There’s not much I’m very good at. Most men have some talents where they can either fix cars or be abusive toward women and get away with it. I’m not like that. I don’t know the difference between a car and woman anyone. Which is the one that nags? But there was one point in my life, one short semester where I was a manly man. At this time in my life I managed to build this:


(The magazine rack I made when I was 14)


(And here I am photobombing the magazine rack)

I’m much more amazed than you are that I actually put this together. I almost always cut myself brushing my teeth I’m so clumsy. Or maybe that’s actually a serious medical condition I should get checked out. The point is, I managed to reach deep inside my soul and create a place for magazines to poorly rest within.

In 8th grade we were all given a choice as to which elective to take. We could take band, home economics, give a blow job to the principal and get into the Gifted and Talented program, or take metal and woodshop. I have no musical talent, home economics is for women, and the principal was not cute enough for me to attempt to get into GT. All I was left with was becoming a master craftsman.

The first two marking periods which made up one semester I had metal shop. My teacher was Mr. Sullivan, a grizzled bald Vietnam Veteran who on 9/11 said “If those towel heads try to blow up the World Trade Center again I will bitch slap them all with my pimp hand.” He didn’t exactly use those words but he did tell us in a subtle way hours before they made the announcement that we were under attack.

In metal shop most of the class was spent doing homework for other classes and general tomfoolery. The first project was to make a battery operated cardboard car. Mr. Sullivan had not heard of a man named Henry Ford who has made battery operated cardboard cars obsolete. I got my car to run, barely and we moved onto the next project. This project was to build a chisel. How do you build something that builds something else? I don’t remember how I built it but I did. I think I may have just brought in a knife. Mr. Sullivan or Vinasull as we would call him to confuse him, was so senile and old at this point he would not matter. He was just happy I wasn’t Vietnamese.


(Vinasull loved the smell of Napalm in the morning. It smelt like useless assignments to keep us busy for a marking period)

The final two marking periods were spent in woodshop where I would make this magazine rack. We were given tests in this class where the average score anyone would get was a 30% F. One girl literally got 0 questions correct on a multiple choice. That’s like going to Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey and not getting a herpes sore on your face. I really hate that college.

Finally we were allowed to start working on our magazine racks despite it being clear none of us were knowledgeable enough to use the power tools. A few of the kids seemed to know their way around a buzz saw while my friends and I did our Language Arts homework while someone else took a shift making sure the teacher, Mr. Bordas or Bordasull as we would call him to confuse him, didn’t notice we weren’t working on our magazine racks.

The semester was winding down and I had to work harder on my project. I sanded down the wood, I put some sticky stuff on it, I hammered nails, I put more sticky stuff over the nails, and I continued this process until I realized I was doing it totally wrong. Somehow one kid in the class had built a chair in the time it took me to figure out I was making my magazine rack incorrectly. Showoff. But can a chair hold a magazine?


(Nope. Just books. Magazine Racks > Chairs)

I fell so far behind the teacher told me I could come in early to work on the magazine rack the final week of class to get it down. It didn’t take more than two days of arriving early for me to bust my ass and get the thing built. I was proud and I kept that magazine rack until my recent move where I got rid of it. Like many things in life, this magazine rack was there for me but it has served its purpose. 12 years later and less room to cram the thing, I have decided to part ways. It also doesn’t really work well even though I built it the right away. What a dumb thing to build.

I also would like to acknowledge although I have little skills when it comes to being a manly man I was awarded the “Special Effort Award” for my time in metal shop and woodshop. I didn’t go to the ceremony because I hate sitting around for 5 hours watching classmates win awards. I’m not sure where my paper went saying how I was a Special Effort Champion but as long as it remains in my heart I will forever hold the glory that comes with it.

  1. Luddy's Lens says:

    Jeez, how big are the magazines in New Jersey? Thing looks the size of a futon.

    • Yeah…that was the biggest problem. You could really only ever lay the magazine down flat in it. I did it right too. Weird NJ is a pretty thin magazine too and our crowning jewel of published literature. I’m not sure what my teacher was thinking.

  2. robpixaday says:

    You could have disassembled it and made the parts into one of those drones like Google has, to save wild animals and spy on people. Then you can stop cutting your fingernails and change your name to Howard Hughes but call yourself Drawoh Sehguh just to keep people alert.

    That’s a VERY old reference — the Hughes one; no one who’s still alive will get it. Everyone else will laugh.

    Oh, wow…sorry about that. I meant to start off telling you how much I liked this post and how it made me laugh. I did. And it did. You made me laugh every few words along the way, not just chuckles but some actual LOL’s too, and that’s a big deal.

    Too bad we can’t like things more than once.
    Well, maybe we can. I’ll be back, incognito-ish.

    • Howard Hughes isn’t that obscure after the movie The Aviator. Not that I saw it but I know the guy owned airplanes. Plus I went on the Paramount Studios tour. I know he exists.

      I’m glad you enjoyed this tale from my youth.

  3. That magazine rack looks like a really primitive tool box.

  4. josefkul says:

    Wow, magazines and cockroaches are huge in New Jersey. At least the magazine rack can double as a dog house once the printed word dies. Still, I’m impressed. I don’t think I could make a block of wood out of an already cut block of wood.

  5. Addie says:

    It appears to be a lovely magazine rack, Tim. Did you think about paint?

  6. Oh man, you have real life skills? Now I really do hate you. Oh wait, does tiki carving count as a wood project?

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