Three A.M.

Awake at three in the morning. It’s a contradiction of human existence, I guess.

I’m awake right now because I was having a weird dream. In the dream, Mel Brooks asks what if Buddha had been a nice Jewish boy from Queens?

Siddhartha the Buddha, or as his mother called him, Siddhartha the Bum.

She says to him, Sid, Sid, why don’t you get a job? Your brother Marty has a nice job on Wall Street and what are you doing? Sitting under a tree eating plums!

I woke up laughing.

I tried to go back to sleep but Mrs. Gautama kept talking.

Why don’t you get a job, she says, and he says, Ma, I’ve got a job. I’m a teacher.

She says, that’s not a real job, you know why I know it’s not a real job? If you had a real job, you could afford to go to the Hamptons for the summer instead of sitting under a pear tree eating plums. That’s no vacation from a real job!

He says, Ma, why would I sit under a pear tree eating plums? It was a fig tree and I was eating figs….

I don’t care if they were Avogadros! she interrupts. You could eat any number of Avogadros and I wouldn’t care.

Then she starts in on him about grandkids. When are you going to get married? If you were married, you would have to get a real job and get me some grandkids? Your brother Marty, he can’t because he’s got that thing, his Exeter is too narrow.

His urethra, Ma.

His ureter, he’s not going to have kids but you could get married…. Are you gay? You can tell me…. If you have some nice boy you’d rather marry you can bring him by…. What’s his name? Steve?

Ma, I’m not gay, Sid says.

Maybe you and Steve could adopt? Marty can’t adopt because his wife has that conviction from when she was a prison guard.

Imogene Coca was playing Ma, Sid Caesar (who else) as Sid, with Howie Morris as Marty and Terry Jones as Mrs. Finkelstein nextdoorsikeh.

At which point, I got up again and wrote this all down. 🙂

Mini-Golf

God, an IRS man, a priest, and a rabbi are playing mini-golf. After six holes, the IRS man is leading with 21, God at 24 and the two clergymen tied at 26. It’s a good tight game and everyone is playing well.

The priest has been trying to get up his nerve to talk privately to God and he finally manages to ask what’s been on his mind. “God, he says, I’ve been a good man, I’ve tried to help my flock and follow church teachings and abide by Your Holy Word. What I want, well, what I want to know, what I’d like is some assurance that I’m going to Heaven.”

God smiled on his priest. “Sure,” He said. “You’ve been a good man and a fine priest and if you continue as you’ve been doing, your place in Heaven is assured.” Much relieved to hear that, the priest thanked God, praised Him and moved away to smile happily as he prepared for the next hole.

Seeing the priest had spoken with God, the rabbi stepped up, too. “Sir,” he said. “We Jews don’t necessarily believe in Heaven but we are promised a reward if we keep Your Commandments. I think I have done so, I have certainly tried and I would like to receive the sort of assurance You gave the priest that my life has pleased You.”

God smiled down at him. “And aren’t you one of My Chosen People? You keep the Commandments, you have done mitzvahs as you should. And yes, you will be rewarded for being good and kind and faithful.” And the rabbi also moved away smiling.

Seeing the other two so happy to have received God’s blessing, the IRS man approached the Presence of the Deity. “I’m a humble man, God. I don’t have the knowledge the other two have of what I should do. I have a terrible job and I know that I have made other people unhappy. But wasn’t Matthew also a tax collector? I guess, what I’m asking is if there is going to be a place for me in Heaven, too.”

God frowned down at the tax man and the sky seemed to be a little less bright. “I hate to tell you this,” said God. “But if you keep hitting eagles like you did on the last two holes, you’re going to Hell.”

Bullwinkle Saves the World… Again?

My story machine works overtime. Last night I dreamed a sequel to Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

It starred Jack Black as Eddie Valiant Jr. working for the LAPD and partnered with Bullwinkle J. Moose on the Toontown Division. It was an intense and complicated story with visits to Toontowns in Japan, Europe and South America. They were dealing with the illegal traffic in a drug called “SPIT” for “Sudden Partial Integrated Toonification”. When taken by a human, SPIT turns the intoxicated person into a Toon for several hours with Toon resilience and lack of responsibility. Very dangerous stuff but hilarious effects.

Of course, Jack Black takes the SPIT at one point and turns into Kung Fu Panda but since it is in the middle of a fight with the bad guys, this works fine.

There’s a touching little scene with Boris Badenov who, since he is completely innocent in this, was Bullwinkle’s prime suspect. Boris is all hearbroken because Natasha has left him. Mike Myers is in this part doing something.

All thru the story, Jack Black and Bullwinkle take turns being straight man for each other. Rocky shows up for a bit part, too. Rocky is worried that the bad guys will turn out to be toons like Judge Doom last time.

Bullwinkle gets very philosophically goofy about the Unbearable Toonness of Being a Toon and Jack Black sneaks another dose of SPIT to have an interlude with a sexy cartoon firefox. This ends up in another fight of course and the SPIT wear off as Kung Fu Panda is making an impossible leap from one building to the other.

Bullwinkle makes a lugubrious “my partner” speech over Jack Black’s bleeding body but Black turns out not to be dead and they go on to solve the case. Which unfortunately, I woke up before I found out who did it but I think it was Google.

Where Everybody Knows You’re Drunk

A duck, a kangaroo and a chimpanzee walk into a bar. The chimp says to the bartender, “The usual, Stan.”

The bartender takes a tall glass from the back of the bar, pours in three jiggers of dark rum, one of brandy, one of banana liqueur and one of spiced rum. He adds grapefruit juice, tangerine juice, lime juice and bitters, puts a lid on it and shakes it up. Then he pours it over crushed ice into another glass, adds half a shot of 151 and sets it on fire. He puts the Flaming Haitian Zombie in front of the chimp with a small square box alongside.

The chimp drinks half of it right down, flames and all, then sits there with a long face–what else? After a bit, the chimp opens the box, takes out a revolver, loads one cylinder and begins playing Russian Roulette, solitaire.

The kangaroo says to the bartender, “The usual, Stan.”

The bartender mixes vodka, Red Bull, Tabasco, cranberry juice and boiling beef bouillon in a thick glass stein and sets the Red Hot Bullshot and a beer in front of the kangaroo. “There’s some girls in the corner who might like to get acquainted, if you’re feeling up to it,” he tells the marsupial from Down Under.

The kangaroo drinks the concoction down all at once, shouts “Whoo!”, does a double back flip then takes his beer and hops over to meet the cute pocket mice. “Hello, ladies,” he says smoothly. “I’m your entertainment for the evening.”

The mice are not having any of this, though; they pull out knives and threaten to find out what kangaroo steak tastes like.

The duck climbs up on a barstool and watches the chimp squint then sigh as the hammer clicks down on another empty chamber. The bloody kangaroo runs past pursued by carnivorous lady mice. “What do I usually have, Stan?” the duck asks the bartender.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you in here before,” the bartender admits.

Kablooie! The chimp blows his brains out on the next stool over. The mice catch the kangaroo and carve him into screaming tidbits.

The duck looks around the bar and says to the bartender, “You’re right. I’ve never been here before. And I think I know why.”

Catman Druthers

I have whole other careers in my sleep. Last night I dreamed about working on a comic strip called Catman Druthers.

The main character, a humanoid cat named Catman, worked as a software engineer for a waste management company. Exciting, huh? His wife, Kitty, ran a daycare.

They lived in the suburbs of a metropolis filled with anthropomorphic animals and just to be confusing, they kept pets. The Druthers’ dog, Flora, chased the mailman, energy-efficiently since the postal worker was also a squirrel.

They had another pet, Manbird, a parrot with a human head, who sat on a perch in the office or kitchen and made wry comments on stuff.

The particular strip I was working on in the dream showed Catman sitting in the floor watching the dog eat as Kitty walks in.

“Watcha doing, hon?” Kitty asks.

“Trying to teach the dog to be more finicky,” says Catman.

The second panel is a close up of the dog scarfing down something and wagging her tail. The word balloons of Kitty and Catman fill the top of the panel.

“How’s it going?” asks Kitty.

“Not too good,” says Catman. “She still eats anything I put down.”

Last panel is a discouraged-looking Catman saying, “That’s a bowl of gravel.”

Jackass Marketing

Everyone has heard of Gorilla Marketing, which is where you jump out of a tree, put the customer in a headlock and force them to sign a six month subscription to your print magazine. No, wait, that’s supposed to be Guerilla Marketing which is where you jump out of a tree and shoot the bastard….

No, wait.

Nevermine.

What there is way too much of on the internet is Jackass Marketing. Which is where your subscription offer is an insult to the intelligence of your average hairy equine consumer.

Q.V. Excellent bad example.

First, that they even offer something with web access that does not include available optimized mobile is not just ignorant, it’s struthioformic (that means like an ostrich) — in order to do something like that, one has to have one’s head in the sand or someplace even darker and smellier.

Second, look at the fourth offer, presumably their trial offer to entice people in: 30 days web only access for 19.95 — versus the second offer: web plus mobile for ninety days for only $1.30 more. W? T? F?

Third, try to tell them this is a stupid marketing position and you are faced with two screens worth of checkboxes and a captcha to communicate with them. And they don’t have a checkbox for “You should fire someone in marketing.”

Fourth, who would want to read a futurologistic magazine so poorly grounded in the present as to come up with this for a marketing plan?

The obvious deduction from their offers is that one month of web and mobile access to their current issue is worth sixty-five cents. The check is in the mail!

The Fashionista

Odd dreams.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

With global peace but a stagnant world economy, sixteen great families came to dominate policy all over the world. To prevent armed conflicts, they agreed that they would compete for who would have the chair of the New World Order based on popular sentiment and the decisions of a culture committee. In effect, this amounted to fashion wars.

Our story opens as one of the sixteen families chosen scion is preparing to do fashion combat at the season opening soirée. Being a dumpy little guy, he chooses to go with a very tailored jacket worn over a high-collared shirt without a tie. White jacket, blue pants, red shirt. His hair in a little Elvis pompadour, he looks retro, spiffy and daring. He chooses his name for the evening, Arden(t). Spelled just like that, with parentheses.

He knows he has the evening’s competition locked up, the old chairholder is sticking with his Rastifarian vampire chic persona, Killdivah, and everyone is tired of bloodsucking ska.

Meanwhile, the eight minor families (the politics of this are as complex as the bloodlines of Renaissance nobility) who also can compete in the fashion arena have chosen a gladiator. A young woman in a short, glittery, diamond white disco gown and a Sassoon bob is going to drive a 1993 Toyota Corolla right onto the dance floor! It will be sensational at least and get the judges’ attention.

She’s chosen her name for the evening, ShimmerTM. Because, you know, everyone loves dessert and a nice shiny floor.

Of course, I woke up laughing just then.

Shave the World

The Story MachineTM was working overtime last night.

This one was about a billionaire genius philanthropist utopianist who was also a bit of a goofball. Let’s call him George because in the dream he was played by George Clooney. Okay, it was a dream.

George invented things, cellphone-sized 3D TV (JCoaPS! this is real now!) for instance. He made a lot of money. He gave himself superpowers. He built a utopian city and he ran his companies like a benevolent dictator.

This was all very visual, colorful and intense and told from the viewpoint of the sister of a young boy who was also a genius inventor and idolized George. Call the boy Tony and the young woman Bree.

Tony invents something that attracts George’s attention and George showers the kid with money and gifts and even power, giving him his own company to run. George even hires other children and has a whole company devoted to employing disabled children because Tony said something about his best friend, who’s in a wheelchair, having even better ideas.

George also seems to fall in love with Bree and she with him. Bree thinks he’s funny, handsome, charming and way too much of a control freak. He scares her and her feelings for him scare her even more.

In one scene, she complains that her sweater has picked up lint while walking through one of his offices and why does anyone need to wear a sweater when the office is so warm. George has everyone in the office take off their sweaters. They all do, making joke complaints about it but humoring the boss.

One of them observes that George is so PC that he never mentions anyone’s gender and that he’s so smart he can do this without sounding stilted or phony. But when he’s talking about Bree, his speech is filled with she and her. The office workers and some of the disabled children laugh about George’s foibles and go back to whatever they do in their high-tech individualized cubicles that would never be called cubicles by George.

George and Bree have a fight about his micromanagement and controlling attitude and Bree takes Tony away on a visit to their parents.

George gets drunk. He decides that he doesn’t have enough empathy to understand women. In the last scene in the dream before I woke up, he’s disguised himself as a woman and is using his superpowers to sweep and clean up the set of a movie one of his companies is making. He moves in superspeed blurs from one little job to another.

“Bree thinksh I’m crazy,” he says to himself. “She thinks I’m trying to shave the world. It can’t be done, it’s just too damn hairy.” He stops and glares at the dirty floor where someone drove a muddy vehicle across the set. “How do women put up with high heelsh and shmiling all the time? I don’t know what hurtsh more, my feet or my mouth.”

Then he stares off into the distance, genius inspiration has obviously struck. “Shay, you know, you probably could shave the world if your razor had enough blades.”

This is why I wake up laughing so often.

The Ugly Truth

I had a dream last night and I remember much of it this morning. Like a lot of my dreams, it had a title and seemed to have been constructed by the Writing MachineTM I keep in my head. This one was called, The Ugly Truth.

It was both a movie and a card game, a la Steve Jackson’s Munchkin; dreams can be like that. And like Munchkin, there were several different versions. The Ugly Truth about Life, The Ugly Truth about Marriage, The Ugly Truth about High School, The Ugly Truth about Cats and Dogs, The Ugly Truth about Politics and The Super Ugly Truth which was an expansion set that could be added to one of the others.

So this dream was The Super Ugly Truth about High School. We all know that one.

It was a game and a story at the same time. In the story, a group of friends and acquaintances in high school battle with the usual zits, proms, swots and finks while also dealing with super powers and the occasional monster. And also in the story, the kids were playing the card game. Very meta.

The deck is shuffled in a hand of The Ugly Truth and each player is dealt a number of cards, five or six, I think. There are personality cards in the deck and there’s a list of precedence for them, whoever has got the highest precedent personality card in their hand goes first, playing the card and becoming that personality for the hand until replaced. That player draws a replacement card and play begins.

On your turn, if you have any Ugly cards in your hand, you play those first and they take effect. For instance the Massive Zit on your Forehead card prevents you from scoring until it is replaced. You have to have a Beauty or Brawn card to replace an Ugly one, Brains cards can’t do it but Brains cards let you play Ugly cards in front of someone else. Details of how this worked were not clear in the dream.

The Super Ugly Truth added superpowers to this. One Super Ugly card was Bulk Out – you go on a super-eating binge and devour the snack bar, lose two turns.

Oh, the art on the cards was by Brad Guigar of Evil, Inc.

I wonder if this is an actual commercial idea. I know there would probably be a novelty market for the Super Ugly Truth about Politics every four years, what with cards for RepUglycans and DeMonstercrats, but could it ever become a perennial like Munchkin?

Probably not because the Ugly Truth about the game is that nobody wins.

John Cash

Sentient toilets had a vogue for a while in the capital city of the Bergenalter Empire. Actually, they were a sessile flupe of the warrior caste of the dominant species from Emkaron 6.

Cameron Nguyen Fishbeck hated the things. It creeped him out to think of sitting and doing his business on what amounted to the oral orifice of an alien organism. And the sound it made as an equivalent of flushing was just gross.

But what really annoyed him was payday. His job as the bookkeeper for the Municipal Nujjball Arena meant he had personal contact with the flupes since their religion forbade them taking checks. They had to be paid in cash.

“What do they do with it?” he wondered not for the first time as he made his rounds dropping Impervine-wrapped bundles of coins and the specially notched antique pool cue handles used as money in the Bergenalter capital. “They’re stuck to the floor, they’ll live out the rest of their lives sitting there, eating, well, I don’t like to think about what they usually eat. But every payday they get bundles of money. Is it like an after-dinner mint?”

He didn’t know and didn’t care to find out that the flupes were essentially their race’s incubators and the money they got paid would ensure that no Emkaronian warrior was born without a coin in its pustules and a pool cue on its carapace.

Cameron made his way through all the toilet facilities of the complex, dropping his little bundles and cringing at the lip-smacking sounds the flupes made. He did his job quickly and tried not to think about it at all. “It’s exactly like throwing money down the toilet,” he complained silently.

Since nujjball is played with seven to twenty-three teams, each with as many as 1942 members, the city found it more profitable to charge the players and hire the spectators whose jobs consisted of rooting, jeering and doing the wave at the appropriate times. Usually there were more people on the field than in the bleachers and accordingly the toilet facilities in the stands were smaller and generally cleaner and better maintained. In fact, only one of the Emkaronians was employed as living porcelain in the rooting section.

Not that this made much difference to Cameron Fishbeck who just wanted to get the unpleasant task over. Finishing up quickly he hurried back to his office just before the belching started. Luckily, there were no games on so the arena had a minimum of workmen’s compensation claims to pay since the only one injured was the flupe who merely had a bad case of indigestion. If some of the cheering employees had been there, well, it’s always nasty when the excrement hits the enthusiast.

But when the near disaster was over, and blue hockey-puck-size antacids had been given to the gassy flupe the real source of the problem was discovered. Too much wood for the Emkaronian diet. Fishbeck had figured the paycheck wrong and delivered more than twice the correct number of pool cue handles to the lonely flupe.

His boss called him into the main office and told him the bad news. “Cam, you paid the fans’ loo wrong.” *