Miss Taken

"WHERE IS SHE YOU SCABBISH KNAVE?"  I cried, nearly throttling the man caught within my machine-like grasp.  He was short and frightened looking, a perturbed brow fitting neatly between dark, shell-like hair and gold-rimmed spectacles.  The spectacles decorated a round, boyish face with freckles and a short rubbery nose compacted even further by my menacing pointer digit.  The rest of his body disappeared beneath a red apron, embroidered with white lettering mostly blotted out by the harsh imposition of my left elbow.

"I. . . I don't know," he stuttered, causing me to widen my gaze and flare my nostrils, like a bull sizing up its next charge.

"You do know! You know everything! It says so right here!"

I menaced him with a button I had previously ripped from his lapel. It was bright and yellow and said "Ask me!  I can help!"

I tightened my grip on his collar and lifted his gaze to meet mine.  His eyes rolled up and he passed out.  Inconsiderate.

I gently stowed the unconscious clerk beneath a shelf of rainbow colored cereals of dubious nutritional merit, and brushing aside some drool on my shirt, resumed a towering stance above him.

"This is not going to work if I strangle the informants," I murmured to myself thoughtfully, "I need to tie them up and torture them.  But that means. . . the adhesive aisle."

Laying hold of the shelving I propelled myself up, up, up until I stood on top with a view that encompassed the entire store.  I scoured the shelves for duct tape, cattle prods, anything to aid me in my cause.  Then I saw something that rattled my knees and froze my skin.  A woman was putting all the fudge bars in her cart.  "HEY!" I shouted.  I shoved off from my perch atop the cereals.  "HEY, MY WIFE WAS GOING TO GET THOSE!"

Landing deftly I sank into the linoleum and sprang into a charge down the aisles toward the imperiled fudge bars.  I imagined a terrible alien maw gnashing them to bits, capturing the remnants with a dripping red tongue and forcing them back into an unwholesome esophagus. Meanwhile, the rack where I might have purchased them for myself lay desolate. Not on my watch.

While en route I snatched several mops to employ as weaponry.  I helmed myself with a bucket, but lacking eyeholes it was less than I envisioned, and in consequence I barreled through a number of display racks and browsing patrons and their children.  Their calls of distress reminded me that war is a grim undertaking. Yet my banner did not waver, for my cause was just.

As I careered into the avenue which housed the fudge bars I was shook to see their shelf was as empty as I feared.  But before despair overcame me I caught glimpse of a cart brimming with the errant boxes. I extended my gaze to a woman, the thief, the warmonger, and wait, no, she was merely my wife.  She must have fended off the interloper and recaptured the prize.  This reminded me that I had been looking for her.

My wife forced me to remove my adopted raiments of war and accompany her to the checkout aisle.  I demurred.  As we were leaving a group of police constables burst into the store, shouting something about a madman on the loose.  I almost corrected them that it was madwoman poaching fudge bars, but my wife gave me a look which said the matter was well-in-hand.

July 5th, 1776. A dishevelled Thomas Jefferson stumbles to his feet, pulling a pair of star spangled pantaloons off his head. He also wakes George Washington, who lays in an inverted slump in a recently emptied cistern of beer. Somewhere in the rafters, John Hancock moans miserably, then crashes down into a pile of hay.

"Ugh. . . that was quite the party."

Thomas Jefferson: "You aren't kidding. Good idea on the fireworks. Hey. . .why are there all these inkstains on my hand?"

"Don't you remember? You wrote that letter.

"What letter?"

"The one declaring independence from Britain."

"Haha, no seriously, how did I get these inkstains on my hand?"

There is awkward silence.

"Crap. Where is it."

Benjamin Franklin: "I already posted it!"

"Ben, how could you do that! We all signed our names!"

"We are so dead."

Sam Adams: "This is awful. I need some tea. Hey, where's my tea?"

"You dumped it all in the harbor."


Thomas Paine: "Don't worry guys, I can come up with a perfectly reasonable justification for all this."

On Modern Romance

[Hello, everybody! I am temporarily unretiring to share a column I wrote for my school newspaper. Keep waiting for my true return.]

As a polished man of the world, it is my burden to look on the missteps of other well-meaning chaps with a twinge of dread. To this end I have decided to invest my mesmerizing powers of psychoanalysis to pull forth from the ethereal domain of knowledge all the salient facts which can set a man on his proper course. In the interest of the propitiation of the species, I am gratified to share with you, the beleaguered gentleman, a few golden insights into the sphere of human romance.

Before sending off on our intrepid journey, it will be necessary to handle a few basics which have been overlooked in a surprising number of cases.

One common error made by our school's aspiring gentlemen is to smell like the gym shorts of a dead skunk, a habit which reduces their romantic prospects to (approximately) Barbara Streisand. Fortunately, the smell-encumbered fellow can ameliorate his musk with a clever spritzing of Febreeze. He may also wish to buffer his aroma by spending some time circuiting the inside of a shoe store. Shoes naturally secrete special pheromones which are attractive to women, and a lingering scent of Gucci or Prada can supply an almost irresistible appeal.

When engaged in the task of wooing, today's man will also benefit from wearing brightly colored clothing. Nothing is worse than approaching a girl he has strategically sat next to all semester only to learn she never noticed him because he wore the same Tapioca Creme as the shelving in the background.

Finally, he must be sure to always wear warm socks. One of the leading causes of not-asking-girls-out (so I have been told) is getting cold feet.

Now, as we are fixed on the cusp of yet another tribute to Saint Valentine--the man whose martyrdom is yearly commemorated by the disbursing of stale candy hearts--no doubt the reader is anxious about the soundness of some of the common traditions. Here, too, I will provide a wealth of established insights.

Today we live in a gilded age of flim and flam. Spiritual beauty does not show up very well in photoshoots. It is therefore preferred for a gentleman to maintain his intended as of a north-south, rather than east-west, disposition, and this is hardly possible if he bombards her with candied truffles on each and every 14th of February. (He may also complain that chocolates exceed the discretion of his budget.)

What I recommend is that he can instead purchase an excellent assortment of peeled carrots at a grocery emporium for less-than $3. For a dash of romantic flare, he could consider attaching a small note, which would begin by saying something nice, and finish with the recipient's name being correctly spelled.

If, however, his lady remains stubbornly attached to the idea of confections, it would be prudent to remind her of the countless children who perish each year excavating fresh ingredients from the harsh cocoa mines of Guatemala. This reflection will also cause her to feel guilty for doubting him, an association he should if at all possible cultivate.

When nutritious vegetables have run their course, it will be time to effect something more daring. In the seventeenth century, a flowery manner of speech--"But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east and Juliet is the sun."--was very successful in precipitating the sort of full-blossomed love to which Shakespeare attributed double-suicide. Today, however, it is merely the sort of bilge which leaves one the subject of numerous restraining orders.

In place of poetry, our twenty-first century gentleman should consider composing a jingle featuring himself as the subject. The essence of the concept is to create an inextricable virus which targets the human brain. Even if a damsel does not fancy the author at the onset, perhaps likening him to "a foul-breathed troll-footed garble of puke", with a catchy enough jingle, she will find herself unable to dislodge his impression from her mind. (A small postscript for all the lovely young ladies out there--♫ doo-whop doo-whop♫ Ryan Shea is a super cool dude ♫ doo-whop doo-whop ♫--thank you.)

The sir who has been operating under these invaluable cautions and guidance is, more than likely, now in the position of entertaining an eager date, so I shall advance to the subject directly.

When our near-ancestors dated, a popular choice was dinner and a movie. In the present economy, however, the conjunctifying 'and' has been reduced to a less accommodating 'or.'

In the first case, it is happy to note that a prandial excursion provides an excellent opportunity to appear sophisticated by knowing all the ins-and-outs of modern food etiquette. Of course, as previously observed, practices must adapt to a diminished budget. But when silverware is in want, it still conveys a superb class to attend that mustard packets must sit on the left, ketchup packets on the right. Our refined sir is further advised, when passing the salt and pepper, to courteously ascertain that the lids are not unscrewed, as small children are known saboteurs. Last, if he would wish to observe some conscience of health, he may prefer to avoid the menu entirely, in favor of having earlier pocketed some peeled carrots--a highly versatile root.

The occasion of a movie is far simpler to arrange, as there is only one movie which could possibly achieve satisfaction: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. For the sake of appearing considerate, one may of course wish to consult his date's sentiments; however, having posed the question frequently, I have yet to encounter the young woman who has preferred a different Star Trek movie.

I hope my reader will find that, in his plot for successful romance, I have accurately markered the path. Yet, what advice can be offered to the bachelor who has studied my remarks of unimpeachable wisdom with diligence, only to fall flat in- and on-the-end? The essential conclusion, which I present as even less assailable than any of those preceding it, is as follows: women are loony to the eyebrows. Rational analysis is moot: your theories will be upended and your pittering heart reduced to flaming rubble. Give up, go home, and become a professional newspaper columnist.

I find it is quite bearable.

(Ryan Shea is also author of "Non-extradition Countries: Nature's Cure for the Alimony Blues" and a paid spokesman for Carrots of America)


Guys, I'm not sure why I am even posting right now because it is entirely possible that at this very moment there is shark related programming going on that I am missing.

In fact, I think it probably started earlier today in which case I am so despondent I would probably kill myself except for then I would miss the next SIX DAYS of shark related programming on the Discovery channel.

Anyway, I am going to go wake up the neighbors and let them know that it is shark week.


Throwing Axe

The trouble with throwing axes is that if you miss, you've just given your enemy a throwing axe. Plus, you only get one shot.

What makes infinitely more sense is a throw a man holding an axe. He will be able to use it repeatedly and he won't just hand it over to the enemy (unless he is a pansy but then good riddance you'd rather have that pansy on the enemy's team anyway).


Common sense.

I have found my calling: the manufacture of ghetto medical equipment

Ghetto medical equipment has two principal advantages:
(1) It is much cheaper than officially tested and certified equipment.
(2) Using it instills your patients with an appropriate sense of fear.

First, I present my weekend project, an ophthalmoscope:

Made from PVC, binoculars, a digital camera, a child's toy, and some miscellaneous salvaged electronics parts, this device comes with an ON and OFF setting.

Now, of course, you can't be a doctor with just an ophtalmoscope, but I have some other ideas, too:

ECG (electrocardiograph): basically just an oscilloscope, which I already have. Granted, an oscilloscope won't beep when the patient flatlines, but in this economy we cannot afford to entertain such needless frivolities.
Colonoscope: a plumber's snake and a webcam should do the trick.
Anesthetic: ice for topical/local anesthetic, booze for general anesthetic. (being a ghetto physician in the 21st century is a lot like being a perfectly respectable physician in the 19th century)

Anyway, if anyone wants some free medical treatment, I am going to need some practice before I open my doors to the general public.

Earth day!

As you may know, I am a scientist, and as a scientist, I would like to share with you some of the things that scientists have discovered about earth:

*Earth may be the awesomest planet, but it is not the coolest. The coolest planet is Neptune, which has an average temperature of -225 Celsius.
*Earth is also not the largest planet. That would be your mom.
*If you were to observe what earth looks like from the perspective of its moon, you would immediately asphyxiate and die because the moon has no atmosphere.
*Earth is home to millions of living species. An example would be the blobfish.
*If you ever vacation on earth, you should take a towel, because most of earth's surface is covered in water.
*Water on earth is near its triple point conditions, which means it exists in three phases and nine unique flavors.
*Some cultures have worshiped earth as a deity. But these same cultures probably pooed on it, too, so take that as you will.
*Earth has a powerful magnetic field. This helps large metal objects such as washingmachines stick to its surface without floating away.
*The best way to save the earth for our posterity is to recycle. The best way to recycle is to stop consuming new things and instead use old things which are no longer serving a purpose. For example, you could use the fossil byproducts of ancient plant matter to power a joyride to the mall.
*The earth is not a perfect sphere. Its shape is actually that of an oblate spheroid, i.e., a sphere that is a little chubby around the mid-section. It also weighs approximately 5.9736 × 1024 kilograms, so, yeah, not gonna win any swimsuit competitions.
*If you're stuck on earth, don't worry, outer space is only 73 miles away.
*Earth has survived solar storms, asteroid impacts, and magnetic pole reversals, but may ultimately be rendered uninhabitable by cow farts and oversize passenger vehicles.
*Earth's highest point is Mt. Everest. Earth's lowest point was when Dr. Phil appeared on the Tonight Show.