Sunday, January 30, 2011


Running late again that morning. A day just like always.

Face it: I’m about as far from being a morning person as Lindsay Lohan is from the beatification process of the Catholic Church!

So I didn’t stop to put on Good Morning America, The Today Show, or any of those other morning shows whose job it is to pleasantly chirp you awake with news of the latest earthquake in Peru or designer drug headed straight for your fifth grader’s lunch box.

I downed a quick cup of coffee, snatched up my briefcase, and that morning, unlike many others, thought to grab my bow and arrows.

It was one of those days I didn't feel like listening to the radio first thing out so I drove to work bathed in thought. Yes, bathing in thought certainly saves money on your water bill, but you don't get particularly clean. I soon found myself 
ruminating about some of the challenges I was facing at the office, not the least of which was looking up what ruminating means when I got there.

Two of our employees had recently passed away. It wasn’t going to be easy to replace either Cost Accountant Miles Lumpkin or Janice Pusma from Marketing, so I needed to get ads on Career Builder and Monster ASAP. I would have used Craig’s List, but Craig himself always applies for whatever positions I post, and you should see this guy! I don’t even think Craig puts himself on his list!

I was ready to finally reach over to punch on the radio when my cell rang.

“Hey, Perry!” shouted Gimmel, a cheerful morning-type guy who works in my building. First thing in the A.M. I feel like talking to Gimmel about as much as I feel like watching back to back episodes of Deal or No Deal with Howie Mandel.

"Hear about Charlie Sheen?” said Gimmel.

“Charlie Sheen?” I replied. “No. Broke out of rehab? Got himself a new crop of hookers? Completed a dissertation on 19th century Russian authors who loved golf?

“Nope,” said Gimmel. Munch-Munch. Burrrrp!”

Gimmel always has been one for black humor.

“Oh, got you," I said. "Well, maybe this'll help speed up the Firearms Project.”

On-going for several years, the Firearms Project was a massive effort by government engineers to develop a more effective weapon than the bow and arrow. Even Republicans in love with the Second Amendment Right to Bear Arrows were behind it.
The theory was that a small hard projectile fired out of a sort of triggering mechanism would move at rapid velocity and actually possess the capability to penetrate human or animal flesh.

“I’ve heard that the trick,” said Gimmel, “is to create a mechanism to launch the projectile that mimics the way rockets are launched into space at Cape Canaveral but be so small it would fit in the palm of your hand!”

Fit in the palm of your hand!” I marveled.

Don’t ask a Jewish guy to explain it. I can barely work a bow and arrow!

We hung up.

 If only people were at the top of the food chain,” I muttered aloud. But of course, what a ridiculous thought! Superior minds were no match against the raw power and razor sharp teeth of lions, tigers, wolves, cougars, snapping turtles, runaway poodles, and the assortment of other predators that roam North America.

I flicked on all news KYW, the station you turn to in Philly for weather, traffic, and predator reports every seven minutes.

“Repeating our top story," said the newscaster, "Actor Charlie Sheen, dead at age 45, eaten by a mountain lion in front of his home in Beverly Hills. The controversial Mr. Sheen is the first major television celebrity to be eaten since comedian Ray Romano was devoured by a kangaroo five years go and his hit TV show had to be hastily renamed Everybody Fondly Remembers Raymond."

The predator report gave the vicinity of my building the all-clear, so I arrived, parked, and fairly well sauntered on in.

“Morning, Ted. Morning, Angela,” I called out to two of my co-workers as I entered the building.

"Hello, Perry," Angela began, I wonder if you could ...

O-H-H-H, N-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O!!!!  A SQUIRREL!!!!”

Sensing movement out of the corner of my eye, I wheeled and caught sight of the creature! He was lurking by the elevator bank, his furry tail menacingly aloft like the plume atop the helmet of a rapacious Spanish conquistador!

Somehow the squirrel had gotten past the predator sensors and the Night Guard.

Poor Clarence! All they ever gave him was a slingshot; God knows what must have happened!

“Perry, you’ve got your bow and arrow,” screamed Angela. “Do something!”

My hands were shaking so much they could have won a 1960's Frug Contest, but I managed to unsheathe an arrow from my aptly named quiver. Meanwhile the squirrel rose on his rear haunches, baring his hideous, mossy, and ill-brushed teeth for the three of us to gaze in horror upon!

I had one shot. I knew if I missed, the furry beast would core me like a pineapple!

Or maybe section me like a grapefruit, I’m not sure. I never can come up with the optimal fruit/blood n’ guts analogy when I’m under animal attack.


The arrow went sailing right toward the monster. Only problem was it went sailing toward the monster about eight feet or so above his head!

Remember, I'm Jewish.

The arrow richoted off a “Wild Animal Emergency Shelter” sign, bounced against a lobby painting of William Howard Taft --- the only President ever to be eaten in office --- and landed smack in the door to Office 714, the words upon which read “Max Gimmel, Wrestling Promoter.” 

“What the f….” shouted Gimmel, emerging from his office. “Oh, a squirrel is it? I’ll get you, you little fiend!”

I forgot to mention that Gimmel is 6 foot 6, 245 pounds, and a former wrestler himself. He’s been known to take on two escaped hamsters at once with only his bare hands!

The squirrel hissed, spit in each of his little paws, and turned his full attention to Gimmel.

I knew that only one of the two would be leaving the building that night.

If it were to be the squirrel, I made a mental note to take home Gimmel’s leather briefcase, a couple of lovely office end tables, and the phone number for Gimmel’s wife, who --- frankly --- is kind of hot.

Angela, Ted, and I quickly escaped up the stair well.

“Perry, you’re a hero!” beamed Angela.

“No, Angela,” I replied with appropriate faux modesty. “The real hero will be whoever finally develops that gub. Or whatever they plan to call it.”

Poor Charlie Sheen, I thought.

Who can say?  One of these days that wacky guy might even have gotten the opportunity to shoot off one of those incredible contraptions himself!


Friday, January 21, 2011

A Ricky Gervais Pesach!

Seems to me British comedian Ricky Gervais was a strange choice to host the 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards.

If the honchos who run the Golden Globes didn’t want somebody unafraid to push the envelope, they could have picked me. Personally I’m scared to death to push the envelope, especially if I think it might contain money.

Whether you think Mr. Gervais is one of the most talented comedic minds to come along in years or a flat out jerk (or both), inviting him to host the Golden Globes was sort of like inviting him to host your Passover Seder. And who the heck would ever do that?

“Ladies and gentleman, it’s the 4,387th Annual Jewish People’s Passover Seder Ceremony. And now your Host and Conductor of the Seder, Mr. Ricky Gervais!”

Huge Applause!

(Yep, somebody must have gotten into the Manischevitz early!)

"Hello, I'm Ricky Gervais. Welcome to the 4,387th Annual Jewish People’s Passover Seder Ceremony live from Perry Block's house in beautiful Havertown PA. It's going to be a night of partying and heavy drinking, or as Charlie Sheen calls it, 'Not bad, but what happened to all the begatting?'

Now before me is the Seder Plate, and round the plate are symbols of Passover. We partake of the Bitter Herbs to remind us that the bitterness of slavery was almost as bad as having to sit through The Tourist. We eat the mixture of apple, nuts, and cinnamon known as Charoses to remember the mortar used to build Pharoah’s pyramids when the Jews were in captivity --- something Robert Downey Jr. is very familiar with. And the Roasted Shankbone from a Lamb is meant to signify Sara Jessica Parker’s profile.

Early in the Seder, I’ll break off a piece of matzo, wrap it in a napkin, and hide it. 'What’s it all about Afikomen?' you ask. Well, all the children look for the matzo, and the one who finds it gets a dollar! And yes, Demi Moore: Ashton Kutcher is eligible to participate!

The Afikomen could be anywhere in the house. Behind a bookcase, under a pillow, or even in Cher’s cleavage. What a lesson for Hollywood! You can always make money by reaching in for something old, repackaged, and done to death!

The Four Questions, a very moving part of the Seder, are next traditionally asked by the youngest person present. Since the youngest person here happens to be a budding scientologist, I can fairly well predict that two of those questions will be 'Wondering why Tom Cruise is at our Seder tonight, Mom and Dad?' and 'Mom, do you happen to know a good place to pick out drapes?'

Actually, the real Four Questions are inquiries about why this night is different from all other nights, and they are:

1) On all other nights we eat either leavened or unleavened bread, but on this night we eat only unleavened bread to remember how flat Robert De Niro’s jokes fell.
2) On all other nights we eat any type of herb, but this night we eat only bitter herbs. No, I’m not talkin’ about The Tourist again!
3) On all other nights we do not dip even once but on this night we dip more often than Tim Allen’s career.
4) On all other nights we eat sitting up, but on this night we eat reclining so Charlie Sheen doesn’t have to feel any different from the rest of us.

Next we’ll tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt itself, recounting each of the Ten Plagues --- otherwise known as any random ten minutes from Tracy Morgan: Black and Blue on HBO --- and culminating in the Parting of the Red Sea, something which Bruce Willis wishes he could do with his hair. By the way, some of the actual plagues --- blood, pestilence, darkness, wild beasts --- sound like something straight out of a disaster movie.

No, I’m not talkin’ about The Tourist again!

Then it will be time for us to open the door to welcome the venerable and centuries-old Elijah the Prophet to our Seder. I don’t want to say that Elijah is long in the tooth, but when it comes time to let him in, Hugh Hefner better not turn his back on Crystal Harris. That cup of wine on the table for Elijah might not be the only thing that's going down!

Finally, we’ll finish by having Grace after the meal. About which Charlie Sheen would say 'Now you’re talking!'

Before we begin, I’d like to offer a short blessing:

Blessed art Thou, 0 Lord our G-d, for makin' me an atheist. Except for tonight, when being a Jew is the best thing going because all this stuff LOOKS AND SMELLS FANTASTIC!

And wake the hell up, Charlie Sheen!"

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Why Superman Hasn’t Saved You Lately from Marauding Aliens

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be Superman.

Or even Batman, although I’d prefer being Superman. The Man of Steel is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to see through hot women’s clothing in a single bound, making powers 1 and 2 more or less superfluous.

Yeah, I’d rather be SupermanBut most of my life all I’ve ever succeeded in being, damnit, is Clark Kent!

What I truly can’t accept, though, is that there really isn’t any Superman, and there’s as likely to ever be one as Sarah Palin being elected president of MENSA. There’s just too many improbabilities.

Superman grew up from Superboy to a guy in the prime years of life who can pretty much do anything, including speak in front of a group of 25 or more lawyers without sweating. But that means Superman’s going to keep growing older! Nobody wants a 147 year old blob of wrinkly flesh hanging around that’s impervious to nuclear attack, let alone a plastic surgeon’s scalpel. Blue and red leotards wrapped around a tush begging helplessly for liposuction spells a dude who’d be lucky to get my spillovers!

And of course …. Superman, Superman, I wish I could fly like Superman!

But what about the rights of the already indigenous residents of the sky? At the speed Superman flies, there’d be scores of mid-air fatal fowl collisions daily, generating litigation that’d have PETA setting up headquarters at the Fortress of Solitude and poor Kal-El frantically squeezing coal into diamonds just to pay his legal bills!

Who cuts Superman’s hair? How does he clip his nails? Does he kill passers-by when he farts? When he flushes, where do the excremental remains spend eternity?

All right then, if Superman can’t exist, can we at least get ourselves a Batman here? He has no superpowers --- just peak physical conditioning, superior intellect, an arsenal of Bat-shaped weapons and vehicles, unlimited time, and almost as much money as Oprah makes each time she draws a breath.

But then how tough would it be for any geek with a computer --- even one as primitive and malfunctioning as yours --- to feed in all these criteria and have the computer spit back

 “It’s Bruce Wayne, you moron!”

Would anybody think that Batman’s alter ego works the lingerie counter at Target? “Sorry, Commissioner Gordon, I know the Penguin is running wild in the streets of Gotham, but I’m not off work until 11:00 tonight, and my supervisor’s been riding my ass all week!”

At least Batman seems to have broken up with Robin, the annoying-as-hell Boy Wonder. At 16 years old, Robin ought to be thinking about snuggling up with someone who wears make-up other than the Joker.  And is there anything credible about the bright red and yellow costume? While Batman’s decked out in a dark blue and black camouflage suit, Robin's as inviting to criminal types as a Coney Island shooting gallery!

We love our superheroes because in an apparently God-less universe we want somebody powerful to swoop in and care for us, end crime and poverty, capture Bin Laden, and on certain days – yes - kick the living crap out of our boss or spouse.

Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the two young and unpopular Jewish boys who in the 1930’s created Superman, must have felt much the same. They devised someone all powerful because they --- and most of America --- were feeling very Clark Kentish, powerless in very perilous times. And nobody but nobody was seeing through women’s clothing back in those days except the editors at National Geographic!

So it’s a dose of cold water to most of us that in reality there’s never going to be anybody invulnerable around to save our butts, powder them, and trundle us contentedly off to bed.

Unless of course, I ever get to be Superman … or even Batman.

I promise to always save you from marauding aliens.

As long as you agree never to laugh when I bend steel in my bare and very saggy breasts when I’m 147 ....


Thursday, January 6, 2011

My 1 1/2 Minutes

Swimming Pools, Movie Stars

It was the great Andy Warhol who said “In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.”

I don’t know if it’s true, but I do know there is a lengthier form of the quote which includes an extensive list of exceptions. You don’t hear this quote quite as often as the other one because it’s less pithy, being 48 million pages long.

Recently, however, I did indeed get my 15 minutes.  Or to be more precise, my minute ... minute and a half ... minute and 3/4s, whatever … of fame. The exact time of my period of fame is hard to measure because it included a lengthy PBS pledge break.

What happened? A month or so ago I wrote a parody of The Wizard of Oz which I called Flying Monkeys in the Mist,  and I posted it here in my blog. 
Some of you may have seen the original movie The Wizard of Oz; it’s a fine film and I recommend it. It’s sort of a fantasy involving a young girl’s dream about traveling to .... Oh, No, Spoiler Alert! Spoiler Alert!!! 

So sorry,  pay no attention to that!  Or, for that matter, to the man behind the curtain at the end of the movie who turns out not to be a real wiz ....  Oh, No, Spoiler Alert! Spoiler Alert!!!

Well, anyway, Flying Monkeys in the Mist caught the attention of a man named Richard Horgan, who writes for an internet blog entitled FishbowlLA, part of a respected media and entertainment publication called MediaBistro.  And there on November 30, 2010 under the title One Man’s Wizard of Oz Remake appeared an article about the parody and about ME!, which puts forth the proposition that “I don’t suck.”

You’ll notice that Mr. Horgan mentions both me and famed Director Robert Zemeckis (of such films as Forrest Gump and Back to the Future) in the same breath, the implication being: “You’re out, Zemeckis! Mr. Block is the new creative genius of Hollywood! (It’s a bit subtle, you have to read between the lines.)

Ladies and Gentleman, Game Changer!!! 

I took three immediate actions: made an appointment for a haircut, began Googling agents, and put an ad on Craig’s List for a trophy wife.

No sooner had I read the piece than the phone rang: Brinngggg!

“Hello, Perry Block, Internet Superstar! May I deign to help you?

“Mr. Block, this is the Penn Wynne Library.”

“Oh, I’m very sorry. I simply don't have time to speak at any special Perry Block Night you may be planning at the library.  I'm  most likely going to be on a nation-wide promotional tour.”

“No, no, Mr. Block. We called to tell you that the book you took out --- An Overage Losers' Guide to Meeting Marginal Women --- is a week overdue and there’s a fine."

Guess when someone goes viral, librarians are among the last to hear.  Never mind!  Next off to tell son Brandon the incredible news.

“Brandon,” I trumpeted, entering his room, “believe it or not: I am the next Superstar of the Internet! You know what: ‘Californey is the place we ought to be!’”

“That’s great, Dad,” said Brandon. “Um, I’m trying to do chemistry here.”

“You don’t understand! The only chemistry we’re going to be needing is yours and mine with a palatial estate formerly owned by Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher!”

“Swell, Dad! Think Debbie or Eddie can help me calculate the molecular weight of plutonium?”

15 year old Philistine!

So I trotted off to the PC to bask in the dramatic upsurge in my Twitter and blog followings and the inevitable multitude of e-mail requests for endorsements of athletic equipment for sports I’m too uncoordinated to actually play.

But WTF! I’d gained no blog followers, lost a bunch of Twitter followers whose avatars were eggs, and as for e-mails, they were the same as always: 

“Want Viagra?” 
“Buy Viagra Cheap!”   
“Dude, We've Got Your Viagra!”
Hey, Overage Loser: Here’s all the Viagra You’ll Need for that Special Marginal Woman of Yours!”

 Then I knew. My 1 ½ or so minutes were up. Time sure flies when you’re going viral!

I guess Andy Warhol was right. All of us may get our brush with fame, but most of us just don’t get to brush as long as we’d like.


And I was so enjoying that fresh minty taste!