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Idea for a movie trailer:

Blank screen. The Pogues’ “Worms” begins and plays throughout.

A worm whizzes across the screen. Is it angry? Fleeing? What the heck?

SCREEN TEXT: COMING THIS SUMMER

CUT TO: An attractive woman and man.

Woman: You’re not listening to me! I’m talking about the goddamned WORMS!

SCREEN TEXT: Zooey Deschanel

Man: The worms can go fly a kite for all I care!

SCREEN TEXT: Joe Pesci

CUT TO: Worms flying kites.

MONTAGE: People eating fried worms, worms eating fried people, clothes made of worms, big pots of worm soup, worms marching in unison.

SCREEN TEXT: ARE YOU READY FOR

(cont’d): HELL ON EARTH??

Big explosion for no reason.

SCREEN TEXT: PREPARE FOR

(cont’d): APESHIT WORMS

CUT TO: Thousands of worms going apeshit.

CUT TO: Woman and man again.

Woman: What did I tell you about the WORMS?!

Man: Those stupid worms can take a hike.

CUT TO: Worms taking a hike.

SCREEN TEXT: YOU WILL NOT

(cont’d): BELIEVE YOUR EYES

MONTAGE: Worms taking hostages, worms taking selfies, worms performing Shakespeare, worms playing billiards, worms screenwriting at Starbucks, a worm riding a donkey.

SCREEN TEXT: IS THIS THE END?

CUT TO: Big CGI worm battle. An epic showdown with advanced weaponry. A huge explosion and —

Fade to black.

CREDIT SCREEN: APESHIT WORMS, starring Zooey Deschanel, Joe Pesci, Kiernan Shipka, Dustin Diamond, Warwick Davis, and Fluffy the Anaconda. Written by Alan Smithee. Produced by Quincy Jones, Judd Apatow, and Dawn Wells. Directed by Jim Jarmusch and Uwe Boll.

END SHOT: A worm screaming in agony as Warwick Davis laughs.

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I’ve been around awhile now, and I’m just coming to the realization that I’ve never been truly passionate about anything.

I played guitar and sang in bands for several years, which was fun, but I never wanted to be a rock star. I did stand-up comedy for a few years; again, no desire to hit it big and move to L.A. to be in movies.

I’ve never been the gung-ho employee-of-the-month shootin’-for-the-corner-office type. I only taught school for one year; that’s all it took for me to figure out that wasn’t a passion.

I can’t think of any political issue that would motivate me to make a sign, put on pants, go outside, and march either for or against it.

I like a few pro sports teams, but I’m not a fanatic, and I don’t lose my shit if the teams do poorly.

I don’t collect anything. I’m not a superfan of any musicians or celebrities. I like movies and TV shows, but they’re just entertainment. I’m not into exercise and pop culture.

And romantic relationships? They’re okay, but I don’t think I’ve ever been PASSIONATELY in love with anyone.

So I’m not sure if I’m just lazy (strong possibility) or it’s the chemical imbalance in my head. I just don’t get fired up.

Maybe that’s why I like Bernie Sanders. Whatever you think of his policies, you have to admit the man’s passionate. He utters passion with every breath in his frail old body. Maybe I’m living vicariously through him.

So hats off to all you folks with true passions. It’s what gives us doctors and scientists and captains of industry and whatnot. And protesters can incite change.

Maybe I’ll find a true passion someday. I can see maybe really getting into old Teletubbies DVDs.

The satirical site The Onion has a feature called “what do YOU think,” where fictional people are asked their opinions about current events. The writers always come up with some clever occupations for the interviewees.

Here are some of my ideas for professions/job titles:

Squid polisher

Aquatic ninja

Subpoena eater

Rioter-at-large

Perfume farmer

Handshake expert

Gentle boxer

Professional doofus

Uptight sycophant

Children’s stripper

Political scrubber

Amoeba psychiatrist

Competitive cow tipper

Union concubine

Locomotive stuffer

Urban Troglodyte

Amateur rock-skipper

Roller coaster licker

Toenail model

Corpuscle wrangler

Festive buffoon

Rodeo caterer

Swine flu enthusiast

Airport tester

Rhododendron inspector

Potato sack artist

Part-time euthanizer

Acid flashback comptroller

Amphibian rights activist

Movie taster

Upbeat stoner

Scone surveyor

Undercover beekeeper

Water park dentist

Foppish womanizer

Trapeze delinquent

Drinking-straw whittler

Antelope slapper

Musical bailiff

Go-kart fetishist

Business defiler

Hot tub liaison

Situation exacerbator

Manatee tutor

Honky-tonk mime

Oak tree paramedic

Shrapnel grinder

Existential entrepreneur

Brothel cashier

Celebrity bricklayer

Axle grease purveyor

Park bench machinist

Rambunctious roustabout

Shaving cream researcher

Motel haberdasher

Orangutan decorator

Freelance hobnobber

A few months ago, I had the brakes on my car replaced. The process took a few hours, and my phone bores me quickly, so I checked their magazines.

The choices were car mags (which bore me more quickly than my phone) and a Redbook.

So I scanned the Redbook for a few minutes. Here’s my assessment of both the editorial and advertising content, broken into segments:

1. Hair care products or styling advice

2. Cosmetics

3. Fashion/clothing

4. Diet/weight loss

As I read I couldn’t help but think about what they were selling. “Your hair should be full and lustrous and have a certain cut. Here’s the make-up you should be using, because you need make-up, right? And you need to have this dress and handbag. And you could stand to lose a few pounds.”

It did have an article about how to work on your relationship, which is better than “50 Ways to Please Your Man.”

I guess I was wondering why they didn’t have content about education or reading or health (other than diet tips). I assume those topics are in other women’s magazines. But Redbook, like many others, is geared toward how to look pretty on the outside, presumably to attract or keep a mate.

I know there are men’s magazines like Esquire and GQ that put an emphasis on looking good, but they generally have interviews and discuss culturally relevant topics. And there are about 10 times as many women’s magazines as men’s.

And it’s always bugged me that the cosmetics industry is a multi-billion-dollar-a-year industry. If every woman decided to simultaneously stop wearing makeup, we’d get over it.

Maybe Margaret Atwood sums it up best:

“Vanity is becoming a nuisance, I can see why women give it up, eventually. But I’m not ready for that yet.”

In my very early years, my family lived in the small town of Hudson, IL. We went to church every Sunday, and my parents would always stay after the service for a while to chat with others in the congregation.

One Sunday, when I was about seven, I was bored with the adult chatting, so I did what I usually did – wandered around the church hoping to amuse myself somehow until we went home.

I went upstairs to one of the Sunday school rooms, maybe to look for a book to read. For some reason, I was drawn to a closet door. Something told me I was supposed to open that door.

I walked up and slowly slid the door open.

Inside, on the floor, was a large, lit candle. Wrapped around the candle were torn-out pages from either a Bible or a hymnal. The candle had burned down so that the pages’ edges were just above the sides of the flame. Lots of other pages were bunched around the base of the candle and scattered around the floor of the closet.

I was a bit shocked, but even my kid brain knew someone was trying to start a delayed-reaction fire.

I blew out the candle and immediately ran downstairs to tell my parents.

I don’t remember much of the details after that, except:

The next week, the minister told the congregation that there had been an arson attempt on the church.

My mom asked me, “why did you open the closet door?” I said, “I thought I was supposed to.”

The Lord works in mysterious ways.

Since 1982, the English Department at San Jose State University has held the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, in which entrants submit the first sentence of a terrible novel. Here are some I’m thinking about submitting:

It was the kind of day that shone with the brilliance of a silver turd that got stuck somewhere in the toilet of a billion universes; the planet’s top scientists said such luster would not be seen again until the ice age of 3045, which would kill off all the Venus flytraps, xenophobes, and alter boys.

He awoke from a deep, sultry, and ironic sleep, likely induced by a harsh drug mined from some evil pocket deep in the earth, and discovered to his delight that his entrails were wrapped around both his neck and his genitals; from his experience, this was probably either a hilarious sorority prank or a sign he should buy a condo in Vermont.

The logy and sarcastic ant was prone to flatulence, which caused tremendous unrest amongst not just the colony, but all living creatures in a two-mile radius (it was quite the talk around the water coolers); the queen, however, adored the intoxicating scent, which drove her into a murderous frenzy when she listened to Mel Torme.

Quasar was cruising to the Pleasureplex in his vintage hovercar, chartreuse and exfoliated hair flapping in the balmy breeze, when a dilapidated orangutan from a hostile wormhole appeared and smashed him in the cheekbones; he was sent careening into another dimension where nuns and accountants run rampant in the streets and eat raw possum.

Eighteen dollars and seventy-nine cents later, Sandra discovered that the shiny but eerily-glowing toe ring was neither whimsical nor fragrant as promised but was, instead, a portal to the very depths of hell (or Miami, depending on the tides); she began to grow suspect of the slithery but gorgeous bullet-train engineer who sold her this droll but unholy relic.

The surly barista, weary from seven straight hours of Mongolian throat singing, looked lustfully at the knick-knacks on the tawdry Ikea shelf, then – with no provocation from his criminal parrot Irving – swept them to the uncannily clean floor with a robust gesture of his macho hand; the trinkets shattered into 438 heart-rendering fragments of a world gone mad.

Sure, he was a master of upside-down ping-pong, owner of a second-hand hubcap empire, father of 25, grandfather of 3,942, held the record in projectile vomiting (class 5), thrice beat up drunk congressmen, ate 32 ounces of meat an hour, and could smash a LEGO brick with his pinky finger…but could he name the capital of Fiji for $200?

The hunchbacked and fertile bricklayer approached the sarcastic and unruly koala with the brazen cojones of a hopped-up preschool teacher whose last paycheck bounced and whose box turtle had savagely bitten her buttock; as he rudely closed in, he readied the nine-iron wrapped in spoiled bacon and prepared to annihilate the beast, or at least offer the fuzzy bastard a smelly gift.

I’ve read a few articles about how people just aren’t naming their kids “Gary” anymore.

Think about it: How many famous Garys can you name? Oldman, Sinise, Hart, Shandling (with 2 r’s), Busey, Cooper (which may have spiked popularity back in the day)…but probably not a whole lot more. And how many Garys do you know who are under 40?

Maybe the Gary Glitter scandal way back when soured folks on the notion. Who knows.

*FUN FACT: There were 90 girls named Gary in 1947.

I was named after my dad’s best friend, Gary (name redacted). My dad was 25 when I was born, and he and Gary had been friends for a long time. I remember visiting with his family several times. He seemed like an okay guy.

When I got older, I asked my dad about him, because it seemed like he never talked about him or mentioned trying to get together with him.

My dad told me that, many years ago, Gary had gotten a job with UPS that paid pretty well. He worked his way into management, and made some serious bucks. That’s when things changed.

The way my dad put it, Gary basically made new rich friends and wanted nothing to do with him anymore because he didn’t make enough cash.

So not only is my name going extinct, but I’m also named after a douchebag.