Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Treats For Trixx

I believe that Fall is probably my favorite time of year.

Trees explode in brilliant color offering an indescribable display from Mother Nature. Fall is also a busy season; a season for reaping the fruits of hard labor at the end of a long growing season. The waning days of Fall signals the promise of a winter that’s surely to blow in as a frigid demon in the wind.  

The confusion as to which direction to set the clocks when the time change occurs was quite amusing as it relates to my grandfather trying to figure out how to adjust the VCR and microwave clocks.

And then, there's the centerpiece of Fall...Halloween. The excitement of joining friends and neighbors for festivities makes me feel like a kid again. I often, fondly reminisce about my childhood as I, and the other neighborhood kids, excitedly darted through the streets, vying for the biggest and best treats.

We’d beat one another with baseball bats, sticks or push the dorky kid into oncoming traffic so there would be more candy for the rest of us. It appeared as though we were destitute crack addicts who were just released from jail.

There’s something quite intoxicating about the aroma of busted pumpkins on the street and the mystical glaze of eggs slowly trickling down the facade of a house in the light of a silver moon as toilet paper wistfully dances from tree branches in the soft, crisp Fall breeze

Speaking of intoxicated, I also remember our creepy neighbor (Mr. Ethridge) who got fired from his job as an air traffic controller.

He used to tell us he needed to test the flame retardancy of our costumes by trying to light us on fire with a Zippo lighter. Good times indeed!  Mr. Ethridge always wore loose-fitting gym shorts with pockets and a white t-shirt.

I believe he ended up in jail for a long time. It had something to do with an ice cream cake party for the kids, a Peter Pan costume and an inflatable jumping moonwalk.

I have friends who throw some amazing Halloween parties. They call themselves hosts, I call them enablers.

There’s nothing quite as amusing as observing an overly served guest who’s tipped one too many at the open bar after devouring about a dozen of those orange-iced Halloween cookies fashioned after pumpkins.

I’ve never seen such a beautiful shade of orange purge from a human body…and all over the couch, carpet, marble foyer and front porch. Talk about scary.

I only dress up for Mardi Gras events these days, opting to dress normally for Halloween. Inevitably, there’s always one person who comes to the party wearing a 5-thousand dollar costume which makes them appear as though they’re competing for an Oscar in the “Best Costume” category.

These are the same folks who drunkenly slosh their drink all over the floor (at 7pm), stumbling over the team of midgets which they’ve hired to dress as demons.  As they place their rented smoke machine aside (also a costume accessory) they cleverly, and loudly, ask:

“Hey, what are YOU supposed to be dressed as?”

I usually inform these people that I’m dressed as the person who would like for them to go away.

I once worked with a woman who dressed in a microscopic mini skirt, low cut top, heels and a ton of makeup on Halloween.  I complimented her on the “call-girl” costume…until she informed me that she was actually NOT in costume and that she had a date later. I hope they had fun.

While Halloween is supposed to be scary, it’s a fun kind of scary.

The thrill which one experiences as they scan the kid’s candy through an x-ray machine, the excitement of having bio-lab analysts take samples to ensure that the treats are safe, printing out a neighborhood map so that registered “sex-offender” houses might be avoided screams of fun and lasting memories if you ask me!

Admittedly, I don’t scare too easily-- with the exception of a friend who announced to me recently that he enjoys watching "The Real Housewives."

My neighbor makes it easy on herself and simply dresses as a witch each year.  It's helpful that she sort of looks like a witch actually.

Witches/wicked female characters don’t really scare me. Don’t get me wrong, there are still authentic portrayals of wicked women who DO scare me:

That babysitter chick from "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle", Kathy Bates in "Misery", Perez Hilton, my 6th grade teacher, Ms. Watson, Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, my ex-girlfriend…the list goes on.

I blame Bewitched for removing the stigma associated with witches.  As a kid, I had a major crush on Samantha. My weird uncle Leonard had a crush on the little girl, Tabitha. 

He suddenly disappeared when I was about 10. My dad said he had to go away for a while, so I didn't ask.
How awesome would it be to have a beautiful wife who could just snap her fingers and a pile of money suddenly materializes in your hands??

Now that I think about it, where DID that money supposedly come from when Samantha twitched her nose? Most importantly…was Paul Lynde (Uncle Arthur) really gay??

Anyway, you can’t just print and introduce piles of brand new money into the economy without raising the value of whatever monetary source which backs it. That would create inflation, devalue the dollar, domestically and internationally and send the stock market reeling. Uh, wait a second...that sounds eerily familiar. 

Scary indeed

My friend Todd frightened me recently; actually his wife Melissa scared me more.

Melissa planned to spend the night with her girlfriends across the lake so that Todd could finish some sort of remodeling project on his bathroom. Somehow Todd thought it to be a good idea to enlist MY assistance.

I did what any good handy-man’s assistant would do, in that I didn’t know what purpose ANY tool in his utility box served.  I also accidentally cut myself on a door jamb, stepped on the cat and I glued my left hand to the tile on the vanity. So, I dragged Todd down the street to a pub, hoping that straight whiskey would make the tile square fall off my hand.

It didn't work, but I felt better about things...and I had my own tile coaster for the drink.

Melissa, however, decided that she would come back home that evening in order to get an early start on errands the next day.

Imagine how surprised Todd and I were to find Melissa sitting in the living room, glaring at us as we stumbled through the door singing "When the Saints Go Marching In."  I believe Todd was wearing somebody's shirt on his head and he went to the bathroom off his front porch.  (I also accidentally glued the toilet seat shut)

Melissa seems to become agitated when Todd hangs out with me…which is precisely why I won’t eat ANYTHING that she cooks for me unless I've monitored her every move as she prepares it.

As I recall, Todd slept on the couch that evening while I, being the guest, stayed in the guest bedroom with a chair firmly planted under the doorknob. **

** I've amended my list of wicked/scary women to include Melissa.

Todd had to drag out a stack of sheets and blankets in order to make the guest bed and he asked me to grab the fitted sheet from the drawer.

The fitted sheet, apparently, is the thing with elastic corners on it-- kind of like the waist line of those blue jeans that old people wear.

As a general observation, wrapping a fitted sheet over a mattress after five beers and four shots is comparable to advanced geometry class at MIT.

I strongly believe that installing a fitted sheet should be an exercise employed by police officers at a DUI checkpoint. When you secure one corner and the other corner pops off…BAM! The cop hits you with a taser and takes you straight to jail.

Somehow, Todd was able to properly make this bed, complete with all 400 pillows that his wife insists upon having-- which I believe makes him a “functional alcoholic”...who lives with an angry pillow hoarder.  I did absolutely nothing worthwhile to assist but I DID step on the cat again.

Now that I think about it, the scariest part of the evening was when I learned that Todd knew all about fitted sheets, thread counts and where ALL of the pillows should be arranged.

There are some things guys just don’t discuss over beer and shooting pool.

As I think more about it, I suppose that I DO scare easily in some areas-- medical situations being a prime example. Actually medical situations don’t scare me as much as a visit to the doctor’s office, which I had to recently do.

It’s not a major hang-up-- I simply have a mild aversion to doctor visits, in that, I’m terrified of:

All doctors
Nurse’s assistants
The receptionist at the front desk
The doctor’s office parking lot
The front door to the doctor’s office
The actual title "Doctor"
Those who play doctors or any medical personnel in TV and film
The car which is transporting me to the doctor’s office
Doogie Howser
CNN’s Nancy Grace**

**Has nothing to do with doctors, but still scares me

The doc recently placed me on a brief trial of antibiotics which listed the following on the warning label:

“Contact your doctor immediately if you experience anxiety, mood swings or suicidal thoughts”
Antibiotics which make you want to die. Talk about a great method for curing an infection!

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this, but I’m truly afraid of haunted houses. Not the Amityville or Poltergeist-type houses where the ghost tortures you, your family, your pets, unsuspecting African-American house guests or some priest who stops by to save the day.   

Why is it that teens or unsuspecting house guests are usually the first to be murdered in the movies?  Specifically, the ones who slip off into the nearby forest for sexual escapades just prior to being decapitated by a flying wagon wheel or a harpoon (which just happens to be laying around under some leaves in the forest.)

I’m afraid of the “staged” haunted houses and it goes back to when I was age six. My mom (pronounced: Mommy) took me to a haunted house where one of the “actors” accidentally hit me with his pointed devil’s tail. It cut my face pretty badly, therefore, I've held a deep fear ever since.

When I was 18, me and some of my buddies volunteered to be actors in the local Jaycees haunted house. I figured this might help me to better conquer my haunted house fear.

Along with my buddies Matt and Shane, I was assigned to the bloody laboratory of death scene. There was a headless mannequin, splattered with blood, and our job was to chop away at the body with our blood drenched hatchets.

Behaving with the level of maturity that one might expect from three 18-year olds, we swiped some dark, curly hair from one of the other costumes in the prop-room and then duct-taped it to the mannequin’s crotch. We then proceeded to simulate sex acts with the headless body (and the severed head).  I've never laughed so hard in my life.

I’m not sure if you can picture that scene, but suffice it to say that no one seemed terrified of our little laboratory. With the exception of our parents and the adult supervisors.

I’m pretty sure that cold, harsh reality set in on the adults as they came to grips with the fact that Matt, Shane and I represented the future of our great society. So, I suppose that our scene in the haunted house WAS scary after all.

All of this reminiscing while writing this piece has actually put me into a more festive mood this Halloween. I believe, for the first time since I was a kid, I WILL dress up this year. Nothing too elaborate though. 

copyright Pontchartrain Press 2010

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Mail Sacked!!

I recently browsed my in-box and decided to spend some time with the peeps to answer emails. This is precisely what got me into trouble with an employer once.

Many thanks to the loyal readers and first time readers. Sorry it's taken a while to respond to your messages, but my neighbor's kid has been trying to teach me how to play Halo and, as it seems, I'm about as coordinated as a crackhead going through de-tox. Here goes...

From: Sarah M.I’m an English teacher and couldn’t help but notice a few slight errors in your latest writing. Just a few punctuation and a few grammatical infractions.

Reply from: Jim Patrick:Infractions??? (Definition: failure to obey or fulfill a law, contract, or agreement)

This sounds serious! Should I alert my attorney?

Actually, you are my hero. Mainly for being a teacher. You are equally my hero because you just assisted in winning a wager I placed with Mike The Editor. I purposely inserted a few errors for three reasons:

1. I enjoy parallel, abstract humor. I do it for the smart kids. And…because I’m eclectic. (Translation: I had three shots of Irish whiskey while writing that piece)

2. I submitted my writing piece for Jack (The child mentioned in the article) to grade; in order to verify that he learned something from spending any amount of time with the least likely parental figure on the planet earth.

3. I was secretly trying to prompt an English teacher to send me an email so that I might garner a date from this egregious editing omission. I love to be picked apart, as it reminds me of my last relationship. Call me sentimental. XOXO.

What are your plans for this Friday evening? I’d love to help you grade papers over a Chateaubriand with roasted new potatoes and a bottle of Rodney Strong.

At any rate, Mike The Editor took my bet, that no one would notice, and you proved him to be incorrect. Such is his lot in life so I’m reasonably confident that it did not come as a crushing blow to him.

Should you join me for a date, I promise to behave as a perfect gentleman and I will leave my dangling participle where it belongs. I save that for the THIRD date.

From: Thomas G.Just read “Back to Skool.“ Loved it!! It seems we know the same people, they just have different names. I know people identical to the people you write about. There was a guy I knew who could be talked into trying anything. Oh, and your “Wanted, new Friends ASAP" submission reminded me of my friend Randall. Someone who gives you a last minute invite and "by the way can you bring more Ice and a 12 pack?" Keep writing, I'm reading. We DO have computers in Canada. LOL!

Reply from: Jim Patrick:First of all, please accept my deepest condolences for knowing people such as my friends. You also have my heartfelt sympathy for living in a place where one’s pee pee freezes before it hits the ground in wintertime.

Not that I make it a regular practice of urinating outdoors. Mostly I simply do number-one in my pants so as not to draw attention.

BTW, if you ever decide to cross the border for a visit to the land of inadequate healthcare and high-speed car chases, I’d love to chat. Could you bring a bag of ice and a 12-pack?

From: Missy J.
You must have spent time in Ohio. I know a lot of people very similar to the people you write about in your blog.

Reply from: Jim Patrick:
Your name sounds like a pop star. Are you a pop star?? If not, you SHOULD be with a name such as yours. It's irrelevant as to your singing abilities, as evidenced by tuning-in to Pop Music radio stations.

To answer your question...Actually, I DID spend time in Ohio-- not by accident. My friend, Justin, is a public relations spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration. He’s always naturally, and obnoxiously, skeptical of everything. Which is why he creeps me out sometimes. He has a metal detector on his front door and forces his friends to remove their shoes before entering his condo. BTW, we also are not allowed to bring containers with more than 3oz of fluid inside, making his condo a terrible place to go for drinks.

Due to loopholes and adjustments in personal privacy laws, Justin is, however, a good person to know. It’s no coincidence that you know similar people as those I write about. They ARE your friends. Justin facilitated a window of opportunity for me to monitor your every move and the activities of your friends. And, now that you’ve emailed me, I have personal access to your banking, credit report and personal business matters. BTW again, it appears that you are five days late on your car payment and two months in arrears on your student loan.

Thanks for reading and for taking time to send me an email. We’ll be in touch…very soon.

From: Matthew D.
Someone just gave me a link to your blog. Very funny stuff. How long have you been writing this stuff. I want to read back blogs.

Reply from: Jim Patrick
Who gave you a link to my blog?? My blog is private and not for public consumption. Are you a hacker?? Since it's obvious that you take some sort of pleasure in reading people's personal diaries, the back blogs will soon be available in book form. I will send you a personal copy if you promise to stop invading my privacy.

From: Christina L.
Hey. i have sent a link to your site to eleven friends of mine. Ten of them LOVE it, however one blocked my email and de-friended me on Facebook.

Reply from: Jim Patrick
I like to think of my blog as a great friend filter. Eleven friends is entirely too many for one to have anyway. I closed down the friend application desk years ago and am now simply offering casual acquaintance status to about fifteen people in the friend “overflow“ waiting room. By casual and acquaintance, I mean random sexual encounters. I’m KIDDING…it’s actually only nine people. What are you doing tonight?

From: Jessie R.
How often does your column appear? I don't want to miss it.

Reply from: Jim Patrick
Every 3rd second quarter of a new moon…and only for 18 and a half minutes. You just missed it!! Sorry.

From: Amanda W.
One Question? How do you remember all this stuff.

Reply from: Jim Patrick
What stuff?

From: Chris R.
Have you ever lived in Decatur, Illinois. You remind me of a song writer I once knew.

Reply from: Jim Patrick
I’ve been to Decatur. The combined aroma from the food processing plant and the paper mill was delightful. Do you possess an oxygen mask by chance?

Funny you should mention songwriting. I am working on my FIRST song right now. My friend Steve is going through a bad breakup and I told him it would be therapeutic to put things on paper. It‘s a second spoken verse rendition of the classic Elvis song, “Are You Lonesome Tonight“

“I wonder if you’re lonesome tonight? Someone once said the world’s a stage and each of us play a part…







It’s still rough around the edges, but I think it will come together.

From: Holly T.
Hey You gotta be from California. You only find people like that here in the Golden State.

Reply from: Jim Patrick
Thank you. That explains all of the high-speed car chases, road rage and medicinal marijuana

From: Julius P.
I showed your blog to my ex-wife. We're getting back together.

Reply from: Jim Patrick
Are you aware that your name itself is an omen? If she invites you to the Forum…don’t say you weren’t warned.

From: Kirk A.
Have you ever been in Prison? I bet you could write some funny crap from the big house. If you haven't then you need to do something to get a 6 months to a year sentence and let the words flow.

Reply from: Jim Patrick
When I was 17 I received community service for photocopying my butt at a public copy machine. I don’t think I’d like prison. Actually, I don’t think that I would enjoy prison SEX. Unless it’s with the right person, of course.

From: Shannon P.
I had a very funny experience at Red Lobster this past weekend. Do you want to hear about it?

Reply from: Jim Patrick
I think I just did. Anyway, would you mind if I wait for the movie version?

From: Douglass G.
Please write about me in your stories. I think it would impress Megan who works in accounting.

Reply from: Jim Patrick
(I believe we’ve got ourselves a winning screenplay Doug)

I once knew this guy, Douglass, who was always so incredibly needy. Doug simply wasn’t happy unless he was the center of attention. He even legally changed his name, adding an extra “S” to his first name just to be different.

He met a young woman in the accounting department at his place of business and immediately fell in love.

Douglass fervently tried everything he could in order to catch Megan’s attention, hoping to generate a spark which would, ideally, ignite the passionate, everlasting flames of love between the two of them.

Megan began hanging out a lot with Joshua, an attractive colleague who works on the 1st floor in Quality Control.

Douglass began showing up in places where he knew Joshua would be, in order to size him up, hoping to distinguish the exact nature of his and Megan’s relationship.

He would, coincidentally, be at Josh’s favorite dance club or coffee house, the grocery store, Josh's living room closet, the back seat of his car, etc. It came to a point where Joshua had to file for a restraining order for fear that he and his lover, Kent, were being targeted by a homophobic maniac.

Doug launched a final, desperate, campaign so that he could FINALLY catch Megan’s eye. He came to work one day with an improvised explosive device strapped to his chest and an automatic assault rifle.

As these things go, Douglass got the attention he so desperately desired as a SWAT team sniper killed him with a precision shot from the top of the building next door.

The traumatic series of events were more than Joshua could stomach. Soon after, he and Kent moved to Vermont and were married. Megan received a promotion, to Doug’s former position, and everyone lived happily ever after. Except, of course, Douglass. The End.

(Cue closing credits music: Edwin McCain “I’ll Be”)

Thanks to a few thousand readers (and growing), I now have more interesting mail in my in-box other than Craig's List "casual encounters" responses and CNN News Alerts.

It appears that Pontchartrain has gone international...welcome to the new readers in the Russian Federation, Canada, The United Kingdom, Switzerland, Australia, Germany and Turkey. To you, I say Buenos Dias Amigos!!

Please feel free to email anytime. In return, I promise that none of Pontchartrain Press' United States readers will ever invade your respective countries. (Note to Canada: This is conditional. We're watching you closely)

copyright Pontchartrain Press 2010

Friday, October 8, 2010

Back To Skool

I did fairly well in school as a kid. I wasn’t nearly as advanced as a friend of mine who recently announced the following via instant message as I was doing research for a writing assignment:

“i was reading a t 5th grade level when i was 3, but i was kind of a savant”

Apparently “savants” have a morbid fear of capitalizing the letter “I” while typing. I was impressed with her abstract grammatical humor by spacing between the A and the T. Preposition usage/rule humor turns me on, almost as much as barely clothed women.  Brilliant!

Now…where was i at?

My sense of what was funny went largely unappreciated by several of my teachers.  Mine was not gratuitous trouble making though. I put thought into it--- sometimes employing the use of graphics and flowcharts.  Oh, and one time we employed an industrial-sized bag of ready to eat slaw, an empty wrapping paper spool and gunpowder from a 400-pack of firecrackers. 

With the unsuspecting assistance of the school janitor, who was taking a nap break, it was a large success.  With the exception of detention. 

My Architecture teacher, Mr. Cummings (yes, his real name) was a very good sport and a good man.  He was impressed with my floor plans but couldn't understand why I and a couple of the guys in class occasionally made life so difficult for him. 

One time I designed a complete set of floor and elevation plans for a round house on 20ft stilts.  I encouraged three of my fellow classmates to design equally complicated structures.  Our teacher's main frustration?  He had to GRADE the projects. 

It took him forever, thus distracting him long enough so we could slip away for a while to flirt with the girls in the Office Vocational lab down the hall. 

That is, until the Office Voc. teacher escorted us back to Architecture class.  There stood Mr. Cummings, solemnly staring at us like an embarrassed father.

Yes indeed...calculated, well thought out fun.  I'm sure that we probably turned Mr. Cummings into a chain smoking alcoholic. 

I enjoyed Physics Class also-- Now that I think about it, I suppose I enjoyed TESTING the laws of physics more so. Especially as they related to Billy Haskins.

Billy was part of our group of friends who provided endless comic relief, in that he would say or do anything we asked. (Note: Billy did NOT do so well in Physics...Math, English, Social Studies, Art, Phys. Ed. or Shop.)  One time, we convinced him that if he held tightly to a bundle of about 50 bottle rockets in each hand that they would lift him off the ground. 

Our Physics teacher, Mr. Hepler, was a short, mean, creepy gentleman but he knew physics like no one else. He ran a very strict classroom, which provided numerous hours of entertainment and abundant opportunities to test, what we liked to call, “Hepler’s Laws.”

For the purposes of proving our hypotheses, Billy Haskins served as our Guinea Pig.

One such experiment came when we had Billy test Newtonian Mechanics as they relate to the three laws of motion:

#1 An object (tennis ball) at rest will remain at rest unless acted on by an unbalanced force (Billy Haskins)

#2 Acceleration is produced when a force acts on a mass. (Here comes the wind-up, momentum builds and...BOOM!  Billy throws the ball directly to the back of Mr. Hepler’s head)

#3 For every action there is an equal and opposite re-action.

It’s important to note that, for his small stature, Mr. Hepler defied the laws of physics as he must have been a starting batter for the Boston Red Sox.  He also possessed a paddle which was the size of a live oak tree. 

We partially disproved Newton’s third law of motion that day, therefore, our experiment was successful. Not so for Billy.  There was an OPPOSITE reaction, however, it was far from equal.

Billy couldn't sit down for a while after he and Mr. Hepler conducted their own motion/force/mass experiment in the hallway. 

For the parents who might be reading this, if you’d like to share this helpful experiment with your children, the equation is:


Unless you’re in the mood for a parent/teacher conference, I suggest having them look it up rather than to take a hands-on approach such as me and the guys.

This is an excellent moment in time to point out that I am not a role model for children. Which is why I was puzzled when a friend of mine, a single parent, asked if I might assist her son, Jack, with his homework.

He’d been having some difficulties and she, somehow, thought it to be a good idea for him to spend some time with me.  If only my mother and father were alive to warn her.

It’s not that I don’t like kids, I like them just fine. However, the two things I like BEST about kids would be:

1. That they belong to someone else

2. They make for great slave-labor around my house and yard

Jack’s first assignment, after he finished organizing my cluttered storage room, was from English class. He was given a writing “prompt” and tasked with outlining his general observations and feelings…in proper writing form. I stood ready to give Jack some helpful pointers, until I read the “prompt.” I felt it necessary to take on a larger role.  

(Note: For reader convenience, I've underlined some items in the assignment)

Melissa and her family were at a restaurant. They are
eating Melissa’s favorite food: EXTRA cheese pizza! While she is
eating, Melissa notices a man yelling at his waitress. He is
angry because his food took longer than usual to
prepare. He had been waiting for a long time. The
waitress keeps apologizing to the man, but he doesn’t
seem to get any less angry. Finally, the man stops
yelling and starts eating his food. The waitress walks
away slowly. She is obviously upset. Was the man
right to yell at the waitress like that? Why or why not?
What would you have done instead? Have you ever
been in a similar situation? How did you feel?

Dear Mrs. Hanner,

Before I share my feelings about the famished, loud man, I’d like to point out/clarify a few things in the above scenario.

The subjunctive mood of the verbs “Were” and “Are”** in the first two sentences do not agree.

**(Note: I realize that I capitalized “are” and “were“ but it was for illustrative purposes)

Question: Is this gentleman an alcoholic?  My next door neighbor tips the bottle quite often and, when the bottom fell out of the stock market, he began to drink heavily.  Of course he also became verbally abusive to his girlfriend and those around him.  

He could also regularly be found passed out on his back porch in his underwear, which was a good thing as one can not yell when they are passed out. 

I will assume that he is simply a social misfit who, most likely, holds an inexplicable level of derisory qualities due to the world not revolving around his every desire.**

**(Note: Sort of like my older sister)

Having no intimate knowledge of specific interaction between the Pizza Monster** and his server, I really hold an inconclusive opinion as to whether he was right or wrong. 

It occurs to me that perhaps she cut him off from the bar or maybe she made unwanted advances toward him.  What does the Pizza Monster look like?  And, is the server attractive or ugly?

***(Note: Notice that I capitalized Pizza Monster. Since we don’t know his name, I've created a “proper name” for the fat man. Assuming, of course, that he is fat)

In assessing the SERVER’S** general mood after Pizza Monster began eating, it’s important to possess inside knowledge as to the activities which may or may not have taken place behind the kitchen doors moments earlier.

**(Anachronistic Note: They don’t like to be called “waitresses” as used in your scenario.)

I’d say that the Misanthrope Pizza Monster from Outer Space** probably enjoyed an extra cheese pizza with an extra helping of saliva, lovingly provided by the entire kitchen and wait staff once they retrieved it from the filthy, greasy kitchen floor.

**(Note: I decided to give tubby the non-tipper a better name)

Since the writing-prompt scenario on my assignment sheet appears to be the world’s longest paragraph, I found it quite difficult to follow. I hope that the movie is much more captivating. Perhaps Ridley Scott or Tim Burton could direct it.

I would also point out that it seems rather irresponsible for a school to promote unhealthy eating habits to a group of 12-year old kids.

On to the next assignment…Math Class, Jack‘s biggest weakness.

Jack’s math teacher, Mrs. Blankenship, sent home a series of word-problems, with which he was experiencing some difficulty.  Following, is the ACTUAL transcript of the hand-out sheet:

The Target Store® was running a special sale on Halo Reach for the X-Box 360 game system. They are retail priced at $59.99 each and they have 30 boxes on the shelve and 50 boxes in the stockroom.

a) How many games do they have in stock?
b) What is the total retail amount of the shelve stock?
c) What is the total retail amount of the entire stock?

We’ll get to the numbers shortly; but first, I’m curious as to whether Microsoft® or Halo® paid for advertising placement on this mathematics class homework assignment sheet.

If they did, I will use this as a prime example of genius marketing in my 3rd period General Business class with Mrs. Fitzgerald.  I haven't seen product placement such as this since Joe Camel® 

Speaking of marketing protocol, Target’s proper name does not include the word “The.” It was especially detail oriented to include a “registered” symbol in the name, however, it should immediately follow the name “Target.”

Now that I think about it, there's no such thing as "The Target Store.”  It's simply Target®.  (Or, as annoying people call it, "Tar-Jaay").

In noting the usage of the word “Was” as past 1st &3rd singular of the word “Be”, I assume that the sale has concluded?

I certainly understand how such a sale would end so quickly as $59.99 was, I meant, IS a good price.  At any rate, please consider using the combination of is/are or was/were...depending on the length of this amazing sale.

I will “shelve” any further speculation so as not to miss this sale before the remaining Halo Reach boxes disappear from the “SHELF.” 

My mom's friend, Jim, plans to help me close the gap on a $25.00** deficit in my savings so that I may go purchase Halo Reach this weekend.  He's having me mow his lawn, wash all of his windows and till and plant an entire winter vegetable garden in his back yard.

**Note: If Halo Reach at the Target Store is/was priced at $59.99 and my savings shows a $25.00 deficit in the amount needed, what are the total savings that Jim is receiving for the work that I must perform?

You’re a great math teacher by the way! I’m not sure if you’re friends with my English Comp teacher, Mrs. Hanner, but you might want to hang out with her sometime. Perhaps she might offer to take a peek at your homework instruction sheets before you distribute them to impressionable minds.  That is, if she has time.

As far as the math problem, the respective answers are:


Not including state and/or local sales tax of course.

I feel confident about Jack’s homework achievements this week and I also feel quite strongly that he's going to make a real impression on his teachers. 

Final stop, History class... 

Jack informed me that he enjoys this class, however, the annoying rich kid who sits beside him regularly looks at Jack's test and homework papers to copy his answers.  He also tells me that the teacher regularly relies on Wikipedia in dispensing lessons. 

Jack was supposed to research and write a brief summation of Thomas Edison's famous invention...the light bulb.  For what purpose??  One can only imagine.  But, it was his assignment nonetheless:

Thomas Edison held 1,093 patents - an amazing statistic. As astonishing as that figure is, the problem remains that he didn't invent most of them. Most Edison inventions were the work of his technicians.  His most famous invention, the electric light, didn't even BELONG to his laboratory.

Four decades before Edison was born, English scientist Sir Humphry Davy invented arc lighting (using a carbon filament).  It only burned for a few hours, but Sir "Humpty Doo" invented it nonetheless. 

The achievement of Edison's lab was to find the right filament that would burn for days. A major achievement indeed, but not entirely of his own...much like that of the assignment and test scores for the kid who sits to my right in the classroom or those who rely on Wiki as though it is the gold standard.

Jack and I were excited to share the fruits of our labor with his mother and fully expected that she would be equally as excited that he learned some valuable lessons this week. Unfortunately, his mother didn’t seem to share in our joy.  Perhaps she was having a bad day.

She asked that he re-do the assignments in a manner which would not get him tossed out of school. What’s the fun in THAT?  Plus, I didn't see anything in our work which would be grounds for punishment.

The following day I received a phone call from Jack’s mother informing me that Jack had, in fact, made an executive decision and submitted our collaboration to his teachers.

I’m not sure why she was talking so loudly to me-- the phone connection seemed fine to me, without the need for yelling.

Later that day, I gave Jack a lift home after school-- Right after retrieving him from detention.  

All in all I feel strongly hat Jack learned some valuable, real-world, lessons this week.  Including Civics. 

His detention, for submitting truthful, accurate assignment sheets, landed him in confinement...on the taxpayers dime.  Which largely explains why defense lawyers are rich and jails are over-crowded. 

In the meantime, countless school bullies, truant kids and general troublemakers were probably sitting at home playing Halo Reach or wandering the street in search for trouble...while Jack sat in detention.

We sat at a little pizza joint with an extra cheese pizza before us...plotting the angle which he would take in writing his upcoming English Comp paper on:

The State of the American Education System (a comprehensive and global comparative dissection) 

I feel very good about this project.  We're just not going to tell his mother this time.