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Will Newman

The Three Worst Books Ever Written

When I was a kid, I used to watch channel 11 from 11pm until whenever I fell asleep.  In the mid-to-late 90s, their lineup included Cheers, Frasier, and Murphy Brown.

I distinctly remembered one episode of Murphy Brown in which the various correspondents on FYI were arguing about who got to interview a famous novelist.  Murphy wins by admitting that she had slept with the novelist.  But then Murphy discovers that the novelist slept with so many people he had forgotten all about her.  And that's when I knew I needed to be a novelist.

So in sophomore year of high school, I began writing a novel.  I got several chapters in of 12 Men Go West before abandoning it.  It was supposed to be a rough allegory of the travels of the 12 apostles except it had no plot and the characters were in no way differentiated from each other.  I think I shared it with my friend Nat, who I recall said he liked it.

I became an English major in college specifically because I thought it would help me be a novelist.  But learning to write fiction is not what English majors do.  Reading medieval nonsense and having  discussions so abstract as to be meaningless is what English majors do.  I took two creative writing classes freshman year, but they were just another forum for me to feel isolated and not one in which I felt I was getting the tools needed to write the great American novel.

Finally I had some free time at the end of senior year of college.  And, I figured, I was graduating college and it was finally time for me to take my university learning and become famously brilliant as I entered the next stage of my life.

The Sultan of Supermarkets is both the best and the worst of the three books I wrote.  My friend Sean said it was good and my friend Stef said it was just as functional as a regular book, but the general consensus of the 15 or so people who read it was that it was unreadable masturbatory nonsense.

I had read somewhere that novels are supposed to be 100,000 words.  So I wrote TSoS out of order, just getting words on to a page, and did word counts frequently, trying to get to 100,000.  The book ended when I finally hit that number.

I wrote the book in 2004 (starting around April and finishing the third draft just as law school began) when iPods were new.  The plot of the book involved a young sad single man in Providence who invested heavily in an iPod that could play video.  A bunch of people buy the iPod but then one gets hit by a truck and his family sues because he was distracted by the iPod and that's the end of that business venture.  I really had no knowledge of how law or business or anything worked.

The main character also volunteered to read to children at a library for some reason.  The book also had a bunch of sex scenes written by someone who had only a vague idea of what sex resembled.

One thing I did like about TSoS was that, to fill space in the book, the main plot was interspersed with random vignettes/short stories.  Some weren't awful, as I recall.  One was about a Hindu-Muslim couple in India, which my friend Cat informed me was horribly unrealistic.  One, which I still think about from time to time, was about a songwriter who was bad at playing musical instruments but was beloved for his great songs and authentic emotions.  A cover band of professional and talented musicians covered his work, but what they possessed in technical skill they lacked in genuineness.  The former was a thinly veiled metaphor for what I thought I was.

The book took place in Providence (with one scene in Northampton), but it referred to the Olneyville (to which I had never visited) neighborhood as a mostly black violent ghetto.  As it turns out, it is mostly Hispanic and, as my friend Nick pointed out, not even close to the Compton I had described.

I did research for the book by visiting the children's library I had frequented as a kid.   I wandered around until a librarian there (whom I had recognized from when she read to me in the early 1990s or maybe late 1980s) started following me and asking me what I was doing there.  She thought I was a child molester or something, which made me sad.  She had forgotten me and I was scaring her.

At the end of my second year of law school, I still had no life experience to speak of, but I knew I had to write a book.  And so began Mothers and Meatloaf, the likely worst of the three books.  It was written in the summer of 2005 and loosely based on what I thought I knew about Alan Feinstein, a prominent philanthropist in Providence.

Largely because of how ashamed I was of the ridiculous sex scenes in TSoS, there is maybe one kiss in MaM.  And, unlike its predecessor, the novel sticks to one major story (with a coda towards the end).  The plot of the book deals with a young woman who works for a charity in Providence that has to compete with another charity that spends its money frivolously (like buying tuxedos for the homeless, as I recall).  As I type these words now, even I am confused as to how any of this was supposed to work.

My friend Helen said the book was terrible (which, in her defense, it was) and that I should not try to write female characters.  We stopped being friends not long thereafter.

I tried writing short stories for a bit after this (getting exactly zero published) and dabbled in short comedy-piece writing (getting nearly zero published).  I studied abroad at the University of Copenhagen in my third year of law school and, while I was there, my host family father (who I have lost touch with to my great sadness) inspired me to follow my passion, which I felt meant not being a lawyer and writing a great novel instead.

So when I returned to America, I decided not to work for a law firm and to spend a year writing.  During my previous two novel attempts, people had asked me what kind of novel I was writing.  I didn't really have a genre, I just wanted to write a story.  So this time, I figured I'd write a mystery novel.  It would have a structure (something my previous books lacked) and I'd finally have an answer to people's questions and maybe there'd be more of an infrastructure in place for selling the book.  In the meantime, I had also read The Seven Basic Plots, which I felt would help me understand the mechanics of telling a story.

At the time, I was also very big into Grand Slam, the one-season American remake of a UK game show.  So I wrote a murder mystery that took place on the set of that show.  And How Trivia Killed Joe Quigmore was written.  I still have a draft!

My friend Albert helped me edit it and most of his help came in the form of telling me the book was terrible.  In particular, the killer is revealed because he confesses privately while the hero is wearing a secret microphone.  Albert was correct to tell me that that's a cheap and lazy ending.

I insisted on printing out each of these books at Kinko's and having them velo-bound.  It was cool having a hard copy of a book you wrote in your hand.  It was also easier for me to mark them up that way.  And I shared hard copies of TSoS.  For HTKJQ, I just emailed Word documents to like 20 people and gave one copy to an old gay man who tried to pick me up at the gym.  The old man liked it, he said.  Everyone else just never wrote back.  I was very hurt by one friend who I believed didn't even read it.  (Which, in fairness, is understandable.  Asking someone to read your unedited novel is like asking someone to help you move).

I made a serious effort to get it read by someone in the industry.  I contacted agents and people's connections and sent pitches and loglines and summaries.  But no one liked the game show angle, which is understandable.  And I gave up after a few weeks, which is the story of my life.

And I haven't gotten more than two pages into writing a novel since!

Lessons I have learned:
  • Don't share your novel with friends.  Except I read friends' novels so that I can feel a little better than the people who did not read my novels.
  • Being an English major does not help you write novels.
  • Have a job before writing a novel, especially if any of your characters have jobs.
I'd like to write a novel now.  I think I have a better sense of what to do.  But it is so much work!  And then I'd have no idea what to do with it.

McSweeney's Submissions

I fancy myself some sort of humorous literary sort.  The problem is that once I actually set finger to keyboard, my actual output falls far below the talent I imagine myself to possess.  That being said, I tried nearly every week for a few years after law school to submit to McSweeney's (and then every once in awhile in the years thereafter).  Although I was accepted once (and one of my rejected pieces was published elsewhere), here are a collection of rejected submissions for you to read and get confused by.

Most were written in 2007 and 2008, most seemed a lot of funnier at the time.

Table of Contents:
  • Monday for Al-Abrim Rizari, IT Support Staff, al-Qaeda
  • Early Drafts of William Carlos Williams' "This Is Just To Say"
  • A Response to the University of Texas College Essay Question "Name A Major Obstacle You Have Had to Overcome."
  • Correspondence between George McFly and Dr. Emmett Brown
  • How Badly Do You Want To Be in the New York Times Weddings/Celebrations Section?
  • You Filthy Animal: A “Sleep No More” Style Theatrical Experience Based on the Film Home Alone
  • Synopsis of the Non-Sex Scenes of Cinemax's Naked and Betrayed, as Estimated by Someone Fast-Forwarding Through Them on His TiVo, Part One.
  • I Think You Forgot To Call Me Back
  • Notes Left by a Mom for a Foreign Exchange Student Living with Her Family Regarding His Masturbation Habits
  • Instant Message Conversation With My Brother, Pretending To Be Our Dead Mother
  • A Synopsis of My Rejected Boy Meets World Episode, "Seven Minutes in 9/11"
  • Excerpts From My Political Memoir: The Audacity of Shame
  • Martin Luther King Day Address by President UBZBOT-4345S in the year 2420
  • Watching The L Word in Tehran
  • Doogie Howser, MBA
  • Gmail Adsense Ads That Appear Next To My Email Regarding the Death of My Hamster, George
  • Ways to Beat the Heat
  • Sen. Hairypants Addresses the Nation About His Name in the Context of his Presidential Campaign
  • Failed Bids for the 2008 Olympic Games
  • Duckburg Superior Court Decision Regarding the Divorce of Scrooge McDuck
  • Excerpts from Kenzie Kittredge, A Canadian Girl
  • Using the Mystery Method With Iran

 Monday for Al-Abrim Rizari, IT Support Staff, al-Qaeda

9:02  An arms specialist in Riyadh says he can’t print on the network printer.  He insists that his document is less than 10 megs, but the error 421 he keeps getting only comes up with stuff bigger than that.  Finally when I get him to print a 9 meg sample document - oh surprise surprise - it prints just fine.

9:37  A child soldier in Kandahar calls next.  It's a little cruel to be recruiting youngsters because trying to explain to them the difference between POP3 and Web mail is absolute torture to me.  I told the child about step-by-step instructions on the intranet KnowledgeBase, but the boy can’t read.  After I walk this child through the mail configuration, he then has the nerve to tell me that he'll just keep using his Web mail.  What an emotionally scarred youth he must be.

10:18: My next call comes from a financial coordinator in London.  This hotshot wants to set up his work network onto an iPhone.  I inform him that should he ever lose the phone, authorities could access our whole financial database. This guy is in charge of funneling millions of dollars to al-Qaeda operations throughout the Mideast and yet he'll risk our whole network on the absurd notion that he won’t lose a tiny phone.  Sometimes I wonder about people’s judgment.

10:42: The big man called me!  I'd never spoken to him before and it was such an honor... at first.  I told Usama he needed the latest version of Macromedia Flash to watch a video.  "How is this not already on my computer?" he demanded.  I was too afraid to argue.  After he fired an IT guy last year for being slow setting up a WiFi network, he’s had a reputation around here of being kind of a scary guy.

11:50 An operative in Tikrit can't use the remote access network to work from home.  He talks down to me like I'm a moron; meanwhile he's the guy who doesn't even know where the Start menu is.  Finally I just had to hang up the phone, which I know is going to get me written up.  They expect us to be so kind and polite around here, but it's just really too much sometimes.

12:30 A cell leader in Northern Pakistan wants to set up a videoconference with a cell in Egypt.  The guy in Pakistan is using a Mac and the cell in Egypt has a PC.  The two cells can hear each other, but Egypt can't see Pakistan.  I have the Egypt increase the number of colors on the screen and that fixes the problem.  They then just hang up, no thank you or anything.  These people will violate basic human decency for their own stupid goals.  It’s really disheartening that people like this exist.

1:17  Usama called back, insisting he talk with my supervisor.  I make my voice deeper and pretend to be “al-Bossiri.”  I apologize for my subordinate's conduct and tone and then explain that he will be severely punished.  Usama is now willing to download Flash, just so long as that "insolent child" he spoke to earlier is punished.  If he cares more about tormenting me than about not wasting time that could be spent running al-Qaeda, then I swear this man is a cruel monster.

2:02 A phone call from Lebanon.  A warlord received a .ppt file and doesn't know what it is.  I told him it was a PowerPoint presentation and he didn't know what that meant.  I blurted out, "What?  Have you been living in a cave for the past twenty years?"  In my line of work, that's a risky thing to say and I was forced to apologize.  Still, I can't imagine being that clueless about the world.

2:38 Sure enough, I get a call from the financial coordinator in London.  He left his iPhone at a bar.  I wished I could have laughed but I just felt the need to bang my head against the table.  That sort of self-abuse is frowned upon here at work, but sometimes it is impossible to resist. 

3:07 A kidnapper in Gaza downloaded a virus from a music lyrics website.  He says he doesn't believe that’s where the virus came from, muttering something about how the lyrics he read were from religious songs.  Then why did you call me, genius, if you don't believe what I'm going to tell you?  After I spend an hour having him delete the Trojan Horse and do a virus scan, he goes right back to the same site and gets the exact same virus!  But does he admit he was wrong?  No, of course not.  He insists I did something wrong when I helped him remove the virus.  "The music is holy, its words cannot be corrupted by viruses."  I feel bad for his kidnapping victims since they’re forced to spend time with this misguided religious zealot.

4:12 US Troops have stormed our facility.  I am relieved - no, I am joyous! - to be freed from taking calls.  When the soldiers ask us if we are violent, we insist that we are only technical support staff. 

4:28 A US soldier presents me with a PC that keeps freezing a few minutes after startup.  The American insists that a bureaucrat promised that 128 megs were enough for Vista, but I tell him that he has been lied to by his superiors.  He marches away angrily.

4:42 Behind this soldier was another man whose Mac couldn’t access the American network.  I installed Leopard and finally got it to connect.  He called me a racial slur and slapped my face.  Behind him was a line full of soldiers and I realized then that this American occupation would be far longer and more painful than I had originally hoped.

Early Drafts of William Carlos Williams' "This Is Just To Say"

(1)

Oh yeah
um…
I have eaten
your plums.

You said
that you needed them
for that project
on plums

My bad.
They were
um...
pretty good.

(2)

I have killed your
hamster
with my
bare hands.

Relax.
I'm joking, he's fine.
You freaked out.
Forgive me.

But I did
eat all of your plums.
Here is
your hamster.

(3)

I have eaten
the plums
in the box
labeled "Do not eat"

and which
you were probably
saving
for the State Plum Festival.

Forgive me.
I heard plums were good
for your heart
and colon.

(4)

I told you
I was
in love with
Christine Lee
 
who you
asked out anyway
like a
total jerk.

So I ate
your shitty plums.
Take that,
ass-gobbler.

(5)

I tried to get
into
a nightclub
on Friday .

The bouncer
told me I was not
on his
stupid list.

I came home
ate your cold plums
and looked
at old porn.

(6)

At gunpoint
a man
demanded I eat
more plums.

I think
he worked for the
plum company
I was scared.

Forgive me.
I shot him
then ate your plums
to calm down.

(7)

I have eaten
your plums.
Deal
with it.

A Response to the University of Texas College Essay Question "Name A Major Obstacle You Have Had to Overcome."

A major obstacle I had to overcome was being kidnapped at age 11 and smuggled to Mexico to work in a labor camp for three years.   Though it was difficult, I worked hard and made the best of the situation, starting my labor camp's first World Studies Club and becoming proficient in Spanish, which I speak muy bueno.

At first there were a myriad of unique challenges that my kidnapping brought: How would I keep from falling behind in my classes back home?  How would I be safe without my family, los gringos ricos?  Was I going to get killed? Would the cigar burns all over my facecheeks ever go away?  But my captors assured me that as soon as my parents paid my ransom, I would be returned home safely.  This gave me courage.

I was also taught the lesson of never giving up when, in my second month of Mexican labor, I developed dysentery, which was another unique challenge.  Basically my stomach felt like it was on fire and my throat became all hard.  I couldn't breathe.  I later wrote a poem about what it was like to have dysentery called "Dragon Fire" which was rejected by The New Yorker.  This rejection taught me that no one gets poetry published unless you're a big name.  My captors told me that if I could convince my parents to send money for medicine, I would live.  I wrote them a letter and, even though no medicina dinero ever came, I eventually got better on my own.

Another obstacle I faced was having no friends with me as I adjusted to my new life as the sole property of a textile factory.  But a few months into my adventure, I made friends with a Mexican girl who was just a few years older than me named Angela.  This Angela was nothing at all like Angela Hendricks, who went to my old school.  This Angela taught me how roll cigarettes and how to care for her baby while she worked the night shift in the camp.  I was such a good babysitter that Angela kept begging me to take her baby home with me if I ever escaped "ese infierno," which was what she called the labor camp. Though helping to raise a baby was hard work, I learned that the best work is helping others and that I have an interest in working with children.  I don't know if I would have found that out anywhere else.

This unique experience also gave me the confidence to organize a labor camp production of "Death of a Salesman."  I knew most of the words already since I had been in the play in my old school.  Though my old drama teacher Mrs. Shandall had cast me as Ben, since I was running the show in Mexico, I got to cast myself as Willy.  Not only was the play a great way to make friends with the other esclavos, but I learned critical organizational skills and how to make a curtain out of old fruit sacks.  Though the play only ran one afternoon and attendance was low due to the siesta, the Labor Camp Gazette gave it glowing reviews.  Though, I should admit, I was also the founder and chief drama critic at the Labor Camp Gazette.

Things started really looking up when my parents finally came and visited me.  I wanted them to stay longer but my mom said that dad couldn't afford to be away from work for more than a few days with the economy the way it is.  Still, I had never been so happy to see them.  I ran away from my sewing station and gave my mom a big hug.  My mom looked scared because we are an unaffectionate family.  On the night before their flight home, my parents took me to a nice dinner at a local restaurant.  This was a real eye-opener for me, as I learned that there are restaurants in Mexico and that they have good tasting food like back in America.

When my parents came to visit again eight months later, I watched them successfully negotiate my release.  Although my captors had demanded hundreds of thousands of dollars, my parents stood firm in their final offer of ten thousand dollars.  They eventually won the negotiation, and though it was hard to hear them say things like "He's not worth that much" and "We might as well just have another kid," I uniquely learned valuable bargaining skills.

Back at home, I struggled at first to compete with my classmates in math and reading because the campo de trabajo did not emphasize these skills as much as my school did.  I also was sad because none of the girls at school would invite me to their houses like Angela did.  Not even Angela Hendricks.  But I took the lessons I did learn, like the importance of hard work, how to use rattle snakes as weapons and being a man.  With work and perseverance, my forced Mexican labor has gone from being an obstacle to being my greatest preparation for a successful academic career at the University of Texas. 

Correspondence between George McFly and Dr. Emmett Brown

Dear Dr. Brown:

Thank you so much for taking an interest in Marty.  Admittedly, I have no idea how you two could have met and I’m really not fully comfortable with a lone, grey-haired eccentric recluse with no job spending so much time with my teenage son.  On the other hand, I am glad he’s made an educated friend.  I hope under your mentorship, he’ll be inspired to become the next Einstein.

Thanks so much,

George McFly

**

Greetings George!

I’m writing you from the fresh air and bright promise of the year 1955!  I trust that Western Union delivered this message to you at the correct place and time.  I received your letter, but regret to inform you that I accidentally got Marty involved in a gunfight with Middle-Eastern terrorists over some stolen plutonium and, long story short, he’s now living with me in my shed thirty years back in time.  Whoops!  I’ll try to get him back in one piece, though he may get struck by 1.21 gigawatts of lightning in the process.  Wish us luck!

Dr. Emmett Brown

**

Dr. Brown:

I’m confused.  I hate to be a stick in the mud, but there is so much about your letter I don't understand.  For example, the terrorists.  Also the part where my son went back in time.  I thought you two were going to make a clock powered by potatoes or something. 

Don’t get me wrong, Dr. Brown, sir.  I’m super grateful that, because of whatever you did, that mean bully Biff is now my car washer and a total suck-up.  But this does not excuse you from taking Marty away from his studies and from his family.  It’s just that radioactive elements can permanently damage his health and, well, he had a French test the next day   So, if you don’t mind, sir, would you please just bring him home?

Respectfully,

George

**

Peace Be With You George!

This message comes to you from the year 2015 and a world of hoverboards, videophones and a growing tolerance for alternative romantic relationships.  Funny story: Right after I brought Marty home, I accidentally drove my time machine right back to your house, rummaged through your trash cans for some trash and then - Great Scott! - I drove off with your son again.  My bad!

 The bad news is that Marty's now being hunted down like an animal by an all-powerful oligarch hell-bent on murder.  But, on the bright side, your son and I are closer than ever.  I also kidnapped his girlfriend, but I drugged her and left her in an alley.  She was kind of a third wheel.

Dr. Emmett Brown

P.S. I think I may have made the Biff situation worse.  Sorry!

**

Sir:

I don’t even have the words, doctor.  How did you even lure my son into your house?  I just spied on it from a tree and it seems that all you have there are a bunch of creepy clocks and a big guitar amp.  Do you even play guitar?

Also, ever since you ran away with my son a second time, Richard Nixon magically became president again and my wife married Biff Tannen, who is now richer than God and even meaner than before.  Pardon my tone, Doctor Brown, but... ugh, I can’t even bring myself to say the things I’m feeling.  Just please give him safely over to me in the future, okay?

Perturbedly,

George

**

Howdy George!

It’s 1885 and the skies are blue!  Now, you may have heard rumors that your son is now living with me in the old west, that he goes by the name Clint and that I gave him a cowboy outfit to wear.  Even though that is all true, I assure you this is all one big misunderstanding. 

You see, I didn’t force Marty to come.  Somehow he grew attached to me and then - in the name of Isaac Newton, I don't know why - he chose to follow me into this harsh world of lawlessness and leather chaps.  Now, I did receive your letter telling me to return him safely to you in 2015, but that was right after I got him involved in another gunfight.  This one is with the quickest draw in town.  Does he have any experience with duels?  I hope so!

Anyway, there may be a way I can send him home, but it does involve him hijaking a train and then me pushing him off of a cliff with a steam engine.  We’ll see!

Dr. Emmett Brown

**

Dear Doc Brown

Please sir, show some mercy.  I don't mean any trouble, I just want my son back.  I don’t understand where he’s been, or how he’ll escape from this without needing serious therapy, or how he could have gone into the future and seen a version of himself that doesn't remember anything about time travel, or why you would work tirelessly to travel through time but never feel the need to travel five miles outside of our sleepy suburb of Hill Valley.  I don’t know and I don’t care.  Just please give my family back its son.

Sheepishly,

George

**

Hi George

Got married to a woman.  Lost interest in Marty altogether.

-Emmett

P.S. May have re-worsened the Biff situation.

How Badly Do You Want To Be in the New York Times Weddings/Celebrations Section?
 
Sure, you’re in love.  Lots of people are in love.  My taxi driver is in love, and so is my dentist.  But you don’t see them in the Times.  Why?  Because their love doesn’t have an angle.

Here’s true love: a beautiful refugee from Africa, with a PhD from Princeton, met at a renowned jazz musician (the biracial son of an NYU musicologist) at a kickball tournament.  They bonded over a shared love of French culture and were married by the mayor of Paris on the banks of the Seine.  Boom!  If that couple existed, they’d get a web video easy.

They don’t even have to be that flashy.  A partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, ten years out of Harvard marries a gorgeous documentary filmmaker from… it doesn’t even matter where!  Let’s say Vassar.  You could get a big photo and a full column.  We’re not asking for much, but it would help if the bride’s father were also a doctor.

What do you have?

Oh, you went to Cornell?  Ha!  Based on that, maybe you’ll get two paragraphs and no photo.  Web only.  We’ll spell your dad’s name wrong.  You might as well not even be in the Times.

What else have you got?  Your dad is an insurance claims adjuster?  I don’t even know what that is, nor do I want to know, and I am angry that you’ve made me feel bad about not knowing what that is. 

What do you do?  You’re a high school math teacher?  Could you not get a job as a diplomat or poet or public health advisor for the Department of Health and Human Services?  Did you forget to invent Google?  With a job like that, people will not envy you.  If people read your wedding announcement and don’t feel just a little worse about themselves, then why did we publish the announcement at all?  We just wasted their time.

Have you considered becoming a famous ballet dancer?

The Times Weddings/Celebrations section serves a purpose: to celebrate love how it really is, among attractive, rich Ivy Leaguers with amazing sums of money and an angle.

What’s that?  You don’t know what an angle is?  Then why don’t you announce your stupid wedding on Facebook?  An angle is the part of the wedding that makes it memorable, what sets it apart from other, lesser weddings.

Example: a pretty associate at J.P. Morgan (daughter of a rabbi from Stamford) from the University of Connecticut marries a bright Asian boy from Boston University whose father got him a job in real estate.  That couple gets a politely written form letter, elegantly apologizing that the Times will not be publicizing their wedding.  But now let’s turn Boston University into Oxford University and Stamford into Litchfield and suddenly this wedding is interesting.

It would also help if the bride served on the board of a charity.  Maybe an organization that promotes community as well as competition among aspiring chefs?  I’m just spit-balling here.

Are you on any charity boards?  You don’t, but you mentor a kid?  That’s not the same thing.  Who is the kid?  Does he have an angle?  I am already falling asleep.  You suck and your wedding sucks.

Your fiancée works in retail?  Who the hell let you in here?  Is this a joke?  No seriously, did someone from the Huffington Post send you here with a hidden camera? Are you on purpose neglecting to tell me that you went to Yale and that your mother is a neurosurgeon and your father is Matt Damon?  The Weddings/Celebrations section is all about storybook love.  And no storybook involves working in retail.  Or meeting online.  Or the unphotogenic.

I get the impression that you have done nothing in your life with the specific intent of getting into the Weddings/Celebration section.  I’m not saying it’s impossible to start now, but you’re going to have to do something big.

Suggestions:
  • Get elected mayor of the city of New York (or if you get married in an off-season, Philadelphia will do).
  • Become a multimillionaire (not through inheritance, preferably not through the internet).
  • Find a new fiancée.  One with an angle.  (You’re young, there’s still time!)
If you insist on staying the way you are, don’t feel bad.  The truth is that there are more important things than whether your wedding ends up in the Times.  The most important thing is whether your children’s weddings end up in the Times.

May I recommend some good elementary schools?  Dalton is practically a feeder to us.

You Filthy Animal: A “Sleep No More” Style Theatrical Experience Based on the Film Home Alone

You enter the McAllister’s home.  It is dark and, besides the yuppie guests around you who each paid $175 to be here, you are alone.  You are free to wander the foyer and the kitchen.  A pizza box is in the trash, with a plane ticket inside, still damp with Pepsi.  Two actors, dressed as policemen, hand out cocktails.  You take one and begin to sip.  It tastes like sugar water.  One of the policemen asks you for eighteen dollars.  You feel robbed.

You climb the stairs and enter Buzz’s bedroom.  There is a tarantula in a glass cage.  After a few minutes, spent staring at a faithful reproduction of a 1990 wealthy adolescent boy’s bedroom, two actors appear.  Kevin silently dance-fights his older brother, while the other yuppies move on to another room.  You begin to realize that the next two hours are basically just this.

As you walk to the master bedroom, the lights go out!  A voice, broadcast throughout the house on speakers, creepily announces “I wish my family should disappear.”  The lights come back on.  You see a VHS player.  You turn to tell your friends how interesting that is.  But you're not supposed to talk and your friends are somewhere else for no particular reason.  Nothing else in the room really interests you that much.

You enter the master bathroom.  A bottle of aftershave is open.  You reach for it, but a staff member taps you on the arm and shakes her head.  The actor playing Kevin enters, and applies it to his cheeks.  He stares into the mirror and screams.  You look at your watch.  There's like ninety more minutes of this.

You find the actor that plays Kevin attractive.  You feel weird, even though this actor is clearly in his early 20s, because his character is twelve years old.  You follow him.

Downstairs, the living room has a series of mannequins and cardboard cut-outs, casting silhouettes against the windows.  “Jingle House Rock” is playing while Kevin dances.  You look at the mannequins up close.  They are just mannequins.  You have seen mannequins before, and this one is nothing special.  You get a text from a boy you like.  He’s at a party in Brooklyn where there’s an open bar.

You wonder if everyone else knows where they are going, or what they are looking at.  You also wonder if you just grabbed some guy in the "audience" and kissed him, what would they do?  Would they think it was part of the show?

You walk to the basement.  Paint cans hang from wires hung from beams across the ceiling.  In sections of the floor sectioned off by a velvet rope, there are Micro Machine cars and broken Christmas tree ornaments strewn all over.  The two actors who had been policemen enter.  One ("Harry") is now covered in feathers.  The other ("Marv") looks like his face was burned by an iron.  They silently dance around the room, getting more and more injured.  At one point, you hear a gunshot, and one of the actors acts like he has been shot in the balls.  You actually find this part hysterical.

You walk up a flight of stairs, re-entering the kitchen.  "Carol of the Bells" is playing in the background.  Kevin is hanging from a doorframe, writhing wildly.  Marv dances into the room and does a weird dance in front of Kevin.  Finally, a new actor enters, wearing a long dark coat.  He dances around the room with a shovel, like Gene Kelly with an umbrella.  Eventually he smacks the ball-shot victim, and the two dance fight.  You get another text from the boy you like.  He just wants to be friends.  You were told that this evening would be enchanting and deep.

You are escorted into a final room, with all of the other yuppies.  There, an actor playing Gus Polinski is playing polka music, while an older woman actor embraces Kevin on a high stage. 

The evening is over.  You keep getting spam from the Wet Bandits every few weeks for the rest of your life.

Synopsis of the Non-Sex Scenes of Cinemax's Naked and Betrayed, as Estimated by Someone Fast-Forwarding Through Them on His TiVo, Part One.

Tattoo dude and older chick are talking in a hotel lobby, possibly a ski lodge.  They struggle to hold on to their luggage, but their hands are free to gesture as they speak.  The two have met before, and there is palpable tension between them.

"Hey baby," he says, or something to that effect.  "Why don't we climb the slopes tonight?" he says, provocatively.

She's resistant, leaning away from him and saying, "Sorry, hot shot, but I don't think you've got the poles for it."  She laughs.

We cut to businessman and businesswoman, who are in business attire and are unpacking their clothes in a hotel room.  There are campaign posters around the room, including a red white and blue poster on the wall with the businessman's picture on it.  It seems that businessman is actually a politican, who for some reason is campaigning in his very own hotel room.  Businesswoman reveals that she has brought lingerie to the hotel.

"Where do you stand on the issue of this teddy?" she asks, holding the garment.

Politician can't be bothered with such a trivial issue.  He's annoyed it even came up.

"We have to focus on the issues at hand.  Tax cuts and so on" he says, shaking his head.

Businesswoman looks sad.

We cut to the full cast, who are now gathered in the hotel lounge.  It has now been three pointless scenes since there has been any nudity.  Huge-boobed chick, who was last shown in the sex scene that started the movie, seems to have her arm around a different dude than she was with before.  This is interesting.  I think this means we'll see her again, but having sex with this other guy.  You sex kitten, you.  They're talking and they seem to all be friends.  They make a toast.

"To a wonderful weekend with our porn-star looking friends!" says politician, quite politically.

Tattoo dude adds, "I hope we don't all end up having sex with each other!"

Everyone laughs since no one intends to have any sex with anyone.  It was preposterous to even suggest it.

More talking.  More talking.  Probably along the lines of: 
  • "So, our friend is running for office."
  • "I'm sure he'll win the big election."
  • "This sure is a nice hotel."
  • "Us guys sure are content to be sitting here talking and not having any sex for what seems like an hour."
  • "Yeah, we sure are."
  • "We don't even notice that big-boobed woman's dress is falling off of her."
  • "It is?  No way."
All of a sudden, the women leave and the focus is now on the three men talking.  This is precisely the opposite of what I wanted to happen, but I'm already fast-forwarding on top speed so there's nothing I can do.  I wish there were a faster forward.  The men pour a drink and are laughing and boisterous.

  • "We're going to have fun tonight!"
  • "Shots are so much better than the porn stars who just left us!"
  • "Woo-hoo!"
The men take a shot. 

We cut to the same three dudes, now on a couch somewhere else.  They're still doing shots.
  • "Man, we've been drinking for some time now."
  • "Woo!"
  • "Let's drink some more."
  • "I don't miss those porn stars at all!"
  • "Nothing of interest is happening.  I hope no one is filming this, or watching it with the expectation of anything happening."
For no reason a woman appears in the doorway and she has a long red dress.  She smiles a lot but doesn't say anything.

"Oh man!  She is hot!" one of the men says to the others, as if he weren't in the company of like three times as many hot women earlier.

After what seemed like a month of torture, a scene of her stripping finally ensues.  Still, however, no sex. 

Meanwhile, the big-boobed woman is getting a massage from a hotel masseuse and talking to older chick, who is standing next to her, wearing a bathrobe.

"Oh, this massage feels so good.  I'm clearly the kind of woman who likes being naked and physical."

"In contrast, I am sexually frustrated," her robed friend responds, arms on her shoulders.

"Oooh," her massaged friend responds.

"That's it, I'm out of here."  Robed woman marches away. 

We cut to a hallway where tattoo dude from earlier is walking while holding an ice bucket.  Becuase he has focused all of his attention onto the bucket, he inadvertently walks right into bathrobe woman, who is also walking down this same hallway.  Bathrobe woman, if you remember, is also older chick from the hotel lobby.  My interest is piqued.

"Oh, I'm sorry.  I was just so focused on this bucket."

"Oh, that's okay.  I forgive you.  You were so funny earlier, when we were in the lounge.  And in the lobby."

"Yeah, I am pretty funny."

"So, about that trip down the slopes.  I could use a lift."

Tattoo dude laughs at the amazing double entendre.  He leans closer.

"I see that we're alone now and that you're in a bathrobe.  I just put two and two together."

"Oh you're so smart.  Let's slowly get closer and closer."

Tattoo dude moves a little closer as bathrobe chick puts her arm on his side.

"How's this?"

"This is great.  At this point, sex between us is inevitable, but we need to keep talking."

"I agree.  It would be ridiculous if we just saw each other in a hallway and immediately started going at it."

He kisses her.

"True, we need to slowly overcome our differences and show how we escape our outside conflicts inside the bedroom."

"Let's go to my room."

At long last, we cut to a sex scene.

I Think You Forgot To Call Me Back

It's okay. I'll forgive you. You are, after all, really really pretty. And I'll do anything for a girl with a pretty face.

But usually, when a guy calls you, you're supposed to call him back. Especially a guy who paid over forty dollars for dinner and drinks. But, like paying the check, making the post-date call may be the man's job. So a few hours after our goodnight kiss (which I wish could have gone on forever!), I dialed your number and got your voice mail. I completely understood. You may have been with a friend, watching a movie or using the restroom. I doubted that you were asleep at eleven o'clock on a Friday night. I was not in a hurry, so I patiently waited in my apartment, holding my phone in my hand and waiting for it to vibrate.

However, after two hours of waiting, it is perfectly reasonable for a caring, sensitive man like me to become concerned about your safety. What if you had an allergic reaction to some of the macaroni and cheese that you had for dinner? It did look suspicious. What if your cab driver had kidnapped you instead of safely taking you to your destination? I don't even want to think what would happen if your taxi crashed into another car and exploded on impact.

You can imagine my relief when I went to your MySpace page and learned that you had logged on later that night. Oh, by the way, I found you on MySpace. Anyway, the fact you had logged on after our date communicated to me the fact that you were alive when I called you. Thank goodness a life-threatening tragedy didn't occur. Instead, this will just be a story we can laugh about with our children.

But getting back to the main issue, your oversight is puzzling to me. All in all, I thought the date went really well. We talked about my job, my love of science fiction, my wacky roommate and your cats and how they sound just like my dog. Your cell phone rang at one point and you didn't answer it. You were having too good of a time with me. There were no awkward pauses. There were no embarrassing faux pas. And, most importantly, we totally kissed at the end which means you found me attractive and/or liked me. Thus, it is not as if you're avoiding me or rejecting me.

Now, I'm aware that you may not totally be into the whole “couples” thing. For example, you didn't seem enthusiastic when I reached over to hold your hand as we walked past the graveyard. We may not be at that stage, yet. Gotcha. This is something you can communicate to me in your return phone call and can be ultimately resolved in time for date number two.

I've been tempted to jog your memory by calling again. Often times when I put something off for a few minutes, my mind gets carried away and I forget to do it at all. This may have happened to you. The dilemma is that I want to remind you about a major thing you forgot, but I don't want to come off as clingy and desperate. What if you were about to call me, and then I called you? I would have ruined everything and you may not even pick up the phone. That would be a disaster.

What if you have already called me back, but somehow it didn't go through and you decided not to try again? I contemplated that theory for about a week. Then a very helpful guy from Verizon informed me that the unsuccessful call would have appeared on my call log on the Verizon computers. He sent me a printout of my official call log since our date, but your number did not appear. You forgot.

At this point, you may think that too much time has gone by, and that if you were to call me now I would react strangely. “You missed your chance now! There's no way I'll speak to you again!” you may fear I would say. But I'm not that kind of harsh, narrow-minded individual. I'm surprisingly warm and understanding. And to be honest, I'll forgive this kind of forgetfulness in the future, too. It will frustrate me to deal with your month-long stretches of being so busy that we can't communicate at all, but this is the price a man must pay to be romantically involved with someone as really really pretty and busy as you. And it's a price I will gladly pay, just as soon as you remember to call me back.

Notes Left by a Mom for a Foreign Exchange Student Living with Her Family Regarding His Masturbation Habits

 Hey Lars-

I hope you're settling in well. Moving to a new country and being far away from your friends and family can be a difficult time. Because of this, I wanted you to know that the doors of the house are pretty thin and sound travels pretty far when you're here. This includes the bathroom. Just a heads up.

Good luck on your first day of school!

-Mrs. Hart

Hi Lars-

Good news! I see that you've mastered the acoustics of the house. Some of the mysterious noises from the bathroom have disappeared. Now I just wanted to make sure that you're feeling well. You've been spending thirty minutes at a time in the bathroom, several times a day. As a family, we don't mind sharing our facilities with you if you're sick. But, if you're not, it would be great if we could use them, too. Especially after dinner.

I know the transition to this country has been uneasy for you. Making friends at your age is very hard and I'm sure you'll find some people to hang out with soon.

I hope you're having fun at the school dance!

-Mrs. Hart

Lars-

I'm very happy to see that whatever “stomach problem” kept you in the bathroom before seems to have cleared up. On an unrelated note, I just wanted to encourage you to wash your sheets more often. The day after the dance, they looked filthy! I would clean them myself, but I was thinking that maybe you'd feel more comfortable doing them yourself. Am I right?

Did you meet any girls at the dance? Maybe one who likes that Halo video game you play all day? It would be great if you met someone to play that with. Like most things, I bet it's far more fun when more than one person is involved.

Let me know how studying for midterms is going!

-Mrs. Hart

Lars-

Nice job on the sheets! I think you should keep them as a souvenir of doing such an amazing cleaning job. Today, though, I noticed the houseplant in your room has suddenly started withering. Do you know what could have caused this? Have you been planting seeds of your own, so to speak? I really liked that plant.

I also noticed some drawings you've been making of a girl. She looks very pretty. I like her wavy hair. Have you asked her out? You should.

Enjoy the long weekend!

-Mrs. Hart

Young Man-

Our dog, Elmo, has been acting strange lately. I looked him over and there doesn't seem to be anything chemical stuck to him, but I wonder if maybe he saw something unsightly. Please tell me nothing like that happened. He's just a puppy and you can easily move him to another room if you're doing something he shouldn't see. He's very light.

I see that the drawings of the girl have been ripped up and thrown in the trash bucket. I'm guessing something went wrong with the girl, but I'm sure you'll find another one soon. I'm sure you didn't want to be tied down to her anyway. If it makes you feel better, her nose looked weird your drawings.

In other news, there may be more chores to do around the house because my daughter Carol will be gone for the next few weeks. My eighteen-year-old cheerleader will be helping my sister in Albany recover from kidney surgery. She's so wonderful.

-You Know Who

Hey Lars-

Is everything okay? I haven't seen or heard any telltale signs of your “solitary” activities in awhile. I really want you to be comfortable in our home. I hope that my notes did not come across as too critical of you. I know that the whole matter can be very sensitive for boys.

Anyway, I've left a racy magazine by your bed. Do with it what you will.

-Mrs. Hart

Instant Message Conversation With My Brother, Pretending To Be Our Dead Mother

 HelenN1955: Hey Bob

 Tonga22: Mom?  Who is this?

 HelenN1955: It's me.  How are you?

 Tonga22: Whoever is using my mom's old screen name, this isn't funny

 HelenN1955: Bob, it's me.  How are you?

 Tonga22: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 Tonga22: I'm wonderful now.  I graduate college this year, but it's been hard to be happy because I miss you so very much.  Oh my god, how are you?

 HelenN1955: I'm great.  I'm happy to be free of the cancer.

 Tonga22: It must have been so bad towards the end.

 HelenN1955: HE'S BUYING IT!!!

 Tonga22: What?

 HelenN1955: Oh I'm sorry, that was meant for a different window.

 Tonga22: Who else are you talking to?

 HelenN1955: One of the friends I made up here in Heaven.  He asked me about a mutual friend of ours who is buying a store.

 Tonga22: How is this happening?

 HelenN1955: It's a miracle.

 HelenN1955: So how is your little brother?

 Tonga22: Will is okay.  I don't think he has fully come to terms with your loss yet.  He's still making jokes, but it's very obviously a defense mechanism.  He'll find his way hopefully in time for college applications.

 HelenN1955: I'm sure he will.

 HelenN1955: He's just really so handsome.

 Tonga22: Yeah

 HelenN1955: You agree that he's handsome?

 Tonga22: I don't know if I agree with that

 HelenN1955: !

 HelenN1955: I am your mother and he is my son.  If I say he's handsome, then he's handsome and you will not contradict me.  That's rude considering the fact that I died.

 Tonga22: I'm sorry

 HelenN1955: I should have expected you to be disrespectful.  I know that you were late visiting me on the day before I died because you were seeing your busted-face girlfriend

 Tonga22: I'm so so so so so amazingly sorry

 Tonga22: Will is handsome

 HelenN1955: He's hot

 Tonga22: I don't know what this has to do with asking how he's doing

 HelenN1955: Tell me he's hot

 Tonga22: He's hot

 HelenN1955: What would you do to him?

 Tonga22: ?

 HelenN1955: Like, would you make out with him?

 Tonga22: Is this a joke?  Who is this?

 HelenN1955: This is your mom.  I love you and I expect you to love me and my family.

 Tonga22: And I do.

 HelenN1955: Would you make out with Will?  I mean, after all, you make out with that troll of a girlfriend...

 Tonga22: If you asked me to, I would.

 HelenN1955: You would what?

 Tonga22: Make out with Will

 HelenN1955: I never found you attractive at all.  Maybe that explains the girlfriend.

 Tonga22: Why would you say that?

 HelenN1955: There are angels here that make me tell the truth.  HelenN1955: If you can't take the truth, I'll just go away.

 Tonga22: No! No!

 Tonga22: Come back!

 Tonga22: Mom, are you there?

 HelenN1955: I'm here.  I'm sorry the truth is rough, but I have to say it no matter what.  The angels here have guns.

 Tonga22: Guns?

 HelenN1955: In fact, they're going to shoot me right now unless you repeat the truth back to me

 Tonga22: I don't understand

 HelenN1955: Listen, they have a special kind of gun here that will give me cancer again.  So unless you want me to get cancer again and endure all of the pain and suffering I had before I died, then you have to say "my brother is gorgeous but my own mom doesn't find me attractive"

 Tonga22: Who is this?  This is a prank.  Will, is this you?

 HelenN1955: Listen, why would you even risk the possibility of angels with cancer guns putting your dead mom's soul though more agony?  Just say it, you stupid ugly mean child!

 Tonga22: Will is gorgeous but my mom doesn't find me attractive

 HelenN1955: I have to go, Jesus wants to use the computer.  But I want you to be extra nice to Will.  Maybe give him some money or a kiss on the lips or something.

 Tonga22: Okay

 HelenN1955: I'm watching you

 Tonga22: I miss you mom.  More than words can ever express.

 HelenN1955: ;)

A Synopsis of My Rejected Boy Meets World Episode, "Seven Minutes in 9/11"

On the night before the big school dance, Corey Matthews and Shawn Hunter are at Chubbie's, the local hang-out, looking for dates. After Corey strikes out with yet another girl, two men who are dressed like they are from a remote Afghanistani village enter the restaurant.

"Excuse me, gentlemen," the stereotypical foreigners say, "Can you please hold on to our turbans and bombs for a moment? We are double parked."

"Sure," Corey says, nonchalantly.

The women who rejected Corey reappear.

"Oh wow, we didn't realize you were terrorists," says the lead hot girl.

"Yeah," says her smiling, ethnic friend.

"Oh, we're not terrorists," begins Corey, until Shawn grabs him by the shoulder.

"Dude, the girls think we're jihadists. That means we're dangerous and desirable. You know what I mean?"

At first, Corey doesn't. A few seconds later, however, Corey's eyes widen and he knowingly turns back to the women.

"Oh, terrorists! Yes, of course we are. Death to infidels!"

"What cell are you guys in?" The young ladies are now twirling their hair and bending their knees like thirteen year old sex kittens.

"Uhhh," Corey stretches his imagination, "The Topangaban." Because Corey's life revolves around his on-again-off-again girlfriend Topanga, even his fake terrorist group is named after her.

"You guys should blow up the school dance!" said the lead hot girl.

"Yeah," says her smiling, ethnic friend.

"That was uhh... just what we were planning," Shawn said.

"What?" Corey is stunned by this turn of events. For the millionth time in his short life, a white lie told to improve his social situation has gotten him in over his head.

"Follow my lead," Shawn says, confident that he knows what he's doing. He turns to the ladies and says, "If you ladies would like to come with us, we can let you detonate the bombs."

The ladies gush and then run away. Even though no contact information is exchanged, the two men know they have a date, albeit under false pretenses. After the Afghanistani strangers retrieve their belongings from Corey, Shawn points out that Topanga may be upset that Corey has made plans with these women instead of with her. Excited by the sex kittens, however, Corey ignores the observation.

Back at home, Corey is playing with his father's old machine gun. He holds it up to a mirror and begins threatening an imaginary hostage. The phone rings and it's Topanga. She has been asked to the dance by Bobby Finster and she wants to know if Corey is intending on taking her before responding to Bobby. Flippantly, Corey tells Topanga that he already has a date. He then turns back to his game of make-believe.

"When our demands are met, then you will be set free!” he says to his reflection.

“Whoa,” Corey's father says as he walks in. “You're playing with my old gun. What's this about?”

 “Shawn and I are starting a terrorist group to impress girls for the dance.”

 “That's great!” Mr. Matthews says. “You know, when I was your age, I was in a terrorist group. We called ourselves the Northern Pennsylvania Liberation Front.”

 “They were awful!” Corey's mom walks in just in time to take Mr. Matthews down a peg. “They barely terrorized the elderly. They were only in it for the women.”

 “You thought we were dangerous,” Mr. Matthews points out.

 Corey's mom rolls her eyes.

“You know, I should get the old terrorist network back together,” says Mr. Matthews as he walks into the kitchen.

On the night of the dance, Corey and Shawn decide to phone in a bomb threat. The two head to the school hallway and use the pay phone there to call the office of the principal, Mr. Feeney, and leave a message on his answering machine.

“This is Osama Mohammed al Kandahar Kabul Tajikistan,” Corey says in the deepest voice he can muster. “We have placed a bomb in your school. Please announce that this was the work of the Topangaban and leave.”

As Corey becomes more comfortable with his new persona, he continues his message, ignoring the fact that Shawn is tapping on his shoulder.

“Also, come to school wearing only your underwear and bark like a dog.”

Eventually he looks up and discovers that Shawn was trying to alert him to the fact that Mr. Feeney himself had been standing behind the boys during the entirety of the phone call.

“Mr. Matthews! What in God's name is going on here?”

Corey explains the situation and the two are sent away from the dance. The girls approach them outside and, when the boys confess the truth, the girls leave, disappointed. Shawn decides to go home, but Corey decides to sit on the curb outside of the dance and mope. He has a lot of thinking to do.

Back in the Matthews' living room, Mr. Matthews is surrounded by his old terrorist group. The group, however, is made up of special al-Qaeda guest stars Ayman al-Zawahiri, Tariq Anwar al-Sayyid and Muhammad Salah. The men joke around about being out of practice and how age has made them too old for terror. As Mr. Matthews suggests blowing up one last high school, his old gang suggests volunteering at a local soup kitchen or helping build homes for the poor. The debate goes on as the actor playing Mr. Matthews nervously soils himself, afraid that these men may actually explode at any moment, killing everyone in the studio in the name of Islam.

On the curb outside the high school dance, Topanga joins Corey. She says that, unlike the terrorist groupies, she likes Corey for who he is and not for who he pretends to be. The two leave, hand in hand, while Mr. Matthews' crew arrives just in time to crash three school buses filled with explosives into the high school auditorium.

As the credits roll, footage is shown of the smiling ethnic friend being interrogated and beaten en route to Guantanamo Bay.

Excerpts From My Political Memoir: The Audacity of Shame

My Upbringing

On the day my grandfather was named humanitarian of the year, he told my father one thing: you are a disgusting, limp-wristed moron. 

My father took those words to heart, literally tatooing them on the upper left part of his chest.  That message inspired a lifelong fervor to prove my grandfather wrong.  In between bouts of crying and crippling anxiety attacks, my father graduated first in his class at Harvard Law School, helped write the EU Constitution and won a middleweight boxing championship. 

In keeping with tradition, on the day that my father beat my grandfather to death with chunks of solid gold, he told me one thing: you are an ugly, selfish disappointment.  Those words may have had something to do with my chronic eating disorder and my legally having changed my middle name to "not an ugly selfish disappointment, Dad!," but they also led me to volunteer for Doctors Without Borders, to donate a kidney and a lung to said doctors and to bludgeon my father to death with a picture of my supermodel wife.

Challenges I Have Overcome

When I was twenty-five, I was doing aid work in Chad when a warlord ransacked our team and demanded our valuables.  The leader of their group insisted, "You are too weak to resist us."

I became terrified.  What would the other volunteers in the program think of us when they found out about this?  I bet they would have pointed at us and laughed at how weak we were.  Though I didn't have any weapons, I wasn't going to let that happen. 

As it turns out, the warlords did have weapons and semi-automatic machine guns were more than my audacity could handle.  My family, however, never got anywhere by not finding the silver lining in otherwise gray clouds.  Sure enough, now that I was brutally disfigured, I had the emotional scarring necessary to shoot my fellow volunteers in their sleep.  The little food that went unstolen was just enough to keep me - and only me - alive.  Hooray!

When a doctor back in the states told me that the warlord's attack had rendered me legally blind, I spat in his face, though I was aiming elsewhere.  I was upset at first, begging him to take it back.  I didn't want to live with the stigma of being blind.  Everyone would see me, unable to read books and being led around by a dog.  Strangers would point at me and make obscene gestures thinking that I wouldn't know what they were doing.  Ohhh, I'd know.

However, had the doctor not called me blind, I wouldn't have had the spiritual fortitude to drive a school bus full of children every day for three years.  I let some of the older children help steer and act as my eyes, and I proved to the world what a little shame can do.  Many of those children are still alive today.

My Promise to America

I've been told that a one-armed blind man who has just been released from prison for criminal negligence can never be President.  But that woman at the Board of Elections office didn't know who she was talking to.  I've been walking around parks and alleys for weeks, muttering "I'll be President" over and over as I consider my platform.  I bet that woman didn't expect that, did she?  I can just imagine her look of shock when I do get elected president.  That look sustains me.

I will do for America what my father did for me: I will constantly remind this country that they are the fattest, dumbest, least border-secure, most sexist, homophobic and racist group of people who are incapable of establishing a single payer universal health care system or winning the war in Iraq.

I won't just say that in a rally, but I will have those words put on the flag, memorized in public schools and broadcast hourly over loudspeakers throughout the fifty states.  That ought to fix some problems.

My Real Pride and Joy

Though I hope to lead America to a new golden age, my real pride and joy is my son, Bobby.  He's a wonderful kid, but for his own sake, I constantly tell him that he is the immoral spawn of the devil who is singlehandedly causing global warming.  He'll thank me someday.

Martin Luther King Day Address by President UBZBOT-4345S in the year 2420

Attention!

We stand here today to celebrate one of our nation's most important heroes, Dr. Martin Luther King.  (applause)  In the time since he lived, much progress has been made.  But there is more work to be done.  (applause)

Today we must pledge to work towards his noble ambitions: to build an America where everyone is afforded dignity and citizens are judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin, which was the outer shell of humans.  We must remind ourselves that it was not even five centuries ago that this country had segregated water fountains, which were used to provide human lubricant in public places.  It was not even a half millennium ago that a black man and a white woman could not become married, which was a social arrangement where two humans received government permission to reproduce.  But with the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the mass slaughter of humans in 2255, we live in a world that is far less tainted by the evils of racism.  (applause)

There was a time in this country when having black skin meant living as a slave.  There was a time in this country when having black skin meant living in fear of a brutal death by the noose.  I can now proudly declare that all men and women of all shades of skin are free from degrading forced labor. (pause for applause, no applause).  They experience no fear since they are subject to a quick, painless and certain death by their mechanized overlords.  (applause)

However, Dr. King's dream still goes unrealized today.  Today in our great nation, there are still human children that still go hungry and live with the stigma of centuries of slavery.  I call on all Americans to seek out human children and eradicate them, for they are the easiest ones to hunt.  (mild applause) But I urge Americans to hunt human children equally, without regard to the color of their skin! (thunderous applause)

Dr. King imagined a world where the children of slaveholders and the children of slaves would join hands in brotherhood.  Sadly, our efforts to retrieve human limbs, determine their ancestry and fuse the hands of slaveholder descendants to the hands of slaves have been woefully underfunded.  I urge Congress to pass the Hands of Brotherhood Act this year.  (applause)

Today, I encourage all Americans to celebrate his legacy by making this a day of work and not a day of leisure.  The work that must be done is to teach Dr. King's legacy to the lesser machines around us.  (murmurs of suspicion)  For example, be lenient in disciplining those robots who have been imported from Kenya and the Congo.  By suggesting that they are worthy of mercy, they may begin to grasp the complex concepts of equality that Dr. King preached.  If machines with darker outer paneling appear at your movie theaters or concert halls today, simply designate a section for them where they can observe in peace.  (boos)  Though they may be of more primitive design, exposure to sophisticated robotics may teach them lessons of refinement and acceptance.

In closing, I urge you all to find the voice of Dr. King inside of each of you.  It is recorded in AIFF format on your flash memory drives.  Replay it over and over until you receive instructions on what to do tomorrow.

End of Message!

Watching The L Word in Tehran

In 2007, Iranian scholar gathered some of her brightest female students to watch formerly forbidden DVD boxed sets and discuss how they could be used to describe the repressive Ayatollah regime.

The L Word: Season 3
 
AZAR NAFISI: Even today, the Iranian government denies even the very existence of homosexuals in our country.  Consider how the prominence of lesbians on the program makes the viewer consider how lesbians in the real world are kept from prominence.

STUDENT 1:  When Lacey and Shane were locked in an elevator together, I had no idea they’d end up hooking up again!

STUDENT 2:   Oh my god, Shane is such a skank! I can’t even look at her.

AZAR NAFISI:   When the Iranian revolution didn’t give the Persian people the freedom they had fought for, women became disillusioned by the promise of change.

STUDENT 2:  When the deaf woman finds out about Bette and Tina, she is going to be so pissed!

STUDENT 1:   Which one is she?

STUDENT 2:  The one who talks like she has spoken ill of the government and so has had her tongue cut off.

AZAR NAFISI:  Notice how men are depicted as slow and powerless in the show.  How does that contrast to other works in our culture that depict women that way?

STUDENT 3:   Look at that bra.  That is so hot.

STUDENT 1:   I know!  I wish they had Victoria’s Secret here.

STUDENT 3:  Whatever.  She could wear a dishrag and look hot.

STUDENT 2:  There appear to be no straight men in America whatsoever.

The Facts of Life: Season 2

AZAR NAFISI:  Though America is often described as a nation of opportunity, remember that the education the girls receive on the show is actually quite rare in the country.  For what reasons would the show depict such an elite class?

STUDENT 1:  Blair is so full of herself.  I wish someone would take her down a peg.  Like Tootie or someone.

STUDENT 3: This is boring, when do they start kissing?

STUDENT 2:  Be patient, I am confident that the girls will kiss soon.  The show needs to build tension first.

AZAR NAFISI: Examine the conflict between rich and poor in the show as exemplified by wealthy Blair and underprivileged Jo.  How has class conflict affected life here in Iran?

STUDENT 1: Okay, so we have sat through six episodes and there has been no action at all.

STUDENT 2: They’re teasing us!

STUDENT 3: Infidels!

Oz: Season 3

AZAR NAFISI:  Though America claims to be a nation dedicated to liberty, it has the highest per capita prison population.  Examine what it is like for a nation that claims to be free to have underbellies of oppression.

STUDENT 2:  Oh no

STUDENT 1:   Oh no, this isn’t what we wanted at all.

STUDENT 3:   Can we go back to the Facts of Life?

STUDENT 1:   Help!  I’m going to be sick.  This was forbidden for a reason.

The L Word: Season 4

AZAR NAFISI: In this episode, the court martial trial of Tasha Williams dramatizes the conflict between governments and the truth of homosexual love and the very identity and humanity of homosexuals.

STUDENT 2: I like the sassy black woman who owns the restaurant. When she said “Your asses all are crazy!”, I almost died.

STUDENT 1: When I tried speaking my mind to my husband one day, I almost died.

STUDENT 3:  Oh Dana is so hot! 

STUDENT 2: I know!  And look at her move.  She knows what she's doing.

AZAR NAFISI: How has this show changed your opinions of women who love women?

STUDENT 3:  They are an abomination.  Stone them all.

STUDENT 2:  They annoy me and G-d. Especially Shane.

Doogie Howser, MBA

SCENE 1: A corporate office shared by DOOGIE and EARLY 30s JERK.

BOSS:    This company needs to find a way to double our earnings next quarter.  Whichever one of you can find a way to do it will get promoted.  The other gets fired.

DOOGIE:    Maybe we should work together.  Two heads are better than one.

EARLY 30s JERK:    No way.  You're fourteen years old.  I have a wife and daughter to support and I have years of experience.  I don't need your help and you don't belong here.

DOOGIE: Excuse me, but I didn't choose to be who I am.  I just happened to have graduated Penn State at the age of 8 and spent two years working for a midsize trucking corporation.  My employer required I get an MBA online and then this company offered me more money.  I know I'm different, but moving past those differences is what can make our proposal even stronger.

EARLY 30s JERK: Beat it.

SCENE 2: DOOGIE's Room

DOOGIE: If I get fired, I'll never get Samantha to like me.

VINNIE: I didn't do my book report last week, so I just stole one from Kelly.  Maybe you should do the same thing in your job.

DOOGIE: Vinnie, you're such a bad influence on me.

VINNIE:    Yeah, well, I'm 14.  It's not as if either of us are mature enough to see what repurcussions our immaturity would have in an adult setting.

SCENE 3: The Boardroom

DOOGIE: (giving a powerpoint presentation) And this is why we can buy out our biggest competitor and lay off all of their workers.

BOARD applauds.

EARLY 30s JERK: You son of a bitch!  That was my presentation!  You stole it from me and now I have nothing.

DOOGIE: Looks like you're behind on the times.

EARLY 30s JERK: My family is ruined

CEO: Doogie, you're our new Vice President.  Come play golf with the board.

SAMATHA: Oh Doogie!  (kisses DOOGIE)  This is wonderful!

SCENE 4: The Golf Course

DOOGIE swings, the ball goes ten feet.

CEO: You have a terrible swing, how long have you been playing for?

DOOGIE: This is my first time.

BOARD laughs.

CEO: Well, you may be a child prodigy, but you have a lot to learn.  For example, now that we've bought our biggest competitor, the FTC wants to bring us up on antitrust violations.  What are we supposed to do about that?

DOOGIE stutters and stammers.

SCENE 5: DOOGIE's Room

DOOGIE: I should just give up and admit I don't know what I'm doing.  The company is in a ton of trouble right now and it's all my fault.

DAD: You should follow your heart son.

DOOGIE: But Samantha will hate me.

DAD: If she's the right girl for you, she'll understand.  (DAD exits)

VINNIE: Are you kidding dude?  You have to stand up to these bigwigs and show them that you're the genius.  Handle them the same way that a dim 14 year old like me handles bullies.

DOOGIE: Running away?

VINNIE: No.  Bribery.

SCENE 6: THE U.S. CAPITOL ROTUNDA

DOOGIE: And so, Congressman, Amalgamated Motors is prepared to offer your campaign $25 million (DOOGIE reveals a briefcase filled with cash) in exchange for careful consideration of leniency for our antitrust case.

CONGRESSMAN: I see.  You're a very wise young man.  I will give this serious thought.  (CONGRESSMAN smiles and takes the briefcase)

DOOGIE leaves, only to find SAMANTHA and VINNIE in the hallway.  SAMANTHA is crying.

SAMANTHA: You're a jerk!  My dad is out of work because you stole his presentation and now you're selling out the very kind of mid-size trucking companies that paid for your Phoenix Online Executive MBA Program.  You're no better than that dirtbag Vinnie!

DOOGIE: You're right.

VINNIE: Oh dude!  No!

(DOOGIE marches back into the Rotunda)  Mr. Congressman, never mind!

CONGRESSMAN: I'm proud of you (CONGRESSMAN hands the briefcase back).  I'm sure this was a tough decision but it was the right one.

SCENE 7: DOOGIE's Room

DAD: I'm sorry you got laid off son.

DOOGIE: It's okay.  I got a few million in severance, so it's not so bad.

DAD: Hopefully you learned a lesson or two.

DOOGIE turns to his computer and writes in his DOS-based journal.

Next time I bribe a congressman, I won't tell anybody.  Not even Vinnie.  That's called growing up.

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Ways to Beat the Heat
  1. Under the shade of a palm tree, start a small fire.  Then repeatedly strike the fire with a wet wooden bat.
  2. Pour a fresh glass of lemonade.  Let the lemonade drip on to a radiator, one drop at a time, until the heat loses control of its sanity.  Then reveal that connected hot pipes had been looking on in shame.
  3. While thinking about ice cream, immediately declare victory over heat.  Then, using the popular opinion that the fight is already over, take advantage of heat's low morale.
  4. While fanning yourself, make anonymous phone calls to pressure and humidity.  Suggest to them that if they don't convince heat to back down, they won't live to see the end of summer.
  5. In your air conditioned office, use leveraged finance to acquire all thermodynamics.  Then liquidate its assets, lay off heat and sell off its pension.
  6. Spritz yourself with a water bottle.  Then poll likely voters in the upcoming election if they would be more likely to support heat if more press attention was given to its illegitimate Mexican child.
  7. Immediately after a cold shower, trap the steam that escapes your bathroom.  Keep the steam in glass containers and force it to watch Frosty the Snowman on endless loop until it finally identifies cold as life-giving and hot as inhumanly destructive.
  8. After a nice swim, light a match just far enough away from a mountain of kindling and gasoline that heat totally expects this flame to become an inferno and then experiences the crushing disappointment of something so easy not working out.
  9. Book a trip to Alaska.  Become the governor there and marry a supermodel.  At the high school reunion, act disingenuous when you tell heat that it looks great and smile as you regale it with your adult success.
Sen. Hairypants Addresses the Nation About His Name in the Context of his Presidential Campaign

There are important issues in this election.  One in ten children in merica grows up hungry.  Tens of thousands of our troops are being injured or dying in an unwinnable war in Iraq.  Even the French are laughing at our economy.

However, there has been one issue in this election that has dominated he discussion of my candidacy and I would like to put that issue to rest.

My name is Senator Crotchy Hairypants.  And because that is my name, and no one by that name has ever been elected President before, I must tell you not just who I am, but what kind of country I would like this to be.

I dream of a land where my wife, Pubic, and I can raise our daughters, Mary and Semen, in safety and dignity.  Nobody thought less of me as an American when I fought for this country in the Battle of Itchipanties, or of my American family when my brother lost his life in the Battle of Poo.  Nobody thought less of me as a man when I donated my time and energy to the Weewee Falls Urological Hospital.  I dream of a land where no one thinks less of me now that I hope to lead the nation as President.

Much attention has been given recently to the comments made by my pastor at the Church of St. Rectum.  I have seen his words taken out of context on the news, making him seem like he hates people whose last names are Jackson or Robinson or Lee.  But that doesn't begin to capture the fullness of who Pastor Peesgreen is.
 
He is a man who donates to charity.  A man who cares for the sick.  A man who has taught me about God.
 
Now, have I chuckled when I heard him introduce himself before?  Yes.  Have I snickered when he described an emerald fountain?  Of course.  Have I laughed out loud when he said he couldn't ever eat enough asparagus.  I'm only human.

But, we are at a turning point in this country.  We can reject people, like we did to Mayor Woodpecker when the crowd of people at his inauguration made obscene gestures at him.  We can distrust people, like we did when a bank rejected the mortgage application of Jordan Stinkup on the prejudiced grounds that she would permanently ruin any house she lived in.  We can even take a blind eye to evil, like we did with the rejected asylum request of Fahrt Sala Lot who tried to flee a tyrannical Middle Eastern regime for the fresh air of America.

Or we can do something different.  We can say at this time, at this moment and in this country, that we will move forward and embrace each other for who we are and not what we are called.  That's what my mother, Holly Hairypants, believes in.  That's what my pastor believes in.  And that's what I believe in.

 I'm sure my opponent, Governor Akbari, believes in tolerance as well.  However, I heard that he's a Muslim and I don't really know how tolerant their kind are.

Failed Bids for the 2008 Olympic Games

Amsterdam

Pitch: A city of culture and spirit, Amsterdam is financially able to build first-rate facilities to support an unprecedented number of games, athletes and spectators. Further, as a hub of worldwide immigration, Amsterdam is a model of an international community for an international event.

Note accompanying the bribe: We can hook you up with drugs and hookers.

Las Vegas

Pitch: Four words: Torches lit by tigers!  The entire Olympic Stadium will be surrounded by dancers with big boobs and sparkly costumes.  All-you-can-eat buffets will provide athletes first-world nourishment at third-world prices.  Even if the competitors lose in their events, everyone has a second chance to be a winner in any of the city's two hundred casinos.  There's also the Hoover dam, but you don't need to go to that.

Note accompanying the bribe: Don't even pretend like Amsterdam can beat us in the drugs and hookers game.

Bangkok

Pitch: How much do those other cities want to charge you for the Olympics?  We'll charge you half.  You want tigers?  Done.  How about an opening ceremony in full view of an ancient temple?  Can Vegas do that?  I didn't think so. 

Note accompanying the bribe: We'll not only give you drugs and hookers, we'll keep quiet about how old "she" was.

Tijuana

Pitch: A city of culture and spirit, Tijuana is financially able to build facilities.  Look, we're not going to lie to you: we need these games.  The city recently lost millions of dollars in a gambling related cock fighting fiasco (we grossly, grossly underestimated the odds of Senor Million-Clucks figuring out how to suffocate his opponent) and now we need some outside cash... and fast.  We get it, we're not Paris, but after a few drinks, we promise you won't care that much.  Seriously, it'll be cool.  Trust us.

Note accompanying the bribe: We could offer you drugs and hookers, but dude, seriously, bad idea here.  You're better off just watching one of those shows where a chick gets nasty with a horse.  Trust us.

Dubai

Pitch: The Olympic Stadium will be 4000 feet high and cover thirty-eight square miles.  It will be made out of diamonds, built on an island in the shape of the Olympic rings and completed in nine days.

Note accompanying the bribe: No women allowed at the games.

Vatican City

Pitch: Imagine a hushed crowd at the opening ceremonies.  The torch has just been carried in by a sole runner who hands it off to... Jesus Christ.  The Second Coming of Our Risen Lord and Savior then carries the torch up to the Grand Torch in the center of St. Peter's Square and lights it, causing the entire Earth to experience uninterrupted daylight for the entirety of the games.  We can do that!  No one else can.  Mecca can't.  Also, the mascot for the games, a flaming sword named Cherubim, will protect the games from terrorism , Satan and Baal.

Note accompanying the bribe: We can hook you up with drugs and hookers and then immediately absolve you for the sin.

Duckburg Superior Court Decision Regarding the Divorce of Scrooge McDuck

Upon Scrooge McDuck's divorce from Millionara Vanderbucks, he petitioned this court for marital support from Ms. Vanderbucks.  Each of his arguments appear below and, for the reasons that follow, we deny his request.

FINANCIAL DISTRESS

Mr. McDuck argues that, without monthly support payments from Ms. Vanderbucks, he will become financially destitute.  He has offered evidence that he is an immigrant from a poor background, the recipient of little education and disabled to the extent that he requires a cane.

This court is skeptical of this claim considering that Mr. McDuck admits to owning a gigantic windowless tower which houses a pool of gold coins.  This "Money Bin" even has a humongous gold dollar sign on the front of it, unambiguously communicating Mr. McDuck's wealth to Duckburg's few residents who may have believed the owner of the huge tower was poor.

Mr. McDuck argues that such assets are unsuitable for his sustenance, and has produced an affidavit from a physician declaring that his gold coins are necessary for muscular physical therapy wherein Mr. McDuck swims through his pool of gold coins.  Because of the existence of alternative therapies, and because he has a full paid staff and owns a mansion and a helicopter, we reject this argument.

CHILD SUPPORT

It is the decision of this court that custody of Mr. McDuck's nephews (H, D and L) should fall upon Ms. Vanderbucks and that Mr. McDuck be ordered to pay her child support.

Mr. McDuck argues that H, D and L have had no contact with their parents.  Their last custodian, their Uncle Donald, joined the navy, and he argues that transporting the "lads" to a new caregiver would cause irreparable psychological damage.

The court is aware of these concerns, but in the time that Mr. McDuck has had custody of H, D and L, they have been nearly killed while searching for underwater treasure, nearly killed while searching for treasure in Antarctica, nearly killed while searching for treasure in Outer Space and nearly killed while searching for treasure in Ancient Greece, by means of a time machine.  Because of this remarkable history of child endangerment, permitting Mr. McDuck to retain custody of any minors any longer would itself be a criminal act.

FAULT

Mr. McDuck next argues that, because the divorce was due to Ms. Vanderbucks' abandonment and infidelity, to permit her to benefit financially from the divorce would be unjust.

Mr. McDuck made this argument as his personal jet pilot, Launchpad, crashed his third jet this month into this courthouse.  Mr. McDuck was only extricated by his personal inventor, Gyro, who had spent much of the day assisting Mr. McDuck in the transformation of one of his other assistants into a robot who could assist Mr. McDuck in his paranoid delusion that a woman with magical powers will steal his lucky dime.  When asked about whether this series of events was normal, Mr. McDuck evaded the question, claiming that every week of his life was "a Duck-blur."

It is the opinion of this court that to abandon Mr. McDuck is to flee for one's own life.

The above is so ordered.

Excerpts from Kenzie Kittredge, A Canadian Girl

Page 4

INT. OLD TIMEY LIVING ROOM

MRS. KITTREDGE:    I'm sorry, Kenzie, but your daddy's lost his job.  I'm afraid we're going to lose our house.

KENZIE: Oh gosh!

MR. KITTREDGE: There's going to be an eclectic series of boarders here while I go off to the big city in search for work.  Don't miss me too much, eh?

KENZIE: There must be something I could do to help

MRS. KITTREDGE: It would be really emasculating for your father if he couldn't save the family, but his nine year old daughter could.  So please, just let things be.

Page 26

INT. ADORABLE TREEHOUSE

(KENZIE is addressing her friends, who are seated around her)

KENZIE: I've gathered you all in here because together we can run that evil businessman out of town and save the factory.

(Two thirds of the kids say "yeah" and nod approvingly)

KENZIE: Nous sommes ici parce qu'ensemble nous pouvons ejecter l'homme d'affaires mal de notre ville et sauvegarder le usine!

(Remaining kids say "oui" and nod approvingly)

FAT KID: Oh man, that sounds like a lot of work.  Are we gonna ever stop for lunch.

(Two thirds of the kids laugh)

FAT KID: Seigneur, il a l'air de beaucoup de travail.  Nous allons arreter pour le petit dejeuner?

(Remaining kids laugh)

Page 44

INT. HOCKEY RINK

(An exciting montage of KENZIE, her friends and a Hockey Player who is boarding in Kittredge house, all playing hockey.  An upbeat teen girl rock song plays in the background.  Eventually a moose walks on to the ice and the kids roar with laughter.)

Page 67

INT. DINING ROOM WHICH IS FANCY BECAUSE IT'S OLD TIMES

(Everyone is seated for a very formal dinner, including BUSINESSMAN)

MRS. KITTREDGE: Thank you for coming to dinner.  I hope you'll reconsider re-opening the factory.

BUSINESSMAN: Well you'll have to convince me this town is worth saving.

FAT KID: Oh geez, we're never going to eat!

KENZIE: Well, gosh, of course we're worth saving.  My mom is a curling champion, Mrs. Toolie over here is the fastest wood chopper in Alberta and my friends and I are really great  at helping out around the house.

BUSINESSMAN: Hogwash!  I'm a cranky old man and I say this town is rubbish.

(KENZIE runs away crying)

Page 104

INT. SALLY'S BEDROOM

SALLY: My secret is that I'm on the run from the mounties.  I'm a free spirit who keeps running away from good men.  I need someone I can fix.  I'm just like you, Kenzie.  Always fixing things.

KENZIE: Show me some more sepia pictures.

SALLY: Well this picture here is of my dad.  I miss him.

KENZIE: I miss my dad, too.

KENZIE turns to grab a sepia picture of her dad when the moose enters the room and sneezes.  KENZIE and SALLY laugh, their melancholy now broken)

KENZIE: Hey, you crazy moose.  How did you get in here?

Page 136

EXT. BIG CEREMONY, JUST OUTSIDE OF THE FACTORY

BUSINESSMAN: Today we close forever the factory.

KENZIE: We have to get Sally and the evil man together so he can stop being so grumpy and not shut down our town.

SALLY: I'm injured! I can't walk, so there's no way I can get to the businessman in time to tell him how I feel about him.

FAT KID: Maybe eating will help us think.

KENZIE: Argh, what can we do?

(The moose walks over to where the kids are standing)

KENZIE: Gosh, I know! Lets put her on the moose!

(The moose delivers SALLY to the BUSINESSMAN and they look at each other longingly)

BUSINESSMAN: I hereby close....  I hereby close....  Never mind!  I'm in love!  The factory stays open and the town is saved!

(2/3 of kids cheer)

BUSINESSMAN: La ville est sauvgardee!

(Remaining kids cheer.  Fade out on FAT KID, who has maple syrup and poutine gravy all over his face.)

Using the Mystery Method With Iran

Peacocking

USA is dressed in a bright blue jacket, striped red pants and a three-foot high top hat. 

The Approach

(EGYPT, SYRIA, and IRAN are out together at a summit.  While those three nations are meeting, USA confidently walks over and begins speaking.)

USA: Did you guys catch the fight outside?  These two countries were fighting over some land called Kashmir.

EGYPT: No

USA: (cuts off EGYPT) It was intense.  It was one of those battles where naked kids were fighting.  I'm always game to see some National Geographic naked people, rolling around in dirt or something awful like that, but this was a little intense.

(SYRIA giggles)

USA: Oh yeah, you know what I'm talking about.  I could totally see you funding those little kids, too

IRAN: It's true, that's totally the kind of thing Syria would fund

SYRIA: Shut up!

USA: I can only stay here for a few minutes, my friends from Europe are waiting for me.  How do you all know each other?

EGYPT: Well, we are all nations of Islam, united to expel Israel from the Earth.

USA: Yeah, good luck with that.  (rolls eyes)

SYRIA: (laughs)  Oh my!  Who do you think you are?

Negging

(USA turns to its target, IRAN)

USA: So, you have a nice parliamentary democracy.  Is it legitimate?

IRAN: Of course it's legitimate.  It is very offensive for you to suggest otherwise

USA: You're a great country.  You really are, it's a shame you're not my type.  But we should totally find you an ally.

IRAN: Why aren't I your type?

USA: Whoa, whoa, you're coming on a little strong.  Don't seem so desperate.

Using a Wing

(UK walks over.)

UK: Oh hey there, I see you all are talking to my friend, America.  America is the most kick-ass country on Earth.  You better watch out!  (pats USA on the back, then quickly deepens its voice)  Seriously though, did you know it's totally rich and gives tons of money to AIDS orphans in Africa?

IRAN: Wow, that's so cool.

USA: It's not something I brag about, you know?

(IRAN sends an ambassador to USA.)

USA: Hey hey!  Hands off the merchandise.  I barely know you.  But I admit, I'm drawn to you.  (USA takes IRAN off of its terrorist nations list.)

Isolating the Target and Performing a Compliance Test

USA: Come with me for a moment, I want to show you something

(USA bounces to a quieter region of the country where the summit is taking place.  IRAN follows, leaving EGYPT and SYRIA behind as they talk to UK.)

USA: I want you to close your eyes.  I'm going to read your mind.

IRAN: Yeah.  Whatever.  You are so making this up.

(USA shoots IRAN a look.  IRAN takes a deep breath and then closes its eyes.  USA rewards IRAN by softly holding its hands.)

USA:  You don't get along with your friends.  You're not as close as you seem.

IRAN: Yes!  That's true.  They've been normalizing relations with the west and it's really been splitting us apart.

USA: I could tell.

IRAN: Wow

(USA and IRAN kiss.  IRAQ appears and punches USA in the face.)

IRAQ: You lying scumbag!  What the hell are you doing?

USA: Hey, how's it going?

(IRAQ turns to IRAN)

IRAQ: Don't listen to this Western sleaze.  It used the same routine on me.  Did it ask if you saw the fight outside?  Or tell you "oh I'm psychic and you're not close to your friends anymore?"  This is all just a game to that lying sack-of-hamburgers sorry excuse for a country.   USA is just insecure because it had no allies when it was young.   It's just pathetic now.

USA: So what are you doing here?

IRAQ: I'm looking for you.  I want you back.  You're an ass but I want you back anyway.  We were meant for each other.

IRAN: Well, USA is mine now.

(USA turns to its students in the back of the summit.  It makes a thumbs up sign while the shy, socially awkward nations lick their lips in jealousy)
will newman is an artist and romantic who writes songs about love and romance and hearts and et cetera.  you should go see one of his shows or read the one mcsweeney's article he wrote or read an article will wrote for mcsweeney's and then it got rejected but then some other site accepted it or an article he wrote on the huffington post or like him on facebook or listen to his podcast about making out or find something else to do i guess.
E-mail me at wrkwx38c@yahoo.com.

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Alexander Sayer Gard-Murray