Friday, December 28, 2007

Year End Round-Up...Coming Soon...

Well, it's been my most prolific year yet on the blog, which is not quite the accomplishment it sounds like when you consider the gaping month long + black holes of blogging, and the fact that my blog is only a little under two years old. But, the record stands for me to defeat next year. There we have it.

But that's not really what this is about. This is about something else entirely. Brace yourself,'s a political rant on a Friday. I know, I know...those are supposed to happen on Mondays or Wednesdays, Fridays are supposed to be for free writing. But, well, such is life.

I've noticed a lot of hooplah over a woman's ability to govern. Or a black person's ability to govern. Whatever. This post has been sparked by a recent feature I've noticed on facebook. They present you with a topic on which you can choose a stance, and you can leave a reason for your stance. For instance, Should Waterboarding be allowed as a means to extract information from terror suspects (short answer no, long answer is also no but involves a rather lengthy explanation, which is a tangent I do not want to go off on). Or...Should a politician's religious beliefs play a major part in their decision making process? Well, I mean, I suppose so, yes...but I think morals and ethics are more important, but since most religions do put a heavy emphasis on ethical treatment of your fellow human and stromg moral convictions, then, yes. Fine. Whatever.

But most recently, I saw one that asked the following: Do you think a woman can be as effective a president as a man?

Duh! This is just about the stupidest question I've ever heard! This is like asking if a silver car gets better mileage than a white car. Yes, I suppose it could. Or not. The question should really be does a Silver Toyota Yaris get better mileage than a white Chevy Suburban. Yes. Yes it can.

The point is, you can't make a generalization like that! I know that the question is really a thinly veiled attempt at asking if Hilary could be as effective as...well, I guess there's no real implication as to who the male is. As Hilary is the most successful female politician to vie for the highest political office in the country to date, though, the question implies that she is the woman. And so some people may read that question but read it as "Do you think Hilary Clinton can be as effective a president as George W. Bush?" To which the answer for me is, yes, but so could an untrained monkey. Could she make as effective a president as Mitt Romney? Yes. Better, even. Could she make as effective a president as Dennis Kucinich? Well, I'm not saying I have a man crush on Dennis Kucinich like Jerry does, but I'd say no, Dennis would be more effective. Not because he's a man and she's a woman, but because for the America I want to see, he's got a better vision.

Be wary, dear readers. There will be a lot of this in the upcoming months. Can a Black Man run the Country? Can a Mormon hold the highest office? Should a Woman be put in the position of Commander in Chief? Is America ready for a crossdressing Supreme Court Justice? Do we want Bill Clinton as the very first "First Husband?" Can you imagine him in the parlor with Mrs. Gordon Brown and Madame Sarkozy while Hilary, Gordon and Nicholas discuss NATO plans in the oval office? That would be hilarious, actually. Sure, a Hobbit can save Middle Earth and become a Senator and marry a supermodel who is way out of his league (and two feet taller), but can he be President?

Personally, I think we should consider the following when choosing our next leader: How funny can the editorial cartoonists draw them? Clearly, a short man with big ears always has a lot of hilarious potential, moreso than a former Mayor who faints or a lethargic actor or a young, charismatic junior senator. I mean...come on!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I Promise A Real Update Soon, But In The Meantime...

O Holy Crap!

I mean...

Happy Holidays!

Enjoy Straight No Chaser and their awesome rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas:

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Elliot's Poetry Corner

I never ever ever ever ever ever post poetry. Well, no, I think I did once. LONG ago. But I'm about to again. In lieu of a real Tuesday Excerpt (and being that it's after midnight and therefore Wednesday) I will post a few. Here goes:


The following poems were written between August and December of 2005

This Is My Favorite Poem

I wrote this poem,
so I can love it if I want.
And maybe I will;
I’ll take it to the park,
go on long walks,
perhaps pick up some snacks.
I hope it likes me, too,
that it won’t hate me, start biting me or
try and run away.
Or maybe,
it’s just a poem,
and so long as I am writing it,
I can choose to end it
before it turns on me.


Closing Time

For the past two months, I’ve signed my name-
-on lines at the bottom of different pages-
what feels by now like thousands of times.

I sign again and again,
and I write the date beside my name.
At least that changes.

My signature, never beautiful is now
an awful mess.

The bank must ask,
“What does that say?”
when they see it.

The keys sit on the table, waiting for me.
One last signature, smeared by the sweat from my palms;
the large number on the last page frightened me.

With this last initial, I can finally go home.


Labor Day Weekend

I stayed up Friday night,
drinking whiskey and writing a novel
which I promptly scrapped Saturday morning.

Sweat pooled on my desk as it poured off my forehead.
I worked for eighteen straight hours then left,
thinking fresh air would revitalize my ambitions.

My wife complained the clacking keys kept her awake,
as my characters found themselves at last.
I slept through daylight and woke in time for dinner.

Through conflict I typed, into resolution,
composing a lie of a life that never was.
The throaty call of “Are you done yet?” turned to
“Oh good, you’re done, get some sleep.”

Long since abandoning whiskey for tea, I read my work.
Sitting back and smiling for the first time in three days.


Now...clearly, the three day novel has been discussed. And Closing Time was written in the midst of buying the house. But that first one, well...I think it's possibly the only poem I've ever written that I enjoy reading, to be perfectly honest. I mean, I think if I were to ever forget that I wrote this poem, and then somebody read it to me, I'd think it was early Billy Collins. And no, I'm not just being an egomaniac...this actually happened. I wrote this two years ago, and a month ago I stumbled upon it in a folder from school. It had no name on it, and it was not unusual for my teacher to type out a play instead of copying it from a book so we could read it. So I saw it, read it, and thought to mysel, "This kind of smacks of Billy Collins. You know, before he got really good." Then I found it on my back-up discs when I got my old laptop's hard drive recovered...with my name on it. Two separate drafts, even. I guess I did write it. Anyway, I'll take credit. I sort of remember writing it anyway.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Yeah yeah, I know, but it's been crazy with being out of town and decorating the house and decorating the parents' house and school and being slightly sick.

To readers of my blog who have not been made aware of such plans, this Sunday evening at 8 pm, feel free to drop by Ted Drewes on ChippeWatson for Extreme Ice Cream Club's Happy (Belated) Birthday to Me.

Yes, if you are reading this, you are invited. If you can't come (have other plans/don't live in or near St. Louis) that is too bad because it will be the greatest time ever. On a Sunday. In December. In 2007. Totally.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Lord, I Was Born a Ramblin' Man (And a Tuesday Excerptin' One, Too)

Alright, so, I've got a bit to get through.

I am going out of town tomorrow after work. I will be going to Davenport (to visit my brother-in-law Dave. Wow, Dave, Davenport...I think I will start calling it Dave 'n Port), spending the night, then Kathy, Dave, Cakelyn (Dave's daughter, see prior post about getting stuck in the middle of Iowa from the early days of my blog), and I will be heading even further North to Rochester, MN on Thursday for a Thanksgiving Feast.

But what's most important about tomorrow is that I will be turning 25. A quarter of a century. That scares me. It scares me mostly because when I turned 15, I could barely remember being five, but now I have vivid memories of being 15 (although, my Tuesday Excerpt below will refute that, but you will have to discern where I've taken poetic license and where I haven't). Fifteen was big; first year of high school, Jon Roundy joined The Hitchhikers and we actually had a singer, then we went into a recording studio. I made friends with Monica, and we're still friends today, so it was a year when good things happened. But what happened to five? Well, clearly, it was twenty years ago. And who can remember what happened twenty years ago?

I guess it's just my "getting older" syndrome I feel so acutely. Not so much at work, you know...I'm one of the youngest at work, but at school, no so much. Granted, I take a few night classes, so I don't feel like the absolute oldest, but even still I feel old. You see, even though I can't recall specific things about myself when I was five, I do recall many things about the 1980's. And the current class of freshmen know nothing of the 80's. I spent eight years stuck in the 1980's. I even went through an 80's revival phase in high school (spurred on by my physics/astronomy teacher, Mr. conjunction with a campaign to bring back the ultimate power snack; Moon Pies and RC Cola. Oh, more on Moon Pies later...). A couple weeks ago, when one of my teachers asked if anybody in class remembered the Chrysler K car, three people raised hands...two ladies who have children old enough to be in college, and myself. The teacher looked at me and said, "Whatever, you are too young to remember the K car, those haven't been around since, like 1989. You were probably two then." I said, " And a neighbor on my street had one until sometime in the mid-90's." Then, of course, inevitably, somebody did math and said, "No way! That would make you, like...twenty-five. No way you're that old?" To which my reply was, "Since when did 25 become old?"

Well, actually, earlier that same day, we were talking about the business of writing for money in my playwriting class. And the general gist was that if you haven't made an impact as a playwright or as a screenwriter by the age of 30, your chances go way down. They want young people. I have five years left until I'm 30. That's half of ten...and I can remember things from ten years ago like they were yesterday. So that's not a lot of time...

Back to the Moon Pies...I do like me some Moon Pies. My sister's husband, Kevin, works at a grocery store that sells Moon Pies (the big stores around here, for some reason, don't, but the smaller ones one can quite understand or explain this phenomenon), so occasionally I get the token Moon Pie. For my birthday (we celebrated this Sunday with my family, because I will be out of town, plus my dad's birthday was last Tuesday, we normally celebrate the Sunday in between with dinner at my parents'), Mo and Kevin bought me a carton of ice cream...Prairie Farms Moon Pie Ice Cream.

The verdict? It's yummy, actually. I mean, ice cream is good, Moon Pies are good, makes a certain amount of sense that Moon Pie Ice Cream would be good, but...jelly beans are good, buttered popcorn is good, but buttered popcorn flavored jelly beans are quite possibly the nastiest thing a person could ever desire to eat an entire box of (and trust me, they sell entire theater-candy style boxes of Jelly Belly Buttered Popcorn flavored beans, I know, I used to have to put ad sings up for them every few weeks at Target). But no, I mean, this ice cream is really good. But you probably already have to like Moon Pies to appreciate it.

Another consequense of getting older is that (first time admitting this in a public forum) I can't eat the way I used to. Well, no, I can still eat the way I used to, it's just that now I actually show it. Not tremendously, just...enough that it's noticeable. After a week of particularly uninhibited scarfing down of every morsel in sight (and after a very heavy dinner of biscuits, pork-sausage gravy and scrambled eggs with cheddar followed by a dessert of apple pie...), I went to Ted Drewes Frozen Custard for another dessert (the Extreme Ice Cream Club), and a friend of mine I hadn't seen since just after I started my new job showed up. His first comment? "Hey...Elliot. Wow. You got fat."

So, let's recap; so far in the last couple months, I've been called Fat and Old by my peers, plus people are giving me food (the ice cream and half of my birthday cake came home with me from my parents' house, and Kathy won't eat it because she doesn't like spice cake). So, imagine how well my birthday is being handled.

On the upside of all of this, I can actually take time to ride my bike this summer, because I won't be worn out from working ungodly hours at Target, and I won't have homework, so I can get back in shape. For the time being, though, I have to buckle down, squeeze in a few crunches here and there, and remind mysel that even though I used to be able to order twenty dollars worth of Taco Bell, eat it in one sitting and still manage to lose a pound (no joke, it's happened to me in the past), I can do this no longer. So I shouldn't order that much. Or eat it if I do. At least, not in one sitting.

But then again, Taco Bell really doesn't keep well...

Okay, so, now to the last thing...and no, not "The Last Thing..." which I posted last week. I'm still working on that one. I kind of stalled...scene 2 is erratic right now and needs an amount of work. Then, of course, there's the rest of the play to write...

I digress. Actually, twice. First thing of the last two things; I really really want to take off from Rochester on Friday and head to the Twin Cities. If I had planned better, I'd totally do it, but right now, I don't think it's feasible. Maybe I'll call some folks tomorrow and bounce the idea off of them, see if they'll even be there. That's the real crux of the situation.

But now, truly, the last part of this evening's blog; the Tuesday Excerpt. This one goes out to my sister-in-law Lori, who is currently plowing through college applications. This is the application essay I wrote for Webster University, which netted me smiles from my admissions advisor, a laugh from my academic advisor, and $4000/year I will never have to pay back.


"Webster University General Application Essay" 2006"

I can remember my senior year of high school. This should come as no shock; I was what, seventeen and eighteen, and now I’m only twenty-three. I suppose that’s longer ago than it seems to me, but it’s so vivid to me still for some reason. Now freshman year of high school, I remember maybe three or four major events and those are, in no particular order; doing over five hundred push-ups during marching band camp, getting called out by Anne Lutjens for staring at her legs during academic lab (a glorified study hall), my band The Hitchhikers getting picked for a huge battle of the bands a week after our singer went to Germany for a month, and my sister graduating and going off to college. A whole nine months, and that’s about all I have. But senior year, I had everybody breathing down my neck.

I borrowed books about college essay preparation. I asked all of my older friends if I could read their essays to see what they said. I asked teachers, guidance counselors, friends, family, co-workers, a girl at Starbucks, and tried to find some help on the internet. In the end, I wrote and subsequently directed a one-act play about a guy attempting to write his college application essay. His friend distracts him, and in an entire weekend he manages to write three sentences. That’s a whole three sentences more than I got. Of course, that didn’t stop people from asking where I was going to school. The answer was simple.


Except I did go to college, at the University of Minnesota. Only, I didn’t take it very seriously that first semester, spring of 2002. I was under the impression that college was about drinking and having fun, so much so that I forgot that it was also a little bit about school. So, I went on academic probation. Then I got mono fall semester, and my motivation gave out on me. Basically, I flunked out and came home to St. Louis.

That’s when I went to community college. This was in 2003 (a full two years after I graduated from high school). I went for one whole semester and then dropped halfway through the next because something had happened while I was academically probated and getting dangerously sick; I fell in love with and proposed marriage to a girl, and I had no money because I was only working enough to keep gas in my car so I could continue driving to and from school and work. I buckled down at work, went full time. I got married July 17th, 2004. Best day of my life thus far. If you haven’t fallen in love and gotten married, I would recommend it. I enjoy it immensely.

Of course, I spent the next year not going to school, which led my wife to deliver the gentle but firm statement “if you don’t go back to school, I don’t know if I can stay with you.”

You see, silly me, the spring leading up to the summer we were married, all she wanted to do was drop out of school. I had told her not to, because she was nearly done with her degree. So, on my advice, and threats of not staying with her, she finished school. Ah, how the tables had turned! So, summer 2005, I decided to sign up for another class at community college.

“Another class” turned into a ten-credit summer session, while still working full time, which basically meant I had either enough time to sleep or enough time to eat and, most often, chose eating because, if you knew me, that’s just the kind of thing you would expect. So when it came time to sign up for fall semester, I opted to pull back a little.

“Pulling back” turned into eleven credits. Still working full time. Oh, and my wife and I bought a house. So, you can see how well pulling back worked.

The upshot of all of this is that I am finally, after four and a half years out of high school, a sophomore in college and I just decided I would much rather spend the next few chapters of my academic life at a school I am excited to attend, even though I may have been afraid of it at one time.

Why was I afraid of Webster University my senior year of high school? Because I could see Webster’s campus from the parking lot of my high school. I didn’t want to travel only that far, I wanted to go somewhere. Hence Minnesota.
Now that I consider things, though, how far have I come since then? Well, aside from marriage and home ownership and about six thousand miles logged on a bike that is worth more than my car, academically I’ve achieved in four and a half years what it should have, by all counts, taken me nine months to accomplish. And I can’t let the next three academic years take me into my thirties, forties, or beyond. Why wait? My friends, family, and especially my wife will tell you that I put the “pro” in procrastination; I’ve taken it to a whole new level. I just think it’s time to let certain skills die and sharpen others that are much more useful.
It is time to move forward and actually go somewhere.


"Finishing a book is just like you took a child out in the back yard and shot it." -Truman Capote

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Sorry gang. Life gets in the way of plans sometimes I guess. So does death.

My wife's friend's father has been very sick, and he passed away this week. Tomorrow evening, we are going to the visitation. What this means for you, my audience, is that I will not be Free-Writing tomorrow. It may be two weeks, then, before I get back to it, as next week internet access may be questionable as I will be in Minnesota for Thanksgiving.

But, fear not, I will leave you with this to read, ruminate upon, and so forth.

My first "year of college" spanned several calender years. It began in the spring of 2002 and lasted until the spring of 2006, really. I mean, it didn't actually take me that long to become a sophomore, in fact I was a sophomore at the end of the fall 2005 semester, a sophomore by about six credit hours. But that's not the point. I didn't full-on start a sophomore year until I transferred to Webster in the fall of 2006.

I have attended three schools in my college career. The first of these, many of you know, was the University of Minnesota. I was not a conscientious student. I was barely a conscious student. It was a place to make friends and eat pizza and get drunk for me. And I did that very well. But what I have left from there is friendship, my wife, and a learning experience I could not have otherwise obtained if I had just buckled down and played the role of the usual college student.

Regardless, each school has provided for me friendship with people who have meant a great deal to me, many of whom still do. And actually, in the interim, when I wasn't in school during that five and a half year period that encompassed my "freshman year," I worked at Target, which in itself was a learning experience. I met a lot of wonderful people there, as well, who helped me grow as a person.

I could list all of these people. I should list all of them. But I hope you know who you are, because otherwise, this post will get ridiculously long. And we all know how much Molly loves my ridiculously long posts. And this one is already promising to be plenty long. But I do want to talk about somebody who had a profound effect on me. A lasting impression that I can't shake. And it's sad, really, to think about him, because I barely knew him. And I'll never get the chance to.

And I'm talking about a guy named Chase Korte. He was one of those guys that was known to pretty much everybody. Not that he wanted to be known, he just wanted to know everybody, and he was good at it. The first time I met him was on the bus from East Bank to St. Paul, and he quoted a line from Fight Club at me. And I recited the follow up perfectly. He invited me up to his room that night and we watched the film. It was a Wednesday. And then, not every Wednesday, but a lot of them, we would watch movies with a group of people. It was nice. It was a pleasant routine. It was, probably, the most consistent meeting I ever attended at the U of M that semester (my grades will reflect this).

He was a writer, an actor, a comedian. He was unique in a unique way. A run-in with Chase Korte always proved to be a memorable one.

He was killed in a car accident in February of 2007. About halfway through my sophomore year. Only I didn't hear about it right away. And I blamed some of my friends who knew him. I thought they had a responsibility to tell me about Chase's death. I felt forgotten and betrayed.

And then it hit me that none of them were even aware that I knew him. Because in the time it took them to finish college, I was still working through my freshman year. It wasn't that they didn't think I wouldn't's that it had been so long since I had seen any of them, and even longer since I had seen Chase, that perhaps our friendships had never crossed paths. I think back, and I can remember a few instances when other friends from Minnesota, those still have contact with, were present on a Wednesday night. But there were no regulars at the Wednesday Night Movie Club, other than me and Chase. And it was the only thing we did together. Of course nobody thought to tell me.

And the more I got to think about it, the more the memory of Chase kind of haunted me. I liked this guy, I considered him a friend, but I never once bothered to maintain contact with him. Nevermind laying any blame on him, because I never got the sense that he wouldn't have kept in touch. More than once my second semester at the U of M, I would be well on my way to passing another face in the crowd when that face would call my name and resolve itself into Chase Korte, asking me if I was free that Wednesday night for a showing of Pi, or The Big Lebowski, or Breaking Away. We just lost touch, as people do.

So the reason I bring this up at all, is because I have been thinking about some way to celebrate his memory. Facebook groups are out, because there are two of them already, created by people who hadn't lost touch. I wrote my first three day novel about the Wednesday Night Movie Club, but I discount that as a work of pure crap. But I felt I needed to do something, something for a friend I lost touch with. This idea began sometime in April, when I found out about his death. But I just couldn't decide what to do.

I had planned, for the second half of the semester project in playwriting, to write a comedy about an elevated terror level forcing Dick Cheney to move to an undisclosed location, and having that location be the basement of a suburban family comprised of a staunchly liberal woman, her politically aloof husband and their angst-ridden teenage son. It was going to open with Dick Cheney singing Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" in the basement as the teenage son got home (high, of course, having scored drugs from a friend), and let it go from there. But then I got to thinking about Chase again, which I hadn't done for a while, and then it occured to me what I should do. And so I present to you, in my standard "Tuesday Excerpt" format (on a Thursday evening), the first scene of my play.


from The Last Thing... October/November, 2007

Robert Forsyth, 25, tall and thin
Dexter MacKenzie, 24, very handsome

The living room of a one bedroom apartment in the Central West End of St. Louis. Hardwood floors, high ceilings. A kitchen through a large open doorway upstage left. The decorations have a distinctive Artsy-20-something feel; black and white photos, Toulouse Lautrec posters. A metal and black-glass coffee table center. Ikea furnishings. A modestly sized television. Loveseat, armchair. The table is a mess of opened mail.

An all-night coffee shop on the corner of Euclid and Laclede.

Scene 1

A dark stage. A knock on a door. Barely seen, dressed in flannel pants and a white tee, Robert Forsyth enters from stage right and runs into an unseen coffee table, grunting. He grabs at items on the table and comes up with a cell phone, which he opens. It illuminates the stage very little. Another knock.

Just a minute.

He walks over to the door stage left, and flips a light switch. The lights come up. He shuts the cell phone and opens the door. Enter Dexter MacKenzie, dressed like Brad Pitt from Fight Club.

Forsyth! What is up my lanky friend?
(bear hugs Robert)

(pulls away, looks quizzically at Dexter, shuts the door)
Where did you come from?

Ah, you know how it go and you struggle and you struggle...and you struggle...


No, I’m for real here. You struggle and finally, you catch that big break...contract...can I sit down?

(rubbing the sleep from his eyes)
Yeah, take a seat. Um...

Sorry, I know, out of the blue.
(sits on the loveseat)
Bet you didn’t expect this!

It’s Wednesday night, Dexter...I work, you know.

Not tomorrow, man. Call in sick, something.

I don’t-

You do.

No, I...
(he sits in the armchair)
It’s been, what...

Three years. Three looonnng years. Since Brussell’s party. Oh, hey, how is Brussell? That was the last time I saw him, too.

I don’t know...I haven’t talked to him in-

I’ll hit him up next. I mean, when I’m done here, I should just go to Minnesota. I probably should have gone there first, but, you know, whatever.

I’m...dreaming. I am still sleeping. Dexter MacKenzie is not in my living room.
(Dexter grabs the television remote from the cushion next to him and chucks it right at Robert)
Ow, fucker!
Sorry, you come all this way and I cuss you out.
(Robert holds the remote)
Wait, I’m apologizing to you? You threw a remote at me.

Had to be done, Robert. I...
(looking around)
A girl lives here.


I’m here. That’s what’s important.
I can tell. There’s a feminine touch about the place.
(gets up, inspects the place)

Aren’t you supposed to be in LA?

Thought you were coming out there, with your pages of scripts and your keen wit.
(continues his examination)

I got sidetracked.

Not me.
(his eyes rest on the table)
Ah, but she’s not here, is she?


The girl who lives here. She’s not here.

She doesn’t live here. I mean, not yet. I mean, she’s still tied up in her lease, but...

Have a fight? She in Chicago?

No, she’s...yeah. How did you know?

(points to a picture on the wall; a street scene)
There’s you and some guy, he’s got his arm around some girl, and that’s Daly Plaza behind you.

That’s...yeah, that’s, it’ name is Molly and his name, it’s something like Jack or something. I don’t know. But yes, she is in Chicago visiting Molly and Jack. It’’s not important, really. She’ll be home...Friday? Evening.

So she does live here. Or she calls this place home, at least.

What are you doing here.

I’ll tell you what I’m doing here.
(sits back on the couch, stares intently at Robert for a long, silent minute)
Getting thirsty. Please tell me you’ve got one of those pretentious microbrews you used to drag on about.

Yeah, I think I’ve got something. Maybe. I dunno.

Your authoritative stance on the issue is reassuring to say the least.
(leans forward, peers intently at Robert)
You okay?

I’m tired. It’s...what time is it? East Jesus o’clock in the morning. This late, when I’m this tired, time has no meaning. It just passes too quickly. All of a sudden, it’s dawn, the birds are chirping, the traffic picks up, the restaurant downstairs makes coffee, it’s time to go to work and I spend the rest of the day like a zombie.

(very serious)
Living dead, eh? That bad? You’re sure about that?

Dexter, what are you doing here?

I got the big call, man. My career; on the way up. You know? Trust me. I mean, the director and I had some creative differences, it was a real tough film.

So you actually made a film?

Give me back that remote.
(Robert tosses the remote back to Dexter)
(Dexter chucks it back at Robert)

Ow, Christ...Dexter!

Don’t say that like you’re surprised. You knew I had it in me. Destined for great things. Right?

Yeah, right, okay. Just stop throwing shit at me. What’s the film?

It’s called Peace Walker. I played a guy who’s got this brother.

Sounds deep.

No, no, listen. This brother goes off to fight in Iraq, right? And...what’s her name, by the way?

Who? The brother?

No...your live-in. The, what do you call her? Roommate? Girlfriend? Future Mrs. Robert Forsyth? What’s her name.

Andrea. She’s my girlfriend.

Gotcha. Did you check on the beer?

What? No, I...

(getting up)
I got it.
(exits to kitchen, from offstage)
So, the brother, he goes to Iraq, and before he goes, he and I have this big argument about why he’s going. It’s all very political. Oktoberfest beer?
(re-enters carrying two bottles of beer)

Yeah, so?

So it’s May.

I fail to see the problem. It’s cold. It’s never been opened. It’s been in the fridge for seven months. I don’t let beer get warm once it’s cold. I had one last week. It tastes better than it did in October.

Okay. Bottle opener?

Above the trash can, on the wall in the kitchen.

(exits to kitchen again, from offstage)
So, he tells me why he’s going, and then, well, you can predict this, he dies.

I think I’ve seen this movie. Except it was about Vietnam.

Ah, but this is just the first twenty minutes of the film.

(Dexter hands Robert a beer and sits back down on the loveseat)

So, it’s the day of the funeral, and I remember that my brother always wanted to go to Ireland, to visit the land where our mother’s father came from, but I hated my mother’s side of the family. And-

You get all of that in the first twenty minutes?

Roughly, it’s not really finished. So, I decide to visit Ireland, and walk from one end to the other and talk about peace.
(long pause)

That’s it?

Only I actually walked from like the Northern most part of Ireland to the Southern most part.

In the movie?

In real life!

For the movie?

The camera man quit. Most of the crew quit. Actually, in the end, it was just me and the director. Pretty fucking sweet, huh?

I guess I’ll have to see it.

Right. So, okay, so this...big. I mean...
Okay. This somewhat monumental thing happened to me. And before it all comes out, I mean...I wanted to precede the news, you know? And kind a tour. A kind of “Dexter MacKenzie, This is Your Life” sort of thing. Only...well, you know?

No. All I know is that you woke me up in the middle of the night. I mean, hell, I’m glad to see you. You look great for whatever ungodly hour it happens to be. I mean...
...I mean, you look like a million bucks is what. Jesus, aren’t you tired?

No. Come on, put some clothes on. I saw a coffee shop that was open a few blocks away. Throw on some shoes and a jacket, and when the time comes, call your boss and say you’ve got a terrible cold. Or, umm...does anybody you work with have small children?

What? Well, my boss does, but...

Great. I’ve noticed that people with small children will force you to stay home if you have a fever. Say you have a fever.


Say it!


No, say it! Say it now!

(beat, Dexter looks menacing)
Okay, alright. I have a fever.


I...I have a fever.

Can’t hear you!

(very loud)
I have a fever!

Thank you! Now...
Let’s finish our beers and go get coffee.
(lights out)


"The last thing I want to be is forgettable."
"...there's no freedom unless you're vulnerable first."
-both attributed to Chase Korte, 1982-2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Story Behind The Madness

For our first Christmas as a married couple, Kathy bought me a brand new Sony Vaio PCG-K35 lap top. Being the smart cookie that she is, she also purchased the three year extended warranty. This is important, trust me.

About seven months later, the right speaker cut out completely and one day, the left speaker cut out as well. No sound. So, I got it fixed. For free, per the terms of the warranty.

After that, I began having trouble with the plug where it went into the computer. Only when held at a certain angle would the power cord power my computer and charge the battery. One day, it stopped working altogether, so I took it in. It was fixed per the terms of the warranty.

Less than a month later, it stopped working again. This time, the plug itself was the problem. So that was replaced, again, for free.

A few months later, the batter stopped I got the battery replaced free.

The battery was goofy, though. Sometimes, it wouldn't charge unless you took it out and put it back in. And the DVD drive was wonky, too; Sometimes, you had to open it and close it five or six times before it would read a disc. And last Monday, the battery stopped charging altogether, because the plug was no longer providing power to the lap top. So, we took it in, paid for the back-up of data, and waited.

Meanwhile, I used Kathy's ancient home-built computer which is still running Windows ME (ew) and is slower than molasses in a freezer (and that's slow!). Last night, we called for an update because we figured, you know...a week...and they told us they had junked the computer, and we had to come in and pick out a new computer to replace it. For free.

So, we did just that. I picked out another Sony because we were constrained by the terms of the warranty to replace with a similar product. I got a VGN-NR180E, which from a distance apears to be trying its best to look like an Apple, but up close it's all textured and goofy. I think the screen is not as nice as the old one, but it's got more RAM, a larger hard drive, Vista (the old one ran XP), it burns dual layers (the old one only did single-layer), and most importantly, it weighs about a third of what the old one weighed. Seriously, my old one weighed quite a bit more than a normal lap top should, it was ginormous.

So...that's the story for the hiatus. And, I've got all my docs on here, Final Draft is installed and running, so I am back in action (just as soon as I figure out all of the Vista foibles).

Alright then. A return to things as they should have been. Coming this Friday...a Free Write Friday! So, give me your suggestions, please! And...GO!

Thursday, November 08, 2007


As in, my laptop died, and now I'm up a creek.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Your Questions Answered, Volume 5

Sporadic and unpredictable as my blog has become, I will not neglect a first weekend of the month Q & A session.

From "Your Questions Answered Volume 4: Blogapalooza Edition" on Saturday, October 20th, 2007:

Molly asked:

Why not pictures of broken drill bits? Why not photos of other urban types carrying man-purs.... er, messenger bags? Why not photos of the latest home project? Or the Sometimes impenetrable barrier? (or whatever that was...) Why not photos of ANYTHING?

This is a writing blog. I write stuff. I don't take pictures of stuff. Well, no, I do, but posting pictures on my blog is kind of a hassle. I know, I know, Maureen does it all the time. Well, without pictures, her blog wouldn't be nearly as fun to read. I like to think that my words help you create a picture in your head. And if you want to see the latest home improvement project, just come over. You know where I live. And the sometimes impenetrable barrier to which I refer is the sliding patio door.

From "Tuesday Excerpts" on Tuesday, October 23, 2007:

Annie asked:

Does that make any sense?

Annie, since you are fairly new to reading my blog, I'll go ahead and spare you my standard ridiculous answer to a question like this. Sufficed to say, what you said makes sense to me, but in the future, my answer will probably involved a stuffed giraffe and Ross Perot.

From "Musings" on Monday, October 29th, 2007:

A asked:

How did they get those special privelages!?

Well, they had to compromise...they live in Indiana and Arizona...

mGk asked:

So where is said post aye?

Arr, what's it to ya? Also, I posted several days late...

And that's about it, folks! Happy time change, and have a good week.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

(Tuesday) Excerpt

...several days late.

Today's excerpt comes from a play I wrote anonymously for class. And then they all had to guess who wrote it. And I had the class fairly split. Fair warning, it's about a cannibal. But, like, not Hannibal Lecter, more like...Frank Burns (from M*A*S*H, but the film version, not the television version) if he were a cannibal.


from "Confessions of a Conservative Murderer" by Anonymous (but really by me)

Aaron Michael Stevens, the titular character
Seth, a seventeen year old boy
Marie, a fifteen year old girl

A classic looking kitchen; black and white tile, updated appliances, pantry in upstage right corner, a counter running parallel to the front of the stage with barstools in front of it divides the kitchen in half. Present day. AARON stands with his back to the audience, looking in the refrigerator. SETH is crouched in between the barstools, unseen by AARON.

What is it with people in the suburbs not having anything ready to eat these days?

(He turns towards the audience, with a green can of parmesan cheese in one hand and a jar of pickle relish in the other)

I mean, really, it’s almost obscene.

(Seth cringes as Aaron approaches the counter and sets down the food)

You people should be ashamed of yourselves.

(he goes to the pantry and opens it, revealing Marie, tied up and with a look of fear in her eyes)

You hear me? Ashamed! Unless, I’m sorry…is this your house, or the boy’s house?


Don’t tell me you’re brother and sister…that makes things even worse.


It’s his house…his father’s house…not mine…

Oh, bacon bits!

(he pushes Marie to the side and grabs the bacon bits)

And French Fried onions!

(grabs both items, slams the door in Marie’s face, she whimpers and Seth jumps up to face Aaron, brandishing one of the barstools)

You sick fucking animal! Let her go!

Young man, you’re calling me an animal?

(Aaron calmly approaches Seth, who is noticeably quivering)

The way you were breathing when I found you, with your shirt off, and your hand down her pants…and you’re calling me an animal?

(he slams the items in his hands down on the counter, then easily wrestles the barstool from Seth’s grip)

I am not an Animal! I am a human being!

(throws the barstool to the ground, breaking it)

You are the animal, young man!

(Aaron grabs the now sobbing Seth, drags him over behind the counter, picks up a large knife from a nearby knife set, and as he slashes, Seth goes silent as the lights go out)

Lights up, same setting, a little later. Aaron is splattered with blood and fiddling behind the counter. Unless otherwise directed from here on out, Aaron’s lines are addressed directly to the audience.

Look, I know that a lot of people are going to throw out words like “insane” and “troubled” and “monster” and “death penalty” and stuff like that. They probably already do. And I know some day I’m going to get caught, but I’m doing the world a great service, here.

(he picks up the can of parmesan cheese, shakes some into his left hand, and sets it back down)

Think of it this way; law enforcement can’t enforce every law on its own, people just need to comply with some things. Well, unfortunately, not everybody does. And not everybody who doesn’t comply gets caught. If you follow me.

(he picks up the jar of bacon bits and shakes some on top of the cheese in his hand)

Well, there are some things that people just shouldn’t do, and they should get punished for it. I mean, for instance, murder of an innocent life. Yes, I’m talking about The Big One, Roe v. Wade, abortion. That’s why I killed that doctor out in Canton, Ohio. I was saving potentially hundreds of innocent lives by removing one guilty life from this world. That’s why I killed that so-called “Mother” outside the clinic in New Jersey. Sure, her blood stained my Doc Martens, but she herself was stained with the blood of the innocent. And the blood of the innocent doesn’t wash away quite so easily.

(he sniffs at the food in his hand, then adds some French fried onions to the pile)

But it’s not just that. I mean, I did a tour of VFW halls a while back. Like, ten, fifteen years ago. This is how I got started. I asked all these veterans about their experiences. And if they mentioned anything about murdering civilians in a casual tone…well, come on! That’s guilty right there. Almost the definition, worthy of Webster’s.

(produces a spoonful of pickle relish, which he drops into his hand. There is a noise from the pantry)

And that’s what got me started.

(shoves the food in his hand into his mouth, dropping a good deal, after which he cleans himself off with a napkin and then walks over to the pantry, opening the door)

Is everything alright in here? You comfortable?


Okay then. I just have one question; were you comfortable when I found you?

(silence, aside from Marie’s quiet sobs)

I’ll let you think about that one some more.

(he slams the door, returns to the counter)

Now after a little while, I realized I was committing a sin. I was guilty of something. What could I do? Well, you see, I felt remorse. A little bit, anyway. I felt conflicted. I mean, on the one hand, I was leaving earthly remains to be found for burial, you know, to give solace to the bereaved. But what right had they to be bereaved? To mourn for a guilty soul? Please. I was guilty of waste. And you know what they say? “Waste not, want not.” And being the self-appointed Hand of God doesn’t pay very well, especially when you’re always on the move. So…

(there is a beep)

Oven’s preheated, okay. Well, the secret to cooking a teenage boy is to only cook the good parts. Luckily, this one must be a track star, because his legs are nice and meaty. Maybe a swimmer, since it seems like he shaved his entire body.


Although that may have something to do with his plans for this afternoon.

(returns to the pantry, opens the door, speaks to Marie)

Was today your first time?
N…No. He…keeps count. I think it was our seventh.

Oh, mercy. Well…do you have an answer to my first question?

…I never…never enjoyed it. I was never comfortable.

But did you want to be doing it?

(silence, Marie shakes her head “yes”)

I was afraid of that.

(she screams, he pulls her forward, puts her head on the ground in between the door and the door frame, and slams the door several times, the last time getting splattered with a little bit more blood as her screams get silent and the lights go out)

Lights up. It is several moments later. Aaron is splattered with still more blood. Steam rises from pots on the stove, which he stirs occasionally during the final scene.

So I find that hotbeds of sin are high schools. Oh my Good Lord! Kids lying, sneaking out of school, stealing from teachers and from each other, it’s amazing! Wait ten minutes outside of a high school, and you can bet most every law has been broken once within those walls while you stood there waiting. I would love to purge an entire high school of sinners…but people would catch on and then invariably, somehow or other, I would be pegged as the bad person. But I always leave a note. I explain it. I never steal anything, other than a little bit of food. I always put everything in the dishwasher after I use it. I always clean up as best I can. Because that’s what it’s about…making things clean.


So this afternoon, I was strolling past a high school and noticed these two young kids, a boy and a girl, hurrying away. They got into a car, the boy was driving, so I followed them as best I could and found them here. They were kissing all the way into the front door and they forgot to lock it, which was fortunate for me. And for them too, because now they’re getting their rewards. And I get to eat. I waited a few minutes, then entered, and I heard them making some noise, and I found them…well, you can imagine. And the boy, the coward, picked up the girl and threw her towards me, then rushed out of the room. Well…talk about cowardice. But I knew he hadn’t left, because I can always tell. And sometimes, in these situations, there is one willing and one unwilling participant. And it appeared that he was certainly willing, but I wasn’t sure about her. And I wanted him. So, I tied her up in the pantry, gave her the benefit of the doubt.


Silly of me, really. I’ve seen enough to know that I have seen too much. I should have known she was a willing participant. Well, you live and you learn, I suppose. And I found him, he confronted me. Ha! But I got him! Oh, I got him.


The secret is to cook quickly. You can’t take time to savor, especially when somebody else might walk in and find you. But I spoke to the girl for a moment, she said the boy’s father is away on business, which is why they chose this house for their, um, rendezvous. So today, I can really take the time. I’ve got the boy slow roasting, I’ve got bits of her slowly simmering in a stew…it’s such a nice day, I wish I could go outside and barbecue. But that might arouse some suspicion, and, as I said, I have to keep low. Some people don’t appreciate what I do. Some people might think I’m a monster. But I do what I have to. I’m cleaning the world and surviving. Surviving.

(dips a spoon into the largest pot, tastes the stew, then reaches over and adds French fried onions or bacon bits or pickle relish, whichever is closest, as lights fade)



"It's grift sense; I mean, you can search high and low all day, but to no avail. Without grift sense, you're never going to find that lemon." - Murray Farish

Friday, November 02, 2007

I Knew You Guys Cared...

...but it seems that I don't.

Well, so it goes. Busy, busy busy. Busy.

No excuse, though, I'll be the first to admit. There will be a substantial blog later today, I absolutely promise, along with my Tuesday Excerpt Halloween Edition, but for now, this is all you get. For real.

Well, except that you get an addendum to my Media post of a couple weeks ago by saying that when I'm not listening to NPR, there's a station here in St. Louis I listen to called The Arch which is, like most radio, hit-or-miss but if you stick with it you get a good smattering of music. They won't repeat a song at all for a whole day, but when you listen to it, it certainly seems like there are songs they play twenty-four hours and two seconds after the last time they played it. Like stuff they've got to get in every day, you know?

But when I'm in the mood for music, and it's not time for World Cafe and The Arch isn't cutting it, and my I-Tunes playlist needs some new greenery...that's when I go for one of two sources. First, if I haven't caught the latest show I check out All Songs Considered, thus fulfilling my NPR nerdliness and listening to some cool music. Or, as is most often the case, I turn to Pandora Internet Radio (which of course I found through a story on All Things Considered), and it does the trick. My readers in foreign climes may be out of luck for checking it out, it seems that the licensing agreement makes it so that you can only listen to it if you're in the US (but how do they know? Domestic spying?), but if you live in the states, check it out. Plug in your favorite artist or song and you will be amazed at what you find. It's pretty sweet. What are you waiting for? Go now!

Okay, more to come. No Free Write Friday, sorry, I need my creative juices for class and for Surfacing, but soon...soon. Next week. Promise.

Monday, October 29, 2007


So, nobody seems to have noticed/cared that I didn't blog on Friday? Even though I said I was going to?

Well, we went out of town this weekend, so we were busy shopping (unsuccessfully) for Halloween costumes and then packing/cleaning up a bit, so it slipped my mind. Sorry. Bad blogger.

I'm going to ask you all a question, and I hope I get some responses here. I wrote a short play that is very dark, disturbing, and horrific. I am debating whether or not I should post it as my excerpt tomorrow. I mean, it's Halloween time, it makes sense...but on the other hand, it may shock and disturb some of you. Well...I think I'll do it, unless I get a lot of "Don't post a horror play! No! Ah! I'll hate you forever!" answers. So, if you do or do not want to see it, let me know.

As I was driving home from Chicago Sunday, my passenger side blinker decided to go all crazy. Instead of the steady "click, clack, click, clack..." it's now become a hyperactive five year old "clickclackclickclackclickclack!!!!" Hmm. Any ideas there?

Still waiting for more answers to my question about novels. Go figure. I think I'm going to take the answers I get and if I haven't read them, put them on my "To Read" list (under the pile of plays and books for class).

So, as I mentioned earlier, we went to Chicago this weekend, had a grand time. Played some cards, finally played some Wii (I'm so-so with the bowling and terrible at golf), and sacrificed my health in the hopes of winning the McDonalds Monopoly game. I didn't. All we won is more food, which I don't want to eat any more of. Ever. Period. Again. EVER! Just to drive home the point, since I am feeling so blah about fast food right now, I should read Fast Food Nation again and then swear off fast food for life. Sounds like a good plan.'s Halloween week. What are you going to be dressed up as? I gather lots of people went to parties this past weekend...that's what I was doing in Chicago..but what's the 2007 costume? I went as The Yellow Jersey, complete with leg warmers, cycling socks, helmet, sunglasses, (no spandex shorts, those get way too uncomfortable to wear at a party, trust me), gloves, stuffed Lion (some of you know what I'm talking about there)...and some syringes. Just call me Bjarne Riis (ooh dang!). Kathy went as a 50's housewife, complete with hairnet, apron, and wooden spoon. It was all good.

I'm at work...and the work computer says it's 12:25 when it is clearly not. I hope that whoever gets elected as president in 2008 repeals the stupid Bush Daylight Savings reform. Worthless, really. It should just go away.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


In the hub-bub of posting my excerpt and asking your favorite novels, I forgot to ask for Free Write Friday suggestions! Ah! Quick, get those in! And keep answering my "What's your favorite novel?" question. And I find it hilarious that Molly loved the book Trout Fishing in America when I can guarantee you that of all the people I know, Molly is one of the least likely to actually go trout fishing anywhere.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tuesday Excerpts

...and the verdict? You get something else, and not my play. Because we didn't get around to reading mine today.

Today's excerpt is an entire piece for playwriting this semester. It's just a monologue, so enjoy!


August 2007

Scene is the bench at a softball field. It is Sunday night, and Andy, a tall 34 year old man, is watching his team play while he takes his turn at the bench. He has a Bud Select in hand.
(yelling throughout)
Let’s go, Know Skills, let’s go! One-two-three, come on, just like they got us last inning, we can do it!
Back, Mary, Kathy, Steve, Paul! Back up, this guy’s got power. Steve, watch that line! Watch the line!
Good pitch there, Mark, little higher, little higher, looked good from here.
(pause, the crack of a bat)
Go! Steve, run! STEVE! STEVE!
(pause, his face gets intense)
(under his breath)
(yelling again)
That’s okay, way to hold him at three, way to hold him. Elliot, play’s coming to you. Mark, Joe, Marybeth, check the runner at third, get the girl at first. Outfield! Move in! In! IN, STEVE, IN! PAUL, IN!
(to himself, but with a big smile)
Christ, bunch of five year olds.
(weak crack of the bat, yelling again)
Check him, Mark, check him. GET IT ELLIOT!
Good throw, good throw, good play to first, Mark.
(to his left)
They got one, Mom. Mom, they got one. Mom, are you still keeping score? Okay, Dad, they got one.
(back to the game, top of his lungs)
(crack of bat, under his breath)
Fucking left field!
(pause, to his left)
One more, Dad.
(back to the game)
Alright, Know Skills, one down, come on, easy out easy out! Move in outfield, move in, Elliot, play’s coming to you at first.
(crack of the bat)
Way to hold her, Know Skills, shake it off.
(looks at batter approaching)
Move back, outfield! Way back. Steve, watch that line! Back! Keep going. Let’s go, Mark, make him want it!
(crack of the bat)
Mark! That’s you! Catch it!
(pause, Andy gets wild)
(claps wildly)
Alright team, alright. Mark, you’re up, then Kathy, then Elliot. Let’s go, Know Skills, let’s string some runs together.
(pointing as he says names)
Mark, Colleen, good play out there. Elliot, Steve, Marybeth, Kathy. Lookin’ good. Let’s have some fun.
Well, okay, let’s win and have some fun, guys. Let’s go team! Who wants a beer?


You guessed it...softball! Yay! And now I have a question for all of my readers: What's your favorite novel? I will answer that same question for you all on Friday. Until then!

Pen names are masks that allow us to unmask ourselves. -C. Astrid Weber

Monday, October 22, 2007


Like most people, I am surrounded by media on a daily basis. What do I mean, daily...I should say on a secondly basis. I mean, even my blog is media. I get specific, tailor-made advertisements inserted by Google into every e-mail and search I do. I drive down the highway and get bombarded by billboards. Even Bi-State buses have ads for "Scrubs" on channel 46 (which I don't even get, for some reason, even with our new gigantic television, which is another source of media). A lot of people complain about this, which I think is hilarious.

Look, I know you don't always have a choice, but if you don't want to watch "Desperate Housewives" then don't watch it. Billboards and Bus ads are a little different, I don't want anyone driving with their eyes closed, but the fact remains that as a consumer of media you can choose which television stations and/or programs you watch, you choose what to read and what not to read (although it seems a lot of people choose not to read anything these days...thankfully if you're reading this, you're not in that group...see Annie's blog on Illiteracy andAlliteracy ), you choose which websites to visit, which radio stations to listen to, and so forth. So what is the problem? Why do people get so up in arms about something they find offensive in the media? Granted, I don't think that there should be graphic murders, hardcore sex and f-bombs being dropped on NBC, because let's face it, some things appeal to only so many people (although, it should say something that the annual profits for the pornographic film industry often trump those of the family film industry, yet we all hate it and want it to go away...there's a large swath of hypocrisy to make up for in there, or maybe a "Silent Majority" who love porn?), but if a show like "CSI" is too bloody for you, then don't watch it. If a show like "Desperate Housewives" is too racy for you, then don't watch it. If a show like "Arrested Development" is too smart for should still watch it, so those of us that like it can continue to enjoy it.

But I'm done with Arrested Development lamentations. It is gone. I own it on DVD. I can enjoy it whenever I want (provided my sister returns it). You can see the point I'm getting at. There is such a thing in this country as a Free Press, which is a misnomer now; because when this country was founded nobody could foresee radio, television, or the Internet. Clearly. But that's part of what makes the Constitution so awesome; it's completely open-ended and flexible and living. "Freedom of the Press" refers now to all media in general.

The term "press" obviously comes from the printing press, which was used to (just as the name suggests) print things. Newspapers, leaflets,flyers , books, magazines, whatever. Even copies of The Constitution. The word "Press" became synonymous with those who work for news organizations and other print media, so, when a person gave a news conference, it was called a "Press Conference." We still call it that sometimes, because the word "Press" means Journalists in general, be they print, web or broadcast. And “journalist” is a term that has broadened through the ages. Somebody writing a monthly "Do-It-Yourself" garden feature in Martha Stewart's magazine is a journalist now. But it's all freedom of the press.

There isn't anything that sparked this post, just a feeling I've been having lately. And having surrounded myself with media I am comfortable with, I feel enlightened.

For the record, I get my news through several sources. NPR, which I think is the best source for news. NBC Television, which has a liberal slant that I will admit to enjoying, but which I feel emphasizes a lot of bad news, with a token "Feel Good" story to sign off with. Google News, because it actually culls many sources so I can get Fox's conservative slant that I also enjoy just for the sheer hilarity of it sometimes, for all the sports news I could ever find useful, and Daryl Cagle's Professional Cartoonists index. I know, I know...that is not news. But it's a take on the news, and the cartoonists Cagle has on his website cover the spectrum from left to right, so I can see what kind of opinions are being read in different publications. This has actually been a daily addiction now, and I am going to go ahead and link it up on my Clicks menu. You should check it out. If you have the time, the "Year in Review" section is worth a look, it goes back to 2002, and it's funny to look back on the events and think about them in terms of what's happening today. For example, I found one in 2005 that was a drawing of a building with a bomb falling on it. The building was labeled "Hilary Clinton For President 2008," with a text bubble coming from it that said, "What could possibly stop us?" The bomb was labeled "Barrack O-BOMB-A 2008!" And recently, there was a drawing ofObama standing in the middle of a circus ring with his head inside the mouth of a vicious lion that was, by any measure of lion behavior, about to bite down with undeniable pleasure.Obama was saying, "Nothing's going to stop me!" The lion was, of course, labeled "Hilary '08." Interesting how the times change, huh? There's a lot in the 2006 Year in Review about the Iraq Study Group's report, some portraying it as advocating a policy of cowardly retreat and surrender, and others depicting it as going in one of Bush's big ears and out the other.

But my favorite one that I've found so far was a drawing of Bush sitting in the oval office, reading a newspaper with a headline "False Intelligence Led to Iraq Quagmire" or something like that, and Bush (who is always drawn by his detractors with these humongous ears) is leaning back, his Pinocchio nose having pushed through the newspaper and towards the edge of the frame, and he says, "I hate the way cartoonists keep drawing my ears."

Anyway, that's my rant for the day. Don't like it, don't watch it. I am all for the regulation of certain content, and I believe the rating systems for television and film are adequate responses from the industries to public concerns, but "The Sopranos" being on HBO is not going to make your six year old want to go whack one of his classmates, and "Desperate Housewives" is not going to make your fourteen year old daughter obtain a false sense of morality; not if the parents govern what their children watch.

This almost got me going on the topic of parent/child relationships. That should be saved for another day, I suppose. Sufficed to say, if you have a child and you don't want them to be raised purely by their educators and the media, then take an interest yourself. Because the best educators a child has are his or her parents. If you neglect them, they will neglect whatever you have to say. I see the way my sister and her husband pay attention to their daughter, and I hope they never stop paying that much attention to her. They're beyond decent people, and I'm not just saying that because I'm related to them. If they care for their daughter the next seventeen and a half years with the same amount of devotion and love and caution they've given her the last (almost) six months, they'll have a wonderful daughter who will only be slightly corrupted into liking Star Trek, NPR and bicycling by her slightly off-the-wall uncle Elliot.

Okay...really...I am done. Except to say that today on NPR, on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, she spoke with David Grohl, former Nirvana drummer and current front man and founder of The Foo Fighters. I grew up listening to Nirvana, and when Dave Grohl emerged from Kurt Cobain's suicide with The Foo Fighters, it opened up a whole new world of music for me. I learned how to play guitar by reading the tab from The Foo Fighters' first album. I researched the lives of Foo Fighter band members William Goldsmith and Nate Mendel and through them found their old band Sunny Day Real Estate. I'd say musically, in my life, the most important album I ever bought was probably "The Colour and the Shape" by The Foo Fighters, which (to my shock and surprise) was just reissued for its Tenth (!!) anniversary over the summer.Grohl himself is actually very articulate, intelligent, and speaks of his time with Nirvana in a wistful yet somber tone. It's clear from listening to him that he owes a great deal of The Foo Fighters' initial success to his celebrity as Nirvana's drummer (and also to former Foo Fighters guitarist PatSmear's short tenure as Nirvana's rhythm guitarist on their final tour), but when you listen to their albums (with the possible exception of "There Is Nothing Left To Lose" which is quite possibly the worst Third Album ever made, yielding three good songs, all of which saturated airwaves and infected television shows for years), there is no denying that this quartet has earned their fame. Don't believe me? Listen to "Times Like These" on their fourth album "One By One" and tell me it's not an amazing song. I dare you. And neglect the fact that 'Dubya used it at his 2004 campaign rallies...Grohl was so furious, he began actively campaigning for Kerry.

Anyway, this is why I listen to NPR, because you get the news, and you get interviews with artists, musicians, writers, and pretty much a broad spectrum from all walks of life. Have you heard of "This I Believe?" You should check it out. Normal people like you and I have a chance to let our voices be heard. I have been working on an essay for "This I Believe" for a couple of years...I just want it to be perfect, you know? Actually, I haven't started writing it...just thinking about it. I think that's a good writing project for winter break.

One last thing before I sign off for the day; I have been asked by the Three Day Novel board (via mass e-mail, not anything special) if I will be participating inNaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which is a month-long version of the Three Day Novel contest. I will respectfully decline this year, especially due to the fact that November is pretty much the meatiest part of the semester for me, and already jam packed full of birthdays and Thanksgiving, I just can't devote an entire month to writing a novel this year. And next year is my senior year...but 2009, I think I'll give it a try. I mean, if I can do it in three days, I can probably do it in a month, right? Yeah, just so long as I can make that my focus...

Alright, I've gone on long enough. Hope you all had a good Monday, have a great week, and check back tomorrow for a Tuesday Excerpt. I'll give you a little teaser, okay?

The last playwriting class assignment (due tomorrow) was to write a short play titled "The Confessions of _________." I am supposed to fill in the blank, obviously. It's supposed to have a horror theme, and include the line "I am not an animal! I am a human being!" And I am not supposed to write my name on it. We are supposed to guess. If somebody in my class does guess correctly, tomorrow evening you will see the entire play up here. If'll get something else entirely.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Difference

Well, another Fall Break has come and gone, and for those unfortunate enough to have never had a Fall Break, let me tell you that it is not anything like Spring Break. You see, while Spring Break was out getting tattooed, drunk, and losing its virginity to some blond football player named Todd from Alabama in a hotel room in Cancun, Fall Break was at home in it's bedroom reading a book, drinking tea and going out at night with a couple of close friends to a coffee shop for some intensive discussion on world hunger, politics, and global warming. So really, if you're into the traditional Spring Break scene and want a fall counterpart, you're not missing much. Here's a list of the normal things associated with Spring Break, and the closest correlating Fall Break activity:

Spring Break: Picking out a hot new swimsuit for the beach.
Fall Break: Folding up your summer T-shirts and getting out those bulky sweaters your acquaintances all say look "frumpy."

Spring Break: Buying cheap plane tickets to some MTV-infested tropical getaway.
Fall Break: Buying an extra tank of gas while you head north for a day trip to check out the foliage.

Spring Break: Unbelievable parties that last until four in the morning.
Fall Break: A Star Wars, Lord of the Rings or Indiana Jones marathon that lasts until four in the morning.

Spring Break: Hooking up for wild sex with a stranger you just met at the club/beach/pool/party/standing outside your hotel room.
Fall Break: Hooking up your old Nintendo to see if you can break your old time record for Super Mario Brothers

Spring Break: Blink 182 concert (or other such band, whoever you want, it doesn't have to be Blink 182, but I need the name for the set up of the joke).
Fall Break: Blink 182 times because while you were getting the paper, the neighbor's leaf blower blew some dust in your eye.

Spring Break: Two words: Body Shots.
Fall Break: ...Body Shots. You have to have some fun on Fall Break.

Spring Break: Teachers say, "Enjoy your break, I'll see you in a week."
Fall Break: Teachers say, "Read these three chapters, write a rough draft of your next paper, and there might be a quiz on that novel you also need to finish before class on Monday."

Spring Break: Beer Showers and Vodka Baths.
Fall Break: Hot showers and chamomile baths.

Spring Break: Hot babes in swimsuits, hunky guys with their shirts off.
Fall Break: That fat guy who works at the bakery at the grocery store hits on you at the bank...whether you're a guy or a girl.

Spring Break: Number One Summer Jams make their debut.
Fall Break: Number One Summer Jams finally get replaced on the radio by...Christmas shopping ads...

Spring Break: Late night beach bonfires.
Fall Break: After collecting all the fallen branches from the backyard, you pile them into the fire pit on the patio in preparation for a bonfire, only for it to rain all day and soak the sticks through.

Spring Break: Drunk dialing all of your friends who couldn't make it to the wild trip and bragging about how great a time you're having.
Fall Break: Blogging about how Fall Break is exceedingly dull when compared to Spring Break, at least by some standards.

Spring Break: Coming home hungover, jet lagged, and not ready to face the last eight weeks of the semester.
Fall Break: No hangover, no jet lag, but still not ready to face the last eight weeks of the semester. And your homework didn't get done.

And there you have it, folks.

I hope you enjoyed this week's Blogapalooza. From the thousands of comments I Ones? Severals? From the comments I got, I seem to have caught people off guard with my sudden emergence from my blog cave. Well, that should just go to show that you should check my blog more often, so that you can actually see when I update. And as promised, starting tomorrow, there will be every week a Monday, Tuesday and Friday blog (I have class Wednesday and Thursday evenings) plus a monthly "Your Questions..." blog the first Saturday of every month. So keep thinking about Free Write Friday suggestions, I will call for them on Tuesdays from now on, and look for my Tuesday Excerpts, and as clean socks?

Until tomorrow, fair reader(s), and in the immortal words of Edward R. Murrow, Good Night and Good Luck.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Your Questions Answered Volume 4: Blogapalooza Edition

Let it be known that I have broken three drill bits today.

Did I tell everybody that we bought a 50 inch widescreen plasma HDTV?

Who wants to come over tomorrow and watch The Money Pit.

Not the movie.

From the post "YesNoYesNoYes" on Tuesday, September 4th, 2007:

Molly asked:

When do I get to see it?

When it gets published, Mom. Or, I mean, if you want to donate your printer paper and ink to the cause...I really don't want to print out another 101 pages if it can be avoided.

From the post "Wow, Really When It Rains..." on Tuesday, September 12th, 2007:

Molly asked:

Who knew we had those in St. Louis?

Well, considering how many times I have been pulled over for having a headlight out, it seems we have them ALL THE FREAKING TIME!

Becca asked:

Wow, I feel safer now that St. Louis police officers are so concerned with burnt out headlights instead of capturing, oh, i don't know - say, real criminals?

Now how is that a question, Becca? Plus, how does that make you feel safer? You're in New Zealand, it's day there when it's night here.

mGk asked:

Fall off the face of the earth much?

You're one to talk. Yes, I said it.

From "Work work work, work work work work, work work work work work. Oh, and school." on Friday, September 21st, 2007:

mGk asked:

What did You Tube ever do to you?

...I'm not even sure what this question was in reference to. When did I knock You Tube? I mean, it's ridiculous how many people are getting famous from acting stupid in You Tube videos, and it's even more ridiculous that I am not getting famous for this mediocre blog, but no, I have nothing against You Tube. I think you got your comments lines crossed.

Becca asked:

Shouldn't I have a blog too?

Yes. The other nice thing is that every time you send out photo albums, I can't remember my password for whatever site it is you use, so on a blog, you could just post pictures right there. I know that I don't, but what do you want? Pictures of my writing? That would be silly and a waste of time for all of us. But you should have a blog. It would be easier to keep tabs on you.

From "Photographie" on Thursday, October 4th, 2007:

Annie asked:


Ah, yes, this was in relation to me wanting to find somebody that could do a back flip. I subsequently answered this in the comments section, not because I thought I would never do another one of these Q & A sessions, but because it was very important at the time. But what I eventually did was took a couple pictures of Kathy jumping off of a swing instead. Not quite the same, but neat results nonetheless.

mGk asked:

What about someone jumping on a bed...

That would have been cool, except in our bedroom because our ceilings are so low and there's a fan right there, it sounded like a bad idea, and I wouldn't have gone to your house to photograph you doing that, Mo (or Kev as the case may be) because that's a bad influence on my niece...and being a bad influence on my niece is not your job, it's mine, so in order to perseve the natural order of things, I would have to be the one jumping on the bed, and it would have been hard to take the picture then, unless I used the timer, but then it would still need to be fairly I decided against it. Thanks for the suggestion, though.

From "Fall Break = Blogapalooza!" on Monday, October 15th, 2007:

TECHNICALITY NOTE; Becca asked a plethora of questions, but they were all intended to spark a Free Write Friday, so I am leaving them out. Becca, if you really want me to answer those questions, say so, I'll do it for real. But, in addition...

Becca asked:

What is your stance on global warming? What are you personally willing to do to reduce your carbon footprint?

Did you finish the magic 8 ball story?

Do you think money is the root of all evil, and capitalism is the devil?

Global Warming is a major problem, and something I don't know that any country as a whole is doing enough to combat but clearly we need to do something. Personally, I would love to ride my bike everywhere that I can, unfortunately it's just not feasible with my current job. I would also love to switch to solar energy for the house and get a hybrid. No, I never did finish the Magic 8 Ball Story, but I've filed it in my "To Do" folder. No, money is not the root of all evil and capitalism is not the devil. I just think a lot of evil people have a lot of the money, and capitalism has no business in the business of healthcare and education. There, I said it.

Annie asked:

How are people so self-obsessed and distracted that they miss a gaggle of pedestrians?

He was driving a Hummer in downtown Clayton. Enough said.

Molly asked:

Is Waylon gay?

Are you kidding? Waylon Jennings? Definitely not.

From "Tuesday Excerpt; Blogapalooza Edition!" Tuesday, October 16th, 2007:

Becca asked:

Why must you dis the mojito?

Because it's the drink of the moment. That's why. If it were vodka tonics, then the vodka tonic would be shown no mercy.

From "Thursday Thursday Thursday" Thursday, October 18th, 2007:

Gerald asked:

When did you start carrying a purse?

Since when did you start, um...YOUR MOM! Haha...that one's goin' in the catalogue.

Anonymous asked:

Little late this evening, huh?

Eat it, Anony.

Free Write Friday...half an hour late...

Sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry.

Long work week + Home improvement project = I forgot.

This week's suggestion comes from an Anonymous Contributor, who just recently left their comment.

Okay, sorry gang, but I just wasn't feeling the suggestions this week. So I anonymously suggested my own. I know that sounds like it breaks the spontaneous spirit of Free Write Friday, but in all honesty (and we're talking 100% honesty here), I came up with it on the spur of the moment.

Becca, if I didn't alienate my readers before, I certainly have now...

But I make this promise to you all; a blog every Monday and a return of the two weekly features at the very least. I no longer have a Monday night class, and Tuesday excerpts don't really require much work on my part (well, beyond the writing of the piece from which I am excerpting, but that's most likely already been done prior to the posting, otherwise, wouldn't it just be Free Write Tuesday?), and Free Write Fridays because I know you all enjoy them so much (right? RIGHT?) So, yeah. Here goes.

This week's winning suggestion comes from Anonymous, who wins nothing for his or her shameful and cowardly anonymity:

How about a short short story about a cat that can't figure out where his owners went for the evening.



Friday, October 19th, 2007

They leave. They leave and it's lonely and I get scared. And right now, they've left yet again.

What's worse, though, is that sometimes they leave without checking to make sure that there's food for me to eat, like this time, they forgot to check, and there isn't any. Maybe they went to get me some. But they don't ever say anything to me, I mean...ever. They make noise and all, and I can tell they're trying to communicate...and I can understand them sometimes, like I'm pretty sure they mean me when they say, "Harris," and sometimes the male one who smells like a thousand different places tries to talk in my language, but all he ends up saying are things like, "The door," and "Ever persistent odor of centipede" and my favorite "I marked that spot already." I don't think he knows what he's saying.

But I know they didn't leave to get some, because last night the female one who smells like The Outside brought home an entire bag of the stuff they feed me. I don't know, though. Maybe they forgot about me.

I hate it when they go to The Outside, because they always come back smelling just a little bit different, like they go to some other place. They come home smelling like other cats, too, which doesn't make me jealous, except that they smell like The Little Female of Five Fingers whom I've met and don't like, or they smell like The Spotted One Who Protects Her Water, who wouldn't let me have a drink when we met. And there's another cat I can't place, whom I've never met. And dogs, sometimes. Smelly, rotten, stinky, scary big dogs.

They didn't even leave any water for me in the Little Room of Water. Sometimes, I lay down in the Upper Water Holder, because I fit in there so well. I never go into the Middle Water Holder, because that one has a lid, but there is always water in there. I also never go in the Lower Water Holder, because it holds too much water. I can drink water just fine out of the Upper Holder, but the Lower Holder is only for immersion in water. I've never been a fan of that, let me tell you.

I've been pacing The Rooms for a long time now. Through the First Room of Food, with no food or water for me, into the Second Room of Food with it's table on which they put their food, but there's none there. I've slept on my chair, his chair, her large and long chair, gone to Their Room of Sleep, gone to the Secondary Room of Sleep, and still they haven't returned. Maybe this time, they have left me for good.

Sometimes, they take me to The Outside. That scares me. It's big, there are so many smells. There are two Outsides, though. There is The Big Outside, which is through the door they always go through, and then there's The Little Outside, which is through the Almost Perpetual Barrier Door which only they can open, but I can always see through. I like going to The Little Outside, because there is less noise. But there are lots of other animals, and sometimes, through the Almost Perpetual Barrier, I see other cats. But they are never there when I get out there.

Sometimes, they take me to their Transportation Boxes, and I really get scared. They always take me to The Building of Interminable Misery, which smells like a thousand animals, and there is always another person who jabs me with strange, very long claws, and a lot of times afterwards, The Male and The Female try to give me extra drinks and foods that do not taste good, yet they insist I take, even going so far as to holding me down until I swallow.

But it has been a while since any of that has happened. And now, they're gone. I don't know if they're ever coming back, and the only things to eat are kept where only they can get to. Perhaps I'll starve. Or perhaps that Transportation Box I hear somewhere on The Outside contains them. I should run to the Always Perpetual Barrier overlooking the flowers, and see if I can see them.



Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thursday Thursday Thursday

I have a feature where I answer questions, but I do not meet certain comments head on. But this week, I think I will. I'll be answering some comments people left for me in the past.

A messenger bag is not a man purse. It is a messenger bag. If I were to coordinate it with my outfits, it would become a man purse. But I do not coordinate. Yet.

If there is a string of Mojito Related deaths in New Zealand, I know nothing about it.

Brevity is not for me. I have already discussed this.

Cats doing back flips would be hilarious. And is if you search it on youtube.

I spend a lot of time in the city, but it's all during the day, so no cops would pull me over even in Webster.

Okay, this is no fun. Really, my point here was that my messenger bag is not a man purse. It's more of a soft briefcase with a strap.

Okay. So we're clear:

purse (n) a woman's handbag or pocketbook.

I don't care how selective with my definitions you think I'm being, but that is the standard definition of purse.

From Wikipedia:

"A messenger bag (also called a courier bag) is a type of sack, usually made out of some kind of cloth (natural or synthetic), that is worn over one shoulder with a strap that winds around the chest resting the bag on the lower back. Messenger bags are often used by bicycle messengers, though they are increasingly becoming an urban fashion icon."

And there you go. It does not say anywhere that it is a purse.

Okay. That's out of the way.

I played on a softball team this fall with Kathy and a large group of my boss' family and friends. And we were absolutely terrible. Well, no to be fair, not terrible. We onl got shut out the one time. Nineteen to nothing. Yikes.

But we all know what adult coed recreational softball leagues are not about winning, they are about having fun, drinking beer, and pretending like you're a good athlete. But we're not really good athletes. Well, except for that one team...the girls were better hitters than anybody on our team. Better hitters than the guys on their team. In fact, they were the best hitters we faced in the league.

How is that even fun for that team, though? There's no challenge to every week crushing your opponent in a rec league. I mean FO REAL!!

Sorry this is so disjointed. I promise tomorrow's Free Write Friday will be better. Just a reminder om that:

Give me a character, a situation, and a format (short story/play) and I will run with it. And keep asking questions! It'll be a good time.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Being the Writer I Want to Be...

So I know on Monday's preview I promised politics but I changed my mind.

So, previously promised politics pardoned (that is called an alliteration), I will instead embark upon some musings about being a writer, and what it means to me when I tell people that I am a writer.

What happens in life a lot is that you meet somebody and they ask, "What do you do?" It's a kind of test to see if you have anything instantly interesting about you to spark further conversation. Such as:

Bob: What do you do?

Carlos: I'm an actor.

You see, this sparks a lot of conversation, because Bob wants to know a little more.

Bob: Oh? What have you been in? Anything I've seen?

Carlos: Do you watch Internet porn?

Bob: I thought you looked familiar.

Which, of course, brings up all sorts of further questions about Carlos and any number of questions about Bob.

When I used to get asked this question, it would often go like this:

New Person: What do you do, Elliot?

Me: I work at Target.

New Person: Oh. Sounds interesting.

And they would wander off in search of somebody else. Then, it became a minor detail in my life when I decided to relabel myself.

New Person: What do you do?

Me: I'm a writer.

New Person: Really? What have you written? Anything I would have read lately?

Me: Do you read Internet porn?

New Person: I thought your language patterns sounded familiar!

Me: I also work at Target, but that's not really how I define myself.

New Person: Oh, well, you have to pay the bills somehow.

Me: Yeah, true that. So what do you do?

New Person: I'm an actor...

See? See how much more conversation we got out of that? I would also mention that I am in school, which would further it even more from my end. It's not that I actually had any more to offer, I just pushed what's important in front of what's most stressful, which was, at the time, working at Target.

But nowadays, I no longer work at Target, and my job actually requires some explanation. And recently I have found myself responding differently to that question yet again.

New Person: So, what do you do, Elliot?

Me: I'm a Title Abstractor.

New Person: A what?

Me: Title Abstractor. I go to county offices around the area and research current and previous property owners for clients who are issuing title on a home or preparing a loan on a piece of property.

New Person: I thought your, um...something...was familiar.

Me: Oh, yeah, and I also write.

AH! It's getting pushed to the back again. And why? Well, I will tell you why.

You see, when I worked at Target, I was ashamed that I was as old as I was and working for (I will admit it) less than double-digits an hour. It was too much stress for too little cash. It was the kind of job that would have continued to suit me just fine until I got out of college and tried to enter the job market. If it had come to it, and I were to graduate and still be working at Target three months later with no job offers, I know I would have become severely mentally unbalanced. So it weighed heavy on my mind. To combat that, I forced myself to admit to the world that I am a writer first and foremost.

Nowadays, however, I like my job. This job is something I can see myself doing quite comfortably for several years. Don't get me wrong, I do want to get a job working for some sort of publication, eventually get my MFA in Creative Writing and become a writing teacher at a community college and finally get a tweed jacket with leather elbow patches. But it is not a job I will be ashamed to have come three months after graduation.

But it suddenly dawned on me that I still need to assert myself as a writer. Because a writer is what I am. I am a writer, despite what my blog's URL may proclaim. So, to be true to myself, let me say this:

From now on, when someone asks me what I do, the conversation will go like this:

New Person: And what do you do?

Me: I'm a writer.

New Person: Oh, cool. How's that working out for you?

Me: Well, it's tough to actually be the kind of writer who can pay the bills, you know, but I enjoy what I do.

New Person: Well, good for you, living the dream. But, uh, how do you pay your bills?

Me: I've got a day job, real estate property record research. It's enough of a challenge I don't get bored and it keeps food on the table and ink and paper in my printer. And what do you do?

New Person: I'm a literary agent. Have you written anything I would've read?

Me: Oh, well, probably not, but I may have some samples of my work...

At which point I will reach into my messenger bag and hand that person several sheaves of paper, a copy of Currents 2007, a beautiful head shot of me dressed as a tennis star, a DVD of "How to Write Flash Fiction" and a business card that says, "This is my card."

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tuesday Excerpt; Blogapalooza Edition!

Well, nothing really exciting about this Tuesday Excerpt, other than the fact that it's been a while since one. Okay, here goes!


from The Office Bar and Grill September/October 2007

Lights up on center-right, where a middle-aged couple has just sat down at a table. Thelma, their hostess, is handing them menus.

This place is so clever! Look at it, darling! So clever!

Alright, folks, we’ll get you some water and bread and Matt should be right out to help you!

Thank you!
(Thelma exits)
I’m so glad we came in here! It’s so clever!

Yes, yes it is.
(looks bored)

Oh, and look! The menu says “Memo” on the front! And it’s got a header and everything!
(she opens it)
Look! The dishes all have funny names, too!
(she turns it over)
And look! The drinks and dessert menu on the back say “Overtime Shifts!” So clever!
(enter Matt with two glasses of water, which he sets down on the table)

Welcome to The Office Bar and Grill, my name is Matt, I’ll be your Office Drone for the evening.

Oh, don’t you look so clever in your dress slacks and short sleeve shirt with a tie! Oh, I have a son who looks just like you who works in an office! But, you know, a real one, not a fun one like this!
(to husband)
Isn’t this place clever?

I already said it is.

Could I get you something to drink to start off with?

(she consults her menu)
Tell me, young man, what is it that all of the young folks are drinking these days?

That would be the Mojito.

(bad accent)
Mojito! How exotic sounding. I think I’ll have one of those. You dear?

(considering, bad accent)
Mojito as well, then.

Okay, I’ll give you two a moment to decide what you’d like to order, I’ll get those drinks right to you.

Actually, we’d like to order an appetizer.

Of course! What would you like?

(peruses menu)

(peruses menu)


It all looks so good...

May I suggest the Boss’ Starter?
(the two locate it on their menus)
It comes with Outsourced Taquitos, Tech Support Hummus, our Company Picnic Onion Rings and, um, fried mozzarella sticks.

Oh, that sounds lovely! And clever!


Okay, I’ll put that in, get your drinks, and come back to get your orders.
(walks towards bar)


Lights fade on the couple and come up on the bar, where Briana and The Business man are. The business man has three empty glasses in front of him, Briana is mixing him another drink. Matt approaches.

(bad accent)
Mojito please, Briana! Keep them coming!

I swear to God...Briana, make me two more of those, please.

Okay, Matt.

(to Briana, quieter)
And...what’s the deal with these things? I mean...seriously, at least fifty percent of the drinks people are ordering these days are mojitos! Oh, and they all say it like idiots! Just pronounce it correctly, you don’t need to add that stupid accent!

(bad accent)

(pointing to Business Man)
Yeah, that one.

You get used to these things, Matt. Like back in ninety-eight, everybody was drinking White Russians. It was always, “White Russian!” or “Another Caucasian!” they’d call. Got pretty freaking annoying after a while. But then, the craze died down and people ordered normal drinks, until somebody wrote a piece in all the Village Voice Media papers around the country about how we should all drink Manhattans, and then it was “I would like a Manhattan, if you’d be so kind?” All the time. It comes and goes, Matt.
(she hands the Business Man his drink)

(bad accent)

Yeah, well...I gotta go put this order in, I’ll be right out for those drinks.
(walks past business man)

(bad accent, to Matt)

Right, sir.

Briana...Where’s the restroom? Only I have to use it pretty quick here.

(pointing offstage)
Over there. Should I call you a cab?

No thanks...a taxi should do it.
(runs off)

Briana picks up the emtpy glasses and starts washing them. Enter JEREMY.

Briana, how are we doing tonight?
(enter Matt with a basket of bread)

I’m doing just fine, Boss Man, yourself.
(Matt stands at the bar)
Oh, Matt, the drinks. Sorry.

No, Briana, I mean how are we doing. Not the royal we...the bar.

(mixing the drinks, setting them on the tray with the bread basket)
Eh. Kind of slow, but it’s Tuesday...and it’s early.

Thank you, Briana.
(waits at the counter, hesitating, not looking at Jeremy but obviously listening)

Well, you know...
(rocks his neck back and forth, working out kinks)
...I mean...
(looking at Matt)
I assume that tray you’ve got is supposed to go to some customers?
(lights up on the couple at the table)

(shakes his head)
Yeah, sorry, lost my head for a little bit.
(takes bread and drinks to the couple)

Thank you! Oh! These must be those
(bad accent)
Moritas you suggested?

(bad accent)
(closes his eyes, look of pain and anger across his face)
Your appetizer will be right out.
(walks back to the bar)
Briana, could you get me a coke?

What did you do wrong?

Excuse me?
(Jeremy raises his eyebrows and shrugs)
Well, uh...

(impatiently rushing past Matt to the table where the couple sits)
How is everything this evening?

(mid sip)
Oh! My! That is quite different! Hm.
(wipes her mouth with a napkin)
I’m sorry, young man, did you say something?

He asked how everything was.

Oh! Splendid! This place is so very clever!
(Matt rolls his eyes, looks exasperatedly at Briana, who shrugs and hands him a Coke)

Well thank you! My name is Jeremy, I’m the owner of this place.
(Matt takes a drink and cringes)

Oh! Well, you know, I just can’t get over how clever everything is in here! It’s like eating in a real office!

Well, thank you, it was an idea I had back in college, and I finally made it happen last year.
(Briana is smiling at Matt, and holds up a bottle of cheap whiskey)

You mean you’ve been here for a year?
(to her husband)
You worked across the street until three months ago, you never mentioned this place!
(Matt shakes his head but smiles, chugs the rest)

Seemed kind of silly, going to a bar that was dressed up like an office, when all I wanted at the end of the day was to get out of the office I worked in.
(grabs bread, butters it up)

(face falling, sad grimace on his face) folks need anything, you let me know.
(Briana is silently laughing, takes the glass back from Matt and refills it, this time visibly with more than half whiskey)
My name’s Jeremy.

Thank you very much!
(Jeremy walks back to the bar, lights down on the couple)

(hides bottle, fills the rest of the glass with coke, hands it to Matt)
Here you go Matthew.

Thank you, Briana.
(takes the glass, takes a sip, turns to face Jeremy who has just walked up, disapproving)
Helps me get through the night, boss! The caffeine!

You’re aware of the policies here, correct?

Which ones?

Concerning drinking while on the clock? Bringing the bread basket with the water when you first greet your customers? Always writing down the orders?

(assumes a monotone voice)
One alcoholic beverage per shift, always bring the bread with the water, and ensure accuracy by writing down exactly what they order.

JEREMY where’s your ticket for these folks? Are you still winging it?

(strolling past Jeremy)
Right, sorry...the bread basket wasn’t ready, that’s my fault, and all I ordered was a soda.

And are you going to write the orders down?

I’ve never written the orders down, Jeremy. I just remember everything.

I haven’t seen him mess up an order yet, sir.

That’s not the point, I have rules here for a reason and...
(trails off)

Everything alright?

Briana...please keep this...I...
(sighs, leans his elbows against the bar top, head in his hands)

Not doing so well, huh?
(she leans down next to him)
When you’ve been in the business as long as I have...
(Matt enters, stands just outside the light, listens)
Well...look, things will pick up.

(looks up at her)
No. I mean, unless they pick up in the next two minutes...
(Matt’s eyes widen, he steps closer)
Don’t...Briana, keep this to yourself, but...I have to close. Two weeks.

(nods her head, resigned)
Yeah. Well...I can always go back to Applebee’s I guess.
(The Business Man reenters, pushing past Matt)
Oh, shit, I forgot to call him his cab.

I’ll do it...I’ll get him out front, too.

(stumbling up to Jeremy)
Hey, you work here?

Yes, sir. I’m going to give you a hand.
(starts leading him offstage the opposite direction from the one he entered)

Only I just puked all over the floor in the bathroom.

Themla! Thelma, could you come here a minute?

It was kind of green and...hey...they taste great going down but they sure are nasty coming up, huh?
(enter Thelma)

What’s that sir?

(bad accent)

(rolling his eyes)
Thelma, could you find Matt and tell him to clean the bathroom? And cover his table for him if they need anything?
(Matt takes a step back into darkness)

Sure, Jeremy.
(walks towards kitchen as Jeremy and Business Man continue to exit opposite)

You think I could get one of those
(bad accent)
Mojitos for the road?

I don’t think the’ll let you take it in the cab.

A cab? Call me a taxi.
(they both exit)


Briana clears the last of the glasses left by the inebriated business man, then pours herself a glass of the cheap whiskey over ice. She downs it in two short gulps. Matt emerges from the shadows.

(Briana looks up from pouring herself another drink)
...what’s going on?

Nothing, Matt.
(takes a swig)
Hey, Thelma’s going to ask you to clean the bathroom when she finds you.

Yeah, I know.
(looks over his shoulder)
Look, really, what’s going on? I overheard Jeremy saying...something.

He says a lot of things.

Just tell me if I need to start looking for a new job.

It probably wouldn’t hurt. Oh, and...note this, the managers notice when you show up late. Just, you know, word of caution.

Ah, whatever, Pat’s Bar across the street is hiring servers.
(looks hard at Briana)
Briana, how long have you worked here?

(she shrugs)
A year. Since the place opened, I guess. Jeremy used to own an Applebee’s franchise, and I was the bartender there, so when he opened this place he called to see if I was still there, asked me to come tend bar.

How long have you been a bartender?
(squints at her)

Since I was twenty-two.
(squints at him)
Is this some game we’re playing? Twenty questions?

And how long ago was that?

(stands up straight)
A woman never reveals her age.

It’s just that I...
(shakes his head)
Never mind.
(heavy sigh)
I guess I better put my résumé together.

You didn’t hear anything.
(enter Thelma, carrying a tray with appetizers on it)

I should go run into Thelma.
(turns and nearly runs into Thelma)
Nicely done. Hi.
(Thelma opens her mouth to say something)
I know. Go clean the bathroom. You’ve got my table. Only, really, I’ve got this.
(takes the tray)
And I’ll take their orders, put it in, refresh their drinks, and clean the bathroom.
(turns, lights up on couple at table, her drink empty and his still full, pushed to the side, forgotten, both peruse their menus)
Who knows? If they drink enough, maybe this place can stay afloat.

(turns to Briana)
What’s he mean by that?

Hm? Oh, um...nothing. Nothing. Um...go ahead and, uh, go back up front.
(Thelma nods, walks towards and then past Matt as she exits)
(lights down on bar)


Matt sets down the appetizer plate and two smaller plates on the table.

Alright, have you had a chance to look over the memo?

(folds her menu)
Oh, yes! I would like the, um...
(reopens her menu)
Office Barbecue Burger.
(Matt nods, she folds her menu again)
And could I get that with a side salad instead of the fries?

Absolutely. How would you like your burger cooked?

(opens her menu)
Well done. And could I have the light ranch on the side?

Sure thing.
(she folds her menu again)
And for you sir?
(the man looks over the top of his menu at his wife)

What did you get, dear?

The barbecue burger.

How’s the filet mingon?

(eyes wide in surprise)
Actually, that’s one I haven’t tried yet.

(reopens her menu)
You know, I didn’t even see that!

It’s on the Important Client Menu, last page.

I was on the Casual Friday menu!

I’ll go ahead and get that, with a baked potato and a mixed greens salad.

Alright, how would you like that cooked.

(holds his fingers apart a small amount)
Just a bit of pink in the middle. And do you have an Italian dressing?

Original or creamy?

(folds menu)
No. Creamy.
(hands menu to Matt)

Okay, I’ll have that right up for you.
(takes menu from woman)
Do you need another drink, ma’am?

Oh! Yes! This is very good. What is it called again?


(bad accent)

(rolls his eyes, but they don’t see, grabs her glass)
Okay, and for you sir? Something different?

Yes, please...Miller light, if you’ve got it on tap.

Just in bottles.

Bud Light on tap?

(counting them off on his fingers, looking at the ceiling)
We have Fat Tire, Bud, Bud Select, and Miller on tap. We’ve got Bud, Bud light, Miller, Miller light and Michelob, and...Michelob light, and...I’m forgetting a couple, in bottles.

Give me a Bud Light, I guess.

Okay, be right back with that.
(turns to go, woman grabs the man’s abandoned mojito as lights go down on the couple)


Lights up on the bar. Somebody is making noise behind the bar unseen as Matt approaches.

Another one of these things...
(walks right up to the bar, shakes the empty glass)
...and a Bud Light. And, what the hell, you’re not doing anything, just take it to that table while I clean up that drunk ass’ mojito puke. Or maybe if I don’t do it, Jeremy will actually do some work himself and get it done.

(rising up from behind the bar, looking at Matt, takes the empty glass from his hand)
Do what?
(a look of anger crosses his face)

(quick recovery)
Oh, fuck, Jeremy, I knew that was you, I was kidding.
(continues past the bar, his face pale, eyes wide in fear)

Matt! Get over here!
(Matt stops, turns, looks at Jeremy)
(Matt walks back to the bar)
I assume you work here because you need this job, right?

Yes, sir.

I knew it had to be something like that. Thanks for clearing that up.
(pause in which Jeremy begins mixing a mojito, not looking up until)
Well? Carry on, go clean up the mess.
(Matt turns around and nearly knocks over Briana, who has just entered from the kitchen with a case of beer, stopping Matt in his tracks)
Don’t forget to put in the order you didn’t write down, Matt.
(Matt takes a deep breath, standing still as Briana walks past him, keeping her eyes on him, and he exits)
Thanks, Matt.
(to Briana)
Cover his table, will ya?


Drama, instead of telling us the whole of a man's life, must place him in such a situation, tie such a knot, that when it is untied, the whole man is visible. -Leo Tolstoy