Cheap Sci-Fi

I really dig science fiction. Specifically, I like cheap, used science fiction paperbacks. I love combing thrift stores for sci-fi. I think it's sweet scoring a bunch of cheap sci-fi at garage sales. Fifty-cent book racks outside of bookstores make me happy, and actually going inside a used bookstore with a good science fiction section makes my head spin with awesomeness. If the pickings are scarce, as in the case of thrift stores and the like, I tend to just grab any sci-fi paperbacks that are older than I am and not terribly long (my attention span is short; I'm unlikely to ever read a single Dune novel); if there is sci-fi aplenty, I tend to pick by length first, cover second, and price third. The most expensive books I buy are still just a few bucks, about half of what a new mass-market paperback book costs.

I love cheap sci-fi for a bunch of reasons. I love the price, because by my calculations I'm paying mere pennies per hour of entertainment. I love the smell the smell of old books. I love discovering things long forgotten and out of print, and I love finding classics from big names for next to nothing. And I'm a nerd who likes science fiction.

I like hard science fiction, rooted in actual science, and I love fantastic, completely unrealistic science fiction. Indeed, part of the appeal of some cheap sci-fi is its shlockiness. I tend to lean towards rockets and spacemen sci-fi rather than sword and sorcery fantasy, but I've always had a fondness for speculative fiction in general, and I sometimes use sci-fi as a blanket term for the whole gamut of genres encompassed.

There are so many books that I've read and forgotten. There are so many fragments of sci-fi books in my head, unattached to any title, author, or even storyline. There are so many good books with stories that I remember quite well, even though I have no recollection of what those books were called or who wrote them. There are great books that I can't recall the names of, but I can recall the authors. What the hell is that Harry Harrison book, the first part of a trilogy, that's a lot like 1984, with a dude, aided by a network of underground conspirators, running from a corrupt government and their massive web of oppressive lies? 'Cause that one was kickass!

To help myself remember the books I read, and to share my geeky passion with the interwebs, I started a blog called Cheap Sci-Fi. You can check it out at http://cheapscifi.blogspot.com . Should you feel the need to purchase one of the books I've read, there are links to buy the books, but you really should just go find your own. There is an overwhelming abundance of cheap sci-fi out there for the finding. I'm not one for having a bunch of stuff, so if you know me in real life I'll give you any of the books I've already read if I still have them.

Should you find yourself in a used bookstore, checking out their sci-fi section and being unsure of what to buy, I've got two words for you: Ace Doubles. Bigger stores have sections of them, and smaller stores have them mixed in with the rest of the books. They're easy to spot, though. Just look for the books with the blue and red spines. The stories tend to be great, and the books themselves are super rad: each one is two books stuck together, so you read one and then flip it over and read the other one starting from the other side. The covers are sweet, too, and you get two of them. They're really expensive compared to some of the other stuff I buy, but that just means they cost a few bucks. A store in a heavy foot traffic area will charge more than one on a less-traveled street, but I still only ever pay around three dollars for them.

Also in the category of cheap sci-fi is the science fiction magazine. When I had a shitty desk job, these things really helped fill the hours. The fact that they're full of short stories made them perfect for my short attention span and the, uh, "downtime". My desk was full of them. I even wrote a song about them. Seriously, if you sit at a desk all day, you should get subscriptions to both Analogand Asimov. They're a little more expensive than old, used paperbacks, but they're still pretty damn cheap, and still super awesome. I also really like Weird Talesand the horror rag Cemetery Dance, though they're relatively expensive.

I've read a lot of books and a lot of stories. I've read all kinds of shit, but I always come back to the science fiction. I guess maybe I've just always been a nerd, but I've always loved the stuff. And I love it even more when it's cheap. Cheap sci-fi rules.


Rocknroll Massacre.

Here's another attempt at some stop motion animation. I'm just figuring it out as I go, so I think I'm doing alright. Modeling clay on tin-foil frames. It gets a bit jumbled and confusing, but the whole thing tells the story of a guitar-playing monster who finds a golden skull and then gets attacked by a giant leech and a giant spider. He drills the spider's heart with a carrot drill, but soon has his arm ripped off by a lizard monster, who is then killed by a fly monster. Thanks to Melissa and Deb for the help.


In the world of the future.

This sweet program called FrameByFrame popped into my tubes the other day, and then today I had a terrifying vision of the future, as seen in the video below.


Scamming grandma.

Yesterday, my brother called my grandma. He told her about how he was stuck in Canada because he had been in a car accident, and something about insurance fucking him over, and how he's going to need $10,000 wired to him so he can get back home. She had her Alzheimer's-ridden husband drive her around all day, first trying to get the money (the bank apparently gave her some shit about trying to access her own goddamn money), and then trying to figure out how to wire it to him. She went to Wal-Mart, but the employees were inept and didn't know how to handle that much money.

My grandma only has a land line and doesn't have caller ID, so she called my mom to get my brother's phone number. She didn't mention that she was trying to wire him money, because my mom wasn't supposed to know about how he wrecked his car and got stranded in Canada.

When she called my brother back to tell him about her trouble wiring the money, she found out that my brother wasn't in Canada. He hadn't even wrecked his car. The guy she had been talking to earlier wasn't even my brother at all.

She called the cops, who came to her house and asked her if she had lost any identification recently, and then told her that there wasn't anything they could do because no fraud actually occurred. It's apparently legal to trick somebody into wasting their day and trying to send you $10,000, as long as they don't actually send you $10,000.

One of the creepy parts of the story is when my fake brother asked her if she had the money and if she'd be home later. When I heard that, it creeped me the hell out because this creep I sort of knew, a friend of a friend of a friend, is currently awaiting trial for strangling an old man to death in his home during a robbery. He probably just asked if she'd be home because that was the only place he could reach her, though, not because he was planning on strangling her and her husband. The other creepy part is when my grandma said it sounded exactly like my brother. Even after she talked to the real guy, she thought they sounded the same. That could be because the crook knows my brother, but I prefer to think it was because she's old and losing touch. It's also possible that somebody targeted my grandma specifically, because people where she lives know who my grandpa was, and think the family has money.

People are creeps.


Television: crap for jerks.

I don't watch much TV. When I lived in a house with cable TV, I didn't watch it much, because it seemed like the only thing that was ever on was terrible shows for idiots, advertisements, and advertisements disguised as terrible shows for idiots. I liked The Daily Show and the Colbert Report and a handful of cartoons, but for the most part I found almost everything else completely intolerable. When I moved into a house without even a regular antenna on any of the TVs, I didn't miss the tard-tube at all. Being a bit of a nerd helped, because I was able to get any of the shows I liked via the internet, often without having to see any ads at all. I set up my computer to automatically download whatever shows anybody in my house wanted to see to a shared folder that anybody could access over our WiFi network. I did this until I started running really low on hard drive space, and then phased it out. It was no big deal, as we had Netflix and TV shows on the internet were getting more and more accessible to non-geeks. I watched some TV over the internet at work, both to stick it to The Man and to entertain myself, but after I quit my job in July, I pretty much stopped watching any TV at all.

That is, until recently.

I don't know if TV has gotten stupider, or if I had just forgotten how stupid it was. It seems like almost everything is insultingly patronizing, treating the viewer like they absolutely must be a complete fucking idiot. Just turning on the TV makes me lose a little more faith in humanity. Are people so stupid that they're suckered in by the advertisements? Do people genuinely enjoy watching programming that not only doesn't require you to think, but actively requires you not to? Sadly, the answer to both questions appears to be yes, otherwise it wouldn't be the shit filling up the airwaves 24-hours a day. What can be said of a culture where the average person spends four hours a day sitting in front of a screen where the most intelligent thing they can watch is a cartoon about foul-mouthed children who do a lot of on-screen pooping?

Much has been said about the offensiveness of South Park, but I honestly believe it is one of the least offensive shows on TV. Below is just a brief catalog of some of the outrageously ridiculous shit I've seen during my recent adventures back into the world of television viewing.

The Jerry Springer Show / The Steve Wilkos Show
I had a professor in college who was a very active communist. He encouraged us to come to rallies and demonstrations, and he made a communist newspaper available for free to any students who were interested. He was a firm believer in overthrowing the government, and would talk about the rise of fascism ("It's just capitalism with the gloves off," he would tell us). One of the main signs of impending fascism, he told us, was a "culture of dehumanization." Each time he'd mention this, he'd cite The Jerry Springer Show as an example. Poor people go on TV, fight and cry and make fools of themselves, and we laugh at them because they are subhuman trailer dwellers, and we are better than them. Their misery is our entertainment. I remember finding the show mildly entertaining in high school, but always thinking, Jesus Christ, what a fucking circus!

I hadn't watched it in years, and when I finally did, I was shocked. They somehow managed to make it even more of a fucking circus. They now have sideshow freaks moving randomly around the set while the poor people fight and cry and make fools of themselves. They used to have a segment towards the end of the show where audience members could verbally abuse the guests, generally making fun of them for being poor and/or unattractive. They still have it, only now chicks in the audience randomly show their boobs, often taking the stage for this activity, in exchange for Mardi Gras beads.

Even more shocking was the revelation that one of the bouncers from the show, Steve, who I remember the audience chanting for in the old days, has actually been given his own show. I wondered how this could have happened, as it certainly wasn't because he's an articulate guy who can carry a show with his wit. I watched, fascinated, trying to figure it out, when it hit me: it's got the poor people for us to feel better than, AND it has a physically intimidating guy who throws chairs, denies guests the privilege of sitting down, and then yells in their face. Awesome.

Crazy knife-hunting guy
There's a network on cable that seems to be devoted exclusively to hunting and fishing shows. It seems like this would be a niche market, and the cable companies would opt to sell it as part of a fancy package with a million channels, but around here it comes with your standard basic crap cable that doesn't have any of the channels that have anything worth watching (Comedy Central and Cartoon Network). I didn't catch the guy's name, but one show was about a guy who was going to hunt a pig. With a knife. Viewers were treated to footage of the guy training by running around in the woods, stabbing a fake pig, and ranting about what it means to be a man. Very early in the show, he gave a speech that went basically like this: "Never before in history has there been a time when more men were acting like women and more women were acting like men. I'm not trying to attack you personally, but men are not doing man things. That's why I'm going to hunt a pig. With a knife." He told us that the last time he went on a hunting-a-pig-with-a-knife trip, four of his dogs ended up getting killed. I may have missed it, but I don't think he said whether or not he ended up killing a pig that time, which leads me to believe he didn't. It seems worth it, though, four dogs for one pig. Or no pig. Whatever, as long as he's a man. He said that "anti-dog" groups were against hunting with dogs, but I don't see how that could be true. If I hated dogs enough to join a group devoted to hating them, I'd wish jerks always went hunting pigs (with knives) with their dogs. He also ranted about how people don't like his show, because it's too brutal, but that's just how nature is, so it's OK. He cited the fact that wolves were, at that moment, tearing apart a deer as a reason why hunting a pig with a knife is alright, taking care to avoid mentioning that around the globe, animals are also eating their own feces and the feces of other animals. And then he stabbed a pig.

Public access
Holy crap, why did I only now start watching public access? Public access cable channels are a source of real, honest to god, genuine fucking comedy. Where else can you go for crap like this?
  • A lone hippy on the screen with the colors all mixed up, noodling aimlessly on his guitar in a boring, masturbatory jam that goes on for half an hour.
  • A talentless jackass reading terrible poetry for a room full of jerks so pretentious that they don't laugh him off the stage, even when he fills the gaps between his "poems" by playing "music" on one guitar string tied to some posts and hooked up to a string of distortion pedals.
  • A "performance art" piece where a young woman rambles almost incoherently, yells at some invisible, nameless person, and then wraps herself in cellophane while continuing the crazy talk. Again, for a room of pretentious jerks who find value in her art.
  • A show called Forbidden Knowledge where a paranoid conspiracy theorist speaks without details about the cops trying to shut him down for spreading "forbidden knowledge," and then answers phone calls where people ask questions like, "Where can I find a kit that turns a regular bike into a gas or electric bike?" and the he gives answers like, "I don't know, exactly, but you should look on the internet."
  • An ultra-feminist college professor giving a presentation on sexism in advertising, and finding extreme oppression of women in the most innocuous of things. "In this ad, the shot of the woman is cut off at the feet, so they're trying to say that women shouldn't be allowed to move around, like men, who have feet. In this ad, the women appear playful and happy, which means that all women are stupid idiots who have fun."
  • More than half an hour of a ridiculously-dressed girl walking very, very slowly, outlining her foot with chalk after each step, and being followed by a jerk who erases her chalk lines. That's fucking ART, man!
Yes, indeed, public access is the best thing that comes with basic shitty motel-cable.

Cops 2.0 / G4
Ah, G4, the network for dweebs: people who are socially retarded and desperately want to be nerds, but simply aren't very smart. The programming that is exclusive to this network relies heavily on average-looking chicks pretending to like video games (average looking chicks + appreciation for video games = really super hot chick), and caters to viewers who like to imagine they're tech savvy, but who don't really know how to use the internet. Seriously, any time I've watched Attack of the Show!, it's just a rehash of what I read and saw on the internet the day before (although sometimes I find myself transfixed; if the female co-host had a show about making toast, I'd probably tune in occasionally).

Another show on G4, Cops 2.0, is clearly geared towards dweebs. It's exactly like Cops, except a good third of the screen is taken up by a box that makes the screen look like a website. It has tabs that look like you'd be able to click on them if it were the internet, but since it's TV, you wait for them to click themselves. The box lists random factoids of little to no value, and quizzes about what you've seen within the last 30 seconds. One of the tabs, when it reaches its rotation, displays a question like "What would you do if you got attacked with a knife?" followed by a scrolling list of answers entered by dweebs who bothered to log on to the website to answer it. They're always very bad attempts at being funny. I'm entirely convinced that the big stupid box on the bottom of the screen appeals exclusively to these jerks, because it excites them to see their internet handle displayed on a TV. Yeah, HaLo_n1nJa14, you're a famous fucking awesome guy now.

Late night TV preachers who give away free stuff
I really dig the late night TV preachers who give out free stuff. It's never particularly good stuff, and the preachers themselves are clearly unscrupulous douchebags praying upon the stupid (unlike anybody else who advertises on TV), but still, it's free stuff, and it's weird, creepy voodoo stuff. I got a green prosperity cloth that came with very specific instructions on how to put it in my wallet, FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY!!!, in all caps with exclamation points so I knew it was serious business, and then send it back to the preacher with my monetary seed that will surely grow. When I didn't send it back, I started getting phone calls from the pre-recorded preacher saying, in a very concerned tone, "I sent you the green prosperity cloth, and I haven't received it back from you. Are you OK?" He ended up sending me another one, this one cut into a weird hand shape instead of a square like the previous piece of felt. I also got a sample of holy water from none other than Leroy Jenkins. It came in a little plastic packet that looked like a sample of sexual lubricant, and also had the name "Leroy Jenkins" written on it. Awesome.

Late night TV preachers who don't give away free stuff (specifically, Jack Van Impe)
Jack Van Impe is a crazy televangelist who preaches about the coming end times, repeatedly saying things like "As seen on the history channel" when giving specific end time dates. He's crazy as hell, and entertaining on his own, but the real draw of the show is his wife: Rexella.

Rexella wears a look of constant surprise on her face, reacts with great concern to everything Jack says, and is also in charge of delivering world news. The news bits are the best part of the show. They simply display different articles, both from the web and print, and Rexella reads the headline of each without any context at all and sort of connects them with a few words in between. If you watch closely you can see how the dates of the articles are all over the place, and what she is saying doesn't make any fucking sense at all. It's something that really needs to be seen to be believed, so it's fortunate that you can catch the most recent episode at their web site.

I know that airtime in the middle of the night when people are asleep is the cheapest, but I always have to wonder if people get stupider during these hours. Regular commercials are bad enough, but it seems like only the stupidest of stupids would buy the crap they're peddling. It's always some basic item that has been around forever and is available everywhere, like a blender, minus much of the functionality of the original product, but plus one extra function that you will use 3 times before realizing you're a fucking idiot and you wasted your money on a grossly overpriced product, shoddily crafted from only the cheapest of shitty materials. I think they rely on people being half asleep, because they make outrageous claims that nobody in their right mind would fall for. "Are you worried this knife won't be sharp enough to filet a fish? Well watch what it does to a tomato!" Last night, I saw one that claimed you should buy from them, rather than from a store, because stores pay for advertising, and therefore have a higher overhead and have to charge you more. They always ask how much you'd pay for an item, and then have somebody give a grossly inflated price that absolutely nobody would ever consider even thinking about paying, and then they tell you it's much less than that, so it is clearly a deal.

I saw one infomercial that claimed you would pay "less than a fraction" of the original price they give. I briefly thought that nobody would ever fall for that, but after thinking about all the other shit on TV, I'm guessing that the average television viewer thinks "less than a fraction" actually means something.

So there you go, folks, a big wad of anecdotal evidence that TV is crap. For jerks. Goodnight, and have a pleasant tomorrow.


Gary Gygax made all my friends for me.

I got up early yesterday morning and checked the mail. There was nothing there, so I went back to sleep for an hour. When I woke up, I checked the mail again, and then went back to sleep for a while. When I got up again, I checked the mail, and then played guitar for a while, occasionally going out to check the mail. I didn't end up getting what I was waiting for, which was a Dungeons and Dragons Player's Handbook. (I realize that the fourth edition comes out in a few months, which will render this edition of The Player's Handbook obsolete, but I couldn't wait. I only spent a few bucks, buying it used over the internet.)

When I finally got around to going online and seeing what was coming through the tubes, I immediately learned that Gary Gygax had passed away just hours earlier. For those of you of less inclined towards nerdism, Gary Gygax was the co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons, and considered by many to be the father of role playing gaming. He was the only reason I had any friends at all in middle school.

I first discovered a shelf of Dungeons and Dragons books at a bookstore when I was in third grade. I was familiar with the cartoon, but didn't know what the game was. All the thick, hardcover books filled with charts and tables and illustrations of monsters fascinated me, though. I immediately asked my mom, "Can we get Dungeons and Dragons?"

"What's that?" she asked.

"It's a computer game," I told her, oblivious to what it really was. I couldn't imagine it could have been anything else, especially with all the tables full of numbers.

"We'll see," she said.

One of my fourth grade teachers was an avid gamer, and he explained to me how Dungeons and Dragons and other role playing games (RPGs) work. It's basically story-telling, with each of the players controlling a single character in the story, except for one player, who controls the world the story takes place in and all of the minor characters. Dice are thrown to determine the outcome of events, like whether or not your character is able to slash an orc with a sword, and how much damage is done if you succeed. Dungeons and Dragons was even cooler than I imagined. I quickly became an RPG enthusiast, buying the first complete game I could find and was able to afford, D.C. Heroes. (I wanted D&D, but it required the purchase of several expensive hardcover books and a set of dice. D.C. Heroes was self-contained in one box.)

I wasn't yet playing Dungeons and Dragons, but my teacher taught me all kinds of cool things about the D&D universe. I had always been a monster enthusiast, and I suddenly found myself being more and more fascinated by the denizens of fantasy worlds like the ones created by J.R.R. Tolkien or C.S. Lewis. I traded a couple of action figures for a Dungeons and Dragons book full of monster statistics, and then began drawing my own monsters and making up statistics for them. Since I didn't have the D&D rule books, I made up my own rules for using the statistics in my own role playing game.

My class in fourth grade was less than 10 kids. We were in a windowless room, once a storage room attached to the library, in a middle school. We were secluded from the rest of the students because we all had behavior problems too severe for them to let us interact with the normals. Because of this, my friends were probably just my friends because they were the only kids I could have been friends with, and they were only friends with me for the same reason. Still, we played D.C. Heroes and the games I would invent to go with the monster statistics I made up.

In fifth grade, my aunt gave me a $20 gift certificate from a comic book store. When I went to the store, I saw that they had a role playing game section. I found the only self-contained RPG I could afford, Call of Cthulhu, and bought it, thus beginning my lifelong appreciation for H.P. Lovecraft, whose stories I had never even read before.

In fifth grade, they started bussing me for the first half of the day to the local elementary school, where I was put into the smart kid class. I didn't really have any friends. One kid, Brett, tried to befriend me on the first day. I ended up following him around for a couple weeks before I realized he didn't really want to be my friend. I didn't want to play sports with him and all the other kids, because they laughed at me when I pathetically tried to kick or throw a ball. Brett thought D&D was stupid because it involved too many dice. I began spending recess alone on the swings, occasionally talking to kids but never really hanging out.

I was relieved every day when I went back to the crazy kid class, where I had friends. They had nobody else to be friends with, so we played Call of Cthulhu. As a reward for good behavior, my teacher bought me the Dungeons and Dragons Rules Cyclopedia, so we were able to play D&D, too.

In 6th grade, I was almost fully integrated into normal kid school. I got to spend one cherished study hall period per week in my sanctuary of spazzes and miscreants. The rest of the time, I was an outcast, and walked to class alone, where I sat and waited silently for class to start, my head buried in a D&D book most of the time. I would try to act cool, but mostly only succeeded in feeling awkward. I wanted to be funny, but nobody laughed at my jokes or antics. I resigned myself to authoring adventures nobody would ever play, full of monsters nobody would ever fight and treasures nobody would ever find.

It seemed like forever before I made a friend. When it happened, it happened suddenly. A kid in my science class, Mike, saw my D&D Rules Cyclopedia on top of my schoolbooks one day.

"I don't get Dungeons and Dragons," he said.

"You should come over to my house, and I'll teach you," I told him. He agreed.

It was a big deal to my parents for me to have a friend from the world of normal kids. It had been years since I had had a friend over who I didn't meet in one of my social-retard programs. I had been in "special" schools and classrooms since second grade. My parents seemed to do everything they could to impress Mike and his parents so that he would keep coming over. He did, and we kept playing Dungeons and Dragons.

It was a good thing that Mike noticed the book when he did. When my science teacher, who was very popular with all the cool kids, discovered my love of fantasy worlds of monsters and wizards, he disliked me even more than he previously had. He told me not to bring Dungeons and Dragons or any other fantasy books to class. I later found out that he was among the many idiots who believe that D&D is all about Satan worshiping.

The next friend I made was Gordon, who I had always admired. He was sort of a class clown, and I often tried to emulate him, but failed miserably. People liked him. They didn't like me.

"Oh, no, not one of those books again!" he said, pointing at my Rules Cyclopedia on top of my English books. It turned out that Gordon had received some Dungeons and Dragons books for Christmas. Once again, I had made a new friend just by having a D&D book in my possession. Being friends with Gordon made people like me more, and I was able to talk to more people and make a few friends through him, though I was still a nerd. Through Gordon, I met Eric, who told me, "We used to see you walking around by yourself wearing your jacket all the time. We didn't know what your deal was."

The oddest friendship I forged in 6th grade was this stoner kid, Tim. He was a badass and a thief and popular with all the tough, stupid kids. Tim made almost all F's on his report card, with a D in gym class. Tim was friends with an even more popular tough, stupid kid, a stoner named Alex.

To get a good spot in the lunch line, I went straight to the cafeteria after class without stopping at my locker. There was a shelf in there where I could stick my books. One day, after lunch, my binder was missing. My schoolbooks were there, but my binder, which was a black vinyl thing that was popular at the time, was gone. I went to study hall, pissed, and noticed Alex sitting in the corner with the same kind of binder that I had just lost. He was drawing all over it with white out, and kept turning around to look at me.

I immediately knew the binder was mine, and knew how to prove it, assuming he didn't throw away my folders. Inside the binders were some folders that I had decorated with collages made from cut up comic books, and then laminated. My name and address was printed on a label inside of each one. I asked around and somebody told me that they had seen folders like the ones I described. I told the principal, who made Alex give my binder back. He had written all sorts of stupid, nonsensical shit like "TRIPPLE XXX" all over it, and ripped my labels out of my folders.

The day after I got my binder back, I was at my locker with my books on the floor, fishing out a book for the next class. Tim, Alex's friend, came up and grabbed my binder off the floor. He was about to walk away when he saw my D&D Rules Cyclopedia.

"Whoa! You play Dungeons and Dragons?"

He handed my binder back and I had a new friend and an in with the tough, stupid kids who did drugs and stole stuff. People liked them because they were badasses. Suddenly, the badasses accepted me. Some even liked me.

I used to look at the cool, popular kids standing in circles talking between classes. I always thought they were doing drug deals. One day, I found myself standing in one of these circles. Holy shit! I thought, I'm standing in a cool circle! It turned out that nobody was dealing drugs, they were just talking about boring bullshit, but they were fucking cool.

Dungeons and Dragons earned me a few friends in 6th grade, and with those connections I was able to make more friends, though my core group was always the D&D nerd group. I don't think I had a single close friend in 6th or 7th grade that wasn't a gamer nerd.

In 8th grade I went to a new school. I was ready to make friends with nerds, but somebody recognized me as the kid who cussed out Mrs. Norris in fourth grade and got permanently removed from school on the first day of class. I was instantly popular and friends with the tough, stupid kids. I carried around my Rules Cyclopedia for a couple weeks before one of my best friends shamed me into being less of a nerd and more of a jerk.

"Dungeons and Dragons: Nerd Encyclopedia!" he said, and then, just to clarify, "That's what it is, you know. It's just for nerds. The nerd encyclopedia."

I didn't play Dungeons and Dragons again for years.


Mr. Roberts: Sadistic, overgrown jock.

In second grade, my gym teacher used to terrify kids by pretending to punch them in the face. In fifth grade, my gym teacher used to issue daily threats to students, claiming he was going to kick them so hard in the face or ass that his shoe would become lodged in their nose, mouth, or anus. And in seventh grade, my gym teacher taught me a very valuable lesson: violence is wrong, except when it is a grown man hitting a defenseless child with a weapon.

Our class had been broken up into two teams, and each team broken into neat little rows to designate who would serve the ball next. We were playing volleyball. Somebody would serve the ball, and when it hit the ground, everybody would move forward in their row, and the person who served the ball would move to the back. I began the game in front of John, a guy that I didn't get along with. He was a Star Trek nerd, while my friends and I were Dungeons and Dragons nerds. We made fun of him constantly, and he would respond by attacking our choice of nerd-vice, which we found amusing, because he clearly had no understanding of what Dungeons and Dragons even was.

After the first game was over, we were instructed to switch sides, but to maintain the order in which people served the ball. The game had progressed for a few minutes before I realized John had somehow moved in front of me in line. I attempted to remedy the situation by moving ahead of him, where I belonged. John shoved me. He towered over me, but I shoved him back.

"Hey!" Mr. Roberts yelled. We both stopped and looked at him. "There's no fighting in my class! Get in my office!"

Mr. Roberts stared us down as we walked silently to his office. We sat waiting until gym class was over. Mr. Roberts came in.

"There's no fighting in my class," he said, reaching for a drawer in his desk. He pulled the drawer out, and then pulled a large, wooden paddle from the drawer. He dropped it on the desk. It was heavy and loud. "The penalty for fighting is a swat. Go take your showers and then wait on the bleachers."

We went and showered with everyone else, and then came out of the locker room to wait on the bleachers with everyone else. When the bell rang, everybody left except us.

Mr. Roberts appeared at the door of the gym, bringing one of the shop teachers, Mr. Hummel, with him. "Paul, you're first," he said, gesturing me to follow him into his office. I did, and he closed the door behind me.

"Mr. Hummel is here as a witness," he said. Mr. Hummel was another sadistic asshole. He would later threaten to give me swats for not paying attention to Disney's Aladdin on the last day of school when there was no work to do and no tests to take. He was a piece of shit, and was probably just there because he liked seeing kids getting hit. He probably made the paddle himself.

"I called your mom and got authorization. Now, I'm a pretty good golfer and I've got a really nice swing. I swing pretty hard, but you're a little guy, so I'm only going to give you a half swat. Bend over and grab your knees."

I did, and then he hit me. I crumpled to the floor, the pain radiating through my ass and into the rest of my body. My eyes teared up and I clenched my teeth, both in pain and rage. The pain didn't make me feel like I shouldn't have shoved John back, it made me feel like beating John, Mr. Roberts, and Mr. Hummel to death with the paddle.

Seconds after swatting me, while I was still on the floor, crying, Mr. Roberts flung the door open. "Get to class," he said. I hobbled out, wondering what a full swat felt like if that was really only half a swat. The halls were empty, and I was late to class, but a tardy seemed better than being embarrassed by my tears.

Years later, my friend told me he heard Mr. Roberts was getting fired for threatening to beat up a 10 year old, among other things. I looked up the school on the internet recently, and was dismayed to see that he still worked there.

I mentioned the incident to my mom recently, and she told me she never would have given anybody permission to give me any swats.


You guys talking about systems?

Ninth grade was the last year that I had gym class, as it was the last year that it was mandatory. Once a week, after doing our daily calisthenics that we wouldn't actually do if the teacher wasn't watching, we'd go to the weight room for "weight training". We got to pick out our own workout routines, so for my friends and I, this meant grabbing the smallest free-weights, finding an isolated spot to sit, and only pretending to lift the weights when the teacher was looking or yelling at us.

One day in the weight room, we were sitting around, not lifting weights, and discussing the merits of various pen-and-paper role playing game systems.

"I think the to-hit-armor-class-zero system Dungeons and Dragons uses works so perfectly," I said, "it's not needlessly complex, like DC Heroes or the Palladium system."

"Yeah, THAC0 is good," Sean said, "I prefer it over the Palladium system, but Palladium does put out great content for their games. Rifts is great. I like using Palladium setting ideas, but with the Dungeons and Dragons system."

"You guys talking about systems?" a voice suddenly interjected. It was Danny Pitarms. He was an alright guy who we talked to occasionally, but he wasn't part of our nerd circle.

"Uh, yeah," I said, "RPG systems."

"My buddy has an awesome system in his car," he told us, "The subwoofer can throw a quarter 25 feet!"

"Um, cool?"

Danny seemed to be able to tell that we weren't particularly impressed. He wandered away and we quietly made fun of him briefly before continuing our conversation. We were better than him, because we were nerds, and he was just a dork.


Sheena is NOT a punk rocker, nor does she appreciate the implication that she may be.

I was on my lunch break, sitting at a table in one of the quieter lobbies where I worked. I had already eaten, and was using the rest of my free time to read some comic books that I had just picked up.

"Can I sit here?"

I looked up. It was my boss's daughter, Sheena, holding a plastic container with food in it. It was lunch break time for her, too, though I was never sure why she was ever there. As far as I knew, she was either a teacher or becoming one, but I would see her around quite frequently.

"Sure," I said. There were plenty of free tables, and I felt like I would prefer to just read my comic books, but I thought she was cute and didn't really mind a chance to sit and talk to her for a while. I had never had a chance to talk to her without her mom, my boss, being there.

She sat down and we started talking. She was happy and friendly, and didn't immediately bore me to tears like most people, though I may have found her purple eyes more interesting than anything she had to say. The conversation was upbeat for the first few minutes, but then I asked the wrong question.

"Do you like The Ramones?" I asked.

"Well," she said, "I am a child of the 80's, so... yes."

"Have you ever heard 'Sheena is a punk rocker'?"

Her smile immediately disappeared. The happy look on her face was immediately replaced by a cold stare. She looked like I had just asked her if she had ever heard a song called "Sheena is a huge filthy whore who stinks."

"No," she said flatly, "No, I haven't."

"Well," I said, "you should check it out. It's a fucking great song! I think of it every time I hear your name."

She seemed to sense from my tone of voice that perhaps "punk rocker" didn't mean "huge filthy whore who stinks", and the conversation once again became upbeat. It was too late, though, because I had decided in the previous few seconds that I didn't want to talk to her anymore. I made small talk for a few minutes before I told her I had to go back to work.

"Oh, OK. I'll see you later. It was nice talking to you," she said.

I found a quiet spot and went back to reading my comic books until it actually was time to go back to work.


Jury duty.

"Do you live in the city proper or one of the townships?" the girl asked me when I handed her the jury duty notice I had received in the mail. She had noticed the forwarding label from my old address to my new one. The town wasn't even the same, so I hoped I would be able to go home and get back to sleep. I was sick as hell, and 8:30 in the morning is only a couple of hours after I normally go to bed, so I was tired on top of feeling weak and snotty and coughing my lungs out. I told her what township I lived in, and she punched out a jury duty tag for me to pin to my shirt and handed me an official-looking certificate to hang on my wall to let people know I had done my civic duty. I sat down on one of the benches and settled in to spend the day there. I immediately realized I should have brought something to read.

I couldn't get comfortable. My body temperature was all fucked up from having a cold, and I was either too hot or too cold. I kept taking off my sweatshirt and putting it back on. The second time I pulled it back on, I realized the ends of my sleeves were crusty with my snot, and for the rest of the morning I would twist my sleeves around to try to conceal the gross looking patches.

Shortly after arriving, the lights were dimmed and we were shown a video about jury duty. I was surprised to learn that people were randomly selected from the pool of people who have drivers licenses, which surprised me, because I had thought that jury duty was a penalty for voting. After the video, the girl who had given everyone their civic duty certificates explained a little bit more about the process, and then told us to wait for it to start.

The old guy to my left was quiet and never said anything, for which I was grateful. The lady to my left was engaged in conversation with the guy on the opposite side of her. I tuned them out as they talked about school and crime. I hoped she wouldn't talk to me.

A guy with a big mustache and a Harley Davidson sweatshirt kept walking around the room, loudly talking to anybody who would listen about his Harley.

"Yeah, I ride a Harley! My friends ride Harleys, too!"

He was really intent on making sure absolutely everybody, even those who weren't at all interested, knew what kind of motorcycle he rode. It was hard to tune him out, because he was very loud. I avoided making eye contact, because I knew he would take that as an invitation to come tell me about his Harley, and make a hilarious joke that only he would laugh loudly about.

"No, man, I don't ride a horse. I've got a Harley!" I heard him say before letting out a big laugh to let everyone in the room know that it had been some kind of joke. Later, I heard him say, "He said vegetarian pizza, I said, what's the point?" before letting out another huge guffaw. He seemed like any number of redneck jackasses I had gone to high school with, and I imagined telling him I was gay if he tried to talk to me so he would leave me the hell alone.

I had been waiting silently for an hour or two before the lady on my left said anything to me.

"So what do you do?" she asked me suddenly.

"I'm currently unemployed," I told her.

"What did you do?"

"I filed medical records at the university."

"Oh, did you get laid off because they're switching to digital records?"

"No," I told her, "I quit."

She asked me if I knew the big boss of the medical records operation. "She used to be a therapist, like me," she said.

"Yeah," I said, "She should be fired, along with every other level of their grossly incompetent and bloated management."

"Really, why?"

"There's absolutely no quality control, and nobody cares. All but the smallest records have other peoples' information in them, and nobody does anything at all about it. It's pretty disgusting."

"Yes, that is disgusting," she said, her face reflecting her actual disgust, which made me happy, not because I wanted to disgust her, but because I think it's important that people know their sensitive health information is being grossly mishandled.

She stopped talking to me, and I hoped she wouldn't start again. She seemed nice enough, but I felt like shit and wished I could go to sleep. I ate some Dayquil that I had in my pocket and continued to wait silently for the jury selection process to begin.

It was only after several hours of waiting that the judge made his first appearance. He seemed like a jovial character, but I imagined he was probably actually a huge douchebag, like any of the popular "nice" teachers in high school. He told us that they were able to do plea bargains for most of the cases, but they still had some work to do before they might select juries. He had us vote on whether or not we wanted to break for lunch. I voted against it, because it would have meant staying longer, and I didn't have a car to go anywhere if we did break, anyway. Fortunately, most of the people seemed to be in favor of a shorter stay, so we got to continue sitting around, waiting, instead of breaking for lunch.

"So, what do you do if you don't work?" the lady on my left asked me.

"I play a lot of music and video games," I said.

"You sound like a college student."

"Yeah, it's a sweet life," I replied, "I hope to live like this forever."

"Do you think that's what people do?" she asked, "Do you think people are just hippies their whole lives?"

"Well, obviously not everyone," I said, "but if I can get away with it, I don't see why I shouldn't do what makes me happy and avoid what makes me unhappy."

She thought about what I said for a minute before asking, "What do you want to do? What do you like doing?"

"Well, playing music and video games," I said. "There's not a lot of money in it, but it's really a blast."

"I knew when I was 8 years old that I wanted to be a therapist," she told me, "I'm a hand therapist now. I solve problems for people. With their hands. I really enjoy it."

"It must be nice doing something you enjoy," I told her.

"What kind of music do you play?" she asked, changing the subject.

"Reggae," I said.

"What's reggae?" she asked. I immediately knew I should have said something else.

"Well," I said, "Um, it started in Jamaica. It's really mellow." I wanted to tell her the emphasis was on the off-beat, but figured it would be a waste of time.

"Who is a reggae artist I might know?"

"Well, Bob Marley isn't really one of my favorites, but he's the one that most people have heard of."

"I see. Who else is there?"

"Well, if you don't know Bob Marley, there really isn't anybody else I can name that you would know."

"Is it kind of rock and roll?" she asked.

"Um, yeah," I said, "It's rock and roll." It was accurate because reggae is another blues-based form of music. The blues, rock and roll, and reggae all rely heavily on the same three chords.

"Okay..." she said, "Is it bluesy?"

"Yeah, I'd say it was bluesy," I responded. It was the same goddamn question to me.

"So... reggae is like a bluesy sort of rock music?"

"Yeah," I said, satisfied enough.

"That sounds interesting," she said.

"Yeah," I said, "Reggae is good stuff." I made a mental note just to say "rock and roll" to begin with if I thought someone didn't know what reggae was (unless I thought they might come to an Assbutts show, in which case I might try to explain, or just tell them to come see).

The judge came out and told us that they had managed to do plea bargains for all of the cases, and that we could go home. Everybody applauded and then began shuffling out. We had been there for about four hours.

"See you next year!" the lady who was sitting next to me said.

"Yeah, see you," I replied.

I went outside to the locker where I had to lock my cel phone, and then called my ride. The guy who had been sitting on the opposite side of the lady next to me heard me on the phone and offered me a ride, since he had heard where I lived when I was talking to the lady. He gave me a ride, and then I immediately went back to sleep when I got home.

I was a little disappointed that I didn't get to experience the actual jury selection process. It certainly would have been more interesting than just sitting around for four hours.


I'm pretty sure she made me touch her butt.

I never really socialized much at work. I didn't really even leave my desk except when I had to, and when I did, I would do what I needed to do as quickly and efficiently as possible so I could get back to monitoring the tubes, reading science fiction magazines, and playing with my Nintendo DS. Sometimes I would wear headphones when I left my desk so I could pretend I didn't hear anybody and avoid talking to them. When I was forced to talk to people, I didn't say much, and would immediately go back to my desk when I was done doing what I was supposed to do, regardless of whether or not it seemed like somebody was done talking to me. I just didn't see any need to make friends with the people I worked with, and I didn't want to waste my time talking about the weather, sports, Jesus, TV shows, or any other inane bullshit people seemed interested in. My disinterest in talking to people stemmed less from a specific dislike for the people I worked with than from a general distaste for people.

There were, however, exceptions to this rule.

Some of the people I worked with I found truly disagreeable. Among them was a morbidly obese black woman who dressed very loudly and caked her face with many layers of clown/whore makeup every day. Her appearance was not the only loud thing about her, and I would often be forced to listen to her having long conversations with her friends in their normal indoor voices, which were the screams, yells, and cackles you would expect from people at a loud concert rather than a quiet office building. At least once, I turned my headphones up painfully loud, but was still unable to drown out the sound of her and another woman practicing their gospel singing at full volume.

The woman was somewhat crazy, and I had once heard from a girl my age about an altercation she had had with the woman. The girl was swearing, talking to her friend, when the woman put her face inches from the girl's face and engaged her in a yelling argument over her apparent lack of respect for herself. The girl asserted that she was "a grown-ass woman" who could talk however the hell she wanted to, which only served to make the woman louder and angrier.

I was, unfortunately, too friendly to be actively disliked. Despite my unwillingness to socialize with my coworkers, I would always help people with their retarded-person computer problems if they asked for my help. I would have preferred it if people thought I was an asshole and never tried to talk to me, but I gained a reputation as a quiet but friendly guy who was willing to help people when they were too goddamn inept to do incredibly basic tasks by themselves.

On several occasions, the loud woman came to my desk asking for computer help. Each time, she wanted me to go back down to her desk to help her. She was very slow-moving because of her girth, so I would be forced to endure extra moments of her talking to me. She would tell me about her teenage son's incredible musical skill, and how he played for a large number of incredibly famous acts, and how all kinds of guys really want her because she's so sexy. I never believed her. When we got to her desk, her problem would invariably be something so fucking stupid that it would shock me that somebody would give her a job sitting at a computer much of the day. I would save her file, or maximize her window, or whatever other stupid shit she needed, and then immediately go back to my desk.

I tried to avoid interacting with her more than I tried to avoid interaction with anybody else. When she did say something to me, it was often uncomfortable shit like, "You get more and more handsome every day", or trying to get me to come to her birthday party. I tried to be polite, but I was always very short and in a hurry to get back to my desk.

One day, I went downstairs to pick up my batch of work that should have been printing out at that moment, as it did every evening. The morbidly obese lady was standing near the printer with two other coworkers.

"They're not coming yet," she said.

"Oh," I replied, ready to go back upstairs.

She grabbed my hand. "Here," she said in her deep, manly voice, "let me show you."

I didn't need to be shown, and I sure as hell didn't need to have my hand held to walk 3 feet to the printer. My hand was limp as she clasped it and began waddling towards the printer.

And then my hand touched her butt.

"See?" she asked, gesturing at the empty printer with her free hand.

"Uh, yeah," I said, pulling my hand free. "I guess I'll check later," I said, and went back to my desk, wondering what the fuck just happened. Did she just pull my fucking hand into her butt? I asked myself.

It has been hypothesized that perhaps pulling my hand into her butt was just an unfortunate consequence of her being so fat that her butt took up so much space. That makes me wonder, how often do morbidly obese people "accidentally" touch their own butts? I will never know whether or not she intentionally made me touch her butt, but either way, she had no goddamn business grabbing my hand in the first place.

On my last day of working at that place, she stopped me as I was walking to my boss's desk, trying to bitch at me about doing too much work and raising the ludicrously low standards, which meant she actually had to do some work.

"You do all them boxes, and now Chris thinks we can all do that much. I can't. You need to..."

"This is my letter of resignation," I said, cutting her off and showing her the paper in my hand. "I don't have to take any shit at all from anybody here ever again."

She was clearly taken aback. "Oh," she said, "well, I was thinking I might have to do the same thing if things don't change around here."

"Yeah," I said, not trying to hide the contempt in my voice, "You do that." I walked away.

I'm so happy that I'll never have to see her again.


We don't have Flubber, but we have Blubber.

I used to go to the library regularly in fourth and fifth grade, mostly to browse the science fiction section. The library was a tiny, one-room building crammed with books. The head librarian, the only person there most of the time, was a very old, wrinkled, hunched-over lady who moved and spoke slowly.

One day, while I was perusing the scifi shelf, a girl who was roughly my age came in with her mom. Clearly unfamiliar with both card catalogs and the "alphabetical by author" system of shelving fiction, she immediately went to the librarian and asked if the library had a copy of Forever.

"Well, I know we have Blubber," she said, shuffling over to the young adult section, "but I don't know if we have Flubber."

"Forever," the girl said, following the librarian.

"Yes, yes, I know we have Blubber, but I don't know about Flubber," she replied, leaning close to the shelf and eyeballing books.

"Forever," the girl said again, "not Flubber."

"I don't know if we have that. I know we definitely have Blubber, though. Do you know who it's by?"

"Forever," she said again, clearly frustrated by this point, "by Judy Blume."

"Ah, yes," the librarian said, pulling down a copy of Blubber, also by Judy Blume, off of the shelf for the girl. "We have this one, Blubber, I don't see Flubber here, though."

"I'm not looking for Blubber or Flubber," the girl told the librarian. "I'm looking for Forever."

The librarian finally understood what she was saying. "Oh," she said, suddenly much less enthusiastic. "We got rid of that because it had some overnight stuff," she said in what sounded like a disgusted tone as she shelved the book. The girl stormed out without saying another word, and her mom thanked the librarian for her help before following.

I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to find out that the book is still unavailable in that backwards little town.


Simon's $50 pound of weed.

This is, by far, my post popular post, receiving a bunch of views every day, but nobody has ever left a comment. You can do it anonymously. You should leave one. What is it you're looking for that brought you here? Did the title lead you to believe somebody had a pound of weed for sale, over the internet, for $50? Were you trying to figure out what a pound of weed is worth? (ProTip: Try THMQ.) Are you doing research for school? I can't, for the life of me, think of what else might be bringing so many clicks this way. Why don't you leave a comment and help end the mystery?

I first met Simon in 5th grade. He was a couple years older than me, several times my size, and a compulsive liar. On the bus, he would brag to me about how he had so much body hair that he had to shampoo his chest, pubes, and armpits, and how his flacid penis was the size of a full roll of paper-towels. Simon was clearly black, but would vehemently deny it, claiming to be a Mexican/Native American hybrid, despite looking like neither. He referred to black people as "colored people."

I considered Simon a friend, though this didn't prevent me from occasionally setting off his violent temper just for kicks. I learned that simply stating "I am God" would infuriate the religious kid, so it became something I enjoyed saying. Both of us were classified as "emotionally handicapped" and stuck in a classroom of other fire-starting crazies, and on several occasions, I witnessed the full power of his explosive rage, with screaming, book-throwing, and eventual restraint by all the adults in the room.

In 8th grade, I lost my "emotionally handicapped" label and stopped riding the short bus into the neighboring school district. I started going to the school I was supposed to, and Simon followed me the next year. I had no classes with him, but would sometimes talk to him in the hallway.

One day, Simon pulled me off to the side of the hall. He looked around suspiciously, and then leaned in close to my ear.

"I'm looking for a pound," he whispered.

"A pound of weed?" I asked in my normal voice.

"Shhhh! Yeah. Can you help me out?"

"Yeah, I'll see what I can do," I told him, and walked away.

As luck would have it, I had a friend in Spanish class who was a known pot dealer that had recently been busted by his mom. She had opened the trunk of his car to find it full of weed that he had grown in the woods. She was furious, and wanted him to get rid of it all immediately. For this reason, he had actually offered me a pound of weed at the crazy discount price of $100 just days before Simon's request. I declined, as I didn't smoke or have $100. When Simon asked for the pound, though, lights starting going off in my head. I didn't tell him about the offer, because I figured I'd pretend I was looking around, and then make some money brokering a deal for him. Even at the time, so many years ago, you could consider yourself well-connected to even get an ounce for $100, so anybody actually looking to make some money would have no problem dropping a few bills for a whole pound.

"Hey, Simon," I called out in the hallway a couple days later. He walked over to me.


"I found that pound you wanted," I told him.

"How much?" he asked.

"Three hundred bucks."

Simon rolled his eyes. "I already found one for fifty!" he said, walking away.

I told my friend in Spanish class about the failed transaction. We both agreed that Simon was completely full of shit.

The last time I saw Simon was one day when he showed up at school when I was in 12th grade. He spoke in a very soft voice and told me he was now a missionary. I didn't know whether or not to believe him, because nothing he ever said seemed to be true. I didn't really care, though. That guy was a jackass.


Don't tease the animals.

I went to a zoo a few months ago when it was still warm out. I'm opposed to zoos in a general sense, because it seems kind of douchebaggy to lock up a bunch of animals, many of them relatively intelligent, for the amusement of a bunch of mouth-breathing members of the general public. For this reason, I haven't been to a zoo in years. That, and I really don't like the general public, and tend to hate being surrounded by people who are almost inevitably a bunch of intolerable idiots.

For most of our walk around the zoo, I was pleasantly surprised. There were things that pissed me off, like assholes in the butterfly room touching the butterflies (it damages their fragile wings), and the small enclosures for animals smart enough to hate being locked up, but I enjoyed being able to see all sorts of critters up close. I was particularly fond of the reptiles, because they're too stupid to really hate their lack of freedom so much, and they're just completely awesome, like scaly science fiction monsters, here to devour your face clean off of your skull.

Everything was going relatively well, until we got to the tiger enclosure. That's when I got really pissed off.

We were watching the tigers going about their business when a family strolled up to the fence near where we were standing. The morbidly overweight matriarch of the clan began clapping and yelling at a tiger who was sitting down, facing away from us.

"Hey!" she yelled, clapping her hands. "Hey! Hey, tiger!"

I wanted to yell at her. I wanted to say, "Hey, you ugly bitch, this beautiful creature could and would eat your whole goddamn family if it wasn't imprisoned for your amusement." I wanted to tell her how disgusted I was with her. I wanted to lock her up in a cage and make her do tricks to entertain me.

I wanted to push her into the fucking cage and watch her get eaten in front of her horrified family.

I generally like animals, but I very often dislike people. Seeing an amazing animal trapped in a small space while a free-roaming, slack-jawed jackass yelled at it was an ugly contrast. For the rest of the day, I was in a pissy mood, thinking about how what I had witnessed happens all day long, every single day that the zoo is open. It seemed so totally unnecessary. What good is served by locking up a tiger so some assholes can look at it? Most of those jerks would be just as happy sitting at home eating McDonald's while watching TV commercials and rooting for their favorite American Idol contestant.

When I heard recently that some dickheads got attacked by a tiger for taunting it at a zoo, I can't say I had any sympathy for them at all. In fact, I wished that all three had been killed by the tiger instead of just one of them. They euthanized the tiger, so if you're keeping track of kills at home, the score is 1-1; everybody loses. At least she was able to maul the two that she didn't kill.

I imagine a scant few of the loudmouthed cretins who taunt animals at zoos would dare taunt a human prisoner safely locked behind correctional bars, even though any tiger can kill a person more quickly than all but the most powerful of humans. Perhaps it is the fact that these animals are locked up specifically for human amusement that emboldens people to act like shit-flinging monkeys.

There are currently more tigers in captivity in the United States than there are tigers in the wild. Sadly, this means that zoos might play a crucial role in their survival at all. For this reason I support the occasional eating of human visitors by zoo animals. If people realize the penalty for taunting a creature might be death or a severe mauling, people might be more hesitant to behave like the kind of assholes who deserve to be killed by tigers. The tiger who escaped apparently could have escaped at any time, but never felt the need to go attack people until it reached its breaking point. If there's any lesson at all to be learned from this brutal attack, it's that tiger enclosures should all be like the one at the San Francisco zoo: inescapable until the tigers have had enough of you and your fucking bullshit.


The greenhouse effect.

In class one day in fourth grade, my teacher asked if any of us knew what the greenhouse effect was. I raised my hand. Nobody else raised theirs, so my teacher called on me.

"It's when they mix the old food with the fresh food at Chinese food restaurants, so the fresh food isn't any good because it's full of old food that keeps getting older," I said.

"No," my teacher said, shaking his head and looking amused. "No, that's not it at all."

The reason I believed this was because a few years earlier, a Chinese food restaurant opened next to a video store we frequented. One day as we were driving away, my parents were expressing their sympathy for the owners of the restaurant, because it seemed like nobody ever ate there.

"Why don't we eat there, then?" I asked. I thought it would be nice to give them some business. My dad, however, explained to me that if nobody was eating there, they would just keep mixing the fresh food with the old food, and it would just keeping getting worse and worse. He said that this was called the greenhouse effect, and it was the reason why we weren't going to eat there.