The Problem With Ice Cream Cakes

I think we can all agree that ice cream cake is one of the best things in the history of really good things, right? Of course we can. Because who doesn’t enjoy layers of ice creamy deliciousness packed between moist cake? No one, that’s who.

While it’s a scientific fact that ice cream cake really is the gold standard of frozen desserts, there is still come contention about where the best ice cream cakes can be obtained. Some argue that Dairy Queen, that infamous monarch of lactose, leads the pack when it comes to ice cream cake artistry. Others still swear by the work of Carvel or Baskin Robbins, especially citing the latter’s thirty-one flavors as the basis for their claim. While I agree that these purveyors are skilled in the craft of ice cream cakery, they pale in comparison to the pure ambrosia coming out of Cold Stone Creamery. For the eater, their cakes impart the purest of joys that is unmatched by lesser cakes. But for someone like me, that joy comes at an uncomfortable cost.

For whatever reason, I am overcome by a deep sense of discomfort whenever someone sings in public. I know, it’s weird. Some people don’t like public breastfeeding, others hate public displays of affection. Me, I don’t like when people sing in public. Maybe it’s the spontaneity of the situation that makes me uncomfortable or that people with poor singing skills seem to be the ones most drawn to strong-arming me into being their impromptu audience. Either way, I don’t like it, which makes going to Cold Stone a serious test of my character.

If you’ve ever been to a Cold Stone then you’re probably familiar with the disgusting “tip for a song” policy they enforce on their employees. If not, it’s basically this: for every dollar a grateful patron drops into their tip jar the Cold Stone employees are forced to croon some familiar tune (i.e. that old classic, “Zippety-Doo-Dah”) that’s had its lyrics twisted into a heaping scoop of propaganda by their creamy corporate overlords. Still, I feel obligated to tip them because of the overwhelming sense of gratitude I feel whenever purchasing one of their cakes. Well, that, and I don’t want them to think I’m cheap. I’m essentially forced to choose between the lesser of two discomforts, which is in itself a source of a whole other discomfort. The whole thing really puts me in quite a pickle.

I haven’t found a clear path to deal with the situation yet. Thankfully though, there’s still one slice of ice cream cake left in the freezer to help me think. There’s a decent chance that I might need more to help solve this problem, but let’s all pray it doesn’t come to that.

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Stuff For Wasting Time When You Ought To Be Writing

Who doesn’t love the feeling of being productive? Crazy people and communists, that’s who. You writers know what I mean, it’s the cat’s meow when you’re tapping away at the keys, singing “Taking Care of Business” in your head as you experience a jacked up level of inner-awesome at what a fricken machine you are when it comes to doing work.

But not every day is productive, is it? Not a chance, baby. Some days you slump down in your chair and stare at the screen, don’t you? You agonize over the details of your characters (would my MC really make a pass at that hunky lifeguard in chapter two?), or word choice (is bootylicious even a word?), or even whether your science-fantasy-dramedy-thriller is going to blow the world’s collective mind the way you’d planned.

Here’s the deal: some days are going the totally suck. Old school Hoover vacuum cleaners kind of suck, okay? Expressed mathematically that’s, like, suck2, or something.

Some days you are going to want to cast your laptop into the bottomless maw from whence bad writing doth never return. It’s okay though. They happen to all of us. When I hit those days I shut down Word and hit the interwebs for some fun. You like fun, don’t you? Of course you do. Unless you’re a communist, or course. Communists are nothing but a bunch of fun-hating bastards.

Here’s a list of my new time wasting/brain unwinding websites for those moments when I find myself in a sketchy neighborhood of Sucksville:

The Zoomable Scale of Everything — Want to know how big you are compared to one of Jupiter’s moons? Then come forward, young inquisitor, and prepare to be wowed!

Tom and Gary’s Decentralized Dance Party — Never have I seen two men who love partying so much. They have a portable FM transmitter–and by portable I mean one of them can wear it as a backpack–that they bring to a set location in some city. Everybody who shows up brings a boombox, tunes into the channel they’re broadcasting on, and then the mobile party ensues. More people, more music, more awesome–that’s exponentially fun, bro.

xkcd — The site’s title reads: “A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.” I can’t say it better than that. This one is dripping with awesome.

Snorg Tees — These t-shirts are never not funny (unless you’re a commie).

Chart Porn — If you like the graphical representation of data then you’ll love this! no, really, it’s a bunch of charts about stuff. If that doesn’t sound fun, move along (communist).

Pottermore — I need to get trucking along in my Pottermore journey because I haven’t even been sorted yet, dude. Shenanigans, I know. From what I hear this site is to Potter fans what cake is to fat kids, so go get on that biatch and make yourself sick.

People of Walmart — If you’ve got a better place for looking at the crappy lower back tattoos of rural America, I’d like to know.

garfield minus garfield — This dude took a bunch of Garfield comics and got rid of that stupid obese cat so now John just looks like a nutjob. Genius!

r/funny — So many lulz in one place. Still one of favs.

Got any other suggestions for places to go on the internets? Holler back, girl (or boy, but not communists).

This Is For My Friend, Sean. He Hates Imagination.

I’ve got this friend who hates fiction. Weird, right? Novels, novellas, short stories, poetry, flash–the dude hates it all. And it doesn’t just stop with made-up things in print form Oh no. Movies or television shows get him absolutely heated too. Magazines articles are okay as long as they’re conveyed in bulleted format and the sentences are capped at five words. Sans adjectives, preferably. Likewise on adverbs.

Since I found out about the dude’s condition I’ve been grinding hard on the Internets, trying to find something that will sway him to the side of things-made-up. The guy likes to laugh (I don’t get how you can like laughing but not like fiction, but whatever) so I figured I’d lay out three of my go-to funny sites–also the sites I go to when my brain stops working on a writing project–in the hopes that they’ll break the stony shell around his fiction hating heart.

McSweeny’s Internet Tendency — This site is a fricken gem but it’s just not safe for work. I was in the break room at work when I read the short story, “I’m Sorry I Bit You During My Job Interview” and this lady I work with came in to check on me because she thought I was sobbing.

Red Pen of Doom — This fella’s blog is hi-lair-ee-usPlus, he was an actual journalist at some point unlike the rest of us hacks on here who think we can write.

The Onion — You better already know about this. Subscribe to their Twitter feed and get the gist of the funny by just reading the headline.

Cracked — Funny lists? You got it, dude.

Like I said, these are the sites I usually hit when my brain decides to go on a permanent coffee break in the middle of writing. Maybe they’ll also help my friend to like fiction? II hope so.

Any others that you Internet folks think I should add?

Zonk! (All I Wanted To Do Was Post A Video)

If you’ve ever served in the military then you know what it’s like to do physical training–or as it’s more commonly known, “PT.” That is, of course, unless you were in the Air Force. Then you just know how to ride an exercise bike for twenty minutes. For all other military folks though, morning PT is just part of the job. You show up at 5:30 AM, freezing your butt off because your boss thinks 30 degrees is warm enough to warrant short-shorts and a t-shirt, then do a bunch of work-outs that are more likely to give you a torn ligament than an improved physique. After that you get to go home and get ready for your actual job. Sound like good times to you? No? Me neither.

On rare occasions–and I mean rare as in it only happened to me once in my whole enlistment–the boss man will say the word zonk. This mysterious word is meant to convey the following:

“Hey, I know I already made you guys get up super early and battle traffic to get here on time, but now that we’re all out here I’m going to release you from your ninety minutes of morning hell and let you go home.”

Now, I’ve got no idea idea where the word came from, but I do know that my one zonking filled me with a confusing mix of irritation and happiness. The happiness was easy enough to trace–my daily brush with frostbite was canceled! But the super irritating part was that they made me show up just to be told I could go home. Of course, such poetic mixtures of emotion are one of the things that gives the Army its unique je ne sais quoi.

So it’s in the spirit of the zonk that I post tonight. I’ve come down with a cold the past couple of days and have been spending my time reading A MIllion Suns and eating Chinese food. as such I thought I would post something easy–a video of corgis doing bellyflops, maybe?–and then hit the sack. However, once I get writing I find it hard to stop without making an effort to have it be somewhat presentable. Thus I ended up giving myself a zonk in reverse: I showed up with the expectation of getting off easy, but stuck around and wrote an entire fricken post.

Oh, well. Here’s that corgi video all the same.

Spinning Yarns: An Ode to Presidents’ Day

Until twenty minutes ago I was ultra-excited to write this blog post. See, I’d had this idea for a post a couple days ago where I would list all the American presidents who have published fiction over the years. I figured that listing a bunch of presidential fiction publications on my blog would be a sweet way of ringing in this favorite holiday of students and mail carriers alike. Sadly, it was not to be.

Based on my research–I use the word “research” in the loosest sense, as I only “researched” for five minutes at the most–there is not a single publication by an American president that is classified as fiction. Of course, some people might say that everything coming out of the Oval Office constitutes fiction in some sense, but for the purposes of this blog post I was looking for something they’d intended for us to read as made-up.

But don’t stress out, friend. I have another idea that’s still fun, just much less fun than my original idea. Here’s a list some of the great political fiction, but I’m taking a page out of M. Night Shyamalan’s book for a bit of a twist.

1. The Man Who Opened the Watergate

Remember when Tricky Dick had his broskis break into the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters to try and make them look all bad and stuff? And then afterwards he came out and said that he didn’t do it, but then later said he pretty much did? Yeah. That was a good story.

2. Rod Blagojevich and the Gilded Chair

Once upon a time, there was a prince in a place called Illinois. This prince wanted so badly to get a whole bunch of money so he decided it would be a good idea to try and sell a Senate seat to whoever was willing to give him the paper. Then he got caught and went to prison. The end.

3. Fly Away, Pretty Bird

There was this one time, at hunting camp, when the Vice President of the United States got away with shooting a dude in the face. Turns out that 78 year-old lawyers look a lot like quail.

4. I’d Trade My Arms for a Hostage

So there was this one time when Ronald Reagan went on television and said there was no possible way that there were any sort of weapons going to Iran, but then later he came on and was all like, “Well, maybe I was wrong.” Yeah, good times.

I’m sure you can think of a whole bunch more but I’m going to leave that list as it is. Don’t hesitate to comment below with any other escapades into the ethical grey-zone.

Happy Presidents’ Day!

We’ll All Laugh About This Later: Sleeping With the Fishes

Everybody has a few painfully awkward memories. You know what I’m talking about. They’re those times you think about and feel a little flush in your cheeks. The kind of stuff you hope no one saw, or at least that no one remembers.

Looking back on my childhood, I can’t help but feel like the universe heaped a few extra on me. I was always an awkward kid–the tallest one in every class from Kindergarten to high school. When other kids were shedding their baby fat I seemed to pick up a little more every year until I was the tallest and the widest kid in every class picture. But wait, it gets better. Mix that combo of fat and tall with a love of Star Wars novels and you get yourself a real winner. Sad sight, right? From there, all you need is a sprinkle of puberty pimples to build yourself a real-life nerd.

Yep. Welcome to the best years of my life.

There’s one gem in particular from those years that stands out in my memory like no other. Actually, I just lied. There are a lot of memories that are equally bad, but I can’t stand the shame of spilling more than one at a time.

It was the summer between freshman and sophomore years and I was working on the campus of my Jesuit prep school to help cover tuition. Dave the groundskeeper had just sent all of us po’ students off for lunch, and being a socially awkward teen I needed to find somewhere private where I could munch on the P B & J my mom had packed for me. With only half an hour to eat I knew I had to be fast else I suffer the stinging wrath of Dave. I hoofed it across campus looking everywhere for a place to be alone, until I spotted a shady nook under the awning of the science building. Perfect, I thought. Save for a few lonely orange cones, the place was totally deserted. I broke into a trot, aiming to claim this new hiding place before anybody else showed up.

As I got about ten paces from the spot a very strange thing happened. I sunk. No, I don’t mean that I fell or anything like that. I mean I literally sunk. You see, someone had recently been doing a bit of concrete work near the shadowy spot I had my eye on. Unfortunately for me, whoever had laid the concrete had neglected to put any sort of barrier around their work. Apparently they’d thought that a trio or orange traffic cones was enough to deter people from stepping into three feet of wet cement. No one must have warned them that I’d be on campus that day.

Here’s where you’d think it couldn’t get any worse, and here’s where you’d be wrong.

Just as I stepped in the cement–I mean the very moment that my foot hit that pool of grey muck–the foreman of the concrete crew came back from his lunch. It should be easy for you to imagine his irritation at finding a giant teen stomping around in his fresh work. Dave showed up soon after and immediately assumed that I had done it on purpose. Really, Dave? Who would do that on purpose? Nevertheless, the school shot out an angry call to my mom, who I’m sure explained the problem with her son.

“No,” I imagine her saying. “He actually does this sort of thing all the time.”

Man, what a bummer that was.

But alas, it’s not all bad. Even though the stepping-in-wet-cement story didn’t come up until I we were already married–whew! dodged that bullet!–my other adventures in embarrassment actually paid off in the long run. On one of our first dates, my wife was actually impressed by my extensive knowledge of all the goings on in a galaxy far far away (everything post-Return of the Jedi, of course). She actually thought it was cool that I knew so much about a made-up place full of made-up people. Plus, without all those shameful moments of adolescent shenanigans I wouldn’t be able to write my characters into painfully embarrassing scenes–something I enjoy doing quite a bit. And who knows? Maybe stepping in wet cement will pay off one day. We are planning to have kids, and if they’re anything like I was then I know there is going to be some cheek-flushing experiences in their futures as well.