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M. T. Bubblenut slid down the couch and landed on the floor in a neat puddle. He couldn’t remember the last time his self-esteem had been so low. It was nothing he could put his finger on. He wasn’t depressed. Ok, he was depressed. He just didn’t show any of the symptoms of depression; he had simply been underestimating his worth.

“Is it possible, though”, a small and handsome devil on his chest spoke up, “that you are overestimating everyone else’s worth, M.T.?"

“No, handsome devil”, M.T. replied. “Everything is relative, and if they are all twos, it shouldn’t matter if I too am a two.”

With that the well-rendered devil vaporized with a powdery flash. But M.T. still felt unresolved. Wait. That's it! He sprang up and ran to the bathroom. The mirror! In the mirror was the answer! If he looked in there, he would find what it was he already knew/didn’t yet know but would somehow be heavy-handedly epiphanied into knowing (eg. The oddly toned "tree" scene when Luke sees his own face in Vader's severed head). Yep, there it was staring him right back: the answer had been there all along. It was simply him! Him was the answer. The magnaniminity of HIM. Just M.T. Bubblenut.

He drew a lugubrious breath, let it slide through his teeth. OK. No life-changing epiphany. He curled up in a fetal position on his little blue bathroom rug and sobbed until his ribs were sore.

"Told you so”, the devil got in quickly before vanishing. Afterwards, M.T. put in his contacts and left for the bus. From then on, his life continued forward in a straight line, lacking any significant blips or ruts.

Date Written: April 22, 2004
Author: Benny Maniacs
Average Vote: 4.0769

04/28/2004 mr.coffee (4):
04/28/2004 Jon Matza (4): Odd. Liked it. Choice last line.
04/28/2004 Will Disney (4): yeah, 3.5
04/28/2004 Dylan Danko (5): This is really good.
04/28/2004 qualcomm (3): 3.4 stars
04/28/2004 Mr. Pony (5): 4.2
04/28/2004 TheBuyer (4): I picture fence guy, the morning after.
04/28/2004 John Slocum (3): 2.995. I'm a little squirty about this one. Sounds funnier that it really is.
04/28/2004 Mr. Pony: My god, you're right.
04/28/2004 Ferucio P. Chhretan (4):
04/28/2004 Tiddlycove (5): If it sounds funny, then isn't it funny? The mirror idea sounded funny on the first read; the lugubrious breath sliding through his teeth, and the one-sentence summary of the entire remainder of his life all resonated nicely first time through. I'm not inclined to go back and look for reasons to like this less. It's funny, dammit. 2 + π
04/28/2004 Benny Maniacs (2): This is such a false piece of shit. It really pisses me off. Tiddlycove knows not what she says.
04/28/2004 qualcomm: she, maniacs? are you privy to tiddlycove's privy parts? is it eleanor? shouldn't her username really be smellanor if it is?
04/28/2004 Ferucio P. Chhretan: Maybe it sounds funny in the way that when your supervisor says "Is that all you have for me?" you want to say "That's what she said", but you don't.
04/28/2004 Benny Maniacs: No, it's not Smellenor. I just figured men weren't as likely to play tiddly with their coves. Some further elaboration on my views: it's hard to put my finger on it, but I feel this prozac-enduced short has many little tricks and no real content, and I feel cheated by its subtle manipulation of me. It's about a depressed guy who looks in the mirror and goes off to a bus. Where's the poignant observation, the humor, the anything?
04/28/2004 Ferucio P. Chhretan: I appreciate that he puts his contacts in.
04/28/2004 anonymous: Maniacs is obviously depressed.
04/28/2004 Benny Maniacs: Author: you are right but it is you who depresses me.
Tiddlycove: which gender are you a member of?
04/28/2004 Ferucio P. Chhretan: Mr. Manicas, why should it matter?
04/28/2004 Ferucio P. Chhretan: Wow, Manicas...
04/28/2004 Benny Maniacs: Why does what matter.
04/28/2004 Ferucio P. Chhretan: Whether or not Tiddlycove is a guy or gal?
04/28/2004 Benny Maniacs: Ferucchio: Why should WHAT matter?
04/28/2004 Ferucio P. Chhretan: The gender of Tiddlycove.
04/28/2004 Tiddlycove: Holy crap.
04/28/2004 Benny Maniacs: So as to prove my spidersenses correct. Other than that, absolutely nothing, save who she marries, what salary she is paid, her health insurance rate, and whether she will be looked at strangely if she uses the room marked "Ladies".
04/28/2004 Ferucio P. Chhretan: o.k. Just curious if I should start HTMLing "Maniacs has a girlfriend" all over the site or something.
04/28/2004 Ferucio P. Chhretan: Hey does half your face go red when Tiddlycove comments, or something?
04/28/2004 Benny Maniacs: Maniacs has a wife and she's not, as far as I know, Tiddlycove.
04/28/2004 Tiddlycove: I'm manly too, Maniacs.
04/28/2004 Ferucio P. Chhretan: Tiddlcove:Your shorts seem to indicate that you are a manly sort of person. There's racecars and farts. That's very male-like. But how can we be sure? Hmmm...
04/28/2004 Tiddlycove: I haven't fulfilled the Acme Credo by writing a shit-filled short yet. That's on the way. I'll try to include 'quiff' and 'spooge' references to remove all doubt about my exceedingly manly nature.
04/28/2004 Benny Maniacs: I stand corrected. Tiddlycove no longer haunts my imagination as a woman with a deep past. Instead, he now appears before me as an effeminate young man who tends to begin his sentences with "I heard on NPR...". You have to admit, it is a little feminine sounding. Tiddly or cuddly or teddy(bear) all have a cute thing going on. Correct me if I'm wrong.
04/28/2004 Mr. Pony: You know, I bet Benny Maniacs' panties are filled with beauty. When she bothers to wear them, anyway.
04/28/2004 Tiddlycove: Maniacs, you must be a pushover in the chatroom. No wonder you're deptressed.
04/28/2004 Tiddlycove: a fortunate typo
04/28/2004 TheBuyer: Ha! Hey Manics, r u m or f wanna cyber? im a hotee!
04/28/2004 Benny Maniacs: OK, I suppose my ruse didn't work. I was trying to be offensive in order to harbor resentment against myself, and make people side with the author, who is me, so that I could garner the maximum pointage for this short. Alas, as of now I have no further stars and am still behind Danko. It was fun insulting people though.
04/28/2004 Ferucio P. Chhretan: It's a bad thing to stand behind Danko, it seems. Makes sense.
04/28/2004 Ferucio P. Chhretan: That's funny. Now I'm getting kinda hot for Tiddlycove...
04/28/2004 Phony Millions (4): You all need to romp around in the hay together in a great androgynous blob of warm fuzzies... I liked how the short ends with a vista of the rest of this character's pathetic life, yet it was truly finished and succinct. Like a fragment of Novalis, ya dig? Although it did not elicit a laugh that was not a drawback in this case.
04/29/2004 John Slocum: Cuddlybear: A very late response to your comment from 2:44:31 - I meant I think the author was trying to be funny, but wasn't. On the surface were all the trappings of humor without the humor.
04/29/2004 Mr. Pony: There's something funny going on here.
04/29/2004 Tiddlycove: Sputum: The point is, I did think it was funny. I read the short, I laughed (albeit quietly, in a girly kind of way), I admired the Maniac’s choices of words and phrases, and I was satisfied with the way he ended the episode with an uneventful, funny-like, chuckle-making conclusion. I liked the goddam thing. What strikes me most, having shared the experience of this very unique site for a relatively short time, is that I find myself wondering if, after all these years of finding humour, that I have been finding the non-valuable kind; that is, the uncredentialed humour that has not been constructed according to code, the kind that does not deserve an informed person’s consideration, and is therefore in danger of being deemed Non-funny. Do I insist on a refund? I like it when my teeth show, but this place demands a lot of introspection, and I strongly suspect that I might laugh less if I hang around here for too long. However, I expect to gain an appreciation for a steaming morning coil. I will vote accordingly.
04/29/2004 Mr. Pony: Right on, Tiddlycove. Been seeing a lot of deconstructing funny here lately, and unfortunately, it's sort of rubbed off. I find myself performing microcalculations as I read shorts to see if I should be laughing. Is the ending "telegraphed"? Has this subject been "adequately covered" on the site? How much "pink" can I see in the comments out of the corner of my eye? I guess what I'm saying is that Acme has effectively killed a vital part of me. Thanks a lot, assholes.
04/29/2004 Phony Millions: Touche! The Pony has spoken.
04/29/2004 Jon Matza: Well said, Pony!
04/29/2004 Ewan Snow (4):
04/29/2004 qualcomm: actually, pony, both you and tiddlycove are overthinking what goes on in a typical deconstruction here on acme, as i see it. like you two, when i laugh, i don't question the reasons so much. there've been plenty of shorts on here that i've laughed at for no good reason, or that i know are stupid but i laughed anyway and rated accordingly. it's when i DON'T laugh or am not viscerally moved in some other way that i begin the deconstruction, and i think that's how most people here operate as well. i sense a bit of self-righteousness in tiddlycove's last response, as s/he defends shorts with "uncredentialed humour that has not been constructed according to code". that sounds a lot like how texxx used to defend some of his lousier work, and i think that statement gives this short more credit than it deserves, as if it's breaking new ground or is startlingly original. i don't think it is. we at acme pride ourselves on not requiring any set construction code with humor. that's our whole fucking ethos. thank you.
04/29/2004 Mr. Pony: Lerpa, are you saying that you read every new short through the bright fresh eyes of an innocent child? It's okay if you are saying that.
04/29/2004 John Slocum: Thank you The Lerpa - I'm too busy/tired to think for myself today. The fact is, I didn't laugh at this short, but had a feeling the author was trying to be funny. Hence my initial comment. If shorts are supposed to be funny (learned that on the site tour), then why shouldn't we deconstruct what's funny? What the hell are we doing here? Deconstructing what's funny doesn't ruin funny things for me. Yesterday, I burst our laughing at a part of a short that I otherwise thought was average. I don't know where I'm going with this and must go critically taste some late harvest falanghina. By the way, I thought 'Sputem' was very funny.
04/29/2004 Jon Matza: Word to Lerpa. I'll tell you something else: substantive questions aside, Tiddlycovisms like "uncredentialed humour", "chuckle-making", "deemed Non-funny", "the Acme Credo", et al are some pompous sounding shit. And the limey spelling of 'humor' makes me wonder if we upstart barbarians aren't getting a lesson from an Old World guardian of the culture...
04/29/2004 qualcomm: Pony: i don't view shorts through the eyes of a child because children are very very stupid. but i think i rankled at your phrase "deconstructing funny" being applied to this short, since its detractors/deconstructors didn't think it was funny. that's why they were deconstructing, is all i'm saying.
04/29/2004 Mr. Pony: Oh, I wasn't talking about this short, per se. Just that there seem to be certain criteria and conventions developing, coalescing, if you will. Maybe these emerging rules are just shortcuts to more complicated criticisms and defenses. Maybe they're not rules at all. Maybe I'm the asshole. I agree that the real dismantling happens when someone decides that a short isn't funny, but I'm skeptical that these little rules don't make it into a supposedly clean reading of something. Not that anything can be done about that. Look at us! Deconstructing deconstructing funny indeed! I'm gonna go look at Showdown II some more. Hello, Ladies!
04/29/2004 Ferucio P. Chhretan: What exactly is it here that people are trying to do? I think there are people with several different agendas. I tend to agree with The Lerpa. I think this site has a lot to do with exploring what actually makes you laugh, and what parts of humor you can cut away from the bone. It's just made a lot trickier becasuse of everyone's approach to the subject. Like Pony, I also find that I don't laugh as much, but when I do it's a lot purer and harder of a laugh.
04/29/2004 Benny Maniacs: Can we move on please? Thanks and goodnight.
04/29/2004 Ewan Snow: I like how Benny was the only one who gave this a low vote. What exactly was this argument all about? Everybody please explain you positions in tedious, un-ironic detail, so I can make sure my notes are accurate. (My apologies, Benny, for continuing this.)
04/29/2004 qualcomm: i actually thought this was a Snow misfire, due to the name MT Bubblenut.
04/29/2004 John Slocum: And I thought it was a snow misfire because of paragraph 4.
04/29/2004 Jon Matza: Can't we at least agree on what exactly made this short a Snow misfire?
04/29/2004 John Slocum: I disagree with Matza
04/29/2004 scoop: If you like acmeshorts perhaps you should not major in it in University. Isn't criticism/deconstruction/etc. one half of what acmeshorts is about? Can't one engage the "text" enjoy, it and criticize it too? Why are the two necessarily incompatible? And Mr. Pony doesn't everybody engage a short with a set of criteria, rules and conventions? Thats what critics/authors use to judge a short and give it stars. It seems that the rigorous debates on the site make them express as opposed to buried, which I think is a good thing all things being equal which they are. Sorry I'm jumping in on all this so late, I've been busy fighting Nazis and their lawyers.
04/29/2004 scoop (4):
04/29/2004 Mr. Pony: scoop, I think it's good to consider works with a critical mind. And I think you should take the next step, and criticize it as well. Of course I think that. But isn't approaching a piece of writing, arguably the most free-form of all art forms, something that should be done with a much lighter touch than I think you suggest? Just on the first run, maybe. I mean, if you want to enjoy it. If you want to spend your time enjoying things. Otherwise, nailing down a very specific set of rules (see below) that will shepherd your pleasure down a very specific (but defensable!) path is probably the way to go. Either way!
04/30/2004 Benny Maniacs (5): As Michel Foucault made reference to with his "Panopticon" theory, the single most compelling metaphor for post-modern society (a prison yard with a guard-tower in the center, not exactly dictating what we, the prisoners do but enforcing the idea of what is normal), I think the phenomenon going on here at Acme that we're all engaging each other in this battle of information, thinking that what we're doing is free-wheeling and organic, when in actual fact, there are very stringent rules that go on here at Acme (as in any other society), where what is deemed good behavior is very clearly articulated through small little snips and pats on the backs and through example (against the norms of society good, almost but not quite obscure popular culture reference good, non-committal ironic use of already recognized genre good). Whether we like it or not, there's a definite style which is mutually agreed upon (though there are obviously variables within that style), with a lot of imitation and figuring out what works for our peers (myself included). But having said all that, I also think the core members who do disseminate what is acceptable behavior all have good taste and I find it extremely challenging to get my work up to their criteria, which I think we all admit definitely has its finger on the pulse of something. To conclude: Acme = good for creative writing. Pony = the Lord Of The Rings evil-eye-like guard tower.
04/30/2004 Jon Matza: Now that's an enjoyable, readable piece of critical discourse, despite the serious intent & academic references. What separates it from the pompous stuff I've been railing out at today? Not sure...something about the tone coming across as 'here's my take on things' as opposed to 'I love the sound of my own voice & am convinced of, and determined to display my brilliance/insideriness'. Also enjoyed Maniacs' gag of rating himself twice w/different scores.
04/30/2004 Mr. Pony: Wait, what? What the hell? I don't dictate anything.
04/30/2004 scoop: But Matza he mentioned Foucault, and Foucault, not unlike Loverboy, is superlame. But seriously, Loverboy? Come on.
04/30/2004 Mr. Pony: I resent the comparison of me and some Dark Lord. I love all of humankind.
04/30/2004 Jon Matza: Well, I wasn't addressing the substance of Maniacs' dissertation, just saying his delivery makes me willing to read/consider/take it seriously. To sum up: every pony's goin' off the deep end; every pony needs a second chance.
04/30/2004 Mr. Pony: The squirrels and other forest creatures can hang, though.
04/30/2004 Mr. Pony: It's a tone thing, then?
04/30/2004 Jon Matza: Sorry I ruined the 'go hang' gag. made me laugh.
04/30/2004 Jon Matza: Re 'It's a tone thing, then': YES!! Tone is critical, according to the 'Za.
04/30/2004 Mr. Pony: Agree!
04/30/2004 Benny Maniacs: Pony, would the "All Seeing Benevolent Eye" suit your purposes better?
04/30/2004 Tiddlycove: Mr. Matza, since you seem to be puzzled by what separates Maniacs’ ‘enjoyable, readable piece of critical discourse’ from ‘the pompous stuff I've been railing out at today’, could you also be a little fuzzy on what makes ‘uncredentialed humour’, ‘chuckle-making’, etc. less acceptable than your own ‘Tiddlycovisms’, ‘brilliance/insideriness' et al? Sounds pretty much like stuff I'd be proud of. And Maniacs, he’s dead right. Well said.
04/30/2004 scoop: Hey Maniacs, your white-lab-coated-wire-frame-bespectacled Kraut engineers may recall you to the manufacturer if you keep invoking that French frog Foucault. Fair warning, mon ami.
04/30/2004 Benny Maniacs: You have to admit, he makes a nice analogy.
04/30/2004 qualcomm: maniacs, to prove your theory about acme, can you direct me to a short, besides this one, that you think is funny, but that received low ratings for not conforming to our guidelines?
04/30/2004 scoop: "A prison yard with a guard-tower in the center, not exactly dictating what we, the prisoners do but enforcing the idea of what is normal." But if you say that Acme celebrates rebelling against what's "normal" but at the same time standardizes being abnormal on the site as a criteria for being good then what happens to the guard-tower? Are there just a bunch of different prison yards? And if there are a bunch of different yards isn't it silly to think of them as prisons if they're so freakin' ubiquitous?
04/30/2004 Mr. Pony: And moreover, for good or for evil, why do I have to be cast as a giant flaming eye?
04/30/2004 Jon Matza: Tiddlycove: in my opinion the examples of my prose you cite are nowhere near as nauseating or heaving with self-satisfaction as 'deemed' or 'chuckle-making,' but I could well be wrong. That is, once again I find myself "puzzled" (i.e., less willing than you to state my thoughts as authoritative, definitive, triumphant points). I could also be wrong that new visitors to Acme hell-bent on naming trends with capital letters and explaining what the site is about to its long-time authors with great certainty and condescension tend to come off as pompous, irritating or offputting. If so, I apologize.
04/30/2004 Ferucio P. Chhretan: Mr. Matza, if I may speak from my small amount of experience, (and not in defense of the Tiddlycove) I think that new authors feel like they have to hit the ground running. There's obviously pre-existing relationships, and everyone has a different approach to trying to break the ice. I think some of the neophytes try to sound like they know the score. I think that's why we all come off sounding "pompous irritating, or offputting" We just like you long-time authors so much and want to be scathing and well hung like you all are. Can you blame us? It's frickin' monkey behavior. We want to be part of the group. Again, my take on the situation, not anyone else's. This site seems to run pretty much how you want it to. If authors aren't doing what is seen as good group activity, they are ridiculed. People tend to get the hint right away, and modify their actions accordingly. Those that don't are shunned untill they leave. What more could you ask for? Or would you prefer the new people just shut up, take the criticism, and vote?
04/30/2004 Ferucio P. Chhretan: By the way, Tiddlycove: maybe you should read the commentary on Mr. Pony's short entitled "Dani?" before proceeding much further. It may save some time and energy. Best of luck!
04/30/2004 Benny Maniacs: The Lerpa: Not that I know all of the content put onto this site, but as far as I know, very little if any well written shorts that fall outside of our Acme ethos here have been posted because people who log on who can write, either aren't interested in our content or know their shit would get torn a new pee-hole. Either that or they simply change their style to conform to our senses of humor. When I first sat down to write my first Acme short I thought, OK, I'm gonna have to change my style a bit here. If I knew how to post a link, I'd refer you to Pony's initial reaction to Acme from the comments on your early short about Poopopolis (someone help?). That's the closest I can come to proving my hypothesis to your all-seeing evil-eye tower's satisfaction. Scoop: Why you gotta complicate everything? K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid).
04/30/2004 Mr. Pony: "Poopopolis" is the #1 rated short!
04/30/2004 Benny Maniacs: Muchas gracias Pony. You never really were the stationed in the guard tower. That job obviously goes to The Lerpa, Snow and Disney.
04/30/2004 Mr. Pony: Yay! I'm an elf! I'm an elf!
04/30/2004 Tiddlycove: Thanks for the "Dani" reference, Ferucio, you have spared me endless pain. Mr. Matza, I promise be less pompous, irritating and offputting in the future, except for this one parting observation at how easy it was to get under your skin. I beg your tolerance in allowing me to get away with that one.
04/30/2004 Ewan Snow: I hate to say it, but I still don't get what the controversy here is. Lerpa, this short does not have a low rating, and for that matter, does not fall outside the tradition, so why the "other than this one"? However, to answer the question, my recent short is outside the tradition and was given a low score because of it. It was intentionally long (one word short of 500) and intentionally lacking in jokes. For what it is (I think) it is pretty good; it’s just not a short and wasn’t really supposed to be funny. I’m not complaining, however. People want to laugh when they read a short and I don’t blame them. Sometimes I just don't feel like writing traditional shorts.

And by the way, Matza, the reason I made the comment you referred to about the joke to word ratio in your short was redundancies like “intelligent, learned, accomplished, witty and critically acclaimed person of letters” and “breathtaking number of ideas, points of view and solutions to problems both theoretical and actual were proposed, examined and assigned merit.” I know that this was intentional, but I didn’t think it worked. (And I didn’t suspect you had written it, I think, so maybe I didn’t know then that it was intentional). Also, the short was, I thought, trying to be funny, and therefore I felt it should have been packed with more jokes. Nonetheless, I must have been in a bad mood, because my comment was what is commonly known as a “harsh toke”...
04/30/2004 Jon Matza: OK, sure. I like observations. Long live the new 'cove! Non-stop talker, what a rocker! Blue-eyed murder in a side-swiped dress. Change, nothing stays the same. Unchained, and ya hit the ground running...
04/30/2004 Jon Matza: Snow: Thanks for drawing attention to my most universally loathed short ever (except maybe 'All about potatos"). Point taken on the redundancies. Suspect the short would have been well-received if I'd put more sensors in the middle paragraph.
04/30/2004 qualcomm: snow -- i didn't give your last short a low rating because it fell outside acme standards, i just didn't like it much. i think brad's shorts fall way outside the acme norm and i routinely give them high ratings. what the shit? the argument about stringent standards on acme doesn't hold no water.
04/30/2004 Ewan Snow: Lerpa, I didn't mean to suggest that you did. Many people simply said it was too long, however. Agreed about Brad's shorts, though.
04/30/2004 qualcomm: and regarding snow's comment that this short is not at all a departure anyway: yes.
04/30/2004 Benny Maniacs: Could it be that The Lerpa's whimsy (what style he likes, doesn't like) is setting the tone of a good Acme short? I'm not trying to say The Lerpa is The Eye of Sauron, obviously he has a heart (he saves small animals such as pigeons and baby squirrels), but perhaps he is not aware of his trend-setting mode here at Acme, and certainly his modesty would prevent any sort of concession to this point. I can't think of a prison guard with a better sense of infant mammal salvation.
04/30/2004 qualcomm: i'm just expressing myself like everybody else, why you gotta jump all over me?
05/14/2004 TheBuyer: That was one hell of a discussion, I wish I'd managed to slide one in or at least read it all the way through before I started posting about Promoting The Site.

05/14/2004 Mr. Pony: But specifically, what are you talking about? I am curious! Much was said!
05/15/2004 TheBuyer: Dunno Pony, whatever issue was on the table - common traits of newbies, whatever The Lerpa's problem is, short format criterea, my terrible spelling, what's Tiddly got in his shorts, what set-off Maniacs - everything seems pretty well covered from this angle. Also, I'm interim leader of the procrastination united nation and I'm very, VERY busy doing something that requires my full attention - ooo peanut m&ms, git down!
05/15/2004 Mr. Pony: Yes--we all have many many problems. But we are a family!! Of dammitheads!!
06/23/2004 TheBuyer: This is still the lastest controversy? I thought Poetry Reading would have usurped it. Huh.