"Seek not the good in external things. Seek it in thyself." - Epictetus

Grandfather confused by smartphone camera; “How did I get in there?”

Twenty-two year old Joe Weber says his family’s grandfather seems to be having a nervous breakdown ever since encountering smart technology. “Charles lives in a senior citizen apartment complex,” said Joe. “He’s getting to be that age where he can’t do the things he used to, so we thought we’d use technology to make life easier for him.” Unfortunately, the Weber family admits that it’s had the opposite effect, throwing their grandfather into a world of paranoia and confusion.

“I guess it all started when we bought Charles an Amazon Echo,” said Joe’s girlfriend Marie. “From the very first time he heard Alexa speak, he thought he was hearing the disembodied voice of his 1957 high school sweetheart. He doesn’t make the connection that it’s coming from the device. In fact, he seems to think it’s some sort of container for his medication. He keeps picking it up and twisting it, then tossing it aside in frustration.”

“It’s been very difficult,” said Charles’s son and Joe’s father, Henry Weber. “We got him a computer so he could get emails about things like when to pick up his pills from the pharmacy. Instead he treated it like a television, trying to use the remote and ranting that he couldn’t find the ‘pharmacy channel.’ Finally we showed him how to use the keyboard, and initially he thought it was wonderful. ‘I key a word in down here,’ he would say, ‘and it gets written on the screen up there!’ But we couldn’t get him to do much more than that. Now he’s abandoned it completely.”

“We tried to talk to him about the concept of email,” said Marie. “He seemed to put it together, until the next day, when we learned he spent about two hours waiting outside his apartment ‘for the email man to come with today’s news.’ Bless him, he took the computer screen with him, thinking he needed to show it to someone to get the delivery.”

“I think that what finally freaked him out completely though was the smartphone,” said Henry. “We tried to show him the camera, and he just lost it. ‘How did I get in there?’ he kept asking. ‘Get me outta there!’ He’s not sure what it means, and I think it’s shaken his grip on reality. I caught him the other day examining a CD player, checking to see if he could see his face on it. He won’t even look in a mirror anymore. Yesterday he caught his reflection on a polished countertop and nearly had a heart attack.”

The Webers think the best course of action is to remove Charles from a technological environment altogether. They plan to relocate him to a trailer park in rural Oklahoma. “Something’s gotta be done,” said Joe. “Between all the devices in his home and and ours, he doesn’t know what’s up and what’s down. He’s trying to write on the TV, yelling at his phone, taking his keyboard to the pharmacy, and just this morning he was talking to his old Panasonic radio, giving it carefully explained instructions.”

“It’s taught us an important lesson,” Marie concluded. “Senior citizens everywhere are tormented by technology on a daily basis. Just remember: your next smartphone could be your grandparents’ next nightmare.”

Florida man says he’s being stalked by a giant Froot Loop

Cabrini De Loco, 53, is a lifelong Florida resident and successful business owner. He believes himself to be perfectly sane and has every reason to feel that way. He graduated top of his class from the University of Miami, he has played bit roles in independent films and commercials, and he has always been held in high regard by his local community. Until recently.

“People think I’m delusional,” said De Loco, “but I know what’s happening.” It all began two weeks ago, when De Loco was finishing up some last minute yardwork. “I was packing up some things in the shed, when out of the corner of my eye I see a giant red Froot Loop, round as a button, creeping around by the hedges. It had no arms or legs and it was hovering about a foot above the grass. It put a fear in me, let me tell you. The damned thing started coming at me, and I just booked it – ran from the backyard all the way to the nearest store, before I had to stop to catch my breath.”

That was the beginning of 14 days of fear and paranoia, he says. In fact, he claims, that same night he found the excessively large, autonomous piece of cereal just outside his living room window, seeming to peer at him through the glass. “But there are no eyes, so who can know for sure?” De Loco’s voice trembles as he holds back tears. “What does it want, huh? Since that day, I’ve seen it lurking about almost everywhere I go. The post office, the bank, the mini mart, outside the Pizza Hut. It’s chased me several more times, almost got me once or twice.”

The worst part, De Loco says, is that Froot Loops used to be his favorite cereal. “I tried having it again, after this whole ordeal started. I poured myself a bowl one morning and just kind of sat there and stared, watching those dreadful ring-shaped pieces float together in the milk. Each one of them might have been an O, but to me they spelled disaster.”

De Loco says he tried to tell his neighbors, and even filed a police report, all to no avail. “They look at me like I’m crazy. To be frank, I know that claiming you’re being stalked and harassed by cereal can come across as rather unreasonable. So I’ve tried to get photograph evidence, but this O is a clever one. He always runs off before I can get a good picture, the evasive devil.”

Asked what he plans to do going forward, De Loco admits it might be time to put aside his fear, and try and communicate with the Froot Loop. “I’m starting to feel like maybe he’s not trying to hurt me. Maybe he’s trying to warn me about something. I mean, his people are bagged and boxed every day, to be consumed by the public. Maybe he’s had enough, and he believes the wholesale killing and consumption of his kind has to stop. If that’s worth fighting for, maybe he and I ought to sit down and talk. I’ve always been an advocate for justice. Whatever I need to do, I’ll jump through hoops to get it right.”

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Danny DeVito: “My mother used to shrink me and trap me in a jar”

When Danny DeVito arrived for this interview Monday morning, he did so holding a cup of coffee and a rain-soaked magazine over his head, shaking off the January chill. The magazine he held was an issue of Country Living, a special edition titled “Big Ideas for Small Spaces.” That title is particularly triggering for DeVito, whose childhood was marked by witchcraft, shame, and torment. “You get to a place where you finally feel like you’re okay – like you’re managing,” he said. “And then you see a simple magazine and your life is upended.”

DeVito’s 51-year career would seem outwardly successful, his public life positive and uncontroversial. However, lurking beneath the surface is a lifetime of emotional turmoil. Today DeVito decided to come clean in this shocking tell-all. The decision was not made lightly. “I questioned even coming here,” he said. “But then I opened my mailbox and found this,” – he shook rain droplets off his copy of Country Living – “and that was the last straw.”

His young life in Asbury Park, New Jersey seemed perfectly normal to outsiders. But his mother was hiding a dark secret. “She was a witch,” he said. “She came from a notorious group of Italian sorcerers and wanted to raise me into the life. When I refused, things got bad.” When asked for specifics, DeVito began to choke up. 

His reply came in short bursts of sobbing speech. “She had this…special way of punishing me when
ever I refused to go along with her devious penchant for witchery. She would shrink me and place me inside a jar. She’d seal the jar up and leave me there for hours. Once, she put a spider outside the jar just to terrify me further. I was afraid it would get into the jar somehow and eat me.”

For most, the idea of a Hollywood actor with a household name stuck inside a jar, banging fruitlessly on the glass and howling for help, would seem hard to believe. DeVito insists it’s what happened, and he has carried the trauma with him well into his adult life. “I gotta tell you,” he said, “when I first went on set to start filming Twins, I thought Arnold Schwarzenegger was gonna eat me. I saw those big Austrian jaws, that 'I eat nails for breakfast' smile, and I just thought, ‘I’m done. It’s all over for me.’ In a heartbeat, flashbacks of that spider, tapping away on the outside of my jar, just came spilling back into my head. I freaked out, man. I freaked out.”

His story did not end in tragedy. At the age of 18, he was finally able to leave his home and pursue a career in acting. Though his mother attempted to cast another spell, DeVito dodged the blast of shrinking energy on his way out the door. It was the difference between freedom and slavery; normal size and micro size. “I think if I didn’t pack a bag and run right then and there, she might have kept me in the jar forever.”

Today, DeVito is a new man. “I’ve been seeing a therapist, and I haven’t been shrunk since I left home. But sometimes I think it was my fault. Sometimes I look in the mirror and I feel like I deserve the jar.” It has certainly been an uphill battle for the actor, but he has resolved to never give up. “The real blow came when I did some research and found that I’m not the only one who had to live like that. People are shrunk every day throughout the world, but it’s never talked about because we don’t see these people. We probably step on them on our way into the kitchen, we shred them when we mow the lawn.”

Now, DeVito dedicates the part of his life not associated with acting, to seeking justice. “I’m sticking up for the little guy, literally. I want every little squirt banging away inside their parent’s jar, thinking all hope is lost, to know that there’s always tomorrow. Through our pain, but also through our perseverance, we are all connected, together as one. It’s a small world after all.”

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Unhinged Jared Padalecki convinced Supernatural is real

Former Supernatural actor Jared Padalecki stirred up controversy while filming on the set of Walker, the new series he’s starring in on the CW. Sources say he believed the set to be haunted, and showed up armed with salt and iron chains, ranting and raving about the angry spirit of Chuck Norris and disrupting filming. The crew tried to calm Padalecki, assuring him that Chuck Norris was still alive, but their attempts were unsuccessful.

Padalecki has reportedly been struggling with the ending of Supernatural, and series creator Eric Kripke believes the actor’s delusions began when he received one of the ’67 Chevrolet Impalas as a departing gift (as did his co-star Jensen Ackles). His wife Genevieve, who appeared to be in a state of distress, said Jared began stowing bizarre items in the Impala’s trunk, including a throwing star and a grenade launcher. When she confronted him, he began to insist that his name was Sam and he had to continue hunting now that his brother was gone.

“But it’s so ridiculous!” said Genevieve. “I told him, ‘your brother is an orthopedic surgeon here in Austin, he’s alive and well!’ ” She said things took a turn for the worse when they were out shopping at a supermarket, and Jared suddenly believed a vengeful spirit was prowling around the canned foods aisle. “He insisted that everyone in the immediate vicinity join us inside a circle of salt. At this point I was very afraid his sanity had slipped entirely. Though he did make the salt circle very big so everyone could still socially distance, which I thought was nice of him. He always makes such thoughtful gestures like that. It’s part of why I married him.”

Padalecki reportedly spent the following days combing through the Internet in search of strange weather events and other things he believed to be supernatural omens. He began to insist that his family refer to him only as Sam Winchester, and that the ‘Jared Padalecki’ they were speaking of must have been a shapeshifter.

“He’s such an excellent actor and this is so sad to see,” said Mark Pedowitz, president of the CW Television Network. “I think the separation anxiety he felt when he finished filming that final Supernatural episode, combined with the pressures of filming Walker, have caused him to plunge into another reality, one in which he gets to live out his dream of really being a hunter.”

“You know, we saw erratic behavior from Jared even as we filmed that final season,” admitted producer and director Robert Singer. “There was some really inappropriate stuff happening, like when Jared hit Jensen in the face with a pie. Jensen got quite upset over that, as he had really wanted to eat that pie. We wanted to call in Kripke to see if we could resolve the situation and talk some sense into Jared, but Kripke was too busy working on his Amazon show – The Fellas, or whatever it’s called.”

The chaos on the set of Walker culminated in Padalecki driving off in the Impala, promising to help all the actors and crew by finding Castiel and returning reality to normal. He was last seen at a diner on his laptop, where he warned fans and onlookers not to interrupt him, as he was doing “important research.”

Meanwhile, Genevieve plans to have Chuck Norris track down Padalecki so they can stage an intervention. “He left his cowboy hat here,” she said. “But it’s okay. Until we can find him, Jensen is going to take over the role of Cordell Walker. He’s very enthusiastic and is taking it really seriously. Recently he’s even asked that people refer to him only as Walker. I hope we don’t have to worry…”

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Balloon animals facing extinction

“If we don’t act now, the balloon animal population is going to pop.” This was the urgent message of Rubberto Pagliacci, Executive Director of the Balloon Animal Defense Agency & Broader Organization for Objective Management (BADA-BOOM). His words come at a time when balloon animals worldwide are on the verge of extinction. Pagliacci was very sad, and attributes the massive drop in balloon animal production to the pandemic currently sweeping the globe.

“Notice I said production,” said Pagliacci. “Because the problem with balloon animals is they cannot naturally reproduce. They must be made, and the many embattled clowns currently out of work due to the pandemic are unable to fill this sudden and steep deficit. Due to social distancing rules, they are unable to perform at children’s birthday parties, and many have simply been fired because they are unable to fill balloon animal quotas. There has also been a recent bout of asthma throughout the clown community, rendering many of them unable to blow up new animals even at their homes.”

Even worse, some say that balloon animals kept in people’s houses will not solve the problem. “They won’t last long,” said Kirk Du Soleil, Director of the BADA-BOOM Animal Welfare Division. “Balloon animals do not fare well when kept in captivity, and should float freely in the wild where they belong. We’ve seen historically that balloon animals kept in cages at carnivals have developed severe emotional problems. They are not pets, and sooner or later one of them is going to explode.”

“It’s a massive problem,” said Pagliacci. “Right now, the balloon animal population is numbered at around one to two hundred, and even those numbers are inflated. Anyone who argues that this issue is being exaggerated is simply full of hot air.”

One of those very critics is Ron Helium, a staff writer for Balloon Benders’ Weekly. He claims the balloon animal population will not only survive, but will experience a resurgence when clowns start getting vaccinated and return to work. “Organizations like BADA-BOOM want people to donate money to them, so they make outlandish claims like this to stir up fear, when in reality this whole balloon animal issue is simply being blown out of proportion.”

Pagliacci refutes these claims, and warns that there is dangerous historic precedent for the likelihood that balloon animals will simply vanish forever. “Remember what happened to the ancient balloon people,” he said sternly. “The balloon sapiens were a powerful race who once flourished throughout the world, in all shapes, sizes, and colors, competing with homo sapiens for dominance. Then, with the beginning of the industrial era, they all floated away from the Earth, never to be seen again.”

Kirk Du Soleil agreed, stating, “If we don’t do something soon, balloon animals won’t be here in another 10 to 20 years. Humanity will descend into utter chaos, and eventually collapse. Ignoring this issue is like taking a needle to the whole planet. Sooner or later, it’s going to burst.”

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National Guard to deploy fleet of Tom Cruises to enforce mask wearing

In a Friday interview with Mann Commandly, chief of the National Guard Bureau, the press learned that the military reserve force is taking additional measures to ensure the safety of the public during this pandemic. Most prominent among these includes a decision to deploy a fleet of Tom Cruises to enforce the wearing of face masks. The choice was made after a particularly angry Tom Cruise successfully intimidated an entire film set into donning the protective cloths, as well as committing to social distancing and joining a popular cult. 

Though the Joint Chiefs of Staff initially considered the undertaking an impossible mission, they later learned that the Church of Scientology can readily produce as many as 500,000 Tom Cruises, ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice. “We actually began this effort back in ’87, when we initiated the Tom Cruise Cloning Project,” said church leader Cosmo Spacely. “Back then, we had minted an initial set of 100 Tom Cruises, to great critical acclaim and success. When we released them into nature, they quickly became productive members of society who ensured the safety of the American people, and enticed the public to support our humble little religion.”

When asked about one malfunctioning Tom Cruise, however, Spacely proved to be evasive. The faulty Cruise in question generated controversy back in 2019, when it could be seen screaming from the top of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The Cruise had scaled the massive building, hammering erratically on windows during its ascent and putting a fright in residents of the building. “Look,” said Spacely, “that’s all based on hearsay and when that Cruise was retrieved and returned to our factory, we saw no signs that it was defective. We’re convinced it was putting on some sort of performance act for an upcoming film.”

Some Tom Cruises had entered the testing phase last week, and could be seen flying over major U.S. cities, scanning the streets below for anyone in violation of mask wearing policies. “One of them reprimanded me personally for wearing my mask beneath my nose,” said Kay D. Homes, a Los Angeles restaurant worker and aspiring actress. “It was really quite something, and it taught me the value of Scientology – I mean, mask wearing. After I’d pulled up my mask, the Cruise exclaimed, ‘Woo!’ and flew off toward the Griffith Observatory. These Cruises are American patriots and I look forward to seeing them throughout our country.”

National Guard Bureau chief Commandly says the fleet could be deployed in full as soon as Monday. “We’ve had great results,” he said. “I’ve been given some sort of book on Dianetics which I’m told will help me fully understand the ultimate mission of the Tom Cruise collective. It will be looked over by the President next week as we roll out this campaign to establish the mass wearing of masks. The Church of Scientology will be working with us to ensure the success of this great undertaking. Honestly, I couldn’t be happier about it.”

The original Tom Cruise is expected to formally make the announcement this Sunday, when he will attend a charity fundraising webinar for the Church at a furniture store in Brooklyn. Called the Cruise Couch Dance-Off, it is expected to attract celebrities including Oprah and Joe Pesci. Viewers will attend online through a link provided by the Fun Good Time Scientology Club via Facebook.

“I really want a lot of people to attend,” Cruise said in a Tweet last week. “Are you dedicated to ending this pandemic and ensuring the domination of the Church of Scientology over our nation? Then show me the money!”

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