Leslie Michaels

"Not So Breaking News" Vol. I, No. 4

Follow journalist April May as she attempts to make a name for herself by bringing you the stories that matter in the latest issue of Not So Breaking News. Trump HairEt Tu, Toupee? By April May

NEW YORK, NY—Hair of presidential hopeful Donald Trump has reportedly hopped party lines and financially endorsed Hillary Clinton’s campaign. When asked for a comment, neither Trump’s nor Hair’s publicist had any substantial information to give surrounding the rumor that the two have cut ties.

Such an endorsement could be huge for the Clinton campaign as well as detrimental to Trump’s attempt to secure the Republican nomination, as Trump’s Hair is worth at least half of Trump’s fortune.

“I don’t know if it’s true, and I hope it isn’t,” says Kathy White, one of Trump’s constituents. “But if it is, then he needs to get his hair under control.”

As well as hurting the campaign, an endorsement this substantial will put a strain on Trump and Hair’s personal relationship, which is often described as “stuck together like glue.”

Frisbee Hits Car, Damage By April May

DALLAS, TX—Around 8 p.m. on Thursday, a Frisbee careened out of Exall Park and into oncoming traffic, hitting a 2012 Lexus GX belonging to Edith Cryer of Highland Park.

When police arrived on the scene, no cosmetic damage was visible on Cryer’s car, although she seemed shaken.

“I have never been a victim of such vandalism. I just don’t feel safe anymore,” Cryer says.

The culprits have not been apprehended and are described as a young, white couple: Male, about 6’0”, athletic build, brown curly hair, wearing a plaid shirt, and female, about 5’5”, athletic build, and long “unruly” blonde hair. It is believed that the couple is armed with more Frisbees. If you have any information, please contact April May at Not So Breaking News.

High School Senior Comes Out As Vegetarian By April May

NOWHERE, TX—High school senior Eric Washington, 17, recently came out as a vegetarian to his classmates at Nowhere High School.

“I wanted to start the school year off right. I’ve known these people all my life, and I felt like they should know my true self,” Washington explains.

Although family and friends have shown support for Washington, a group of students has shown their opposition by graffitiing “Veggie Lover!” on Washington’s locker and placing wilted lettuce on his desk before class. The school is currently investigating to determine who is behind these intimidation tactics.

“It’s just a group of close minded people who aren’t willing to understand another way of life,” Washington maturely puts it. “Right now, it makes me laugh, but I fear that it could escalate. I do have the support of so many people though, including some of the lunch ladies, which means everything to me.”

Leslie Michaels is currently a Level 4 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She spends her spare time riding her bicycle, playing Ultimate Frisbee, or hanging out with her boyfriend, Netflix. She still questions whether she’s a dog person or a cat person.

(Illustration by John Spriggs)

Book Review: "The Seven Good Years: A Memoir" by Etgar Keret

TheSevenGoodYearsNot long ago, my dad bought me a copy of The Seven Good Years: A Memoir (2015) by Etgar Keret. I had not asked for the book, as I had no idea that it existed, and I’m not sure where he got it, especially since I could tell that it was copy that had already lived a bit of life. I imagine the book traveled miles through wind and rain and other stuff to make its way into my dad’s hands and then mine. Or maybe he got it at a used bookstore. I don’t know. Anyway, I saw the name Etgar and was intrigued—Jewish ancestry may have something to do with this. When I flipped the book over, I saw praise from Jonathan Safran Foer (author of one of my favorite books, Everything is Illuminated): “Funny, dark, and poignant.” Further, coming in at just 171 pages, I figured that it wouldn’t take long to read. It was perfect. After researching carefully on the dust jacket, I learned a bit about this Etgar Keret guy. He is Israeli and writes in Hebrew, although The Seven Good Years has yet to be published in his native country and language. He is the son of Holocaust survivors and has made his home in Tel Aviv with his wife and son. Keret lectures at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and I imagine that he would be a pretty cool professor based on his stories.

It took me less than 48 hours to read The Seven Good Years, which is an amazing thing since I am in the midst of a stressful and exciting move. I was surprised when I delved into the first chapter and it ended three pages later. And I thought Hemingway was concise. Keret, as I came to quickly learn, is known for his minimalist writing style, which I really came to love after the initial shock. I sometimes read books that are so tediously written that I get lost in the details, so a book like this was much needed in my life. Thanks, Etgar Keret!

The Seven Good Years is a collection of vignettes that could exist autonomously, but together they paint an interesting picture of the quick and sometimes surreal life of Keret. From being placed in a “special” yoga class where Keret is the only non-pregnant practitioner to analyzing Angry Birds to dealing with telemarketers, Keret had me laughing. However, more serious subjects creep up, like cancer and the precariousness of life in the Middle East. All these elements run currents throughout the book, which truly makes its “funny, dark, and poignant,” as Foer has labeled it.

I will leave you with my favorite part of the book. Keret tries to reprimand his son, Lev, for manipulating the lunch lady into bringing him contraband chocolate at school:

“No,” I said. “[Your teacher] told me that Mari the cook brings you chocolate every morning.”

“Yes,” Lev said happily. “Lots and lots and lots of chocolate.”

“[Your teacher] also said that you eat all the chocolate yourself and won’t share it with the other kids,” I added.

“Yes,” Lev agreed quickly. “But I can’t give them any because kids aren’t allowed to eat sweets in school.”

“Very good,” I said. “But if kids aren’t allowed to eat sweets in school, why do you think you can?”

“Because I’m not a kid.” Lev smiled a pudgy, sneaky smile. “I’m a cat.”

“You’re what?”

Meow,” Lev answered in a softy, purry voice. “Meow, meow, meow.

Leslie Michaels is currently a Level 4 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She spends her spare time riding her bicycle, playing Ultimate Frisbee, or hanging out with her boyfriend, Netflix. She still questions whether she’s a dog person or a cat person.

Being an Extroverted Introvert

darcy1 Last week, I went to Gruene with my family, and we understandably found ourselves in Gruene Hall listening to Bill Kirchen kill it. I mean, seriously, the guy is amazing. As we sat on the long benches, an elderly couple sat next to us and struck up a conversation with my dad. My two sisters also joined the conversation, and I was suddenly, completely paralyzed as to what to say. So I just sat there, switching between feigning interest in a conversation I wasn’t really a part of and watching Bill Kirchen perform. It felt awkward and weird, and I was OK until my dad told the couple that I’m moving up to New York soon.

“I’m going to grad school,” I explained.

“New York City is a place I could do without.”

Yep. That’s what the man said. I let my dad and sisters take back the conversation. I left pretty quickly so I could go Google Hangout with my New York roommates. Take that!

I don’t know why I was literally incapable of talking to this couple. Usually, I have a witty comeback for someone who is throwing shade (can someone so old throw shade?). When my grandpa introduces me to his friends, I have no problem talking to them. I’m even charming sometimes! Just a week earlier, I had made friends with an agronomist at a local bar and grill. And to me, plants are pretty uninteresting.

When I was in high school, one of my teachers had us take a Myers-Briggs test. As if the world wanted to make 16-year-old me even more confused about who I am, my results were split between ENFJ and INFJ. How can I literally be both an introvert and extrovert at the same time? They’re opposites. So I decided to just pick one, and I opted for introvert. I knew who I was!

I enjoy time alone reading, writing, running, snacking, whatever, but I am also a very social person. Now, it may take me a little to warm up to you, but I do seek out relationships. I’m like Mr. Darcy, in that way. And the whole expressing myself better in writing rather than through spoken word thing…Anyway, depending on the night, I’ll go out to a packed bar with some friends or maybe a smaller pub alone. Sometimes I’ll talk to strangers. Other times, I want nothing to do with them, because eh. It all depends on my mood, which has actually been changed throughout a night by friends who dragged me along to unfamiliar venues. I may have been kicking and screaming.

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For the past six or so years, I’ve been confused about the dynamic between Extroverted Leslie and Introverted Leslie. While talking about this with my dad one time, he said, “It’s as if you have to question which is the real you.” To an extent, I do agree, but I also feel like as a complicated, weird human being, I am allowed to be fickle and moody and whatever.

Not long ago, I saw something on Facebook about a mysterious creature called an extroverted introvert. I read this little piece and went down a rabbit hole of other things related to the topic. I’m proud to say that I have shifted my self-perception from confused introvert to extroverted introvert—official Myers-Briggs categories be damned!

Throughout writing this, I have also realized that my experience with the old couple in Gruene Hall doesn’t have to do just with my personality type. Let me tell you another story. In high school, each student was paired up with a resident of a nearby nursing home for a Secret Santa type thing. I mean, it was one-sided gift giving, so it wasn’t really Secret Santa, but that’s cool. The day we were supposed to go to the nursing home, my friend Brooke was sick. She enlisted me to take her gift to her resident, which I was glad to do. When I got there, I went to my recipient’s room to find a woman who was blind and promptly told me to go away, even after I explained to her who I was and why I was there. I left her new dressing gown by the door, because eff you, I don’t want this thing. Then I headed over to Brooke’s resident’s room, but I couldn’t find the correct name plate. I walked around a bit, wondering if I had gotten the room number wrong. I headed over to the nurses’ station and asked where this woman lived.

“She passed away two days ago, but we have a new resident there, if you’d like to give her the gift,” a very nice nurse informed me.

Many thoughts went through my head, like the image of a conveyor belt with people on it and memories of how scared I was as a kid when Christmas caroling in the geriatric ward. When I got back to the room, I knocked and found a pleasant enough looking woman sitting on her bed. I told her that I was there to bring her a present from my friend, and when she responded, I could not understand her. Her voice was croaky and quiet. I could make out very little and felt increasingly more and more like an a-hole every time I asked her, “What? Could you say that again?” So I nodded a lot and giggled a little, because I didn’t know what else to do.

But one thing I understood was something along the lines of, “You’re pretty stupid, aren’t you?”

“Yes.”

Behold, another instance of my incapability of responding to an old person’s zinger! Somewhere in my mind, there is a block when it comes to interacting with elderly people when they’re being curmudgeons. It lies somewhere between wanting to respect my elders despite my wily nature and actually being sort of terrified by geriatric people. And when you add the fact that I’m an extroverted introvert, you get me without a word to say. So if you ever want me to shut up, enlist the help of your sassy, elderly friends.

Leslie Michaels is currently a Level 4 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She spends her spare time riding her bicycle, playing Ultimate Frisbee, or hanging out with her boyfriend, Netflix. She still questions whether she’s a dog person or a cat person.

A Study in Pranking, Trickery, and Other Shenanigans: Magnetic Decals

One day, my mom’s office manager, Theresa, was at a new Waco establishment called Five Below—a store filled with knick-knacks costing, you guessed it, $5 or less. I’m not sure all the treasures she found, but the ones I have come in contact with are magical, little trinkets that can be used to pull a simple prank. Actually, it seems like that’s what they were designed for, because I don’t expect anyone would willingly brand themselves with these objects. A few days later, my mom found this on the back of her car:

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Yes, that says, “I heart my own farts.” It’s a magnetic decal with the perfect sort of sophomoric humor that makes most people laugh, so why not put it on someone’s car? And why not the car of your boss who is a fun loving kind of gal who watches South Park in her spare time after drinking a margarita? Theresa told me that my mom’s initial reaction was to question if that was, in fact, her car. She knew who the prankster was instinctively, because they’ve been working together for 20-something years. My mom was a good sport about it, as you’d expect, so she took the decal for safe-keeping.

A week later, another decal made its way to the back of mom’s car. This time it said, “Honk if you like 2 poop.” Mom didn’t notice the poop one as quickly and drove home to inexplicable honking.

And somehow the decals made their way into my dad’s hands. He successfully had my mom drive across town with both decals on the back of her car. He also tried to slap them on the back of my younger sister Mary’s car for a long drive up I-35, but chuckled too much for it to be kept a secret. I took the decals because there were so many more possible victims in Dallas than Waco. They sat there in my car for two weeks and became something I got used to. Weird, I know.

One night, I was at my sister Katie and Alexis’ apartment doing laundry, because as a plebe, I don’t own a washer and dryer. When I left around midnight, I started to drive away as usual when the decals caught my eye. Two decals for two cars. It was perfect! I placed them quickly and headed home.

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Admittedly, it wasn’t well executed, and I got a text the next morning asking, “Did you put those bumper stickers on our cars??” Yes, yes I did.

The last time I was at Alexis and Katie’s apartment, I only saw the “Honk if you love 2 poop” magnet. This one is reserved for one lucky friend, so if you know any of us in Dallas, double check the back of your car. You may have a new bumper sticker. I speculate that mom took the other back to Waco to exact revenge. We’ll see. Despite the juvenile nature of the decals themselves, I’m honestly impressed with the sophisticated web of pranking we’ve established. I wish there was some way to track the journeys of the decals, like on BookCrossing.com.

Leslie Michaels is currently a Level 4 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She spends her spare time riding her bicycle, playing Ultimate Frisbee, or hanging out with her boyfriend, Netflix. She still questions whether she’s a dog person or a cat person.

“Not So Breaking News” Vol. 1, No. 3

Follow journalist April May as she attempts to make a name for herself by bringing you the stories that matter in the latest issue of Not So Breaking News. IMG_3284

Dallas Rat Gangs: The True Story By April May

For the past month, I entrenched myself undercover into one of the city’s most menacing groups—the East Dallas Rats (EDR). The origins of the EDR are mysterious, but the crime syndicate has been terrorizing people since the founding of the area of town called Deep Ellum.

The EDR has claimed responsibility for area graffiti, street intimidation, and a recent string of area break-ins. Foods ranging from cereals to cheese have made their way from East Dallas pantries into the black market through the EDR. Some of the resold items have been found to be laced with Warfarin and other foreign substances.

I decided to plant myself within the EDR to learn more and bring the information to you.

I donned my best pair of Mickey Mouse ears and set myself up on the corner of Crowdus and Commerce streets, a usual gathering spot for EDR members. An intimidating rat wearing the signature gold earring in its left ear rustled its fur and growled at me. I simply nodded, as a source told me to, and walked away. This exchange had to happen thrice before I would be at all considered for EDR. On the fourth time, the same rat signaled for me to follow him. He lead me to a garage where other rats were waiting in their intimidating fashion.

“If you want to join us, April May,” said the largest, grayest rat, “You will have to pass a test.”

This rat leader, I later learned, was the Keyser Söze.

My initiation was to break in to an Elm Street apartment, obtain a bag of Cheetos and a bottle of allergy medicine, and come back to the parking garage. I successfully completed the task despite nerves caused by an adviser’s watchful eye. When I arrived back at the garage, Söze greeted me and welcomed me into the EDR by piercing my right Mickey Mouse ear himself.

Söze told me about the history, symbols, and handshake of the EDR, which I cannot reveal as an initiated member.

“Rats have been underappreciated by society as a whole. We’re ran off or caught in traps. That’s why we have to stick together. You are an EDR now,” he told me.

To further prove myself and gather information, I ran special errands for Söze, advisers, and other high-ranking EDRs. Through these errands, I gained more intelligence about the gang’s structure (rats report to officers who report to lieutenants who report to advisors who report to the leader, Söze) and intricate cheese trafficking business. The closer I got to the high-ranking members, the more I heard about the tension between the EDR and the Downtowners—a rival rat gang that had started extending its reach outside of downtown Dallas.

“They’re poaching and invading! We gotta take care of this,” I remember hearing a lieutenant say in frustration after finding his usual corner occupied by Downtowners. I knew this was bad news because it affected the cheese business for the EDR, but I was ignorant of how serious it truly was.

The Downtowners were attempting to extend their reach east of 75—the unspoken boundary between EDR and Downtowner territory. It was not uncommon to see a rat with a purple piece of twine around its neck, the unmistakable sign of the Downtowners, instead of the EDR earring.

Violence reached a new high with scurry bys becoming everyday occurrences. At each EDR gathering in the garage, Söze would remind us of our fallen members and tallied our losses against the Downtowners’. However, both gangs were determined to end the stalemate and gain control.

“Today, we fight for our part of Dallas back from that scum,” Söze told us last Saturday. “We’re fighting for our part of the city, our way of life, our security. They’re trying to take that away from us, and we won’t let ‘em!”

There was growling, cheering, puffing of chests. I watched as EDRs sharpened their teeth and claws to ready for the impending battle.

“THIS ENDS TODAY!”

The EDR and the Downtowners met underneath 75 and the mayhem was instant. I saw strangling, scratching, biting, and bleeding from my hiding place behind a concrete beam. In the end, both gangs had successfully killed the other off and thousands of rat bodies lined that part of Pacific Avenue.

I saw movement across the street and ventured out of hiding to find Söze twitching and lying on his back.

“April,” he said through a bloody cough. “I know you aren’t a rat, but you are still an EDR. Don’t forget…”

He never finished his sentence. I took off my Mickey Mouse ears and headed home. I put my ears with the earring still intact on display in my bookshelf to remind me of Söze, the fight for cheese monopolies and turf, and whatever he wanted me to remember.

UPDATE: Since the eradication of the EDR and Downtowners, the rat population in their former territories has been sparse. However, the turf will not go unclaimed for too long.

Leslie Michaels is currently a Level 4 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She spends her spare time riding her bicycle, playing Ultimate Frisbee, or hanging out with her boyfriend, Netflix. She still questions whether she’s a dog person or a cat person.

(Illustration by John Spriggs)

Book Review: “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again” by David Foster Wallace

ASFTINDAIn 1995, Harper’s magazine sent David Foster Wallace on an all-expense-paid cruise in exchange for a piece to use in a future issue. Thus was borne “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again” (originally titled “Shipping Out”). Anyone who has ever read Wallace or even knows of him can easily deduct that a cruise isn’t exactly up his alley, with the cheesy games and forced merriment and all. As you probably also guessed, dear reader, I was constantly laughing at Wallace’s take on what many people enjoy. (Full disclosure: I have been on a few cruises, and I must say that Disney cruises are awesome when you’re eight). I’m also sure that you’re wondering, why the heck is she writing about an essay that was published 20 years ago? Because it’s summer, and Wallace is hilarious. I think anyone who has ever been on a cruise, wants to go on one, or thinks they’re idiotic should read this essay. (Basically, if you’re apathetic toward cruises, then this isn’t the essay for you.) Also, "A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again" is an essay. It takes little time to read, so in the words of the ever-so-wise Shia LaBeouf, “DO IT! *FLEX* JUST DO IT!”

Wallace does not just talk about the various activities like ping pong tournaments and skeet shooting contests, but he also discusses things that should be boring in an impressively amusing way, like the wait to get on the ship. Whereas I would be bored in real life, Wallace points out the odd and funny things one can see during an annoyingly long wait. He also irrationally becomes a victim of ship envy. The way Wallace saw the funny and ridiculous in the world is refreshing, and if more people looked at it in a similar way, it would be an exponentially cooler place.

My favorite part of "A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again" is an experience in the ship’s game room. After noticing him playing alone, a nine-year-old girl challenges Wallace to a game of chess:

“Today, however, is the day I am mated in 23 moves by a nine-year-old girl…Deirdre seems like an OK type, though—I’ve played precocious kids before, and at least Deirdre doesn’t hoot or smirk. If anything, she seems a little sad that I don’t turn out to be more of a stretch for her.”

He recalls the game move by move and analyzes his own failure. What I love most about this particular situation is the fact that he is thwarted in the only truly Wallace-friendly activity on the ship.

And yes, I’m aware that this isn’t really a book review since I’m just suggesting one essay for you to read…And it isn’t really a review at all since the essay is so old. I guess all I really have to say is read it, it’s awesome, especially if you identify with Wallace’s point of view. So go look it up. There isn’t much summer left.

Leslie Michaels is currently a Level 4 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She spends her spare time riding her bicycle, playing Ultimate Frisbee, or hanging out with her boyfriend, Netflix. She still questions whether she’s a dog person or a cat person.