Sunday, August 24, 2014

Unpublished pitches for “Nickelodeon” Magazine, part 2

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 (Warning: be prepared for the occasional outdated pop culture/technology reference.)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.

Inside Information

In nice weather, your parents often say “Go outside and play.” But what if it’s cold outside and your parents want you to go out anyway? Here are things you can say so they’ll then say “Go inside in play.”

  • “The steeper the slope, the faster the sled.”
  • “Snowpants give me a rash. I always take them off as soon as I’m outside.”
  • “Might as well start building that treehouse I always wanted.”
  • “I’m practicing my aim with a rock and the giant, sharp icicles hanging off the roof.”
  • “I know it’s cold, but someone has to direct traffic.”
  • “Frozen bugs do taste like potato chips!”
  • “I’m going to find the shortest hiking distance between here and Canada.”
  • “Who knew bike helmets are great for deflecting speeding Frisbees?”

Relative Stupidity

The holidays. We all know what that means. Stuck inside with a bunch of relatives for hours on end. Choose from this arsenal of excuses to escape—even if it’s only to another room in the house.

  • “The DNA tests are not in yet and I’m not hanging around here until we know for sure if we’re really related.”
  • “I should rest. I don’t want to get too tired to wrap all your presents.”
  • “Having fun together on the holidays is selfish. I’m going to think of ways to help others less fortunate as I go to my room and surf the Internet.”
  • “I’m almost old enough to be smarter than you, but I’ll spare you the embarrassment by quietly sneaking out.”
  • “In pioneer times, families that lived far away could not visit each other so easily. I have to reenact that for a school project.”
  • “If I correctly guess any three stories you plan to tell, can I be excused?”

Art in the House of Sport

The school art show: a chance for non-athletic kids to do something impressive in the gym.

A crowd of drawers will draw a crowd at… 

The 4th Annual Ele-Monet-ary Art Show

All submissions welcome, except the following types of images:

  • videogame violence
  • youth mocking authority
  • youth mocking art shows
  • still life of cafeteria food
  • portraits of school administration in sweatpants
  • copyrighted characters (including heads of faculty on bodies of copyrighted characters)
  • scenes with product placement, no matter how handsomely you were paid
  • the school mascot served on a bed of rice with seasonal vegetables
  • actual-size bricks that blend in perfectly with the gym walls

Even if you don’t contribute, make sure you Van Gogh!

It’s a Big World After All

It’s a world of wrestlers
A world of jeans
It’s a world of crocs
And a world of screens
They’re all large as can be
They make you feel so wee
It’s a big world after all

There is extra strength
There are mega-hits
There are bonus rounds
And those director’s cuts
Nothing stays normal-sized
All too high, long, or wide
It’s a big world after all

You get lost in ev’ry mall
The new kid is six feet tall
Can’t see the end of the hall
It’s a big, huge world

Skydiving Etiquette

Skydiving may seem brave or it may seem bonkers. Either way, bear in mind these guidelines:

  • Don’t skydive for 30 minutes after bungee jumping.
  • Remember: skydive=parachute, scuba dive=oxygen tank.
  • Birds have the right of way.
  • In summer and before 6 p.m., use a white parachute.
  • When jumping in a group, pull ripcords in alphabetical order.
  • If blown off course, try to land in the middle of a big event such as a wedding, football game, or barn-raising.
  • When you’re in the air, it’s not called a belly flop.

Before They Were Freakish

Were our most renowned monsters already scary back in high school? To find out, we’ve delved into the Crypt of Yearbooks Past.

(show funny yearbook-style head shots of famous monsters as teens with other monsters signatures over or next to them)

  • Dracula (his fangs have braces); Frankenstein’s monster writes “And they say I’m a metalhead!”
  • Frankenstein’s monster (with two metal plugs on side of neck); Yeti writes “Yo Frankie! Bio lab was a blast—thanks for letting us dissect you instead of the frog!”
  • Henry Jekyll (looks bookish, shy): Edward Hyde writes “I would write ‘Don’t ever change’ but that wouldn’t do me any good!”
  • Medusa (her snakes in pigtails); Wicked Witch of the West writes “Hanging with you, I never felt like I was having a bad hair day!”
  • Mummy (has bandana over top of bandaged head); Medusa writes “Hey M—I hiss you already!”
  • Yeti (facial hair includes goatee); Dracula writes “Dude, we get it, you’re manly, but time to shave!”
  • Wicked Witch of the West (witch hat has school-style letter, like when you letter in a sport); Mummy writes “Prom rocked! Sorry I spilled that water on you, though…”


Bringing gifts back to stores can be more than a boring chore. Run one of these phrases by the salesperson and you’ll see that returning can be even more fun than receiving.

  • “By accident I walked out without paying for this, so I’m back to do the right thing.”
  • “This product is a choking hazard. When I think about how hideous it is, I nearly choke.”
  • “Let’s do this as quickly so no one sees that I ever owned that.”
  • “I rewrapped it to protect your eyes.”
  • “Do you have this in money?”
  • “Here’s a photo of the friend who gave this to me. Please don’t let him buy anything here ever again.”
  • “This is not at all tacky, but my room is, so it wouldn’t fit.”
  • “Don’t I win anything for being the 100th person today to return this item?”
  • “I actually like it but also like the power a consumer has to return whatever she wants.”

Metal Detector Blues

Ever comb the beach with a metal detector? Sure. Ever find anything? Of course not. Sing along with the “Metal Detector Blues.”

Got a metal detector
To detect me some gold
I’d settle for silver
As long as it’s old

Hit the beach at dawn
No other hunters in sight
Began searching the sand
For something buried and bright

Came across lots of bottle caps
And a couple sets of car keys
Heck, I even turned up
A checkers board (Chinese)

I was looking for loot
Straight from a treasure chest
But I recycled half this stuff
And reburied the rest

Not one thing of value
No medallions, coins, or jewels
But if you’re in the market
I’ve got lots of rusty tools

The last thing I discovered
And the most deeply hid
Was a trashed metal detector
Must’ve found even less than mine did

International House of Pancakes: Now with Even More International!

  • the Panamanian Pancake—with a “canal” filled with syrup running through it
  • Italian Pancakes—with pepperoni
  • the Antarctic Pancake—frozen solid
  • the Australian Pancake—one pancake, floating in a sea of syrup
  • Irish Pancakes—bunch of small clover-shaped pancakes, with one four-leaf clover pancake hidden among them
  • the Israeli Pancake—worn on head like kippah/yarmulke
  • German Pancakes—one big pancake with two small pancakes forming the umlaut
  • Egyptian Pancakes—three-dimensional pyramids of pancakes

X Parks the Spot

Underground parking garages are the labyrinths of everyday life and our experiences in them are universal. Next time you go to the mall (or anywhere else with a car maze), bring and fill out this two-part checklist.


  • Did we spend twenty minutes looking for a free spot?
  • Did several cars backing out almost dent us?
  • Did we finally find a spot, but it’s the farthest from the entrance?
  • Did we wonder what made all those scratch marks on the walls?
  • Did we pass at least four cars with their alarms going off?


  • Did we forgot where we parked?
  • Did we leave our headlights on?
  • Did the guy next to us park too close, squeezing us in?
  • Did we at least once drive the wrong way down a one-way lane?
  • Did we lose the parking ticket?

An Animated Rebellion

What if cartoons revolted against humans? It might start with documents like these.

Declaratoon of Independence

When in the Course of humor events, it becomes necessary for one cartoon to dissolve the fictional bands which have connected him with another, and to assume among the powers of the mirth, the cinemas and TV stations to which the Laws of Networks and of Networks’ squads entitle them, a decent rating in the opinions of fankind requires that they should declare the sketches which impel them to the animation.

We hold these truths to be self-excellent, that all films are followed by sequels, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain alien or monster Fights, and among them are Laughs, Lunacy and the pursuit of Zaniness.


We the Cartoons of the Animated Screens, in Order to draw a more perfect Toonion, establish Jokesters, insure simplistic Frivolity, provide for the common nonsense, promote the right to show bums bare, and make sure the Best Things on the TV from ourselves is our Hilarity, do complain and establish this Toonstitution for the Animated Screens of America.

May I Have Award with You?

Entertainment trivia: did you know that a different award show was on every night last year except for one (and that was only because the host came down with the hiccups)? Now that award shows are so common, they must always come up with new gimmicks. A few suggestions:

  • give awards made of Play-Doh so recipients can shape a design of their own liking
  • vote for each winner then and there by a show of hands
  • sneak in a made-up category every so often
  • requesting that the audience hold their applause until they get home
  • limit each acceptance speech to one word
  • instead of announcing the winner of each category, list the losers first
  • instead of interviewing stars on the red carpet outside the event, catch them coming in or out of the bathroom
  • give an award at end of the night for best and worst acceptance speech

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