Tag Archives: humor

The Fast Food Wars

Randy Beechman looked every inch the Westside Regional Director for McDonalds that he was. His belly swelled in direct proportion to the shrinking of his hairline. His arms were round and beefy, capable of hefting a fifty-pound bag of frozen fries and yet wobbling if you poked them like so much jell-o squeezed into the shape of a bicep. Even his clothes spoke to his job: button-up white short sleeved dress shirt with the red-and-yellow of the company colors on his tie. His pants were black, polyester, and roomy even on his bulk. His belt was cinched tight around his ample waist, pouches and pockets holding the gear of his profession in easy reach.

The day was warm, and Randy pulled a handkerchief from his breast pocket to mop at his brow for the fifth time. The air conditioning was bombed out, and it was summer in Los Angeles. Or as he liked to think of it: the pit of Hell.

The door chime beeped, and from his seat behind the manager’s desk, Randy could see that pimply-faced teen cashier (What was her name? Oh yeah, Angela) look up from behind the counter. She gasped, then turned towards Randy’s door and nodded. “It’s them, sir,” she said in her whiny, nasal voice.

Randy returned the nod and hoisted himself to his feet. “Them,” would be Phillip, the manager for this particular store, and a couple of the burger jockeys. Randy poked his head out of the door, checking to make sure the coast was clear, then he stepped out fully and his eyes sought Phillip. At first, he couldn’t see the man, only the two minimum-wage burger flippers. He hadn’t bothered to learn their names, and mentally he just called them “the white teen” and “the latino teen.”

Randy started to frown, to ask them where Phillip was, when the burger jockeys shifted and he spotted the manager. He was laying on one of the larger ‘family style’ tables. He wasn’t moving. His face, what there was left of it, was frozen in a rictus of pain. The rest of it was clearly the source of the pain. Randy was no doctor, but he’d seen enough casualties in his life. That was a third degree oil burn over 72% of Phillip’s face.

“What happened?”

The two burger nukers looked at each other. The latino one spoke. “You were right sir, KFC is having a sale on chicken nuggets, $.10 less than us for a 10-piece. We did it by the textbook: Tim and I,” he gestured at the white teen, “we flanked Phil while he went from car to car on approach. We never saw it sir. We never saw it.” The skinny boy began to blubber, so Randy turned his attention to the other one, Tim.

“What happened?” Randy repeated.

Tim cleared his throat, glanced at Angela, and then turned his attention back to Randy. “They has those radios for when you take drive-in orders in the parking lot, sir. Like In-n-Out does? And they had someone up on the roof, with what we assume was a spare fry cooker. We got near the door and suddenly we heard a sound from above. We looked up, and that fat bastard was dumping oil on Phil. We fired off a couple shots, then retreated. Philip stopped moaning around the time we were passing the 99 Cent Store. We figure that’s when he bit it.”

Randy was silent for a moment. Suddenly, he slammed his meaty fist on one of the tables. “Parking lot radios! I TOLD Corporate we should invest in those. No one has been able to touch In-n-Out since they started using them! Damnit!” He continued to fume for a minute or two before noticing that everyone was staring at him. He forced himself to relax, to adopt a normal tone of voice. Management Training 101. “All right. Not your fault guys. You couldn’t have known. Phillip should have been more cautious. It’s a manager’s duty to think of these things. Put your guns back in the walk-in and hang up your aprons. You have the rest of the day off.”

The two teens grinned and hurried to obey. No one likes losing a manager, but a half-day off is worth its weight in gold. They left Randy to contemplate Phillip’s body in silence while Angela hid back behind the counter. There was no doubt about it, Randy was forced to admit. The annual summer fast food wars were getting worse each year.


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Good Odds for a Casino

So, Jennifer and I have just returned from an enjoyable Sunday out. We had lunch, visited the wine shop, and washed the car.

But before all of that, we went to see 50/50 at the before-noon $6 showing at our local AMC. If you like movies, and there is an AMC theater anywhere near you, you’re seriously missing out if you don’t take advantage of this deal.

The movie, about a man (Joseph Gordon Levitt) who finds out he has a fairly rare form of cancer, was surprisingly charming and amusing. Adam (JGL) and his friend Kyle (Seth Rogen) refuse to let the cancer ‘win,’ and maintain a generally positive attitude. Despite this elevator pitch, the movie does treat the subject with maturity and respect. Adam isn’t always cheerful and happy, and the longer his struggle goes on, the more his spirits flag. But still, overall it was a very cute movie and well worth a viewing.

In addition to great performances by JGL and Angelica Houston, look for a wonderful, non-goofy-hijinx performance by Matthew Frewer in the first non-silly role I’ve seen from him in over a decade.

The title, 50/50 (as well as the title of my post) both refer to a line in the movie (and all the trailers so I don’t think I’m -really- spoiling anything) where Kyle asks Adam what the survival chances are for this type of cancer. Adam, who has looked that very question up on WebMD, says that he has about a fifty-fifty chance, and Kyle responds by saying “That’s great. If you were a casino game, you’d have the best odds in the house!”

If you know anyone who has or had cancer, I recommend this. Jennifer’s mother died of cancer in ’99, and even she (Jennifer, not her mother) thought this was a good movie. So why are you still sitting there? Pick up your keys and go.



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Humor in Serious Writing

The Portal series shows us how its done.

There is a commonly held misconception that a serious story needs to be entirely serious. This is strange to me, for many people understand that you can have serious moments in an otherwise silly or humorous story, so why can’t you have humor, even perhaps a lot of humor, in an otherwise serious story?

Take the Portal games, from Valve for example. In both games, the player takes control of a character who finds herself in a strange underground testing facility while the computer AI in charge of the place puts her through various “tests,” each of which gets increasingly more dangerous until eventually the AI  outright starts trying to attempt to kill the character, forcing the character to attempt to find ways to either escape the facility, or fight back and destroy the AI first in self defense. While quite different in the details, the idea is not entirely unlike that of the movie Cube. Pretty serious stuff.

And yet, both games are so funny you’ll find yourself laughing out loud as you play them, even as the AIs try to kill you. This in no way detracts from the seriousness of the story though. Never once do you think “Well, the AI is just a yuck-a-minute, maybe I should just relax and be friends with that crazy cat.” The seriousness of your character’s plight is heightened by the use of humor, not detracted from.

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