Archive for June, 2011

My Cabin Retreat

From the summer journal of Steven Tobbler:

Day One: June 3, 2009

So this is my first entry of my summer blog. I’ve decided to rent a cabin in North Carolina on Lake Washbaugh and get caught up on my reading and perhaps start a garden. I just want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Charlotte and relax a little. I’m just really excited to see what this summer has in store for me.

PS As I write this, it appears that I have already made a little forest friend. A grey squirrel has been curously watching me type the whole time. He’s so cute!

Day Two: June 4, 2009

Made a trip to Margaret’s Greenhouse, a quaint, local business, and picked up some green pepper, better boy tomato and yellow squash plants. I managed to get them planted before sunset, and boy am I tired. I didn’t get much sleep last night since it sounded like something was running back and forth on the roof all night. When I was finally able to fall asleep, something was making an annoying scream or bark. Maybe the squirrel? Anyways, I was going to watch a movie tonight, but I think I’ll just go to bed early and catch up on my sleep.

Day Three: June 5, 2009

DISASTER!!!! Something pulled all of my plants out of the ground last night. The garden is destroyed. I don’t know what specific animal tracks look like, but there are tiny footprints around everywhere. Looks like a rat or something. Guess I’ll drive back to the greenhouse and get some new plants and maybe some fence material.

UPDATED: This day just gets worse. When I went out to my car, I noticed I had two flat tires. I can’t tell what caused it. The holes look very odd and there’s no metal pieces, etc. around to explain the puncture. Needless to say, I was very upset. It also didn’t help anything that the cute little squirrel was hurling acorns down from the trees. He’s not as cute as I once thought.

Day Four: June 6, 2009

The squirrel is EVIL!!!!  After I managed to get someone from a local tire shop to drive up here and fix my tires($200, I might add), I was able to drive into town and get garden supplies. Most notably, fifty yards of wire fence and a pellet gun. When I returned home, the cabin was completely ransacked. The sofa cushions look like something has burrowed through them, all the dishes have been thrown to the floor and broken, and my bed is covered in squirrel feces.

This rodent is going down.

Day Five:  June 7, 2009

I stayed up all night cleaning the cabin and making it habitable once again. Rather than sleep, I have chosen to stalk the bushy-tailed monster. I hid behind the azalea bushes with my pellet gun for three hours, but no sign of my prey. Upon returning inside the cabin, I realized that I made a mistake by leaving my home unguarded. My bed is full of feces once again. I know now what I must do. While in town, I noticed a local man with a trained falcon in the park. I shall see if I can procure his services.

Day Six: June 8, 2009

The falcon is dead. His body was splayed across the windshield of my Volvo this morning. I don’t know the whereabouts of the falconeer. I’m trying to track down his family. I’m so scared.

Day Seven: June 9, 2009

I don’t know what to do. This squirrel is a literal monster, but I paid a lot of money to stay here, so I can’t let him drive me out. He was sitting outside my bedroom window this morning and I screamed at him. “You won’t get rid of me!”over and over until my throat was raw and I broke down in tears. I swear he was grinning the whole time.

Day Thirty-Five:  July 7, 2009

Hello everyone. If you’re wondering why the blog suddenly went silent for almost a month, it’s because today is my first day out of jail. I was arrested on June 9 for alledgedly threatening my ex-wife’s new family. I was shocked beyond belief since I have been on good terms with Arianna since our split in 2004 and I golf with her new husband, Ron, from time to time. The reason I was arrested was because of this letter:

Luckily, there was no proof that I sent it and after a lot of painful discussions and a restraining order prohibiting me from returning to Virginia, I was set free. However, the envelope was said to contain a large amount of what appeared to be squirrel hair and looked as though it had been chewed on regularly.

This has all been too much and I have decided to pack up and leave the cabin before the squirrel has a chance to completely destroy my life. If I pack quickly, I should be able to leave within the next couple of hours and make my way to Alabama to stay with my brother Rick. Good riddance to this place! See you tomorrow Rick!

Day Thry Sixx:  Junely .8, 009

I like here. Stay here. Rick man, sorry. I won’t love me visiting. I rejct society. Don’t look fore me, EVER!!!

– Cabin Man


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Ways Your Homecoming Dance Can Be Ruined

Hey gang. Here’s a quick little post to get you through to the weekend. Happy Friday, everyone!




Ways Your Homecoming Dance Can Be Ruined

-You move in to kiss your lovely date, but chicken out at the last second causing the guitar player on stage to fade from existence(turns out, he was your future son). Horrified at this sight, the teenagers stampede for the exits and kill the school mascot, a goat named Mr. Chompers.


-During your homecoming king acceptance speech, you realize that someone, as a prank, replaced the index cards in your pocket with three chapters of The Diary of Anne Frank and you’re too nervous to stop reading.


-The mean girls confront the newly attractive, formerly nerdy girl, Jessica about her meteoric rise up the social ladder. Jessica begins to cry and Rod, the captain of the football team, asks what right anyone has to judge how people live and insist that we all work to be better people. This causes people to momentarily forget about the Kodiak bear on the loose, which seizes the opportunity to attack the Pep Squad.


-Due to the economic downturn, the dance is forced to share a room with the open casket funeral of local banker, Robert Mansker.


-The thick gym walls prevent you from getting a strong 3G signal, thereby prohibiting you from checking Twitter to determine if the dance is fun.


(Image from

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Poetry Failure #2

Again, some more bad poetry:


Snow falls and the landscape transforms

This city street is now an oasis of serenity

My eyes are transfixed on nature’s beauty

I should really get back to putting out this house fire. Back to the screams.


Why are we here? What’s the purpose of life?

What happens when I die? Is there a heaven?

I guess there could be, so I better untie this family.


I feel that I am here

I know that I am here, part of the universe.

But if no one else notices, do I truly exist?

Wait, that guy is waving at me.

“Hello!!! ” , my voice rings out, asserting my place in reality.

Nope, he was waving at someone else. Awkward.

They’re staring.

Time to leave Jimmy John’s.


She looks so sad.

I don’t know what to say.

I’m worried about her.

She just can’t seem to smile since the funeral.

She sits on the couch and cries.

She lifts her head and looks at me.

Oh crap, she sees me! Sees me hiding in the bushes!

She’s screaming.

She seems so upset.

I want to hug her,

But I think it’s best if I just pull up my pants and leave.

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Live Tweeting My Breakfast

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I Hate Running (A guest post by my friend Jessie Stegner)

Hello all. The following is a guest post by the talented and beautiful Jessie Stegner. Jessie and I are founding members of the comedy group Shoelace Academy, so I am very proud to have her writing an entry on my blog. Below are some links to more pieces by Jessie, including her podcast. So by all means, check her stuff out and love her like the rest of the world does.

Jessie’s Podcast:

Jessie’s travel articles:

And check out all things Jessie(shows, updates, etc):

I Hate Running

By Jessie Stegner

“If you don’t finish the mile under the set time, you will fail P.E.”

“Um, what?,” I thought. “Fail P.E.? Is that even allowed?” I didn’t understand. I thought the whole point of the class was just to be physical. To get out there and do your best. Now all of a sudden there are rules to what my best actually is? “I don’t even like running,” I kept thinking. “In fact, I hate running.”

My relationship with running goes back years. A decade, as a matter of fact. Back to middle school. It was the first time anyone ever forced me to run. It was also the first time I had to wear school uniforms, change clothes in front of my pre-teen peers and pretend to complain about the changes involved in “becoming a woman” even though I was only 45% sure what that phrase meant. It was a pretty influential time. All I remember were the girls who could run faster than me. Who ran almost effortlessly. They were the same girls who had perfectly straight hair, boyfriends and Victoria Secret bras. I would be struggling through lap 4 and they would be rounding their 6th. I would be huffing and puffing and they seemed to just glide on through, hair still perfectly held in a dark blue scrunchie (which matched our Bobcat P.E. uniforms, of course). It felt as though they were cruising through this awkward stage of life, just sprinting by me as I gasped for air.

After that experience I might have been able to forgive running. I might have given it a second chance. Had it not been for Ms. Silvan. Silvan was my freshman P.E. teacher. She was hardcore about physical health. She had really short silvery grey hair and spent most time in her office in the girls’ locker room which did nothing but make me uneasy. Who has an office in a locker room? Who wants to be surrounded by the sound of toilet flushes and B.O. all day long? Who wants to walk out their door and see awkward teenagers trying to get the cole slaw out of their braces after lunch? Silvan, that’s who. Silvan was tough. I never saw her eat. Not once. She didn’t have an ounce of body fat on her either. She lacked breasts…and a personality. Perhaps even a soul. The woman was obsessed with being fit. That was all she did at our high school. She was either teaching health, coaching the girls’ soccer team, or observing the freshmen’s mandatory physical education class. The woman was brutal. We had to do all the same exercises her soccer team did. Stair drills, runs around the neighborhood, you name it. I kept thinking, “ I specifically tried out for the school plays to avoid doing these. I am not cut out for this. I am not cut out to run.”

It finally came time for the semester exam. It was a fairly simple concept, we had to run a mile. The only catch was, we had to do it in less than 15 minutes. If we couldn’t we would fail P.E. FAIL. “What? Is that even allowed?” I would ask myself. Apparently it was. Apparently Silvan could do whatever she wanted. I thought about it for weeks. I dreaded it. I knew I couldn’t do it. I had never run it under 15 minutes before, what would make this occasion any different? 

Judgment day finally arrived. I showed up to third period in a sweat. I didn’t know what to do. I paced around the starting line on the field to try to calm myself down. I was doomed. 

Running a mile was 8 laps around our track. Silvan gave us an update on our time from her stopwatch as we passed her each time around. My heart stopped after every lap I made in fear that this was the moment she would say a number over the limit. 

I tried so hard. I moved my body as fast as I could. I tried to keep up with the other girls but it was to no avail. As I rounded for lap 6, I looked up and Silvan firmly stated, “Right now you’re at 15 minutes and 25 seconds. But I guess you can keep going.”

I finished the mile in about 20 minutes from what I remember. It was humiliating. I didn’t want to show my face in school again. It was bad enough being chubby with frizzy hair. Bad enough that I idolized Broadway stars and had no concept of how to talk to boys. Now I had to live with failing the one class in high school that was supposed to be a breeze. 

I swore off running for a long, long time. I bad mouthed it, complained about it and claimed it was the biggest waste of time. It was an evil that would take years to comprehend, years to face and years to overcome. 

Then one day in my senior year of college I found myself getting on my workout clothes and walking out the door. I don’t know what it was about that particular day, just something I felt I needed to do. I ran about four blocks before feeling like I was going to puke and having to stop. I turned back around and came home. But something inside of me, for some reason, really enjoyed it. When stripped of its teenage angst, running actually became an enjoyable activity. I kept at it. I ran and ran. I increased my distance. I decreased my time. Somewhere along the line, in spite of those bad memories, running became a part of me.

About 2 years ago I ran my very first race. Nothing too drastic, just a simple neighborhood 5K. I was scared out of my mind. All of my high school gym memories came flooding back to me as I approached the starting line. “ I write for the school newspaper, I sing in the choir, I have the lead in the musical,” I began to say to myself. “I do not go out for sports and I certainly do not run.” As I stood there among the 3,500 people participating, I wondered how many of them couldn’t finish their freshman year mile under 15 minutes. How many of them weren’t even planning on finishing today’s miles in that time. It was then that I realized it didn’t matter. No one cared about finishing in a certain amount of time or beating a certain number of people. We were all running because we found joy in it. We were running for all the right reasons. Quite simply, we were running because it makes us happy. 

But, for the record, all three of my miles in that race were run in well below 15 minutes. So Silvan, you can suck it. 





















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Signs That Warren Arnold Has Been Unemployed Too Long

(This is also a guest post over at

I have been out of work since the end of March after I relocated to Chicago from St. Louis in order to move in with my girlfriend Jenny Sherman. While, I’m looking for work, it’s not been easy. Here are some signs that I have been unemployed too long:

– As of June 14, I have authored fourteen volumes of Charmed fan fiction.(Next up: Vol 15, Phoebe goes bikini shopping).

– Google now flashes the message “I’m tired Warren. Read a book.”

– My tears have ruined the carpet.

– I’m attempting to broker peace between a family of Golden Warblers and the local squirrels(Update: Talks have broken down. I’m heading for the panic room, aka the bathroom).

– I am now aware that there is a fifth hour of the Today show, but it’s hosted by a couple of old guys who drink a lot.

– I built a robot out of a coffee grinder, a wet-dry vac, and the Nintendo Wii. His name is Tyler and we’re friends.

-I’ve discovered the hidden, magical universe called the neighbor’s trash cans.

-I gave myself a performance review and promoted myself to Chief Testicular Office and Supervisor of the Mott’s Applesauce.

– It’s only a matter of days before the mommy’s group I joined discover that I’m not a former manager of Forever 21 named Lisa and my six-month old boy is a dead chihuahua.

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Your Next Vacation

Editor’s Note:

Allen Foster is a contributing writer to The American Traveler Magazine. His pieces highlight destinations or attractions with historical significance.


The Poplar Branch Hotel

Allen Foster

I first arrived at the Poplar Branch Hotel in Broken Rock, Idaho after driving a winding mountain road surrounded by imposing granite cliffs where small, twisted pine trees fought to hang on. Once the sun sat in the west behind the snow capped mountains, the red and orange light had me convinced I was driving to Hades itself.

I had heard of the Poplar Branch Hotel in the early eighties when many artists and writers came here for inspiration and a chance to escape the larger cities. All had checked into the Poplar Branch and claimed to be different people upon checking out. I myself was interested in room 192, said to be “inhabited” by a dark energy. The hotel had forbidden people to stay there since 1982, but I was able to convince a reluctant desk clerk with a couple of hundred dollars taped to the bottom of a pack of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Once I had reached the infamous room 192, my eyes were drawn to the canopy bed, the antique furniture, and the magnificent crown molding in the solid oak room. However, nothing intrigued me quite like a small iron door, no more than one foot tall, that someone had tried to obscure with a large steamer trunk. I attempted to open it, but it appeared that something from the other side was holding it shut.

After a couple of drinks at the bar and some amusing conversation with a couple of local elk hunters, I decide to retire. The Makers Mark ensured that I was asleep within minutes. I was stirred from slumber sometime during the night from what sounded like a scurry across the hardwood floor and my eyes opened slightly. Standing in the middle of the floor was a small red animal, for lack of a better term, standing on two legs smelling my brown leather shoes with its beak like snout. My mind was still wondering if I was awake or dreaming when I suddenly remembered that the last tenant of Room 192 before it had been closed to the public had been Jim Henson and that’s when it occurred to me that I was looking at a real life fraggle.

A fan of the show as a child, I quickly realized that this was Red, the rambunxious and carefree fraggle. This was not the Red I had grown up with, however. While remaining still and faking sleep, I watched as the fraggle sprouted a row of sharp teeth and began to tear into the leather of my show, whipping herself(?) into a frenzy that ended with an epileptic type seizure and a spray of urine approximately two feet beind her. I gasped. I wish I hadn’t.

The gaze of the little monster quickly turned on me, her eyes shining like little embers that only a creature of hell should have. That’s when I heard more scuffling, but this time from above. I fixed my eyes on the shadows and saw the rest of the Fraggle village crawling along the ceiling as if gravity no longer applied to them. Every fraggle let out a blood-curdling scream that seemed to harmonize and unite into the phrase “Dance your cares away”.

They were all there: Gobo, the nice guy and leader of the fraggles; Wembley, the indecisive whimp; Boober, the depressed fraggle; Mokely, the spiritual Earth mother of the bunch; and the aforementioned Red.

The little demons were quickly upon me, stroking my face with their three fingered hands. Their strength was unimaginable. Gobo held me down almost single handedly, while Wembley and Boober kept their faces less than an inch from mine, their hot breath obviously meant to intimidate.

Mokely moved around my body with intense curiosity, but seemed to be obsessed with my genitals. I was petrified with terror.

As Gobo sank his teeth into my right bicep, my fear was replaced with an urge to survive and I hurled him across the room, where he became impaled on a small American flag on the desk. The fraggles all paused for a second, but once they saw the blood running down the pole of the miniature Old Glory, their blood lust took over and they began to feed on the former leader. In under a minute, the remains of Gobo were just some scraps of hair and a few teeth scattered around the floor.

Again, their gaze was upon me, but the energy of the room was different this time. Having killed their leader, I was now looked upon as the successor to the fraggle throne. They circled around my feet making a high pitched cooing sound and defecating in a nearly perfect circle around me.

Their sudden shift in demeanor caught me off guard, and that is all the time needed for another to challenge the new alpha male. I felt a sharp pain in my left arm and saw a small blade sticking through. Someone had stabbed me from behind. That someone was Gobo’s only true ally. Uncle “Travelling” Matt.

I spun to face him and he let a crisp scream. Suddenly, the little iron door began to move and the steamer trunk was flung across the room. Like a horde of army ants sprang a swarm of doozers. They surrounded me and I began to stomp my feet frantically, as green doozers popped like grapes under my weight. Uncle Matt, sprang forth and knocked me to the ground, knocking the wind out of me. The fraggles sprang to my defense, but Wembley and Boober were quickly reduced to skeletons by the little constructors. Mokley was of no use as she was still attached to my genitals and seemed to be pleasuring herself.

Doozers swarmed my injured arm like pirahnas in a frenzy, feeding on my wound. I grasped Uncle “Travelling” Matt by the throat, but I was loosing blood and I could not hold him much longer. Luckily, Red sprang to my rescue and finished the world traveller by shoving a letter opener through one of Uncle Matt’s ears and out the other. As I looked over and noticed that I had very little remaining of my left arm, I blacked out.

When I awoke some time later, my head was still swimming from the blood loss, but my mind quickly went to my injured arm. As I turned my head, I noticed Mokely and Red attempting to attach a small Fraggle arm(presumably from Uncle Matt) with a sewing needle and thread in an effort to replace my lost limb. I attempted to wiggle the fingers. The index finger came to life quickly followed by the other two fingers and the thumb soon thereafter. My new friends had proven to be miracle workers and despite my freakish condition, I felt happy to be alive. I went to make myself a quick Makers Mark on the rocks, but the weight of the half full bottle was too much for the shoddy limb replacement and the dead meat ripped loose from my torso. In retrospect, it was asinine of me to think that a small race of feral birds who live in a series of underground caves would understand the intracacies of neural and muscular regeneration. But I’m an eternal optimist.

I stood up slowly, trying to not to faint. I did my best to remove Mokely from my genitals, but it was easier to wait until she was finished masturbating. I had been uncertain before, but it was clear now that she was masturbating. I staggered to the telephone and called the front desk, telling them I needed medical attention. Their urgency told me that they knew exactly what had transpired.

Someone from the hotel was there within twenty seconds. He did not knock. He simple opened the door and released six large ferrets into the room. The fraggles fought bravely, but the ferrets ate well. After the last fraggle, Red, had been disembowled, the ferrets quickly scrambled for the little iron door and went into the tunnels below. The whole ground beneath us erupted in screams for approximately half an hour, until only two exhausted ferrets emerged, missing tails and feet, and one an eye.

Should you travel to the Poplar Branch hotel, make sure to go in the fall for Pioneer Days(bring a costume), get a room with a view of the mountains, and try the crabcake eggs benedict at breakfast.

Allen Foster

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