When Worlds Run into Each Other

By: Mark O'Donnell

(Outer space. Two planets meet by accident and hail each other.)

ONE: Hey, whoa, how are you!

TWO: Hi! I must be way out of orbit, running into you! Look at you!

ONE: Hey, you look great! What is it, trillions?

TWO: Trillions of years, it has been. So how’s your civilization?

ONE: Well, they’re just discovering music, if you know what I mean.

TWO: Lotta drums, huh? My smallest satellite – Plutonis, that green bit in the distance, just broke out in mammals.

ONE: Very natural, mine had them. I notice your polar ice caps are larger.

TWO: Well, you’re not exactly molten, you old spheroid – how’s your star?

ONE: The red giant? No, seriously, fine, couldn’t break free if I wanted to!

(awkward silence)

TWO (out of chat): Well, you look great. Real atmosphere.

ONE: You, too. Bounce some cosmic rays in my direction.

TWO: Sure will, I sure will.

ONE: Bye!

TWO: Bye!

(They part. Pause, then each says to itself simultaneously)

BOTH: I thought she’d exploded!



From May Contain Nuts by Michael J. Rosen. HarperCollins Publishers. Used by permission.

To order the book, click here: May Contain Nuts at Amazon.com

To learn more about the Mirth of a Nation anthologies, click here: Mirth of a Nation


New on DVD

By: Jeff Ward

Sense and Sensibility – Columbia/Tristar, 1996 (PG); Theatrical Trailer; $32.00

The Sussex of 1811, impressively recreated in Emma Thompson’s film adaptation, is overwhelmingly alive on DVD. The rendering of the period’s clothing and furniture is worthy of a time machine, and the countryside is so lush you’ll smell the damp hay.

But the crispness of the format reveals a number of anachronisms – in a church cemetery, for instance, one can easily read “DIED 1915” on a tombstone. A niggling detail; but what of the vehicle that carries Col. Brandon so urgently to attend his ailing daughter in London? It is clearly a Pinto.

Careful viewing reveals distant power lines, contact lenses, a Timex watch, a Monkees poster – overall, a level of sloppiness not hinted at by the VHS.

The “enormous tome” sent to Elinor by the dashing Edward turns out to be Yes I Can by Sammy Davis Jr. Most flagrantly of all, in a medium shot of Marianne stuffing herself with JiffyPop and Tofutti by lava lamp, she sets down her bong and switches on American Bandstand, where Salt ‘N’ Pepa are doing their 1994 hit “Shoop” – nearly wrecking the believability of this otherwise masterful film. (Bandstand went off air in 1989.)

Taxi Driver (Special Edition) – Columbia, 1976 (R); Widescreen, Dolby; $19.95

With its musical numbers removed, Taxi Driver became a grim urban drama instead of the delightfully tappy confection envisioned by Scorcese. Seeing them restored reminds us what a lithe, spruce dance team De Niro and Foster were.

The songs are pure champagne. Herrmann & Ebb’s “When You’re Pimpin'” and “Tippy-Tappin’ Teen-Whore from Old Times Square” are the zenith of Columbia production numbers; and De Niro’s specialty, “Bickle with a B,” redefines the water ballet.

The Wizard of Oz – MGM, 1939 (G); $24.98

The big surprise is Kansas – the opening sequence is revealed as a series of Dorothea Lange tableaux, hardly less vivid in their evocative dustiness than Oz itself. Just as surprising is the original ending, unseen since Louis B. Mayer ordered it cut after a disastrous Pomona preview. After Dorothy’s famous exclamation, “There’s no place like home,” Miss Gulch enters her bedroom and demands the return of the escaped Toto.

Uncle Henry and Aunt Em reread the order from the Sheriff and again hand the dog over to Gulch, who this time seals it into her basket with a thick bicycle chain and bears it outdoors to be shot. Dorothy, hysterical, pleads with the farmhands to rescue Toto using their brains, hearts and courage. “We’re drifters, Dorothy,” they explain, and exit to dig the dog a grave.

“Life is bleak, Dorothy,” counsels Aunt Em. “All living things die. You’ll be dead too, someday. Then there’s an afterlife – but that’s an open question, to say the least.

Professor Marvel opens a newspaper and announces the Nazi invasion of Poland. Everyone stares, numb with apprehension, as shots ring out in the yard and Dorothy, now irreversibly unhinged, screams uncontrollably. Fade to credits.

Commentary track by Sam Peckinpah and Lorna Luft.


From May Contain Nuts by Michael J. Rosen. HarperCollins Publishers. Used by permission.

To order the book, click here: May Contain Nuts at Amazon.com

To learn more about the Mirth of a Nation anthologies, click here: Mirth of a Nation


This Week on the Law & Order Network

By: Justin Warner

Monday, 8 p.m. – Law & Order:

Parking Adjudication

A Manhattan shiatsu therapist receives a bogus $200 ticket. Fifteen consecutive written appeals are denied automatically by computer. He contemplates suicide on the Queensboro Bridge, where he receives another ticket for parking in a “loading zone.”

Monday, 9 p.m. – Law & Order:

Suburban Township Board Meeting

(Part 5 of 12) Re-zoning the 4400 block of Fairfax Avenue for multi-unit non-commercial dwellings. As himself: Rep. Jim Byer (at-large alternate delegate, Rappahannock County Council, VA).

Monday, 10 p.m. – Law & Order:

L.A. Police Brutality (Celebrity Edition)

Controversial white rapper Eminem fails to amortize the value of his Humvee on his state income tax return, and is mercilessly flagellated with a socket wrench. Officer O’Donnell: Rodney King.

Tuesday, 8 p.m. – Law & Order:

Orthodox Kosher

Talmudic scholars debate whether platypus may be served during Passover. Rabbi Judah Friedman: Martin Mull.

Tuesday, 9 p.m. – Law & Order:

Infield Fly Rule

Part One: An umpire defends a controversial call before a jury of agitated, nosebleed-seat Philadelphia fans. Part Two: Foreman Rich Leardi defends his verdict at a Camden, NJ, ESPN Zone before a jury consisting of his alcoholic Uncle Paul. Part Three: Uncle Paul defends himself in court against ESPN Zone, Inc., for unspecified damages to a foosball table. Uncle Paul: Billy Bob Thornton. Philadelphia: Baltimore.

Tuesday, 10 p.m. – Law & Order:

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons

A fifth-level Paladin half-elf (12 Strength, 14 Dexterity) attempts to lift the +3 mace in his right hand in order to strike the first of 42 marauding Orcs. (6 _ hours)

Wednesday, 8 p.m. – Law & Order:

Catholic Girls’ School Dress Code

Seniors at Notre Dame Academy in Worcester, MA, circumvent the 5″ hemline rule with floor-length skirts made entirely of Saran Wrap.

Wednesday, 9 p.m. – Law & Order:

Your Mom’s House

You are grounded for flushing broccoli down the toilet, but your younger sister receives only mild reprobation for tie-dying the cat.

Wednesday, 10 p.m. – Law & Order:

Small Liberal Arts College

A freshman from the Midwest makes an offhand remark that a wealthy, white, heterosexual Protestant upperclassman perceives as prejudiced. The incident is exhaustively analyzed in 287 separate threads on the school’s Internet newsgroup. The Rev. Al Sharpton: Don King. Don King: The Rev. Al Sharpton. Cornel West: Martin Mull.

Thursday, 8 p.m. – Law & Order:

Australian Parliament

Details of Aboriginal land grants in New South Wales are resolved through elocution and drunken fistfights. Prime Minister: Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura (18 Strength, 16 Dexterity, 8 Wisdom).

Thursday, 9 p.m. – Law & Order:

AFTRA Eligible

A man is shot in Grand Central Station, where 200 underemployed New York-area actors are given one-line walk-ons as witnesses. Corpse: Ted McGinley.

Thursday, 10 p.m. – Law & Order:

Occam’s Razor

(4 minutes) A woman is found stabbed in an alley. Her ex-husband is caught running from the scene with a bloody-knife. He is arrested and convicted. (Followed immediately by Law & Order: 55 Minutes of Target Commercials. Man Building Bookshelf/Street Mime/Komodo Dragon: Ben Vereen.)

Friday, 8 p.m. – Law & Order:

End-User License Agreement

(2-hour, back to back premiere) “Surprise” clauses are slipped into the licensing agreements for downloadable software, and then immediately enforced. Episode One: “The user agrees, in perpetuity throughout the known universe, to affect the physical likeness, manner, and vocal quality of the popular McDonaldland™ character of Grimace®.” Episode Two: “The user agrees, under penalty of immediate and irrevocable decapitation, never again to use words containing the letter ‘S’.”

Friday, 10 p.m. – Murphy’s Law & Order

The pilot should have been done by now, but it got held up by the directors’ strike, and then there was a fire at the garage where they were shooting, and last night the editor’s copy of FinalCut Pro crashed three time. Three freakin’ times!

Saturday, 8 p.m. – Law & Order:

Second Thermodynamics Division

(Time indeterminate.) At the top of the episode, the crime is solved, the perpetrator is behind the bars, and justice is served. Eventually, all the lawyers, police officers, and suspects, along with the New York Superior Court and the entire island of Manhattan, have spontaneously disassociated into a homogeneous mixture of free-floating constituent atoms. Nitrogen gas: Barium gas. The Yawning Void of Infinite Chaos: Keanu reeves. Shiatsu therapist: Martin Mull.


From May Contain Nuts by Michael J. Rosen. HarperCollins Publishers. Used by permission.

To order the book, click here: May Contain Nuts at Amazon.com

To learn more about the Mirth of a Nation anthologies, click here: Mirth of a Nation


Romeo and Juliet Versus Mrs. Jackson’s Seventh-Grade English Class

By: Ethan Anderson

Why do they teach Romeo and Juliet in seventh grade? When boys turn 13? When Romeo and Juliet are medieval seventh-graders? When they make love once and kill themselves? What are they thinking?


One, Suzy Warner is incredibly hot.

Two, no one is hotter than Suzy Warner.

Three, I’m hungry.

Four, last year I was a kickball superstar.

Five, this year I am a virgin.

Six, Suzy Warner is incredibly hot.

Seven, there’s a muffled noise coming from the front of the room.

Eight, the muffled noise is Mrs. Jackson, trying to teach.

Nine, Mrs. Jackson is incredibly hot.

Ten, Suzy Warner beats Juliet

any century, any day of the week.

Eleven, how hot would Suzy Warner look in the 14th century?

Twelve, the correct answer is crazy 14th-century hot.

Thirteen, let’s say I’m Romeo

and Suzy Warner not only does it with me,

but then she tells me she wants to do it AGAIN the next day.

Fourteen, gaphphnuggungh, my brain has imploded.

Fifteen, I didn’t think it was possible to be this hungry.

Sixteen, according to Shakespeare,

the day after I do it with Suzy Warner,

I’m across town lying dead in a crypt.

Seventeen, NO WAY that happens in real life, okay?

Because One, if I’m Romeo,

that means I’m not a virgin anymore,


And because Two, if Suzy Warner’s in bed with me,

no way I’m leaving the bed, EVER.

I would never get out of bed.

Skittles, skateboarding, food and water –

things of the past, my friend.

Let’s assume for some totally unbelievable hypothetical reason

that I leave Suzy Warner in bed.

Let’s suppose later that day,

one of Suzy Warner’s relatives

kills my best friend Mercutio.

On one hand, I hate that dude.

On the other hand, I know Suzy Warner


So let’s review.

Either I avenge my best friend, who is tragically dead.

Or I sleep with Suzy Warner, who is totally hot.

Door number one,

Avenge friend’s death, return to kickball.

Door number two,


In conclusion, Shakespeare, total idiot.

Class dismissed.

And if I don’t get Cheetos in the next five minutes,

I will pass out and die.


One, Mrs. Jackson is my favorite teacher and

Romeo and Juliet is not just a great play,

it is also an incredible movie.

Two, in the movie Leonardo DiCaprio played Romeo

and he is an amazing actor.

Three, the only movie I have seen more times than

Romeo and Juliet is Titanic,

starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Four, you should be allowed to drink Diet Coke in English


Five, Leonardo DiCaprio is so amazing in Titanic

that I almost forget the ending every time. I swear.

Six, my other favorite movie

behind Titanic and Romeo and Juliet

is The Beach, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Seven, I haven’t seen What’s Eating Gilbert Grape yet,

but I want to.

It stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp,

who is also an amazing actor.

Eight, I could not believe how incredibly much

Johnny Depp loved Winona Ryder

in Edward Scissorhands. They were like unicorns.

Nine, if I were Juliet,

that would mean I would be married to Leonardo DiCaprio.

Ten, if I were married to Leonardo DiCaprio

we would have houses in Hollywood and Europe and Florida

that my friends could visit any time

and I would have my own successful business

and I would still write in my journal

when Leonardo is out making movies

and I would decorate on of the houses entirely in kelly green,

which is an amazing color.

Eleven, if I were married to Leonardo DiCaprio

and he was Romeo, and I woke up and I saw that he had killed himself

because he thought I was dead even though I wasn’t,

I would definitely do what Juliet did,

which is incredibly sad, but I definitely would.

Twelve, I would definitely NOT EVER do what Juliet did

for any boy in my class.


Thirteen, I know Leonardo is fat now, but I don’t care.

In conclusion, Shakespeare is an amazing writer,

and it makes me sad that there are no boys in my class

who are anything like Leonardo DiCaprio.


One, if Suzy Warner calls Romeo “Leonardo” one more time,

I will kill her and lose my pension.

Two, you should be allowed to drink Diet Coke in English class.

And three, what’s that boy behind Suzy thinking?

He’s not even in this class.


From May Contain Nuts by Michael J. Rosen. HarperCollins Publishers. Used by permission.

To order the book, click here: May Contain Nuts at Amazon.com

To learn more about the Mirth of a Nation anthologies, click here: Mirth of a Nation


Developmental Valley School District Lunch Menus for This Week

By: Phil Austin


MON: Paper Stack; Boneless Burrito; Paste; Kitten on a Stick; Milkaroni

TUE: White Bread on Toast; Glass of Sugar; See-Through lettuce; Liquid Milk

WED: Sponge; Sugar Sandwich; butter Plate; Cloth Pudding; Milk

THURS: Simple Pie; Banana Split; Sugar Mound; Blanched Cookie; Milk

FRI: Diaper Surprise; Clear Peaches; Steamed Cereal Boxes; Sugar; Milk


MON: Soft Eggs on a Mirror; Hard-boiled Hollow Birds; Handful of Tacos; Milk

TUE: Rack of Clever Hans; Whisked Apple Fly; Coronation Ham; Nylon Bunnies; Big Carton

WED: Mystery Potato; Curd; Slippery Tart; Milk Pie; Leg Salad Sandwich; Clear Liquid

THURS: Oysters Frightened by Chickens; Liver Mounds; Nest of Interesting Spiders; Mai Tai; Pack of Camels

FRI: Breast of Clam a la “Eddie”; Wieners in a Basket under a Blanket; Teacher’s Surprise; Milk


MON: Beef Throats; Smoked Leg; Hind Quarters; Gros Livers; Old-Fashioned Milk; Cigars

TUE: Flat Motor Pies; Fisherman’s Regret; Loin of Fat; Stunned Ducks in Alcohol Sauce; Milk

WED: Tart Bottoms; Slick Fritters; Breasts of Toast; Sweetbreads in Hand; Cuckoo Punch; Cigars; Milk

THURS: Roast Puffins; Revenge Pudding; Pancakes in Water; Baked Salad; Ring of Fire; Milk

FRI: Ducklings a la Moron; Smothered Rodents; Closet Pie; Turbo Skeletons; Champagne; Brandies; Cigars; Milk


MON: Horse Butter Sandwiches; Hot Jello Salad; French Kisses; Curb Cake; Milk

TUE: Toads in Blanket in a Hole; Complicated Salad; Ice Bread; Lomax Pie; Milk Cocktail

WED: Hat with Cheese; Insurance Salad; V6 Bread; Field Surprise; Milk

THURS: Battered Vegetables; Wax Wrappers; Wallet and Raisin Salad; Adult Milkshake

FRI: Fried Chuck; Paper Salad; Responsibility Pie; White Dessert; Retirement Milk


MON: Eco-Veggie Bar; Rainbow Krazy Krunch; Twig Sticks; Turkey Straws; Cow Milk

TUE: Helpless Nuggets with Sour Sauce; Gator Tots; Trial Mix; White Milk

WED: False Rabbit Wedges; Farm Dip; Sloppy Joans; French Acid; Goat Milk

THURS: Meatless Hot Creatures; Sweetened Cherries; Meltdown on a Bun; Squares; Mother’s Milk

FRI: Refried Fries; Early Dismissal Cup; Hemp Wheels; Party on a Bun; Dip; Sheep Milk


From May Contain Nuts by Michael J. Rosen. HarperCollins Publishers. Used by permission.

To order the book, click here: May Contain Nuts at Amazon.com

To see more of Phil Austin’s work, click here: Phil Austin’s Blog

To learn more about the Mirth of a Nation anthologies, click here: Mirth of a Nation