Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Storm and the Floods


Jervis was tired.  Bone dead tired. 

True, the storm had been predicted well in advance and the resultant flooding was not unexpected, but the sheer magnitude of it was horrifying. The swirling tides were simply everywhere.

Long ago he'd had to abandon his four wheel drive utility vehicle and begun going house to house to see who might need rescue. Trudging through waist deep muck and mire, he'd knock on each individual door and call out "Is anybody here? Anyone need help?"

In one house, he found two older people huddled on the second floor, both terrified by the rising tides that had almost engulfed them.   In another, an angry young woman said the deluge had her so upset she was disillusioned about everything she'd ever believed in.

Truth to tell, Jervis felt that way too.

Thankfully by next week it would all be over. The election would have taken place, the national storm subsided, and the flood of bullshit finally receded across the land.  


Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Boomer's Trick or Treat

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Ever since I was the tiniest of tots, I've loved Halloween. 

Halloween is Dracula, Frankenstein, Danse Macabre, "the Children of the Night, what music they make," Lon Chaney Jr., bloody fangs,  black capes, Bela Lugosi pre-Ed Wood, blazing jack-o-lanterns, headless horsemen,"even a man who is pure at heart and says his prayers by night," Boris Karloff, trick or treat 'til you drop,  Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, zombies, werewolves, a graveyard on your front lawn and a monster in your vestibule, haunted hayrides, and a whole mess of Nestle's Crunch Bars plus the occasional Hershey's Kiss.

Why should only kids get to enjoy this wonderful holiday? 

The answer is, they shouldn't!

"Trick or Treat!" 

"Why ... hello.  Say, aren't you a little old to be trick or treating?"

"No, no, not at all!  I'm well below any age cut-off.  I'm only 62."  

"Oh, I see.  Well, tell me, Little Boy, who are you supposed to be?"

"Can't you tell?  I'm actor George Clooney!"

"Actor George Clooney?"

"Yes, I am.  And I know who you are.  You're the smokin' hot .... I... I... mean sexy divorcee .... I... I mean, nice lady who just moved to our neighborhood."   

"Well, yes, I'm Rachel Pressman.  How did you make yourself look s-o-o-o much like George Clooney,  Little Boy?"

"Oh, I just put on a little bit of makeup.  Hardly needed any at all."

"Really?  Because it looks like you have on a full head mask, padded chest and shoulders,  and three inch heels on your shoes."

"Well ... uh ... let's just say I love Halloween."

"Do a lot of the kids your age around here go out on Halloween, Little Boy?  Because I've already had Matt Damon, two Brad Pitts and the lead actor from Big Bang Theory at my door."

"That must have been Larry Blumberg,  he's a little slow and..." 

"I'm sorry, Little Boy, I don't have any candy for you.  Is there anything else nice and sweet I can give you?" 

"OMG, I should be dressed like Groucho Marx to handle that line!" 

"I have to go now, Little Boy.  I've got a Halloween party to attend myself."

"Gee, I ... I  could go with you.  So you don't have to go alone!"

"Sorry, Little Boy, it's just for grownups.  Got to squeeze into my costume now."

"What kind of costume is it?"

"Lady Godiva."  


"Goodnight, Little Boy."

Damn Stupid Halloween!  After all,  it really is just for kids! 


It took just a little bit of make-up.
I swear it.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Only Game in Town

After spending the better part of the week with Gregor Samsa from "The Metamorphosis, the Musical" and my son Brandon as "The Ref," it's time for me to cotton up to The Friday Fictioneers.

You know the drill:  1) Put together a story based on the prompt.  2) Make it 100 words or less.  3) Totally screw up No. 2

That's how it works for me anyhow. 

The  stewardship of the Fictioneers has now passed from the capable hands of Madison Woods to the equally capable hands of RochelleWisoff-Fields.   FYI:  I haven't personally inspected their hands, but I've received excellent capability reports about three out of four of them.   

Now imagine a small cafe in an even smaller town ...

The Only Game in Town

Calvin DeForest,  grinning proprietor of Calvin's Cafe in the remote little town in which he'd opened it last month,  led Carrie and Matt over to their table by the window. 

"Enjoy your meals," said Calvin, "but maybe not too much!"

As Calvin walked away giggling,  Matt and Carrie ordered their appetizers, a  garden salad for Matt and onion soup for Carrie.

"Salad's pretty good, " said Matt.  "How's the soup?"

"Fine," replied Carrie. "Damn it!"

"Phtooey!" spat out a nearby bald man as coffee spewed in all directions from his mouth.  Gagging on her French Fries, his date was frantically signalling for a glass of water.  Always the proud practical joker, Calvin was instantly over to congratulate them as the day's winners and to present them with the $25 Calvin's Cafe coupon.

"The old sugar/salt switcheroo, I might have known," said Carrie, getting up well disgusted. "Well, shall we come again tomorrow?"

"Why not?" answered Matt, putting on his jacket.  "Only game in town." 


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Metamorphosis, The Musical

Scene I

As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.

He was lying on his hard back and when he lifted his head a little he could see his dome-like brown belly divided into stiff arched segments and his numerous legs, which were pitifully thin, waving helplessly before his eyes.

"I must remember to cancel the exterminator," Gregor thought.

"What has happened to me?" he wondered.  Would this put a crimp in his hoped-for career as a hand model?

Gregor looked at the alarm clock ticking on his bureau and realized that he must be at work within the hour.  Lateness was not well tolerated at his office, and he had already used the excuse of transforming into a gigantic insect several times before, each time without notable success.

"Gregor," called his mother, banging on the door. "You're late."

"Yes, I am getting ready, mother," said Gregor. "Just brushing my mandible, I mean teeth!"

Gregor readied himself for the day as best he could, crawled to the door of his room, and pulled the door open with his maxillae.
"Oh my God!"  screamed Gregor's mother. "Gregor, you look disgusting!  Though nowhere near as bad as comedy writer Bruce Vilanch." 

"What are you talking?" chimed in Gregor's father.  "He looks way worse than Bruce Vilanch.  It's your cousin Greta he's not as bad as."

"I don't think he's quite as revolting as Aunt Greta," said Gregor's sister, "who's turned more men gay than an Ashton Kutcher pin-up calendar.  

Gregor now realized that this was not going to be one of his better days. 

                                                        Scene II    
"Whatever will happen to poor Gregor?" cried Gregor's mother after Gregor had retreated back into his room. 

"He will live a frustrated life," said Gregor's father "although he will turn his energies into helping his fellow insects and just when he doubts the value of his own life,  a kindly angel will ..."

"Where are you getting all this?"

"It's in the nature of the story. You know ... Capraesque."

"You idiot," said Gregor's mother, "this story isn't Capraesque, it's Kafkaesque!"

"Oh,"said Gregor's father. "He's fucked then."                                 

Scene III

Back in his lonely room, Gregor pondered his bleak new fate.  

He could not return to work. He would be ridiculed and ostracized by his employer and co-workers, and there was no law against Insectual Harassment in the state. (rimshot!)
And what would he do day after day in his silent room?  Would he ever get used to masturbating to “Entomology Today” rather than the Internet?  

Gregor thought of his family with great love and tenderness. He knew they would stand by him no matter what the burden, no matter what the cost, no matter how long it took for him to get better. 

Just outside his room, Gregor’s mother, father, and sister were busily constructing a giant fly swatter.
"I just had a thought," said Gregor's father. "Instead of swatting him, let’s exhibit him like the Elephant Man."

"Yes," agreed Gregor's mother. "We could dress him up in silly hats and teach him to juggle!"

"And I'll finally get to meet Matt Lauer," said Gregor's sister. 

Scene IV  

The days passed slowly for Gregor. 

Gregor thought about his past life before the metamorphosis. True, his job selling joy-buzzers to engineering majors was not always satisfying, but he had the contentment of knowing he was making the money to gradually pay down his father's gambling debts, support his mother's meth habit, and save for his sister's boob job.

"I did have a wonderful life after all," thought Gregor

 Gregor began to sing:
I have often morphed
Down the street before,
But the pavement always
Stayed beneath my 4,000 feet before.
All at once do I
eat a poor housefly, 
As a bug this is how I now live.

Eager to share his new found perceptions with his family, Gregor crawled on his many legs to the door of his room, flung it open with his antennae.

There before him was his family and some other familiar people,  their voices all raised in song:
"Hark, the herald angels sing, Glory to the new born king ..." 
"But what has happened?!" cried Gregor.

"What has happened is that you are a pain in the ass, George Bailey!" declared a little gray-haired man who clapped him from behind and spun him around.

"Clarence?" said Gregor.  

"First it was 'Clarence, what if I'd never been born?'

Then it was 'Clarence, what if I were transformed into a giant bug?
What are you going to ask to be next year, George, the Octomom?"
"I remember now. My name is George, not Gregor. I really do have a wonderful life!" 
Hark, the herald angels sing, Glory to the new born king ..."
sang Mary, Janie, Pete, Tommy, and Zuzu, along with Gregor’s moher, father, and sister.
"What do you know?" said Gregor's father, making a fist and playfully poking Gregor's mother in the ribs. 
"It was Capraesque after all."

The End


Sorry there was only one song, folks
Perry Block isn't exactly Lerner and Loewe! 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Ref

The subject referee uniform shown above,
not the subject referee

My 17 year old son Brandon is a referee in the local township soccer league.  He regularly holds sway over games for children anywhere from ages 6 to 16. He wears a cool uniform.  And has a whistle.

Brandon came to this part-time job by way of being a super soccer player ever since the first time he kicked a soccer ball and sent it spiraling into my groin.  On his best playing days he can sweep down the field eluding opposing players just like Wayne Gretzky, only without the skates and ice.  I don't know the names of enough soccer players to make a better analogy.

Clearly Brandon did not get his athletic prowess from me. You've heard about people who can't walk and chew gum? 

I can't chew gum.

But it does give me a great deal of satisfaction to have someone in the family who wields such a level of authority in the sports arena.  And it sort of conveys upon me a measure of clout that makes me one major dude to be reckoned with!

"License and registration please!"

"Is there a problem, Officer?"

"Yeah, there' s a problem.  It's a Violation 378-A1 --- Going 65 miles per hour in a 15 mile an hour zone,  weaving between cars like you're some Indianapolis 500 hotshot on Memorial Day, and blasting "Born to be Wild" out your car window so loud the actual John Kay of Steppenwolf can hear it,  and he might even be dead."


"So?!!  What are you?  Intoxicated?"

"Oh, no, Officer, I'm just a very poor driver.  I don't even know why the state licenses me."

"Out of the car please!"

"Officer, I don't think you understand."

"Understand what?"

"My son is Brandon Block, the soccer referee." 


"Officer O' Reilly, is it?  On any given Saturday,  my son has total authority over 20-25 individuals in this very township.  Make that 22-27 counting the coaches, even more if there are assistant coaches and some random moms and dads!"

"Get out of the car right now!"

"Officer, you're making a big mistake!"


"Just wait until Brandon hears about this!" 

A bit later, after booking and processing, I was granted my one phone call.

 I called Brandon. 

"What ever were you thinking, Dad?  I'm just a soccer referee for kids." 

"But you do wear a cool uniform.  And you do have a whistle!"

"Dad, I'm just a soccer referee for kids."

There's nothing worse than a fallen idol.


The subject whistle

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Good Old 1863

Taking a break from the Legendary Jewish Vampire, Vlad the Retailer to hop on over to Madison Woods Friday Flash Fictioneers.

The Prompt is above, the Story below.  

Vlad sure wouldn't like all that bright sunlight.   Good thing I left him home in his coffin.

The Good Old 1863

It was 8:15 on a Tuesday morning in Jefferson City and already they were lining up eagerly.

Lining up, that is, to climb on board Jefferson Lines Bus No. 1863, departing Jeff City 8:45 A.M. and arriving 9:35 A.M. in neighboring Mt. Bailey.  Most of the folks in line had been taking the Good Old 1863  for several months now, traveling to Mt. Bailey on a Tuesday for the weekly meeting of the Jefferson County Blame Someone Else Society.

There was Big Bob Byron himself right at the head of the line.  Big Bob had founded the Society secure in the conviction than anything bad that had ever happened to him was the fault of his foreman, Drake Beighley.  Big Bob had arranged the meetings be held in Mt. Bailey rather than Jeff City because they had a much bigger town hall which was already proving to be sorely needed.

The weekly meetings of the Jefferson County Blame Someone Else Society usually began with a greeting by Big Bob, who next railed against Drake Beighley for half an hour or so and then opened it up to the floor. Others came forward to rail against those responsible for their own misfortunes --- against the staff member whose fault it was Ralph didn't get a promotion, against the ex-boyfriend who caused Angela to give up on life, against the assistant coach who ruined the morale of Coach Cassidy's team, and so on.

It was now 8:40 A.M.  The bus driver flung open the doors and bade the passengers enter:

"Climb on.  Climb off.  Throw under."

That's the mantra down at the Good Old 1863, leaving Jeff City 8:45 A.M. and arriving Mt. Bailey 9:35 A.M. each and every Tuesday of the month.

All Aboard!


Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Legendary Jewish Vampire, Vlad The Retailer

So, I like shiksehs ...

The times had not been particularly kind of late for the Legendary Jewish Vampire, Vlad the Retailer.

It was  early November and even the normally joyous holiday of Halloween had failed to cheer Vlad.  Like many in the current American economy, the Legendary Jewish Vampire was in a desperate straits. During the final days of the Vampire Boom several years ago vampires had become as overexposed as "Honey Boo Boo" and Vlad had found himself wholly unable to make a halfway decent Unliving.

This was also an election year in the United States of America.  Vlad had not voted in an American election since 1908 when he cast his ballot for William Howard Taft but less because of any keen analysis of the issues than because for a vampire Mr. Taft was such incredible eye candy.

As of today still one of the Undead undecided,  Vlad had to ask himself the key question: 

"Am I better off now than I was 400 years ago?"

Back in those days, things weren't easy for a Jewish vampire.  Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition,  but Vlad the Retailer expected it every morning about 8:00 and never later than 8:35  even on days the Grand Inquisitor would sleep in. 

In hopes of finding acceptance  in Renaissance society,  Vlad had taken up painting, and his sensitive Abbott & Costello Meet the Virgin and Child  did in fact achieve some modest renown as one of the finer paint-by-numbers canvases of the period.  Yet his art career foundered when a commissioned still life turned out to be way more still than life, and Vlad found himself fleeing from angry mobs decrying him a fiend, a demon,  and a monster, and they didn't like the fact that he was a vampire either.

Vlad chowed down on a Corned Beef Special --- consisting of corned beef, cole slaw, and some random guy from St. Petersburg in the act of pulling up his pants (aka Russian dressing) ---  and thought over the choices in the upcoming election. 

True,  President Barack Obama sometimes failed to come through on promises he had made, but he had never made any promises regarding Vlad's main issue of concern, a sane national policy of Garlic Control. Vlad understood that the National Garlic Association (NGA) was just too strong both in terms of political power and smell.   

Joe Biden seemed like a decent chap, Vlad thought, but he was not fond of Mr. Biden's home state of Delaware where Vlad  had spent 100 years one weekend.

On the other side was Governor Mitt Romney and Congressman Paul Ryan.  But Governor Romney tended to flip flop like a latke on a hot griddle cooked by a nervous vampire at daybreak, and Representative Ryan looked too much like Eddie Munster.   

"I'm not prejudiced," thought Vlad, "but I'm just not ready for a werewolf Vice-President."   

Vlad made his way to the nearby voting place where he found himself deluged by multiple persons pressing political flyers into his hands.

"Vote for Governor Romney," said one. "Here's a list of his positions, updated daily." 

"Here's a rundown of Barack Obama's key positions," said another.  "For starters,  he's not Mitt Romney...""

"That's probably enough,"  said Vlad. 

Entering the polling place, Vlad signed in with the volunteer at the desk before him.

"We're gonna need picture ID," she said.

"I'm afraid that's impossible,"  replied Vlad.  "I don't cast a reflection in a mirror and no camera can photograph my image."

"Sounds like you need to upgrade to a smart phone, sir."

"No, you fool," bellowed  Vlad, "I'm a vampire!"

"Wonderful!"  said the volunteer.  "The photo ID requirement's  supposed to weed out minorities and it's working perfectly!"

"I'm also Jewish."

"Bingo, two for two!"

Following a bit of persuasion followed by a bite of persuasion, Vlad was able to enter the voting booth and exercise his franchise.  As he exited the booth,  he felt proud that he had taken part in a great American process almost as old as he was and proud that at his age he was able to exercise anything, let alone his franchise.  

Vlad lifted his arms and, gently holding the corners of  his cape,  leaped high into the air.  A bat flew off into the night.  A circumcised bat, but a bat nonetheless. 

Vlad thought maybe he'd grab himself a quick bite and then go home and watch the returns with Wolf Blitzer

"Good old Wolf Blitzer," thought the Legendary Jewish Vampire, Vlad the Retailer.  

"Nice Jewish boy, but I can't stand that first name!"


Legendary Jewish Vampire,  Vlad ...
That's Funny!

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Old College Try

  Your Future is Here!

The old term " giving it the old college try" has a new meaning these days. Nowadays that term refers to the try most colleges give it to get promotional brochures extolling their virtues into the hands of  every high school senior in the free world who can read, write,  and/or pronounce the word "glossy."

Seniors such as my son Brandon, whom I'm proud to say can do all three.

Every day the brochures pour in from hallowed halls of learning ranging from Harvard and Yale to the International House of Diplomas. Sleek and smart with Madison Avenue style copy and photography, it's hard to tell whether that missive in the mail is from Boston College or Bloomingdale's, Villanova or Victoria's Secret.

"We got enough of them today," I said to Brandon, " to defoliate an entire  rain forest."

"I've seen sufficient brochures for now, Dad,"  said Bran"

"But your future is here!"  I cried out, cribbing a line I'd only read in all of them! 

"No, Dad," said Bran, "but I'm sure your present is."

Wondering what he meant, I settled unto the couch and into the brochure which  proclaimed upon its cover

You'll Learn Stuff Here

Inside the cover was a picture of students traversing a lovely tree-lined campus in a fall pastoral setting of great beauty and tranquility.

"Located on half an acre in a parking lot next to the beer distributor across from Rite Aid, the University of Havertown beckons you" read the accompanying copy. 
On the next page came the: 

                        Letter from President Lemuel Gullible

in which President Gullible heavily touted the core values of a Blangdon education being:
"Knowledge, Honesty, and Truth." 

A footnote indicates that: "Dr. Gullible has recently retired from the University of Havertown after 35 years of distinguished service which in no way had anything to do with the recent revelation that Dr. Gullible faked the Philosophy of Teleological Empirical Ethicism Degree that got him into the University in the first place, and of course, there is no such thing."

Which brought me to: 

Academics?  Yeah,  We Got 'Em! 

Students  focus on Shelley and Joyce at one 
of the University's high level Literature seminars.

Nice photo, but a more accurate caption would be "Male students fantasize sexual relations with hot young teaching assistant."  Sure they're all focusing on Shelley and Joyce, provided Shelley and Joyce turn out to be two Jewish girls from Penn State they're being set up with on the weekend.

The values of a University of Havertown education were touted as:

"Over 400 majors to choose from including three in Teleological Empirical Ethicism and of course, there is no such thing.

All our professors are of the highest caliber and scholars in every discipline. A few even show up for class, often sober.

Great Study Abroad Program provided you can pony up the scratch to get yourself to Syria." 

And next:

Working Hard, Playing Hard 

with photos like 


and my personal favorite 

and lastly

Yep, give the U. of Havertown points for honesty here. 

And on to the final page, with the heading:

Picture Yourself Here


And so I did.  And closed my eyes.  And pictured the new heading upon the page:

Perry Block poses next to Havertown students decades younger and cooler than he is. 

Serves me right for reading other people's mail!


Friday, October 12, 2012

Terminator 5, The Final Chapter

The Final Chapter


"Yes, who is it?"

"Sarah Conner?"

"Oh my God,  you've found me!  You've found me!!!"

"You are Sarah Connor of 1515 Maple Drive, Englewood, California?" 

"Yes ... yes I am.  Are you going to kill me now?" 

"Why would I kill you? 

"Aren't you a Terminator unit sent back in time to destroy me so I won't give birth to a son named John Connor who will lead the Resistance against murderous machines that take over the Earth?"     

"Have you been drinking, Sarah Connor?"

"Well, then who or what the hell are you?!!!

"I'm Governor/Actor/Bodybuilder/Living Legend Arnold Schwarzenegger."  

"Governor Schwarzenegger!  Why are you here?"

"I'm on a promotional tour to talk about my new book, Total Recall. Perhaps you've seen me on 60 Minutes, the Tonight Show,  or Kelli and Michael?"

"No, but I did see you on Antiques Roadshow."

"Then you know all about my honest and frank confessional about the poor choice or two I made while serving as Governor of the largest and most  powerful state in the Union."

"You mean like bean bagging the housekeeper while married to Maria Shriver?" 

"Yes, it was the stupidest thing I've ever done in my long, illustrious, and multi-faceted career! I am very sorry for the pain that I have inflicted on my future political and show business aspirations."  

"Gee, I was kinda worried there for a moment you weren't sorry." 

"Everybody makes mistakes, Sarah Connor.  You yourself had sex with Reese,  some random guy from the future."

"Hello!  Reese was kind of good looking as opposed to having a face that would have best been crushed by the hydraulic press in Terminator 1."

"Here is my book, Sarah Connor.  How many copies would you like?   

"Please leave, Governor Schwarzenegger."

"I'll autograph it for you!  Although that's extra."

"Just please get out of here!"

"All right then, I'll go, Sarah Connor.  But just one thing."


"I'll be back."

"In that case, Governor Schwarzenegger, know what?" 

"What, Sarah Connor?" 

"Kill me now!"


He was relentless, I tell you!
Totally Relentless!!!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hassan and the American

If it's Friday, it must be the  Great Madison Woods Friday Flash Fiction Extravaganza & Traveling Show!

Only thing is, it's Thursday.   I got my contribution done early and thought I'd post it.  Above is the pictorial prompt, below the prompt provoked piece.  

So sue me. 

Hassan and the American

Hassan had always felt it was a honor to be a real estate professional in the  historically rich city on the Mediterranean in which he had lived since birth.

He had worked so very hard his entire life to achieve this measure of growing success. His clientele had now extended to include wealthy foreigners, including a fair number of Americans.  

Today he was scheduled to meet with one such American,  one that if well-satisfied was in a position to send him a great deal more business from many well-heeled Americans.  But Hassan found no hope or joy in this prospect.  He found only fear and sorrow.  

The American had informed him earlier that week that he was interested in property in the Village Ancienne with its centuries old white-walled living quarters, only minimally updated plumbing and other facilities, and narrow stone alleyways well- trodden as far back as Biblical times. 

"This will not be easy," Hassan thought as he left to pick up the American.  

"Not easy?" he cried aloud, "it will be a disaster!"

As Hassan and the American approached the entrance to the Village Ancienne,  Hassan knew that the time had more than come.  He drew a deep breath. 

"With all due respect, sir, " he began, "I just don't think that ...."

His quavering voice broke off. 

"What's that?" said the American, "You just don't think what?"

Hassan sputtered once more, then it all came pouring out.

"I just don't think this is the property for you, Governor Christie!"

The End

And Coming Soon:

The Metamorphosis,
 the Musical!

Based on characters created by Franz Kafka
(It's gonna be a toe-tappin', mandible droppin' delight!