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

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


In case you hadn’t noticed, FCN has been pretty much swamped the last couple of weeks. And I am using the word swamped in the Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike sort of way. We haven't posted very often and we haven't announced our light schedule very well. We have totally abused your confidence as readers, and for that I apologize with all the sincerity of my youthful heart.

There are a number of reasons for the dirth of postage. First, dereliction is hard work. Sometimes writing about our escapades gets the back burner (mind you, the escapades still happen, they just don't always get published for your titillation. It's a George Berkeley kind of situation). Second, these days school is very, very academic at this time of year. And I mean that in the most redundant way possible. Even a C student has to work sometimes to keep his grades up. Thirdly, F dropped out of school and has the emotional commitment George Clooney (Sarah who?). This means that we lost a very verbose contributor and the architect behind Desperate Student. Your classes miss you, bro! Fourth, it's the girls man. Mrs. L figures this is probably the biggest reason, and maybe she is right. Working the bellows in a meager social life is difficult enough without taking time out to blog about it.

Anyway, FCN needs to catch its breath and we don't want to string you guys out like voters in a two year campaign. So we're taking a little breather - sort of like Michael Phelps, but shorter and with smaller ears. We'll be back here at the beginning of November with lots of new content and, hopefully, lungs full of air. Yes, we will be windbags.

In the meantime, if you are interested in becoming a guest contributor for FCN, please fire us an email with a writing sample and your mother's maiden name. After we empty your bank account, we'll read the writing sample and laugh at you. No seriously, we are looking for some more authors to bring on board who share our commitment to laziness. If that describes you, we'd enjoy the addition to our team.

Thanks as always for your faithful readership. We look forward to blogging again in a couple of months.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Serf of the Flies

There was a congenial, respectable old man at a church I once attended, who seemed to all intents and purposes (back then I had purpose and intentions) a paragon of decorum. Like all adults, he never wrestled at potlucks, picked his nose, or wore dirty jeans with holes in them. He was always friendly and dignified, and he loved to tell stories. I loved to hear stories, so I hung around when he talked with my dad. One day I discovered that not only was he a model adult; he had been a model boy as well. He had captured a fly.

On a particularly boring(!) Sunday morning, this man had spotted one of the obnoxious insects buzzing around him. Having nothing better to do with his ingenious brain, he devised a way to pilfer a particularly long strand of hair from a woman in front of him. With his plunder he fashioned a noose, and then caught the fly in his hand, shook the creature into disoriented obsequy, and slipped the noose around its neck. All that was left after that was to fasten the hair to his button, and watch his new pet bumble around like a frantic chihuahua on a long leash.

His dad, it seemed, had not been as amused at the feat as I was at the story of it, but the man relished his anecdote nonetheless. And I resolved then and there to be a valiant Fly-Bane. I never quite succeeded in catching one for long enough to pull its wings off, but I prowled my house with a fly-swatter and marked every kill with a notch. It was heaven.

I was dreaming of that heaven one fine afternoon this summer when a fat, lazy, insolent fly complacently settled on my dinner plate and tranquilly rubbed its hands together, as insolent flies are accustomed to do. I fancied it chuckled a little too, as it eyed me and prepared to devour my meal. Alas! Our fly-swatter was lost. Man is a weak creature, dependent on his petty tools and inventions. Without a swatter, I was helpless. My only recourse was bare hands, and since I didn’t want to upset my plate with a quick snatch, I had to content myself with a gentle flick and wave.

Gentle flicks, in case you haven’t noticed, do not bother the determined fly. Homer noticed, some 2,800 years ago:

“Therefore she put strength into his knees and shoulders, and made him as bold as a fly, which, though driven off will yet come again and bite if it can.”
In fact, I believe that flies like a challenge sometimes, and they instinctively know when they can get away with it. They will land on your sausage, take a sniff or two, and then buzz away to get their friends. When you chase them they nimbly escape your reach, often waiting until the last possible moment before flying off—for the thrills, no doubt. And then, when they discover that you are too lazy to buy a fly-swatter, their confidence grows and they eat themselves into slow, obese, noisy insects and lord it over you and your barbecue. To be lorded over by a fly is perhaps the most infuriating emotion imaginable. Almost infuriating enough to make me buy a fly-swatter.

There was one summer when even a fly-swatter was not enough though. That was back in rural Nebraska, where houseflies swarm like locusts and darken the skies with their mass. You can kill as many as you want there, and they will laugh at the casualties. It is all-out trench warfare. One morning the whole ceiling of a van was coated with black flies—sluggish in the frost. Remember that, for it is their Achilles heel. We scraped them off the ceiling onto a sheet and deposited them in an unpleasantly wet location, where they doubtless slumbered peacefully for eternity, without a single frightened buzz. Cooling a fly off is like putting salt on a bird's tail: it signals the end.

Regrettably, mornings are rather warm where I live. So my only option is to grit my teeth, wave my weary hand, and eat my polluted sausage. Until my brother drives to the store for a fly-swatter. Because I’m not going.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Differences Between Things

Sometimes it's hard to tell. FCN offers this helpful guide to promote general discerning. Note that we learned all of these the hard way.

The difference between an elephant and a table is that one is an animal and the other is not.
The difference between a trench coat and a spatula is that one is used for getting tomato sauce out of pots and the other is not.
The difference between a ceiling fan and glass of prune juice is that one is nice to have around and the other is a glass of prune juice.
The difference between olive oil and white wine is the taste.
The difference between rubbing alcohol and vodka is the label.
The difference between a bunny and a bread crumb is the cuteness.
The difference between a canary and box of cereal is that one is good to eat in a pinch and the other is a box of cereal.
The difference between a parrot and a machine gun is the volume.
The difference between a chihuahua and an enchilada is that only one will stay on your plate without help.
The difference between a plate of sauerkraut and a stone wall is the crunchiness.
The difference between a penny and a helicopter is the market value.
The difference between men and women is really complicated.
The difference between black and white is that only one looks like the forest at night.
The difference between see and saw is semantic.
The difference between a tuxedo and a bikini is that only one is generally accepted at formal functions.
The difference between table salt and powdered milk is how well it is replaced by soy sauce.
The difference between broccoli and anthrax is the nutrition facts.
The difference between an airplane and an ice pick is how well it reacts to sudden impacts with mountains.
The difference between a college student and a cub scout is how much pizza one of them can hold.
The difference between a ball gown and a hemp rope is its usefulness in an urban combat situation.
The difference between a raven and a writing desk is that one is a raven and the other is a writing desk.
The difference between M&Ms and Skittles are the chewiness.
Degree to which they are chewy.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Republic of Nauru - An interview

With the Olympics only recently over, a spirit of global diversity and interest is still high. Feeling cultural, we visited the CIA world fact book in search of a country to really get excited about - one that was often overlooked. We settled on the tiny island nation of the Republic of Nauru.

Though indisputably sovereign, the Republic of Nauru is one the smallest countries in the world. It has only 8.1 square miles of dry land to its name, and a total GDP of just under $37 million. But don't let us bore you with facts. We'll let the Republic of Nauru tell you himself. He happened to be on vacation near here and we brought him in for milk, cookies, and a little candor.

FCN: Thank you so much for being here.

Republic of Nauru: It is my very high honor.

FCN: That's really an immense pineapple hat you have on. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

Republic of Nauru: It's a head dress. It's symbolizes my authority as president.

FCN: Does it make people respect you?

Republic of Nauru: Everyone on my island respects me.

FCN: So what's it like being a country?

Republic of Nauru: It's hard. There's so many duties. I hardly get any sleep. For example, recently I appointed myself as my cabinet members, and I had to get approval from parliament, which is all the way on the other side of the island. I was driving back and forth all day running papers to get the whole process done. On the bright side, there was no traffic and the votes were unanimous.

FCN: An analyst recently hailed Nauru as a beacon of democracy and transparency in the Pacific. What's your reaction?

Republic of Nauru: I'm sorry. Who said that?

FCN: You made your fortune on phosphate reserves back in the mid 1900s. What did you do when that ran out?

Republic of Nauru: Those were very dark times. Nauru is basically a phosphate rock. When I finished mining all the phosphate - which made the whole island sink a few inches - I called an emergency meeting of the NIC ...

FCN: Whoa, hang on a second. NIC?

Republic of Nauru: Nauru Island Council. It's a local government for the island, whereas parliament sits over the nation as a whole. It's like what you Americans call federalism, only with eight square miles to work with.

FCN: All right. Please continue you're story.

Republic of Nauru: So the NIC got together and I evaluated my options. Nauru isn't close to anything, doesn't have any natural resources (anymore), doesn't have manpower or genius or a good view or land space. It doesn't even have a Starbucks.

FCN: So what did you do?

Republic of Nauru: Money laundering for awhile. Tax evasion obviously. They were dark days. Unemployment was at 100%. There was a lot of hot money flowing around - corrupt banks invested; I even harbored some pirates on the western shore for a few months. There's things you can do with national sovereignty. Market wise. So finally I was approached by the Australian government. Those guys have all kinds of money.

FCN: And?

Republic of Nauru: And they offered me a job! They established the Nauru Detention Center. It's like Guantanamo, but instead of terrorists it's people who want to move to Australia. It was nice having other people on the island. Helped stave off some of the loneliness. Sadly, the center closed last year. Since then ... you ever see Castaway? It's been a little like that.

FCN: So what brings you to California?

Republic of Nauru: I was considering maybe becoming a protectorate of the Johnson family. They live right down on Harney Lane - you know them? No? Well they found me on adoptacountry.com ... apparently they have hot showers. So we're talking that over - negotiating. Diplomacy can be a tricky thing.

FCN: But if you leave, who will run Nauru?

Republic of Nauru: I'm confused.

FCN: Some have called you schizophrenic, what with all the titles you hold back on your island. What do you say to that? Have you gone batty, all those years alone?

Republic of Nauru: The best psychiatrist in Nauru has verified my mental health.

FCN: Thank you so much for your time.

Republic of Nauru: No. Thank you. [tears up] Thank you so much. You don't know what this means to me.