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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Awesomest Animal Thursday: SEAL!!!

*I'm actually kind of disturbed by the amount of gory seal clubbing pictures I had to wade through to find this shot. What gives, Google? Read the rest of this article.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Catching Up With TV: Party Down

Be honest: Career wise, are you doing whatever it is you always dreamed you'd be doing for a living when you were fresh-faced college grad ready to grab life by the proverbial tail and, as a certain joke-spouting cable guy is fond of grunting, "get her done?" When your third grade teacher asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up and you answered "I want to be an astwonaut," with that adorable little lisp of yours, did you follow that dream? Did you achieve your goal of looking down upon the Earth from the heavens above? Have you bounced around on the surface of the Moon and thought, "I've really done it. I've made my dreams come true?"

I was going to be a world-famous author of darkly comic, sci-fi noir stories. Well, maybe not world famous, but I was going to make a living at it. And I was going to live in a gated community or a thriving metropolis--it changed from daydream to daydream. I was going to become so well-known at a local Chinese restaurant, that the owner would know me by name, greet me warmly, and serve me my favorite dish (Chicken w/ Cashew Nuts, Fried Rice, Wonton Soup w/ fried noodles, spring roll) without having to take my order. And the book signings! Oh, Lord, the book signings were going to be epic.

Then I turned 28, realized my life was still largely a mess, and decided to do something about it. I got a job with the government, married my wife, and bought a house. "I'll work on my novel at night and on weekends," I told myself.

Nope. Didn't happen. Doesn't mean it won't, but that whole globe-trotting writer dream (Did I forget to mention the globe-trotting? Oops.) gets dimmer and dimmer as the days go on. Don't take this the wrong way: I'm immensely pleased with how my life is turning out, it's just the principle of the thing.

Ironically enough, I did, for a time, become rather well-known at my favorite Vietnamese restaurant in town, but it was difficult to try anything new once the owner figured out what I regularly ordered.
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Party Down is a TV show about people just like me (and I suspect a lot like you...), people who are doing whatever they have to do to make ends meet while fruitlessly pursuing their impossible dreams. They have the added humiliation of working in the food service industry, specifically catering, where they are routinely forced to serve the very groups of people they so desperately want to be a part of, but for various reasons cannot.

Adam Scott plays Henry Pollard, an actor who became famous through a series of beer ads that subsequently made it impossible for him to acquire any serious work after the campaign had ended. Unlike his fellow employees at Party Down Catering, Henry seems content with what life has handed him, explaining to anyone who asks that he has quit acting and is quite happy to sling drinks at corporate retreats and swanky block parties, you know, when people aren't needling him to spout his beer ad catch phrase--"Are we having fun yet?"
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On the other hand there's Ron Donald, a Party Down team leader, played to goofy perfection by Ken Marino. Ron's only dream in life is to open his own Soup R' Crackers ("the fastest growing non-poultry, non-coffee franchise in Southern California") and he believes running a successful catering crew will impress Party Down's owner, Mr. Duk (Ken Jeong), enough to bring him onboard as an investor. It doesn't help that Ron's crew view him as pushover and couldn't care less about the delicate art of d'oeuvre slingin'.

Party Down is without a doubt one of the funniest shows currently on television. Each episode features a different party, ranging from an opulent Sweet Sixteen aboard a multi-million dollar yacht thrown by foul-mouthed movie producer for his ungrateful daughter to a porn award after party to a Congratulations for Being Found Not Guilty of Murder party for a Russian gangster played by Steven Weber.

The cast includes Lizzy Caplan as Casey Klein, a stand-up comic and Henry's love interest; Martin Starr as Roman, a bitter wannabe screenwriter and the author of several "hard sci-fi" novels; Ryan Hansen as Kyle, an empty-headed model/CW star; and Jane Lynch as Constance Carmell, an aging actress and star of the teen sex comedy Dingleberries, apparently a favorite of the Russian mob.
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I can't say enough good things about Party Down. It's brilliantly written and has the best ensemble cast of any comedy currently on TV. I suggest--nay, demand--that you check it out immediately. You won't be disappointed. Have I ever steered you wrong? Don't hold Xavier against me.

Oh, I guess if there's one bad thing about Party Down it's that it airs on Starz, which I assure you is an actual cable network and not a specialized line of Bratz figurines. For those of you lucky enough to be card carrying members of Netflix however, the entire first season is available for Instant View, and season two episodes are added as they air. Hooray!

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Celebrities: They're Just Like Us...

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...they get molested by their brothers

Gerald Imes, brother of sassy porcine comedienne turned Oscar-winning actress Mo'Nique, stopped by the Oprah Winfrey Program this week to discuss growing up with the superstar performer in Woodlawn, MD. Oh, yeah, and molesting her. Yes, Mo'Nique's brother appeared on national television, without his sister, to gab about sexual molestation with Oprah. Now there's a fun way to spend your afternoon. "I've dusted my husband's trophy case, Junior is down for his nap, and dinner is in the oven. Now what? Oh, Mo'Nique's brother Gerald is going to be on Oprah talkin' 'bout perversions for an hour. Fun!"
It is not GEP's intention to poke fun at the molested, nor champion the actions of molesters. We're also proponents of "manning" or "womanning" up and admitting when you've made mistakes. But, why in the hell did Gerald Imes feel it was time to finally break his silence and come forward and admit to his molestery past in front of our nation's housewives? To me it feels like some Bizarro World attempt to grab up some of Mo'Nique's current professional thunder, like, maybe he's thinking, "Mo-Mo's got some heat right now and if I get out there and let the world know that we're related and that, yes, I may have sexually molested her when she was 8 and I was 13, maybe I can jump start my career somehow." Like, I kinda get Lindsay Lohan's mom pushing for her own reality show because her daughter is a famous waste of talent, but to use the fact that you diddled your Mo'Nique when she was a defenseless child in attempt to boost your name recognition or perhaps receive a Mo'Nique's forgiveness publicly and then be granted the privilege to share in her superstardom is sick and weird.
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...they drag us all into their familial nightmares

Speaking of the Lohans, well, shit, why must we speak of the Lohans?
I guess we don't technically have to speak about them, but we're going to anyway. Is there a worse family on this planet? I mean, sure, there are countless family units in this great country ravaged by alcoholism, sexual abuse, domestic violence, and bitter resentment, but at least we don't have to read about them every time we turn on the television or log onto the interwebs.
I know what you're saying: "Matt, why don't you just stop regularly visiting People.com or watching "news" programs hosted by AC Slater?" To you I say, "I wish I could, but I've got a pop culture-skewering blog to maintain, bub. It's not a easy life, but it's the life I've chosen."
Anyway, this week, Lohan family patriarch, Michael, accompanied a battalion of LA cops to his daughter's apartment, which he later described to the press as "a mess." Why did Michael storm Lindsay's Fortress of Solitude? Well, he claims it was because he was worried about his youngest daughter, Ali, who is staying with her sister, but I think it might have something to do with the fact that he hadn't had a camera shoved in his face in the past 24 hours.
Michael Lohan Fun Fact: Did you know that if Michael Lohan doesn't get a mention on E! News Daily at least five times a week, his body becomes foam on the sea. It's a fact!
This is a story?! Michael Lohan checking up on his daughters after receiving a hot tip (ie, turning on E! or visiting Perez Hilton's Web site anytime during the day) that Lindsay was driving a little to fast on her way home from a music festival? Where's the story? Is it the fact that Lindsay's apartment is apparently a sparsely-decorated drug den? Or is it that Lindsay resembles a fragile skeleton with Silly Putty stretched taut across its bones rather than the fresh-faced, budding young beauty of four years ago? None of this is shocking! None of this is news! We all know that Lindsay is a drugged up has-been who can't spell, that Michael is a fame-obsessed ex-con clinging to his daughter's former glory, and that Ali, sadly, is a skank in training. It's wretched and sad and so totally boring it makes me want to tear my hair out, you know, if I had any hair. Fuck the Lohans!
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...they sell their cars and look for jobs after their TLC reality show is cancelled

GEP's favorite douchebag, Jon Gosselin, is at it again! Oh, Jon, when will you ever learn? BOING!
Last month, poor Jonny No Cash, was booted from his latest ex-girlfriend's Hollywood home. This on top of the fact that he lost his lawsuit against the Tender Loving Care Network and that Kate, Hailey Glassman, and Playgirl alerted the world to the stumpiness of his penis has assuredly sent Gosselin into a shame spiral of epic proportions. Things couldn't possibly get any worse for this schmuck, could they?
They can and they did. This week, Gosselin was forced to sell his beloved used BMW M3 just to make one of his sizable child support payments. Aw, poor Jon! Hey, look on the bright side, cast of Mtv's abysmal The Jersey Shore, when Gosselin's job search inevitably fails next month, guess who's probably throwing a yard sale? And you know what that means: Ed Hardy t-shirts for all!!!
Gosselin told TMZ.com that he is actively looking for work...as a television host! Holy shit! Jon, buddy, seriously, let the TV dream die. There is nobody in America who wants to see you host any kind of television program. Hell, Spike, the cable station for men only (get lost, ladies), recently cancelled Jesse James Is A Dead Man because he cheated on his wife. That's right: Spike fired a dude for banging a bunch of chicks. Plus, Jon, I don't know how many people are praying for a show hosted by a guy who constantly talks about how important his children are to him, yet never seems to be in the state in which they reside. Advertisers don't really dig cheaters and child abandoners. I'm just saying.
Jon, just read my post from back in March, OK? It was written specifically for you, pal. Get your head out of your ass and move on. TV doesn't want you anymore.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

GEP Cares: 17 Phrases to Keep Off of Your Resume

Yahoo recently ran an article regarding ten common resume phrases guaranteed to not get you the job, providing gentle suggestions that might serve you better. Because Giant Electric Penguin loves it's filthy jobless readers just as much as it's gainfully-employed, well-adjusted, frequently-showered ones, and respects the task of "job hunting-n-gathering" at least ten times more than the yahoos over at Yahoo, we present 17 more phrases that should not for any reason ever appear on your resume. Notice we did not provide replacement suggestions like our competitors at Yahoo. This is because we respect you as adults. Only a stupid baby would need suggestions as to what he or she should put on a resume. Plus, a baby would just drool all over the resume anyway and no one wants to touch a drooly baby resume.

-RECOVERING WORKAHOLIC
-WILLING TO SPY ON CO-WORKERS AND PROVIDE MANAGEMENT WITH DETAILED REPORTS ON FINDINGS
-HAVE SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETED THREE ANGER MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS IN THE LAST TWO YEARS
-COMMITTED JUGGALO
-DISTRUSTFUL OF NON-ENGLISH SPEAKERS
-MEMBER OF THE NO CAVITY CLUB
-FANATICALLY DEVOTED TO SEVERAL MAJOR WORLD RELIGIONS
-OFTEN WEAR A JUGHEAD-LIKE CROWN
-THREESOME ENTHUSIAST
-PERSONAL HERO: THE GUY WHAT MAKES THEM ED HARDY T-SHIRTS WITH THE SPARKLY TIGERS ON 'EM
-LARGE COLLECTION OF NAZI MEMORABILIA
-NOT AFRAID TO LIE UNDER OATH (OR UNDER YOU IN BED, IF YOU CATCH MY DRIFT)
-SUPERIOR BOMB MAKING SKILLS
-AVN AWARD WINNER: BEST BUKKAKE SCENE ('98)
-HATES/LOVES KIDS-WHICHEVER YOU PREFER
-ENCYCLOPEDIC KNOWLEDGE OF THE GOLDEN GIRLS SITCOM
-MARRIED TO A GOAT

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Saturday Morning News Bits: pee-pee, heroin, white dudes, dead mayor, and a snake smackdown.

1. BUT WERE ANY OF THEM CHINESE?

Who doesn't enjoy a nice soda pop? I'll tell ya who: Mormons! They aren't allowed to consume caffeinated beverages. What a bummer that religion is, right? Nice folks though. Snappy dressers.
The point is, we all unequivocally love the sweet bubbly stuff. We're Americans after all! Fat, caffeinated and proud. And when we order a soda at a local eatery or enjoy one at a friend's backyard BBQ, we expect nothing less than a cool and refreshing experience. And how is that unmistakable cola experience achieved? Soft drink bliss is a simple combination of ice (or a chilled mug if you're feeling sassy) and soda. Nothing more, unless, you know, you want to mix some of that top shelf whiskey in there. I mean, I wouldn't kick a Jack and Coke out of bed for screaming another man's name at the height of carnal ecstasy.
You know what I don't want in my cold, refreshing glass (or chilled mug) of Coca-Cola Classic? Urine! I'm sure the two junior varsity cheerleaders who were encouraged to drink a soda tainted with pee this week in Saginaw, TX feel the same way.
A group of Junior Varsity Cheerleaders are at the center of a controversy at Saginaw High School. Two members were given in-school suspension, following an incident where their teammates drank a soda spiked with another cheerleader's urine.

"I didn't think people who represent the school would do that. That's really gross – it's worse than hitting someone," Saginaw student Sage Sadler said.

Sage is right, folks. You take a fist to teeth, sure, it's gonna hurt. Your gums might bleed a titch. You might, God forbid, lose a couple of teeth, along with your dignity. But after a few years of intense psychotherapy, you'll heal. I don't know if I could ever get over finding out that a teammate or friend peed in a glass of Coke and then allowed me to drink it down with nary a word. Talk about PTSD!
[Student Kaleigh] Smith said the cheerleader urinated in her cup of soda as a joke. Then, she apparently willingly allowed two of her teammates to drink from the cup. Two other cheerleaders knew what was in the cup, but stood by and watched as they drank.

"I think it's nasty, just making somebody drink pee that's wrong," Saginaw student Ryan Wooldver said.
At the risk of sounding like an aging old crank, I'll admit I don't get the joke. Depositing liquid human waste in a frosty glass of delicious, sugary cola and then willingly allowing your friends to consume it doesn't work as a practical joke for me. I mean, I get it: you've forced someone to drink your pee, but at what cost?
I know some perverts out there however, who would pay big money to whack off to a video of this incident. I'm just saying, Saginaw School District, I know you've been talking about needing a new computer lab. Just throwing it out there.
2. AS LONG AS EVERYBODY GETS ONE...

Did you know that some elementary schools don't allow students to bring in homemade goodies to share with the class on birthdays and other non-religious holidays? That was the best part of school when I was growing up. It would be Billy's birthday and he'd bring in a bunch of homemade cupcakes, and after that one Jehovah's Witness kid had left the room, the teacher would pass them out and we'd get sugar high. Can't do it anymore. Too many food allergies and hippie parents forcing their progeny to eat gluten-free. That and the fact that all those Jehovah's Witness kids grew up to be elementary school principles and decided, unjustly, to ban classroom parties.
One enterprising third-grader in Wilkingsburg, PA is flipping this draconian rule change the proverbial bird. You go, unnamed 8-year-old Pennsylvanian! Give 'em the business.
Police say a third-grader in Pennsylvania handed out more than 60 small bags of heroin to his classmates before his teacher discovered them.

Wilkinsburg police say the 8-year-old brought the bags to Turner Elementary School on Tuesday. At a news conference Wednesday, police said some of the bags were found empty in a trash can, but there was no evidence the kids had ingested the drugs.

Police say the bags were stamped with the words "trust me."
Oh. That's terrible actually. GEP doesn't condone the handing out of dangerous narcotics to school children. There's money to be made in that shit! Epic third-grade drug deal fail!
All joking aside: the bags were stamped with the phrase "trust me." That's creepy.
3. FINALLY A CLUB FOR FAT WHITE GUYS WITH GUNS (or, NOT COOL, McCOOL!)

They say everything is bigger in Texas. And that goes double for racial ignorance.
Apparently a self-proclaimed non-bigoted, non-racist deputy in Harris County, TX, has taken it upon himself to create a special league for white guys. No, that doesn't sound racist or bigoted. It's perfectly safe for the community when a bunch of gun-toting Caucasian men with an axe to grind against the African- and Mexican-American co-workers they falsely believe are trying to push them out of not only a job but the very country they hold so dear, bond over their fat, white rage. What could go wrong?
Deputy Daniel McCool says he’s not a racist and he’s not a bigot, but he is the president of the Caucasian Law Enforcement Association.

“I realize I’ve struck a nerve with some,” said McCool outside his home in Pasadena Tuesday night.

The 20-year veteran deputy started the association about two months ago. He said it’s not about race, but about fair and equal opportunity.
Yeah, because white guys have never been give a fair shake in this country. Idiot.
There are 30 members right now, and anyone is welcome to join, he said.
Hey, McCool, I could spend the rest of this column explaining to you why this whole Caucasian Law Enforcement Association is making some people uncomfortable or why others find it a tad on the racist end of things, but I won't. This blog is about good time frivolity. I would simply suggest you try as hard as you can to stop being stupid for a couple of seconds--I know, it's scary!--and think about the whole thing logically. Will you do that for me, tiger? OK, buddy. You can have a popsicle from the freezer, but don't go runin' yer din-din. Ugh.
4. IT'S OFFICIAL: THE CITIZENS OF TRACY CITY HATE BARBARA BROCK...

...so much so that they voted local dead man, Carl Robin Geary, mayor. And get this, Brock had been appointed to the mayor position after Mr. Geary died. She'd been mayorin' for sixteen months when the good people of Tracy City decided to toss her out!
I don't have much more to say about this ridiculous story, but...
1. Tracy City, TN has done nothing to dispel the rumor that The South is full of inbred dimwits with little-to-no sense rattling around in their crystal meth ravaged brains. How the hell are you going to vote for a dead guy?! Way to go, Tracy City.
2. Either Barbara Brock is literally made of stone or reports of her suicide will appear sometime next week. How do you get over something like losing a mayoral race to a corpse? That seems like the ultimate spit in the face to me. Don't be afraid to open up and talk to somebody about this, Ms. Brock. There are people out there who still love you. They don't live in Tracy City, but, well, whatever.
5. ONLY IN SOUTH CAROLINA (AND PROBABLY PARTS OF WEST VIRGINIA, ARKANSAS, ALABAMA, LOUISIANA, AND FLORIDA)

More stupid news from The South! During a fight at what I can only assume was the classiest motel in Rock Hill, SC, a man was struck in the head...WITH A SNAKE! WHOA MOMMA!
Rock Hill police said the victim told officers that he argued Tuesday night with 29-year-old Tony Smith over the volume of his music.

The dispute appeared to be over, but several hours later, the man told police Smith walked up to him with a 4-foot python and hit him in the face with the snake's head.

Several hours later? Tony Smith was stewing over the whole "can you turn your music down a little please" conversation for several hours? This, and surprisingly not the giant snake attack, is the first indication that Mr. Smith is a raving lunatic. Sure, you're steamed for a minute or two after some douche asks you to turn down your Molly Hatchet, and maybe that annoyance slowly morphs into embarrassment at some point, but to maintain a level of anger so deep that you'd even consider bashing some stranger upside the head with a 4-foot reptile takes a special kind of insanity one can only find in South Carolina.

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Monday, April 5, 2010

What the WTF?!?: One Shining Load of Crap

Tonight when the NCAA men's basketball tournament comes to a close, audiences will once again be treated to a montage of college basketball highlights, accompanied by the David Barrett penned "One Shining Moment." This collection of inspirational clips coupled with Barrett's singularly cheese-tastic masterpiece has been an NCAA tradition for the past 24 years. Why, you ask? Well, I don't know exactly, in fact, I was made aware of the song's existence for the first time last night when my wife suggested I use this very blog to discuss the current controversy surrounding it. That's right: there is controversy surrounding "One Shining Moment." No. I'm serious.

For those of you who are not familiar with the song, here is last years NCAA montage. Don't feel like less of a man if you are moved to tears, apparently that happens to most individuals who watch the montage religiously every year. Keep in mind while listening that Barrett was inspired to write "One Shining Moment" while watching Larry Bird run up and down the court one magical night. Yes, friends, here now for your listening and viewing pleasure is the only song ever inspired by Larry Bird.

Yep. That just happened.

Listen, maybe I'm being unfair. I don't care for college basketball, in fact, I tend to agree with The Best Show's Tom Scharpling who refers to it as "play time." What's so great about college athletics in general? They don't mean anything. They're a distraction; a waste of time that could be better spent, I don't know, pressing leaves into a photo album or organizing one's porn DVDs.

But, OK, some people dig it. They get the March Madness something fierce. If I'm being honest, I get it. When football season rolls around I get pretty stoked. I'm there in front of my TV every Sunday afternoon with an open bag of something greasy and a 2-liter of Sierra Mist in my lap, screaming obscenities at the screen, and calling for Jake Delhomme's head. Though that won't be an issue this year. Oh, yeah!

Sorry. I digress.

If your alma mater is in the Final Four (That's a thing, right?) or something, that's great. I think a lot of college basketball fans though never went to the colleges whose t-shirts adorn their lumpy, pretzel-dusted bodies. That's weird to me.

What's even weirder--and more on point--is the flack over this year's version of "One Shining Moment." For the past several years, it's been the late Luther Vandross's voice singing "One Shining Moment," but this year viewers are going to get a new version sung by American Idol failure/Oscar-winning actress, Jennifer Hudson. Big deal, right? What college kid even knows who Luther Vandross is anyway? I'm not even sure I know who Luther Vandross is. He's the guy who used to go to restaurants and order three meals at at time, right? That's what I heard anyway.

Some people aren't happy with this change, like this young man:

From NPR.org

Chris Chase writes for the college basketball blog The Dagger. "If you saw her perform at the Super Bowl a couple years ago, [Hudson] stretches out the songs, and it's just very, very sappy," he says.

"The song 'One Shining Moment' is sappy in and of itself," says Chase. "Teddy Pendergrass [one of the three previous singers to perform the song] brought a machismo to it. Now with Jennifer Hudson, it's almost as if CBS has surrendered to the schmaltz."


I don't think Jennifer Hudson's tendency to "stretch out songs"--whatever that means--will make "One Shining Moment" any sappier than it already is. Have you listened to the lyrics, Mr. Chase?

The ball is tipped
and there you are
you're running for your life
you're a shooting star
And all the years
no one knows
just how hard you worked
but now it shows...
(in) ONE SHINING MOMENT, IT'S ALL ON THE LINE
ONE SHINING MOMENT, THERE FROZEN IN TIME

"Running for your life?" Is this the NCAA Championship game or some kind of death race?

If anything, I feel sorry for Jennifer Hudson. She has to sing this awful song and keep herself from cracking up. Why don't you get over it, Mr. Chase. Or, here you go, when CBS fires the montage up tonight, mute your TV, push play on your Discman, and let the smooth, dulcet tones of Luther Vandross give you the NCAA boner you feel you so richly deserve. Freak.

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Friday, April 2, 2010

6 Elementary School Activities I Totally Miss

1. The Parachute

Was there anything more fun, yet more perplexing, than the parachute? Gym class was largely an exercise in monotonous futility until the multi-colored parachute was dragged from the supply closet. You'd be thinking to yourself, "I'm going to lose my fourth grade mind if I have to crab walk one more time around this gymnasium" or "I don't know how many somersaults I have left in me," the teacher would proclaim "It's parachute time" and every shred of anger and sadness would melt away, your frown would quite literally turn upside down, and once again you understood what it meant to be a doe-eyed innocent. At least until the afternoon math lesson.

The endless fun provided by the parachute doesn't make the parachute any less strange however. Why were we standing around in a circle flapping a parachute anyway? Maybe it worked the biceps a little? Whenever some brave soul step forward to question the validity of the parachute, our gym teacher would simply toss a couple tennis balls into the fray and a little game called Popcorn would begin. Who needs logic when you've got balls? I love you, parachute.
2. Recess

A lot of young people enter the working world after college and reflect upon their days as a grade schooler, the "good old days" when pizza came in a dense, greasy square and show-and-tell was enough reason to get up in the morning. And what do these fresh young executive always say, usually after about a year of toiling behind a cluttered desk in a cramped cubicle with very little to show for their work thus far? "I miss nap time." I hear this at least once a day in my office. "Kindergartners don't know how good they have it. I would kill for nap time." There's no doubt in my mind that some of them would kill for nap time. There are a lot of desperate, rage-filled individuals out there.

You know what I always say though: "Fuck nap time! I want to go outside and play!" If you were to ask me what my favorite subject was in, say, first through fifth grade, I would've said, "Recess! Duh!" What's better than recess? You've got swings, basketball hoops, monkey bars. Of course, I didn't do any of that shit. Hell no! I played house with the Kellys underneath the bleachers next to the baseball diamond. Yes, pretending to be married and living comfortably beneath metal bleachers with two different girls named Kelly was all I needed to have a successful recess experience. In fourth or fifth grade, however, we ditched the Kellys and started pretending we were space pirates or time traveling robots, running around the playground like a bunch of mouth-breathing geeks, which is exactly what we were.

I'll never forget the day when my dad came to school to eat lunch with me. We enjoyed whatever fine foods the Bemis Elementary cafeteria had to offer that day and then the old man joined me and my friends on the playground for recess. He watched us dash around like a gaggle of dorkwads for a couple of minutes, then took me aside and asked, "Don't you guys want to play basketball?" "We don't really do that," I answered, a confused frown on my face. My father's downtrodden expression spoke volumes. I cooled it on the sci-fi shenanigans for the remainder of recess that day. I think I tried to force my way into a basketball game already in progress, you know, just to appease the old man.

Recess was great, but there was something even better...

3. Indoor Recess

Yes, when it was raining outside or the weather was too frozen and inhospitable (I grew up in Michigan), we got to have recess inside. You haven't experienced pandemonium until you've experienced a good old fashioned indoor recess. It's like a rodeo and a home invasion wrapped up in one. It's like that game show that used to be on Nickelodeon where kids would run around a big fake house and tear the place apart looking for prizes or something. It was like a G-rated orgy monitored by whistle-toting elderly women.

My absolute favorite indoor recess memory is the time I ended up under a table with one of the Kellys, the red-headed one, on top of me. We weren't doing anything sexual, she was simply spread out on top of me. our noses touching. Believe it or not, I was a chick magnet in my formative years. This power over the fairer sex waned throughout my middle and high school career, returning with a vengeance in my college years, but for five sweet years at Bemis Elementary, I was quite the mini-casanova.
4. Seven Up

Referred to as "Heads Up Seven Up" in some circles, Seven Up was the game you played when the teacher had run out of things to say and you still had thirty minutes left in the school day. For those of you who don't remember or were denied the joy of this simple game, Seven Up involves seven children being chosen to creep quietly through the darkened classroom and tap the lowered heads of their classmates. After the seven "tappers" had completed their quest, the "tapees" would attempt to single out the "tapper" responsible for tapping him/her lightly on the head. If a "tapee" guessed incorrectly, no harm done. If, however, the "tapee" chose the correct "tapper" the "tapee" switched places with that "tapper," becoming the new "tapper."

Simple. Dumb. Amazingly fun!
5. School Bus Safety

I'm fairly certain this activity was highly illegal. All fifth graders on Bernie the Bus Driver's bus were given the chance to be a "safety" for one week. Two "safeties" were chosen to patrol the center aisle of the school bus each week and it was their duty to make sure younger bus riders kept the monkeyshines to a minimum. It was kind of an ironic title when you think of it. There was perhaps nobody less safe on Bernie's Bus of Death then the poor fifth-grade safeties he chose to monitor bus activities. You didn't think about the possibility of grave bodily harm when you were chosen to be a safety though. The position could make even the humblest of students, like myself, dizzy with power. You weren't thinking about flying through the bus's windshield at 45 miles an hour. You were a safety, man. That kind of crap didn't happen safeties. You were Wyatt Earp back there--keeping order, telling little kids what was what and why. You were invincible. Just thinking about it now gives me the boner I wouldn't discover until a few years later or master until middle school.
6. Mr. Friend's Art Class

That's right: my elementary school art teacher's name was Mr. Friend. And you know what? He was completely awesome. First, he let us listen to Milli Vanilli during class. Second, every Halloween we got to listen to this really creepy radio play about a haunted house. Thirdly, and most importantly, Mr. Friend made films. Not the kind of films your priest made of you in the church basement after Mass, but weird, cartoonishly-violent stop-motion films, one of which involved a young man being stalked and eventually devoured by a mob of man-eating hamburgers. Mr. Friend also made a series of sci-fi films about a lovable space monster at war with a battalion of bug-eyed, sword-wielding styrofoam ball creatures. His films were the highlight of my elementary school experience. My favorite art class every year was the day he stretched film stock all over the room, provided us with an array of markers, and gave us each ten frames or so to fill with whatever we wanted. During the next class we'd watch our finished film and shout with glee when our moment flashed across the screen for two seconds or less. It was awesome.

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