Saturday, 23 May 2015

Time to Grow Up by Naomi Elana Zener

Toronto, ON—In a statement released today by the Ontario government, regarding the ongoing work-to-rule campaign being waged by Ontario’s teachers, it was finally the province’s Minister of Education revealed that the goal to increase classroom sizes is unrelated to the financial deficit crushing the regime’s coffers. Instead, it’s as a direct result of months of government commissioned independent analysis that has proved classroom size expansion is the best way to prepare children for university.  And, to achieve the best results, such enlargements must start at the kindergarten level.

The government advised that larger class sizes at every grade level will translate into parental appreciation for a few reasons. First, parents will be grateful that their children will never feel like fish out of water when they enter their freshmen year at universities across North America, or possibly even abroad. With first year university lecture class sizes running several hundred deep, Ontario’s children will be readied to know what it’s like being a cog in a well-oiled machine from the age of four when they commenced their road to enlightenment in full day junior kindergarten.

“Think of how great it will be to sit around the dinner table and know that when they’re eighteen and sitting in an intro English course at university, they won’t be afraid to raise their hand and ask questions of their professor. We will have readied your children so that university will be a breeze,” the Premier advised. “No child will feel left behind because we will have conquered that in the primary years of their education. And, they will know that they are no different from everyone else since they’re all in the same boat.”

Second, the government is confident parents will give thanks knowing that all of their children will get to have a university experience despite the fact that many of them won’t eventually be able to afford to go upon graduation from high school. Given that by the time many children entering junior kindergarten in the fall of 2015 won’t even be able to afford university by time they reach 18—with the cost of tuition rising beyond numbers analysts can properly forecast at this time—the government believes that by increasing class sizes, those students will receive a university experience they’d otherwise be denied. Part of the government plan is to start introducing subjects in elementary school like “The Circle of Life: Normal Events through Simba’s Lense,” “Clapping for Credits,” and “Natural Disasters: A course taught by way of CNN headlines,”  some of the most popular, easy A, bird courses offered to freshmen in Canadian and American post-secondary institutions. By making these courses part of the curriculum, the government is stalwart in its conviction that this will further enhance the university experience for these young, impressionable minds. The advantage gained will be that no Ontario child, or their parents, will waste a penny on such coursework if, and when, they do seek higher education beyond their secondary school matriculation. By downloading these educational experiences onto junior kindergarten through grade twelve, the government emphasized that along with higher-class sizes the need for a Bachelor of Arts degree may be dispelled.

“Taxpaying parents should be happy we were voted into office. Truth be told, studies have shown that a B.A. won’t guarantee a higher paying job,” the Minister of Education added. “So, if all that’s left of a university degree at the end of the day is simply the four-year experience of large classes and coursework and that won’t get these kids great careers, then we are effectively giving these kids a fourteen year college experience without the dangers of partying, while saving these kids and their parents high debt or eating up retirement funds. We’re really doing everyone a favour.”

The government thinks that these measures will effectively redirect many students into professions that can be started upon graduation from high school, ensuring that  only those who actually need to go to university in order to seek higher degrees of learning, like medicine or law, will have less competition and a lower bar to entry. The press release stated that this will further result in adding to the future pool of taxpayers many years sooner than had they wasted four years getting a Bachelor of Arts degree with no promise of a job. The projected additional revenue generated from the income tax recouped is believed to eventually help to offset the province’s growing deficit.

If successful, the government even hinted at potential plans to pepper children of different ages in every classroom, allowing teachers to teach mixed grades, bringing Ontario’s children a Montessori-like experience on the taxpayers’ dime. The Minister of Education advised that “it’ll be like getting a Montessori experience for free by being immersed in subjects the kids may never get to learn. And, parents won’t have to pay twenty grand a year to get that.”

Shortly after the government’s press release was made public, Ontario teachers who’d been on a work-to-rule campaign walked out of their classrooms, and their union commenced a strike action. Furthermore, shortly before this article went to press, the paper received several calls from universities around Ontario reporting a sudden spike in requests for, and downloads of, medical and law school applications.

© 2015. Naomi Elana Zener. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

It’s Quittin’ Time by Naomi Elana Zener

PING. Jesus looked down at his cellphone resting on his desk. A new text awaited his reply.

“Are we still on for drinks? It’s your dad.”

“Luddite,” Jesus muttered to himself laughing. Parents of a certain age still didn’t understand how texting worked.

“I’m coming,” Jesus tapped into the phone.

He shut down his computer, taking note of the time. 6:00p.m. Quitting time. He was ready for his end of week after work drinks ritual with his Pops, something they both needed after an arduous week at their respective offices. This ritual had been going on for as long as Jesus could remember. Something that started long before his eighteenth birthday—spending every Friday night of kicking back, just two dudes shooting the shit before the weekend hit and their lives really became harried.

Jesus strolled down the avenue towards his and his father’s favorite haunt: Hell’s Angels. Upon entering, he scanned the room, taking note of the usual Friday crowd tossing back a few beers before going home for the night. In the far corner of the room sat his dad at their usual table.  Jesus nodded his head at the bartender on his way over to their table, flashing what some might perceive to be a peace sign. Rather, it was Jesus signaling for two drinks to be sent over to his booth.

“Two Bloody Marys coming right up,” the bartender shouted out. Jesus leaned over and gave his father a hug.

“Son, you look haggard. Doing lots of good work late into night?” his father asked.

“Nope. I was at a party.” Jesus rubbed his eyes. The bags under them were dark and puffy. If this continued any longer, he’d have to look into undergoing a blepharoplasty.

“It seems like you’re going to one every night,” his father added.

Jesus nodded and winked. “It’s tough work but somebody’s got to do it.”

“Oh, sweet Jesus.”

The bartender returned with their drinks.

“God, I made your Bloody Mary extra spicy this week,” the bartender advised, sliding a glass across the table in Jesus’ father’s direction.

“Thanks,” God replied, picking up the glass and taking a giant swig. “Ah, just what the doctor ordered.”

“Tough week?” the bartender asked. Jesus took his drink and shot it back in one fell swoop.

“Hit me, barkeep. This time make it a double,” Jesus instructed.

“Jesus Christ, what have I told you? You have to pace yourself,” God advised.

“Dad, don’t be so lame.” The bartender departed to fill Jesus’ drink order. God quietly sipped on his beverage, waiting for his son to apologize.

“Fine, I’m sorry. It’s been a long week and it ain’t easy being the Son of God.”

God nodded his head, signaling acceptance of his son’s apology. “What was the worst prayer you had to answer this week?”

“Got one from that ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Hell if I know why he was praying to me—asking me to eradicate the Ebola outbreak amongst his fighters in Mosul,” Jesus advised.

“I got that one, too,” God advised. “I’ve been told he’s reaching out to everyone: Krishna, Buddha, Rama, Brahma, Vishnu, Maheswara, and Zeus. Even Breged, the Celtic’s Mother Goddess, sent me an email telling me he contacted her, too. He’s desperate.”

Jesus took a slow sip from his fresh drink the bartender had dropped off during their conversation. He wanted to show his father respect.

“It was an offside prayer. I don’t answer those of non-believers.”

“Maybe instead of just ignoring Abu’s pleas, spread Ebola across his caliphate. Give him a Passover style plague-like dose of medicine?” Jesus suggested. God smiled.

“That’s a lovely idea, and while I marvel at your ingenuity, we have to maintain peaceful relations between us omniscient ones. We don’t want what’s going on down on Earth to spread up here, now do we? Maybe I’ll send Satan a memo and see what he can do with your idea.” God always preached that where there was a will, there was a way. And, he was always one to uphold his gospel.

“Maybe add to your memo a note asking Satan to curse the Westboro Baptists with the scourge of syphilis.” God chuckled, jotting down the idea in his Samsung Galaxy. He quickly became distracted by several text messages in his inbox. More supplications from his worshippers—both the obedient and the fallen—were causing God’s phone to vibrate with such ferocity that it nearly flew out of his hand. Bored, and having turned his phone off, Jesus took a look at the menu. His tummy was grumbling. 

“Want some nachos?” Jesus asked. God ignored him. He was too busy sending celestial benediction text messages.

“Dad, I’m hungry,” Jesus whined. “DO. YOU. WANT. NACHOS?” Distracted by his son’s petulant request to order food, God forgot to delete a prayer from whiny, spoiled rich kid from some form of social media.

“Do you know what I want?” God sighed. Jesus looked at him blankly.

“I dunno. A cheeseburger?”

“I’m tired of watching the world I created, the people I fashioned out of my own image, playing the religious version of the ‘my dick is bigger than yours’ game. Each bloody leader down there inculcates the tenet that their religion is better than all others and none are a panacea. I imbued Adam with good sense, and his descendants have wasted it. People never learn from history, they just keep repeating it.”

Jesus chortled. “Well, if they didn’t, we’d be out of jobs.”

“Jesus Christ that’s not funny. Do you have any idea how nice it would be if I could retire already? Hit the back nine with Buddha once in a while? Don’t let that belly fool you, he’s got the lowest handicap in the universe.”

“Kvetch on daddio.”

“I made these people out of my own image. It doesn’t matter what color, creed, ethnicity, or race they are. They are all supposed to be like me, yet they hate each other.”

“I guess that means they hate both themselves and you. Daddy issues.”

“I know you think you’re so hip and funny, but would you cut it out with your comedic stylings. This is serious. These righteous men down there treat women like shit, but women are not just their own beings, they were fashioned out of a part of a man—Adam’s rib for Chrissakes…”

“Hey, don’t take my name in vain,” Jesus retorted. God nodded.

“The point is that I’m ready to bring the wrath of God on their heads. I’m going to figure out a way to endorse the feminist movement. Those men and their stupid meninist movement have no clue what kind of fury is going to rain down upon them.”

“Hey, I have an idea. Why don’t you lend a helping hand in uncovering the hordes of embezzlement and fraud perpetrated by many of the obscenely wealthy male C.E.O.s around the world, and then somehow ensure that only women get promoted to the c-suite in their stead?”

“Not a bad idea, son.” God made another note on his phone.

“Maybe also find a way to have women make more money than men?”

God nodded his head.

“And, if you’re really going to go after making some big changes, please add the antivaxxers to your shit list.”

“Oh, they are the bane of not only my existence, but every single religion’s omnipotent leader’s existence. Especially, the religious idiot ones who’ve perverted the Bible and other religious coda to brainwash their followers to believe that I wouldn’t want their kids vaccinated. I created man. Man created science. Science created vaccines, and science was a gift from God. Now, they throw my gift away. They keep saying ‘God saves!’ and ‘Jesus saves!’ but that’s bullshit. I’m not saving them from their own stupidity. I’m not everyone’s parent. I’m only yours. That reminds me, did you get your MMR booster yet?”

Jesus nodded his head. God reached across the table and patted his son’s head. “Good boy.”

“Like you always say dad, you can lead a horse to holy water, but you can’t make them bathe in it to give them good sense.”

“Thanks Dr. Phil. I feel like I’ve wasted thousands of years on these people. Where did I go wrong?”

Suddenly, both Jesus and God’s phones pinged incessantly. God’s rhetorical question to his son had gone viral. Both of the holy rollers snapped them up to be besieged by a flurry of texts, all carrying the same reply message.


Father and son looked at each other in exasperation. 

“Dad, just the Holy Spirit deal with this crap. And, if he can’t, then let everyone convert to the religions they think will do a better job for them. Let’s get the bill and get out of here. There are going to be some great parties tonight—lets go and have some fun” Jesus advised.

With a knowing glance exchanged between them, both God and Jesus knew what they had to do. They each typed a two-word message into their phones and each sent a mass text message to the world that read: “I QUIT!”

Within a millisecond of hitting send, both Jesus and God received a reply validating their decision.

“Thanks for answering our prayers. Never yours, Christopher Hitchens & Richard Dawkins.”

© 2015. Naomi Elana Zener. All Rights Reserved.