The Writer: Foreword
I was first aware of the peculiarities of Norman Potter's case when a guard told me he had made a pen of himself. I was then requested to turn over my own pens and notebook before seeing him.
In my 24 year tenure at Belleview Institution, I have learned to quickly adapt to avoid any of the nuances—unnecessary tapping or other noises, looking into the eyes for too long, etc.—that may trigger an adverse reaction in a patient. In a place so criminal, so volatile, it is a simple rule of survival. Even so, I had never been forced to relinquish my own tools. Going in with only my suitcase and a tape recorder made me feel stripped, almost vulnerable.
I entered the interview room, known as the "board room" to other staff in the ward. It's simple, white-walled, and nearly taken up by a long, executive-style table. It adds a small sense of grace to an otherwise sterile, fluorescent-lit box, but its real purpose is separation. The length limits my exposure to whatever ill wind might be blowing ac
Working Without a NetWorking Without a Net11 years ago in Humor More Like This
I did what any of us would have done when learning that my Internet service had been shut down. I cried.
Actually, that's not completely true. The first thing I did was frantically dial up the campus tech people, who told me the problem would be resolved in an hour. Anyone who has ever dealt with Electronic Device Repairpersons should already know that "an hour" in their language translates into "sometime between an hour and the rapture."
So I waited an hour. Then I cried.
How could I possibly function without instant access to news, entertainment, and all that other stuff that's just sort of there? What could I do in place of checking my e-mail every 20 minutes and playing Slingo? This was a major problem.
But after a moment of despair, I dried my tears with the hanky of determination. I would not let this defeat me! I had lived happily before without the Internet and I could live the same way now! I only had to remember how.
I first tried reading an ancient text recording from when p
A Twist of HeroismA Twist of Heroism8 years ago in Humor More Like This
Every woman seeks a hero; a knight in shining armor to sweep them off their feet when they're in distress and carry them away to commit acts of sickeningly sweet romance found only in the backs of Fabio-approved dimestore novels. I have found this to be a universal truth hidden deep within the heart of every heterosexual female regardless of the number of times they deny it or the ounces of pepper spray they use on you.
The only problem with the heroic approach is that many of us guys don't believe we actually have the ability to defeat any foe that doesn't appear on a video game screen. We can barely sweep all the cheese curl residue off our sofas, let alone a woman off her feet.
But fear not, because God did not forget you. He has bestowed upon each of us a special gift that can win us the admiration and, dare I say, love of any female we serve with it.
Yes, men: we can open jars.
No matter how weak and scrawny you may be, you h
Biology of the Staple RemoverBiology of the Staple Remover9 years ago in Humor More Like This
The Staple Remover (Connectiva Chompicus), while one of the smaller creatures in the office, still holds the reputation as a much feared predator in the ecosystem.
The most prominent characteristic of the Staple Remover is its four long fangs that give it an almost menacing smile. Non-venomous yet quite sharp, these fangs are capable of latching on to its favorite prey, the Staple, even when it is firmly rooted in its most secure habitat. Its deathgrip secure, the Staple Remover crushes the helpless Staple's defense and drags it out for a viciously rewarding meal. Although more often observed as a solitary animal, a pack of Staple Removers has been known to strip the metal from a conference presentation in less than a minute.
Once a year, the male Staple Remover instinctively returns to the office supply store where it was purchased to engage in a savage mating ritual: the capture and takedown of a Multi-use Color Copier. Many are lost
Dear Honorable Mr. HolmesDear Honorable Mr. Holmes:Dear Honorable Mr. Holmes6 years ago in Humor More Like This
I bring to you hearty greetings from across the pond. However, as you likely have already surmised by the small smudge on the address bar of the envelope undoubtedly caused by a bead of my own sweat, I also deliver a quandary for the likes of your finely honed skills.
As you may know, a survey was recently conducted of 3,000 of your fellow Britons, asking whether certain figures were real or fictional. When your name came up, Mr. Holmes, 58 percent said you were real.
Isn't that preposterous? That means 42 percent believe you're a fake! I can only think that such hoodwinkery be caused by some sort of slanderous propaganda scheme.
The chigger of misinformation digs even more deeply into the skin of your fellow countrymen, sir. When asked of Winston Churchill, 23 percent believed he was made up. Am I, with most sincerity, being asked to believe that a staggering 77 percent of Britons actually think Churchill was real? The same Churchill who lit his cigars with
Reindeer PauseReindeer Pause9 years ago in Prose More Like This
[Santa's Workshop, the North Pole. It is Christmas Eve, and the warm glow of the shop illuminates the gently falling snow outside. Stillness hangs in the air, but also the weight of expectation; of joys soon to come. Any time now, the elves will walk out to the nearby barn and hook the reindeer to Santa's sleigh, where they will perform the time-honored duty of delivering to every good chil--]
BLITZEN: Augh, screw it! Screw Christmas in its cute little button-nosed face! (paws angrily at the warm earth of his stable)
PRANCER: Now, now dear. You know these outbursts don't do you any good.
BLITZEN: Out of my business, Prancer! You know it just gets worse every year!
CUPID: (peers out from the top of her stable) Is old Blitzkrieg firing his guns again?
PRANCER: No, Cupid. And if he were, you wouldn't be helping right now.
CUPID: Uh-huh. (shouts over) C'mon, Blitzen—cheer up! It'll all be over before you know it!
BLITZEN: That's exactly it! We do this job for one night every y
22-23-2222-23-228 years ago in General Non-Fiction More Like This
A loud rumble pushes its way in among my turned up radio. It doesn't complement the music well, so I pull off the side of the road. Sure enough, my right rear tire is shredded; a mile and a half from the school board meeting I need to cover, too. And my cell phone? Taking the day off at home, because it knew today would be the one day it'd be needed.
I limp the car to a nearby house, where thankfully the woman there knows me. As she goes to find me her phone, two little girls--I'm assuming granddaughters--run straight up to me. Haven't they learned not to trust strange men in slacks?
"What are you doing here?" one asks straight-out, surely a future journalist in the making.
"One of my tires blew. I need to use the phone to call for help."
"My name's Kaylie and I'm 6!" the other says.
"My name's Alison and I'm 8!" the first says, not to be left out.
"My name's Tim and I'm 22."
Both jaws drop. "Whooooa..."
I laugh. "Yeah. That's
The HaikuThe Haiku12 years ago in Haiku & Eastern More Like This
Five syllables here,
And seven syllables here.
Now where's my money?
A Literature QuestionQ: I dread writing a report for my Early British Literature class. Is there a piece I can focus on that will satisfy my professor while still keeping me amused with crude humor?A Literature Question6 years ago in Humor More Like This
A: You've come to the right place, friend.
In terms of mixing historical relevance, academic consideration and outright potty humor, one certainly can not go wrong with The Censure of the Parliament Fart, a 1607 masterpiece that has been attributed to a number of authors including John Hoskyns, Richard Martin, Edward Jones and Christopher Brooke.
The poem stems from a March 4, 1607 meeting of the Commons in which one Henry Ludlow let loose with a quite audible rip during the reading of a message from the Lords. The fart had the effect of breaking the political hall down into a room of snickering schoolboys, leaving the messenger quite flummoxed.
Like all great moments in history, this was recorded in a poetic form that wafted throughout the populace. Some changes were made over the years, but a soun
Man Bites PandaMan Bites PandaMan Bites Panda8 years ago in Humor More Like This
Sometimes it takes a lot of work to uncover news stories to make fun of. Other times, God delivers them to your doorstep nicely gift-wrapped with a little tag that says, "Cheers!"
The case of Chinese building worker Zhang Xinyan is one of those fortuitous latter opportunities. Mr. Zhang, having had four pints of beer over lunch while on holiday, decided it would be a neat idea to intrude into the territory of one of nature's most adorable beasts; one who has captured the hearts of the world yet is unfortunately known for being somewhat inept with its young.
No, not Britney Spears. A giant panda.
Zhang jumped the fence around the enclosure of Gu Gu, a 7-year-old panda at Beijing Zoo, with the intent, he later told reporters, of giving him a hug. Gu Gu, rightly noting that there is a line roughly six billion people long of people who want to hug him, gave the jumper what for by running up and biting him on the legs.
CensoredCensored9 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
Boy hops, skips, tromps inside,
dirt-water dripping into a sentence
on the linoleum forum beneath:
"The mud is especially good today."
strikes the statement from the record,
appeal to Mop v. Glo denied.
The dissident is thrown into prison (porcelain)
and Mother ensures freedom of speech
is revoked, even behind the ears.
A Guide to Good CriticismA Guide to Good Criticism11 years ago in Humor More Like This
There are few things in this world that are certain: death, taxes, "Love Shack" being played at a wedding reception and, if you're an artist, criticism.
Criticism is a very natural part of the creative process. As humans, we often stink with the odor of imperfection and need to be told by our peers so we can clean up with the long, hot shower of revision.
It's not a bad thing to give criticism, just as long as you're not an utter jerkwad about it. The first known lesson on providing polite, constructive criticism can be traced back to the oldest known cave paintings in Lascaux, France, where what could possibly be the world's first critic gave a particularly scathing review of a fellow Neanderthal's depiction of a bison. The artist was surprisingly gracious in giving a rebuttal for the time, waiting until the critic had fallen peacefully asleep before he smashed his skull with a large rock.
Unfortunately, some do not seem to know how to provide constructive criticism. They timidly appr
Quips for Bitter SinglesBeing a longterm single, my lack of luck in love has been a sore spot in my life. Loneliness, envy and despair have struck me on occasion, often serving as a brick wall to my humor production.Quips for Bitter Singles8 years ago in Humor More Like This
Recently, however, I've come to realize just how detrimental an effect this periodic wallowing has had in my life and those of my friends. Something had to change; I needed a new perspective. So I've fought back the best way I know how: turning my humor production onto the very thing that has caused me grief.
And you know what? It works! I haven't been this happy or excited to write something in a while. So what this is not is a cry for help or an excuse to throw a pity party for me. This is turnabout. This is therapy. And, above all, I hope to heck this is funny. Now, without further ado:
Quips for Bitter Singles
Women look for a sense of humor in men like they look for a ring in jewe
April FoolsApril Fools11 years ago in Socio-political More Like This
I've been waiting all day.
All day, I've been sitting in front of my TV waiting for the constant war updates to switch to a special report. They will go live to the White House where the President will be sitting at his desk with the same concerned expression he always issues himself.
"My fellow Americans," he will begin, "As you well know, we are currently in the midst of great toil and hardship. It cannot be denied that there have been significant casualties and obstacles facing the course of Operation Iraqi Freedom. But as we forge on, I feel it is necessary to tell you, as well as the entire world…"
"APRIL FOOLS!" Saddam Hussein will scream, jumping in front of the camera. Bush, laughing uproariously, will stand and put his arm around the Iraqi leader.
"Man, we got 'em but good, didn't we!" Bush will say to Saddam between guffaws.
"We sure did, bro!" he will reply, nearly in tears. "At first I didn't think all these months were gonna be worth it, but every single person in the worl
Interview with the Cherub[A camera is trained on a small, chubby, man sitting on a stool. He winces momentarily, his wings spreading, as a light passes over his eyes.]Interview with the Cherub5 years ago in Humor More Like This
OFF-SCREEN INTERVIEWER: I'm sorry. We're usually set up well in advance for these, but this was on such short notice and we know you're very busy. We're very grateful you could take time at all.
WINGED MAN: Hey, no worries. No one's ever wanted to ask us anything before, like it's some mystical sorta thing, you know? It's really pretty basic if
INTERVIEWER: I've been told we're ready, sir.
WINGED MAN: Oh, right. Good to go, here.
INTERVIEWER: Right, then. Roll film.
[The camera's red light blinks on.]
Again, thank you for taking the time, Mr. ... Cupid...?
WINGED MAN: Kip, please. Cupid was our founder, so he's become our brand name in a way. Like Kleenex with us, but we all have different names.
INTERVIEWER: Kip, then. Sorry. There are many of you, then?
KIP: Yep! A couple million, give or take.
KIP: Think we'd sti
A lovely haikuHaikus are easyA lovely haiku7 years ago in Haiku & Eastern More Like This
But sometimes they don't make sense
A Case Study in DramaA Case Study in Drama10 years ago in Philosophical More Like This
My car runs outside the convenience store where Todd works. I'm there to pick up my friend and roommate from the evening shift, but the moment finds him stalled between his ride home and the gritty brick outside of the store. It has become the apparent site chosen by Brandi, our mutual friend who showed up before me, for a verbal showdown between her and Todd.
In a convenience store parking lot.
In front of my car.
Whose engine is still running.
A miserably cold drizzle softens my view of the two combatants through the windshield as they begin their rounds of gesturing. The ember of a cigarette as it flies around in Brandi's hand gives me the image of a crazed air traffic controller. They're also yelling, of course, but I can only hear the occasional stressed tone over the late-night jazz on the radio. I'm not interested in their argument, anyway.
Reason is on my side to flash the headlights or honk the horn—anything to make Todd take a rain check and get in the damn car—but I sit back
War and the Singles TableBelieve it or not, but weddings were not made for single people. This is why most receptions employ a singles table strategy; not in hopes that they will mingle and hopefully spark somethingalthough that would certainly be nicebut to make them easier to corral should any of them suddenly and inevitably realize where they are and feel their shot clock on finding happiness has dwindled down to half a second, causing a crazed attempt to score from the other end of the loveball court or, sometimes, across the street from the arena.War and the Singles Table7 years ago in Humor More Like This
The placement of such a potentially volatile table can be essential to the success of the wedding reception and the comfort of its planners. Great care must be taken to properly align the table with all of the various facets of the celebration. For example, there is a great difference based upon whether the reception has a cash bar (singles table close-by) or an open one (singles table far, far away).
Indeed, upsetting the deli
Cosmo UndercoverCosmo Undercover10 years ago in Humor More Like This
So I was watching professional wrestling while working on my hot rod when my Three Stooges back hair cheese-in-a-can Pamela Anderson armpit flatulence.
Are all the females gone yet? Good, because I need a private word with you guys, specifically you young, single guys. As a member of your tribe, I know that we could all find the girl of our dreams if we could only understand one thing. Unfortunately, that thing is girls in general. We could take that girl we yearn for in our arms and hold her like there's no tomorrow, but we'd eventually be beaten off or arrested because we have no idea what else to do other than cling to her like a barnacle.
But I have discovered a ray of hope! A lot of girls like to huddle around magazines with names like Teen Tiger Girl Beat Fashion Vogue Party Monthly. These publications are filled with instructive opinions on what girls should be, often giving them explicit advice on how to look, eat, sleep, walk, act, flirt and other essentials
Scratch TestScratch Test9 years ago in Humor More Like This
Dr. Thelen was accustomed to the uncertainties of his workday. There was always the chance that someone walking in with the "flu" would need to be treated for whooping cough or that a patient complaining of foot pain after traveling abroad would need an eight-foot long parasite wound out of her ankle. It's what kept his job exciting.
But given this amount of unpredictability, he still knew what would always be bad news: seeing "child" and "scratch test" on the same line of the day's schedule.
Dr. Thelen sighed as six year-old Petey Sullivan shrieked and squirmed on his stomach, crinkling and tearing the sanitary paper of the examination table. His bare back beheld a single mark from the doctor's needle, but from the looks of the child you'd think he'd been a harpooned eel.
"It's not so bad, is it?" Dr. Thelen droned futilely into the air. "It'll all be over soon, so if you please stay still--"
"No!" came a muffled, snot-moistened cry from where Petey had wedged hi
The WriterThe Writer10 years ago in General Fiction More Like This
Ward E has become my favorite part of the institution. It's the only area where guards carry lethal weapons, and entering it at any hour instantly surrounds you with a salvo of implacable clamor mixed with the faint, acrid smell of sanitation equipment that never completely erases some of the stains its residents leave in fancy or fury. The place rattled the hell out of my nerves when I began my residency here, but that was quite some time ago. Now I always find myself called to Ward E with a minute welling of rational excitement, like an archaeologist beginning a dig. The chaos that meets me at its door each day has become nothing more than an old acquaintance.
The particular case for which you are here proved to be unique as soon as I entered the ward that afternoon. Allen, the guard stationed at the security checkpoint, usually waves me on with whatever product of the daily take-out run he happens to be holding. I was surprised to find him standing, waiting for me with t
Dream-Nightmare-RealityDream-Nightmare-Reality8 years ago in General Non-Fiction More Like This
I honestly can't remember his name. It had a B in it.
I had met him while volunteering for a festival in the middle of Niagara Falls; something I had signed up for to fulfill a class requirement. He was tall, heavyset, with glasses and a Brooklyn accent.
Setting up stands and cleaning trash from the street, we talked all day about video games and books. He became my first friend in college.
One evening we were in the dining hall, he telling me of his Puerto Rican hertiage and how he had once served as security for J-Lo, which I didn't believe but never told him. Suddenly he looked at me eye-to-eye across the table.
"Do you ever wish you were someone else; that you could go on some great adventure?"
He kept staring at me, intently. "Yeah," I said, and lowered my eyes to my chicken sandwich.
I remember her first name: Alice.
I had met her at the on-campus poetry club the guy with the B in his name introduced me to.&
Case of the Pandering PlantCrimes against nature are some of the most bizarre and immoral violations conceived by man. But what happens when nature itself is the criminal? Does humankind have no rights against the laws and workings of the ecosystem?Case of the Pandering Plant7 years ago in Humor More Like This
Let's not get philosophical; humans find ways to sue against anything. And that is why we bring you...
PROSECUTOR: The prosecution calls the defendant, Mimosa pudica, to the stand.
[The bailiff sets a potted flower on the stand.]
Please state your name for the record.
[The flower leans forward into a microphone.]
MIMOSA: My name is Mimosa pudica.
PROSECUTOR: That is your taxonomic name, of course, but you have others, do you not? (looks down at a list) "Sensitive Plant." "Shame Plant." Oh... "Modest Princess." How charming. All your names?
MIMOSA: Well, yes. People call me those, but—
PROSECUTOR: But your street name—the name you use when you're "for sale"—is "TickleMe Plant." Am I correct?
PROSECUTOR: And through this
NothingNothing9 years ago in Scraps More Like This
A bare stage. GUY 1 is standing CENTRE stage.
GUY 2 [entering]. Hey.
GUY 1. Hey.
GUY 2. What's going on?
GUY 1. I'm watching that burning house over there.
GUY 2. What burning house?
GUY 1. It's offstage.
GUY 2. Oh.
GUY 1. But it's there.
GUY 2. What for?
GUY 1. It's a plot device.
GUY 2. A what?
GUY 1. A plot device. Something introduced to the narrative in order to advance it. In this case, a burning house.
GUY 2. Oh. How's that working out?
GUY 1. Well, you showed up.
GUY 2. Is it a symbol or something?
GUY 1. Probably.
GUY 2. I don't get it.
GUY 1. Yeah, neither do I.
GUY 2. I don't think I like this plot device.
GUY 1. Give it some time. Sit down, have a smoke.
GUY 2. I do
The Crane ManThe Crane Man11 years ago in General Fiction More Like This
The usual dinner crowd reduced itself to a low murmur whenever the Crane Man showed up. Anyone new to the place--if any were that night--peered up from their plates confusedly before finding where everyone's gaze was falling; themselves falling silent as they were swept into the anxious atmosphere.
The Crane Man never seemed to notice the band of squeaks as the rest of the diner shifted in their sea green vinyl seats to better lay their eyes on him. He always walked up and laid a five dollar bill on the table in front of me. I took the bill and, opening the cash register, removed twenty quarters that had been especially reserved in one of the slots. When I placed them in his slightly leathered palm, he nodded me his thanks and walked to the old crane game between the payphone and the toilets.
When the Crane Man first came in a little over three weeks ago, he was just a usual customer: quiet, weathered-looking, nothing special. Pam served him coffee and a golden brown country fried stea