Things Your Autopsy Report Should Not Say

And now, in the interest of public service, we present:

  • Short, wheezy Harry Potter-lookin’ geek with glasses and inhaler actually did know magic

  • Sweet-natured, fun-loving personality aside, Barney is still a Tyrannosaur, after all…

  • Mistakenly thought safe word was ‘faster’

  • Inoperable rectal cancer resulting from prolonged radiation exposure due to constant photocopying of buttocks

  • Meddling kids and dumb dog accidentally ripped off actual face

  • Died a little inside.  Considerably more so outside

  • Faked death a little too well

  • Crushed under gigantic pile of naked cheerleaders

  • Run right over by usually gentle “Lightning” McQueen

  • Ultimately, ironically, literally proved you had no brains

Things Your Autopsy Report Should Not Say

And now, in the interest of public service, we present:

  • Saw doppelganger at night

  • Told Bond entire plan

  • Attempted to hypnotize cobra with flute despite its clearly established passion for the bassoon

  • Refused to let elitist, classicist, leftist, socialistic governmental attempts at intrusion on personal freedoms keep you from tormenting lions

  • Dominatrix lost focus for split second

  • Looked a little too much like an elderly Hitler

  • Crushed by overwhelming sense of meaninglessness in an empty universe  and/or tractor dropped from roof

  • Realized too late that the phrase “Leave me! Save yourselves!” is best spoken to dedicated loved ones and not panic-stricken strangers well out of earshot

  • Figurative statement taken literally

  • Junior weren’t never none too good with workin’ the safety on Ol’ Betsy

Things Your Autopsy Report Should Not Say

And now, in the interest of public service, we present:

  • Ingested bong

  • Thought saying “Braaaaaains …”  and limping with arms outstretched in menacing manner would be a really funny way to greet a group of  jumpy zombie hunters

  • Victim blamed it all on the media; in response, the media blew up victim’s car

  • Chicken surprisingly well-versed in the use of butterfly knife

  • Pulled out nose hair (of Mr. T)

  • Idiot husband apparently thought himself some sort of freakin’ engineering genius when tinkering with gas furnace

  • Wasn’t so much the heat as it was the humidity – and the alligators

  • Rocket pack failure makes escape from sarlacc pit impossible

  • Otherwise would have had to endure another Twilight sequel

  • Doused with boiling-hot fudge, skinned alive by a barrage of peanuts, and  drowned in gallons of soft-serve ice cream during bloody coup d’état in the land of Dairy Queen

My Mannam Experience: Fun and Friendliness in SK

by KM Scott

I was first approached by a woman in the AK Plaza shopping center in Seohyeon. She’d asked me, in broken English, if I’d like to take a survey. Not in any rush and just leisurely enjoying my day, I agreed. The questions were so simplistic in nature that they caught me off guard – in fact, they had nothing to do with retail, which is what I would have expected in such a place. Though memory fails as to the exact wording, the questions were basically about what I, as a foreigner, would like to see done differently in South Korea, such as what kind of shops or food would I like to see more of, and what kind of humor would I like to share with Koreans.

I really didn’t get it at first. The lady then showed me a pamphlet in English telling me about the group she was working for, Mannam Volunteer Association. At first glance, it looked like some kind of international goodwill organization, the kind of outfit that displayed pictures of groups of multicultural folks of all walks holding hands and smiling into the camera.

What little hair my advancing age had let remain on my head stood on end. I’d seen this type of thing before, and had once or twice been the unfortunate victim of it: some ruthlessly cheerful group of zealous wingnuts under the authority of some rightfully ridiculed religious institution trying to fatten their ranks with a silly, syrupy message about universal love or some other garbage. That, or an attempt to pull me into some kind of pyramid scheme involving selling out my friends and loved ones. This was precisely the sort of crass manipulation I expected to find at this … whatever it was I was going to.

I’m glad to say my expectations were not met.

Having spent way too many Sunday afternoons cooped up in my apartment, I decided to take a risk and see what this Mannam was all about. Some of the stuff they had advertised, such as massages, food, stand-up comedian performances, and haircuts, actually sounded quite nice, and a bargain at a 10,000 won (roughly $10 US) entry fee.

The event I actually attended turned out to be free. I was taken to a public meeting area by car after taking the subway just a few stops from my home. I was immediately greeted by many smiling Mannam representatives. Walking into the event, I saw no religious tracts, no symbols, no hucksters trying to get me to buy anything. What I did see were activities, and I participated in every one of them: face painting, archery (with sucker arrows), acupuncture (in the fingers!), even a free body massage. There was a wonderful layout of food, and I hit the spaghetti bowl at least three times. In the middle of the four-hour event, there was a great talent show, featuring a number of performers, from middle school kids doing a truly impressive acrobatic dance, to a virtuoso violin player tickling the strings to a rousing background track. There were even dance lessons as to how to do the “Gangnam Style” dance, based on the internationally omnipresent K-pop hit of the same name.

The gathering was truly multicultural. People from all over the world attended, from Bangladesh to Kyrgyzstan, and even the mysterious and inscrutable land of Ohio.

As fun as all this was, the most endearing element of all was the friendliness of the Mannam folks. The stated goal of Mannam is to be an organization that promotes world peace. While the cynic in me may blanch at that, I could not help but feel touched by the smiles, kindness, and apparent desire to help visitors have a good time. Towards the end of the event, I was guided from one activity table to the next by a tirelessly genial woman whose sweet nature seemed in no way forced or condescending. Everybody was like that.

Big, public get-togethers with strangers promoting goodwill is not the sort of thing I normally do (small conclaves with furtive, bitter individuals spurting bile at humanity is more my speed), but the affable nature and genuine pleasantness I found at this even was too much for me to ignore. Part of the reason I wrote this article is to try and help others in SK who may not really get what Mannam is to understand what waits in store for them. When I first heard about the group, I’d asked friends and co-teachers if they’d ever heard of it. None had. So I went, I experienced, and I came back alive, as well as happy. I’m writing to say that I had a great time with Mannam. If you’re looking for something to do on a Sunday, you could do far worse than head out to one of their shindigs. Check ’em out on the Internet at http://www.mannamintl.org/.

Note:  After publishing this article, I had received a number of responses insisting that Mannam International has connections to a religious organization whose practices could be considered disagreeable to others.  While I still enjoyed my experience at the event I attended, and do not wish to unfairly label the attendees or workers there, in the interest of fairness and to foster informative discourse, most of those responses have been posted below.  None of the contents of this article are meant to reflect the opinions of Mae, our editor-in-chief. 

Toys Gone By

You know what?  Barrels.

Image

It’s amazing to me, when I think about it, how much barrels had something to do with my upbringing.  Some of the happiest times of my childhood had something to do with barrels, and I remember them fondly.  The barrel was the menacing and relentless weapon of choice of the enraged ape Donkey Kong.  It was the container of sweet, orange fluid I would drink for lunch (Little Hugs.  You know what I mean).  And it was the centerpiece of one of my most fondly remembered toys.

I loved trains as a kid, which would prove to be a rather dubious statement if you had seen the way I treated them back then: neglected, broken, and on the floor.  Regardless, they held an endless charm for me.  One of the earliest trains I remember having was a Lionel O-Scale set, and one of the features that came with it was the Barrel Loader.  This, to me, represented the point of trains:  to get something from one place to another.

What was in the barrels?  What would become of the contents when they got there?  Well, this was make-believe, so, really, it didn’t matter what was in the barrels as much as they get to where they needed to go, get offloaded, and then re-loaded onto the building for another go-round.  Barrels, after all, were good things, with good, important stuff in them.  Whatever the contents, what mattered was that the train and the loader-guy did their duty to get the barrels where they belonged.

The brilliance of the toy is in its design.  Assembly was rather simple, and as I can recall, fairly sturdy in the hands of a six-year-old.  The piece did not necessarily have to be connected to the track.  The building is adorned with a number of molded decorations, such as a coil of rope, a mallet, a flight of stairs, and even a little shack that the workman “lives” in when he’s not on the clock.  Though these may seem insignificant – particularly since everything is one uniform shade of red or brown – they really actually add to the pretend factor. The little bits of detail nestled into the “background” of a toy really fueled my imagination.

The key element that really makes the piece stand out in my memory is its playability.  The problem with toy trains and small children is that the more elaborate the train becomes, the less kid-friendly it becomes as well.  Some model trains, after all, are meant to be set up and then simply observed.  The joy for certain collectors may be in arranging tracks and scenery in new and different ways, or sculpting mountain ranges and replicating towns and such, but a child’s first instinct is to get his/her hands on the thing and actually play with it, crash it into something, and cheerfully destroy its value as a collectable.

The Lionel Barrel Loader, on the other hand, clearly says “Play with me” in a sweet-natured tone.  There’s a big ol’ lever right on the side of the thing that’s the perfect size for a child’s hands.  The barrels are loaded into the bay up top.  You then pushed the barrel down the ramp, and then, by pressing the lever, had the workman shove the barrel into a gondola car waiting on the track below.  You did this as many times as you had barrels, and then you sent the train on its way.

This was a solid-red definition of simplicity, and I’m a bit astonished how easily I could fit the operation of the thing in one small paragraph.  This is because I remember being fascinated by this operation, which I would perform over and over again. This wasn’t just an articulated piece of plastic that dropped plastic into a car made of plastic; it was a workplace, an early 20th century establishment of industry had a schedule to keep, a place where things needed to get done, so I had to hop to it!

I’m not sure what became of the model train industry.  Oftentimes I would try to indulge in my enjoyment of the hobby, only to leave the poor things sitting broken and unused time and again.  Honestly, I think Lionel, Bachmann, and the others may have gotten sick of me.  Perusing different hobby and retail websites, I rarely ever see accessories that offered the interactivity that you see with the barrel loader, log loader, et cetera.  Of course, I’m sure that there are plenty of enthusiasts who would disagree with me, and rightly so:  The train I had was not necessarily a model train, but a children’s toy.  It was meant to be touched by clumsy hands and played with.  Play with it I did.  And I shouldn’t be so quick to write off Lionel – they have a version of the product listed on their site, this one fully painted, and featuring and exterior light!

Old school as I am, I may just have to upgrade.

Things Your Autopsy Report Should Not Say

And now, in the interest of public service, we present:

  • Gruesomely fatal but very funny Stupid Human Trick
  • Suicide by Shriner
  • Towel not as bulletproof as originally thought
  •  Called before digging, but electric company rep was real practical joker
  • “What’s this button do?”
  • Cuz Joey Sherman double-dog dared you to
  • Gored by bull market
  • Should’ve moved car out of Rip Taylor’s parking space the first time he asked
  • Forgot about the whole “Don’t jump under the combine” thing
  • Crushed by flying debris as Kool-Aid Man crashed through wall
  • Bathed cat

Daily Diversion #37: Card House Kafka

It lives on a shelf above my desk. I look at it when I need to loosen my thoughts, daydream.

House of card

House of card

The card was made in Nepal and purchased in Montreal, but it reminds me of Kafka, Prague, and my artist friend Jack. I wonder, do the windows creak when they open? I’ve never been dreamy nor drunk enough to find out. Pity.

[Intermezzo] A Ball of Light*

We crossed the river, yesterday. We skimmed impatient hands across jewelry, postcards, record albums, tin canisters emblazoned with long-dead logos, crockery. My eye was momentarily entrapped by these shiny things, distractions all. The sun riveted its heat into my flesh, dribbles of sweat danced down my arms before diving off of my jagged fingernails to land in the grassy unknown, spent. My eyes, shaded, landed on a pile of ink and ideas cobbled together with old leather and faith. This fellow was on top… Continue reading

Things Your Autopsy Report Should Not Say

And now, in the interest of public service, we present:

  • Thought “Cape does not enable wearer to fly” warning only applicable to those who didn’t BELIEVE!
  • Accidentally kept parents from meeting
  • Thought cost-prohibitive Sealy Posturpedic mattress could be easily substituted by considerably less expensive pile of burning debris
  • Completely misinterpreted dog’s orders on who to shoot
  • Beheaded by peasants
  • Forgot which order deathtraps in pyramid were placed
  • Too much fun
  • Told Bond entire plan
  • Showed Buddha flaws in his philosophy; subsequently beaten to death by livid Buddha
  • Tried to prove lions were ticklish
  • Superstitious cops used silver bullets