The Perfect Thing to Read Whilst Listening to Your Staff Sharpen Their Rakes in Preparation for the Onslaught of Falling Leaves

FALL 2015

Sentiment, after all, is just the grumpy guy's word for love. Or is love just the sentimentalist's word for sex?

Adam Gopnik


For sale: one rather small ego. Good for accomplishing very minor tasks, like making a sandwich or cleaning a bathroom sink but entirely inadequate for re-entering the workforce or asking someone out on a date. $1 OBO. Box 11.
Not everybody knows how to do the Michigan Rag. If you don't want to be left out next time a dancing frog demands you join in then why not visit Larry's House of Dances Which Are No Longer Popular For Some Reason? We offer beginner classes in many obscure forms.
For rent: plush chipmunk holding a plush acorn. Very relaxing to be around. $75/day. Weekly rates available upon request. Box 32.
Finding that your tolerance levels are dropping? Close to losing it on a regular basis? My name is Butch Patterson and I teach a workshop in Violent Conflict Resolution. For a fairly unreasonable fee I can channel those aggressive impulses of yours. Got a problem with that? Box 1914.
Wanted: I am travelling to a country that starts with the letter L and I am afraid that I will not be able to find my favorite kind of socks there. I would like some reassurance. Box 498.
Barmopolina Press is proud to announce the new book of short stories by the under acclaimed short story writer Winifred Barmpolina. The work is entitled Winifred's Stories and contains the remarkable story: "This is My Story" Copies are available from Winifred's mum, Mrs. Barmpolina
Did you hear that? What WAS that noise? Box 40.



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To Buy or Not to Buy

Have you ever purchased something that you neither wanted nor needed? Did you wonder why? Well, you are not alone – a whole lot of people in the marketing business want to know why you did too. "Now" I hear you asking "Who are these friendly folks who have taken such an active interest in my troubles?"

Before you get all excited about this new group of unseen friends let me tell you this – they are NOT primarily interested in your well-being. That's right, shocking as it may seem, these folks are only interested in knowing why you buy things. They don't care if you had a nice summer or if you have lost a little weight and feel pretty good about it. They only care about these things if your nice summer was the result of having spent it at some resort or having purchased a snappy new canoe. I will give you a moment or two to recover from the jolt of learning this.

Okay? I will continue.

Are you familiar with the word “algorithm”? I always thought it was a procedure or formula for solving a problem derived from the name of the mathematician, Mohammed ibn-Musa al-Khwarizmi. Turns out I was wrong. An algorithm is a device used by marketing folks to determine what crap you are likely to buy based on what crap you already bought.

These algorithms can be quite complex and sophisticated. Take, for instance, the ones used by the Netflix service. Merely by observing that you watched the movie The Magnificent Ambersons the algorithm can determine, with a very small chance of error, that you are probably super-interested in watching the movie The Magnificent Seven. I bet you didn't even know you were into that kind of thing did you? Pretty neat huh?

You see, these marketing people (see above) are extremely clever and, by spending all day every day trying to figure out what you are buying and why, they are able to accurately predict what it is that you are likely to buy next. Then, once they have figured that out, they are able to tell their clients (yes, money changes hands, this isn't a totally altruistic enterprise) where to put their products so you are more likely to stumble across them.

Thus millions of people are gainfully employed trying to figure out your motivations for wanting stuff and then making sure you are in a position to get that stuff. This is just one* of the truly great things about being alive right now!

*Don't write in asking me to name the other ones. You need to figure some of this stuff out for yourself.

The French Fry Who Wouldn't Give Up

Audrey had always been positive. It was her belief that a negative attitude held a lot of french fries back. But she didn't like to be critical of others. She just always thought "Why not try?" It was her mantra.

She had formed what she thought was a pretty strong bond with another fry, named Lisanne, while they were in the freezer together. But now, out on the pan, sitting on the kitchen counter, she felt that bond loosen. Lisanne was slipping away from her.

Audrey chose to think that this was probably for the best. Lisanne was just moving out on her own, learning to be more independent, following her own path to fulfillment. Audrey thought that she should try to do the same.

For instance, she now realised that she had fallen across a small pile of other fries and so she did not have good contact with the pan. There was no way to get nice and brown and crispy where she was. She had to move.

Slowly but surely Audrey managed to move, millimeter by millimetre, until she slipped from the pile and fell, with a satisfying little crack, onto the surface of the pan. Success!

About twenty minutes later the pan was removed from the oven and all the fries were shovelled off onto plates. Audrey looked around but she could see no sign of Lisanne. She hoped her friend had turned out well done and was happy on her plate.

Audrey liked her own location. She was right on the edge of her assiette where she felt there was a good chance that she would be eaten first before she got cold or soggy.

But all of a sudden Audrey felt herself falling! When the plate was picked up off the kitchen counter it was tipped slightly and Audrey tumbled over the edge and fell to the floor, sliding just under the edge of the still warm oven.

Zut alors! For a moment she felt discouraged and saddened but Audrey was not a fry who was easily defeated. She would not languish alone and abandoned under the stove! Once again she began to wiggle. Millimetre by millimetre she moved towards the edge of the appliance until, finally, she emerged back out into the bright light of the kitchen. Success!

There she waited, hoping that very soon someone would notice this beautiful, delicious, crispy brown, french fry lying on the floor, ready to be eaten.

She waited there a long time. No one was in the kitchen. Audrey began to get cold and truthfully, a little discouraged.

But then, suddenly, the outside door swung open and in rushed Simon, the German Shepherd. He spotted Audrey right away. "Ach Himmel!" he exclaimed. He loved french fries! He raced over and gobbled her right up and then they were both very happy.