29 May 2009

Product Review: Vtech CS111 Cell Phone

Well, there's no two ways around it: this cell phone is a piece of shit. While it works decently inside the house, I found it had an extraordinarily short range. In fact, I counted how many steps away from my driveway I could take before the connection cut out. 42. Forty two measly steps. Meanwhile, my friend's Motorola can get reception all over town. All over the state, in fact. He asked me what network I was on, but I don't even really understand all of that network mumbo-jumbo. I have phone service through Verizon, though. I guess that's what he means. Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now? No, I can't, because this cell phone isn't worth the cheap plastic that was used to put it together. Avoid at all costs. Zero stars out of a possible 349.

27 May 2009

True History: The Mona Lisa

There are some things in life and art that are plainly obvious to both the creator and the spectator. No one's looking for hidden meaning in Transformers or the cover of a Cheerios box (although...). Then there are those pieces of richly layered art which may seem obvious, but in reality have guarded their true secrets under a fine facade. It's time to scratch beneath the surface of one such painting and reveal, finally, its true history.

The Mona Lisa

Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece has been hailed as the greatest painting ever put to canvas by more than one art critic, but they have failed to bring to light the true mysteries behind this mysterious girl. Art lover and layman alike have burdened themselves with the question: what is she smiling about?, but that is simply a piece of misdirection, masterfully laid in place by Leonardo himself. You thought there were secrets hidden in The Last Supper? No, no. Here is where the secrets lie.

You see, what many people don't know is that Leonardo da Vinci was Italian. As in, he was actually from Italy, a place of evil and darkness. In the 16th century, as today, Italy was rife with two things: spaghetti and the Mafia. Leonardo da Vinci invented the former and was a prominent member of the latter, rising as far as consigliere in the De Luca family before being gunned down at an abandoned warehouse for selling heroin to the mulanyans in south central Rome, expressly against Don De Luca's wishes.

Mona Lisa, whose real name was Lisa del Giacondo, was in reality the wife of powerful silk merchant "Big Joe" Giacondo, with whom the De Luca crime syndicate had extraordinary bad blood, due to some matters involving six goats and a shipment of cocktail dresses that "should have never made it off the truck". While most of his compatriots in the Family regarded Leonardo's painting as something to be endured, rather than celebrated (or, as one high ranking member put it: "pure faggotry"), he was well known in the greater community as a wonderful artist. It was this reputation that brought Big Joe to commission Leonardo to paint his daughter, with the secret hopes that Leonardo would be wiled by her charm, fall in love, and his problems with the Family would disappear.

Unfortunately for Giacondo, when Don de Luca heard about the painting, he insisted Leonardo play a trick. You see, in that era there was no greater insult to a woman than to suggest she had no eyebrows. Strange, but true. The boss commanded that Leonardo paint Giacondo's daughter perfectly, but leave off the eyebrows. The insult would be felt throughout generations of Italians, and it would be sweeter revenge than any bloodshed could possibly bring.

Though reluctantly, Leonardo did as his Don instructed. To his surprise, however, by the time he had finished the painting, de Luca had grown bored of waiting, had fitted both Giacondo and his daughter with cement shoes, and relocated them to a watery grave at the bottom of the Mediterranean. The painting, however, went on to become an enormous success, as people from all over gathered to gaze in wonder at the Mona Lisa, which meant, literally, "Lisa, of bare eyebrow".

22 May 2009

Frank Wilson Wants To Save Your Soul

[The Shark Tank is happy to welcome local preacher, the Reverend Frank Wilson. Frank is having some difficulties raising funds towards building his own church, and I told him it would be just fine if he were to write a post to get the word out. As well as The Word.]

Thanks for coming to read my words here, friends and family. Though this is a sinful blog, I'm not like other preachers who are too good to share the gospel with the unwashed masses. A lot of clergymen think that they can fulfill themselves just by preaching to the converted, but not I. I like to get down in the dirt and scratch around. And I can't think of any dirtier people than those in my community and those that read this website.

Any of you reading this should go and get a loved one, especially if you have a child. Have them read my words along with you and read it to them if they can't read it for themselves. Jesus said "To read it yourself is to believe it with all of your heart" and I think that's true. And you will believe my words.

You see, most of you are doomed to Hell. It says in Mary 12:29, "Thou arte probably going to Hell". It doesn't say "maybe" or "perhaps". It says probably. That means it's more likely than not. I'll wait while you read this to your child. If your child doesn't know what Hell is, you should read them this passage from Elkwinds 4:13:02, "Hell is a terrible place where children are burned with fire and then beaten with hammers and then bamboo shoots are forced under their fingernails and then they are bodyslammed." Does that sound like the place you want to spend eternity? No, me neither.

Phurlucians 11:93 states, "If ever someone comes to you asking for money to start a church and thouest say no to them, then thou shalt surely be eaten by a werewolf." This is nothing to play around with. But there are ways around it. Because I'm starting a church. And I need some startup capital. Therefore, you really have a choice to make, and you know the consequences are dire for making the wrong choice.

It's like the story of the Devil and the Lamb. Paraphrased from the gospel of Levinthite: Once there was a lamb. A big lion came and asked him for money to spend on foolish things. The lamb said no. But then the Devil laughed and ate the lamb, because the Devil was hungry. The lion then tried to eat both the Devil and the lamb inside the Devil's stomach, but the Devil put the Cruciatus Curse on the lion and the lion soon died.

Send donations through Paypal @ Frank Wilson:Reverend of the Frank Wilson@ Church @ Frank Wilson's Church fund.doc (Thanks to Shawn for setting up my email).

20 May 2009

2 Sides 2 A Story: Would a Baby Make a Good President?

Side 1: A Baby Would Make a Terrible President
by Jack Lerner, Editor-in-Chief, Politics and Power

In the U.S. Constitution, it is written than a person shall be 35 years old and a natural born citizen to be considered for the Presidency. Some have suggested these rules are outmoded and ripe for amendment. They say this in the hopes of one day electing Arnold Schwarzenegger. Or with the spurious reasoning that there are brilliant young minds out there that may become corrupted and dull with the years. These reasons I can abide. But what I cannot abide--what I will NEVER stand for--is the small but vocal minority of voters who believe the time has come to elect a newborn baby President of the United States.

Simply put, electing an infant as President would be a disaster in every sense and definition of the word. Think back to when you were a baby, if you can. Were you competent enough to run a country at the age of zero? Are the babies you know capable of such a thing? Highly doubtful.

If being President meant spitting up on a bib, drinking milk from a warmed bottle, and chewing on a pacifier, then by all means. But that is not what the Presidency is about. It is about wisdom, leadership, and charisma. You show me the smartest baby in the world and I will show you a person who has none of those characteristics.

Please, for the sake of the country, a baby should never be sent to the White House.

Side 2: A Baby Would Make a Wonderful President
by Jayden Adams, Age 6 months

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15 May 2009

Things Found in the Chuck E Cheese Ball Pit

When I was a kid, Chuck-E-Cheese was the place to go. You wanted great pizza? Check. How about all the arcade games you could ever want? Got it. Wait, you still haven't satisfied your need for people in oversized animal costumes? Well, they have that, too. From what I've heard, today's version of Chuck-E-Cheese is light on arcade games and fun, and heavy on parents getting sloshed while their stupid kids wander around wasting tokens on those retarded redemption games. Anyway, in honor of the greatness that used to be Chucksters, here's a brand new pie chart.
Maybe you better just build your own.

12 May 2009

Wikipedia Gets a Bad Rap

Whenever I'm doing research, find myself bored of playing Donkey Kong, or simply want to know more about a particular subject, I turn to Wikipedia for my answers. Chock full of information and covering almost every pertinent subject known to man, the Wiki is a one stop shop for expanding the mind and wasting away valuable hours. A lot of people say Wikipedia is a veritable fountain of misinformation, but I'm here to say: I think Wikipedia gets a bad rap!

Where else could I readily learn that Disney threatened to sue some day care centers for using Mickey Mouse pictures on their walls?

Or that Zincam Gluconium is the active ingredient in popular cold remedy Zicam?

Or that sunglasses can "improve visual comfort and visual clarity by protecting the eye from glare."

All right, I might not have needed Wikipedia's help on that last one, but let's face it, I wouldn't have been able to put it quite so succinctly, either. Kudos, writer of that particular Wiki article!

Now consider my 1986 set of Funk and Wagnalls encyclopedias. Supposedly, these encyclopedias have been through all of the fact checking and rigorous copyediting that these Wikipedia articles are criticized for lacking. Hmm, could have fooled me. If anything, a quick glance through these encyclopedias shows that either someone was sleeping at the wheel at the old publishing house, or these books were put together by complete morons.

Here are some things I found that are just completely inaccurate and/or bizarre in their absence:

*The World Trade Center is apparently still standing and is the second tallest structure in the world. Um, I guess you guys never heard of a little thing called 9/11?

*Not a single mention of the World Wide Web, the Internet, Google, or Wikipedia. Gee, you think Funk and Wagnalls is a little afraid of the competition?

*Direct quote, under entry labeled Ronald Reagan: "40th and current President of the United States". Riii-ight.

As you can see, mistakes can occur in even the most celebrated and respected publications. I think it's time to give Wikipedia its fair due. I'm going back there right now to finish reading the fascinating George Washington entry. Did you know he was once arrested for smoking crack with your mom on "Dancing With the Stars"? The things they don't teach you in school.

11 May 2009

Monday Movie Reviews

Back To The Future (1973)
The strange tale of a boy named Marty McFly and his attempt to make the world's first solar powered train. There's a lot I could say about this movie. The soundtrack, featuring such hits as "Locomotion" by Kylie Minogue and "Footloose" by Kenny Loggins is commendable and will have you dancing in your seat. The first time I saw this movie I was perplexed by the subplot, involving Doc Brown's insidious machinations to create life from a pinecone, but now I see it as a metaphor for the evils of corporate greed. This one was definitely ahead of its time. Starring Crispin Glover and Weird Al Yankovic. 4 stars from a possible 29.

Rocky (1921)

Rocky Balboa, a down on his luck boxer, has his life transformed when he discovers the healing properties of acupuncture and finds a strange sort of love with a homeless porcupine. Though not for all tastes, Rocky blends fantasy and reality in an exuberant stew, topped off with a dash of melancholy when the porcupine strikes it rich and leaves his friend to fend for himself. Starring Sylvester Stallone and Angelina Jolie. 9 stars from a possible 11.

Mary Poppins (2003)
An inner city school teacher is thrown in prison after raping a student with an umbrella. In this supposedly heartwarming tale, both teacher and student find themselves lost in a justice system that is both racist and too convoluted to care about the little guy. I found myself unable to connect with the characters in this film, particularly in light of the superior Glengarry Glen Ross, which came out the same year and tackled similar themes. As of this writing, Mary Poppins is sealed in the Disney vault. Starring Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake and Willem Dafoe. 66 stars from a possible 2,321.

08 May 2009

Least Popular Mother's Day Cards

Well, Mother's Day is Sunday, and once again the greeting card companies will be making a fortune penning witticisms that you're too lame to come up with on your own. Cards will be given, cursorily read, and promptly tossed into a drawer (or straight into the trash). Even with this foreknowledge, millions of sons and daughters will be heading out to the store, spending forever and a day scouring the shelves for the card that just says it best.

And while I'll be doing the same, here are some cards that I'm (almost) surely not going to buy.

Click to enlarge if your eyesight sucks.

06 May 2009

Does Not Work Well With Others

I was in the third grade when the issue first came up. My teacher--Ms. Forrest--asked us all to divide into groups of four so we could work on an art project together. The idea was for us to take a piece of posterboard and each decorate it until it made a collage of our various interests. Seemed simple enough. We had plenty of magazines and newspapers from which to cut out applicable pictures.

Well, even with the abundance of materials, I couldn't find any pictures to represent my personal interests (standing on my head against a wall, tasting dog food, and shooting old people with my BB gun being chief among them). My teammates grew irritated as I continuously failed to add anything to the collage. Finally, one of the kids, a fastidious boy named Phil, said, "If you're not gonna help, I'm gonna tell Ms. Forrest."

I nodded in acknowledgment of this threat and pretended to return to my search. I further pretended to have finally found a picture suitable for my needs. I picked up the scissors and acted as though I was about to cut out the picture. When Phil satisfied himself that I was finally working, I lifted up his shirt and cleanly cut off his right nipple with the scissors. It dropped to the floor with an audible plop. He screamed out and the entire class turned to our group just in time to see me grab the severed nipple, apply a thin coating of rubber cement, and stick it to the posterboard.

Not only did this act of violence get me expelled from Better Growth Elementary, and not only was I placed in a special psychiatric program for several months, but I earned a phrase in my permanent records that has never left me: Does not work well with others.

Well, finally a select and daring group of girls has decided (however unwisely) to look beyond my checkered past and give me a chance to be part of a team. With that said, I introduce to you (those who may have missed the giant banner in the sidebar for the last couple of days) my new TEAM-POWERED blog! It's called The Open Letters Blog, and it is the best thing since sliced nipples. Er, bread. With the combined forces of---


and, of course

--we have developed a blog that will embiggen the spirit and liriash the soul. Please join us as we write serious, thought-provoking letters, stimulate the mind (if not the economy), and, above all, work well with others.

04 May 2009

Humor Writer Needed

Last week, my friend Unfinished Rambler (yeah, that's the name he was born with...hippie parents, I guess) made a post chronicling his decision to apply for an online humor writing job. He remained steadfastly reluctant to name the site, due to his fears that he would "jinx himself out of the job" (read: didn't want any competition). Of course, being the master sleuth that I am, I quickly ferreted out the site he was talking about. Well, at that point I would have left it alone, but then I thought, "Self, you could use some extra money. Why don't you undercut Rambler and try out for the job yourself?" And, being the good friend that I am, I decided to do just that. After all, the category was "Web Humor". I could do that. I could go for DAYS on web humor. I just had to prove it to the people in charge of hiring. So...without wasting a moment, I sent off this letter:

To Whom It May Concern,

I would very much like to apply for your position of Web Humorist. All my life, I've struggled with my fear of spiders, but I think in the meantime, I've managed to find the humor in our arachnid friends' "homes". I mean, really? A web? That's what you're going to live in, Spider? I should think you'd want to find a more suitable abode, such as a house, or maybe a trailer at the very least. A web? That doesn't even make sense!

Like the above, I can riff on spiders and their webs endlessly. I even know a few good web jokes.

What is a spider's favorite snack brand? Little Webbie!

Knock Knock. Who's there? Spiderweb. Spiderweb Who? Spiderweb me in, please!

All right, that one needs some work, but that was just off the top of my head! Imagine the kind of stuff I could come up with if you were paying me. Better stuff than Rambler, that's for sure.

Anyway, just let me know I've got the job, and I'll fill up your site with web humor the likes of which you could never imagine. I was even thinking you could call the column "Shawnlotte's Web". But, eh, we can iron that kind of thing out later. Thanks for considering me!

Spinning me right round,


Well, if I can give this site credit for anything, it's for their quick responses.


Thank you for your interest in the Web Humor position. I can honestly say your letter stood out from the bunch, and we have enjoyed passing it around the office. Unfortunately, it was also--bar none--the dumbest piece of writing I've ever come across in my thirty years in the business. Please note that I'm speaking not only of professional submissions, but of letters in the mail, half-finished grocery lists, and Youtube comments as well.


Jim Contrell, Editor

Well, another job opportunity down the drain. Good luck, Rambler. Hopefully they liked your spider jokes better than mine.


Thankfully, there are some people left that do appreciate my brand of humor. I'd like to direct your attention to Venom, Secrets, and Lies. Venom has written a tribute post to The Shark Tank! I highly recommend each and every one of you head over there right now and check it out. Personally, I think it's the best blog post I've ever read. I'm serious. I've read it three times already and saved it to my hard drive. You'll likely want to do the same. While you're there, stay a while and check out some of her other posts--I think you'll find a blog worth reading. So thanks, Venom! Good to see some people haven't lost their sense of humor.