Tuesday, November 16, 2010

An Overview of Our Course in English for Relationships

Lesson 1: Introductions. Greetings based on time of day.
"Good morning to you."
"Have a good night!"
"Hello, it is noon."

Lesson 2: Simple expressions of respect.
"I admire your clothes."
"You have a nice shape."

Lesson 3: Interrogatives.
"Where is your apartment?"
"Do you have a car?"
"Do you have roommates?"

Lesson 4: Expressing wants.
"I want to see a movie."
"I like it rough."
"I would like to use the bathroom now."

Lesson 5: Adjusting your speech to your location. Proper expressions for the movie theater, dance club, yachting party, and many other locations.
"What an impressive astrolabe you have."
"My, this cabin certainly is secluded."
"And how much is THIS worth?"

Lesson 6: Adorablisms.
"Is wookie-nubs aww tiwed?"
"I wub yoo!"
"Doez snookums wants a backwub?"
*Note: Lesson 7 is a crossover lesson with the Learning English To Create "I Can Haz a Cheezburger" Captions class.

Lesson 7: Conversation with parents and family members.
"What a fascinating anecdote."
"That was a delightful meal."
"I can see where he gets it from."

Lesson 8: Idle talk.
"I don't care what movie we see."
"Are you done with the crossword? You don't seem to be getting anywhere with it."
"I'm going for a walk."
"Do you mind if we just go to sleep early tonight?"

Lesson 9: Phrases with subtly pejorative connotations.
"That's very impressive, for you."
"Of course that's your favorite movie. It would be."

Lesson 10: Complex sentences; regret.
"It's time for one of us to let go, and I don't think it's going to be you."

Lesson 11: Profanities and the subjunctive tense.
"If I were to able to travel back in time, I would have warned myself to stay the fuck away from you."
"Had I known you were going to react like that, then maybe I would have stayed home; I had shit to do, you know."

Lesson 12: Latin phrases.
"Mea Culpa"
"Coitus Interruptus"
"Caveat emptor"

Lesson 13: How to shut the hell up.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Building Code Violations for the Love Shack

Read my newest piece in McSweeney's, Building Code Violations for the Love Shack.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The First.

It is the 6th of February, 1966. Lancashire. Matilda rests on the hospital bed, breathing hard. Her husband, John, holds her hand. The doctor tells Matilda that she's doing well: One more push and the baby will be out. Matilda closes her eyes and grimaces. There is a small, feeble cry.

The doctor stands up, holding the baby. "Mr. Astley, it's a boy."

"A boy?" John asks. "We thought it was going to be a girl." John and Matilda, exhausted, didn't expect this.

They did not expect this boy, and they have no name ready. John fumbles verbally for a bit, and finally pronounces that the baby's name is Rick. The Astleys look at Rick for a bit and then, shaking their heads, hand him off to a nurse.

John looks up, to his god, shaking his head as if to say "Okay, you got me. You got me."

And that is the story of the first rickroll.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Dear Sir or Madam,

Please advise me of your gender so I know how to address further correspondence.

Thank you,
Curtis Retherford.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Did You Know?


Did you know that the first working prototype for a telephone was invented in 1713, by the amateur French chemist Henri de Champ? If so, you are profoundly mistaken. The telephone was actually invented by Alexander Graham Bell, as nearly everyone is aware. Sure, there were some other people who invented similar devices, but Bell invented the one that became popular, which is why everyone learns his name in elementary school. Were you home-schooled or something? Who the hell is Henri de Champ? History is not yours to invent.


Did you know what Mark Twain was born two weeks after the appearance of Halley's Comet in 1835, and died, as he himself predicted, in 1910, a day after the comet's subsequent appearance? Do you think such coincidences have deeper meaning? With all of the events which occur, is it not to be expected that certain unconnected events will coincide multiple times?


Did you know that the largest living animal is the blue whale? You don't seem to be impressed with this information. Not all of this trivia can be surprising, you realize. Some of it will accord with information you already have. Don't scoff. Look, I'm really sorry there isn't a larger animal that you haven't heard of, so that once you know what the actual largest animal is you can impress your friends by asking them "Do you know what the largest living animal is?" and when they say "the blue whale" you can laugh heartily in their faces, spraying thick, viscous drops of spittle which will drive home the depths of their ignorance. "The blue whale? No, it is the Enormodon, you saliva-drenched fools, a lizard which burrows deep below the Amazonian rain forest and was until recently believed to be extinct" Sadly, the Enormodon doesn't exist. The blue whale does, and it is very large. As you would expect.


Did you know the stoplight was invented by an African American? Do you know that man's name? Do you really think you can understand how anyone can live in a society in which he is regarded as different, as inferior, and yet still strive to better the society in which he lives? Do you think that Black History Month prepares you to confront such issues?


Did you know that two plus two equals four? Well, lah-dee-freaking-da. Look at me. Look how impressed I am. Get out of here, already.


Did you know that on the back of every single United States postage stamp is a faintly drawn outline of "The Rounded Pyramid of Styringian," the secret Illuminati symbol used in the esoteric rights of the Illuminati Masonis, the group that covertly rules the world? If you "know" this, then you are sadly a conspiracy theorist, and you are wrong. Although it is perversely comforting to think that there are people, even evil people, in control of our lives, in reality we are all just stumbling along from place to place, reacting to emergencies as they happen, and using any petty advantage at our disposal to put down others and feel better about ourselves.


Did you know the joy of sitting in the grass on a warm summer day, an ice cream cone in your hand? Your entire being was focused on one simple pleasure, one task: eat your ice cream fast enough that it didn't melt, but not so fast that you got an ice cream headache. You ate, smiled, and existed. Did you know, for a few fleeting moments long ago, happiness? What happened to it? Why can't you even care enough to care?


Did you know I've been standing behind you the entire time?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Discussion Topics for a Book Club Reading My Unpublished Novel

1. Carntower Apartments, where much of the action of the novel takes place, is described as "a facade of ennui upon a foundation of misery, an eyesore on a block of eyesores, a derelict monstrosity lingering too long." How are specific characters extensions of Carntower apartments? Is there a better word to use in the description than "monstrosity?"

2. The main character, Kurtis Standin, is a writer. What words of encouragement would you offer Kurtis?

3. The character Julius Tappenroe suddenly leaves the story in Chapter 5. If he were to return to the narrative, how and why would he return? Offer specific lines of dialogue, if possible.

4: The character of Harper Bantam is described as "callous and corrupt, a leech upon creativity. Were William Faulkner to ask him for an advance, Bantam would return Faulkner's novel, unread." How does the theme of an indifferent, uncaring universe affect you as a reader?

5. Did you notice any typographical errors in the book? If so, alert your book leader.
5. a. Are you willing to fix the typos you have found, or are you part of the problem?
5. b. Do you know how to set type?

6. Kurtis Standin is able to finally achieve his dream due to the actions of a mysterious benefactor. Could I have twenty bucks?

7. One person described the book as "yielding only a forced, deus ex machina conclusion, but evincing no real moral growth in any of the characters." What the hell does that mean, and how would you fix it?

8. On a scale of 1 to 10, how likeable does the author seem?

9. Did you read the book? Like, the entire thing?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Categories for The Meta Awards

I have another piece up on McSweeney's: Categories for The Meta Awards.