Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Beware, the Baby Blob!

"When the Blob was destroyed six months ago right outside my home," said Stefan McKing, the noted monster hunter, "a little piece of it escaped, never yet to be found."

"Oh, no!" I said.  "I thought that horrible creature was destroyed once and for all."

"I've searched,  Lord knows I've searched," McKing told me. "I've combed through the entire house and grounds countless times!"

"And nothing?" I muttered.

"Nothing at all!"

"You know, McKing," I said, "if I were you, I'd burn down the place.  I'd knock over that candle on the hall table and let it all go up in flames!"

"No,  I'd never get rid of that candle," said  McKing.  "I love the cool design the melted wax makes."


I don't know how many sequels to The Blob this makes, but I'm happy to present my own personal sequel as this week's  contribution to the Friday Fictioneers based on the picture prompt above, especially in this time of endless reboots of science fiction, horror, and monster movies.   

I understand that a Star Wars sequel is soon in the offing as well, and that the three stars of the original cast will all appear.  This should be really cool, although I'll miss having Mark Hamill mowing my lawn for the couple of weeks he'll be gone.   In any event, don't you miss the contributions of the other Fictioneers to this week's prompt, which are not a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, but clickable right here.

Beware, the Baby Blob!  But first, take a whiff of this lovely scented candle ....

Monday, April 28, 2014

Fahrenheit 451 Redux

“It’s all right,” the voice said, “you’re welcome here.”

Montag walked slowly toward the fire and the five old men sitting around it. He did not know what to say to them, but he was exhausted from his long journey and the fire was warming and comforting.

“Sit down” said the man who seemed to be the leader of the small group.  “Have some coffee?”

“Thanks,” said Montag, raising the offered cup to his lips and taking a much-needed sip. “Thanks very much.”

“You’re welcome, Montag.  My name’s Granger.”

“You … know my name,” said Montag.

Granger nodded.  “Yes, we know much about you, Montag. We know that the State has been chasing you. We know that you oppose them and everything they stand for, just as we do.”

“Are you the Book People I’ve heard tell of?” asked Montag.

“No, of course not!”  exclaimed Granger. “Books are boring and stupid and take way too long to read!”

“Well, then who are you?” asked Montag.

“We are the Social Media People,” Granger replied.  “You know, Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus.  Even LinkedIn.”

“I didn’t know there were such people!" marveled Montag.  "So you keep alive the knowledge expressed on social media of great thinkers, artists, leaders…”

With that, one of the men from around the fire, a short middle–aged man with a bulbous nose and a face lined and ashen, came forward.    

“Montag,” said Granger, “how would you like to once again enjoy the collected tweets of Kim Kardashian?”

“Kim Kardashian?”

 “I am @KimKardashian,” said the man with the bulbous nose. 

And Mr. Caldwell here is @KingJames, that is Lebron James.”

“How do you do?” said Mr. Caldwell. “I rebound like a motha humpa!”

“Hel … hello,” fumbled Montag.

“And this other fellow here is @maroon5 and this one is @rustyrockets, you know, Russell Brand.  And this man here at my elbow is a non celebrity but a great Tweeter, @SparklingDodo.”

“Hello, Montag!  I’m One Highsteppin’ Chick, lovin’ life, lovin’ fun, & the occasional chocolate chip cookie.

 “You see, Montag,” said Granger, “it began with a few of us who were totally addicted to social media. Most of us had already lost our jobs, families, and self-respect. When the great banning took place, we stored the important knowledge we loved right here" ---  Granger pointed to his head  --- "until the day it can be downloaded again.”

Montag looked perplexed.

“But there must be something more stimulating than @Kim Kardashian and @SparklingDodo,” Montag asked.

Granger smiled.

“Yes, there is, Montag.  I am The Facebook Fan Page of George Takei.  I don’t wanna brag, but I’ve got 6,745,990 likes and 4, 624,410 talking about this.”

Montag's stomach sickened, but his eye was attracted to two figures a short distance away from where he and Granger were standing.  One was an elderly white haired man lying in a makeshift bed who appeared to be speaking in low tones to the other, an eight or nine year old boy.

“What is going on there?” he asked Granger.

“That older gentleman is @Demilovato,” said Granger. “He is soon to die and he is transferring everything he knows to the boy.”

“ Woot! WooHoo!” said the elderly man. “My skin looks awesome after my @ReneeRouleau facial.  Smiley face, smiley face, smiley face.  Heart.   Hashtag: SoPretty.”    

The elderly man looked expectantly at the boy.

“Woot! WooHoo!” said the boy. “My skin looks awesome after my @ReneeRouleau facial.”  The boy paused, straining to remember the rest of the tweet.

“Smiley face, smiley face, smiley face,” said the elderly man patiently.  “Heart.  Hashtag:  SoPretty.”

“Smiley face, smiley face, smiley face.  Heart.  Hashtag:  SoPretty,” repeated the boy.

The old man's eyes closed, never to open again.

"So what do you think, Montag?" said Granger, turning about. "How'd you like to be LinkedIn endorsements? Even we think they're stupid, but they've gotta be covered."

Montag was gone.

“Oh well,” said Granger, “come sit by me, @SparklingDodo.   I want to hear all about how much you loved Fifty Shades of Gray, our one and only book, also known as Mr. Leonard Farbman.” 

This is the second Fahrenheit 451 parody I've attempted.   The first is Fahrenheit 451 +10, clickable right here!  Maybe you'll like that one better.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Jazzmen

Sometimes after two o'clock at night, in some of the smokiest out-of-the-way music clubs in town, you hear the sweetest improvised jazz you've ever heard in your life.

I couldn't believe the sounds coming from two local artists, Jesse Wolf and Billy "Tubbs" Augustine, last Thursday night at the Coltrane Club.  

Jesse Wolf can play the guitar and make it sing.  And Billy Augustine is one of only three or four people in the world to play his very unique instrument.

Billy blows the "outtee navel."  He is rumored to have the biggest outtee in the world. It's quite a treat to see and hear Jesse playin' his heart out on guitar while Billy's blowing the blues on the outtee with his great big belly stickin' out.

Jesse Wolf on Guitar and Billy "Tubbs" Augustine on Outee Navel: SWEET!
It's not every day you get to see the world's biggest outtee ... or want to. So depending upon how you interpret the picture above,  gaze away at it in awe, or not. Simply put, a naval engagement was my interpretation of the picture prompt above for this weeks' Friday Fictioneers enclave.*

You can contemplate your navel, as well as the navels (and stories) of the other Fictioneers by clicking right here.

Now that I've focused you on something you rarely focus on,  guess what? Clean That Thing Out!

*If  you don't see it, look at a darkened version of the picture where the two figures are immersed in shadows.  That was the version of the picture I saw first.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Just For (Vain) Men

Applying Just for (Vain) Men;
Well, this guy certainly looks better!

I've been wearing a beard for over a year now and by now the beard has become as much a part of my persona as a largish nose, spindly legs, and a spine that rivals Lombard Street in San Francisco in its defining characteristic of world's curviest. 

Isn't it ironic that when you reach your sixties, you do things to try to make yourself look younger that you would have done in times past to look older? 

"Why are you growing a beard, dude," say some folks I know, "you'll look 120 years old." 

To which I reply "Terrific!  Because I feel like I look 130!"

There was, however, one thing about the beard that clearly did make me look as long in the tooth as Dracula on a hot date:
Its fleece was white as snow! 

Yes, my beard was totally gray, as gray as the combined beards of actor Donald Sutherland, CNN newsman Wolf Blitzer, and cowboy Roy Rogers' grizzled sidekick, Gabby Hayes.  You probably don't remember Gabby Hayes, but rest assured if you're growing a beard to look younger and cooler, your role model is not going to be Roy Rogers' grizzled sidekick, Gabby Hayes.  And few were comparing me to Donald Sutherland or Wolf Blitzer.

Finally someone sat me down and told me frankly that the all gray beard was making me look older and to dye it or give it up!  That the person doing so was Santa Claus gave the advice that much more credibility and immediacy.

So I went out and purchased a box of Just for Men, the prevailing treatment today for rampant gray bearded-ness. On the package of the dark brown variety of Just for Men was a selfie of a man who had just used the product, and indeed it had worked wonders! Through the magic of Just for Men, a 22 year old man with a dark beard now looked exactly like a 22 year old man with a dark beard!

In our youth obsessed culture, even a product meant for bearded middle-aged guys is marketed via someone who looks like he's too young to shave.

With the box of Just for Men now opened on my bathroom sink, I faced a perplexing dilemma.  How much gray to take out and/or leave in the beard? If you remove it all and make the beard totally dark, it looks like your face has been attacked by an insane bootblack from Pennsylvania Station circa 1957.

But if you take out too little, Roy Rogers is likely to spring to life and ask you to help him form a posse.

So, I stood before the mirror, took a deep breath, mixed the stuff together, and attacked my beard as I might attack a swarm of bees surrounding my face! Leave a gray patch here, leave a gray patch there, make it real dark here, and make it real dark there.... ee -ei-ee-ei oh!  

One thing I knew I wanted was the "gray chin patch" made famous in Philadelphia by legendary disc jockey Pierre Robert, who has been around as far back as the British Invasion and when I say the British Invasion I mean the first one.  

And then I was finished.  My beard was a crazy quilt of colors.  The gray chin patch that looks so cool on Mr. Robert on me came out looking more like a chin dipped in vanilla ice cream. And there was more Just for Men on the sink than on my face. 

The truth is unless you've marked off a precise gray/brown designation for your beard like you were surveying the Mason-Dixon Line and you touch it up every couple of days, every application of the stuff will turn out differently.  Time lapse photography of your face over a couple of weeks would show the gray patches moving swiftly across your beard like clouds on Doppler radar.

But with it all, after many applications to my credit, I’m starting to get the hang of it. My sink no longer looks handsomer than I do. And Gabby Hayes has been banished once and for all.  Santa Claus would be proud.

So tell me, is the Just for (Vain) Men working?  Do I look younger? 

Maybe a little?

Whaddya mean wipe that ice cream off my chin?!!    


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Over the Hill Hero

"Bruce, what are you doing?"

"I've got to save this poor individual trapped beneath a barrage of falling pillows, Selena!"

"Bruce, that's a doll with striped socks.  No one is in any danger whatsoever."

"Oh, I see!  Well, perhaps I'll just check to see if ....."

"The Bat Signal is on?  It hasn't been on in years!  And why that ridiculous nautical headgear?"

"The mask isn't for you.  It's for those you love."

"Oh, Selena, this is terrible!" said her neighbor Sarah. "What happened?"

"He's been this way ever since he turned 55, the Joker beat him in thumb wrestling, and Bane finally succeeded in blowing up Gotham City."

"Can anything be done for him?"

"Don't worry; Superman is coming over to play checkers. That always perks him up."


I doubt anyone could help but wonder how a superhero like Batman, someone who is used to contending with arch villains and routinely saving the planet,  manages to make the transition to contending with bird poop on his favorite park bench and routinely saving string.  This is the theme of my post today in response to the picture prompt above for this week's Friday Fictioneers

Look, up in the sky, it's a bird, it's a plane, it's the other Friday Fictioneers flying high with their own interpretations of the same prompt. No telling where they'll land, so do yourself a favor and ride along by clicking above.

It's good that Batman and Superman will at least have each other to reminisce about old times together with.  Not to mention a stimulating talk or two about prune juice. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

You're Such a Lovely Audience

Thank you, Everyone! 

Your applause is wonderful!  Let's bring out that terrific cast again ... Meryl .... Meryl .... my sensational co-star, Meryl Klepperstein, take an extra bow!

Y'know, folks, it's great to be back in my home town of New York starring in Broadway's latest smash hit,  Kinky Boobs! You were all fantastic tonight, a truly phenomenal audience! You're such a lovely audience I'd like to take you home with me, I'd love to take you home!

In fact, I will take you home!

I've had 14 buses dispatched directly outside the Helen Hunt Theater to transport all of you to my condo at 87th street.   Ladies, rest assured there are bathrooms on each bus with much shorter wait times than at the Ladies Room here in the Helen Hunt Theater so you won't  all be dancing around like Native Americans preparing for war by the time you get to my home.

We have ordered trays of food from the Plotkin Deli including corned beef, swiss cheese, roast beef, cole slaw, white fish, herring, chopped liver, baklava, cheese cake, and many other delicatessen delicacies guaranteed to give you reflux for the next week. Our Jewish audience members are going to feel like they're at a shiva but with the added bonus that no one's dead.

Now please all file out by section into the buses.  Orchestra seats go first, then the mezzanine, next the balcony, and lastly the abysmal seats slammed against the rear wall of the theater and sorry, folks, but your seats on the bus will be slammed against the rear of the bus as well.

When we get to the condo, feel free to throw your coats on my bed.   Remember that many coats look alike, so when you leave and you're parsing through 600 coats on the bed be careful to take yours and not one of the other audience members or you'll be going through life as a 34 short London Fog from Woodbridge New Jersey when you're actually a 38 long Burberry  from Greenwich Connecticut.  

I want you to feel totally at home in my home. Traipse through each and every room, admire the artwork - especially my paint-by-numbers --- and peruse my photo albums. You'll notice that my first wife was exceedingly hot but about as stable as the lower half of the periodic table, and my second wife had a great ass but the personality of the love child of Martha Stewart and Martha Stewart if Martha Stewart could mate with Martha Stewart. And I know Martha Stewart!

I'm looking forward to meeting all of you and spending quality time.  I want to hear about children, grandchildren, new jobs, retirements, divorces, operations, accidents, and existential angst and/or weltschmerz that may have you close to pondering ending it all. If necessary, I'll hug you through the night after the others have left.

Remember I don't give autographs.   

Why am I inviting an audience into my home after all my years in show business?

Frankly,  this is something I've wanted to do for a long time, but I had to wait for a truly responsive, enthusiastic,  and appreciative  audience --- a lovely audience. Tonight, folks, you were at long last that lovely audience!  

You applauded loud and long for our very marginal show, laughed at even at the stupidest and most unfunny jokes we padded out the script with, and hummed along with the utterly forgettable score.  If every theatrical audience were as naive and undiscriminating as all of you, Kinky Boobs would run forever and I could extend my waning career at least another 4 or 5 years, at which time I'll be the BIG 7-0, Goddamnit!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Remember to take off your shoes at the door, or I'll never hear the end of it from my third wife!

Hope you like the chopped liver.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Scariest Low-Budget Monster of All

"Roger, I can tell you're about to do it again."

"Do what again, Anthony?"

"Deliver another low budget masterpiece! This is going to be your scariest movie since Revenge of the Blood Sucking Zombies from Cleveland!"

"Thanks!  Y'know, that one did win  Monster Picture of the Year 1955."

"Not to mention Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman with Large Breasts and 50 Million Miles to Earth and Up Your Shorts!" 

"Yes, guess I've always known how to scare audiences on the cheap."  

"And this new picture has the scariest low-budget monster of all!"

"What do you mean?  What monster?"

"The cheesy one right above us."

"But I haven't designed the monster yet for ....."



There's nothing like a 1950's monster picture when you're up in the middle of the night with a bowl of vanilla fudge ice cream until you realize you are old enough to have seen the movie when it opened in theaters and that you shouldn't be eating vanilla fudge ice cream in the middle of the night because now you're going to have reflux until dawn!

Otherwise there's nothing like a 1950's monster picture, especially when it's the subject of your contribution to the Friday Fictioneers based on the picture prompt above.  It's almost scary how many other interpretations there are of the prompt by the other Fictioneers, and may you be chased by the Blood Sucking Zombies from Cleveland if you don't click here to check them out!

And what of the scariest low-budget monster of all?   It's right above you!    

Knew I shouldn't have tried that one again.  

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Top Ten Reasons It Was Time For David Letterman To Go

The announcement that David Letterman is to resign in 2015 took by surprise only the most out-of-touch brain dead individuals, that is, Republican members of the House of Representatives. 

Once the hippest thing on television since the advent of Saturday Night Live, Dave's brand of "so silly it's funny" humor has become about as fresh and vibrant as sex with your wife following an anniversary dinner at Olive Garden. Therefore we h
erewith present the top ten reasons it's time for Dave to ride off into the sunset, as follows: 

 The Top Ten Reasons It Was Time
 For David Letterman To Go

10) Wanted to spend more time with his son while he could still throw a ball and, more importantly, remember what one is. 

9) Top Ten lists have become so unfunny lately numbers 3 and 7 have been known to storm off the set.

8) Rupert G. constantly jacking up prices for corned beef whenever he sees Dave coming.

7) Late Night writers jumping at the chance to leave the show for Duck Dynasty.

6) Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra making way too much money playing central Jersey Bar Mitzvahs to stick with this dead end gig.

5) Dave's gap tooth appears to be closing, wreaking havoc on his entire charisma. 

4) Remember when Connie Chung and Dave had a special relationship and she used to be on the show all the time?  Who the hell is Connie Chung?  Exactly my point!

3) Abe Vigoda constantly asking everyone he sees "I don't look anywhere near as lousy as Dave, do I?"

Dave been mailing it in lately? CBS asks studio audience if they want material sent registered or certified before Dave even comes on stage.

And the Number One Reason 1 It Was Time For David Letterman To Go

Because Baby Boomers aren't already depressed enough about our icons biting the dust.


Despite this good-natured jab,  David Letterman is an American original and true comedy legend.  I hope he'll be around in other contexts for years to come. We will miss him.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Show Biz Satan (FF)

"Perfect, Satan!  Just perfect!" 

"Thank you, Solly."

"That shot worked super due to your outstanding lighting skills! You're the best in the business!"  

"Well, I am the Master of Darkness!  To understand the dark, you also must comprehend the light."

"Luckiest day of my life when you came calling on me. Who knew you were enamored of show business?"

"I was ready to take your soul as the most corrupt producer in Hollywood!  But you offered me a job I couldn't resist."

"And since then we've made show business history!"

"But when will I realize my dream to work with Meryl Streep?  You recall, Sol Berman, after that is when I take you!

"Sorry, but ... umm ... Meryl ... uhh ...  is on location for another six months."

"By the fires of Hades!  Now what?" 

"Satan, say hello to Mark Ruffalo." 


I'm so glad Satan found his metier and may be leaving us all alone for a while.  For that you can thank producer Sol Berman and the Friday Fictioneers, to whom this brief story (alright, 140 words, what's it to ya?) is the weekly offering by yours truly based on the intriguing picture prompt above.  

I don't know why I think Mark Ruffalo is kind of an amusing reference.  He's a good actor, but I find something funny about him.  Then again, judging from my success as a humor writer, what do I know about funny?  The other Fictioneers know funny, and dramatic, and poetic, and much more so it's time to leave me, Sol Berman, Mark Ruffalo, and Satan back in the studio and click here.

Devil with the blue dress on?  No, devil clutching an Oscar.  Next March.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Foolsover

In a highly unusual year of the Hebrew calendar that has seen Hanukkah fall at the same time as Thanksgiving and a new word "Thanksgivukkah" created, there falls now yet another bizarre confluence of holidays.   Passover begins tonight with the first Seder of the holiday taking place at sundown.

For the first time in six centuries, the initial night of Passover 2014 - the annual retelling of the Hebrews' freedom from bondage in Egypt - falls as one with April Fool's Day.

"Isn't that awesome?!" said Orthodox Rabbi Perry Ben Vereen, head of the prestigious synagogue Temple Beth Ostrosky in Havertown PA. "Passover is one of our most important holidays, but it's almost impossible not to want to screw with it at a time like this!"

Rabbi Ben Vereen says he has a number of "tricks up his sleeve" for this evening, including substituting a large French Bread for matzoh, hiding a rubber chicken for children to find instead of the traditional afikomen, and of course placing whoopie cushions on the seats of all the Seder guests, including Mrs. Ben Vereen.

Many ideas for April Foolsover pranks can be found on the website JewFool 2014, including a host of suggestions for making it appear Elijah the Prophet really has shown up at your house, guzzled the wine left for him, and groped several of the guests.  

"This year," laughed Rabbi Ben Vereen, "I'm going to provide the Traditional Four Questions with multiple choice answers and make at least two of the three wrong answers zany!  I'm going to pad out the original ten plagues like water turning to blood,  boils, and death of the first born with new ones like watching Tracy Morgan's stand-up and having to give an enema to Ted Nugent. 

"And finally," Rabbi Ben Vereen added, "I'm going to announce I'm leaving Mrs. Ben Vereen for a blonde shikseh!"

Better have fun tonight, Seder goers, because Passover and April Fool's Day won't fall together again until 2223.  

 April Fool!  

It's actually next year.