Friday, March 29, 2013

I'm a Baby About Being Sick

I've been really sick the last few days, doing nothing but sleeping and drinking water. I've always sort of thought that guys are really stubborn about pain, to the point that we're kind of just dumb about it. "Yeah, there's a nail through my finger. No, I don't need a bandaid, it'll be fine."

Now fixing nails through fingers.

But. BUT. When it comes to being sick, we're the biggest freaking babies on the planet. And no one is guiltier of this than me. The moment I get a cold I'm acting like I'm on my deathbed. I've actually texted friends things like, "I won't make it to morning" (flu) or "If I don't make it, tell my grandma I love her" (allergies). Pain, I can handle, but being sick? Not a chance.

And nothing is bigger proof of this than the other day. I've been fighting a pretty severe stomach flu, but at first I had no idea what it was. Being a massive baby, I automatically assumed the worst. WebMD assured me it was not spontaneous combustion, which was good, but said it was probably appendicitis. These were my first thoughts: "I'm going to die."

The end of me.

Unfortunately it's like that every time I get sick. I get really dramatic and whiny, and usually someone will offer to come over with soup or medicine. Then I get embarrassed for being dramatic and whiny, say it's okay, wait a day and then if I'm not better I continue the histrionics.

I hope all the female viewers are thinking, "Damn, this guy is a catch." Sup, ladies.

In any case, I've barely done that this time around. I mean, I did it a little. To one person. But other than that, I've been good about not exaggerating how close to death's door I am.

Now I must go take anywhere between 10-15 more ibuprofen and pass out. Hope everyone is having a good weekend!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Cracked Article: 5 Real Prison Escapes That Shouldn't Have Been Possible

It's up here! I'mmmmm running late to work but when I get home tonight I'll have a post up with the rejected entries and two fully written ones that weren't in the final version of the article (including one that I was convinced would be the #1 spot). So check back later!

EDIT: As promised, a fully written entry and some rejected ideas. Before I get going though, I wanted to briefly mention that this article is a semi-sequel to my first Cracked article, which seems pretty cool to me. In any case, here we go!

1.     Andre Devigny Is The Most Badass Man Ever
Devigny was your average French schoolteacher in the 1930s. In 1939 he enlisted into the French Army right before World War II began. When France was occupied by Germany he joined the resistance and smuggled information to the British under the codename "Valentin."
So far we have a Frenchman operating under the title “Valentin” and fighting Nazis. That should be the synopsis of a movie.

We hope Mila Kunis finds a way to be in it.

In 1942 Devigny became one of the three commanders of the Gilbert Network, a resistance group dedicated to helping refugees escape France, sending information to the British and sabotaging any German equipment they could set their sights on.

A SS informant eventually infiltrated the Gilbert Network and Devigny was captured. Sent to Fort Montluc, a Gestapo prison considered escape-proof, he spent four months under the caring hand of the Nazi secret police, meaning they tortured the fuck out of him for information.
Devigny wouldn’t give up anything though, and he repeatedly tried to escape. His attempts weren’t successful, but they were so frequent that the guards began chaining him to the walls of his cell.
Irked by Devigny’s disinterest in their torture tactics, they called in the best torturer they had:
SS Captain and Gestapo member Klaus Barbie. 
This douche.

If Klaus Barbie doesn’t sound familiar, he should; he was so depraved and violent he was known as the Butcher of Lyon. Scholars estimate that Barbie was responsible for over 14,000 deaths, and personally responsible for torturing and abusing countless men, women and children. His war crimes were so heinous his trial was filmed, something the French court hardly ever did. Described as a monster, he would cuddle with cats while breaking prisoner’s vertebrae. His victims described him as sadistic and deranged. 
This guy tortured Devigny for two weeks. And Devigny gave him nothing. Barbie, furious, told Devigny he was going to be executed.
He was jealous of Devigny’s moustache. That and his steel balls.
Torture is one thing, but Devigny wasn’t having any of that execution shit. Remember how he was chained to his cell walls? He used a safety pin to unlock them and then pried open the slats beneath his cell with a ground down spoon. Armed with only a rope made from his blanket and mattress cover and a grappling hook made from an old lantern, he squeezed under his cell door and made one last escape attempt.
And right in the prison’s courtyard he ran into a German sentry.

Devigny had to think fast. The guard had a gun and even if the shot missed the sound would still alert everyone to the escape. So he gave up and went back to his cell. Hah, just kidding. He actually tackled the shit out of that soldier.

Both men went to the ground and Devigny wrestled the gun out of the sentry’s hands. You know, the malnourished, starved prisoner who’d been tortured for months overpowered a guard. Happens all the time. 
But he still couldn’t shoot the gun without drawing attention, so he stabbed the guard with the man’s own bayonet. Then Devigny threw the rope and grappling hook over the prison wall and escaped. It was the only breakout Fort Montluc ever had. The only way his escape could have been sweeter was if he’d run into Klaus Barbie instead of a random redshirt. 
What was the first thing he did when he got back to France? If you guessed “bathed in pussy” you may be right, but history tells us that he actually rejoined the war efforts immediately. Because fuck Nazis.

Annnnnnd some rejected entries are coming up. Originally the premise was "Insane Prison Escapes Straight Out of the Comics." I'd hoped to find a co-writer who would scan panels from comic books with corresponding escapes, i.e. one where a prison transport van is ambushed so Lex Luthor could be freed or something, then show the real life counterpart. But I scrapped the idea and went with just "ridiculously badass escapes" instead. So here is a mix of rejected ideas from both premises:

Julien Chautard
Chautard got away from his guards and hid under the prison van that had brought him to court. He clung to the underside of the van and let it drive off, carrying him to freedom.

Clifford Hobbs and Noel Cunningham have their men ambush a prison transport van 
Hobbs and Cunningham were being transported to court in June of 2003. When the van got there the driver stepped out to request access to get in. As he opened the door a man dressed as a postman attacked him; a second man held him at gunpoint. The driver was shot in the knee and the escort-guard was pistol-whipped after he opened the doors. Hobbs and Cunningham fled.

Sean Bourke Frees George Blake
Blake and Bourke met in prison, and Bourke really took a liking to Blake. When Bourke was released he engineered a breakout for Blake; Blake broke his cell window, slid down a porch and made it to the perimeter wall, where Bourke tossed him a rope ladder made of knitting needles.

Tim Jenkin
In 1979 Jenkin escaped from Pretoria Central Prison with two other inmates. They were imprisoned as political prisoners for fighting apartheid, but didn’t take their imprisonment lightly. They spent 18 months patiently plotting a detailed escape that involved breaking through 14 locked doors and walking out the front gates. The men had to learn how to pick locks and falsifying keys.

Libby Tunnel Escape
In 1864 more than 100 Union soldiers broke out of Libby Prison, a POW camp in Richmond, Virginia. But the Union officers weren’t having any of this “be in jail” shit and plotted a breakout. They organized three relief teams of diggers with five members each to dig a tunnel out of the camp. It took less than three weeks and the men escaped only to find themselves walking the streets of Richmond.
They might have been fucked but the Confederate guards thought Libby was inescapable and ignored anyone outside the prison walls. Because of the work of 15 officers 109 men were able to get away, though only 59 succeeded in getting back to Union lines.

Douglas Alward
Alward has escaped from prison seven times, with the seventh making him the only Colorado prisoner to ever escape past a lethal electric fence. He spent two years planning, using his job as an inmate maintenance worker to remove copper piping from ventilation systems to build a ladder which he hid in the wall behind his toilet along with shipping boxes and unused shower curtains he found.

For the actual escape he went right through his own window; the previous year he’d been asked to secure all the windows (including his own) on the east side of the prison. Alward used altered rivets on his window so it would appear secure but could still open. Despite his ladder breaking while he was still on the razor-wire fence, he surmounted it and made it to the next fence, which was electric. He wasn’t daunted though, as he later told a news station, “The only thing keeping potential escapees inside the fence is ignorant fear of electricity." He built an insulator out of the shower curtains and cardboard boxes, got over the fence, scaled the third fence (barbed wire) and peaced out.

Previous escapes: using the hospital bed he was chained to to snap his shackles in half, ramming open prison gates with a school bus he shouldn’t have had access to, hiding in the walls of a prison for two days until the search was called off and then running away and overpowering a guard escorting him to review legal materials during a hearing.

The famous magician got early fame for slipping out of handcuffs, visiting towns and even countries and escaping from their jails, and busting out of any prison cell, even when he was stripped naked and searched before going in.
Once, a Chief Constable surprised him by requesting an early display of Houdini’s skills. Houdini was stripped, searched and put in a cell that was also searched and then triple locked. His clothes were in an adjoining cell that was also triple locked, and the iron gate to outside was secured with a seven-lever lock. Houdini emerged after roughly five minutes, during which he’d dressed, unlocked every single cell on the block and unlocked the iron gate.

Henri Charrière   
All of this is according to his memoirs:

Charrière was a small-time thief and petty criminal in France. In 1931 Charrière was convicted of murdering a pimp; despite denying the charges he was sentenced to life in prison in a penal settlement on French Guiana. He escaped after three years by claiming to be ill, then with two other inmates they offered a guy sex, clubbed him over the head and ran away in a boat. They traveled 1,800 miles in a boat; he and several other escaped prisoners were caught off of the Columbian coast and were captured and imprisoned again. Once again, Charrière escaped with another friend. He joined a Native American coastal village and married two teenage sisters, getting both pregnant. He left the village, was caught again and imprisoned again, this time in Santa Marta. Despite numerous attempts he couldn’t escape, then he was transferred back to French Guiana. Over several years he made many attempts, all of which failed.

He made one last attempt from an inescapable penal colony on Devil’s Island. He and a pirate floated on sacks full of coconuts and let the current take them to the mainland. The pirate died in quicksand, Charrière was captured a while later and then eventually officially released.

When accused of mixing up details, falsifying events, stealing stories from other inmates and getting many dates wrong, Charrière responded: “I didn’t have a typewriter with me.”

Wayne Carlson
Carlson has escaped a staggering 13 times in all. Escapes include: slipping out of a window, sawing through bars and then making rope sheets to get to the prison yard after which he scaled the wall, running away while on parole, taking seven sheriffs hostage with a revolver and locking them up and then leaving, using a wooden gun to overpower a deputy in a court bathroom then stealing the officer’s gun and commandeering the jail’s prisoner transport van, sawing through bars again and tying up guards, making a key to open the doors of a prison, leaving a dummy in his bed and hiding in a pile of dirt and then cutting through a prison fence, and twice more violating parole.

He was called a “professional jailbreaker” by the police.

The Fenians and Fremantle Prison
The Australian Fremantle Prison has been home to some pretty hardcore guys through the years. Among these were members of the Fenian Brotherhood, an Irish republican political group/secret society that worked to undermine the British rule of Ireland. Some Fenians were eventually pardoned. Six, however, were not.

The Fenians decided that was horseshit and thought a rescue was in order. Two Fenians were sent to the prison undercover while a whaling ship was purchased. Most of the 22-man crew believed they were going from Massachusetts to Australia to, you know, hunt whales. And the eleven month journey certainly helped keep that charade alive. But in reality, they were meandering toward the prison to free the remaining six men. The ship got the Fenians aboard but was intercepted by an Australian steamship, The Georgette. The captain raised the American flag and told the Australians that if they attacked they’d be declaring war on America. The Georgette’s captain feared an international incident and agreed to fuck off, and the Fenians sailed back to America.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Sugar Daddy Swag

So I'm having the same problem I had last time: I keep expecting every morning to see a new article up, and I'm putting off posting until it happens. But I really should just start updating more often regardless of having something new published, because for whatever reason people are actually consistently visiting my blog every day! I italicized all of that because it's exciting and cool to me.

So I'll make an effort to be less MIA in the future. For now, here's a picture of a shirt one of my students wore today:

He's eleven.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

My First Hate Mail!

I got my first ever hate mail- It's over my article that ran the other day on 5 Literary Classics That Put X-Rated Movies to Shame.

MrZ here would have some valid points. Would have. But he's wrong, so he doesn't. Let's go over his qualms.

1) I don't say the words "Middle East" anywhere in the entry. That would be fair if I mentioned the country of origin in each of the other entries, but I don't. In fact, the only entry where it says where the book was written was #2 for The Diary of a Young Girl, when I said it was about Anne Frank hiding from the Nazi occupation in an office building in the Netherlands. Seriously, the countries the books were written in aren't what make them classics, it's the works themselves.

2) I called the book One Thousand and One Nights instead of Arabian Nights. Here's a quote from Wikipedia:  

One Thousand and One Nights (Arabic: كتاب ألف ليلة وليلةKitāb alf laylah wa-laylah) is a collection of West and South Asian stories and folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age. It is often known in English as the Arabian Nights, from the first English language edition (1706), which rendered the title as The Arabian Nights' Entertainment.

So me calling it One Thousand and One Nights is actually being more faithful to the original title rather than the redubbed title given to the American version.

3) Writers don't choose the final pictures that go into the article. But there are 3 pictures in that entry: one of the actor Sinbad (who gets made fun of), one that's photoshopped and one taken right from the Nights' Wikipedia page. This one, actually:

He even wrote in a comment that we had pictures of white, blonde people. The hell?

So I messaged him back and was actually pretty polite about the whole thing.

I continued on for a while, being polite and explaining away his concerns. This is what I got in return:

Wait, so me using the book's correct title rather than the Western one was a subtle attempt to hide the book's origin. I see.

Actually, I don't. I'm all for wanting to see your demographic represented correctly, but it wasn't the demographic that was being discussed, it was a book. I don't know if MrZ is from the Middle East or if he's feeling self-righteous on the behalf of someone who is. If the former then he should research the topics he's getting upset about. I can honestly say I didn't use the book's correct title because I wanted to hide that it was from the Middle East. I did it because I love literature and I wanted to stay faithful to the original versions. Even Where's Waldo? got mentioned as being called Where's Wally?.

But my favorite has to be the "No one calls Gulliver's Travels Gulliver's English travels."

You're right, MrZ, no one calls it that because that isn't the book's real title. Just like I won't call Nights by the Western title, Arabian Nights, because that wasn't the book's first title.

I always hoped my first message over an article would be from a supermodel. She'd say, "I've been waiting my entire life for a man who's read those exact 5 books and now I've found you. Unfortunately because my job pays so well I only need to work one day a week, so I spend most days at not working. Would you be okay with spending every day with me while I support us financially? You could have an office where you write dick jokes whenever we aren't sleeping together."

So close to that happening. Instead I got MrZ. Life isn't fair.

On that note, have a good weekend everyone!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Cracked Article: 5 Literary Classics That Put X-Rated Movies to Shame

So this is my fifth Cracked article! It was fun and easy for me to write, mostly because I have a background in English. 

The original premise was "X Literature-Defining Works That Are Raunchier Than Porn," with the overall theme being literary classics that also reshaped all of literature, like Canterbury establishing English as a language for writing. The editors wanted to reshape it to "Famous Works That Are Surprisingly Sexual." I had my heart set on the original premise but what can you do? I still think it turned out great, though I'm surprising Waldo was #1, I expected it to be #5.

The worst part was looking for sexual images in Where's Waldo. I found Waldo 11 times, the raunchy stuff less so. Figures he'd come out if you weren't looking for him. 

The editors cut one of the entries, so here it is in full as I wrote it. I thought it would be in the #1 spot, so I'm surprised it was cut, but I imagine they had good reasons for it. I *think* it's because it's more famous as a movie than a book, but that's just my guess.

1. Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
The Book:
Sophie’s Choice is an award-winning, best-selling novel, though you probably know the film rather than the book, where Meryl Streep blew minds when she was forced to pick between her son and daughter.
Hell, it’s such a famous scene that the very title has become an idiom for a choice between two unbearable options.
Aspiring novelist Stingo meets Polish immigrant Sophie, a survivor of the Holocaust and being interned in a concentration camp, and her lover, Nathan. Upon entering the camp Sophie was forced to choose which of her two children would die by gassing and which would live in the camp. Sophie flees the abusive Nathan and spends a night with Stingo before returning to Nathan and committing suicide. There’s a ton more that happens in the in-between, but we’ll spare you the rape, the golden showers and the sex. Well, no we won’t, we’re definitely covering the sex.

The Smut:
Perhaps it’s fair to say that the book and movie are a little different. Like we said, in the book there was sex; lord was there sex. Styron may as well have written a tragedy for Penthouse.
He refers to vaginas as a "mossy cunt" and "undulant swamp," which shows he thinks women are the Earth Mother. Actually, Styron appears to think sex is just nature in general; Stingo's penis is called a "marble palmtree" and a "slippery trunk" and there's a surprising amount of semen-soaking happening to both of them. Which was probably just the tree’s sap, and well- nope, we’ll stop the nature-based metaphors right the fuck now. After one more.
So erotic we’ve got wood in our pants.

And Stingo (the narrator) is kind of fucking horrible. When a girl refuses to sleep with him he daydreams about raping her and then tells her that she really does just need a good fucking. Because that’s how social interactions work, right?

Also, what the fuck is this?

The novel itself has been banned from schools over its language and strong sexual content. This, in addition to the aforementioned rape as well as domestic violence.

One blogger decided to use the Amazon: Look Inside! feature to check out how often some words appear in the book, specifically “fucking” (29 times), “horny” (4) and “lust” (20). We thought of some others and here’s a compiled list according to our counts:

Fucking (33 times)
Sex (32)
Lust (20)
Cunt (12)
Cock (11)
Penis (4)
Horny (4)
Dick (3)
Vagina (2)
Semen (1)

Hell, William Styron may have even coined the phrase “Cock tease.”
We’ll end with this quote:
“...lying asprawl on an Abercrombie & Fitch hammock, where I fucked her to a frazzle with stiff, soundless, slow, precise shafts of desire.”

And as always, here's a bunch of entries that were rejected throughout the pitching process. I didn't include the quotes/sources, but if anyone is curious I'll post the quotes that provide the sexual background.
 Rejected entries:
A Streetcar Named Desire
The film is well-known and we all know about Stanley's rape of Blanche at the end. Stella won't tolerate it and leaves Stanley over it.

But in the original play she doesn't leave him. In fact, she doesn't believe Blanche at all and instead Blanche is sent to a mental hospital. And Blanche's husband who committed suicide? The movie downplays it to him doing it because Blanche was a bitch to him. In the play he killed himself after his homosexual affair was discovered.

X. Candide
Candide is one of the most popular works of all time. Voltaire’s novel centers on Candide, a young man with infernal optimism; regardless of how bad things get he maintains that “This is the best of a possible worlds.” If you didn’t read it in high school you probably were raised by groundhogs.

It also appears that Voltaire was a pretty casual guy when it came to sex. Nearly every woman and most of the men in Candide engage in sex, and most of the women speak freely of prostitution as needed.

X. Ulysses- Leopold Bloom Masturbates in Public
Ulysses chronicles a life in the day of one Leopold Bloom. Separated into 18 “episodes,” each section is based off of a corresponding place in the Odyssey. Widely considered to be the best example of Modernist literature, James Joyce broke ground with the stream-of-consciousness style the book is written in. Ulysses is often considered one of (and on some lists, the first entry) the best English-language novels of the 1900s.

And it’s all about masturbation. No, seriously. Here’s a sampling of extracts from the text from a variety of characters (most of whom are Leopold Bloom). Bloom even masturbates in public at one point, soaking his shirt in semen and wearing it anyway. Because, Japan? I don’t know.

X. Odyssey- Odysseus is a Sex Slave
The Odyssey is an epic poem, a sequel to The Iliad and follows Odysseus after the end of the Trojan War. Odysseus goes on a long journey to get home, undaunted by both human and supernatural forces that stand in his way.

What This Work Did For Literature:
Ulysses? The Aeneid? Both are considered classic, amazing works and both influenced directly by The Odyssey. The epics of epics, the structure of The Odyssey has been adapted into films and stories countless times. A hero summoned to a great adventure, refuses and something supernatural interferes; the hero begins the adventure, changes, faces trials. Sound familiar? Think of Luke Skywalker.

The Odyssey has such enormous impact on the western world that the very title is now a word meaning epic journey.

The Smut:
And at the start of the epic Odysseus is Calypso’s sex slave. For seven years.

Odysseus wanted to leave but Calypso wouldn’t let him, so every night they laid together with Calypso eager and Odysseus unwilling, then in the morning he'd go by the sea and cry.

X. Epic of Gilgamesh- Prostitute Sleeps With Godling For Seven Days
Gilgamesh is 2/3 god and 1/3 man and all balls. He gets bored and starts sleeping with every newly wed bride on her wedding night (this isn't even the raunchy part). His people implore the gods for help so they create Enkidu to distract him. Once Gilgamesh hears of him he arranges for Enkidu to come to the kingdom.

What This Work Did For Literature:
One of the oldest existing written works that we know of, Gilgamesh influenced Homer. Themes of epic storytelling that we see other works all originate in Gilgamesh. Further, the actual king, Gilgamesh, ruled during the “cradle of civilization,” a time and area where human society first emerged. Gilgamesh is the first work of literature to come from the cradle of civilization.

The Smut
Gilgamesh didn’t think Enkidu would come on his own, so Gilgamesh sent a prostitute to seduce him. She and Enkidu had sex for seven days, at the end of which he pretty much agrees to whatever she wants. Seven days straight.

X. Mahatma Gandhi's Biography
A book about Gandhi is really sexual. This is a sentence I never wished to write.

Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India is a 2011 biography about Gandhi. The book chronicles his time in South Africa and journey toward non-violent civil disobedience. It also says he was in love with a guy, Hermann Kallenbach, and that he cuddled naked with his 17 year old great-niece. Gandhi’s home state of Gujurak, India has since banned the book.

X. The Dictionary
Well, sure the Dictionary would have "sex" in it, but it's the Dictionary. It's explicit as it needs to be, right?
"oral stimulation of the genitals"
That was the definition of oral sex in The Merriam Webster Dictionary. First of all, it used part of the word in the definition, which isn't classy. Secondly, parents did indeed find this offensive and the book was pulled from classrooms in California because of the imagery that goes with it.

And that's just recently. The American Heritage Dictionary was banned in Alaska because of "slang" words. Those words? Bed. Knockers. Anything that had sexual connotations.

Dr. Seuss wrote an illustrated nudist book
Dr. Seuss, the beloved author of many children’s books, Dr. Seuss wrote his own take on the Lady Godiva legend. His version had 7 nudist sisters complete with drawings.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Workshops and Blurbs

Any day now I should have another article go up. It's weird, because I've been saying that for a while now, and I keep putting off updating because I figure, "Well it'll probably go live tomorrow, I'll update then." And that is how weeks pass with no posts.

But I'm working on new stuff right now. I have something due for Cracked that I need to finish, as well as new stuff I've been pitching to them. Their Writing Workshop is without a doubt one of the best things I've ever been a part of. I urge anyone who has ever wanted to write to check it out, it's the only place I know of where a random schlub from the streets can have a best-selling writer (David Wong, one of the senior editors, has been on the list twice) giving them feedback on different ideas. It's unique and amazing and I'm grateful it exists.

In other news, I think I should plug my Twitter and my blog more often. After my last Cracked article went up with a little blurb at the bottom about both, I got about a half-dozen new followers and hundreds of unique page-views. I know, my Twitter profile is impressive. 30 followers? Be awed.

Here's a picture combining two of the best things (Indiana Jones and iPhone games):