Tales of Ordinary Greatness

By: David Jaggard

Greetings, everyone! Graduates, family members, friends, staff…Welcome to the commencement exercises for the third midwinter session of Briquedor University. As founder, dean, bursar and faculty of this cybertech-based institution of higher osmotic education, I am very happy to see so many of our graduates turn out today to receive their hard-earned degrees for life experience and inadvertent independent study. But before I present you with your luxury laminate-bound diplomas we have a special, and I dare say moving, ceremony to perform. This sub-semester Briquedor is proud to be awarding honorary degrees to two people who exemplify the very spirit of life achievement.

First, would Debbie Wilson please step forward?

Debbie, you are here today to receive your PhD, a Doctorate for being Pretty and Hot.

For those of you who don’t know Debbie I’d just like to say a few words about the many, many endeavors she has undertaken to qualify for this degree.

As a newborn, Debbie was cute. Almost all babies are cute, but she was really, really cute. People fawned over her for this reason and she learned, before she could talk and at a deeply-entrenched subconscious level, that she was somehow different from the rest of humanity and therefore deserved special treatment. As she grew up, the people around her reinforced this impression, and she never lacked for attention, play dates, invitations to parties, etc.

In early adolescence she developed medium-large breasts, which of course only consolidated her already widespread popularity among her classmates. Although she never excelled in standard academic subjects, Debbie proved to be a near-genius, according to Edison’s definition, in the exacting science of personal appearance enhancement, trying on literally thousands of outfits, pairs of shoes and accessories, conducting experiments in makeup and hair coloring, and devoting the bulk of her spare time to fine-tuning the results of her research with the help of an array of various sized mirrors.

After graduating from high school without distinction, Debbie carefully considered her options and logically decided not to pursue any further mainstream academic or professional goals, deeming that her accomplishments in pulchritude were fulfillment enough and a sufficient contribution to society. While working as a hand model, and later as a hand and wrist model, she steadfastly dedicated herself to investigating a complex and challenging branch of parasociology, namely dating older, wealthier men and convincing them to pay her bills and buy her expensive gifts, a discipline that she has continued to pursue to this day, with three brief sabbaticals to engage in special immersion studies in the intricacies of married life.

Through diligent theoretical work and hands-on (lips-on, legs-on, etc.) “lab” experience, Debbie has developed an original, elaborate system of date management, constantly monitoring and updating a massive rotating database of potential suitors. It’s an impressive methodology that she began refining in her early teen years, and it has proven so effective that since the age of thirteen and a half she has never once been without a boyfriend for more than a matter of hours. Or at least it seemed like hours.

A tireless campaigner for the rights and privileges of people like herself, especially herself, Debbie has incessantly strived to push the envelope of entitlement for the congenitally attractive. Her work in this sphere is vast indeed, but I will cite just a few examples. During her school years she rarely contributed to classroom discussions — other than whining the question that became her nickname in the teachers’ lounge: “Why do I have to learn this?” — but when she did participate it was invariably in an attempt to evade mental exertion or somehow make things easier for herself. For instance, in a discussion of lightning in eighth grade science class, when informed that the speed of light was much greater than the speed of sound, Debbie commented, not seeing any reason why she should be expected to memorize two complicated numbers, “They should be the same.”

Later, after earning her driver’s license, she became known throughout the quad-county area for her pioneering fieldwork in traffic ticket circumvention. Debbie has been stopped for speeding, reckless driving and other traffic violations a total of 314 times and has only ever received three tickets, having charmed and flirted her way out of all 311 others. And she’s pretty sure one of those cops was gay. Her unique ability to rapidly and surreptitiously undo blouse buttons, initially developed as what sexologists call a “phallic vexation” technique, has also proven very useful in this domain.

But of course her greatest achievement, and the reason she stands before you here, is being born beautiful. Day after day, month after month, Debbie continues doggedly to look good, and sometimes even great, according to many observers. Especially that guy at the supermarket meat counter who’s been hitting on her every chance he gets for the past seventeen years even though she cuts him dead every time. But keep trying, Buddy! She loves the attention!

So it is with great pride that I present to you, Debbie Wilson, your honorary PhD. Let’s give her a hand…

Now we come to a man who is widely known for his attainments in the field of physical dominance. Would Joe Miller please come up to the podium? Joe, it is my pleasure to bestow upon you an honorary MBA for being Muscular, Big and Aggressive.

As you can see, ladies and gentlemen, Joe is a large, although not particularly fat, man. He has big arms, big hands, big legs, a thick neck and a big voice. He weighed more than ten pounds at birth and was always the biggest pupil in his class at school. At a very early age, Joe learned to use his natural gift to promote his own interests and win others over to his way of thinking. His early efforts involved forcibly seizing cookies, red crayons (he likes red) and other coveted items from classmates. And some non-coveted items just to hone his craft. Then in junior high and high school he devised a number of imaginative ways to use the threat, if not the fact, of violence to secure his preferred seats in the cafeteria and on school buses, to bolster his personal finances and even to improve his test scores.

Upon reaching adulthood, Joe found himself with no particular skills or interests and so launched himself in business sectors in which his undeniable asset could be put to profitable use. He has explored a variety of parallel career paths, juggling professional responsibilities in roadwork, construction, house painting and seasonal farm labor.

Joe works hard, and when he’s not working he quite naturally likes to unwind. Evenings and weekends he can usually be found at a local watering hole, WTFI Thursday’s, where a stool at the corner of the bar is unofficially reserved for him, by him, every night. There he enjoys regaling his friend and acquaintances with reminders of how incredibly powerful he is, or was, including tales of his many past encounters, spats, disputes, arguments, shouting matches, shoving matches, fights, fracases and brawls. Being large, he logically sees no reason to avoid confrontation, negotiate any issue or even listen to any other viewpoint, and he proudly wears the scars resulting from the rare occasions when he has chanced upon someone as brawny and intransigent as himself. He also entertains and from time to time amazes his fellow bar patrons with feats of strength and courage like opening bottles with his teeth, picking up smaller waitresses or holding an entire tray of freshly-filled beer pitchers at arm’s length, with a success rate nearing twenty-eight percent.

As Joe will gladly remind you, he can still “beat crap” out of anyone in town and never “takes crap” from anyone. But his most outstanding accomplishment, and the reason we are honoring him today, is being born big. So Joe, here’s your richly-merited MBA. Congratulations!

Unfortunately our other special guests could not be here this afternoon. Briquedor University is also awarding honorary doctorates to Paris Hilton for being born wealthy and Peter Fonda for being born famous. But since they were unable to attend, we will now proceed with the presentation of our other life experience diplomas. When I call your name, please come up to… No, wait — just stand up and I’ll toss it to you. And hey, let’s try to move this right along — I have an important, ah, private conference afterwards with one of our doctoral grads.

Al L. Soran, for a bachelor’s in digital gaming…


Cinematic Emergency Procedures

By: David Jaggard

If you are a main character in a motion picture, please read and memorize these safety instructions. They could save your life. Not to mention your gross box office.

It is a widely-known fact that most emergencies occur in the well-located, trendily decorated and perpetually tidy home that you can somehow afford no matter what job you have, even if you are a policeman, waitress, struggling actor or unemployed. Research has shown that by far the most common type of emergency for people in your socioeconomic group is someone, or, of course, something, trying to kill you. Should you find yourself in this situation, proceed as follows:

1) Panic. Do not call 911. In fact, do not use the telephone at all. It will not work, even if you have just hung up after a conversation in which you conscientiously repeated everything the other person said.

2) Go to your car. It will not start right away, trust me, but, trust me, it will start. Drive to the nearest large public building. Traffic will be sparse. You will hit all the lights and find a perfect parking spot right in front of the entrance, two or three vehicle lengths long so you don’t have to parallel park.

IMPORTANT: On the way to your destination DO NOT under any circumstances look at any photographs of loved ones. In particular DO NOT show any photographs of your children or spouse (if applicable) to anyone else. This is a guaranteed death sentence. In addition, if the car radio is on and tuned to a station playing any of the following numbers:

“Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd,

J.S. Bach’s Unaccompanied Cello Suites,

The “Funeral March” by Chopin (if you are over 65 years of age),

Any popular song previously established by you and your spouse or fiance(e) as “your song,”

turn it off immediately. You might as well cut your own throat.

3) Upon entering the building, sprint to the nearest elevator. Get in. Push the button for the top floor and continue pushing it repeatedly as rapidly as you can. This will not make the doors close sooner, but it will ensure that your pursuer will reach the elevator at the precise moment it closes and you are lifted out of harm’s reach. For the moment.

4) Get out on the top floor and locate the door to the stairs that go up the tower. It’s there someplace — every public building has a multi-story tower accessible only via a metal stairway whose openwork design allows four or five levels to be visible from a single camera placement. Climb the stairs as fast and as noisily as you can. Your pursuer will be one level below you, possibly discharging a firearm, but don’t worry: actuarial statistics indicate that he-she-it has a 73% chance of slipping and falling to his-her-its death. And is a lousy shot.

5) If your pursuer somehow survives the climb to the top, find the door to the roof. It will not open right away, trust me, but, trust me, it will open. Proceed directly to the edge, kneel, grasp the rain gutter firmly and fling yourself out over the void so that you are dangling precariously more than 20 stories above the street (WARNING: you must have a clean criminal record for this maneuver to work).

You are now safe. Your pursuer will soon be standing over you, trying to force you to fall. Keep a rictus of sheer terror frozen on your face at all times. Look down at frequent intervals. Now that you have parked your car, the street will be jammed with honking vehicles. Within ninety seconds someone will arrive and save your life. This person will fit one of three profiles:

a) someone you thought was your enemy but, lo and behold, isn’t,

b) someone with frankly implausible supernatural powers,

c) someone you previously found ickily unattractive but whose subtly improved hairstyle, lack of glasses, uncharacteristically stylish clothing and/or suddenly revealed physique change all that in an instant.

After your rescue, no filing of complaints with the police, debriefing by intelligence officers or medical examination is needed. You may return immediately to your well-appointed home or be just in time for the wedding, life-changing date, pivotal business meeting or championship-deciding sporting event that you had originally planned to participate in when this whole mess started.


As a preventive measure, you are strongly advised to have breast reduction surgery at your earliest convenience. This will reduce your chances of encountering life-threatening situations of all kinds by 94%.


News Items I Expected To See When I Was Eight Years Old

By: David Jaggard

Man’s Death Ruled Accidental

Services were held yesterday for Terrence “Terry” Bly-Oldman, a well-known figure in the local community, who died suddenly last Thursday. He was 45. The county medical examiner’s office has given the cause of death as postprandial aquatosis. “We were all sitting out on the deck,” his wife told investigators. “He ate an apple, and then 59 minutes later — with only 60 seconds to go! — he dangled his foot in the swimming pool. He was killed instantly.”

“I begged him to be careful,” said his grieving but not tearful son, “but he wouldn’t listen to me.”

Although Bly-Oldman had been in frail health for many years due to a lifelong habit of only perfunctorily rinsing, instead of really washing, his hands after going to the bathroom, his death has been ruled an accidental suicide. An autopsy revealed a potentially life-threatening stomach blockage due to multiple wads of bubble gum he had apparently swallowed decades ago, but this condition did not seem to be a contributing factor in his sudden demise.

At his funeral Bly-Oldman was remembered by all for his success in business, his service to the community, his devotion to his family, and for throwing up all over the pianist during the school choral concert when he was in second grade.

Lottery Winner Reveals Secret Of Good Luck

A winner of not one, not two, but three super-mega-jackpots in the tristate Googolball Lottery has revealed the secret of her success. After winning her third multimillion-dollar prize on Thursday, Annette Fortsch of Yip, PA, explained to reporters that she has lived all her life in houses with black and white checkerboard floors in every room and has never once, in all her 23 years, stepped on a black square. Fortsch’s winnings total $945,320,450 — so far!

President Reviews Issues Of National Importance In State Of The Union Address

In his annual State of the Union speech yesterday, the president discussed the key problems of pressing, vital concern to every US citizen. Since the vice president was unavailable, the chief executive was introduced by the next most important, powerful person in the country, Mr. Ernest Stern, principal of Warren Harding Elementary School in Lughaven, Pennsylvania.

In his opening remarks, the president revealed that a new kid would be joining Mrs. Dorriger’s third grade class at Warren Harding next week. His name is Eric. It is not known yet whether he seems destined to be popular or not. Our nation’s leader then expressed his condolences to the Weinbergen family, whose dog Mister Bows was recently run over by a car, and to the Leforge twins, Noel and Pascale, whose parents are getting a divorce.

In the second part of his speech, the president outlined his plan to introduce urgent, strongly-worded federal legislation that would extend and redefine the concept of personal property. The proposed bill would guarantee and protect the exclusive inviolable property rights of every US resident, including minors, to playthings, board games, puzzles, sports equipment, recordings of popular music, plastic assembly models, food items (in particular confectionery), sides of the back seats of vehicles, certain chairs and spots on the floor in front of the TV, and even television viewing times. The Supreme Court has agreed to grant an exemption to the “ex post facto” clause of the Constitution, making the new law retroactive to Saturday of last week, when the Holiday on Ice Special was scheduled right in the middle of the Star Trek marathon.

Christmas Delayed Again This Year

The National Time Service in Washington D.C. has announced that in all likelihood Christmas will once again arrive late this year. It has been noted that for the past six or seven years the much-anticipated holiday seems to come later and later, often appearing to be impossibly distant in the dimly perceptible future. Now scientific proof has been offered for the phenomenon.

Astronomers have discovered that abnormalities in the Earth’s shape and weight distribution are causing its rotation to slow down for part of its 24-hour cycle. When the landmass of North America, weighed down by skyscrapers, is facing the sun, the Earth actually spins more slowly, causing time to advance at one-half or even one-third its normal pace. Even more remarkably, the extraordinary celestial event doesn’t occur every day. According to NTS researcher Tim Tallier, “It only happens on non-holiday weekday mornings during the school year, between 9:45 am and recess, right about the time the kids in Mrs. Dorriger’s third grade class at Warren Harding Elementary are having their math lesson.” Tallier added that the time lag seems to be intensifying. “We’ve been recording weekly increases in day length of about 4.5% for the past five months. At this rate,” he said, “It’s quite possible that Christmas will never get here at all.”

New Discovery Sheds Light On Dinosaur Extinction

For many years paleontologists have known that giant reptiles dominated the biosphere starting in about 200 million BC and then suddenly became extinct approximately 60 million years ago. Many theories as to the cause of their abrupt disappearance have been forwarded — an asteroid impact, the eruption of a “supervolcano”, etc. — but now Prof. P.O. Parrish of the University of Pennsylvania has come up with a new explanation that the scientific community is hailing as the most plausible hypothesis yet. Parrish, a paleobotanist, had been comparing the gene structure of modern vegetables with fossilized plants from the Mesozoic Era when he came to a stunning conclusion. “I was trying to determine exactly when the plants we know today evolved into their present forms,” he told reporters, “and by tracing genetic changes back many generations and comparing that information with fossils, I have been able to prove that broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, spinach and brussels sprouts all came into being just before the great dinosaur extinction.”

Much as the fearsome reptiles dominated the animal kingdom, Parrish found that these vegetables dominated the plant kingdom, to the point that eventually there was virtually nothing else for the herbivorous creatures to eat. Of course the fossils that are found today are all skeletons, but this new evidence suggests that most of the dinosaurs were already nearly skeletons when they died.


From the Pop Culture Dead Letter Office

By: David Jaggard

Guidance Office


New York, New York

May 17, 1936

Guidance counselor’s follow-up report for: Peter R. Seeger

re: Our meeting of May 15 about your plans for the future

Peter, it was good that we had that little talk the other day and I want to share a few thoughts about it with you.

First let’s take a look at your idea for pursuing a career in the manual arts. Here’s the thing, Peter: I have a hammer. And since you don’t, but seem so intent on acquiring one soon, there are a few things I think I should point out. For starters, hammers make a lot of noise, especially on the harder woods like oak. For the sake of your family and neighbors, I strongly encourage you, contrary to your plans, to exercise the common courtesy of not hammering too early in the morning. Or too late in the evening, for that matter. As for your desire to hammer “everywhere around the country,” or however you put it, I must advise you that there is very little work available for an itinerant carpenter. People prefer to hire contractors they know from their local area, and if you keep moving around you’ll never build up a solid customer base. Also, your ideas for your first woodworking projects are fine enough, but a little too ambitious in my opinion. Yes, an allegorical sculpture, in the hands of a talented and experienced artisan, can be a thing of beauty, but the themes you have chosen — “danger,” “a warning,” “love” (and incestuous love at that!) — seem to me too abstract and open to interpretation for a beginner like yourself. You have to walk before you can run. Why not start with something simpler, like a birdhouse?

Moving on, we come to your second point. Apparently you can’t yet afford a hammer — I know times are hard — and yet you’re already talking about buying a bell. Might I suggest that you build up your set of carpenter’s tools first before considering such discretionary purchases? And here again I have to caution you about disturbing your neighbors with too much ringing in the early and late hours of the day. Also, while I admire your reiterated and therefore I assume keen desire to travel, if you’re going to embark on a cross-country trip why not just leave the bell at home? If you really want to go “all over” it’s better to travel light.

But if you’re serious about this, have you considered joining a local bell choir? Maybe the other members will be interested in working out some routines based on what seem to be your favorite themes of danger, a warning, etc., but I have a warning for you: most bell choirs are associated with churches and I think your fellow “ringers” will not be kindly disposed to learning a number about incest. Peter, you really ought to try to focus your attention on something less, let us say, controversial, and more appropriate for a young man your age.

Now then, as to your musical ambitions. Yes, I know — these days everyone wants to become a popular singer and get on the radio, don’t they? Peter, you seem to think that if you can just get the right repertoire it will be easy going after that, but let me assure you that there’s a whole lot more involved in building a career in the entertainment business than you think. You say you’re willing to put in long hours practicing from the moment you get up till after sundown, and that’s great, but it’s probably too soon to start planning a nationwide tour.

And I see that once again the themes you want to explore in your songwriting are danger, a warning and love. Again with the incest! Peter, are you trying to come to terms with some dark secret from your childhood here? You seem to be preoccupied about something that may have happened between your brothers and sisters, and yet every time it looks like you’re about to confront the issue head-on you just trail off, saying “ooh ooh ooh.” I’m not making any insinuations here, but I strongly suspect that you might need counseling. I’m enclosing the business card of an excellent psychologist I know. Please promise me you’ll call.

Ah — just as I was about to mail you your copy of this report it was brought to my attention that you have, in fact, now acquired all of those things you wanted. Well, what can I say? Fast work, Mr. Seeger. If I understand correctly, you received the hammer as part of a legal settlement and somehow managed to get a bell for free. And it seems that this peculiar obsession of yours with the unorthodox emotional relationships in your family has indeed become the subject of your first record release. This is all well and good, but Peter, now that you’ve got those ideas “out of your system,” so to speak, please try to write some songs about other, more pleasant things, will you? How about something with flowers? Flowers are nice.


Selected Recipes By My Former Housemates. A work of fiction. I repeat: fiction.

By: David Jaggard

Skip’s Famous Spaghetti

For six months, do not lift a finger to purchase, prepare, serve or clean up after any meals served in the supposedly communal house where you rent a room, whose residents have informally but solemnly agreed to contribute to meals on an equal basis.

After allowing this time to pass, announce with great pomp and ceremony that you’re going to make dinner for everyone and that you’re going to take care of everything, so everyone can just sit back and relax and get ready for the dinner of their life. Yes, you are going to make: Your Famous Spaghetti.


Order one housemate to set the table, another to chop an onion, another to seed and chop a green pepper, another to mince two cloves of garlic and another to get you a beer.

Now then.

Boil water in a medium-sized pan.
Put dry spaghetti in pan.
Realize that pan is too small.
Remove spaghetti.
Pour water into another pan, bring back to boil.
Put damp spaghetti in pan.
Realize that pan is too small.
Break spaghetti into thirds or fourths to fit into pan.
In a frying pan, saute onion, pepper and garlic in two tablespoons of butter for three minutes.
Add 1 lb ground beef and saute for three more minutes.
Pour 1 large can tomato sauce over vegetable-beef mixture and stir.
Bring sauce to a violent boil, allowing it to splash all the hell over the place.
Order housemate to clean up splashes every few minutes, because in order to make Your Famous Spaghetti you need “a nice clean kitchen.”
Do not turn down heat under sauce.
Order other housemate to make garlic bread.
And get you another beer while he’s at it.
Add salt, pepper and pinch of oregano to sauce.

Hint: While cooking, brag constantly about how great your spaghetti is and how crappy all meals made by your male housemates always are. (It is a little-known fact that if you steadfastly aggrandize yourself while belittling every other man who crosses your path, every woman in the entire world will eventually fall in love with you.)

Drain spaghetti in sink using regular table fork to hold it back as water pours out.
Allow most of spaghetti to fall into sink.
Order housemate to rinse pepper seeds, onion skins, coffee grounds and whatnot off spaghetti and place on serving platter.
Pour sauce over spaghetti.
Serve with canned “grated parmesan.”
Enhance meal with constant reminders of how good it is.
Order housemates to clear table and wash dishes.

After serving, do not lift a finger in the kitchen for six months, reminding everyone daily about how you “just made Your Famous Spaghetti.”

Pete’s E-Z-Pizza

Great for parties!
Line a large, flat, buttered baking tray with slices of white bread.
Hint: For an extra-fancy pizza, cut off the crusts!
Using a spatula, spread a thick layer of ketchup over bread.
Now add your favorite toppings: olives, sliced frankfurters, pickles, raisins, peanuts, etc.
Spray on generous layer of aerosol cheddar or Swiss cheese.
Bake in medium-hot oven for 15 minutes (optional).
Serve with plenty of beer, and…
Letare i buoni tempi rolare!

Tanya’s Chocolate Chip Cookies For You Guys

Before undertaking this recipe, conduct thorough census of housemates to make sure that everyone really likes chocolate chip cookies, because you “never eat them — they’re for you guys.”

3 sticks butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 lb chocolate chips
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp shortening

Grease large baking sheet with shortening.
Preheat oven to 420 degrees.
Cream butter into sugar.
Blend butter-sugar mixture, flour, slightly beaten eggs, vanilla extract, salt and chocolate chips in large bowl.
Form small uniform mounds of dough, depending on desired size of cookies, and arrange half of them on baking sheet.
Arrange other half in your mouth.
Place sheet on middle shelf of oven and bake for 15 min.
Allow cookies to cool for half an hour, the last 20 minutes of which take place in your stomach.

Holly’s Holy Health Roll

No beef (mad cow disease)
No chicken (cruel)
No lamb (cute)
No pork (gross)
No fish (pollution)
No seafood (hepatitis)
No eggs (salmonella)
No corn or soybeans (GMOs)
No onions or garlic (halitosis)
No legumes (flatulence)
No oil (fattening)
No sugar (fattening)
No dairy (fattening)
No salt (not sure why)

Chop other ingredients finely and mix in large bowl.
Complain loudly and at length about how nobody ever eats anything healthy around this stupid place.
Blend mixture well and bind with 3 tbsp flour.
Chain-smoke throughout this process, alternating tobacco with marijuana as desired.
A little ash in mixture is OK.
In fact good.
Complain loudly and at length about quality of cooking utensils around this stupid place.
Shape mixture into a cylinder, place on no-stick lousy baking tin and place on middle shelf of piece-of-crap oven.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or five cigarettes.
During baking, complain loudly and at length about dimness of worthless lightbulb in piece-of-crap oven, your goddamn backache, how you can’t shake this freakin’ cold and how that jerk Steve never calls you any more.
(It is a little-known fact that any problem will eventually solve itself somehow if you can just manage to complain about it enough.)
Remove roll from oven.
Cut into slices and serve, carping stentoriously and incessantly about people who eat “carrion,” “bait” and “roadkill.”

Hint: This dish seems to come out better if you maintain a grim, determined look on your face at all times. Not just while preparing it — at all times.

Josh’s Thanksgiving turkey

Do not consult housemates.
Invite every single person you know to your house for Thanksgiving dinner.
Late in afternoon on Thanksgiving Day, go to only open convenience store and buy cheapest frozen turkey they have left, regardless of its weight or expected number of guests.
Thaw turkey by placing it on back seat of car for drive home.
Place turkey in large, deep roasting pan.
Stare at turkey for 30 minutes or until house is full of guests.
Call mother.
Follow mother’s instructions, more or less, to stuff, truss and roast turkey, basting regularly.

To baste:
Remove turkey from oven using worn, thin dishrag as a potholder, ignoring thick, heatproof oven mitts hanging on wall next to oven.
Sustain first-degree burns to fingers while placing pan on stovetop.
Baste turkey with teaspoon and return it to oven.
Repeat without variation every fifteen minutes throughout cooking process.
Towards midnight, give up on deciding whether turkey is done or not.

To carve:
Hack at turkey with a succession of random knives of varying lengths and degrees of sharpness until it looks as though it has been run over with a lawn mower.
Serve to anyone still present and conscious.

Frank’s “Tumor or Trichinosis” lemon pork chops

8 pork chops
1 qt tequila
4 tbsp butter
6 oz Triple Sec
2 lemons
6 limes
Dash of bitters

Slice through rim of fat around pork chops in several places so they will not curl up while cooking.
Juice limes.
Pound pork chops with meat hammer to tenderize them.
Mix tequila, lime juice, Triple Sec and bitters in large pitcher and top off with crushed ice.
Arrange pork chops in large buttered baking pan.
Add salt to rim of glass and have a margarita to check proportions.
Adjust proportions.
Cut one lemon into thin slices so you have one slice for each pork chop.
Have margarita to recheck proportions.
Juice other lemon.
Have margarita and then serve margaritas to guests.
And self.
Preheat oven to any setting between 280 degrees and “Clean.”
Drink remaining margaritas straight from pitcher.
Find pork chops.
Slosh with lemon juice.
Sprinkle with herbs and spices chosen and dosed at random.
Drop handful of lemon slices on top of pork chops and toss pan in oven.
Stand at sink for 15 to 55 minutes, swaying slowly left to right.
Place burning hot pan containing way undercooked or way overcooked pork chops directly on wooden table.
Leave table and allow guests to serve selves.
Stagger around backyard hurling for five hours, or until guests are gone.

Karen’s “Tex-Schmex” fajitas

Grill thin slices of chicken breast, strip sirloin and chorizo.
Get timing just right so that meat is tender and juicy.
Season with improvised mixture of spices that brings out full flavor so that eating this dish is like tasting in color after a lifetime of tasting in black and white.
Garnish with finely shredded romaine lettuce, chopped jalapeno peppers, grated sharp Monterey Jack cheese, dollops of sour cream and imported hot sauce (optional).
Serve with soft, fragrant steamed flour tortillas.

Serving suggestion: Prepare this dish and a seemingly unending stream of equally delectable recipes for housemates several nights a week, remaining at all times witty, intelligent, cheerful and charming, with strong undercurrent of smoldering sexiness, until all men in house are so in love with you they have blind staggers. Repeat for six months while remaining single. Then meet homeless, out-of-work rock drummer at supermarket and leave town with him next day. Never be heard from again.


Mnemonic Devices I Taught To The Annoyingly Handsome Brazilian Foreign Exchange Student Who Stole My Girlfriend

By: David Jaggard

In fall, all clocks go forward.

In spring, bring them back.

The Tropic of CANcer is down south like CANberra, Australia, and the Tropic of CAPricorn is up north like CAPe Cod, Massachusetts.

To distinguish between “principle” and “principal”:

Remember that a principLE LEads a school, and a principAL ALlies people who believe in it.

To distinguish between “affect” and “effect”:

Affect is the nAme (noun) and Effect is the vErb.

“Capital” and “capitol”:

The capiTAL building is TALL, and to get to the capiTOL city you might have to pay a TOLL.

“Desert” and “dessert”:

Single “S” for food that’s Sweet,

Double “S” for Scorched, Sore feet.

In fourteen hundred and ninety-one, Columbus sailed the ocean, hon.

Every good boy does time.

“GIV R BOY” a hand for remembering the order of the colors of the rainbow:

Gray, Indigo, Violet, Red, Brown, Orange, Yellow.

To remember the names of the five Great Lakes:

HOGSLOP (Huron, Ontario, Great Salt Lake, Okeechobee, Powell).

Red sky at night, sailors take fright,

Red sky at dawn, sailors just yawn.

And then they go ashore and contract syphilis.

I after E, except before C, or when sounded like “eye”, as in “This is a lie.”

A stalactite is anchored “tight” to the cave floor, while a stalagmite hangs down from the ceiling and “might” smack you in the forehead if you’re not careful. And while you’re at it, maybe you should be more careful about whom you ask for help with your homework.


Dear Lettie

By: David Jaggard

Spanish Crown Prince Felipe is set to marry former television presenter Letizia Ortiz this morning…Long one of Europe’s most eligible royals, Felipe chose as his bride a 31-year-old divorcee who was a rising star for Spain’s most popular news broadcaster before saying yes to a proposal that means becoming queen of Spain some day.

— Reuters, Sat 22 May, 2004

Madrid, March 12, 2004

Dear Lettie,

Please don’t flip out — I know I’m late with the alimony and I apologize. I owe you four months, so here’s one check for the entire amount. Sorry for the delay, but I was out of the country — I’ve been in Afghanistan researching a documentary since before Christmas and there was no way to get word to you. Then when I finally got a week off to come back to Madrid, this funny thing happened: I ran into Antonio in the airport and he asks me what I think about you getting married again! Well of course I didn’t know anything about it, but when I pressed him for details he got this weird, sort of embarrassed look on his face and mumbled something about how he figured I’d know by now. So what’s the deal? In any case it’ll let me off the hook in terms of alimony, so I guess I should be happy, right?

Still, I know how impulsive you can be and I can’t help but wonder if you’re sure you’re doing the right thing here. For starters, I hope this guy you’re supposedly in love with knows what he’s getting into. He better be in really good financial shape if he thinks he’s going to be able to afford your spending habits. Does he know how much you blow on clothes every month? Does he know that he’s going to have to practically shower you with jewelry? Does he know that you’re going to need practically a goddamn palace just to store all your goddamn coats and dresses and shoes? I hope for your sake he’s got a good, stable job. With the economy like it is now, he could get laid off at any time, and then where would you be? Have you even thought about that?

Also, does he know how much you love giving orders and being waited on hand and foot? I’ll bet you’ve been hiding that little side of your personality so far. Boy, is he in for a surprise. Hey — tell him about how I used to call you “your highness” and “your majesty.” He’ll probably get a big laugh out of that one.

Another thing: I don’t know how well you think you know this dude, but have you really checked out his background? You can’t be too careful, you know. A lot of guys these days say they’re some kind of big important bigshot, like a business executive or film producer or a way-distant relation to some aristocrat or something, just to impress women and get them into bed. What if your fiancé turns out to be some kind of pretender? You better know for sure that your Prince Charming is who and what he says he is or you could get royally screwed. I’m not kidding!

So I suppose now that you’re such a megastar newscaster you’re going to want a big fancy formal wedding that you can turn into a media circus. It’d be just like you, wanting to see your picture in the tabloids all dolled up in a designer gown, parading around in front of hundreds of people like you’re some kind of freaking princess or something. But just one thing, OK? When you get desperate to pad out the guest list, don’t even think about inviting me. I know how you’d make it sound like some kind of noble cause and everything, but you can just count me out.

Hey, whoa, I’m sorry — I’m getting kind of carried away. But it’s only because I still care about you. Really, Lettie, I do. Sometimes I even think about us getting back together. Crazy I know, but hey — it wasn’t all bad, was it? Yeah, I can be a jerk sometimes, but you never know — maybe your new guy will turn out to be a king-sized pain in the ass. And admit it: you can act like a real infanta sometimes too. But deep down I’m basically a good person — you know that. Just think about it for a while. Take a step back and reflect. Keep your options open. It’s never too late to back out with this whozis, whoever he is — Antonio says he isn’t even sure what his full name is, this nobody that nobody ever heard of. And if you ever want to call me, just to talk or whatever, I’ll be there.

Please, Lettie, do this one last thing for me, for old times’ sake. Before you jump into something and make some rash decision that you might regret later, stop and consider: what’s this other guy got that I haven’t got? Just think about it, is all I’m saying.




Meet The Poet

By: David Jaggard

…our appreciation for such a stirring reading, and for taking time from his busy schedule to meet with our creative writing students today. We have a few minutes left — does anyone have a question for our illustrious guest? Yes, there in the front row…

I wonder if you could tell us about the genesis of one of your earliest successes, “Woodchuck”?

Certainly — I had been reading Kerelman’s “Mammals of North America” and trying my hand at copying some of the engravings in watercolor, and there was this one plate that caught my eye of a woodchuck perched on a fallen log. There was something about the pose, the colors, the almost…world-weary look in the gentle creature’s eye. Then the ideas started coming…The “wood”-“would” ambiguity, the nouns turning into verbs and back again…And the paradox of this tiny mammal that spends its entire life surrounded by the very substance for which it is called but that cannot ever fulfill the promise of its own name. The woodchuck’s hypothetical exertions symbolize the inescapable, unrelenting labors of mankind — just how far can they go? I don’t think any other poet has ever addressed that theme head on.

Does anyone have another question about “Woodchuck”? In the back there, on the right…

So…How much?! (laughter)

Ha-ha! I get asked that all the time! Of course, there is a specific answer, but I prefer to leave it up to my readers to discover for themselves.

Next question…

I wonder if you could explain the humanist symbolism of “Ice Cream”?

That one was written during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. I was aghast at the desperate situation in the world and I started thinking: there’s so much distrust and misunderstanding among peoples, but what is it that unites us? What one thing does everyone want? You, me, everyone all around the world…What do we want so badly that we would abandon all decorum in a bid to get it? I wanted an image that would appeal to all ages and all cultures. From there, of course, a lot of research had to be done. I hesitated to use a milk derivative because most Asian cultures didn’t have them at the time, but I decided to take a chance and indeed since then yogurts and frozen dairy desserts have even been introduced in Myanmar, so it turns out my esthetic instincts were right.

Could you give us a demonstration?

Oh, all right…(murmurs of anticipation)

(Ahem!) AAAARRRRRRGGGGGGHHHH!!!!!! (thunderous applause)

Thank you! (applause) Thank you!! Another question?

You mention the research you do for your poems — for “Rejection” did you research the flavors of the different kinds of worms? (sporadic laughter, groans)

In that case I didn’t have to. I knew how the worms taste. You know how the worms taste. Everyone does — I was just trying to reveal a universal constant about the human condition. Let me explain it this way: the evocation of the inedible being consumed takes the poem farther away from reality in order to get closer to the truth — like the “blue violets” from my Surrealist period. (Scattered applause.) Thank you. Yes, you over there…

Why did you fracture the rhyme scheme in “Thunderstorm”?

Good question. The answer is really quite simple: I just thought that after “pouring” and “snoring” it would be too…”boring” (laughter) to stick strictly to the predicated rhyme scheme. In fact, the last line in my first draft was “And he woke up lying flat on the flooring.” You see? It loses something that way. I’ll tell you another story about that poem: The “old man” was modeled on Carl Sandburg, one of my biggest early influences. I had the pleasure of meeting him at Yaddo in 1963. He had just flown in from Chicago and was assigned the cabin next to mine. I showed him a few of my poems, including “Woodchuck”. He got really excited about it and read it over and over. He thought I should change the title and make it a groundhog, or maybe a guinea pig, and then he got the idea that the animal should be “slaughtered”, possibly by a hunter or trapper. He also suggested that I tone down the imagery in “Thunderstorm” and make the weather just sort of misty or hazy. I was about to explain that I had already explored that nuance of the theme in “Rain, Rain”, but just then the cook’s pet kitten came sauntering through the open door of my cabin. As soon as Sandburg saw it he got this thoughtful, distracted look on his face, jumped up and ran out yelling, “On second thought, forget everything I just told you!” So I guess you could say the influence was “somewhat mutual”…(laughter, applause) There’s time for just one more question. Yes, you in the pink sweater…

What can you tell us about your lawsuit against the Sandburg estate over “Star Light”?

Oh gosh, my lawyer told me not to talk about that too much. Also, my doctor told me not to even think about it because it makes my blood pressure rise. (laughter) Let me just say that I showed Carl Sandburg my early sketches of “Star Light” at Yaddo in ’63 and he liked the poem so much he made his own copy of the working draft. Then when he died in 1967, one of his nephews happened to find it among his papers. Of course he recognized it right away, and figured he could palm it off as an undiscovered Sandburg by accusing me of copying it from him. But Carl’s copy was incomplete and the nephew made the mistake of tacking on that ridiculous “satellite” ending, which anyone would recognize as bogus. But he wouldn’t back down, so I had to file suit. It goes to court next month. Wish me luck! (scattered applause)

I’m sorry, but it’s time to go. It’s been a pleasure to be here today! (applause) It’s always nice to see young people who are interested in…poetry, of all things! (applause, cheering) My new “slim volume” will be available in November — I’ll send a free copy to anyone who can “spell that without any V’s!” (uproarious laughter, whistling, stomping, rhythmic applause)


Nice Surprise Endings: Epilogues To Familiar Literary Classics

By: David Jaggard

The Necklace

by Guy de Maupassant

…Madame Forestier had halted. “You say you bought a diamond necklace to replace mine?”

“Yes. You hadn’t noticed it? They were very much alike.” And she smiled in proud and innocent happiness.

Madame Forestier, deeply moved, took her two hands. “Oh, my poor Mathilde! But mine was imitation. It was worth at the very most five hundred francs!”

– – – Epilogue – – –

“Oh!” exclaimed Mathilde. “Then surely you won’t mind selling it and giving me back the difference.”

Madame Forestier, even more deeply moved, grasped her two shoulders. “Of course not, dear! Let’s go to the jeweler’s this instant! With the appreciation on a thing like that I can easily buy another rhinestone job and you should have enough money left to retire.”

Mathilde breathed a profound sigh of relief. Her life of deprivation was behind her at last. “Wow!” she gasped. “What a pleasant surprise…”

Incident at Owl Creek Bridge

by Ambrose Bierce

…As he is about to clasp her he feels a stunning blow upon the back of the neck; a blinding white light blazes all about him with a sound like the shock of a cannon — then all is darkness and silence! Peyton Farquhar was dead; his body, with a broken neck, swung gently from side to side beneath the timbers of the Owl Creek bridge.

– – – Epilogue – – –

“For crying out loud Peyton, wake up and quit moaning!” his wife shouted. “You’re probably having that damn war flashback nightmare again!”

“Woah!” Farquhar exclaimed. “It was so vivid!”

“It was ‘vivid’ three times last month!” his wife snapped. “Look — they didn’t hang you, all right? The rope broke, you escaped, I hid you in the cellar for the rest of the war and now here we both are, safe and sound. For heaven’s sake, that was almost forty years ago — think you’d get over it by now. Now shut the hell up and go back to sleep.”

“Why’d I ever marry the old sow?” Peyton muttered to himself as he rolled over. “But that dream! What a shock!”

The Gift of the Magi

by O. Henry

…Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled. “Dell,” said he, “let’s put our Christmas presents away and keep ’em a while. They’re too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs.”

– – – Epilogue – – –

“Aw, thanks honey! You’re really sweet,” said Della, as she bent down to give him a kiss. “Good thing I didn’t cut off ALL my hair. What the heck, it was almost to my ankles. These combs’ll do just fine for the pageboy do I’ve got now. You think I should get the ends frosted or…?”

But by this time Jim was on the phone to the pawnbroker. “Hey, Max, could you do me a favor?” he said. After Max had listened to the whole story and had a good laugh, he promised to hold on to the watch until Della’s hair grew out enough to sell again and they could redeem the precious heirloom. “Oh, and Jim!” Max added before hanging up the phone. “You ought to get yourself a literary agent and sell the rights to your story. It’s a real bombshell!”

A Man Who Had No Eyes

by Mackinlay Kantor

…The blind man stood for a long time, swallowing hoarsely. He gulped: “Parsons! I thought you — …Yes. Maybe so. MAYBE SO! BUT I’M BLIND! I’M BLIND, AND YOU’VE BEEN STANDING HERE LETTING ME SPOUT TO YOU, AND LAUGHING AT ME EVERY MINUTE OF IT! I’M BLIND!”

Mr. Parsons looked over, almost piteously and said reflectively, “Well, don’t make such a row about it, Markwardt …. So am I.”

– – – Epilogue – – –

Markwardt gulped and said sheepishly, “Well, actually Parsons, I’m not really blind. Truth is I’m a no-account lazy drunk. I just pretend to be blind because I get more money panhandling that way.”

“Aw hell,” said Parsons, “I’m not really blind either. I figured if you couldn’t see me you wouldn’t know I was lying and I could get out of here without having to give you anything. But all right, damn it, you got me — here’s a fifty. Now beat it.”

“Thanks pal!” called the retreating Markwardt. “What a windfall!”

Richard Cory

by Edwin Arlington Robinson

…So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

– – – Epilogue – – –

‘Twas only then that everyone found out
He suffered from a dire and dread disease
That would have done him in, there was no doubt,
Before the coming autumn tinged the trees.

His life insurance said it wouldn’t pay
For suicides. His will and testament
Was voided due to fiscal foul play.
His wife and kids were left without a cent.

An inquest formed to delve into his past
Revealed some startling news about the man:
The day before he fired the fatal blast
He’d introduced a profit-sharing plan

For every worker toiling in his mill
From night shift to supplies to cleaning crew.
We owned the fact’ry, stock, land and goodwill
And all his private goods and chattels too.

Our Corycorp shares soared to record heights.
We’ve cash for meat and scotch and private school.
And after work on warm calm summer nights
We swim in Richard Cory’s heated pool.


Letters From People Who Don’t Usually Write Letters

By: David Jaggard

Dear Sirs:

Just thought I’d drop you a little note to let you know that we really do exist. Not only do we really exist, but we really do have the power to control everything, to run the entire world from what you what-we-call-“pawns” call “behind the scenes.” Only thing is, we’re all so pathologically lazy none of us ever gets around to doing much of anything. In fact, me writing you this letter is the first thing any of us have done for the past 140 years. You think we’d let the world go to hell like this if we were really making an effort?

Here’s how it all works: you see…oh, I’m so tired now I think I’ll go take a nap.

I’ll explain it to you someday.



The only member of the Illuminati who has the energy to lift a finger

PS: Three-hundred-seventy-two. Get it?! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!


Dear Sirs,

OK, so maybe it took a while, but now we understand everything. Don’t bother to tell us anything else because, believe me, we got it all figured out now.

Here’s the deal:

— The music, movies and TV shows we like this month are the ultimate culmination of popular culture. Nothing that comes before or after can ever equal, much less exceed, the sheer and utter fineness of these works.

— The retail prices currently in effect are to be considered “normal” from now until the end of time. We will cling to them forever as the standard against which all future price hikes will be perceived as rampant inflation.

— Everyone younger than us is really, like, totally young (you know?) and everyone older than us is, like, really really totally old (you know?) and they will all stay that way till we die.

— Speaking of which, which is probably never going to happen. Or maybe just a little. Dying I mean.

— The way we each think of ourselves individually right now is the last possible definitive self-vision we will ever have, even after we grow up, the years and decades pass, and every single aspect of our lives changes.

— And about sex: sex is for us. Not for our parents, not for our teachers, not for anyone more than about maybe four or five years older than us. So like, cut it out, all right!?


Everyone who turned 15 within the past year

PS: I mean really.


Dear Sirs,

I know you don’t hear from Me very often, but what with the world going to hell and those worthless Illuminati sitting around on their fat butts doing nothing, I’ve really got My hands full. But I just had to write to apologize for something that’s been on My mind for centuries.

Look, I admit it: I goofed when I approved the final design for the human brain. I meant to make sexual response pretty much the same in both men and women, but two sets of prototypes got mixed up in the lab and I ended up going into production with one design for women and another one for men. So men got the visual-stimulus-only arousal mechanism and women didn’t. That’s why now you have all those “Miss Whatsis” beauty contests, cheesecake in advertising, pornography in general and the “male gaze.” That’s why Islamic fundamentalists require women to cover up so much they can’t recognize each other in the street and then they have to stay home anyway. That’s part of the reason why if a man exposes himself to a woman she is considered to be the victim of a reprehensible crime, whereas if a woman exposes herself to a man* he is considered to be one lucky bastard. That’s why “Playboy” magazine is the foundation of a multi-skatchillion-dollar empire while “Playgirl” sells about as many copies as “Fish Tank Decorator,” mostly to gay men (interestingly, the same people who buy “Fish Tank Decorator”). And as if this isn’t a big enough mess, most men don’t even realize that women don’t think that way, and of course vice-versa.

I know the whole thing has been just one huge hindrance to understanding between the sexes, and I’m really sorry, OK? I’ll try to make it up to you. I’m thinking maybe I can get one of the Illuminati to write and explain how it all works. How’s that sound?



(you know, Allah, Yahweh, Krishna, whatever)

PS: I also botched up on the esophagus/trachea proximity thing, and I apologize if you’ve lost any loved ones to choking. I’ve come up with a little something for you to evolve to correct that, but it’ll take another two billion years. In the meantime, take small bites.

*By the way, this has only happened a total of three times throughout the entire history of mankind. I ought to know.


Dear Sirs,

You ever hear the expression “peer pressure”? You ever wonder who those “peers” actually are? Well, it’s us. And we’re writing to try to convince those 15-year-olds in that second letter up there to help us steal a case of beer from behind the supermarket and go out to drink it under the railroad bridge.

Here goes:

C’mon, let’s do it. There’s no way we can get caught. I’m telling you: no way. I’ve looked back there where they stack the cases of beer and Coke and stuff and nobody ever goes out there during the day. Ever. So there’s no way anybody’s going to see us. You have my personal guarantee. It’s just plain impossible.

And if somebody does come out and see us, they’re not going to do anything. They work for a big chain store, what do they care? They could see us hauling away a whole truckload of beer and they won’t even lift a finger. Trust me, I know. No way in the world they’re going to give us any trouble.

And if they do, they aren’t going to call the cops. Why get involved in a big legal hassle? They’ll just tell us to drop it and we’ll run out of there and that’s it. There’s no way we’ll end up having the police involved. It just simply can’t happen.

And if it does, they won’t actually arrest us. The cops don’t want to have to do a bunch of paperwork just for a couple of kids stealing a case of beer. No way, man, they’ll just let us go. They won’t take us in. They can’t. I’m 100 percent sure of it.

And if they do, there’s no way you’ll actually get convicted on a robbery charge. You’d be a first-time offender — they’ll just let you go with, like, a slap on the wrist. You can’t possibly end up doing any time for a thing like this. You just can’t.

And if you do, it’ll be in some juvenile facility where it’s exactly like going to school and you’ll be able to come home on weekends and stuff. No way they’re actually going to send you off to some like hard-core adult prison or something. It’s like against the law or something. They can’t do that.

And if they do, it won’t be for more than about three or four months tops. There’s no way you can get the maximum sentence for petty larceny like this. You can just forget about that.

And if you do, you’ll be let out on probation in a couple of years anyway. I’m sure of it.

And if you aren’t, well hey, when you get out you’ll be legal drinking age and we’ll all throw you a big beer party.

That is if you don’t get gang-raped and murdered in prison. Which you won’t — no way. Put it out of your head.

And if you do, it’s a cinch you’re going to heaven. You can take my word for it.

So you see? There’s absolutely nothing to worry about.

So hey, are you coming or not?


The Sandhogs Gang



Dear Sirs,

I couldn’t help but notice in that third letter up there, God mentioned that He had “something for you [meaning us] to evolve,” apparently referring to an alteration in the human mouth-throat structure. Are we to understand that this means that belief in the Almighty and belief in evolution have in fact never been mutually exclusive? Is it in fact thinkable that there is an omnipotent being who created the universe and that the evolution of various species is merely one of the mechanisms He chose to accomplish this?

And then His signature: “God… Allah… whatever?” Does this mean that all of the different holy teachings that we perceive as separate, inimical religions are in fact just manifestations of the same spiritual impulse? In other words, that all those centuries of hatred, prejudice, persecution, bloodshed and atrocities in the name of this or that deity collectively represent the most heinous, pointless waste of human life in the history of mankind?

It’s not really important or anything. We were just wondering.


All the religious leaders in the world

PS: Hey, did you hear the one about the priest, the rabbi, the seven Baptist preachers, the Hopi medicine man, the Taliban chieftain and the Dalai Lama on the Space Shuttle? You did? Well, that was us. Good one, huh?