I'm Sorry, Could You Repeat That?

What a day. WHAT A DAY. First my alarm went off, and it was all like ALARM ALARM ALARM ALARM ALARM, and I was like, I GET IT, then the coffee machine was NEE NEE NEE NEE NEE then the traffic was completely in my face, it was like HEY LOOK, TRAFFIC TRAFFIC TRAFFIC BEEP BEEP BEEP and I went YEAH YEAH YEAH GET OUT OF MY FACE and when I got to work my boss was BOSS BOSS BOSS BOSS BOSS about every little thing, and the phone wouldn't stop being all PHONE PHONE PHONE PHONE PHONE until I wanted to take it and go WALL WALL WALL WALL WALL, and even lunch was nasty, some old pizza slice that got into my stomach and started saying PIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIZZA PIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIZZA PIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIZA and I was like NOOOOOOOO NOOOOOOOOO NOOOOOOOOOOO but I got over that just in time for this meeting where some guy was SALES SALES SALES SALES SALES, to which I wanted to be, like, NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT, and as if that weren't bad enough the copy machine was like URRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR and then as soon as I hit the street at five-thirty the rain was jumping on me all SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS, and I was BUS BUS BUS BUS BUS but the bus was more like WHA HUH? WHA HUH? WHA HUH? and even my cat was doing like CAT CAT CAT CAT CAT every time I turned around and wouldn't let me be. Now here you are all MOOD MOOD MOOD MOOD MOOD and I'm about to go FUHHHHHHH FUHHHHHHHH FUHHHHHHH if I don't get like ten seconds of peace. I have so many English Composition papers to grade I don't know where to begin.


Harmless, My Hijinks Are

We were all at the corner of 12th & G at the height of rush hour. Me and a bunch of total strangers. We waited there for what seemed like three or four minutes with the traffic whizzing by, unable to cross, and finally I'd just had it, dammit. I turned to my fellow commuters and spread my arms and said:

"People, we are citizens of this country, and as such, we have inalienable rights. But even more importantly, we are charged on a daily basis with exhibiting the internal strength that democracy brings. Inside each one of us lies the ability to act boldly where oppressed souls might shrink away from risk. We now find ourselves in a situation which demands action, not compromise. We can stand here all day and let these vehicles take from us what it rightfully ours, or we can rise up---rise up like the great abolitionists, the great suffragettes, the great freedom fighters---and stake our claim to the other side of this street, as we were born to do, as we were meant to do. Who among you will follow me now, right now, and live in the rarefied air of the giants of history, remembered as valiant and true while those who remain behind find their names lost quietly to the ages? I challenge you all to join me in this great task---come, patriots, come, countrymen, let us walk forward and know what it means to be an American, and unafraid!"

And then, looking upon all their beaming and confident faces, I took a half-step off the sidewalk and then jumped back again, totally juking them all. I started laughing, but then two guys in grey suits got absolutely creamed by a Ford Festiva, and I had to sort of skulk away, whistling and pretending I hadn't seen anything.

Oh, so you're going to give me that look now. I see. Fine. I'm getting some cherry ice cream.


No One Wants Me to Speak At Career Day

If I seem a little off today, it's only because I haven’t eaten for a month, I've got a poison dart lodged in my pinkie toe, and lice have wiggled their way so deep into my central nervous system that I can’t even remember what sex I am anymore. It turns out being an international master spy, um, kinda sucks.

I had big dreams once. You know that guy in the history books who had big dreams? Mike something? Yeah. That was nothing. Now, twenty-five years later, here I am, in some town---I’m gonna say Dallas, but who the hell knows at this point---stuck blogging like some high school loser as a ruse to temporarily deflect the lethal cat-and-mouse tactics of a Cantonese supervillain I’ll refer to only as Mr. Pan.

He’s close. I can feel it. Three years ago, even two, I could have counted on my beloved Jenny Machete to sneak me over the Connecticut border in the trunk of her Dodge Durango, her delicate, pearly white hands scattering mortar fire over the cowering heads of Pan’s one-eyed, bikini-clad henchmen---but they killed her, those monsters!

(Well, they didn't kill her, but she's managing a Starbuck's now, so I am so over her.)

It’s just me fighting this dirty little war now. Even Central Control won’t have anything to do with me. They say I’ve turned. They say the job has made me bitter. They say I’m an out-of-control renegade whose only agenda is danger and whose only mistress is revenge.

You know what I say to that? Duh! You’d be edgy too if Central Control kept taking out six percent of your paycheck for maintenance of their so-called 'on-site' fitness center, which is all the way across our secret compound, and God forbid anyone but Agent Firescout or Silent Dagger get to use the thigh machine or change the radio station!

I swear to god, the James Bond movies are completely inaccurate. (Except Moonraker, and any part where they’re chasing each other on skis---for some reason I’m always having to do that.)

I should go. Midnight soon approaches---and the time of killing is at hand.

(Unless tonight's when we set our blocks back. Because then I have another hour before the time of killing. But I think I lose an hour's sleep because of that, which seems kind of unfair.)

Well, I appreciate you all letting me use the blog for my intricate deception. If you ever need, like, a cheap radiator flush done, I might be able to talk to my brother-in-law; he's a bit of a pedophile, but he's really good.


An Offer So Wonderful, You Should Be Paying Me

Congratulations, Citizen! Merely by reading this blog posting, you have been chosen to be sacrificed to the Old Ones of Yog Sid-dith! Yes, this Tuesday at 3 p.m., a Cadre of sinister Elders will recite certain key Phrases from the dreaded Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred, releasing the unholy Chains that bind the winged Daemons born to the Goat of a Thousand Young! From the bottom of the Seas they shall flock to the Altar of Shagg-Yash and quiver in a nightmarish Dance of Death, celebrating the new Age in which Man shall be enslaved to the Conqueror Worm---and YOU will be there! Just check "YES" at the Bottom of this horrible Form and we'll take care of the Rest!


There's a Chance You Might Get Wet

Oh, it was so totally worth the $175 I paid to the guide. The experience was just phenomenal. I mean, I was actually brushing up against nature in a way you just can't experience otherwise. After a two-hour snorkeling and diving lesson, the guide told me I was ready. I don't have to tell you I was nervous, but I was much more excited than anything else. And then I went over the edge of the boat and into the ocean, and just a minute later or so, the guide started tossing chum into the water. From under the surface, I watched it float down toward me, spreading out all around me, chunks of dead fish everywhere----and for five full minutes, I was literally swimming with the dead fish that sharks eat! It was magical. To be that close to the chum, to see it up near your face, to reach out and almost touch it....oh, you've got to do it. You've got to. I know I said that about Matrix Reloaded, but this is different.


No Drums, No Bugles, No ATMs

Just came back from visiting the Civil War battlefields at Antietam. Very interesting, but I do have a few changes I'd like to suggest:

1) Please, people, do a thorough sweep of the acreage and finally get all the corpses out of the way. I was walking up to one of the historical information plaques and I tripped over not one but two Confederate skeletons. Then, an hour later, I was setting myself for a lovely panoramic shot of the area and WHOMP, the dead body of a Union cannoneer flopped out of the trees and clipped me on the shoulder as it came down. We are paying a national park patrol good money to make sure these things don't happen!
2) The Monument to Decapitation is a nice thought---after all, why shouldn't we honor those brave lads who lost their melons in battle---but the accompanying statue is both gruesome and inaccurate, what with that soldier holding his own head under his arm and the head blowing a bugle. It just doesn't work.
3) The Wall of Incredible Cowards is visually stunning, but shouldn't Peter Astleby, the 17 year old Virginian who turned tail and ran at the first sign of Union smoke, be ranked higher than General William Walter Brown, who actually did fight for upwards of sixty seconds before turning to the man at the front of his rifle company and remarking famously, "You can take all this and put it where the sun doesn't shine; I am totally out of here"?

That's all. Aside from those flaws, the battlefields are solemn and inspiring. But since everyone who fought there is long dead, would it really hurt to move the whole apparatus closer to the central business district to maybe take advantage of those incredible outlet stores?


Missed Opportunities for Lasting Greatness

What follows is a transcript of my first-ever attempt to play a practical joke. I have accepted my failure and do not wish to discuss it further.

(phone rings)

MAN ON PHONE: This is the Oakland Mills Safeway, where this week only, a gallon of cool refreshing Poland Spring filtered water is on sale for just ninety-nine cents when you sign up for a Safeway Bonus Card. Gene speaking, can I help you?

ME (trying not to giggle): Do you have....hee hee....Prince Albert in a can?

MAN ON PHONE: Just a second, sir, I'll type that into our online database to see if we have it in stock. What category of food would that fall under?

ME: Well....I don't....

MAN ON PHONE: That's all right, I'll just do a keyword search. It'll be just a second. That's A-l-b-e-r-t, right?

ME: Right. But, um, if you could just give me a yes or no answer now, then I can.....

MAN ON PHONE: It'll be just a minute. Sorry for the delay.


MAN ON PHONE: I'm sorry, I'm having a little trouble booting up the database, sometimes this computer is a little slow....

ME: Well....why don't we just forget----

MAN ON PHONE: Here we go. Ah.....just a few more seconds.....okay, Prince Albert in a can....ah, we don't carry that here, but it can be delivered to the store nearest you from our Landover warehouse. There's no obligation to you, it would simply be a courtesy. We could even alert you via e-mail when it's checked into stock. Just give me your zip code and I'll start the process.

ME: But it's Prince Albert in a can, right? Well, ha, in that case you'd better let him---

MAN ON PHONE: Actually, I see here a little notation that it's not in a can. We have Prince Albert in a well ventilated, microwaveable plastic container. It's the same price, and you're getting extra value since these containers weigh ten percent more. All part of Safeway's new commitment to customer service!

ME: Well ventilated. Okay. Um....that's it, I guess. Thanks for your help.

MAN ON PHONE: Certainly, sir. Thank you for calling Safeway.

(hangs up)


ME: You suck.


The Most Wonderful Time of the Year


1. Bzzzizzzt!

2. Schwoooot!

3. Vvvvittitt!

4. Biddibiddit!

5. VissssshhhhhooooowhAPPPP!


1. Theeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep!

2. Shtoot shtoot!

3. Wamma wamma lip lip!

4. Beepy beepy beepy num num num!



1. ffffffffffffffff-ffffffff-ffffffffff-ffffffffff-(loomda loomda)-ffffff-fffffffffff-ffffffff


Come Fire Walk With Me

I got away with it! I never thought I would. I bought the tickets to the Devil Rays game six months ago and three months ago I started thinking of pulling this stunt and I really didn't think I'd have the nerve, but I did it, and I was ready to spend a night in jail because of it, but amazingly, they didn't come after me. I think it all happened so fast that Security never got a good enough look at just who the perpetrator was. Ted and Zeke said they watched the whole game on channel 30, and they didn't get a shot of the banner, of course, but then they probably would have lost their broadcasting license if the camera had picked up what I was putting out there!

I smuggled the banner inside my backpack, which they never checked, thank God, and I waited till the sixth inning to make my move. My palms were sweating for about an hour. I made sure no one was around, which was tough because the Rays were playing the Rangers and the crowd was a little bigger than I thought it would be. There were at least ten other people in my section. But I was clever. As soon as the one guy sitting in the front row got up to go get a beer or something, I moved down and unfurled the banner, my stomach tingling. It was a total rush. When it was totally exposed, I counted to myself: one one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand....I made it all the way to nine and I yanked the banner back and got the hell out of there. I didn't dare risk any exposure longer than nine seconds. I'm sure plenty of fans had a chance to get an eyeful of every single word I had printed by hand:


Thank God my mother wasn't watching TV, otherwise if they had accidentally picked the banner up on a stray shot, she would have disowned me. Whoo, I am still buzzed from the sheer thrill of doing the completely unexpected. One of these days I'm going to take a risk I shouldn't and I'll pay a huge price, but this feeling I've had all day makes it all worth it!


The Angry Man Speaketh

Well, sure, I'd be happy to tell you exactly why I put that suggestion into your In Box, and no, I wasn't joking. I don't joke about such things. I honestly feel that we here at the Emergency Broadcast System are woefully behind the times, and if we are ever to be taken seriously and gain any standing within the industry, we have to latch onto developing trends just like any other broadcast network, and so it stands to reason that we must begin to think about producing original dramas to secure and maintain an audience that will be attractive to advertisers. I am more than aware of our so-called 'mission' here at EBS, and I know it won't be easy to tell the federal government that we need millions of dollars to change the focus of our programming away from alerting the general public of emergency situations to broadcasting critically acclaimed, high-impact scripted fare, perhaps something cop-edgy or medical-daring, with the possibility of working into the mix a sitcom about four secretaries who work for eBay. But you don't get anywhere in life or in business by playing it safe. Therefore, it is my intention to lay out a seven-point plan in which---

Oh....oh, you mean the other suggestion I put into your In Box. Oh, that, yeah, see....yeah, I just don't think it's fair that people who are scheduled on the morning shift get an unfair advantage with the doughnuts. People who come in during the afternoon only get the leftovers from the fridge, and there's no real selection left and what's there is cold and sad.

That's not the one you meant? But I don't remember leaving a third one....unless you're talking about the one I left yesterday.

Actually, I take that one back. That should never have gotten in there. Forget about it entirely. It's fine with me that there are windows in the building. I spoke out of turn, and I retract my statement. I'm sorry if I offended anyone.

I'm very tired today.


Notes from the Underground


From: Major Bill Torgison, Neptune Sector
To: Admiral Leonard Consonant, Commander of Secret Folders and Doings

Admiral Consonant:

Let me again apologize for the accidental misplacement of all the papers, files, disks, videos, and photographs containing information relating to the observations and experiments completed at Area 51 between 1948 and 2005. I have several calls put in to Ten Guys Moving Stuff, the company I contracted to transfer all these items to Area 57, but I have only slim hopes that anything will ever be recovered, as it specifically states in the company's contract that unless a claim for missing property is filed within 24 hours, they are not responsible for any losses, and as we now know, Sandra down in the office didn't get around to calling them until almost two full days had gone by.

If it is any consolation, I can sum up the decades-long work in Area 51 for you fairly quickly. It all boils down to a couple of basic facts: firstly, the aliens, before they chose to cease their own life functions in October (rather rudely in my opinion), had been surreptitiously studying our society from afar for thousands of years, and secondly, they insisted that they just plain disliked everything about humankind except the part near the end of "Faithfully" when Steve Perry starts to go "Whoh-oh-whoh-ohhh....whoh-oh whoh-ohhh-ohhhhh....." They really seemed to enjoy that a lot, and never seemed to listen to that song without shedding a tear at that point in it. "Life on the road must be really hard, even if you're a rock star," Korgot the Elder often said, wiping his eyes. And that's pretty much the long and the short of what we learned from the aliens. Pretty humbling. Pretty humbling.

Major Bill

P.S. Please note also that Area 51 is now available for picnicking and other special events with a $25.refundable deposit.


Irate, Clammy, and Peckish

Let me just clarify something here. The award for the Maryland State Highway Administration's Most Improved County Toll Taker of the Year was announced, and my name did not emerge from the comptroller's lips. Instead the name uttered was Rick Powell.

Rick Powell. Rick Powell won the award for Most Improved County Toll Taker.

Rick Powell. Did I get that right? It was Rick Powell.

The person who won the award was RICK POWELL. The Rick Powell we are all familiar with. Him.

RICK POWELL. Was I wrong in hearing that RICK POWELL won the award?

You're telling me that RICK POWELL is right now holding the certificate for Most Improved County Toll Taker. It belongs to none other than RICK FREAKING POWELL.

There must be another Rick Powell. No? Then it's true. It was RICK POWELL up there shaking hands with the comptroller.

So then, just to get it straight, RICK BLOODY POWELL, and not I, took home the award this year. RICK POWELL is who will be remembered as the award's recipient.

RIIIIIIIIIIIICK POWWWWWWWWWWELLLLLLLLLLL. Is that right? HE won the award you say, not me? Rick POWELL? Hey, super. That's just swell. As long as we're all on the same page that it was RICK POWELL. Uh-huh. Good ole R.P.

Oh no, I don't mean to be sarcastic, not at all. Congratulations to you, Mr.---who was it again who won? Oh yes, RICK POWELL. Excellent. Excellent and also quite a fair choice, if I may say so myself. A reasoned and well-chosen selection.

Wait a second, wait a second, wait a second.....BARB PRATT told me not to feel bad? BARB PRATT?


Should Have Stayed at Florida State One More Semester

They told me that becoming a tagline writer in Hollywood would be tough, but I really thought I had a handle on the job. Then Phipps comes in this afternoon and embarrasses me in front of everybody. "Um, could you give this another shot, please, before I pass it upstairs," he said to me, shaking his head. "Thanks." He looked at everyone like he was so superior to me, and everyone kind of looked down. Now I'm afraid to ask anyone what the problem with what I wrote is. I'm sitting here staring at it, staring at it, reading it again and again. I don't see it. The clock is ticking and I can tell the people in the office are wondering why I haven't made a change and gone back to Phipps. Please, for the love of God, tell me what's wrong with this tagline:


I mean, it seems pretty straightforward to me. I'm looking at the words and I'm just at a total loss. Oh Jesus, if I can't fix this in the next thirty seconds everyone's going to think I'm a total idiot. I've already made a crossing-out motion that meant nothing and I wrote a few random letters below the line to make everyone think I was making a correction. "Sometimes truth is the most devastating truth of all." "Sometimes truth is the most devastating truth of all." Straightforward. To the point. Are there excess words? Did I spell something wrong? Capitalization? Please, Lord, forty-five more seconds and these vultures around me are going to be talking about my stupidity to everyone in town. Does 'devastating' have more than two Ts?? I'm begging you, my job is on the line here! I'll go get a cup of coffee, that's what I'll do. That's a great stall. "Sometimes truth is the most devastating truth of all." "Sometimes truth is the most devastating truth of all." You know what, I'll never get it. I'm just going to give Phipps a new one. God, I hate my brain so much. Let's try this one:


There. Criticize that, Phipps. Not bad. Not bad at all. Whew. Close one.