The Cat’s Pajamas

By:
helmutluchs@sbcglobal.net

Outside, the rain had taken league with the cold to ensure that only the very brave or the very foolish would venture into the night. The wind banged furiously on the windows, while the rain hammered on the roof, trying to gain access to the small, lonely cottage.

But inside, a cozy, warm fire blazed out of control in the kitchen. Mr. Whitehead, a wizened old man, sat engrossed in a game of chess with his presumptuous, wisecracking son, Hubert. Deep within Mr. Whitehead, where very little else stirred, lived a small yet ridiculous dream of becoming head lifeguard at the town swimming hole that summer. He would never see that day, and it was just as well, since he couldn’t swim in anything over three inches deep. Especially water. Mrs. Whitehead sat in the corner working hard, squeezing the last few drops of blood from a turnip for a lovely blood pudding.

“Check,” announced Mr. Whitehead for all to hear.

The old woman stopped her work and looked up in surprise. Hubert grinned impishly and then with a nasty little chuckle made his move.

“Checkmate.” Mrs. Whitehead returned to her blood pudding. “Well,” said Hubert, “I beat you again, you senile old stooge.”

“Well, Alexander Bromide Whitehead,” the old woman cackled, “there’s no denying our little king has a way about him.”

“No,” replied her husband sternly. “I would never deny anything about our little king. Especially if the law were present.”

Suddenly there came a loud knock at the door, and a voice: “Come quick and let me in — I’m freezing!”

“Sorry, nobody’s home,” cracked Hubert.

“Oh, my!” exclaimed Mr. Whitehead. “That must be Sergeant Major Morton. Last week I invited him to visit us tonight, but who would think that anyone would brave this weather?”

He lifted the bolt on the door and flung it open. A man staggered in almost falling, and then caught his balance with the help of Mr. Whitehead’s arm.

His eyes were fearsomely large and wild. Clumps of flaming red beard clung perilously to his face. Having lost most of his beard in the war (just which war is uncertain — he claims to have been in a dozen or more), he had been advised by the doctors to amputate the rest. He had bravely refused, and now got along on slightly less than half a beard. He was middle-aged, yet appeared to be quite strong, not with the strength of youth, but rather with the strength of old, beaten leather. His hair stood straight up, and from time to time a spark would leap from his head to the ceiling and disappear. Also sticking to his head, as if glued, were some antique forks and knives, a couple of large paper clips, and some snips of loose wire. These were easily explained by the metal plate in his head, which he had acquired during “the war” (again, just which war he probably could not say). Rumor had it that the forks and knives were attracted to his head by the need to feel part of a complete dinner set. Actually, though, he had been struck in the head by lightning several times, which electrically magnetized the plate.

Aside from these details, there was a large red question mark tattooed on his forehead. Smooth, dark hair grew on his palms, and rotten teeth fell from his mouth like candy from a broken piñata. In short, he was a cab driver, and had seen everything in the world there was to see — maybe more.

Mrs. Whitehead, who sat staring in awe at the strange creature her husband had befriended, now believed that she, too, had seen everything.

The sergeant major sat smoking a pipe and consuming a comfortable amount of whiskey without saying much until dinner was served. At dinner he was alive and glowing with stories about India, Africa, wars of all sorts, and the many queer experiences he’d had with those who had ridden in his cab. Hubert dared to laugh once, and the sergeant major shot him a glance with twisted lip and squinted eyes so fierce and forbidding that Hubert had to leave the table for a change of pants.

It was late in the evening when the Whitehead’s guest finally broached the subject of a strange, magical garment known as the Cat’s Pajamas.

“How did they get their name?” inquired Mrs. Whitehead. “I mean, were they really the pajamas of someone’s cat?”

“Of a cat,” he explained. “A royal cat in ancient Egypt who was the direct descendant of the Great Sphinx.”

“You mean that statue?” asked Mrs. Whitehead.

“No, I mean the original Sphinx, not that silly carving. She was very upset by that, you know. She felt it was an extremely poor likeness, and was greatly angered that the artist had not bothered to consult her. She often asked those who crossed her path, ‘Who’s responsible for this thing? It doesn’t even look like me! Where are my whiskers?’ When they could not answer, she gobbled them up. Once, however, being too tired to ask the whole question, she said simply, ‘Where are my whiskers?’ To which the young man quaking in front of her replied, ‘You’re wearing them.’ This, of course, was not the answer the Sphinx desired, but being fair and not very hungry at the moment, she let the young man pass with just a fractured skull.

“Anyway, to continue. These pajamas are unique both because anyone in possession of them may be granted three wishes, and because they are reversible and may double as a beautiful smoking jacket, which, it seems to me, is an idea remarkably ahead of its time. But then, some people are still baffled by the pyramids.”

“Then this cat did have its vices?” inquired Mrs. Whitehead, in connection with the smoking jacket.

“Oh, yes indeed. And it was smoking that was directly responsible for the spell cast on the pajamas, or curse if you will.”

“I will not!” declared the old woman. “I’m a Christian.”

“He means the spell was a curse,” explained her husband.

“Come off it,” challenged Hubert. “How could three little wishes hurt anyone?”

“Your mother wished for you, didn’t she?” laughed Mr. Whitehead, delighted at having got the jump on Hubert.

Sergeant Major Morton coughed to break up the argument and continued with his story.

“This cat tried for years to give up smoking, with little success. Finally, in desperation he turned to an old wizard and said, ‘What the hell are you doing in my house?’

“‘I’ve come to help you stop smoking,’ said the old necromancer.

“‘How much will that cost me?’

“‘Fifteen cartons of cigarettes,’ said the wizard, who enjoyed smoking and was not about to give it up.

“‘Fair enough,’ came the reply. And with that a spell was cast which made the cat extremely nauseated any time he even thought about cigarettes. ‘Here,’ the cat gulped, pushing 40 cartons of cigarettes at the wizard. ‘Take them all, they make me sick.’

“Several days later the cat was approached by Nile Cigarettes, Inc., the largest manufacturer and distributor of cigarettes in Egypt. They wanted him to pose for an advertisement that read, ‘I buy Niles by the mile!’ It would’ve made him one of the richest cats in Egypt, but the very idea of it made him sick. A week later he saw the advertisement on a billboard with the old wizard posing in his place. Needless to say, he puked his guts out. The cat now realized it was fate that ruled everyone’s life, and that to tamper with it only brought grief and the heartbreak of psoriasis. So, being one who didn’t like to suffer alone, he had the wizard put a spell on the pajamas to ensure that future generations would continue to make the same foolish mistakes.”

“Why pajamas?” probed Mr. Whitehead with intense interest.

“Probably for the sake of humiliation, since one must wear the silly-looking things upsidedown, covering the head completely, before making a wish.”

“Do they still exist?” inquired Mrs. Whitehead anxiously.

“They do,” said the sergeant major, as he reached into his breast pocket and revealed a peculiar cloth. All eyes were on the drunken cabbie and the room was perfectly hushed as even the act of breathing was forgotten momentarily. Bringing the cloth to his face, he blew his nose, then stuffed the hanky back in his pocket.

“But how do you know they exist?” insisted Mr. Whitehead impatiently.

“Because I have them here,” said Sergeant Major Morton. And reaching into another pocket, he pulled out the pajamas and quickly blew his nose on them.

“Good heavens!” screamed Mrs. Whitehead. “Where did you get them, and why do you treat them so lightly?”

“I bought them on sale for five dollars at Carson Pirie Scott.”

“At Carson Pirie Scott?” repeated Mrs. Whitehead, dumbfounded.

“Yes, but it’s no use going back for more. These were the only ones ever made, and finding them was a rare bit of luck, I suppose.”

“How do you happen to know so much about them?” Hubert questioned suspiciously.

“Everything I’ve told you is there on the label, right below where it says ‘100% Cotton.’ I didn’t notice it until I got home, but I’m returning them tomorrow.”

“Are you crazy?” screamed Mr. Whitehead. “What about the three wishes?”

“Do you take me for a fool? I read the label, you know. These things are cursed and I’m taking them back.”

“You’re insane. I’ll give you 25 dollars for them, five times what you paid.”

“Don’t be such a moron, pop,” yelled Hubert. “Can’t you see he’s trying to cheat you?” Again the angered cabbie shot a glance at Hubert so terrifying that Hubert left the table to change into his last clean pair of pants.

“I agree with Hubert,” said Mrs. Whitehead.

“I’m not trying to cheat anyone!” bellowed the sergeant major, throwing the pajamas at the floor. “You can keep the bloody things, and you can burn in Hell, and don’t ever say I didn’t warn you!” He stomped over to the door, then turned around and said politely, “By the way, in case you haven’t noticed, your kitchen’s on fire.” With that, he slammed the door behind him.

It took them several hours to put the fire out using a garden hose and wetted blankets from Mr. Whitehead’s bed, which, according to Hubert, “choked the fire because they smelled so bad.”

All were exhausted afterwards, and Mr. Whitehead slumped down into the easy chair to rest. Suddenly his eyes grew bright and he sat up straight.

“Oh, what a fool I am!” he exclaimed. “Why didn’t I think of it? I should’ve used the Cat’s Pajamas and wished the fire away.”

“You’re a fool, all right,” agreed his wife. “You were going to pay 25 dollars for those useless rags. If they were worth any wishing, I’d wish you had never met that walking liquor cabinet of a man.”

“No, mother! Don’t forget you must wear them on your head,” joked Hubert.

“Oh, yes.” She laughed, and snatched them up quickly from the floor. Her husband stepped towards her, but it was too late. They were on her head. “How do I look?” she giggled, doing a dance around the world and blindly knocking over furniture.

“Please don’t!” pleaded Mr. Whitehead.

“Wish, Mother!” screamed Hubert, hysterical with laughter. “Wish!”

“I wish — cha cha cha — that my poor, foolish husband — cha cha cha — had never met the highly distinguished and very flammable Sergeant Major Morton!” The pajamas instantly tightened around her neck like a hangman’s noose, and jerked her feet off the ground. She let out a blood-curdling shriek and made a repugnant sort of gurgle.

Then, in the wink of an eye, they were all transported to a time earlier in the evening. Father and Son were at chess, Mother sat in the corner with her blood pudding, and a cozy, warm fire blazed out of control in the kitchen.

The next day’s paper reported sadly that the entire Whitehead family had perished in a fire which completely destroyed their small home.

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Boneheads

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September 14 — Africa at last! After weeks of preparation and days of nausea aboard rickety twin-engine prop planes and even more rickety Jeeps, we reached the famed Olduvai Gorge where some of the earliest known human remains have been discovered. My excitement at arriving was tempered by the realization that Professor Donaldson is here also, seeking evidence for his asinine theory that the earliest humans possessed the secret of sheer pantyhose. To my colleague Dr. Rollo and myself, on the other hand, it is apparent that the first humanoids perished precisely because of the lack of proper leggings. Professor Donaldson crashed our arrival celebration and argued his point by giving a disgustingly graphic demonstration of what early man might have looked like in nylons. Meanwhile, I had our cook fill his pith helmet with dung beetles. When he put it back on the beetles believed they had found a mother lode of their favorite food and attacked his bald cranium savagely. He ran off screaming, but I fear we haven’t seen the last of him.

September 16 — A good day. After scrabbling in the dust of Olduvai for nearly 11 hours and finding nothing besides an Oh Henry! wrapper dating from approximately the mid-1970s, I suddenly came upon part of a humanoid tibia. I haven’t properly dated it yet, but my initial guess is that it is at least four million years old. If not, then it may be part of the remains of our driver, who was pecked to death by hummingbirds two days ago — a brutal ordeal lasting almost 24 hours (the African hummingbird is somewhat larger and meaner than its North American cousin). Either way, it is a significant find. I celebrated by sharing a bottle of champagne with our crew. They were rather subdued until Dr. Rollo stepped on a scorpion and started doing a fair imitation of the local fire dance. This put the men in jolly spirits for the remainder of the night, and we all went to bed with smiles on our faces.

September 17 — Professor Donaldson snuck past the native guards and into our camp once again, spoiling an otherwise pleasant breakfast of ostrich eggs and python strips. Somehow word of yesterday’s find had already leaked out, and of course he had to come sniffing around, the meddling fool. I showed it to him nonetheless and asked his professional opinion out of courtesy more than anything else. He snorted and said that, far from being four million years old and humanoid, it appeared to him to be four weeks old and canine. He then offered to trade me his recent “find” for it: a soft, pliable bone with bits of flesh still attached, which he claimed was from a perfectly preserved pterodactyl, though he could not explain how he came to be carrying it in a Kentucky Fried Chicken box. I declined his offer and had our headman Yobi show him the fast route to the bottom of the gorge — the one with the missing rung on the rope ladder. Hopefully he won’t trouble us again.

September 18 — Today I began serious work on the ancient tibia fragment. My first attempt at carbon dating was disappointing, giving a result of less than 100 years. But assuming a modest margin of error of only 99.99 percent, this could be interpreted as supporting my hypothesis. I would guess this specimen to be a female — call her “Louise” — because of her coyness about her exact age. In size and general appearance she no doubt resembled Danny DeVito, although she didn’t shave as often and almost certainly never starred in any major Hollywood productions. Her diet probably consisted of whatever insects flew into her open mouth. Fake fur was not an option, so she wrapped herself in real animal skins. Her embarrassment at this faux pas would explain why she spent her days hiding in caves — either that or the lack of a reliable sun block and skin moisturizer.

September 20 — Another amazing discovery! At the bottom of Olduvai this morning I uncovered a nearly complete male skeleton from the same species as Louise. Because I found it near Professor Donaldson’s discarded hat and shoes, I think it only fair that, despite our professional differences, I name it after him: Homo habilis donis. Like Louise, this proto-man had a cranial capacity roughly half the modern average. I’m sure if he were alive today he’d be either a teamster or a human resources manager. What’s more, I feel certain that “Donnie” (as I already affectionately refer to him) lacked the power of speech. Most likely in a conversation he was the one nodding his head and going, “Mmm-hmm.” He probably communicated by a complex series of grunts, gestures and whistles, not unlike English soccer fans.

September 23 — The local police have arrested me, either for the murder of Professor Donaldson or for littering, depending on how their analysis of the recently discovered humanoid skeleton turns out. The fools! They can imprison my body but not my mind. While awaiting trial in their hastily assembled kangaroo court (the kangaroos are being flown in overnight from Australia via FedEx), I began excavating my cell. My cellmates soon joined in, but lacking a spirit of scientific inquiry they preferred to tunnel sideways rather than down, using my head as a combination battering ram-shovel. Within a few hours they made good their escape, leaving me no worse for wear except that my neck has disappeared and I cannot stop saying, “Welcome to McDonald’s, may I take your order please?” Yes, the end is near. I can feel my life force ebbing away from me. Or possibly it is just saliva leaking out of a mouth that no longer closes properly. My final act, once I make this last diary entry with my remaining good arm, will be to arrange my limbs so that they will create a positive first impression when some paleontologist from the future digs me up. If there’s anything I hate it’s a messy excavation site.

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Schadenfreude Dreamin’

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1945: Steve Martin born.

1950: Steve Martin plays small kiddie comedy clubs in southern California.

Dave Martin born with lifelong five-year handicap.

1962: Steve Martin hones comedy craft by performing magic shows in local amusement parks.

Dave Martin experiments with various rude body noises and finds whoopee cushion hilarious.

1972: Steve Martin achieves initial success as standup comic. Begins to perfect famous “Wild and Crazy Guy” routine.

Dave Martin explores the comedic possibilities of beer drinking, dope smoking and class cutting at small liberal-arts university.

1978: Steve Martin becomes national humor phenomenon with two best-selling comedy albums.

Dave Martin experiments unsuccessfully with anti-comedy by taking job as a computer programmer.

1979: Steve Martin achieves cinematic fame by writing and starring in the comedy hit The Jerk.

Dave Martin achieves inadvertent local fame in movie-theater ticket lineup by asking cashier for “Two for The Jerk.

1981-91: Steve Martin cements movie stardom by writing and starring in series of comedy hits including All of Me and Roxanne, and culminating in L.A. Story.

Dave Martin takes position with federal government in ill-advised attempt to mine comedic possibilities of large bureaucracy.

1998: Steve Martin exhibits Renaissance-man traits with publication of Pure Drivel, a collection of wry humor pieces.

Dave Martin publishes first of series of self-deprecating, true-life humor pieces in local paper.

2003: Steve Martin hosts Academy Awards show for third time.

Dave Martin deliberately searches out painful situations in desperate attempt to inspire more self-deprecating humor pieces.

2005: Rumors surface about Steve Martin’s secret drinking.

Dave Martin publishes first non-self-deprecating humor piece, a clever reworking of Aristophanes’ The Birds using characters from The Simpsons.

2006: Steve Martin busted in midnight cocaine sting at his Hollywood mansion.

Woody Allen writes Dave Martin congratulating him on his “brilliant” first novel, a wry, humorous look at life in a government bureaucracy.

2008: Steve Martin checks in to Betty Ford Clinic for various dependencies.

Dave Martin’s first novel optioned for the screen. Publication of several short humor pieces in well-known magazine yields critical acclaim, including a review in the New York Times describing him as “the next Steve Martin.”

2009: Steve Martin gambles away entire fortune, including expensive art collection. Takes up residence in East L.A. flophouse.

Dave Martin produces and stars in two hit comedy films, both of which gross $800 million, breaking all previous records.

2011: Entertainment Tonight airs 30-second segment titled “Whatever Happened to Steve Martin?” Answer: Not sure; can’t locate him.

Dave Martin takes over from retiring Jay Leno as host of The Tonight Show.

2012: Steve Martin found in wino park in San Francisco, face down in pigeon droppings.

For first-anniversary show, Dave Martin brings on Steve Martin as special guest to honor him for his years of “service to comedy.” Steve Martin kills Dave Martin in fit of jealous rage.

2013: Steve Martin sentenced to life in prison for killing beloved humor icon.

Extra bust added to Mt. Rushmore to honor Dave Martin, America’s “King of Comedy.”

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1040M

By:

1040M U.S. Individual Mafioso Tax Return 2002

Label

Use the IRS label. Otherwise, please print or type, or at least let Luigi in accounting forge it for you.

Your first name and initial

Last name

Official nickname

Home address

No, your real home address

City, state, and ZIP code

Pool room where you can normally be reached

If a joint return, mistress’s first name and initial

Last name

Illegal campaign contribution

Do you want $10,000 to go to this fund? Yes_____ No_____

Note: Checking “Yes” will not shorten any currently pending prison sentences.

Filing Status

Check only one box.

1 Single

2 Married filing joint return (even if spouse is now part of patio or swimming pool)

3 Married filing separate return (spouse is nominal head of separate dummy corporation)

4 Head or member of extended criminal family. (See page 10.)

5 Qualifying widow(er). (Spouse died of natural causes.)

Exemptions

If more than six imaginary dependents, see page 10.

6a Yourself. If your godfather (or someone else) can claim you as a dependent on his or her return — hey, that’s OK, too

b Guard dog

c Dependents

(1) First name

Nickname

Last name

(2) Dependent’s relationship to you (e.g., “lousy no-good nephew who should be drowned in a vat of acid before he can squeal to the grand jury again”)

d Total number of exemptions claimed

e Total number of exemptions you actually hope to get away with

Income

Attach Copy B of your Forms W-2, W-2G, and 1099-R here, along with any gambling IOUs you have a reasonable chance of collecting on.

If you did not get a W-2, see page 12.

If you want us to think you didn’t get a W-2, see page 13.

If you got a W-2 from a fictitious construction company, see page 14.

If your W-2 is illegible due to liquor, blood or other stains, see page 15.

Enclose but do not attach any payment.

Note: Casino chips are not U.S. currency.

7 Wages, salaries, horse-racing tips, etc. Attach Form(s) W-2

8 Loan-shark interest

9 Alimony check returned uncashed due to sudden accidental death of ex-spouse

10 Total goodwill distributions to the IRA

11 Cannabis-farm income or (loss). Attach Schedule F

12 Other income. List type, amount, and federal statute broken

13 Add the amounts in the far right column for lines 7 through 12. This is your total income

Adjusted Gross Income

14 Moving expenses. Note: Transporting bodies or body parts across state lines is an itemized deduction, not a moving expense. Use Schedule A

15 Health-insurance deduction. Include any protection money paid here

16 Add lines 14 and 15

17 Subtract line 16 from line 13. This is your adjusted gross income

Tax Computation

If you want the IRS to figure your tax, see page 18.

If you want the IRS to figure your jail sentence, see page 19.

18 Check if: _____You were 65 or older _____Blind _____Honest I didn’t see anything Dominick I swear oh God please don’t shoot no no no no no. Add the number of boxes checked above and enter the total here.

19 Subtract line 18 from line 17

20 If line 19 is $30,900 or less, go back to Mr. Alonzo in Queens, grab him by the ankles and shake him upside down vigorously until more loose change falls from his pockets

21 Taxable income. Subtract line 20 from line 19

22 Tax

Credits

Multiply $2000 by total number of years you spent on Rikers Island.

Other Taxes

23 Alternative under-the-counter minimum tax. Attach bribe to Form 6251

24 Social security and Medicare tax on tip income not reported to employer. Attach Form 4137

25 Subtract Medicare payments for injuries inflicted by employer upon learning about unreported income

26 Add lines 23 through 25. This is your total tax

Payments

27 Federal income tax withheld

28 2002 estimated payments to circuit-court judge

29 Payment of excessive interest to Vinny

30 Add lines 27, 28, and 29. This is your total payment

Refund

Don’t even think about it.

Amount You Owe

That’s more like it.

30 If line 25 is more than line 29, subtract line 29 from line 25. This is the AMOUNT YOU OWE. For details on how to pay, be at the Rt. 73 overpass next Tuesday at midnight

Sign Here

Do not under any circumstances keep a copy of this return, and better make sure Ricardo doesn’t have one, either.

Under penalty of perjury, I hereby invoke my constitutional privilege not to incriminate myself.

Your signature

Date

Your cover occupation

Paid Informer’s Use Only

Informer’s signature

Date

Next of kin

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Avril Lavigne: By The Numbers

By:

Number of unique words in 500-word Avril Lavigne song: 100

Title of song: “Complicated”

Number of unique words in 130-word poem “Simplicity” by Robert Service: 92

Average number of unique words “Simplicity” contains for every unique word in “Complicated”: 3.5

Lavigne, on Lavigne: “I’m a skater punk who writes guitar-driven rock.”

No. of tracks on Lavigne’s Let Go for which she has sole writing credit: 0

On writing guitar-driven rock: “I sit down with a guitar player usually.”

No. of guitar players Lavigne sat down with to write Let Go: 5

Other artists to sit down with same guitar players: Wilson Phillips, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper

On her sound: “I just didn’t want to be bubblegum pop.”

No. of 2002 Grammy nominations received by Avril Lavigne: 5

Lavigne, on proper pronunciation of first name: “It’s not Aye-vril. It’s Avril!”

Lavigne’s pronunciation of David Bowie’s last name at nomination ceremony: “Bau-ee”

Proper pronunciation: “Boe-ee”

Number of 2002 Grammy nominations Bowie received: 1

David Bowie’s greatest accomplishments in 1984: Grammy, Best Video; MTV Video Music Award, Male Video; MTV Video Music, Vanguard Award

Avril Lavigne’s greatest accomplishments in 1984: was born

Proper pronunciation of Avril Lavigne’s last name: “Lah-veen”

Incorrect: “Luh-vig-nee,” “Lah-viegg-nuh,” “Lugh-fugh-bugh”

Lavigne, on her sound: “I don’t like using the term ‘pop star’ because that’s not my personality…I’m hardcore.”

Acts to label themselves “pop stars”: Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake

Acts to label themselves “hardcore”: Black Flag, Dead Kennedys

No. times the words “boy,” “feel” and “cry” appear on Black Flag’s Damaged: 0, 2, 0

On Dead Kennedys’ Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables: 0, 1, 0

On Lavigne’s Let Go: 16, 11, 13

Lavigne, on lyrics: “Girls seem to be more sensitive, right? Guys like to hide their feelings.”

No. times the words “boy,” “feel” and “cry” appear on Justin Timberlake’s Justified: 16, 39, 40

On Spears’ Baby One More Time: 1, 4, 1

Ranking Lavigne (47) would receive by totaling these numbers, with Dead Kennedys (1) representing hardcore and Justin Timberlake (141) representing wussiest, most not-hardcore thing in universe: 66.6% hardcore; 33.3% pop star

Hardcore/pop star ranking Britney Spears would receive by this same ranking: 96% hardcore; 4% pop star

Lavigne, on similarity to Britney Spears: “”I’m not like [her]. I’m just being myself, being real.”

Formula that scores readability based on complexity of words and sentences: The Flesch-Kincaid Index

According to Flesch-Kincaid Index, how old person must be to read the Financial Times: 18

To read the Times Educational Supplement: 17

To read lyrics to “Complicated”: 8

To read lyrics to Britney Spears’ “Baby One More Time”: 8

To read lyrics to Eminem’s “Without Me”: 13

To read Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities: 13

To read lyrics to Justin Timberlake’s “Like I Love You”: 6 and under

No. times Timberlake says “girl” on Justified: 58

Amount Lavigne won at Kingston Exhibition and Home Show’s Country Singing Show Down in 1999, in Canada: $1000

City in which author of this piece lived in 1999: Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Place author of this piece worked as Event Coordinator in 1999: Kingston Exhibition and Home Show

Duties of author during this summer job: accounting, putting hog and cattle finalists into database, some lifting

Unofficial duties: playing Prince of Persia on old 486 computer

Level I obtained on Prince of Persia by end of summer: 8

Awareness level I had of Avril Lavigne at time: 0%

Interest level I had in Country Singing Showdown: 0%

Interest level I had in Gymnastics Showdown: 97%

Relation of interest level to participant’s actual proficiency in gymnastics: low to none

Relation of interest level to tightness/sheerness of outfits: very high

Relation of interest level to possibility of scoring with gymnast: very high

Likelihood that I met Lavigne that summer: 20%

Likelihood that I gave a crap: 3%

Mental state of author throughout summer: very high

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