Classic Column Sunday: Ask Mr. Answer Man

Greetings common people! I am Mr. Answer Man! Please, stop applauding; it embarrasses me… Okay, don’t stop. A rather disturbing fact has recently been brought to my attention during my meetings at Janitors Anonymous. (I myself am not a janitor. I like to go to discuss my personal struggle to grow sideburns.) More and more papers that are wadded up and thrown into the floors of high school classes have failing grades on them. I first attributed this to stupidity, but after further thought, I determined that students simply do not a proper place to reference their scholastic questions.

That is the purpose of this column, to send the message to our younger generations that they are not alone in the quest for the perfect scholastic year. (Nor the perfect party. Mail me suggestions.) A extensive study performed by the same scientists who cloned Dolly the sheep and taught Pauly Shore how to speak reveals that careful attention and application of all that is presented within can give a person an unquestionable grasp of all things intelligent. When you have a question that has troubled your mind for countless hours, just address me and I will answer it so simply that you will feel my intelligence radiating though the newsprint. Ask away, minions!

Q: When did civilization first appear on Earth?

A: There are many differing opinions as to when man first achieved a level of living that could adequately be described as “civilized.” In my right opinion, I believe that true civilization did not begin until the year of my birth, 1981.

Q: Okay, so, like, there’s this girl in my Algebra class who’s, like, really cool and stuff, and I’m thinking about asking her to go see a movie or something. But she’s, like, really smart so I’m like, “What should I do?” And my friends are like, “Whatever!” So I’m like, “For real?” And they’re like, “Totally!” So my question is, do girls like that like smarter guys and stuff, and how do I get smarter?

A: This is obviously a desperate case. What you need, my boy, is a crash course in how to think. If gorillas can be taught sign language then surely you cannot be too much more difficult. Under my watchful eye, I can take you from a slobbering gutter cretin to a Mensa member to end all Mensa memberships. I could do this, but frankly, I just do not care enough about you or your pathetic love life. She probably would prefer that you had a brain in your head, but unfortunately for you, there are guys like me out there to steal all the thinking girls away.

Q: You’re rather conceited, aren’t you?

A: One of my intelligence and station need not turn to conceit, as conceit is thinking too highly of oneself. Since no one can think too highly of me, then it would not me considered conceit. Besides, you dress funny…

*Ahem* Hey guys, this is Jody interrupting here for a second. Mr. Answer Man is not exactly working out so well so I have decided not to let him work with this column anymore. You can never tell what a little attention will do to a person in the spotlight. I know there are still a few questions out there so I’ve searched high and low for a replacement, and, lo and behold, I found one where I least thought to look… hiding in my refrigerator. Here he is folks, Mr. Randomly Generated Thought Man.

Q: Why aren’t there anymore dinosaurs?

A: Dinosaurs and their disappearance are one of life’s great mysteries. Let’s go ride our bikes!

Q: Okay, so, like, I still don’t know what do to about that girl in my Algebra class. That last guy was a loser. So, like, what’s up with that deal about the chicks liking smarter guys?

A: Girls and their disappearance are one of life’s great mysteries. But let us not dwell on these matters. Louis Armstrong played the trumpet, and Frank Sinatra was Old Blue Eyes. I miss the refrigerator.

Jody again. No more question and answer times in this column. I am truly sorry about all this mess. I guess that there are some things man was never meant to understand, namely calculus, dinosaurs, and females.

Classic Column… um, Tuesday: I Was Born in a Small Town

Okay, so I was supposed to do these things on Sunday nights, and okay, I missed a couple of weeks. I’ve been busy, alright? Just get off my back, already!

*deep breath*

Okay, I’m better now. Anyway, this week’s randomly selected column came from my sophomore year at Union. Enjoy!

For all you in Sparta who have always dreaming of leaving our fair city and moving to the city, I want to share with you a few of the joys that I’ve discovered about our little town and other small towns in Tennessee verses what I’ve learned about city life over my last year and a half in Jackson.

First off, Superman’s boyhood town was called Smallville. That’s got to say something about the benefits of small town living.

Only in a small town can you call the bank when you have car trouble. I’m staying with a friend of mine and his family in the little town of Gadsden during this January semester to save on school expenses as well as allowing me to escape from my dorm for a month. Last week I was the only one left at the house in the morning at the time that I was supposed to leave to get to my class. Now, I take certain things for granted in my life so that I assume I have nothing to worry about. For instance, when I sit down behind the steering wheel of my truck and turn the ignition key, I expect for the engine to roar to life (and it does roar pretty loud) and take me to where I want to go. Well, you know what happens when you assume, don’t you? Since this is a family column I don’t think I can tell you outright, but basically you end up looking like a donkey of some sort. My truck didn’t even click.

I’d left my lights on after a long night working at the hotel the day before and they had been on for roughly 24 hours. Needless to say my battery was deader than a doornail. (Just a side note here: Exactly how dead is a doornail? For that matter, what is a doornail?) With everyone else gone and not knowing Gadsden at all, I had no one to call and no way to get a car to jump me off. I called my girlfriend Alanna at work (too far away to drive) and she suggested I call one of the places in Gadsden. Now, as far as I can tell, the actual town of Gadsden consists of a store, a bank, and a church. Of the three, I knew the name of the bank. So, out of other options, I called the bank to report a dead car battery. I explained my problem to the very friendly teller (who laughed at me), and she told me that she would call her husband who was at home with their little boy to see if he could come jump my truck off. Within an hour, he and his little boy pulled into the driveway, got my truck started, and sent me on my way.

Where else on earth but in a small town could you call the bank when you have car trouble?
On the flipside, here in the city of Jackson things are quite a bit different. Jackson is the fifth largest city in Tennessee (which really isn’t saying a whole lot) and functions like a city. In Jackson, I have police officers come up to the front desk in the hotel showing me mug shots and asking “Have you seen this man?” I don’t know what he’s done, but if I do see him, I’ll crawl up under the desk until he’s gone.

I don’t know exactly what it is about rural living, but I know that when I’m away from it, I miss it. That’s why I love my little diversion in Gadsden this month. It’s nice to have a real house to go back to in the evenings after school or work. I like it actually being dark outside when I go to bed without the glare of street lights and flashing signs. I guess before I got to Jackson, life in the country was another one of those things I took for granted. Never again though.

I have to leave now and call the bank again. I think my stereo is going out.

Classic Column Sunday: Hide Your Cheeseburgers! Here Come The Fat Police!

I thought that for a little change of pace on Sunday nights, I would start posting some of my old columns. I wrote a weekly column for the Expositor (Sparta’s local paper) called “Adolescent Attitudes” when I was a senior in high school and during my early years of college. I had a ton of fun with it, and I still have a lot of affection for these old pieces. I’m not sure that anyone can really call any of these “classics,” but since it’s my blog I can do whatever I want. If you read these columns the first time, you can relive the experience. If you’re a first time reader, well, I was an odd young man.

I’m not sure about all the legal stuff with copyright, so I’ll just clarify that I was the original author and these columns were originally published in the Sparta Expositor.

Here’s a little news item from the world of really, really stupid people. In an article in the Addictive Behaviors journal, Yale professor Kelly Brownell has recommended that a special tax be placed on fatty foods and that advertisements for these foods should be restricted. The advertising restrictions would include close examination of advertisements for non-food products to see if they promote unhealthy role models. Additionally, if Brownell’s proposal was to become policy, activities that promote good health would receive government subsidies, and those who participated in these behaviors would receive tax breaks.

This is the most terrifying thing I have ever heard.

First off, I would like to note that for the first time ever in this column, I’m actually doing a little bit of research before writing. Normally, I just write whatever the Column Fairy gives to me as I sleep (She’s been a bit lazy lately), but this time I actually looked up some articles on the internet and verified that I knew what I was talking about. I’m pretty proud of myself. But that’s enough patting myself on the back, on with the stupidity.

The reason why this worries me is because I don’t know if I like the idea of the government taking care of me and keeping me from getting fat. I firmly believe that the founding fathers, when writing the Constitution, had the intention of building a country where people can grow as many chins as they like without fear. This “we’re from the government and we’re here to help” type of policy seems to me to be like a the guy who comes up to you when you’re working out and tries to get you to work out more. I’m perfectly happy going about my life with a certain level of physical activity and a high quantity of junk food. I don’t need the government to tell me I should work out more; I already know that. However, if I choose to reduce my fat intake, I’d like it to be for the reasons everyone else does it – to impress other people and look pretty.

In modern society, people really don’t need to be extremely physically fit. What do most people do on a day-to-day basis that requires them to be in good shape? In ancient times you had to be fit to outrun the animals that were lurking around trying to eat them. That’s motivation! The only thing we need exercise for is so that we can do the exercises. We exercise with weights so that we can lift the weights. After lifting the weights, what do we earn? The right to lift more weights!

Proponents of this “fat tax” compare fatty foods to cigarettes because they say that both are harmful and are marketed knowing the harm they will cause. They call this food tax a “sin tax.” Let me now confess that as a college student, I am apparently the chief of sinners. I don’t know of a single food I eat that is not harmful to me in some way. I have become intimately acquainted with McDonald’s this past year, and everyone knows that eating at Mickey D’s is shining example of healthy living. I can’t help it though! At fifty cents a burger, it’s impossible for a poor boy to overlook. I drink coffee by the bucket, and I’m sure that if they can attack fat, soon caffeine will be somewhere among their targets… and that, my friends, is when they will have gone too far.

Picture this scene if you will. It’s the year 2130. Shiny, happy beautiful people with great bodies are walking down the street smiling perfectly white smiles. They are festively dressed in perfectly fitting clothes (It’s much easier to design clothes for the thin.) in honor of a national holiday. It’s Anorexia Day! Those who have been able to reject not only fatty foods, but all foods, are regarded as heroes. Plus, they get incredible government benefits for taking up this cause. In the midst of this, two men – obviously up to no-good – are talking on the street corner. One hands the other a large sum of money in exchange for a indiscreet brown paper bag. The receiver of this parcel, we’ll call him Winston, glances around nervously and then runs to the shelter of his home. As he unwraps his prize, the smell of beef and cheese float into his nostrils. A cheeseburger! The most beautiful cheeseburger in the world! As his teeth close on this miracle, a knock sounds from the door. The door is flung open – the Fat Police! Winston is knocked to ground as he tries to run and the beautiful meat patty falls to onto the ground, ruined. The five-second rule is not enough.

Fight for freedom. Go get a burger, some fries, fried chicken, ice cream, a candy bar, a plate of nachos, a burrito, a pizza, a medium-rare steak, a plate of enchiladas, a roast beef sandwich, or even just plate of fried eggs and country ham. Make the founding fathers proud.