Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Unpublished pitches for “Nickelodeon” Magazine, part 5

From 2001 to its demise in 2009, I was a regular writer—and an even more regular pitcher—for the peerless Nickelodeon Magazine.


The editors had great taste, and I’m not saying that just because many became my friends. However, they made the occasional misstep…such as when they passed on the following ideas I pitched. (Warning: be prepared for the occasional outdated pop culture/technology reference.)

NOTE: Thou shalt not steal rejected ideas. Please ask permission to repost.


A Cold Reception

Useful signs to post at the entrance of your snow fort:

  • Sled Parking in Rear
  • Snow Scarves, Snow Boots, Snow Entrance
  • Leave Hot Cocoa Outside
  • Don’t Bother Wiping Feet
  • Snowmen Eat Free
  • Too Small? Build Your Own
  • Ice to Meet You
  • Management Not Responsible for Yellow Snow

Bored, the Plane

Travel magazines and barf bags are diverting for only so long. What else could airlines stick in the seat pocket in front of you to keep you entertained for the whole flight?

  • science lab kit to analyze what your chicken or pasta really is
  • bullhorn so you can make your own announcements to fellow passengers
  • mini-bowling set (ball and pins), for use in the aisle when “fasten seatbelt” sign is off
  • mini-juggling set (balls and pins) for use when “fasten seatbelt” sign is on
  • video camera so you can make your own airplane safety video
  • earplugs—for your neighbors, when you sing

Halloween Year Round

Halloween has become so popular that other holidays are now combining Halloween customs with their own:

  • Thanksgiving—bobbing for apple pie
  • Independence Day—going door-to-door setting off fireworks
  • Groundhog Day—dressing rodents in costumes before they predict the weather
  • Valentine’s Day—giving chocolates to your sweetheart, and 200 neighborhood kids
  • Earth Day—Zombie-American Parade, saluting our undead citizens who live in the earth

Weather—or Not—to Forecast

How well do weather forecasters do when they’re trying to predict other things? Pretty well—sort of.



forecaster
prediction
correct?
Storm Wilson
“I will win the lottery.”
Yes. He won $3 on a scratch off ticket (payable in 12 installments).
Storm Povlaki
“I will get promoted.”
Yes. Now he covers weather for his whole town, not just one street.
Storm Lopez
“I will meet someone famous.”
Yes. At the bank, she stood in line behind the woman who records the prompts of cell phone voice mail.
Storm Tormé
“I will go to the gym more often.”
Yes. His wife joined and he picks her up there every other night.
Storm Bates
“I will narrowly escape death.”
Yes. She got out of her son’s room just before the stench of dirty socks overpowered her.
Storm McStorm
“I will never get a weather forecast wrong.”
No. On Monday, he said it would be partly cloudy. It was partly sunny.

Sweaty Birthday to You

Not only do July and August birthdays miss out on school parties, they’re much, much hotter. Here are some cards to send your poor pals whose world premieres were in the middle of summer.

Outside: Sorry I forgot your birthday, but it IS during summer vacation.
Inside: Then again, I would forget it if it was during the school year, too.

O: Since you have a summer birthday, this card is also a gift.
I: Wave it back and forth in front of your face. Ta-da! Instant fan.

O: Hope your birthday at the beach is more fun than mine was.
I: How could it not? I was born in January.

O: It’s going to be so hot on your birthday…
I: …that I bet the candles on your cake will just burst into flame without a match.

O: I didn’t forget your birthday! In fact, I got you a cake…
I: …which, since I’m in sleepover camp all summer, I can’t give you until the first day of school. Hope it stays fresh!

O: I’ll understand if you don’t invite me back to your birthday pool party this year…
I: …but I swear I didn’t know that ice cream cake melts in water.

Dum Dum Dum Tweedledum

Short, squat, and ready to chat! For the first time ever, Tweedledee of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland fame sat down for an interview, and it was conducted by none other than Tweedledum.

Tweedledum: So are we A) twins, B) clones, or C) just friends with an odd resemblance?
Tweedledee: D.
Dum: I didn’t give you a choice D.
Dee: Drat.
Dum: Tell me something about you that everyone already knows.
Dee: Debonair.
Dum: I don’t know what that means. I need a—
Dee: Dictionary.
Dum: I was going to say “different word.”
Dee: Dummy.
Dum: Why are you named Tweedledee and not, say, Tweedledum?
Dee: Duh.
Dum: What is your favorite leafy vegetable?
Dee: Delicious.
Dum: Could you train a weasel to do a cartwheel?
Dee: Doubtful.
Dum: When I flick my own nose, do you find that funny?
Dee: Definitely.
Dum: What about when I flick your—
Dee: Don’t.

Teacher’s Pet’s Peeves

Teachers have pets, pets have peeves, so it’s only natural that teacher’s pets have peeves:
  • when a math teacher’s centipede is forced to demonstrate the metric system to the class
  • when an English teacher’s English sheepdog is criticized for barking ungrammatically
  • when a science teacher’s guinea pig gets less attention than the ones at the lab
  • when a gym teacher’s chimp must do laps twice—once running, once swinging
  • when a history teacher’s snake can’t slither anywhere without someone yelling “I won’t tread on you!”

Think Inside the Box

At zoos, the only thing you’ll see more than animals is signs—signs by humans, for humans. But a peek inside the cages reveals that signs are also posted by animals, for animals.

  • Hide for Photographs
  • No Shirt, No Shoes, Service
  • When Flinging Poop, Aim for the Head
  • Trainer Brings Food, NOT Trainer IS Food
  • They Paid to See You—Demand a Tip
  • If You Escape, Free the Rest Too
  • Do Not Even Think of Barking Here

Weather Vain

News stations like to promote their meteorologists by shouting exciting phrases about them in their TV promos. Are these weather forecasters really as good as the descriptions—or rather, are the descriptions really as good as they sound? To find out, read each one aloud in your best TV announcer voice.

  • “Always right—somewhere in the world!”
  • “Now forecasting with special machines, not just by looking up!”
  • “Promises never to predict rain for the weekend, no matter what!”
  • “The most accurate forecast a couple times a week!”
  • “He’s never predicted a Hawaiian blizzard—and there’s never been one!”
  • “Forecasts worse but dresses better than the guy at WHUH-TV!”

Hot Jobs

What do people with summer jobs do during the winter? We asked a few.

  • lifeguard: “I save anyone who falls into the lobster tank at a seafood restaurant.”
  • amusement park ride operator: “I disassemble the Ferris wheel for storage. By the time I’m done, we’ve got to unpack it again.”
  • pool cleaner: “I clean bathtubs, but instead of leaves, it’s empty shampoo bottles and baby toys.”
  • camp counselor: “I eat all the kids’ care packages I confiscated last summer.”
  • ice cream truck driver: “I drive the same truck but to sell earmuffs. It’s not going well.”

If Kids Named Crayon Colors

  • bloody nose
  • booger green
  • Blu-ray
  • yellow snow
  • if it’s brown flush it down
  • black eye
  • white lie

PilgrIMing

Pilgrims and Native Americans may have been neighbors, but in some cases they weren’t exactly around the corner. How did they plan Thanksgiving without instant or text messaging? Even better—what if they did?

4father: what time do we eat?
inDin: when fire king has begun slow dance down sky
4father: ye huh?
inDin: 4 o’clock, gosh u pilgrims have no sense of nature
4father: we’ve got 2 rabbits and 1 fish, what u bringing?
inDin: 16 deer, 45 lobster, 18 barrels corn, 32 baskets squash
4father: ur tribe will have hands full taking all that
inDin: tribe? that’s just me, plus enough berries 2 fill mayflower
4father: well r governor will bring lots of sermons
inDin: ok but do u guys know how 2 cook?
4father: u guys taught us how 2 build, plant, fish, and hunt
inDin: plus swim, climb trees, make clothes, and dance
4father: uh, would b gr8 if u could show us how 2 start fire? (embarrassed smiley)

Lost Dough Flyers [“Lost Dog” with the “u” and “h” written in]

People who lose their dogs put up flyers. Why not people who lose their dough? Next time you find that sweet fiver or supersweet ten-spot in the parking lot, check around for flyers like these before you adopt it as your own:

example #1

LOST:
Five-Dollar Bill
serial number had a 4 in it, or maybe a 3
change from a ten I used to buy comic books
President Lincoln was honest. You should be too.

example #2:

LOST:
Nine One-Dollar Bills
last seen blowing down Park Lane
will not come when called and will not work in vending machines (too crumpled)
If found, throw in another single and I’ll give you a ten.

Leaving the Cel

When planning their first trip to Timbuktu, families often start by consulting a travel guidebook. When planning their first trip out of Timbuktoon, cartoons do the same! Here are some tips from No-Stress Visits to the Non-Animated World.

  • Be aware that every human being has the same catchphrase: “Beautiful day, isn’t it?”
  • Don’t run through anyone’s door. Even if they think your body-shaped hole is amusing, they will still make you pay to fix it.
  • Do not stand still and wait for another scene when the digital street sign changes from a red hand to person walking. It is not entertainment.
  • If you have trouble chasing someone or being chased unless frantic music is playing, you will be disappointed time and again.
  • Be prepared to wait around more than you’re used to. Humans eat, sleep, and go to the bathroom more than you do.

Before History Was a Subject

Fakeologists recently unearthed the first prehistoric report card ever discovered. Using the latest technology, they also figured out the modern equivalent of each subject. Here’s an exclusive glimpse:

key:

NG = not good
G = good
MG = more good
BG = best good

Grunting (modern subject equivalent: English)—G
Spear Throwing (gym)—MG
Animal Skinning (home economics)—NG
Cave Painting (art)—G
Tablet Carving (handwriting)—MG
Working with Pebbles (math)—NG
Tossing Sticks Up and Watching Them Fall (science)—G
Foreign Grunting (foreign language)—MG
Walking Upright (health)—BG

Comments:

Frung is a delight to have in class. He does have some trouble counting pebbles (though is very good at eating them). Sometimes tries to skin animals while they are still alive. Overall, he is evolving nicely.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Unpublished pitches for “Nickelodeon” Magazine, part 4

From 2001 to its demise in 2009, I was a regular writer—and an even more regular pitcher—for the peerless Nickelodeon Magazine.


The editors had great taste, and I’m not saying that just because many became my friends. However, they made the occasional misstep…such as when they passed on the following ideas I pitched. (Warning: be prepared for the occasional outdated pop culture/technology reference.)

NOTE: Thou shalt not steal rejected ideas. Please ask permission to repost.


Holidays in the Summer Haze

Fall has Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving...

Winter has Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day, Presidents’ Day...

Spring has Passover, Easter, April Fool’s, May Day, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day...

Summer has Independence Day and...well, that’s pretty much it.

June, July, and August need some more spark! Here are special occasions that could bring joy throughout the heat-bringing season:

  • Last Day of School: June 15—instead of going to school and doing nothing all day (a last-day-of-school tradition), why not just make it a holiday, stay home, and do nothing?
  • Fake Day: June 31—a day set aside to inspire us to be creative, plus adds one more day to summer vacation
  • Lunch Man Day: July 19—to acknowledge the men who help the more celebrated lunch ladies keep us fed
  • Armadillo Day: August 2—a companion holiday to Groundhog Day (six months apart); if an armadillo sees his shadow, that’s six more weeks of summer…okay, make it eight more weeks
  • Madonna’s Birthday: August 16—she’s world-famous but her birthday is world-ignored; besides, one of her first hits (way back before you were born) was “Holiday”

Money Symbols Explained

The front of U.S. currency has a bunch of famous Americans. The back has famous American images of…huh? Whatzat? Yeah, we didn’t know either…so we did some research:

dollar bill: pyramid with top that is detached, floating, and sporting a glowing eye
explanation: Before Mt. Vernon, George Washington slept here. In his day, not even Founding Fathers had indoor plumbing but all of them had magical rooftops.

dime: two plants and a torch
explanation: This is a barbecue, early colonial style. Pre-burgers and grills, the settlers settled for roasting dry leaves over a torch. Luckily they did already have savory tomato pudding—AKA ketchup.

The First Reality Show?

In the 1980s, little blue dwarves called the Smurfs dominated Saturday morning. They lived in mushroom houses and sang in squeaky pitches. Strange as it seems, this old cartoon may have been the inspiration for almost every modern reality show.



Smurfact
Reality show rip-offs
many males and one female
The Bachelorette
group cut off from society
Survivor
painful singing part of every episode
American Idol
every character boiled down to one characteristic
The Real World
overuse of annoying catch-phrase (“smurf”)
The Apprentice (“You’re fired!”)
brave souls regularly confront something big and scary
Fear Factor
a couple of dimwits in the sticks surrounded by others who may look different but are identically dimwitted
The Simple Life
Vanity Smurf
The Swan

DVDs OOC (Out of Control)

Most DVDs include more than just a movie or TV show. However, many people feel the that the extras are getting out of hand. Here are some recent bonus features that should be renamed bogus features:

  • Forget alternate endings. Introducing alternate actors. You can watch the same movie, but with a choice of six other casts.
  • A montage of things you could’ve been doing instead of watching it.
  • A review of scenes that were not deleted but should’ve been.
  • Instructions on how to assemble a baby crib (sold separately).
  • A documentary on the making-of documentary about the film.


Kidstitution of the United States

The Constitution manages to be both inspiring and overwhelming at the same time—let’s face it, we’re thankful for all that freedom but couldn’t they have shortened it just a tad? What good is freedom if you spend all that time just trying to get to the end? And they really wrote all this without a computer? Here’s a kid-sized version:

  • The game is government and we’re going to pick teams: the Senate and the House of Representatives. But they don’t fight each other. Well, sometimes.
  • You can’t be a kid and get on one of these teams. Former kids are eligible, though.
  • Work hard ‘cause we’re taking some of that money you earn. Hey, if you don’t like it, there’s plenty of room in Canada.
  • Anyone can change any of this if he has a decent idea and tries hard enough. Don’t be surprised if hundreds of other people want to shoot it down. They’re just jealous.
  • Your government will talk to foreign governments on your behalf. If you have anything to say to Greenland, just go through us, please.
  • We’re going to design the money and your suggestions are not really necessary.
  • Don’t know how long these pirates are going to last as long as they’re around, we’re gonna kick their butts.


Big Scream TV

Can TV screens get any more huge? Think of these disadvantages and possible risks.

  • The nearby airport complains your TV is too noisy.
  • You might have to buy the TV first, then build a house around it.
  • Strangers may crowd into your living room thinking it’s a movie theater.
  • The remote control that goes with it is the size of a pillow.
  • The TV shows are not long or wide enough to fill the screen, so continuous ads take up the rest of the space.
  • No room will be spacious enough for both the TV and a couch, so you’ll have to watch standing up.
  • Your electricity bill is as big as the box the TV came in.
  • You can see the TV from the bedroom…of your cousin who lives in the next state.


Dumb Dumb Dumb DUMB

Some people say there’s no such thing as a stupid question. That may be, but what about the answers? We’ve noticed four kinds: smart, stupid, stupider, and stupidest. Here’s a guide to your choices:


question
smart
stupid
stupider
stupidest
How are you?
Fine, thanks. And yourself?
Better than you.
I’m good. No, I’m bad. Wait, I’m good. Actually, I have no clue.
I are great.
What’s your name?
My name is [your name].
It’s the word people call me.
What are you, the FBI?
Uh…let me check the label my mom sewed into my underwear.
What are you doing?
Cleaning my room.
Cleaning my brother’s room.
Cleaning my nose hairs.
Cleaning my cleaning supplies.
What time is it?
It’s [whatever] o’clock.
Time to party!
Same time as it was 96 hours ago.
Sixty-one o’clock. (show a watch with one hand on the six and the other on the one)
May I help you?
Yes, thank you.
That depends—do you know long division?
I don’t think so. You don’t work here.
Not right now, but give me your e-mail and I’ll let you know when you can.

Summer or Later

Are you one of those kids who says summer vacation is too short? Too short for what exactly? Did you not have enough time to…

...sleep late?

...watch the same cartoons over and over?

...stay indoors to avoid the brutal heat?

...ignore household chores while your parents are working?

...get stung by bees?

...try but fail to set up a tent in your backyard?

...beg your parents to install a swimming pool?

Maybe next summer.

A Life in the Day (oops, a Day in the Life) of Someone Stupid

(a full page comic strip, each with a different vignette exemplifying the peak of stupidity)

  • panel 1: guy sitting in bed with lumps under his blanket where his lap is, the lumps should be shaped like common breakfast items, i.e. glass, bowl, all on a tray; thought bubble: “Breakfast in bed!”
  • panel 2: same guy on digital scale, weight is 155; thought bubble: “Hey, this thing is broken. I’m nowhere near that old!”
  • panel 3: handing bundled newspaper to paperboy on bike who obviously just threw it on his front step; word bubble: “You dropped your newspaper, young man.”
  • panel 4: entering cubicle where chair has swiveled in opposite direction of desk; word bubble to guy in hall: “Harry, my chair’s facing the wrong way. Can you give me a hand moving my desk?”
  • panel 5: at soda vending machine; he’s on his knees sticking a straw into the change slot and trying to sip; thought bubble: “I’ve been here 10 minutes. How long do I have to wait before the soda comes out?”
  • panel 6: in parking lot where only one car is left; thought bubble: “Now where did I park?”
  • panel 7: at supermarket, in 10 items or fewer line with a cart overflowing with dozens of items; word bubble to cashier: “I’m over? Sorry, I can’t count in my head.”
  • panel 8: sitting on couch staring at TV table with no TV on it, holding remote control; caption: Lots of people lose the remote, but not this guy. He lost the TV.
  • panel 9: going to bed wearing his pajama pants on top and his pajama shirt on the bottom

Newsstand in Fantasyland

How do centaurs keep up to date on world affairs? Where do harpies look for home decorating tips? Just like we do, Fantasyland has a magazine for everything.

  • Evil Housekeeping—recipes and advice for the goblin housewife
  • Trolling Stone—the latest news in rock (meaning creatures that live among rocks, like trolls)
  • Boosweek—the leading source of current events for ghosts
  • Sphinx Illustrated—a photographic look at the world of half-human, half-lions
  • Vanity Fairy—long articles about glamorous fairies and their scandalous lives
  • Magickolodeon—what all witches read to learn all about old-fashioned magick
  • CC Guide—the weekly rundown of all forest performances by various creepy-crawlies

Thanksgiving: The Deleted Scenes

Imagine if there was a DVD of the big 1621 harvest feast that kicked off the whole Thanksgiving thing? Well, for starters, it wouldn’t all fit on one DVD—the gathering lasted three days, for gobble’s sake. Here are some centuries-old scenes that may nonetheless make it onto ye olde director’s cutte.

  • the thrilling attempt by both Pilgrims and Natives to capture a particularly large goose for the meal—yes, a literal wild goose chase
  • Pilgrim kids daring Native kids to eat their most disgusting type of food, and vice versa
  • the Pilgrims realizing a lot more Native Americans than expected were going to show up, and then frantically building more benches to seat them all
  • a Pilgrim making the typical “V” finger formation over the head of an Indian whose feathers make the same formation—so it’s a V over a V
  • an impromptu game of a primitive version of football, only they didn’t have footballs, so they used a boot
  • the whole group trying to pose for a portrait—not as quick as getting a photo taken…

In the Nick of Time

How could two things with the same name be so different—or so similar? We compared our very own Nickelodeon Magazine to the old-time nickelodeons that played records to find out. (Hey, maybe that’s where the name came from!)

nickelodeon the jukebox: cost five cents to play a record
Nickelodeon the magazine: costs five cents to purchase, plus a $3.94 service charge

nickelodeon the jukebox: had a slot to put a coin in
Nickelodeon the magazine: can fill through a mailbox slot

nickelodeon the jukebox: played phonographs by popular artists
Nickelodeon the magazine: publishes photographs of popular stars

nickelodeon the jukebox: designed to hold only one record at a time
Nickelodeon the magazine: designed to feature only one theme per issue

nickelodeon the jukebox: debuted in San Francisco
Nickelodeon the magazine: sold in San Francisco

nickelodeon the jukebox: there were no speakers, so only a few people could listen at one time, using earphones
Nickelodeon the magazine: there are no speakers, or sound for that matter, so only a few people can read an issue at the same time; earphones optional

Coming Soon to a Town Where You Live

You’re not eligible for a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for two reasons: you don’t live in Hollywood (except for you) and you’re not famous (except for you). Therefore, create your own Hometown Walk of Fame by filling out your name and most entertaining achievement on this star, cutting it out, and taping it somewhere where people will look down on it. To build a bigger walk, ask your friends to do the same with the stars in their copies of this magazine.

The Fine Print

Contest rules are printed very, very small and take up many, many lines at the bottom. To this day, there are only two known people who have read them to the end, and one is the lady who wrote them. Here are some of the surprises and stumpers the other guy has reported while recovering from his squint-reduction surgery:

  • Everyone knows that “No purchase necessary to win” comes first. But later on it adds “Still, it’d be really nice.”
  • A few lines after the instruction to write in blue or black ink is another saying, “Okay, you can use red, too, but please, no hearts as dots over the ‘I’s.”
  • One rule that seems like it should be near the top but isn’t is “Don’t enter contest unless you want to get mail from us for the rest of your life.”
  • For some reason, a couple of rules for tetherball show up about three-fifths of the way down.
  • The last line: “To be continued in rules of next contest.”

Welcome to the Wild Wild Mess

Are you too messy? If this page is already so smudged that you can’t read these words, then yes. If not, the answer may still be yes. Take this quiz to find out.

1.    Some of my fingers are currently stuck together by:
-    glue
-    sap
-    brownie batter
-    unknown blue substance

2.    I sleep on a:
-    bed covered with unwashed sheets
-    bed covered with unwashed sheets and other laundry
-    pile of unwashed laundry with no bed underneath
-    small patch of dirt on the floor

3.    The first thing I do after I sneeze is:
-    wipe my nose on my sleeve
-    wipe some of the phlegm that landed on my sleeve onto other parts of my clothes
-    compare what comes out with the mucus collection I keep on my nightstand
-    say “Excuse me,” then do all of the above

4.    When you see a seat in your local movie theater stained with soda, you think:
-    “Wow—it’s the exact same shape as the stain on my jeans!”
-    “That reminds me of the stain I made two rows back and four seats over.”
-    “It’s as if this seat was waiting for me.”
-    Nothing. If there wasn’t a stain, you’d worry.

If you answered any of these questions instead of running outside to jump in mud puddles, then you’re not at all too messy.
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