Saturday, July 26, 2014

Playing God

Carl was an engineer and spent lots of time perfecting things. The woman on the screen before us was called Danyelle. Unfortunately, her image kept disappearing, while Carl frantically hit keys on his laptop. We could hear her high, feminine voice-- she looked distinguished and sounded quite educated.
My fellow writers, gathered around the table,were unnerved, especially after Danyelle vanished for good, leaving a white screen. Carl cursed and blamed faulty Skype.
Afterwards, we waited until Carl left, looking annoyed. Keith opined that something evil was afoot and we agreed. We decided to break into Carl's house and search the basement for anything strange. Carl was a sound sleeper-- we knew this because he often dozed off during our readings.
Lena jimmied the lock that night and, using flashlights, we found the basement door. It didn't take more than five seconds to spot the body lying on the table. It was the entity known as Danyelle, eyes closed, wires attached everywhere.
Something evil is afoot, Ron said. Keith smacked him. That's my line, he said. Susan examined the thing up and down, frowning. He gave her blue nail polish. Ugh!
We sneaked out of the house and back to my car. There was only one conclusion: Carl was playing God.
The next writing session a week later, we were tense, not sure what this madman had planned. The door opened and there she stood--Danyelle in the flesh, if that's what you want to call it. We tried to act surprised and impressed.
See, Carl barked, I told you she was real. His smile was as smug and phony as this entity. All through the prompts being read around the table we were aware of the moral and ethical implications here.
He changed the polish to pink and gave her a beautiful brooch, Susan whispered.
Carl looked up suspiciously, but she smiled, deflating the tension. Danyelle winked at me. I almost threw up inside my mouth.

Gimme, Gimme, Gimme

Faust recognized Roy's greediness from afar and one day offered him a deal. Roy's soul in exchange for ten extra pairs of chromosomes.
Roy didn't believe in souls or an afterlife and thought Faust was a senile old man. He humored him by signing a silly contract making the exchange.
The next morning Roy felt different. His mind was racing with ideas and insights. Everything was faster and sharper. He felt rejuvenated. He left the house with his briefcase and 33 pairs of chromosomes. Roy proceeded to sell $500,000 worth of life insurance just going door to door. He thought nothing of Faust and the contract until he got home, stripped and showered. It was then he noticed a tiny tail sticking out of his haunches. He became furious, not because of the tail itself, but because it was so small. He wanted more tail.
In the ensuing weeks more leathery growths appeared over his body, too many to cover. He became grotesque, frightened his clients and was subsequently fired.
He was forced to join a traveling carnival and eventually married the bearded lady. They had three kids whose chromosome pairs totaled only 14 among them.
Roy, ironically, could not get life insurance because of his condition. He was doomed. Faust never returned. Once you sign that contract there is no backing out.
This tale of greed entails upsetting material for those with tails, large and small. It's not tailored for everyone.

My Emotional Bunker

When stress hits, I retreat to my Happy Place, my emotional bunker. I stick in a K.C. & the Sunshine Band CD, open my collected Calvin & Hobbes cartoons, lean back in my recliner and let negativity fly away.
Writing should be my escape, but all I envision are those rejection slip and grumpy fellow scribes furious at indifferent editors.
I'll think about somewhere peaceful like Maine or Canada where nothing happens. Happy memories of my youth help form my bunker. Falling off a bike and having people rush to see if I was alright makes me smile. Actually I was 45 when that happened and screamed like a four year old.
Other times I will call people I know aren't home, listen to their answering machine and politely correct any grammatical mistakes in the message.
Slicing food calms my nerves, especially red and green peppers. I get to the white part, rip it out and feel powerful. I slice until my fingers are numb. Numbness is a very effective way of confronting the insanity around us.
When all else fails, I tie and retie my sneakers.
I'm kind of getting sick of K.C. Time for a Manilow Moment.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Cleanse

I'm doing an emotional cleanse, where I wipe out bad memories and disappointments by closing my eyes and whispering BEGONE! five times.
So many rotten thoughts to figuratively wash away. The beatings in school, falling off my bike, stupid comments, my crush on nurses and flight attendants, rejection slips from editors, spilling food in restaurants, bad pick up lines. Inappropriate burps. Gone, all of them, out of my purified consciousness.
Once my mind is completely cleansed I can focus on the positive. I wish prune juice or grapefruit would speed this process. Every time I think I've tossed away all the humiliation, another bad memory pops up.
Some say failure and unhappiness are needed so we can appreciate the opposite. Bah! I reject that notion. In fact, I'm cleansing that absurdity right out of my mind.
One unexpected side effect of this cleansing is I've lost seven pounds. My head is actually smaller, more compact, which, unfortunately, makes my ears seem bigger.


I am executing a writer buyout. I am surrounded by annoying writers with plenty of ideas they can't organize into anything cogent. I am offering a barter deal. Give me your ideas and I'll teach you sleight of hand magic.
It's not that I lack ideas. I force feed my concepts onto my laptop until I have a story. I am a cluster bomb of ideas. Believe me, I have plenty of ideas.
Other writers stockpile theirs until the whole mess is covered with asbestos and mold, cracked and useless. This morning I sat across from a writer who pitched a concept where he personified buildings and bridges. They are sick of working 24/7 and not getting compensated and proceed to disrupt the entire infrastructure of the city. A solid, potentially lucrative story opportunity he was doing nothing with. So I bartered a trick involving cuff links and a tie pin for that idea. He seemed almost relieved not to be responsible for following through on it.
If these deals continue, I will have an idea monopoly. If things become too unwieldy I may subcontract some to starry eyed college students looking to become writers. Whatever I decide, I will not let good ideas waste away in the cloud, where ever that is.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Super Moon

It is night and I am at Liberty State Park trying to paint this incredible pink super moon that appears sporadically. As the evening progressed, more and more artists arrived with the same agenda. By 9pm hundreds of easels covered the grounds. They were interspersed with food trucks, a motorcycle gang, protestors against using public open space to paint, someone selling time shares in Boca, a dance troupe performing in the moonlight, Swat teams in case the moon drove people nuts, folk singers celebrating Pete Seeger for the 400th time, a stray vampire, and the mayor of Jersey City handing out pamphlets asked for support for more hydrants.
At some point I became frustrated by my inability to capture the true mystery of this lunar sight. So I took out a photo of model Kate Upton and began painting her. The mayor leaned down and informed me her nose was too big. I disagreed. It escalated into harsh words and finally a wrestling match on the grass.
I was arrested and jailed. Here I sit in this dank cell waiting for the sun and sanity to take over.
I really believe the moon belongs to Satan.

Withdrawing My Support

On more than a few occasions I have thrown myself in front of street mimes to protect them from bullies I wrote my Masters thesis on Mime Immigration from Slavic Countries in the 30's and 40's. Their influence on Stanislavsky and The Method school of acting is immeasurable.
I have brought them meals and offered shelter. Talked them out of hurting themselves while in the depths of depression. This was out of respect.
But I have decided, after much deliberation, to withdraw my mime support. Contemporary practitioners have blasphemed tradition by incorporating tap dancing, and not very good tap at that. This is strictly prohibited in the International Book of Mime. This is cheating and robbing true tappers of their livelihood.
Yes, I have transferred my loyalties to tap dancers, although I can't see myself getting beaten up protecting one of them.