Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Only a Number

An Original One Act Play

As presented at the National Rifle Association Dinner Theatre
in lovely Burfork Falls, North Dakota

Prior to Broadway
(All right, so we didn't make it to Broadway.
At least we didn't get shot.)

 Written, Directed, Produced, and Cast and Crew Terrorized by Perry Block

Cast of Characters

Perry Block --- Nouveau Old, Formerly Cute job seeker.
Vance Stud-Young --- Rude, Crude Dude with Attitude (I like that! You?)
Fred Burton --- Busy recruitment executive.

Cynthia --- Well meaning but slightly pixilated personal assistant to Fred Burton.

Act I, Scene I

A business office. Cynthia is sitting up front in outer reception area. Perry, dressed in a business suit, enters, smiles, and walks up to her.

Cynthia: Hello, you must be new in the building. The air conditioning unit has been ....

Perry: (a bit taken aback by this) Oh, no, I’m not here to fix the air conditioning unit.  In fact, I’m so not handy I probably would dress something like this to fix an air conditioner!  I’m Perry Block and I’m here to see Mr. Burton about the advertised position.

Cynthia: (somewhat surprised) Oh, well, then! You must need to lie down …. I mean, would you like to sit down? My name is Cynthia. There’s magazines here …. We have Reader’s Digest, GeezerWorld, and Alte Cockers on Parade. Oh, would you like to see this month’s issue of PolyesterDude? Great article on beating constipation!

Perry: Thanks, Cynthia, but I’ll just pick one out myself.

She nods to him. He selects Rolling Stone and sits down; she is dumbfounded.

Cynthia: Sir, I think you made a mistake; that magazine is about rock and roll, not geology.

Perry: Oh, no mistake. I’ve been reading Rolling Stone since the late 60’s. (trying to relate) Funny story, in the early 70’s a group called Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show did kind of a goof song called “The Cover of the Rolling Stone” which actually landed them on the cover ....

Cynthia: (trying to be nice but clearly not fascinated)   I'll ask my Granny about that. She knows about all those old-fashioned music groups like the ... um ... Beat-offs, I think their name was.  (changing subject) I’ve got a call to make now. (lifts receiver) If you need anything, just holler! I mean, just make a very loud gurgling sound and I’ll hear you well enough before you start choking!

Perry: (facetiously) Yes, nurse, thank you.

Perry sits down and begins leafing through the magazine.

In blows a much younger guy. Looks confident but a bit sleazy and overly casual in his manner. He glares at Perry as if to say “riff raff” and swaggers up to Cynthia as she puts down the phone. She looks kind of impressed.  (Chicks!)

Vance: Mr. Vance Stud-Young. Of the Omaha Stud-Youngs. Here to see Mr. Fred Burton at 9:00 A.M. (to himself, but so Cynthia can hear) Huh, for once I’m actually on time!

Cynthia: (brightly) Yes, Mr. Stud-Young! We’ve been expecting you! There’s just one gentleman in front of you who’s No. 1, but (she cups her hand to whisper to him) I don’t think he’ll take very long.

Vance plunks himself down next to Perry.

Vance: Hey, dude, you here collectin' for liver spots research? I don’t think they ‘preciate you pawing their magazines.

Perry:  Oh, no, I’m here for a job. Just like you.

Vance: Like me? Ain't nobody like me! And I got the tattoos of Jesse James on my butt to prove it!

Perry: Well, I can't compete with that.   Though frankly I've never seen the need to hire an interior decorator for my tuchas....

Vance walks over to Cynthia who seeks to reassure him.

Vance: What agency sent him? --- Cadavers & Co? How did he get here? The free downtown passes for old geezers don’t operate on Wednesday.

Cynthia: I believe he drove himself. And today's Tuesday, Mr. Stud-Young.

Vance: How could a dilapidated dude like that get a license? And me yet with mine suspended for two silly DUI’s. Or was it three?

Cynthia: Well, like it or not, Mr. Stud-Young, he’s No. 1 today. He got here first.

Vance: Well we’ve got to do something ….. Tell Mr. Burton I gotta be one and he gotta be two.  I didn’t have no breakfast and I need my Happy Meal with special toy for children under 3  fast or my whole day will suck!

In comes Mr. Fred Burton, an executive recruiter type. He gives a broad smile to Vance and glances at Perry, looking away so quickly it would give a normal person complexes, let alone Perry. 

Burton and Cynthia briefly whisper.

Burton: (to Vance) Oh, yes, I see the problem now. Cynthia tells me there's been a mix-up.  You, Mr. Stud-Young, were scheduled as No. 1 today and you, Mr. Block,  you're.... you're .....

Cynthia: (eagerly) 59! …… (flustered) uhh, I mean……No. 2!

Vance: (to Perry) Only a number, Pop!

Burton: I’m sorry Mr. Block; you’ll have to wait a bit. In fact, why don’t you stop down in our coffee shop and get some luke-warm tea? They have decaffeinated, and y'know, they also make a mean bowl of porridge!  They can make it luke-warm as well!

Perry: (facetiously once again)  Well, that's tempting, Mr. Burton.  May I ask Cynthia to hold my teeth while I head down there?  

Ignoring Perry, Burton shakes Vance’s hand enthusiastically and walks him over to the other side of the room. He talks to him warmly, gesturing upward as if to say "the sky's the limit, my retro-neanderthal friend!"  Cynthia, still seated at the desk, gives Perry a little smile and returns to her desk work.

 Burton:  Frankly, young man, I like the cut of your jib! 

Vance: Yeah, I've always had a smokin' hot jib!   But now tell  me all about what makes da world go round (Y'know,  I think it's round ....):   the comp and bennes!

Burton speaks excitedly, smiles broadly, and spreads his hands and arms wide apart  as if to say “this much money and even more if I were bigger and had longer arms!” Burton briefly shakes his head, but continues on excitedly.

Vance, however, does a double-take! 

Vance: No signin’ bonus!!!   And to think I learned to sign my name last week for  this??!!!   You’re so lame and I’m so outta here!

(desperate) But Vance! Mr. Stud-Young!

Vance:  (to Perry) See ya, Pop.  This place is just your speed:  Rocking Chair, First Gear!

Vance storms out muttering "got an extra hour, get me an extra Jesse." Burton and Cynthia look at each other.

Burton: (to Cynthia) Now what are we gonna do!?   I was struck dumb by Stud-Young!

Cynthia:  Say that fast five times!

Burton:  Cynthia!  How are we ever going to fill this position?

Cynthia whispers to Burton briefly and half points to Perry. 
Burton regards Perry with a sort of "not if he were the last man on earth" look, which frankly is a particular look Perry has seen more than a few times in another context.  After a long pause, Burton approaches Perry.

Burton: Uhh, Mr. Block, it seems to me, umm, our No. 1 is temporarily indisposed.  May I see your resume, please?

Perry hands his resume to Burton.

Burton:  Well, it's kind of nice that the Executive Summary isn't covered with chunky peanut butter for a change.

Perry:  Frankly, I did wipe some apple jam off the Competencies.  But you'll notice I saved all my misspellings for words with one or more syllables. 

Burton:  Ha!  And you ran a Human Resources comedy troupe.  That’s funny.

Cynthia: Oh, I saw them once. It wasn’t that funny….

Burton: But still kind of a creative idea. You have some credentials, it seems ….

Perry: (modestly, like the hell of a guy he is!) Well, you can get just about anything on the internet these days.....

Burton:  Mr. Block, we should talk. Why don’t you come into my office?

Perry: Sounds good to me.

Burton: I guess maybe you are our No. 1 today after all.

Perry: That’s OK. It’s only a number.

Perry and Burton vanish into the office together. Cynthia, looking pleased, goes back to her work.

The End

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Song is Born! And has a Bris!

(To the tune of Kids from Bye-Bye Birdie)

I don’t know what’s wrong with we YIDS today!

Seems we’re more meshuggeh in every way! 

We’re the funny, crazy, wacky chosen folk!

Lawyers, doctors, all kindsa TV shlocksters!

Now listen to me, boychick!

Peter Falk, Jonas Salk are YIDS, it’s true!

And sometimes even Bob Dylan too!  

We'll never be like they are.
 Eatin' mayo each and every day!

 What's the matter with YIDs to-day?

Oh, we love catching rays in the summer sun!

And playing “Guess who’s Jewish” is always fun!

We’re the few in number members of the Tribe.
Kvetching, whining, Passover-reclining Hebrews!

Now, listen to me, boychick!

Our guilt’s just impossible to control!

Cause its primal source is that Torah Scroll!

We’ll never be like they are.
Using power tools every day!

What’s the matter with YIDS?
A bit fakakta but that’s all it is!

There’s nothing the matter with YIDS today! 


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Out of this World!!!*

When it comes to trite and corny phrases, you just can’t beat conversations about food and restaurants. 

A couple of weeks ago, I ran into Len Farbman and his wife, Sheila. Farbman prides himself on checking out all the new Philly restaurants, and he mentioned he’d just eaten in a place named Chez Nouveau  which had just opened in Northern Liberties.

I asked about the food. 

“Out of this World!” exclaimed Farbman! “Their food is out of this world!”

“And the clams casino are To Die For!” chimed in Mrs. Farbman.

This came me some pause. What exactly do such overblown statements mean? The only food substance I’m aware of which is usually found out of this world is Tang.

And an ideal, like freedom, maybe is worth dying for. Spending a night with Scarlett Johansson might also be something to die for, and of course, it would almost certainly kill me. But I’m not going to lay down my life for a plate of bivalve mollusks, no matter how delicious they are in a garlic sauce!

I resolved then and there that I would always strive for greater precision when describing anything as important as my evening dinner.

The following week, I took my son Brandon out to dinner with the Farbmans at the very same restaurant in Northern Liberties. Scarcely had the first course been served when a grinning Farbman leaned over and asked me “How’d you like the Snapper Soup?”

“Out of this State!” I replied. “In fact, I’d say it’s half-way to Trenton.” It really was good, but a trifle too salty to qualify for lift off from the earth’s atmosphere.

I ordered the roast beef as my main course. Unfortunately it was a bit overdone and stringy. “How’s that roast beef?” Farbman was quick to ask. “Out of this world, I’ll bet!”

“Out of this County,” I answered diplomatically. Poor Farbman appeared crestfallen! I hadn’t the heart to tell him that my Chef’s Salad, overladen with cheese croutons which I really hate, was barely “out of this room.” I wished it had at least been “out of this building” so I could have trashed it in the alley while he wasn’t looking.

Meanwhile on their recommendation, Brandon was eating the clams casino and Sheila was plotzing to hear how Brandon was enjoying them. Sheila Farbman, by the way, is a person so discerning she thinks Health Care Reform is a branch of Judaism reserved exclusively for hypochondriacs.

“Brandon, I can tell by the look on your face,” she rhapsodized, unable to take it any longer, “that those claims casino are….

"To have a Heavy Cold with Labored Breathing for Ten Days For,” Brandon replied. I was at once sorry I hadn’t gotten them too.

We ordered dessert. Farbman ordered Crème Caramel, Sheila the Strawberry Shortcake, Brandon the highly touted Flaming Cherries Jubilee, and me --- well, I got me the Double Chocolate Mousse.

“Out of this World!” Farbman shouted, licking the caramel from his lips.

“To Die For!” cooed Sheila F.


I really do love mousse.

Brandon was strangely silent. On the way home, I asked about the dessert.

“To be honest, Dad,” he sighed, it was only "To Have a Minor Paper Cut For.”

I guess maybe cherries aren’t in season right now.


*April Fool, jerk

Out of this World! has nothing to do with science fiction at all. Did I “get ya?” Were you expecting aliens? Carnage? “Gort Klaatu Barada Nikto?”  You're so gullible!

Did you think to play any jokes on me today? No? Goes to show you how much more I think about you than ..... oh, don't even talk to me!