Monday, August 25, 2014

Unpublished pitches for “Nickelodeon” Magazine, part 3

From 2001 to its demise in 2009, I was a regular writer—and an even more regular pitcher—for the peerless Nickelodeon Magazine.

The editors had great taste, and I’m not saying that just because many became my friends. However, they made the occasional misstep…such as when they passed on the following ideas I pitched. (Warning: be prepared for the occasional outdated pop culture/technology reference.)

NOTE: Thou shalt not steal rejected ideas. Please ask permission to repost.

Topics of the Morning to You

Daytime talk shows often have ridiculous topics. Here are a few scandalous kid-related ones they haven’t thought of yet.

  • “My Dog Is Smarter Than Me!”
  • “I Like the Smell of Cough Syrup!”
  • “Caught Cheating on a Cereal Box Quiz!”
  • “My Sister Writes Nothing Good in Her Diary!”
  • “iPads iRritate Me!”
  • “Our Phone Number Is One Digit Off from a Yarn Store’s!”
  • “Braces and Glasses in the Same Month!”
  • “Still Using Training Wheels and Loving It!”
  • “I’ll Eat Any Vegetable!”

Humor That Sticks With You

One of the most accessible—and free—forms of entertainment is constantly overlooked: bumper stickers. Many of them are meant to make to laugh. So what are you waiting for? Get yourself to the nearest parking lot, walk the aisles, and read some! See if you can find any funnier than these.

  • My Child Is Honor Student of the Month and Regularly Reminds Us About It
  • If You Are Reading This, Why Aren’t You Watching the Road?
  • Honk If You’re Annoying
  • My Other Car Has the Same Sticker
  • Don’t Stink and Drive
  • My Other Car Is a Cartoon
  • I Brake for Other Bumper Stickers

New Pool Rules

Pools already post many rules and warnings, with good reason. Examples include “Diving Only in Designated Areas” and “No Running on Deck.” Here are a few more rules currently under consideration. Some are bad, summer good.

  • Water Freezes Solid If You Pee In It
  • Do Not Swim for 30 Minutes after Not Rinsing First
  • Please Reenact Ancient Naval Battles Elsewhere
  • Wet Wedgies Are Frowned Upon
  • No One Will Judge Your Dives
  • Pizza May Not Be Eaten Underwater
  • Belly Flop Limit: One Per Belly Per Season
  • Do Not Call Lifeguards “Spongelife Squareguards”

From Passing Out Tests to Passing Notes

A disturbing new trend is hitting schools: teachers are now passing notes to other teachers, just as students have been passing notes to other students for years. We intercepted a few:

What’s up Mrs. Holmes,

How many Emmas are in your class this year? I have fourteen.

Gotta cruise,
Ms. Nurman

Hey Ms. Spinorelli,

Have you met the new librarian, Mr. Curbett? I had the nerve to talk to him. He’s really nice, love that bow tie, and best of all, he has all the same 100 favorite books I do.

I saw him first!

Ms. Rowton

Hi Mrs. Fleedman,

What was the deal with Scott in algebra? He was totally getting all the answers right. Must have had an extra glass of smart juice this morning.

Mrs. Maloney

Yo yo yo Mr. Browner,

Did you hear that Mrs. Schlott got a new desk? My desk is two years older than hers was. Injustice!

Mrs. Evelyn

Hi Mrs. Leese,

Supposed to be a big storm tonight. Hopefully snow day tomorrow! Half the third grade has a cold and if I’m around them one more hour I’m sure I’ll catch one, too.

Catch you in the teachers’ lounge,
Ms. Bandari

The First 100 Minutes

Some elementary schools celebrate the 100th day of school, which often falls in February. Why wait that long? Suggest that your school move up the party to day one, minute 100 (which, if you start at 8:45 a.m., will be 10:25 a.m.). During it, give an award to the student who...

...has memorized her locker combination the fastest

...has gone the longest without saying the word “summer”

...already has nicknames for all the kids in class

...can still remember the correct answers on the last test of the previous school year

...writes the best essay looking back at the first 100 minutes of school—using exactly 100 words

...has determined the source of the smell coming from the science lab

...has already completed his assignments from the second 100 minutes the first to eat 100 bites of cake

The Wicked Glitch

“Page not found.” “The document may be corrupt.” “The password is incorrect.” Error messages are the mosquitoes of the Internet: annoying and everywhere. Have you seen these?

  • “Error so big, even technical support will cry.”
  • “Warning: document is boring.”
  • “Program will now close. Re-opens tomorrow 9 a.m.”
  • “File illegally downloaded. I’m telling.”
  • “A complicated error has occurred. You wouldn’t understand.”
  • “To restart, press Cntl+Alt+Delete. You will lose any unsaved information, and possibly your mind.”
  • “File cannot be displayed. It’s rated R.”
  • “A glass of water in your hand has been detected. Step away from the computer.”
  • “Your computer crashed. Estimated time to fix it: 17 hours.”
  • “Grumble all you want. That won’t solve anything.”

Yesterday Is Prehistory

One day it was prehistory, the next day everything changed. What was it like on the day when history began?

  • all prehistory calendars 60% off
  • calling someone a “caveperson” was suddenly embarrassing
  • people began to carry around things other than sticks
  • it seemed like everyone was wearing “Prehistory Is History” T-shirts
  • almost immediately, people started breaking their History resolutions
  • the wheel was no longer the coolest thing ever invented
  • the filthy, barefoot, bone-in-hair look was totally out
  • tired of “Oog” and “Mub,” parents began giving babies names with more than one syllable

Highest Grossing Movie

Everybody knows the conventions of scary movies: dark houses, movement in the shadows, suspenseful music. But sometimes things you find in movie theaters are more terrifying than the movies they show:

  • Your seat is one big stain with a little patch of fabric showing through.
  • Your arm rest is coated with an industrial-strength layer of sticky soda spill.
  • The couple sitting in front of you makes out during the whole movie…and it’s your parents.
  • Your Milk Duds are so hard you feel like you accidentally bought chocolate-covered gravel.
  • You realize the squeaking below you is not coming from your seat but from under it…
  • The usher picks his nose, tears your ticket, then hands your stub back.

America’s Most Interesting Worst Kept Secrets

Every country protects its privacy. Someone in America is a gossip, though, because word got out that these are some of the USA’s most intimate secrets:

  • some of the Rocky Mountains are actually rather smooth
  • New York, New Jersey, etc. aren’t really so new anymore
  • only eight people live in Wyoming
  • Florida always leaves the door unlocked and Georgians keep wandering in
  • Massachusetts is a Native American word meaning “Quiet please, the game is on”
  • what most people think is “The Star-Spangled Banner” is actually only the first verse; the song has 31 more
  • when America was young, Great Britain teased it by calling it the “Underwear States of America”
  • by 2009, a Home Depot will be on every street in all fifty states

Ingredients for President

To become President of the United States, a person must be a natural born citizen of the U.S., must be at least 35 years old, and must have lived in the country for the last 14 years. If you think that’s strict, read some of the other requirements that have been proposed over the years:

  • must have grown up in at least 18 states
  • cannot be allergic to Senators
  • must be able to list all other presidents in order, or at least name a few
  • may not plan to ask the Secret Service to build him a treehouse
  • must promise not to repaint the White House pizza pie orange
  • must be willing to speak in sentences no longer than a headline
  • must have the same shoe size as the previous president

Shop Up or Ship Out

Accepting presents gracefully is tricky business. True meanings are mysteries…unless you refer to this gift-speak translation cheat sheet.

When they say: “I hope you can tell how much this means to me.”
They really mean: “I hope you can’t tell how much this means war.”

When they say: “It would look beautiful on the nightstand.”
They really mean: “Just not my nightstand.”

When they say: “I think you got me something like this last year.”
They really mean: “I know you did, and also for the three years before that.”

When they say: “I’m so flattered that you thought of me.”
They really mean: “I just wish you hadn’t thought of this gift.”

When they say: “This gift is too generous.”
They really mean: “I can’t wait to return it for something equally generous but much cooler.”

When they say: “I didn’t know they made a thing like this.”
They really mean: “I can’t imagine anyone besides you would buy it.”

When they say: “What a wonderful surprise.”
They really mean: “The surprise is that I didn’t run out screaming when I saw it.”

When they say: “Oh, you really shouldn’t have.”
They really mean: “Oh, you really shouldn’t have.”

America’s Most Unwanted

There are certain nice things America wants—to catch criminals, to throw baseballs, to produce sequels, to start selling holiday merchandise in September. Then there are things America does not want…but has been too shy to mention. We, however, are not shy. We know for a fib that America does not want to:

  • “loan” New Hampshire and Idaho to Australia for a couple of months
  • eliminate time zones and make it always 2 o’clock everywhere
  • try the “Everyone Switch States for a Day” stunt Congress has suggested
  • begin broadcasting the Food Fight Network
  • change the name of “America the Beautiful” to “America the Boastful”
  • redesign its shape to look like a rhinoceros
  • set up arm wrestling contests all along the Canadian and Mexican borders

A World Without Cartoons

Let’s all stop and give thanks that cartoons exist. Think of the horrors if they didn’t:

  • Thanksgiving floats would depict normal people
  • Cartoon Network would instead be called Network
  • Who would promote all the cereal?
  • Newspapers would have an extra page of (Zzzz…) classified ads
  • On Halloween, kids would have to dress up as…well, other kids
  • Your parents wouldn’t remember what a conjunction is or know the words to the Preamble to the Constitution by heart

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