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

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Do You Believe in Mutation Magic?

An [unmetered] parody of "Do You Believe in Magic."

Do you believe in magic in a young cell’s heart?
Phyletic gradualism or punctuated equilibrium, whichever it starts,
And it's magic, if the mutation is groovy,
It makes you feel happy like a PBS documentary,
I'll tell you about the magic, and it'll free your soul,
Just know that spontaneous balanced polymorphism is the goal.

If you believe in magic, no need to research,
Just go and read 200 year old books from the experts,
No need for evidence, we’ll find it eventually,
All the missing links, mutations, and random anomalies,
Don’t bother looking, you’ll never pragmatically find,
How we got here, it’ll just hurt your mind.

If you believe in magic, come along with me,
We'll write lots of unsubstantiated hypothesis,
And maybe, if lazy be our foes,
We will sneak in some lies about embryos,
Just get some guy with a really long name,
To pen some long papers, no one will think he’s insane,
To think the magic's in the mutation’s and the mutation’s in me.

Yeah, do you believe in magic,
Yeah, believe in the magic of a young cell's soul,
Believe in the magic of divergent, convergent, parallel and coevolution,
Believe in the magic that can set you free,
Ohh, talking 'bout magic,

Do you believe like I believe Do you believe in magic
Do you believe like I believe Do you believe, believer
Do you believe like I believe Do you believe in magic

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Life Tip #87

Do not attempt to smuggle turtles into the United States.

If you must smuggle turtles into the United States, do not work for the US Border Patrol.

If you must smuggle turtles into the United States while working for the Border Patrol, do not label the box "scorpions."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The sticky spot on the library keyboard

I just arrived at the library. There's a crazy new rule that we have to slide our identification cards to get in the door, so I had to pull out my wallet at the entrance. That was a hassle. What is even more of a hassle is trying to replace the wallet comfortably in my back pocket before I sit down. I don't like sitting on an obliquely situated wallet; it's so uncomfortable and I worry about the long term health implications such laziness could have on my my back. My pants don't help the situation. They are four-pocket Levis—the perfect pants for proper wallet fitting, right?—except this pair is one of those loose-fit styles with a slightly lowered crotch for easier movement. It's comfy, but the wallet housing situation is suspect because the pockets are so large that the seams don't fit snugly against the leather of the wallet. It's really awkward. I'd considered passing up the pair at the store because of this obvious deficiency, but they were on sale and I was poor and my date the night before hadn't gone well. So I bought the pair and now I was struggling with my wallet as I entered the library.

I was still reflecting on my sub-par date and considering what I could have done differently, if there were other reasons she never called me back, and whether she was waiting for me to call when I arrived at the computer concourse in the center of the library.

They say you don't select your library computer; your computer chooses you. I tried to choose my own computer once: I marched confidently to a terminal and sat down to start working, but the system started beeping at me like a smoke detector with a low battery. I fussed with it for a few minutes, pushed on the power button several times, fiddled with the wiring and was just removing the motherboard for an amateur evaluation and no-charge repair attempt when the librarian came up behind me and asked me to leave.

I don't think that computer chose anyone ever again.

Today, I kept my eyes open as I scanned the concourse. Heads moved up and down in front of computer screens recalling the first time I ever bobbed for apples.

90% of the computers were logged into Facebook. Students perused each other's profiles with the same intensity they ought to have devoted to their course materials. One girl had an intense expression as she stared at a photo of a guy and girl positioned in a way that provoked romantic thoughts. She wasn't happy, so I wagered it was an ex-lover with his current flame and she was suffering through a bout of post break-up jealousy. I thought about introducing myself, but noticed the librarian's wary eye and thought better of it. Five percent of the computers showed footage from Hulu. The remaining 5% of the terminals were unused.

I marched directly toward terminal L117, on which someone had installed Flash in order to play music from Pandora. I turned on the monitor and set my fingers on the keyboard to enter my key-pass. That's when I felt something sticky between the F and the G keys. I didn't look, but tapped the spot a few times to determine its texture. It was gooey. Then I looked and immediately regretted having tapped it.

Stickiness is the most disgusting of all the tensile sensations. It is more eerie than pressure or wind and has more staying power than heat or cold. Whenever you feel something sticky, you know that you will keep on feeling it for a while. That's why I hate cleaning the sink; all it takes is one three-day old piece of pasta to ruin an afternoon.

The spot between F and G looked like a partially masticated piece of cereal that had been settling in for a week. It had just enough form that I could tell its origin and was covered in a light green powder and oozed after my touch. It smelled, too, a little.

Ew! I thought.

I hesitated, pondering whether to be embarrassed because I'd been had by a piece of cereal or altruistic and try to remove it for the next person. Then I made up my mind. I picked up my backpack and marched to another terminal, leaving L117 for another unsuspecting soul.

As I logged in at L108, I wondered how many other people had made that same decision.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Etiquette Monday: How to Avoid Paying for a Date

Let's face it: your association with this blog doesn't speak well to your ability to be the life of the party. Do people tend to look at you weird? Do you often wish you could smooth-talk someone into doing what you wanted? Are you often making embarrassing mistakes?

If you answered yes to any of those questions (and even if you didn't), you stand to benefit from the next few week's worth of Mondays. That's right, kids. Today, we begin Etiquette Monday. Let's start with one of the most important topics known to man: How to Avoid Paying for a Date.

If You're a Girl

Bat your eyelashes at your date and compliment him on being such a gentleman.

If You're a Boy

Well then. Things get complicated. Let's dig in.

Choosing a Restaurant

Restaurants that are well prepared to deal with dine-and-dashers are poor choices for a date. How do you spot these bistros? If they have security guards, a maitre d' with a tie, or any of the cooks have tattoos. Also, Denny's is a terrible choice.

Fast food restaurants don't serve you until you've paid. Never ever try a stunt there. You'll end up looking stupid at best.

Your best bet is to find a middle-of-the-road joint (somewhere between Baker's Square and Applebee's) that trusts its customers but won't go bankrupt if you can't shoulder the bill. Most such places smell classy enough that your date will be at least somewhat impressed.


Park away from the restaurant, but not too far away. Do not park in a position easily visible from within. Best case: park it around back where the employees park (provided they have a rear exit to the parking lot). If you have no other options, park on a side street. Visualize an escape route as you walk to the restaurant.

Finding a Table

The two things to stay away from are the restrooms and exits. If the restaurant has multiple exits, sit further away from the rear ones (which are more tactically useful). Try to find a table with a blocked line of sight; one which makes it impossible to clearly see anything. At the very least, claim the table with the best view of the doors so your date will have her back to them. Best case: dining on a rear patio, a casino buffet, or in a basement.

If you're being seated and you know where you want to sit, tell the maitre d' that such and such table has special meaning to you and you'd like to sit there again. They will usually accommodate.

The Old School Dine and Dash

Many people attempt the big double D but not many can pull it off correctly, often because they don't have the patience. It requires coordination and teamwork and is pretty risky, but it can be a great bonding experience with your date as opposed to most of the other tactics here which force her to pay.

Here's how it's done:

1) Establish to the waiter that you two are madly in love. Ideas: Order things to split, never stop staring at/touching each other, giggle at what the other person says. This will make you seem absent-minded and endearing while still slightly annoying the waiter so he won't miss you much.
2) Be nice to the waiter. This will prevent him from getting really really mad when you're gone and going after you.
3) Order big. You want to be able to eat your fill while still leaving lots of food on the table.
4) Wait for the waiter to check up on your table. This usually happens about 5-10 minutes after your food is served. When it is, give him a nearly full cup to refill, all the while staring into your date's eyes. This will establish that you don't need any help from him for awhile. Be sure you still have at least 50% of your food still on your plate.
5) Immediately after the waiter leaves, look at your cell phone as if you're getting a call on vibrate. Stand slowly, looking apologetically at your date, then put the phone to your ear and begin a conversation in very quiet tones as you walk quickly outside (to take the call). Take your date's purse with you. If you walk quickly enough people will assume there is a reason for it.
6) Go to your car and start the engine.
7) One hundred seconds later, your date should open her own cell phone as if to check the time. Then she should roll her eyes and walk quickly out of the restaurant. Because she is without her purse, it will occur to no one that she is leaving for good.
8) Skedaddle.

The choreography of the Old School DD is so well rehearsed and familiar to us FCN boys that we could do it in our sleep. Unfortunately, it's becoming a bit too popular. With dining staff becoming increasingly wary and cynical, new techniques for exiting the restaurant as a couple are arising, most of them involving public/explained exits. A few popular ones:

The New School Dine and Dash

Suddenly grab your date's purse and run out of the building. Have your date chase you, laughing. Never come back.

The Hokie Pokie

Break up with your date, leaving her in tears. Walk out of the building and have her follow you, begging you not to leave her. Never come back.

The Dutch Slide

Have an asthma attack. Recall that you left your inhaler in the car. Lean on your date as she helps you out. Never come back.

The Mambo

Get into a fight with your date. Start shouting at each other; continue until a dining staff person asks you to take it outside. Do so. Never come back.

The Old Friend

Spot an old mutual friend outside. Run out together to greet him, calling his name. Never come back.

The Good Riddance

Find a hair in the food. Scream and yell in shock together as if you're about to make a huge scene, then run from the building. Never come back.

Of course, you will probably find in many cases that your date is unreceptive to ethically questionable behavior. That's perfectly okay. If she wants to pay for the meal, that's her privilege. Here's how to get away from her around check time:

The Star Trek

Go into the bathroom. Hide until you're sure she's given up and gone home.

The Bait and Switch

Go into the bathroom. Text her saying that there was a family emergency and you had to leave. This works best if you arrived at the restaurant in separate cars.

The Ol' Forgot My Wallet Trick

When the check comes, tell your date that you've got it covered. Reach into your back pocket and register surprise. Then check all your other pockets. Wait for your date to ask you what's wrong. Tell her you think you left your wallet in the car. Run out to get it. Never come back.

The Nemo

Get a call on vibrate. Tell her it's from your brother the submarine captain. Take the call outside. Never come back.

The Lost Hero

See an old lady getting mugged outside. Run out to assist her. Never come back.

The Dutch Stag

Get an asthma attack. Tell your date you left your inhaler in your car. Never come back.

The Bus Stop

Be deeply offended and angered by something your date says. Go outside to cool off. Never come back.

The Leprechaun

Find an earing on the ground (that means coming prepared and seeding the carpet when she's not looking). Say that you think it belongs to that old lady who just left. Run out to give it back to her. Never come back.

The Discriminateur

Notice that something is wrong with the food. Go to complain to the kitchen. Never come back.

The Surprise

Tell your date you have a surprise for her, and that she should close her eyes. Never come back.

This is of course an inexhaustive list, but hopefully it's enough to get you thinking along the right lines. Skipping the check means thinking fast, adapting to the situation, and acting totally sincere no matter what. Remember: if you look confident, people won't stop you. The moment a flash of guilt crosses your face you're finished.

Be fast, smooth, and confident, and you'll never have to pay for a date again.

Friday, April 24, 2009

School Colors

My school's colors are orange and black. My female friends tell me that those colors look good together and I think they were chosen because they call to mind our school's mascot, a vicious tiger.

Our school colors are pasted everywhere. Announcements at the registrar's office are posted in gaudy orange, napkins in the student union are dull orange with black paw prints and students regularly make signs out of orange construction paper. With all the orange, I'm sure our campus looks like a sunset or a sunspot from space.

Our bookstore is similarly a sitting advertisement for all things orange. It sells everything in orange (stamped, of course, with our school's logo): shirts, hats, pins, sweats, hoodies and undergarments. There is even a tattoo parlor a mile from campus that sells tiger tats at a discount to students.

I don't mind black - it's a color that any tough male can wear without a second thought - but the orange is not working for me. Actually, it's not working for the blonde girls on campus. They can't wear orange and look good - not really. It's been tried. Several times. It doesn't work.

Blonde girls who are considering my school after high school are put off by the colors. They know they can't wear the colors and give the edge to other colleges because of it. This leaves our campus with a dearth of cute blonde girls. It's terrible.

If you are blonde and are thinking about coming to my school, please note that the bookstore sells a lot of black and grey paraphernalia. You can have school pride and keep your aesthetic pride. You may have to be a little more picky, but you'll be fine.

And if you want me to show you around...email me here.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Harsh Economic Times

Because of the harsh economic times, FCN is...

- Ordering a tall
- Not buying shampoo
- Selling our old socks and underwear
- Selling our parents' old stuff (with permission)
- Selling our parents' old stuff (without permission)
- Answering emails from suspicious Nigerians
- Taking donations
- Abstaining from showers
- Dumpster diving
- Renting out our cars
- Running ads
- Packing a sack lunch
- Reusing disposable products
- Coasting more & accelerating and braking less
- Grocery shopping at the 99 cent store
- Clothes shopping at the 99 cent store
- Giving friends "one-of-a-kind worn-in jeans" for their birthdays
- Going on vacation...to the local movie theater
- Renting out our bedrooms
- Selling most of our organs
- Adopting kids for the tax deductions

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Good Idea/Bad Idea #11

Good idea: Baking cookies.
Bad idea: Baking cookies when it's 100 degrees outside.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

How to Clean Your Room in Five Minutes

Uh oh. Your parents are coming for a surprise visit, and you haven't cleaned your room since... well, you've actually never cleaned your room since you moved out. Sometimes you only have 5 minutes' notice that someone is coming to hang out in your dorm or apartment, and that thick layer of clutter covering every horizontal space in your crib is definitely an eyesore. It really isn't too hard to make your room look presentable and company-ready.

First things first. Prioritize. You know those 3 month old dirty dishes in the sink? Now is not the time to work on them. Fill the sink with hot sudsy water to make it look like you're on top of it (4:40 left). Now throw all your dirty laundry in a big box or bag and put it in the hall; your company will just assume your neighbor forgot to move his trash (4:10 left). Put all your books and homework in a huge stack on your desk and put all your pens and pencils in that empty Starbucks cup you forgot to throw out. You're cleaning and recycling. Way to be.

Only 3 minutes and 30 seconds left. It's time to make your bed. Don't worry about straightening your sheets, just throw a big blanket over the whole thing (3:10 left). Kick all trash into a pile in the middle of your room and throw it away (2:10 left). It's important to make sure you don't confuse your big bag of trash with your big bag of dirty clothes. While you're buzzing around the room like a busy bee, pop a soothing CD into your stereo or laptop to add a little ambiance to your room. A little pizazz goes a long way in making your room feel comfortable. Take any remaining clutter and throw it somewhere out of the way, like in your microwave or in your rain boots (1:00 left). Take a deep breath... this is hard work (0:55 left).

You have just enough time to put the finishing touches on your room. Try doing a little dusting, or tear out random advertisements from magazines and tape them on your wall as artwork. Be creative, but move quickly. This will zap the rest of your time, but be sure you're finished by the time you get that knock on your door.

Now that you know how to clean your room quickly, you don't have to clean your room on a regular basis. Just make sure your friends and family know to call you five minutes ahead of time.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Out with the Old, In with the New

So ends the Zombie Monday series.

We hope you enjoyed it, and more importantly, we trust that we've done our part to prepare you for the upcoming apocalypses. Apocalypti. Apocalyptemials. Point being: we're done with that.

Today was supposed to be the day we rolled out a brand new Monday series that has nothing to do with zombies. It was really going to be tremendous. Unfortunately, the grueling research workload to get that series ready for you has proven to be slightly more than this college dropout can handle - especially since he spent the weekend partying (can't remember where or how but it was pretty great).

Here at FCN, quality is our top priority. We wouldn't dare post something unless we were absolutely certain it passed our rigorous standards for excellence and was guaranteed to improve, entertain, and enlighten you. The new series is not yet ready, so consider this post an IOU. Take a number, go to the back of the line, and start hitting refresh. And next week, get ready for big life changes.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Auto de Fe

It was a lazy Thursday morning at the auto repair shop. (For details on why I was even at the shop, check here, here, here, or here.) I hadn't slept the night before so everything was a fog. I had a pounding headache, my sinuses felt tortured and my body's "check engine" light had been on for over a week. For some reason I was taking care of my car parts before my human parts.

In the corner of the room, a collection of "readables" littered a two-foot-high table. A few advertisements, mostly unopened, topped it like a cherry on the mulch pile. Our city's most reputable rag, a rapidly declining publication that only publishes a new edition four times a week and gets most of its content by regurgitating Reuters articles, shouted a headline about a local boy who did well in collegiate basketball. He was making someone somewhere very proud, but in this auto shop, his picture had been defaced by a coffee stain and his photo caption was obscured by a three-year-old copy of Redbook. Brightly colored chairs lined the room, exuding a cheeriness that seemed more at place in a Kindergarten classroom than beside posted warnings about wheel alignment and air filters.

Behind the desk, a tired looking woman prepared invoices. I knew this was her task because I recognized the dire boredom that covered her face like a henna tattoo at a theme park. At one point she stopped working for fifteen seconds and stared blankly at her keyboard. I know because I watched and counted. Cut her some slack, I thought, it's Thursday.

Invoice Woman needed some sugar. She left her post at the terminal and marched into a back room that I hadn't noticed before. She returned with a juice beverage, which she opened slowly and sipped with a deliberateness that suggested she had nothing else to enjoy. I was thirsty all of a sudden. At one point Invoice Woman glanced down at the cap. Either she hadn't won ("Try Again Next Time"), or Snapple wasn't running a bottle-cap promotion ("Best By 4/23/10"), but still she looked. I wondered how many hundreds of thousands of employees were checking bottle caps at work that very morning. I wonder what kind of noisy cacophony would be created if they all opened their bottles at the same time in a small room. Would the noise be soft and delicious or would it be deafening? Would it make you want to drink Snapple? Would a human being be able to survive the blast of that prodigious noise? That might actually be a really good way to go...

The mechanic behind the counter motioned for me and I trudged toward him with all the energy of a man who knew his fate. I was the defendant and the mechanic was my judge: I was rising to hear my sentence.

Car repairs are the least satisfying of all expenses. You can buy a lunch and feel the effect of your purchase immediately as the warm food assuages your hunger. You can buy a gift for a friend and see her the joyful sparkle in her eyes and hear her thanks. You can even give your money to a bum with some satisfaction. But repairing what you thought wasn't broken to get what you figured you always had is frustrating, especially when the price tag is six times your weekly income.

The mechanic announced the prognosis with the stoic nonchalance of Dr. House. He didn't even try to sell his services or distinguish Pepboys from Harney's down the road or Aamco (honk honk) up the hill. His sad eyes provoked a modicum of pity, but then I caught a glance between him and Invoice Woman. I was the victim of an auto de fe and they were the benificiaries.

That's when I decided to have some fun. I was halfway though this FCN post, after all, and it was pretty dry. I started crying. Tears filled my eyes and flooded down my cheeks like so much mug root beer. (The tears were contrived, I promise. They were not, by any means, a natural reaction to the tension of the situation. I felt bad about what was happening, sure, but the tears were all for FCN. Please believe me, my dignity is on the line.)

Mechanic rolled his eyes and turned away, as if some space would help me recover. Invoice Woman reacted more positively. I felt her arm around my shoulder and she pushed an unopened Snapple my way. She understood the difficulty of these Harsh Economic Times and she understood how a car repair for a reckless driver could magnify the harshness. A few sips of Snapple helped push back the edge of my emotion and I looked up with a sniff to see the mechanic, his sad eyes unperturbed, standing at attention.

"I'll talk with my manager and see what we can do," he said simply. I nodded, having absolutely no idea what he meant. Mechanic left for a few minutes. When he returned, my Snapple was empty.

"All right, uh, Mr. C., here's what we can do. We'll cut $300 off parts and services and give you all the work for the charitable price of..." Mechanic went on for a few minutes droning about where the discount originated and how generous Pepboys was being. When he was done, I shrugged and nodded. I had never experienced such an easy Auto de Fe.

When you are feeling down
When things are falling all around
Let the tears flow thickly
Things will improve quickly

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Fan Letter from Germany

FCN received the following fan letter several weeks ago. We post it now to prove that ladies sometimes read our blog, and because it makes us so happy. In an attempt to preserve an "Age 2 and Under" rating on this blog, we have gently censored the fan mail. We have not corrected any English (mainly because Hanna's guess is as good as ours).

Hey FCN-team,

my name is Hanna (22), I come from Germany how do you like me so far?
I'm about to write you a fan letter, so listen and repeat. OK then, listening suffices.

I hope my English is good enough to understand, I just had a beer, cause alcohol improves my foreign lenguage skills just to be on the safe side. But it actually doesn't matter, don't worry, I'm not gonna say anything interesting. By the way, fair warning, cause if words fail me, then they positively run in terror from my bad grammar. But chocking noises are serious comments as well, right? No, seriously - in that case I try other ways of expression: taking pictures of flowers, juggling axes, fire twirling with socks stuffed with coconuts, taming wild horses, making human sculptures

(I thought that's funny at least in my head).

Well, instead of learning I always do any crap in the internet that's basically how I found your website. Meanwhile four days had past and I can't stop reading. I just can't. When I had time to be online as from the evenings, I did nothing but reading your blog since the last three nights. And when I had a look at the clock again, it was already too late to go to bed early - and besides, sleeping at night is way too mainstream, don't you think?

So I made three nights of it. Result the next days I was so overtired that I wasn't able to focus on anything. I had to turn down the radio to back into a parking space (granted, I always have to do that),

I confirmed important information with: I get it, hmm, yes exactly yeah, right no, I didn't understand that , I was so absent-minded that I didn't notice it actually was my friend's new jacket I diplomatically commented with oh my gosh, how [unfashionable] is that oh it's yours scuse! and I had to say sorry that I'm still laughing um does it still hurt way too often.
I sort of felt like: Who am I? And if yes, how many ? That should be on your conscience. Just saying

I can't handle sleep deprivation well and I really shouldn't forgive you. But I'm totally in love with this blog! So I think I do forgive you nevertheless.

Everytime I was bored in the past, I just took a look into the fridge. Then marveled at the sausage, closed the fridge and continued to be bored. Today I laugh about your storys.

I thought about it for a few minutes now but I just don't get the bridge between sausage and your blog It's just everytime it's funny (the blog, not the sausage).

I laughed in that embarrassing way you do when the laughter just bursts out of you; laughed so hard I had to cross my legs to keep from peeing my pants; came very close to spitting water all over the table; snorted and there are moments I expected a doctor to say I think we lost her . Are you [!] trying to kill me? ;-)) Im sure it added a year to my life; but it could have taken a year off and it still would have been worth it! Thanks!

Since I discovered your website I actually laughed that much that I had to practice looking grave again. Though I probably shouldn't have practiced in public because my friends soon got disturbed and I had to come up with an excuse: I'm not frowning! This is Editorial Posing you spaz !

They think I'm insane.

Moreover your blog offered me a new way to bother my friends. I like to annoy people, that's just my thing. So I've been spamming them with the FCN-link for like two days now (constantly with requesting a read confirmation) and no one was able to offer resistance. Even my friend Rina had to rofl at the storys - judging from the fact that her English is like good music I dance, not good music I not dance .

(I intended it for a compliment).

Thank you so so much for making my days (which actually are nights) and please please!! keep it up!

I love you guys. I really do! ;-)


PS: If you need inspiration, what about headings like:

[These suggestions censored because we're pretty much using all of them later on].

Have a good one, guys! In Germany, it's 2.00 a.m. and I have to catch up on some sleep now. J

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Note to Self #8

In the future, begin filing taxes before April 15.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Beware of Shiny Objects

As much as I hate to admit it, I am very much a woman, especially when it comes to shiny objects. I'm drawn to sparkle, no matter where it occurs. Diamond rings, sapphire necklaces, crystal-clean shop windows, metal signs, even the garish, reflective sequins on your grandmother's Christmas sweater. The more eye-catching and shiny the better, in my opinion.

Now, this love for shiny objects may be fine under normal circumstances (although my brothers may argue that point), but when I get behind the wheel of my car, shiny objects become a downright hazard. It's quite obvious that men designed roadways, because a woman would know better than to put light reflecting objects down the center of the pavement, like a beautiful necklace laying on the black velvet lining of a jewelry box.

I love lane-dividing reflectors.

Unfortunately, between juggling my cell phone, coffee, makeup, planner, and pen when I drive, I am unable to avoid damaging those lovely, sparkly bumps on the road. To remedy this, I've taken to straddling them when I drive. After all, who would want to cover the shine with yucky tire rubber? For some reason, the last three policemen to give me tickets didn't care for my logic.

But it's not just reflectors that form a hazard; more often than not, it is other vehicles that drive me to distraction (haha! drive, get it?). Just this morning on my way to work, I saw an Alhambra water delivery truck. It was so pretty! Bright green and on the back - you'll never guess! - they had a shiny, sparkly, reflective sequin sign that was blue and had their name written on it. I stared at the sign, trying to resist its pull, but blue is my favorite color and between that and the sequins, I just had to give in. I slowly began drifting across the lanes so I could be right behind the truck.

Bang! Screech! Crash! Yeah, I forgot to check before changing lanes. Now I'd crashed into three other cars and the sparkly truck was disappearing down the highway. If only I hadn't been so intent on reaching the sparkly sequins! But it isn't my fault; shiny objects really shouldn't be allowed on vehicles.

Does anyone know a good lawyer?

Monday, April 13, 2009

FCN Sells Out

Take a look around this page. Do you see anything different? New? Anything at all? No? Look again.

Yes, that's right. Very good! Go buy yourself Snickers TM Bar, Everyone's Favorite Candy Bar TM.

FCN has become ... ahem ... *monetized.* It means we have ads. Theoretically, those ads will mean we will eventually make money (and by we, I mean the 3 founding fathers of FCN - not the newcomers, who still allow us to beat down on them).

It's illegal for us to ask you to click on them. It's pushing the envelope to even point out that they exist. But we can't resist. Because if certain things go right in our world, we'll be ro-sham-bo-ing for the happy meal toy six months from now, courtesy of you, the faithful FCN reader.

We hope you enjoy our new, intrusive, tacky ads.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Spring Break

Funny Class Notes is on Spring Break. We are lounging by the beach, drinking our drinks with umbrellas and doing all the things we always wanted to do but never did because we had other things we had to do. Check back in for more content on April 13th. Until then, happy Easter!

Friday, April 03, 2009

I only shave when I see her...

Chester only shaves when he knows he is going to see Francine. He doesn't need to look good on any other day and, though he detests the itchy spines of peach fuzz that poke a pesky reminder at his unshaved visage, Chester does not care enough to rub his face with a blade unless Francine's name dots his itinerary.

Chester hadn't shaved in over two weeks. Something had come up and he'd had to postpone a date with Francine. He had done this twice and a five o'clock shadow had grown into something resembling mildew all over Chester's face and neck. It was ugly, it was scratchy and it had a funny smell.

Chester's friends begged him to shave, even if it was for their own benefit. They called him names like Serpico, Scorsese and Chewbacca. They thought he was winning a dirty man competition. One particularly mean friend even asked Chester how it felt to change his name "from Cat Stevens to Yusef Islam." These were painful comments but Chester refused to shave. He only shaved for Francine.

One day, Chester had completed his morning routine (shower, _____ and shine) and was in his car hurrying to get to school school when his phone buzzed. It was Francine. Chester took the call. Francine talked briefly about her adventure at the hair salon the day before before getting in to the meat of her call. She wanted to know if Chester was available for lunch. Her afternoon class had been canceled and she had to go by Chester's school anyway to purchase a graphing calculator...

Chester panicked. He looked in his rear view mirror and noted the knotted troughs of hair pouring from his face like milk from a curd strainer. He whipped open the glove compartment, hoping against hope that someone had left a blade in his car -- even if it was a disposable pink razor or a Venus Embrace. He'd actually used on of those once and it wasn't too bad. The lavender scent on the comfort strip left a pleasant aftersmell, too.

Focus Chester! Chester tried to regain control of his thoughts. Maybe he could stall Francine.

"You know, I've got tons of homework to do today. I should see about getting that done..." Chester knew this was weak, but he had to try something.

"Don't be silly. I'll see you at noon at Mr. Pickles." Francine would have none of Chester's shennanigans.

Women! Chester thought.

The minute hand of the clock behind the professor moved at an excrutiatingly dilatory pace. Chester wanted to stand up and move it forward. He wanted to get the awkward introduction between beard and Francine out of the way. But the temporal will could not be swayed. The seconds passed in no great hurry and the sardonic tick of the second hand only magnified Chester's consernation.

When class ended, Chester prayed a brief prayer of deliverance and then marched across the street toward the bumpy green cucumber restaurant.

Francine was already there and her reaction was about what Chester had expected:

"Chester! My, what happened to your face?"

"It's a growth. Fungal. It's not contagious. The doctor said it should be gone in a treatment or two." Chester was so proud of himself!

"Will it come back?"

"Maybe. Probably not, though. What are you having for lunch?" 

And that was that.  Chester had survived his facial hair.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Ultimate Fighter (Part 2)

Continued from Part 1

His Toughness noticed me looking and put down his weights. Even though he was several paces away, I felt genuinely nervous as he started toward me. As a gym novice, I was unsure if I had violated some "don't look" rule of weight rooms. Men's restrooms had such prohibitions—why shouldn't another enclave of incubated testosterone?

He introduced himself with the name "Tito," and I mumbled my name. He nodded. The pause that followed was awkward—if you graphed a line showing how people handle awkward moments, I would be at the zenith of the line. So I started studying Tito's tattoos.

The tattoo on Tito's right shoulder was an intricate collection of colors and shapes that I couldn't understand. It looked as if a sixth grader had drawn a picture only to have his little sister scribble it out and do something else on the same piece of paper. Perhaps this process was repeated several times. On his left shoulder, a very bold five pointed star in solid black was pasted slightly off center. It looked like he had been inked at a very young age and the skin had floated off center over the years.

Tito must have been at the nadir of the arc, because he looked disgruntled by the pause. I, however, was very gruntled and asked an intelligent question:

"So what line of work are you in, Tito?" This was the question Tito had been waiting for. His whole demeanor changed into that of a proud school boy's and I thought for a brief instant that this might have been what he was like when he got the star tattoo.

"I am an Ultimate Fighter, kid." Tito proceeded to tell me all about ultimate fighting, the sport which had honed his body and which he proclaimed with his body art.

Take the roman gladiators, subtract the sharp objects, blunt weapons and shields, change the venue from the Amphitheater Flavium to a metal cage and add steroids. If you did the math right, you have ultimate fighting. It's a really daring activity that attracts the imaginations of teenagers and gives washed up boxers a way to get back on Pay-Per-View. I was hooked.

The more Tito talked, the more I was amazed that he still had all his teeth. Then he told me a story about how he lost the majority in a single punch and how this happened twice and that the pair he had now was actually his third set of orthodontic stand-ins. His left eye was made of glass, his right leg had so much metal it qualified under some definitions as a prosthetic limb and he was missing a finger. I hadn't noticed the finger until then.

Tito taught me how to punch. Sure, I'd seen people get hit in the Matrix Movies, but when Tito hit the punching bag the bag gave the sort of deflated sound you would expect to hear from an opponent after a knockout blow. I think now that I am an even more dangerous person than Tito, because now I know just enough to start a fight. At least Tito can end a fight.

Tito was like a sports talk radio personality without the standard English vocabulary, but with much more colorful language. He talked about the history, ethics, problems and opportunities of fighting. He billed several upcoming fights and warned me about the dangers of overtraining. And he never talked about anything else. He never asked questions and never deviated from his topic of interest. I thought Tito must be a dream date.

Tito had stopped lifting and was talking to me as I worked the leg press, the bicep curl, the assisted dip and chin up, the pecs pusher, the triceps pull, the hamstring twist and the quadriceps tear. He was even by my side as I cooled down on the treadmill. In fact, with the exception of his punching bag attack, he hadn't done anything that would qualify as an exertion in the entire hour he had followed me around.

When my workout was over, Tito left as well, presumably to go visit another gym and continue his "workout."

UPDATE: Tito was in a fight this weekend. He was knocked out in 35 seconds. His opponent pulled out a tattoo gun and added some marks to Tito's right shoulder while he was out. I understand now why it looks so ugly.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Good Idea/Bad Idea #10

Good idea: Using chopsticks to eat Chinese food.
Bad idea: Using chopsticks to eat jell-o.