I love the Yale 250. Folks get really anxious about writing this particular essay; I find it's a good exercise to write a couple parody Yale 250s. Getting creative with that format can seriously free up some brain space.
The basic idea is to choose the world's most absurd topic--a topic that would be unbelievably ridiculous to send to Yale--and write a parody "250" on it. I don't know if I've got any fellow Creatives in the house here, but I hope so, because I want to see this thread get redonk.
Two entries from me:
Yale 250: My Boyfriend's Microwave is Better than Mine
I frequently make oatmeal in the morning, from those little pre-packeted flavored pouches; I favor maple undertones, with the occasional cinnamon kicker. Sometimes I'll go for freeze-dried cranberry bits in with the oats--the tartness is a welcome wake-me-up.
I mention this because my microwave has only two options for oatmeal texture: soup or glue. I have been unable to find the sweet spot on the timer for the proper consistency.
It is possible I could boil water on the stove instead; I have heard the factoids about microwaves destroying all nutrients in everything they zap. I've tried to picture this phenomenon: beautifully-wrought double helices dissolving into a softly bubbling pool of watery muck, like the Wicked Witch of the West. Where do the nutrients go? Are the B vitamins really that delicate? Maybe they're hardy. Maybe they've evolved, and now thwart the evil zapping powers of microwaves everywhere. Of course, that makes no sense--where's the selective advantage? I don't think B vitamins mate, for instance. In any case, I eat oatmeal for fiber, which might gremlinify into six grams of radioactive evil, but should still scrape my insides clean.
Iconic movie references aside, I must admit: My boyfriend's microwave nukes more superbly than my own. (This is not meant to be a metaphor.) Oatmeal that spends two minutes in his white box emerges in the proper creamy-fluffy texture that oatmeal eaters everywhere pine for. I can guess blindly at the amount of water I ought to add, and it's like his microwave can appreciate this and adapt to my capriciousness. It's lovely.
Yale 250: On Cartoon Eyeballs
Open your newspaper to the funny pages. See all of the cartoon eyeballs? Nota Bene: They are all some form of sphere, with some sort of dot within. Let's say 90% of cartoon eyeballs get no more complex than that.
The artist can nudge the eyeball a millimeter and suddenly the wee cartoon man is angry; another nudge sends him into sadville; the next nudge might make him appear maniacal. Moving the "pupil" a smidge can take a cartoon face from genius to drooling. Sure, sure, sometimes it's the eyebrows doing the work, raised so far up they are no longer even attached to the cartoon head they are meant to modify, but instead are hanging like two lazy commas surfing the updraft of a heat register in December. But eyebrows are all hyperbole; eyeballs, subtlety and finesse. The noisy already get plenty of attention in this world. It's the eyeball's turn to shine.
To eyelid or not to eyelid?, that is the question. For here's the rub: in cartoons, we can simply bend the outer rim of the eyeball until it creates a recognizable facsimile of a human emotion. Eyelids are great for alluding to sleepiness, but otherwise can be discarded. Cartoons, after all, do not need to blink.
Eyeballs in actual human heads are sometimes pretty, sometimes alarming, sometimes mundane. But eyeballs in cartoon heads meet the sonic standard set by the word itself--eyeball, after all, is a hilarious word. Like monkey. Or: Underpants. Bubble. Wattle. Banana. Forty-two. Pickle. Llama. Well, you get the idea.