Greener Grass: Los Angeles Man Learns To Accept Balding Yard

Los Angeles, CA — If getting older has taught Mitch Pickering anything, it’s that you can’t hold onto the past. “I was just spending all this money on a losing battle.” After years of fighting that battle, he’s finally ready to allow nature to take its course. His yard is going bald — but that’s okay!

“My dad’s yard was bald and I was always afraid it would happen to me too. So imagine how I felt when I first noticed it was thinning out a few years ago,” says Mitch. “There it was, my worst nightmare!” He got in the car and drove straight to Lowe’s to buy fertilizer, the first trip in what would become a ritual. He’d spend the next few summers in the yard, watering, weeding, and yes, fertilizing, in order to maintain the thick yard of grass he was used to.

“He was obsessed,” says Mitch’s wife, Claire. “I kept telling him it didn’t look that bad, but he wouldn’t listen.”

Despite his efforts, the grass continued to recede steadily, year by year. “I really panicked when my neighbor pointed out the bald patch in my backyard. I was so embarrassed!” He hit that spot especially hard with fertilizer. When that failed, he resorted to something he had always made fun of others for: sod.

“It was so obvious,” says Mitch and Claire’s neighbor, Pat Benson. “Was I really supposed to believe it just disappeared overnight?”

Weekly fertilizer purchases and climbing water bills began to take their toll on the Pickerings’ bank account. Before California’s drought was declared ‘over,’ they faced heavy fines on top of the regular expenses. “At a certain point, I had to be honest with myself. Is all this cosmetic work really worth it?”

Then he had an epiphany. “When I finally stopped focusing on my own lawn, I was able to look around and see that mostly everybody had browning grass, if not completely bare lawns.” He realized there was really nothing to be ashamed of.

Embracing the baldness, Mitch now sports a proudly barren yard. He and Claire have been much happier for it. “I actually think it’s kind of sexy,” says Claire, scratching the dirt playfully.

“Droughts, air pollution, wildfires — there will always be something I want to change about where I live, especially as all that becomes more prevalent,” he says.

“But if I can learn to accept it, it’ll all be much easier to deal with.”

 

Man Who Doesn’t Like Chocolate May Hold Genetic Key To Not Being Disgusting Hog

Seattle, WA — There is nothing immediately striking about Alex Tapper. A 32-year-old sales associate at Office Depot, he’s a slight man with a growing bald patch on his crown. He likes movies, hard cider, the occasional visit to Best Buy (“I just like to see what they have”), and his wardrobe is comprised almost entirely of short sleeve button-downs and thrift store neckties. He seems content to coast through life, invisible to everyone he passes. But don’t be fooled. Alex is special.

He doesn’t like chocolate. Geneticists want to know why.

“He’s a superior human.”

“Yeah, I don’t like chocolate. Not that big of a deal,” says the spectacular marvel of hominid evolution over lunch at Dicey’s Café. While I stuff my face with chocolate-hazelnut creme pie, he sips black coffee, perfectly satisfied with the meal that came before. Since learning of Alex’s unique trait from his food review blog on WordPress, top minds in genetic research have been relentlessly pursuing him.

“Mr. Tapper may carry a human variant of the NCHO3 gene, which thus far has only been observed in cetaceans, such as dolphins and whales,” explains Dr. Andre Lowell, Professor of Molecular Biology at Cambridge University. Many in the scientific community, Lowell included, believe NCHO3 is the reason for cocoa’s absence from the cetacean diet. “With the proper funding — and Mr. Tapper’s cooperation — we could effectively put an end to chocolate cravings, so that future generations never have to feel like unrestrained fatasses anytime a coworker brings brownies to the office.”

Such a pitch would move anyone else to cooperate with the research. So why won’t Alex? “At first I was just busy, and it kind of sounded like BS anyway,” he says, the untainted crevices between his exposed teeth evoking the sense one is capturing but a small glimpse of mankind’s future. But what came after that rejection only embittered him their cause. “They started calling at all hours of the day, following me around — I even caught them rooting through my trash a couple times. It’s really upsetting, and just creepy.”

Despite his frustration, Dr. Lowell understands the conundrum. “He has no idea what the rest of us troglodytes deal with at the grocery store, where footlong kielbasas of Pillsbury chocolate chip cookie dough can be purchased for just three dollars each. It’s a testament to what could be.”

SHAMELESS

Alex’s phone lights up and begins to rumble the tabletop. Unknown caller. He palms his eyes in exasperation.

“I respect his time and autonomy, but there are children right now who are building habits they will come to despise as they age. I’m talking ‘fingers in the Nutella jar’ levels of shame,” says Dr. Lowell. “He will give in eventually.”

“I thought if I ignored them long enough they would give up.” Alex stares into his empty coffee mug, perhaps reconsidering his selfish decision to withhold the next milestone in man’s journey toward perfection. “Maybe if I just send in a spit sample or something, that would get them to leave me alone.”

“Our study would be drawn-out and comprehensive,” Lowell reassures me. “If we have to rule NCHO3 out, countless more strands of DNA must be analyzed in order to determine what exactly allows Mr. Tapper the discipline to not gorge himself on M&M’s at the Christmas party that one year when I got really drunk on chocolate liqueur. It is imperative that we don’t miss anything.”

And if their study doesn’t produce the breakthrough they’re looking for? “That’s highly improbable,” says Dr. Lowell. But there’s only one way to know for sure. “All we can do is turn this man’s life inside-out and scrutinize his genes long past his breaking point. Only then can we find his source of dignity.”

Doing His Part: Denver Man Spends Weekends Shushing Teens At The Movie Theater

Denver, CO — Not all heroes wear capes. For some, like Russell Higgins, it’s all in a day’s work.

Russell, age 56, has spent every weekend at the local Regal Cinemas for the better part of 20 years. A self-proclaimed cinephile and craft beer enthusiast, he just can’t seem to stay away from the silver screen. “I love movies,” says Russell. “I don’t have any family, so I have plenty of time to keep up with the box office. Michael Bay is family enough for me.”

Unfortunately, not everyone appreciates a good blockbuster the way Russell does. The local theater often doubles as a hangout for disruptive teens, whom Russell says interrupt his flicks with topics like “memes” and “James Corden.”

“I went to the theater attendant, the manager, corporate, the police — all the way up the chain. But no one seemed to be concerned that my Rewards were being squandered.” Russell had no choice but to take matters into his own hands.

“I remember the first time like it was yesterday,” he explains. “It happened so fast. I just turned around and put my finger to my mouth like this and went ‘Sh!’”

He recounts how the entire theater fell silent after his brave act. The film came to a stop. The lights flicked on. Then, one by one, the moviegoers began to clap, slowly rising from their seats and turning to him, applauding his heroics. The feeling was like none he had felt before. That night, Russell vowed to sacrifice his weekends for the cause. No movie would be ever interrupted by teens again. “Not at my Regal Cinemas!”

His impact cannot be understated. When asked about Higgins, townsfolk praise his work, with comments ranging from, “Is that the dude who likes to talk about his IBS?” to, “Please step out of line if you’re not going to order, sir.”

Do the offenders ever retaliate? Russell laughs. “Sometimes they give me looks, but that’s just because they respect me. Sometimes they even thank me by bringing me toilet paper, you know, for my IBS. I just wish they’d stop throwing it on my house.”

It isn’t always easy. He recalls one weekend when he had pneumonia, and his doctor advised he take the weekend off. So he powered through. “When I thought about all of the people who rely on me, I couldn’t bring myself to shirk my duties. Also, it was opening weekend for Emoji Movie.”

Despite the challenges, Russell takes pride in his efforts, and his community takes pride in him. A plaque sits outside of the Denver Regal Cinemas as a testament to Russell Higgins. “I have to put a new one up every month,” Russell said. “They keep taking it down to have it cleaned or something, but they always forget to put it back.”

Now that he has Movie Pass, he’s stepped up his efforts ten-fold. “I don’t care if I get a little spit on them from time to time. I don’t care if I miss the movie doing it. I will shush every mildly-distracting movie loiterer who has the misfortune of sharing a theater with me,” he says. “And if that doesn’t work, you can bet your ass I’ll turn right back to the screen and cross my arms in protest until my discontent is perfectly clear.”

There’s no telling if Russell Higgins’ work will ever be done. But one thing is for sure: his story will live on as an inspiration to moviegoers for years to come.

Stay-At-Home Dad Finds Fulfillment In Public Service

Washington D.C. — “You have to keep yourself occupied,” says husband and stay-at-home dad Don T.

Don is part of a historically small, but growing demographic of American men who choose not to take part in the 9-to-5 work hustle. A father of five, he’s spent much of his time making meals and packing lunches, shopping and cleaning, and driving the kids to and from work, practice and friends’ houses. After they left the nest, he found himself with a lot more time on his hands.

“All the ‘me’ time was nice at first, I’ll admit,” says Don from his desk. “But after a while you start to miss the sense of duty that you had when you still had kids running around.” Don says the decision to enter public service was a no-brainer. “I’ve always felt I had good ideas to combat some of the issues that face my neighborhood,” he says. “So many people have told me I have the best ideas.”

He decided to fulfill his lifelong dream of running for office. “I just went for it!” It’s paid off.

After garnering support from his community, he was given the title of ‘President.’ He’s now tasked with committee oversight, preparing budgets and meeting with ambassadors, to name a few of his new responsibilities.

The transition from caregiver into a leadership role was difficult, but rewarding nonetheless. “There were late nights, early mornings, a helluva learning curve, certainly. And I still have those days where the phone never stops ringing. But the sense of accomplishment I feel from passing a new resolution or erasing the legacy of my predecessor makes it all worth it.”

Even the family has gotten involved. “Boy, have they been a help. I figured they would be supportive, but I never imagined they would be so enthusiastic,” he says. “Junior especially has really gotten into it.”

What started as a hobby has turned into a full-blown passion for Don T. “I’ve had a lot of interests, I’ve done a lot of dabbling. Who would’ve thought I’d find my calling at 71 years old?” he says, signing another bill peeling back regulations.

“After all the years of child-rearing, I finally feel like it’s my turn.”

Former Cochlear Implant Patient: “I’m Ready To Be Deaf Again”

Brooklyn, NY — Doctors told her parents she would never be able to hear. At age 27, she proved the doctors wrong. Now, at the age of 28, Ruth Larson is ready to go back to being deaf.

“This is it? This is what I’ve been missing? S***, just take them out,” Ruth signs. Ruth is referring to the cochlear implants she received not six months ago — miracles of modern science that have allowed her to hear for the very first time in her life. But friends and family say she’s already over it.

“I just don’t understand,” says Ruth’s mother, Karen. “This is what she’s always longed for, only to find out she doesn’t like it?”

Her father, Carl Larson, is just as bewildered. “When her face lit up the first time she heard her mother’s voice, I can’t describe the joy I felt for her,” he says, choking back tears. “I’m sorry, I’m at a loss for words.”

“Ruth is totally free to do what she wants,” says Janice Buckley, Ruth’s best friend since childhood. “But yeah, she’s being a real bitch about this.”

Ruth says their feelings on the matter don’t concern her. “All anyone wants to do is play me their favorite music all the f***ing time. If I have to listen to one more Tame Impala song, I swear to God I’m doing the procedure myself,” says Ruth, who has already contacted her surgeon to inform him of her plans. “I thought sound was supposed to be this incredibly useful, wonderful thing. But honestly? I was fine for 27 years without it.” She’s currently waiting on approval from her health insurance provider to have the implants removed.

Some have called her ungrateful. Others say she’s brave.

“If you ask me, I think it’s pretty cool Ruth is doing what makes her happy,” says Scott Clancy, her uncle.

“But I really think if she just listens to the White Album she’ll change her mind.”

woman working girl sitting
Ruth Larson, hearing

Is it just the music? “No, it’s everything. Dogs barking, lawnmowers, commercials, people smacking their lips when they eat, people snoring, phone conversations on the bus, traffic. This morning I listened to someone blare their car horn for a solid 3 minutes because someone else cut them off. I mean, really? This is what everyone’s been rubbing in my face this whole time?” says Ruth, who is noticeably sleep-deprived.

“And what the f*** kind of name is ‘Ruth?'”

Despite her disappointment, Karen wants her daughter to choose her own path. “I will always love and support Ruth whether she can hear or not. She’s the one this decision affects, not us.” She pulls three Whitney Houston CDs out of her purse. “We’ll have to just stick with the classics. I can’t wait to listen to these with her.”

In recent days, Ruth’s story has begun to pick up steam on social media. With this, she’s gained several critics, all of whom point out that she could easily take the external processor off if she needs a break from the noise. Ruth isn’t having it. “As long as I have this thing in my head, people will still pester me. “‘Oh, this is important, just put them back on.’ Next thing I know I’m listening to their Soundcloud and being asked for ‘feedback.’ How does anyone put up with this for an entire lifetime?”

Needless to say, Ruth is looking forward to having peace and quiet again.

“When I don’t have to hear anyone anymore, I’ll be my normal, happy self again,” she says, clearly at the end of her rope.

“But for now, everyone just shut up.”

Sounds good, Ruth.

Fifth Grader Accidentally Discovers Ancient Texts Buried In Internet Forum

Fort Benton, MT — Ten-year-old Bryce Poulson made a big discovery last October, and it’s shaking things up in the archaeology world.

He first sensed something was different about the Batman fan forum he was browsing when he saw a yellow character with arms and legs dancing in one of the comments. It’s certainly not like any emoji he had seen before.

He never would have guessed that he had just stumbled across a 1.3 decade-old secret.

BROWSING THROUGH HISTORY

When his parents saw the archaic emoji, they knew it was special. It didn’t take long for the family to find itself at the center of a major excavation.

“I immediately called the Smithsonian,” says Mark Poulson, Bryce’s father. Behind him, scientists and historians alike are hard at work archiving the extensive comment thread, which spans a staggering twenty-seven pages. Many of the posts are dated as far back as early AD 2005.

“In all my years I’ve never seen a primitive emoji with such perfectly preserved appendages,” says Professor Arnold Emmanuel, Director of Anthropology at the University of California-Berkeley, who specializes in pre-YouTube civilizations.

“We’re only at page eleven and we’ve already uncovered two Myspace-era trolls.”

“They communicated just like us”

Among the others studying the site are paleographers Rashidi Masry and Daniel Chou of the University of Michigan, who have been instrumental in the ongoing effort to decipher the obscure writings.

Masry highlights a line of cryptic text. “Here they’re discussing the trailer for Batman Begins, which agrees with the timeline we have on record.”

“We just look at what the thread tells us and try to build a narrative,” says Chou. “For example, it derails here after one commenter mentions someone named Bush. From there we can say, ‘Okay, that must have been their leader.’”

That commenter, Bowling4SoupIsNo1, is especially remarkable, says Emmanuel.

He points to an image of a zebra poking its head in and out of frame next to the specimen’s comment. An incredibly rare GIF avatar. “That it still animates after all these years is impressive, to say the least.” To some this may seem insignificant, but archaeologists can learn quite a bit from such details.

“Given the funny zebra GIF, we can reasonably infer it was fond of animals behaving like people,” says the renowned anthropologist. “This is not inconsistent with the theory that even our earliest ancestors were idiots.”

THANKS, OBAMA

Emmanuel’s work is far from over, even after the site is fully documented. For him, there will always be another Bowling4SoupIsNo1 waiting to be found. His Holy Grail? The missing link.

“We share so many traits with these creatures, but the one key difference seems to be temperament. The evidence suggests they were generally happier,” he says. It’s uncertain what a missing link might look like, but Emmanuel believes his search will ultimately lead him to the first ironic “thanks obama” commenter. “I think that specimen would hold the answers to some of our greatest questions.

“It may even tell us why we are the way we are.”

As for Bryce, this has been a life-changing experience. Ever since that chilly October morning, he’s had dreams of following in Emmanuel’s footsteps. He can’t wait to get to work. Or, as he puts it, “I just want my computer back.”

Nation’s Conspiracy Theorists Mourn Recent Death of Elvis Presley

Memphis, TN – It’s a warm, quiet afternoon at Graceland. The Sun sets on a somber gathering of Elvis Presley conspiracy theorists, who, when the daylight fades, begin their planned candlelight vigil while humming a slowed-down rendition of The King’s rock ‘n’ roll hit, “Hound Dog.” The men remove their tinfoil out of respect for their beloved idol. Elvis Presley has passed away by now, probably.

Elvis truthers of all ages, backgrounds and degrees of misguided paranoia have joined tonight at Elvis’ false gravesite to commemorate the almost-certainly-now-deceased musician. Even a few Elvis impersonators have made appearances, provoking double-takes everywhere they go.

“He was a legend,” says Lynn Davis, a fan who traveled from Arkansas to pay her respects. “From Jailhouse Rock all the way up through his so-called ‘posthumous releases.’” She looks at the 1977 date of death on the grave marker and scoffs sadly.

Nearby, a mother sits on a blanket with her children and a scrapbook, showing them blurry photos of Elvis in his later years. Behind them, a Tennessee man sharing the story of his encounter with the famous performer: “Chick-Fil-A, man, swear to Christ. Think what you want, I’m not f***ing crazy.”

The evening has come together quite well, despite concerns that the gathering was organized a bit late. Mark Burell, the creator of the Facebook event that brought everyone together, shrugs this off. “We did what we could. While most of us are pretty sure he died around last November, a few are saying it was definitely early-to-late August,” says Burell. “But we all agree that he has to be dead by now.

“I mean, the man was 83. Have you heard the kinds of things he ate?” Some even think drugs may have been involved. “I honestly can’t believe he made it as long as he did.”

BlessedElvisOfSouthMain
Elvis out for a walk – October 2014, for sure

There are still skeptics. A closed Facebook group was formed in response to Mark’s event, with members claiming that Elvis has faked his death a second time, and that the pop culture icon is still alive and well. Mark dismisses these people as “whack-jobs.”

As the evening draws to a close, the truthers pack up their things and quietly disperse. Mark is peaceful. “We didn’t come to grieve; we came to celebrate The King’s accomplished and mostly hidden life, which, after his government-engineered death in ’77, was kept out of the public eye so he could continue his work with the DEA in private. And that’s just what we did.”

The perfect sendoff for a legend.

At press time, Mark was planning similar events for Jimi Hendrix and Tupac Shakur, “since these things usually happen in threes.”