Thursday, July 31, 2008

"Grandpa's Secret Hobby"

Thank you all for coming. Peter would have appreciated this. Peter Loramie was a great friend of mine and his passing has touched us all. He was a loving and devoted father, grandfather, brother, son, and friend. He worked with me for twenty years at Robinson and Co. Insurance, but we beyond being coworkers, he was always there for me whenever I needed him. He was the nicest man I ever knew and always was the first to suggest helping others in place of himself. We all mourn our loss. Before I finish, a few months ago Peter asked me to read a poem of his at the funeral. He knew his days were numbered and wanted to relive the best times of his life. Here is the poem, titled “Murdering Homeless People for Sport.”

Back in nineteen sixty-two

There wasn’t a thing more fun to do

Than get some friends into the car

And drive real fast, and very far

We’d cruise to the city, in downtown

And look to see who was around

We had our tools: a club and bat

We'd search to see where the tramps were at

They usually stood at a trash can fire

From far away we’d look and admire

“I want the tall one,” said my friend Ted

“I’m going to bash in his head”

They would run, scared out of their pants

While we would laugh and do a dance

My favorite tool was a medieval mace

I used it to get them in the face

When the job was done, I had to smile

I hadn’t had that much fun in a while

To think of those deaths is a little sad

But it was still the best time I ever had

Now here I lay, dead as well

Maybe those hoboes will beat me up

When I see them in Hell

Wow. I don’t think anyone expected that. I…You know…I…Wow. This, uh… I suppose this explains his medieval mace.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"A Horrible Ending"

Five years ago I was the smartest detective around. Nothing could get past me. I could solve a Rubix cube in eight seconds and do a crossword puzzle with my eyes closed. I solved case after case without any problems. I was a city hero; the papers always had my name in them: “Craig Phillips, Hero,” or “Man Solves Crossword with Eyes Closed; Doctors Confused.”

I never had much trouble with a case. That is, until one September night when my office got a call that reported a horrific decapitation. Decapitations made interrogating victims tough. I preferred talking to victims with their heads still on. It seemed someone was going around town committing grizzly murders. As we always did, me and my team sprung into action immediately after we stopped watching television.

My team was legendary. There was Unlucky Eddie, a guy whose nickname wasn’t ironic at all. That guy was seriously unlucky. “I’ll start the car,” he said right before a bookcase fell on him.

Then there was Penny Pasta. She swore it was her real name, but no one would have even cared if it was fake because it was so hilarious.

Paul the Punster took the keys from Eddie’s hands and said, “How do you expect to solve this case when you can’t even get that one off you?” He smiled and passed around a tip jar. I gave him a quarter. It wasn’t that great of a pun.

I followed Paul out to the car, carrying Mutt, our spaghetti-sniffing dog. A lot of other detectives used drug or bomb sniffing dogs, but Mutt was just so good at sniffing spaghetti we had to have him. He was essentially useless, except for in the Case of the Strangling Spaghetti. He saved all our lives there.

Penny and Eddie got into the car. “We should call Barry Bonds,” said Paul, “because this case is going to be a home run.”

“What?” I said. “Shouldn’t we call Mark McGuire?” I didn’t know what he was talking about. You see, being incredibly smart had its drawbacks. My brain became so stuffed with knowledge in 1999 that I haven’t learned anything since. Sometimes it’s embarrassing in conversation when people mention bands that aren’t 98 Degrees.

Paul drove our car out to the movie theater, the scene of the latest crime. We already knew who the killer was. He was Bodyless Ned, a notorious madman on the loose from prison. Formerly he was Headless Ned, but his goons found his head and in the process lost his body. Rumor had it that he was murdering innocent people in search of a good body. It was pointless, though, because his two goons had a combined sixth grade education and poor hand-eye coordination, so their chances of actially attaching the head to a body were slim. What they did have, though, was a terrifying grizzly bear that they would dress as a human, sneak into a movie theater, and unleash upon the moviegoers.

When we pulled up to the theater people were running for their lives. Amid the chaos arose Bodyless Ned, held up by his goons. “Excuse me,” he said in that nasally voice of his, “but has anyone seen a body?”

He cackled with laughter as the grizzly bear horrifyingly pounced on a man and ripped his head off.

“Talk about a bad hair day,” said Paul.

No one laughed.

“What? That was a decent pun.”

“Not now, Paul. Not now.”

We had bigger things to worry about. Specifically the grizzly bear that was thundering towards our car, its demonic eyes set on Unlucky Eddie.

I stepped on the gas and we got out of there. We drove to Tennessee, changed our names, and became a traveling band called The Detectives Formerly Known as Craig Phillips, Unlucky Eddie, Penny Pasta, Paul the Punster, and Mutt the Spaghetti-Sniffing Dog.

The name was bad for two reasons. First, it wouldn’t fit on our album cover. Second, it gave away our identities so Bodyless Ned and his goons found us in a matter of days. They dressed their bear up like a record label executive and he tricked us into signing a 50 year contract.

So that’s how Bodyless Ned got us. Not by ripping our heads off, but by using a wild animal to trick us into signing away all the rights to our music.

Never sign a contract written by a bear.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

"The Best Vacation Ever"

The Stevens were having the best time of their lives. It was the middle of summer and they were on a cross-country road trip from South Carolina to California to visit Disneyland for Rick’s ninth birthday. The trip had been absolutely perfect so far; no lost luggage, no speeding tickets, and no bad weather.

Mr. Stevens pulled the car into the parking lot of an ice cream store and told the kids to get whatever they wanted. “Can I have a banana split, papa?” said Julie.

“Have two, sweetheart.”

When they had all finished their ice cream they arrived at the hotel and Mr. Stevens went to check in. After a brief confrontation with the manager he spoke to the family.

“It looks like there’s been a mix-up. They booked us for a room that was already taken, so they’re giving us a suite for the night!”

The suite was fantastic. It had three separate beds, a billiards table, and a big-screen TV. Everyone was in heaven. They called up room service and, when the waiter saw the two kids having so much fun, he couldn’t even think of charging them for the high-priced meal. It was on the house and absolutely magnificent.

The next morning the Stevens packed and loaded up the car to head to their next destination, but the car wouldn’t start. Mr. Stevens called a rental company to try to find something to drive. “Actually, Mr. Stevens,” said the man on the other end of the call, “we’re in the process of replacing our inventory with newer models. Would you like to have one of our Cadillacs? We need to get it off the lot as quickly as possible.”

Mr. Stevens picked up their new car and the family was thrilled.

“Wow, dad,” said Rick while he rubbed his hand over the smooth leather seats. “This is the best vacation ever! How did all this great stuff happen to us?”

“Well, Rick, I was meaning to talk to you about that. You see, your father sold his soul to the Devil for this vacation. The red-horned beast proposed the deal in the men’s room of a Denny’s last week, and, well, I thought of how happy it would make you guys, so I just had to accept. I reckon you won’t see much of me after this trip. I’ll probably be taken far, far away, to toil under Satan’s reign. Who knows what I’ll be doing? I bet it won’t be as great as this trip, that’s for sure. In fact, I bet it’ll be pretty awful.”

“Well thanks, pop! I hope there’s waffles at Disneyland!”

There were waffles at Disneyland and the family had a great time eating them. It was truly the best vacation ever.

Monday, July 28, 2008

"A Ridiculous Man"

He wore a green sweater over a pink shirt with a purple bow-tie and a rainbow belt. And why shouldn’t he? He was a ridiculous man. He was riding his horse as fast as he would gallop straight down the interstate highway. This was nothing out of the ordinary for him. He was, after all, a ridiculous man. The horse was running into oncoming traffic while the man shouted, “Tomato soup is on sale! Tomato soup is on sale!” It seemed very normal to him, for he was a ridiculous man. He stood up on his horse, crouched down into a squatting position, leaped sixty feet into the air, did three backflips, read David Copperfield, and landed in a garden seated next to a white tiger. The tiger looked at him and said, “Would you like a slice of pizza?” This, to him, seemed odd. He was a ridiculous man, but that was just too ridiculous. White tigers don’t like pizza. They prefer snakes and water buffalo.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

"An Expensive Diet"

Todd Koberg came from a long line of money eaters. The Kobergs were an elite family whose skill in the money eating trade could be traced back to the 16th century when Boyd Koberg would dazzle crowds by scarfing down shillings, pennies, sixpence, and farthings. Todd Koberg made his living in New York City, eating money on street corners, piers, in waiting rooms and office buildings. Eager fans would take the train from all over the city to see him wolf down a quarter or nibble a dollar. He came to be somewhat of a tourist attraction; visitors would stop by saying, “There’s the man who eats money. I wonder if he likes nickels?” Any time someone would offer him a quarter he’d smile and eat a dollar.

He always set down a hat in front of him for tips, but once the crowds formed and he got into the show, a nice rhythm of swallowing fives and devouring dimes, his tips were no longer currency; they were dessert. He loved his job, the thrill of the crowd, the smiles on the kids’ faces, the way his belly jangled with each horrendously painful step on the way back to his apartment that was three months overdue on rent.

What his father and grandfather and great-grandfather had failed to mention to their boy was that in order to succeed in the money eating business one must be mindful of his or her savings. Todd hadn’t saved a dime. He had eaten them all. He was sitting on his sofa, which he had found in a dump, one day when the mail came. In it were four overdue bills and a credit card statement saying he was six thousand dollars in debt. He could barely move to get the mail, he was so stuffed. Someone had tossed forty half-dollars into the tip hat that afternoon. When he picked up the bills he stared at them for a long time. He didn’t know what he would do. Could he ask his dad for a loan? Get a second job? He couldn’t decide on a solution, so he did what he did best. He got out his best fork and knife and ate the bills, licking his lips just as his grandfather did after a Thanksgiving dinner of one hundred dollars.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Gas prices are through the roof. Food prices are so high I had to feed my youngest daughter birdseed last week. At this rate we’ll all be dead in a month. So come on down to my warehouse and buy an Apple Dip-Dappler. What is an Apple Dip-Dappler? I have no idea. It’s probably got an apple in there somewhere. But I do know I’ve got a warehouse full of them and I need to buy a new pair of shoes for my dog. I promise satisfaction is guaranteed but I do not promise anything regarding the quality of the product. My uncle Vincenzo dropped them off last week and told me to get rid of them, so that’s what I’m doing! Six for a dollar or one for six dollars! I’m no math man but that doesn’t mean I can’t sell you Apple Dip-Dapplers! And if you’re not in the mood for those, buy one of my Dolphin Roni-Tonis! What are those? Who knows? I checked the crate and there’s no dolphins in there. A lot of wires and a timer that’s counting down. Get these quick! Get them today! Get them before they blow, because I’m pretty sure my uncle Vincenzo is trying to kill me! I shouldn’t have told the whole family he wipes standing up.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Purpose: The purpose of this experiment is to observe the reaction between vinegar and baking soda.

Hypothesis: When the vinegar and baking soda mix bubbles will form.

Procedure:

1) Prepare the materials.

2) Measure 10 grams of baking soda and 5 mL of vinegar.

3) Mix the baking soda and vinegar.

4) Record observations of the reaction.

Conclusion: The results did not support my hypothesis. I think I did something wrong, though. I mixed the vinegar and baking soda and everything seemed fine until I felt a pain in my stomach and I looked in the mirror and saw that somehow this experiment turned me into Benito Mussolini. It’s just weird. I mean, when I signed up for the honors chemistry class I expected to do some tough labs, but I wasn’t prepared to be turned into an Italian dictator. Every time I walk down the street people yell at me for World War II and I say, “Hey, I’m just a 15 year old kid,” and they say, “No, you’re Benito Mussolini!” and I look at my reflection and say, “Oh, yeah, I forgot.” It’s easy to forget about my new body. My parents won’t look at me the same way anymore and I don’t fit into my bed. I look ridiculous when I go skateboarding with my friends. This whole thing is just too weird. My recommendation for this experiment if it is performed again is to not perform it at all. Maybe my baking soda was bad, but it’s not worth the risk of becoming a fascist dictator. Maybe I should have measured the vinegar better.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

It was Ron’s first session with his psychiatrist, Phillip H. Peters. The shrink prided himself on his unusual methods.

“Imagine you are an 18th century Italian spice merchant.”

“I’m sorry, but I have no idea what that would be like.”

“Okay, okay. How about this: Imagine you are a Brazilian chimpanzee wrangler with three legs.”

“I really don’t know anything about Brazil or chimpanzees. Or superfluous limbs, for that matter. Could you maybe come up with something a little more close to home?”

“All right, fine. Imagine it’s 1921 and you are the world’s fastest man. The police are after you because you stole all the sugar in Louisiana. In order to escape, you run so quickly and with such determination that you arrive in the future.”

“Okay, I got it.”

“What? That was probably the most ridiculous situation.”

“No it wasn’t. You described my story exactly. I am the world’s fastest man, it was 1921 last time I checked, and I need to find a place to put all that sugar.”

“I think I know why you came to see me.”

The psychiatrist laughed at his own joke, but he shouldn’t have because the patient’s story was entirely true. The 1920s police were outside the building with sugar-sniffing dogs.

“I gotta get out of here, man,” said Ron. “I gotta get out of here.”

“I don’t know what to tell you. I went to school for ten years and I’ve never heard of anything like this. Could we eat all of the sugar?”

“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Why don’t I just run into the future?”

With a flash Ron was gone, somewhere in the 24th century. The psychiatrist did not know what to think.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

This recently discovered letter is most likely the direct inspiration for Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

Dear Abe,

Long time listener, first time writer. Anyways, I’ve got some stuff I want to get off my chest. So here’s the deal, Abe: This whole slavery thing is a big downer. Seriously, ask any slave and they’re pretty bummed out about it. I don’t know if you’ve ever been down south and seen it, but jees, I mean, this is some heavy stuff. I did a quick poll and it seems like 100% of blacks are pretty against it. Just thought I’d let you know.

-Ted Phillips

Dear Ted,

Holy crap, seriously? I mean I had thought it probably wasn’t a good idea, but woah, I didn’t know it was such a big deal. Lately I’ve just been hanging out. You know, wrestling Hannibal Hamlin in the nude and insulting my wife Mary Todd. So, yeah, I mean I’ll get on that slavery stuff. I just didn’t know it was such a big deal. I thought it was just a hobby or something.

-“Honest” Abraham “Wet Fingers” Lincoln