A multitude of updates…

You see, it’s not that I don’t update this site very often, it’s just that I never seem to get around to posting the official news concerning said updates. I think I did manage to figure this one out, though – if you hadn’t noticed, I’m not the type of person that can simply post a few words or even just a few sentences, so these posts tend to become quite verbose. The odd thing is that I have been writing a lot lately in the last two weeks and it’s this intense, bury myself under mountains of work-ethic that I’ve got going that prevents me from actually announcing my progress…“Well, I could just do the post now, or if I wait until tomorrow I can include this piece, too…” And so on, but now I’ve finally reached a breaking point, so let’s see if I can even remember everything that’s gone down…

The first project that was completed actually went up back near the beginning of the month and although I’m certainly glad to have it over with by now, it was very possibly the best feature that I’ve ever put together for Just Laugh. Appropriately titled A Tale of Two Summers…, this piece combined the talents of twenty-five writers from around the world to produce one of the most bizarre (and hilarious) stories you’ll ever read! The original concept stems back to days spent in various creative writing classes where we would work on a dozen or so pieces at a time by passing notebooks around the room and adding our own ideas to each respective plotline within a predetermined time – usually five minutes or something. Well, we changed things around just a little bit, lengthening the writing period a bit and only involving people who were actually funny, along with a new rule which really twisted things up – each writer was only allowed to read the chapter which came directly before their own during the writing process. Needless to say, it got extremely confusing and I will admit that we did need to do a bit of prodding from time to time to lead the story back in the general direction we were shooting for, but no matter how wacky some of the chapters got, the end product was more than we had ever expected and definitely worth your time if you’ve got a lazy afternoon to kill…

Our next stop along this journey takes a stab at everyone’s favorite holiday for dressing up in ridiculous outfits and gorging themselves with sweets, Halloween! The following column was actually originally intended to be included in Just Laugh’s Halloween issue itself, but instead we opted to throw it in with our big feature of the season, Just Laugh’s (Belatedly) Complete Guide to Halloween. This really turned out to be a complex project, as we didn’t want to simply throw together a list of our Halloween tributes from the year before…and I’m assuming that it would’ve been even funnier had we actually gotten it online somewhere in the general vicinity of Halloween rather than Thanksgiving, but hey, what can you do? Nonetheless, the column is still a good read and come to think of it, so is the entire feature in general, so you just might want to check both of them out…just in case!

Next in line is Humor Columnist Survivor! Honestly, I don’t have any idea how I’ve managed to make it this far because the other five contestants are all amazing writers, but hey, who’s gonna argue? We’re on something like the 14th week by now, so I suppose we might as well just take this thing right to the end! My next two columns actually somehow got dedicated to the competition, although I sure as hell didn’t plan it that way! It seems that not days after I had written the first column, I got notice from Greg (the main man behind HCS) that automatic immunity would be granted to anyone who wrote a new column within the next week pertaining to the topic of…grilled cheese. I was a bit confused, too, but I certainly wasn’t about to risk getting kicked out of the tribe over a freakin’ sandwich, so I did come up with a little something – it’s very 5 AM-ish, if you will, but honestly – grilled cheese?!

And so this brings us nearly up to speed, with the exception of one final column. As many of you may be aware of already, firearm season here in Northern Michigan has been open now for about a week. I have never been, nor will I ever be, a hunting person, and after seeing one too many carcasses while driving down the road, I finally snapped…

So for those of you feeling out of the loop, there’s your bloody update! With Thanksgiving only days away, and a new issue coming up with Just Laugh to boot, I’m not completely sure of how much will get done around here, but I do know that I’ve got some doosies sitting here on the idea notepad, so maybe if you’re really good, Santa will come just a tad early this year… Happy Holidays!!!

Check it out…

Apparently pigs have gained the ability to fly and hell is working on starting up its own hockey team because Matt finally got around to putting his new website online! Yes, it’s true – the original works of Matthew Gatesy, my partner in crime over at Just Laugh, can now be found at the author’s official website:

unemployedwriter.com

It’s chocked full of all of his best stories, rants, and etc’s, so go take a looksie today!

On a completely unrelated note: I was finally able to get my hands on a copy of Big Trouble yesterday and I highly recommend this movie to anyone who doesn’t have anything to do this weekend! Of course, it was based on the novel by Dave Barry, and yes, this is one of those few movies that got delayed last year because it was scheduled to hit theaters within a week or two of the 9/11 tragedies, but if you’re a fan of Dave Barry, or Tim Allen, or even Geo Metro’s, you owe it to yourself to see this movie!

It was worth the twenty bucks I paid for the DVD, so it’s certainly worth the dollar it’ll cost you to go rent it at your local video store! Enjoy…

Remember me?

Wow, it’s hard to believe that it’s been an entire month since I lasted updated this thing…

Granted, life has been awfully busy, so I can always default to that excuse, right? Unfortunately, though, as my carry-over projects with Just Laugh finish up, a whole new set of them are popping up for the winter holiday season, so it seems as if I’ve always got something to be doing! Nonetheless, we do have some really cool stuff planned for the next few months, so I’m more than eager to wrap these ones up and get a fresh start on the next batch of hilarity…

As mentioned in the last update, we’re just completing our second run of Just Laugh’s Weenie Awards, which turned out to be gargantuanly successful…we were overwhelmed last year, but the festivities for 2002 just blew those right out of the water! (at this rate, maybe we’ll even be able to pull off an actual ceremony next year!) I can’t even recall the multiple of votes we had since last year, but the most exciting of all was probably that we were featured on a world-wide television broadcast for promotion – TechTV’s The Screen Savers to be specific. Long story short, one of their on-air talents, Martin Sargent, was nominated in the category of Sexiest Computer Geek, so he took it upon himself to plug the awards on TV and I’m delighted to report that he thoroughly whomped all over his competitors! That was a very good day for all of us…

Other than that, things have just been really busy in general. I’ve been dealing with an extremely broken desktop computer over the last month, which I’m finally looking forward to migrating back to from my laptop as soon as I finish with this update! (Upgrade Tip: be sure to have a steady supply of alcohol and aspirin on hand before attempting to format a system running Windows 98…) Many of you are also aware of the fact that I’m working on moving away from my beloved home here in Northern Michigan, which means I’m currently surrounded by dozens of boxes containing everything I’ve ever owned…not fun when you don’t necessarily have a set departure date yet! All in the same, I promise that there will be a separate entry here when that phenomenon takes place…hopefully very soon…and I’ll try to even work in a few pictures, too. As long as I’m out before the snow settles in, I’ll be a happy camper… 8)

Without further ado, I should tell you that I did manage to throw together a couple new pieces which are now around here somewhere. I’ve been working on the first one here for quite some time now (this was the big update I promised a month ago!) and I think that it turned out rather well – I really like how that series has turned out so far and am looking forward to doing another one soon…any ideas? The column was something that I had originally planned on writing for Just Laugh, but it ended up getting finished way too late and I honestly don’t think it’s really up to caliber to be included there anyways. The deadline for the next issue is coming up quite soon, though, and my plan is to have a themed piece ready for that issue, plus something exclusively for here, so we’ll see just how productive I end up being this weekend!

I’ve also taken the liberty of adding a few new links to some of my categories here, so feel free to do a little browsing there if you need something to do! With any luck, this won’t be the only update I’ll be posting in the next few days…

By the way, I feel the need to lastly note that I think I’m swiftly becoming addicted to jazz…not to be confused with love or coke… Thanks a lot, Wil! 😛

2nd Annual Just Laugh Weenie Awards

Well, I thought of keeping it all on the down-low around here, but after the media explosion which we’ve experienced today, I decided that I might as well make the announcement to my four readers here as well! Just Laugh magazine‘s signature recognition ceremony is back for another round and I sincerely hope that everyone will take a few minutes to scope out this year’s nominees…

Enjoy the show, cast a ballot for your favorites, and let the best comedic masters take home our greatest honor…

Overdue updates!

I know, I know – it’s been way too long!!! I’ve been so busy with literally half a dozen different projects, both for Just Laugh and even a couple in my own real life that some of the others have gotten pushed off to the side temporarily. Well, the clouds are finally clearing and I’ve got several pieces currently in various stages that I’m hoping to have ready at various points during the weekend, so hopefully this massive update will help to make up for my previous absence… 😛

Believe it or not, it’s already been eight weeks since the start of Humor Columnist Survivor and I’m still in the game! In fact, to commemorate my success so far, I’ve even managed to throw together a column which tells all about our first eight weeks and some other things you probably don’t want to know…

Another Day on the Island

And if you haven’t visited the official site, or just keep forgetting the address, just follow the link below…and don’t forget to vote in my favor while you’re there!

Don’t get excited just yet – we’re far from the end! I’ll be making more updates throughout the weekend, so stay tuned to this news post for the latest in all that is funny! 😐

Civil Rights Gone Too Far – “The Right to Plagiarize…”

I read an article the other day in Reader’s Digest that disappointed me even worse than the last presidential election, and that takes something really special. Apparently, the entire controversy went down several months ago, but I’m still going to write about it because it was one of those things that made me think, “What the hell???” and I’m not going to be able to move on otherwise…

CNN.com – Teacher resigns over plagiarism fight – February 7, 2002
Basically, this tale sums up my entire viewpoint on the over-involvement of parents in their children’s education, and that’s right, I said over-involvement. Although the link above doesn’t point to the exact article that got me started on this one, it should give you enough background to get plenty peeved about the topic. 😡

(For the actual story, check out the July 2002 issue of Reader’s Digest, with the pretty lighthouse on the cover…)
The story begins with a fairly common setting: a high school biology assigns her 10th grade class a research paper due at the end of the semester. I didn’t get the specifics, but from previous recollection, I would assume that it was your basic, 5-10 page paper on a topic of your choice, which might seem like a big deal, except for the fact that you’ve got four months to work on it. Well, as it turns out, kids will be kids and as most high school students tend to do, the assignment got put off until the last minute and thus became impossible to complete. Impossible, at least, without the use of the Internet…

Well, when the teacher had finished grading these assignments, they did all end up getting turned in, but unfortunately, roughly a quarter of them had been plagiarized. This smart young lady knew exactly what was available to her students and decided to do a little homework on her own, which directed her to a site that had been setup exclusively for the purpose of uncovering plagiarized school papers over the Internet. As anyone would only expect, she assigned each of these students failing grades, but it was then that things got a bit ugly. The parents of these students all complained to the schoolboard who, trying to keep the parents (who pay their salaries) happy, told the teacher that she needed to reconsider her harsh judgement. She was pretty much forced to give all of the cheaters partial credit, but unknowingly she also lost their respect in the process.

When she returned to school the next day, she faced an entirely different classroom of students. They no longer viewed her as an authority figure and refused to listen to her, making her job impossible and eventually leading her to resign a short while later. If you’re reading this the same way that I did, this woman was more or less fired by a group of children whose parents had a little pull in the system. They were too lazy to do the same work that the other 75% of their classmates had done, so instead they cried to their parents, winning them both a passing grade and a new teacher to boss around…and that just makes me sick.

The article continued to give various defenses for plagiarism, although they sounded more like excuses to me. We shouldn’t be checking these students work because it violates the honor code among them and the faculty? Well, aren’t they already stomping all over that one by cheating in the first place? These schools are so concerned with churning out their numbers and keeping everyone happy that they couldn’t care less about the actual quality of the education they’re instilling in our nation’s youth. I understand that it’s not the majority that’s the problem – three-quarters of those students were willing to do as they were supposed to do, complete the assignment on their own and maybe even learn a thing or two about the topic. What did the rest of them learn? Hmmm…how to manipulate the system, cheat, steal, ruin the career of an innocent woman and the most important concept of this day and age – if you bitch about something and have enough people on your side, no matter how ludicris it actually is, you will get your way…

I think this one hit home the most for me because, as an editor myself, I have to worry about plagiarism on a daily basis. Honestly, no – I don’t check anything that my regular contributors send to me for authenticity because I trust them and believe that they’ve got a little more integrity than that, but I have had to deal with plagiarism on several occasions and let me tell you, there’s no faster way to get your name on my shitlist than to try to pass off someone else’s work as your own to me. It’s a waste of my time, it’s really a waste of your time and once it ends up in court, it’s a waste of everybody’s time…and for what? Just because you were too damn lazy to think up an original piece on your own? If that’s your solution, then maybe you shouldn’t be writing in the first place, and I’ll even be so bold as to carry that back to the school setting – if you can’t do it yourself, don’t even bother showing up in the first place. Just explain to your teacher that you’re simply too incompetent to do the work for yourself and then skip out early to claim your spot outside the coffee shop downtown…

Final thoughts? Well for starters, DON’T PLAGIARIZE!!! Yes, it really is that simple. Don’t think that you won’t get caught because you will and it’s really very obvious why – when you get away with something like this, you’ve gotta tell somebody else. Soon the trickle-down effect kicks in and eventually your story hits the ears of somebody who actually did do the assignment on his own and he’ll be more than happy to send you up the river in a heartbeat. As for parents, how about letting your children deal with their own mistakes? It’s great that you’re concerned that your son is failing, but where were you when he needed help, before he decided to cheat? As I always say, some people have to learn the hard way and maybe he’ll catch on the second time he takes Biology that it would’ve been easier to just write the stupid report himself. Yeah, it might turn out to be a shitty paper, but at least it’ll be his shitty paper… 🙁

Who’s on the ball now???

As you might be able to tell, I’m trying to get myself into the habit of actually writing more regularly. Technically, I do put in a lot of time behind the keyboard, but too much of it is behind-the-scenes crap that nobody ever sees, so I’d like to get up to the point where I can put up a new column every week… Of course, with a nearly full schedule at Just Laugh to last us the rest of the year already, it’s hard to say whether or not I’m going to be able to stick to that schedule just yet, but we’ll see what happens!

(Nevertheless, if I ever do get to the point where I can clear off my to-do list to the point where I’ve even got time for writing a new piece every week, words won’t even be able to begin to describe how happy I’ll be!!!)

Anyways, I do have a new column ready for your enjoyment. This one was inspired by a combination of my upcoming birthday and the audacity of our local Secretary of State’s Office (DMV); it was written in a pretty spur of the moment fashion (i.e. my e-mail seems to be down, so I’ll write a column to pass the time!), but I think it turned out quite well. Enjoy!!! 😀

Happy Birthday – Now Fork Over the Cash!

Oh yeah, and whoever’s doing their part to keep me in the game over at Humor Columnist Survivor – I certainly do appreciate it! 3 down, 15 to go – keep it up!

Ok, I give up…Bill Gates now owns me, too… / The Return of the Cola Wars…

I used Netscape before Netscape was cool.

Hell, I used Netscape long after Netscape was cool…

…but I’ve finally broken down and decided to give in to Micro$oft. I’ve been a loyal user of the original Internet browser since 1994 when it was the only one available. I think I even have a copy of Netscape Navigator 1.0 on a floppy somewhere! Nevertheless, the company lost so much when it was purchased by AOL that they just don’t seem to put the effort into making their product worthwhile anymore. I’ve been using Netscape Communicator religiously for the last several years, despite numerous improvements on the Internet Explorer front, but now that I’ve entered the age of mobile computing I simply can’t use obsolete software anymore…

Netscape decided to change the format in which it saves its mail between versions, meaning that the version I can run on my desktop with Windows 98 is completely different than the version I’m using on my Windows XP-equipped laptop. They didn’t bother to offer an option with their export feature to prepare your mail for a different version of Netscape, so I would need to export my mail from Netscape to Microsoft’s Outlook Express, THEN from OE back into Netscape! …OR I can just start using Outlook Express altogether – it hurts to admit, but the juggernaut has won again. 🙁

Unfortunately, the suckage continued as I was required to re-enter by hand both of my address books – 162 entries in all. These guys certainly don’t make it easy to switch from one brand to another, but I’m done now and there’s definitely no turning back! Goodbye Netscape, it was fun while it lasted… (it between the frequent lock-ups and crashes, that is)

In other news, a discussion came up about the various off-shoots currently dabbling in the soda pop industry and I thought that it deserved a bit of merit (read – something that the non-geeks in the audience can follow!). Apparently selling 4.3 billion cases of its products per year just isn’t good enough for Coca-Cola, as the company is struggling to compete with its rivals as the new flavors pour from Product Development just as fast as they can crank them out!

I’d seen all of the ads in the past, but I’m typically very picky when it comes to my carbonated beverages so months slipped by without any notice at all. However, after hearing a rave review of the all-new Pepsi Blue, I decided that it was worth a try. In fact, I gave each of these new drinks a try over the last weekend and here’s what I thought:

  • Mountain Dew Code Red — Ok, this one has been out for a while, but there wasn’t anything to compare it to back then. Plain and simple, this one is cherry Mountain Dew – great for those of you who actually like Mountain Dew, but I grew out of that phase back in high school…
  •  Vanilla Coke — I honestly didn’t think that I would care for it, but it wasn’t that bad. Kinda reminds me of slightly flat pop, which isn’t normally a good thing, but compared to regular Coke, I guess I’d choose the new one.
  •  Pepsi Blue — An easy win for Pepsi, these guys hit the nail right on the head! It’s berry-flavored, and that’s as much information as they’ll give you, but it’s a nice balance between fruit punch and carbonation…and my choice in this evaluation. 🙂
  •  Dr. Pepper Red Fusion — If Pepsi Blue was at the top of my list, then Red Fusion is cleanly holding down the other end of the scale as the worst of the litter. Unfortunately, I somehow ended up trying this one out first and it almost led me to hold off on the remainder of the evaluations altogether – maybe the $.50 price sticker should’ve been a clue! The proportions are way off, there are just too many damn berries in this bottle and if nothing else, I hope this review will convince at least one person NOT to try this beverage… I’m a Dr. Pepper fan by blood, but somebody really screwed up on this one.

By the end of this crazy charade, I’d dropped a hair under five bucks for a total of 80 ozs of drinkables, of which I was actually able to consume only a little over half of. I did notice during this fiasco that not a single company had chosen to embrace the flavors of grape, mango or even the banana…hmmmm, Banana Coke! Come on, people – we’re getting a bit tired of the same old berries – let’s spice it up a bit… 😮

All and all it was an interesting experiment, although maybe next time I’ll evaluate beer or possibly even mixed drinks! Labatt, MGD and Corona, I’m thinking in your general direction this time… 8?

A new column, and an explanation…

Well, I had originally planned on having a new column ready for the latest issue of Just Laugh, but seeing as that came out last week and the actual deadline itself was much before that, it just didn’t happen. It’s too bad, really, because I had a nice piece on tourism in the works, so maybe that’ll be coming up next time…

I guess I probably would’ve had plenty of time to get it done under normal circumstances, but then this came along:

I’d always loved the previous games in the series and I was really looking forward to this one, and well, maybe it’d be easier if you just read about it here – The Warcraft 3 Excuse

And by the way, a special thanks to all of those who voted in the first round of Humor Columnist Survivor! I successfully made it through round one, managing to stay true to my morals and all, so there’s now only 14 weeks left to go… 😀

Hooray for me…it’s about time!

😎 – Yes, I finally got this site completely up and running – no error messages or anything! Ok, more or less, it was working at the beginning of the week, but I was kept a little busy moving another website to its new home. Nevertheless, I am extremely happy that this battle is finally over and now I can divert more of my time back to that whole humor columnist-thing…

And with the unveiling of this glorious new website, I suppose it would also be fitting to say a big WELCOME to anyone and everyone who happens to wander into this chaos, whether in response to one of my annoying promotional letters I send out from time to time or simply by accident – thanks for visiting! I hope you enjoy your stay – please let me know if there’s anything I can do to make you feel more at home… 🙂