Swine Flu Threat Level Raised to Phase 11

WASHINGTON D.C. - Cough! Cough cough! One sec. Cough! Cough cough! Ahem. Aherem. Okay.

The World Health Organization raised the H1N1 threat level from Phase 5 to Phase 11 this morning, indicating cough! Indicating that there are now documented cases of website-to-human transmission of the disease commonly known as "Swine Flu". The level was raised cough! cough! Cough cough! Jesus Chri-cough cough cough! Hang on. Cough! Cough! Ahrm.

The level was raised after 41 people contracted the virus from various domains, including 23 confirmed infections from Facebook. Epidemiologists ahrrrrm warn that "social networking" sites such as Twitter are common vectors for Phase 11 diseases due to the large numbers of people connected hrrrr, connected by hrrm, cough! Connected cough cough cough!

The WHO also recommended that citizens avoid websites that cough! Cough cough cough cough cough cough! That show signs cough! Cough cough cough! I'm so sorry about--cough! Cough cough cough! cough cough! Is it like hot in here or is it just me?

The Bad Review Revue

Confessions of a Shopaholic: “If there is a single bright spot in the financial crisis, it is the possibility that one day producer Jerry Bruckheimer will run out of money.” — Jessica Reaves, CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Paul Blark: Mall Cop: “Looks like something stubbed out in an ashtray.” – Wesley Morris, BOSTON GLOBEStreet Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li: “Proving that there’s no statute of limitations on lousy ideas, director Andrzej Bartkowiak├»’s attempted franchise expansion returns to the Capcom motherlode that produced the worst movie in the entire Jean-Claude Van Damme filmography.” — Jim Ridley, VILLAGE VOICE

Miss March: “A sex comedy that appears to have been made by people who’ve never actually had sex.” — Ty Burr, BOSTON GLOBE

Push: “Never stops finding new ways to make no sense.” — Cliff Doerksen, CHICAGO READER

Pink Panther 2: Honestly, I don’t think any review, no matter how negative, could deter you from seeing this film more than this image:


Clothing Makes the Man

I neglected to do laundry over the weekend, and was down to the dregs of my wardrobe on Monday morning. But after reviewing my mental calendar I realized it didn’t matter: I had no work meetings scheduled and would, in all likelihood, sail through my day without interacting with anyone. So I struggled into old moss-green and thoroughly pilled sweater, one that had shrunk so much over a decade of washing that it now just barely reached my beltline, and was so tight that if felt like a full-torso blood pressure monitor.

It wasn’t until the afternoon that I remembered that I had agreed to meet my friend L. after work for a drink. I thought about going home first to change, but then decided not to bother. I’ve known L. forever, and it was going to be dark in the bar anyhow, so it’s not as if anyone would notice or care.

As predicted L. didn’t say a word when I removed my jacket at the tavern, and we chatted for a few minutes before our waitress arrived to take our food order. I settled on the Italian sausage and red pepper sandwich.

“What do you want as the side?” she asked. “You can have salad, or the soups today are minestrone, cream of potato, and clam chowder.”

“I’ll go for the chowder,” I said, adding, after a moment’s reflection, “I am probably the first person in the history of the world to order an Italian Sausage sandwich with clam chowder. Could you guys name that combination after me?”

“Sure,” the waitress said. “We’ll call it ‘The Sweaterboy’.”

The Student Bulletin Prank of 1989

Twenty years ago my high school produced a daily “Student Bulletin”. These were distributed to all classrooms, and some anointed student would read the bulletin aloud to all assembled. Typical items in the bulletin included reminders of upcoming events, announcements of policy changes, and congradtulations to students for notable (and often routine) accomplishments.

At some point, I and two chums (one of whom was the aforementioned Jamie Babcock) decided to pull an April Fools Day prank. We cooked up our own version, using the header from a purloined copy of an actual Student Bulletin and my ancient manual typewriter . The typeface of my typewriter was almost identical to that which the school used, and to an uncritical eye our counterfeit looked almost indistinguishable to the real thing. At least until you read it.

I would love to say that we used some convoluted and ingenious method of insinuating the fake document into the school bulletin pipeline (and I guess I could, as this blog ain’t exactly fact-checked). Alas, it was not necessary for us to break into the building in the dead of night, or disguise ourselves as the members of Poison.

You see, the distribution system for the Student Bulletin was pretty rudimentary. The school secretary would produce enough photocopies for all the classrooms, and then just leave them in a pile on the office’s main desk during the break following second period. One “student leader” from each class would stop by, grab the top bulletin from the pile, and take it with them to period three.

So on March 31 of 1989 (April Fools Day fell on a Saturday that year) I strode into my school’s office with a stack of fake bulletins under a binder. I set the binder on the stack on real authetic student bulletins, looked around for a moment as if confused, picked up the binder (leaving the payload behind), and high-tailed it out of there. Success!

A few notes of context that will make the bulletin–well, not any funnier, but at least less mystifying:

  • The year prior the school had largely abandoned premade meals in the lunchroom in favor of a huge bank of vending machines, which sold everything from sandwiches to juice to ice cream cones. This new system was called “Cafe USA”.
  • Two student groups at the school were PAB (Positive Attitude Builders, who held pep rallies and whatnot) and the Wizards of Science.
  • The marching band would routinely sell carnations in the before Valentine’s Days, with the various colors of the flowers signifying different things.

Anyway, if you were in Mr. Bristol’s third period world history class that day, this is what you would have heard read aloud.

The Student Bulletin Prank of 1989

Click To Ginormosize

Coupla notes. First of all, how do you think a student-written document that has kids getting shot and a bomb under a teacher’s desk as its first two items would go over today? Still a laff riot?

Second, I think this definitively proves that my abysmal spelling is not a degenerative condition, but has been a travesty from birth (or at least 12th grade). If anything, my spelling has actually improved a bit over the last two decades. At least now I select the correct there / their / they’re slightly more than the 30% of the time that pure chance would dictate.