1984, Once More

A bold new retelling of the classic tale!

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.  

Winston Smith slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions and began to climb the seven flights of stairs that led to his flat, on each landing of which the same poster with the enormous face gazed from the wall.


Inside his flat at last, Winston heard the officious voice emanating from the oblong metal plaque on his living room wall.  The telescreen, as it was called, received and transmitted simultaneously and could be dimmed but never shut off. It could pick up anything that Winston did.

Winston looked out into the cold and empty street below. at the posters that were plastered everywhere.

"Damn it!" Winston cried out in anguish. 

 "Who does Big Brother think I am - Larry Wilmore?"

The sad fact was that Big Brother wasn't watching Winston!  Hadn't been for months.

"What do you have to do to get ratings in this crazy dystopian world?"  shouted Winston, fists pounding on the walls. 

Winston had been checking the Nielsen's every week.   He'd been doing pretty well in most demographics but in the Age 140 - Eternal Life demographic – comprised solely of Big Brother - he'd been coming in at 0/0 since January!

Winston had tried everything to get Big Brother to watch him.  He learned to juggle; Big Brother remained glued to ‘The Voice.’  He brought in cute puppies and kittens; Big Brother watched ‘SNL,’ even staying tuned during the boring last 45 minutes after Weekend Update.

Finally, Winston staged a one person production of ‘HMS Pinafore’ in which he sang all the parts; Big Brother tuned in to Winston's neighbors, the Blitzsteins, for all eight nights of Hanukkah. 

Winston began using words like "shticklach and shmendrick,” and even added a laugh track.   

Sadly he remained a ratings pariah. 

Winston sat morosely at his job at the Ministry of Truth with Julia, the beautiful and passionate dark-haired young woman who had recently furtively passed him a note saying "I love you."

"Winston," murmured Julia, "why don't we go back to your flat and make mad, impetuous love?"

"You think that might get him to watch?"

"No, you idiot, because ...  Okay, yeah, that might get him to watch."

Winston and Julia returned to Winston’s flat and performed KAMA SUTRA – LIVE! for two solid hours, although there was a brief intermission for stations to identify themselves.

Big Brother watched reruns of “Fantasy Island.”

Winston had an idea.  One last desperate idea.
"Big Brother," he announced, staring directly into the telescreen. "I know you hear me!"

The telescreen flashed briefly.

"Big Brother, I am going to lead a rebellion to topple you from power and install a brutal, soulless, power-mad dictator who won't treat me like I'm C-Span!  One with a more dapper mustache too, more like John Waters." 
There was at once a pounding at the door.

"Open up in there, you degenerate swine.  Open this door!"

Winston smiled happily. Ratings at last!

The door smashed open. Mr. and Mrs. Blitzstein, had battered it down and were charging directly at Winston.

"You've come for me?" Winston asked Mr. Blitzstein.

"Come for you?"  replied Mr. Blitzstein.  "Nah, we come for this."
Mrs. Blitzstein produced a long crowbar and pried the oblong metal plaque off the wall of Winston's flat.
Winston realized for the first time that he was looking at members of the Thought Police – Past Due Accounts Division.
"Next time, Winston,” said Mrs. Blitzstein, “please pay your telescreen bill on time.”   
“You should know by now,” added Mr. Blitzstein, “that Big Brother doesn’t watch if you don’t pay.”
In a moment the two were gone, the precious telescreen with them
The clock struck eighteen.
But now Winston understood. The telescreen would be back before the clocks could strike twenty-three, provided Winston’s check cleared.
Winston had won the victory over himself.  He loved Big Brother.
And with Julia returning tomorrow night plus special guest Gilbert Gottfried, Big Brother would soon be loving him back!



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," he thought.

"What has happened to me?" he wondered.  “And more importantly will 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 had to be at work within the hour.  Lateness was not tolerated at his office, and he had already used the excuse of transforming into a gigantic insect several times before.

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

"I am getting ready, mother," said Gregor. "Just brushing my antennae, I mean teeth!'Gregor readied himself 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 terrible!  Though nowhere near as bad as Steven Tyler." 

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

"That's right," said Gregor's sister. "Aunt Greta has turned more men gay than a Robert Pattison Pin-Up Calendar."

Gregor 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 her son 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. "Then he's fucked."                         

Scene III

Back in his lonely room, Gregor pondered his fate.  

What would he do day after day in his silent room?  And would he ever get used to masturbating to “Entomology Today” instead of 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. 

Meanwhile just outside his room, Gregor’s mother, father, and sister were busily constructing a giant fly swatter."I 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.  He often 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 pay down his father's gambling debts, support his mother's meth habit, and save for his sister's nose job.

"I really did have a wonderful life after all!" thought Gregor.

 He began to sing:
I have often morphed
Down the street before, 

But the pavement always

Stayed beneath my six tiny feet before.
All at once am I
Three-quarters of an inch high!

Please don’t swat
Or hit me with a sieve!

Eager to share his new perceptions with his family, Gregor crawled on his many legs to the door of his room, and flung it open with his antennae.
There before him were his friends and family and neighbors, 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.

"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?  Steve Mnuchin?
"I remember now. My name is George, not Gregor. And 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 mother, 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


We have shoving each other, why do we need grunting?

We have grunting, why do we need short bursts of grunting?

We have short bursts of grunting, why do we need small words?

We have small words, why do we need big words?

We have big words, we do we need big and small words together?

We have big and small words together, why do we need many big and small words together?

We have many big and small words together, why do we need talking?

We have talking, why do we need a man talking to one man and then running to other places and talking to another man?

We have a man talking to one man and then running to other places and talking to another man, why do we need a man carrying talking inscribed on dried clay tablets riding in an oxcart to other places to give talking inscribed on dried clay tablets to another man?

We have a man carrying talking inscribed on dried clay tablets riding in an oxcart to other places to give talking inscribed on dried clay tablets to another man, why do we need a man carrying papyrus scrolls riding in a chariot to other places to present papyrus scrolls to another man?

We have a man carrying papyrus scrolls riding in a chariot to other places to present papyrus scrolls to another man, why do we need a man carrying official communiqués of the realm riding in a carriage drawn by a team of horses to other places to provide official communiqués of the realm  to another man?

We have a man carrying official communiqués of the realm riding in a carriage drawn by a team of horses to other places to provide official communiqués of the realm to another man, why do we need a man or woman carrying the U.S. Mail riding in a stagecoach or steam locomotive to other places to deliver the U.S. Mail to other men or women?

We have a man or woman carrying the U.S. Mail riding in a stagecoach or steam locomotive to other places to deliver the U.S. Mail to other men or women, why do we need the telegraph?

We have the telegraph, why do we need the telephone?

We have the telephone, why do we need faxing?

We have faxing, why do we need e-mailing?

We have e-mailing, why do we need e-mailing to lap-tops, blackberries, and other portable devices?

We have e-mailing to lap-tops, blackberries, and other portable devices, why do we need texting?

We have texting, why do we need myriad apps, Twitter, and Facebook?

We have myriad apps, Twitter, and Facebook, why do we need teleporting?

We have teleporting, why do we need teleporting to distant planets and other dimensions?

We have teleporting to distant planets and other dimensions, why do we needtime traveling?

We have time traveling, why do we need gerwaffling?

We have gerwaffling, why do we need krelmaning?

We have krelmaning, why do we need Badidi Badidi Badidi Roy_ying?

We have Badidi Badidi Badidi Roy_ying, why do we need shoving each other?

The End.

The Tweet of Dorian Block

A dazzlingly new interpretation of the classic tale of decadence and depravity presented in the Age of The Twitter.

His office was filled with the rich odour of roses, and when the light summer wind stirred amidst the trees of the garden, there came through the open door the heavy scent of the lilac or the more delicate perfune of the pink-flowering thorn.

Unfortunately there also came through the open office door the stench of an attempted jest so stale, ill-formed, and unfunny it all but served to transmute the earth into a  cavernous abyss devoid of all mirth and merriment, much as does a movie by the Farrelly Brothers.

Dorian Block sat before the personal computing screen staring at the penultimate organ of 21st Century discourse known as The Twitter.  Another tweet which Dorian had typed in an attempt to convey humour and lightness of spirit had gone off into the night unnoticed and unrecognized, its passing mourned by no man,  no woman.

"Crap," Dorian moaned.  "I cannot comprehend the grand scale and prodigious magnitude at which I suck."

Dorian had tempted fate,  desperately hoping  for a response to his limp and lifeless tweet in the form a retweet, a personal response, or even a favoriting which would at least cause it to register favorably in that unsavory repository of dick jokes known as Favstar.   

Alas!  Alack!  Alec Baldwin!   It was not to be!

Presently Dorian had a caller in the person of his longtime associate Henry Lordstein,  a gentleman who always carried with him a cane and a pipe,  but oddly enough,  leaned on his pipe and smoked his cane. Dorian sure could pick 'em!

"How goes The Twitter, Dorian?" inquired Henry. "How many inmates of that curious asylum do you now follow?"

"Enough," replied Dorian "to fully commission an army to invade Carthage and win the Second Punic War."

"And how many follow you back, Dorian?"


"Are these your humble tweets?" said  Henry Lordstein.  "Ah, yes, I have discerned the problem straight away."

"Which is?"  queried Dorian.  

"Your tweets," said Lordstein, "lack the succulent amusement of true wit and erudition.  In a word, Dorian,  you're about as funny as George Lopez."  

At that moment, however, there arose in Dorian Block a surge of inspiration that blossomed like the sweet rose I made some obscure and pompous reference to in the first paragraph of this overheated literary parody. Dorian swiftly typed out onto the Twitter:

"If there weren't any Jews in the world, Jeff Foxworthy would be a billionaire." 

Henry Lordstein exploded in fits of laughter.  The Twitter lit up like a Christmas Eve in London with responses, retweets, and favoritings to outshine even the finest dick joke in all the Favstar firmament.  It was a tweet at the glorious level of the immortal Oscar Wilde, or even of Oscar Mayer, whose bologna was beloved by all for having a first name.

"I congratulate you, Dorian," said Lordstein. "This is your moment of immortality.  This tweet will remain funny for all time,  while  for the rest of your natural life you personally will continue to be as funny as a descr iptive passage from a novel by Joseph Conrad."

"If it were only the other way!" exclaimed Dorian. 

"If it were I who were always to be funny, and the tweet was to grow unfunny and lame!  For that that --- for that --- I would give everything.  Yes there is nothing in the whole world I would not give, except perhaps for either one of those two bodily parts denoted left and right that come external to the rest of the other parts."

Yes,  I would give my very soul for that!"

In the days and weeks that followed this event, all of Dorian's tweets came to possess the zest and humour of Lewis Black, only less Jewy.  The Twitter soon  lay at his  newly assured feet,  and his praises were sung in 140 characters or less from coast to coast, continent to continent, and Zanzibar to Barkley Square.  A wise literary agent signed Dorian and a rapid fire succession of humorous New York Times Best Selling books made his a household name, like "kitchen" or "spatula."

Record-shattering appearances on television and in motion pictures now brought his fame to such a frenzied degree that hubris stole the heart of Dorian Block. "I have nothing to declare but my genius," he famously said to a Customs Agent as he entered the United States to do The Conan O'Brian Show "along with a ziploc bag for some toothpaste." 

Dorian Block, for his part, could feel his humanity slipping from him.  He thought of the tweet and of his vow.  Was that simple but exquisitely funny tweet the cause of both his new found comedic brilliance and his emerging heinousness?   

Dorian entered his office, switched on The Twitter and rolled it back to the splendid tweet. He found that the tweet had changed! It was no longer the exemplar of brilliant observational humour he had created during that summer's day when the smell of lilac had so deliciously perfumed the air and entranced the senses.  

It was a line of stand-up from Tracy Morgan's  HBO Special "Black and Blue!"

Dorian backed away from the personal computing screen, shrieked as if to wake the gods on Olympus, and ran from the room. He had never seen or experienced anything so sickeningly or horrifically unfunny in his life, and he had followed Sh*t My Dad Says on The Twitter.

Now Dorian's rampaging career began to leave a wide swath of destruction in its wake!   In humbling tribute and supplication Louis C. K. offered Dorian the only two letters in his last name,  complete with their attendant periods.  Jay Leno attempted suicide by impaling himself upon his chin.  In a psychotic fit of sheer madness brought on by his wretched inability to compete with Dorian, Jon Stewart became a Republican.

"This cannot continue!" screamed Dorian.   "A just God will punish me and should.  A five minute time out is fair."

Dorian raced to his office and opened up The Twitter.  Perhaps the tweet had righted itself and had returned to its former glory.  He rolled back the time line to those days of summer when the sweet roses bloomed, the lilacs blossomed, and he couldn't get @Crudface99 to follow him back. 

A cry of pain and indignation broke from him.  The tweet was more foul, loathsome, and unfunny than ever before!  Would he never be free of its monstrous power?  Or at least have a long weekend away from it? 

If he could destroy the tweet, Dorian reasoned, he could yet be free.   He lunged at the personal computing screen intent on highlighting the tweet with a left click of the mouse and then exerting all force upon the Delete key.   At that very moment as Dorian thrust himself forward, however,  the personal computing screen froze,  as was its wont being Microsoft Windows XP

There was a cry heard and a crash.  Passing in the street below was Henry Lordstein  who rushed into the house, banged on the office door,  and when it would not give way, broke it asunder.  When he entered, he  found flickering upon the personal computing screen the splendidly hilarious tweet that Henry Lordstein recognized instantly as the one Dorian had inscribed upon The Twitter those many months ago. 

Lying on the floor was a man who in visage resembled Dorian Block but in personal manner was virtually unrecognizable.  As he bent over him --- writhing deliriously in pools of his own flop sweat --- he heard his pitiful murmurings over and over and over again:

Good evening, Ladies and Germs!

A priest, a minister, and a rabbi walk into a bar ...

Take my wife --- please!    

The End.

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