Off the Record

"A new way to fill up column spaceAbout once a millennium I get tired of writing. This is that moment. Better known as I’m Sick of My Own Words.ISOMOW usually strikes columnists on deadline day when they’re forced into taking drastic measures. The easiest option is to get sick (“Sue Frause is ill…her column will resume next week”) or go on vacation (“Sue Frause is on vacation…her column will resume when she returns”). Then there’s the lazy columnist routine, which means digging out the Bartlett’s, the bible of quotes that columnists bolt to their computers. Last week, a nationally syndicated columnist did just that, wrapping up the millennium with appropriate verbiage from people both living and dead. It’s a practice I’ve been known to use on a number of occasions, yet I always feel guilty. Must be a Catholic thing. Lazier yet is reprinting funny letters, emails and tidbits that come across a columnist’s computer or desk. Although I try to keep this habit at bay, I do pass along fun stuff to readers. Case in point was the Christmas fruitcake recipe I received from countless people…that particular email hit the Internet with the force of a case of Jim Beam…and people are still questioning me about the ingredients.Then there’s the tired and true practice of exposing one’s self… by revealing the contents of one’s desk, refrigerator or car. In the past 11 years, I’ve inventoried my messy desk innards and tallied up the moldy stuff in my fridge…my car contents are still up for review.And yes, columnists do take liberties when they’re really in a bind. Sometimes they even fabricate fictitious people and throw in fake quotes…a practice that will get you the editorial boot. Although I’ve never taken that tactic, my mother says my childhood memories that I muse about are pure fiction. Come on, Mom, I was there!Last week I found yet another way to fill up my column with the required 800+ words…a Web site where you can create your own story. Known commonly as Mad Libs, this one is called Loopy Libs and can be found at www.excite.com/horoscopes/fun/loopy_libs/ .All you do is provide a dozen or so nouns, verbs, adjectives and names of friends and places and voila! You’re an instant author. Loopy Libs has numerous stories you can personalize, with such titles as Acceptance Speech, Fashion Report, Love Fortune, Traffic Ticket, Family Reunion and the ones I “wrote” below. Happy tales!COOKING WITH MARSHA SHTUART:Nothing reminds us more of Y2K than a steaming heap of fortune cookies. There are many opinions on how to best prepare a fortune cookie, but they are almost all wrong. Here’s how I like to do it, and I think you’ll find the results quite gnarly. First, take your fortune cookie and immerse it in a hot bath of WD-40. Add a pinch of salt—I like to use black salt from Neil’s Clover Patch. Soak the fortune cookie until it is moldy, and then pour it over a bed of sardines. I usually bake the fortune cookie for 2000 minutes, or until thoroughly statuesque. Once your guests get a whiff of the aroma, they’ll be licking their carnivals clean!MOVIE REVIEW-MAD MAXINE: Set in Whidbey Island in the early 1960s, Mad Maxine takes us on a thrill-ride into the crazy world of Maxine, a charming Island County Sheriff brilliantly played by Golden Jeep Award Winner Madonna. The onscreen chemistry between Maxine and her love interest, Matt Johnson, an ex-con with a passion for shopping, is positively lazy. While the first hour of the film is irrepressibly pitiful, the story begins to hurl by the third hour. Ultimately, Mad Maxine represents a valiant effort by newcomer director Sue Frause. We give it two knees up.HELP WANTED-ASSISTANT MANAGER OF EDITOR RELATIONS: The Assistant Manager of Editor Relations will work closely with the senior vice president in charge of shotguns. The applicant must be ready to yell independently, and thrive in a steamy environment. The position requires an eye for irate approaches to editor management, and the ability to snooze well with others. All applicants must have excellent truck skills, a high school diploma, and at least three years of experience with jet skiing. If interested, contact Jim Larsen, and he will make sure to call you back within 365 days.LETTER OF RESIGNATION: Dear Jim - It makes me very grumpy to announce my resignation, effective immediately. In fact, by the time you read this, I will be writing in The Bistro. I have given my blood, sweat and merlot to this company, and all I have to show for it is a sore toe and bad popcorn. But did you ever notice? No, you were too worried about keeping up payments on your dumpster. Oh, and by the way, I’ve been stealing paper clips the whole time I’ve worked here. Tainted regards, Sue Frause."

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