Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The 5 Annoyances of Christmas

I know. You just read that title and thought, "This guy is such a Grinch!" But I'm really not. I love Christmas. I might not get as into the holiday spirit as a lot of people do, but I certainly don't sit around thinking of ways to ruin Christmas for everyone around me. There are just some things about this season that get slightly under my skin. After reading, if you still think I'm this century's answer to an unwealthy Ebenezer Scrooge, you are entitled to that opinion. And feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. For now, here are my thoughts...
  1. Early Christmas Carols - Don't get me wrong. I love Christmas carols. Someone who loves music and loves to sing as much as I do can't help but enjoy a Christmas song from time to time. My problem comes when your local radio stations begin playing those Christmas songs at the beginning of November. And they play them non-stop. The thing is, those radio stations only have the rights to so many songs. On top of that, there are only so many different versions of those few Christmas songs. So you end up hearing the same 20 songs over and over again for approximately 55 days. If that doesn't drive you a little crazy, number two might.
  2. Retail Stores - This one might just be because I work in a retail store. I would love for someone to explain to me why we feel the need to, throughout the entire month of December, stay open until midnight. Every night. I get that stores are busier, what with people buying Christmas gifts and all. But do stores stay busy past a certain time? Absolutely not. Most nights, we don't see a single customer in the last 2 hours that we're open. And when we do, it's the family that decide to bring their 3 year old twins to get all of their Christmas shopping done at 11pm. Yes, we talk about you while you're shopping. It's because we're angry at you and judge you as parents.
  3. Empty Threats - This is where I talk about Santa Claus. This time of year, parents love to use the "Santa is watching" thing when their kids' behavior is getting out of hand. It's an easy cop out kind of threat. The implication is that if the child doesn't behave, he or she could end up on the naughty list and, by extension, receive nothing for Christmas. But where's the follow through? I know there have got to be a lot of children out there who don't care about how badly they misbehave, but they still receive a ridiculous amount of presents on Christmas morning. I know these children exist because I see them every day at work. Parents, I'd like to hear from any of you whose children have been "naughty" and actually received coal, or nothing, on Christmas day.
  4. Decorating Vehicles as Reindeer - I might get a lot of flack for this one. Sorry, I just don't see the point in installing fake antlers on the roof and attaching a big red ball to the grill. Related: dressing pets up in Christmas attire. Also related: dressing pets up in any attire at any time of the year.
  5. Christmas Shoes - I really don't think I need to elaborate on this one. I just... don't. Okay?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

12 Years a Slave

I don't know why I don't jump at the chance to see movies at the Lyric theater. That place is amazing. Seeing a film in that old theater is how I imagine it would have been to go to the movies in Hollywood's heyday. It's also how I imagine it would have been to see movies in that old theater in Bluefield that I wanted to buy so many years ago. That's a good story, I should tell it sometime.

Anyway, last night I got the chance to see 12 Years a Slave at the Lyric with some friends. If you're interested in seeing an intense movie this season, this is the one to see. Based on actual events, it tells the story of Solomon Northup from the time he's kidnapped from his home in New York and sold into slavery until his eventual escape from bondage.

The cast list reads like a who's who of incredible actors: Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Fassbender, Paul Giamatti, Alfre Woodard, Brad Pitt. And if you don't know the name Chiwitel Ejiofor, who played Solomon Northup, you will after this. He has been in a number of films and is a fantastic actor. I will be shocked if he's not at least nominated for best actor at the Oscars. I'll also be shocked if the movie overall isn't nominated for best picture.

There's a lot I could say about this movie. But I won't. I'm just going to insist that you see it for yourself. Like I said, it's intense, which probably isn't a strong enough word. It depicts an incredibly shameful and dark period in American history, so intense comes with the territory. If you see it or have seen it, let me know what you thought of it in the comments below.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

AFI 38 - The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Welcome to my journey through the American Film Institute's top 100 movies of all time (as of 2007). I've been counting down from number 100 and will eventually get to what they consider the best movie ever made. I've agreed with some. Others I've really not liked. Keep reading to see how I felt about this one...

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Directed by John Huston
Netflix sleeve: Wrapped in a classic tale of adventure, this Academy Award winner helmed by John Huston follows a trio of gold prospectors who set out to strike it rich and agree to split the take until paranoia and greed consumes one of them. Delivering superb performances as the three miners are Humphrey Bogart, Tim Holt and Walter Huston, who copped a Best Supporting Actor Oscar while son John scored statuettes for his direction and screenplay.

So, I've had this disc sitting in my room for months. And it was sitting in my room at my previous apartment for several months before that. Good thing Netflix doesn't believe in late fees. I finally remembered that it was there. And remembered that I hadn't even touched the AFI list since April. So here we go. This is a first time viewing for me. I finally got to experience the origin of the classic line, "We don't have to show you no stinking badges!" All in all, the movie is pretty good and shows just how three guys in the middle of nowhere looking for gold can go a little (or a lot) crazy.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Autumn Soulstice

The thoughts I'm sharing here are far overdue. The thing is, when I experienced these events, I was still in my funk where I just didn't feel like writing anything on this blog. That's different now. And since I did experience a lot of life during that month or so that I wasn't writing much, I have a lot to look back at and dip into.

Back story...

Several months ago, I found out that one of my Old Navy co-workers sings in an all female a capella group at Virginia Tech. That group is called Soulstice, and they're pretty much awesome. But I only found this out for myself about a month ago.

When I first discovered Cameron's extra-curricular activity, I tried to get her to sing at the store. She wouldn't budge on that one. But I finally got a chance to hear her and the rest of Soulstice at Virginia Tech's first ever Riff-Off. If you've seen the movie Pitch Perfect you'll know what I'm talking about.

I'll admit, the real life Riff-Off wasn't quite the same as the movie, but it was pretty cool nonetheless. Four of Tech's a capella groups competed in an effort to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. The audience voted for their favorites by donating dollars. In my opinion, the ladies of Soulstice were robbed, but they did get second place. All in all, it was a fun night.

More recently, I attended Soulstice's 15th anniversary concert "Soul'd Out". This time it was just the one group singing hits by Alicia Keys, Maroon 5, Christina Aguilera, and a lot more. And the biggest surprise was the encore at the end of the show. Once they completed all the songs listed in the program, the singers left the stage. Moments later, they reemerged and began with a chord familiar to anyone who's witnessed the end of Pitch Perfect. That's right, Soulstice performed the incredible mash-up that the fictional Barden Bellas performed in their competition at the end of the movie. And they nailed it.

Here's a taste of that concert with their performance of "Titanium". Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Home Alone's Honest Trailer

Got a little carried away with stuff going on today and didn't get a chance to write anything original. So I'm bringing you something entirely unoriginal. Have you ever been to the Honest Trailers channel on YouTube? Their stuff is pretty funny. Since Christmas is coming, here's the honest trailer for the Christmas classic, Home Alone. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Shelf Elf

This time of year, I see a lot of pictures on Facebook from people who have active elves in their homes. These elves, the Elf on the Shelf variety of elves, are said to come to life at night when everyone's asleep, then fly to the North Pole to give a nightly report to Santa. I realize that I don't have any kids, but I thought it would be cool to have an elf in my home as well. So I wrote a letter to Santa. I knew it was late in the holiday season to expect to get an elf of my very own, but I thought I would at least try. Sadly, I never woke up to find an elf anywhere in my house. But I did get a response from Santa

Dear Aaron,

Thank you for your letter. It was good to hear from you after all these years. You're right, it has been some time. Believe it or not, it's still nice to hear from you kids, even after you're all grown up.

I'm sorry to say, I can't spare an elf for your home this year. It isn't because you don't have children of your own. If you'll remember, there was an elf that sat in your grandparents' home for years, even after all their children had grown and moved out. The problem is, all my elves have their assignments this year. But I'll be sure to keep you in mind next year when Christmas comes back around.

I truly am sorry that I can't spare an elf for you and your roommates. I've been trying to think of someone I could send in place of an elf. I'd recruit a garden gnome, but they really don't like to spend any time indoors, even in winter. Leprechauns are no good to anyone outside of March. And even then, they only like to cause trouble. I wouldn't do that to you. Would you like me to check into sending a Keebler elf? You'd never see one of them, they really don't like to be seen. But you could wake up in the morning to fresh baked cookies. They love to bake. Think about it and let me know.

I hope you have a very merry Christmas!

S. Claus

So, that's what I got back. I'm a little disappointed, but that's what I get for procrastinating. On the other hand, I guess I might be able to look forward to the delicious smell of freshly baked cookies throughout the rest of the month. I mean, if Santa was able to convince one of the Keebler elves to come by. I probably shouldn't hold my breath, though. Maybe I should let Santa know that I'd also settle for Stacy Keibler. I wouldn't complain about a visit from her.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Question of the Week: Haste

In the haste of your daily life, what are you not seeing?

Nothing. I don't not see anything. Wait... what?

I actually catch a lot. Pretty good eye sight. Though, with age, I'm discovering that the eye sight is something that's gradually declining. I get it honestly. Both my parents needed glasses. Pretty sure mom has had glasses all my life. I think dad got his in his 30s. Which is right where I am. Maybe it's time to visit the optometrist.

Anyway, I don't usually describe my life as a hasty one. I'm not generally in a hurry. Pretty laid back. Though I guess I do get caught up in the day to day busyness of life and work and what not. So that means I unintentionally make sacrifices.

So what am I not seeing?

I'm not seeing some of the TV shows that I'd like to watch. Ain't nobody got time for that!

I'm not seeing some of the movies I'd like to see in the theater. Ain't nobody got money for that!

I'm not seeing (reading) some of the books I'd like to read. Ain't nobody got time for that!

I'm not seeing the woman I'm gonna marry someday. Ain't nobody got... well, actually... I could make time for that if I could figure out how to have a coherent conversation with a woman. I mean, I can have a coherent conversation with women. Sometimes. Occasionally. But they have to initiate. And they can't expect more than one word responses.

I was just kidding about the thing where I can't initiate a conversation with a pretty girl. I do it all the time. I just have to have something to talk about. I'm not a big fan of small talk.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Carbon Dioxide

Have you noticed that it's been getting cold lately? I'm sure you have noticed it since we're quickly approaching winter. Unless you're in the southern hemisphere, then you're heading into summer. But I'm pretty sure that all of my 23 readers live north of the equator.

Anyway, we've had a couple of decent cold spells in Blacksburg so far. So the roommates and I decided to turn on the heat for the first time a few weeks ago. That's when we noticed that we actually had no heat. At one point, our thermostat read 58 degrees. Not quite as cold as it had been outside, but not exactly comfortable when you step out of a hot shower.

It took a few days, but eventually a maintenance worker came to fix our problem. He left a note asking us to leave the covering off the furnace. Easy enough. He also suggested that we get CO2 detectors. That confused me a little.

I've heard of carbon monoxide detectors, but carbon dioxide? If we have a carbon dioxide problem in our home, shouldn't we just get a few extra house plants to clean up the air for us?

I guess it's possible that he meant carbon monoxide and got carried away when writing the CO. It's easy 2 throw in a 2 where one isn't needed. I do it sometimes, 2.

Thus far, we haven't installed any new detectors of any kind. But no one has come down with carbon monoxide poisoning, either. Yet.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Smart Phones, Dumb People

Do you ever have a craving for certain foods? Of course you do. I'm not talking about the stereotypical bizarre cravings that can come with pregnancy. Do those even really exist? Do pregnant women really crave chocolate covered pickles or is that just something they use for comedic purposes in Hollywood?

I digress. A few weeks ago, I had a hankerin' for pancakes. Personally, I feel that I'm not very good at making pancakes. I mean, I'm okay, but IHOP can do a much better job. So I treated myself to a delicious stack of pancakes at the International House of Pancakes one fine fall evening.

I was dining alone that night, so I pulled out my smartphone to kill time while I waited for my food to arrive. Candy Crush may be ridiculously addictive, but it is a highly effective cure for boredom. Of course, once my plate was in front of me, the phone went away.

While I ate, a family of six came into the restaurant and was seated near me. This family consisted of a father, mother and four daughters ranging from preteen to preschool in age. I couldn't help but notice that, as soon as they all sat down, three of the six of them were on their phones.

To me, this seems like a really sad and all too common sight in our modern world. A few months ago, when I had downgraded to a dumb phone for a while, I debated going back to a smartphone for this very reason. For someone like me, who finds conversation difficult at times, it's easy to retreat into my phone. Even when I was around people I enjoy being around, I would pull the phone out and surf through Facebook. With a dumb phone, I was able to completely be in whatever situation I was in.

I thought it was heartbreaking to watch a husband and wife who were sitting across from each other but were really worlds apart. If you're going to be there together, be there together. Couples seem to have a hard enough time communicating without mobile devices distracting them. When one of the younger girls tried to talk to her dad, she called him several times before he huffed and put down his phone to give her some attention. 30 seconds later, the phone was back in his hands.

This is sort of a cautionary tale. Hopefully it will serve as a reminder that we should be present with our loved ones who are in the room with us, rather than checking the latest tweets from celebrities that don't know we exist.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Renewing the Lease

Do you know where you'll be a year from now? I do. I'll be in the same place I am now. That's because, after only three months of living in the townhouse, the property managers wanted a commitment from all four of us to renew our lease for another year.

I rarely plan that far ahead. How should I know where I'll be in the summer of 2014? What if I take a new job somewhere that's even farther from Blacksburg than where I currently work? What if my financial situation changes and I decide to buy my own home? What if I meet a beautiful woman and get married after a whirlwind romance? I know, I'm laughing at that one, too.

Point is, life has a tendency to take your plans and toss them aside. This is why I don't like to plan so far in advance. I really like my living situation. The rent is affordable and I consider my roommates to be friends. That's something I haven't been able to say since college.

But to be asked to commit to a second year in a place before you've even gone through half of your first lease period? Seems a little extreme.

Part of me gets it, though. Blacksburg is the epitome of the college town. That means the population is always in flux. I'm sure property owners like to know if they'll be receiving that regular income. And if people can't commit, they'll have plenty of time to find someone who will.

So I signed the lease. As did my three roommates. This will be the first time I've lived in one place for more than a year since I left North Carolina. I might start calling my nomadic behaviors into question.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013


Since moving to Blacksburg, I live only a little more than a stone's throw from the school where my church meets each Sunday. One day a couple months ago, when the weather was still warm in the early morning hours, I decided to walk to church, rather than drive.

The walk took me through a neighborhood or two, across the grounds of an elementary school, and over a couple soccer fields before I reached my destination. While I crossed the soccer fields, I noticed that there were a lot of things laying around.

I could only assume that there had been a number of soccer games played the previous day. Apparently, the players, parents and spectators decided to leave many of their belongings behind. Without even trying, I found a decent pair of sunglasses, a gently used pair of sneakers, a half eaten can of Pringles and a child's jacket.

And that was after just one weekend of games. Imagine what a scavenger could find if they walked across that field week after week. Who knows what kinds of treasures one could find?

Before you ask, no, I did not eat the remaining Pringles. They were pizza-flavored. Much as I love pizza, I think pizza-flavored potato chips are of the devil. And are gross.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013


Remember when # meant pound or number? I do. Sometimes that symbol is still called the pound key on a phone. But ask most people what the # is and they'll call it a hashtag.

Where did it all begin? According to our friends at Wikipedia, the hashtag has been used for decades by the IT department to highlight special meaning. Then it grew in popularity with the general public as Twitter's popularity grew. The word hashtag was first used in a 2007 blog post by Stowe Boyd.

Now we're faced with the ability to use the hashtag on Facebook as well as Twitter. Is this a positive step? Does this make it easier to pay attention to our Facebook friends' status updates? Is it just Zuckerburg's way of convincing us that Twitter is obsolete?

A part of me understands the Twitter hashtag. It's a way to keep up with who in the entire Twittersphere is discussing the same subjects in 140 characters or less. Do the hashtags on Facebook function similarly? I don't actually know. I'm not familiar with the practice of hashtagging on Facebook yet. But shouldn't we limit hashtagging to one form of social media? Doesn't it get redundant? Although, I am guilty of using a hashtag or two on Instagram from time to time. And I know I've seen people using them on Vine. In fact, hashtags are recognized by more than a dozen social media sites.

I guess I just can't keep up with all this technology in my old age.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Question of the Whatever: Defining Moment

What is the most defining moment of your life?

Maybe it's a generational thing, or maybe it's just me. But I'm not good with definitions. I mean, when it comes to vocabulary, definitions are a good thing. I'm just not good about defining myself.

A lot of people I know would probably point to a decision to follow Christ as a defining moment. I agree, as moments go, that's a good one to point to. Even for someone who dislikes definitions. But I still have a difficult time calling myself a Christian. It's a label that I fail to live up to so often. That's my own hang up though.

Some people are defined by career. But I'm not. I love my job, don't get me wrong. But if I lost it tomorrow, my identity wouldn't be shattered.

Still others define themselves by their families. I'm single with no children. And I'm not as close to my relatives as I'm sure anyone would like. Most of that is because I learned long ago that family is defined by more than just blood.

So does that mean I'm defined by friends? Not really, no. I love my friends and I love hanging out with them. Most of the time. But they, for the most part, understand that I also like my alone time.

In all of these things that can define our lives, is there a single moment that I can point to that defines who I am? No. I believe that I've been defined and continue to be defined by all of life's moments as they come and go.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

New Tales from Old Navy: The Blackest Friday

It's highly likely that a lot of what I write here will come off as a complaint. So I feel the need to start off by saying that I really enjoy my part time job. I'm grateful to have it. I've felt grateful for it ever since I was hired last year and, especially, since the manager opted to keep me on past the holidays. While I may not always love the necessity of having a second job, I enjoy the paycheck and I like the people I work with.

That being said, let's spend some time talking about Thanksgiving and the dreaded day after, Black Friday. What a crazy couple of days, am I right?

About a month ago, I got an email from one of the managers. It was actually a mass email looking for volunteers to work on Thanksgiving. That's right, the store was open on Thanksgiving. We were open last year too, but I didn't have to work until after we closed and were preparing for Black Friday. Anyway, when I was planning my Thanksgiving, I called mom to find out what we would be doing. The answer was pretty much nothing. So I volunteered to work the holiday.

Don't feel too bad for me. For working on Thanksgiving day, I got paid time and a half. Also, we were dead. There were very few customers in the store during my entire 5 hour shift. That didn't exactly make time go by quickly, but at least it wasn't a very long shift. I later found out that we only took in roughly a tenth of the projected income for that day. Optimistically, I'd like to believe that those numbers will send a message to corporate and we won't have to be open during the day on Thanksgiving. But we all know I'm not really an optimist.

Then came the madness of Black Friday, which actually began on Thursday night. We closed for a few hours during the day on Thanksgiving, only to reopen at 7pm. Like a lot of other stores, Black Friday began the night before. I'm sure by next year, Black Friday will be moved up to 9pm on Wednesday.

Again, I enjoy working for Old Navy. But I've never truly understood the necessity of opening up so early for Black Friday. And I've never understood why people wait in line to get into our store. Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Target... sure, I get it. When you can get a great deal on a state of the art TV or washer/dryer set by being one of the first 20 people through the doors, by all means, wait in line for hours in the bitter cold. But to get a few shirts and a pair of jeans for 50% off? Really?

Thankfully, I didn't have to endure the mad rush of people as the doors opened on Thursday evening. In fact, I didn't have to be back at the store until 2pm on Friday afternoon. And as soon as I got there, I realized just how crazy things had been. The line of people waiting to be checked out stretched from the front of the store all the way back to the toddler section. If you've visited that particular store, you'll know that's a pretty long line.

I got there early, so I spent a few minutes relaxing in the break room. From there, I could hear the children screaming. So many children, forced to suffer through an insane shopping day. It's likely that many of them were pulled from one store to the next with no rest. You know how in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom the children were used as slaves to find Sankara stones in the caves beneath the temple? You know how they would randomly scream in agony? That's about what it sounded like for the kids in my store on Friday.

It was a long shift. I was at the cash register for the vast majority of my time there. Since we were so busy, the time went by fairly quickly. It wasn't until the end of the night that things became eventful.

There was a lot to do as we closed shop. As you can probably imagine, the store was a wreck. Clothes were unfolded and kind of all over the place. Then there were the piles of clothes that various customers decided at the last moment not to buy that needed to be returned to the sales floor. Ditto for the clothes in the fitting room. Also, we were expecting a shipment the next morning. That meant that the closing folks needed to make room at the back of the store for that shipment to arrive.

But things don't go smoothly when you want them to. Particularly when you've been on the clock for 10 hours. We were due to close at 11pm. Guess what happened at 10:58pm. If you said that a family of four walked in with no clue as to what they were searching for, you'd be right. They were there until nearly 11:30. For a while, I was afraid I was going to lose my job. Why would I have lost my job? Because I was nearly willing to go to these late arriving customers to make an impassioned speech about how ridiculous it was for them to wait until the last 2 minutes of our sale to come to the store when they had a full 28 hours to do so. I also would have thrown in a little something about how most of the employees who were going above and beyond to help them out had been there for 10 hours or more that day. We were tired and we were kind of sick of people. Cooler heads prevailed and I made no such speech. But I was thinking it. A lot.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the end of our late night troubles. Remember that shipment that was scheduled to arrive the next morning? It came early. The truck arrived approximately 2 minutes after that family of four left. Don't get me wrong, we were already planning to clear the back room to make way for the shipment. But the arrival at 11:30pm did nothing to help our manager on duty, who was desperately trying to count the cash drawers before our midnight deadline.

Midnight, by the way, was the time at which we were all scheduled to leave.

So, for many of us, our long shifts included an extra half hour. We were given the option to leave if we wanted. Sure, I wanted to. But I would have felt bad leaving anyone behind to do extra work. So I stayed. I folded more clothes. Those of us who stayed really didn't make a dent in the mess that had accumulated throughout the day. But we did the best we could.

All in all, it was an exciting weekend. I mean, I didn't get a lot out of it, other than a slightly larger paycheck, which I will greatly appreciate when it comes next Wednesday. But it really wasn't that bad. Here's to next Black Friday. And here's hoping that next Thanksgiving will be a non-workday.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Thanksgiving TV Chef

Prior to the start of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, one of the correspondents on CBS did a segment with "Chef" Marcel. She said his name like he's someone important, possibly famous. I don't know. I've never heard of him. And I hope I never hear of him again. I used the sarcastic quotes with his title because he really didn't show me that he's any more of a chef than I am.

Together, they were making an apple pie. A nice, American tradition, right? The correspondent lady was put in charge of the apples. This included mixing in the sugar, cinnamon, etc. And what did the "chef" do? He unrolled a premade Pillsbury pie crust. Actually, he rolled out two: one for the bottom, one for the top.

"Chef" Marcel did nothing more than the actress in the Pillsbury commercial that aired only a few minutes after the cooking segment. Actually, the actress did more. She cut slits in the top crust to allow the pie filling to not cause the pie to explode in the oven.

I'm pretty sure this "Chef" Marcel that CBS hired to help with Thanksgiving is a fraud.

And wouldn't it have been a little more appropriate to make a pumpkin pie? Maybe pecan? There's nothing wrong with an apple pie, but I think a real chef could have accepted the challenge of making something a little more complicated than apple. Step it up, Marcel.

*The pie pictured above looks a lot better than the one Marcel made.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Threatening Letters

There's a recent Bayer aspirin commercial that kind of makes me stop and think. It starts off with a woman who gets her mail and opens a neatly written card that says, "Your heart attack arrives in 2 days." She then goes on to take some aspirin and apparently avoids cardiac arrest. One can only assume. You don't get a lot of information out of a 15 second spot.

Now, I realize that the point of the terrifying letter that she receives is that people don't typically get warnings about an impending heart attack. But all I could think about was who would send a threat like that to someone?

My first response to opening that card would be, "What kind of sick joke is this?" Then I'd go into the paranoia. "Someone's making death threats!" I mean, I'm not in the best shape in the world, but I'm pretty sure I'm more than a couple days away from a heart attack. Is someone gonna try and induce a heart attack? Are they going to jump out from behind some bushes to scare me to death? Are they going to inject me with some kind of poison that makes it look like I had a heart attack?

I'm just saying, it seems like the advertising agency that Bayer's using stole the idea for this commercial from I Know What You Did Last Summer.

Below is another Bayer commercial. I couldn't find the one I described above, but this one is basically the same thing. The only difference is the recipient of the letter is a guy named Bob.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

How to Know if I Have a Crush on You

I'm single. Have been all my life. Beyond that, I'm an introverted single person. That makes it extremely difficult for me to approach a woman to whom I'm attracted in order to generate a conversation out of thin air. Therefore, all I ever really experience are crushes. You know, like a kid will have on their 6th grade English teacher. No, I did not have a crush on my 6th grade English teacher. I mean, Mrs. Moss was nice and all, but she never really did it for me.

That being said, there have been a number of women that I've developed crushes on over the years. We're all aware of my undying love for Alison Brie, but there have been others. Women I've actually known and had conversations with. And there's a very good chance that most of those ladies never knew. A few only knew of my feelings because I eventually grew a backbone and told them how I felt.

Sidebar: In each of those instances of revelation, I was shot down with some variation of the phrases "You're like a brother to me!" or "I don't want to ruin our friendship!" Believe it or not, hearing a girl you like say those words makes it a lot easier to repress one's feelings and never confess them to anyone else ever again. But just because I tend to repress doesn't mean those feelings aren't present. I'm not a robot, despite the emotionless evidence to the contrary.

So now, if you're a woman that I personally know, you may be wondering, Am I one of those girls he's talking about? Lucky for you there are a few very helpful signals that you can look for. Just ask yourself the following questions:

Does he seem nervous whenever I'm around? I'm not typically an anxious kind of person. I tend not to worry about things. But if I have a thing for you, there's a good chance I'll develop some kind of nervous tic while in your presence. My knee may bounce. I might start tapping my pen incessantly. I might even chew on my lower lip for a while. That last one really bugs me. Especially in winter. 'Cause then the lower lip gets chapped and it becomes painful. And I never buy Chap-Stick.

Does he get tongue tied? If I'm crushing on you, I could forget the proper rules of the English language. I may find myself tripping over my words or saying incoherent and nonsensical phrases like a stroke victim. Related to this, I could start speaking very quickly and/or loudly. The Girl in the White SUV would know all about that one.

Does he become uncharacteristically kind? I don't consider myself a very nice person. I have my moments, sure. But I'm generally very sarcastic. And if I'm sarcastic with you, it means I consider you a good friend who won't be offended (probably) by my very dry sense of humor. But if a crush is occurring, I'll probably refrain from the sarcasm. That's right, I can turn it off when I want to. Reason being, I want you to like me, so I don't want to offend you by saying something that might be interpreted as mean. It happened once that a girl I liked in college took something the wrong way. It about broke my heart to think she believed I was blatantly being hurtful towards her.

Does he get really quiet around me? There will be a lot of times that I'll choose to stop talking rather than risk tripping over the words. "But, Aaron," you may ask, "aren't you quiet all the time anyway?" A lot of the time, yes. I'm an observer; a listener. The differences in quiet because of a crush and quiet because of my personality are probably very subtle. Good luck with that one.

There you have it. You may choose to use this information however you wish. If you suspect that I like you in a more-than-friends kind of way, you have options. You could confront me to see if your suspicions are correct. I won't lie about it if asked. Just don't be offended if the answer is no, I can't have a crush on everyone.

Another option is that you could avoid me. It wouldn't be the first time it's happened. Though I don't understand that option. I'm kind of awesome.

Finally, you could do nothing. Just maintain the status quo, because I can very nearly guarantee that I won't say anything to rock the Love Boat. Try not to worry about it. It's just a little crush. Not like I faint every time we touch.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Reports of My Giving Up...

...Are greatly exaggerated.

I did not quit blogging. I'm just taking a sabbatical. Not long ago, I sort of wrote about the futility of keeping this blog. I was feeling under appreciated. More than than that, I was feeling sorry for myself. It was kind of pathetic.

Several of you, including my pastor, encouraged me to continue writing. Despite my lack of regular posts lately, I was encouraged. Hard to believe with the lack of evidence.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about why I've kept this blog. I genuinely started for only myself. Somewhere along the way, I shifted my focus to how many people I was reaching.

But really, why should I be reaching anyone? I'm not writing anything with the intention of changing the world. My blog has no mission statement. I'm just doing it as a creative outlet. As reasons go, it's a pretty selfish one. It's supposed to be fun. Instead, it became work, so I stopped enjoying it.

So I'm taking a break. I'm still gonna write. I just won't post everything and won't post regularly. I'll try to get back to a regular schedule after the first of the year.

I shouldn't be disappointed when I don't have comments or even readers. Hopefully, someday soon, I'll actually convince myself of that.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Question of the Week: Impact

What impact do you want to leave on the world?

Well, if I were a asteroid, I'd want to leave a large crater somewhere completely conspicuous. Nothing that can be hidden by forest growth or an ocean. But since I'm not a hunk of space rock, I'm gonna have to settle for the impact I made at the Cascades back in college.

I'd gone to the Cascades with some friends to enjoy a nice little hike on a cool autumn day. Before we hit the trail, we congregated near the restrooms, giving everyone a chance to commune with nature before spending a couple hours communing with nature. So we're just standing around talking when a wasp decided to invade our little group. Particularly, it decided to fly toward my face. Now, I'm not one who likes to get stung in the face. I mean, that's the money maker. Can't have that swelling up from an insect sting. So I backed away. I was slow, but deliberate. I even attempted to talk the wasp down. "I'm gonna back away, wasp. You can fly wherever you want as long as it's not in my face." Unfortunately, I wasn't paying attention to what was behind me. That would be a boulder that was about a foot and a half tall. Came right up to where my knees bend. So when I bumped into it walking backwards, I tumbled backwards. I'm sure it looked hilarious. My head didn't feel hilarious when it hit the gravel and dirt. One of the guys took a picture of the spot where my head made a dent in the ground. That's my impact on the world. You're welcome, Planet Earth.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Something in the Water

Working in a school, it's almost inevitable that I will pick up certain ailments from time to time. After all, when a 3rd grader sneezes right in your face, it seems that all the vitamin C in the world won't prevent what's to come.

Some things are expected to spread throughout an elementary school like wildfire. Strep throat jumps from classroom to classroom. Pink eye seemingly gets contracted from just making eye contact. And I'd rather not talk about the lice scare of 2006. Lost a lot of good people out there.

However, lately at my school, there's been a very different epidemic. At times, those affected will suffer from nausea and vomiting, but this is no simple stomach virus. No, you can't just take 24 hours off from life to let this clear up. This is a condition that lasts roughly 9 months. That's right. It's pregnancy.

One teacher gave birth a few weeks ago. Another is due to begin her maternity leave before the end of this month. Yet another has a due date in April of next year. Today the news broke that our 2nd grade teacher will welcome her third child in May.

I try to drink plenty of water throughout the day. It's important to stay hydrated. But I may need to start bottling my water from home and bringing it with me. Who knows what kind of risk I'm running by drinking the water from these fountains. I just cannot afford to get pregnant right now.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

The Single Guy and the Disney Princess

Have you ever run into a Disney princess in real life? Neither has the Single Guy. Unless you count a visit to Walt Disney World where actresses portray real life versions of animated characters. But today, the Single Guy came about as close as one could come to seeing a human version of a Disney princess as you could get outside of the happiest place on earth.

The Single Guy had a little time to kill between jobs this afternoon. As is his custom, he decided to kill that time with a visit to Barnes & Noble, also a pretty happy place on earth. Generally, the Single Guy just goes to the bookstore to browse and not to actually shop. Generally, he just makes a wish list of books he would like to have time to read someday.

As he pulled into a parking spot in front of the store, he noticed a girl getting out of her own vehicle. She was hard not to notice, what with her head full of untamed red hair. Upon getting a closer look, the Single Guy realized it wasn't just the hair. The only thing about her that would have made her look more like Brave's Princess Merida would have been if she were wearing a green dress. Or if she had been carrying a bow with a quiver of arrows.

He followed Real Life Merida into the bookstore. Not in the sense that he was actually following her, she just happened to walk into the store before he did. Really, the Single Guy was planning to go to Barnes & Noble anyway. He's not stalking girls that look like Disney princesses. Seriously.

Anyway, the Single Guy sent a text to a teacher he works with who happens to love Brave. He had to let someone know that he'd discovered Merida's doppelganger. As he sent the text, he figured he should try and snag a picture of her with his phone, just so he would have proof. Unfortunately, the Single Guy doesn't really know how to subtly take pictures with his phone. He just couldn't get close enough to Real Life Merida to get a decent photo.

But maybe that's a good thing. Maybe it means the Single Guy just doesn't have it in him to be completely creepy. Maybe it means he needs a better phone with a better camera. Whatever the case, he missed his chance at meeting Real Life Merida. Before he knew it, she was making her purchase and was out the door.

Real Life Merida was probably just some random redhead without a Scottish accent. But if she'd had a Scottish accent, the Single Guy might have dropped to one knee and proposed right there in the biography section.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

It All Started with a Blue French Horn

No, I'm not talking about How I Met Your Mother, though I'm sure I'll reference the show a number of times from here on out.

A little over a year ago, I drove into Richmond to visit my friend, the Charlatan. You remember the Charlatan, right? I called him that back when he lived in Charlotte. I've stuck with that because I feel that Charlatan is more clever than Richmonder. Anyway, he sat me down on his sofa and took a seat across the coffee table and began telling me the story of how he met his future bride.

Okay, it didn't literally begin with a blue French horn. But I don't remember all the details that led up to the blue French horn. I do know that the two of them connected over a mutual love for How I Met Your Mother. And from that connection came an idea that, in my opinion, puts a lot of other romantic notions to shame.

On Valentine's Day of 2012, the Charlatan wasn't dating anyone. For him, this posed a problem. Because the Charlatan is one of those creative cats. He's also a die hard romantic. So, without having a special someone on the most commercially romantic day of the year, he had a lot of pent up creativity that he wanted to release.

So he decided to take a blank canvas and draw a French horn using blue chalk. Once he'd completed his work of art, he drove over to his Future Wife's house and left it on her doorstep. It was late, so he knew she wouldn't see it until the next day. She saw it, loved it, and the rest is history.

This past weekend, the Charlatan married that Future Wife in a wedding that was filled with references to How I Met Your Mother. The ceremony took place outside in a spot that overlooked the James River. Sure, they had to contend with the noise of a train passing by not too far away, but that was soon gone. The weather was lovely, but the bride and groom were prepared for inclement weather. As a party favor, each of the guests received a yellow umbrella.

For the last few years on How I Met Your Mother, any time the Mother was seen, she was seen carrying a yellow umbrella. This was a very fitting gift from the happy couple.

The reception was also outside. The guests gathered around a dance floor and enjoyed foods like chicken & waffles, sliders, macaroni & cheese and shrimp & grits. Sadly, I wasn't able to stay beyond the first few minutes of the reception. It was a long drive back to Blacksburg, and I knew it would be late before I managed to get home.

As it was, I was exhausted throughout the drive back home. But I made it safe and sound, happy to have had the chance to witness two awesome people begin their lives together. So to Andy and Sarah, I pray you enjoy many long years together.

The groom is in the bow tie. The bride's the one in the white dress. Just in case you were wondering.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

This Government's Broken. Let's Get a New One.

I've made it no secret that I despise politics. It's not that I don't like ideologies or belief systems. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and everyone is entitled to reasonably express that opinion. The thing I don't like is the polarizing effect that many political issues tend to have on the majority of the people in this country.

That said, I make it a point to remain as neutral as possible whenever exploring political issues. I only explore politics on the rarest of occasions because I like to avoid the subject at all costs. Sometimes it's because I know I haven't paid close enough attention to the news to really form an educated opinion. Sometimes I avoid politics because I don't want to throw gasoline on the fire, causing people to leave comments that only serve to point fingers at the people on the other side of their particular political lines.

But since I rarely receive comments anyway, prepare for my well written thoughts on the events of today.

This government shut down is stupid.

You like that? Nothing more intelligent than what a 12-year-old would say. Or, judging by the actions of our elected leaders over the past weeks months, nothing more intelligent than what a congressman/woman would say.

As someone who works with children on a daily basis, I don't think I'm far off in saying that our representatives are acting like spoiled children. Each of them wants their way and no one is willing to give ground in order to come up with a compromise. They can tell the public that they're working on a compromise all they want, but they don't understand what the word compromise really means. True compromise means that both parties will walk away having given up or lost something they initially wanted. But no one is willing to give anything up, even though giving up something will be what's in the best interests of the American people.

Right now, hundreds of thousands of federal employees are out of work. Every day that this government shut down continues means those people are losing a paycheck. Their way of life is being put on hold while the men and women of congress are hashing out some sort of agreement. Sounds like it's not that big a deal, right? They're just hashing out a few details. "Hashing out" is a term I read in a few different articles regarding this whole disagreement.

But congress really has no incentive to get this done quickly. While those hundreds of thousands of federal employees sit at home and worry about what their next paycheck will look like, our elected officials continue to receive their regular income. So they can keep on arguing 'til Christmas and their families won't really know that there's been any difference.

I know, I saw on the news this morning that a number of these representatives have said they'll be donating their pay to charity during the shut down. Well, that's really thoughtful of you Representative Imfullofit, but how does a donation to the Red Cross help all those employees that have been laid off with no definite end in sight?

I don't care if you're a democrat, republican or independent. You were elected to congress for one purpose only, and that's to serve the people who put you in office. That means you serve all the people, not just the democrats or republicans or the others who are stuck somewhere in between. That means you don't serve your own interests. You don't serve the interests of your political party. You serve the people. And if you can't do that effectively, the people will remember it.

I say that, but really, will the people remember this? Ideally, a well informed voter would remember this petty squabbling that led to a complete government shut down and would use their vote to make a change. But we're a society with ADD.

Is it possible to recall all of our elected officials and just start from scratch? Because this group just isn't getting the job done.

Remember, this rant is not an attack on democrats or republicans. It's an attack on democrats and republicans. You're all being stupid, collectively and individually. Try to remember who put you morons into office, okay?

Monday, September 30, 2013

Question of the Week: Mistakes

If we learn from our mistakes, why are we so afraid to make a mistake?

Mistakes can be viewed as a failure of sorts. And I think it's natural to fear failure. But I'm not sure that the majority of us actually learn from our mistakes. Even people with a great deal of common sense have a tendency to make the same mistakes over and over again. Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. How many of us are guilty of that? I'm not going to give any personal examples at the moment. I'm not in a self-deprecating kind of mood. As far as I'm concerned, the real fear is not that a mistake will be made, but that I won't learn from it.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Mastering My Decisions

I've said for a while now that my ultimate career goal is to become a teacher. No. I want to publish a novel. But until I make time to write one of those, teaching is a little more practical. I've been wondering what route I should take to achieve this goal. It seems a new route has been dropped into my lap.

It's seemed that the most logical option would be to take advantage of the career switch program that's offered by the local community colleges. From what I've read about it, it's not a bad deal. I've already got the bachelor's degree. I've been in the real world for more than 5 years. So I'd just need to take a few classes, jump through a few hoops and then I'd be a certified teacher. The only problem is that I would not be certified to teach elementary school. I'd work toward teaching history on the secondary level. I'm sure it's something I could pull off, but I'd prefer teaching the younger grades.

Last week, I got an email from a teacher letting me know about a masters in education program. There are a lot of really great incentives to apply. It's all online. And I'll be done in a year. Oh, and it begins October 6. If I don't start then, I don't get those incentives.

So I kind of have an important decision to make and I need to make it quickly. I have an appointment to speak with an admissions counselor on the phone tomorrow afternoon. I have no idea if this is the right path for me or if I'll be able to receive financial aid or if I'll even be able to get through the obligatory red tape in the next two weeks.

What would you do? Go for the masters degree beginning in only a couple weeks? Or wait a few months to begin the less intensive certification process?

Of course, it may all be a moo point after speaking with the official guy on the phone tomorrow. Guess we'll have to wait and see.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Question of the Week: Six Words

Can you describe your life in a six word sentence?

I sure can.

"Believe it or not, I'm awesome."

That was easy. What six words describe your life? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Adventures of Lois Lane - Chapter One

About 2 years ago, DC Comics decided to reboot their entire line of comic books. In doing so, they started most of their characters' stories from scratch. As a fan, I wasn't thrilled with the sudden change, but decided to give it a chance. For the most part, it wasn't horrible. But I hated what had happened to Lois Lane. For whatever reason, the powers that be decided to make her, basically, a non-entity in Superman's life. A decades long relationship that had resulted in the marriage of Lois and Clark no longer existed. I could get behind that part. After all, if you're starting the story from the beginning again, you need to reintroduce these characters to each other. I thought it would be fun to watch these two legendary characters fall in love all over again. And then they decided that Superman would fall for Wonder Woman. Lois wasn't even a reporter who worked directly with Clark Kent anymore. Someone who has been as important to the story of Superman for 75 years as Lois Lane has been should be playing a much more active role. I don't know what they'll do with her story in the future. And I won't find out anytime soon because I decided to stop buying comics a couple months ago. But I know how I would like to see her story go. So what follows is the first part in a planned series of short stories about Lois Lane. It should go without saying, but I don't own any of the characters related to Superman. They belong to DC Comics. Basically, this is fan fiction. If you like it, let me know and I'll get cracking on chapter 2.

            “Lois! Calm down!” shouted Margot as her roommate moved around their apartment with no discernible direction.
            “Calm down?” cried Lois, “You calm down!”
            “Mature response,” Margot said calmly.
            Lois stopped moving and stared at her roommate. “How can I possibly calm down? I’m two months from graduation and I don’t have my job lined up yet!”
            “Yeah, you’re two months from graduation. And you’re at the top of your class, not just in the journalism program, but all of Met U.”
            Lois rolled her eyes and began frantically moving around the living room again. She was looking for something, though Margot had no idea what it could be. She watched as Lois shifted magazines around the coffee table and riffled through the junk mail that sat by the door. “What are you looking for?”
            “It’s probably best if you don’t know,” said Lois hesitantly.
            “That sounds promising.”
            “You can keep a secret, right?” she asked. Margot gave Lois a look that made it clear it was a ridiculous question. “I had a fake ID made.”
            “Why? You’re 22.”
            “It’s a specific ID. I need to be able to access areas of LexCorp that only employees can reach,” Lois said, knowing that she was about to face her roommate’s disapproval.
            “Tell me you’re not still trying to get an interview with Lex Luthor!”
            “Okay, I won’t tell you,” she said as she moved down the hall toward her bedroom.
            Margot followed, hoping to talk some sense into her. “Lois, we’ve both heard the stories about Lex Luthor! At best, he’s conniving. At worst, he’s dangerous.”
            “That’s the thing, Marg! No one really knows anything about him!” Lois yelled over her shoulder as she searched through her chest of drawers. Moving to the nightstand she screamed in frustration. “What did I do with the thing?” Suddenly, an idea hit her. “You didn’t wash my dirty clothes, did you?”
            “Not yet.”
            Lois brushed past Margot and ran to the closet that housed their washer/dryer combo. There sat a basket full of Lois’ dirty clothes from the past couple of weeks. Feeling that this was the last possible chance to find the ID card, Lois searched through every pocket of every article of clothing that had pockets. “AHA!” she screamed when she came across the laminated access card.
            “How do I look?” she asked as she handed the card to Margot.
            “Glasses?” asked her roommate, seeing Lois’ disguise in the ID’s photo.
            “Yeah, I was hoping I could borrow yours for the day tomorrow.”
            “I guess I won’t be able to talk you out of this,” Margot said in a defeated tone, watching as Lois simply shook her head. “And I know you’ll just swipe my glasses anyway, since you obviously did when you had this picture taken.”
            This time, Lois simply nodded her head.
            Margot walked into her own bedroom and soon returned with her reading glasses. “Just be careful, okay?”
            “I’m Lois Lane. My middle name is careful.”

            Lois went to bed that night, hopeful that the next day would set her destiny in stone. Lex Luthor was the world’s youngest billionaire. His rise to power was the stuff of legend, but no one knew the whole story. He had arrived in Metropolis just three years before and suddenly held 38 different patents, most of which supplied him with tens of millions of dollars each. Aside from being a brilliant inventor and innovator, he was a genius businessman. His company, LexCorp had become a technological giant, nearly monopolizing the way people use computers, smartphones and tablets. Ask nearly anyone in America, when they surf the internet, they’re using LexCorp’s Internet Lexplorer. It was predicted that in only a few years’ time, people would be asking, “Remember Google?”
            That seemed like a lot of valuable information to have on young Lex Luthor. But he had yet to grant an interview to anyone anywhere. Lois was determined to be the first person to get that interview. She was certain that an exclusive interview with Luthor would land her a dream job at the Daily Planet.
            From her bedroom window, she could just make out the globe that sat atop the Daily Planet building. Every morning, she would step to the window from her bed and stare at it. She told herself over and over again that she would be working there as soon as she finished her degree. But she would not be content with starting at the bottom. She was far too valuable as a reporter to be pushed down to the mail room. No, Lois Lane needed to make a splash.
            Lex Luthor was her ticket to the newsroom.
            She had a hard time sleeping that night. She tossed and turned, worried that her plan may not work. Luthor was rarely seen in public, so she had to find a way to get to him. LexCorp headquarters was located in Metropolis’ largest skyscraper. Lois would have a lot of ground to cover. The employee identification card that once belonged to Tess Mercer would only take her so far. But she knew she should not be too concerned. Lois Lane was nothing if not resourceful. The General made sure of that.
            Lois shook her head. Thinking of her dysfunctional family would not help her fall asleep. And she needed sleep. Resourcefulness could only be an asset if her mind was fully aware throughout her self-assigned deep cover operation.

            She was unsure of when she actually fell asleep. She just hoped the sleep she was able to get would be enough to carry her through the day. Lois had no idea how long it would take her to explore LexCorp. All she knew for sure was that she would not leave that building without a pad full of notes from her interview with Luthor. Or under arrest. She had to admit to herself that being arrested was a real possibility.
            It was 7:15 as she sipped her coffee in the kitchen. Margot shuffled in from her room, stifling a yawn. “Still gonna do this, huh?” she asked as she grabbed her own coffee mug.
            “Of course.”
            “You definitely look the part,” Margot said, appraising Lois’ smart business attire.
            “Well, if I’m going to blend in at LexCorp, I need to look like I belong there,” she said, “Actually, I need to look like I belong on one of the higher floors. The closer I can get to the executive suite, the better.”
            “Well, good luck,” Margot said as she turned to go back to her room. She stopped and turned back to Lois. “I meant what I said yesterday. Be careful.”
            “I will.” Lois drained her mug and set it in the sink, then headed out the door.

            So far, so good. Lois was feeling pretty good about herself as she made her way through the 20th floor. She was a little surprised at how little attention she had drawn to herself. For all of her big talk and overconfidence, deep down she knew it was mostly for show. She had never done anything remotely like this before in her life.
            Lois had been rebellious as a teenager. Living the life of an army brat, it was hard not to be a little rebellious now and then. But she was nothing compared to her sister. Lucy must have been going for some kind of record when it came to getting expelled from private schools. Despite the rebellious streak that ran through the Lane girls, neither of them had attempted to sneak into a compound as secure as LexCorp before.
            From what she could tell, the offices on the 20th floor were solely for accountants. And these were low level accountants. None of these people, she was sure, had ever even met Lex Luthor. She found her way to a break room, hoping she could grab a cup of coffee to re-energize her.
            “Who are you?” asked a guy in a bad suit as he twisted the cap off his Soder Cola.
            “Uh… Tess,” Lois responded, “I’m sort of new around here. Is this coffee fresh?”
            “Tess?” the man said, clearly not buying into Lois’ false identity. “I don’t remember anyone hiring anybody named Tess around here.”
            “I actually don’t work on this floor. I just came down because we’re out of coffee up on 25.” Smooth, Lois, he just might buy this.
            “Ah, 25… Hard to believe any of you geeks from R&D would even think about slumming it with the nerds in accounting,” he said as he approached Lois with his hand extended, “Otis Berg, Miss…?”
            “Mercer,” said Lois as she shook Otis’ hand, “Tess Mercer.”
            Otis pulled Lois closer. “You’re not Tess Mercer.”
            Lois tried to pull away but Otis tightened his grip. She knew the jig was up. To get away from the overweight accountant, she stomped on his foot then kneed him in the gut. Lois ran down the corridor and pushed the button to call the elevator. Looking back, she saw Otis stagger out of the break room.
            “Security!” he shouted as he caught his breath, “Stop that woman!” He pointed in Lois’ direction as she headed for the stairs. She burst through the door and ran down the stairs, skipping steps along the way. When she reached the door labeled 16, she calmly walked through it.
            She looked around the 16th floor and saw that no one had raised an alarm down here. At least, that’s how it looked. Lois walked casually toward the elevator and pressed the button to go down. She had no problem coming back another day. Now she was just trying to avoid jail time.
            The elevator opened and she stepped aboard. She breathed a sigh of relief as the elevator car traveled down to the ground floor. When the door opened again, Lois would be free to leave. Or so she thought.
            The doors opened again and Lois met two large security guards. “Ms. Mercer, I presume?” said the Secret Service wannabe on the right. The two men stepped aside, revealing a tall, severe looking blonde.
            “Really? She looks nothing like me,” she said, “Take her to Interrogation A. I’ll be there in five.”

            Lois sat in a small room with a large mirror in the wall. Obviously, there would be someone watching her on the other side. “Are the cuffs really necessary?” she shouted at no one.
            The door opened to reveal the same severe looking blonde. “The cuffs are absolutely necessary. At least until I can determine how dangerous you are Ms. Lane.”
            “Oh good, you know who I really am,” Lois said, “So, are you going to turn me over to the police now? I’m sure you can charge me with trespassing and then send me on my way, right?”
            “I was thinking we’d start with industrial espionage.”
            “How do you figure that?!” Lois asked. She could feel herself becoming hysterical.
            “For starters, you attempted to steal the identity of the one person who is closest to Mr. Luthor,” said the blonde as she sat in the seat across from Lois, “That would be my identity, in case you’re not keeping up.”
            “You’re the real Tess Mercer?”
            “Personal assistant and bodyguard to Lex Luthor himself.”
            “Wow, I really didn’t do my homework,” Lois said, mentally kicking herself.
            “Are you telling me that picking me out of the LexCorp employee list was just coincidence?” Tess asked incredulously.
            “Complete coincidence.” Lois leaned forward. “You want the truth? I’m a journalism student at Met U. I’m about the graduate and I want to get a job at the Planet. To do that in a big way, I wanted to get an interview with Mr. Luthor.”
            Tess threw her head back and laughed. “Never gonna happen, sweetheart.”
            Lois laughed, too, though hers was sarcastic. “Never tell me never. Sweetheart.”
            Tess stood and walked around Lois. She unlocked the cuffs and helped her to her feet. “Go home, kid. My advice to you: forget about Lex Luthor. That interview isn’t going to happen. Not today. Not tomorrow. Find another way to make your splash at the Daily Planet.”
            Lois walked to the door and then stopped. “You know I won’t give up, right?”
            “Oh, I’m counting on it. Just be aware, next time I won’t be so polite.”
            “And next time, I won’t fail.”