The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Birthday Cake, by Dan Rozier

 berenstainIn a big tree house down a sunny dirt road deep in the heart of Bear Country, it was Brother’s birthday. The Bear family—Mama, Papa, Brother and Sister—were sitting around the kitchen table enjoying some of Mama’s famous homemade birthday cake. Papa reached for his third piece.

“Papa, you’ve had enough,” scolded Mama.

“There’s no such thing as too much birthday cake!” Papa exclaimed.

He winked at Brother, the birthday boy, and shoved a third piece into his mouth.

Nighttime came and Brother’s special day left as quickly as it had arrived. It was time for bed. Teeth were brushed, stories read, cubs tucked in. The tree house was quiet. Well, almost quiet. In the big bedroom, Papa Bear tossed and turned as his tummy rumbled and tumbled.

“You shouldn’t have had so much cake, dear.” Mama yawned.

Papa gurgled and turned away.


The next morning wasn’t any better. Papa was up all night with a bad case of the Too Much Birthday Cakes. He stumbled into the kitchen, grabbed the phone, and called his supervisor.

“Mr. Beaver, it’s Papa Bear. Yeah, uh, I can’t make it in today. I think I have some sort of stomach virus. What’s that? Yes, it was Brother’s birthday yesterday. Yes, we had cake. One, I swear, sir. Okay. Okay. Will do. Thank you, Mr. Beaver. I’ll see you tomorrow bright and early, sir.”

“Everything okay, Papa?” asked Brother.

“Yea, Papa just needs to sleep.”

Mama rolled her eyes and brought Brother and Sister some fresh honeycomb. READ MORE


An Open Letter to Marissa of Girl Scout Troop #715, by Geoffrey Asmus


When we met you told me your favorite My Little Pony was Pinkie Pie, and that you sold cookies to raise money for your "dear sick Nana Georgina.”

I now doubt any of that was true.

Flawlessly you swindled and double-crossed me. Charmingly you liquidated my 401K while exquisitely performing multiple scenes from Catch Me If You Can.

I’ve been deceived before, but never so pleasantly.

At my doorstep you entranced me with the secrets of the world. You nibbled the opposite sides of a Thin Mint to create a chocolate flavored straw! What fun! I giddily await the secrets held within a Samoa!

You repaired my life for me. Just as you predicted, the Trefoils gift basket ended my sister Janice’s icy silence towards me. Twenty years of professional therapy was trumped by 24 buttery cookies.

You knocked on my door mere hours after I finalized my divorce with Shannon. A coincidence which rekindled my faith in the divine.

Certainly there were dozens of salesgirls before you—all ill-trained, barely literate, and regrettably uncharismatic. They sold the cookies because they had to, with no higher purpose. Stephanie, Sylvia, and Simone all blended together; none of them utilized Aristotelian pathos like you. They do not deserve to wear the same burnt umber vest as you, Marissa. READ MORE


How the Other Half "Lives," by Ryan Patricks

ghostsAdjusting to ghost life isn't easy.

The first couple of weeks of being dead are definitely the hardest. Being a ghost is something you have to ease into, like a cold pool, or anal, or anal in a cold pool.

Warning: That last one is super difficult. Do not try at home.

At first, you usually take your cue from the movies you saw when you were alive. You might speak in a spooky vibrato voice or hang out in a pottery class. It's all a bit overdramatic and a big clue that you are a newbie to the specter world. My buddy, Barry, calls these "dead giveaways."

Isn't that clever? Barry is really good at that kind of stuff.

Some ghosts spend those first days trying to scare kids playing in a graveyard or whatever, but for the most part, scaring people is actually really difficult as a ghost. It takes years of practice to even come close to moving something an inch or turning a light switch off. Most of the guys who get into that stuff are kind of dicks to begin with and just like freaking people out. Basically, if you are alive, any ghosts you have encountered are all creeps or dicks. Think about it; you are invisible but you spend your time playing Ouija board at a middle school girl's sleepover party? Creepy. READ MORE


A Quick Reminder Before Our Rainforest Expedition Begins, by Blythe Roberson

kayak_tour_2Gentlemen, welcome to the annual Millionaires Club Rainforest Expedition. Before we begin, I’d like to run through a few quick reminders to avoid problems we’ve encountered in the past.

The jungle is a dangerous place that can be tamed by no man and no amount of money. No, Charles, not even by $4.5 million. It is important to defer to the proper authority. At times we will be traveling dangerous waters on canoe-type vessels. Please do not try to commandeer these vessels or convince their captains to “let you have a quick go of it.” Yes, Edmund, I understand that you were captain of the Yale rowing team. I will remind you of what happened last year when you fell into the water and were bitten by dozens of tiny little water bugs.

Please refrain from catching a fish and immediately tossing it overboard, announcing that you “thirst always for the bigger fish.” Remember that this is a strictly non-hunting trip and none of you have licenses. To that point, please do not attempt to catch and slaughter any black caiman crocodiles. A rumor has developed within the Millionaires Club that their blubber is expensive and delicious. In fact, as a crocodile, the black caiman does not have blubber. It is also protected under Brazilian law and I can only say that you are all lucky that you haven’t succeeded in even slightly hurting one. Yes, Donaldson, I know you got pretty close one time. We all know that.

Please refrain from putting black spider monkeys on your head. READ MORE


11 Fun and Easy Cleanses That You Need to Try Today, by Alyssa Wolff and Alison Leiby

cleanseNew year, nude you, right? What is it again? Regardless, you’ve got to lose weight. Even if you haven’t stuck to your new year’s resolution so far this year, these surefire cleanses will get you back on track to becoming the next Ariana Grande. Give ‘em a try, and remember: Failure is not an option.

Text Message Cleanse: This year is your year to put communication with actual words behind you. Embrace emoji in a real way, and finally gain the ability to send clear messages that actually mean something. When it comes to reaching out to the ones closest to you, a simple knife emoji typically says it all.

Gluten-Free Cleanse: Note: this does not mean you should adopt a gluten-free lifestyle. This year, in order to keep both your taste buds and the alien god Xenu happy, you must immediately clear everyone from your life who claims they can no longer “tolerate” gluten. Set up an elaborate but romantic ceremony to renew your vows with a loaf of bread. Invite butter to the reception only.

Condiment Cleanse: Mustard, like your fertility, doesn’t last forever. Take those jars out of your fridge, dress them up in hats, and now you have a party.



We Wanted to Alert You to a Rather Large Purchase, by Ian Goldstein

fycDear Daniel S. Clavers,

We wanted to alert you to some rather large purchases recently charged to your account:

• $400.00 Fine Young Cannibals Biopic Kickstarter

• $500.00 Roland Gift Life-size Mannequin

If you do not recognize these purchases, please contact us immediately at 555-1155.

If this is a joke, then yes, we find it funny.

But seriously, let us know.

Titan Neighborhood Bank


Dear Daniel S. Clavers,

Thank you for responding so speedily to our email. We now understand that these purchases were of your own volition and we respect your decisions. We did not mean to insult you or "spoil the surprise" for the members of your family who "don't know they love Fine Young Cannibals yet." READ MORE


The Bean Salad Recipe Book, by Jon Wolper


Dee-licious! A classic. Buy some fresh green beans from the farmer’s market, grab some kidney and wax beans, add some vinegar, some oil, salt, onions, and you’re good to go!



Well, you’re ambitious. That’s fine, we can do four beans. Just take that recipe from above and root around through your pantry for some garbanzos. If you want to do a four-bean salad, you better have garbanzos. Soak them in the fridge overnight!



Now we’re really leaving our comfort zone. All right, we can do this. Deep breath. How about kidney beans? Wait, we’ve used those. Maybe try black beans? I mean, really, they’re just beans. We’ll get through this.



I mean, how differently can each bean taste? What are you trying to prove? The taste comes from the vinegar and the sugar, not from the canned stuff you’re probably dumping into that dirty bowl of yours. Could you clean that bowl, by the way? It’s unbecoming. Oh, for this one, add cannellini beans. Or don’t. It’s your life. READ MORE


FCC Complaint: When Did Grainy Images of My Own Future Demise Become Acceptable Television? by Charlie Stockman

hauntedDear FCC Goldbrickers,

My apologies if this complaint letter tends to ramble or does not fit a prescribed format. It is the first such letter I have had cause to write. Not because heretofore you were doing your jobs — indeed, I suspect you were not — but because in all my 67 years, I have never watched TV. That is, I never had watched TV, until a month ago when fate put me face to face with the vile medium. Allow me to explain.

You see it was around that time that I inherited an estate from a distant uncle in the backwoods of Massachusetts. It is a wonderful place, away from the unwashed masses of the city and replete with all the features one could hope for in an old house: a laboratory, a crypt, a locked room that I do not have the key for. Unfortunately, it also came with one of those infernal contraptions that seem to occupy every American home nowadays: a television.

And not just any television, an enormous Samsung that — through some bit of Oriental trickery I am yet to understand — manages to turn on by itself. Even when it is unplugged. And just to add to my vexation, the gardener seems too afraid to enter the house to retrieve the cursed thing. (No doubt he is convinced that I am an immigration agent trying to spring a trap.)

And the obscenities I have seen on this Samsung…well, allow me to list a few here.

Language. There is far too much Latin on television. If I did not know better I would think that Kennedy had successfully made us all subjects of the Pope. Why, just the other day I walked into my living room to see a pale redheaded girl (Irish) staring out of the screen and whispering some filth about “diabolus” and “sanguinem.” Fortunately, I left the room before the part where she presumably gets in line for the dole while giving birth to 13 screaming papists. READ MORE


Opening Remarks at the 3rd Annual Tremendousfest Improv Festival, by Lauren Church

improvHello everyone, and welcome to the 3rd Annual Tremendousfest Improv Festival! I am, of course, Randall Howard, Head of the Tremendousfest Committee, and I want to start by thanking everyone here today to help us kick off Billings’ paramount improv experience of the year! There will be plenty of classes and shows and special guests this year so we’re preeeetty pleased with ourselves, ­and we’re sure you will be too!

Now! We’ve really grown a lot since last year’s fest, so let me start by explaining to everyone where this year’s three performances spaces are.

Stage One will be at Tremendousfest Headquarters at the Impact Theatre. This will not only be where Saturday’s headliner shows will be, but it's also the location of tonight’s Kick Off Soiree, the Friday Night Mixer, the Saturday Night Social, and Sunday Night’s Wrap Up Party! Also, Stage One is sponsored this year by our good friends at The Listless Frog Microbrewery, who are encouraging everyone to drink responsibly and to remember that your Tremedousfest wristband gets you a free shot with every draft purchase! Okay!

Stage Two is at the Underground Cellar Theatre. Now, I know, the Underground IS about 20 minutes away from Impact and they’re doing construction on the water main that runs next to their parking lot. But they’re going to have a lot of great groups over there, so besuretocheckthatout. Oh! Almost forgot! Stage Two’s sponsor this year is Pauli’s Pizza. “When you have a craving inside you, ol’ Double P is all you need!” READ MORE


We Promise Terry Isn’t the Author, by Luke Strickler

terryTerry is not the author, nor is he a reference to the author.

Terry is not any one of the author’s friends, a person who considers themselves a friend of the author, lost love, personal trainer, or you, Greg, so stop asking.

Terry’s name is not to be broken apart to find a hidden message, as the word “Retry” has no relation to the author other than his failed Candy Crush level.

Terry’s name is not an acronym or initialism, although both he and the author know the difference, and will bring it up in conversation.

Terry is 27 years old, which is too young to be a reminder of lost youth, too old to relate to the author, and 38 years short of being eligible for the senior discount at Ruby Tuesdays, of which the author is also ineligible.

Terry’s age does not represent the mental state of the author, as he does not feel that his mental state should be described as a number, but merely, “a constant nightmare.”

Terry is a white male of tall height, which is similar to that of the author, but who swears it’s just because Terry has two tall, white parents, most likely named Bryce and Molly. READ MORE


Snow Globe Weather Forecast, by Alonso Cisneros

snowglobeSunday: Snowstorm. Flurries.
Clear and sunny skies on this warm morning, suddenly followed by a snowstorm after someone shakes the snow globe for a few seconds. Prepare for it to snow relentlessly for no meteorological reason whatsoever, except for someone shaking the snow globe for the fun of it. Flurries expected for the rest of the day.

Monday: Snowstorms throughout the day.
Snow globe shaken over the course of the day, ranging from lazily to mildly, resulting in high winds and violent snowstorms across the area. Most likely to receive the same two inches of snow that always lies on the surface of the globe. Don't bother shoveling or calling plow services. The snow will settle back onto your driveways by the end of the night.

Tuesday: Snowstorms throughout the day.
Power outages expected. Snowstorm heading in from the northwest when a guy moves in on the snow globe and shakes it. He will come back numerous times, somehow receiving joy in inflicting damage on the town with more snowstorms. Power outages are expected throughout the area, due to the severity of how hard this man has decided to shake the snow globe. READ MORE


The Original Paleo Diet, by Keith Wisniewski

meatZogg thank you all for coming to Zogg’s cave. Zogg has some big news to share. Sure, Zogg may not have come up with idea for fire, but Zogg have pretty good idea to stay trim and healthy. Zogg call it the Paleo Diet.Zogg know this works, because Zogg used to be what you call “big boned,” but is now in shape. Zogg even have “six pack” and is getting all the ladies in the Eurasian subcontinent, thanks to this diet. And you can, too. It’s so simple, even a Neanderthal could follow it.

Step one: Eat meat.There, Zogg teach you everything about Paleo Diet!

Zogg kidding, of course. Zogg have highly developed sense of humor for his tribe. There more to it than that. The first thing you need to do is catch some meat. This harder than it seems, because meat doesn’t like to be caught. In high school, Zogg held the state record for javelin. So, Zogg use those skills to hunt wild animals with spear. Zogg so good he can hit a rabbit at 40 yards. But, if you aren’t as good as Zogg with spear, Zogg suggest clubbing raccoons when they tip over your garbage can. Zogg says you’re welcome.

Besides rabbit, Zogg likes to eat bear, wildebeest, dire wolf, badger, you name it. But, Zogg’s favorite dish is giraffe. On Zogg’s Paleo Diet, you can eat foot after foot of delicious giraffe neck and not gain any weight. Hey, Atoouk, who’s the genius now? (Atoouk invent the wheel.) READ MORE


A Spencer's Gifts Manager Chastises the Staff, by Lucas Gardner

SAMSUNGAlright guys, team meeting. Let's make this quick, 'cause we've got some fucking strobe lights to sell.

Listen, I can't be here to manage this Spencer's Gifts all the time, and I need you guys to be able to run things on your own when I'm not around. Quite frankly, this staff ain't up to par right now. Most of you come in late and leave early. Maybe you think I'm not able to see you coming and going when the fog machine is running inside the store, but I've been working in this store for four years and I can basically see right through the fog now.

I need you guys to put in a lot more effort around here. When I came in today the place was in goddamn shambles. First of all, the life-sized Ron Burgundy cardboard cutout up front had its BACK to the entrance. I know that this always confuses you guys, but if you can see the front of the Ron Burgundy cutout from inside the store, that means the foot traffic outside can't.

Whoever is in charge of stocking the shelves on any particular day, please GROUP THINGS APPROPRIATELY. Ask yourself, should the bondage kits be stocked next to novelty “Small Pecker” Condoms? NO! One is sexy, and one is funny. Please group them accordingly. The place is a mess. We got beer pong kits on the Family Guy T-shirt shelves, the fake dog shit next to the sex handcuffs, the body jewelry next to the Poo Identification Manual books. How is anyone gonna know where to find anything? Don't just throw merchandise wherever you feel like. This is a Spencer's Gifts, not a Goodwill.

If a lava lamp breaks on the floor, don't just fucking leave it. Please mop it up immediately. And it's not real lava, guys. I can't have my staff running for cover every time a lava lamp breaks, like you all did today when that customer's backpack knocked one off the display shelf.



Family Meeting About Jason, Who is Back From the Dead, by Matthew Johnson

jasonHello everyone. I'm glad we were all able to make some time in our busy schedules for this family meeting. Are we all comfortable? Did you get a sample of the new baked macaroni that we are going to be taste-testing for dinner Tuesday and Thursday this week? Your sister, my princess-star Lucy, is passing out the agendas for today’s meeting. As you’ll see, we will begin with Opening Remarks and then move on to Greeting and Open Agenda. After that, I’d like us to get to our first item of the day, which is making a switch from Capri Sun pouches to mini-PowerAdes at Blake’s soccer game this Saturday. From there we need to move to room-cleaning regulations. I know! I know! We just discussed this. But it's not coming from me. We have your grandmother coming in next week and we cannot risk another Thanksgiving ’09. Finally, we will need to discuss your much older brother Jason’s move to the attic because he is now a ghost and has returned home.

On that note, I am going to pass out some "Thought Journals" so you can document your feelings of Jason’s return from the dead, per the suggestion of my therapist.

First, Opening Remarks. I want to say thank you to everyone for pitching in at your mother’s Spring Cleaning event this past Sunday. We cleaned out the attic and were able to rack up $56.67 in tax-deductible donations. The house looks much nicer, feels less cluttered, and we were finally able to take care of those Christmas lights. I’m sorry if the cleaning took everyone by surprise, but since your brother Jason has returned from the dead, your Mother uses bleach and a toothbrush on the baseboards as a coping skill.

Next, your Mother has informed me that some things will be changing about post-school snack time. As you all know, your mother is generally here and provides you with an afterschool snack; marshmallow fluff sandwiches have been trending as the most popular. However, because of Jason’s shocking return as an apparition, she will be returning to Dr. Simmons for her bi-weekly therapy sessions. Your brother Jason has offered to distribute the snacks as long as they are pre-made, because he is unable to manifest the energy to make a PB&J with no crusts the way Lucy likes it.