Monthly Archives: July 2009

Rules You Must Follow While On My Yacht

No chewing gum.

Helipads 7 through 12B are reserved for SuperCopters. Do not park normal helicopters on these helipads.

No asking if we are currently in international waters. If the giraffes are above deck, and have guns strapped to their necks, then we are in international waters.

If you drink the last of the coffee, please start a new pot.

The only currency accepted as legal tender on my yacht is the CurtisBuck.

Do not feed the giraffes. It dulls their bloodlust.

Please ignore the Irish and Scottish immigrants in the steerage (decks 24 through 31). Take care not to let any of them fall in love with you, as such a love affair is doomed to fail for all the obvious, cliché reasons.

Do not mock the CurtisBuck.

In event of a disembarkation, the order of egress is: Curtis, all women (from most to least attractive), men who are decent with an oar, all children (from cutest to ugliest), Scott Bakula, then all others.

Apparently, giraffes have a tendency to expel fecal matter when surprised by loud noises, such as cannon-fire. Complimentary galoshes, made of the finest materials possible, are available on every deck.

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I’m Not Like Your Other Teachers

Go ahead and take your seats.

I’m not like your other teachers.

You will not see me wear a tweed jacket, and you don’t have to call me “Professor” or “Sir.” Just call me “Prof,” like you would to any of your friends who happen to hold a doctorate and teach people to pry open new doors of knowledge and perception.

WOAH! What was that? Anyone else see that? That was the old you leaving the room. The You that worried about deadlines, the You that talked about your GPA, the You that is scrambling for financial aid, or whatever it is that you do, just walked right out of the room. Wave goodbye to the old You, everyone. That’s right, actually wave, this guy’s got it. Welcome to the rest of your lives.

I am NOT like your other teachers.

I’m not going to play favorites. I value new opinions, and a good learning environment is one that can brook dissent. So don’t bother toadying up to me, or laughing loudly at my jokes, because it’s not going to help you get a better grade. If you disagree with me, go ahead and say so. If anyone thinks that’s a bad way to run a class, go ahead and tell me! I’m even open to the idea that I could be wrong about being so open and welcoming of new thoughts. You don’t get a grade by agreeing with me, and doing what I say. You EARN a grade by learning.

Since we’re on the topic of grades, part of your grade is going to be a mysterious “class participation” component that I will judge based off of my own tough criteria. And you know what they say about tough criteria: they’ll make you cry tear, ya? Those of you who laughed at that are already doing well at class participation. You’re the ones that really “get it.” If you want more class participation points, see me after class. I’ve got some papers that need to filed.

Now take your #2 pencils out. C’mon, I’m serious, take out your #2 pencils. As I walk through the room with this trashcan, I want you to chuck those #2 straitjackets right into the trash. Don’t be afraid, do it! In this class, you won’t be graded off of Scantron tests and other nonsense. I use AnswerSheet brand answer sheets for all of my multiple choice tests. The AnswerSheet scanner will only read #3 pencils, which you can find at any drafting or art supply store. You will find that the slightly harder lead is better for filling in bubbles.

Hey, here’s something you won’t hear from your other teachers: Sandwiches disgust me. Don’t eat them in class, don’t mention them. We cool?

That’s the sort of information I only share with friends. And we ARE friends now. I won’t learn your names, and I will actively avoid eye contact with you outside of class, but just think of me as one of your buds, albeit one who is uninterested in most of the things you have to say, and mysteriously has somewhere to be anytime you try and talk to me.

I know what everyone here is worried about, so let’s just get it out in the open. Unfortunately, thanks to the suits in the administration building, I am legally required to make you write papers. But since papers are so creatively stifling, I’ve been trying to make a point to the faculty Starched Collars by having every single student write his or her paper on the exact same topic: “Agrarian Policies of the Eastern Seaboard, 1600-1775.”

So far, in the past 5 years the self-styled Lords of Acadamia haven’t gotten the clue. But we’re going to keep fighting the good fight until those college bigwigs finally grok my point. Oh, and if your paper doesn’t tread any new ground, don’t expect higher than a D. I’ve seen it all, ladies and gentlemen. I’ve seen it all.

See that blackboard there? It’s really green. I’m going to call it a greenboard. Let’s all just call it like we see it, huh? Watch this: I’m going to take a piece of chalk (or should I say gypsum, because it’s not actually made of chalk: it’s primarily gypsum) and draw Snoopy. This isn’t art class, but I just drew Snoopy on the greenboard. ALL KNOWLEDGE IS INTERCONNECTED.

You’re going to hear me say that a lot in this class. The topic for the day’s lecture may be “Differential Bartering Systems,” but I may veer off 5 minutes into the lecture and start rapping at you about the Mets, how “Joshua Tree” is not only U2’s greatest record, but the greatest record since “Revolver,” or just some theories and characters I’ve been working on that may end up in my novel. Sure, I may not hit the lesson I was going to do, but you’ll learn something, I can tell you that much. ALL KNOWLEDGE IS INTERCONNECTED. The tests are based on the info I planned to cover in the lecture, not the stuff I actually covered in the lecture. Not sure how to help you there.

Oh, and no gum chewing or talking in class. Let’s be adults here, people.

Now I’m going to put on some Bob MAHRRRR-LEEEEY while you take your first quiz, which is based on this introductory lecture. I hope everyone’s purchased a #3 pencil by now. If not, put your head down until the end of class.

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This is Curtis, Episode 01

This is Curtis, Episode 01

Featured as part of NYC’s Channel 101.

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The Apocrypha of Leviticus

Although many Biblical scholars believe various parts of the apocrypha should be rightly included in the standard Bible, such as the rarely-mentioned “0th Commandment,” which, loosely translated, states “Are there any Assyrians standing with us here before Mt. Sinai? Well, then I shall read these slower. (thou shalt pause here for laughter/applause)” Below is a small sampling of the slices of the Bible relegated to the dustbins of history.

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

For every child that regards an adult as being physically inferior, such judgments should be accepted as fact, since children are incapable of lies: if a child says you are ugly, then you are ugly. The child shall be stoned, for he is annoying in the eyes of the LORD, and some things are better left unsaid.

A man should not lay with a woman who is too far out of his league. If the woman is too far below his league, he will be considered by his friends to be “slumming it,” and he will likely treat her poorly, and be regarded as similar to the sack which contains fluids for feminine hygiene. Should he sleep with a woman above his station, he will believe himself worthy of such attention, when, come on. Let us be honest.

And if a woman shall take a beast and dress it up in human clothes, or adorn it with human accessories, and speak to it in a high voice, as if it were a baby, then ye shall slay the beast.

The index finger shall be known from simply as “finger” from now on. This will help further distinguish it from the lesser fingers, which shall be indicated through their full names: “middle finger,” “ring finger,” and “pinky finger.”

And the LORD took a sip from his water glass, and continued,

Consider yourselves blessed by the LORD that you do not live in Transylvania; there are vampires there, from what I hear.

Thou shalt not lie with the son of the son of your great grandfather, for this is your first cousin, once removed. He is also the first cousin, once removed, to your cousin, but to your cousin’s sons and daughters, who you will inexplicably have to purchase presents for, this man is their first cousin, twice removed. Shall I make a chart to explain this? Perhaps I shall. In the meantime, try not to lie with anyone who looks too much like you.

The thumb shall be considered a finger when counting, but not when grasping. So if someone tells you to press, hold, or push something with your finger, thou shalt not use the thumb. Also, it is permissible for thou to hold up an open hand, ask another man “How many fingers am I holding up,” and, should he respond “5,” laugh and say “No, I am holding up 4 fingers, plus a thumb.” If the man needs proof, you can quote what I said earlier about the thumb. Although it is a bit of a gray area, since I did mention that the thumb should be considered a finger when counting, but you could claim you are grasping air with an open hand, I suppose. Go ahead and stone the man, and sacrifice three animals with cloven hoof. Perhaps I should have put all of this with the other stuff about fingers. That is the problem with oral tradition: you cannot just go back and erase, as you can with written language, which will not be invented until later. Oh, when it is invented, someone should write all this stuff down.

Should you make a mistake in front of someone you admire, you will say, “Well, I guess that’s why pencils have erasers!” You will immediately regret making such an asinine statement, and will have no way of taking it back.

Thou shalt not repeat psalms that you have heard elsewhere without first offering the author of that psalm a small token. To sing a psalm publicly, you must offer the author no less than three goats. To do otherwise would be considered piracy, and will likely put the psalm writers out of business.

Thou shalt say it, but not spray it.

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Selections from my Asteroids Fan Fiction

O Captain, My Captain

PLAYER 1 looked at his crew. They were a ragged bunch of misfits, from every ghetto of every planet in the galaxy. Many of them were wanted criminals, but for good crimes, like stealing bread to feed babies, or punching corrupt politicians in the face. They would follow him to Hell and back without even blinking (and some of them were aliens that had to blink a lot, because they came from moist, water-logged planets).

But this was too much.

“Look, you all heard me,” Captain PLAYER 1 said, with steely resolve, to his crew. “Engineer Bok-Gloo-Vulk, you can sit this one out.”

Bok-Goo-Vulk looked dejected. Had he done something to offend his captain?

“I know what you’re thinking, Bok-Goo-Vulk,” the captain continued, as if he had read his engineer’s mind, which he almost had, because a good captain can practically read his crew’s mind, “but you haven’t done anything to offend me. You will be useful, and you are the best damned engineer this side of the Quasar Sector, but I’ve got a plan.”

Second Commander Ah-mee spoke up. She was beautiful, and had a very pretty face, but she didn’t take guff from anyone, man, alien, or asteroid. “But Captain, without Bok-Goo-Vulk working the forward thrusters, will be sitting ducks! Don’t let our personal relationship impair your judgments.” Ah-mee was referring to the fact that PLAYER 1 and Ah-mee had had sex.

“That’s right,” Captain PLAYER 1 continued, with confidence in his voice, “we’ll be sitting ducks. So we’ll be relying on Twyn and Twynn,” Twyn and Twynn were two twins from the Gemini Galaxy who worked the fore and aft (left and right) engines, which caused the ship to rotate, “and Lt. Worf,” Worf was a Klingon, a race notable for its combat prowess and deep-rooted sense of honor, and was in charge of firing the ship’s single, massive weapon: the deadly Proton-Neutrino Cannon, “to get us through this alive.”

“Rather than hunt down the asteroids, we’re going to let the asteroids come to us.”

From Killer Asteroids Come Death

The asteroid split into two pieces, with a mighty rupture sound that couldn’t be heard, because in space you can’t hear sound. But the ship’s computer delivered a reasonable facsimile (copy) of the sound. Captain AAA had the computer log the kill.

This area of space would be free for space settlers in no time.

But then he noticed something really bad.

He thought he had destroyed the asteroid.

But he hadn’t.

He’d actually just split it up into smaller pieces.

And those smaller pieces were moving fast.

Straight. At. His. Ship.

Captain AAA didn’t have time to think. He hit the forward thrusters, expertly dodging through the little bits of left-over space flotsam into the clear space on the other side.

It was a close call, but he had made it into the clear, for now. Space Command had promised that they would build him up to 2 more ships, should he destroy the ship he was in, but he liked old reliable Century Hawk, his trusty ship, and didn’t want to see her, or himself, come to harm.

As the next asteroid came into his gun’s sights, this time he realized he wouldn’t take any chances. He unloaded a full barrage of torpedoes, massive energy shots that pulverized the asteroid, and most of the pieces the asteroid broke up to, in milliseconds. Bright shining bits of asteroid flew across space like fireworks in an ancient Earth custom known as “4th of July.” The glittering pieces of stone looked for a second like little stars.

But then, behind him, another asteroid crept up. 5 parsecs away. 4 parsecs away. 3 parsecs away!

Would he go into hyperspace, or try to evade? He had no time to think. “Better take my chances evading it here, rather than jump into hyperspace and end up in some unknown and possibly dangerous part of this quadrant,” Captain AAA thought.

Jumping into hyperspace seems like it would be helpful, and many early cadets often use it quite a bit. But experienced captains, like Captain AAA, know that it can often leave your ship right in the path of another incoming asteroid, or even near the same place you were trying to avoid! Hyperspace can be useful, but really it should be saved for truly dire situations (four or more asteroids coming in at you from multiple directions). Also, as a good Captain AAA knew that he could occasionally evade detection by piloting his ship into the region of space in which it shows his current score. Due to a glitch in the space-time continuum, the flying saucer won’t shoot there.

2 parsecs away.

Captain AAA suddenly realized something. By moving forward just a bit, his ship would leap across space (because space-time is curved, as Albert Einstein showed in his work) and appear on the other side of the quadrant. He accelerated forward, deftly avoiding the asteroid. He was now on the other side of the quadrant.

The asteroid, relentless and evil, was following right behind him, but now he knew it was coming. He turned around and fired, even though his ship was still moving in the direction it was moving before he turned. This tactic can be useful if you are traveling in one direction, but an asteroid is coming from another. Captain AAA knew that you didn’t have to always accelerate, but that it could sometimes help to move in one direction while firing in another. It’s hard to master, but if you do master it, like Captain AAA did, no asteroid is safe (but your ship is).

At 1 single parsec away from Century Hawk, the last tiny piece of the asteroid exploded. His space-bullet had hit its mark.

The computer added 100 points (like dollars, but invented by the Space Command to use instead of money) to his score.

There was no time to rest. More asteroids remained. “C’mon, Century Hawk, we’ve got more work to do.”

My Enemy, My Lover

The alien spacecraft landed on the planet. They had chosen Neptune as a neutral planet in which to meet. Why had this flying saucer been trying to attack him for so long?

The hatch opened, and PLAYER 1 was shocked to see a hot, sexy alien woman was the captain. “A woman captain?” he thought, but not in a misogynist (woman-hating) way, but more in a “good for you,” sort of way.

“Let me explain myself,” the “enemy” alien captain said, in a very sultry voice with an exotic accent. “I was never trying to shoot you. I was trying to help you destroy asteroids. But my species never developed the technology to aim our weapons fire,” the alien vessel used a Matter-Antimatter Laser, which was powerful but unpredictable, “so it looked like occasionally I was firing at you.”

“I apologize, PLAYER 1, if I ever damaged your ship. We had the same goals, you and I.”

She removed her very skimpy and sexy alien captain’s uniform, revealing that her race had the same general anatomical features as human women from PLAYER 1’s home planet, Earth.

That night, under the light of Neptune’s 13 moons (Triton, Naiad, Thalassa, Despina, Galatea, Larissa, Proteus, Nereid, Halimede, Sao, Laomedeia, Psamathe, and Neso), they made beautiful, wonderful love.

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Writing Exercises to Help You Complete Your Novel

Although your novel is incomplete, you consider yourself a novelist. Does your protagonist harbor similar delusions? Describe them.

Close your eyes and imagine you are floating in a puddle of cheese. Your head has been transformed into that of an ostrich, and your body is made of air. Now open your eyes. What do you see? Is it the unfeeling whitespace of your unfinished novel?

Reread The DaVinci Code. Seethe.

Pretend one of your characters is writing his or her own novel. Would that novel actually have a believable ending? Steal it.

Look around your writing space. After you have completed your novel, which items will future generations want to save for your museum? What text will the title card for each item contain?

Try to describe how you are currently feeling with only one word. Avoid using the word “fucked.”

Story ideas can spring up from anywhere. Check your email. Still nothing? Try checking again. Is the internet still plugged in? Better check. Call your internet provider and ask them if there’s any chance they’re not delivering some of your emails.

Go to a crowded restaurant or coffee shop. Observe the conversations around you. When others laugh, are they laughing at your failure? Probably.

Pretend you have completed your novel, and you run into a friend from college. How quickly could you slip the phrase “published novelist” into the conversation?

Are there any pieces of writing equipment you have not purchased? 3″ by 5″ index cards? A new moleskine? An executive stressball? Sticky notes? 4-color clicky pens? Purchase them. The fact that you do not own these things is keeping you from completing your novel.

Vladimir Nabakov once described writing as “one of the truly natural things, as natural as taking a breath.” Describe what a cocky shit THAT guy must have been.

Take a set of Scrabble letter tiles and throw them into the air. Observe where they land. Now pick up the titles, one by one, and return them to their box. Also, your keyboard’s looking a little dusty. Go ahead and clean it.

Pick a story from the day’s paper. Pretend you are a character from your novel. How would that character respond to that story? You don’t really know, do you?

Mark Twain once said “a writer must disguise himself, occupying thoughts and personalities that are not his own.” Go ahead and dress up like Mark Twain.

Write your obituary. Pretty scant, isn’t it? Better complete that novel.

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