Friday, July 29, 2016

Stupid Interview Questions

When you go into an interview, you expect stupid questions:

  • Are you willing to work long hours?
  • Are you okay with getting feedback?
  • Do you steal office supplies?
  • Why are you threatening me with a letter opener?
  • How much do I have to pay you to let me go?
And on and on.

Of all my interviews, however, there were two that stood out from the rest.  Here they are (with my responses):

Q: If you were a breakfast cereal, what kind would you be and why?

A:  Lucky Charms.  Because there's good stuff (the marshmallows) and bad stuff (the cereal).  If you pour milk in, the good stuff floats to the top.

Note: I hadn't had much exposure to breakfast cereals until college and was unprepared for the sudden availability: Fruit Loops, Cap'n Crunch, Lucky Charms, Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs.  They were all lined up in little machines that dispensed them with a few turns of a knob.  For the first six weeks of my freshman year, I constantly trembled from the sugar rush.

I was rather impressed by how quickly and confidently I came out with this one.  The interviewer even said it was the most creative answer they'd ever had.

Didn't hire me.

Q: If you were a fruit, what kind would you be and why?

A: A pomegranate.  Because they're smooth and perfect on the outside but inside they're complicated and difficult to break apart.

Note: I stumbled over this one.  I said pomegranate immediately, but couldn't get my thoughts together enough to explain why.  It came out eventually, but not with the quick confidence of my earlier answer.  Still, it was a great answer.

Didn't hire me either.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Vote Your Conscience

I've come down with a sore throat and nothing seems funny.  I hate to call in a guest writer, but I'd hate to miss a week, more.  So, let me introduce Wink De Bivouac.  For those of you new readers (Hi Mom!), Wink used to do the occasional column for me.  He was so popular, I asked him to do more columns, but he turned me down, saying he'd already accepted a missionary position in Iowa.

Well, he's back!  Take it over Wink.  Find something funny to say.

Thanks Matthew.  Sorry about the cold.  As they say in Des Moines: Hope the squinteys don't give you a snuggy!

Ever since I came back from the wilderness, I've been having trouble adjusting to the outside world.  I'd forgotten all those amenities the primitive natives don't have access to in Iowa.  It was like remembering a language you hadn't spoken in years.  Every day was a new challenge.  How do I cook food in a microwave?  What is toilet paper for?  Do we really need to wear clothes?

Sometimes I think life was better in Iowa.  Everything is so simple.

Out here, the world is getting worse every day.

Islamic terrorists are growing bolder.  Cops are more vulnerable.  People are spending more time looking down into their phones for Pokemon than are looking down into their Bibles for saints.  (By the way, you can catch a Saint Genesius near any improv stage.)

There is one great, shining hope on the horizon, though.  You probably already guessed what it is: the election.  Things could have gone much worse.  We finally have a clear choice: a strong moral candidate and the spawn of Satan.

Let me lay out the (obvious) differences:
  • One candidate has dubious monetary donations and shady foreign endorsements, and another has a long history of honest success.
  • One has no experience and the other has tons.
  • One candidate has a depraved marriage and the other is in a firm, committed relationship with an intelligent, wonderful spouse.
  • One candidate has been unfairly maligned for past misdeeds, the other fairly maligned for past misdeeds.
  • One is going to terrify our enemies, embolden our allies, and bring about peace and cooperation.  The other is going to.  You know.  The opposite.

I think the choice is clear.  Vote your conscience in November.  For the majority of Americans, that means not voting.

By the way, someone is going to have to show me how voting booths work.  In Iowa they pick candidates by throwing their feces at them.

Thanks Wink!  We should do this again every never or so.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Browser Tab Humor

When you write a humor blog, you get a lot of ideas you never use, but you keep around in case you run out of things to say.  I accumulate ideas by searching on the internet, so I keep them in browser tabs.

You leave the tabs open for months, even years, never using them.  Every now and then you think "I should restart my computer.  Oh, no, wait.  There's that one tab with that one idea for a joke.  Maybe I'll install those updates later. (Suck it Windows 10!)"

If you have enough joke tabs open, it's easier to hide tabs with images of Kate Hudson sunbathing from your wife.

The tab I've had open the longest is a cool vehicle from The Empire Strikes Back called an AT-AT.
"Hey, let's build an impenetrable tank on flimsy legs!"

I've also had a tab for a primitive tool that lets you throw a spear farther and straighter called an at-latl.
Pronounced "Atl atl finatl whatadle? Oh, never mind."

And the joke I've been waiting to tell for over a year?
If you look really closely at the one in the back, you can see it's also got an atlatl. Honest.

I wonder what Kate Hudson is up to today...

Saturday, July 9, 2016

My Greatest Humiliation

Everyone remembers their greatest humiliation.  Asking someone out in public and being loudly rejected.  Constantly getting picked last at gym class.  Freezing during a public performance.  Having an attractive doctor perform an invasive exam.

I've had all those, but this is the worst:
Harmless looking, innit?

It's called a "stability ball."

A few years ago, I hurt my back.  I didn't hurt it like "Ow a cramp." or "I'll go lie on the floor for a bit."  I hurt my back like "I'm going to walk with a funny bend in my spine for a few days because that's the least painful position."

I didn't hurt myself from lifting something heavy or being in an accident.  I hurt myself by working in the game industry.  Game companies traditionally work you to death.  They're in a state of constant crunch, trying to pump something out before a ludicrously short deadline.

Twelve hours a day, six days a week, you sit at your desk, staring at a screen.  It's bad for your health.  It's bad for your back.

I've always had back problems.  Even as a kid I had back pain.  The doctor taught me some stretches, but they didn't help.  As I got older, it got worse.  I tried walking at lunch.  I tried a variety of ergonomic chairs..  I even wore a truss when it got bad.  That was humiliating.

Not as humiliating as the ball.

After I hurt my back the third time, my wife insisted I go to a personal trainer on the weekend (Hi Daniel!).  It worked.  The pain receded.

I came to the uncomfortable realization that my back pain came from being sedentary.  I never exercised.  All I did my whole life was sit.  In front of a computer.  In front of a book.  In front of a teacher.  In front of a television.  It was a humiliating epiphany.

Not as humiliating as the ball.

Daniel brought it out the first day I met him at the gym.  He found an empty corner in the weight room and explained how it worked.  You sit on it.  That's it.  As you work to keep your balance, you get a core workout.
Looks easy, dunnit?

"Core" is trainer slang for stomach muscles.  "Core workout" is slang for "You're so weak you can't exercise for real yet."

The stability ball has other uses.  You can sit on it when you're in labor.  You can play catch with it.  You can scare cats who claw the furniture.

And there's the other exercises.

Daniel told me to hold the ball out at arm's length.  Then he told me to twist from side to side.  Hold it to my right.  Then center.  Then left.  Repeat.

Imagine me, surrounded by weightlifters, working out with a big balloon.
Looks easy, donnit?
Now imagine I'm shaking and sweating after three minutes.

Now imagine my triceps seizing up in painful cramps, and Daniel making me lie on the ground so he can stretch out the pain.

Now imagine the looks from the other people in the weight room.  Thick-armed men shaking their heads.  Toned women smiling condescending encouragement.

And that's my greatest humiliation.

Forgetting your lines in the school play doesn't seem so bad, does it?

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Comedy Lessons: One Liners

I hate one-liners.  Hate them.  Can't figure out why they're funny.

Actually, wait, I can't figure out why anything is funny. Hence this blog.

Exercise 1: Rewrite one liners.
I found a website with one liners.  Let's see what I can do with them (mine are in bold).

  1. One morning I shot an elephant in my pants.  How he got in my pants, I'll never know.
    I'd love to get into her pants.  Just not while she's in them.
  2. Ninety-nine percent of lawyers give the rest a bad name.
    I don't hate all your friends, just the ones I've met.
  3. Take my advice.  I'm not using it.
    I'd be glad to hear your thoughts, as soon as you start thinking.
  4. I started out with nothing, and I still have most of it.
    I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I just had to sell it to pay the rent.
  5. Treat every day as if it will be your last.  One day, you'll be right.
    I'm not morbid. I'm finality-inclined.
Exercise 2: Write one liners about things you know about.
  1. You know what I liked best about my career as a technical writer?  No, seriously, does anyone know?  I have no idea.
  2. Making a video game is like baking a cake (if you got in the oven with it).
  3. Silicon Valley has some of the best parents in the country.  We hire them to care for our children.
  4. Writing isn't hard. Putting your computer back together after you threw it against the wall is hard.
  5. I'm not avoiding you. I just happen to be boarding up my doors and windows on the days you drop by.
Exercise 3: Write one liners about things you know nothing about.

  1. Astronauts are just like normal people, if normal people could keep from screaming whenever they're shot into space.
  2. It's not hard being a woman.  You just have to meet the expectations of every man on Earth.
  3. Just got my contract with Pandora! I only have to pay them ten cents when they play my songs.
  4. Only the bravest charge into battle. Everyone else makes it back alive.
  5. The crystal ball sees success in your future.  Did I say success?  Wrong word.  Failure. I meant to say crushing failure.

That wasn't too hard.  I think I'm used to short humor, as I post it on my twitter feed (@makagle).

This may be the most useful lesson so far.  I created this blog to come up with ways of adding humor to my writing.  Maybe I should just throw in one liners here and there.