Monday, October 29, 2007

Three Exchanges I Witnessed Recently, All of Which Made Me Laugh


[A middle-aged woman and a young girl approach a man in the Harris Teeter parking lot]

Woman: Excuse me, but do you know of any good Mexican restaurants around here?
Man: Are you a Republican?
Woman: [defensively] Well! I don't see how that's relevant, but yes, I am.
Man: [inaudible] Republican [inaudible]! [walks away]
Woman: [laughs] Okay then. [looks pleased]


[A middle-aged couple and a man with a thick Slavic accent sit at a table outside of Weaver Street]

Slavic Man: [to woman] You must try the pomegranate wine!
Woman: Oh no, I couldn't. I got sick off some pomegranate wine once.
Slavic Man: [forcefully] No! You are mistaken!
Woman: [taken aback] I'm not mistaken. It happened.
Slavic Man: What you had was not pomegranate wine!
Woman: It certainly was.
Slavic Man: Pomegranate wine would make no one sick!
Woman: Well I drank some and it made me sick.
Other Man: It's true, it did.


[Two 20-ish girls sit next to each other on a couch at a small gathering]

Girl #1: I wish I had a purse that was just ... always full of pot.
Girl #2: That'd be my favorite purse.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Superpower Assignments (updated! ... some more!!)

All right everyone (and I do mean everyone), you've all been assigned superpowers.

Anyone can assign anyone else, including themselves, a superpower.
All superpowers are sovereign.
You can change the superpower you assigned someone else if you like.


Aikta Wahi
  • Self-induced sleep [Brett]

Alex Henderson
  • Can travel back in time five seconds (five seconds to recharge) [Brett]
  • Powers of lightning (fury) [Alex]
  • Can make bread rise or resurrect fallen bread (one in every 1,000 attempts will misfire and give Brett an approximately 30 minute erection) [Cameron]
  • Can hover four inches above the ground [Megan]
  • Can generate shockwaves with ~5KJ of energy twice per day [Daniel]
  • May memorize one extra spell per day per caster level [Sean]

Alicia Gurley
  • Perfect balance [Brett]
  • Always has one cigarette left [Daniel]
  • Personal opinion determines critical reviews/general esteem of any pop culture medium (books, film, TV shows, etc.) [Megan]

Amanda Hurley
  • Has the only proper title to a djinn that will grant her seven wishes; the djinn is located in a lamp at the bottom of the sea in an unknown location; she is unable to give any indication to anyone that she is looking for something in the ocean [Brett]
  • Can replicate calico cats under 6 weeks of age [Daniel]
  • For one day per month, can make a person of her choice see themselves completely accurately & objectively [Megan]

Amy Olson
  • An incredibly extensive arsenal [Brett]

Anna B-R

  • Sex is always amazing [Brett]
  • Can summon a horned helmet and whale-bone javelin at will [Daniel]
  • War cry resounding for miles [Megan]

Anna DeWitt
  • Astigmatism [Brett]

Annie Blakeney-Glazer
  • Dances better than anyone else in the room [Brett]
  • Can dehyphenate surnames [Daniel]
  • Excellent intuition for midwifery [Megan]

Bobo Deng
  • When talking to people in person, knows what they least want her to [Brett]

Breniecia Reuben
  • Can pinpoint the location of any post-pubescent female within 50 miles [Brett]
  • Can make any marinade perfectly [Megan]
  • Can survive tornadoes, hurricanes and any other rotating meteorological phenomenon [Daniel]

Brent Williams

  • Excellent gaydar [Brett]

Brett A. Bumgarner
  • Social capital [Brett]
  • Anything made eventually turns out just as wanted [Kate]
  • Powers of amber (preservation) [Alex]
  • Knowledge of all components of all songs [Cameron]
  • Truly probing questions elicit honest answers [Megan]
  • Can carry on as many conversations at once as needed [Tim]
  • Can deliver messages via cats that paint [Jankers]
  • Can turn anything into psilocybin mushrooms when sober [Daniel]
  • Never encounters pot holes [Alicia]
  • Has visionary prescience of clothing about to enter his life [Jared]
  • Can wink at someone and control their mind for 10 minutes [Jen]
  • May throw urticating hairs at attackers if disturbed [Sean]

Brice McGowan
  • Can't get bored [Brett]

Cameron Hartofelis
  • Has no necessity for many bodily functions (eating, breathing, sleeping, drinking, sweating, burping, sneezing, coughing, vomiting, urinating, defecating, menstruating and ovulating) [Brett]
  • Perfect first impression of what someone is really like upon meeting them [Kate]
  • Powers of vegetation (entanglement) [Alex]
  • Queen of the cats [Cameron]
  • For one hour a week, can make anyone else see things from her perspective [Megan]
  • Can create artificial sunlight at any time of day or night for 30-35 seconds [Daniel]

Catherine Kronk
  • Can allow one animated character at a time to become real [Brett]
  • Always remembers to turn off the lights [Alex]

Chelsea Flowers

  • Can draw a perfect circle [Brett]
  • Can turn strawberry jam into raspberry jam [Megan]
  • Can sell anything to anyone for any price, given that the buyer is a crackhead and/or Batley from Eureka's Castle [Daniel]

Chris Erb
  • At the moment of most import in his life, a mysterious and wise old crone will approach him with an omen he would be wise to take heed of [Brett]
  • Can create and destroy Stalin doppelgangers when struck [Daniel]

Chris Lauderdale (Dr. Feathers)
  • Can guess anyone's astrological signs [Brett]

Cole Goins
  • Smells like what is most inviting to each individual [Brett]
  • Can surf the internet with 56k dialup speed on any computer connected to the internet [Daniel]

Colin Fleisher
  • Can bear children yet retain the same physical body [Brett]
  • Can see the past [Daniel]
  • Hates cockroaches [Megan]

Daniel Fleisher
  • Can communicate with the dead if in the place they were put to rest [Brett]
  • Has bat wings that attach under his arms and allow him to fly [Kate]
  • Powers of fog (occlusion) [Alex]
  • Can see in any light [Megan]
  • Can enthrall people with anything he's writing and it's meaning and intent is always lucid [Tim]
  • Can warm the heart of a recalcitrant child [Jankers]
  • Can make yogurt factories go under [Daniel]

Dave Moore
  • Skilled metalworker [Brett]

David Brown
  • Can like anything if he wants to [Brett]
  • Irresistible to kickdogs [Daniel]
  • Prescient knowledge of approaching people whenever in an embarrassing/compromising situation [Megan]

David Hardee Watkins
  • Wolf animagus [Brett]
  • Speaks every variation of British dialect immaculately [Alex]
  • Can make bats listen [Daniel]

Dustin Baugham
  • Is friends with Lea Thompson [Brett]

Emily McKendry-Smith
  • Levity [Brett]

Emily Morton
  • Once a year, can apprehend America's most wanted fugitive without experiencing serious harm [Brett]
  • Elicits fear in predators [Megan]

Emily Withers
  • Can grow and un-grow a mustache in any styling [Brett]
  • Can emit a warm and balmy glow from her hands [Megan]
  • Can understand all orbits (e.g. Kepler's laws) [Daniel]

Eric Foss
  • Rapport modulation [Brett]

Erin Watson
  • A small vole lives inside her abdomen which she can regurgitate and swallow back (neither unpleasant); it can do her bidding and report back to her; if it dies, she gets another [Brett]
  • Opposable toes [Megan]
  • When in the presence of solar-powered machines, can occasionally see through them [Daniel]

  • Expanding throat - can swallow eggs whole! [Brett]

Eugene Yacobson

  • Has knowledge of what all people honestly think about him, even if they don't know themselves [Brett]
  • Ultimate empathy [Megan]
  • Can inflict Delhibelly on invertebrates [Daniel]
  • Always comes when beckoned [Alex]

Forrest Oliphant
  • Controlled somnambulism [Brett]

Frank Gallaugher
  • Knows all institutional rules that apply in his spatial and temporal existence [Brett]
  • Will die with honor [Megan]
  • Has the power to make sense. Ever. [Daniel]

Garrett Davis
  • Loved by all children [Brett]

Heather Livengood
  • With her thoughts, can (1) kill people, and (2) resurrect and summon the dead directly to her (resurrections will be as they were a month before they died) [Brett]
  • Affinity for Jews [Daniel]

Helen Kearns
  • Can brew coffee that gives people extremely vivid and memorable dreams determined by how she brews and serves the coffee [Brett]
  • Sonar [Megan]
  • A green thumb [Alicia]
  • Can inflict mild myopia on Brett A. Bumgarner for several minutes once per day or when stressed [Daniel]

Hunter Simpson
  • Can assign truancy penalty immunity [Brett]

Isaac Sandlin
  • Hears envy [Brett]

Jacob McLean

  • A daily, novel, humorous anecdote [Brett]

Jadrian Miles
  • Musk [Brett]
  • Tusks [Daniel]

  • Punctuality [Brett]
  • Eternally clean socks and underwear [Kate]
  • Infinite arithmetic abilities [Megan]
  • Can get to the logical root of any problem [Tim]
  • Can generate and restore light in literal and metaphorical senses [Daniel]

Jared Brothers
  • Two lives but no save point [Brett]
  • Can transport himself through stone [Jared]
  • Can switch back and forth between male and female genitalia at will [Megan]
  • Is stone [Daniel]

Jason Maxwell
  • Can pass as a statuesque, thirty-something female [Brett]
  • Can temporarily deactivate a single power of an acquaintance if angered [Daniel]
  • Can seduce 5 people of his choice in his lifetime [Megan]

Jen Choi

  • Birds pick up spare change for her [Brett]

Jen Toledo
  • Can live the life of a 17th century British sea captain when she so pleases [Brett]
  • Can use any musical instrument as a flying device [Jen]

Jenny Cigmalia
  • Origami takes on the properties of the folded animal [Brett]

Jesse Anderson

  • Propriety [Brett]
  • Lives in the Bog of Eternal Stench [Daniel]

Jonah Garson
  • 25% improved odds at games of chance [Brett]

Jonathan Page
  • Bird's-eye view [Brett]

  • Has a safety place in the outskirts of southern Sydney he can teleport himself to (takes several minutes to manifest) [Brett]
  • Can make his hands look like anyone's hands [Megan]
  • Can regrow own teeth [Daniel]

Jose Boyer
  • Can control how sober he is [Brett]
  • Can grow roots 3-5 feet into soft earth [Daniel]
  • Can transmute kale into the same mass of any other type of food of his choosing [Megan]

Josh Dull
  • No scent or taste is too cloying, and is instead too peppery [Brett]
  • Satyr legs [Megan]
  • Public transportation runs on his time [Alicia]
  • Wings too small to actually carry him to the heavens [Daniel]

Kareen Boncales
  • Gets every joke [Brett]
  • Power to be known to Daniel Fleisher [Daniel]
  • Disarming [Megan]

Kareena Jasso

  • Can elude security guards with ease [Brett]

Kate Wheeler
  • Can remember everything, effective retroactively [Brett]
  • Powers of sunlight (restorative radiation) [Alex]
  • Shoes that always endure, always protect and are always perfectly worn in [Cameron]
  • Power over one ungulate at a time (can communicate with it and it will do her bidding) [Megan]
  • Can make any prescriptivism obsolete [Jankers]
  • Once per week, can view and store the entire genetic code for any species [Daniel]
  • May perform reverse osmosis as if it were regular, forward osmosis [Sean]

Katie Almirall
  • Can't be embarrassed [Brett]

Katie O'Neil
  • A large dowry [Brett]

Keith Hodson
  • Has a Pegasus [Brett]

Kenton deAngeli

  • Always gets to be the designated driver [Brett]
  • Can survive syphilis [Megan]
  • Can survive [Daniel]

Kevin Clark
  • Coldblooded [Brett]

Kevin Michael Clair

  • Can change anything’s color [Brett]
  • Can only immolate oneself in libraries all of whose books are composed entirely of blank pages [Daniel]
  • Control over all water (position, grouping [e.g. can condense all water out of the air, create tsunamis, etc.]). Basically the Magneto of water. [Megan]

Kevin Wood
  • Can always find closure [Brett]

Kristen Orr

  • "The Rachel" [Brett]

Kristen Pallotta
  • Can identify future stroke victims [Brett]
  • Everyday, can make any two books disappear forever (only that copy) [Daniel]
  • All clothes are flattering on her [Megan]

  • Can make bubbles come out of her mouth that last up to a day [Brett]
  • Extra vagina on roof of mouth [Daniel]
  • Paws instead of feet [Megan]

Lauren Brenner
  • Divining rod [Brett]

Laurin Gioglio
  • Expert scrimshander with infinite whalebone supply [Brett]
  • Can detect all masons within 50 meters [Daniel]
  • Can communicate with the person on the exact opposite side of the world from her, if there is a person at that spot at the moment of attempted contact [Megan]

Leilani Trowell
  • Can temporarily relieve herself of all stress [Brett]
  • Can't fly [Daniel]
  • Can slightly change the appearance of one body part (of hers) at a time (when changing another, the first body part returns to original appearance) [Megan]

  • Dignified composure in times of grief [Brett]

Lillian Morris
  • Commands respect [Brett]

Liz Yockey
  • Can forget anything she wants to [Brett]
  • Can spit pure RNA [Daniel]
  • Can levitate all vegetables at will [Megan]

Llael Maffitt
  • Can survive intense cold [Brett]


  • Will always be generously tipped when working in the service industry [Brett]
  • Poisonous [Daniel]
  • Excellent at all Vaudevillian performances [Megan]

Matt March
  • Always knows the exact time [Brett]
  • Can be distinguished from Will Moore [Daniel]
  • Welcomes people with warmth and cheer [Megan]

Matt Thomas

  • Can summon rainbows [Brett]

Meg Lyon
  • On every new moon, experiences the life of an elderly invalid for a day, and shall return to her life without any actual time having passed [Brett]
  • The biting strength of a man [Daniel]
  • Can emit sparks [Megan]

Megan Somerday
  • One and only one established being of mythology must be in play at all times as summoned by Megan (e.g., a mermaid, Santa Claus, Yahweh or a vampire) — beings that exist only in the plural may be summoned as such [Brett]
  • Can end any argument/discussion with one irrefutable statement [Kate]
  • Powers of clouds (neutralization) [Alex]
  • Can immediately summon any one person (known personally to her) at any time [Tim]
  • Can evoke whimsy with a pointed look [Jankers]
  • Can speak and understand all human languages [Daniel]
  • Infinite disarming charisma [Megan]
  • Prescience of spills [Liz]
  • Can control electricity [Jen]
  • May measure position and momentum simultaneously [Sean]

Melanie Singer
  • Lays eggs – a random variety every time! (nothing with an exoskeleton) [Brett]

Michael Harwood
  • Can fit into smaller spaces than one would expect [Brett]

Michael O'Shea
  • Fortune cookies always come true [Brett]

Mike Lebov
  • Debonairness [Brett]

Montgomery Morris
  • Speaks Esperanto [Brett]

  • Appliqué [Brett]

Nebula Li

  • Stilts [Brett]

Nicole Bittner

  • Excellent instinct for the stock market [Brett]

  • Knows the extent of his abilities [Brett]
  • Banished from Chicago [Daniel]

Nick Snyder
  • Loves Gallagher [Brett]

Niky Ring
  • Alacrity [Brett]
  • Werewolf blood (detectable by sorcerers and clerics) [Daniel]
  • Reasonable knowledge of aquatic creatures [Megan]

Nureena Faruqi
  • Can make blood come out of any orifice [Brett]
  • Venomous fangs [Megan]
  • Bulldozer-proof (though I know she's not a Palestinian :D) [Daniel]

Owen Fitzgerald
  • Red-green colorblind [Brett]

  • Can survive off mosses and lichen [Brett]

  • An uncommonly mordant wit [Brett]
  • Can pave flat areas at will [Daniel]
  • Glows in the dark [Megan]

Patrick Reynolds
  • Irrefutable evidence for all things he is wrongfully accused of [Brett]

Paul Smith

  • Wins every award he is nominated for (up to 25 nominees) [Brett]
  • Intimate knowledge of all buggery [Daniel]
  • Can survive in space with no protective gear [Megan]

Princess Ojiaku
  • Friends with Ghostwriter [Brett]
  • Can temporarily acquire the characteristics of another and a concomitant indicator of that person (think Kirby) [Megan]

Rayven Plaza
  • Can control how much physical pain she feels [Brett]

Reece McGowen
  • Every month, gets to pick a day where it goes as it would have, yet is only for practice [Brett]
  • Can swim and dive through the earth, as a dolphin can through water [Reece]

Robin Sinhababu

  • Speed-reading [Brett]

Ronnie Johnson
  • Can approach and pet herbivores without intimidating them [Brett]
  • Perfect navigational skills (perfect internal compass and map) [Megan]
  • Total immunity to contagion [Daniel]

Ros Schwartz
  • Frightens people [Brett]
  • Has 'It' [Megan]

Sarah Wilson

  • Can accurately assay her ability to seduce others [Brett]
  • Has the most pleasantly soft skin and hair of all time [Megan]
  • Metal fingertips (perfect for shredding! (on a guitar!)) [Daniel]

  • Stealth [Brett]

Sean Hill

  • Revolutionary cellist virtuoso who will always be regarded as the cellist of most import should he choose to capitalize on his skill [Brett]
  • Can temporarily legally change name to Hean Sill [Daniel]
  • Uncommonly flexible [Megan]
  • Can jump any height as long as doing so is in response to an explicit challenge [Sean]

Stanton Kidd
  • Never gets nauseous [Brett]

Stefan Mlot
  • Can restrict people's bodily movements with his mind [Brett]

Steph Russ
  • Tastes like each person's favorite ice cream flavor [Brett]
  • Can smell fear [Megan]

Susannah Tysor
  • Immunity to headaches [Brett]
  • Sterility stare [Susannah]
  • Can make locking joints unlock if needed [Daniel]

Susie Simpson
  • Parseltongue [Brett]
  • Can shed skin all at once (think: snakes) [Daniel]
  • Vertical, transparent eyelids (never has to blink!) [Megan]

Tess Pendergast
  • Hibernates [Brett]

Tessa Lee
  • Can always find a safe ride when hitchhiking [Brett]
  • Can perceive all objects as if they were coated in Vaseline [Daniel]
  • An unquenchable thirst for knowledge [Megan]

Tim Stallmann
  • All things that belong to him will automatically be neat, clean and organized [Brett]
  • Has knowledge of interesting secret places nearby [Kate]
  • Can recast any situation in a positive light to himself and others [Megan]
  • Can convince anyone of anything about himself if speaking to him/her in person [Tim]
  • Can restore English longbowmen's fingers that have been cut off [Jankers]
  • Can fold space and time three times in his life and create a separate copy of himself that will live its own life, but he will know what it is doing [Daniel]

Tony Shaff
  • Can conjure craved foods [Brett]

Travis Smith
  • Excellent rhythm [Brett]

Tyler Boyd
  • Whatever he wears is automatically the most stylish [Brett]
  • Can jump slightly higher than he currently can [Daniel]
  • Can change minute details of already-recorded songs at his pleasure [Megan]

Tyler Thomas
  • Perfect knowledge of everything's location outside the Earth's atmosphere [Brett]
  • Color coordination [Alicia]
  • Knows the full life-story of every character in Harry Potter but doesn't care [Alex]
  • Platemail [Daniel]

Will Moore
  • Sings with a beautifully plaintive voice [Brett]

Zachariah Cox
  • A noble bloodline [Brett]

Zane Beckwith
  • Hospitality [Brett]
  • Can cartwheel for miles without stopping [Daniel]
  • Subtlety [Megan]

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Equivocating Bumper Stickers

Are you tired of hidebound, provocative bumper stickers? Well so are we. That's why we're introducing a new line of bumper stickers for those who don't have a strong opinion, or much of one at all. Among the catalogue are:
"I think it's difficult to pinpoint the exact point when a fetus becomes a child."

"You don't need to stop watching TV completely, but you should probably watch a little less."

"I think civil unions aren't a bad compromise for the time being."

"It would be nice to reap the benefits of stem cell research without encountering any ethical quandaries."

"Unitarian universalist."
Okay, that last one was just a cheap joke waiting to be made, but I really would like that stem cell one.

For the more adventurous (or equivocating) among you, feel free to submit your own!

A Joke: What is the best ring that there is?

The ring of the dinner bell.

Trimming the Fat off of English

In most usages, the following words are so blunt and insipid that they don't mean anything to me anymore. I think they should be used less frequently, unless used in meaningful and impactful new contexts.
If I've overlooked any, let me know.

On a related note, read George Orwell's Politics and the English Language. It's not advocating what you might immediately think.

*I heard Adrian Brody's nose described as "quirky" once. I think that was an acceptable (and refreshing!) context.

How to Land that Crush

I've discovered the best way to land that crush you've been pining after. All you have to do is isolate them from all the people they like more than or as much as you. Then just make yourself present, and you'll stand out as #1!

Just try and make sure they don't meet new people.

Exploring Chinese Culture through "Survivor"

In the last episode of Survivor: China* one of the challenges was actually this: picking up fireballs with chopsticks and trying to light fireworks with them.

Next week, I hear they're going to lay railroad tracks.

The reward for the challenge was somewhat enlightening: the winning tribe spent a day with a Chinese fisherman and his family. Apparently Chinese fisherman have several trained water fowl that simultaneously catch the fish for them. The birds have rope lightly tied around their necks so they don't swallow the fish. After catching the fish, they then hop back up in the boat, and the fisherman just sticks his hand in the bird's mouth and it spits up the fish. Huh. Clever. And kind of gross.

*Yeah, yeah, I know I said I wouldn't watch it, shut the hell up.

Featured Cocktail: The Dutch Livingston

This cheeky little mixed drink is making a move. A move on the Chapel Hill / Carrboro scene! It's dry, aromatic and refreshing with a trace of tartness. It awakens the mind, enlivens the spirits, and enervates enemies!

How to make one:

1) Start with a gin & tonic (don't forget the lime!) ...
2) Add a healthy splash of grapefruit juice ...
3) And a hearty dash of bitters!

Who's drinking them:

Emily Morton.
That Sean guy I met at Fuse.

Where to get one:

403 W Rosemary St
Chapel Hill, NC 27516
(919) 942-9242

The Spotted Dog
111 E Main St
Carrboro, NC 27510
(919) 933-1117

Ya Know, Bars
Chapel Hill / Carrboro

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Grad School Personal Statement

In my quest for insight on how to write a personal statement for my grad school applications, I came across this tip:
Don't Bore the Reader. Do Be Interesting.

The best way to grip your reader is to begin the essay with a captivating snapshot. Notice how the slightly jarring scene depicted in the "after" creates intrigue and keeps the reader's interest.

Before: I am a compilation of many years of experiences gained from overcoming the relentless struggles of life.

After: I was six years old, the eldest of six children in the Bronx, when my father was murdered.
Oh, okay, thanks for the advice, Geoffrey Cook. I'll try to use concrete examples of my father's murder, that pogrom I escaped, my expedition into space, or losing my legs in 'Nam.