You know what would be the most frightening thing of all? If all of the balloons popped at the same time!

Yeah. It'd be easier to take down that way, too. 

Hard Cell
After receiving press release numero quatro from Amnesty International, ol' Unreal decided to mosey up Natural Bridge Road toward the Hilton St. Louis Airport Hotel to check out this traveling "Guantanamo Bay cell" the Washington, D.C.-based organization so badly wanted us to see. It was a Friday — what the hell, we thought.

And besides, there's no torture like trying to get near Lambert on the eve of the weekend. Surely that would put us in the spirit!

Unreal arrived a whole minute early, at 11:59 a.m., expecting to be trampled in the back parking lot waiting for a look at this thing. But no. "Nobody's been — the [Amnesty regional] conference hasn't started yet," said an AI member.

St. Louis is the eighth stop for the Guantanamo cell, joining the ranks of St. Paul, Minnesota; Portland, Maine; and Santa Monica, California. The cell is orange, a replica made in Australia. And no, to answer your question, Harold and Kumar had nothing to do with this endeavor.

Unreal took a step into the spare plywood box and blurted, "This is outrageous! Where is the flat-screen television!!??"

"I know, what a bummer," replied Amnesty worker Meghann Ellis. "Prisoners would be in here 22 to 23 hours every single day—"

"Not even a magazine rack!!??" Unreal interrupted.

"Yeah, that would spice things up a little, wouldn't it?" said Ellis. "They are allowed to have a holy book."

Unreal: "Thank God!"

Ellis: "They do get light, heat and sound, none of which are under their control. So it could be hot, it could be cold, there could be loud noise coming in. Basically it's just chaos."

"Well, do you think it's surround-sound at least? I mean, I'd like to think my tax dollars are going for the very best our free market has to offer."

Ellis doubted it.

Hmm. Unreal began to think that this little "cell," with its platform "bed" and steel shitter, would be really perfect in the driveway for the significant other to, you know, retreat to.

NOT, LIKE, 23 HOURS A DAY!!

Just, you know, every now and again, like when the clicker gets hijacked. Like, "Buzz off and get in your cell already, will ya!!??"

"Oh yes, do a timeout," agreed Ellis.

Unreal: "So, do you think I can get a subprime mortgage for this thing?" 

Don't Flush That Pumpkin!
Did you carve a pumpkin into a sweet jack-o'-lantern this Halloween? Maybe one etched with Barack Obama's face? Or perhaps it was Unreal's favorite design, the timeless drunk-and-puking pumpkin?

If so, the folks at Roto-Rooter would like you to know that putting all those sticky orange innards down your drain is a mistake. "Millions of pounds of pulp is scraped from pumpkins throughout the Halloween season, resulting in yummy pies, creative jack-o-lanterns and" — cue the creepy horror-movie soundtrack — "plumbing nightmares," the company cautions in a recent newsletter.

Unreal quickly called Roto-Rooter mouthpiece Paul Abrams, to get the scoop on pumpkins and pipes.

Unreal: So a jack-o'-lantern can really come back to haunt you?

Paul Abrams: Pretty much. We get a burst of calls every year, usually five or so days before Halloween, during that time when people are carving pumpkins. The stuff, when it gets down there in disposals, it hardens in the pipes like resin or fiberglass. It has to be one of nature's strongest glues. When it gets on PVC pipe, you need a hammer and chisel to get that crap off.

How often do you guys have to perform pumpkin/toilet exorcisms?

I don't have specific numbers for Halloween, but there's always a few people who try to flush [pumpkin guts] down the toilet. We should give out an award to the people who do that.

To minimize waste and prevent clogged toilets, you suggest baking and eating the pumpkin seeds. That seems a little short-sighted, because if you ate enough of those things it's just going to lead to another backed-up toilet.

I suppose anything's possible. What goes in has to come out, after all. Like anything else that goes in, there's the potential for a clogged drain.

What's the best way to dispose of pumpkins?

Ideally you should compost it. Either throw them away or dump them into compost.

How about rolling them down a steep hill in the city?

[Laughs] When I was young, there was a kid named Bill Brown who busted everyone's pumpkins in the street. My mother made sure I didn't grow up like that.

Throwing them from a moving car?

[Laughs] Or you could be like David Letterman and throw 'em off of a tall building.

You know, to prevent drain cloggage on Halloween, some people go the extra mile and wrap their toilet paper on the trees in front of their neighbor's house.

[Still laughing] Well, hey, that's sort of a rite of passage for teens. Hopefully not with used toilet paper. We see it all, though, at Roto-Rooter, I'll tell you what. 

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