Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The New Sprockets First Reader

After much delay due to meteorologic events and mood swings, we announce the publication of The New Sprockets First Reader.  Modeled after the venerable McGuffey's reader (and with pictures taken directly from the 1901 edition of same), our reader is equally dedicated to the inculcation of worthy ideas in regard to right thinking and right doing.  Likewise, we strive to encourage habits of observation and inquiry.

In this updated version, we follow McGuffey's model of introducing a few new words and phrases with each lesson, in order to help students of the language grow and expand.  Unlike McGuffey, however, our target reader is of adult age, due to the abysmal stupidity of the present-day American populace.  Without further ado:

Lesson 1.  Helping Others

Tom and Harry came upon Dorothy, who had put down her heavy basket full of some kind of round things.  She could carry them no longer, and felt that she had to vomit because of all the Pop Tarts she had eaten for breakfast.

Tom was late for his flute lesson, and wanted to hurry on by, but Harry pointed out that one always has time to help another, and also that Dorothy was not likely to fight them for the basket because she was feeling so ill.  The boys agreed that they could probably sell the contents of the basket - and maybe even the basket itself, those rogues! - once they got to town.  

Lesson words and phrases:  sadness, basket, theft, burning flames of hell, vomit, a tisket a tasket, massive profit margin.  

Lesson 2:  Making Big Plans 

Sylvia had always felt more attracted to girls than to boys, and her confusion caused her to endlessly suck on her handkerchief.  As a result, her schoolmates call her a "moron," which was far worse than the things they usually called girls of her persuasion.  Sylvia vowed that as soon as she was ten she would begin smoking to mask her oral addiction.  She also made plans to lose the Heidi suit.

Lesson words and phrases:  tongue, pointy hat, burn you sinner, five year plan.  

Lesson 3:  What Happens When We Sleep

Most of the time, when you sleep, nothing much happens at all except you might kick off the covers and wake up really cold.  But if you have eaten ham the previous day or told a lie of any kind, there is a strong possibility the Big Bird of Death will circle overhead and maybe even land next to you when you are sleeping.  If you have been very bad it might pluck out an eye or even bite a big chunk out of your fat little juicy leg.  No, listen, you need to know this.  You are old enough now to know the truth.  Stop crying.

Lesson words and phrases:  Trauma, nightmare, insomnia, bed wetting, fear of birds, abandonment issues, overwhelmed by certain doom.

Lesson 4:  Keeping a Healthy Schedule

Here is a picture of a horse on the ground.  You might well say "Oh, poor horsie, you seem to have died!"  But beware first impressions, which are often false.  You cannot see if this horse is breathing, and in fact it is.  You cannot know if this horse is taking a nap, which it also is.  This is because the horse has not been sticking to a healthy routine and has failed to get enough sleep.  Most horses seen on the ground are indeed quite well, but are neglectful of their sleep.

This could happen to you, if you are not careful.  You could drop down when you are playing a game with your friends and they might think you have expired and bury you, or make you into glue.  So always do what your parents tell you to do, and make sure you have adequate rest so you can perform your daily tasks without calling undue attention to yourself.  (This horse was very embarrassed later.)

Lesson words and phrases:  malingerer, future dog food, causing a scene, stupid horse.

Lesson 5:  Let Adults Lead the Conversation, No Matter how Silly They Seem.  

Here is a transcript of the conversation which ensued when little Jimmy, who was on his way to the fair and was in a hurry, was stopped by a strange gentleman who was walking his horse.  The man engaged Jimmy in the following conversation, without any introduction or preamble at all.  Adults can do this kind of thing, because they are all grown up and they make the rules.

See if you would acquit yourself as well as Jimmy did.  Would you be able to give this man the respect due to a man of his age and station?  Did Jimmy succeed in this, or was he just a pawn of a strange man's whims. . . again. . . .?

Lesson words and phrases:  wasting my time, why ask that, none of your business, makes no sense, my you are very critical, get on that horse and ride, sod off you wanker.

Lesson 6:   Never Say Yes to a Camel

Abdul was sitting in his tent one day, smoking some kind of tobacco his nephew had given him, and in popped a camel's head.  The camel, looking sad and drooling, claimed to be homeless and wanted to come into the tent with Abdul.  Because he was in an altered state, Abdul could not exercise good judgment and allowed the camel to come in.  The camel fell asleep on Abdul's bed roll, so Abdul went out and slept on a dune, where he was covered by sand at night and died.

The camel went on to become the spiritual leader of Abdul's tribe and fathered over 100 children.  At his death he had five wives, 50 concubines, and an Olds Cutlass Supreme with a vinyl roof and reclining bucket seats.

Lesson words and phrases:  subterfuge, home grown, one hump or two, fleas, concubines

Note to teachers:  Please feel free to use the foregoing as practical lessons, to be presented to your students from time to time as the occasion demands.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

It's how fish would communicate, if they could.

The other day there was a new thread on the Etsy forum which might just signal the End Times.  The end of the Etsy forum, that is.  For me, I mean.  

Someone asked whether we could use emoticons in the forum.  

This person then proceeded to demonstrate a whole string of the little bastards, as if no one knew what she was talking about.  Whereupon her tweensy girlfriends piled on with their favorite emoticons.  

My post about emoticons being a bad idea, a very very bad idea, a disastrous idea because they are utterly unprofessional, was mocked.  Then the moderators erased it.  So at least I know where I stand now.

The Discovery of Emoticons

In 2001, Carl Eberstadt, noted pioneer of recycling, decided to upcycle the gooey, stinky sludge from the crevice between the base of his bathroom toilet and the floor.  Eberstadt, famous for reusing everything, combined this repulsive muck with a Czechoslovakian educational graphics program from the 1950s, added some bright colors and a high-gloss finish, and called the result "smileys."  He patented his creation and sold it to Trump, Inc. for fifty bazillion dollars.  Yes, The Donald developed emoticons as we know them today, so emoticons are all his fault, just like everything else that's wrong with the universe.  True.

Current Reactions to Emoticons

In preparation for this article, our ace reporters interviewed thousands of professionals and ordinary people about their feelings in regard to emoticons. in preparation for this article.  Here are some of the more interesting viewpoints we received.

"Goofy, just goofy.  Little girl stuff, like magikal unicorns and purple ponies.  Unacceptable."  --the straight brother from "Property Brothers"  

"They make me feel creepy, like they're maybe watching me.  I want to stomp on them and smoosh them with my boots.  Anyone who sends them is dead to me." --Karl Marx

"I could be having a great chat with you, pages and pages, but you slip one of those little bastards in there and it's game over.  Ghost City.  I go dark."  --Billy Joel

"They're like little viruses, you know?  Like some kind of cyber STD.  They spread all around like herpes and pretty soon it's like you gave me that, and you're like no I didn't it was Cheryl, and now we're in court and I'm like what."  --Shizz

"I adore them, darling.  When I'm hating the stupid things you're saying and you give me a little face to punch, I soooo appreciate it." --Mario Buatta

"Well we used to draw images in caves, then we invented language, then we forgot how to spell, and now we're letting our devices put up little drawings again.  It's organic.  I see it as the circle of life, hakuna whatever."  --Kneel Onthe Grass Tyson

"I've never gotten a serious piece of communication or an important message from an adult that contained an emoji."  --Rachel Zoe Schitzenpouffer

What happens now?

Entropy happens now.  The center cannot hold, and all of that.  

When a significant percentage of adult humans think it's not only perfectly fine, but actually desirable, to communicate in confusing pictures, rather than the words that were already getting them in trouble, well. . . .I was going to say the writing is on the wall, but it's a big circle with an expression.  

Emoticons convey the emotions babies recognize on their mother's faces as soon as they're born, so when you see one in an email or a text you know exactly the level of communication you're getting. 

In the spirit of "I can only control my own actions," I do not respond to any message that has an emoticon in it.  I will tolerate the occasional ;-), but anything in circular form makes me disappear.  

So if you want me out of your life, send emoticons my way.