Archive for the ‘The Stories’ Category

Cavemen Complain: Not Enough Cave Time

A Spoof on Stone Age Living – by Rock O’Fages

Early photo of cavemen taken with stone iTablet. Man at center is an ancestor of Ringo. Early photo of cavemen taken with stone iTablet. Man at center may be an ancestor of Beatle drummer.

Disclaimer: In the world of comedy writing, spoof is a cringe-worthy word on par with yuckfest or laugh-o-rama. I would not be guardedly optimistic about reading a spoof on cavemen. Quite the opposite. I’d be carelessly pessimistic about reading a spoof on cavemen. “Spoof” is a comedic red flag and as unfunny as seeing the word hijinks in the description of a caveman spoof: as in “Ogg takes a wife and hijinks ensue.” Can’t wait to read that – not. I must disclose I have a steamy wordmance and a mad nouncrush on the word hijinks. Hijinks has beauty marks only a literary cosmetologist could love – 3 consecutive dotted letters (iji). The only other words that come close are ḋu̇ṁb and ḍụṃber, and you won’t find me taking them out for dinner and a movie. Read the rest of this entry »

Shakespeare in Love…Yes, Again

Oh sure he could write the most influential and popular plays in history, but try getting him to write a coherent love letter to his mistress - forget it! Oh sure he could write the most influential and popular plays in history, but try getting him to write a coherent love letter to his mistress – forget it!

A recently discovered love letter from William Shakespeare to Gwendolyn Fairskin, the nanny of his children, has or “hath” (as we slide down the slippery slope of Olde English) sparked great controversy and set Shakespearian scholars scurrying to verify its authorship. Did the venerable Bard of Avon write this revealing mash note to Ms. Fairskin? Moreover, did he author any of the magnificent plays attributed to him? I leave that question to the Bureau of Weights and Measures or whoever authenticates these things. All I know is; me thinks tis true – that this steamy epistle is the work of Shakespeare in love.

 

And if its discovery wasn’t startling enough, manuscript antiquarians have discerned a note scrawled on the outside of the folded parchment believed to read: “Alloweth not David Hardiman of Reno-upon-Truckee any view upon this missive.” Well tough luck Willie. Your prescience will go unrewarded as I dutifully present your heartfelt spasms to an adoring audience of enthusiastic Shake-o-philes.

 

Posing as a calibration technician for the Bureau of Weights and Measures I’ve gained access to the randy letter and carefully translated it from its original Pig Latin (he wrote it in code in case it was intercepted) to the more familiar Olde English, thereby allowing it to exhibit the expected Shakespearian rhythm we’re all comfortable with. T’would be imprudent to translateth otherwise. Read the rest of this entry »

Scenes in the Font of Life

Scenes from the Font of Life: A play in 15½ scenes and 0 acts. There are no acts because it's all real. Scenes from the Font of Life: A play in 15½ scenes and 0 acts.

The following is a compendium of unrelated scenes and observations demonstrating why this world is the kind of place you’d like to settle down and raise your cholesterol. Think of these scenes as thin slices of life served up on a bed of roses, or on a bed of nails; depending on how rose-tinted your glasses are. This anthology (now upgraded from a mere compendium) is formulated with your privacy choices in mind. Should you wish to opt out and decide not to read them, I will not share your personal information with any of my subsidiaries, affiliates or nephews. However I do maintain certain files that include pictures of you smelling something really funky when you thought no one else was watching. It may be the only leverage I have to persuade you to read this appetizer-sized literary snack. I’m not blackmailing you. It’s called scent-shaming and I’m not afraid to use it. By the way, do you prefer your scent-shaming in Pumpkin Spice or Stinky Pinky?

In any event, please place your tray table in the upright and locked position. Put your head in airplane mode and enjoy these complimentary in-flight observations. Remember: life is about the journey so whether you paid full retail for your seat or used your Frequent Fretters’ miles, sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

Caution: These observations were produced on equipment used in processing peanuts, tree nuts and dairy products. Consume them judiciously. Read the rest of this entry »

Token White: I Knew it Would Pay Off

Spike Lee to make an all-Black version of Hogan’s Heroes,” trumpeted the headline in Variety.  

Hogan and his heroes throttling the Nazi war machine. Sgt. Kinchloe on the left. Hogan and his heroes throttling the Nazi war machine. Sgt. Kinchloe on the left.

As I breathlessly absorbed those sweet words that I’d waited almost 50 years to read, a lump the size of a Sherman Tank began to grow in my throat. Could this really be happening? I mean it wasn’t the Beatles getting back together, but it was close. One of my fondest boyhood memories was cozying up to the TV on Friday night at 8:30 to watch experience Hogan’s Heroes. The show had everything the pure heart of a 6 year old boy yearned for: good army men outsmarting bad army men, a bunch of secret agent GI Joes camping out in a barrack, and plenty of pretty frauliens inexplicably parading about in a backwater POW camp – who cared if it didn’t make sense? It made me happy. Still does. This new Spike Lee Hogan’s Heroes would make me even happier.  

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The Wildly Tame, Semi-Authorized Biography of Christopher Michael Gage

Rare cartoon hand with 4 instead of 3 fingers. An analogy for my stalwart friend Chris who is playing with more than a full deck. Rare cartoon hand with 4 instead of 3 fingers. An analogy for my stalwart friend Chris who is playing with more than a full deck.

What better way to begin someone’s biography than for its author to prattle on about himself. I mean it’s important to break some literary rules, but to do it so shoddily seems rather unseemly and I don’t want to seem unseemly. I’d prefer to seem seemly. I’m stalling because I can’t possibly capture the multi-dimensionality of my dear friend Chris Gage’s human experience, so rather than attempting to paint a rich portrait of a man in full, I’m going to paint a diluted snapshot of a man in 1/16th. I believe by setting the bar this low (capturing 6.25% of Chris) I set a metric (we don’t set goals anymore – we meet metrics) suitable to my talents. Besides, if this mini-bio flies off the shelves or, more likely, is digitally uploaded into people’s Kindles, I can follow it up with 15 more volumes at 6.25% each. With great swagger I might pause here and state, “You do the math,” but as you can see, I’ve already done it. Why do I undermine myself and then advertise it? Well at least you know what you’re dealing with here. Read the rest of this entry »

Astronomers Now Believe There Are 2 Trillion Galaxies – 10 Times the Previous Estimate

(A husband overheard speaking to his wife Grace) Wow. Will you look at that. It's just Amazing Grace. I mean amazing, Grace. (A husband overheard speaking to his wife Grace) Wow. Will you look at that. It’s just Amazing Grace. I mean amazing, Grace.

Thanks Ass-tronomers – could you make a guy feel any more insignificant? Just when I was getting comfortable with my place in the 200 billion galaxy cosmos, suddenly it’s 10 times larger thereby making me 10 times smaller. Although we live in an expanding universe, I prefer the tidiness of a static universe. A reliable place with a finite number of galaxies operating with exacting Newtonian mechanics. A place where video solitaire can tranquilize an entire nation and live streaming can mean different things; depending on if you’re watching Netflix or recently drank 2 cups of coffee. 

We are born purposely unaware of the universe’s enormity. That’s just the way it is. And it is that way so we’re better able to focus on the tasks at hand. For example, one time I had to return a substandard chicken pot pie I’d purchased at Costco. They have a very generous return policy – too generous. In fact I had already eaten it and I returned it in its digested form – and they still took it back. And if you think that’s bad, the lady in front of me returned a 7-layer guacamole dip – also eaten. The Costco Scatological Return Specialist could only identify 5 of the layers, so instead of a full refund, they issued her a store credit for 5/7ths of the price – unbelievable. My point is, if I was overly aware of the goings-on in the Magellanic Cloud Galaxy, I might’ve been completely unaware of Costco’s generous return policy and I would’ve missed out on a good deal, and an even greater story. So we come to understand how it pays to not have our head in the clouds – particularly if they’re Magellanic Clouds.

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Alfred Nobel’s Irony, Featuring Me

What hath Nobel wrought? A deft recovery from a sordid situation. What hath Nobel wrought? A deft recovery from a sordid situation.

The reason Nobel Prizes exist is found in the guilt-ridden remorse of Alfred Nobel. Mr. Nobel (1833-1896) was a Swedish arms merchant who invented dynamite. Unlike nitroglycerin which can explode merely by jostling it, dynamite is a very stable compound – at least until it’s detonated. And for the record, TNT (despite AC/DC’s lyrics to the contrary) is not dynamite. Nobel invented dynamite a few years after the less stable and less powerful TNT came to market. OK, so much for a crash course in mid-19th Century explosives. The question is, how did we get from a rapacious arms merchant in Sweden to the revered Nobel Prizes we have today? Read the rest of this entry »

Death and Other Grave Situations

This is what the unseen looks like This is what the unseen looks like.

Growing old is a contradiction in terms. It’s more like “shrinking” old. Aging is like doing the bad kind of pucker-up. But before I pile on and make growing old sound like a death sentence (which it is), let’s remember it’s perfectly natural and obviously part of our architecture. Reaching one’s expiration date might seem unpalatable, but it can actually be quite tasty when we sugar-coat our terms and serve it up with a dollop of perspective. What’s actually being destroyed here? It’s the body and not the spirit. In fact they’re 2 completely different animals – one really is an animal (the body) and the other is eternal (the spirit). Isn’t that comforting? Maybe it’s cold comfort, but I find great solace in the natural rhythms of the universe. Of course I might not revel in the virtues of nature if I’m attached to a morphine drip because my self-driving car decided to drive myself off a cliff. But that’s another story (Note to self: Make next story about a suicidal self-driving car.).
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Rescue Girlfriends vs. Service Girlfriends: Two Completely Different Animals

Me (Zak) and Sadie. Blissfully together for 3 years, which is like 21 in dog years. Me (Zak) and Sadie. Blissfully together for 3 years, which is like 21 in dog years.

After a string of disastrous dates I decided to pursue a new relationship strategy. Did I want a girlfriend who would be loving and grateful (a Rescue Girlfriend) or one that would be stable and well-trained (a Service Girlfriend)? I opted for the former and visited our local rescue shelter (Our Lady of Mascara) on a scouting trip. Critics say these shelters are just meet markets where shifty men go to pick-up damaged women on the cheap. And while that may be true in some cases, it’s not true in this case because the man doing the picking-up (me) was just as damaged – and yet I’m considered the rescuer?

Body language is an important part of the initial encounter. According to the shelter, if the bitch (their term, not mine) wags any part of her body toward the male rescuer, she’s released to his kennel (my term, not theirs). And while the shelter may look for body language, from my Pavlovian male perspective, I look for a woman who smells good (more on that later). Read the rest of this entry »

Awed Shucks: 4 Views

David Foster Wallace endeavoring to explain the box of stars in his head.

David Foster Wallace endeavoring to explain the box of stars in his head.

Take I: In attempting to power through David Foster Wallace’s brilliant and dense Consider the Lobster: And Other Essays, I was stunned into a literary-induced coma by the following sentence:

 

The positivist assumptions that underlie Methodological Descriptivism have been thoroughly confuted and displaced—in Lit by the rise of post-structuralism, Reader-Response Criticism, and Jaussian Reception Theory, in linguistics by the rise of Pragmatics—and it’s now pretty much universally accepted that (a) meaning is inseparable from some act of interpretation and (b) an act of interpretation is always somewhat biased, i.e., informed by the interpreter’s particular ideology.

By the time I came to, I had been knocked into the next chapter. Wallace’s arguments, which he conveys with the force of a firehose pressurized at 200 psi (enough to keep a Mini Cooper airborne for 6 minutes), are tossed-off with easy éclat – like he’s armed with a ready nose-dropper of concentrated insights and pinches a tiny tincture into each sentence. However stingy he may be with his pinches, they swamped me like a tsunami. When I finally surfaced I realized I didn’t understand much of what he was saying – at least at first. But when I thought about it some more I realized, I didn’t understand any of what he was saying. Read the rest of this entry »