Live Updates from The Great Frederick Fair

It’s that time of year again: The Great Frederick Fair is upon us and because we here at The Annual know exactly what you want to read, I’ve made it my duty to fill you in on exactly what goes down during Frederick Fair Day, when all the local kids get off school to go to the fair for some reason. What follows are the highs and lows of the Frederick fall kick-off, so for those of you who can’t make it, join me on the wondrous journey through the fairgrounds.

8:50am, Frederick time – Well, I’ve just parked here near the fairgrounds. I chose the lot behind the McDonalds, as there were no obvious towing signs, and no one was out yet trying to collect money. My advice is to get here early then enjoy it all!

8:55am – Walked to the main entrance, now just awaiting my turn in line. Surprisingly lively on the street – was approached twice for money. Sorry, sirs, I only have money for fairground goods! All the entrance employees are over 70 years old…

9:02am – I’m in! Nothing can ruin this day for me now. Still one of the first 100 or so people on the grounds, including the workers. None of the rides are running yet, so thankfully no kids in sight. Also most of the carnies appear to be smoking together in “clicks,” throwing wary glances at one another. I have yet to determine what differentiates these “clicks” but I have now added it to my missions for investigation during the day.

9:04am – Like every Frederick native who grew up coming to the Fair year after year, the first stop is of course the Home Arts and Crafts building. And what an amazing crop of talent Frederick has showcased this year! I always start with the photography, and it is a site to behold, especially this early in the morning. There are close up shots of cats, close up shots of dogs, far-away shots of the clustered spires, and there are even some SELF PORTRAITS IN BLACK AND WHITE! I mean, who would have thought? I mean last year, there was a close up shot of a dog in black and white, and I didn’t think it could be topped, BUT IT HAS BEEN!

9:17am – I was so satisfied with the pictures that I almost forgot to check out the handmade quilts and pottery. Normally, I would say that bowls and ceramic vases should be equal in both height and width (if we were to cut the piece in half), but these artists WENT AGAINST THE NORM! Unbelievable! Not only did we have misshapen pieces, but some of them do not even sit flat on the table they have been placed on! Brilliant!

9:22am – I have been so overwhelmed with pride and other emotion that I need to leave the art building, and head over to see the end of the Equine showcase at Gate 3! The smell of the fresh air mixed with the urine and poop-soaked hay really drives home that Frederick feel.

9:35am – What an absolutely incredible display! Such beauty combined with the raw power of these horses! And to think, it still takes hundreds of them to equal the power in my car! I would’ve assumed only in the upper twenties or so. The way they make these massive muscle beasts move so elegantly, it really reminds you of how Frederick became such a mighty beast in its own right. Our forefathers took the land they were given and made something great out of it.

9:41am – I realize the midway opens at 10am, and more and more people are filing in the gate every moment. If I don’t get in line for some of the delicious snack foods, I’ll be waiting in line the rest of the day!

9:46am – I made it! One of the new items this year (sure to be a crowd favorite) is Maryland’s own Deep Fried Crab cake! If you are coming in the main entrance, head straight and to the back right of the fairgrounds to find this one-of-a-kind treat. To really enhance your delight, you’ll be sure to pass Richardson’s Root Beer stand; do yourself a flavor and grab a root beer float to sip while you await your fried goddess of a crab-cake. My mouth is watering thinking of deep fried seafood, and I would be drooling if not for this cold float. I shiver with anticipation (or the sugar high).

9:50am – OH MY GOD THIS IS SO GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD. How have I never had this before? It has all the things I love – crab, deep fry batter, excessive amounts of calories, and no judgment! I am back in line to grab another one before the health inspector kicks them out, because something this good should be illegal!

9:53am – I am in line for a third time. The float is long gone but my hunger for fried crustacean cannot be quenched.

9:59am –Slowing down. Took up two folding chairs in the nearby food tent to fully realize what I’ve just done to my body. Grabbed an extra-syrupy Coca-Cola from another vendor to help quiet the world war that has broken out inside my stomach. The contented smile on my face, however, tells a very different story. 10/10 would do again later today. I fondly realize I still have another 10 or so hours of walking around to do, so the few pounds of fried grease and shellfish in my gut will be nothing but burned calories in the steps to come.

10:07am – Still sitting, really taking it all in. A lot more “Fair Security” than I would normally think to see. I assume there are this many every year, although I never really stop to people watch. A lot of families, a lot of strollers – I mean I love the fair, but you know those young kids are only going to last an hour or two before getting bored and screaming. But when you are a parent, I supposed an hour to two is the best you can ask for some peace and quiet.

10:11am – Up and moving again. Although my belly protested, I told him we have a lot to report on. The plan is to walk down the midway once on the track side, then back up the street side, and determine which few rides are absolute necessities. Although they might have to be delayed until the rest of my body has caught up with my adrenaline-driven mind. I also gave a kid a “flat tire” by stepping the back of his shoe by accident; he went to the ground and luckily I stepped behind one of the ticket-kiosks before his parents saw me.

10:15am – Gravitron: Yes. Zipper: Yes. Ring of Fire: No. Children’s Dragon Rollarcoaster: Maybe, but only if I get to sit in front.

10:21am – Well, it happened. The one thing you never EVER want to happen when you visit the fair – I had to use the restroom. And not for a stand-up only stop, either. This was a full blown, get your phone out because we’re going to be here awhile emergency. The mixture of fried crab, root beer float, and coke reacted inside my intestines the same way you would see Mentos and Coke on YouTube. There are some port-a-potties set up near the stables on the far side of the track, near the end of midway. If I had time, I would have ran back to the front entrance where they have “real” bathrooms, but time was certainly not on my side (but this is better than having stains on my side). 

10:31am – I guess everything I have eaten in the past three days is also deciding NOW is the time to exit the temple of my body. Only had one person try my port-a-potty door (which clearly says “Occupied” in red on the outside), but hopefully not too many others are furiously releasing their bowels this early in the morning.

10:38am – I accidentally breathed through my nose. Normally, going into any bathroom, I would only use my mouth to breath, as to keep any nasty smells from reaching my brain. All was going well and fine until I went to take deep sigh, which unfortunately started with a deep breath in through my nose. For the Fair only starting yesterday, it was exceedingly foul. I must make haste.

10:45am – My body has determined that haste is no longer in its vocabulary. I know there is more to come, I can feel it from my soul all the way to my colon, and yet nothing wants to come out. I have the strange sensation that as soon as I get 10 feet from the door, another huge stomach cramp will strike, and force me back into my current fortress of smell-i-tude. I feel my best option is to wait it out, and not leave a messy situation until the entire situation is taken care of. Now knowing what it is like in here, I can’t imagine leaving and coming back.

10:56am – Ok, that’s it. I’m tired of waiting, and I just so happen to be out of incense and Pokémon lures. If the pangs come back, so be it, but I am leaving this stall!

11:01am – Hmm…well, either someone is playing a prank on me…or the door of my port-a-potty is locked or jammed shut. I’ve turned the handle, so I can clearly see no sign of any stray piece blocking my exit, and yet the door refuses to open. I am currently investigating the remainder of the door for any clues, but at least now my pants are up, and I’m ready for this challenge.

11:09am – Still no luck. Nothing appears to be holding the door in place from my side. My current ideas are that someone put adhesive on the overlapping parts of the door, a worker negligently rested something extremely heavy against the full outside of the door, or the late summer heat has melted the door closed. None of these actually seem likely, but hey I don’t have much else to do except think of these things right now. I shall now begin yelling and attempt to break down the door.

11:16am – No one has come to my rescue. I have been kicking on the door and screaming “Help” for the past 5 minutes, and not so much as a whisper or someone knocking. What is going on here?

11:25am – I have been rocking the porta-potty, banging on it, and yelling as loud as I can, and nothing! No movement at all, no noise from the outside world. I am beginning to feel claustrophobic, and wondering what has happened to the outside world. I have no phone service now, and can only hope this disgusting rectangle is lead-lined in case some nuclear blast just took out all of DC and Baltimore.

11:33am – I HEARD A LAUGH! It was faint, but it seemed to be a child’s snicker. Still no luck on escape.

11:41am – No additional voices. I attempted to use the tiny air vents at the top to look around, but the holes were so small my eyes could not adjust to see anything, and the risk of slipping on the back part of the toilet and into the bowl became too great. My phone battery is at 63%.

11:55am – God, it’s me, Thomas. I know we haven’t spoken in a while. Maybe this is punishment for that. But please, PLEASE, I will do anything. I’ll go to church every Sunday. I’ll call my mother twice a week. I’ll volunteer at a homeless shelter. Anything. JUST LET ME OUT OF THIS FUCKING PORTA-POTTY!

12:14pm – God has forsaken me.

12:22pm – I am in awe that no one has tried to use this bathroom. The fair must be in full swing by now, people have eaten tons of fair food and been walking around in the heat, SOMEONE needs a bathroom! I’M IN HERE! TRADE PLACES WITH ME!

12:41pm – Does the bottom of a porta-potty release? Or unhinge from the top portion in some way? Again, no internet service so I can’t look it up, but they have to clear it out somehow. Do they just stick a hose in there and suck all the gunk out? Or does it release like a trap-door into some container?

12:45pm – Used my phone flashlight to investigate inside toilet bowl; immediately threw up. Will shelve this idea for later.

12:58pm – Phone battery at 51%. The air is thick. The heat combined with the bowl leftovers is making it humid and hard to breathe. One way I never thought I would die would be suffocating in a public fair bathroom. It has now moved quite high on the list.

1:16pm – More laughter! I swear I heard it! Someone is definitely pranking me! But who? And why? What could I have done to deserve this? All I wanted was a nice day to enjoy the fair, not a weekend to reflect on the mistakes I’ve made in my life leading me to this point in time.

1:18pm – Speaking of mistakes, I will not be covering the fair next year.

1:20pm – Double speaking of mistakes, Karen you are a bitch and you ruined my life. I determined that you breaking up with me was the exact moment when my life no longer could reach its full potential. So deal with that!

1:33pm – 10,655 beers on the wall, 10,655 beers. Take one down, pass it around…10,644 beers on the wall…

1:44pm – Noises! I can hear…something. It seems faint and muted, but before I couldn’t hear anything! Is this some sort of sign? I struggled against the door and frame again, with no luck, but it could be something!

1:46pm – Thinking of the possibility that I might also be getting some sort of cabin fever. Battery is at 22%.

2:02pm – The heat is getting to me. I am sweating profusely. I no longer have the urge to use the bathroom, as I feel there is nothing left inside me. I have also come to the conclusion that there is no soul.

2:08pm – Out of boredom, I attempted to stick my leg in the toilet hole without touching the sides. I have had 3 successful attempts. Although the thrill is no longer there, I will have to find other things to bide my time in case my phone dies.

2:30pm – HELP! HELP ME! OH MY GOD HELP ME JESUS CHRIST GET ME OUT OF HERE!

2:35pm – I have started playing Sandstorm by Darude on repeat on my phone. I assume this can only lead to three things: me passing out, someone breaking in to tell me turn that shit off, or for the music to be so awesome that it literally blows the roof off this porta-potty. Not sure what I am wishing for more.

3:18pm – Fell asleep. Sandstorm still playing. Battery is at 12%. Put it on low power mode. Breathing through my nose no longer bothers me. Actually starting to enjoy it. Trying to pick out the subtle hints and flavors emanating from the hole below me. Someone definitely had jerk chicken.

3:32pm – A knock! Someone knocked on the walls of my sarcophagus! I tried to get their attention but nothing further. I also saw dust particles floating through the light near the air vents.

3:51pm – I now know what it feels like to be a dog locked in a hot car in a grocery store parking lot. At least I’m not crying about it.

3:57pm – Phone battery 4%. Although iPhones usually don’t tell the truth about that. Let’s see how long I can last without checking what time it is.

3:57pm – Damn it.

4:18pm – Something jolted me awake. There appears to be faint light coming from the door crease. I am not sure if I want to attempt jostling the door, or if this has just been given to me as hope, to continue my torment.

4:24pm – Fine, I’ll try the door. Phone battery at 1% anyway.

4:26pm – DAYLIGHT! At least, I think it is daylight. My eyes are still adjusting, but I’m out of the porta-potty!

****At this point, my phone did die.****

Well, turns out some of the rides still had not been completely set up yet on this WONDEFUL fair day. My particular bathroom choice happened to be in the way of one of these yet-to-come attractions, and the porta-potty was locked and moved to a new location WHILE I WAS INSIDE IT. I guess I didn’t feel the movement because my bowel movement was rocking me worse. The porta-potty was then stored next to some shipping containers at the back of the fairgrounds, with the door placed right up against them, so that I couldn’t open it even an inch. That area is not used very often, which is why no one was around and I couldn’t hear anything. Some kid must have found me and that’s what I heard laughter or something. Luckily, more bathrooms were needed after it started to get crowded, and someone remembered they had moved this porta-potty earlier.

After I made my escape from the bathroom, I immediately bought a Red Velvet funnel cake, because those things are delicious, and I deserved it. Plus I had been smelling the hints of one for about 2 hours prior. Then I went to the Ferris Wheel, because no trip to the Fair is complete without viewing Frederick from the top of the world.

All in all folks, it was the best year at the fair, ever! A very typical day. So get out there and enjoy it!

TM Scholtes

A Breakup Letter to The Summer Heat

from: Me
to: The Blistering Summer Heat

I don’t know how we got to this place. I remember spending cold winter nights daydreaming about what it would be like when we were together again.  I couldn’t wait to live surrounded by your sunny embrace. You were all I could think about. And when you finally came around, you were the best thing in my life. You brought me so much love and joy and even on the select few occasions where you were a bit too much too soon, I embraced it. It had been almost a year since I had felt that warm feeling and so I perspired willingly. At some point, I fell in love with it.

But your comfortable breeze quickly turned stale, thick and stuffy. You’ve changed. And I’ve changed. Literally. I cannot wear fewer than 3 shirts a day because I sweat through all of them. I take off my socks every day and wring them out like sponges, shedding a little of our love with every drop of foot sweat. It really just feels like you’re doing this on purpose to control me. I used to be able to wear whatever I wanted, but now I have to dress myself according to how hot you’re going to make the world. I want to decide what clothes to put on my body based on my style or mood, not based on how unbearable you are going to be on any given day.

And it’s not just what I wear – it’s everything I do. I can’t even make plans without first consulting you. I can’t just spend the day on a hike with friends or taking a stroll in the park, not with you there, blowing hot air down our necks. You make it impossible for us to just enjoy ourselves. You’re suffocating me.

I think I need to find someone more temperate. Perhaps a manufactured jet of cool central air, or maybe an entirely new season. I hear pumpkin spice is great this time of year– maybe I will find myself a mild autumn breeze to love. I don’t know who I’m meant to be with, but I do know it’s not you.

I do still care about you and I want us to be friends. I just don’t know how to do that at this point. That’s the hardest part of all of this. In fact, as I type this, I cannot tell if I am sweating or crying. Perhaps it’s both. But that’s exactly the problem; I am just not happy with you. And I don’t think I ever will be.

I hope we can still be friends.

All the best,
Christine

Make The Annual & METx Great Again!

Two months ago The Annual went on a three week hiatus. During this time we launched our Patreon account and I, Kevin Cole, wrote a play called Great Again.

Great Again takes a satiric look Trump’s dystopian future, and could more specifically be referred to as Our Town for the Trump Administration. The story starts four years into his presidency as we are guided by our narrator, Ben Carson, through the world of Trump. The story also features the likes of Ted Cruz, Vladimir Putin and of course, Ivanka.

I’ll be directing the show as a METx production for Maryland Ensemble Theatre this fall with show dates on Nov 6 & 7th (election eve) and Nov 11 & 12. Mark your calendars.

Want to get involved!? We’ll be hosting Auditions on Monday Sept 26th from 6:30pm-9pm at MET (31 West Patrick St. Frederick, MD) for the following roles: Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, and Paul Manafort & Stephen Miller (The Joint Chiefs). You can email Kevindotcole@gmail.com to set up an audition slot.

Jimmy Fallon’s Thank You Notes: Donald Trump and More

It’s Friday, and that means I usually catch up on some personal stuff and write some thank you notes. I’ve had a really great week, so there are a lot of people to thank, would you guys be okay if I wrote some weekly thank you notes? Is that cool? James, could I get some Thank You Note writing music, please!


Thank you, Mr. Trump,
for letting me touch your hair, I’ve never felt a dead rat before.


Thank you, America,
for forgiving me after I shook hands with the devil.


Thank you, Questlove and The Roots,
for ignoring me while I yucked it up with a bigot, and for not beating me up during the commercial break that followed.


Thank you, David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan,
for tuning in to our fun little show.


Thank you, Matt Laurer,
for having my back this morning and comforting me after I read those mean things on twitter.


Thank you, big-time celebrity guest,
for not letting Trump’s appearance cheapen future bookings on my show.


Thank you, voters,
for lowering your standards enough that we could reach this moment together.


Sincerely,
James Fallon

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Postmaster General Hospitalized from Overdose of Stamp Glue

(WASHINGTON, DC) –Megan Brennan, the 74th Postmaster General of the United States, has been hospitalized after overdosing on the tasty glue used on lick-able stamps and envelopes. Further reports reveal that Ms. Brennan has been addicted to the residue for almost 4 years.

“It’s actually quite common in the postal field to become addicted to this adhesive,” explains Dr. Kevin Remwald, a medical doctor at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, where Megan was first admitted. “Stamp and envelope glue is made from gum arabic, which in laymen’s terms is the sap of the acacia tree, or multiple types of acacia tree. At its core, it’s just sugar, and when sugar gets wet, it gets sticky. This sugar is safe for human consumption, but not so sticky or soluble that it works great for things like envelopes. It is also used for candies like marshmallows and fruity gum drops. Just like any addiction, too much of a good thing is bad for you.”

Megan assumed her current role of Postmaster General in February 2015, when the former general Patrick R. Donahoe retired. Donahoe declined comment in the story. Many speculate that he knew about Ms. Brennan’s addiction and helped cover it up.

“Oh it’s a huge problem,” says Tina Usiv, a post office branch manager and former co-worker of Megan’s. “I see some employees licking 200, 300 stamps a day, then just adding them to mail that already has the appropriate postage. I look the other way because they are fantastic workers and we can’t afford to cut our top employees if their performance isn’t suffering. The only people they are hurting is themselves. As long as they show up, do their job and give 110%, who am I to judge them?”

According to Tina, Megan was using for the three years they worked together, during this time Megan was Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of the USPS (United States Postal Service). However, it never once affected her work.

“She was great to work for!” says Tina. “I always felt comfortable talking to her. I never noticed anything was wrong, until she asked who was in charge of sending out late payment notices. When Larry [Patterson, head of Invoicing and Payment department] told me that [Megan] wanted to be the sole person responsible for sending the notices out, I knew there was a problem.”

Slowly, Megan began to take over any outgoing mail that still required sealing or postage. She also demanded the home address of every worker and worker’s family members, in order to send them Christmas cards during the holidays.

“It was very cute and thoughtful at first, but it’s gotten completely out of hand.” Joe Bonneville, another former postal employee, comments on the “cards” he has received: “The first year, we got a Christmas card, saying to have a blessed year and all that. Then came a New Year’s card, saying good luck in the New Year and to “make it great!” Ok, again, still holiday time, not a big deal. But when we got an envelope for ‘Groundhog’s Day’ we were fed up. By the next Christmas, we got four different Christmas cards. It had to stop.”

The analysis at MedStar was not good; the levels of gum arabic in Megan’s system determined that she had licked 2,500 to 2,800 envelopes the morning she was admitted, all before 10:30am. Based on the level of gum in each envelope, it would be the equivalent of 400 packs of crispy M&Ms.

“This is a very serious matter,” Dr. Remwald continues. “Postal workers are under a lot of stress, as we’ve seen in the past. The addiction to stamps and envelopes is actually well documented; it was the basis for the term ‘going postal.’ The phrase was originally meant to describe a postal worker under so much stress they resulted to licking. But now has been applied elsewhere. Licking is an underlying epidemic in our country, but is swept under the rug, since postal workers claim it ‘isn’t hurting anyone.’ Well, hopefully this issue will finally be brought to light following this unfortunate hospitalization.”

Dr. Remwald went on to say that he expects Ms. Brennan to make a full recovery, and hopes she enrolls at the nearby sugar addiction center to get the helps she needs.

We here at The Annual have sent dozens of letters to her and other postal workers for additional comments, and we will continue to send hundreds of letters to get you the information you deserve. In fact, I will go send some blank envelopes now just because.

TM Scholtes

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4 Stories That Prove Cheese Balls Are The Bad Boys of the Snack World

If the company you keep says something about the kind of person you are, then so too do the snacks you consume. Be it the cheese-flavored puffed-corn variety eaten directly from a jug or the more sophisticated, toothpick skewered party appetizer, the cheese ball has earned a reputation as the bad boy of the snack world. Here are 4 news stories that prove wherever cheese balls go, trouble follows:

1. Black Bear lured by cheese balls becomes jug-headed, is rescued by lasso-wielding B&B owner.

Anything consumed directly out of plastic jug is likely to stir up some kind of mischief (if only in our bowels) and is probably best avoided. You don’t have to tell that to the aptly named “Jug Head Bear,” a young black bear in Colorado who managed to get his head stuck in a discarded cheese ball jug.

A local bed and breakfast owner spotted the unlucky animal and decided to intervene – with his lasso, of course. After man and bear engaged in “a couple of good rolls in the grass,” the proper authorities arrived on the scene and Jug Head Bear was tranquilized and relieved of the jug. And you can bet that’s the last time he goes sniffing around after cheese balls.

2. Man throws cheese balls at woman’s car; woman retaliates by plowing over, killing man.

Nobody likes to have cheese balls thrown at their car, it’s just plain rude. However, killing the perpetrator in retaliation is a bit of an overreaction – even in Australia. An Australian court convicted a Sydney woman of murder and sentenced her to 18 years in prison for running over and killing a man for throwing cheese balls at her car. She was drunk and high at the time of the murder, so that may have influenced her overreaction, but then again, cheese balls are pretty infuriating.

3. Drive Defensively. You never know when a nut-covered cheese ball is going to fly through your windshield.

According to the Eagan Minnesota Police Blotter, on December 27, 2013, at 7:23 pm, someone “threw a “nut covered cheese ball” out of the window of a moving vehicle. The cheese ball hit the windshield of another vehicle and shattered it.

Clearly, something happened here, but what exactly? What series of events could have possibly led to a “nut-covered cheese ball” being thrown out the window of the moving vehicle? Did the cheese ball provoke some kind of heated exchange between the vehicle’s occupants? Was it a joke or were they simply disposing of an unwanted nut covered cheese ball? Alas, the world may never know, but we can be sure that whatever it was, it was nutty.

4. Cheese ball caper exposed when stolen goods fall out of thief’s shorts.

A Kingston, Ontario man attempted to steal a $7 cheese ball (That must be some fancy ball of cheese.) from a grocery store by stuffing it oh-so-casually down his shorts then making a break for the door. The poorly secured cheese ball tumbled out of the man’s shorts – right in front of security – and his plot was foiled. How embarrassing. The thief was apprehended and sentenced to 60 days in jail. That’s a long time to go without cheese balls.


So, the next time you reach for some cheese balls, remember these stories and choose the honey mustard pretzels instead. Honey mustard pretzels wouldn’t be caught dead on the Eagan Minnesota Police Blotter.

Patricia Grant

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The Last Hurrah Visits Schlaraffenland

Kick off your week in style with the newest Last Hurrah in podcast form!

90 – Schlaraffenland

On this week’s Hurrah, Karli tells a tale of ghost sightings and ankle twistings, as well as her favorite fairy tale. PLUS! Thom pays a special tribute to Gene Wilder.

Subscribe and review the show on iTunes or stream it on LastHurrahLive.com

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Join us at the Maryland Ensemble Theatre on Sunday Sept 25th for a new adventure!

METGIF