Art Heist will be playing at the Kinodrome Motion Picture & Screenplay Festival.
My short film, Art Heist, will be playing in Cleveland on Sept. 30 at the Kinodrome Motion Picture & Screenplay Festival. If you've ever worked on a film, especially one without a budget, you know how everything depends on the kindness of strangers you've invited to help make the film.
I'm promoting the play in this run-up to the festival, making the most of our brief moment on the big screen.
You might think that passing gas is a normal, natural bodily function. But if it was both normal and natural we wouldn’t call it “farting.”
To: ALL EMPLOYEES From: Trish in HR Subject: Farting in the Office for Beginners
Hi! Last week’s unscheduled fire alarm, we now know, was pulled by Rita Foster, who, by the way, is no longer with the company. Even though she had only been with us a few days, we wish her well in her next job, assuming she finds one.
It's probably useful to remind everyone that pulling a fire alarm without reasonable cause is grounds for dismissal.
Here’s a handy chart to help us all understand what is and isn’t “reasonable cause” for pulling the fire alarm:
REASON TO PULL FIRE ALARMNOT A REASON TO PULL FIRE ALARM Smoke seen in the building. A bad smell, like someone farted. Flames seen in the building. A bad smell, like someone farted.
Hoping to avoid a repeat of the unnecessary loss of productivity during the building evacuation, leadership asked the Human Resources team to offer guidelines on how to pass gas (i.e., “fart”) in the office.
How to fart in the office
I want everyone reading this to know that I had to do a lot of research on this topic because I honestly don’t have this problem. I don’t pass gas (i.e. “fart”) as far as I know. It is just not part of my biology. I can’t explain it other than to say that I don’t fart. I mean pass gas. And I don’t. Ever.
But here is what I learned in my research.
Don’t fart in the office
If possible, save up your colon gas for when you get a chance to step outside, preferably alone, and fart in the wind when no one is around. I know the homeless guys who sleep next to the building probably won’t appreciate this, but they stink to high heaven already so too bad homeless jobs.
Pros to this approach:
As long as no one is within ear shot, you can’t ever be blamed for farting outside.
That disgusting smell may linger on your person. (Better to not fart, I say.)
Fart in the lobby
The doors to the outside and the very high ceiling in the lobby means that the Pooh-gas from your ass will dissipate quickly. In the case where the stench lingers, I know the security guys who guard the doors won’t appreciate this, but I’m pretty sure they don’t shower every day so too bad. Pros to this approch:
There is a lot of cross-traffic in the lobby so if you can squeeze one out quietly, there will be plenty of other people to blame, and the chance that you are blamed is slim.
Donny the security guard may harass you about something sports related, or a discussion of his favorite coney dog, whatever that is. (Also, I think Donny farts a lot.)
Fart in the basement
The lower-level does not have great ventilation, but there are more walkers down there than a zombie apocalypse so the air is constantly churned. It’s possible to join the parade, slip out a bit of gas, and duck down one of the side halls and up the stairs before they know what hit them. Or so I’m told.
Pros to this approach:
If you time your breaking of the wind an easy escape up the stair well, you can drop a mustard gas bomb and no one will blame you.
There are a lot of I.T. Contractors who work in the lower level so just stepping out of the elevator down there can make you think you are trapped in a porta-potty at the State Fair on the night of the country-western concert.
Farting in the office myths and fallacies
There’s a lot of bad advice drifting around the internet on how to fart in the office. The worst of that advice hangs around like a Dutch Oven about to explode, so here are some quick tips that will hopefully keep the air in the office freshly scented.
“Crop Dusting” – the technique of walking down an aisle and leaving a trail of Pooh-gas behind you was popularized by airline stewards, but it doesn’t work in an office setting. People in cubicles are painfully aware of everyone coming and going because most of you (our monitoring software proves) spend far too much time shopping or reading gossip columns. They’ll be able to connect bad smells to recent pedestrians with the first whiff of Pooh-gas.
“Fart in the Restroom Stall” – Although restrooms are meant for bad smells and waste products I’d rather not discuss, none of us should actually be doing our business at work. I like to leave my problems at home, and you should too. (Recent upgrades to our security cameras and ID card readers allow us to track how much time is spent in restrooms, so you should do your best to only do company business at work.)
“Fart where you sit” – Some people believe that passing gas in their cubicle is the safest route because the smell has no place to go but up to the ceiling. Unfortunately, as was the case for Rita, her Pooh-gas spread like a miasma from the swamp and soon all her cubicle neighbors were brought to tears. In fact, Charlie Jones’s asthma was triggered, leading to his collapse in the hallway. Rita, thinking she had a chance to use his illness as a cover, chose to pull the fire alarm to evacuate the building, and escape detection. Luckily, the security camera footage revealed the distress Rita’s face in the moments leading up to, during, and after the incident.
What happens when you fart in the office
I’ve watched the security footage several times and here is what happens when you fart in the office:
I can tell you that the look on Rita's face went from concerned to perplexed as she most likely was stricken with colon pressure (which, again, I never experience).
Then there is a moment of relief that is probably when Rita passed gas in her cubicle.
But just seven seconds later, a look of horror spreads across her face as she no doubt caught a whiff of her stinky Pooh-gas.
You might think that passing gas is a normal, natural bodily function. But if it was both normal and natural we wouldn't call it "farting."
What happens when you get caught farting in the office
The security footage that captured Rita's fart also captured the chain reaction that ensued:
Morgan Johnson in the cubicle next to Rita's stands up and looks around, perplexed and concerned
Kylie Brown in the cubicle katty-corner to Ritas's stands up and holds a tissue over her mouth in a desperate attempt to filter out the creeping miasma that was Rita's pooh-gas
Charlie Jones in the cubicle beside Rita's begins coughing and staggers from his cubicle into the hallway where, tragically, the pooh-gas was more intense. Charlie first drops to his knees and then collapses, clutching at his throat.
Rita hurries out of her cubicle, stepping over Charlie's writhing body. She is seen moments later from another camera pulling the fire alarm.
Key takeaways and action items
Please take these suggestions and cautionary tale as they are intended, to continue our record-setting productivity here at the office so that we all can keep our jobs. But if there's only one thing we learned from last week's incident, it's that if you must fart, fart elsewhere. Just as we don't want you to leave until all of your work is done, we don't want you coming here with a bunch pooh-gas; i.e., keep your shit at home.
Also, if you want to contribute to the collection for Charlie Jones' widow, the department assistants are collecting.
If you're interested in applying for either Rita's or Charlie's job, please see the electronic job board on the company intranet.
And remember that pressure-free workers are productive workers!
— Trish, Assistant to the Sr. Vice President of HR
Good stories are almost always about interesting characters. The more interesting the better and, whenever possible, go for larger-than-life. My satire and political thriller Sally and Billy in Babyland is about two preteens who are thrust into a strange, dystopian world and they have to survive and ultimately triumph in that world.
Along the way they meet some larger-than-life characters.
But in the beginning I tried to make their family as normal as possible. One clue that I was on the right track was that my wife was very annoyed with me when she read an early draft because it seemed like I was using our family situation as the basis for the story.
To be honest, it really begins as family satire. I think there’s quite a few absurd things modern American families do, especially those with enough advantages that they can afford to do absurd things. In our own family, we made every effort to give our kids the opportunity to play whatever sports or extracurricular activities they wanted to. So we spent most weekends running around to games, practices, rehearsals, recitals and parties with other kids. It was fun while it lasted. I don’t regret it. But when you put it in a certain light it can seem just a little over-the-top.
Or you could argue that we didn’t take it far enough.
That’s how I set up the family in this story.
Once the children are abandoned in the woods (for the record, we never, ever abandoned our own children in the woods) things get strange very quickly. There are animal characters in the story but I try to make them as recognizable as possible as people you might encounter here in America. And when the children arrive in Babyland, as strange as that world may seem, I also relied upon real-world situations that any of us might encounter.
I do intend the story to be a satirical comedy, so the jokes have to be rooted in reality. It is making a commentary on our real-world situations. Obviously, the story won’t be to everyone’s liking. But for those of you who give it a shot, I hope you enjoy the ride.
The book I wrote last year, Sally and Billy in Babyland and Their Adventures With Kitty the Cat, is a satire. It is a political satire. It’s a fable, a thriller and a cautionary tale, but above all it is satire.
I intend for the book to be funny, but it is often a dark kind of humor. In the ethos of comedy, I try to punch up rather than punch down. (That can be a very subtle difference, and I hope it works as intended.) The story has some dark elements in it, but overall I’m very hopeful.
I have come to work in satire because I’ve spent nearly my entire life trying to be funny. In school I tried to be the class clown making the witty remarks and offering quips to get a laugh. At some point my humor tended toward the sarcastic. And for many years and that sarcasm was cutting, sardonic, and occasionally cruel.
But now I want to be more upbeat with my humor.
I have embraced satire as it is a way to draw attention to problems in the world. Most of my favorite stories that I have heard have had strong elements of satire. On the surface level I enjoy a good laugh. But a really good joke, especially one that points out in absurdity in the way we live, can help us change our ways.
So my goal is to draw attention to the absurdities we live with while also entertaining in bringing joy through humor.
It’s not easy, and sometimes I’ll settle for just a laugh, but I do work towards the hope that things will get better.