Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Floating Pumpkin of Death

The Archives lives on once again! New material has been exhumed from dusty boxes stuffed precariously in the corners of our vaults; there is an important new paper fragment to be revealed soon, but today we have an audiovisual treat to accompany your Thanksgiving revelries! For the first time since its original VHS print run, we bring to you a lost masterpiece...

Some time circa 1995, Mr. Hall, Latin instructor for an Eastern seaboard middle school, inadvertently created a horror cult classic with a gaggle of student collaborators. With naught but a shoestring budget and storyline, a whipcrack special effects crew, a microphone taped to a three-foot ruler, a hand-held camcorder, and a backpack full of dreams, Hall and director Sam Meeker crafted an extraordinary vision: a world caught in violent upheaval due to the arrival of renegade pumpkins from outer space.

Having landed on Earth, the pumpkins descend upon God's Acre to wreak havoc and terrorize the public. The middle schoolers they first encounter, however, are no mere pushovers. Quaking with fear to their very bones, they run at first, but once they realize there's no place to hide, they choose to stand and fight. Selflessly, Latin teacher Mr. Hall (playing himself) volunteers to take on the orange menace, but cowers in fear at their awesome powers. In his absence, Sam and Ian follow close on, and as Sam bravely calls down the pumpkins, he becomes their first victim.

This sets up Aynsley's legendary line, one of the most storied ad-libs in all of film: "Never send a man to do a woman's job!" (AFI's 100 Years 100 Movie Quotes, where were you on this one??) Yet the very sight of a roving pumpkin strikes such terror in this scream queen's heart that she collapses and dies immediately from sheer fright. All seems hopeless for our ragtag band of pint-sized freedom fighters...

Cut to the reception office, where Jim steps in for a hall pass after a 'doctor's appointment' (a likely story), the lead-in to Ms. Ricchio's ominous bit of foreshadowing: "I hope you're not...too late...". Jim hurries to class and, instead of encountering a room full of declensions and Ulysses, finds himself in the midst of a hideous bloodbath. All too soon, his body is brutally added to the carnage, as well.

Puzzled by the lack of news, another plucky preteen pulls up his tweed trousers and decides to take matters into his own hands. Justin seeks out a weapon before entering the fray, and upon opening his locker, finds only Ian, who has barricaded himself within to save his own trepid skin. Surveying the wreckage, Justin at first can find no sign of the pumpkin perpetrators...and when he looks out the window, a sneak attack from above sends him plunging several stories to his death. The special effects for the defenestration scene rank among the most exquisite in middle-school cinema history.

With that, the pumpkins make their move, spilling out into the school corridors and forcing the students to flee into the alleyways. Mr. Hall, emboldened by some newfound internal strength, resolves to end this cucurbital incursion once and for all. But will he succeed? There's only one way to find the video link below!

The film has no soundtrack; it was rumored that talks to have the film scored by Billy Corgan broke down over licensing stipulations. Yet the Dolby-free background din in the current version creates a compellingly eerie ambience, not unlike Hitchock's The Birds. The video is not in perfect condition; the ravages of time and digital transfer have taken their toll, but future efforts will be devoted to painstaking restoration of lost frames. A Criterion Collection edition may be in the works in the future.

***TRIGGER WARNING***: Pumpkins were harmed in the making of this film.


Mr. Hall - Himself
Sam Meeker - Victim #1
Aynsley Briggs - Victim #2
Jim LaRose - Victim #3
Justin Marcus - Victim #4
Ian O'Brien - Coward
Ms. Ricchio - Herself
Vinayak Kakodkar - Scared Boy
John Manzella - Grateful Boy (uncredited)
Mediha Abdulhay - Extra
Marco Barrone - Extra
Julia Fiorentino - Extra
Godfrey Lee - Extra
Alyrene Dorey - Girl in Reception Office (uncredited)

Adam Marushak - Gaffer
John Manzella, Justin Marcus, Jim LaRose - Pumpkin trainers
Sam Meeker - Director

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The End

This concludes the official selections of the Archives. Everything I have from this legendary collection has now been posted.

I'm not really sure what to do with this blog now...I have other miscellaneous humorous items I was considering posting, and would take submissions, but I haven't gotten any. Not really sure.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The College Board Essays, Part 3: Sam's Philippic

We'll complete the round of Advanced Placement essays with this screed from the hand of Sam, who makes his first and only appearance here in the Archives. Sam had no intention of displaying his understanding of symbolism or narrative devices. He knew he wouldn't get AP credit at the college he planned to attend. Furthermore, he was a man with a decided distaste for organized social systems, and he communicated this to "The College Board" (he consistently refers to them in sarcastic scare quotes) by penning this critique of their unsavory financial dealings and submitting it in lieu of the English essays. Like Andrew, he was able to recopy the entire essay on scratch paper and sneak it out for public appreciation. Transcription follows below.

In light of "The College Board's" questionable intentions, and monopolistic business practices, I have decided not to "crank out" the prescribed essays. Instead I wish to offer myself as a martyr. Indeed, this may seem foolish, but if you consider being a Senior in the year 2000, and the complete hell that it is you may have some sympathy. The college process has essentially been corrupted by hefty fees for minimal service, and a level of intensity designed to scare students into action. Parents have bought into this, and consequently push their children to the brink of psychosis. What parents and guidance counsellors don't tell you is that those liberal-arts colleges, that require Fives on APs, and $30,000 give you the same education as any state school. So why do people think that prestige is the most important factor? Because we live in a society where a test costs $76 to take, and sending them costs $19. I thought postage was ¢35? People are more occupied with amassing a pedigree than an education. And how does the "College Board" defend it's involvement in this trend?

Not only have costs gone up, but in recent years the difficulty of the test has declined, and for what? Undoubtabaly, an attempt to bring test-taker's money into the vaults at Princeton. In dumbing down the test, hence removing the elitist status it once had, "The College Board" has shamelessly showed how they plan to make everyone AP material.

In response to my attacks on "The College Board's" fees, I'm sure the phrase "quality instructors" would be used. Well, it so happens that I know a former AP grader, and from how he described it the pay was in no way in proper relation to how much the test cost.

So give me my 1, and grade the next test. If you do so many in an hour I'm sure they'll give you a nice mug. At least you may have become savy to the farce of a mockery of a shame that is the APs.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The College Board Essays, Part 2: Atwood and Amy

Oh, John. So dear to the Archives' heart, his parting shot at our fine institution was this set of essays, written for the same AP test as the previous post. His essay on Atwood is a fulminating, unfinished, drug-addled rant in defense of Homer, trenchantly condemning her reinterpretation of the Odyssey. For his other essay, he chose to eschew the given topics altogether. Instead...he composed a porno. Genuine, A-grade, X-rated smut. And handed it in to the College Board.

He was so proud of his work, he snuck out, ostensibly on a bathroom break, took his blue book with him, and ran to the copy machines, managing to sneak by everyone. I got the copies. Read on...

 This is fucking crap. Homer is the man. I mean, if Homer didn't write this, then where would the world be? The Athenians would have lost to the Spartans, and all hope for the future would have been lost. Homer's Odessy included such treks as to Chicago, Istanbul, Ching-chong-ching, and Tehran. Bart was the key person to the Odessy, because Bart actually made Homer go into such a tirade because he voted for Pericles instead of Dioces[?] for the head-honcho position to Athens. The god-damned youth is fucking with my universe and it fucked Homer's as well. Now, if Homer smoked crack, then the Odessy would not exist. He already would have visited the moon, maybe even Neptune, so why would he want to go to Chicago? It blows my mind.


Margaret Atwood had no right to make a modern interpretation of Homer's Odessy. Istanbul, Tehran, Ching-chong-ding, and Chicago are all vastly different now than 4,000,000 years ago, plus she had to smoke crack to visit th

In Amy does the Faculty (by anonymous), Amy literally does the entire faculty. She is a 16 year old goddes who is as beautiful as Cindy Crawford, but she did too many drugs and now she has straight F's. Fortunately for her, she loves to "Fuck", and she has a plan to get straight A's from the all-male faculty. ([unintelligible]?) Well, she struts around in skimpy leather miniskirts that you can see her "ass" with, and a very tight shirt that her overly large "tits" pop out of. It was a mystery to the teachers if she was just trying to tease them, or seduce them. Mr. Cummings was the first to put the puzzle together. What happened was that Amy looked deep into Cummings's eyes, and put her hand on his leg and the other into her "wet pussy" and said "I'll do anything for an A Mr. Cummings, and you don't have to worry about doing this for every student because I can keep my mouth shut." Without further hesitation, Cummings pulled out his overly large penis, and told her to take off her panties and sit on his "cock"

Cummings knew that she liked this and told her that he'd tell the rest of the faculty as well, but if she wanted an A, she would [unintelligible] to "fuck" him every other day each quarter. Mr. BigDick, Mr. Wang, Mr. StrokeIt, and Mr. ILikeToEat were the next to discover this mystery.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The College Board Essays, Part 1: Atwood and Addison

Senioritis is real. Like a twelfth-grade chemistry experiment, it requires a nucleation site to crystallize - but once it gets going, it quickly spreads forth, its wispy tendrils extending in all directions and ensnaring everything in its path. It took hold in our school as much as any other, with many students essentially abandoning schoolwork after the promise of a college admission. Some didn't wait for acceptance to start slacking off. Some, of course, had been slacking all along, and simply found senior year a capstone in a life of leisure.

As part of their slacking programs, several students made verbal mention of blowing off their year-end Advanced Placement (AP) exams, since their near future, they thought, was assured. Why not just skip the test, or treat it as a joke? Well, somebody decided to do just that, and after he did so, and publicized his exploit, other students followed. In fact, they were so proud of their work that they kept copies of it, and handed them to me immediately after the end of the test!

How did they manage this exploit? These are, after all, official standardized tests, and they are supposed to be tightly monitored. Well, in two of the cases (including today's excerpts), the students' tongue-in-cheek essays took so little time to write that they were able to fully copy out the text onto scrap paper and smuggle them out. As for the'll see.

Our first exploits are two essays, written by the same person. The first is a racy, but rather legitimate, comparison essay on Homer's Odyssey and "Siren Song" by Margaret Atwood; the second is a combative deconstruction of an unknown work by Joseph Addison. Transliteration will follow below each image.

The mythical sirens are portrayed in 2 very distinct manners in these passages. While Odysseus describes the sirens as seductive spawn of satan that stir the very core of his unrealized sexual feelings, Atwood writes from the point of view of one of the sirens, saying that she doesn't enjoy the malicious tempting of sailors, and that she would gladly get away from the hellish island if she could.

The excerpt from the Odyssey is packed with fallic imagery and allusions to emphasize the feelings of the hero, tied to a mast screaming in heat. In line 10 "whitecaps stroke on stroke" is a phrase that shows how the strong, primal sexual fervor begins to rise within Odysseus. The sirens sing "moor your ship on our coast" (line 15), which can easily be interpreted as "we want to have sex with you," when clearly, the reader knows that these evil temptresses will not indulge the hero in any such activities. Odysseus speaks of the "honeyed voices pouring from [their] lips" (line 17). Again, this strong fallic image insights a sexual riot in the hero. Finally, as a counterpart to the "whitecaps" line that began Odysseus' sex drive, a phrase in line 20 marks the gradual fading of Odysseus lebido: "the heart inside me throbbed to listen longer." I don't think it was just his heart that was throbbing.

The character that wrote this journal has no life. He wastes his time writing down all the dumb and trivial things he does. What kind of an idiot writes about tying his fucking shoes in his diary? Addison's satirical purpose is completely achieved, for he successfully created a character that does nothing of importance. This guy's life is the perfect example of superficial aristocracy. Just like the phony rich people in Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, this character does nothing but take care of himself and go to the club, coffeeshop, and field for a walk. When he walks in the field, he notes the way in which the wind is blowing. This act of stupidity can only be explained by the guy being stoned. He doesn't really put tobacco in his pipe, but he puts weed in it and gets stoned every day before he runs around in a field writing down that the wind is blowing Southeast. What a dumbass and a bitch faggot Addison has created in this passage.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Diary of A. Skank

Good grief... this is like a cornucopia of bad taste. Originally, this sheet was a ticket order form for the school's performance of the play The Diary of Anne Frank, but it was almost completely obliterated by a covey of eleventh-graders and transformed into a kaleidoscopic display of blue humor. Enter at your own risk...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cathy, Queen of Cats

Here we have a personal reflection on Sandra Cisneros's Hispanic-coming-of-age novel The House on Mango Street, which came to me through a peer review. The student finds the character Cathy Queen of Cats most intriguing, remarking that perhaps she keeps so many pets so that "she can psychologically use them as friends because she has no others." In a moment of stark introspection, David reveals, "I can relate to Cathy's personallity [sic] because I know someone very much like her that I dislike." Maybe the teacher was impressed at his forthrightness; certainly the peer reviewer was not.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


The ever-dependable John returns again; you may remember him from his many previous appearances. This time, the English class was asked to take out paper and spend a few minutes writing down common instances of symbolism. As always, John's take on the world deviates rather strongly from the norm. Did you know that "khakis" are a symbol of "dorkiness"? Or that "space" is a symbol for "out of this world"? "Green guy", we find, symbolizes "marshian" [sic], and many more!

His handwriting being almost illegible, I recopied his responses in the right-hand column shortly after receiving the piece; a transliteration will nevertheless follow, since both are now rather hard to read on the scan. But let that not dissuade you - some of the best stuff here is pictorial!

[heart] - love
[cross] - death
cigarette - cool being cool
marijuana - drugs
soap - cleanliness
backwards hat - being cool
khakis - dorkiness
space - out of this world
computer - 20th century
light - heali holiness
priest - holiness
monk - homosexuality
fireworks - excitement
kissing - love
the finger - hate
sex - love
church - holiness
yelling - rage
green guy - marshian
surfboard - california
[cycle sign] - recycle
[skull and crossbones] - pirates; death
[Mr. Yuk] - poison
[Pac-Man ghost] - ghost

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I, Claudius Quiz

Another shortie today, a pop quiz on Robert Graves's historical fiction I, Claudius from ninth-grade history class. This is the closest I've ever seen to a 0% on anything - Alexandra got half a point for answering #8 correctly as "NO", but when asked to explain, she writes, "because" and then trails off.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Wuthering Heights

A short one today, on Emily Brontë's Victorian novel Wuthering Heights. A high school classic notorious for bringing girls to tears of sympathy and boys to tears of boredom, the book was the subject of a tenth-grade pop quiz, and the fellow who submitted this entry fared rather poorly. The crucial line is his answer for question #4; when prompted to explain the significance of Gimmerton (the home village of the local doctor Kenneth), he replies, "Gimmerton was the name of the town that the normal people lived in?" I guess, sometimes, it takes a child to point out what we knew all along but never wanted to say...

Monday, January 2, 2012

Ode to Psyche

The irrepressible Travis makes yet another appearance with this quiz, squirreled away in a folder I had forgotten about until now. Prompted to wax poetic in a manner following John Keats's immortal poem but "in a modern setting with contemporary myth like characters", Travis rhapsodizes on Bill and Monica, the epitome of late twentieth-century eroticism. As in Keats, the narrator stumbles upon paramours (here in the Oval Office, rather than the forest floor), and the sight sends him into delirious paroxysms of disgust, departing here significantly from the original. He received full credit for his efforts - boo yeah, grandma! Transliteration of the poem follows below.

Yesterday, possibly in dreaming
I wandered past the White House lawn
Peering through the dark, wrought iron gates,
I percieved [sic] beneath Washington's portrait,
Two lovers lying, half asleep,
The Oval Office desk being thy bed
Oh Monica! You were his lust's focus.
Vile, beastly, Jezabel [sic], where didst thou recieve [sic] thy frame?
From Weight Watchers, not God.
But thou art immortalized still,
Not in a church, nor praised by musician,
No holy text be thy resting place.
Thy temples are the tabloids,
Ne're [sic] in my mind will you reside
With a torch, I would set fire to thee!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Spanish Homework

Here we have two assignments from a Spanish workbook. Both were submitted by a fellow named John, and this is not his first appearance here.

In the first, which was an in-class assignment, he records his name both as "Don Juan" and "Puff Padre" (no doubt both an homage to the artist formerly known as Puff Daddy and a reference to his penchant for smoking alternative tobaccos). He completes the assignment (sloppily, but at least legibly), but in the margins he spends his extra time doodling - here a shaggy face, there an amoeba. On the right-hand side there is a rather boxy depiction of a cow (we know it's a bovine only because it is mooing), and the grader remarks, "This indicates playing around during class = unacceptable behavior". You tell 'em!

The second assignment was one he completely forgot about until the teacher started walking around desks to collect it. He did what any resourceful student would do: in the remaining seconds he had, he drew squiggly lines all over the page. The teacher hilariously replies, "¿What?"

Friday, December 2, 2011

Horror Story

The product of a tenth-grade creative writing assignment, this unfinished thriller was a split-setting parable about a post-nuclear wasteland, ostensibly with the conceit that the loner and the group would eventually unite. While the story makes no explicit references, there are shades of DOOM here, in structure and spirit. The male characters are depictions of students - the one, a thinly-disguised portrait of a class eccentric, and the other, a rakish, clowning fellow named John Manzella. (The part about "Boyzella" was inspired by actual events; he was called this by the school principal after a public bout of mischief.) I have no idea who Donna and Yusuke are. The writing was done in two installments, hence the two half-pages - and the two different, all-caps-lock fonts, which add to the dramatic tension.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

AP Government Quiz

These three rather dismal quizzes come from an AP Government & Politics course offered to seniors. I have no idea what the first question was, because every one of the respondents was so off the mark I can't cobble together what they must have been responding to. It probably had something to do with the abolition of some federal program. The second question, I believe, was "What program was passed along with Medicare in 1965?" and the third was "What program replaced AFDC in 1996?".

That most-represented star of the Archives, Travis, appears here again. (I should note that Travis and I were not the closest of friends in school. It's not that he was constantly feeding me his daily doings as best-chums; it's that he kept making an ass of himself on paper, over and over, and subsequently generating such laughs among his peers that I would inevitably be handed the work for safekeeping.) He only got the third question right; he was simply off the mark on the second question, and to the first question, he responds tersely, "FDR, because he no likey".

Erika had a lot of trouble recalling the acronym of the government program which superseded Aid to Families with Dependent Children in 1996; the real acronym is TANF (for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). Erika scribbles out NABF at the top of the page, tests out NAFR again at the top, then tries out simply NAF before settling on NARF, a catch-all interjection from the TV show Pinky and the Brain (and one that we used locally as a synonym for "barf" or "snarf"). She also did a humorous two-step over the time when aid recipients in NARF must obtain jobs. Her answer for #3 is transcribed below.

3. NAF NARF (not neccesarily [sic] in that order), it allowed for aid to poor families. It would only last for five years. Those recieving [sic] aid must get a job after before after between the time they start aid and the second year and must keep it. After those 5 years no more aid is given unless thier [sic] are extenuating circumstances.

Ollie (of Catcher in the Rye fame) also had trouble with the acronym, coming up with TEDF and TADF, but his real contribution was in his answer for question 1, which is transcribed below the image.
1. Bert and Ernie halted Medicare because Big Bird was not given enough benefits. Myguess is George Bush because he felt costs would be too high

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ancient Roman Art

We'll conclude our Latin series with two pieces of visual art drawn by aesthetically precocious middle schoolers. The medium of both works is pencil on copy paper.

The first, by Nimish, is a drawing of Hercules carrying out the Labor of the Cretan Bull. Instead of the great hero wrestling the bull to the ground, though, he is depicted as a cigar-chomping, fatigues-sporting Rambo toting a fully automatic weapon, which he uses to direct a stream of bullets at the (now fire-breathing) bovine. The bull responds with a tender "ouch", as the jets of flame emanating from his nostrils fail to reach Hercules but succeed in searing a few shrimp on a nearby barbie.

The second is a collaborative effort by the fertile minds of Adam and Travis, who laid out an elaborate strip comic in order to make a cross-linguistic pun about "spanking the monkey". The monkey, in this case, played by Diddy Kong. Full credits are given for the work, including, for unknown reasons, inspiration by Coolio. Translations of the captions follow below. This image is copyrighted; all rights are reserved, and the work may not be used for commercial purposes or reproduced in any way without the express written consent of Mackhouse Productions, Inc.

1: While Marcus sleeps in the house, his chariot is in the road.
2: A monkey approaches the chariot.
3: The monkey climbs into the chariot.
4: The monkey drives the chariot on the road.
5: Marcus hears a great noise and gets up.
6: Marcus sees the monkey and runs to the chariot.
7: Marcus spanks the monkey and scolds it.