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I’ll never forget the Halloween when I was chased by the Headless Horseman.

He finally tackled me at the 30 yard line.

“Who is this guy?!” our quarterback Pete yelled at the refs.  “Illegal substitution!”

Apparently the Headless Horseman didn’t like Pete’s argument because he grabbed Pete by the facemask and drew his sword.  Yellow flags went flying everywhere.

“Facemask!  15 yard penalty, automatic first down!” the ref ruled as the crowd erupted in boos.

The Headless Horseman liked that call even less and took it out on Pete, decapitating him with his sword.

Yellow flags went flying again.

“Personal foul, 15 yard penalty, automatic first down!” the ref ruled.

We easily scored on the next drive, winning the game.

Some analysts say it wasn’t really a win for our team because we lost Pete, but I don’t think they saw the final score.

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Perhaps the most terrifying Halloween of all was the time my partner and I were investigating the disappearance of three young filmmakers who went missing while shooting a documentary on the legend of the Blair Witch.  After months of no leads, hikers had stumbled upon the trio’s video tape.  Its contents were horrifying. 

“I don’t know how much more of this I can take,” I said as my partner and I watched the filmmakers’ fate unfold on the screen.  “There is just one jump cut after another.”

“What’s more disturbing is what happened to these students!” my partner chastised me.

“Of course, you’re right,” I replied.  “Obviously some… really?  Another star wipe?”

“Listen, you’ve got to stop focusing on the production!” my partner said.  “We have a crime to solve”

“I know!” I said, “It’s just hard to pay attention when… Oh my gosh, they just used a wipe to transition to a shot that didn’t change!  Who edited this thing?!”

“I did!” A voice cried out from behind us.

My partner and I turned around.  Standing there was the Blair Witch.

“I’ve been here the entire time to see what you thought of my work and you tore it to shreds!”

“Your tore those kids to shreds!” my partner shouted, outraged.

“Now just take it easy Steve,” I said to my partner.  “Listen, a lot of this video wasn’t even white balanced.  It looks like you were chasing giant Smurfs.”

“That’s not an editing issue!  I didn’t shoot the video” she shouted.

“Ever hear of color correction?” I asked.

“Color cor…” I could tell I had stumped her. 

“And that last scene, do you really think that a heart wipe was appropriate?”

“Those two were in love!” She argued.  “It was very touching!”

“You brutally killed them!” my partner yelled.

“Steve’s right,” I said.  “A heart wipe conveys the wrong mood.”

“That’s not my point!” Steve interrupted.

“Don’t interrupt Steve,” I said.

“Check out the very last scene,” the Blair Witch said. “I think you’re going to take back everything you said.”

We watched as the camera panned away from the dead filmmakers.  A cursive ‘The End’ scrolled across the screen before the video folded up into the form of a witch on a broom and flew away.  The witch looked at me with an eager smile on her face.

“What is this, Home Improvement?” I asked.  “That was stupid.”

“You idiots can’t appreciate fine art!  I’m out of here!” the Witch shouted somewhat in tears.  She ran off, mounting her broom mid-run and leapt to take off, only she didn’t get much air and went crashing headfirst into the ground.  My partner cuffed her.

“I’ve lost my confidence because you,” she said deflated.  “Maybe you could give me a couple of compliments so I can do some of my magic again?”

“Nope,” I said.

The Blair Witch was found guilty in the murder of the student filmmakers and a Judge ordered that she be burned at the stake.

“That’s unconstitutional!” her lawyer argued.

“Fine, tossed off of a cliff,” the judge banged his gavel.

“Still unconstitutional,” her lawyer said.

“Okay, eaten alive by wild tigers,” the judge countered.

“Even worse,” the lawyer said.

“You idiots can’t appreciate good judging!  I’m out of here!” the judge shouted somewhat in tears.  He ran off, mounting his gavel mid-run and leapt to take off, only he didn’t get much air and went crashing headfirst into the ground.

Every time I see someone dressed as a witch or a judge on Halloween, or whenever I see someone go crashing headfirst into the ground, I think of this story.

The film Rise of the Planet of the Apes hit #4 at the box office this weekend.  Billed as a prequel to the Planet of the Apes, it almost never made it to theaters because of the first draft.  I managed to get my hands on the notes studio executives sent to the films writers.

Hey guys,

Great script.  This screenplay has everything, planets, apes…  Anyway we need you to make the following changes before we can give this one the green light.

p. 1 – The movie opens up with scientists doing experiments on chimpanzees to try and develop a cure for “Bieber Fever.”  It is hard to believe that researchers would devote the time and funds implied by the script for such a cause.

p. 4 – The Chief Scientist’s line – “Damn, he still likes Justin Bieber!  That’s 25 years of research down the drain!”  makes no sense being as how Bieber himself is only 17.

p.12 – You have the apes achieving human level intelligence by “reading books and studying.”  What was the point of showing those scientists doing all of that research?

p. 24 – here you have one of the chimpanzees going on a rampage in the research facility after receiving a rejection letter from Harvard.  It’s hard to believe that a monkey could become educated enough in the given amount of time to apply to any institution, let alone Harvard. 

p. 33 – let’s get rid of the line where one of the apes says “hey if we take over the world, you want to knock over the Statue of Liberty?”

p. 47 – The scene where one of the monkeys steals a car then crashes it.  There is no need to have the monkey enroll in drivers training after the accident and there is certainly no need to spend the next fifteen pages of the script showing the monkey attending every class and receiving a certificate of completion.

p. 64 – The scene where the apes escape from the research facility, go to the zoo and educate all of the animals.  You write “the apes become as smart as humans, the giraffes become as smart as apes, the hippos become as smart as giraffes, the zebras become as smart as hippos, the cobras become as smart as king cobras.”  What is your basis for this hierarchy of animals and more importantly, why do we spend so much time on this portion of the film when we never see 90% of these animals again?

p. 85 – let’s cut out the rap number.  It doesn’t fit with the rest of the film.

p. 97 – the scene where the apes are riding horses and one of the horses turns to the other and says “maybe we should take over the world.”  And the other says “let’s think about it.”   Seems irrelevant to the plot.

p.112 – The monkeys need a better motivation for attacking mankind.  That Arby’s commercial with the Good Mood Food guy doesn’t seem like a compelling reason, even though one of the apes keeps complaining that it’s the last straw.

p.124 –  This is a very confusing ending.  You write, “a chimpanzee emerges from the battlefield.  All of his fellow apes are dead.  Joey from ‘Friends’ walks up, hands the chimp a cap and says ‘you wanna play baseball?”  Instead of a prequel to ‘Planet of the Apes’ we believe you may have accidentally written a very violent prequel to the 1996 film “Ed” starring Matt Leblanc.  (As a side note, it was Joey from Blossom, not Joey from Friends who always said “whoa!”)

p. 130 – the credits.  you state that “122 monkeys, 2 giraffes, a hippo, 5 zebras, 8 cobras and 4 king cobras were killed during the making of this film.”  What are you planning?

Make these changes and this film is a go!

Dear Arby’s,

I’ll never forget the first time I first sank my teeth into an Arby’s Roast Beef sandwich.  I was at Burger King of all places.  I was about to take a bite of my Whopper with Cheese, no onions, when a mysterious figure approached.  Due to the glaring sun that day I couldn’t make out his features, only that he was tall and that he wore a large, ten gallon hat.  In his hand was a sandwich filled with layers and layers of thinly-sliced roast beef.  “You should try one of these,” his voice boomed, causing several people in the restaurant to clutch their ears in pain.  I took one bite of that sandwich and my life changed.  The roast beef was delectable.  It was as if you had taken a cow and pumped it full of steroids, transforming it into a beefy, super delicious animal.  The horse radish sauce was a superb fusion, perfectly combining the flavors or radishes and horses.  The bun was full of flavor.  I could tell it was pulled fresh out of the bag with pride.  I set the sandwich down and looked up at the stranger.  “I didn’t mean for you to eat my sandwich!” he shouted. 

But I was hooked.

Since that day I’ve purchased my own ten gallon hat, which I wear with pride, not at all to the dismay of my wife.  I’ve also bought a curling iron, which I now take with me on business trips, in case a town doesn’t have an Arby’s and I have to curl the fries myself.  My doctoral thesis in college was a comparison/contrast between “Jamocha Shakes” and the island nation of Jamaica (there are many surprising differences).  And in the early 2000’s I refused to use an oven mitt out of respect for your then mascot, which, I’ll admit, lead to several of my meals being burned and even a few trips to the emergency room.

It saddens me to report, however, that I have not eaten at any of your restaurants in the past few months, nor do I have any plans to do so in the immediate future.

It all began as I was watching television. ‘Lopez Tonight’ was on and I had tuned in just as the most entertaining part of the show had started, the commercials.  A Dodge ad had just ended when suddenly, on screen, there was a bank robbery.  A well orchestrated hold-up involving a team of thieves.  ‘Did I accidentally change the channel to some high intensity, action packed movie?” I asked myself.  Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a young man, who I presumed to be a stoner, walked into the bank and handed the robber a bag of Arby’s.  I thought for sure the robber was going to shoot him right there on the spot.  Instead, the thief took a bite of a sandwich and was instantly reformed (presumably much to the dismay of his colleagues who had obviously spent much time in preparation for the heist under his leadership).  Then an Arby’s graphic came on screen.  “A commercial!” I shouted, “how clever!” 

But then something horrible happened.

That same stoner who had handed the robber the sandwich popped his head through the Arby’s slogan, spoke the word “Arby’s” then sang “It’s good mood food!”

Instantly a feeling began to weld up inside of me, a feeling like none I had ever experienced before.  After doing some research, I determined that feeling was rage.

Over the next several weeks, I watched in horror as that presumed drug addict popped his head through my beloved logo repeatedly singing his ‘good mood food’ song.  I eventually became so angry that I shot my television with a bow and arrow.  Unfortunately it only cracked the screen, so I ended up canceling my cable subscription.  Now it’s gotten to the point where I can’t even look at the Arby’s logo without becoming enraged.  I’ve even rerouted my drive to work, tacking on an extra hour to my commute, so I could avoid all Arby’s.

Now, I realize this must all come as a shock to you.  You’re probably horrified that this advertisement is having such a negative effect.  I know you’re likely tempted to fire the man (or woman?) who created the ‘Good Mood Food’ campaign and sue him (or her?) for corporate sabotage, but I have a better idea.

Instead of having the “Good Mood Food” guy suddenly disappear mysteriously from the airwaves (much like the Oven Mitt mascot) and then having to deal with customers becoming confused (like what happened when you suddenly got rid of the Oven Mitt mascot without explanation), why not show what happens to the “Good Mood Food” guy (like you failed to do with the Oven Mitt mascot)

I believe the only logical action to take would be to kill the “Good Mood Food” guy in one of your commercials.

Here’s what happens.  The “Good Mood Food” guy pops out of the Arby’s logo and sings.  Suddenly, he’s shot back into the logo by an arrow.  Cut to a guy sitting on the couch with a bow.  “That’s for America” the guy on the couch says.  Cut to behind the Arby’s logo.  It’s the kitchen of an Arby’s restaurant.  Two workers stand by the Good Mood Food guy’s body.  “Good thing he didn’t fall into the food” one of them says.  “Yeah, it’s safe to eat here,” the other one says.  “Where’s the beef?!”  We hear off camera.  Cut to a guy.  He turns round.  It’s Ronald McDonald.  “Shut up old man,” one of the workers says.  Enter the Oven Mitt.  “Hey, what’s up guys?” he says.  “Glad you’re back from vacation,” they tell him.  “I never left,” the Oven Mitt says with a gleam in his eye.  “Aww yeah!” the workers say giving each other a high five. Fade to black.

You may use the above add free of charge.  All I ask is that I get to play the guy on the couch and the Oven Mitt. 

Thank you for taking the time to hear my suggestions.  My hope is that you will adapt them and that my boycott of your wonderful restaurant can finally end.

Love,

Tim Kochenderfer

                The first thing I was told upon my arrival to Puerto Rico was that I must try the cuisine.  “Land the plane please!”  I shouted up to the cockpit.  One of my pet peeves is when pilots tell me what to do, because, trust me, they’re the last ones to take advice when you approach them during a flight. 

                 I must say, however, that I was curious about the food on the island.  I had heard wonderful things about the Taco Bell.  It is very much different there than the Taco Bell at home.  For example, instead of a number eight being a Mexican Pizza, two tacos and a Diet Pepsi, a number eight in Puerto Rico is a numero ocho and if you try to order a number eight, the drive-thru lady looks at you like you’re crazy.  I know this because I went into the restaurant right after I pulled through and asked the guy who had been sitting there what kind of look the drive-thru lady had on her face when I ordered.  He didn’t say anything but he looked at me like I was crazy, obviously mimicking the drive-thru lady’s reaction.

                I immediately went and told the drive-thru lady that the guy in the restaurant had been mimicking her, in an effort to win her over, only she didn’t speak any English.  I mimicked the guy in the restaurant hoping she would get the idea, but it must have come across that I was mimicking her because she became irate and seemed to want me to get out from behind the counter.

                I thought I would try to make it up to her by getting her some sort of gift, but what do you get the woman who has everything?  Stupidly, I thought Taco Bell gift certificates would be appropriate.  When I handed them to her, she thought I was cashing them in and I ended up going home with $50 worth of food.

                It became clear that my Spanish needed improvement.  Lucky for me that happened in just a couple of days.  By day three I was fluent in the language and had even developed my own catch phrase, “incluye desayuno?” which means “does that include breakfast?” in English.  It became  my response every time someone said something to me in Spanish.  I think it really impressed the locals, because whenever I would respond with that, they would fall silent and get confused looks on their faces as to how I could possibly have developed a catch phrase so quickly.  The women in particular seemed offended, likely at their boyfriends and husbands for never coming up with a catch phrase themselves, despite living on the island their entire lives.

                At first “incluye desayuno” was just something fun to say, but eventually it grew into an addiction.  I would visit the grocery store several times a day just so I could say “incluye desayuno” after the cashier read my total.  I would go into the local neighborhoods at night and pick fights, just so I could say “incluye desayuno?” after getting punched in the face.  Eventually I was speeding up and down their streets just so I could say “incluye desayuno” after a cop wrote me a ticket.  I even spent a night in jail.  When they closed the cell I shouted “incluye desayuno?!” which I thought would entertain my cellmates, but instead it must have made them feel entitled to a free breakfast because a prison riot broke out.   Eventually, I was forced to pay my tickets (I wrote “incluye desayuno? In the memo section on the checks).  I was finally kicked off the island.

                Back in the United States I began suffering from withdrawals as I was no longer able to effectively use my catch phrase.  I ended up enrolling in a Spanish class where the professor took the brunt of my “incluye desayunos.”  Eventually, I was banned from raising my hand and answering questions.  I was finally asked to leave after writing “incluye desayuno?” as the answer to every question on a quiz.

                I sunk into a deep depression.  At home I would watch Sesame Street, waiting for the song to come on where they count to ten in Spanish.  At the end I would shout “incluye desayuno?!” If some sort of skit followed and it didn’t include a breakfast I would shoot the TV.  Eventually I ran out of TVs and guns (it was only later that I learned you can reload guns). 

                I decided that the only thing that would make me happy was to return to Puerto Rico.  When I arrived however, I discovered something very disturbing.  My catch phrase had caught on and had spread wildly across the island.  Everyone was saying “incluye desayuno?” after everything and enjoying it, like I used to.  They had even edited Gary Coleman’s “what you talkin’ bout Willis?” out of old episodes of “Diffrn’t Strokes” and dubbed over it with “incluye desayuno, Willis?” 

I went to complain about my situation to the governor of the island, but he just responded with “incluye desayuno?”  I tried to tell anyone who would listen that it was I who had developed the catch phrase they loved so much, but nobody believed me.

My depression grew deeper.  I thought, this must be how Christopher Columbus felt when he discovered America and all the natives acted like they had been there the whole time.  I eventually became so low that I stopped eating breakfast altogether.  I lost ten pounds and my abs wasted away into a six-pack. 

Things became so bad that I ended up on the streets.  I would sit on a corner holding a sign that read ‘spare change please,’ but eventually another bum walked up and snatched the sign out of my hand claiming that was his catch phrase.

Then one day I turned on the news and saw something shocking.  Puerto Rico had fallen into a state of chaos.  ‘Incluye desayuno?’ was now being used so often that no one on the island could get a straight answer from anyone about anything.   Shops closed.  People would write “incluye desayuno” on the out of business signs.  War broke out on the island.  No one knew who they were fighting because every time they would ask, they would get the catch phrase.  Government on the island tried to ban catch phrases and the measure almost passed, but when it came to a vote the legislation was sent back into committee to try and address the question as to whether the bill “incluye desayuno.’

Things have gotten much worse and last I checked, Puerto Rico was no longer on the map(it is important to note that I may have checked a really old map). 

Now I avoid catch phrases all together.  Whenever I hear someone use a catch phrase, I grab them by the collar and shout ‘what are you crazy or something?!’  In fact I’ve started doing that to people whether they use a catch phrase or not.  I’ve even become known now as the “what are you crazy or something?! guy,” which has inspired me to transform my struggles into something positive.  I’m launching a line of tshirts and mugs that read “what are you crazy or something?!”   My hope is that everyone will remember those words, repeat them even.  Perhaps one day, that saying will spread across the globe and serve as a reminder to people to think twice before using a catch phrase.

Microsoft is launching a bold new operating system it’s tentatively calling Windows 8.  I got a chance to test this system over the weekend and found myself terrified and confused.  Here are the top 8 problems I’ve discovered with Windows 8.

  1. Windows 8 made from fiberglass instead of vinyl.
  2. If you hit CTRL+ALT+delete you’ll disappear.
  3. Employs touch screen technology, but you have to be in really good shape to move anything on the screen.
  4. Remember that annoying Microsoft paperclip that would pop up all the time asking if you need help?  Well he’s back, only this time he seems really drunk.
  5. You have to sit through four minutes of credits every time you shutdown your computer.
  6. If windows performs an illegal operation, not only will it shut down, but there’s a good chance you could be indicted as a co-conspirator.
  7. It keeps touting ‘Etch-a-Sketch technology.’
  8. It isn’t Microsoft compatible.

Before the economic meltdown of 2008, when the stock market was booming and home prices were skyrocketing, one of the most common forms of communication was via cake. For example, instead of sending a text to a friend telling him you’re going to be late for lunch, you’d have the message written on a cake and delivered to him.

With today’s economy, however, many of us have had to make painful cutbacks in our cake budget.

However, such sacrifices may not be necessary.

Often times, an order is placed on a cake, but when the confectionery is delivered, it, for one reason or another, is rejected and sent back to the bakery. Many times, bakeries will offer steep discounts on these rejected cakes.

This weekend, I decided to take a trip to the bakery and see what cakes have been rejected. Luckily, I brought my camera along with me.