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Our Son, The Asshole, by Noell Wolfgram Evans

My wife’s hand found its way to mine; in the corner of the overly lit room our five-year old son was blissfully unaware of cruel trick the fates had played upon him. We were in shock. Tears welled in my eyes as I looked at him enjoying perhaps his last happy moments, ripping the head off of one of the dolls in the bucket of toys that so many doctor’s offices place in the corner of their exam rooms as a way to offer “comprehensive” medical care.

I looked back at the doctor. I could see that her lips were moving but I could hardly discern the words that they were forming, everything was moving in slow motion. After what felt like an eternity of suspended action, I started out of the fog as she said, “Do you understand? I am sorry, but the tests are conclusive – your son is an asshole.”

Standing in front of the x-rays on the lighted walls, showing us charts and graphs and using doctor talk, she made a fairly convincing case. I knew Charlie wasn’t always the best kid, but an asshole?  I looked at him, drawing on the wall what was a pretty good representation of the doctor pooping and wondered…my wife, when she was pregnant, had eaten at a restaurant that soon after was closed due to a health code violation (in that they were not wearing pants in the kitchen because a broken thermostat made it “pretty toasty”).  I asked if there was a chance that this was something that had happened when he was in the womb; had we done something wrong? The doctor assured us that we had, in fact, done many things wrong. READ MORE

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How to Develop a Thicker Skin, by Andi Sharavsky

As social creatures, we human beings are met with constant criticism and ridicule from friends, enemies, relatives, bosses, strangers, vague acquaintances, everyone at the gym, and, most often, ourselves. The common solution offered to combat these daily emotional digs is to “develop a thicker skin.”

While that’s all well and good metaphorically, it’s also, you know, not a real thing that humans can do. Our hands and feet form calluses after enough time and wear, but we are not equipped with a go-go-gadget feelings fortress to build up our resistance and shut the world out. Plus, if watchingPacific Rim while high taught me anything, it's that when science does eventually develop a robo-somatic addition to make people stronger, we'll all just get a lot of nosebleeds and then die fighting sea-aliens. Therefore, I have made it my personal goal to find the perfect material or method for becoming impermeable to the negativity of others forever. Here are my results: READ MORE

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9 Rigorous Ways You Know You Went to School in the '90s, by Zack Bornstein

1. You remember that you did.
Memory serves as a bank of perceptual information. Neural stimuli built up throughout years of schooling can provide sufficient evidence that you attended school in the 1990s. This confirmation method can be disregarded in cases of prolonged hypnosis, brainwashing, drug abuse, head trauma, electroconvulsive therapy, neuropsychiatric disease, and/or if you have ever entered an extended fugue state.

2. You are told explicitly by a trusted person.
Trusted people could include your parents, siblings, mentors, the President, or a longtime friend. Asking the person to repeat him or herself, or to put the statement in writing reduces the possibility of an auditory hallucination. You must further confirm that 1) the statement was not preceded by a clause like “as if” or “you did not”; and 2) that you were not in a play or improv scene where lying is commonly accepted, even from trusted persons.

3. You look up your name in the school’s database.
Schools maintain extensive records, including those of your attendance, grades, emergency contact, Social Security number, and allergies. In special cases, schools display examples of your artwork on their walls. Furthermore, digital records became commonplace in the 1990s when you allegedly attended school, so you can easily request this information if you can provide adequate proof of your identity. READ MORE

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Completely Innocent Member of High Society Attends a Fancy Dinner Party, by David Henne

Is there any gathering more decadent than the fancy dinner party? Where else can one discuss fancy issues of the day whilst indulging on the sweet fruits of sophistication, the tenderloins of privilege? Such worry-free fraternization for a truly carefree caste.

The shit was that?

Merely the light bulbs flickering. Certainly no reason for hysterics. After all, a smattering of hard rain never harmed anyone. Unless. Yes, unless

Oh, keep your wits about you, old boy! You’re among society’s elite. What sinister matter would undermine such a function? No sinister matter, that’s what.

Preposterous, to think an act of violence could disrupt a dinner party. It’s precisely what makes the dinner party fancy: freedom from the deranged, unfancy dregs of humanity.

Now pipe up and make a snooty observation before the group thinks you’ve gone batty.

“Dreadful weather, isn’t it?” READ MORE

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The Marshmallow Diaries, by Howard Mittelmark

Day one: Brought to the Stanford campus with other four-year-olds for “tests” starting tomorrow. All very mysterious. Something about marshmallows. Nobody will say what, exactly. Maybe new kind of marshmallow? Even yummier? I resisted the urge to cry when parents left, but some of the other children did not.

Day two: Wild speculation in dorm last night; all of it wrong. Some predicted there would be ponies made of marshmallows, others thought we would live in a marshmallow house. Then one boy, Brad, began laughing and shouting, “Pee marshmallows! Poo marshmallows!” until the discussion fell apart.

This morning, teacher ladies explained. If we do not eat one marshmallow for fifteen minutes, we will be given three marshmallows. Easy counting problem. Three is more than one. They have underestimated me; not sure about others. After first test, received three marshmallows, as promised. Teacher ladies were very proud. I am probably the best four-year-old in the world. READ MORE

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Quotes from Lori's Goodbye Card on Her Last Day at Paramount Diagnostics, by Ryan Krebs

“All the best!” – Mike, Sales

“Lori, you’ll be missed! Who am I going to high-five when the Molson Files are done every Wednesday??? HA!” – Linda, Billing

“Seems like just yesterday you sat down across from me at your cubicle, ready to start in the high-stakes world of Customer Service. Look at you now! Big time! Congrats on the promotion and don’t forget about us little people!” –Barb, Customer Service

“Way to go!” –Dennis, Maintenance

“Sad to see you go! (But not sad for the going away party! We love cake, and don’t you know it! Of course you do! Karen’s 45th birthday ring a bell??? )” – Linda, Billing

“Hopefully now that you’re higher-up, you can help us peons! I kid! You’ve earned the big office downtown. We’ll really, really miss you.” – Barb, Customer Service

“I’ve really enjoyed working with you, Lori! You’ve been a grea…” – Carla, Reception

“Haha, I’m still going to come find you when the Molson Files come in on Wednesdays! Can’t let Sampson reach the drop box first or YOU KNOW WHAT!!! HAHA! Oh Lor, I’ll miss these inside jokes!” – Linda, Billing READ MORE

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FAQ: Common Misconceptions About the Fire Department, by Brian Agler and Luke Burns

Q: So what exactly is this “fire department”? I’ve heard a lot about it and I’m not sure it’s right for me.

A: The fire department is an organization that puts out fires. If your house is on fire, you should call the fire department.

 

Q: It sounds like the fire department starts fires. Are you sure the fire department doesn’t bring fire to my house? The last thing I need is someone coming here and giving me fire.

A: Despite the name, the fire department actually removes fire from your home. Think of it as an “anti-fire department” if that makes it easier. Rest assured, the fire department is 100% opposed to fire. We guarantee that after our visit, you will have an amount of fire less than or equal to the amount of fire you had before. The fire department will never give you more fire.

 

Q: How much does it cost to get rid of my fire?

A: The fire department puts out fires completely free of charge. READ MORE

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Butterfly Tour, by Blythe Roberson

Hello Butterfly Enthusiasts! Welcome to Butterfly Landing. Please be sure to close the first door of the lock chamber before opening the second. Don’t let any butterflies out, and don’t let any moths in!

Butterflies are awake during the day, which is just one of the many ways butterflies are like humans (smart, cool) and unlike moths (just the true worst). Butterflies develop symbiotic relationships, or “best friendships forever,” with ants. A natural defense mechanism common in butterflies is, when threatened, repeating what the other butterfly said in a dumb moth voice.

Butterflies and their delicate beauty are a symbol for the soul in Western literature. Moth larvae eat your sweaters. READ MORE

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The Siren's Song Of Pie, by Sam Pasternack

Hey there, big boy. You look hungry.

Very hungry.

Don’t be troubled by my appearance. I know I may look like the white smoke that rises when a new Pope is chosen. But honey, I ain’t no saint.

I am the scent of pie. And we’re going to have some fun, aren’t we?

You seem nervous. Let me swirl around your body for a moment. Yeah, just like that. You can make some room for a sweet, delicious pie. I know you can.

Still ill at ease, aren’t you? Here, let me show you that we’re not so different, you and I. See? I can form a hand. A slender, sexy, feminine hand, waving you closer, closer, closer. READ MORE

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A Letter from the Biggest, Meanest-Looking Guy in the Prison Yard, by Erik Voss

GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS – EAST DIVISION
D-39 INMATE No. 57073

Welcome, new inmates!

On your first day in this state correctional facility, you’re likely to feel a great deal of pressure to prove yourself quickly. New inmates typically assume that if they don’t immediately earn the acceptance of, say, the Aryan Brotherhood, Mara Salvatrucha, or the Al-Qaeda Alumni Network, they’ll most certainly spend the rest of their sentences getting gang-raped in the showers.

It’s like high school all over again!

That said, coming from the biggest, meanest-looking guy in the prison yard, please, don’t walk up and punch me in the face.

I get it. You’re trying to make a name for yourself. You figure that if the other guys see that you have the balls to take a swing at the big dog on day one, then no one will mess with you. It’s not a bad strategy. It’s just not an original one, either. READ MORE

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How Are We Supposed to Get Away from These Mobsters in the Midst of a Chinese New Year Parade? by Tim Sampson

Perfect! Just perfect! And here I thought we were finally in the clear. After all, we managed to escape from that abandoned warehouse and outrun those Mafia goons for 16 blocks. But just when it seemed like our getaway was assured, we run right smack dab into the middle of this massive Chinese New Year Parade.

How the heck are we supposed to find a way out of here?

I mean, can you believe our luck? Like we didn't have it hard enough already today, untying ourselves from those chairs and climbing through that air duct. Now we're standing in the middle of Chinatown amidst a massive street festival ushering in the Year of the Horse. We've got nowhere to hide!

Hey! Stop looking at that giant, multi-person dragon float weaving its way through the street and help me figure a way out of this jam.

Look. Your guess is as good as mine about how we ended up with that briefcase full of diamonds. One minute we're trying to catch a cab downtown for the marketing convention, the next thing you know a couple of guys in pinstripe suits are shoving us into the back of a black town car and waving guns in our faces.

Hey, genius! Now's not the time to be looking at that unguarded wardrobe full of silk Daxiushan gowns as well as traditional makeup and wigs. Those guys will catch up to us any minute. We need a low-key way to blend into this crowd—effectively disappearing in plain sight.

Fortunately, we bought ourselves some time back in the alley, tripping the gangsters with those garbage cans. And ducking through that busy restaurant kitchen was a smart move. But now it seems like we may be at the end of the line. Can you believe our timing? The day two mobsters chase us into Chinatown is the day they just happen to be throwing this parade. What are the chances? READ MORE

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Late Twenties Game Night! by Django Gold

Hey there, late twenty-somethings! Looking for a way to spend your wide-open weekend nights? Nothing else to do besides hit up that tired old bar scene that apparently none of your responsible, newly career-driven friends are into anymore? Then it's time for Late Twenties Game Night, the hot new craze of staying in and playing an unending series of board and card games that's sweeping every tastefully decorated townhouse in the nation!

That's right: fucking board and card games! That profoundly unsatisfying diversion you used to resort to at your grandmother's house because there was nothing else to do is now something in which your friends appear to take authentic joy! Not really your cup of tea? You don't get a vote! It's time to grow up! So pull up a chair and get ready for a lengthy evening of dice rolling, amassing little plastic tokens, and waiting your turn. It's Late Twenties Game Night! It's what you're doing from now on.

YOU WILL NEED:
• A bunch of fucking board and card games
• Four (4) friends, two (2) of whom are a married couple and the other two (2) of whom are an engaged couple
• That tepid, restless drunk that comes after drinking three (3) glasses of red wine over the course of four (4) hours
• The ability to lightheartedly reminisce about those "crazy times" that evidently drew to a close at the commencement of Late Twenties Game Night without plunging into an irretrievable depression [optional]
• One (1) of the hostess' purportedly "gorgeous" work friends, who said she might stop by later [highly optional] READ MORE

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Literary Birth Complications, by Dan Rozier

A Huckleberry Fin

Good News: It’s a boy!

Bad News: It’s a boy with a full-grown killer whale dorsal fin.


Humbert Humbert’s Disease Disease

Good News: Twins!

Bad News: One twin was born much, much older than the other.


Reverse Rapunzel Condition 

Good News: Your child wasn’t taken away and raised by a witch.

Bad News: You're the proud parents of a completely hairless, basement dwelling, 25-year-old male. READ MORE

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Upcoming Obstacle Races, by Alex Pearson

Mark your calendars, runners. Don’t miss out on the newest, most challenging, and inventive races yet.

The Urban Obstacler: Running eight miles is hard enough, but now throw in simulated real-life automobile traffic, startled pedestrians, furious outdoor vendors, unfazed homeless people, and a completely unmarked course. And while we don’t have actors dressed up as zombies chasing you, watch out for our very convincing police officers trying to stop you to ask about permits. Just remember, no matter what happens, don’t give them any information about to whom you paid your entry fee. That is automatic disqualification!

The Quicksand Scamper: 200 of the area’s most adventurous runners; 10 kilometers of the most rugged trail; dozens of the toughest quicksand pits; and one very frantic volunteer with a fraying rope that is simply too short. Whatever you do, keep running. Except in the quicksand. Then, whatever you do, stop running. You will sink like a stone. If you're unsure if it's quicksand or not, run a few miles and see how much you sink. READ MORE