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Unpublished pitches for “Nickelodeon” Magazine, part 5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 (Warning: be prepared for the occasional outdated pop culture/technology reference.)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.

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


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

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:

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:


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


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.

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