WASHINGTON, DC – The NSA announced today that, working in cooperation with several other branches of the Department of Homeland Security, they have managed to identify a massive underground homegrown terrorist organization here in America. This organization has been active for decades, secretly working to recruit and train operatives in survival skills, weapons training, and small unit tactics to some unknown purpose. Speculation has it that high-ranking and long term members of this elite organization have even managed to infiltrate our very government, even to the highest levels. They go by the code name “The Boy Scouts”.
These individuals can be identified by the highly stylized “uniforms” they wear, as well as their ritualistic chants and secret signals. They reward members with recognition for completing missions and earning “merit badges”, as well as attempting to ingratiate themselves into the wider community. Sleeper cells have been found across the United States and even in other countries. Radio and internet chatter has been picked up about some sort of mass gathering code named “Jamboree”.
They support themselves through private high-pressure collections in local areas, taking “donations” and “selling” door to door, an obvious front (because really, who even buys popcorn kernels anymore?) Their primary targets for recruitment are boys between the ages of 13-18, although they are believed to have an affiliate group that targets younger boys, as well as a sister organization that targets females and has a much more successful fundraising operation dealing in highly addictive narcotics.
If approached by one of these “Boy Scouts”, citizens are advised to remain calm and move away slowly. Their primary goal at this time seems to be focused on recruitment of young men, except for homosexuals.
Today is the day after Halloween, and we all know what that means.
(“The start of Diabetes Awareness Month?”)
Close, but no. It means that we’ll all be eating lots and lots of candy. Whether you’re a parent sneaking the best bits out of your kids’ hauls or, like me, you’ve got the dregs of what you couldn’t give away on The Big Night, there’s plenty to go around. Temptation will be everywhere for weeks to come, as everyone brings the sweet treats everywhere they go in a desperate attempt to pawn them off on others rather than suffer through the sugar shock of being stuck with it themselves.
Personally I’m in a different boat than I’ve been in before. First I had to miss out on the trick-or-treaters because I had class, which I deeply regret since that’s my favorite part of the holiday. Even more than Christmas I believe Halloween is for children, and seeing them come to my door and beg me for sugar so that I can send them laughing maniacally into the night and leave their parents to suffer with their sugar-crazed fiends for the next several weeks warms my cold, cold heart. Apparently we had quite the bounty of them last night as well, which is why we have so little left over candy, which is both a good thing and a bad thing.
It’s a good thing, because lord knows I don’t need any more candy lying around the house, and as I already mentioned there’ll be plenty around work and elsewhere for me to get my fill. It’s a bad thing because this is the first year I had almost complete control of the candy buying in my household, and My Not So Humble Wife and I agree on candy in general anyway, so it wasn’t an issue. You know what I’m talking about: that one guy who insists on buying The Shitty Candy.
I hate that guy so much. There’s so many things wrong with that. First and foremost is that I’m forced to give out The Shitty Candy to the kids who come to my door. Setting aside the very real possibility of an unsanctioned home delivery of eggs and toilet paper, there’s the simple fact that I have a reputation to protect. I want to be the guy who gives out The Good Candy, nay, The Great Candy, and in great heaping handfuls. So I have to do my best to avoid having The Shitty Candy dumped in the bowl, but inevitably we either run low or (worse) when I’m not looking Shitty Candy Guy starts pouring it in, and he ALWAYS mixes it up. SO then I have to rummage around and try not to give it out, but the kids see me rummaging around, so if I accidentally give them a piece of The Shitty Candy, it looks like I did it on purpose, and I become That Guy.
The next worst thing is the day after, when we have to start eating the leftover candy. (Throw it out? I know each of those words, but your sentence is meaningless.) Despite having insisted on buying The Shitty Candy and handing out The Shitty Candy, I notice he never bothers to eat The Shitty Candy, at least not at first. He always goes straight for the leftovers of the stuff that I bought – you know, The Great Candy. This offends me, not because The Great Candy tends to be more expensive (c’mon, this stuff is like five bucks a bag), but because the whole point of Halloween candy is what it says about you as a person. Are you a Milky Way guy? Are you a Junior Mints kind of gal? Or are you one of those Mary Jane weirdoes? (If you give away Werther’s at Halloween, you deserve what you get.) Eating the leftovers is the reward or punishment for the choices you made, and going straight for someone else’s Great Candy is Halloween identity theft.
This year, I might have missed out on the trick-or-treaters, and I might not have much in the way of leftover candy, but what I do have left is nothing but Great Candy. And that’s worth 100 Grand.
10. Russet potatoes feel left out
9. “Wounded Knee” should refer to historic battle, not Robert Griffin III
8. “Pox Ridden Blanket” Theme Night not a big success
7. Other minorities don’t have major league sports teams named after their favorite ethnic slurs
6. Can’t be called the home team because “we were here first”
5. Team owner Dan Snyder insists on referring to season tickets as “reservations”
4. Stadium concessions stands refuse to accept beads and animal skins as currency
3. Tribes can’t scalp… tickets
2. D.C. allows casinos, but won’t put one in the stadium
1. Polls show Native Americans don’t want to be associated with the Federal government
Here’s a fun little something to do the next time you’re bored. I seem to recall at least one version of this coming from a fantasy novel (and extra happy points to the person who reminds me which one it was), but I’ve also run into people who have played some variation of it who never read any fantasy novels, so obviously the idea has spread, assuming it didn’t originate elsewhere.
The first version I like to call “Bring Me Three Nouns”. Here’s the setup: pretend you’re in a war camp of some kind, and you’re interrogating a prisoner. He’s a tough one and he refuses to talk, but for some reason (political, moral, legal, whatever) you can’t just beat the information out of him. Suddenly you have an inspiration. In the hearing of the prisoner, you say to a subordinate “Bring me… He’ll talk.” Replace the ellipsis with three nouns, any three nouns of your choice. That’s all you get to say. What three items would you choose? Something silly, like “a bunch of grapes, a turkey baster, and a pair of headphones”? Something ominous, like “a chainsaw, a smock, and a gravy ladle”? Or just something bizarre, like “a two dollar bill, a pair of tights, and a statue of Carmen Miranda”?
A more restrictive (and in some ways more creative) version of the game is “Object, Animal, Food”. The setup is the same, only in this case you specifically have to name an inanimate object, an animal (living or dead, your choice) and some kind of food (but feel free to stretch the boundaries of any of these categories as far as the other participants will allow). The results can turn out to be as disgusting as “Bring me a box cutter, a weasel, and some raw hamburger. He’ll talk”, or as disturbingly funny as “Bring me a yoyo, an otter, and a lollipop. He’ll talk.” Half the fun is imagining what exactly you would do with this bizarre and motley collection of items (which is, of course, the imaginary purpose of the whole exercise; it’s psychological warfare).
There’s also a deeper level to the game, if you want to explore that far. This game can be a kind of Rorschach test, in that what you suggest can say a lot about you. What do you love? What do you hate? What do you fear? There’s a certain amount of projection that goes into something like this. There’s also a question of boundaries – what’s over the line, what’s too far and too gross to even suggest, if only by implication in an imaginary setting?
On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with treating it as a free version of “Cards Against Humanity” and letting yourself and your friends run wild without reading anything into it. After all, it is just a game. Have fun!
Oh, and be sure to share your favorite responses in the comments below. I look forward to hearing them.
The NSA Knows
(Sung to the tune of “Anything Goes” by Cole Porter)
Times have changed,
As I’m sure we can all agree,
Since the Americans rebelled
And they created a country.
They should list several Rights of Man,
Instead of answering the call,
They would be tossed into the can!
In olden days the Fourth Amendment
Was looked on as something sacred,
But Snowden showed,
The NSA knows.
You thought your email, text and Facebook
Were safe from some spook taking a look.
Under your nose,
The NSA knows.
The world has gone mad today
And good’s bad today,
And black’s white today,
And day’s night today,
When warrants today
Are issued today
By secret courts today
And though I’m not a philosopher
I know that it’s unpopular
When you propose,
The NSA knows.
When grandmama whose age is eighty
In night clubs is getting matey with gigolo’s,
The NSA knows.
When something’s done in South America
Particularly Brazil and Mexico,
The NSA knows.
If driving fast cars you like,
If low bars you like,
If old hymns you like,
If bare limbs you like,
If Mae West you like
Or me undressed you like,
Watch for agents in plainclothes!
Your Google drive
Has tax returns
Or your Flickr account shows your friends in nude photos?
The NSA knows.
If saying your prayers you like,
If green pears you like,
If old chairs you like,
If back stairs you like,
If love affairs you like
With young bears you like,
Watch out for privacy’s foes!
And though I’m not a philosopher
I know that it’s unpopular
And I propose -
The NSA goes!
We’ve known each other for quite a while, practically my whole life, and while it’s been a good relationship on the whole, there are a few things I need to get off my chest. See, the thing is you have some bad habits, and if they don’t change soon I’m afraid we just can’t be friends anymore. I know this seems kind of sudden, but it’s been building for some time. If you haven’t been able to see this coming that just shows how dysfunctional our relationship has become.
And so, in no particular order, here are the things I really need you to work on:
You walk in front of, behind, and in general all around moving cars, as if they won’t hit you. They will. You need to stop that.
Clean up after yourself. Seriously.
You drive too fast.
Stop picking fights.
I don’t care about your religion, so please stop bringing it up.
Clean up after your dog.
Racism, sexism, and –isms in general.
Stop riding your bike in the middle of the road. I don’t drive in the middle of the sidewalk.
Clean up after your kids.
You drive too slow.
Stop yelling. I can hear you. The people in the next room can hear you. The people several houses down can hear you.
I don’t care about your politics, so please stop bringing it up.
You double park. All the time. I don’t care how big your car is, or how big you are, one car, one spot is the rule.
Learn how to courtesy flush.
I don’t care about your new iPhone, so please stop bringing it up.
I understand you’re a big fan of public transportation. I think that’s admirable. Please move into the city, where they have some, and out of the suburbs, where we’re tired of hearing you talk about it.
No matter how many times I ask, you keep casting David Spade in things.
Turn it down. If you need a hearing aid, get one. The rest of us aren’t deaf.
Put a muffler on that thing.
Don’t use management terms in everyday life. If you try to “put something on my radar” “from 10,000 feet” because I need to “take an institutional view”, my foot with find synergy with your ass.
Stop hitting on women who are clearly wearing wedding rings.
Telling me “You don’t look like a smoker.” I realize I don’t look like a cowboy or a camel, but exactly what DOES a smoker look like?
Enough with the unsolicited advice.
Mouth-breathing. I know this comes up a lot, but how hard is it to sit with your mouth closed?
I know this makes me sound pedantic, but please, stop saying “literally” when you mean “metaphorically”. It literally gives me fits.
Please stop putting pictures of your food online. Unless it looks like someone famous, I’m really not interested.
Writing computer viruses. It stopped being “cool” in 1990.
I know this is asking a lot, and I don’t expect you to change overnight, but if I don’t see some sort of action soon, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.
I wonder about the strangest things sometimes.
Example: I was in the restroom at work the other day and I noticed there are three stalls, two urinals, and four sinks. What happens if everyone finishes at the same time? Is there a specific etiquette for this? My coworker suggested it becomes a game of musical chairs (first come first serve), or possibly the guys who were in the stalls have first dibs (let’s face it, they need to wash their hands more).
But this also made me wonder, how do they calculate these things? Is there somebody somewhere whose job it is to figure out the optimum sink-to-stall ratio? Must be a tough job, since you have to account for the overly meticulous guy who’s going to wash his hands longer than anybody else, but you also have to factor for those filthy fellows who don’t wash at all. And then there’s the guys who dash in specifically to wash their hands but don’t need to use the bathroom at all. Do they throw off the calculations?
Clearly this is a job whose time has come, since at school there are two sinks for about 20 “rest stops”, if you will. But then I expect nothing else from my beloved university, where “We Kill Efficiency Whenever It Raises Its Head” was just edged out as a school motto by “You May Drive Here, But You Can’t Park Here”.
And speaking of driving, I will never understand traffic patterns as long as I live. It used to be that back roads were supposed to be the way around traffic on the highways. I moved recently and subsequently have had to change my commute (which is now technically longer) away from back roads to a highway, one of the most popular in the region in fact. Most days my commute time has been the same, and some days it’s even shorter. This makes no sense to me. The only exception has been the first week of school, when apparently everybody went to work and/or drove their kids, before they all let out their metaphorical guts and said, “ah, the heck with it” and went back to their normal routine.
I’m still trying to develop a new routine. Bad enough I had to move to a new house in a new neighborhood, AND I’m back in classes, but My Not So Humble Wife started a new job as a school teacher. Yes, she’s a first year teacher, which from objective observation seems to me to be akin to Purgatory: indistinguishable from Hell except insofar as it will someday end. She’s also in class one night a week, a class composed almost entirely off first year teachers, who all have to be up early enough to wake the rooster on the way out the door. Her professor is aware of this, so naturally he lets them go early every week. Just kidding! She goes to the same school I do, “Where Killing Your Dreams Is Tradition”, and he keeps them right up to the last minute and sometimes after every week. What a swell guy. I need to put him on my Christmas card list.
Speaking of Christmas, I may (finally) be able to put up outside Christmas lights this year. I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but for the better part of the last decade I’ve lived in a house with no outside outlets. How does that happen? I grew up putting on the biggest and gaudiest – excuse me, most tasteful light display possible every year, and I’ve looked forward to continuing that tradition in my own home. It saddens me that I have an inflatable snow globe still sitting in the box in my attic, waiting to greet the people of the world. I’m starting to wonder if I’ll ever get to use it.
But like I said, I wonder about the strangest things sometimes.
Ladies and gentlemen, despite my vigorous protests to the contrary, My Not So Humble Wife insists on informing you about our most time-honored tradition.
On our first date, I quite matter-of-factly told My Not So Humble Husband that he would fall in love with me and that we would end up getting married. This was really meant more as a warning than an aspiration. I just knew. However, I made this lofty proclamation BEFORE we actually moved in together.
Anyone who has moved in with a boyfriend or girlfriend will know that the honeymoon period soon comes to an end in the face of annoying habits, money problems, chore quarrels, and the long disputed toilet seat position. For a while, I wasn’t sure we going to make it. I thought I might end up suffocating him in his sleep with the dirty socks he habitually left on the carpet; or perhaps that I would die an agonizing death of a thousand dull cuts after shaving my legs with his razor… again.
What helped us finally reach a livable equilibrium was the Dance of Shame. After one particularly bad argument, over something I don’t remember, we had both reached that point where neither one of use wanted to apologize but we didn’t really want to be angry at each other anymore either. Sullenly, My Not So Humble Husband approached me in the kitchen and started rocking back on forth from foot to foot with his hands going up and down in the air in time with his steps. I was so surprised I had to break the after argument silence to ask what in the world he was doing. He replied that he was doing the Dance of Shame. I laughed so hard I cried and nearly peed myself. Thus a new marriage coping mechanism was born.
The thing is, it’s really hard to be angry with someone when they are doing the Dance of Shame. It’s just so ridiculous that you pretty much have to laugh. Also, having been the Dancer of Shame on more than one occasion, I can tell you that it is sometimes easier to submit yourself to the Dance than it might actually be to say the words “I’m sorry”.
Once in my classroom of 8th grade students we were talking about conflict resolution and I made the horrible mistake of telling the students about our Dance of Shame. “Do the Dance of Shame! Do the Dance of Shame!” the adolescent monsters chanted. After making the logical argument that I hadn’t done anything shameful enough to deserve the Dance of Shame, they finally quieted down. Two full weeks later, I made a math error on the board. These same students, who can’t even remember to bring a PENCIL to class on a regular basis, somehow remembered about the Dance of Shame. Eventually I had to perform it for them before we could return to polynomials in peace.
So keep the Dance of Shame in mind the next time you need to break the awkward silence of an argument gone on to long, but also BEWARE ITS POWER.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am sorry to say that at this time I do not and cannot give a shit. I have not yet run out of give a shit, but I am perilously close to running out, and I have had to start carefully rationing my give a shit. At one point in time I was full of shit and could shoot the shit all day long, but I got the shit beat out of me and that is no longer the case. I hope that none of you take this personally, as it is nobody’s fault, except for perhaps that one guy who did that really interesting thing the other day quite unexpectedly. I had not budgeted for giving a shit about that, and it left me with a serious deficit of give a shit all day long.
You may have noticed that we are currently in a recession, and are likely to see economic conditions continue to be as shitty as they have been at least through the rest of this fiscal quarter and into the next. That being the case, you would think the government would make it easier to give a shit by producing some cheap shit just like they are producing cheap money, but instead all they keep doing is giving us expensive shit, calling it free shit and making us pay through the nose for this shit. This is surprising, considering how much bullshit they produce in Washington every day.
We have tried importing some shit from China, but that shit is extremely low quality shit for what you get. The shit they have in Europe is severely overpriced, which helps explain why they are up shit creek without a paddle. This would also help explain why the Germans, who are single-handedly supporting the shitty European economy, always look constipated.
Lacking any sort of meaningful government support, I will be forced to attempt to turn to private solutions. Unfortunately I don’t know anyone else who gives a shit either, so I’m shit out of luck. There was a time when I couldn’t give this shit away, but that time is long past. I tried turning to the church in hopes of getting some holy shit, but that shit just didn’t fly. Turns out bears are not Catholic and the Pope does not in fact shit in the woods. I figured I could try the zoo, because they’re always shoveling the shit, but the shit they had wasn’t worth a shit; it was just the same shit, different day.
When I finally get my shit together, I’ll feel like king shit, and I assure you I won’t forget the rest of you – this shit will roll downhill. If you think you’re too old for this shit, tough shit. It’ll be time to shit or get off the pot. When the shit hits the fan you better be ready to go ape shit or you’re going to be in deep shit.
I shit you not.
Dear Madame Curie,
I desperately need the advice of a strong woman like you. I have a major crush on this guy at school, and I really want to tell him, but none of my friends like him. I’m also kind of a nerd, and he’s a football player, so I doubt he’d even be interested. Not to mention he probably doesn’t even know I exist. But I really do think he’s great. What should I do?
Unclear in Love
Dear Radiant Love,
Here’s the thing: I can see right through all of your excuses. You’re scared, and that’s understandable. What if he doesn’t feel the same way? What if things don’t work out? What if your parents forbid you to see him? What if, what if, what if…? But you need to take risks for the things you want in this world. Is there a chance you could get hurt? Of course there is, but nothing worthwhile comes without a price. If you truly wish to achieve success in life, regardless of your pursuit, you must commit yourself completely. Only then will you attain the prize you seek.
Dear Dr. Heisenberg,
I have been dating the same girl for a couple months now, and I thought everything was going just fine. Then the other week she started talking marriage. It seemed totally out of the blue to me, but she acted like it was the most natural thing in the world! It’s not that I’m totally against the idea of getting married, but I’m not sure we’re ready for that conversation yet, you know? Which one of us is right?
Uncertainly In Love
Dear Entangled Pair,
I understand your uncertainty, but you need to stand by your principles. You need to figure out where you are in this relationship before you decide how fast you want to move forward with it. While it may feel as if your partner is exerting an irresistible force on you, you need to remain positive and understand that you are not merely a neutral observer in this. You have to take charge and decide for yourself what you want, and then communicate that effectively. The release in tension you feel will be massive.
Dear Mr. Einstein sir,
My name is Jenny and I have a problem and I hope you can help me. I was going stedy with a boy at skool and I thout everything was fine and I really liked him and I thought he really liked me and then one day he really didn’t like me anymore and now Im very sad and I don’t know what to do.
Ach, the ways of love are more mysterious than the ways of the cosmos. It is easier to understand the structure of the universe than the structure of a man’s heart. Sadly, it has been my experience that emotions, much like matter and energy, can never truly be destroyed; they can only be changed from one to another. In this same way it seems as if this young man who once professed to have a deep Liebe for you has now seen it transformed in the crucible of time to its opposite. I can only offer you the solace of knowing that as strong as his passion is now so it was then, and if you can find the source of the change you may be able to turn him back if it is not too late and you are still interested in making the effort.
I’ve gotten myself into a pickle and I can’t see a way out. There’s a girl I’ve been with for a couple years, and the truth is we only started dating because nobody else would have either one of us. At the time I was kind of chunky, and she’s… well, she’s kind of plain on a good day. She’s a good friend, and we enjoy a lot of the same things, but there’s no real spark. This summer I started working out a lot and I finally got into shape. I also started getting some real attention from other girls, including a girl I’ve had my eye on for a long time. Would it be wrong of me to break it off with the girl I’m dating to pursue the girl I really want? Does that make me shallow that I’m that concerned about the way she looks?
Dear Muscular Mind,
I would theorize you have found yourself in a love triangle… without the love. It is a shame you do not feel eros for the lady you have, and the theia mania has been granted to you for one you have not, but the gods make fools of us all. Still, if philia is not enough to sustain you, and I have never seen it to be such in any man (and certainly not in a young man), it would be an unkindness bordering on cruelty to continue your current relationship regardless of whether your eye strays or if there are others who suddenly find you appealing. But before you sever the ties you have, consider carefully the value of what you are giving up. As you have changed, so may she; and what you once were you may be again. The alchemy of fitness may have worked wonders on a maiden’s eye, but it will do little to sway her heart, and you may find yourself twice alone and twice bereft before you know it.