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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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.

• 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


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


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


Postmodern Love, by Erin Somers

The writer Erin Somers sits down to write a "Modern Love" column1. The subject is the truncated, never-realized dalliance between herself and D.2 The convention of masking identities in essayistic, first person writing with a single initial serves the dual purposes of protecting the privacy of the party under discussion and lending an illusion of truth to the narrative. Behold: a story so painful, so juicy, so heartrendingly true that the author feels uneasy disclosing real names. That the author feels driven by basic human decency to shield the individual (whom she has rendered in maybe not-so-flattering prose, but for whom she still maintains lingering affection) from potential violence on the part of her readership who may get mad, who may—who knows?—show up at the residence of the individual in question with battering rams, truncheons, pole axes, and so on, demanding comeuppance.

The writer Erin Somers begins:

And lo! They met online. Erin Somers created a profile and was instantly matched with the aforementioned D, who fulfilled nine out of ten criteria as outlined by the site’s “Enchantment Rubric.” Quotation marks are employed here to signify 1) That the enclosed phrase is poached directly from the website’s copy and 2) That the author is aware that the enclosed phrase is more than a little silly, thus aligning herself with the reader, who is no doubt absorbing this with a highly developed sense of irony. READ MORE


Jane Austen Responds to Spam, by Daniel Hurwitz

From: David david@freeipad.org
To: Jane Austen

Hi Friend!

OH MY GOSH! I know I shouldn't talk about this here, but I thought I would message you from my new APPLE iPad that I just got for free. Don't tell anyone but there is a website sending out a free iPad to anyone that signs up, www.freeipad.info. That is where I got mine btw follow these steps exactly to get one for yourself, go to www.freeipad.info enter you email, enter your shipping address and wait 3-5 business days to receive your it in the mail! it works!!


From: Jane Austen
To: David david@freeipad.org

My dearest David,

I thank you for this letter which brings joy on a dreary Monday morning spent in reflection and rumination. I have taken to many words to show my appreciation. READ MORE


Congratulations on Purchasing a Katana, by Spencer Ham

Your sword was personally forged by Akio Taguchi in the village of Tobishima. Enclosed you will find the certificate of authenticity. Now that you own a katana, there are certain traditions you must upkeep. Below is a list of the rules you are required to follow:

• You must have a ponytail. “But what if I’m balding in the front?” Especially if you’re balding in the front.

• You must display your katana on top of a leaning bookshelf located next to a glow-in-the-dark dragon poster.

• You must have a pre-approved katana-owner name. Please refer to the attached list of accepted names, which includes, but is not limited to, Rick, Brent, and Ty-Joe.

• You must film yourself opening the katana and then upload it onto YouTube. There are specific guidelines for this video: 1.) It must be over 18 minutes long. 2.) Your stepmother must film it. 3.) You must get agitated, with your frustration boiling into a full-on man-boy tantrum. 4.) You must wield the katana in a manner that will cause commenters to write things like “This guy be a retarded Highlander” and “STFU use that sword 2 kill yourself.”

• You must drive a PT Cruiser. READ MORE


Mattress World Commercial, by Blythe Roberson

When you walk into a conventional mattress store, it’s really not about you. It’s about, here are our mattresses, would you like to buy one?

At our store, it’s all about you. What is your favorite book? Who is your celebrity crush? Put your iPod on shuffle: What are the first six songs that come up?

Don’t look at our mattresses yet!  You’ve had a rough day, you need to de-stress. Sit down for a massage. Wow, those hands are magic! Is that a masseuse? No, it’s Gary, the guy who delivers our mattresses.

Are you hungry? Here’s some celery and some chocolate. No, don’t eat the celery. We just read all these studies that said chocolate is super-healthy; it has antioxidants or something. So eat as much chocolate as you want.

What do you value most highly about yourself—intelligence? Well, we think you’re really smart. You’re like the smartest person we’ve ever met. God, we wish we were half as smart as you. READ MORE