The top 60 Tweets of a pretentious English student 

young man studying on laptop in college campus library

Yeah, I went to school with people like this…

Even graduate students studying ecocentric literature can be social-media superstars!

Bio: I express my artistry through emotional meditations and lowercase letters. My heart is pure; my poetry, self-published.

1. If there’s a sock on the door, don’t come in. I’m busy reading Vonnegut.

2. If my beret doesn’t give away my artistic tendencies, then I’m sure the Apple logo on my laptop will.

3. A sublime exhalation of youthful exuberance, in a premature outpouring of passion. (But give me 10 minutes, and I’ll try again.)

4. I’m not arrogant. I just don’t need to take writing advice from the dude who wrote “Charlotte’s Web.”

5. Yeah, well, how many literary-fiction journals have *you* been featured in, buddy?

6. Is that a Bukowski in your book bag, or are you just happy to see me?

7. Personally, I find the em-dash more progressive than the semicolon.

8. How endearing. I went through my own period of rugged Hemingway terseness back in 201.

9. We haven’t truly lived until we’ve written in the first-person-plural.

10. I’ll trade you three gently used issues of Glimmer Train for your annotated copy of “Burning Down the House.”

11. I’m not in it for the monetary compensation; I’m in it to bare my soul through the written word. (Besides, Mom pays my tuition.)

12. My tattered journal contains the scribblings of my soul. Plus, my Econ notes from yesterday’s class.

13. She left my emotional core stinging from the lash of rejection. (It also stings when I pee.)

14. I see you consistently get “it’s” and “its” confused. You need a bib to catch all the drool?

15. [Literary flirting] “So, you want to get coffee sometime? We could discuss whether Truman Capote wrote To Kill a Mockingbird.” Keep reading…

It’s not technically cheating if it’s in a parallel universe 

The Colane Catastrophe

My blog header, as it appears in a parallel universe.

I was eating dinner the other night with my friend, Vanessa.

“This is really good, Angela,” I said, shoveling peas in my mouth. “You totally outdid yourself tonight.”

Vanessa set down her fork. “What did you call me?”

I looked up. “Pardon?”

Vanessa’s eyes widened. “Did you just call me Angela?”

I blinked and swallowed my peas. “Not necessarily.”

“You did. And not only that, but your face is turning red.”

“Is it?” I dabbed my forehead with a napkin. “Maybe my metabolism is kicking in because I’m digesting all this delicious food. Did I tell you how delicious it is? It’s really very delicious.”

Vanessa scrutinized me. “Colane? Do you have something you want to tell me?”

I looked at her, then cast my eyes to my plate, spearing mushrooms.

“Colane?” Vanessa’s voice took on a darker, more ominous tone.

I swallowed and set down my fork, folding my hands. “OK. It’s about time you learned. Vanessa — I have something to tell you.”

I could see her holding her breath. “Yes?”

“It’s a secret. Something I haven’t told anyone else.”

She bit her lower lip. I could see it quivering ever so slightly. “Yes?”

“It’s something that I’ve wanted to tell you for a long time, but I just didn’t know how.”

She blinked several times, rapidly. “Yes?”

I reached across the table and took her hand. “Vanessa?”

She closed her eyes. “Yes?” Her voice was a hesitant, toneless whisper.

“I come from a parallel universe.”

She opened one eye. “Huh?”  Keep reading…

Financial experts: No matter what the market, you should always buy stocks

roulette wheel

According to financial experts, U.S. stocks have nowhere to go but up. (Of course, that’s what they were saying about home prices in 2007, but best not to dwell on that.)

I walked into a local money manager’s office the other day to open an account.

“Do you have an appointment, sir?” the receptionist asked, as I walked past her desk.

I walked into the money manager’s office and sat down at his desk. “Here’s the thing,” I said. “I know you’re a money manager, so you’re probably used to working with clients who, you know, actually have money. And I don’t really have anything to my name except for a worn-out rubber vomit and a pack of gum that shocks you when you try to touch it. But I want to retire someday from this grueling, thankless career of writing comedy, so I need to start investing for the future. Does that make sense?”

The money manager clasped his hands and leaned back in his seat. “You should buy stocks,” he said.

“I’ve never been very good at earning money,” I said. “Don’t get me wrong: I’m a hard worker. I’ve spent my entire life busting butt, trying to get ahead. The problem, I’ve found out, is that hard work has nothing to do with making money. Employers used to covet a strong work ethic and a willingness to learn, but now all they seem to want are self-promoting braggarts who mask their incompetence with smooth-sounding babble. And because I was taught to be humble, I tend to labor diligently in the background while the smooth-talking braggarts take all the credit. And then they get all the promotions while I stay at the bottom, working myself to an early grave.”

“You should buy stocks,” the money manager said.

“And I don’t want to end up in an early grave,” I said. “I mean, sure — dying young has its benefits. I wouldn’t have to save so much for the future, because there wouldn’t be much of a future to save toward. And I wouldn’t have move to Florida and start eating dinner at 3 p.m., because who wants to eat dinner that early, anyway? I certainly don’t. I’d end up rummaging through the fridge at 7 p.m. and making a tuna fish sandwich with sardines and mayonnaise. And then I’d wake up at one in the morning with raging heartburn that feels like someone is running a blowtorch up and down your chest. I don’t want that to be my future.”

“You should buy stocks,” the money manager said.

“But if I do grow old, I need a retirement fund so I can actually buy food,” I said. “I don’t want to be a destitute geriatric with no teeth who gnaws on Alpo while watching Murder, She Wrote reruns. If it gets to that point, a tuna fish sandwich with sardines might be the financial equivalent of eating caviar. Not that I’ve ever eaten caviar. Why would anyone pay so much to eat something so disgusting? I feel the same way about frog legs. Although some people say frog legs taste like chicken. I guess it depends on what kind of chicken. If it tasted like KFC, then I might try it. I like chicken when it’s deep fried, but not so much when it’s baked. Baked chicken might be healthy, but it tends to be chewy and dry, and then it’s about as appetizing as my worn-out rubber vomit.”

I paused for a breath. “As you can tell, I’m not exactly a health nut, which is a personal defect I should address if I’m going to start planning for the future.”

“You should buy stocks,” the money manager said. Keep reading…

The lengths some people will go to steal a parking space

empty parking space

Not that my warning does me any good. The only one who doesn’t park in my designated space is me, because everyone else beats me to it.

I happened to be following a car as it pulled into my apartment complex. It turned left at the entrance and started driving through the parking lot toward my unit.

I didn’t recognize the car, so I figured it had to be a guest, and not a tenant.

“I bet he tries to park in my assigned space,” I said to myself, as I followed the car through the lot. “I just know it. Everyone tries to park in my assigned space. The cable guy, the electric guy, the escort who spends Friday nights with Downstairs Neighbor Dave. Look! He’s barreling past all of these available guest parking spaces so he can be closer to the buildings – the jerk!”

As if following a script, the car slowed down and turned into my assigned space.

I pulled behind it and peeped the horn. A young man climbed out of the car and looked at me, frowning.

“Hey!” I said, rolling down the window. “You’re in my space!”

The man continued to frown. “I’m sorry?”

“You got to move, pal. You’re in my assigned space!”

The man shrugged. “No. I’m not moving my car.”

He opened the back door and started rifling through some junk sitting in the backseat.

“Excuse me?” I climbed out of my car and approached him. “Buddy, you’re in my space. This is my space!”

The man kept his back turned as he searched for something in the backseat. “It’s not your space; it’s mine.”

“How can you say that?” I asked.

“Because I got here first. First come, first served. It’s a rule. Don’t you know the rule?”

“That rule doesn’t apply because it’s my space! I’m a tenant, and this is the space they assigned to me.”

“But how do you know it’s your space? It looks like all the other spaces.” The man pulled a sweatshirt out of the car and turned around to face me.

“It doesn’t look anything like the other spaces!” I said. “The resident spaces have white lines, and the guest spaces have yellow. Plus, the resident spaces are numbered, and I’m No. 28. That’s how I know it’s my space: because it’s clearly marked No. 28.”

“So is that also the number of your apartment?” the man asked, pulling on his sweatshirt. “No. 28?”

“No. My apartment is No. 256.”

“Then why is your space No. 28? Shouldn’t your apartment number match your parking-space number?”

“I just live here,” I said. “I don’t assign the numbers.”  Keep reading…

I tried to help out my aunt on Thanksgiving, but I ended up being the turkey

Turkey with dog face

Thanksgivings with Aunt Elvira are always interesting. Instead of listing the things I’m thankful for, I just write down all the insults she hurls at me. (But at least Thanksgiving happens only once each year, so I’m very thankful for that.)

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I went to my elderly great aunt’s house to clean up the debris in her front yard. I pulled weeds, trimmed hedges and pruned branches, then mowed the front lawn and shoveled off the poop deposited by the neighboring dogs.

Only I guess I should have shoveled off the poop first, and then mowed the lawn, as I discovered to my dismay when I went to clean the lawnmower blade afterwards.

“At least he’s a well-fed dog,” I said to myself. “Clearly.”

As I raked the debris into a pile, an old man hobbled onto the front porch.

“Hey!” he screamed. “The hell you doing in my yard?”

I leaned on my rake, wiping some sweat from my brow. “Isn’t this Elvira Colane’s house?”

“No,” he said, holding his gut. “Her house is across the street.”

I turned to look at the house across the street. Its yard was choked with a dense collage of overgrown bushes, trees and a lawn that looked like a cornfield.

“Oh,” I said.

The man glared at me, frowning. “Why are there dog-poop footprints all over my front lawn?”

I grabbed my shovel, rake, and other implements of destruction, then dragged them across the street.

“Hey!” the man said, calling from his front porch. “You forgot to deadhead my tulips!”

As I unloaded all my tools across the street, my great aunt hobbled out of the house and bopped me on the head with a rolling pin. “The hell have you been?”

“Easy, Aunt Elvira!” I said. “I forgot what house you lived in.”

She put her hands on her hips. “If you visited me more often, Turkey Brain, you wouldn’t forget! Now get working, you lazy bum! If you want your turkey roll, you’re going to have to earn it. I’m not going to tolerate no freeloading comic-book writer ransacking my pantry unless he puts in an honest day’s work.”

“I’m a comedy writer, Aunt Elvira, not a comic-book writer,” I said.

“The hell you are. The only comedy around here is your pathetic work ethic, you useless sack of turkey giblets.” She bopped me on the head again with the rolling pin. “Now get moving!” Keep reading…

The soul-crushing subterfuge of a blue-collar comedian

redneck holding a beer

But interestingly enough, nut sacks for trucks are real. So who says there’s no magic in the world?

I was sitting in my cubicle, engaged in the miserable, degrading toil that is my job, when Carl the Annoying Coworker wheeled his chair into my personal space.

He looked around, checking for our boss, then turned to me and said, “You busy?”

I shrugged. “I was just lamenting my lost hopes and dreams and pondering the hopeless, despondent path that is my future.”

“All that?” Carl asked, frowning. “It’s not even 10 a.m.”

“What can I say? I have a tremendous work ethic.”

Carl thrust his smart phone in my face. “Check this out.” There was a video playing of a young comedian doing a monologue. Based on the comedian’s clothes and hair, it looked like it had been taped in the late ’80s or early ’90s.

“Who’s that?” I asked.

“Dan Whitney,” Carl said.

“OK.” I shrugged. “And who’s Dan Whitney?”

“C’mon, man! Don’t tell me you don’t recognize him!”

“Am I supposed to?”

“He wasn’t famous when this video was taken, but he’s really famous now.”

“Well, his curly-haired mullet looks familiar,” I said. “Sort of like Slater in Saved By the Bell.”

Carl shook his head. “I never watched that show.”

“It had a spinoff when they all went to college called Saved By the Bell: The College Years.”

“Apt title,” Carl said.

“And they had a resident assistant who had this tremendous mullet,” I said. “I think in real life he was a football player, or something.”

“Forget about Saved By the Bell for a moment,” Carl said. “I was trying to tell you about Dan Whitney.”

“Did he ever guest star on Saved By the Bell?” I asked.

“Are you serious? Not everything is about Saved By the Bell, you know.”

“Haley Mills was on Saved By the Bell,” I said. “The junior-high version. Except when it premiered on The Disney Channel, it was called Good Morning, Miss Bliss.”

Carl shook his head. “What does any of this have to do with Dan Whitney?”

“I don’t know. That’s what I’ve been waiting for you to tell me.”

Saved By the Bell has nothing to do with anything! Forget Saved By the Bell for a moment, will you?” Keep reading…

A side order of drama at the drive-through window 

hamburger with pickles, lettuce and melted cheese

Huh. I don’t remember asking for sarcasm or attitude with my order.

I pulled up to the drive-through window to order lunch.

The speaker clicked, then gushed out a stream of static and crackling.

“Excuse me?” I asked, leaning my head out the window.

The speaker hissed, then shrieked with a horrible feedback-like squeal. I jumped back, holding my ear.

“Mumble mumble mumble,” said the speaker.

I sucked in a breath, leaning out of my window uncertainly. “Hello?”

“Mumble,” the speaker said.

“Hello?” I said again.

“Can I get your order!” screamed a young woman’s voice from the speaker.

Startled, I jumped, my head hitting the roof.

“Yeah,” I said, rubbing my head and wincing. “Just a second. I got to read the menu.”

The car behind me honked. “Come on, pal!” a guy screamed.

I perused the glass-enclosed menu that stood in a large stand alongside the speaker. “OK. I think I know what I want.”

“Mumble,” the speaker said.

“Excuse me?” I asked.

“I wasn’t talking to you!” the young woman’s voice screamed, followed by a stream of hissing.

“Sorry,” I said. “Can I get a chicken sandwich with mustard instead of mayonnaise and no tomato, with a side of large fries and a medium root beer?”

“Can I get your order!” screamed the young woman’s voice. Keep reading…

Willy Wonka and the psychedelic tunnel of horrors 

Willy Wonka

Even as a kid, I thought it was weird how Grandpa Joe — who supposedly was bedridden for 20 years — leapt up and started dancing around when Charlie won the golden ticket. Couldn’t he have used that pent-up energy earlier to, like, find a job, or something? I’m sure Charlie’s overworked mom would have appreciated it.

I was sitting on the living-room couch, writing on my laptop, when somebody started rattling my apartment door.

Startled, I jumped up and crept toward the door. The knob continued to rattle, then someone pushed on the door, as if ramming it with their shoulder.

I held my breath and looked out the peephole. All I could see was a grotesque, fish-eye view of Dave the Downstair Neighbor’s face. His nose and lips looked distorted and huge.

“Hey!” he said, pressing his eyeball against the peephole, so that he looked like a deranged cyclops searching for prey. “Let me in!”

I stepped aside and opened the door.

“What’s this all about?” Dave asked, brushing past me as he walked into the apartment. “It’s the middle of the day. Why’s your door locked?”

“I’m trying to keep out psychotic freaks,” I said, closing the door and sauntering back to the couch. “And until now, I was batting 100.”

“You mean batting 1,000,” Dave said.

“What’s the difference?”

“What do you mean, ‘What’s the difference’? There’s a big difference between batting 100 and batting 1,000.”

“Like what?”

Dave shrugged. “I don’t know. 900? I don’t really follow baseball.”

“I don’t, either.”

“So what are we talking about?” Dave asked.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I was trying to work on my blog. You’re the one who barged in here like a psychotic freak.”

“And what’s the deal locking me out of the apartment?” Dave asked, walking into my kitchen and opening the fridge. He wrenched out a beer and pried off the cap.

“Help yourself to a beer,” I said.

Dave walked back into the living room, swigging his beer. “I was worried when I couldn’t get the door open. I thought something had happened to you.”

“What would have happened to me?”

“I don’t know. Maybe you slipped in the shower and broke your neck, and you were lying there under the spray — which had long gone cold — moaning and praying that somebody would find you.”

I frowned. “You envisioned all that from a locked door?”

“What else am I supposed to think?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “Maybe I took off for the weekend with a woman, and she and I rented a hotel room in Napa. Maybe we were entangled in each other’s arms after a long day of tasting expensive vintages.”

Dave shook his head. “Nah. Knowing you, the broken-neck-in-the-shower scenario seems much more realistic. As clumsy as you are, you’re more likely to be entangled in the shower curtain than anything else.”  Keep reading…

The 10 people who really rule the world

Mt. Rushmore photo with dog's face

I’m not sure how it happened, but I ended up winning the presidential election. I always dreamed of achieving great things, but now that I’m a politician, I guess I’ll have to put that dream on hold.

So I won the election for President of the United States.

I know; I was surprised, too. Especially since my campaign just consisted of me and Downstairs Neighbor Dave calling random people during dinnertime. Many folks screamed horrible, rage-fueled obscenities at us when we asked for their vote, but others liked my plan for nationalizing breweries to dispense free beer to the public.

I had planned to order some bumper stickers, but Dave spent our limited funds on a box of red, white, and blue skimmer hats. So instead of promoting a message, we simply helped people shield their eyes from the sun.

Between that and the free beer, I think that’s what won me the election.

So on my first day in the Oval Office, I was spinning around in my swivel chair when an aide appeared in the doorway. She stood there for a moment, then coughed politely into her fist.

“Mr. President?” she asked.

I leapt to my feet and straightened my clip-on bowtie. “Yes?”

She held up a clipboard. “It’s time for your 10 a.m. meeting, sir.”

“Right. I was just preparing my notes.” I shuffled some newspapers that were lying on the desk.

“That’s the comics section, sir,” the aide said.

“Right,” I said. “I was just flipping past them to get to the international news. I wanted to brush up on world affairs.”

“I see.”

“World affairs is an important topic when you’re president of the United States.”

“Yes, sir.”

I pointed to the phone. “By the way, do I have to press 9 on this thing to dial out?”

The aide motioned to the doorway. “Mr. President? Your meeting.”

“Ah, yes. Coming.” I grabbed my rubber vomit from a drawer — as well as a piece of paper with scotch tape on the end — then left the room with the aide. Together, we started walking down the corridor, tromping through the hallowed halls of the West Wing.  Keep reading…

I didn’t think I was destroyed, but that’s what the search engines say 

cat looking at camera

My downstairs neighbor, Dave, often comes over to give me advice on my blog — as well as to drink any beer I might have in the fridge. “People like pictures of cats,” he says, “even if it’s a only meme with a stupid subtitle that has nothing to do with the cat itself. That’ll get you readers for sure.”

Dave the Downstairs Neighbor popped into my apartment on Saturday afternoon.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

He shrugged. “Nothing much. Just wanted to see what you were up to.”

“You’re out of beer, aren’t you?”

“Not necessarily,” Dave said. “I often come by just to say hi.”

“Then you won’t mind if I drink this beer in front of you without offering you one?”

Dave licked his lips. “Do you think you could maybe, like … spare one?”

“You came over here for a beer, didn’t you?” I asked.

“Yes!” Dave said, throwing his arms wide and yelling. “Yes! I came over for a beer.”

“No problem. Help yourself. There’s beer in the fridge.”

“Great — thanks,” Dave said, tromping into my kitchen and wrenching open the refrigerator. He pulled out a bottle and pried off the lid with an opener.

“You got lime?” he called.

“Bottom bin,” I said.

Dave cut himself a lime and slid it into his bottle.

“Now was that so hard?” he asked, walking back into the living room. “It’s like you want me to feel like a freeloader. Say, you got some chips?”

I handed him the bag of Tostitos that was sitting on the coffee table. “So get this.”

“What’s that?” Dave asked, sitting on the couch and resting his feet on the coffee table.

“I was working on my blog this morning, and it’s got a dashboard where you can see the number of visitors you get and stuff like that.”

“Do you get any visitors?”

“I … well, I’m more interested in the quality of reader as opposed to the quantity, you know.”

Dave crunched on some chips. “So you’re still not getting any visitors?”  Keep reading…