yank, in exactly the way PETA wouldn't approve. Alternatively, it can be funny. We have twelve readers, most of whom will probably at least look at your page if we provide a link, but your material needs to be worthy of their attention.

Please remember that the mere fact that you have a blog is not worthy of our reader's attention. Heck, I have a blog. That's my four word refutation. If you want a link, send us a page of your best content and we will give it fair consideration. That is, we will assign it heads or tails on a coin and make sure the toss is conducted properly.

Okay. Who am I kidding? We are so strapped for content we'll probably post anything. Send us a picture of your Grandma and you'll get face time. Well, maybe not, but it's worth a short, isn't it?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Cold Turkey

Diverting large quantities of carbohydrates and investing billions of our hard earned dollars into research and development has failed to quell our dependence on foreign oil or have any discernible impact on our oil consumption habits. We still shell out for gasoline like booze before the prohibition and guzzle the stuff like a lineman drinks Gatorade.

Do I really need to convince you all that gas is expensive and it "ain't gettin' any cheaper no time soon," as a particularly eloquent commentator explained our situation. If you aren't convinced, run outside to your local filling station and look at the price posted by the pump. If you live within 7,926.41 miles of my house, you will see the price is out of hand. Actually it was out of hand a year ago; now it's out of this world.

Still not convinced? Try walking up to the minimum wage compensated attendant and ask if s/he can cut you a deal. Explain that you are a student strapped for cash or that you just want to stick it to the Saudis. Tell the gas station employee that you want to make a political statement and start buying your fuel less expensively. Ask whether the attendant can help you in this effort by giving you a $1/gallon discount and close the pitch with your best Bob The Tomato smile.

I've tried it a few times. The reaction is either a blank stare followed by a 911 phone call or a response in some Middle Eastern language in a tone that promises a future 911 call. Either way, I am encouraged to shut up and let my pocketbook be gouged.

Oil prices have been linked to all manner of negative impacts. When oil prices rise, we have to spend more on fuel to maintain our current driving habits and have less money to spend on other things. This reduces our overall consumption which means we buy less candy which, in turn, causes General Irritability (GI), a condition that induces such varied and extreme symptoms as increased unemployment, rising suicide and divorce rates and more consumption of such damaging social instruments as alcohol, cigarettes and television. In extreme cases, General Irritability can cause extreme sensation seeking, explosive anger and, yes, even road rage (not to be confused with Road Rash [CAUTION DISTURBING], although that is probably another impact of elevated GI)

You think I'm making this all up, but check it out; it's all in the research. A few years ago, a law was passed to help reduce this General Irritability. Called the GI Bill, the new regulation called for candy drops (like the leaflet drops in Afghanistan (YouTube video below), only sweeter) to solve for the root cause of GI. The law was largely ineffective and found its only real support from the dentists lobby.

Publicly touted solutions to the "Oil Problem" have about as much currency as mercury-filled sandbags for flood prevention. We could invade Saudi Arabia, start drilling in the mountains of Canada or, God forbid, impinge on the breeding ground of the sacred Alaskan caribou (or are they Reindeer?). Since the tranquility of some snow mice in the frozen north is more important then the GI index, we get divorced and commit unholy sepuku whilst the polar bear lobby has delicious meals on K Street.

FCN will not stand by idly as our economy is thrown into a state of total disturbance. With the zero assumption that we are not powerless to halt the reign of oil over our finances, FCN hit the lab and assigned our crack(pot) researchers to developing a solution to this problem. After several hours, a carton of Red Bulls, a visit from a brownie laden Mommy G and a 911 call, we found the solution:

Go Cold Turkey.

Cold Turkey is, of course, a technical term for "just stop it, dang it!" The phrase's etymology takes us back to the days after the First Thanksgiving when the Pilgrim mothers (all four surviving moms, that is) brought out the leftovers from the big feast. At first the Pilgrims were excited to partake of the delicious turkey, until they discovered its temperature. Cold meat isn't nearly as good as the warm stuff, especially in the days before refrigeration. William Bradford is famous for shouting "Cold Turkey" as he overturned the thanksgiving table and threw away the leftovers, thus halting the celebration after three days. Alternate theories of etymology can be found here.

As I said, Go Cold Turkey. To stop consuming oil, all we need to do is, well, stop consuming it. Forget a holiday from gas taxes, let's have a holiday from consumption. Ditch your car wherever it runs out of fuel and start walking everywhere (or find a sucker who still buys gas and ask to borrow his wheels). Quit your job - you won't need to work when you don't have to pay for gas anymore - and become a hermit. Chillax in your own energy freedom.

While everyone else scurries around gobbling up oil, you will know who the real turkey is. And when that gets old, write us and tell us how it went.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

9th Do It Yourself Post

The thing I love most about mornings is _________.

Life Tip #69

Do not make an obscene gesture toward the police.

If you must make an obscene gesture toward the police, do not do so while riding a motorcycle.

If you must make an obscene gesture toward the police while riding a motorcycle, do not pop a wheelie to draw attention to your indiscretion.

If you must make an obscene gesture toward the police while riding a motorcycle and pop a wheelie to draw attention to your indiscretion, do not crash your motorcycle.

If you must make an obscene gesture toward the police while riding a motorcycle and pop a wheelie to draw attention to your indiscretion before crashing your motorcycle, do not crash into a police car.