Essay

A New Approach to Driving School

This fake press release was originally published at Clark Schpiell Productions, March 2006.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

No More Stupid Drivers in Los Angeles


Los Angeles, CA - March 8, 2006 - Hate stupid drivers? Don't let your kid become one. Irate driver, Michelle Magoffin, opened a new driving school in Los Angeles called No More Stupid Drivers to teach drivers all the things they don't learn in traditional driver education. She will focus on such concepts as:

    Slower Traffic Keep Right
    Step on the Gas
    Nice Turn Signal, Jackass
    Pay Attention
    Move the Fuck Over
    Don't Park Your SUV in a Compact Spot

The mission of No More Stupid Drivers is two-fold. Magoffin hopes to reach kids before they start driving so that they hit the roads from day one as safe, competent drivers who aren't likely to piss her off should she encounter them on her 100-mile round-trip commute. In addition, Magoffin would like to reach out to experienced drivers and, instead of punching them in the teeth as she has imagined doing on so many occasions, re-educate them about proper roadway behavior. She believes so strongly in her mission, that Magoffin is offering free lessons to anyone she has flipped off or honked at in the past year.

No More Stupid Drivers hopes to expand to the Valley, Malibu, and that one stretch of the 405, by mid-summer. Look for the following advanced classes at the Malibu location: Maintaining a Constant Speed, Making Lane Changes That Don't Take All Fucking Day, and a two-day intensive version of Slower Traffic Keep Right: I'm Talking to You, Asshole.

No More Stupid Drivers is open during non-peak driving hours because, seriously, Michelle Magoffin would not subject you to morons just learning how to drive. For an appointment, call 1-800-STUPID1.

Press Contact:
Michelle Magoffin
No More Stupid Drivers
1-800-STUPID1
imeanyou@nomorestupiddrivers.com


Tookie Williams Deserves to Die

Tookie This was originally published by Clark Schpiell Productions, November 5, 2005. Tookie Williams was executed, in accordance with his death sentence, on December 13, 2005.

Unless Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger grants him clemency, Stanley "Tookie" Williams will be executed on December 13, 2005 for the four brutal murders for which he was convicted in 1979. I say, let him fry. Or, more accurately, let him drift into a peaceful sleep as lethal drugs course through his veins or poisonous gas invades his respiratory system.

In 1971, Stanley "Tookie" Williams co-founded a street gang in Los Angeles that later came to be know as the Crips. He was 17 years old. Though Williams and Raymond Washington claim to have started the gang as a stand against the random violence in their neighborhood, within a year of inception, the Crips were involved in 29 homicides in Los Angeles. The Crips became one of the most prevalent and violent street gangs in Los Angeles before spreading throughout the U.S. and into Canada and Mexico.

Arguments for his clemency center around Williams' deeds during his time on death row. He has worked to try to decrease the influence of gangs, particularly with school-age children. He has even written a series of children's books subtitled, "Tookie Speaks Out Against Gang Violence." I don't want to downplay the positive impact on society that Williams has made. I don't doubt that he has been transformed and rehabilitated, but unless his service to the greater good has included a way to revive the dead, I don't believe that there is anything that Williams could accomplish that would atone for his crimes.

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Conservative Things

Conservativethings This was originally published by Clark Schpiell Productions, November 24, 2003.

My mother was what some would call a bleeding heart liberal when I was growing up. And why wouldn't she have been? She was a young (very young) single mother of two trying to live and work in an expensive suburb of Southern California because that's where most of our extended family lived. Were we poor? Probably not, but we certainly brought down the annual household income for the area.

Over the years, and as our incomes have increased substantially, both my mother and I have found conservative ideas creeping into our political beliefs. I had no idea this was happening to her. I kept my status as a registered Republican a secret from my family for fear of starting a long, drawn out discussion in which my age would be the eventual determination of my ability to reason.

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Ask the Poop Priestess

Pooppriestess This was originally published on Clark Shpiell Productions on February 10, 2004, as a follow up to The Poop Pagoda. A reader sent in a question for me.

Dear Michelle,

Your poignant article on the work/poo dilemma moved me from deep within my bowels. As you are the definitive scatological authority, I'd like your opinion on what I should have done in the following real-life experience:

I was on the back lot tram tour at Universal Studios. As we were about to enter the "western town," I started to get the shit sweats. I tried to breathe deeply and focus hoping it would go away, but it didn't. The worst part was that I had to keep a happy, surprised face on because I didn't want the two actors who were portraying cowboys in a "good ol' fashioned shoot-out" to think I wasn't enjoying their performance. The pain wouldn't go away, and I was trapped, because you couldn't get off the tram. At one point I envisioned that I would have to leap off the tram and run pell mell for one of the studio bungalows and use their shitter. And it wouldn't be an easy shit. It was going to be one of those long, painful, straining ones. As I was with two friends with whom I have not yet had discussion of personal poo habits, I couldn't tell them "Look, you guys go ahead in the Mummy Adventure 'cause I got to take about twenty minutes in the library. Either of you got a paper?" In the end, I held it and had to go on the Jurassic Park ride two more times.

Oh Poo Guru, what should I have done. WWMD?

Sincerely,

Touching Cloth

* * *

Dear Touching Cloth,

I have no idea what the hell that sign off means. Now, in regard to your poop dilemma, I would have sweated out the angry bowels on the tram ride and lured the friends into the gift shop afterward, with an immediate, "I'll be right back." People lose all track of time in the consumeristic vortex created by amusement park gift shops. They might not even have missed you. Easy as pie.

Now, let's address your other issue. Your bowels were about to unleash themselves yet you still thought you were in for rough, straining session requiring grunts and magazines? In my experience, these symptoms belong to two entirely different categories of poop. I fear you are not getting enough fiber in your diet. I highly recommend the Blueberry Fibercakes from Zen Bakery. You can find them at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods.

I know you were expecting something funnier, but poop is serious business.

Regularly Yours,

The High Priestess of the Poop Pagoda


The Poop Pagoda

Pooppagoda This piece was original published by Clark Schpiell Productions on January 24, 2005. My desire for this Utopian future is even greater today than it was then.

I have had the misfortune in my professional life to witness, or overhear as the case may be, heinous breaches of poop etiquette. The following represent but a few of the offenses that I've documented at the Peevery.

I hate it when I go into the bathroom at work to take a crap and someone else comes in when I am halfway through, so I have to wait until she leaves before I can finish, but she is waiting until I leave, and I don't want to just sit there in silence, waiting and waiting when it is that bitch who should leave since I was there first. Poop etiquette dictates that she should stop after the pee and come back later when the bathroom is unoccupied.

    ***

I walked into the bathroom. It reeked of bleach, so at least I knew it is clean. As I headed into the stall, I caught a faint whiff of someone's doody, so I pulled my shirt up over my nose and breathed shallowly. As I went about my business (#1 only), I heard a flush. Then I heard the tp holder rolling as Crapper went in for a wipe. Then I heard it rolling again. Then I heard it rolling again, and again, and again. Crapper wiped no less than five times in an obvious breach of poop etiquette. She should have remained silent until the other occupant (me!) left the bathroom.

It wasn't over yet. I flushed and pulled up my pants when I heard her flush again. I thought, surely she wasn't planning to exit her stall while I was in there; the most flagrant violation yet of poop etiquette. I left my stall and she walked brazenly out of hers. I had to see Crapper's true identity! And it still wasn't over. She started talking to me!

    ***

As a final, private farewell to [my former employer], I thought I'd take a tidy little crap before heading off to my going away happy hour. Well, this place is not one to be reckoned with. As I was making those straining sounds (you know what I mean), I heard a flush from the handicapped stall - the one where you never know if someone is in there or not unless they make some noise. How perversely appropriate that my last moments here are marred by yet another breach of poop etiquette. That bitch should have made some noise when she realized I was staying around for Act II.


Why is it that floating some logs at work has to be so fraught with tension? Why has no one yet conceived of an easier way to pinch off a loaf while on the clock?

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A Valentine's Day Gift Guide for Idiots and Other Men

Valgiftguide I used to write for a friend's web magazine, Clark Schpiell Productions. This was published there on February 9, 2004. Other than a dated reference to Britney Spears, this list has withstood the test of time.

Let me start of by saying that I am intentionally being sexist with this list and it is because I think my husband may read this before Valentine's Day. Therefore, this guide is specifically aimed at men who need to give gifts to women. Women who need to give gifts to women should know what women want. All men want the same gift -- a blow-job -- so that's easy enough.

I am not even going to cover why Valentine's Day is such a commercial holiday, the true meaning of which is completely lost in modern times, buried under hearts and flowers and candy and all things pink and red. I am not going to cover it, because that's just the way it is, so suck it up.

First, you need to understand women a little bit better. Here are few key things that you need to know before contemplating a purchase.
   1. Women are liars
   2. Women are manipulative
   3. Women like presents

Don't even think that all three of those things don't apply to your woman, because they do. It is universal. Why is this important? It is important because you may have heard your woman say one of the following things:

      "You don't need to get me flowers. They just die anyway and are a waste of money."
      "I don't need anything fancy as long as we are together."
      "I don't like big diamonds. I think they are gaudy."

Lies. All lies. Women like flowers. Even the ones who say they don't like flowers turn to mush when they get that unexpected call from the receptionist telling them that they have a delivery. As for diamonds, really big diamonds are gaudy. However, since you are reading this guide, I am guessing your diamond budget is not the same as, say, Brad Pitt's. You should likely get the biggest one you can afford. More on that later.

Women are manipulative. You might not think your woman is, but that just means that she is likely very good at it. If you really still have no idea what to get her for Valentine's Day, you are probably a moron, and I am not just being mean. She has given you a dozen clues in the last week alone. Did she drag you to the mall at any point in the last month? I bet she took you to at least three stores, each containing at least one item that would make an excellent gift, which, I am sure, she pointed out to you. Retrace your steps and ask for help along the way. She may have enlisted the help of friends and family in the unlikely instance that you would think to call any of them seeking assistance. Does she have a sister, a best friend, a mother? I guarantee that one or all of them can tell you what your woman would like for Valentine's Day.

Women like presents. Oh, yes we do. If you haven't come up with anything yet, just hold on, we are getting to the good part. I will give you some easy-to-follow instructions. If you start to get nervous, thinking you can't do this on your own, just print this out and take it with you.

The Idiot-Proof Guide to Valentine Day Gifts for Women

  1. Flowers. This one is not optional. You must get your woman flowers for Valentine's Day. The best way to do this is to order flowers to be delivered to her at work. Because Valentine's Day is on a Saturday this year, you should have them sent on Friday instead. [In 2011, it is on Monday. Have them delivered on Monday, or die. - Ed.] Flowers are almost meaningless if a woman can't brag about them to other women. I said almost. If you fail to have flowers delivered to her at work, you absolutely must not forget to bring some home with you.
  2. Lingerie. This is the perfect gift for hookers, whores and assorted tramps. Most women, however, prefer to buy this on their own.
  3. Diamonds. Like I said, you ain't no Brad Pitt. If you are getting her a ring, try to get as close to one carat as you can afford. Platinum is the way to go for settings these days, but get white gold if you can't afford it. Going for earrings? One carat total weight is the minimum, two carats total weight is the maximum. Round diamonds look bigger. Don't bother with a platinum setting for earrings. Use the extra dough to get better quality diamonds. I can't go into quality here; that would take all day. In Southern California, Robbins Brothers is used to helping out hapless victims of consumerism like you. Don't let their extremely annoying commercials put you off. They will steer you in the right direction.
  4. Other Jewelry. I am talking about anything that isn't a diamond ring or diamond earrings. I think you should stay away from this category. Again, I am not trying to be mean, but you are an idiot. Only men with very good taste should venture into this territory and they don't need help from me.
  5. Kittens. If you are dating a teenager or Britney Spears, this is an appropriate gift. Live and/or stuffed are allowable.
  6. Weekend Getaway. I am sure that your woman has mentioned, on more than one occasion in your relationship, some nice places to go for a weekend trip. Pay attention already! Christ. Destination, in this case, is secondary. The primary thing that is going to score you points with a gift like this is the fact that you planned it all on your own. That means you have to take care of transportation, lodging and even some things to do while there. Although it is preferable to spend the actual weekend of Valentine's Day on the getaway, it may be too late for that. Presenting her with a brochure, or something similar, detailing what you have already booked and planned is almost as good.
  7. Candy. This is crap. If I find out that I put all this time into writing this guide and you read it and still went out and bought your woman one of those disgusting heart-shaped boxes of candy, I will find you and beat you about the head with a blunt object.
  8. Poetry. Seriously, have you not been paying attention to a single thing? Women like presents. I am sure you mean it to be all heartfelt and shit, but it probably sucks.
  9. Date. I hesitate to add this one to the list because it can go horribly awry. If you have it in you to plan a super fabulous date (and I am not talking miniature golf here) then, by all means, do it, but this has to be more fun than anything else you have done with your woman all year. Think over-the-top, like sky-diving, a cruise on a private yacht, heckling celebrities on the red carpet. I can't really help you out with more ideas because I am not all that fun, just mean.
  10. Spa. You absolutely cannot go wrong with a gift certificate to a spa. You likely have no idea what makes a good spa, so ask women you know. Stay away from anything that has "salon and day spa" in the title. Those are just hair salons with extra rooms. The best combos that are reasonably affordable are a facial and a massage, or a facial and a salt or sugar scrub. Two treatments is a perfect amount. Anything more and you risk picking something that she might not enjoy, like a seaweed wrap or a plantain pummel. For those in Southern California, Burke-Williams is your best option.

Good luck, muchachos!


2003: A Year in Review

Turducken I used to write for a friend's web magazine, Clark Schpiell Productions. This was published December 15, 2003. I'd had a shitty year at work but it was all made better with a New Year's Eve turducken. I'm republishing this now because I was struck by my comment that January 2003 was the worst month on record. It was until May 2010. Fuck you, 2010, and good riddance.



January: The worst month on record.

After taking no vacation days from my day job for the Christmas/New Year's holiday extravaganza, I started the year with no real enthusiasm for anything. My job was totally sucking. I had spent the previous six months re-orged into a position that I hated (Product Manager) with no potential for moving up, with a boss who had no real talent as a manager. I was spending at least four hours a day with my mind atrophying in meetings allegedly regarding the implementation of a CRM solution at my company but which may actually have been the daily devotionals of a cult of motivation-stealing snake handlers. I can check my notes for confirmation if you like.

On a more interesting, yet less lucrative, professional front, I had reached an impasse with my first novel. I had the distinct feeling that I had written myself into a corner. A very boring corner. I was starting to hate my protagonist almost as much as I believe she hated me. I don't know what the hell her problem was, though; she had an interesting job, was thin, and was getting laid more often than I did in my last year of college, which is saying A LOT.

At home, we had stopped with the home improvements, having managed to make the house livable. We had no running water in one of the bathrooms, cracked tiles, no baseboards and a possible a gas leak from the oven.

The dog was having accidents in his bed at night.

 

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A Modern Fable: The Crack Whore and the Convicted Rapist

Crackho I used to write for a friend's web mag, Clark Schpiell Productions. This piece was published there July 18, 2005. It is a true story (slightly embellished, and with fake names) based on the rape trial for which I served on the jury.

Not so long ago in a land not so far away -- the mysterious place known as South L.A. -- there was Crack Whore and a Convicted Rapist. This is the true story of how they were destined to meet.

++++++

The Crack Whore was hanging at her cousin's crib, her babies at home, snug in their beds with their daddies nowhere to be found. "Yo, T.J., gimme one of them blunts," called the Crack Whore. She swigged wide on her Smirnoff Ice and staggered through the yard. "I need a smoke." The Crack Whore sprawled on a lawn chair and stared up at the sky through a drunken high haze.

Ten minutes or an hour later, a fight broke out between her cousin, T.J., and his second cousin, Darwahn, over the woman who Darwahn brought to the party and who may have been banging T.J. The Crack Whore, roused from her mellowed state, hollered, "Y'all gots to chill." Sadly, they did not chill and the fight escalated to include broken noses and flying objects. Her buzz effectively killed, the Crack Whore pounded another Smirnoff Ice and headed for home, two miles away. "Shit."

Though it was late at night and, truth be told, South L.A. was not a nice neighborhood, the Crack Whore was not scared to walk home alone. She had been born and raised there and felt no fear. Halfway home, the last of the Smirnoff buzz wore off and the Crack Whore popped into a Circle K for more. Alas, the Circle K did not sell alcohol.

"What up, girl? You need a ride?" A good-looking man in a not-so-good-looking Honda pulled up alongside the Crack Whore. She thought he looked familiar.

"I ain't lookin' to date you," she said. She meant that she did not want to fuck him for money. "Shit."

"No, girl, I ain't lookin' for no date. Where you going? You want a ride?" The man knew he had seen her around, but he could not quite place her face.

"I'm just going home, near Manchester and Fig." The Crack Whore opened the door and slid into the Convicted Rapist's car.

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10 Ways to Reclaim Your Summer

I used to write for a friend's web mag, Clark Schpiell Productions. This piece was published there August 19, 2004. Current and future employers, please note that this is satire.

By now you have noticed that we are in the middle of what some people like to call "summer." Everywhere there are children, celebrities, and random others frolicking in the sun. People who don't think that a hangover is a reason to use up their last vacation day are going to places like Fiji and Yosemite and Grandma's house for up to two full weeks.

You, however, have no vacation time left. You have no sun-burnished skin. You are what some people like to call "a sad sack." There is no need to worry. Even you can enjoy the summer. Don't think for one second that going to work every day and spending eight consecutive hours at a desk, in an office, surrounded by morons is something that you "must" do, something that you are "required" to do in order to earn a "paycheck."

In the hope that you will benefit from my wisdom in the ways of loafing, I give you ten ways to shuffle off the hellish coil of employment and bound nude toward the ocean of freedom. Metaphorically, please. These ten steps are guaranteed to work for nearly one-sixteenth of one-half of one percent of everyone who reads them.

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Choose Your Own Adventure

I used to write for a friend's web mag, Clark Schpiell Productions. This piece was published there November 3, 2003, when I was 29.

I recently stumbled onto a web site that was a spoof of those Choose Your Own Adventure  books that were popular when we were kids. In addition to the slightly nerdy sci-fi books, there was also a series of books for adolescent girls. As a slightly nerdy adolescent girl, I read a few of both.

I loved those books, but they also made me a little tense, which could explain quite a bit about why I am the way that I am. What if I made the wrong decision? I hesitated slightly before turning to the designated page. Once the decision had been made, however, the giddy excitement would build as I rushed to read my fate. (In case you are not familiar with these books, they are written in the second person: you are the protagonist.) The idea that I could go back and change my mind if I did not like the outcome of my decision, or if I simply wanted to see what happened if I made a different choice, was the most thrilling possibility I could imagine. It was easy not to have regrets when none of my decisions were final.

It is so much harder in real life. That is the struggle with 29. From this perspective, the paths that I have chosen are clearer than they have been in the past, and so are the paths that I have not chosen.

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The Cube Dweller's Manifesto

I used to write for a friend's web mag, Clark Schpiell Productions. This piece was published there October 27, 2003. I have edited a few minor errors and changed an outdated reference to music. Current and future employers, please note that this is satire.

1 company, 3 years, 4 titles, 6 cubicles

"It's not just the stench of stale cigarettes," I type into the tiny IM window discreetly hidden in the bottom corner of my screen. "It is the constant, unsolicited, inane chatter."

"Kill her," the response reads. "Stab her in the neck with a pen."

"Off to a mtg. Maybe when I get back."

I grab my pad and pen and head to a conference room on the other side of the building. My mind is filled with the image of a smoked leather face contorted above a jutting Pentel fine point.

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Three Boys I'd Like to Do It With

I used to write for a friend's web mag, Clark Schpiell Productions. This piece was published there September 15, 2003.

Threeboys Every married person I know has a list of famous people they get to have sex with if they ever meet. My husband's potentials include Marissa Tomei, Denise Richards and, rotating in and out of third place, Heather Graham and some redhead named Dina something who was in Starship Troopers. I think she played a slut.

For the longest time, my list consisted of Brad Pitt, Gabriel Byrne and Elijah Wood, who I would, of course, wait to defile until he turned 18 and decided to like girls instead of boys. After the first X-Men movie came out, Hugh Jackman replaced the aging Gabriel -- sorry, old man. After the Lord of the Rings came out and I saw a teeny tiny Elijah with huge, hairy feet, he was out. I replaced Elijah with Tom Welling when I started watching Smallville. I figured I needed to keep a youngster in the ranks.

Something started happening in my life that I'd failed to notice. I and all of my friends were hurtling toward thirty at an alarming pace. By the time that the Lord of the Rings came out on DVD, several of my friends had actually turned thirty and were wondering why they weren't married. We didn't think they let you cross that border without a husband.

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