How To Handle Horrible Holiday Gifts

In the 1900’s, teens invented sarcasm as a coping method to deal with the utter uncoolness of adults. With it, teens were able to express their criticism of all uncool things* right in front of the adults’ faces. Sadly, after about 60 years, adults learned to recognize sarcasm.

*which includes everything save certain other teens, the word “cool,” and this blog.

As the holiday season begins, teens have to mentally prepare themselves for the difficult experience of receiving gifts. Now, you might consider receiving presents a largely positive experience, and not a difficult one. You might be thinking that that last statement is more wrong than the fact that gum now costs 400,000% what it did in the 1900’s. But, let me ask you this: what do you do if you get a gift you don’t want?

What Not To Do

It’s the first night of (political correctness ahead) your winter holiday of choice. You’ve gathered with your immediate family (sitting on the sofa), extended family (gathered in various places about the room), and hyper-extended family (sporting a lively medley of various appendages in slings). You open the gift from your great-aunt Marge, which is short for Margarettalonacia, and it’s…unspeakably awful.

The “I Love It” Response

You: Gee, Aunt Marge, I don’t know what to say. [You begin to feel nauseous.]

Aunt Marge [Played by Professor Umbridge]: I knew you would love it.

You: Hold on one second. I want to run to the bathroom to wash my hands before I open it; I’d hate to dirty it. [You run to the bathroom, and turn on the faucet full blast. The rest of your family can hear what sounds like vomiting over the noise of the water]. Sorry about that. Anyways, thanks so much for the crocheted wool tube socks that come up to my thighs. How did you know that I love socks like that? Plus, you covered the socks with a pattern of various math equations! My favorite.

Aunt Marge: Oh, it was nothing, just a little intuition. Okay, well, actually, I asked my friend, an 80-year-old kindergarten teacher, what gifts are good for teens, and she suggested this gift.

You: Wow. I really appreciate it.

Here’s what’s wrong with this response. Sure, you didn’t anger your aunt, but let’s face it: you just expressed love for socks so ugly even Justin Bieber wouldn’t wear them to a meeting with the Prime Minister of Canada. Next year, your aunt will have mentioned to all her friends that you just adored the socks, and you’ll receive 18 more pairs of socks from her clueless friends.

Since you “love” them so much, you’ll be required to wear them whenever your aunt visits, and, since your aunt visits you at times of family gathering, you will become the laughing stock of your cousins. You’ll receive nicknames such as “poodle,” “leg-sweater man,” and “furry thighs.” Eventually, your self-esteem will be so decimated that you become incredibly shy, to the point where even photographs of other people make you anxious. To solve this, you spend the rest of your life in a metal filing cabinet. Needless to say, your life is ruined.

The Sarcastic Response

You: Aunt Marge, I don’t know what to say. [You begin to feel nauseous.]

Aunt Marge: I knew you would love it.

You: BLAAAAARGH! Sorry about that. I throw up when I get super-excited. I’m sure we can clean that Oriental rug. Anyways, thank you so very much for this autographed copy of “Quantum Physics in Relation to Extended Metaphors Present in Shakespeare.” I can’t wait to read it!

Aunt Marge: Are you being sarcastic, young man?! I can tell you secretly loathe my present. You know what? I didn’t have to get you anything, but I did. The least you can do is be thankful!

You [Dripping sarcasm, hoping Aunt Marge won’t notice]: I am. I sincerely love relating quantum physics to plays written before my great-great-great grandpa was born.

Aunt Marge: You lying boy! I am personally insulted.

After your aunt leaves, she tells all of her friends how ungrateful you are. Rather than being clueless, however, in this scenario your aunt has befriended the deans of all 4,000 colleges in America.

When you apply for college the next year, all systematically reject you. You end up attending a community college in Azerbaijan run by goat herders. Needless to say, your life is ruined.

The Honest Response

You: Aunt Marge, I don’t know what to say. [You begin to feel nauseous.]

Aunt Marge: I knew you would love it.

You: No, actually, Aunt Marge, I’m speechless because I am repulsed by your gift. I don’t have the time nor want to watch this 67 DVD box set of “The Most Boring Shows of the 1960s.” I think that you must have awful taste, although I thank you for the thought. BLLAAAAARRGH! Wow, this gift was so awful that I actually threw up. I haven’t thrown up since 6th grade.

Aunt Marge: You ungrateful boy! What’s wrong with this wonderful gift? Do you know how much it cost? It was in the 4 digits! All wasted! I will never speak to you again!

As fate would have it, the next week your aunt wins the MegaLottoPowerBasket-ball, winning a 90% stock share in Google, Apple, and China (the country). Every single other person in your family becomes a billionaire due to the generosity of your aunt.

You don’t get rich, of course. And, to express her dislike of you your great aunt pays everyone you ever come in contact with $5 each time they say “You ungrateful boy!” Eventually, the strain gets to be too much, and you move to Tajikistan, where people still shout at you “You ungrateful boy,” although it’s no longer in a language you understand. Needless to say, your life is ruined.

What To Do

Now that you’ve wised up to the folly of the above methods, you’re probably wondering what to do when you inevitably receive a gift you don’t like. Sadly, taking a sudden vow of silence for religious reasons is not the answer. If it was that easy, the entire teen population would remain silent for all of January.

Choose Your Words Wisely

You: Aunt Marge, I don’t know what to say. [You begin to feel nauseous.]

Aunt Marge: I knew you would love it.

You: BLAAARGH! Oh no, was there, uh, salt in the food we ate for dinner? [Dad nods affirmatively]. I totally forgot that I developed a salt allergy [Dad is about to interject with disbelief]…an hour ago! Sorry about that. Good thing we didn’t give the cat a bath yet today.

Anyways, Aunt Marge, thanks for this cool fax machine. The nice thing about fax machines is that you only need one, so I’ll never need another. I bet I can learn a lot by putting it together. I can’t wait to send a fax to my friends; they’ll think this is a riot [which is true, although for different reasons then you imply]. You know what would be awesome? If next year I got an Amazon gift card so I could spend some time picking out stationary I’d like to use for faxing.

Aunt Marge: You’re welcome. I’m so glad you like it. In fact, since we have such similar tastes, why don’t you take this solid gold bar I found in the gutter on the way here. I’m sure you’ll use it wisely.

Condemn a Family Member

You: Aunt Marge, I don’t know what to say. [You begin to feel nauseous.]

Aunt Marge: I knew you would love it.

You: Um, it looks like it was made in…[squinting]…China. Oh darn, that’s terrible. BLAAAARGH! As you can see, I get nauseous around things made in China. I can only wear clothes made in Vietnam or Honduras, which severely limits my fashion choices to only 50% of the entire clothes industry.

I know, however, that Cousin Tommy has always wanted a deck of cards made of whole red bricks, so I am going to demonstrate the trait of generosity, which I’ve learned by spending time with you, and give them to him. I know he will appreciate it.

Aunt Marge: Oh, that’s so kind. But I don’t want you to not have a gift. You know what? Take my new car. I think it was made in Europe, not China; it’s called a Rolls-Royce.

Be a Humanitarian

You: Aunt Marge, I don’t know what to say. [You begin to feel nauseous.]

Aunt Marge: I knew you would love it.

You: You know, I was just thinking. I love this VHS copy of “Rocks: The Journey from the Volcano to Beach Sand,” and I’m sure it’s a great movie, but I when I think about all of those poor dogs at the Humane Society, lonely and all, it just makes me sad. I’m going to donate your gift to the Humane Society so that the dogs will have something to watch and be, uh, entertained.

Aunt Marge: That’s so wonderful. If you ever need a place to stay when you are traveling in New York, feel free to stop by my penthouse.

It’s astounding how greatly the outcomes of your family interactions can differ based on how you handle getting unwanted gifts. If these methods could be applied to getting unwanted grades in school, then our lives would be totally complete, but as it is, I’m sure you’ll find this guide comes in handy when you least expect. Myself, well, I’m going to go buy a copy of “Molecular Microeconomics: For Dummies” so I can cross my great-aunt off of my holiday shopping list.

If you’re not even thinking about the Holidays yet, since we haven’t reached Winter Break, then perhaps you’re more concerned with your daily operation as a homework machine. In that case, you’ll find “Printers: Enemies of All but One,” published this time last year, pretty interesting.

4 Winter Styles to Keep You Warm

Liar liar pants on fireWhen it comes to fashion advice, we all know that the only authority better than a teen boy is a poodle. Since poodles are terrible communicators, though, most people just listen to teen boys.

As a teenager myself, it would simply be unfair to keep all of the good fashion knowledge secret. Especially the brilliant winter fashion we come up with.

Winter fashion is unique due to its two distinct schools of thought. The first is that there is no such thing as winter fashion; you might as well wear your basketball shorts, short shorts, short-short shorts, and invisible shorts regardless of the outdoor temperatures. The second thought is that you should wear something that looks like you wrapped a bedspread around yourself, so that you can stay warm.

Clearly, there are downsides to each course of action. You can look great, until you have to amputate a leg due to frostbite, or you can feel great, and look like an obese grizzly bear. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to both look and feel great.

Set Your Shorts on Fire

Shorts allow you mobility, fashion, and fashionable mobility. Sadly, they expose your knees down (in guys’ case) or your nose down (in girls’ case) to the wild temperatures of winter.

But, if you set your shorts on fire, they will actually keep you warm! Obviously, however, you need to wear fireproof underwear and spray flame-retardant on your legs to stay safe*.

All of a sudden, you’ve taken shorts and made them even cooler, or shall I say hotter. As you’ve probably witnessed in your chemistry class, teens have a fascination with fire that springs from a combination of stupidity and an absence of intelligence (stupidity). Thus, if you liked how shorts looked, you’ll go crazy over just how cool burning shorts look.

*This might not be enough to keep you safe. As a general rule, it is often unwise to set clothes on fire, especially if you’re the one wearing them. I’m telling you this because I know that you, just like any other sane teen, paused for a bit and actually considered trying this.

Wear Ear Muffs

I honestly can’t say what happened to the earmuffs; they appear to be a fashion creation that was never in style. The history of earmuffs seems to go straight from the “concept” stage to the “outdated dorky phase,” entirely skipping the “stupid, but new and cool accessory” phase that carried the popularity of things like sillybands, powdered wigs, and neck ruffs.

Regardless, earmuffs are supposedly very good at keeping your ears warm. Thus, the only thing you need to do to make them fashionable is disguise them. The best idea is to draw your choice headphones’ logo on the outside. Then, if anyone asks you about them, just tell him that you’ve got the new “shag-carpet” model, and that you would offer them a listen but the bass sounds so intense that you don’t want to stop listening yourself.

Live Sheep Shoes

Girls have a slight advantage in the feet department, because it is already fashionable to wear “Uggs” boots lined with sheepskin. Even as an expert on fashion, I can’t tell you why the company decided on that name, because when you see something that looks horrible most people exclaim, “Ugh! That is so Ug-ly.” Nevertheless, they seem to be here to stay, at least for longer than the whole “rubber boots with large unattractive handles for putting them on” fad.

Teen boys, however, don’t have the ability to wear sheepskin or wool footwear, unless Nike decides to scrap the futuristic “lunarlon” material and go back to stones and animal furs. The only option, then, is to buy some live sheep.

Now, don’t worry. I’m not about to tell you to mercilessly butcher some mammals. No, all you really need to do is sew one sock on the top of each of your two sheep. Next, just slip your feet into the socks. You won’t even have to move your legs, because it’s basically like riding two sheep. The best part is that not only will you have the added warmth of the sheep bodies, but that you will also never get your feet wet stepping in puddles again.

Aluminum Foil Gloves

The cruelest reality of winter is that your body produces more than enough heat to keep you warm. Nature, however, absorbs all of that heat unless you wear clothes. Thankfully, aluminum foil is terrific at reflecting warmth, so if you want some warm, cheap, and, most importantly, stylish gloves, just make yourself a pair out of aluminum foil.

Don’t whine about how aluminum foil can be sharp, or about how you tried to throw your gloves away after lunch. You’ve got style and warmth. Besides, now your hands can double as solar ovens or Tupperware covers. Plus, you can wear these gloves when you feed your sheep, to avoid getting bitten.

Hopefully you’ve taken something away from this highly futuristic, highly fashionable, and highly secret list of winter wear advice. Even if you only leave this post with a singed pair of shorts, at least you’ve learned just how dangerous high fashion can be. Now, I’d love to continue to discuss warm winter clothing options, but I’ve got to go sew myself a neck ruff, ‘cause nobody uses a scarf anymore.

We Need More “Snow” Days

Snow day

It's all about perspective

It’s January.  Do you know what that means? It means we have approximately a million days until spring break, not to mention a bagajitrillion days until summer vacation.  You see, the schools didn’t just wake up one day and decide to offer randomly interspersed vacations.  No, they sent the top science teachers to a mountain retreat and did not feed them until they determined exactly how long each student could survive in peak work condition without a break. (Although there are many other conspiracy theories).

Then, they doubled that time and set up spring break, winter break, and summer break. Fall, feeling shortchanged, decided to remove itself from the seasons in protest, which is why nobody really ever thinks of it being ‘fall’ anymore; we go right from warm summer to cold winter.  (Moral of the story: protesting by ‘leaf-ing’, or leaving, doesn’t always work).

However, right about now you should begin to feel the strain, because winter break has been over for weeks.  You are probably contemplating throwing your books at the wall in frustration and then dropping out of school, willing to take your chances in the organ and uranium trade that happens in crime-ridden northern Canada.  Although that is a bad idea, because most textbooks are heavy enough to smash through your walls, your neighbor’s walls, and the walls of the house down the block, all in one throw.

The solution, of course, lies in the thing known as ‘snow days.’ They are, essentially, one-day winter breaks that can happen at any time, often in a row.  I expect them to become more common in September, what with the global climate change, but right now, January is prime time for snow days.  I should know; I have almost had 40 snow days since the start of January (although I’ve actually had 0).

So why don’t schools give us more snow days? Well, it’s because Hollywood has a deal with the schools to keep them open. Hollywood, currently out of plot ideas, is hoping that a school bus will some day get stranded in the snow, so they can make a movie about a school bus full of multi-cultural, multi-racial, multi-eyed innocent school children that get stranded in the snow on top of a cliff that is about to collapse (in the middle of some terrible third-world communist cannibalistic country) for 6.34 days that is “based on a touching true story.”

Ha ha. No, schools aren’t even that smart; rather than milking their policies of ‘no snow days-I don’t care if the weatherman just got hit by a car that skidded on ice into the studio-ever, and that’s FINAL’ for money from Hollywood, they listen to the interests of ‘the people.’  Here, the ‘people’ refers to a very, very small population of about 6 single moms, all of whom coincidently live in South Florida, where it never snows anyway.

These moms hate snow days.  If school closes, then they have to stay home from work, meaning they don’t go to work, meaning “ARE YOU MOCKING ME, YOUNG MAN?” they don’t go to work, which, of course, is bad, because then they don’t go to work.  “YOU THINK THIS IS FUNNY?” Which is really bad, because then the global economy collapses and the Canadians, Mexicans, and “all the little islands that we were supposed to memorize in 7th grade that I never bothered to memorize”-ians invade the US and take it over.

No, that doesn’t happen, but, as you can see, I had to throw that in to appease the 6 moms who are, well, incredibly vocal when it comes to snow days.  The schools also have to appease these moms, which is why we don’t have enough snow days, especially when there is actually snow on the ground, and not just morning dew.

But really, I think schools should consider the dangers of not having enough snow days. For instance, let’s say that there is even a little bit of snow on the ground.  Schools should close, because otherwise:

  • You could slip and hit your head.
  • A snowball could hit you in the leg, making you go “Hey!”
  • The school bus could actually get stranded, meaning you would have to fight your way to school amongst a swarm of Hollywood writers.
  • Icicles could fall from the school’s overhang, harming students.
  • The school’s roof could collapse due to the increased weight of .3 inches of snow, crushing everybody inside and forever immortalizing that school as the place where “School roof Colapeses-LOL so funny” on YouTube.
  • You could slip and fall into a Hollywood writer, making them hit their head, leading a cameraman to avenge their death by attacking you with an icicle and leaving you on the roof, which then collapses.

Clearly, every one of these things is more dangerous than 6 moms not going “NO IT ISN’T! YOU SAID s THAT THE U.S. WOULD CEASE TO EXIS-“ to work, because “YOU THINK THIS IS FUNNY? THIS IS REAL LIFE! WHEN DID YOU EVER HAVE ANY RESPONSIBILI-“ without these snow days, the entirety of students everywhere will “DO NOT FINISH THAT SENTENCE! GO TO YOUR ROOM!”

The Invaluable Guide to 5 High School Winter Sports

a funny picture of athletesWhen talking about sports, it is important to know what kind of sports person you are, easily determined by this simple test: who is (most likely) going to be the #1 NFL draft pick next year? If you said “The Packers,” then you are probably not a sports person.

Luckily (sports people: no pun intended; non sports people: don’t bother looking for a pun, because you won’t find it) for you, I’m here to explain all you need to know about the winter sports at your high school.

Basketball

We all know what basketball is, so I’m not going to bother with the rules.  No, in high school, the trick is figuring out who the basketball players are.  Generally, this isn’t too hard; take a good look around when you walk in the halls.  The person whose chest is at eye-level is a basketball player. I’ve heard from many a basketball coach that you don’t need to be tall to play basketball, but I didn’t hear them before I quit playing, because it took the words seven light-years to travel from their super-high mouth down to the level of my ears.

Also good to know, for you semi-clueless non-sports people (those of you who didn’t know Andrew Luck was the answer to the first question, or that the pun was about his last name), is that basketball, while being the most popular winter sport, is a little different from football.  If you go to a game, you should avoid shouting things like, “Tackle ‘im!” or “Touchdown!”; rather, you should shout “Batta batta batta swing!” or “Goooooaaaaallllll!”

Wrestling

Remember that look around the halls? Well, the wrestlers are the ones you didn’t see, because they were turned sideways.  Many of you might think of wrestlers as enormous and muscular, but in high school, there’s this thing called ‘weight divisions.’ Just like it sounds, ‘weight divisions’ pit people against each other depending on how long it takes them to divide a random 2-digit number into a random 5-digit number.  Oddly enough, many of the wrestlers misinterpret this to mean that they should diet to get into a lower, and thus easier, weight division, as dieting allows them to spend less time eating and more time practicing math.

I’ve never gone to a high school wrestling match, so I don’t know what you should expect.  I think that if you go, the proper way to cheer is by yelling:  “Wrestle!” or maybe even: “Wrestling!”

Skiing/Snowboarding

The skiers/snowboarders can be identified by the fact that the really ‘intense’ competitors never spend more than three seconds without a cast on some part of their body.  The idea of skiing/snowboarding is usually to go as fast as one can down a mountain laden with rocks, boulders, trees, rocks, bodies of water, rocks, and stones, and a collision with one of these is usually what causes the injury.  These are not spectator sports, so you don’t need to bother cheering (although if you really feel a need, you can shout “Break a leg!”).

Swimming

To identify a swimmer, look for the person with a genetic mutation.  In my experience, the state-level swimmers are often mutated due to the time they’ve spent in chlorine-filled pools.  Examples of mutations include the inability to grow hair on their legs, a lessened sense of smell, webbed hands and feet, or a third eye.

Swim meets are exciting sporting events.  You get hyped up with school spirit, or pep, and travel with a group of fellow students who are equally pep-ed up to the event. Boy, are you planning to kill the other swim team.  But then, the swim meet actually starts, and…nothing happens.  All you see is splashing and waves, and have no idea who wins.  Your excitement quickly fades, not helped by the fact that the scoring system is more difficult than some derivative calculus.

Water Polo

The water polo players are those with both genetic mutations and muscle (when compared to swimmers). Water Polo, as you may know, is the pool-oriented version of Polo, where people ride genetically enlarged seahorses while trying to play golf.  Because so much of Water Polo happens underwater, where the ref can’t see, it is a ruthless sport, with opponents being known to scratch, punch, kick, stab, shoot, skin, bite, burn, bomb, or sue members of the other team under the surface of the water.

If you go to a Water Polo match, it is appropriate to chant: “AoiuahAHGOAOUAwoahweYEAHYEAHOheoweaui!” repeatedly.

I recommend that you print this guide out and reference it whenever you need.  You should also print copies for your friends, Facebook friends, Google+ circle-mates, Twitter followers, and congressmen. After all, you never know when you’ll find you need to know the answer to: “Who will be the number one draft pick in the NFL next year?”