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THIS WEAK SNOOZE: The Miscellaneous Musings of David “WiseacreDave” Woodside

Greetings Friends,

Welcome to my blog, THIS WEAK SNOOZE. It will have all the informative writing, clever opinions, witty palindromes and other tidbits which you’ve come to expect of me yet never seem to get. Well now you can get this valuable information delivered right to your email inbox! Or, if you’re up on the newer technology, feel free to Kindle it on your iPhone. Or download it to your Faceplace tweets.

Each issue of THIS WEAK SNOOZE will contain THIS WEEK’S NEWS, plus things like:
What is WiseacreDave doing now?
If he’s so smart, why isn’t he rich?
If he’s so rich, why isn’t he smart?
Does he still wear those ugly shoes?
Does he still drive that ugly car?
What’s his latest group of new palindromes?
When is his next colonoscopy exam and are there any more pictures of his last one?
Useful, modern terminology like “#OMG”

My breakthrough blog is called THIS WEAK SNOOZE and for now it will be updated weekly or whenever I get around to it.

I hope you will make the right decision and follow my blog. Your life could be improved! Your relationships may be repaired! You could even make more money! Or you could risk all that success and choose to read THIS WEAK SNOOZE anyway! Plus it’s FREE!

And remember, if you take the “U” out of “COULD” you get “COLD”. So don’t be left out in the cold. Read THIS WEAK SNOOZE today!

Best regards,


The New Pilot

ThisWeakSnoozePostImageA good pilot has many time-tested, well-known and celebrated traits. Among them are good judgment, situational awareness, aircraft systems knowledge, navigation, and keeping your wits in unexpected situations. Then there’s that other trait—the one of actually controlling the aircraft. “He’s a good stick and rudder man,” they say.

There have been many pilots with those skills and more.  Think of General Chuck Yeager, who was a P-51 fighter ace in World War II and who was the first to break the sound barrier; Yuri Gagarin, who was the first to orbit the Earth; Neil Armstrong, who was the first man to walk on the moon (and let’s not forget before that he was the first to manually land on it); and of course the Wright Brothers, who were the first in powered flight.  And recently, there’s “Sully” Sullenberger.  What kind of right stuff must you have to “dead-stick” tons of metal into a river with everyone onboard living to tell the tale?

When I was learning to fly at age 15, I remember a landing I made that is the dream of every pilot—that seamless transition from an elegant air-bound contraption to a clumsy thing on wheels rolling across the ground.  A “greaser” is a landing where the occupants are never aware of that transition.  Afterwards, my instructor said, “Well, that’s the best landing I’ve seen of anyone, anywhere at any time.”  That was cool.  Later, when I was 22 and dying to get the keys to the family plane, I was once again in control under the critical eye of my father, the owner in the seat behind the right-hand controls.  On approach his hands remained firmly in his lap, and he never spoke a word. A greaser.  “Well, I’ll be damned,” is all he said.  I got the keys the next day.

About eight years ago, I had moved to the right seat on a particular flight controlled by another pilot in the left seat.  This new pilot-in-training was nearing an airport.  I was nervously preparing to say, “Okay, there’s the airport; time to contact the tower; let’s slow down, descend and plan your approach.”  Before I could speak, the pilot did all of those things proficiently and in the correct order.  I sat there with my hands in my lap and observed a greaser.  A few years later that student got his wings, and today, June 29, 2016, at age 27, he got his “Airline Transport Pilot” rating, which qualifies him to fly the big, heavy metal full of passengers for SkyWest Airlines.

The next time you’re on one of those “small”, irritating, bumpy, twin-jet commuter airlines without snacks, and suddenly you wonder how you got back on the ground without even feeling it, you might consider thanking the pilot.  I taught him everything he knows. Truthfully, he’s zoomed past me in experience and capabilities, but I did teach the boy how to fly by his wits.  And maybe something about greasers. Congratulations, son.  And please stay out of the Hudson.

Algebra™ May Be Right For You

ThisWeakSnoozePostImage.png   You’re at a time in your Middle School life when you can’t afford to slow down. You’ve worked hard to get here, and now you want to enjoy the good things coming your way.

Sure, it’s been a struggle to master the Fundamental Theorem of Algebra™ for which every non-zero, single-variable, degree-n polynomial has exactly n roots. But if you’re experiencing the fear of unknowns and have lost touch with your roots, taking Algebra™ (algorithmic mathematicus) may be right for you.

Classroom studies prove that taking Algebra™ twice daily increases mathematical function, reduces quadratic uncertainty, decreases word problems, resolves irrational number fears, simplifies free radicals, helps reduce the negative effects of Negative Numbers™, and exponentially improves tolerance of exponents.

Possible Side Effects:

  • A small percentage, fraction, or decimal-equivalent of people taking Algebra™ may experience certain unwanted side effects such as graying square roots, reversion to pre- Algebra™, an increase in unknowns, and an intolerance to homework.
  • Taking Algebra™ may not be appropriate if you experience inequalities, have trouble finding smallest common denominators or combining like-terms, have difficulty solving one-step equations, and have a history of abusing the distributive property.
  • Do not let Algebra™ come into contact with parents or other adults.
  • Tell your teacher if you think you might be pregnant or have irresistible teenaged urges to engage in activities that may lead to pregnancy such as SnapChatting, InstaGramming, FaceTiming, WhatsApping, Sexting, Selfies, Simultaneous Equations, Twerking, and Parking.
  • Do not take Algebra™ if you experience frequent factoring or have difficulty eliminating variables associated with Pythagorea.
  • Stop taking Algebra™ if you experience negative numbers and have slopes lasting more than four hours.
  • Frequent use of Algebra™ may lead to a dependence on Geometry.

Ask your teacher about whether Algebra™ may be right for you. Algebra™ is covered by most lesson plans. You may be eligible for help in paying for Algebra™.

Don't let Middle School slow you down.  Call now for a free pamphlet describing the benefits of Algebra™, and we’ll send you, FREE, a selection of X, Y, and Z variables that you can use anywhere.


Published by HumorPress.com     Ribbon-HumorPress-com-3rd   See the piece here.

photo credit: Quadratic Formula by klg via photopin (license)

Living With A Yogi

The great baseball player and Hindu philosopher, Yogi Berra, is known for his whacky word ways. He’s attributed with saying  “It’s déjà vu all over again.”“If you can’t imitate him, don’t copy him.”;  and “I really didn’t say everything I said.”

I married another Yogi with this talent. Though she doesn’t try to copy the original, my wife really did, well, say everything she said. Using her brand of invented words and mixed metaphors, here are her classics.

Kristine once proclaimed she was ferenzic, which was her way of combining frenzy and frenetic.  It's used to describe wildly frantic court evidence.

Do you need more kick for the word truly? How about adding in reality to form her new creation in truality.

Kristine exclaimed, “I’m adamnant about that!”, not content with merely being adamant. I think having damn in the middle of a word always makes it better.

When fixing to fry bacon she asked, “Do we have a skiddle?” You guessed it—on the fry she had combined skillet and griddle. Who knows why she didn’t say grillet instead.

"You need a thermomostat," she told me while feeling my forehead. I guess she wanted to measure my temperature and then reset it to a more comfortable level. I proudly replied, "I'll have to renumerate on that", which is Kristine's word for ruminating while enumerating.

She also mixes metaphors, which is as easy as (and more fun than) shooting fish in a barrel of monkeys. In Kristine’s world, sometimes things can turn on a nutshell, which I guess is what happens if you didn’t fall far from the acorn as she once said of me. I consider myself fortunate that I did not just fall off the turnip tree like some other bloke she described, for then I would be a weak link and need to be plowed-under. Kristine's brain is packed with nut and edible root references.

Do you want to smooth things over after an argument? In Kristine-speak, that’s called mending bridges, which is much better than burning fences I suppose.

Then there was the time she advised me how I could solve my problems: "You could kill all those stones at one blow!" Yikes! It seems there's an old German fairy tale about a tailor who's preparing to eat some jam just as seven flies land on it, and he manages to kill them all. Right. Even I don’t get it, and I didn't just fall off the turnip tree.

With my added commentary, here are some of her other misappropriated malapropisms:

When you toot your own horn too much, you get egg on your face.

     This is why I don’t eat while driving.

I’m overscheduling my plate.

     The downside of having too much food on your calendar.

We’re living on thin ice here.

     It's better than walking on borrowed time.

You gotta make hay while the getting’s good.

     Then we must get while the sun shines.

(Incredulously, about a TV show): It’s beginning to get near the edge of the valley of no return.

     (I’ve got nothing.  Just.  Nothing.)

If you’re afraid of doing something new, just get the virgin out of it!

     Why men will sometimes, under the right circumstances, make an effort at newness.

When it comes to not wasting water, I’m a conversationist.

     Talking about conserving water speaks louder than actually not wasting it.

He talked your foot off!

     Then he stepped on my ear.

Don’t be putting me in a peg hole with a square knot!

     Awkward misuse of geometrically incompatible resources.

You came through that with shining colors!

     I guess I'm just a flying example of shining colors.

I love your perspection on that subject.

     I have perspective AND reflection on many subjects.

It’s always good to get rid of dead baggage.

     And it's healthier than carrying around extra weight.

He has good language-ing skills.

     Yogi would agree.

Brigham Young was a philandthroper.

     As both a philanthropist and a philanderer, he wasn’t afraid to get the virgin out of it.

Did you leave your tea in the kitchen undrinken?

     Yes, sorry.  I have bad language-ing skills.

We have to live our lives while we’re alive.

     Or be plowed-under early if we're weak links.

They get the bloody seconds.

     Some movie theaters don’t rate the first-run slasher shows.

That’s not worth a pot to piss in.

     Even if we had one.

It's like the Alaskan outbush in here!

     Or the Australian bushback.

I could have gone off half-cocked. By the way, that’s not a euphemism; it’s just an expression.

     One man’s euphemism is another’s substitution of a more vague expression.

(Regarding the light snowfall):  It hasn't been very precipitous this year.

     Thank God for the lack of steep and dangerous snow depths, huh?

You know, God speaks in metaphors, so I’m in like Flint.

     At the end of my head, I’m still trying to get the day around that one.

I guess now you’re on the other edge of your coin, wise guy.

     Before that I was on the flip-side of my seat.

I tend to over-extenuate myself.

     I tend to under-valueize my less serious circumstances.

That's extrenuous!

     Extraneous AND strenuous!

That's feckle!

     Feckless AND fickled!

Would you please numb-out the TV?

     Yes, if you'd kindly mute my toothache.

When you work for a real estate title company, you get bombasted by everybody!

     Damn those pretentious bombastards!

It's not worth beating our heads against a bush.

     Or in beating them around a wall.

This show really separates the ones who will get through the crisis from the ones who will not get through.

     Not exactly succinct, yet satisfyingly mutually-exclusive.

I don't like to press the envelope.

     And I don't like to push the outside of the issue.

Look at her!  She's a nemesis of her own self!

     Plus, she's like a weird caricature of her many rivals.

We turned over a new lease on life!

     It's better than continuing to rent that old leaf.

My brain doesn't work as well as it used to.  My thinking comes in spits and farts.

     Just yesterday my own drool and flatulence came in fits and starts.

I don't like to purge on TV series.

     And I regret binging on burritos.  It gives me spits and farts.

I'm going to get up now.  If the coffee is ready, that'll be a point in your direction.

     And if you let me sleep-in, that'd be a move in your favor.

I didn't wake up with much vim and vinegar today.

     It's better than waking up with a strong vigor to piss.

If you don't do your Yoga and walking excercises, you're asking for fire!

     So if a Guru lights a candle, is he playing with trouble?

I got a $400 Christmas bonus!  It was an unexpected downfall!

     So would paying taxes be an expected windfall?

I took a page out of your book and ran with it.

     Or you could just get a ball and learn a valuable lesson from it.

If you keep on that way, you'll be cooking like oil!

     As long as I'm not burning with the midnight fire.

You're almost 60.  It's my job to wean you into the next decade.

     Yes, and please also help me ease off the ice cream.

I've got some Hyper-Metaphines you could take for your headache.

     Not yet approved by the FDA, but you can get highly-active Hyper-Metaphines from Mexico off the internet.

You can't take both Cold Pills and Ibuprofen unless they both don't have AnaCetaPhetamine in them.

     Although a dangerous cocktail that can elicit a side effect of grammatical negatives, you can also get AnaCetaPhetamines from the same website.

I don't feel right today.  I think my electrolytes can't even be off by a microscop.

     Take a teeny tiny dose of AnaCetaPhetamine dissolved in Gatorade twice daily.

We could get Streptatosis from that filthy sink!

     Every new disease has to start somewhere.

Let's get some of that good artesian bread.

     Or some of that sub-surface sourdough under its own natural pressure, freshly baked by skilled artisans.

I love my new phone; I can attach those cute emotiums to my texts!

     Yes, but remember that a few emotive words speak louder than 1000 smiley icons.

I think I have some hereditarial defects.

     Well, as long as we're making up words, I'm sure you also have some defectual relatives.  Looks like you didn't fall far from the acorn your own self.

Can you encapsulize that for me?

     No, but let me summulate it in a neat little microscop.

She really let the ball fall apart.

     And on top of that she let the things drop.

This storm's going to be bad because there's so much wind in the air today.

     And the weatherman also said there would be a large chance of scattered water in the rain.

In these Presidential debates the Media is just fanning the fumes.

     And wouldn't we all prefer that the candidates were quickly overcome by the flames!

You'll just have to see if I'm up to the mustard.

     I've also been wondering if you could cut the task.

(Remarking after brain surgery): This extra hole in my skull causes a lot of subterfusion in my head.

     A natural consequence of an expedient and evasive surgical technique that leaves one not quite up to the mustard, subterfuse-wise.

Hey, don't share stuff you write about me.  I don't want to be defaced again.

     Excellent advice: we should all think twice before posting disfiguring words on deFacebook.

Even though I never met the great Berra, I feel like I know him well, that he speaks to me every day, and that I can’t escape his paradoxical influences.  Or as Kristine put it, “It’s a Catch-22 all over again!”

The Whirly Gig*

It’s the holiday season and time to consider gift ideas! Again! Instead of giving him a subscription to Jelly-Of-The-Month-Club, why not send Cousin Eddie to a cultural event? Because the Monster Truck Rally is sold-out, you choose nosebleed seats to—a BALLET! And that means he’ll be attending The Nutcracker, a beloved (hated) family holiday tradition.

French for “whirligig”, a ballet is a story set to music, choreographed by anorexic retired ballerinas, and danced by little Whoville “Whos” who later audition for So You Think You Can Dance With The Stars, Idiot?!   The Nutcracker is based on a fairy tale set to music by the Russian Pyotr Ilyich (“Itchy”) Tchaikovsky, who also wrote the music for A Christmas Carol, A Christmas Story, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Home Alone 12, Bad Santa, and The Hound of the Baskervilles. Written in 1892, The Nutcracker was instantly popular until its debut later that year at Christmas, and has been thrilling (horrifying) the parents of young dance recital participants ever since.

The story opens at a Christmas party at the Stalebum home in a small 1950’s Indiana town. The Stalebum children Ralphie and CindyLoo Who (adopted) decorate the house and greet the guests. CindyLoo’s godfather, Dr. Droesselmeyer Griswold, arrives with gifts: a Red Ryder BB gun for Ralphie, an Italian leg lamp for Mr. Stalebum, and a little man toy nutcracker for CindyLoo. When the conflicted Ralphie decides he’d rather have the nutcracker, there’s a struggle and the toy is purloined and broken. Not to be outdone purloin-wise, Griswold quickly fixes the nutcracker for Cindyloo and staggers back to the eggnog bowl.

After the party ends, the Stalebums retire. A scampering mouse awakens CindyLoo who discovers her boy toy is missing. Off she goes to find it as giant rats attack her. Then, appearing as if from a fantasy scene out of some story dance, life-sized toy soldiers led by her valiant Nutcracker come to CindyLoo’s rescue. The Rat King attacks the Nutcracker, but CindyLoo distracts him with a present (iPhone) from under the tree and the Nutcracker wins the battle. Afterwards, the Nutcracker is transformed into a handsome prince (balding Jewish house painter from New York). He leads CindyLoo through the magical Land of Snow because he has the urge to gather a few chestnuts, but he soon discovers that CindyLoo is a tough nut to crack, metaphorically speaking.

In Act 2 the Nutcracker and CindyLoo go to the Land of Sweets where the Sugar Plum Fairy (stage name) honors CindyLoo with dances performed by the inhabitants of her kingdom. There is the Spanish Dance, (representing Chocolate and Nutella), an Arabian Dance for coffee (Decaf Sumatra, full-bodied, with a smooth mouthfeel and hints of camel hump fur), a Chinese Dance for tea (Panda Dung—yes, it’s a real tea), a Russian Dance (representing evil repression in the form of a shirtless Vladimir Putin), the Dance of Madam Ginger (also smooth mouthfeel) and her Clowns, the Waltz of the Flowers (Monkey Face Orchid, The Happy Alien, Hooker’s Lips. Go ahead, Google it), and the Dance of the Mirlitons (stuffed squash casserole often served at drunken Cajun Christmas parties). Then the Sugar Plum Fairy performs her dance solo to the tune of My Boyfriend’s Back.

To conclude the evening CindyLoo and her Nutcracker Cavalier perform a final dance together, the Pas de Deux (pass the dip). The dance has four parts: Andante Maestoso (slow, majestic barn dance), The Nutella (fast dance by the Nutcracker covered in chocolate hazelnut spread), the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy (danced by CindyLoo, with a famous melody also made memorable for modern music lovers in Muppets Most Wanted and The Simpsons), and Boot Scootin’ Boogie, a traditional line dance with audience participation.

Finally, in a homographic epiphany CindyLoo realizes her Nutcracker Cavalier might not be so cavalier had she been more forthcoming with her chestnuts. Much to the Nutcracker’s dismay, the music ends with a climax for the TROMBONES! He briefly considers jumping off a bridge until an angel (Clarence Odbody) does his own special dance and they run away together. As for the audience, everyone leaves with new tunes in their heads as memorable as the theme to Gilligan’s Island.

So if you’re searching for the just right Christmas presence this holiday season, grab a hot cuppa Panda Dung and — I triple-dog-dare you — take someone to The Nutcracker. It’s a real ball-buster.

*Another edition in the irritating series "Play Synopses for Modern Readers Ignorant of the Classics".

Something Fractious About Sylvia

I’ve noticed something mathematically irritating about my mother-in-law Sylvia.

When I was born, she was 23 years old and I had lived exactly none of the time she had already lived.

10 years later when I was 10 she was 33, and I had already lived 3/10 of the time she had lived.

It only took another 5 years for my 15 years of age to equal 4/10 of Sylvia’s 38 years.

Then after only another 8 years I had become 23 to Sylvia’s 46, and I had lived 5/10 or exaclty one-half of her time.

Twelve years later I celebrated 35 and Sylvia had reached 58, about the age I am today and I am shocked to learn that I had reached 6/10 of her time spent here.

Now even if you don’t really understand fractions I can assure you that this is a disturbing trend because it appears that I’m aging faster than Sylvia.

Now move ahead 17 years to 2009 when I first met Sylvia.  I was all happy-go-lucky at age 52 and Sylvia was 75, and I had lived damn near 7/10 of her age!

I don’t think this is at all fair, and I can report that meeting Sylvia was therefore a disturbing milestone for me.

Today, 5 years after I met Sylvia, it’s 2014, I am 57, and Sylvia celebrates her 80th year.  The math tells me that I’ve firmly passed 7/10 of her age and I can say that I’ve gotten over it, and I’m now okay with her having lived so long.

And 23 years from now when I find myself at the age Sylvia is today, and when she has become 103, my only consolation will be that I still will not have reached 8/10 of her age!

All of this proves why we don’t live forever: we’d all be the same age, and then birthdays (and math) wouldn’t be any fun at all.

Happy birthday to Sylvia on October 18, and for both our sakes I hope our ages never meet.

You Can’t Control Blue

It’s that time of year when we teach our youth the critical lessons needed for success in life:

1) adults make the rules

2) adults are nuts

Yes, it’s a new season of little league baseball! And it’s not the game we played as kids.

After a long winter practicing team chants, inventing new insults, reliving last summer’s great plays, and playing pitch and catch at the neighbors, the adults return to their own houses to prepare 10 year-olds for the hard life of baseball and the hardball of life.

Teams are assembled, uniforms are purchased, and beer and sunflower seeds are stockpiled. Treat-Mom schedules are emailed and immediately lost. Team names are chosen to convey the power, the influence, and the ruthless nature of the sport and to intimidate opponents and entertain the fans. Common monikers are Yankees, Cardinals, Swamp People, Dynasty Ducks, Magic Mikes, Congressional Oversighters, Middleclass Income Gappers, Mortgage Derivative Regulators, and Common Monikers.

A great metaphor for life, baseball has many pertinent lessons expressed as pithy sayings like “GOOD EYE!” This one is used when a pitcher throws a fastball which careens off the batter’s ankle resulting in shouts at the pitcher from angry Dads, the third base coach sarcastically yelling “GOOD EYE!”, and many tears shed when the umpire detects that the ricocheting ball somehow got past his own crotch guard. A parent then yells, “WALK IT OFF, BLUE!” and everyone laughs at the apt, yet oddly ironic, conventional nickname for the home plate umpire.

Today’s season-opener is between the Dirtbags and the visiting Turdbuckets. After the first throw, chants begin immediately:

You can’t CATCH

You can’t PITCH

Yo’ Mamma is a lousy…COOK!

This irritates a team mother who complains to the local league officer who admonishes Blue to quit taunting the batter.

Every little league game is a ruthless and fun battle between umpires, opposing teams, parents, coaches, fans, and frequently the concession stand attendee. These battles are often fraught with innings, idiots, and idioms:

  • GOOD SWING! Encouragement for a batter with no chance of hitting a ball. Ever.
  • BIG STICK. A successful team Dad who is very popular.
  • PLAY DEEP. Team Dad expanding his horizons and anticipating opportunity.
  • FIRST BASE. Opposing-teams parents exchanging greetings.
  • SECOND BASE. Opposing-teams parents exchanging phone numbers.
  • THIRD BASE. Opposing-teams parents sharing Fierce Grape Gatorade, unconcerned about cross-contaminating fluids.
  • OK, YOU’VE SEEN IT; NOW GIVE IT A RIDE! Player encouraged to hit the ball hard. (Also used by some team parents during off-season “strategy sessions”. (See HOME RUN and SCREWBALL).
  • SWITCH-HITTER. Mom who alternates coaching girls and boys teams.
  • PLAYING FOR OTHER TEAM. Curious Dad wanders onto adjacent ballfield to see if that game is more fun.

At many games you can hear those expressions used in polite adult conversation near the restrooms:



“Good swing!”


“Big stick!”


Wanna play deep sometime?”

“Sorry. I play for the other team.”

Back at the game, four innings elapse with these stats: three Dirtbags homeruns, seven Turdbuckets RBIs, and one black eye when the left fielder is hit in the ear by a wild pitch, and a team Dad punches the first base coach who neglects to contest Blue’s strike call.

In the game’s best play, the Dirtbags’ shortstop, “Long” O. Verdue, fields a “skupper”, which takes a nasty “philben” near second base. Meanwhile, the Turdbuckets player on first base starts running but neglects to tag-up on First first. This results in a technical “infield fly” ruling by Blue who was still adjusting his own infield fly from the earlier incident. The third base coach, way off base himself due to untreated bi-polar disorder, sadistically “waves-on” the hitter who rounds second base. A massive collision happens between Third and Home involving Blue, the runner, and two Dirtbags parents who were “playing the field” near the foul line. A brief timeout is called to sort-out the carnage, five runs are awarded to the Turdbuckets, and the offending parents are ejected from the game for “taking one for the team” behind the bleachers.

When the infield dust clears, the treats are distributed, the post-game critiques are delivered, and the Ump has iced his groin, everyone looks forward to the next matchup. A Turdbuckets Mom taunts a team Dad, “You can’t control Blue; you can only control YOU!”, and in true game spirit fists fly while the kids amusedly watch the enfolding “sportsmanship lesson”, munch Ding Dongs, and discuss the alarming increase in Major League steroid use.

It’s a whole new ballgame, folks!

Teaching Dakshesh

Beginning in the third grade kids love having a substitute teacher. By “having” I mean “biting off parts of the teacher, chewing and swallowing the teacher, partially digesting the teacher, and then regurgitating the teacher back onto his own shoes before his feet are devoured, all while texting friends on banned smartphones.” During this process the substitute’s job is to act like all is normal and that he has full control over the class and his 56 year old bladder, (which was already full 5 hours ago when the first bell rang), all while teaching fractions.

The most important thing a substitute teacher can do is to get control of the class when the bell rings. I attempt this impossible task with rules:

“CLASS! SIT DOWN! QUIET! EYES ON ME! I will tell you my rules, call roll, then give you today’s assignment.”

Eddie Haskell (every class has one) leaps up: “Mr. Woodside, thanks for teaching us today. That’s a sick tie, yo. Where is Mr. Pike?”

“We’re not talking about that right now,” I answer. “Sit down.”



“Rule 1. We will show each other respect. When I’m talking you’re NOT talking. If you want to talk, raise your hand.”

Dakshesh, fidgeting, interpreting my rule literally, immediately raises his hand and says, “Mr. Pike gives us hall passes if we have to go to the bathroom.”

More titters. I glare silently.

“Rule 2. We will be safe. No climbing, running, throwing things or touching others.”

This rule is ignored later when Gwandoya throws a box of raisins at Ibrahim’s eye and then Abdul-Muqaddim, needing a snack, eagerly retrieves the richoched raisins from the sink full of dirty chemistry beakers.

“Rule 3. “You must do your work! I have your assignment after I take roll.”


Koosooma: “Is it homework if we don’t finish?”

“I’ll tell you later. Sit down.”

The students begin to smell my rising fear. In a louder voice I say, “RULE 4: NO DISRUPTIONS PERMITTED!” Hmm, maybe this should have been Rule 1.

I continue with Rule 5, the one everyone’s been wondering about: “NO HALL PASSES!


Dakshesh again, fidgeting wildly now: “What if you have a serious Number-Two type bathroom situation?'”

Lots of sniggers, which I ignore. Ignoring is a powerful substitute tool, which never works. I revise: “NO HALL PASSES UNLESS IT’S AN EMERGENCY! I decide if it’s an emergency, and you’d better be throwing up!” This answer conveniently dove-tails into the students’ innate tendency to regurgitate teachers.

Silence. I’ve gained ground. But I know the cyclone is gathering energy.

“Rule 6: Stay in your assigned seats! No wandering around or visiting!”

“Do you understand the rules? Say YES.”


Next I take roll, which occupies 12 minutes because there are an average of 38 kids in each period, I can’t pronounce most of the names, the 22 kids still learning English can’t understand many words I say, and I slip on raisins and bang my elbow on the counter, demonstrating the ironic gravitas of my own safety rule.

Finally I give the assignment, which is also written on the board. “Read pages 666 through 681 in your Science book. In your notebook write one fact for each paragraph. There are 28 paragraphs. Do you understand the assignment? Say YES.”


“Good. Get to work.”

Elikapeka raises her hand. “I spelling 681 sentences each page, yes?”


The next 20 minutes proceed normally without any learning and lots of students wandering around talking and throwing raisins.

To not regain control, I give an impromptu lesson on gravity, which I think cleverly complements the teacher’s assignment on the climate of Antarctica. I get these pertinent questions:

“How tall are you?”

“Tall. Sit Down.”

“Where is Mr. Pike?”

I improvise: “He was in an accident.”



“Well, where is he?”

I pause and look worried as if I shouldn’t be divulging this. “He’s in Antarctica on a secret gravity mission for the Government. He’ll be back on Monday.”

En masse: “BITCHIN, DUDE!”

I repeat this entire process 7 times. After fourth period I am rewarded with a 22 minute lunch break, which I gleefully spend in the bathroom.

The last bell rings. I’m exhausted, but in a good way, because I know I’ve contributed to the enlightenment of young minds.


I know what you’re wondering: “Why would anyone want to be a substitute teacher?”

We’re not talking about that right now. SIT DOWN!

Blue Moon

I enjoy the sky at twilight, about an hour after sunset. Tonight Venus shines brightly, the early Evening Star, the Planet of Love. On such a summer night exactly 28 years ago—when I was 28—my daughter was born.

The hospital was in chaos, and the nurses scampered hurriedly between rooms. During one brief visit to check our progress and administer an epidural anesthetic, the nurse said, “Damn these full moon nights! I don’t care what anyone says; more babies are delivered during full moons. I know it’s a fact. Your doctor will be in later because he’s got two other mothers here ready to pop. It’s going to be helluva night. Just relax. You’re not ready yet.” The mother-to-be was not amused.

I’ve learned that people are born who they are. You don’t realize it until later, but you piece it together: a smile, a look, a demeanor, a turn-of-phrase. They say people don’t change.

A half hour later the nurse came. “Nope, you’re only 8 centimeters, but you’re getting close. Doc is elbows-deep delivering Mrs. B. I’ll be back.” Down the hallway we could hear the other pregnant ones screaming. My wife’s eyes got as big as the moon. People scurried past our door, and we realized that babies keep their own schedules.

Forty-five minutes later a different nurse and a doctor arrived. Not our doctor. “Sorry, Doc is delivering Mrs. C now. He should be in soon, but, hell, another mother just checked-in. I hate this.” The stand-in doctor, a new Resident, looked bewildered and a bit frightened. The nurse said, “Damn, you’re at 10 centimeters and you’re going to deliver!” Then, to the child-Resident, “Take over here! I’ll go get Doc.” My wife loudly hollered many profanities.

Suddenly, Doc came in and said, “STOP YELLING! You’re scaring my other patients!” Then he quickly left. I never even realized I had been yelling. After five minutes, Doc came back and studied the situation. “What is going on here! This place is crazy! But don’t worry, you’re ready now. PUSH! PUSH! This baby doesn’t want to come out! Give me the forceps!” My wife PUSHED as the metal device clamped around something’s unseen skull. After 10 minutes of pulling, twisting and twisting-while-pulling, there was still no baby. The pregnant one was now resigned to deliver something hideous that was part man, part machine with a wrung neck.

Then Doc said to the Resident, “Get the scissors and cut the perineum here. HURRY!” With shaky hands, the newborn doctor approached, realizing he was being called upon to do surgery on his first time out of the chute. “Don’t worry, we need to make a small cut to enlarge the birth canal. DO IT NOW! HERE!” Doc yanked on the forceps. Then he said, “This baby is stressed. I’m going to pull like hell one more time, and if that doesn’t work we’ll have to do a Cesarean.” Resident turned green. With one mighty last pull, and in a flood of blood and guts, out came my reluctant daughter into the world. My wife’s head spun around. I puked into my own mouth. Resident changed careers.

In my wife’s room an hour later, our daughter was brought amidst a flurry of chattering nurses. She had long black hair with the family birthmark patch of white on her forehead. “We would have brought her sooner, but the nurses downstairs had to come see her. We’ve never seen a baby with so much unusual hair in two colors!” The nurse gave her to her mother. My daughter calmly opened her eyes and looked around as if deciding whether she wanted to stay and eat or to immediately start investigating her new world. We are who we are.

That night I left the hospital before the sun arrived. I looked at the sky. The second full moon of that month, a “blue moon”, glowed in the west, outshining the stars and illuminating a new, proud father.

Today, 28 years later, I still see in my daughter the person she was that night: an independent, observant, smart, lovely woman with lots of hair. Unique and rare, like a Blue Moon.

May that beautiful little girl continue to shine on brightly in you, wonderful daughter.

Happy birthday!

The Hungry Children (The Afternoon of the Dawn of the Day After the Day of the Living Dead, Around 2:00 pm. The Sequel)

Long ago, in the Land of Monsters, there lived many children. These were not ordinary children. They were unusually terrible, badly-behaved children with rotten teeth and rancid breath. But the children were happy because they could do whatever they wanted to do all day long. Their favorite thing to do was eat adults–all kinds of adults. Sometimes the children cut off the arms and legs of the adults and fried them in the fat of other adults. Sometimes they had boiled adult eyeballs for dinner with heaping mounds of ear wax smothered in ketchup. Sometimes they had Great Uncle intestines stuffed with old Librarian liver and steamed Police Officer brains. Sometimes they had stir-fried Uncle chins with a side of Great Grandmother toes and baked Stepmother knees for dessert. The children ate friendly adults, happy adults and sad adults. They ate rich adults, poor adults, and even adults without arms and legs who barely made a decent meal. These children were always hungry for fresh adults. These children were Zombies.

Everything was fine for many years, and then the children noticed that it was becoming harder and harder to find tasty adults to eat. There just weren’t as many fat Grandfathers with crispy skin. Many of the Grandmothers had become tough and chewy. Even the friendly Underwear Models, not wearing anything else, who normally tasted like ripe, juicy peaches covered in pistachio ice-cream, chocolate syrup, gummy bears and sprinkles, had gone to hide in the wilderness where they ate squirrels which caused them to taste like infected rats covered with worms dipped in the smelly, lumpy poop of old monkeys. Years before, the children had quickly eaten all the delicious Teachers so they wouldn’t have to go to school anymore. And did you ever wonder why there are not many Policemen, Firemen, or Farmers in the world now? Well, it’s because they were the tastiest people of all and so there are very few of them left.

The situation became desperate. The children were so hungry that they began eating the bad-tasting adults like Sewer Workers, Plumbers, Scientists, Lawyers, and Doctors. On really hungry days the children even had to eat the worst tasting adults of all: Congressmen, French People, Realtors, Insurance Salesmen and Bank Executives. No amount of seasoning or Tabasco sauce could improve their taste.

Something needed to be done! Children all over the world met secretly in clubhouses and basements and in hidey holes and barns. They exchanged emails and texts about what to do. After months of study, the children finally decided they should capture the best tasting adults and put them in large adult farms. And that’s just what the Zombie children did.

The strongest children rounded up the most delicious adults who were still young enough to have new babies, and they put them in comfortable organic farms in the countryside. The adults didn’t like it at first. But then they realized that the Zombie children fed them well and all they had to do was frolic around outside when the weather was nice and stay inside by warm fires in the winter, and eat and eat and get fat. Many adult friendships were formed among strangers, which the children permitted and even encouraged. All of a sudden, after months of this adult interaction, new babies were born everywhere and the Zombie children had to quickly build new hospitals, daycares, and bars and dance clubs.

At first it was difficult for the Zombie children and the adults to adjust to this new way of living. The Zombie children had to learn to build the adult farms and grow vegetables to feed the adults. The Zombie children realized that going to school was important so they could learn how to run the farms and account for all the expenses and do the planning and so many other important things. The adults had to learn to do what they were told, to not cause the Zombie children any trouble, and they began to want to stay healthy and fit with rippling abs and Brazilian waxes so they could have more babies. Adult coffee shops, gym memberships and tanning salons became very popular in the adult farm communities.

After many years of hardship and famine, the Zombie children’s lives got better and they prospered in their adult farming businesses. It was an exciting new world where starvation and hunger were unknown. The new babies grew into normal children who grew into adults who were then humanely slaughtered and eaten by the Zombie children. Many new recipes were developed and many new cookbooks were written by Zombie child-authors specializing in adult cuisine. Everyone was happy, even the people in the adult farms because they were content, had plenty of fresh air and exercise and were allowed to make as many new friends and babies as they could.

It was a new world filled with young, happy, prosperous Zombie children! And none of them were ever hungry again.