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Would You Like to Buy a Sack of Bees? by Brian Agler

beeeeeesI know you’re here at the farmers market to buy apples, cucumbers, and various produce—but why don’t you come check out what I have to offer.

Yes, just step over the border of the high-school parking lot, where the rules and regulations of the farmers market don’t apply. I promise you, it will be worth it.

What I’m selling is organic, locally sourced, and better than anything you’ll find in your normal supermarket.

It’s a sack of bees! Angry, excitable bees that you can take home, today! No no, don’t go! Don’t worry, I tied the sack up real tight. The bees won’t get out.

I’m sorry, I think you’re misunderstanding. These sacks aren’t filled with honey, or beeswax. They are filled to the brim with bees. Actual bees.

Do you hear the buzzing? That’s the bees.

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Is He Marriage Material, or Is He a Herman Miller Aeron Chair? by Thomas Scott

chairIs there anything worse than spending time with a guy who at the end of the day just isn’t interested in a serious commitment? Actually, there is: dating a guy who isn’t interested in existing with you on any real plane of consciousness, because he’s a luxury brand office chair. Here are some helpful pointers to make sure you don’t make that mistake!

Tip #1: Google his name.

Before you even go out on date, do a quick search. A name alone can sometimes give you an idea of his character. If his name is Herman, be a little cautious. If his given name is Miller, that’s okay,  but if it’s his surname be a little wary. If his name is Herman Miller Aeron Chair, cancel the date immediately, because he’s a chair.

Tip #2: Touch him.

When you first meet, be sure to grab a feel. It doesn’t have to be creepy. A handshake will suffice. Try to grab a feel near the torso. The point is to ensure that you are going on a date with a man, and not a Herman Miller Aeron Chair with a polo shirt pulled over it.

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The Dead Dog Farm Upstate, by Luke Pohjala

farmYou’ve probably been told it before, sometime in your childhood: “Buster (or any other dumb, thoughtless dog name) had to go to a farm upstate. Don’t cry. He’ll have plenty of room to run around in the fresh air. He’s in a better place now.” By now you’ve realized that was a lie. This probably made you question lots of things your parents told you. Will you really grow big and strong if you eat your vegetables? Do they actually love you? Will we really get there when we get there? The truth is that anything your parents told you was, in some way, a lie.

But I’m here to tell you they weren’t completely lying when they said Buster was sent to a farm upstate. He actually was sent to a farm. I know this because I own that farm. The part they lied about is that your dog is still alive. I can assure you your dog is dead, but is still being put to good use.

You may ask why I accept all these dogs. That’s a very good question. Pat yourself on the head for that one. Who’s a good boy? You are! READ MORE

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I Apologize For Your Negative Hotel Experience, by Jon Wolper

hotelDear Ms. Winters,

Thank you for your letter. Hopefully I can help resolve some of the issues you experienced while staying at our hotel.

As you wrote, your troubles began at night, when you found that our ice machine was empty. Our apologies. We try to run a tight ship, but sometimes things fall through the cracks. I promise to be more vigilant about the ice machine in the future.

After you went back to your room, you began to hear incessant banging coming from the walls and ceiling. Our building is very old, and the walls are thin, so the noises made by other guests were heard clearly. Thank you for your concern; we’re currently in the process of soundproofing the room.

Then, objects began to rattle, seemingly of their own volition. At one point, the 36-inch flat screen TV that had been mounted on the wall detached itself from the mount and crashed to the floor. A vase hovered in the air for several seconds before launching itself across the room and hitting the wall just inches from your head. All the while, a low drone filled the room.

Our apologies. That noise is, in fact, the cry of a restless spirit that has haunted the room for nine decades. His name was Gerritt Richards, and he was a hospitality mogul poisoned by his wife when she discovered his infidelity. We call him Gerry. READ MORE

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This Candlelight Vigil Is In Full Effect!, by Django Gold

candlelightAlright! Yeah! Now that's what I'm talking about! Ladies and gentlemen, I heard this candlelight vigil was going to be off the chain, but even I didn't see this one coming. It looks like just about everyone in Bloomdale came out tonight, and I know all you crazy party animals have only got one thing on your minds: finding Caitlin Ashfield and bringing her home safe and sound! Woo!

You know, when I first learned that one of our own had been reported missing, I knew what we had to do for our beloved daughter, sister, friend, and Bloomdale High School classmate: throw the wildest, rowdiest, most ass-kicking candlelight vigil the world has ever seen — and you people did not disappoint! Because if there's one thing we do in this town, it's support each other in times of need, and that means raising the roof! Am I right? You know I am! So let's make some noise! Let me hear you scream if you're pumped about finding Cait-linnnnn!

Woo! Now let's see those candles, people! Light 'em up, light 'em up! Yeah, it's like a big ol' Christmas tree out there. Here in Bloomdale, we do CVs the right way; here, it's go big or go home. You know what they say: Ain't no vigil like a Bloomdale vigil, 'cause a Bloomdale vigil don't stop! Until we have our Caitlin back, that is. READ MORE

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Write What You Know, by Jesse Porter

officeA 41-year-old customer care specialist from Des Moines falls in love with his free-spirited, unpredictable new co-worker, Amanda. She's smart, she's spunky, she's a single mom — and she might just be the girl of his dreams. Now, in order to win her heart, he'll need to overcome his crippling self-consciousness and insecurity if he ever hopes to start a conversation with her in the parking lot, but he also has to not seem all creepy about it. So it's really tricky.

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Wacky comic hijinks await a 41-year-old customer care specialist from Des Moines when he travels to the countryside for a week of boating, fishing, and quiet contemplation. Little does he know that his vacation is about to take a turn for the unexpected! On his second day there, he comes down with mono and is confined to his motel room for the remainder of the trip.

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In this coming-of-age teen drama, set during the hair metal days of the mid-eighties, an unassuming high school junior is forced to choose between pursuing his dreams of rock-and-roll stardom or making the more sensible decision of enrolling in business classes at the local community college and ultimately becoming a 41-year-old customer care specialist from Des Moines.

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Air Bud: Glory Days, by Joe Veix

photo 1(1)Do go check out PBQ Vol. 2. Edited by our friend John Howell Harris (with cover and interstitial art by Daniel Spenser) the second in the PBQ series is an elegant, hardbound number filled with humorous art and pieces from folks who have previously created material for The Onion, The Tonight Show, Adult Swim, Community, and The New Yorker.

It’s $15.00, so a small but solid investment. All proceeds benefit New York Cares. Please enjoy this excerpt, “Scenes From Air Bud: Glory Days” by Joe Veix.

Air Bud finds a box of old basketball memorabilia in his attic. He blows dust off a newspaper clipping, and ponders the photo of the final buzzer shot from the Big Game. He wonders where the years went.

Air Bud rejects insurance claims in his cubicle. Closing his eyes, he can still hear the roar of the crowd. It’s only a passing car.

In the break room, he complains to coworkers about last night’s Lakers game. He thinks players need to get back to fundamentals. His coworkers politely nod, and return to work.

Returning home, Air Bud parks his F-150 under the unused basketball hoop he installed for his twenty-three children. In the living room, they play video games. He closes the door to his room, muffling the arcade noises.

Later that week he arrives at the Y for his monthly pickup game. The league coordinator has forgotten to put him on the lineup. “Anyone wanna sub for me?” Bud asks. The other league members stare at their shoes. “Please?”

A dribbling basketball echoes across the gym. READ MORE

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For Your Comfort and Safety, by Dan Dillabough

flightThank you for choosing to fly with us today. Before we take off, we ask that you please pay close attention to the following safety announcements.

Please ensure that your carry-on baggage is safely stowed in the overhead compartments. Also, when stowing your baggage, please be careful not to disturb the raccoon that has been living up there for the past few weeks. He may appear dangerous, but rest assured that he won’t bother you if you don’t bother him.

Please ensure that your seatbelt is securely fastened at all times. Do not remove the seatbelt while seated, unless the raccoon wants to curl up and take a nap in your lap. His name is Lil’ Bandit and he is just the cutest little cuddle monster.

We are pleased to offer you complimentary in-flight meals once we have reached our cruising altitude. We ask that you please not consume any peanuts or nut products, as Lil’ Bandit is allergic.

In regards to Lil’ Bandit, we don’t know exactly how he got on the plane in the first place, but over the past few weeks he has come to be a part of our family. All these lonely flights can take a toll on one’s psyche, but when Lil’ Bandit wandered into our cabin one day he changed our lives forever. He makes us laugh, warms our hearts, and reminds us why we do this in the first place.

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The Golden Age of CB Radio, by Aboubacar Ndiaye

tenfourgoodbuddyYou may not know, it but for the past ten years or so, we have been living through a new golden age in the world of CB radio. Forty years ago, you could turn on your CB Radio, screw around with the dial a little bit, and listen to Big Cocker Jackson, Dakota Bull, and Ted Trouble 324 at their raucous, salacious best. Jellybean would come on at night and rill the boys up, and tell us about this or that strip club, and this or that truck stop, where the girls were easy and the beer was cheap. But then the '80s came with its media consolidation and government regulation and the shows of yesteryear faded away. For 20 years, there was Rush, Howard, and Sean, and we forgot about those halcyon days when radio was radio.

But something happened in the new millennium: out of nowhere, these small CB stations, who had remained independent, bucking the FCC rules, making money on subscriptions and donations, started producing dark, moody radio dramas. Johnny Tapper’s Jukejoint started it all. It was the story of a sheriff in a small town on the Mexican border who smuggled in immigrants and drugs on the side. No one had ever heard the kind of multi-layered storytelling, psychological depth, and macabre humor offered by this show. The radio press, who had long looked down on CB, began writing up the show, dashing off paeans to its tortured, Janus-like lead. Willa Stanley, writing in Radio News, called John Jukas, the main character, “an unholy distillation of all the prelapsarian myths about the American male in the West.” Emily Zoller, in On The Dial Mag, wrote that Jukejoint “was the first step forward in the annals of English-language storytelling since the Globe Theater burned down.” READ MORE

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Holden Caulfield Applies for an HR Position, by Dan Morey

catcherGreg Roman
Integrated Software
48 Detmire Road
White Plains, NY 10601

Dear Mr. Roman,

I’m writing to apply for the goddam HR Manager position you advertised in the New York Times. I’ve enclosed my résumé and three references from real hot-shots.The opportunity in your ad is very interesting and all. You wouldn’t believe how enthusiastic I am about it. You really wouldn’t. My brother D.B. says I’m a born HR man, and he’s a terrific judge of character. At least he used to be before he moved out to Hollywood and started writing all those rotten movies. D.B. is really just a prostitute now.

Anyway, I guess my experience and education make me a pretty big deal. The keys to my success in human resources are:

  • Being a people person. People are certainly wonderful and all.
  • Being able to spot a phony. Do you want a bunch of goddam phonies working at your company? I’ll weed the bastards out.
  • Being good at writing and communicating stuff. I passed English every term and wrote a very descriptive essay about my brother Allie’s baseball mitt. (Enclosed)
  • Being able to manage conflicts without socking anyone. I try not to fight too much. I mean it. It’s not that I’m yellow—though I am a little yellow—but more that I’m a pacifist and all.
  • Being sexy as hell, when I’m in the mood.

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Ask the Existentially Troubled Housekeeping Expert, by Luke Burns

cleanIt feels like no matter how hard I work, I just can’t get the dining room to stay clean. Do you have any strategies that might help me stay on top of the mess?

—A.I., Oswego, NY

It sounds like your real struggle is not with the breadcrumbs on the floor, or the jelly stuck to the tablecloth, but with entropy itself! Your messy dining area is just one sign of the inexorable decay that will only end with the heat death of the universe. Here’s a hint: Try to avoid realizing that in the grand scheme of things, all struggles are pointless — especially your attempts to keep the breakfast nook clean!

I live in an apartment with four roommates and none of them do their fair share of the cleaning. What can I do?

—J.W., Marblehead, MA

It can be tough to keep an apartment clean when you have lots of roommates, particularly because human beings are fundamentally incapable of overcoming their inherent selfishness to work together! (I like to call it the tragedy of the common room, ha-ha.) Put up a sign to remind your roommates that it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep things tidy. Give this a shot: “Pick up after yourself! Your mother doesn’t live here and I can no longer tolerate the Weltschmerz I feel when I see empty bags of potato chips left on the coffee table.”

The toilet is, of course, a symbol of the mechanisms we use to repress that which we cannot bear to face. Inevitably, the things that we try so hard to ignore — to push away — return. What I’m trying to say is that my toilet keeps getting clogged up real bad. Is there anything I can do myself, or do I need to bite the bullet and call a plumber? READ MORE

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The Summer Caretaker at the Overlook Hotel Asks for a Raise, by David Guzman

overlookI first want to say what a pleasure it is to be back as the summer caretaker for the Overlook Hotel. The grand architecture, its beautiful location in the Colorado mountains, the pleasant staff and clientele; it’s truly an honor to work here.

I must be upfront, though, and tell you I’m here to ask for a raise. There are a few factors that come into play. As I understand it, the winter caretaker position pays just as much as the summer position. And that’s just not fair, since the job of summer caretaker requires much more work than that of winter caretaker. In addition, our winter caretakers tend to murder their families and kill themselves halfway through the winters. So this year, I’d like to ask for a raise in pay in addition to the typical cost of living increase.

I’ve been willing to put up with this discrepancy for nearly a decade. I guess I thought that surely it would be noticed that my job entails many more duties, and that the winter caretakers kill their families every year. On my watch I’ve got the maintenance of 310 rooms, a grand ballroom, a hedge-maze in constant need of upkeep, and much more — it’s an 80 hours-a-week job. Meanwhile, the winter job is basically a few hours a week running the boiler and monitoring the hotel grounds. Important work, yes, but not too demanding. Also, there’s this thing that happens where the winter caretakers are driven mad and they slaughter their loved ones before taking their own lives. Clearly the two jobs deserve different pay grades.

And with all due respect, sir, I think you’ve neglected to recognize that once the winter caretaker has killed himself and his family, none of his work gets done for the rest of the winter. Indeed, the winter caretaker does not have many duties, but when those few duties aren’t attended to, they add up. That means I have to fix snow damaged areas, repair down electrical wires, and supervise a crime scene decontamination crew. Only then can I turn my attention to my summer responsibilities. And, might I add, during none of this do I contemplate murder of any kind. READ MORE

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A Commercial for Floral Essentials Shampoo, Based on the Bestselling Dystopian YA Novel, by Mike Cabellon

hairI used to think that raising my three boys was a handful. They would keep me on my toes all day, so I didn't always have time to worry about my hair care products. That's why I trusted Floral Essentials shampoo to help me relax and unwind after a long day.

And thanks to new Transcendence Full Body Volumizing Shampoo from Floral Essentials, I'll never wash my hair the same way again.

When I used Transcendence for the first time, I was transported to a world of almonds and honey.

A world with long-lasting, healthy shine.

A world of strong, revitalized roots.

A world with a deep, dark secret.

It's been seven years since that fateful day. Seven years since my last shower. Seven years since I was actually, literally transported away from my beautiful, suburban Arizona home to a world overrun by anthropomorphic almonds and rivers of toxic honey.

I immediately sought shelter, and quickly found other women who were also transported here by Transcendence Full Body Volumizing Shampoo from Floral Essentials. Their hair looked radiant and full, yet their clothes were tattered and filthy. We've since banded together, pooling resources and shelter. We've lost a few good women along the way, but god does our hair look fabulous. READ MORE

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You're My Maid of Honor Because You're My Best Friend (Who Can Do a Tight, Clean Six-Minute Set), by Alex Schmidt

bridesmaidsRach? Need you for a sec. Abbs can finish up the rehearsal dinner caterer stuff herself.

Okay, I know I need some sleep before the big day, but I know I also need to tell you how much this means to me.

I have never had a friend like you. Ever. Somebody who's so fun, and so funny, and so on point when stuff happens and it's like, "Who's gonna say something first about this because whoa." I was raving about that when I was going over the place cards last week with Abbs, and she totally agrees: You're the best.

Rach? There is no one I would rather have at my non-hunk side as I become Mrs. Zane Blanston than you. And that's because there is no one I'd rather have toasting us two hours later.

Gosh! Can you believe we met five and a half whole years ago? Before I knew Zane? Before I stopped living with Abbs? Before you started going to that Amy Poehler theater to do your skits? READ MORE