Friday, April 4, 2008

Does your yearbook have this?

My Apollo High school yearbook from 1989, "Splash of Spirit," includes superlatives such as "Cutest," "Smartest," "Funniest" and "Most Likely to Succeed."

I was unofficially known as "most likely to not show up on any list." Unless it was a list of most likely to be forgotten.

But most of the yearbook is pretty forgettable. Not like the junior high yearbook that includes a ranking of students most likely to set fire to the prime minister's official residence.

Maybe that doesn't sound like something that should be in a yearbook. But hey, it was done under the guidance of a teacher.

Everyone wore black, except the stripper

For a really memorable funeral, hire a stripper.

It's what one man would've wanted, according to his son.

His son, Cai Ruigong, told the newspaper that he had paid more than $170 for the stripper to dance around the coffin at the funeral.

'80s Flashback: Psyche!

Friday is here again, so it's time for another '80s Flashback.

Before a word from our sponsor, here are the recent '80s Flashbacks:

'80s Flashback: Jim and Tammy Faye
'80s Flashback: Avoid the noid
'80s Flashback: Mary Lou Retton
'80s Flashback: One night in Bangkok
'80s Flashback: Adams Atoms
'80s Flashback: Don't you forget about me

OK. This week's flashback is brought to you by the How to Win at Pac-Man strategy guide that everyone wanted to see back in the early '80s. It showed you the patterns that would keep you playing the game until your feet went numb. (It's currently available at eBay).

Here's the flashback:

No, it's not starting yet. Psyche!

That last word is the flashback. Did you ever say "psyche" when you were a dorky '80s youngster like I was? It went something like this ...

Hey Joe, have a soda.
Psyche! (and then you pull away the soda)


Man, I was so cool in the 80s.

I usually include a link to a video with these flashbacks, but "psyche!" doesn't lend itself to that. But here's a video tribute to a Pac-Man world champion that includes some tremendous 80s hairdos and clothing.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

If attacked by a crocodile, go for the eyes

My wife is very afraid of spiders and cockroaches. Most kinds of insects, really.

That gives me the opportunity to be Mr. Brave when a creepy crawly gets in the house. I can also reach things on high shelves. So those are real two positives to having me as a husband.

But back to Mr. Brave. I feel comfortable taking on insects, and I might even be OK against a small rodent. But against something larger, such as a crocodile, even my wish to protect my family might not give me enough bravery.

But in the event of an emergency involving a crocodile, I at least know what I should do:

Poke it in the eyes.

Clinton vs. Obama, Rocky VII

Hillary Clinton is Rocky Balboa.

That's what she said Tuesday:

"Let me tell you something, when it comes to finishing a fight, Rocky and I have a lot in common. I never quit. I never give up. And neither do the American people," Clinton said.

The "and neither do the American people" is the part I love. Whether it's a Barack Obama, John McCain or Clinton speech, a cheesy line like that always is part of the big finish.

But maybe Hillary will be like Rocky. Maybe Obama's delegate lead is just like those fake punches that Rocky endures in the early rounds of his unbelieveably exciting title fights.

Now all we need is for Obama to step up to Rocky and give the Ivan Drago statement, "I must break you."

Clinton can come back with, "Go for it."

And then the ghost of Mickey the trainer will yell, "You can't win Hillary. This guy will kill you to death in three rounds!"

Add a song like "Eye of the Tiger" and we've got Rocky VII.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Third graders plan attack on teacher

This is just plain scary:

A group of third-graders plotted to attack their teacher, bringing a broken steak knife, handcuffs, duct tape and other items for the job and assigning children tasks including covering the windows and cleaning up afterward, police said Tuesday.

Third graders!

Olympians, stay away from turtle blood and deer

To make sure the Olympics are a fair competition, competitors will be tested for steroids and amphetamines. But what about other potential performance-enhancers?

Don't worry, China is all over it.

So no athlete will get an advantage from turtle blood, angelica root portions or deer penis.

Jose Canseco was unavailable for comment.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Living beyond your means

I feel bad for anyone who loses a job. But I just read a story about a couple who lost their jobs after working for subprime lenders. They talk about having to cut back now that they have huge debts and no income.

Check out this passage:

They've made cutbacks: trading in Kent's Corvette for a Suburban and getting rid of the gardener.

So, you have no income and you're cutting back to a Suburban? Why would they drive around a monster vehicle that devours expensive gas?

Here's one thought:

Because people refuse to live within their financial means. Even former financial professionals who should know when things don't add up.

This honor code sounds familiar

OK, everyone!

We need to stop all this cheating and plagiarizing by college stidents. So what should we do?

Well, let's create an honor code and have students sign it. Does anyone want to write it?

No need for that. We'll just plagiarize another honor code.

Burger King's left-handed Whopper

It's April Fool's Day 2008.

So what was happening 10 years ago today?

Well, Burger King published a full page advertisement in USA Today announcing the introduction of the "Left-Handed Whopper."

As a lefty, I was thrilled. Thrilled to be part of what was obviously a joke.

But on April 2, Burger King issued a release confirming the hoax because thousands of customers had requested the burger. Apparently, some people also requested their own right-handed version.

Monday, March 31, 2008

I did it for the Olsen twins!

A 21-year-old man was arrested Thursday morning on suspicion of illegally burning various household items in the middle of the street.

Yeah, that's a little strange. But not as strange as the reason. When asked what he was doing, the man said he was starting a movement. A police officer asked him what the movement was about, and he said it was "for what he believes in."

So what does he believe in?

"Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen and Toby Keith."

Watch out Mary-Kate, Ashley and Toby. This guy has a burning passion.

The return of Cop Rock

OK, not really. But I don't think it was a worse idea than Cavemen.

Anyway, as most of the TV shows return now from the writer's strike, I thought it would be fun to look back at one show that needed a lot more than writers.

It needed a different concept.

But after this song, I'm sure the officers were going to be really careful out there.

Humor Me: A degree in schmooze

By MATT WIXON

When you drop a hundred grand or two on a new house, you can bet
that a warranty or guarantee is included. The same goes for the
$20,000 you pay for a new car. Even amazing television products,
usually available for three easy payments of $19.95, have
money-back guarantees.

So what guarantee is offered when you spend a small fortune on a
college degree? A 10-year warranty on structural damage to your
career? A guarantee that you'll get a job within three years or
30,000 miles?

Nope. The only guarantee is that in six months, even if you've
moved four times and left no forwarding address, a letter will
arrive for you that begins, "Dear former student, your continued
financial contribution is essential ..."

No wonder college students spend so much time choosing, and then
changing, their majors. They want their degrees to pay off after
graduation, so that their four or five -- or in the case of my
former college buddy -- eight years in college won't be a waste of
time and money.

In hopes of guaranteeing success, most college students try to
choose a practical major. That's why, when I was in college, I
ruled out ethnomusicology, psycholinguistics and "Colonialism and
the 19th-Century Novel."

A degree in art history also seemed impractical to me, although
art-history majors probably have a great appreciation of the
graffiti on their taxicabs.

But is majoring in business, education or engineering that much
more practical? A lot of math, science and Cliff's Notes are
required for those, and even a "practical" degree doesn't ensure
success.

The problem is, no degree currently available can guarantee you the
big desk, in the big office, next to the big group of jealous
employees pretending to get refills at the water cooler so they can
talk about your abominable ego. That is why today I am proposing a
college degree that will guarantee post-graduate success:

A degree in schmooze.

Scoffers, I know you're out there. "A degree in schmoozing?" you
ask. "What is that all about?"

To you, I offer this:

I like your shirt. My, you look nice today. Have you lost weight?

That's from Layering the Praise 101, a fundamental course in
schmoozing studies. Advanced courses would include Influential Chit
Chat 320 and Slobbering Adoration 410, which would include a field
trip to the Academy Awards to watch entertainment reporters ask
questions such as, "How did you get so gorgeous?"

Another core class would be Business Cards 210, where key elements
of the card would be taught and discussed. Designing, collecting
and filing would be topics, along with proper etiquette for
distributing cards. Lab work: Going to a sandwich shop and dropping
your business card in the fish bowl that says "Weekly Drawing For
Free Combo Meal."

Business Cards 210 must be taken before Networking 460, a class in
which top students could establish themselves as the nauseating,
yet very successful, schmoozers of the future.

The class will ask students, "How welcoming is your smile? How is
your smooth-operator deejay voice? How easily can you turn a
conversation about weather patterns into a 45-minute discussion of
a joint business venture?

Networking 460 would be broken into two semesters because of the
volume of content.

The first semester would tackle the basics, such as developing a
hearty handshake, establishing contacts and feigning enthusiasm for
a contact's story about the wax job he got on his BMW.

The second semester would offer advanced strategies for using old
friends as stepping stones, talking to someone for 30 minutes
without knowing his or her name and, most important, the elusive
talent of hanging out where influential people hang out and
"accidentally" running into them.

Then the schmooze students would be off to graduation.

And what a graduation ceremony it would be! Graduates would gather
in a happy mingling of card-swapping, networking and pleasant
conversation about an incoming cold front. The valedictorian would
give a speech that encourages all to follow their dreams and
remember the class motto:

Confidence, Persistence and "Call me, we'll do lunch."

How's that for a practical degree? I could've done practically
anything in life had I spent more of my college years studying how
to win over my colleagues instead of who won the Franco-Prussian
War.

Well, I can't make any guarantees on that. But I can guarantee
this:

I like your shirt. Have you lost weight?

***
To be on the list that is sent out when a new column in posted, e-mail mwixon@dallasnews.com. Have a great week.