Thursday, January 20, 2011

Have Photo, Need Story

Here's the latest installment in an occasional feature we're going to call Have Photo, Need Story. The message below was in a box I got recently from McSweeney's, which produces all sorts of strange and interesting things. It would take to long to explain WHY this message was in the box... but it made sense at the time.

Here's what I want you to do: Assume that this sentence is the first sentence of a story, and take it from there. This blogging software doesn't give you a whole lot of space in the comments -- something like 4,000 characters, including spaces -- so we're not looking for "War and Peace" here. But see where your mind takes you. My head feels more sifted already.


JAT said...


Frank exhaled sharply. So the time had come. He held the auto-sorting and bagging contraption he ordered from the back of High Times -- money order only, thank you federales -- complete with a snarky how-to only fellow weedians could snarf at.

It looked well made, solid. Certainly heavy.

But would it work? Would the giant purple-headed buds he had slaved over for weeks in his parents dank, impossibly bright, yet oh-so-secret basement really hopper themselves down through the sifter and into perfect, undamaged, glorious quarter-ounce bags in a matter of seconds?

Only one way to find out.

tommy tomlinson said...

My first thought was along those same lines, Jeff. Great minds think alike... and so do ours :)

Alexis said...

Ah yes, I always loved getting boxes packed by mamma-san.
Her "engrish" is getting better. This is an improvement on the card that read "Love is throbbing heart and lingering idea. Love get you." followed by the handwritten quip of "Now good year to get new man! xo mamma-san." Such touches always make me miss Okinawa.

I wonder what kind of mis-interpretations I would create in Japenese. I've already made a foul of myself in Italian and Dutch. I'll never live down calling my pet hen the Neapolitan equivalent for "roadside roasted chicken." That is what I get for relying on a book the first time I tried flirting with the Pompeian god of a pool boy next door.

We won't even get into the mistake of what rhymes with the Dutch word for kitchen.

Cathy D said...

Cathy stared at the card, turning it over slowly. "it must be a code" she said to no one in particular - maybe he needs help. But as the minutes ticked away, an overwhelming feeling of defeat began to well up inside her. There was no secret message, no code - just the nonsensical words and picture of that horrible chair - the chair that had driven her friend insane Tommy's dementia had returned.

tommy tomlinson said...

Alexis, Cathy D: Both these are just genius. I wanted to go ahead and say that before the dementia kicked back in.

Anonymous said...

The John, The Loo, The Head.

It had many different names, but it was basically a white porcelain toilet.

In a normal Motel, the wrapper would have said

"Sanitized for your Protection".

But this was a Motel Sux, so nothing had even been cleaned for weeks, much less sanitized.

I wasn't looking forward to retrieving my room keys.

Anonymous said...

To enhance the head-sifting experience, please remove and discard this cardboard spacer.

“Nothing more annoying than the cost of explaining the obvious,” thought the manager, as he bent one of the spacers in half. He flattened it and placed his coffee cup on it.

Twice in the last month the production line had come to a halt. No cardboard spacers! He had ordered extra. He always ordered more spacers than any other component. For its cost, a penny, it was becoming the most expensive part.

With his thumb he spun the spacer, now saucer, half around. The coffee sloshed over the edge but was hardly noticeable were it dripped on the spacer. He stood-up, grabbed the cup, threw the spacer in the trash and walked toward the stairs to check the assembly line.

If this were America, where he’d gone to college, the workers would be wearing hairnets, safety shoes and earplugs. It was noisy. He barely could hear what people told him. So, he always just nodded and smiled.

Everything was running smoothly. But looking down the line he could see that the stack of spacers was low. He quickly calculated. Production would stop in three hours. He pulled the foreman over.

“Spacers,” he yelled over the din. “What’s happened to the spacers?”

The foreman motioned the manager to step into a quieter room. Before the door shut behind them, the man took from his rear pocket a spacer and kept the door from locking.

The foreman used his hands to show how big the stack was now and then moved his palms closer to show what he needed for his shift. “It wasn’t his problem,” he said.

The cardboard spacer in the lock shot out toward the big machine as the manager angrily pushed open the door. He went back to his office.


Bolyn McClung

January 21, 2011

Cedar Posts said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cedar Posts said...

He leaned against the high tech interactive black board and pondered the small cardboard spacer again. On one hand he certainly wanted his students to have the best possible experience, on the other if he removed and discarded the cardboard spacer he would open himself up to more scrutiny.

The memo was clear, DO NOT ADJUST OR MODIFITY, but why then the additional instructions? Going against the system would be a mistake; departing from a mandate by school administration was always a career ender. But enhanced, clearly would be better, shouldn’t his students have the advantage of an enhanced experience?

The bell rang, exactly 7 seconds later the classroom door swung open as his 9:38 students began to push through the doorway in dribbles and droves, time was running out he had to choose. Remove it he shouted to himself, pull it out now! No one will ever know!

The minutes spun by, the classroom was filling up quickly. Fear gripped his body, his mind raced as he tried to justify going against policy.

The bell rang again, the door opened and closed one last time as he slipped the cardboard spacer into his pocket.

Good Morning, page 359 and last night’s homework assignment on your desks please.

Lynne Stevenson said...

"To enhance the head-sifting experience, please remove and discard the cardboard spacer", read the cardboard insert Tim found haphazardly wedged between pastel colored piles of styrofoam peanuts and layers of old faded newspaper within the box of his new 50" flatscreen tv and DVD player combo. Furiously rubbing his eyes, believing he was halucinating yet once again, he muttered to no one in particular, "Man, I have got to start laying off of those mid week meth parties with Phil and the frat boys! I really thought I read something about a 'head shifting experience' here."
After spending the better part of two hours assembling and mounting his 50" television on the alabaster white wall, and placing the DVD player carefully beside it, Tim was finally satisfied with his work.
Fumbling to gather all of the ensuing garbage carelessly strewn all over the teak hardwood floor, once again the sinister slogan caught Tim's eye as he attempted to dump it in the blue recycling bin at the back door.
There, all finished for tonight, he proudly thought to himself as he marched past the newly mounted television screen. Momentarily turning to switch off the overhead light and head for bed, out of his peripheral vision, he spotted what appeared to be bits and pieces of mangled carboard hanging from the ceiling. The individual words "To enhance the head-sifting experience, please remove and discard the cardboard spacer" appeared to twirl and dance in unison as strains of Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train" blared from the speakers at top volume.
Tim was last seen running through his neighborhood at 11:00 PM last Wednesday, wearing nothing but white Jockey briefs, muttering something about killer cardboard inserts and everyone must flee for their lives.
The authorities are still searching for him to this day. If anyone has seen him, please call 911. He is considered to be strung out on meth and is a danger to himself and others.

Ted Hooks said...

Warden Quibble had grown tired of
the never ending spelling errors
generated by the new computers in
Montgomery. Looking out the window
toward the last gray cell block,
he threw the final order of execution in the air in total disgust. How could those new law
clerks make such a grave error? The
term may be archaic, but by god it
is "dead sitting" and not "head sifting". That's the problem with
Spell Check. If you type it and
a word is created, a real word,
then the stupid program will not
flag the mistake or even try to
correct it. Just go on, just go
on your jolly old way like it doesn't matter at all. We are talking about life and death here.

At times like these Warden Quibble
would long for the days of the old
leather bound books where Supreme
Court Orders were written in black
flowing ink and always at the able
hands of an old Clerk who respected
the Rule of Law and knew that the
words he was placing between the
green lines was history in the making and he was proud to be a
part of it, even when some of the
old language like "electrical jolts
coursing through the veins and
arteries.....well, the hair would
stand up on his neck and a chill
could be felt in the room.

The old electric chair that the
guards fondly called "Old Yellow"
was showing its age and now the
card board spacers had to be inserted to make sure the leather
straps would not interfere with
the sudden contact at ankle area
where puffs of smoke had slowly
risen the last few times. Warden
Quibble didn't like anything to happen that he didn't have complete
control over. Computer errors he
could no longer abide. "Some things
just need killing", he muttered to
no one in the big empty room.