Mightier Than The Pen

Making The World A Bitter Place

Archive for August 2011

Would You Like Some More Ketchup with That Cucumber Salad, Young Man?

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Today is my eighth anniversary as a lunch lady at John Jay Elementary School. So to celebrate, I decided to give the kids a little extra on their trays. I went crazy overboard on the stewed prunes. You should have seen the grateful, hungry looks I got from every single child! The same look they display when there’s kissing on TV – you can just tell the little dears find the sweet things in life so special.

Why, just the other day I made sure to glaze the cupcakes in date paste just to give a little extra. I could just see those adorable children scrunching up their noses in delight as they nibbled voraciously at the treats. Oh, those children – I could go on and on about them. Never had any of my own, but as a lunch lady I get to feed them better than their own parents, and with federal nutrition guidelines to help me. If a dish needs more vegetable content, I just add ketchup.

That’s how I got the creamed corn to meet the federal standard. Same goes for the pizza and the macaroni and cheese. I even did that once for the lemon meringue pie, but for some reason the color came out wrong. It was only supposed to be a pinkish white, not a dark red. So I didn’t try that again. Tasted wonderful, though, if I say so myself.

I always try to show the children I care, too, by smiling sweetly every time I dollop some goodness on their cafeteria trays. I have a missing incisor and a gold upper canine, plus there’s this persistent rash on my upper lip, so the smile comes out just right, the perfect mix of down-home concern and salt-of-the-earth credibility. The kids always stare at me for an extra second or two before moving on, so I know I’ve made a connection.

Used to be I could take more liberties in what I added to the food, but health inspectors put a stop to that. I suppose they mean well, but gone are the days when I could give a little bit of myself to a child who needed an extra bit of encouragement or grown-up demonstrations of nurturing. No more strands of my bluish hair to garnish their lunch, and no more cigarette ash to add some warmth to the food of a child just gasping for a little more love from his environment.

I’m glad I ended up with this gig, not like my friend Wanda, who’s stuck over at Thomas Edison High School across town – she has to see young people groping each other and engaging in romance right there in public! I’m much happier nurturing the bodies and hearts of the more impressionable ages. You never know what a little bit of input from a trusted soul behind the cafeteria counter can do to the minds and hearts of developing children.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I must add more ketchup to the apple sauce. It’s looking a bit drab.


Written by Thag

August 31, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Christopher Columbus’s Twitter Feed

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Oh, baby. I can’t believe they bought it! #wealth here I come! Long Live the King and Queen!

Anyone know where you can get a decent navigator around here? Crazy Juan’s closed last month. Plague.

Think I should make potential crewmen submit to a physical? Please answer: how many arms do you have…

Gotta remember the jerky. Gotta remember the jerky. Gotta remember the jerky.

You’d think after all the Jews were expelled you wouldn’t be running into them right and left. Some Inquisition*this* turned out to be.

When I get to India, I’m trading Pedro the cook to the natives for someone who can cook. #indigestion

Some guy just said something about the world being flat. Doesn’t he know the Greeks already knew it was round?

And away we go! Sail the ocean blue! On to India!

Oh, %$#@. Forgot the jerky.

Four days out. Not much to report. Canary Islands haven’t sunk yet.

Pedro scored some really fatty mutton while we were loading supplies in the Islands. Maybe we’ll keep him.

Remember that comment about the Jews? I should have said right *to* left. Get it?

Oh, Jesus I’m so bored. Need a volunteer to fall overboard so we can have some excitement.

Wonder how Real Madrid is doing, considering they won’t be established for another five centuries or so.

Burned again. Really must stop sunbathing in the altogether.

With all this talk of mutiny, there’s no one to do the cooking. Plenty of brine for pickling, though.

Land! Land! And it looks fabulous for growing tobacco! Whatever *that* is. This is supposed to be India.

I have an idea: we’ll just ignore the fact that this isn’t India and call it India. Also, let’s spread smallpox.

Smallpox for syphilis: a fair deal?

Goddamn Indians. Not an ounce of chicken curry in sight. #gypped

Farewell, Santa María. *Sigh*. Only foosball table in the fleet.

Well, must be getting home. These Indians don’t take too well to being outgunned and treated with contempt.

What are all these sores?

Written by Thag

August 30, 2011 at 9:06 pm

You Call It a Bedsheet, But I Know It’s a Superhero Cape

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A follow-up to: http://wp.me/pSXPz-g5


Purpose of Item According to:

Normal human Ten-year-old Six-year-old Four-year-old Two-year-old
Computer Computing; communication; work YouTube (The King’s Singers) YouTube (The Muppets) YouTube (Whatever anyone else is watching) Removing all the keys from the keyboard
Car Transport people, possessions Excuse for use of power windows Excuse for use of remote control Convenient setup for kicking Mommy’s back Convenient setup for pulling four-year-old’s hair
Pizza Nourishment Vehicle for delivery of toppings Justification for not eating anything that is not pizza Convenient setup for consumption only of the mozzarella cheese Face paint; hair dye
Oatmeal Breakfast; ingredient in cookies Excuse not to eat breakfast, cookies Excuse not to eat breakfast, cookies Excuse not to eat breakfast, cookies Hair gel
Bed Slumber Storage of books, toys Trampoline, jungle gym Toy car/truck parking garage Access to delicate,easily ripped window screens
Refrigerator Storage of perishable foodstuffs Browsing Jungle gym Place to sit and cool off Pavlovian stimulus for cries of “apple!” and “cottage cheese!”
Kitchen Preparation and storage of food; cleaning used food implements Place that suddenly ceases to exist when breakfast cereal bowl needs washing Default hangout venue Default hangout venue Pretzel procurement area
Schoolbag Transportation, storage of school books and supplies Invitation to two-year-old to empty, scatter contents to the winds Doormat Fashion accessory Randomly selected object that must be used in emulating older siblings
Bathtub/shower Bodily hygiene Acoustic experimentation with spray nozzle aimed at different surfaces Peep show customer impersonation Hydrodynamic experimentation with plastic bottles emptied over the side Toilet
Parents Source of emotional support, provision of basic needs Furniture Furniture Furniture Furniture

Written by Thag

August 29, 2011 at 10:12 pm

Raise Your Hand If You Go Camping to Rub Shoulders with Cows

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We Western Civilization types are so deprived. We have no idea what it’s like to share an abode with a herd of cows: the stench; the mooing mass of mammal; the unpredictable, copious streams of pungent urine (an AWESOME name for a rock band, btw); the dung underfoot (also a good band name, or perhaps a comic book superhero – are you writing these down?).

And although we Western Civilization types often “rough it” by going camping, seldom do we choose to camp in areas known for their cattle population. Last week we went camping in a forest. You know, a wooded area not generally associated with kine. Boy, you and your ignorant assumptions:

“Say, mind if I poop here?”

Fortunately, the only evidence they’d left prior to our arrival was old enough not to be a problem, and they only came around in the morning after we’d started packing up. And the kids seemed to take the mooing masses in stride:


But they were well behaved. And so were the cows.

Except when one bull (it was CLEARLY a bull) reacted to the sudden appearance of a car by mounting a nearby female. Hey, can understand. That’s how I react to seeing cars, too. My wife is getting tired of it, though; five pregnancies have been enough for her.

Which is not to imply that our activities in this forest were centered around the bovine, though we did have grilled hot dogs for dinner the night before (probably turkey, come to think of it, so never mind). The divine also played a part. I have never spent so much leisure time in such a beautiful bit of nature. When I was at summer camp and we went on hikes or camping trips, there was always a schedule or some pressure to do stuff or get somewhere. Not here. We looked at the stars. We looked at the sunset. We looked at the trees:

"Daddy, what are all these big green buildings?"

The next night we spent a forgettable time on a rocky, noisy beach. Blech. I’d share photos of that sunset, but that was about the only moment of relaxation in a span rife with escaping children, loud neighbors, exhibitionists, cruddy restroom facilities, misbehaving children and humidity that would make mildew uncomfortable. We were glad to be out of there and on toward the Australian wildlife park, where we fed kangaroos:

"Pellets again? Boy, you humans have no imagination."

We also got to see a koala, a bunch of large bats (flying foxes) with a little baby bat, and a mess of other cool creatures. Then we went to a local swimming hole with half the rest of the population and eventually, home, where the wildlife of our own making decided to trash the place. New rule: if it’s not cleaned up by bedtime, it’s mine. Yes, that includes your favorite LEGO pieces.

Say, is there a way to train these domestic creatures?

Written by Thag

August 29, 2011 at 12:24 pm

How I Tried to Ruin Thursday Night’s Dinner Party

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1. Left staircase unblocked so visiting toddler could tumble down stone steps to basement and crash into precariously stacked heavy items.

2. Managed to get fingertip of right thumb caught in mechanical corkscrew. This resulted in: flirtation with passing out (my brain cannot handle blood or the mere prospect of serious injury – when I took the two-year-old for a blood test a week ago, he barely reacted, while I felt woozy); incapacity to serve or otherwise interact with guests, leaving spouse to assume those duties and ride herd on the children; and the cumulative realization of just how unevolved I feel without the use of my opposable thumb.

3. Seated guests in exactly the wrong way, resulting in crescendoing drama as various elements of the visiting clan vied for position at the same table as the guests of honor. The simmering tension was defused only through the deft ministrations of someone who was clearly not me.

4. Left doors and windows just open enough to allow mosquitoes in, but not quite open enough to allow cool evening air in.

5. Nearly allowed guests to help clear or serve; this threatened our sense of order and the kitchen-dining-room traffic pattern (the bottleneck near Mrs. Thag’s seat is a perennial trouble spot).

6. Wrongly assumed that people would arrive within an hour of the announced start time.

7. Allowed other people near the fudge (MINE! MINE! NO TOUCH!)

8. Let ten-year-old sit out of direct parental sight, enabling him to serve himself some wine.

9. Set the kids’ table with the Dry Clean Only tablecloth.

10. Bought only cheap wine to serve (some inconsiderate guest actually brought a bottle of stupendous 2007 Cabernet. Ah, well).

Written by Thag

August 28, 2011 at 8:49 am

And If Your Politics Don’t Jibe, Make Your Own Damn Table

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Harry Potter Character


Harry Potter


Hermione Granger

United States

Ron Weasley


Lord Voldemort


Bellatrix Lestrange


Crabbe and Goyle

Al Qaeda

Ministry of Magic

United Nations

Draco Malfoy


Peter Pettigrew

Palestinian Authority

Cornelius Fudge


Rita Skeeter


Dolores Umbridge


Albus Dumbledore


Lucius Malfoy

J Street





Vernon Dursley

Saudi Arabia

Severus Snape


Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody


Gilderoy Lockhart

European Union

Luna Lovegood


The Quibbler

Fox News

The Daily Prophet


Fenrir Greyback


Written by Thag

August 27, 2011 at 9:06 pm

Our Concern for Our Citizens Is Measured in Decibels

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Dear Mr. Thag:

Thank you for writing to us to express your displeasure with the late-night outdoor concert near your home. It is only thanks to concerned citizens such as you that we at City Hall can monitor our efforts to make your life miserable. We find it heartening that the events we arrange cause enough trouble to generate a reaction.

As we explained in a response to your previous complaint after a similar event several months ago, we selected the park near your home when the police refused to issue approval for an alternative, more distant park. In this case, we did not bother trying to find an alternative venue, having already established that the park nearest your home provides the ideal combination of disruptive noise and aggravating traffic tie-ups.

In contrast to the the previous concert about which you submitted a grievance, this one took place on a Saturday night, necessitating that the equipment and barriers be in place during the day. This scheduling allowed us to both occupy large swaths of the green space, rendering one of the only such sizable areas in the city unavailable for recreation on a day with some of the heaviest park traffic, and to block off the playground almost entirely.

An additional consideration involved your status as a resident of the city as opposed to a tourist; we try to impress tourists with our amenities and welcoming atmosphere, and the alternative venues were much closer to several luxury hotels. We remain reluctant to subject such economy-boosters to such a cacophony when they wish to rest. But you, the tax-paying resident, are already heavily invested in staying in the city, and we cannot justify expending assets and effort on your behalf when you’ll probably just vote us out at the end of our terms no matter what we accomplish.

Regarding your concern for the welfare of your young children, and those of other neighborhood families, spare us. Young children don’t even pay taxes, so why should we care about them? As it is, our neglect of the school system should have already clued you in to our manifest lack of feeling for the under-eighteen set. Trying to appeal to our sense of empathy for such parasites is not the way to induce us to do anything.

But thank you again for your feedback. Without the involvement of citizens such as you we would have no idea how well we are doing in our mission to make young families abandon this city. We would much rather play host to transient students and hippies who bring infusions of their parents’ cash instead of trying to drain our coffers with constant demands for improved infrastructure and actual responsiveness from the municipality.

If there is anything more we can do to piss you off, please let us know. Until then, we remain,

Your Municipal Officials

Written by Thag

August 21, 2011 at 11:54 am