Stories

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Once upon a time in a lovely green valley by a lake --- where the price for buildable lots was so high you could never hope to afford one --- there stood a charming cottage in which Blog, a young bunny,  and Mother and Father Bunny lived. 

Blog was generally a happy little bunny except for one thing --- he was ashamed of his ugly sounding name.

“Why do I have a horrible name like Blog?” he asked Mother and Father Bunny.

“It was supposed to be Bob,” explained Mother Bunny, “but Dad burped when he said the name to the Register of Bunny Names and unfortunately the clerk wrote down “Blog.”

Now there was a law in the land where Blog and Mother and Father Bunny lived that forbade bunnies from changing their names.

It was called the “Jennifer and Jason Act,” passed by a group of bunnies born in the 70’s who were afraid their really cool names might be yanked away and they’d be saddled with annoying 90’s names like Max, Zachery, and Carlotta.

Despite sadness over his horrible name, Blog was always happy when Mother Bunny read to him at bedtime. He especially loved two books: “The Little Engine that Gave Up and went for a Beer” and “Twitter Sticks it to Margaret Wise Brown.”

Mother Bunny read these two books to him over and over. She would have read them to him under and under, as well as in between and in between, if only those two idiotic statements made any sense.

Of the two, Blog especially adored “Twitter Sticks it to Margaret Wise Brown.”

It taught a wonderful lesson about bitterness, acrimony, and revenge, and had pop-up pictures too! It told the tale of Twitter, a beautiful young bunny with a lovely smile and pretty blue eyes, who was cast as the ingénue in an upcoming warm-hearted children’s book “The Runaway Bunny” by Margaret Wise Brown.

Twitter was brutally fired by Margaret Wise Brown, who thereupon replaced her with some no-talent male bunny she was rumored to be sleeping with. The meanest children’s author this side of Eric Carle, Ms. Brown was known on the set of an earlier book, “Goodnight Moon,” to make the Bowl of Mush cry.

Twitter was undaunted. She began networking on LinkedIn and made history by becoming the first person ever to make successful use of LinkedIn’s moronic Endorsements feature.

Before long, she attracted the attention of a children’s book author named Perry Block.

Their collaboration led to “Twitter Sticks it to Margaret Wise Brown,” which quickly went viral after being selected for Oprah’s Book Club. It vastly outsold “The Runaway Bunny,” the first edition of which included an ill-advised chapter showing a scantily-clad Margaret Wise Brown and the no-talent Bunny vacationing in Majorca.

How Blog admired Twitter! 

“And what a beautiful name!” Blog thought. “How could anybody ever say that you could waste time with Twitter?” 

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In a few years, little Blog grew tall and came of age.

One day he announced to Mother and Father Bunny that he was going out into the world to seek his fortune.

“I would like to meet Twitter before I begin,” said Blog. “I googled her and I know where I may find her.”

“By the way even ‘Google’ would have been a better name for me.”

The next day, Blog bid Mother and Father Bunny farewell and set off on his journey, making his way out of the lovely green valley by a lake --- where the price for buildable lots was so high you could never hope to afford one --- and where there stood the charming cottage in which he, Blog, a young bunny, and Mother and Father Bunny lived.

In a few days Blog arrived at the address he had googled for Twitter.

“But what is this?” exclaimed Blog!

The sign in front of the address said:

Hoppity’s House of Hotties!

Blog entered.

Red flocked wallpaper. A fat pig with a cigar playing an upright piano. Steve Buscemi!

Blog realized he wasn’t in Kansas anymore.

“Where … where can I find Ms. Twitter?” Blog stammered to a large animate rubber ball standing just inside the door, who was in fact ‘the Bouncer.’

“She’s in the back, Mac!” said the Bouncer.   He was also a poet.

Blog made his way to the back of the building. Through a half open door he saw a wan, pale, painfully thin young bunny he recognized as Twitter, his hero.

“Ms. Twitter,” Blog called hoarsely, “Ms. Twitter...”

Twitter turned and gave a half-smile. “Yes, do I know you?” she said.

“Ms. Twitter, I’ve been a huge fan of “Twitter Sticks it to Margaret Wise Brown” ever since I was a small bunny. You are my role model!”
Oh, sure!" sighed Twitter. "I’m a role model like Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott in the movie ‘Role Models,’ also starring Jane Lynch. I’m sorry to disappoint you. Hope you haven’t traveled far.”

 “May I ask what happened?”

“My life was once wonderful, just as in my book. I was hanging with Oprah and Gayle, signed to do big budget book with Curious George, Rowling’s people were at the doorstep! Then it happened.”

What happened?”

“The older man who wrote the book, Perry Block, turned on me! He stole all the money, saw to it that I got nothing, and began spreading vicious lies that I … that I was doing it like a bunny!”

Twitter broke off in loud sobs!

(Author’s Note: The above allegations are the subject of litigation and are unproven. And I am NOT an older man!)

"Imagine," sobbed Twitter, "me, doing it like a bunny!  I don't even get poked on Facebook."

“So you had no options,” Blog said quietly.

"I had to eat,” said Twitter, “but I couldn’t even get a walk-on in a Captain Underpants book!”

Just then, a loud voice bellowed from outside the dressing room
 “Twitter doll, time to give the customers some yum-yum!”
 Blog saw the look of terror in Twitter’s still beautiful blue eyes.

“I’m sorry,” she mumbled. “I have to go on now …”
“Twitter,” said Blog, “this might seem crazy, but I have an idea. I’m going out into the world to seek my fortune. Why don’t you come with me?”
Twitter looked as if she’d been struck by an anvil from a Warner Brothers cartoon! In fact, since this is a children's story, she was struck by an anvil from a Warner Brothers cartoon.
 “Why … why would you do that for me?”
“I know you don’t really know me, but I've known you all my life!”
“I think I trust you, but …”
“Twitter, I would never!” said Blog. “I don’t even have HBO.”
“If you’re sure I won’t be a burden.”
Blog couldn’t believe his ears!
Yes, they were long, furry, and stood straight up from the top of his head, but he should have been used to that by now!
Twitter got ready to go, and she and Blog were soon outside and on the road. Where they were headed, neither of them yet knew.
 But somehow it didn’t matter.

“You know,” said Twitter, “I don’t even know your name.”

Oh no! What if Twitter thought his name was stupid?
What if she thought his name sounded like “Bob” if you burped when you said it?
What if she no longer wanted to go?

“My name’s Blog,” he muttered nervously.

Blog,” said Twitter.
Twitter repeated it again. “Blog,” she said slowly and thoughtfully.
“I think that’s a very nice name.”
“You think that?!” sputtered Blog, amazed. “Why?”
“Because it’s the name of someone who cares.”
For the first time in his life, Blog was no longer ashamed of his name.

Actually, he was kind of proud of it!

And in that very moment, Blog felt like a million bucks --- which would have been many times over what you’d need to buy a buildable lot in that lovely green valley, by a lake, where there stood the charming cottage in which he, Blog, a young bunny, had once lived. 

The End 


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With apologies to Eric Carle and to the memory of Margaret Wise Brown, both of both I’m sure were and are very nice. 


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And very gracious thanks to Mooshe Nickerson for her terrific original illustrations that accompany this story.

FRIDAY, MARCH 4, 2011


Rhinoceros Impoceros


Jean and I were sitting in our favorite café in Toulon, Gaulloises in hand with yellow stains down to our fingernails, when I saw a quite peculiar thing. I just happened to be looking up from my Verlaine, and there, running down the streets of the town, was a rather large pink rhinoceros.

“Jean,” I said, “did you see that? A pink rhinoceros is running down the streets of Toulon. There he has mowed down Fat Francois and is now dancing with Madame De LaTour!” 

“Non, il semble que j'ai manqué ça," said Jean.*

“Jean,” I replied. “Why are you speaking French?”

"Je ne sais pas," he answered. "Nous sommes français, ne sont pas nous?**
"Yes, Jean, of course we're French.  But this is a translation of an existentialist short story from French to EnglishAssistant Professor Herbert Mishkin of the University of Havertown PA is being paid good money by Shmendrick Press to make sure we’re all speaking English!"

"Eh bien," said Jean. "Vous disiez sur un rhinocerous?"

But the rhinoceros itself was of no moment any more! I was very troubled by this disturbing event concerning Jean, so I finished my Alsatian beer, bid him "Adieu" --- I mean "Goodbye!" --- and returned to my apartment. 

As I departed, I did happen to notice the rhinoceros had formed a conga line with many of the townsfolk in tow.

Madame Foucault, my landlady, greeted me as I arrived home. A fine woman with a hint of wistful sadness and a wart the size of the Cathedral at Rheims, she began to beat at me with an enormous loaf of French Bread. You see, I owed her some rent stemming back to 1947, which was a bit odd since neither of us had been born then.

"Madame Foucault," I said, "a most curious thing. My friend Jean can only speak French!"

"Donc?" she replied. "Nous sommes français, ne sont pas nous?"

"Oh crap!  You too?!!  This is supposed to be an English translation by Professor Herbert Mishkin! He’s an expert on Romance languages! At least that’s what it said on his resume."

"Est-ce que quelqu'un n'ont pensé à vérifier son resume?" asked Madame Foucault."Peut-être il a menti?" ***

"But how could that be, the guy’s supposed to be Jewish! He’s up for tenure. There’s going to be hell to pay!"

I ran out into the street and all around me I heard the sound of French:

"Vous êtes un cochon!"

"Quel est le problème avec vous, visage de merde!"

"Maintenant venir et écouter mon histoire d'un homme nommé Jed ..."

Even descriptive passages were now in French! 

I was seized with despair! Had Professor Mishkin deserted us? In a Mishkin-less universe, was life nothing more than a pink rhinoceros leading a conga line?  Not that I hadn’t seen worse acts in Toulon!

And why did I yet speak English? I longed to be like all the others, speaking in my native tongue, pondering the meaning of existence, and insulting American tourists. 

“Professor Mishkin!“ I cried out. “Professor Mishkin! When are your office hours?"

I heard a voice.

“They would have been in an hour, Berenger," it said, “but I was so wasted last night right now I’m home with the clicker."

"Professor, everyone here is still speaking French! WTF???"

“Truth is, Berenger, I’ve been so damn drunk this week, the only character I’ve been able to translate so far is you."

"Why only me?"

"You’re not that difficult to translate, you’re fairly simple-minded. Now, Madame Foucault --- that’s a character!"

"Thanks, Mishkin."

"Oh, you're most welcome, Berenger."

"Now how about cutting the literary slurs and getting back to the job?!! Thousands of students taking Intro to French Lit won’t have anything to read along with their Cliff’s Notes!"

"Yeah, but it’s a Friday and, heh heh, I got me something going this weekend. I’m counting on you, Berenger, to stall Shmendrick Publishing until Sunday. Monday, if I get really lucky." 

"What do you want me to do?"

"Just keep speaking English," said Mishkin. "Cut off any of the characters that try to speak in French.  Talk over any exposition or descriptive passages that creep back into French as well.  Just til I get back."

And so, I live in a land of desolation. Of lies. Of creased pages, bookmarks, and chocolate stains. 

Until Sunday.  Maybe Monday. 

Do I still believe in Mishkin?  

Yes, I do.  That is, provided he knows how to reciprocate. 

You see, on page 47, there’s a character named Michelle très chaude ….****

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"No, I think I missed that."

** "I don't know. We are French, aren't we?"

*** "Did anyone verify his resume?  Maybe he lied."

**** That is, "Michelle, the very hot!"  There's one paragraph on page 47 I especially want to be dealt into ... 

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2010


Mottel, the Itinerant Rabbi


An old Jewish folk tale*

Once, long ago and far away, there lived an itinerant rabbi named Mottel, not to be confused with Mattel, which makes toys. 

Mottel was a very learned but arrogant rabbi who had once had a pulpit in a well-to-do synagogue in Minsk known as Temple Beth Cooper. He was famed throughout the land for having written the popular Cliff’s Notes to the Talmud and an unauthorized biography of G-d entitled Sure I’ve Made Mistakes, What’s It To Ya?

Everything was going quite well until one day, sadly and unexpectedly, Mottel lost his pulpit --- most likely in the dryer along with the socks. Realizing that anything lost in the dryer could never again be found, Mottel packed up his books, left Temple Beth Cooper, and filed for unemployment, which back in those days considering the cost of living of living and with the Republicans in office and carry the 4 then multiply by 15 amounted toNOT A DAMN THING!

“My G-d, this is fun for you?!” railed Mottel at the Supreme Being.

Fortunately G-d didn’t rail back, because that would have brought a dramatic and swift end to our little story, folks, period, finito!

Mottel went to the rabbi temp agency in town but had little success because the rabbi temp agency performed background checks, did drug testing, and refused to hire Jews. So Mottel began traveling the countryside seeking rabbi temp work. He would doven for dimes, pray for pennies, and petition the Lord with prayer because he was also a Doorsfan as well as a rabbi.

And so Mottel the Arrogant became known as the Mottel, the Itinerant Rabbi. 

As he traveled from village to village, Mottel soon came to realize that food and shelter were preferable to starving to death and having his private parts gnawed upon by wolves, and so he devised a means to procure sustenance and housing. (I didn’t feel like typing “food and shelter” again.)

As he would enter each new village, Mottel would offer the townspeople the opportunity to ask him three questions about Judaism or about problems they needed solved in their daily lives. The only restriction he imposed was that his responses need not be in the form of a question.

If Mottel were able to deliver the correct and/or helpful answers to the townspeople, they would provide him with a warm place to sleep and all the cheesecake he could eat for one entire week. If he would fail, Mottel would promptly leave the village while the most musically talented of the villagers would take a horned instrument and play the wah-wahsound.

Mottel was particularly famished one afternoon as he entered the village of Krackcorn. He had not eaten in several days because at his last village he had failed to help a poor farmer who had come to him with the perplexing problem of a chicken which would not cluck or lay eggs. 

Mottel had suggested that the farmer move the chicken out of the coop and into the main house with the farmer and his wife. Sure enough, soon the farmer began laying eggs and clucking while the chicken married the farmer’s wife and went on to a brilliant career in the State Department. 

An intriguing result to be sure, but not the one desired or requested! 

Mottel walked straight to the Krackcorn village square and announced himself to the villagers. Soon three humble men from the village approached, and the first of the three walked up to him. 

“Rebbe, I have often wondered,” said the first man timidly, “why is it that the Four Questions the youngest child asks on Pesach, which are quite difficult, are not multiple choice.”

“Ha! A softball!” said Mottel condescendingly. “That is because the multiple choice format would penalize anyone who doesn’t fully blacken the circle next to the correct answer and/or who leaves stray marks.”

Although shame-faced at the manner in which he had been spoken to, the first man nodded satisfaction with the answer, thanked the Itinerant Rabbi, and went back to his home. “That’s one down and two to go, Mr. Cerf?” said Mottel to himself, knowing full well that only older Baby Boomers would get that joke. He was tasting the borscht and sour cream already. The second man approached Mottel.

“Rebbe,” the second man spoke haltingly, “it is said that the scholar Maimonides wrote in his great work A Guide for the Perplexed --- also known as This One’s for You, Perry --- that all Jews must revere two things: Hashem (the Lord G-d) and Chinese Food. But which should we revere more?”

"Fool!” said Mottel, ever the vainglorious one. “The answer to this is obvious. G-d and Chinese Food indeed! One has guided, sustained, and nurtured the Jewish people for over 4,000 years! The other at least gave us Chinese Food.”

Although embarrassed at this treatment by Mottel, the second man nodded assent and walked away. “Two down and one to go, Miss Francis?” said Mottel to himself, marveling at how he’d just slay ‘em on cruise ships and at senior citizen’s homes. “Bet I’ll be feasting on brisket this very Friday!”

The third man now walked up to Mottel, but he had a question of a wholly different nature. "Rebbe,” said the third man with more authority in his voice than the other two men could ever have mustered, “I have a daughter who, frankly, puts the mees inmeeskeit. I cannot find her a husband because she has a face that could cause Moses to part the Red Sea just to get away."

“That bad?” replied Mottel, a bit crestfallen. 

“That bad!” shot back the third man. “There she is by the fence, over by the goats. Her name is Meeskela. She is the one who is the tallest.” 

 Mottel took a look and yes, he had to agree that she was the tallest. “How will I ever solve this problem?” he wondered as he began to sense the cheesecake, brisket, and borscht he so desired evaporating into thin air. And so he began to think very hard.

"Well,” said Mottel, “have you thought about plastic surgery?”

“Rebbe,” replied the third man, “this is the 18th century. The most advanced form of plastic surgery involves holding the patient’s face down on a mountainside and bashing it with a large jagged rock.”

“Oka-a-a-y, moving right along,” said Mottel, now starting to feel despair along with his hunger. “Have you thought about conversion to Islam?" he suggested. "Meeskela could wear a burka?” 
“No, that won’t work, Rebbe,” said the third man. “We are Reform and she would miss the bacon.”

Mottel’s heart sank so deeply and completely that he realized one day James Cameron would make a movie about it.

He thought about food and his stomach grumbled.

He looked at Meeskela and his stomach turned.

But a stomach divided against itself cannot stand, and so as he stood face to face with the third man, the Itinerant Rabbi made an unexpected decision. 

“I will marry Meeskela,” Mottel announced. 

At that, the third man wept, hugged Mottel, and lifted him onto his back to carry him to his humble home.

As Mottel was lifted high in the air like a Jewish groom, which of course he was, he began to wonder if the decision he had made would one day by comparison make the townspeople of Chelm look like rocket scientists, which would be no mean feat because even the rocket scientists in Chelm were no rocket scientists.  
Nevertheless that very evening, Mottel was treated to a fine dinner which included borscht and sour cream, brisket, and all the cheesecake he could eat. And he stayed in the humble home of the third man, his wife, and Meeskela for an entire week, during which time he married Meeskela.
And then, a great miracle happened! 

At first, Mottel needed a good stiff drink each evening to even look at Meeskela. But then he noticed something: Meeskela was kind, patient, and warm. She looked after Mottel’s needs. She did for him and cared for him and asked nothing in return. 

And Mottel gradually came to realize that on a good day, from a certain angle, when the sun was shining so brightly that there no longer seemed to be any trouble or heartache in the world, Meeskela didn’t look half-bad!

Soon Mottel’s arrogance faded away. He became kind and good to all the people of Krackcorn. When the village rabbi passed away (under very suspicious circumstances, I might add) Mottel became the next village rabbi. And he turned out to be a very good rabbi indeed, beloved throughout the village as well as throughout the greater metropolitan village area.

One day Mottel realized that he loved Meeskela very much and would stay with her always. Besides, no one outside of New York City made cheesecake any better! 

And so, Mottel the Itinerant Rabbi was no longer an itinerant rabbi at all. Because in the little village of Krackcorn, Mottel had found a home

But perhaps more importantly --- yes, much more importantly --- the once Itinerant Rabbi, the learned but arrogant rabbi Mottel, had also found his heart.

The End

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Not a Member of the Tribe?

   *Old Jewish Folk Tale - as told by an old Jewish folk. Me.
   Doven -  to recite Jewish prayers while swaying.  Has nothing to do with     "I want a Doven Bar!"
   Pesach - Passover. 
   Meeskeit - an unattractive person. Sort of like your cousin Edwina.   
  Chelm - village in Jewish folklore where all the people are idiots and fools. Sort of like lots of people in your family.