Migration to Medium

Medium is all the rage these days. I was introduced to it not very long ago, and it’s grown on me. So, I decided to migrate the most popular posts from Banterist over to a new publication on Medium – which I’ve cleverly also called Banterist.

There you can find Banterist posts dating as far back as 2003. And new ones, because I’m write-y lately.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it: Head on over and follow Banterist on Medium.

And follow me on Twitter if you like.

I Will Destroy Your Child’s Drawings For You

IMG_1071

I know exactly what happened. You made a baby.

Years later your progeny formed the muscles he or she needed to hold a crayon. Immediately, your adorable little creature started drawing stuff.

Since that time, your darling child has been creating works of art. Precious works of art. So precious that you can’t bear to throw them out. Any of them.

I know. I’ve been there. I’m still there.

Now your home is filled with cardboard boxes stuffed with paper. Paper blighted by jagged lines. Squiggles. Blotches. Hapless attempts at rendering human forms. Oh that’s a hand? I thought it was a circle with five lines coming out of it.

You knew in your heart it was terrible but you went ahead and gave it value — to you and only you. Why? Because Jayden was four when he drew it. Having invested emotionally in that scrap of paper you’re now paralyzed when it comes to doing the right thing. You can’t bring yourself to toss his portrayal of “Santa on the roof” — even though you know it will do far more good when it’s recycled into a gum wrapper or sanitary napkin.

That’s where I come in.

It’s easy. I come to your door. We don’t need to talk. I know where everything will be anyway. We parents are all the same.

You hand me an envelope with our pre-arranged fee. Then go sit in your bedroom. Close the door. Watch Netflix or something. You don’t want to be present. You shouldn’t be present. I will be ruthless.

I’m going to get rid of everything. I don’t care if you consider it Becket’s best work. It’s not. And I don’t care that you named your kid Becket. Or Kobe. Or Story. I don’t know why you’d do that, but it’s not my job to care.

My job is to get rid of everything — with zero emotional attachment. Wholeheartedly void of conscience.

Think of me as a hit-man for your child’s artwork.

Nothing will keep me from tossing dearest Melody’s depiction of Frozen’s Elsa into the bin. Nothing. It served its purpose. You did everything you were supposed to do. You held it up, you looked at it, you smiled, you said, “Great job, Melody!”

And she was happy. So happy.

That’s all Melody wanted, and you — good parent — came through. But now that piece of paper with sixteen yellow lines and some blue dots for eyes serves no purpose. None. It’s not even close to Elsa.

Yet you put it on the coffee table.

I know what happens next. So do you. Eventually it will be moved to a pile on a bookshelf or side table. That pile will grow. When it eventually becomes an eyesore, you’ll put it in a box.

I’ll sort through it later, you’ll lie to yourself. We all lie to ourselves.

And there that box will sit. Forever. Taking up valuable space in closets and cupboards. The boxes will grow in number and size as your dear son or daughter broadens their tools of expression to watercolors, paints and, god forbid, paper maché.

Don’t fool yourself. You will never be strong enough to do what should be done, what must be done.

But I can help. Call me. Let’s end this. Now.

Why Are These Zombies So Brittle?

Hey Gang,

I know it’s been a crazy few months with all the running for our lives and the collapse of society and all that. You’re family to me and I love you, but something’s been nagging at me and I just need to put it out there.

Why are these zombies so brittle?

Anybody notice? You can just prance up and jab a pen knife into their craniums as though they were over-ripe melons.

That’s weird right?

I ask because in the glorious pre-zombie years we all got punched or whacked or fell off our bikes. Did our foreheads shatter like florescent bulbs? No they didn’t. They were resilient. You couldn’t just push objects into our heads. That’s why we’re alive today.

Now suddenly every zombie skull has the structural integrity of a Frito.

What gives?

I’m not complaining, mind you. It’s a good thing! The fact that a petite gal like Isabella can lobotomize a walker with plastic salad tongs — that’s definitely gotten us out of a few pickles!

But why? Why are these zombies so brittle?

And before you shrug it off as a zombie thing: Remember Bruce, the quiet guy who was with us for a couple weeks? He head-butted that renegade biker and knocked him out cold! Then he gets bitten, turns into a zombie and Tommy has to dispatch him with a can opener to the temple. One minute he’s head-butting bikers, seconds later the same skull is a cheap piñata.

That’s just messed up.

So what is it? You die and get osteoporosis? That’s almost as weird as the zombie plague itself. It doesn’t make sense to me. It’s driving me nuts.

Let’s not get fixated on it because we have bigger fish to fry, but it’s something to think about next time you’re gingerly thrusting a nail file through back of someone’s head.

Your Comrade-in-Arms,

Kevin

What it’s Like to be Attacked by a Monkey

Most of us will go through our lives without being attacked by a monkey. That’s a pleasant statistical fact. Unless you are an organ grinder or work in a zoo, you have no day-to-day experience with monkeys. Your day consists of thoughts like I am going to get a pumpkin spice latte or I need to break up with Doug. You never, ever think an angry Capuchin monkey is going to run up my arm and attack me.

Ever.

But, it can happen and I want you to be prepared. You could find yourself, as I did, with an irate Capuchin monkey named Dr. Julius running up your arm. This is a surprising event to most people.

It’s also an event that completely captures your focus. You may have had a litany of other problems to deal with before that moment but they all take a backseat to being attacked by a monkey. You might be behind on a deadline, defaulting on a mortgage or failing algebra — this all means nothing now. A monkey with a doctorate is running up your arm, angrily grabbing your face — and you really don’t know why.

Allow me to better acquaint you with the thought process of a person being attacked by a monkey.

First and foremost, you think: Holy shit, I am being attacked by a monkey.

Next, you think you should work out a plan. Many of us have contingencies tucked away for more common events like muggings, aggressive panhandling and earthquakes. No one expects a monkey attack. It’s like your first time playing poker: You are confused and do not know what to do.

Now what?

Many of us have had just enough martial arts training to be capable of nothing unless we are attacked very specifically and in slow motion. Monkeys are fast and their wiry limbs are unpredictable. So, that’s no help.

Strength doesn’t help either. I can assure you that whether you are an emaciated milquetoast or The Mountain, a monkey attack will have you on the defensive from the moment it commences. Absolutely no one is prepared to be attacked by a tiny, formerly adorable monkey.

The answer to “Now what?” is “nothing.” You can’t handle being attacked by a monkey! It’s too much for your human brain! It paralyzes you with shock. It’s a monkey attack! The monkey is simply going to do what it intended to do, which unfortunately includes putting its dirty monkey thumb in your mouth and yanking on your cheek.

As that is happening you may ask yourself why it is happening. Good question. Totally normal. Odds are you’ll be hard-pressed to come up with a reason because you and I are regular people. We don’t go around enraging monkeys for fun. We don’t set out to make monkeys mad. That’s just dumb.

So, you’ve been attacked by a monkey, you’re incapable of responding to the attack, and you have no idea why the attack happened.

Now is time for reflection.

You’ll be surprised at the amount of pain a small primate can dish out when it places its opposable thumb inside your mouth, grabs a hold of your cheek and pulls. It really hurts. The hurt is disproportionate to the size of the monkey attacking you. You’ll appreciate being attacked by a once-adorable, tiny Capuchin as opposed to an formerly-amusing, mid-sized orangutan or originally-mellow, XXL-sized gorilla.

If a wee Capuchin can dish out pain like that, one can only imagine what Dunston could do were he to check-in angry.

Along with the physical pain of a Capuchin monkey attack comes the mental trauma. Monkeys are dirty. They throw poo. They use their fingers to throw poo. Some of those fingers were just in your mouth, grabbing a meaty hold of your cheek and yanking for reasons you have yet to comprehend.

So, you may have monkey-poo mouth. You don’t have to be a germ freak to be upset by this.

And to think, the day started with you thinking about pumpkin spice lattes and break-ups!

If you’re lucky, the monkey attack was just a momentary flash of violence. The monkey made his or her point, whatever it was, and will stand down.

Now is the time to gather your thoughts and ask the monkey handler what the hell just happened. That is, of course, if there is a human handling the monkey. If that’s not the case, then you’re probably in the jungle on that monkey’s turf and should high-tail it out of there, pride be damned.

If there is a monkey handler, he will provide you with some helpful advice as to why you were the recent victim of a monkey attack. It’s helpful information that you’ll wish you knew beforehand. Information like:

Monkeys consider prolonged eye contact as a threat.

Good to know! There you had been, silly human, thinking that gazing into the eyes of an adorable Capuchin monkey who looked like a tiny grandpa was a deep, transcendent experience. It wasn’t. You were telling the monkey you wanted to beat him up and take his hot ladies.

Now your face hurts and you likely have poo mouth, but you learned something valuable about nature — and you have a story to tell. Just don’t forget to gargle Listerine for half an hour.

Bad News from Mars

Hi Houston. Bad news. Mars is inhospitable to bees. Commander Orinsky was convinced that some of our science bees “might enjoy” some fresh air, but as soon as the airlock door opened they did this thing where they stopped flying and fell down.

We thought it might be a trick but it wasn’t, so we’re down a lot of bees.

Not all 1110 bees mind you! We still have two left but we don’t know what their gender is because all we could see was the stinger. Karlopper thinks the stinger can make babies but the rest of us don’t think so. Can you send us bee information?

We’ve been playing romantic music in the hopes that they will make more bees. We have to assume they probably won’t be in the mood for a while because they’re mourning their bee friends. No idea how close they were.

Science Officer Salvato named the surviving bees BEE Arthur and Justin BEEber, even though we don’t know their gender. That really helped to lift our spirits on this bee-centric mission.

Obviously, this complicates our bee-related experiments, which was all of our experiments. We have plenty of free time if you want more rocks or pictures of things.

Commander Orinsky wanted me to convey his deepest apologies. He really meant the best for the bees. He’s been kicking himself all day. I haven’t seen him this down since Palmer died.

Also, Palmer died.

Are Mutual Funds a Good Investment for Someone in Danger of Being Mauled by a Bear?

So you’re walking by yourself in the woods, thinking about the money you’ve squared away for investing. Putting it in the bank will earn you almost no interest, if any. You want to do something smarter with your hard-earned cash. There’s a cave. Maybe you want to take a look.

If you’re not sure what to do with that money, you’re not alone. And if you’ve stumbled into a bear cave you’re not alone either. The worst thing a mutual fund will do is tank or charge you high fees. An angry bear will bite your head and claw you up.

Mutual funds are an excellent choice for the passive investor. By that I mean someone who doesn’t follow the market on a daily basis — you have better things to do, like stay alert because you’re in a bear cave and you smell like gin.

You might not know exactly what a mutual fund is, as you stupidly reach to pet the sleeping bear cub. A mutual fund is portfolio of stocks actively monitored by a portfolio manager. Knowing not to go near a bear cub is pretty much Bear 101. An enraged mother bear will shred you alive. What are you thinking?

Let’s say you’ve opted to invest in a mutual fund. Now what? You hear a bowel-liquefying growl coming from the dark. That’s the mother. She will kill you. There are thousands of mutual funds to choose from

Choosing the right fund is where you really need to do your homework. Just pray it doesn’t come after you. There’s a chance you’ve spooked it and it won’t go full aggro on you. Run like Forrest Gump regardless.

You can choose funds based on your investment objectives, and a mix of funds is never a bad idea. Don’t poke your eye out on a branch as you run, screaming, through this normally tranquil pine forest.

There are funds that follow aggressive strategies in the hopes of gaining higher returns, but with that comes higher risk. There are conservative funds that reduce risk but often reduce rate of return. I can’t quite tell if it’s coming after you. Don’t stop and look back. Those seconds could mean the difference between life and being torn to bits. Just run.

Some mutual funds are sector-specific, focusing on biotech or defense or consumer goods for example. If the bear starts attacking you from behind, the best thing to do is crumple up into a ball. Protect your face and head at all costs. There’s no shortage of advice on good mutual funds out there. Play dead.

Once you’ve found a fund you like, study its returns, fees and portfolio. All the research on the mutual fund is at your disposal. Granted, you didn’t know enough not to pet a bear cub, but all that means is you’re not a woodsman. You could still be a Warren Buffet. Promise you’ll never drink gin in the woods if you survive this.

Next week: Why Index Funds are better than Mutual Funds if your minivan is on fire.

Hillary 4.0 Release Notes

Hillary 2.0

(Release date September 2013)

  • Eliminated “assumption of nomination” feature from 1.0 release.
  • Reconfigured and/or removed several key decision-making algorithms from 1.0 release.
  • Worked to streamline nomination function by incorporating strategic elements from Obama 1.0.
  • Modified several stances to take advantage of changes to current political operating system.
  • Added several features to help improve access to millennials, gays and minorities.

Hillary 3.0

(Release date June 2015)

  • Added populism feature.
  • Retooled dialog as per focus groups.
  • Addressed vulnerabilities to Bernie Sanders virus.
  • Removed a flaw that prevented reporters from asking any questions.
  • Worked to reduce bugs that cause honesty and trustworthiness to fail to appear when summoned.

Hillary 4.0

(Release date September 2015)

  • Attempted to address favorability optics by adding new emotional and humoristic algorithms.
  • Added acknowledgement of email scandal in response to user requests.
  • Included more tear-jerking references to late mother.
  • Removed self-respect firewall to allow for dancing the nae nae with Ellen DeGeneres.

To The Staff of Naked Ladies Magazine

It is with a heavy heart that I announce that this will be the last issue of Naked Ladies magazine.

When my father founded Naked Ladies in 1969, he was a trailblazer. There were magazines, of course, but none that featured naked ladies. He saw an opportunity and he went for it. Naked Ladies was born, and finally, discerning gentlemen could see naked ladies on paper and not just in person.

He was a pioneer. And he put naked ladies and Naked Ladies on the map.

Over the years, Naked Ladies proved its journalistic merits. We interviewed presidents and senators, not to mention a Who’s-Who of Hollywood elite, extraordinary trendsetters, brilliant visionaries, esteemed scholars. Donald Trump.

The best writers in the world longed to have their name appear in Naked Ladies. A byline in Naked Ladies told editors and readers the world over, “this writer was good enough for Naked Ladies.” It was a foot in the door to writing for the best publications in the world. Even ones with just articles.

And then, of course, there were the naked ladies of Naked Ladies.

We had so many naked ladies! That’s exactly what you would expect from a magazine so-named. But we took it to another level! The ladies were nakeder. Ladier. We set the bar. If a lady was going to be a naked lady, she wanted to be a naked lady in Naked Lady magazine.

We were the pinnacle of naked ladyness. If a lady didn’t qualify for our glossy pages, she would have to settle for being naked in low-brow publications like Sexy Ladies, Pretty Babes or Humpstorm.

We had a long run. We brought joy to pubescent teens and barber shop waiting rooms. We offered the educated gentleman incisive, informative articles and, importantly, naked ladies.

But times have changed.

The Internet has gotten people accustomed to everything being free. Especially naked ladies. I can’t tell you how hard it is to convince Joe Sixpack to spend several dollars of his hard-earned money on a paper copy of Naked Ladies when he can see naked ladies for free on the web. Even on his smart phone! Are they the high class naked ladies that Naked Ladies offered? No, not at all. They’re just naked ladies!

And these ladies? They’re not just standing there, naked. Not at all. They’re moving and talking and doing all sorts of things the naked ladies of Naked Ladies would never dream of doing! Unclassy things! Things I didn’t know were possible for naked ladies to do. I thought ATM was a machine you get money from. I know nothing.

The truth is that in the age of the Internet a publication like Naked Ladies is no longer a gatekeeper. Any lady can be naked for a broad audience. They simply don’t need us.

And clearly, people want to see a lot more than ladies just being naked these days. For a publication called Naked Ladies, the writing is on the wall.

We had a great run. We will remain in the history books. But, the world has changed. The demand for Naked Ladies is only a fraction of what it once was. We have to adapt to survive. It’s time to “modern up” as Sarah in accounting said.

Do not be alarmed! This does not mean you’re out of a job! We’re adapting, not shuttering. We’re finding a new voice and a new audience. One that isn’t looking for naked ladies.

I sincerely hope all of you will stay on board and help with the launch of our new venture, Typewriter World.

In Retrospect, Our Town Seal Might Be Slightly Racist

whitesboro-seal

Fm: Sheriff Hawthorne
To: Mayor Timmins

Just FYI, some guy I pulled over for speeding said the town seal on our squad car was racist. Just looked at it and it looks like a white guy choking an Indian.

Fm: Mayor Timmins
To: Sheriff Hawthorne

Holy crap! I never looked at it before. What the hell is it?

Fm: Sheriff Hawthorne
To: Mayor Timmins

That’s what I mean. I kind of agree with the guy. It definitely looks like a white guy choking an Indian.

Fm: Mayor Timmins
To: Sheriff Hawthorne

Is he a black guy?

Fm: Sheriff Hawthorne
To: Mayor Timmins

No, he’s an Indian.

Fm: Mayor Timmins
To: Sheriff Hawthorne

I mean the guy you pulled over.

Fm: Sheriff Hawthorne
To: Mayor Timmins

No. Why?

Fm: Mayor Timmins
To: Sheriff Hawthorne

…White cop from Whitesboro… in car festooned with white guy choking Indian… pulls over a black guy… looks bad all around.

Just asked Margaret to look up the town seal thingy.

Fm: Sheriff Hawthorne
To: Mayor Timmins

OK. I’d like to give this guy an answer before I send him off. BTW, got another $140 for the town’s coffers! Lowering the speed limit to 15mph was genius.

Fm: Mayor Timmins
To: Sheriff Hawthorne

Thx! Margaret says it depicts a friendly wrestling match in the 1700s.

Fm: Sheriff Hawthorne
To: Mayor Timmins

There were Indians in Whitesboro?

Fm: Mayor Timmins
To: Sheriff Hawthorne

I guess? Maybe before Hugh White settled it.

Fm: Sheriff Hawthorne
To: Mayor Timmins

The more you learn! OK, I’ll tell the guy it’s just wrestling funsies.

Fm: Mayor Timmins
To: Sheriff Hawthorne

Margaret says they would wrestle the Indian then take his shirt. That’s why he doesn’t have a shirt.

Fm: Sheriff Hawthorne
To: Mayor Timmins

OK. Weird.

Fm: Mayor Timmins
To: Sheriff Hawthorne

Then they’d take his pants. And moccasins.

Fm: Sheriff Hawthorne
To: Mayor Timmins

Shit, Norman. That’s not wrestling. That’s just taking his stuff!

Fm: Mayor Timmins
To: Sheriff Hawthorne

You’re right. He’s totally strangling the dude! How did no one notice this? SMDH

Fm: Sheriff Hawthorne
To: Mayor Timmins

I’m just going to tell the guy it’s a friendly wrestling match. Pretty sure he won’t argue because I stopped him 20+ minutes ago.

Fm: Mayor Timmins
To: Sheriff Hawthorne

Tell him the white guy was gay.

Fm: Sheriff Hawthorne
To: Mayor Timmins

Why?

Fm: Mayor Timmins
To: Sheriff Hawthorne

For diversity? Never mind. Let me know what he says.

Fm: Sheriff Hawthorne
To: Mayor Timmins

I think he bought the friendly wrestling thing, but he wants to know why our traffic citations are adorned with swastikas.

Fm: Mayor Timmins
To: Sheriff Hawthorne

WTF, seriously?

Fm: Sheriff Hawthorne
To: Mayor Timmins

OMG! Never noticed.
:-(

Memo to My Campaign Staff

Adored Campaign Staff,

With my presidential offensive in full swing, we need to be two steps ahead of the “gotcha” media in every way. Preparedness is key. It’s imperative that we wargame how we’ll handle them in any situation.

For example, let’s imagine photos emerge where I’m standing in the middle of a Harvard frat party wearing nothing but a blue UN helmet and pointing to whipped cream on my penis.

That’s a terrible scenario. Terrible. The only way we’re going to recover from it is to have a solid game plan worked out ahead of time. We don’t want to be caught off-guard if I’m on Meet the Press and Chuck Todd holds up a picture of me buck naked in a UN helmet, pointing to a major dollop of whipped cream on my penis.

That’s something we’d need to be prepared for. As a team.

Relax! I’m not saying such photos exist. I’m just saying it is in the realm of possibility that they do: I went to Harvard, I was in a frat, and we had parties. We also had a UN helmet that my frat brother Chase stole while interning for a charity in Borneo. I liked to wear it during blowouts.

So, yes, I can say I definitely was at frat parties wearing a UN helmet.

But was I ever naked? That’s the big question. And of course the answer is a resounding almost never. Nine times out of ten I was fully clothed when running around in the UN helmet, providing “urgent Jagermeister relief” to the alcohol-deprived citizens of Sigma Chi.

“Wait, almost never?” I can hear you asking yourself. Yes, there was one time when the Jagermeister got a hold of me more than I would have liked. Not having any presidential aspirations at the time, I thought it would be hilarious to wear nothing but a UN helmet. Wouldn’t you know it — despite all the booze, I managed to have a powerful, lasting erection that Tina Mensford put half a can of whipped cream on.

I know what you’re thinking. “Are you talking about the same Tina Mensford who just became campaign director for rival candidate Jason Hawbers in this close race?” Yes. It is the very same Tina Mensford. I wish it wasn’t, but I’m glad to see she’s done so well for herself. Go Tina!

Again, I’m not saying there are photos out there that show me buck naked with copious amounts of whipped cream on my very erect, abnormally large penis. I’m just saying there could be and that my bitter rival’s campaign director might remember her part in putting it there back in ‘83.

A battle plan. That’s what I want just in case photos like that ever surfaced.

Will they surface? I strongly doubt it. Was Tina a photojournalism major who carried a professional SLR camera with her at all times? Yes. That doesn’t mean she took any photos that night. Even if she did, maybe she lost the negatives to a house fire, or bandits. We just don’t know.

Plus it was mostly dark, except for the flashes.

Now, I don’t know if they were camera flashes. Our frat house had a disco ball. Disco balls flash a lot. That’s their job. There’s no reason to think that Tina took a high-quality, semi-professional, horrendously compromising photo of a future presidential candidate. It could very well have been the disco ball flashing!

Memories are hazy about that night. It was long ago and I’d consumed more than 12 Jager shots in under an hour. That is the only reason you’d ever find me standing in the center of the room, naked but for a UN helmet, demanding everyone salute my Reddi-Wip-covered genitalia. The only reason.

Anyway, I’m just spitballing. I don’t want to waste our time with hypothetical damage-control scenarios. But I do want it to be something we think about — tuck into the back of our brains — and maybe discuss at length after we assemble a crisis management team by breakfast tomorrow.

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Associated Global Systems – We Almost Deliver

Creative Brief for advertising copywriters

Client:
Associated Global Systems – a national corporation that tries unsuccessfully to deliver things.

Objective:
To establish Associated Global Systems as the “go to” shipping company for when you want most, but not all, of your packages delivered.

Background:
Coming on the heels of our very successful “Let Us Lose That For You” campaign, we’re looking at a new effort to raise awareness that Associated Global Systems can almost deliver your important items.

Target Audience:
Male/female 18-49. They are waiting on important deliveries and we want them to know that Associated Global Systems can help them misplace or disappear those deliveries through sheer incompetence and buffoonery.

Media:
Cable television, radio, print and billboard campaigns. Also, pop-up ads from websites that immediately play video.

Key Points:
– Associated Global Systems has perfected the supply chain mismanagement method of “undelivering” your important items.
-Make sure the consumer knows that if they call AGS wanting to know where their package is the answer will be “We’ll find out and call you back.”
-Make sure the consumer knows AGS reps will never actually call them back.
-Convey that when it comes to placing a box on a truck and driving that box somewhere, AGS is wholly stumped at the very prospect.
-Our ability to misplace packages and then shrug our shoulders sets us apart from our competitors.

The underlying theme of all the advertising creative should be that Associated Global Systems “can’t be bothered” to deliver your package properly. The client has already chosen the tagline “We Almost Deliver” and it should be used in all the ad creative.

Creative Insights:

-The “Where Is It?” billboard from the last campaign was very popular and the client would love to see a modified version of it for this campaign.

-Client also really liked the earlier TV spots with the elderly couple with nothing to sleep on because it hadn’t arrived yet.

-Client wants to make sure we feature “ethnic” individuals to drive home the point that AGS can lose your packages regardless of race, color, creed, etc.

-Make sure to link to the website! agsystems.com

-Make sure to reinforce the AGS “supply chain” methodology:

AGS

-Lots of companies use AGS to deliver their important goods, so the consumer should understand that AGS does not care a whittle about their missing delivery because in the grand scheme of things, the customer can lick our mud flaps.

Consumer takeaway:

“Associated Global Systems is a company with a bland name that can lose my Restoration Hardware order for me.”

“If I’m having lots of people over the house, I want to make sure there’s no sofa to sit on, so I’ll have Associated Global Systems not deliver it on time.”

“If there are any delivery hiccups, I can count on Associated Global Systems to not return my multiple phone calls.”

“Incompetent sociopathic megacorporation run by dunces.”

Note from  Account Service: Client would like to see some ideas by early next week, which to them means in a month or never.

Video Game Review: Call of Jury Duty

I want to start off by saying I’ve been a HUGE fan of the Call of Duty franchise and have been since day one. I’ve logged countless hours in original, Modern Warfare and Black Ops and had high expectations for this one, even though I knew they’d be taking us off the battlefield and into a municipal building that hadn’t been renovated since 1961.

I really wanted to like this game and went into it hoping that Activision might be able to pull it off. Alas, I found myself profoundly disappointed and ultimately wondering what I expected in the first place. All I can say is buyer beware.

Interface:
The controls are pretty simple because there’s nothing to really control: The left thumbstick controls Look. The keypad controls Yawn and Open Inventory. The direction pad lets you choose your dialogue. If you’re finally called to jury selection your character can stand up and enter the courtroom (right thumbstick).

Gameplay Walkthrough:
When you start the game your character is forced to watch an eight minute video narrated by Diane Sawyer that explains the jury process. There’s no way to skip through it – a huge oversight in my opinion. The first time around it was just a drag but after repeated gameplay you want to pull your hair out. I get it, it’s our duty as citizens.

When the video ends you find yourself seated in a large room filled with people. No explanation of what to expect. You’re free to look around the room and make eye contact. On occasion you will be able to strike up a conversation, but the dialogue choices are very limited:

 

comisserate

No matter what you choose, you get the same response every time: “Yeah” – and then nothing happens.

In your backpack inventory you’ll find a magazine to read and a smartphone that you can use to post Facebook updates telling your friends you’re stuck in jury duty. Just mind the battery level because there’s only one outlet in the whole room and you’ll invariably find it’s been claimed by other players.

outlet-occupied

Jury Selection Process:
This is where the game can really lose you. Long after the game starts – and you never know when – you can be called into the courtroom to be screened by lawyers for jury selection. You’ll be told some vague details about the case and the expected length of the trial. At this point you have have the option of choosing between Civic Duty or Evasion. That choice will affect your dialogue options. Here’s a screenshot of the Evasion Path:

Talking-to-Lawyer

I tried both paths, and every single time I found myself being returned to the Jury Pool, waiting, and then the game ended with me being thanked and told to go home. I have no idea if the game progresses beyond this point. I’m not inclined to try and find out.

All I can say is for $60 I expected a lot more. This does not bode well for next year’s release of Call of Daddy Duty.

Always Leave Them Wanting More Non-Offensive Comedy

Dear Karl,

On behalf of the University Student Council I wanted to tell you how excited we are about your upcoming comedy show. We look forward to “blowing off some steam” after exams and you’re just the person for the job! With that in mind, here are some notes we had after reviewing your act. We want all students to be able to equally enjoy the show to the fullest, so thank you in advance for incorporating these few suggestions.

For the joke that begins with “I was mowing my lawn the other day…”
A large number of students are from highly-populated urban areas and can’t relate to owning or mowing a lawn. More important, the concept of “ownership” of a lawn is a potentially sensitive issue for students with native American backgrounds whose ancestor’s lawns were stolen, and those students who consider private property inherently classist. Can you set the joke at a community park?

The mailman/vasectomy joke.
Very funny! We would prefer “letter carrier” as there are many women in the postal service who don’t deserve to be left out! Obviously only men can have vasectomies so perhaps you can add hysterectomies to the punch line.

The “Iron Throne” joke.
I love this joke. There was some concern because it refers to Game of Thrones which makes several students feel unsafe because of the show’s misogynistic themes and promotion of patriarchal political structures. I’m not a comedian of course but is there a way it can reference Big Bang Theory instead?

Your new Indian neighbors inviting you over for dinner.
This bit is great because it really celebrates diversity and inclusivity. Where it kind of goes astray (and I realize this is the entire premise of the joke) is when you make fun of their food names like “poppadum” and “vindaloo.” The thinking here is, yes the names may sound funny to an uncultured ear, but those names were around long before America existed. Maybe instead of poking fun at the names you “look for the funny” in how delicious and healthy ethnic dishes can be?

The Caitlyn Jenner/Wheaties joke.
We understand that this is  pretty “tame” as far as trans jokes go but it probably should be dropped altogether. It’s a very trying time for Caitlyn and the LGBTQ community wants to make sure she knows that she has their full support for her very brave and very public endeavor. Go Caitlyn!

Forgetting your twentieth wedding anniversary.
I laughed out loud at this! Then I remembered that the right to marry was exclusively heterosexual twenty years ago, so we might be triggering some feelings for individuals denied the right for so long. Also, suggesting it’s incumbent on males to remember the anniversary smacks of sexism and disempowers women. Again, I’m not a comedian but maybe there’s a way the joke would work if it was your first anniversary and you both forgot it simultaneously?

The joke about everyone standing in Starbucks, staring at their phones.
Although Starbucks does make efforts toward sustainability and environmental stewardship they’re a big corporation and as a result a lot of students won’t set foot there. I’m sure it’ll be easy to change it to something more local (I recommend Larry’s Magic Bean on Forsyth Street). Also “standing around staring at their phones” feels ableist, seeing as some of our students are handi-capable and in wheelchairs. I think “being in line” or “participating in a queue” would work just fine there, but I’ll leave that choice up to you!

Don Lemon/CNN bit.
Absolutely agree that Don Lemon, as a media figure who says/does silly things, is a legitimate target. Unfortunately as a gay African-American he’s had a long struggle to get where he is today and it might be construed by some as picking on him for racial reasons. Admittedly, your bit focused solely on the ridiculous things he’s done in his career but it might be better to play it safe and find another quirky CNN personality to have fun with. Not Anderson Cooper for obvious reasons.

Sumo wrestlers on unicycles.
This feels a bit like fat shaming.

The “quitting smoking in ten minutes” bit
There are some worries that it promotes smoking, though I think the part with the “talking tumor” would be enough to make anyone stop! Unfortunately, there are those who cannot stop, no matter how hard they try, and this reminds them of that failure. I know chewing gum wouldn’t explain the “talking tumor” but that seems like a better fit. Again, you’re the comedian so maybe you have another idea.

Feeding the dog your wife’s cooking.
I know we’ve been pretty “chill” regarding any changes to the act but this one got some folks riled up. Even if you disregard the anachronism of women cooking for their husbands, “owning” a dog is more than speciesist. Maybe you cook a vegan meal and feed it to your best friend who can’t afford to eat well because the minimum wage is so low? (Just spitballing)

Anyway, that’s all for now. Some council members were out so I’ll get you their feedback ASAP – I’m going to bet Jenna will have a problem with the “all you can eat breadsticks” joke because it doesn’t address Celiac disease.

We look forward to the next draft of your act at your earliest convenience.

Yours truly,

Brendan Birdsaw Clemmons

10 Common Résumé Mistakes You Should Avoid

I’ve seen a lot of résumés in my life and I can tell you they have one thing in common: All the people sending them want jobs. Nevertheless, some of those people are contenders and some of them are not. A well-trained eye can spot the difference in seconds – and has to because of the sheer number to be sorted through! Here’s my advice to anyone seeking to increase the odds of their résumé avoiding the “circular file” (slang for muscle atrophy).

1 – USING SWASTIKAS INSTEAD OF BULLET POINTS
Yes, we know, the swastika was originally a Sanskrit/Buddhist/Hindu symbol long before it was co-opted by the Nazis to represent unprecedented evil.  And that’s the problem. While you and I are both totally aware of the positive origin of the swastika, there’s a possibility your potential employer does not – and will assume you’re a Nazi sympathizer determined to rid her company of Jews.

2 – STAPLING A PIG’S EAR TO YOUR RÉSUMÉ IN CASE THE LONELY HR LADY HAS A DOG
We all know dogs find dried pig ears delicious to gnaw on, but that doesn’t mean the lonely human resources lady has one. Even if she does, stapling a dried pig ear to your résumé means that a large portion of it might be blocked by a dried pig ear. Not to mention, there’s always the chance that the person you sent your résumé to had a dog named Boswell who choked to death on a dried pig ear (or even worse, your résumé). You do not want to remind the person of their loss. It’s better to play it safe and just sprinkle the résumé with catnip in case the lonely HR lady has cats.

3 – INVOICE FOR THE RÉSUMÉ
Everyone knows writing, embellishing, printing and mailing résumés and cover letters is time-consuming and costly. Yes, you do deserve to be compensated handsomely for your efforts, but at the very beginning of the application process it’s a no-no. Instead, keep detailed records of the time and materials expended so that when you are finally employed you can deduct the equivalent amount in stolen office supplies.

4 – FILLING LONG GAPS BETWEEN EMPLOYMENT WITH CRUDE PICTURES OF OBAMA.
Politics can be divisive. Don’t believe me? Then ask my reTHUGlican uncle. It’s better not to stray in those waters. Instead, explain gaps between employment as periods where you suffered from severe depression or were imprisoned for “zoo crimes.”

5 – LISTING YOUR EDUCATION AS “mmmmm Asian girlz am I rite???”
A potential employer wants to know what your educational background is, not about your ethnic fetishes. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that’s the whole point of the “Education” section in the first place! Instead, list any colleges you attended, the degrees you were awarded, GPA (only if high!) and any distinctions. Your Asian girl references can go under the “Float My Boat & Whatnot” section.

6 – FIGHTING A HOBO BEFORE MAILING YOUR RÉSUMÉ
If you’re going to fight a hobo, make sure you do it AFTER you mail your resume. Fighting a hobo before you mail your résumé almost guarantees that it will wind up wrinkled and spattered in blood – things most potential employers do not want to see.

7 – ADDRESSING THE COVER LETTER “To Sir or Madam or Transperson With Or Without The Ladybits”
When you address a cover letter to a generic you’re saying that you can’t be bothered to do research, which guarantees that the only people willing to hire you will be newspapers. Take the effort to find out exactly who the cover letter should be directed to and you will stick out like a beautiful woman’s penis.

8 – CLAIMING CYNDI LAUPER’S DISCOGRPAHY IS YOUR RÉSUMÉ
If I had a dollar for every time someone handed me Cyndi Lauper’s discography and claimed that it was his résumé I’d have $87.50 (one person lost half his résumé in a hobo fight).

9 – INCLUDING SPOILERS IN YOUR RÉSUMÉ
I will never forget the time I was reading an applicant’s résumé and under “Objectives” they’d written “Kevin Spacey is Kayser Söze.” I was livid. I had a date that very night to go see The Ususal Suspects, so my evening was ruined. Nevertheless, that guy got the job because it was for a firm that ruins surprise parties.

10 – HAND DELIVERING YOUR RÉSUMÉ TO YOUR PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYER AS HE STEPS OUT OF THE SHOWER
Industrious? Check. Motivated? Check. But that doesn’t change the fact that your prospective employer will be wet and naked and screaming at you to get out get out who the hell are you get the hell out of my house I’m calling the police who the hell are you get out Margaret call the police.

How to Talk to Your Child About Elon Musk

In this day and age, it can be hard to keep your child from being exposed to Elon Musk. Although you may do your best on the home front, they may inevitably stumble across a profile piece or news item on TV at a friend’s house or the computer at the school library. For that reason, it’s better to be prepared for your child’s eventual exposure to Elon Musk and to know how to respond to the questions you may be asked.

If your child asks why you’re not a billionaire like Elon Musk.

Tell your child that Elon Musk is highly unusual, as exemplified by his strange name. Tell your child that if your parents had named you Zambor Dweemoflux you might very well have become a billionaire too, but the fact of the matter is you’re stuck with Jim or Linda or Steve and a normal surname. This is a good opportunity to inform them that life isn’t always “fair” and not everyone gets a circus name like Elon Musk or Sepp Blatter that simply lends itself to being crazy wealthy.

If your child asks why Elon Musk seemingly generates amazing ideas on routine trips to the bathroom.

Tell your child that before he/she was born you too had a groundbreaking idea for a rainbow-powered washing machine. Let them know you were on the verge of getting a patent and becoming fabulously wealthy but then they happened. Tell them you selflessly let your dreams die so that you could focus on being a “hands on” parent because Harry Chapin’s Cat’s In The Cradle really freaked you out.

If your child asks why you’ve still failed to build a toolshed in the backyard while Elon Musk creates multiple corporations with the snap of his fingers.

Make sure your child understands that Elon Musk is an abomination created in human form – the love child of two ender-demons, Gorshak and Melkanor from the seventh circle of Hell. Tell him/her that he was born specifically to make everyone else in the world look like serial underachievers and feel bad about themselves. Tell your child that you are “The Chosen One” and that in order to prevent Elon Musk from his nefarious goal of spreading global unhappiness and dissatisfaction with everyone else’s relatively pathetic accomplishments they must never again acknowledge the demon-spawn’s profane victories.

If that doesn’t work, take away your child’s iPad until they stop bringing his name up.

What to Expect at Your Job Interview with Business Insider

A lot of people want to work for Business Insider because it’s their dream to write countless articles about working for Google. With that in mind, here are some of the questions you may be asked when interviewing for a job at Business Insider.

Hi, [your name] how are you?

This is not a trick question, it’s just the interviewer’s way of making conversation to help you feel comfortable before they begin determining if you’d be good at writing about working for Google.

If we hire you, do you promise to write weekly articles about working for Google?

Business Insider readers have come to expect that 4 in 7 of the articles will be about working for Google. The interviewer is merely trying to ascertain if your addition to the company will help them maintain that level of productivity.

Imagine you are writing your twentieth post about working for Google. Give an example of a headline you would write to suggest that this post about working for Google is different from all the other posts about working for Google.

The interviewer wants to see how creative you are when it comes to getting readers interested in what is essentially just another article about working for Google. A good answer might be a headline like “Here’s what it’s like to work for Google” unless you used that headline in yesterday’s article about working for Google.

Imagine I tell you the same bedtime story for ten years. At some point would you ask me to tell you a different story?

This is a trick question. The natural response for most people would probably be “Yes.” However, in this case it’s allegorical. By “bedtime story” they actually mean “article about working for Google” which is the core of the Business Insider publishing model. Therefore the correct answer then is a resounding “No, never!”

You’re seated at a wobbly desk. On the desk is your laptop. The wobbling desk is distracting you from your task of writing another article about working for Google. What do you do?

This question is designed to test your problem solving skills. There is technically more than one “right” answer as long as your solution allows you to continue writing another article about working for Google.

Yelp Review: Barry’s Boot Camp

My dream was to pay a lot of dollars to navigate a tiny plot of sweat-drenched real estate in the dark while a tiny man with a microphone shouted orders over soulless uptempo music. I lived it.

The dark room is permeated by a red glow – just like they have on submarines. This is to get you used to the idea of a confined space filled with too many people.

An instructor walks around with a small public address system strapped to his head. His job in the dark is to guide you though the exercises by shouting indecipherable words that compete with the eardrum-pounding music. Sometimes you might hear words like “right hand” or “press” and you can try putting something in your right hand or pressing something. If that doesn’t seem right, try to find your neighbor in the dark and copy whatever he or she is doing because they may have understood a few more words than you did. If your neighbor looks very attractive it’s because red lights are like truffle oil and make everything more palatable.

The workout is a mix of treadmill and floor. The treadmill is your standard cardio routine. The instructor cycles you through jogging and running in the dark to simulate being chased through Central Park at 2am by a pack of feral teens.

The floor exercises use dumbbells and resistance bands in the dark. Depending on the day of the week there will be emphasis on butt & legs, abs & chest or full body. There is never an emphasis on light or audible guidance.

The floor space was allocated to maximize the number of participants while at the same time accommodating people Hobbit-sized or smaller. At 6′ 3″ I found myself constantly reminded of my height privilege as I stepped on dumbbells, towels, other people and myself.

Some Yelpers complain that instructors never critique their form. My experience differed, and in one instance a short man with a public address system strapped to his head emerged from the darkness to correct my jogging posture before disappearing into the sweet embrace of the night.

On the sweat scale I’d give it an 8. I burned a lot of dollars and calories. I give Barry’s additional points for not being CrossFit, so I didn’t once have to hear the words “paleo” or “WOD.”

 

[My Yelp page is here]

Yelp Review: Morgenstern’s Fine Ice Cream

I grew up in the 70s as the child of an executive at Howard Johnson’s. The only flavor in my freezer was Howard Johnson’s Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream.

However, I did not like Howard Johnson’s Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream.

I have to wonder how much different life would be if I’d had access to “Fernet Black Walnut” ice cream. Granted, I don’t know what a fernet is and I’ll be damned if I’m going to bother Googling it, but I would have preferred that to Mint Chocolate Chip any day of the week. I’m sorry Mr. Johnson.

My children – unaware how spoilt for choice they are – nonchalantly chose Passionfruit Apricot Sorbet and Green Tea Pistachio from the menu of flavors I had been wrongfully denied during my childhood. This reminds me, I need to regale them with stories of how I grew up with no iPad and only Mint Chocolate Chip. They love those stories.

After agonizing over choices like Salted Pretzel and Salt & Pepper Pinenut I opted for Salted Chocolate. There seems to be a salt theme, which I’m fine with as my body is mainly sodium and wine.

I also recall Vietnamese Coffee. Speaking of, I still haven’t forgiven Jane Fonda.

 


 

 

Like everyone else, I review things on Yelp.

Yelp Review: Apple Berry iPhone Repair

My night table was not where I thought it was. As a result, my beloved iPhone 5S was placed on top of oxygen atoms which are sadly lacking in solidity. Had I placed the phone on top of the carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms present in my wood night table, there would not have been a problem.

Absent the capability to support the iPhone, the oxygen atoms made no effort whatsoever to prevent the earth’s gravitational pull from drawing the phone into a downward acceleration. Based on the height of the night table that was not where I thought it was, I have to assume the phone struck the carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms comprising my hardwood flooring at approximately 11 mph. This resulted in what could be described as the Balkanization of the glass surface of my phone, and me cursing like a sailor being attacked by a spider monkey.

These folks fixed it rather quick-like.

 


 

 

Like everyone else, I share opinions on Yelp.