A bleak saga of isolation — and an exciting new product with red dots and Dralk!
Produced and directed by Barry Lank.
Written by Jim Earl.
Music by Kevin MacLeod
A bleak saga of isolation — and an exciting new product with red dots and Dralk!
Produced and directed by Barry Lank.
Written by Jim Earl.
Music by Kevin MacLeod
Every year at this time, newsrooms buzz about something few reporters actually cover: Feb. 1 is the deadline to apply for a Pulitzer Prize.
So at the offices of every daily and weekly paper you pick up, reporters are searching intensely for articles from the preceding year that may be good enough to win American print journalism’s top honor. As a result, we look back over the past year and discover that, despite the daily ups and downs of the newspaper game, despite the frustrations, strain and heartache, our work throughout the year has largely been pointless.
Everything was written in a hurry. Corners were cut. We wrote one thing so a source would tell us about something else. And now, with the Internet, a new generation of reporters is wasting its talents in ways that would not have been possible 15 years ago.
But it doesn’t matter. Whether you write for the Boston Globe or the phone book, if your publication comes out at least once a week, you can still claim the dream of winning a Pulitzer – of gaining permanent respect from your peers and being able to wear a nightgown to your next employee review.
Just send the committee your articles, a $50 handling fee and a one- or two-page summary telling what your stories are about and what you went through to get them. It’s fun. It’s easy. You can do it while drinking. I’ve even gone ahead and imagined the summaries being written for honorable work last year from the following magazines:
Weekly World News
Title of the article: “Man’s head explodes in barber chair.”
Category of award: Meritorious public service
Why it deserves a Pulitzer: We modestly believe this story completely changed the way Americans get their hair cut. No longer do people visit the barber without wondering whether their heads – for absolutely no reason whatsoever – might burst like a white-hot cantaloupe. That’s why this story was the lead in our magazine the week it ran, getting top billing even over “Dead rock stars return on ghost plane,” “Faces of Howard Stern, Pamela Anderson and Satan appear in volcano Smoke” and “Woman with four legs opens dance studio.”
Title of article: “Bosses want workers to pay”
Category: Spot news
Why it deserves a Pulitzer: Our reporter was reading about the bankruptcy of United Airlines when he noticed (as he stated in the first line of the story) that it “highlights the destructive cost of free-market policies that lead to economic crises and destroy the lives of millions of working people.”
We scooped every other newspaper on this.
Cheese Market News
Title: “Land O’Lakes’ new Dairy Ease caters to lactose intolerant”
Category: Distinguished commentary
Why it deserves a Pulitzer: Self-explanatory.
Title: “Here’s what the cast of `Friends’ is up to these days.”
Category: Investigative reporting
Why it deserves a Pulitzer: After 11 months of research, a lawsuit filed under the Freedom of Information Act and several death threats, we established as publishable fact that Jennifer Aniston still looks stunning.
Every Paper I’ve Ever Worked For
Title: Kitten-a-thon turns heads
Category: Distinguished example of explanatory reporting
Why it deserves a Pulitzer: This entry started out as a press release from our local humane society, and more or less stayed that way. Nonetheless, the story took several weeks to assemble and was a personal triumph because the reporter was just then learning how to type.
(This was originally written in 2003, when I still actually worked for a newspaper.)
A civil forfeiture Christmas. You can make your dreams come true, if you’re just legally permitted to take everyone’s stuff. Written and produced by Barry Lank. Barry Lank – Narrator Jim Earl – Chief Steve Rosenfield – Sgt. Brickman Ebbie Parker – Star Jeff Hendrick – Various police officers and civilians
Welcome, everyone. Our CEO, Mr. Pennshaw, is not here to make today’s morning announcements. If he were here, the announcements would start out differently, since my first announcement is that Mr. Pennshaw is not here.
Also, while Mr. Pennshaw is out, no one is to go into his office or look at his files. There is no particular reason for this. Nothing is wrong. Mr. Pennshaw would be here himself to tell you nothing is wrong, but he is very busy buying groceries. Depending how things go with the Securities and Exchange Commission, he may be buying groceries for seven to 14 years.
In any case, the governing board of GlobCorp is taking this opportunity to say we will hold a surprise birthday party for Mr. Pennshaw. Attendance is mandatory.
My name is Mr. Roth. Many of you do not know me because, strictly speaking, my job has no assigned functions. But I rarely concern myself with matters outside this company. I did once try to concern myself with matters outside this company. But the individual with whom I concerned myself concluded she had no feelings in particular about me. So I am now dedicated to this surprise party – or, as we are calling it on our planning graph, the surprise party project.
Employees must adhere to the following ground rules during Mr. Pennshaw’s party:
1. Like any other employee, Mr. Pennshaw will receive a standard-issue cake with brown icing on top, neutral beige icing in the middle and corporate-issue gray ice cream.
2. We will sing one round of “Happy Birthday to You” as it was written and copyrighted. We will not add the tag “How old are you,” and we will not eat the cake, as the planning committee designed it around our corporate image, and neglected to specify that it be edible.
3. No one is to mention Mr. Pennshaw’s son Tom. However, if Mr. Pennshaw calls you Tom, the only acceptable answer is “Yes, Dad.”
4. The subject of Mr. Pennshaw’s divorce may be avoided if every employee takes care act as if marriage does not exist for most people.
5. No one is to ask Mr. Pennshaw whether he ever missed telling someone he loved them and, once it was too late, he suffered such despair that he had to go on leave. This question has been asked and answered.
6. Any gifts for Mr. Pennshaw must come from the following selection:
That is all.
From: Office of the Principal – West Jadico Senior High School
As we continue cutting the budget here at West Jadico, some of you students may have noticed the changes, such as when we brought in prisoners to teach Home Ec.
Unfortunately, with more government cuts, that trend will continue this year. So we must figure out how to adapt, without any more incidents such as when one of the new Home Ec teachers showed students how to turn celery sticks into a rough but effective brandy.
With the following proposed solutions, I believe that students can learn as much in the classroom as they did before, or at least spend about the same amount of time there.
Students who study their algebra books closely may notice that many more numbers than usual have been replaced by X and Y. Books that frequently use X and Y as variables cost less than books with real numbers because variables have no assigned value.
Using an interdisciplinary approach that employs psychology, statistical analysis and several pie charts, Mr. Eagerton will tell students why he is alone.
We will have to share textbooks with three other townships. Goldthwaite Middle School in Goldthwaite Township will get the first four chapters of the books, which means they will learn the present tense. Brian Hill Senior High in central Olenyn will get chapters five through nine, in which they will learn past and future tenses.
That just leaves us with chapter 10, the subjunctive mode. So while children in nearby towns will be able to speak of things as they are or were, students here will learn to talk about how things would be if everything were different.
We cannot afford any pictures of plants, invertebrates or lower mammals. The only living things students will study this year are super models.
Students will gather at the janitor’s room and play with matches.
Last year, we had to make do without vowels, leaving students to slog through F. Sctt Ftzgrld’s Th Grt Gtsby and J.D. Slngr’s Ctchr n th Ry. This year, we get our vowels back, but will only read book jackets. Students will be expected to read and identify at least three adjectives describing John Grisham’s “The Pelican Brief.”
Students may have noted a gradual decay in our history classes last year when our survey course “History of Western Civilization” had to be renamed “History of Every Second or Third Day of Western Civilization.” This year, all we can offer is “History of Every Second Friday.” As a result, the course will have to skip Dec. 7, 1941, which fell on a Sunday. Our textbook jumps right from Dec. 5, 1941, when the Football Writers Association of America was organized, straight to Dec. 19, when a U.S. submarine had already sunk a Japanese ship and the federal government created the Office of Censorship to control war information. Students will have to infer for themselves what the problem was.
Also, the textbook doesn’t go past 1962. History in this class will end with the TV premiere of The Beverly Hillbillies, which indeed is when history ended in real life.
At age 18, students will be shown the exits.
I know I don’t have a baby, but suppose I did. And suppose the state let me keep it. So there’s my baby, lying innocently in its cradle, able to set things on fire by looking at them. And I need to have him raised quickly and easily while I’m busy with my life’s mission of getting drunk and phoning radio stations. What am I supposed to do?
I should do what normal people do, of course, and plunk the kid down in front of a television until he’s old enough to get up, button his own shirt and join a longshoreman’s union. Why not? My theoretical child seems happy enough — staring at the screen, clapping his little hands and playing with the channel changer until he finds a rerun of Goodfellas.
But experts in child-rearing say this is bad. According to an old study out of Tufts University, babies are influenced by the emotional reactions of actors, just like they are by their parents.
Basically, a baby doesn’t know how to react to a lot of things emotionally until it sees what other people. If a fire breaks out, it’s really neither here nor there to a baby until it sees its parents get upset. A toddler will think, “Say, that A Rod fellow with the Yankees looks like a pretty fair athlete,” until it notices that all the adults nearby are running around waving their arms in shock and panic.
Well it turns out that a 12-months-old child who is watching television will look to the actors for the same kind of cues. If characters in a drama react with suspicion and fear to veteran actress Lesley Ann Warren, a baby will do the same, and perhaps continue to do so throughout its life, leaving Ms. Warren with an eerie power over a generation of children who happened to have caught her on one particularly tense episode of Columbo.
But the way I see it, how can learning be “wrong”? How can knowledge be “bad”? Huh? Tell me that.
Not only are many important lessons available on television, but many of them are only available on television. These are things your child might otherwise not learn about life, even by observing life itself:
9 Laws of TV land
1. You can tell good people from bad people because bad people are usually played by actors who have played bad people already.
2. Advanced Grease Formula Pine-Sol can take care of all your day-to-day kitchen spills, bathroom grime and high-traffic area dirt cleaning needs, while leaving a fresh, long-lasting scent.
3. You’re too fat.
4. It’s easy to kill a man. Just push him over. Simple.
5. There is a point to life. It all leads somewhere. Also, events occur more or less when they should.
6. If you meet someone of the opposite sex whom you find attractive but with whom you have nothing in common, don’t worry. Circumstances will continue to throw you together. This continuous chance association inevitably will lead to romance and not to charges of rape or stalking.
7. When you move to a new town, your next-door neighbor will be eccentric but lovable and will bring color and adventure into your life, rather than, for instance, borrow money from you and continue trying to borrow more until you learn to ignore him.
8. You’re divorced. Your life is empty. You’re a hopeless curmudgeon to whom life has been bitterly unfair. You know what you need? A monkey.
9. Girls who look a certain way are considered attractive and pleasant whereas girls with a different kind of nose and hair are considered ugly and mean. You resemble one of the ugly ones.
Follow this helpful guide to avoid the top seven most common mistakes people make in their resumes.
AVOID MENTIONING PRISON
It’s all well and good if, under the heading of “education,” you mention the GED you attained during lock-up. But be cautious when describing job abilities.
Good way to put it on your resume: “Experienced with laundry equipment, but also able to look up case law. Can sleep anywhere.”
Bad way to put it on your resume: “If you have a problem with someone, I can take care of this person by using nothing but a plastic spoon and some hair gel. Then you’re mine until we get out.”
EDIT LIST OF ABILITIES
Do not throw in just anything you can think of in order to make yourself look like more of a Renaissance man.
Bad: “Can speak fluent Spanish. Wrote my own wedding vows. Can fold my own tongue lengthwise and widthwise. Am able to abandon children without ever looking back.”
When describing the duties of previous jobs, try not to stray from the topic.
Bad: “As project manager for CPC Middleware, I set the budget and oversaw operations for projects that connected application software to basic operating systems. My wife makes the most remarkable chili. I’m going to be 34 next month, yet my parents are still taller than I am. Can I have a nickel?”
This is neither the time nor the place for your personal baggage. For example, which two items should be excluded from this job history?
1985 to 1994, engineer, Dempco Company.
1987 to 1993, participated in what I believed was a loving and monogamous marriage.
1993 to present, unable to feel anything, not even rage.
1994 to present, senior engineer, Lockheed.”
When listing job skills in a series of bullet points, do not get drunk in the middle of it. For instance:
* Experienced with Excel spreadsheets.
* Have completed nine hours of management training.
* Can beat up everyone I’ve met so far at your company.
* You know who was great? Adam West. The guy who played Batman on TV? He was great.
* I’m not a bad person. I’m just weak. And I have these terrible, terrible moods.
* Will you come home with me? How about your friend?
When listing former employers as references, refer to them only by their first and last name rather than by the nickname they didn’t know about. Viz:
Cousin It — extension #106.
Executive Vice President of Unmerited Arrogance — extension #130.
The Breather — extension #125.
EDIT YOUR JOB HISTORY
You don’t necessarily have to list jobs from longer ago than 10 years back. This is fortunate because too many different kinds of jobs makes employers think you may lack focus — and not everyone discovers their true calling right after college.
In this following resume sample, see if you can tell when the applicant should have stopped writing and left well enough alone:
2009 to present: Senior graphic designer at Concepts Unlimited, Newark.
2007 to 2009: Junior graphic designer, Special Moments Design, Edison.
2004 to 2006: Roadie for tic-tack-toe-playing chicken, Atlantic City and various locations.
2002: Accident victim for insurance money (freelance).
1997 to 2002: Member of Menudo.
The following places either pose a threat to the United States or require our help so desperately that we may have to intervene on their behalf:
This country is too cold to support life, and has been uninhabitable for millions of years. This must stop. The problem of Antarctica no longer should be left for future generations to solve.
This traditionally unstable region suffers a high infant mortality rate, about the same expectancy as China, Ecuador, North Korea and Lebanon, a low high school graduation rate and a high share of minors living below the poverty line. This is the classic scenario for breeding terrorist cells.
Lat. 30 South, Long. 150 West
Several questions remain unanswered about this area. What’s there? Well, some desolate patch of the Pacific Ocean — so admittedly, that question does have an answer. But who lives there? At just this moment, no one. But do they have weapons? Well, if no one is there, then they probably don’t have weapons. Alright, but tell me this: These people who are not there and have no weapons in this area where nothing exists, why won’t they cooperate?
Shelly’s Hi-Top Tavern
Since new owners took over this bar last year, the drinks don’t even get you buzzed. Yet the prices have gone up. Since this extra income obviously does not go toward alcohol, we can only assume it is being funneled to one of the many groups that want to topple the American system. Terrorists, perhaps? Nineteenth-century anarchists? Fourteenth-century heretics? Whoever this shadow group may be, we must show that the United States approaches problems with a firm resolve, that we will not bow, that we will not break and that we as a great nation are not fooled by a Long Island ice tea that’s mostly Coke.
The Playboy Mansion
National security officials do not know what exactly goes on there, since our nation’s leaders are too cheap to pay $9.99 for two videos in which viewers “Party with the hottest celebrities, the sexiest Playmates, and even Hef himself.”
However, having a party-like relationship with creatures on a TV screen smacks of cultism and witchcraft. And judging from the pictures in this ad, women are unable to escape from the mansion, since someone has stolen their clothing and left them nothing to wear except sandwich wrap and tiny, edible slacks.
Security officials are very interested in this wholesale shopping club, though pretty much for the same reason the rest of us are: They keep thinking how funny it would be to buy that 30-pound box of Snickers bars. United Nations officials have not been able to examine these facilities, however, because none of the inspectors will buy a membership card — figuring it’s silly to spend $35 to join when all they’re going to buy is a bag of frozen green burritos and maybe some tires.
Welcome to The Barry Lank Financial Management Newsletter, your source for reliable stock tips. This newsletter was founded last Thursday when I, Barry Lank — the founder and visionary behind The Barry Lank Financial Management Newsletter — bought stationery with believable-looking letterhead.
Many people ask what qualifies me to give advice about money. Many people. Many, many, many, many, many people ask me this, especially after they’ve seen how I live.
But whenever they ask that, I pull my bathrobe a little tighter around me, sit back on my milk crates continue playing “Call of Duty.” You see, I’m an optimist. And the reason I’m an optimist is that I don’t have any recent newspapers in my house. The most current financial journal I’ve read is from 1998, and it says we’ve discovered something called “The New Economy.” The stock market will never go down again. It can’t. Isn’t that great?
So let me start by answering a few questions from my readers:
“What is `buying on margin,’ and how can I get involved with it?”
Let me answer that question by asking you another: Why don’t you just burn all your money and hold some kind of solemn ceremony while you dump the ashes in the Pacific.
“What are bonds?”
I could explain what those are. So could a lot of people. But I’ve got to tell you, bonds are … they’re something a girl would buy. A “chick” investment. Don’t get me wrong. They’re profitable. But if you’re a guy, do you really want a girl’s portfolio? That’s all I’m saying.
“What are stocks?”
When I own a stock, I actually own a little piece of a company. What happens when a company makes a profit? Why, I make a profit. What happens when a company does not make a profit? Holy cow, I could lose everything! Where’s my broker?!
“What is … that?”
I save money by bottling my own soda out of what people leave in their glasses at restaurants and such. Want some?
– – – – – – –
In conclusion there are only three sure-fire ways to preserve or increase your money:
1. Hide all your money in a broken dishwasher and post yourself on your front porch with a shotgun loaded with rock salt.
2. Find an active financial market. The surest way to find an active market right now is put your money in a briefcase and run around and around the earth so fast that you go back in time.
3. Based primarily on my failure to learn anything new about money since high school — your best strategy is to buy a really bitchin’ stereo.
Job without description, experience a must
New business in a start-up industry seeking job that has not yet been created. Must have at least three years experience in this undefined industry. Bring employer references from similar businesses, of which there are none.
Seeking manager with low self-esteem to oversee problem employees no one else will fire. Room for advancement for any candidates who are NOT in charge of problem employees whom no one else will fire. Interview with Chief Financial Officer’s sad, anxious nephew.
Seeking high reliable administrative aide to follow contradictory orders in a failing company with no clear mission statement. Benefits include quitting.
Though this job is telemarketing, you will be able to put on your resume that you have experience with multi-line phones, databases and customer service. Jobs that require such skill include more telemarketing.
Some people say that a good salesman can sell ice cubes to Eskimos. We say a good salesman can sell condominium units without warning buyers about radon gas. Could you be ready for that challenge?
Available: The sort of job that ruins your back. Requirements: Must have at least three years’ experience getting your back ruined.
Need domestic help to clean house for families who don’t have the good sense to pick up after themselves. Duties include vacuuming rugs that would have taken them, what, five minutes to clean themselves? Washing their dishes when they have an automatic dishwasher sitting right there, for godsakes. And finding curiously stiff underwear in the teenagers’ rooms. Honestly, what is it with these people?
We need people to drive trucks to and from our warehouse. Must not be afraid of other drivers who will drive the same routes you do, thinking they are still employed by our company.