* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where it's all for one and one for all. No, actually, it's just all for one, as our good friend David Martin explains...

There Is A “Me” In “Team”

By:

MEMORANDUM
TO: All staff
FROM: Bill Bidikoff
Senior VP Operations, Northwest Central Region

My purpose in writing today is to outline how each of you can help me to better carry out our regional and company-wide mandates.

I think it goes without saying that there is no “I” in “team.” On the other hand, it should be apparent to all of you that there is a “me” in “team,” albeit backwards and separated by the letter “a.” Furthermore, as far as you’re concerned, that “me” is me.

In short, when I succeed, you succeed. Well, actually I succeed and you probably get to keep your job. But in today’s economy, that should count for success.

Now you’re probably asking yourself, “How can I help our company in general and Bill Bidikoff in particular succeed?” Some of our more senior employees may simply be asking, “How can I get Bill promoted and out of my hair?”

In either case, I think you’ll agree that the primary objective is to help me (and by extension the company) get ahead. And a simple rule of thumb to apply regarding any new initiative is: “Will this help me, and by ‘me’ I mean Bill Bidikoff?”

Say, for example, you have just completed a sales report that highlights increased revenues for the past quarter. Before signing off on the report, review it one final time and consider any ways that you can fit my name into it to ensure that I receive any credit due from senior management.

Likewise, if you’re about to give a presentation to the executive committee about failings in our region’s organizational structure, take a few minutes and make damn sure that my name is mentioned nowhere in the materials. At the same time, feel free to add a few words assigning blame to Joe Conlan, Mary Westin or any of the other regional marketing managers who are competing with me for the VP Sales position.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to stress once again the importance of working together to help me obtain my goals. If you are communicating with my office, I expect you to not only do your job, I also expect you to do mine as well.

Let me give you a helpful example. Ted Nolanson, Director of IT for our region, recently sent me a detailed memo outlining the current problems with our computer security program. Ted described the problem, listed several possible solutions and left the final decision to me.

While Ted’s effort was detailed and workmanlike, it failed on that most basic of criteria, namely how much work will this create for me? What I would have preferred to see from Ted was a single recommendation for action with a plan for giving me the credit for any success and him the blame for any shortcomings.

I think we can all agree that our ultimate objective regarding any corporate policy, objective or decision is to create a win-win situation. And by win-win, I mean a situation where I not only win by not having to expend undue energy but where I also win by looking good to those above me. Remember, let’s all pull together for me.

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where every day's a holiday. If you're at work, take some time off right now to read this week's piece by a man who has obviously taken a holiday from reason. NOTE: One of our contributors, Eric Metaxas, has written a stunning new biography of the German martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the pastor who took part in the attempted assassination of Hitler and paid for it with his own life. The link to the Amazon page for the book is in our Blogroll to the right.

Happy Holidays

By:

MEMO – December 15, 2009 – Christmas holidays
To: Brad Richards
Regional Director

From: Dave Martin
Sales Coordinator

As I’m sure you’re aware, the holiday season is upon us. Like most of our workforce, I will be celebrating Christmas and therefore would like to take holidays for the period between Christmas and New Year’s. As a practicing Christian, this would allow me to celebrate the birth of our Lord with my loving family.

MEMO – March 15, 2010 – Jewish holidays
Thank you very much for approving annual leave for Good Friday (April 1st) and Easter Monday (April 5th). My family appreciates your generosity in allowing me to join them in celebrating these important Christian holidays. While I will be joining my family in these celebrations, I have personally converted to Judaism and therefore would request that, in accordance with paragraph 6.02.07(b) of our company’s human resources policy manual, I also be given the entire week of March 30th off, which, of course, is Passover, one of the most important holidays for my newly chosen people.

MEMO – September 1, 2010 – Muslim Holidays
Thank you for granting me time off for Rosh Hashanah on September 9th and 10th and also Friday September 17th to allow me to prepare for Yom Kippur on September 18th. As I told the mediator at the time, I felt it was important to fully explore my new cultural roots. As it turns out, however, my Jewish studies have led me to adopt another Abrahamaic faith, namely Islam. I will therefore be fasting for Ramadan and would greatly appreciate a couple of days off before the important feast of Eid al-Fitr on the 9th.

MEMO – November 3, 2010 – Baha’i Holidays
I was as surprised as you that the Baha’i faith would be for me. But it really is and it turns out that November is the perfect month to celebrate that new faith as there are three separate holidays. If you could see fit to grant me time off for the Birth of Baha’u’llah (November 12th), the Day of the Covenant (November 26th) and the Ascension of ‘Abdul-Baha (November 28th), it would be much appreciated and would almost certainly avoid the necessity of what I am sure you would agree would be prolonged and unwanted litigation.

MEMO – January 15, 2011 – Buddhist holidays
The secret of happiness lies in the mind’s release from worldly ties. I do not know if you are a follower of the Buddha. If you are, you will know the peace of mind that can come from a study of his great wisdom. And if you are, you will also know that February 3rd is the Chinese New Year and February 8th is Nirvana Day. I trust that I will be granted the time off to pursue my new faith. You are, of course, welcome to join me on my spiritual quest for those two important days. Given the obvious stress you have been under lately, it might do you a world of good.

MEMO – February 15, 2011 – Hindu holidays
I’m sorry for the short notice but I’m going to need to take time off on March 1st and 3rd which, no doubt, you are aware mark Hola Mohalla and Maha Shivratri. I’m sure I’m not the first person to pursue Eastern religions and make that easy spiritual step from Buddhism to Hinduism. It seems so natural and right and these two days of reflection and devotion will undoubtedly help to clarify my new revelations.

MEMO – March 8, 2011 – Scientology holiday
Thanks so much for the Hindu holidays or as my people say: “Namasté.” Or at least that’s what my people would have said before I saw the interstellar light and converted to Scientology. Did you know that L. Ron Hubbard’s birthday is March 13th? Well, it is and I’d really appreciate a day off to fully partake in the special celebrations. This may necessitate another reduction in my workload but, as before, I’m sure we can solve this problem together if we really try.

MEMO – March 9, 2011
To: Dave Martin
Sales Coordinator

From: Brad Richards
Regional Director

Re: Upcoming Holidays

Dave, take all the religious holidays you want. You’re fired.

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, the undeniable sports news hub for the entire civilized world...whatever that is. In a better world than this one, perhaps famed quarterback Brett Favre would retire and stay retired. But we have to live in this world, and that means we have to watch Brett Favre go through retirements the way Larry King goes through wives young enough to be his granddaughters.

The Unretiring Brett Favre

By:

Having retired and un-retired twice in the last two years, one thing is clear: Brett Favre still has a lot more football to play. Here’s a brief peek into the all-star quarterback’s future:

October 14, 2009

Having turned 40 on Saturday, Brett Favre decides to retire once again. “I’ve accomplished just about all I can here with the Vikings,” said Favre. “So there’s really not much point in continuing.” Favre defeated the Packers a week ago Monday, making him the first quarterback in history to beat all 32 NFL teams. “Mission accomplished,” said the aging quarterback. “My only regret is that I was unable to add to my all-time interceptions record.”

October 31, 2009

Brett Favre reconsiders and returns to the Minnesota Vikings. “Just my idea of a little Halloween treat,” quipped Favre. “Since we’re playing the Packers again tomorrow at Lambeau Field, I thought I’d try to add to all my career records including my total interceptions.”

November 1, 2009

Immediately following the Packers crushing victory over the Vikings, Brett Favre once again announces his retirement. “I have to be honest and say I was not only disappointed by the game score but also by my inability to add to my records,” said Favre. “Mind you, you can’t add to records if you’re sitting on the bench the whole time.”

August 7, 2010

Brett Favre is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The all-star quarterback graciously accepts the honor and proudly enters the Hall as a Green Bay Packer.

August 8, 2010

Brett Favre resigns from the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “It’s not that I didn’t appreciate the honor,” said Favre. “But I have to admit that I’ve got my eye set on an even higher accolade: membership in the International Football Hall of Fame.”

August 9, 2010

Informed that the International Football Hall of Fame only covers soccer and never really got off the ground, Brett Favre announces that he will seek reinstatement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and possibly the Baseball Hall of Fame as well.

October 31, 2034

On his 65th birthday, Brett Favre announces that he is once again coming out of retirement, this time to join the newly formed World Wheelchair Football League. “Thanks to my many years in the NFL,” said Favre. “I’m not that mobile anymore although I can get around pretty good in a wheelchair.” Hoping to be the starting quarterback with the Detroit Wheels, Favre is looking to set a whole new bunch of football records.

February 23, 2044

Brett Favre once again announces his retirement, this time from the Pinegrove Manor seniors’ residential home in Sheboygen, Wisconsin. “I put in a good six years with Pinegrove,” said Favre. “And I think I’ve accomplished all that I can in that position.” Favre, however, wouldn’t rule out the possibility of joining another seniors’ home in the near future. “I’m open to any reasonable offers,” said the aging footballer.

June 13, 2056

Brett Favre retires from life and accepts an offer to play for the Heavenly All-Stars, a celestial team of former NFL greats.

June 14, 2056

Informed that he will be the third-string quarterback behind Johnny Unitas and Otto Graham, Brett Favre resigns from the Heavenly All-Stars. “Yes, I’m disappointed,” said Favre. “But I’m sure that there are plenty of other teams that will recognize my special talents.”

June 16, 2056

General Manager Satan announces the signing of one Brett Favre as the starting quarterback for his team: Hell’s Raiders. “We like what we see in Mr. Favre,” said Satan. “And we’re hoping he can play for us for eternity.” “I’m pleased to join the team,” said Favre. “But I can’t really make a commitment much beyond the next millennium.”

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Satisfaction Guaranteed

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I believe it is inevitable that within five years, people will be having sex with robots,” [David] Levy told his audience…..”I believe that by 2050 people in large numbers will be falling in love with robots and marrying them in large numbers,” he said. — The Ottawa Citizen – June 23, 2008

New York Times – Weddings & Celebrations – July 10, 2050

CRUIKSHANK – ROBOWORLD-3000

Dr. Stephen and Louise Cruikshank of Stamford, Connecticut are pleased to announce the marriage of their daughter Mary Ellen to “Robbie” RoboWorld-3000.

Ms. Cruikshank is a graduate of Swarthmore and is presently pursuing postgraduate studies at Yale University in early childhood psychology. The groom is a product of LeisureWorld Robotics Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts and a graduate of their advanced psycho-sexual assembly line.

The marriage ceremony was held last Saturday at the home of the bride’s parents. The bride wore a full-length dress with organza trim and a silver-threaded veil while the groom was decked out in his formalwear encapsulation package and spare battery pack.

The bride expressed delight at her marriage to Mr. Roboworld and touted his handsome appearance and ten-year parts-and-labor warranty. For his part, Mr. Roboworld stated: “Many customers have examined my features but I instantly recognized that Mary Ellen was the most compatible, asynchronous partner for me.”

The couple will be taking up residence in the bride’s New Haven, Connecticut apartment. Ms. Cruikshank will be spending much of her time studying at Yale while Mr. RoboWorld-3000 will be spending his days recharging in the bedroom closet.

NYMPHETTE MODEL 601 – CORRIGAN

Nymphette Model 601 was married Saturday to James T. Corrigan at the premises of Computer Pals Inc. in Passaic, New Jersey in a warranty replacement ceremony. Computer Pals’s COO Martin Gimlet officiated.

The bride is a top-of-the-line fembot with all of the available options including non-chafing skin and Pleasuralizer Plus. She is a recent product of Computer Pals’s state-of-the-art production facility in Singapore.

The bridegroom, 67, is a retired maintenance worker living in Newark. As Mr. Corrigan was previously wed to a Vixen 2000, an earlier Computer Pals product, this marriage was fully financed by the company under its robot replacement warranty.

“I’m so happy,” said the beaming bridegroom. “At first I couldn’t imagine life without my Vixen 2000 but when I saw the Nymphette Model 601, it was love at first sight.”

The Nymphette Model 601 was unavailable for comment as Mr. Corrigan opted to forego the voice module and the interpersonal conversation option.

“I’m pretty much a visual kind of guy,” said Mr. Corrigan.

The couple will reside in Mr. Corrigan’s Newark townhouse so long as his dog Rex can be trained to stop chewing on robots. Otherwise, the new Mrs. Corrigan will be taking up residence in the adjoining garage.

ANDROID MAN – ROBOGUY

Thanks to recent changes in the laws of New York State, same-circuit marriages are now legal. First to take advantage of the new law were Android Man and Roboguy. The two male-programmed robots tied their power supplies together at a small, private ceremony last Monday in the assembly room of speciality manufacturer Advanced Homo Electricus Robotronics in Westchester, New York.

Plant spokesman Ed Entwhistle officiated at the ceremony which was attended by the plant foreman, six assembly line workers and the completed line production of gay robots from Monday’s first shift.

“I am programmed to like men,” said Android Man. “But none measures up to Roboguy. His circuitry is really dreamy.”

“I feel the same way,” said Roboguy. “My only disappointment is that we couldn’t have the ceremony in California.”

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My Presidential Bio

By:

My fellow Americans. I’ve been accused of many things. Like being a Washington insider, being out of touch with regular citizens like you and even being inexperienced and naive. But my critics just don’t know the real me.

I was born in Faith, a small town not far from Charity and just down the road from Hope. Faith was, and still is, a community of about five thousand souls who are as committed to America as you and me. Their dream is the same as your dream and mine: a five-bedroom, three-bath monster home and a healthy, well-diversified stock portfolio.

My parents were poor, hardworking people who dedicated themselves to providing a better life for me and my two sisters. Dad worked eight hours a day, five days a week as an encyclopedia salesman while my mother taught nuclear physics part-time at the local community college.

Although we grew up poor, I never lacked for the basics. We lived in a modest, three-bedroom bungalow that to this day has no central air and only one-and-a-half baths. But my sisters and I didn’t know that we were poor. All we knew was that we were loved.

Growing up in Faith taught me most of life’s lessons. For example, I learned how other kids can be cruel and taunt you because your family has just one car and can only afford to trade it in for a new one every five years.

I learned how some people will be unkind because you’re different. Some of the townsfolk would make fun of Mom because she wore thick glasses and knew a lot about centrifuges and particle accelerators. What many of them didn’t know, however, was that she won a blue ribbon every year at the county fair for her cold fusion-baked apple pie.

As a boy, I learned many useful things from the people of Faith. Our family attended the Southern Christian Baptist Church at the end of our street. But our neighbors, the Blacks, attended the Christian Southern Baptist Church on the other side of town. Yet my Dad would always say “Hello” to Mr. Black and even once lent him our lawnmower. I thus learned that we can still live in relative harmony with our fellow citizens no matter how striking the religious and doctrinal differences.

Like most kids, I was impatient with long Sunday services and often fidgeted and fussed until the service was over. But our pastor, Reverend White, knew that kids had short attention spans. So he would entertain us with humorous stories of how we Southern Christian Baptists would go to heaven while the Christian Southern Baptists would be condemned to walk the streets of Hope in eternal damnation bearing the mark of Satan on their misshapen foreheads. Yet he never ceased to preach the gospel of love for all mankind.

Even the poorest and the saddest citizens of Faith helped to guide me through life. Many people looked down on Mr. Wallace as the town drunk. But even Mr. Wallace had his own special wisdom to impart to the town’s young people. Like how to collect and cash in enough empties to buy a bottle of Thunderbird or how to get high drinking Sterno without risking a trip to the emergency department.

Like most eighteen-year-olds, I was eager, almost desperate, to leave my hometown. But looking back, I now realize that I could have done far worse than to live my life in Faith. For example, I could easily have spent fifteen to twenty years without parole in the state prison located halfway between Charity and Hope.

Thanks to the hard work of my parents, I was able to attend Yale, Princeton and Harvard where I earned a B.A., a B.Sc., an M.B.A., a J.D. and a Ph.D. After my college career, I served in both the Army and the Air Force before pursuing consecutive stints in Vista and the Peace Corps. I then simultaneously interned at the law firm of Smoot & Hawley, clerked for Chief Justice Bryan, worked as an investment banker and volunteered at the local homeless shelter, youth center and food bank.

Most of you know the rest of my story: municipal councillor for four years, state senator for six years and then contemporaneous terms as governor and Vice President. Some say I’m not ready to be President. Well, maybe I don’t have all the fancy-pants qualifications of my opponent. But I have something far more important: the lessons learned from the good people of Faith.

Those lessons have stayed with me my entire life. Lessons such as pretending to like country music and bowling, being able to choke down a spicy, ethnic sausage with a warm beer and knowin’ when to drop the final g’s when speakin’ to just plain folks like you and me.

So don’t believe those big city reporters and those big-shot TV newscasters. My mom always told me “Don’t get too big for your britches, sonny, and don’t forget to use just a touch of vermouth in your martinis.” If I ever forget those lessons, you can be sure she’ll come down to Washington, box my ears, set me straight and replace that pretentious olive with a good, old-fashioned twist of lemon peel. Good night “mes amis” and God bless America.

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Dave’s Retirement Lunch

By:

Good afternoon and welcome to the retirement lunch for Dave Martin. I’m Bill Rankin, the Director of Western Operations. Since neither our CEO Chet Weston nor Dave’s boss Steve Lester could be here and because I drew the short straw, I’ll be emceeing today’s festivities. Both Chet and Steve are in an all-day meeting about printer supplies and paper-clip budgeting and send their regrets.

I don’t know Dave personally; I only know him by reputation. But, boy, what a reputation! If all the employees of Candu Consulting had the same attitude as Dave, this would definitely be a different company.

Whereas most of our employees retire once they reach the maximum pensionable service of 35 years, Dave has shown his dedication and loyalty to our business by hanging on well past the maximum to 43 years. Apparently there was little economic advantage for Dave in serving those additional eight years apart from a steadfast and abiding faith in the inevitability of receiving a golden handshake.

Despite countless refusals from senior management, Dave demonstrated the tenacity and can-do attitude of Candu Consulting and refused to take
“no” for an answer. His fighting spirit is an inspiration to us all and I’m sure that you are aware that, thanks to an unfortunate oversight in our employee termination procedure and the undisclosed terms of a court-ordered settlement, Dave recently obtained a severance package that can only be described as generous in the extreme.

As I said, I don’t know Dave personally. But his many accomplishments have been like a shining beacon to the employees working in my division. Who would have thought that you could go on a drunken binge, miss work for four weeks, get fired, file a grievance and still get reinstituted with full pay plus compensatory damages? Probably the same person who assumed that zero productivity over a three-year period would not lead to employment sanctions but rather result in an award of merit in return for a promise never to touch the Dickson Motors file again.

Speaking of productivity, the force of Dave’s personality is so strong that even his leaving will have a dramatic effect on our bottom line. Just to show you how much his absence will be noted, Accounting has estimated that next year Candu Consulting expects a 20 percent increase in revenue which is almost entirely attributable to Dave.

I’m glad so many of you could make it. What with quarterly budgeting and this being a Friday, we didn’t expect such a turnout. However, given that the company decided to pay for the lunch and give each attendee the afternoon off, it is indeed gratifying to note that most of the eight chairs around this table have been filled. That is indeed a testament to the warmth and affection Dave’s co-workers have for him — particularly those who have not yet obtained a restraining order against him.

As with any retirement dinner, it gives us a chance to celebrate the many contributions and accomplishments of the retiree. I took the liberty of conducting a quick online search of several daily newspapers as well as the local court docket.

I think it goes without saying that when an employee’s workplace accomplishments receive recognition even beyond the corridors of Candu Consulting, that is worth noting. To say that Dave is entirely responsible for our current Personal and Sexual Harassment Policy, our state-of-the-art fire alarm and building exit plan and the deadbolt locks on each office door would be an exaggeration. But we definitely can say that Dave’s behavior was the ultimate inspiration for each of these previously unwarranted initiatives.

It is usually at this point in the festivities that we ask the retiree to say a few words and accept a gift as a token of our appreciation for his long service, if not gratitude for his upcoming departure. However, I am told that Dave is not with us today since he is apparently still diligently working at using up his remaining sick days before his official departure next Friday. As for a gift, Dave has asked that we forgo the traditional gold watch and instead, as he so colloquially and humorously put it, “cut me a check” for the purchase price.

On that note, ladies and gentlemen, will you please raise your glasses and toast our departing colleague Dave Martin. I think we can all agree that, given our newly stringent hiring guidelines, we will not see his kind again.

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Letter From Dr. Phil

By:

Dear Nancy,

Well, I guess this is it. I always thought that there was hope for us. But now that you’ve served the divorce papers, it’s clear that you want out.

I don’t know what more Ted and I could have done to make this work. Sure, he cheated on you. But, as you’ll recall, he was willing to do what it took to remedy that shortcoming by agreeing to participate in episode 126: “Cheating Husbands.” Sadly, you refused to take advantage of that generous offer.

Then he slept with your sister and all you could think about was yourself. As a couple, you would have been perfect for episode 177: “My Husband Slept With My Sister.” He even got down on his knees and begged my producer to call you and convince you to come on the show.

Nancy, don’t ever say that man never cared. From what I could see, his biggest crime was that he cared too much. And not just about the show. From my many third-hand conversations with Ted, I know that he cared about you, too. Admittedly, maybe not as much as the show. But let’s just say you were often in his thoughts.

Like the time he slept with your sister’s husband. Surely you had to know that all he really had in mind was a chance for you two to appear together on episode 246: “My Husband Slept With My Sister’s Husband.” If you could have just stopped thinking about yourself for one minute, you would have seen that this was an attempt to help mend your troubled relationship.

But someone who couldn’t see that her husband’s wearing of her undergarments wasn’t just about her was unlikely to be big enough to admit that there’s always fault on both sides. You had to know that we were then in the planning stages for one of our most successful episodes to date – no. 301: “My Husband Wears My Undergarments.”

You may think that Ted was simply obsessed with getting on my show. You know as well as I do that that is simply not true. Just ask Maury, Montel or even Jerry and you’ll know that his obsession, if that’s what you want to label it, was not as narrowly focused as you might have once thought.

And don’t say I don’t know Ted. Through the dozens of letters, faxes and e-mails he exchanged with various members of my staff, I believe I got to know him almost as well as some of my actual guests. The fact that the security folks here at the studio repeatedly kept him at bay does not lessen my respect for Ted one iota.

Couldn’t you see, Nancy, that Ted’s actions were a cry for help and a manifestation of his true, albeit somewhat unusual, love for you? Do you think that a man undergoes a sex change operation lightly? Surely you must have known that, at the time, we had already outlined what was to become episode 357: “My Husband Had A Sex Change To Get On TV.”

Suffice it to say, that’s all water under the psychological bridge. If the fact that Ted subsequently had his sex change reversed is not enough to elicit an “I’m sorry” from you, all I can say is that you are a cold woman who definitely needs the kind of help only a TV therapist can provide. And that’s exactly what I could have offered you if only you had agreed to be part of episode 399: “My Husband Had His Sex Change Reversed.”

If a divorce is what you truly want, then a divorce is what you’ll get. Ted isn’t asking for anything. You can have the house, the cars, the kids and all the money. All he asks is that you briefly participate by phone in our upcoming episode: “Rather Than Come On Dr. Phil With Me And Discuss My Latest Infidelity Or Peccadillo, My Wife Divorced Me.” I hope you’re a big enough woman to grant a shattered man that one small wish.

Please, Nancy, stop thinking of yourself so much and think of Ted for once. Or at least do what Ted has so selflessly done and think of the show.

Sincerely,

Dr. Phil

P. S. If all else fails, give me a call. I’m sure we can work something out just between you and me. I’m thinking maybe “My Husband Was Obsessed With Getting On Dr. Phil” or “Dr. Phil Saved Me From A Crazy Spouse.” Call me. Let’s talk.

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Fantasy College Camp

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Dear Graduate,

How long has it been since you graduated from Princemore University? Whether it’s been 10, 25 or 40 years, chances are you may not look back fondly on those days as a fun-filled, madcap time. After all, you were too busy pursuing a 4.0 GPA in hopes of getting into law, medical or business school.

But now we’re presenting you with the perfect opportunity to experience those fun college days you missed out on. Our new Fantasy College Camp lets you re-live your university years without the pressures of academic performance.

Your fantasy camp stay starts with dorm check-in and a welcoming cocktail party. You’ll be able to sample pizza, burgers and chicken wings and overindulge in the beverage of your choice, everything from beer to shooters to our special purple Jesus mixture of alcohol and cheap red wine.

The next morning will feature an orientation session at 9 A.M. But don’t worry; it’s not mandatory. If you’re hung over or just want to sleep in, no problem.

Then it’s off to class, but only if you feel like it. Remember, it’s your choice. You can attend any of a dozen different afternoon classes (no morning classes at Fantasy College Camp!) or you can just kick back, smoke up and watch back-to-back episodes of “Star Trek” in the dorm lounge.

Speaking of classes, no tough ones at fantasy camp. At Princemore’s summer session, our motto is “Every course a bird course.”

Remember how you sweated through “Differential Equations” and “Complex Variables”? Or maybe you spent every morning in a different science class, every afternoon in a lab and every night writing up assignments.

Well sweat no more! At Fantasy College Camp, there are no labs, no tests and no assignments. Heck, there aren’t even any textbooks. And best of all – no mandatory attendance.

One day you can check out Philosophy 101 and rap with the prof about the big questions of life. The next day you might want to drop in on English 103: Comparative Comic Books and discuss your favorite “”graphic novel.”” Or perhaps you’d like to get stoned and check out Film Studies 202: The Work of Adam Sandler.

And it’s not all academics at Princemore’s summer camp. Every evening is a chance to get to know your fellow campers in a relaxed, informal setting. Pizza, burgers or beer. The choice is yours. As for recreational drugs, you’re on your own — but we do have some current Princemore undergrads on staff to help you out.

Don’t forget our on-campus cafeteria. Every overnight camper living in one of our two-person dorm rooms is entitled to three meals a day plus whatever snacks they can sneak back to their rooms. Rediscover the cuisine of your youth with a wide range of beef and pasta-based entrees.

Be sure to take advantage of all the on-campus clubs and activities. Since you won’t be weighed down with a heavy course load, you’ll be free to participate in everything from the Archery Club to Zen Buddhism.

And our camp even gives you a chance to be politically active. For those who missed out on the exciting anti-war demonstrations of the Vietnam and Gulf War eras, there’ll be plenty of opportunities to march and demonstrate against the current war of your choice.

Saturday nights are special at Princemore’s Fantasy College Camp. It’s the weekend kegger on the quad with a live band and all the on-tap Pabst Blue Ribbon you can drink. Party under the stars and crawl back to your room when you’re done.

The fun never stops at Fantasy College Camp. From food fights to drinking contests, it’s not “in loco parentis,” it’s just downright “loco.”

So send in your application form today. We don’t care what you got on your SATs. If you’ve got $9,999 and can spell F-U-N, you’re in for the time of your life.

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My Day On NBC Sports

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If Sunday Night Football broadcast my day at work:

AL MICHAELS: Good morning bureaucracy fans and welcome to another exciting day at work with Dave. What do you look for in today’s match-up, John?

JOHN MADDEN: Well, Al, if past performance is any indicator, I’m guessing Dave will be late today. We’re always ready for a 9 A.M. kick-off but Dave is what we call a “late starter.”

AM: Whoa, wait a minute. It’s only 9:05 and here’s Dave. Have you ever seen such an early arrival before?

JM: Yes, but not often. I have to assume that he’s got a meeting.

AM: You’re right; it’s a meeting. He didn’t even glance at the computer screen. Instead he’s picked up a folder and he’s heading down the hall to the conference room.

JM: Hold onto your seats, bureaucracy fans. As a veteran player, Dave is a master of the morning meeting.

AM: His supervisor is standing up and it looks like — yes — she’s asking Dave for a progress report on his project! How can he possibly handle this unexpected offensive movement?

JM: Savvy veteran that he is, I don’t think this is going to throw him. Let’s listen in.

AM: Am I hearing right? Did he just give a whole status report off the top of his head complete with stats and future projections?

JM: That’s right, Al. From what I know, it’s all fabricated but it sounds great. But will it be good enough to fool his boss?

AM: Whoa! She bought it! Touchdown! And now here’s the conversion. It’s up…and it’s good. She’s agreed to wait until next week for the final report.

JM: Wow! He’s definitely playing without a net today, Al.

AM: He sure is, John. And look at the move on the way back to his cubicle.

JM: Can you believe it? He told Fred there were free donuts in the lunchroom and then dropped the status report file in Fred’s inbox.

AM: A perfectly executed screen play from one of the all-time great buck passers.

JM: And he still has the presence of mind to backtrack to the lunchroom, take the last of the coffee and not make a new pot.

(Lunch break)

AM: For viewers who were watching Fred’s lunchtime nap in cubicle 402, welcome back to the coverage of Dave’s day at work. It’s 2:30 and Dave is back in his cubicle. He looks a little wobbly. Is he injured John?

JM: I don’t think so, Al. We’ve got a report from Dave’s restaurant and apparently Dave had two glasses of wine with lunch today. It’s gonna be a tough afternoon for him, no doubt about it. This is where the veterans show what they’re really made of. I’ve seen Dave in worse shape than this in the morning and still make it through regulation without being touched.

AM: I don’t know, John. He’s looking a bit shaky. The head is wobbly and the eyelids are fluttering. He could be out for the count.

JM: Oh! Look at that move! He placed a dozen upturned thumbtacks on this desk. I haven’t seen a move like that since Dick in Accounting drank half a container of White-Out to stay awake.

AM: John, I’ve just got a report that Dave’s boss is headed towards his cubicle. This will show what he’s really made of.

JM: If I know Dave, he’s got a couple of tricks up his sleeve.

AM: He better, John. That porn site on his computer screen could really throw him for a big loss.

JM: What a pro! If I’m not mistaken…yes, look at that. Just before his boss enters Dave’s cubicle, he taps the mouse wheel twice and switches the porn site to an Excel spreadsheet. I wouldn’t have believed it unless I saw it.

AM: Let’s look at this again on the replay. Wow, what a play! And see there how he quickly picks up the phone, motions to his boss that it’s an important call and waves her away? Amazing. Clearly he was under the weather and not playing at 100% but was still able to pull it out. What a gutsy performance.

JM: I think even Dave realizes that he accomplished something special today which may explain why he’s leaving early at 3:30.

AM: Except no one knows he’s leaving early. Since he left his coat in his car and his computer is still on, he’s out the door before anyone realizes that he’s gone.

JM: What a performance from a veteran worker.

AM: Ordinarily we’d be back on air tomorrow morning at 9 A.M. with more of Dave. But tomorrow is a Friday so chances are our next broadcast won’t be until Monday. Or maybe Tuesday, right John?

JM: That’s right, Al. A wily pro like Dave will always keep you guessing.

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Bartlett’s Unfamiliar Quotations

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Selected entries from Bartlett’s Unfamiliar Quotations (first edition):

Socrates (469 – 399 B.C.)

“I didn’t know you could make tea from hemlock.”

Jesus (ca. 1 – 33)

“Now after I’m gone, don’t go adding a bunch of elaborate rituals.”

Christopher Columbus (1451 – 1506)

“Who the hell set the course west?”

William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)

“”rancis, would you mind lending me a hand with these plays?”

John Milton (1608 – 1674)

“Paradise Gone? Paradise Misplaced? Paradise Missing? Damn, this title is elusive.”

Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826)

“That bastard son of Adams’ will probably win the Presidency even though he didn’t get the most votes.”

Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865)

“Mary, I told you these half-price theater tickets were no good.”

John D. Rockefeller (1839 – 1937)

“What the hell are we going to do with a million barrels of oil?”

Adolph Hitler (1889 – 1945)

“No, seriously, some of my best friends are Jews.”

Lyndon Johnson (1908 – 1973)

“What pleases me most is a consensus arrived at through reasoned and gentlemanly discourse.”

Ronald Reagan (1911 – 2004)

“The national debt’s tripled. When is this trickle down crap gonna kick in?”

Richard Nixon (1913 – 1994)

“John, Bob…I feel the fairest thing to do is release all the tapes.”

John F. Kennedy (1917 – 1963)

“Ask not what your President can do for you; ask what position you can assume for your President.”

Queen Elizabeth II (1926 – )

“Remind me again, Philip, why we had children.”

George W. Bush (1946 – )

“They voted me in again? And they say I’m stupid!”

Bill Clinton (1946 – )

“What this country needs is a good, self-lubricating cigar.”

Al Gore (1948 – )

“I categorically deny, refute and gainsay any allegations to the effect that I am boring.”

Mel Gibson (1956 – )

“No, seriously, some of my best friends are Jews.”

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