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

Monday, June 30, 2008

FCN Clasic: Don't Eat Plants!

Warning: The following post contains content that may not be appropriate for all ages. It deals with a subject that is disturbing, frightening and disgusting. It also contains images (click to enlarge) that are shocking and perturbing. We show them to you only to highlight the nature of our opponents. Parental guidance is strongly advised. Proceed at your own risk.

A terrible travesty of justice, an iniquity that pervades this great land from right to left coast, just came to FCN's attention. It’s something of grand magnitude, terrible significance and horrid shock value. No, I am not talking about my new plan to grow my toenails out, but it is something that hits us similarly close to the heart (the stomach, to be exact).

The depressing and, if you haven't read the appropriate literature, surprising fact is that the vast majority of American kitchens (restaurant and home) subsidize rampant cruelty. I know that's a lot of big words and the faithful FCN few who attend college are already reaching for their PDs (as pocket dictionaries are affectionately titled), but let me see if I can spell it out more plainly:

In the past half century, most U.S. vegetable production has moved away from small family farms to factory farms -- huge warehouses where plants are confined in raised beds or greenhouses or a hydroponics bucket. The competition to lower costs has led agri-business to treat vegetables as mere objects rather than as individuals who can suffer. Large farming operations, that focus more on the bottom line more than ethical plant treatment, are systematically destroying all respect for the members of Kingdom Vegetabilia and desensitizing us to the trauma in the process.

From the time a vegetable is first planted, cruelty is on the mind of the farmer. Seeds are spaced so closely together that overcrowding is rampant and many plants are unable to get enough light to survive. Smaller plants are yanked out by their roots and left to die of exposure. Paid agents of the farmer exercise the explicit mandates of their boss, often never thinking through the consequences of their actions.

As the plants grow, the farmer applies stressing chemicals that, while inducing greater crop yields, often stunt the plant’s long term growth and give it a bleak future. Sometimes these chemicals are tested in labs on live plants (think Josef Mengele but scarier) and chemical companies show little or no regard to the life they regularly destroy.

Devastating poisons are sprayed on helpless plants via crop duster.

When a plant finally produces some fruit, it is brutally and violently “picked” and sent to be processed at a far away facility. Most plants never see their offspring.

Many plants are euthanized soon after “harvest.”

At the processing facility, vegetables undergo even more trauma. A sharp knife peals away a vegetables skin and it is often wrapped in airtight plastic wrapping for many weeks before being released. Those that survive this brutality must submit to freezing, storage and other associated indignities before being allowed to breathe.

Terrified veggies wait helplessly in a supermarket.

Even after being rescued by a shopper like you and I, many vegetables are further brutalized. A recent survey found that most veggies used in everyday snacks and meals are diced, chopped, cut, ground or pureed beforehand.

A veggie burial ground.

Kids learn destructive eating patterns that they keep with them their whole lives.

A well-supplied cook takes great pride in his or her weapons.

Perhaps the most shocking fact of all is that these vegetables are still perceived as appetizing despite the nature of their abuse.

A chef boils veggies alive in cooking oil.

Hidden from public view, the cruelty that occurs on factory farms is easy to ignore. But more and more people are taking a look at how farmed vegetables are treated and deciding that it's too cruel to support.

Secret meeting of a sadist veggie-abusing cult.

What we choose to eat makes a powerful statement about our ethics and our view of the world – about our very humanity. By not buying legumes, fruit, and vegetable products, we withdraw our support from cruelty to plants, undertake an economic boycott of factory farms, and support the production of cruelty-free foods. From children and grandparents to celebrities and athletes, compassionate living is spreading – and easier than ever! Today, even small-town grocery stores can feature a variety of burgers, dogs, and deli slices, milks, and dairy desserts – a bounty unimaginable only a decade ago!

Even if you like vegetables (and who wouldn't mind giving up a few veggies?) you can help end this cruelty. If everyone just cut their veggie consumption in half, billions of vegetables would be spared from suffering every year.

When you first discover the reality of modern vegetable agriculture, avoiding all products from factory farms might seem too big a change. But don’t be overwhelmed – just take small steps. For example, you could eliminate veggies from certain meals or on certain days. As you get used to eating fewer vegetables and find alternatives you enjoy, it may become easier to eliminate vegetables altogether.

When you share your new discoveries and ideas, some people may not only show resistance, but might even react with mockery or anger. In order to prevent suffering, however, we must let the compassion we feel for vegetables shine through the pain and anger we feel about the atrocities of factory farming. Unless others can respect us—as opposed to finding us cold and judgmental— they will have little interest in taking steps to end cruelty to vegetables.

Instead of expecting others to change immediately, we need to be understanding, giving everyone time to consider the realities of factory farms at their own pace and within their unique situations. Burning bridges with anger only serves to create enemies and to feed the stereotype that carnivores are self-righteous.

Although it may be tempting to argue over related topics (such as what our prehistoric ancestors ate), the simplest statement can be the most powerful: “I know that I don’t want to suffer. Therefore, I don’t want to cause others to suffer.” As long as we remain respectful, our positive example and the information we provide will ultimately be the best voice for the vegetables.

Tell your friends: DON'T EAT PLANTS!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

FCN Classic: The ... thumb ... knows.

My old laptop crashed a few weeks ago, taking with it a lot of precious files. School was in full swing, so I hastily went shopping for a new computer. My choice: IBM's new Thinkpad T42, which has a load of cool features, including a little red ball between the G and the H that moves the mouse, and the latest in biometric security: a fingerprint reader. That's right, there was no longer any need for me to be memorizing and changing passwords, because all I had to do was push my thumb on a little pad next to the keyboard to verify that the user was me. Without that thumbprint, no imposter could log on and steal my files. This was the major selling point for me. I paid a little extra, but I figured the peace of mind was worth it.

The new computer worked great. I always got a grim satisfaction from pushing my thumb onto the reader every morning. "Take that, hackers!" I thought.

Then, four days before my midterm paper was due, calamity struck. I was working in the kitchen putting away dishes, my mind distracted by visions of a frustrated criminal trying to discover my non-existent password. Then I looked down and saw blood all over the towel. I had absently swiped my thumb across a paring knife, causing a minor flesh wound which was more irritating than painful. I dutifully bandaged up the cut and finished putting away the dishes, then sat down to finish writing my term paper. It was only then that the true magnitude of the situation hit me. I pressed my thumb on the reader, and it gave an error beep. I removed the bandage and tried again. Error beep. I tried the other thumb. Error beep. I tried all my other fingers and toes, and those of nearby friends and family members. The infernal reader wouldn't let me in. I had weeks of research on that hard drive. I frantically raced to the nearest computer lab and started my research anew, pushing the space bar with my left thumb. It was too late. My paper got a D.

When I saw that grade come back, I vowed never to let that happen to me again. So I did the only thing any reasonable person would do: I went down to the nearby arts and crafts store and bought myself a fake thumb. You know, the kinds magicians use for stupid parlor tricks. I went home and reprogrammed my Thinkpad to accept the fake thumb as mine. I then kept the thumb in a jewelry case in my laptop bag under lock and key (the key was in my wallet). Satisfied, I went back to daily life.


A week later, I went into Starbucks and ordered a Frap. Then I sat down in the corner. I removed the laptop from the bag, removed the key from my wallet, removed the thumb from the case, and booted up. I then promptly got engrossed in my work, and the next thing I knew, I was a half hour late for class. I frantically packed up and dashed out.

While sitting in class drawing pictures of burning houses, I suddenly realized with a start that I had forgotten to pack my fake thumb. It might be sitting on a table in Starbucks right now, waiting for some dastardly coffee-drinking hacker to find it! I nearly jumped up and ran out of class right then. But I am not that bad a student. I waited for it to finish, feverishly counting each passing second (as always). The moment class was dismissed, I grabbed my bag, hurled myself out the door, slipped and slid down the stairs, vaulted over a little old lady with a walker, and fired up my car. Minutes later, I was back at Starbucks. I burst open the door and cried:

"Has anyone seen my thumb?"

Friday, June 27, 2008

FCN Classic: Please Pass the Salt

My dear lady,

You are between me and the thing I want most at this very moment. Yes, you - the woman sitting across from me at this square three-by-three table - lie betwixt the condiment containers and my plate of steaming vegetables that demands their attention. Your chair blocks my arm and decency blocks my body from reaching over to claim them, but you are in an ideal position for such a reach. Hence my request:

I deem that the time it would take me to remove myself from my chair, walk around the table and capture the seasonings is much greater than it would be for you to lean over yourself and grab them. I also value my time more than I value yours making such a request doubly advisable. Your effort would be so much more insignificant compared to mine and your exertion would bring a healthy flush to your cheeks and maybe even have calorie burning advantages.

As much as it pains me to put you in such an awkward position and ask that you interrupt your train of thought and motor movements in order to satisfy my wishes, I feel that the request and commensurate reaction are an appropriate course of action.

To put my solicitation in a less garrulous form, I sincerely desire your attention and obedience as you deviate from your preplanned course of action and abide by my wishes. Please pass the salt.

FCN Classic: Top 10 Fairy Tales You Were Never Told As A Child

Yeah, yeah. I know. You graduated from Fairy Tales and don't plan on returning until you have children. But these Fairy Tales aren't the ones you were told as “bedtime stories” or picked up when you first learned to read. Those had the distinct disadvantage of being false; these have the advantage of being funny.

Here they are; the Top 10 Fairy Tales You Were Never Told As A Child:

10. Three Kind Mice. The charming story of three friendly rodents who learn the importance of being gracious and generous.

9. Alice in Blunderland. A collection of exciting children's stories that follow the life and times of a young girl (Alice) who falls down a Rabbit Hole and starts tripping over things.

8. Hassel and Gretel. An endearing story about a brother and sister who cause a lot of problems for their parents.

7. Rapulzive. The oddly poetic tale of a disgusting young critter with hair like Davy Jones who is locked up in a castle.

6. Cindersella. Story of a beautiful princess who forces her sisters to cut off their toes and peck out their eyes so she can marry the handsome prince.

5. Rumpeledstillskinny. A bedtime story (literally). An old man lays down to sleep in a last ditch attempt to gain weight (he figures he is burning too many calories by staying awake). When he rises from his bulimic slumber, years later, he is still thin. He lives happily ever after.

4. The Golden Gecko. Sponsored by Geico. The Gecko lays an egg which has various magical powers.

3. Snoring Beauty. In this enchanting story, a beautiful princess is discovered by a buff prince because of the noises she makes while sleeping.

2. The Big Mermaid. In this delectable tale, a mermaid discovers she doesn't need Curves to develop body confidence.

1. Ali Baba and the Forty Muslims. A delightful story about the Religion of Peace.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

FCN Classic: Cowomander in Chief?

This post was written at a scary time when a Billary presidency looked plausible, if not imminent. We repost with a sigh of relief.

News travels slowly through the apathetic information sludge surrounding FCN headquarters, but we nonetheless discerned very quickly that Jillary Clinton is running for president. We are very, very excited about her candidacy for hopefully obvious reasons.

Evidently, Sillary is making the rounds with various news outlets, and we managed to get a piece of her as she prepped for a TV interview with an organization we would like to consider a competitor. Between layers of heavy makeup, she gave us the following conversation (gently edited for content):

FCN: Thanks for agreeing to talk to us.

Hillary: Who are you?

FCN: We're the students from Funny Class Notes. We were told we could talk to you for a few minutes.

Hillary: Who told you that?

FCN: That guy over there.

Hillary: Jack! Come here a second.

Jack: Yes, ma'am.

Hillary: You're fired.

Jack. Yes, ma'am.

Hillary: Oh, and Jack!

Jack: Yes, ma'am?

Hillary: Don't even think about going to work for that [guy running against me].

Jack: Yes, ma'am.

Hillary: And quit saying yes ma'am.

Jack: Yes, ma'am.

FCN: So, if we may ...

Hillary: Oh, you're still here. [sigh] Well, fire away.

FCN: Great! So, you may be the first female president in history! What does that mean to you?

Hillary: Well, I'm big on female empowerment. I think I got it from Bill. The presidency is just another step toward bringing true equality between the genders. I also think it'd be really great to have a president carrying a purse. And mark my words: with me in the white house, state dinners will be worth attending! [laughs]

FCN: What will you do to fight terrorism in office?

Hillary: Hey, if I can handle Ken Starr, I can handle Osama.

[Awkward silence]

FCN: Okay. Some people have accused you of being a carpetbagger. How do you respond to that?

Hillary: You're just saying "some people", but I know who you're talking about. You've been talking to that [guy running against me], haven't you?

FCN: I assure you that ...

Hillary: No matter. Well, there's a huge stream of defeats historically with carpetbaggers losing elections. I think I have a chance to change that and sort of redeem the whole thing. So I'm really going to be hoping for the carpetbagger vote.

FCN: There's a rumor going around that ...

Hillary: You leave my husband out of this.

FCN: Yes, of course ... but we were told that you may become the first president who doesn't drink beer.

Hillary: Ridiculous.

FCN: Can we ask you a sensitive question about your husband?

Hillary: Just be careful.

FCN: What does he think about your candidacy?

Hillary: He's very excited about the possibility of being the first First Man. I believe the words he used were: "All of the perks, none of the duty."

FCN: How well are you prepared to run the armed forces?

Hillary: I like the idea of all those hotshot generals having to answer to a woman. "Ma'am, yes Ma'am!" [laughs] Someone said "Cowomander in Chief." I like that. I like that a lot.

FCN: Some people say men make better leaders than women.

Hillary: I don't know who you've been taking your tips from, boy, but that's [hogwash]. For one thing, we women don't do stupid things in front of the opposite gender to prove ourselves. If [Bush] were a woman, think about all the problems we wouldn't have. It'd be a dream come true. Plus, he'd be a democrat.

FCN: What's your biggest priority for the first hundred days of your presidency?

Hillary: Well, it's a little early to be thinking about things like that, but mainly I just want to prove that Al Gore would have made a terrible vice president.

FCN: But wasn't he once vice president?

Hillary: That's pretty much my point, yes.

FCN: So, you opposed Al Gore's candidacy?

Hillary: Of course not. Don't be silly.

FCN: Some people are speculating about a Clinton-Obama ticket.

Hillary: That's outrageous. I would never let that [person with various properties it is insensitive to mention, particularly in a derogatory fashion] try to piggyback on my success. Do you realize we're courting pretty much the same votes? That [guy] is trying to steal my candidacy! I wouldn't come near him with a ten foot pole. In fact ...

[This portion of the conversation is off the record]

FCN: So, who would you consider for VP?

Hillary: Well, it's all speculation and equal opportunity and all that nonsense right now, but I think it'd be funny to run with Tipper.

FCN: Thank you so much for your time.

Hillary: Sure thing. Oh, and trim that mustache.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

FCN Classic: Blue Screen of Death

Q. What's more irritating than having your computer crash right before you press save?
A. The Blue Screen of Death.

Every Windows user knows what I mean by this. Whenever the system is needed most, it will invariably flash a blue screen covered in text for a half second, then crash and reboot, leaving you screaming and tearing out your hair. What makes the BSOD (also known on online help forums as BluScrn and ttl deth h@xors CTD) so irritating is the fact that you can never read what it says. For years, we all assumed that the Blue Screen of Death held the key to preventing future crashes. To this end, FCN used a top-secret and slightly unethical device to capture an image of the Blue Screen of Death on my nearly-new ThinkPad T42.

In the name of information and education (two things FCN is not known for) we proudly present to you: The Windows XP Blue Screen of Death.

Click on the thumbnail.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

So we use ImageShack. So we're cheap. There's no shame in that.

FCN Classic: It was so windy...

It was breezy today, wasn't it? Boy, the howling wind sure got my attention. How windy was it? It was so windy...

...the dog finally caught his tail.

...we turned off the indoor fans.

...birds flew backwards.

...Travis didn't have to blow dry his hair.

...Travis' hair actually looked good.

...Sam didn't have to tip the cows; he just watched them fall over.

...SUVs actually got good gas mileage.

...my little sister got pulled off to Oz.

...light waves were buffeted.

...I rode the umbrella into town.

...the National Weather Service asked Nancy Pelosi to shut up.

...all the cars at the drug store parking lot were on the south end.

...we had dinner on the wall.

...it was raining garbage.

...I walked outside and was undressed.

...the palm fronds became palm sticks.

...the garden was watered with the pool.

...the chickens were plucked before they were slaughtered.

Monday, June 23, 2008

FCN Classic: Noninvasive outpatient solutions to nerve pain due to prolonged wallet sitting

Web based doctors are the biggest medical advance since the invention of antibiotics, or so we are lead to believe by the exploding number of webpages touting experts on every ailment imaginable. Sites like WebMD are designed to answer online surfers' concerns, diagnose diseases and even give advice on what over-the-counter drugs to take, all without a face-to-face with a physician. Others like MetaFilter are just web answer sites that have discovered the huge market of self-helpers who can’t actually help themselves and need to turn to the internet for answers. The final class of internet doctors includes those who associate with a particular hospital (physical location, real doctors and IVs, etc) and give advice through a fancy organizational name like Mayo Clinic.

These online resources assume, often erroneously, that patients are providing all the facts. After all, a patient may easily taint a symptom's description by adding some details that may not be accurate but point to a patient preferred diagnosis. Without any visual or kinesthetic input and very little auditory participation, doctors make medical decisions that some people are gullible enough to follow.

So imagine my cynicism when a friend told me about an internet site that explained the dangers of sitting on a wallet for too long. Seriously, the Mayo Clinic’s website put up the following dire warning:

“To promote comfort and good posture while sitting…[r]emove bulky objects, such as a wallet, from your back pockets when you sit because they disrupt balance in your lower back.”
Meta Filter goes further to say that:
“[I]f you're like most guys and put your wallet in your back pocket and sit on it, that can cause pinching of the nerve causing pain with the removal of the wallet fixing the problem.”
The author of the Meta filter article was obviously a she-doctor or a very feminine guy. You don’t just ask a guy to remove his wallet. Most men are willing to endure “disruptions in balance” and even nerve “pinching” in order to keep their wallets close to their buttocks. I personally use a duct tape wallet with five compartments. When the duct tape leaves the vicinity of my derriere, it does funny things to me. Something about the security of knowing I’m sitting on my ID. For me, it’s duct tape; for some guys it’s leather, cloth or snakeskin.

While women carry purses, men sit on wallets. That’s the way nature made clothes and the crazy girl (who calls herself a physician) from Meta Filter is trying to mess up the natural cycle of things.

But she has a point: If nature is causing owies, let’s fix nature. But for goodness sakes, don’t do it by asking men to remove their wallets.

The medically minded folks here at Funny Class Notes sat down to think of some more reasonable ways to reduce back pain but not deprive men of the ever important wallet. Here’s what we came up with:

Implants. Hey, some women do it and some guys do it too (although that’s not a good topic for a family friendly website). Why not make special implants for pain sensitive men? 3 x 4 silicon plates could be inserted on the right or left side, depending on the user’s preference. The implants would be filled with a non-toxic fluid that would be invisible from medium to long distances. Men with implants would still be able to wear their Speedo at the public pool and not be self conscious at the country club. They would also support their back evenly while sitting on a full wallet.

Implants could be sized differently depending on the size of a user’s pocketbook. Keep all your coins in that pocketpouch? Have enough ID cards to make Frank Abagnale blush? Just get your implant sized a bit larger.

The only side effect of an implant is that it can create an imbalance whenever you don’t have a wallet. Because the safe removal of the silicon requires a surgical operation, it is advised that you wear a wallet at all times.

Implants are definitely a good, if expensive, way to get rid of wallet induced back pain.

Wallet Double. If one wallet causes pain, would two solve it? Guys who are afraid of pinched nerves could purchase a second dummy wallet to go along with their real one. This wallet double would be placed in the back pocket opposite the real pocketbook and apply pressure on the spine to equalize nerve pressure and reduce pain. The second wallet has numerous advantages, including the ability to keep many more credit cards and fool robbers.

A wallet double is an excellent way to reduce pain on a budget. Just don’t forget it in the morning.

Weight Gain. Since a lot of fat is stored in the Gluteus Maximal region, why not capitalize on nature’s padding to reduce back pain? When a nerve conscious man wants to mitigate the bone jarring impact of his wallet, all he needs to do is eat more pancakes in the morning. If his metabolism is slow enough, he will gain weight. If his body is smart enough, the excess fat will be placed in his rear and protect his spine from the wallet thus making a natural implant (see above).

Grin n’ bear it. If you have back pain from a wallet and aren’t rich (making implants an impossibility), are style conscious (obviating a wallet double) or have a girlfriend (making weight gain unadvisable), you may want to consider this last option. Men who are concerned about nerve health need only add a few pounds and let the resulting adipose do the protecting. When a man using the grin n’ bear it strategy feels nerve damage coming on, he tunes into the FCN hit “Ima Victim!” and continues sitting. It works every time.

Without meaning to, this post has turned an otherwise decent webpage into a disseminator of medical advice. For this we apologize profusely and ask that you follow none of it.

Unless, of course, you have wallet-induced back pain.

Friday, June 20, 2008

FCN Classics Fortnight

We tried this last summer and it was a smash hit. No, I'm not referencing an evening spent with the local country hicks cow tipping, although that was pretty fun. Neither am I referring to the time I decided to go 36 hours without sleep, because that wasn't a smash hit. Rather, FCN is going to return to the popular classics format for a couple of weeks to showcase all the awesome content that is relegated to the back pages of this site.

And we need your help. We have our ideas about what our "favorite" post is, but we have already established that our tastes look Amy Winehouse look normal. I still think our best post was that piece about whether George Washington really existed, but most of you can't even remember it because you have subconsciously blocked it out. The memory of the post caused too much pain and had to be expunged.

We are derelict college students, which naturally disqualifies us from any right to select good clothes and, by extension, good humor. But you, the faithful FCN few, are, at least in theory, perfectly normal people and perfectly normal fashion tastes. And, by extension, you have good taste in humor, your frequenting FCN notwithstanding.

This is FCN's 534th post. That's a lot of dereliction. It's also some hidden gems that you maybe haven't read or are good enough for a second look. In the comment section of this post or by emailing us at funnyclassnotes - at - gmail - dot- com, please identify any posts you would like to see honored in a Classics series over the next two weeks. Just a line or two of descriptive text or a hyperlink would be great. The posts don't have to be the "obvious" favorites (i.e. they can be posts that C has written), but they should reflect above average writing on the part of the boys here at FCN.

Speaking about the other guys for as second, we are dealing with some pretty hefty egos. People that need to kind of approval and affirmation offered only by the anonymous internet. I know, it's pretty bad, but it's the truth. If you can, please try to them the kind of encouragement that will keep them writing on into perpetuity. It doesn't take much, but a little nod can keep the heart of selfish egomaniac palpitating. For that matter, I wouldn't mind a nomination or two.

So get digging, folks. Our archives are open to your perusal (see the links on the sidebar). Pottery Barn rules do apply, so don't manhandle anything (what a sexist term!). But do browse to your heart's content. And then comment with which one of my posts you want reposted.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

To Take Up Arms...

There is a time for everything, Solomon said, and so there must be a time for sleep. There must be, but but that doesn't make it easy to find. And about two evenings ago, it was more elusive for me than real estate on the moon.

It was just one of those nights. The kind that start two hours early, when your eyes begin to rebel against the light of day just as your boss is walking by full of energy that he is alarmingly ready to funnel into the gory task of setting you straight. The kind that won't completely kick in even two hours after they're supposed to, because those rebellious eyes have rechanneled their restlessness and sandpapered themselves into an insurrection against you in your weary hour of need. The kind that you must slog through despite the fact that you just watched a certain film about crystals and skulls and fiery ants that eat people alive, and every little itch on your skin is beginning to send tingles of terror and images of fiery red legs through your addled brain, and you are suddenly and strangely feeling more little itches than you thought possible just a few hours ago when your boss was glaring at you in the deliciously comfortable, air-conditioned facility.

That's how I felt, anyway, as I tossed and turned in a hot, sticky bed under hot, sticky covers trying to keep my hot, dry eyelids shut. Gradually I dozed off, feverishly reeling through fields of Martians and Aztecs and Soviet soldiers. The little itches continued in my dreams, magnified by the sincere belief that behind them were the malevolent little jaws of a hundred malevolent little army ants. My right arm, nestled safely behind my head, began to tingle with innumerable little needlepoints, and I could sense the poison at work. The dream grew louder and busier, until the jaws began to sound like Goliath playing a timpani (no hyperlink; just use your imagination).

Then I awoke, trembling and sweatier than ever, the crickets peacefully chirping outside and my heart racing wildly in a successful attempt to outpace their chirps by a factor of five to one. I tried to sleep again, but my mind was on autopilot at about 95 miles an hour, just like my car had been some time earlier. I put my head back on my lumpy pillow, and that was when I discovered my arm.

I say I discovered my arm, but the fact is that I discovered its absence. There was an awful itch on my nose, and I summoned my right finger to destroy it. Alas! My right finger had gone AWOL, along with my hand and biceps. My brain sent signals, but my muscles ignored them, and worse, the nerves wouldn't send back any reply. I reached around with my left arm and seized the delinquent appendage. It was cool, clammy, and limp, almost like a piece of dead meat or your two-year-old cousin when you have to carry him inside from a nap in his carseat and his lifeless, snoring mass seems to weigh ten times more than your barbells did at the gym earlier that day.

I lifted my carcass of an arm until I could see it. There was no mental connection between that thing and myself. For all I knew or cared, it could have been a hapless, five-pound bass or trout poisoned by CapeNature officials. Or it could have been the steaming lump of brisket that I had dropped on the driveway a while back. In the spirit of the unsettling occasion, I let this lump drop as well. It fell on my face with a thud which made me realize the gravity of the situation.

My arm was dead. I peered at it, in the dim light that an opalescent moon managed to smuggle around my window blinds, with a growing mixture of fear, surprise, and self-pity. "This is a sorry sight," I felt inclined to mummer. What could I do without a right arm? What would my boss say? What would my mother say? How would I type this post? I lifted the arm again several times and dropped it, with more curiosity than hope. Then, somewhere around the seventh try, I realized to my wonder that the ants had begun to arrive again. I dropped the arm several more times, and subsequently started pounding it with my left fist. The ants returned with a vengeance, tearing and devouring my lifeless flesh. With a supreme effort, I lifted the arm and curled my fingers. It was a fist of victory, and in a short time I was able to shake it defiantly at the ants themselves. Feeling the familiar blood course through my veins was such an exhilarating experience that it was almost worth the sleep it cost me the rest of the night.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008


While in an empty library with a couple of (female) friends, I improvised a few lines to Brad Paisley's Ticks. When I got to class, I punched out the following. Enjoy.

Every time you read your book
In this quiet library
Give that page another look
Cause me to reverie
And on the cover there of your text
I see my favorite author
I'd like to see what you read next
And get to know more

Hey that gives me an idea
Let's get out of this class
Walk down into the basement
And find a place to sit

Cause I'd like to see you out in the biographies
I'd like to kiss you way back by the quotes
I'd like to walk you through a shelf of dictionaries
And I'd like to check your footnotes

I know the perfect little path
Out in these books I used to read
Don't worry babe they've got some Longfello
And the life of Abbot and Costello
I'd hate to waste a calm like this
It'll be safe you wait and see
The only thing that interrupts this bliss
When we get there is me

You know every guy in here today
Would like to take you home
But I've got way more class than them
And that ain't what I want

Cause I'd like to see you out in the biographies
I'd like to kiss you way back by the quotes
I'd like to walk you through a shelf of dictionaries
And I'd like to check your footnotes

Ooo-ooo-ooh you never know where one might be
And ooo-ooo-oooh theres lots of places that are hard to read

I'd like to see you out in the biographies
I'd like to kiss you way back by the quotes
I'd like to walk you through a shelf of dictionaries
And I'd like to check your footnotes

Oh I'd sure like to check your footnotes

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


On July 1, 2008, California will join most of Europe in banning cellular phone handsets in cars. This is one of many areas of the law where California has become more European. The move comes at a time when communication gizmos are multiplying faster than the Jolie-Pitt family and tech-savvy consumers are working overtime to keep up with the innovations. Now we'll have to leave those fancy innovations in the glove compartment and install the cyborg earpieces over our pinnas.

I'm upset about the ban because I won't be able to use my new handset in my car. I got this nifty little communication gadget from the phone company a few weeks ago and have completely fallen in love with it. It's a flexible wire designed to drape over your hand with a microphone attachment for your pinky finger and a speaker over the thumb. You can purchase the wires in different lengths for smaller or larger hands so that the attachment fits snugly against your skin. As the salesman at the phone shop told me, there is nothing worse than a loosely moored phone.

The wire for the mic and speaker attach to a hub, which is about an inch thick and has a five line LCD screen with a green backlight reminiscent of early DOS computers. Most users like to keep the phone on their left hand, but I prefer the model oriented for the right, since it lets me look like the guy in the promotional material. The phone is almost impossible to misplace because as long as you have your hand, you'll have your phone.

Cingular is in talks with Hwang Woo-Suk, a South Korean biomedical scientist, to develop a microchip which can house all the phone's information. A keypad will be placed on the back of the user's hand, but no other changes will be made. I have volunteered for an experimental installation with Woo-Suk and could be experiencing the bliss of total connectivity as soon as next year.

I'm really happy with my flex phone and was looking forward to using it in my car this summer. Instead I'll have to pull it off quickly when I'm pulled over and tell the patrolman that I was just faking a phone with a hang loose symbol. Honest, officer, who talks into their hand? If only Tatum O'Neal had such creativity.

Monday, June 16, 2008

An hour in the weight room

Eight hours at General Mills is longer than twelve hours in most other places. The time drags worse than a Spike Lee movie and when the shift ends, I need to find relief. Yesterday afternoon, I sought that relief in the weight room at my local gym.

Weight rooms, in case you've never been properly introduced, are large, spacious areas with resistance-creating exercise equipment littering a padded floor. Cables and simple machines join free weights in giving wannabes and muscled posers a chance to "pump some iron." I trotted into the room with a pretty clear idea of how I was going to work out: I would watch someone else and do what they did at a lighter weight.

I found an octogenarian who looked familiar with the weight room ways and mores and followed his lead through a lengthy, if simple, routine. But the real show was watching everyone else labor through their workouts.

A male who couldn't have been older than my father's car, but looked about as heavy as said vehicle waddled into the room with determination. Everyone already working out paused to watch him make his way toward the lat machine (a rig that works your "wings"). The big guy set it at the highest level of resistance and then shifted his weight back and forth to bring down the bar. He broke a sweat doing this. Then he picked up his car keys and left.

A middle aged gentlemen entered the room wearing a long sleeved jacket and the short black shorts you'd see on a track coach from the 1980s. He was muscled, but not trim. This fact didn't keep him from removing the jacket and flexing for the multitude of mirrors that formed the room's only decoration. His display of fibrous firepower was impressive, but not captivating. Everyone soon returned to their workouts.

A middle-aged woman entered the weight room. Nobody looked up but everyone started a set. Even Bobby, a body builder with a Mr. Universe physique, who always takes two minutes between sets went back to his flies (a free weight exercise that works the pectoral muscles), started a set even though he had only completed his last one a half minute earlier. When I'd completed my set, I looked at the newcomer. She wasn't that attractive - in fact she was altogether comely homely - but she was the first woman in the weight room in some time and she was invading a man's domain.

A young woman entered the room. She was really attractive and wore the kind of workout gear that let everyone know. If the first gal created a stir, she caused a firestorm. The guys had no idea what to do with themselves. Most of us wanted to go over and say "hi," maybe try and get a date, but none of us had the nerve. Plus such forwardness would break one of the unwritten rules of the weight room: Only ask a girl out after she's turned down Bobby. Perhaps sensing our discomfort, she didn't stay long.

A young man who looked to be my age walked in. He was shorter than me and exceptionally thin. I figured I would be able to out-lift him and was anxious to see by how much. After meandering a bit, he grabbed the chin up bar and pumped out twenty legal chin ups (from full arm extension to chin over the bar). I was dumbfounded. The octogenarian tapped me on the arm: "don't encourage him, lad." Apparently, I wasn't the only one put out of sorts by his physical prowess.

A boy who couldn't be much older than the insurance-mandated age cutoff for the weight room entered and claimed a bench by throwing his towel down. He retrieved a bar from a rack in the back of the room and put a couple of weights on each end. A couple of the veterans joined me in watching. I think they knew what was going to happen next. The boy began to lift, but had forgotten to attach the moorings to secure the weight in place. One side of the bar went up faster than the other and the weights went clattering to the ground. I caught a smile from the man in the coach's shorts.

A small family (husband, wife and son) entered the room, although the mother was wearing baggy clothing and a bandanna that allowed her to enter as a man might. The father quietly gave directions to his son on how to lift using a cable pull. Then he performed a few reps while his son looked on. When Junior tried his hand at the exercise, it was apparent that the resistance was set too high. He hawed and heaved, losing all form and rendering the effect of the set negligible. If anything he risked injury. Dad looked on approvingly, but the family didn't stay longer than the time it took to complete that one set. I knew Junior would feel it in the morning.

Yes sir; another hour in the weight room...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Google's new logo

"Are you trying something new? You got a haircut? You aren't wearing any deodorant? I give up."

I remember the morning my father shaved his mustache. He'd been growing it out for a few months and trimmed sparingly. The resulting hairy mass of tangled and prickly hair created an effect I dubbed the "Dead Caterpillar." My father took offense at this designation, but didn't seem quite as peeved when I insisted my high regard for his deceased Lepidoptera. My comment even earned an Archaic smile which, for those of you who slept through ancient lit, means I'm the only one who actually thinks it's a smile. Anyway I woke up one day to a different father than the one I said goodnight to the day before. And I didn't know what had changed.

It's like those little puzzles they put on the kids menus at family restaurants. Spot all the differences between Lindsey and Lindsay so your parents don't have to entertain you and can enjoy a more tranquil dining experience. I was never good at those and I am similarly atrocious at picking out the changes in my dad's appearance.

A few mornings ago, I had a déjà vu moment. I loaded up Kato, my trusty unPC, to check my email or maybe do something more frivolous, I don't recall for certain. For some reason I had to google a term. This was easily accomplished. But when I tabbed back to the frivolous page, I couldn't find my search query. My eyes patiently roamed the tab bar, looking for the familiar white box with a bold, uppercase "G." Odd, I thought, I wouldn't have exited the screen without first reading the search results.

So I scrolled through my open tabs. A court decision someone sent me, a news article about Billary, an unfinished FCN post, an article about Greek Kouros (hence the Archaic smile reference), email, a couple of sports pages and, voila, my search. For the record, F, I was egogoogling your mom. Not the phrase, the actual name. I always google people's names before I go out on a date with them.

But back to my story, instead of the marker I expected, Google's page was accompanied by a cursive "g" that, to my caffeinated brain, looked more like an "8" written by my physician.

My beautiful morning was shattered. The trusty boxy "G" I'd come to rely on, trust and believe in as an accurate source of information was replaced by a hip and altogether lowercase character. It was like seeing Daniel Craig play 007 or Lindsay Lohan duplicating the timeless Hayley Mill's classic. It was counterfeit!

Soon Wikipedia will have a cursive "w" instead of its bold mascot, the New York Times will create something legible and Blogger will try something even more postmodern.

I can't leave Google behind. Not for an infraction so minor, so aesthetic. But for one fraction of one second I thought about it. My boundless faith and gaga love of Google found a rare challenge.
Larry and Sergey: I'll never let anything get between us, but you might try warning me next time, okay? Communication is important...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dating Disaster

"Everyone has these days." That's what I told myself during a sixteen hour period when everything went wrong before even considering going right. You know what I'm talking about: Nothing works out as it should. Regularly taken gambles and risks are rewarded with the sort of destitution normally reserved for the risk addicted, things that should go up go down and vice versa, polite comments are interpreted as premeditated insults and even friends begin to question your sanity.

You've probably had these kinds of days - you may have even had a day as bad as mine - but it is unlikely that you shared that experience with a beautiful woman.

We'll call her "Alexis" because I don't want to spend a great deal of time agonizing over a name for a woman who probably detests me and wouldn't read my writing for all the orange juice in Florida. But I'm getting ahead of myself. I met Alexis at a nondescript social function through school, the kind of affair that the politically and socially savvy frequent and that neck ties enjoy because they provide a vacation from their wrinkled and lonely closet existence. One look at Alexis revealed she was out of my league. Blond and attractive, she had radiant features and a captivating smile that every guy in the room noticed.

When I first saw her, I was mid sentence with a group of jocks talking about n'importe quoi. I stopped and my jaw must have gone slack since the whole group turned to follow my gaze. As one they answered my unstated question: "She's out of your league, man."

With my friends' statement as encouragement, I grabbed a couple of the cheesy fondue pieces that passed as "refreshments" at the shing-ding and moseyed in her general direction. When we met I was pleasantly surprised that she was able to overlook my many social faux pas and general lack of grace. We had a conversation (she was more than just a pretty face) and, by the end of the evening, a scheduled date. Take that, jealous jocks.

To get to the distant amusement park for which I'd bummed tickets in time to enjoy an entire day of nauseating fun, Alexis and I had to leave at an ungodly early hour. For a derelict like me, any hour before noon is early, but when the alarm rings much before twelve it's easy to ignore the noise as irritation and sleep on. That's exactly what I did. When I rolled out of bed, groggy eyed and rested, I glanced at my clock radio with the curious expression of a six year-old. The green numbers were not what I expected to see when I'd prepared myself for an early departure the night before. Nor, for that matter, did they represent a time at all close to the rendez-vous time Alexis and I had set for our trip.

It's always a tad embarrassing to stand a girl up. There was that time my senior year in High School when I accidentally scheduled two dates at once and took the "where are you?" call from one girl while dining with another. My "thanks for the call, mom" hang up line managed to further infuriate the girl I'd stood up and was unconvincing to the young woman I was with. If you're reading this, Liz, I'm sorry. And you deserve better, too, Becky. Then there was the time I decided to stop for pizza on the way to pick up my date for a dinner and dance. She smelled the pepperoni on my breath when I got to her house thirty minutes late and my flat tire excuse deflated quickly. There was also the time I plumb forgot about a lunch obligation and was halfway through my break and on the other side of town when the young woman called with a reminder.

These "Great Moments in Stand Up History" pale in comparison to my half-dressed, 45 minute late arrival. As soon as I remembered my date, I determined I didn't have time to shower, shave or shine, the three Ss of my morning routine. So I grabbed Lysol from under the bathroom sink and gave my entire body a quick application. The smell was overpowering, so I dug around for the Febreze and gave the strategic locations a few squirts. Still dissatisfied, I turned a bottle of aftershave upside down over my head and toweled my hair dry. In retrospect, a little cologne might have added some musk to my potpourri of scents, but I didn't think to reach for my room mate's bottle of Stetson.

I actually entered my car wearing only underwear but managed to dress while averaging over ninety miles per hour on the freeway. Did I mention I was driving a manual transmission? Or that my super efficient economy car is on the opposite end of the spacious spectrum from Loretta Lynn's Lincoln. I pulled into the parking lot where we were to meet, having been awake only 45 minutes, but smelling, I'm sure, like I'd just gotten out of the soap factory. When Alexis sat down in the passenger seat, she wrinkled her nose and stifled a sneeze. I pointed to my car's frame, which was home to more dirt than the underside of a horse's hoof, and said I'd just had it waxed. Alexis' nonpulsed answer revealed my lie's ineffectiveness and I noticed her glancing furtively at my hair which I admit had a sort of Vegas air.

At that moment, sitting next to a young woman who really did justice to the term "beautiful" in her chic green jacket and white blouse, my day was not going badly. In fact, had it ended right then with some kind of meteoric disaster, I'd have few regrets.

But it didn't end there. Alexis has the political views of a slightly demented Maoist minion and, after a few minutes of listening to her compare Dennis Kucinich to Mike Gravel, two men who have the combined political clout of my deceased dog, I told her as much. Some people watch Crossfire for entertainment, but few want to experience that level of argumentative intensity on a first date. I was no exception. It took the restraint of a Gregorian Monk to keep from pulling to the side of the interstate and leaving her to walk back to her communal abode.

I was just starting to warm up to Alexis when we stopped for breakfast. For some reason Alexis wanted to take a walk, so we hoofed around for twenty minutes before selecting an eatery. With the words of Avril Lavigne ringing in my ears ("I have to pull my money out and that looks bad"), I insisted on paying for the meal. Only the restaurant didn't take credit. And I didn't have any cash on me. I turned glumly to my date. "Alexis?" Like me, Alexis was a plastic aficionado who had about as much of the green stuff as the hairy guy with the shopping cart on Fourth and Vine. In fact, the richest entity between us was my car, which likes to keep some money in the ashtray.

From car to eatery and back was a little over three miles, but I ran it in less than twenty minutes, a pretty good time for an out of shape derelict. I also ran it in jeans and shirt, both of which lost their soapy smell by the end of the ordeal. Alexis enjoyed her meal while my body recovered from the run.

After rinsing out my shirt (Alexis' idea), we got back in the car and continued toward our destination. That's when the unthinkable happened.

I was on a sparsely trafficked freeway, going at about the speed of the other cars, maybe a little faster. I'd stopped sweating and Alexis wasn't talking politics. Things were looking up. Then, in one moment, my biggest claim to driving fame evaporated and, with it, I lost my tax rebate. That's right, I got ticketed. I did everything right. I told the officer I was late for work at In N' Out burger (an establishment that gives uniformed police officers a discount), that my new shoes had a bigger sole than I was used to and that my friend was in labor and that I was driving her to the hospital. When I mentioned my date, the officer took a closer look. His reaction was as unpredictable as it was crushing.



That's right, I got pulled over by my date's cop dad. He wrote me up for the maximum and confiscated his daughter, telling her that she shouldn't be "keeping the company of such..." while gesturing toward me to emphasize his unfinished sentence. He also told me Alexis was out of my league. I drove home alone and went to bed as quickly as possible. I wanted that date to be over.

The next day, I called Alexis twice and left imploring messages. I emailed her, too. A few days later I blocked my number and called, but she hung up as soon as I identified myself. Her meaning could not have been more clear: another dating disaster.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

12th Do It Yourself Post

If only I knew _______________.

Life Tip #72

Don't drive with a suspended license.

If you must drive with a suspended license, don't drive on the wrong side of the road.

If you must drive with a suspended license on the wrong side of the road, do not drive on a major interstate highway.

If you must drive with a suspended license on the wrong side of a major interstate highway, don't do so the court day before your scheduled DUI hearing.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

F is for Freedom

I had intended not to post on this blog ever again, but after that libelous post last Friday I just couldn't stay silent. I do care a tiny bit about my legacy. I had hoped I wouldn't have to say this, but my hand has been forced. It's time for the truth.

I didn't abandon FCN. I was ejected. What C, N, and Chip conveniently neglected to remember in their last post on the subject was that, in a series of staff meetings all through May, my opinions were not only ignored, but actively suppressed. Eventually I found out why: because I had the distinction of having written the longest post in FCN history, topping 2400 words (none of which were swear words). The other contributors were resentful. I even heard one of them whispering when he thought I couldn't hear about how I was a stuck-up take-over hopeful. I guess they never really got over that one incident last year, either, even though I apologized from the bottom of my heart and everything.

The atmosphere around the FCN water cooler was growing increasingly poisonous. Last week I finally decided to broach the subject, and everyone hemmed and hawed and muttered into their mountain dews. I made a speech, complete with emphatic gestures in the air and a final cry at the end in which my voice broke. My fellow contributors were unmoved.

I wrote a dozen posts and put them in the queue, but whenever I tried to post them someone would take them back offline immediately. I tried everything I could think of. I even baked chocolate-chip macadamia cookies as a peace offering. N was let out of the hospital the next morning and doctors say he'll have no permanent scarring.

Well, what's a fellow to do when faced with insidious backstabbing? I couldn't stay. I wasn't wanted.

So I'm gone, and where I am now you can't hope to find me, unless you use the tracking beacon that was implanted in my brain because of a government experiment, but that's another story - and one that will probably never be told unless rFCN recruits me or something. Or maybe I'll start my own blog. I'll call it: Mental Atrophy Farm. Or: Six Years Under the Command of Captain Spooner. Or simply: I like Zebras.

But for now, only one thing is certain. I'm leaving, never to come back again. But I'm not one to leave on a bitter note. Let me offer my final adieus and thank yous, in no particular order:

C: If it weren't for you, my posts would look significantly less brilliant. So thank you for that. Oh, and your banner art is lame - do I really have to tell you that MS Paint is an embarrassment to the United States and border countries? Please. Download GIMP or something.

N: Well, the slow-release album ended before we could get your picture up. That makes me happy. Because you get less fame and glory. See what I'm saying? The things that make you sad make me happy. We're opposites. It's because I don't like you anymore.

Chip: I think you had this planned from the start, you dirty scum. You replaced me. I hope you get sucked into an escalator. I hope the chef puts a rock in your crouton salad. I hope you slip on a wet floor in front of your girlfriend and then you see a wet floor sign right next to you and you're all embarrassed.

Yeah. I just went there.

Mommy G: You always gave me a shoulder to cry on, a brownie to munch on, and a spatula for the other contributors. I'll miss you. Good luck with those wolves.

Uncle Wally: Maybe you should look into the fast food industry or something. They're always hiring. You know? Just a thought.

Em: I know you're embarrassed whenever I mention you. But I don't feel bad about that anymore. This post is for telling it like it is, and no goodbye would be complete without a shout out to you. Goodbye forever, Em.

Loyal Readers: You may be few, but you are strong. You'd have to be to read the sort of things we post here. I'll be sure to let you know if I join some other blog (like the Daily Kos - oooh - nice). So when I do, you can all drop everything and go over there. And FCN will flounder.

That's right, you backstabbing contributors. Flounder.



Storm's coming.

Monday, June 09, 2008

An open letter to Hillary Clinton

Friday of last week introduced the kind of unsettling news that has good people like Tatum O'Neal turning to cocaine. Hillary Clinton's cold turkey withdrawal from the race for the Democratic Nomination for the Presidency of the United States has pundits scratching their heads and us here at FCN asking that deceptively simple three letter word: Why? After much soul searching and a trip to the FCN lab, we were still unable to come up with any believable reason for her early exit. But, like the academics we are, we can trump up a simple "I don't know" to make it sound sophisticated. We put our ideas down in an open letter, a draft of which is reproduced below.

Mrs. William Jefferson Clinton
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Ooops, how embarrassing. That's the old address. Here's the correct one:

Ms. Billary Clinton
780 Third Ave, Suite 2601
New York, NY 10017

Mrs. Clinton,

My name is C. I am a writer with Funny Class Notes ("FCN"), the slowest growing humor and satire blog on Al Gore's internet. FCN has a dozen very loyal readers who join me in mourning the loss of your candidacy. I write this note on behalf of our readership, N, Chip and the prodigal contributor, F, who gets listed last because he has the staying power of kindergarten adhesive. Please let these words warm your cold heart. Frame this letter, if that will improve its radiance. Just let my thoughts shine into the darker recesses of your life. I'm not talking about the Vince Foster, Paula Jones, Susan McDougal, Waco Texas or Kenneth Star corners; let's go ahead and leave those dark. Rather, let my words shine into the dim recesses of your life. Let them alleviate the gloom and bring a grin to your eyes, which is the one place I've never seen you smile.

You will be sorely missed. The regular contribution of your pant-suited figure to the headlines of reputable newspapers across the fruited plain was an integral part of my daily routine. You were my motivation to get up every morning and run out to the sidewalk to grab the morning Herald. In my excitement to read the Associated Press' take on your latest verbal gaff or sleep-deprived quotation, I would sometimes scamper outdoors without a bathrobe à la Matthew McConaughey in, well, in any of his movies. Some things were more important than basic decency, like getting a refreshing glimpse of your visage.

Don't misunderstand. You are no messianic figure. People don't worship you or faint at your rallies. The Obamination has a corner on that quality. I am not denying that you do have a certain shrewd mien, but your essence seems more at home in Salem than New York. You were never going to win the Teenybopperette vote. You were never going to win the straight guy vote. You were never going to win the black vote. In fact, your entire constituency is made up of those who have seen Sex and the City which, while substantial, is but a dent in the voting population. Give yourself some credit: with no marketable attributes and a collection of negatives so large, you could give one to each illegal immigrant in the United States and still have some left over for the AIDS victims, you managed to be a burr under the Obamination's saddle for several months. For that we applaud you with a lusty golf clap.

Your performance was nothing short of miraculous. Only you wouldn't use the word "miracle," because your sustained period of non-defeat can be explained by naturally occurring circumstances. Circumstances like Jeremiah Wright, Michelle Obama and Michael Pfleger. You never had to throw your grandmother under the racism bus or distance yourself from your spouse after he embarrassed you publicly. And if you did do that second thing, it was so long ago that everyone has forgotten about it by now, I'm sure. Monika who? Gennifer who? And Gina Gershon?

Billary, you are an inspiration. Like the rodeo cowboy who rides the bull and doesn't let go of his wrist strap even after it gets stuck in the pommel and he's been thrown out of the saddle and his arm is dislocated and he breaks both legs against the side rails. Like the skydiver who, out of principle, refuses to pull the ripcord. Like the coal miner who doesn't cease his labor and continues digging faithfully despite the tunnel's collapse. You found encouragement in small victories and never gave up on the goal. Until now, of course, but you deployed at a low altitude.

You didn't cry, lie or make a fool of yourself. At least you didn't do much of any of those things. Or when you did do them, you apologized for them in a way in which we can all be proud. Or at least, FCN can be proud of you. I'm proud of you, Billary.

Don't be discouraged by this setback. With new technology and aesthetic innovations, doctors should be able to keep your smile looking genuine for another twenty to thirty years. Certainly 2012 is still open for you, if not for Chelsea. And your chances this year aren't over yet. You may be able to pull a fast one on the Obamination and get back to the Vice Presidency. And, who knows, the top spot may open up again. Like you, I'm still pulling for some drama or at least a Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan-type "accident."

I don't want to end a letter on such a dark note, but I haven't had a lot of sleep lately so I can't necessarily be held accountable for my words. Regardless, my affectionate sentiment is hopefully not vitiated by references to Robert Kennedy, may he rest in peace.

You have stolen my awe, amazement and imagination. I only hope you will once again challenge the minds and morals of America at some future date. Whatever obstacles are subsequent, I am sure you will meet them with all the poise behooving your name.


Funny Class Notes

Friday, June 06, 2008

F abandons FCN

"Commitment" is a hard word. It's three syllables long and has a lot of repeating Ms and Ts, which renders the spelling arduous. The principle behind the term is similarly formidable. Commitment requires not backing down or giving up, even in the face of, well, artistic differences.

Here at FCN, we've never laid much of a claim to commitment. "Lackadaisical" seems like a better description of our approach to life and we've never had a hard time changing course if it meant finding an easier path. But we demand a higher level of integrity from others. Nobody kicks us to the curb, leaves us out to dry, runs out on us or abandons our ship. No siree, sir! When the wind blows against your sales, we expect you to make good use of the jib to keep your sloop on an honest bearing.

This is more than a credo. It is a mandate; a directive so puissant, no amount of badgering can get us to renege. Ever. We expect others to never give up. Not after six pieces of pizza, three coke classics and two bowls of onion rings. Never.

In fact, we expect out of you and each other the same thing the Obamination sees in Billary: the can't quit attitude.

At least that's what I thought until last week, when I got a rude awakening to the realities of today's internet world. Apparently "yes" doesn't always mean what the Greeks said it means, because F gave the world a new interpretation of the term, and entered a another chapter in the FCN Manifesto, by packing his cyber bags and walking out on FCN.

That's right. No last post; no train of long goodbyes (or even a single adios). Just a forlorn and empty user where F used to write his funny tomes, cutting social criticism and relevant satire. It's an empty locker where Mean Joe Green's jersey once hung. It's a deserted and quiet Carnival after a night's frivolity. It's Seattle after Boeing left.

And now it's just me and N and, of course, Chip, our guest contributor. We'll do our best, but things won't be the same without you, F. If you are reading this, please come back. We need you. Heck, I need you. I'm a mess without you. I miss you so dang much. I miss being with you, I miss being near you. I miss your laugh. I miss your scent; I miss your musk. When this all gets sorted out, I think you and I should get an apartment together. Maybe I should stop talking for a little while.

No! I can't be groveling. We cannot reduce ourselves to sniveling dogs, circling the table for morsels that drop from our master's table. I will command. F? You come back and make a public apology. You have lost all credibility, like the time on the local news channel when the camera panned back and revealed the anchor was barefoot. You need to earn back your respect in the humor community. You grovel; cry and fill a cereal bowl with tears. Then we'll see about letting you back into our little club.

Please, man? I mean, you'll always have a place here if you want to return.

FCN readers, your consideration and condolences are appreciated during this particularly difficult time for the FCN team. We want to be cheery and happy, light and funny, but it's hard when you lose such an integral piece. Please use the comment section to remind F about how much he means to you and maybe we can get enough of an outcry to bring him back even if it's just to say goodbye.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Post-Semester Stress Disorder

Finishing school is like finishing a war. The guns are silent, the gore is dried, and your bed feels safe at last. Exhalation is natural and a smile is no longer forced. The steel muzzles cool, and the smoke clears. All is quiet on the wide fields of slaughter, and flowers begin again to dot the trench-scarred landscape.

But try as you might, there can be no return to the life that was before. A nerve deep inside your soul has been touched, and your one-innocent heart has been jarred. You thank God for home, for your loving family and familiar routine, but you find that you cannot enjoy them as you once did.

No, something has changed. You can feel it when, having stayed up by habit until two-thirty in the morning, you stare bleary-eyed at random websites as if they were vital research for an overdue paper that you had to finish. You can feel it when, five hours later, you jolt out of bed perspiring as if there were no time to dress before classes began. You can feel it when you wriggle your weightless fingers and unclasp your empty hands as you carpool to work, thinking you ought to have a book with you. You can feel it when you can make evening plans and not worry about homework deadlines or study groups.

The caffeine addiction dies hard. You cannot bear to bid adieu to your morning coffee, nor can you kiss your desert coffee goodbye. Your hands even itch at times to make that midnight cram-session pot. Mountain Dew may be a good place to start cutting back. They don't, after all, have it at In N' Out, and there's no longer any need for an energy boost in that calculus class. Red Bull is, naturally, off limits.

Slowly, the reality sinks in. You don't have to mute your laptop to keep the Tetris music from reaching your professor's ears. You don't have to sit up straight or act respectable; you don't have to zone out. When someone asks you a question, you don't have to scramble into the dark and misty caverns of your memory in search of potent ingredients for a plausible answer-concoction. The only alchemy in your life is in your plans to revive a hibernating relationship.

In time, the harsh regimen of the semester begins to loosen. There is no one to bark out orders, no one to set deadlines, and no one to impress. You can leave your hair ungelled and trip over your shoelaces. You can guzzle coke on the couch in a stuffy room whose murky dimness is pierced only by the flickering light of a television screen. The only blot on your perfect liberty is a faint but recurring recollection of the horrors you conquered.

Buck up, soldier. Don't let the bad memories phase you. Your troubles are in the past, so keep them there. If steel and fire couldn't hurt you, there's no reason to be afraid of ghosts. Relax and take it easy now, because in just a few months, you're scheduled for another tour.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

11th Do It Yourself Post

Hillary Clinton is _______________.

Life Tip #71

Don't steal.

If you must steal and are caught, don't relieve your anger by slashing someone's tires.

If you must steal and are caught and relieve your anger by slashing someone's tires, don't slash the tires of the judge who let you out on bail.

If you must steal and are caught and relieve your anger by slashing the tires of the judge who let you out on bail, don't steal a car five minutes after you are released from prison.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Caffeinated Pyramid

Starbucks coffee shops are always bustling with activity during the morning rush. Upper to middle class Americans and the college students who are consumption smoothing on little or no income and hope to someday be upper class Americans run in and out of the store picking up their wake-up Joe.

Generally you can predict a patron's beverage choice before they order. The older woman in the Christmas sweater gets a cappuccino and the too-thin tech geek grabs a tea with an oriental name. A young woman in modest but zippy attire gets a skinny latte and a burly man with rough hands orders his mug refilled with black or "unleaded" coffee.

The other day I was one of those people. Life was moving along a little too quickly and Starbucks seemed like just the thing to slow it down. I left home a few minutes early and stopped in at the Java stop that never stops.

I found my place in line in front of an overeducated and overworked Latina woman and behind a slightly overweight gentlemen who wore too tight pants and an orange leather jacket that could best be described as foppish. The Latina woman would get an iced doubleshot and a scone; the fop was a wildcard since he never ordered the same drink twice. The day's "suggestion" - a cranberry mocha beverage that was blood read in its menu representation - was a likely bet.

My turn came and I placed my order. If you've ever been to Starbucks with me you probably know what it was since my coffee tastes have changed little in two years of regular consumption. Feel free to guess in the comment section if that toots your flute.

Receipt in hand, I marched over to a second line to await my drink. That's when I noticed The Pyramid.

I've heard mention of different body types. In one of the not-to-recently passed decades, it was in vogue to debate and label people's shapes: she's a pear; she's an apple. We've probably at least heard that before, even if we didn't understand it or approve. The woman in front of me in the to-receive line broke all of those stereotypes. She was not a pear...and she was certainly not an apple. Tall, triangular and a giant three-dimensional arrow, I think she could best be described as a pyramid.

But what would this monster of a woman drink? My eyes searched the menu quickly, looking for any Mrs. size drinks or a taste that would appeal to the plus size. Starbucks prides itself on a svelte and posh appearance and none of the drink titles seemed to appeal to "bigger" appetites.

That's just another of the many differences between Starbucks and Burger King.

When the drink arrived and was announced by the green-aproned employee, a shocked quiet came over the hustle of blenders and quiet chatting of busy people. Even the music seemed more hushed. Her order: A venti (no surprise) Java Chip Frappuccino (okay...) with six shots.

Six shots.

Mille milliards de mille sabords
! That would keep me up 'till Christmas, but it was her morning fix? How had she acquired such a resistance? What did she do when she needed to stay awake at night?

The Pyramid shuffled over to the drink table and picked up her order. Then she took a sip. As the liquid demise poured through her being, her imposing figure palpitated and I could actually see her heart beating more quickly beneath her stylish blouse. Her poor heart!

Then it hit me like those Gatorade showers players give their coach after a championship: that would be me in a few years. Sure, I could maintain some semblance of expected human form for a little while, but my poor alimentary and physical habits will eventually catch up to me and I will be the sniveling intellectual waiting in line to treat my addiction. I might even be a pyramid. For a moment I was worried. Then my drink was called and all thoughts of the line were erased by the cool refreshing taste of my favorite beverage.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Wanna catch a movie?

This story begins long before the trailers started rolling their shameless advertisements across the big screen at the local theater complex. It begins before the ten mile run that jarred my bones for a little over ninety minutes and the six hours of studying that fried my brain until I was dumber than the GED-toting model I will end up marrying. It even starts before my shift at General Mills, where I logged my contribution to our stagnating economy under the watchful eye of an unforgiving supervisor.

This story begins at 5:30 in the morning when my Radio Shack issue alarm decided my sleepy time was over and the awake hours should begin. Actually it was me who made that decision, but I'd set my alarm in a moment of weakness the night before, not realizing how early 5:30 really is. I had chores, a homework assignment and some personal hygiene problems to resolve before leaving for work. After my travails at the Cheerio factory and a quick rinse in the "Milk Shower," our loving moniker for the sprayer that helps remove the scent of heavily refined, super white flour before we leave for home, I logged some time at my school's library, reviewing the ravings of the lunatic Fourier (the socialist economist, not the physicist) among others and generally preparing for the irritable activity we call "Final Examinations."

When my eye balls were struggling to stay in their sockets, I replaced my books in my backpack, switched the music on my mp3 player from Brooks and Dunn to Blink 182 and went for a run. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how a derelict celebrates a sixteen hour day.

Only the day wasn't over. I ran into a friend on the way to my car who looked at me with a concerned eye [CAUTION VERY WEIRD] and told me to drink some juice, a comment I interpreted as a date invitation. But I'll share the rest of that conversation in another post. It suffices to say that I was looking a mite tuckered.

I was crossing the last street to where my car was parked when my phone buzzed. It was F.

"Hey C, wanna catch a movie?" The request was as enticing as it was impossible.

"I can't, F. I've been running around like a soccer mom all day and I just need to go home and relax. I think I'll just curl up with some Akerlof tonight." I think F figured "Akerlof" to be an adult beverage, but he didn't cop to it when I pressed him about it later.

"C'mon, C! It'll be fun. Everyone is going. And we're catching some dinner at In N' Out beforehand." It was as if F had pushed my "Easy Button." I went from ambivalent to persuaded faster than you can say "Flying Dutchman."

I arrived at the local In N' Out before F and his entourage, so I grabbed a seat at one of the outdoor tables and enjoyed a few slow minutes. Ten feet away from me two teenybopper females gossiped emphatically, never hesitating at the prospect that their words might be picked up by a guileless eavesdropper. I wasn't trying to listen in (although everyone should know that Jane broke up with Todd and it's all Todd's fault for looking sideways at Rhonda and that Jane is thinking about going out with Amanda's ex) but I got an earful nonetheless. Their conversation was like a verbal combat. One person would speak while the other tried desperately to get a word in edgewise. Then they'd reverse roles. In an odd way, their interaction held a chaotic beauty, like seeing lions eating zebras on the Discovery Channel.

Once F arrived, bringing with him the entire female population of the Central Valley, I waltzed (1-2-3, 1-2-3) into the restaurant and ordered with all the desperation of a starving distance runner. The food was delicious - I think even my cooking would have been good after a ten mile run and an overheard episode of conversational combat - but the real excitement started at the theater.

I thought my day was tough, but it was nothing compared to the hero onscreen. Robert Downey Jr. (the guy who loses most of one of his fingers in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) played an iron-clad special effects character who has bad day after bad day. My ordeal over the last 19 hours was nothing compared to the world changing problems he had to tackle. And putting Lawrence Fishburn in at the end was a great touch. He'll make a great villain in Iron Man 2.

The movie was over and we filed out into the lobby area just as the first pangs of a headache hit. I had been at it too long and my body was finally starting to rebel. I had to surrender or pay some substantial consequences.

That's when F pulled a fast one. "Wanna catch another movie?" Another film was playing (that happens when the theater has 12 screens) and F was leading his entourage into the next flick. I shouldn't have, but I succumbed, shelling out another ten bucks and feeling sorry for myself that I had to submit to such awful bodily torture. It was inhuman what I was doing to myself; the Geneva Convention should come down harshly on my persecutor.

I remember nothing of the second film besides some bright lights and the screaming of the main character at a particularly tense moment in the film. I don't even remember the film's title, other than to say that it had all the creativity of a cardboard box.

When the film was over, I stumbled out the glass double doors and staggered to my car. I know that beer and gasoline don't mix, but nobody told me not to try sleepies and gasoline. By the time I got home, I understood why "exhausted" begins with an "e," the only letter in the English alphabet that's doubled over. I went to bed in my clothes and didn't stop to remove my contact lenses. The next morning was a story unto itself.