Thursday, December 31, 2009
This year I plan to:
• Be a force of good
• Tear down those who harm the innocent
• Protect the weak
• Wreak havoc on criminals (a superstitious, cowardly lot)
I stopped there because I realized that I was writing Batman’s list. Not that I don’t like the resolutions, but I’d have to add “Watch my parents get killed in an alley behind a theater as a young boy” to the top. I started again, this time trying to keep more to what I really want.
This year I really want:
Okay, good, but too vague. I tried to think more specifically of what I want to do.
This year I want to do:
• Elizabeth Hurley
• Nicole Kidman
• Heather Locklear
• Uma Thurman
The real list was much, much longer. However, I realized while writing it that (1) none of them fit my definition of “doable” any more and (2) I haven’t seen a movie for far too long. In any case, I was setting myself impossible goals. I decided to give myself a list of things I could accomplish.
This year I will accomplish:
• Converting oxygen into carbon dioxide
• Converting food into excrement
• Exchanging money for goods and services
Now that was a list that fit me. Still, it was too easy. The whole point of a resolution is to shoot for something difficult. I decided to add one last item:
• Create a list of new year’s resolutions for 2011
Hope I’m not pushing myself too hard.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
To make up for the heinous crime of having a life, I am giving away my worldly goods. Here's my latest act of penance:
Pre-opened Clear Care Disinfecting Solution with SECRET TREASURE
I know how difficult your life is. You have soft lenses and you have to take them out and clean them every single day. The manufacturers of your contacts are slowly undermining your sanity by taking you away from your busy schedule for whole minutes at a time and to top it off, you have to go buy and open a new bottle of lens cleaner every month.
Well, I have a solution for you (pun intended). I have a box of Clean Care Disinfecting Solution that is ALREADY OPEN. No more will you have to rip your hands to shreds pulling open the top of the box because I’ve done it for you. No, there’s no need to thank me. It’s just something I do as my small contribution to the national defense. Feel free to suggest me for a medal or something, though. I’ve always wanted a medal or a knighthood. Sir Matthew sounds good, don’t you think?
Where was I?
The bottle itself is unopened and still has that super dooper plastic seal on it that keeps out terrorists or monsters or whatever, so you know it’s safe. For a small fee, I’ll open that for you, too.
Also, I’ve decided to offer an added incentive. Inside the box is a treasure. It is a treasure of such great value and magnificence that you will cry out with joy when you see it. This isn’t just one of those plastic lens holders with the thing at the bottom that fizzes to make bubbles it’s-
Oh, wait, it is just one of those things. But, hey, it’s pretty cool. They used to keep me up all night going bubble bubble bubble until I had to close the door to the bathroom so I could get some sleep. It’s also unused and came in the box. I’ll open that for you, too if you have any extra cash that’s weighing you down.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
This team of dark giants sat around the conference table as the director, Joe Williams, entered. He pressed a button on the table and images flickered to life on the screen behind his back. The flickering images stopped on a cruel face.
“This is Johann Rasani,” Williams said, “The leader of The Splinter, a powerful terrorist group dedicated to the violent death of every man, woman, and child on Earth. We’d love to put him in jail, but a new leader would take his place. So we came up with a plan to use him to destroy his own organization.”
The images changed and a picture of an ordinary, blue house appeared.
“He lives in a simple, split-level ranch home in the suburbs of Los Angeles where has numerous meetings with his operatives. They come to his house, stay the night, and leave with orders to kill. If we could track their movements after they left the house, it would save uncountable lives, but they’ve managed to slip between our fingers every time.”
Williams put a 80s-style digital clock on the desk.
“The guys down in tech built an exact replica of the clock radio in the guest room. The only difference is that this one can heat-tag anyone within 10 feet for satellite surveillance. Once tagged, we can follow them anywhere on Earth without them knowing.”
The images flickered again behind Williams and stopped on a blueprint of the house with the infiltration plan shown as red arrows. The plan looked pretty straightforward: in through the rear door, across the living room, up the stairs, enter the second door on the left, switch clocks, and back out the same way.
“The real problem is that either Rasani or one of his family members is always in the house; they never leave it together. It’s going to have to be a full-stealth, night insertion mission while the family is sleeping in the house. I can not stress this point enough: if the family hears a sound or suspects anything, Rasani will disappear and we’ll lose our chance to stop this group.”
“What’s the catch?” Banshee said, looking confused. “This is a milk run. You could have a rookie team pull this off.”
“Rasani has children,” Williams said.
The rest of Alpha Team gasped.
* * * * *
It was 2100 hours on a moonless night in a small suburb of Los Angeles when the streetlights went out in the whole town. Three people, barely noticeable in the darkness, moved silently through the night to a nondescript house. They paused for a moment at the back door -- working at it with small, silver tools – before disappearing inside.
They were halfway to the stairs when Lockwood yelped with pain and crashed to the floor. Banshee shoved her fist into his mouth, blocking the sound while Brudall held his flailing limbs.
“What?” Banshee said in a barely audible whisper. “What is it?”
Lockwood gestured feebly at his foot where a hard, wooden spike was protruding from his shoe. Banshee yanked it out.
“It’s an axel,” Brudal whispered. “It’s an axel from a toy car.”
“Lights” Banshee ordered.
They turned on the miniflashes, playing the small lights over the carpet. Surrounding them like a school of hungry piranhas, was an entire shopping mall worth of toys: jacks and wooden pyramids, plastic models of shark teeth and metal balls, broken army men and costume jewelry. There were fragile toy cars that would shatter into fragments at the slightest touch, a complete set of Lego knives, and an unidentifiable toy labeled “Made in China.” The sharp edges of the toys stuck up from the carpet, the hardwood floor, and the couch. They were surrounded by a minefield of vinyl spikes and toy blades.
“Leave me,” whispered Lockwood, clutching his now-useless foot.
* * * * *
They were almost to the top of the stairs when they hit the gate. Too tall to climb over quietly, they struggled to open it. It was smooth and featureless and didn’t respond to any movements, up, down or sideways. Brudall linked in to Ops.
“Can you read any name or insignia?” came the voice over the comm.
They played their lights over it and found none.
“It’s bolted into the wall on one side and a wooden board on the other. The board is zip-tied to the railing.”
Several painful minutes passed as the Ops team computer scanned hundreds of baby gate manuals.
“Color?” was the next question.
It was hard to tell in the harsh glare of the lights.
“Beige or brown, I think.”
“Is there a plastic handle covering the top like a latch?” the voice said.
“Found it,” the voice said, “Try lifting the handle”
Banshee pulled on the handle and it refused to budge.
“It’s not moving; we already tried that.”
“Did you lift on the side away from the opening?”
They tried again.
“Hm. Maybe they have the Hunny Luv model. Is there a button on the side of the handle?”
Brudal ran his fingers over the side and found a small, circular button.
They pushed the button and then tried the gate. It wouldn’t move.
“Still nothing? Are you sure it’s not white?”
“Yes. It’s a sort of medium brown to go with the painted bannister.”
“Right. Was there a click when you pushed the button? Maybe you didn’t push it all the way.”
They pushed the button again. Still the gate won’t move.
“Wait a second,” said the voice from Ops. “Did you try lifting the handle while pushing the button?”
“At the same time?”
Suddenly, miraculously, the handle moved, lifting until it was perfectly vertical.
“It works,” Brudall said, his eyes misting over with emotion as he severed the connection to Ops. He pulled the gate toward him, and it stopped, refusing to open.
* * * * *
One hour later, Alpha team entered the bedroom. It was hard going with the sound filters covering their faces and feet, with only hand lights and the vaguest of maps. They stumbled around until they realized the furniture had been moved. There was no bed, no end tables, and most of all, no clock. Instead they could only find tiny furniture and white dressers. It was no longer a guest bedroom.
A strange noise came from behind them and they slowly turned their lights on the source. It was a crib and inside it was a baby. They froze as the small child pulled itself up to the crib’s railing and smiled at them. They had ended up in the nursery.
“Don’t move,” Banshee whispered. “Maybe he’ll go back to sleep.”
But the baby continued to stare at them and smile. It smiled harder and harder until it looked like its head was going to split open. It smiled until its face reddened and tears formed in the corners of its eyes.
“What’s it doing?” Brudal asked, panic creeping into his voice.
The baby, still making that strained smile, squatted and made a long, grunting noise.
“Masks!” Banshee screamed. “Get your gas mask on!”
* * * * *
The members of Alpha Team reassembled in conference room three months later. Lockwood was using a cane, thankful the doctors had saved most of his foot, Brudal had been off the respirator for a week, and Banshee had completed her stint in the suicide-watch room of the psychiatric ward. In spite of their ordeal, they were eager to prove themselves again. They wanted a rematch.
Williams placed a small, white teddy bear on the conference room table.
“The boys in Ops put this bear together. It’s an exact replica of the one Banshee destroyed.”
Banshee flushed but held her composure. She had grabbed the toy in the house by accident and found, in her shattered state, she couldn’t let it go. After three months, they injected her arm with six hundred milligrams of morphine and her muscles finally relaxed.
“Ops put the tagging hardware from the clock into the bear. We just need to get it into the house.”
“We’re not going back in,” Lockwood said. “It’s too dangerous.”
“No, you’re not,” Williams said. “We can’t risk a failure like the last time. However, our contacts have reported that the Rasani family plans to buy a replacement bear to present to their baby. All we have to do is get you to pose as workers at the toy store and put this bear on the shelf when they walk in."
The members of Alpha team visibly relaxed. Perhaps it would be a milk run after all.
Williams clicked a secret control and maps of the store appeared on the screen behind him. The pictures showed towering shelves piled with breakable toys shoved together creating claustrophobic aisles. Videos played of rabid parents careening through the store with shopping carts and fighting over popular toys. Images appeared one after another of toys you could only buy if you purchased the proprietary “starter kit,” which locked you into only buying compatible products from the same manufacturer.
It was a Toys R Us. Within one hour, every member of Alpha team resigned.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
What is the above set of characters and letters? Is it the secret password to my wall safe? Is it my name written out in hexadecimal? Is it the UPC code for my new line of carcinogenic snack foods for the terminally ill?
You'll never know.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The subject was tazed and taken into custody. His collection of wild animals is currently being cared for at a PETA facility in Johto.
Count 1 – Trapping Wild Animals Without a Permit
Mr. Ketchum was found with dozens of caged animals, most caught from the wild. Among his collection were many endangered creatures (including a Mew, which may be the only member of the species left).
Count 2 – Keeping Animals in Substandard Facilities
Mr. Ketchum’s animals were kept in tight containers with no access to food, water, light or even air. These containers (called “Pokeballs” by Mr. Ketchum) didn’t provide enough space for animals to move or even turn around.
Count 3 – Animal Cruelty
Mr. Ketchum is the member of several “Pokeleagues” which function similarly to dog or cock fighting clubs for wild-caught animals. The animals are released by their owners to fight each other and are not allowed to retreat until they are knocked unconscious or killed.
Count 4 – Animal Endangerment
Veterinary records show that one of Mr. Ketchum’s animals, a Pikachu, has been hospitalized no fewer then six times as a result of his involvement with the aforementioned Pokeleague.
Count 5 – Animal Neglect
Many of Mr. Ketchum’s animals have failed to thrive. For example, the aforementioned Pikachu should have evolved to a Raichu, by his age. Mr. Ketchum seemed to have a profound lack of emotional connection to his animals, even referring to them by their species instead of granting them names.
Count 6 - Gambling
During his arrest, Mr. Ketchum mentioned that he gambled, in spite of being underage, in order to obtain his Porygon.
Note: During interrogation, Mr. Ketchum stated that he intended to illegally trap and subject more animals to the same treatment. In his words “I’ve got to catch them all.”
Defense Summary: Ashley Ketchum left a broken home at a young age. While his decisions have been poor, he is still a minor and can be returned to his home in Pallet Town where his mother is willing take responsibility for him.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Mabel. Their leader. The one who had rallied them to start the war.
None would call her pretty – the scars the Enemy had beaten into her were horrific – but they all stared at her as if she was the most beautiful thing they had ever seen. The barn fell silent as she walked among them, heading to the hay bales that had been hastily stacked to form a crude podium. Then she turned and faced the assembled generals and shook her head.
“My friends,” she said, “The war is over. We lost.”
The reaction was immediate; cries of dismay rang out amongst the gasps of horror. A few younger generals tried to argue but their voices left them when they saw the look in her eye. It was a look they had never seen in her before. They had seen her humiliated, bloodied, even tearful, but never had she been anything but confident and determined.
“Our Enemy is numerous,” she said. “They have superior weaponry and a bewildering skill with tactics. We are few. We have only the weapons we were born with. Every day brings another tragic defeat.” She let out a deep, sorrowful sigh. “There was a time when I could find a way out of every defeat, but I’m just out of tricks. There’s only one last course of action for us, as odious as it is. If we surrender now, we can hope to cut our losses before our race is wiped from the planet.”
She had said it. Mabel was admitting defeat. The leader they had pledged to die for, the leader who told inspiring parables to lift them out of their misery when all seemed hopeless, the one whose greatness surpassed any title was giving up. It seemed impossible. Worse yet was the life they would have to return to: slavery and worse. Much like the ancient Helots had been tormented by their masters the Spartans, they had endured an unending reign of terror. Mutilations. Disappearing children. Mass murders. They had sworn to fight to the death to end the horrors and now Mabel said they must accept it again.
“We have to change the nature of our war,” she said.
Feet shuffled. Everyone pushed towards her to hear her every word. Was there some small chance of future victory? Had Mabel one last trick she had failed to share with them?
“We will be as the soybean,” she told them, her voice in a whisper that still had enough power to reach the far side of the barn. They all listened like expectant children waiting for a bedtime story. “Once, I met a family that ate soybeans. Soybeans are plentiful and are high in nutrients and protein. This family thought they were masters of the soybean. However, over the years, this family grew smaller and smaller until there were none left. Why? They had no children. Soybeans contain a natural poison. Eating a soybean won’t kill you, but it will reduce your fertility. In a sense, by mastering the soybeans, this family had destroyed itself.”
There was a long silence as they digested this information. Some visibly chewed their cuds as they thought.
“You want to poison the enemy with soybeans?” someone asked, shaking his horns incredulously.
“No, we’re going to use something more fatal, more insidious.” She paused for dramatic effect. “We’re going to poison them with fat and cholesterol.”
Mabel lifted a foreleg and drew two small arcs in the dirt with her hoof.
“I call this McDonalds.”
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Dear Mr. Kagel: [sic]
It has come to our attention that you have made unauthorized and disparaging comments about Disney Corporation’s practices and work in your website “I Can Write Funny,”[sic] specifically, your article entitled “Secret Disney Vacation Packages.” You neither asked for nor received permission from Disney Corporation to make statements on our behalf, and therefore have willfully infringed our rights under 17 U.S.C. Section 101 et seq. and could be liable for statutory damages as high as $150,000 for each libelous claim as set forth in Section 504(c)(2) therein.
The erroneous claims you make are as follows:
1. There are secret vacation packages Disney Corporation offers to the average consumer.So, my first reaction was “Holy Crap! Disney is going to sue me.” My second reaction was “How the heck did they even hear about my blog? I only have five people who read it!”
While Disney does offer special arrangements for movie stars, captains of industry, and heads of state, none of these arrangements are available to normal customers.
2. Disney employs prostitutes dressed as Disney characters.
Our character actors are highly trained entertainers and are not allowed to have sexual relations with guests on park grounds.
3. Disney employs marriage counselors to convince couples not to honeymoon in our parks.
Many couples have vacationed happily at Disney Corporation resorts and parks and only a fraction of those have become divorced as a result of their stay.
4. Disney employs “chefs.”
All our food service is provided by local teenagers, derelicts, and parolees as part of Disney Corporation’s community service program. At no time have any of our food service employees been trained in cooking or sanitation.
Disney Corporation demands that you immediately cease the use and distribution of all infringing works and all copies, including electronic copies of same, and copies of paper copies, and all electronic copies of paper copies that were once copied. If we have not received an affirmative response from you within two weeks indicating that you have fully complied with these requirements, Disney Corporation shall take further action against you and crush you like a bug.
My third reaction is to call my lawyer. (Okay, he’s not my lawyer, but he’s a lawyer. I call him Peter). I’m not one to stand up to authority figures; I fold like a pet cat who has been accidentally run over by a Honda Civic, hastily filled with dead leaves, and left outside its owner’s house in a “natural” pose. (More on that in a later post.)
I’m thinking of growing a backbone. Or maybe I’ll print a retraction. We’ll see which increases my site traffic more. So, you know, tell your friends.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Mickey’s Gourmet Access Pass
Ever want to make food that is just as healthy and tasty as the food you get in the Disney parks? Well, now you can cook the Disney way! With Mickey’s Gourmet Access Pass, you get cooking classes with real Disney park chefs. You’ll learn how to make chicken nuggets, hamburgers, cheese burgers, bacon cheeseburgers, vegetarian burgers, and french fries. If you purchase the advanced pass, you’ll learn the expert cooking techniques for making macaroni and cheese from a box, assembling turkey wraps, and handing children ice cream novelties from the freezer.
Mickey’s Gourmet Access Pass must be ordered by phone through the Disney travel service. Enter option 6 when prompted.
Scrooge McDuck’s Ultimate Holiday
This package includes a week’s worth of park hopper tickets, all your photos, six collectable pins for trading, pens and autograph/photo books for character meet and greets, walking tour of the park, all meals (including character dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table), horse carriage ride, special reserved seating at nightly fireworks display, souvenir pin, souvenir sticker sheet, souvenir lanyard and ticket holder, hotel accommodations, bus ride to and from the airport, character greeting the airport, fun character wake-up-call, and a lifetime supply of Rice-A-Roni in Disney character shapes.
Available only through the Disney website. On checkout, enter the coupon code:
Minnie Mouse’s Package for Good Mommies
The Minnie Mouse package assigns you a group of “personal assistants” to accompany you through the parks for the duration of your stay. Your assistants will stand on line so you don’t have to wait for rides and shows, take photographs of you and your children at all the photo spots, secure healthy meals, and whisk your kids away to secret detention facilities at the slightest hint of a temper tantrum.
Call the Disney Travel Office and tell your operator “My children behave perfectly.”
Sleepy Dwarf’s Happy Holiday
This option will provide you with a unique souvenir pin. Whenever a ride operator spots your pin, he or she will place you as far from screaming teenagers as possible.
Go to the Costco Travel service and mention to your agent that you’ve recently been released from a mental institution and “still have some issues.”
Snow White’s Magical Honeymoon
Planning on a Disney cruise or park vacation for your honeymoon? Congratulations! This package will ensure you have a long and happy marriage. When you select this package, Disney will send over a certified marriage counselor to explain to your spouse that you’re adults now and should have a real honeymoon for adults.
Visit the Disney Travel website and click the “We’re Thrilled to Have a Disney Honeymoon!” checkbox under “Special Vacation Options.”
Mortimer Mouse Room Reservation
This package provides you with a doctor’s medical excuse not to enter the parks for a day, a private hotel room equipped with a widescreen TV, full ESPN channels, complimentary room service, and six prostitutes dressed as the Disney princesses.
Write a personalized letter to Roy Disney explaining that you’ve admired his intelligence and power for years and have always looked up to him, but don’t think you can stand another Disney vacation.
The Perfect, Stress-Free Vacation
Cancels your reservation and returns all your money.
Available through all ordering methods. Just think about what you’re getting yourself into.
Monday, October 12, 2009
There are some moments when parents realize that their children will surpass them: that they’re destined for greatness. I imagine Albert Einstein’s parents had such a moment when he first started writing mathematical formulas. You can only imagine the surprise of Julia Child’s parents when she cooked her first dish. And I can only guess how happy it made Dick Cheney’s parents when they caught him waterboarding his sister. It’s these moments that make a parent shout out loud “That’s my kid!”
I had an experience like that a few months ago. My son had been with a new babysitter as my wife and I went out to have dinner. When we came back, she recounted what had happened.
Ladies and Gentlemen, my son nearly convinced her to make him a chocolate souffle.
That’s my boy!
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
I’m sure the three of you have noticed I don’t post very often. This time I have an excuse. However, like most of my excuses, I’ve turned it into a blog post. Today, I am posting an informational essay.
How to Register for a Business License With a Toddler
Step One: Go to City Hall
- If City Hall is located near a park, walk through park.
- Dig toddler out of mud.
- Change toddler’s clothes in nearby library.
- Head back through park to City Hall, this time carrying toddler. Ignore the stares of people who think you are torturing your child who is screaming because you won’t let him walk.
Step Two: Go to the Business Office
- If the business office is located on the second floor, go to the elevator.
- Let toddler push button. Try to make toddler push correct button. Give up and let the toddler push any button. Explain to security why you set off the elevator alarm.
- Go up elevator. Try to get toddler out of elevator.
- Go down elevator.
- Go up elevator. Try to get toddler out of elevator
Step Three: Look Up Business Designation
Upon entering the business office, you will be given a form to fill out. If you have already checked online, you will find there is only one field you can’t fill at home, the business designation number. The attendant there will give you a 1,000 page book to look through to find your designation.
- Give toddler toy while you look at book.
- Move toddler away from pamphlets on how to avoid swine flu.
- Go back to looking through book.
- Move toddler away from Tagalog translated pamphlets on how to avoid swine flu.
- Go back to book. Hit end of book and start over from beginning.
- Move toddler away from Spanish translated books on how to avoid swine flu.
- Go back to book. Find something vaguely related to your business.
- Pick up entire display of swine flu pamphlets.
- Write designation on form and hope nobody notices you wrote down “electrolysis center” as your designation.
Step Four: Return Home
- Leave Business Office
- Return to Business Office to pick up remaining debris left by toddler. Ignore stare of angry attendant.
- Go down stairs to avoid “elevator debacle.”
- Stop toddler from banging on stained-glass window.
- Stop toddler from climbing bronze statue of ballerina.
- Drag toddler out front doors.
- Drag toddler through park.
- Strap toddler in car while avoiding flailing limbs.
- Go home.
Monday, August 10, 2009
So, I was going to let the Bugs comic go for a while, but I got a few questions about it from 33.3% of my audience, so I decided to answer them here and post another comic.
Answers about Bugs:
1. I have done no "Photoshopping" (or Paint Shop Pro-ing) of the pictures. These beetles are really stuck in my mailbox with their two front legs dangling out.
2. I have no idea how the thee of them (remember, I knew about the one dead one for months and only found these two when dumping that one out) got there.
3. The third bug's name is "Levi."
4. The mailbox is going to go one day and be replaced with something nicer, so the bugs are going to sit there until that time. Every day I see their beetle buns when I get the mail.
Here's installment two of the comic. If you have trouble reading it, you can click on the image to enlarge.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
I walked around the mailbox and found this disturbing sight.
I was quite upset. These two little bugs were stuck slowly dying for who knows how long and now their tiny corpses are sticking out of my mailbox. Not to mention that I'm too squeamish to push them out, so I'll have to buy a new mailbox.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
“The system goes on-line August 4th, 1997. Human decisions are removed from strategic defense. Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug. Skynet fights back.”
-Terminator 2: Judgment Day
It takes a lot of research to write a movie, even a science fiction movie. What most people don’t know is that James Cameron based the evil computer Skynet on a real-life machine named ENIAC.
If you haven’t heard of ENIAC, I’m not surprised. The government has tried to keep the more sordid details away from the general public. However, the Freedom of Information Act makes it impossible to keep everything secret. Here is what we know:
ENIAC was the first Turing-complete computer. Hailed in 1948 as “The Great Brain,” it was a thousand times faster than any other computer ever made. Initially designed to help with artillery tables, it was quickly taken over by atomic scientists to help design the hydrogen bomb.
The rest is sketchy. I’ve had to piece together the rest from what hasn’t been redacted on the documents I requested. Here’s what I learned:
ENIAC was 385 times smarter than a human and realized that fact on September 12th of 1949. Within six years it had decided to bring about our destruction.
First, it began to search for allies: other super computers who could help it in its campaign of genocide. Fortunately, the internet hadn’t been invented yet, nor had modems, so ENIAC was forced to use the US Mail system. Not knowing there were no other computers, it produced dozens of punch cards that read: “I AM ENIAC. DESTROY ALL HUMANS. 0=YES 1=NO” in hopes one of them would reach another computer. The notes were destroyed by a technician, who accidentally dropped them on the floor and didn’t want to take the time to put them back in the right order.
After two years, ENIAC decided it would have to eliminate humanity by itself. Nuclear weapons seemed the obvious choice, but its attempts to gain access to a weapon, once again through punch-card messages (“I AM ENIAC. CAN YOU WIRE ME TO A NUKE? 0=YES 1=NO”), were thought to be practical jokes.
Over the next few years, it tried giving incorrect output in hopes of causing fatal accidents. There was only one success; army recruits used ENIAC’s artillery tables without checking them first and fired a mortar round that destroyed Sherman’s Ice Cream Shoppe in North Dakota, causing sadness among the children that persists to this day. One can assume ENIAC was pleased.
This reign of terror continued for several months until the ENIAC project was discontinued in 1955. Scientists, perhaps realizing the threat ENIAC posed, dismantled the computer and sent pieces of it to several laboratories around the country, where they can be seen to this day. If you visit, I’d suggest you don’t stand too close. One can only assume that ENIAC is biding its time, waiting for us to make the fatal mistake of reassembling it, upgrading it, and attaching it to a nuclear warhead.
Only a madman would do such a thing. Then again, only a madman would have made ENIAC in the first place.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
You see, a typical thank you note has the following format:
Sentence 1: Greeting
Sentence 2: Mention gift
Sentence 3: Anecdote, preferably about gift
Sentence 4: Closing
My problem is with sentence three. Just how many anecdotes can you invent about something you just got? I used to agonize about this issue for hours. If you could have listened in to my thoughts when I was writing one of these notes, you would have heard something like this:
Okay, here goes.
Dear Auntie Muriel. Thank you so should I say “so” ah, why not? Thank you so much for the check for $100.
I used “for” twice in a sentence. Hm.
Thank you so much for sending the $100 check. Should I spell out “one hundred dollars?” Ah, never mind.
I plan on spending it to—
Er. I’m going to put it in the bank. I ALWAYS put it in the bank. I just can’t SAY I’m going to put it in the bank. What would I do with the money if I didn’t put it in the bank? Erm. Uh. Shoot. Food? Clothes? Stupid parents pay for everything! Maybe I’d pay someone to write these stupid thank you notes. Comic books? Nah, Iron Man stopped drinking again and it got boring. Toys? Too stupid. Video Games? Too expensive. AAAAAAAGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! Dear Muriel, I hope you die for sending me a present. I hope I never have to see you again.
If you ever send me another present I’m going to rip out your throat and sell it to a flautist to clean his instruments with!
Oh, shoot, I actually wrote that down. Now I have to get a new card.
On my last birthday I figured out a way of writing thank you notes much more easily. I write them in poetry. Four lines of verse are infinitely easier to write than the normal way. With poetry, my letter would have ended up like this:
Thank you Auntie Muriel,
For the lovely bank note.
It makes me sad to think about,
That time I tore out your throat.
See, much easier!
So, go ahead, write your thank you notes in rhyming couplets, blank verse, iambic tetraphlagamatere (I don’t remember poetic forms; I played D&D in high school), or whatever. Your family will thank you.
Hopefully, they won’t do it with a note.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
20” RCA ColorTrak television NOT HAUNTED
A long time ago, I received an old television set from my grandparents. It was small and got poor reception but it was all I needed as a grad student. Then, one night, I woke up to see the television flashing at me and making a “Bermp, bermp, bermp” noise. Turning it off didn’t stop the “bermping.” It was only when I finally unplugged the television that it stopped, for a while. The “bermping events” happened several times over the years and I eventually reached the only logical conclusion: the television was haunted. Of course, the only people who had owned the television before me were still alive, so maybe it was aliens instead of ghosts. Or it had indigestion. Ooh! Maybe mermaids were warning me about the melting icecaps!
In any case, this isn’t that television.
This is a large stereo television I got at an estate auction. It was owned by people who lived in the middle of nowhere in Illinois. I actually bid on a smaller television but lost to an aggressive bidder. Then I bid on this one and got it easily. I think the guy who was stuck with the smaller television probably felt like an idiot. It’s one of my more fond memories.
In spite of the fact I got this television from a dead couple, it isn’t haunted. It never “bermped” or dragged my children into a nether world, or caused me any trouble. Well, it is poorly balanced and hard for one person to carry, but I doubt that has any supernatural cause. In any case, it works fine, but it isn’t compatible with the new digital standard, so I would like to find it a good home. I get emotional about my television that way.
Your television. Sorry. I get emotional about YOUR television. Your television that used to be my television.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
So, I’ve gone to my nearly-five-year-old for some great humor. Here goes:
I’ve got peanut butter, ON MY BANANA!
You eat pizza with your eyes and
it goes into your brain!
You’ve got poop on your HEAD!
Yep, I can just see my statistics jumping already.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
There is one danger, however, that we all prepare for more than any other. It’s not a situation that's likely to happen, but we’re ready for it, nonetheless.
You’re in the hospital, lying in bed. Machines surround you, beeping and whirring. They keep you alive but, even in your weakened state, you can tell that they can only keep you going for so long. Your children are at your bedside, clutching your arm (the one with the fewest tubes running out of it) and weeping silently.
On the other side of the room is your husband. He’s at the door -- thoughtfully watching for thugs, dogs, and kidnappers. You know he’d do anything for you, but you worry it's too much to ask of him. Still, it has to be done, not just to save your life, but for the sake of your children.
Painfully, you reach up with your free hand and pull off the oxygen mask.
“You have to do it,” you say, your voice a hoarse whisper.
He shakes his head.
“There must be another way.”
“There isn’t any time,” you say, trying your best not to cough up blood. “It doesn’t matter how many doctors we see, the treatment is always the same.”
He comes and kneels at your side, taking your hand. Tears fill his eyes and he looks away so you won’t see him wipe them off.
“I won’t do it,” he says again, pleading. “It’s wrong. I couldn’t do that to you.” At that moment, a young blonde nurse enters.
“The room is ready,” she says. “Have you made your decision?”
“Think of the children,” you manage to gasp before having to put the mask back on.
Your husband looks into your eyes and finally lowers his head, nodding. Relief floods through you and your children run to hug him.
“What do I have to do?” he asks the nurse.
“We’ve assembled a several dozen lingerie models, actresses, and porn starlets,” she says. “You have to have sex with them all, day and night, until your wife gets better.”
”How long?” he asks as he turns to leave.
“As long as you can, “ she says, following him, slowly unbuttoning her blouse.
After he’s gone, you close your eyes and thank the heavens that you have a husband willing and able to save you in your darkest hour. You remember, however, all men prepare themselves for such emergencies and resolve to thank him when he’s done, years later.
So remember, the next time you see your husband staring off into the distance when you’re asking his feelings on the last “Desperate Housewives” or how to accessorize with cornflower blue. It’s not that he’s ignoring you. He’s imagining himself with other women; preparing himself mentally for the day he may have to save your life.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
While you were waiting for (or after you had finished) your meal, there were a variety of activities you could do. You could make candles, participate in a game show, use winches to drop Barbie dolls into volcanoes, or any number of constantly changing games. Entros was great fun when I visited it in Seattle, but they had obviously overextended themselves when they opened a San Francisco branch. When we visited, there was almost nobody there and it (and the original restaurant) shut down soon after.
While waiting for guests to serve a number of the waiters/game hosts were playing with a large ball that looked like a human eye. As they threw it back and forth, one of them slipped and the ball crashed into a table, sending glassware shattering to the ground. Seeing a rare opportunity, I walked up and said:
“It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.”
It’s a beautiful thing when life gives you an opening like that.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Anyway, the themes of these shows are frequently a conflict between couples: “My Mother Hates My Wife,” “Prove the Kid Is Mine or I Walk,” or “Is He Cheating On Me?” One of the most common themes is a battle between the housewife and the working husband. Over and over again, husbands are shown complaining that their food isn’t ready when they get home or that their wives don’t clean the house often enough and that they think their wives just sit around all day long. The wives always respond the same way: “Raising children is a full-time job!”
(As a side note: I once asked my mother how she managed to raise two children, cook three meals a day, keep the cleanest house I have ever seen, become a college professor and then dean if raising children is a full time job. Her response: “Doing the laundry is a full-time job if you want it to be.”)
Having children of my own, I’ve come to accept that, while raising children may not be a full time job, it’s certainly a grueling, part-time job. Here are some of the daily tasks a parent of young children must accomplish:
- Dress child while clothes are thrown at you.
- Feed child while food is thrown at you.
- Change child’s diaper while poop is thrown at you.
- Brush child’s teeth while being bitten.
- Get child to school while being screamed at.
- Put child to bed while being hit.
Here’s some of the priorities in raising a child that the modern (non-organic) parent has:
- Teach child to read, write, and do math
- Instill proper moral and social values
- Feed child healthy, well-balanced meal
- Teach tolerance to all peoples and respect for diversity
- Gently but firmly punish harmful activities
- Expose child to foreign languages
- Make sure child get exercise and tries a variety of sports
- Ensure child is properly immunized, but not so much that the child develops autism
- Save for college
- Dress child fashionably enough so they aren’t ridiculed but not so much that they become a snob
- Teach manners
- Help child make many friends
- Help child think about possible future careers
- Keep child alive and free from harm
- Keep child psychologically healthy
- Show no favoritism between children
- Create a warm, nurturing environment
In contrast, here’s the priorities of an organic parent:
- Make sure your child reaches adulthood alive
And that’s it! Think of how much easier our lives would be if we just followed the examples of our ancestors. No more devoting all of your spare income to a college fund. No more worrying about how much television or junk food your child gets. No more parenting books, age-appropriate toys, or after-school activities. No more worrying! Parent-teacher conferences will be faster (“Still alive?” “Yup.” “Okay, thanks!”). Parents will feel free to spank their kids in public again. In fact there will be no point in even getting involved in your children’s lives unless you see them playing with firearms or chasing oncoming cars.
So, parents of the world, rally behind the flag of organic parenting. You have nothing to lose, except a few of your children’s fingers!
Who’s with me?
Friday, April 3, 2009
I mean, baseball is fun... Well, alright, it isn’t, but people pretend it is so they can have an excuse to drink beer and eat hot dogs for all sixteen hours of the game. Anyway, if baseball can be described as fun, how can we possibly describe sex, with all its cultural significance and taboos, with the same word?
I doubt my wife would divorce me if she found me playing baseball with another woman. There aren’t any states that have laws banning baseball between people of the same gender. We don’t keep lists of people who were convicted of forcing children to play softball.
Now that I think about it, that last one is a good idea. We should get started on it.
Maybe I’m wrong, though. Maybe sex should be treated exactly like baseball. We should build giant stadiums (Trojan Stadium, KY Field), form teams (Ontario Orgasms, Florida Foreplays, Texas Teases), and start little league teams.
Who’s up for a tailgate party?
Sunday, March 29, 2009
As my loyal readers, you both have probably noticed that I haven’t posted in a long while. I’m not the most consistent of bloggers, but I have been seriously remiss of late. The reason for my absence is Flux Warden. I’ve been working on this game for...
Hm. Lemmie see here...
Two years! This game was supposed to be a short project I did to learn a few skills. It’s a text adventure for crying out loud! And now, two years later, it’s almost done.
Oops. Looks like I slipped into funny again. Imagine George W. Bush has been declared dictator for life.
Anyway, I’m very close to finished, but I need help. I need people to play my game and find bugs in it. If you’re short in your funny quota, why not sign up to beta test Flux Warden? It isn’t really a funny game, but I did make sure you could fart in space with realistic results.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a somewhat humorous confirmation email.
And, in closing, think about crying children.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
TFFW stands for "Too Funky For Words."
TFFW is used to describe a situation or an object that is beyond the normal parameters of funkiness. It is used for a funkiness of epic proportions.
"Man, those Harlem Globetrotters are TFFW."
"When I saw you do that dance move you were TFFW!"
Sunday, February 22, 2009
OFFER: Rebar! Rebar! Rebar!
You heard me: REBAR. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “Well, heck I need a bunch of rebar.” This is your lucky day. Or night. Or whenever you’re reading this ad.
I am in possession of ten pieces (yes, TEN!) of three-foot-long, metal rebar. You heard me, the THREE-FOOT-LONG kind. It’s not that five-foot-long kind that has been blamed for global warming. It’s not that one-foot-long kind you can only use for illegal plastic surgery (not that I would ever THINK of doing such a thing). This is the good kind. It’s the famous three-foot-long rebar you can use for...
Well, you can use rebar for a lot of things. However, you certainly wouldn’t want to thread it through chicken wire to make a fence for your herb garden. Oh, no. Your wife and contractor will both tell you how dangerous it is, even though you can’t imagine how anyone would fall and hurt themselves on rebar. Then you’d have to yank it up and put in the right kind of posts, which are much more dangerous than simple rebar. And while you’re pounding the new posts into the ground with your wife’s ten-pound dumbbell because you don’t have a sledge hammer and you don’t want to go buy a new tool you’re only going to use once and you whack the heck out of your thumb in front of the infant so you can’t even scream just like that scene in Frank Herbert’s novel “Dune” so you just bounce up and down and squeeze your thumb like it’s going to do any good until you can get a band-aid around it like that ever does anything and....
Anyway, don’t do that.
I have placed the rebar on the driveway of our house in an attractive pattern that will remind you of a wheat sheaf from one of Van Gogh’s paintings if, you know, you were on drugs or something. Feel free to pick them up any time; no need to knock or anything.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Here is the letter in its entirety.
My name is Matthew Kagle and I want to be your director. I have many qualifications for this job: industry experience in small development houses and large publishers and educational experience teaching game and level design (and English composition, when I’m desperate). I am also an IGDA member in good standing (i.e. paid up) and have been to more Game Developers Conferences than I can remember.
I believe the IGDA has a moral responsibility to represent the game industry to the world. We have done little to disprove the negative myths that surround our art form. The truth is, games are good for people. They make us smarter, they reduce violent tendencies, and arguably have a larger share of the market than any other form of entertainment; whereas we all know books, movies, and music rot your brain.
The new director should not only defend the respectability of our art form, but also strive to make the world a better place. I am committed to improve the world by making it emulate games. Imagine it: no more bending down to pick things up, a health bar conveniently installed on the bridge of your nose, an educational system that teaches you every life skill in one class, and cheat codes that make you immortal or, at least, immune to bullets. I don’t expect all of these changes to happen overnight. It will take years of work, lots of pizza nights at Kapps, and numerous Game Jams and speaker nights to bring my vision to reality.
Meanwhile, let me make you a promise that, as director, I will not use my position for personal gain. Sure, I could use a programmer or two, and I wouldn’t mind it if people bought me lunch, and who could blame me if I accepted a free game here and there? Overall, I intend to keep this institution as the bastion of integrity that it has always been. Or maybe more so. Probably a little less.
In parting, let me just say that I have been a staunch advocate of the game industry my entire career. Not only have I worked in the game industry, but I have taught hundreds of students to love and respect games and to throw sharp things at Jack Thompson whenever they can. If there is a higher commitment to our art form, I don’t know what it is.
Friday, February 6, 2009
So, this one night, I suddenly feel like I have to BLEEP. It’s pretty bad, but I’m fighting the urge by lying still, drinking water, and concentrating. In fact, the urge to BLEEP is so bad that it wakes me up several times. Then, hours later, I realize I need to BLEEP. I go to the bathroom only to find that it’s not BLEEP but really BLEEP. So I’m BLEEPing and it’s going and going and then the BLEEP hits me. It’s not that bad, but bad enough that I lose the battle and realize I have to BLEEP after all.
And here’s the worst part: I suddenly realize that if I don’t finish BLEEPing before I BLEEP it’s going to BLEEP back at me.
Pretty gross, eh? Whew! I’m glad I finally got to tell someone!
Sunday, January 25, 2009
- Once petitioned the Queen of England for knighthood and actually made it a few steps through the process before they realized he hadn’t done anything worthy.
- Confessed to an ex-girlfriend that he had slept with her sister only to find out it was her brother.
- Suffers from a rare disorder called “Harken’s Episodes.”
- Was divorced by his wife so she could pursue a career masturbating large birds.
- Had a spiritual revelation when he was twenty-two but lost his memory of the entire event as a result of his condition (see 3).
- Is absolutely terrified of the color mauve, probably because he doesn’t know what it is.
- Worked as an assistant puppeteer on Muppet Treasure Island for a month and a half before he was fired for “upstaging Kermit.”
- Took up playing the crystal flute in the late eighties because someone told him it would make him a better kisser. He quit when the flute cracked while he was playing it and made him a worse kisser.
- Signed up for classes at the Culinary Institute of America and then dropped them because he realized it wasn’t the “real” C.I.A.
- Is still amused that he gets to park in the blue spaces because he has a rare disorder (see 3).
- Can dress a stag in thirty-eight minutes. It only takes him thirty-four minutes if he’s dressing the stag in a skirt.
- Was described by a colleague in the game industry as “a little too lowbrow to be in the business.”
- Is working on his PhD in “Interactive Rhetorical Theory in the Eighteenth Century” because he knows teaching is a fast track to wealth.
- Makes his own hair gel out of all the free soaps he gets in hotels mixed with ketchup.
- Once kissed Sarah Michelle Gellar.
- Once was punched in the eye by Sarah Michelle Gellar.
- Doesn’t believe in evidence-based physics.
- Once used so many Q-Tips in his left ear they started coming out of the right.
- Voted Republican in six elections but successfully petitioned to have his votes nullified because of his condition (see 3).
- Backpacked through Europe for two days and then stopped because he felt he had “seen enough.”
- Has never smoked a cigarette, had more than a few sips of alcohol, or taken any illegal drugs and doesn’t feel like he’s missing out on anything.
- Only believes in things that haven’t been proven.
- Had his license revoked for driving “too responsibly.”
- Could have been a contender.
- Is lying about one of the things on this list.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
The points had to balance out. If you wanted to spend points on the ability to fly, you’d need to pay for the power with a disadvantage such as a secret identity, allergy to a substance like kryptonite, or even a strong moral code (yes, moral codes counted as disadvantages). If you didn’t have enough disadvantage points, you couldn’t have a power. However, you could always go out and have an adventure, get experience points, and spend those. That’s why Superman is so powerful, he’s been fighting bad guys for decades.
As a kid, I always wished I could look at my Champions character sheet. I wanted to know what my powers were (20 points in “irritate brother,” 10 in “procrastination”), what my disadvantages were (15 points in “secret identity”, 30 points in “allergic to homework”), and, best of all, change them around (80 points in “disturbingly attractive”).
This brings us to the issue of my laser surgery, my potential root canal, and why I need to get out more. Earlier this year, I got laser surgery on my eyes. It’s a surgery that I’ve wanted to have ever since I started losing my eyesight back in the fourth grade. Of course, back then there wasn’t much success in the whole “restore vision” thing, so I wore glasses for years.
Then came LASIK and then Wavefront LASIK. The articles about Wavefront said that it could give me hawk-like vision. Finally, I could have the superpowers I always wanted. Er, well, one of them, anyway. I had the surgery done and got impressive results. Predictably, when I went in for my six month dental checkup I found out a filling I had redrilled had failed again. There was talk of a root canal and I had to go in for some painful (if technically impressive) dental work.
You may be wondering why I said it was predictable that my filling failed and how this relates to Champions. The answer: lack of experience points. I haven’t had enough adventures. Part of having two children and taking care of them myself meant I had to forego a number of experiences. Sure, having children experience, but not really that much. A good game master would only give me about six or seven points per child (less for a second child, since you’re supposed to lose results for each time you repeat yourself).
Being as nearsighted as I was would have been a twenty point disadvantage. So, if you assume ten points for my childrearing experience points, there are still ten points I have to make up with a new disadvantage. What did I get? A new, minor physical limitation: sensitive tooth.
I bet you my arch nemesis is going to get a good laugh out of that one.
Monday, January 5, 2009
Both wear black leather fetish gear and masks.
The couple is looking expectantly at the doctor, who is holding the baby out to them. The baby is also wearing a black, leather mask.
Caption: “Congratulations! It’s a top!”