Stranger in a Strange Land


“You’re here,” I say, a bit frazzled, because I had not finished dusting my collection of  Gothic ashtrays.

“Yes, I realize I’m a bit early,” the stranger says uneasily. “I’m a little nervous; I haven’t done this in a long time.

“Well, I’ve never done this before. Do you want to do it right here on the table,” I ask, pointing to my kitchen table with a rotting fruit bowl as its center piece.

“Anywhere is fine,” he says, looking down at his feet embarrassed.

I nod and make my way to the hall closet. Immediately when I open the door, a broom falls out and the handle hits me square in the forehead with an audible, whack.  I shove the broom into the very back of the closet, so it won’t assault me the next time I open it. A lone Members Only Jacket is hanging up, just hoping and waiting for the day, that epaulets are in vogue again. My eyes scan the contents on the shelf. I see the box that I want underneath an old blanket. As I make my way back to the table, with the box in hand, I hear my tea kettle singing.

“I hope you don’t mind, but I was going to make myself a cup of tea.”

“I’ll have one as well.” I sit the box on the table and empty the contents of the fruit bowel, where I notice several fruit flies had died.

The stranger adds a little milk to his tea. The milk was already expired by at least three days; I had forgotten to dump it out. I debate on whether I should tell him or not. I finally decide that I will not.

Mom always said to check the date on the milk. She probably meant before you buy it though, not if you’re at a random stranger’s house.  

I pour my tea and politely refuse the three-day old milk, when the stranger offers it. Instead, I open my cookie jar and take out a flask containing whiskey and pour a little into my cup.  I don’t like how the stranger is judging me with his eyes.

“I have a cold,” I say sheepishly and judging from the size of the flask, it looks like I was planning on having a cold for the remainder of the year.

He sips his tea and either doesn’t notice the taste of sour milk, or is too polite to say anything.

We sit down, both of us staring at the box on the table.

“Are you sure you want to do this,” the stranger asks.

I take a sip of tea; I put too much whiskey in and it was burning my chest. “Yep,” I squeak out.

The Stranger opens up the Candy Land box and begins to set up the board. I pick up the cards to shuffle them, because they had not been shuffled, since the last time I played.

“What color gingerbread do you want,” I ask.

“Red. I always play with the red one.”

I hand him the red gingerbread person (sex of gingerbread undetermined) and he places it on the board at the starting point.

I like to play with the green gingerbread. Its stand is broken, so I just lay my gingerbread along side his. “You can go first.”

He draws a card and immediately advances forward with a double blue.

I pick up his discarded card and look at it.

“Hey,” he yells and points an indignant finger at me. “I don’t cheat.”

“I’m sorry,” I say. It was obvious I had really hurt his feelings. “There’s just so much riding on this game and I just assumed…”

“So, you thought I would cheat? That takes all the fun out of it.”

“I really am sorry; I just thought it was kind of…you know…your modus operandi.”

He snorts at that. “Your turn.”

I pick up a card and move one red square, which is the square right next to the start. I had advanced one square and the stranger was already halfway to glory.

He picks up a card and advances with a double yellow. When he lands, he is on the gum drop pass, which is a short cut. The stranger slowly slides his gingerbread along the pass, all without breaking eye contact with me.

I hope I get something good. I’d like to wipe that smug look off his face.

The next card is a double orange and just when I think I’m gaining on him, I land right on an orange square with a picture of  licorice on it, which means I lose a turn. “Goddamn licorice,” I yell, realizing I may just be the only person to have ever spoken those words.

The stranger selects his card. He gets only one blue this time and then draws another one, since I lost my turn. He searches the board looking for something. When he sets his gingerbread down, I can see, that he is very near the finish line already. He shows me the card, so that I don’t accuse him of cheating a second time. It is a picture of Queen Frostine.


The stranger is unsure if I meant him, or the fictitious queen of a 3 years and up children’s game.

I draw a card and pick up my gingerbread, who is lying face down in the licorice and move it a double yellow. I’m still way behind the stranger though.

“Hell yes,” he says, as he draws his card. His final card. He has a double orange, which puts him exactly on the finish line.

I panic. “It isn’t fair; I wasn’t ready.”

The stranger rises from his chair and puts on a beanie, that has a pom on the end of it.

“I still got it,” he says, walking out the door and out of my life, but not out for good. He’d be back one day to collect his winnings.

I sit in my chair stunned at what had just occurred. I take a sip of my whiskey tea; I didn’t mind the burning this time. I guess I’d better get used to the burning, because after all, I had just lost my soul to the devil.






Buckley vs Vidal: The 11th Debate


In 1968, ABC, the generic cereal of news organizations, (the set literally collapsed during the RNC) decided to host ten debates during the Democratic and Republican conventions. They chose two people from opposite sides of the political spectrum, to debate one another. William F. Buckley, a conservative, had his own show called, Firing Line, which was like Carlson Tucker’s show, only smugger. Gore Vidal, a liberal, and Carry Grant look alike, was a writer and playwright. The moderator of the debate, was Howard K Smith, an ABC political commentator. The debaters detested one another and the debates got really heated. The two men were polar opposites and the only thing they had in common, was that they were both elitists. Most people don’t know, there was actually an eleventh debate, which they decided not to air. Below is a complete transcript.

Smith: Good evening, we are here tonight for our eleventh and final debate, between Mr. William Buckley and Mr. Gore Vidal. Now gentlemen, it got a little too heated on our last debate and resulted in some hate speech, with the words, ‘crypto-Nazi’ and ‘queer,’ being used. Let’s try and keep it civil and stick to the issues. I mean, no one is watching, but still, it’s a family network.

Buckley: {holds pinky up} Of course Howard, and I’d like to explicate on what I was saying in the last debate about Vietnam. I wasn’t finished using my extensive vocabulary.

Smith: Our time is limited, because we have to show commercials advertising household products, in a misogynist  manner that condescends women. So, let’s get to the issues. Mr. Vidal, I will start with you. People wonder if you are a communist, because of your ideological beliefs. Can you answer that charge once and for all?

Vidal: {holds pinky up higher than Buckley} Yes, but first I’d like to insult Mr. Buckley in a defunct patrician accent.

Smith: Again, our time is limited and we have a lot of ground to cover.

Vidal: To answer your question, I am not a communist. I agree with many of its tenants, especially with Karl Marx, who defined communism as, ‘the doctrine of the conditions of the liberation of the proletariat.’

Smith: So, you are a champion of the working class?

Vidal: Yes, the working class are the pillar that hold up society and please stop making direct eye contact with me.

Buckley: Pay no attention to him Mr. Smith, he’s an elitist, who scoffs at a hard days work. He has never done a hard days work in his life. You do need to advert your eyes though.

Smith: {looks down}

Buckley: You need to bow your head a little lower. Maybe just turn your chair and face the wall.

Smith: {turns chair around} Mr. Buckley, do you think religion should have any place in politics?

Buckley: As you know, I’m a member of the Knight’s of Columbus. We go around taking any remaining lands, still owned by Native Americans. Also, we have the occasional fish fry.

Vidal: [snickers] What balderdash!

Buckley: Mr. Vidal interrupted me and I wasn’t finished enunciating. Dear God man, look at me when I am speaking to you.

Smith: {Turning his chair back around} Gentleman please, we don’t have a lot of time and the people want to hear the issues. Also, this set may collapse again at any moment. We are on a shoestring budget and we will have to pay you both with a roll of quarters and a vat of Bactine Medicated Skin Cream. Mr Vidal, do you think if Nixon becomes President, that he will get us out of the war in Vietnam?

Vidal: Mr. Nixon’s stance on Vietnam is vague and unclear. He, however, is a hawk, so one would doubt it. What is clear though, is that Mr. Buckley is a conservative philistine with no humane qualities.

Buckley: You are a depraved liberal degenerate!

Vidal: You sir are a conservative villian!

Smith: Gentlemen please!

Buckley: Why don’t you go expatriate yourself.

Vidal: I am not an expatriate; I just choose to live in Italy, to be far away from you and your banal views. {mumbles} crypto-Nazi.

Buckley: {rises angrily} I heard that. {picks up his chair and swings it at Vidal. It misses and hits Howard on the head knocking him unconscious}

Buckley: I am leaving; I can not debate a man with no morals and whose prose is obscene.

Vidal: {nudges the unconscious Smith} Do I still get my facial cream?

{Cameraman cuts to a cigarette commercial, where a whole family is smoking a pack of Pall Mall’s at the dinner table}

Training video: How to insult your opponent in a debate with class.



All the Idiot President’s Men


The etymology of words are interesting, but the etymology of political words are almost always born out of corruption. Here are five words to add to your political vocabulary.

Non-denial denial. The non-denial denial, has been around a long time; it’s been used by lawyers, politicians and clever children, when they want to avoid the truth, without directly lying. The phrase didn’t get coined until Ben Bradlee, of the Washington Post, used it to describe all the evasive statements they were receiving from Nixon’s staff during Watergate. A non-denial denial, is when you don’t deny something, but you carefully craft your words, so that it doesn’t seem untruthful, because it’s based on interpretation. A famous example is when Bill Clinton said, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” because sexual relations can be defined differently. The non-denial denial, has been used frequently by this administration, not by Trump, because he’s not actually smart enough to use it. He is more of deny and then later tell the truth, because he forgot that he already denied it. Kellyanne Conway invented her own political term, “alternative facts” as a non-denial denial, at Sean Spicer’s blatant lie about the size of Trump’s inauguration crowd. By all accounts, Attorney General, Jeff Sessions has perjured himself three times, but because of the non-denial denial, it would be hard to prove. Press Secretary, Sarah “I hate my life” Sanders, has probably used the non-denial denial the most on behalf of her boss. She has repeatedly dodged questions about Trump’s sexual harassment allegations, by saying the issue was put to rest during the election, because the voters already knew this information, but voted for him anyway. When asked about George Papadopoulos colluding with the Russians to get dirt on Hillary Clinton, she responded, “he was a volunteer; he was not a senior member of the campaign.” She should take a page out of her predecessors book and just hide in a bush.

Ratfucking. Yes, this is a real political word and yes, it was hilarious in, All the President’s Men, when Deep Throat asked Robert Redford what the topic was for the night and he said, “ratfucking.” You should use that word next time someone asks you what your weekend plans are. I don’t know if the actual term is still used, but certainly the behavior is prevalent. Former Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon and Trump have parted ways (it’s always sad when celebrity couples break up) but that hasn’t stopped Steve from saying, “I don’t think Trump will even make it to a second term; he’s lost his stuff.” His, ‘stuff’ being barely coherent ramblings, boasting and hyperbole. Bannon also said, as noted in Fire and Fury, “Don Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer in Trump Tower was treasonous.” According to Trump though, that is a fake book, perpetrated by the fake news media. Everything is fake, except for his hair and his love for himself. Let’s not forget former White House Director of Communications and Sopranos extra, Anthony Scaramucci’s rant, about Reince Priebus being a, “paranoid  schizophrenic” and saying he thinks Steve Bannon was the one leaking to the press. The biggest ratfucking, would have to be Mike Flynn and Paul Manafort. Who knows what the two of them told Mueller about Kushner or Trump, in order to try and save themselves. Everyone is ratfucking everyone else, in an attempt to not go down with a ship named the S.S. Trump.

Deep state. This term has been gaining traction again lately. It’s a form of cabal, that operates in the shadows, outside of democracy. I first remember hearing the term from, All the President’s Men. It was used about Watergate and that turned out to be true in that case. Howard Simon, who was managing editor of the Washington Post, jokingly called Woodward’s informant Deep Throat, because of his seemingly deep background. Deep state has been used a lot recently, especially on Fox News, to claim the FBI is conspiring to remove Trump from office. Deep state is a conspiracy and although there was one in Watergate, it’s definitely not the case now. The only reason the GOP is calling it a deep state, is because Trump is in deep shit. Human sock puppet, Sean Hannity, has lead the charge on the deep state, which is the FBI and DOJ. It’s a way to discredit Robert Mueller and his investigation. Lou Dobbs has also said that, “it’s time to call out the deep state.” Devin Nunes, the on-again, off-again, character from a soap opera, that you wish they would just kill off, is the head of the deep state revival. He has a memo that documents violations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. He claims the FBI, abused the FISA surveillance law, over its use of the dossier on Trump, to obtain a FISA warrant against Carter Page. Keeping in mind, it’s a memo on a warrant Nunes didn’t read. It’s like writing a book report on a book you didn’t read. It’s not like Devon Nunes recused himself, because he was getting information directly from the White House in defense of the White House or anything.

Bork.  Borking, not to be confused with porking, even though they achieve the same goal, means to assault a person’s background or personal character in order to discredit them. The word comes from Robert Bork, who tried to deep six the Watergate investigation. Let’s face it, Trump loves to bork people; he’s been doing it his entire life. He borked all of his political opponents, (lying Ted, little Marco, low-energy Jeb and Crooked Hillary), he’s borked everyone that he’s fired and most recently, he borked FBI Deputy Director, Andrew McCabe, into resigning (technically he borked McCabe’s wife). Not only is Trump personally borking Mueller, but the Republican majority is borking the entire FBI and DOJ. That’s a lot of borking! Now the Republican majority of the House Intelligence Committee, has launched an investigation into the FBI. It’s an investigation to investigate the investigators. It’s not a Saturday Night Massacre; it’s a Saturday Night Live skit.

Eleventh Commandment. Reagan used the term when running for governor of California. The eleventh commandment is, “thou shall not speak ill of any fellow Republican.” The GOP has officially adopted the eleventh commandment, when it comes to Trump and his actions. Nothing is ever his fault; it’s the fault of the media, the FBI, Hillary Clinton, Obama, Smurfs … everyone except Trump. Never has a party defended such a corrupt, inane, and vile demagogue. It doesn’t matter what he says or does and it’s gotten to the point, that he’s said so many horrible things, when he does something like read from a teleprompter and stay on script, Fox News throws him a parade. Just because bats aren’t flying out of his ass, doesn’t mean that everything is normal. Trump’s behavior is far from normal and yet the GOP make excuses for him. Everyone surrounding Trump is a sycophant, they tell him what he wants to hear. They distract him with flattery and by dangling shiny objects in front of him. Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, who carries around Atlas Shrugged in his back pocket, has most recently used the eleventh commandment and defended the Nunes’ memo saying, “that that the public deserves full transparency into the potentially wrong-doing of the FBI.” This is all an attempt to create a narrative, that the FBI is corrupt, so Trump will be justified when he fires Mueller. The GOP is currently working on a twelfth commandment, “thou shall not help poor people.”

Interview with Voice Over Artist Anne Hatfield


Today I’m speaking with au fait Voice Over artist, Anne Hattfield, who has used her rich, vibrant voice to create an eclectic body of work.

M: How did you become interested in being a voice over artist?

A: I’ve read aloud to anyone who would listen since I was a kid (my overwrought recitations of a visit from St. Nicholas are the stuff of family lore), but I didn’t realize it was a real career option, until I was already in another career working as a communications director. Fortunately, I handled all the advertising for the company and was able to start working in VO, by casting myself as the voice talent. It was a budget saver initially, since I didn’t have to pay myself to do the work, but the studio people were pleased with what I could do and encouraged me to pursue it.

M: You lend your voice to all kinds of projects, from narration to commercials, what has been your favorite project to work on so far?

A: I enjoy every new project. Each presents the particular challenge of unpacking the message to the satisfaction of the client. Who’s the audience for this script? What’s the message? What reaction should the script prompt? I have to get into the head of both the client and the audience, to figure out who I need to become, so that I can achieve these goals. Do I need to be a mom concerned about her children’s nutritional needs? Am I am a business owner recommending a particular financial strategy? Am I your best friend confiding beauty secrets? And how would that person communicate with the intended audience in a relatable way? Once I know this, then the detail work begins. It’s always an exciting process.

One of the best compliments I ever received, was from someone not in the industry, who had listened to my commercial demo for the first time. He asked me, “But which one is you?” My voice, my tone and my pacing were tailored specifically for each project and I didn’t sound the same in any of them. That’s what I aim to do every time.

M: When listening to one of my own voice messages, I often hate the sound of my own voice. I realize that I have either spoken too rapidly, or I’m not loud enough. Have you had any voice coaching or training, to overcome difficulties, such as getting rid of a regional accent?

A: I have and continue to have voice coaching. You can never practice enough and you can always get better. I’m very fortunate that my natural speech betrays no regional accent, so that was one hurdle I avoided. My diction can sometimes be too precise, though, and my voice coach will work with me to soften my edges. We laugh about this now, but it’s a true story that one of my very first words (after, I suppose, the usual “mama” and “dada”) was “enunciate.” I was being prepped for this work from the cradle.

M: There are certain words in the English language that are very hard to say clearly and succinctly, such as anemone, ignominious, defibrillator, brewery… have you ever advised a client to change their wording, or are you able to write your own script?

A: I never change the client’s script. It’s my job to navigate those words as written. I may not get it the first time, but I will get it the second. If clients are present during a recording session, they may suggest changes on the spot if they don’t like what they hear. That can happen, but they’ve paid experienced advertising creative teams to manage their message, so there’s a reason a given script is written a certain way. I’ve written many, many commercials in my previous career and I wouldn’t want anyone changing them either. Grammatical errors, however, are tough to ignore, and I would gently mention any of those I see. I don’t want the client to be embarrassed later on.

M: Is there any type of project you haven’t worked on, that you would really like to tackle?

A: I like everything I do, but what I’d especially enjoy is working more with smaller clients, who don’t think they can afford quality voice work. They can afford it and will get much better results from it. A skilled voice artist immediately gives your message, a legitimacy and weight and professionalism, it doesn’t have otherwise. All of us are sophisticated listeners. If you hear a hesitant, awkward voice, you won’t associate confidence with the product, service, etc.

M: How many attempts does it usually take you, before you are satisfied with the results and are there any set guidelines you should always follow?

A: You might do a read in one take or in thirty takes. On my own, I usually get what I want in three or so takes. My opinion is not the one that matters though. In VO, as in all things, the customer is always right. We take direction and make changes, until they are happy with the results.

As far as guidelines go, the rule is to leave your ego at the door. One of my voice coaches told me once, that my job is to be a smart puppet. My voice has to reflect the intent of the puppeteer who is the client. I have to keep trying out new things, new variations, until I hit on the right voice and delivery. If I’m doing my job properly, it should be a smooth, comfortable process.

M: For someone who is interested in doing voice over work, where is the best place to start? Should they get an agent?

A: I can only comment on my path and I don’t have an agent, but many people do. There are scores of good internet resources out there for the beginner voice over artist, but my best advice, is to simply start by listening. Voice work is everywhere…radio, television, internet. It’s constant and not always glamorous. When you take an e-learning course at your office, for example, someone like me is presenting the material and that requires just as much diligence and artistry, as more high profile voice overs. So you listen and if you find yourself repeating the words you hear and reshaping them in your own voice in several different ways, that’s a good test for the kind of work we do.

Oddly enough, having what family and friends tell you is a, “good voice” is only a part of the equation. Are you also able to communicate sophisticated concepts with appropriate mood and intelligence? That’s the key.

M: Would you ever consider giving your voice and personality to doing an animated character?

A: Certainly, and that would be great fun. Every voice artist, has their voice niche, what they do best. For example, mine tends to skew more toward narration and commercial work. Our mutual friend, Jeff Newton (@yonewt on Twitter), however, is a terrific actor, who does fantastic accents and characters, that are among the best I’ve ever heard. This would definitely be his niche.

M: What do you like most about doing voice over work?

A: It’s a creative act; I get to make something that didn’t exist before. We’re at our best when challenged, no matter what the medium or endeavor. Voice work requires skill and targeted inspiration, or the result is inauthentic. It’s a wonderful privilege to collaborate with a client to create genuine, impactful communication. Really, it’s just plain fun.

M: How does a person or business solicit your services?

A: Through my website is best at There are several voice samples there to give clients an idea of what I do. There’s also a contact form to submit scripts.

The following is an important public service announcement.


3 Alternative Script Changes to Make Film Genres Less Predictable



A building explodes. Our hero, Johnny Awesome, is wearing a tailored Hugo Boss suit. His perfectly coiffed hair, remains unvarnished, as debris and ash rain down all around him, while lesser human beings are running for their lives, flapping their arms in panic, like a bunch of uncouth animals looking for safety.  Johnny Awesome looks directly into the camera and winks, as the flames are getting closer. He looks at the camera again and mouths the words, “Oh, fuck me.” The camera pans to his feet, revealing a pair of Egyptian blue crocs. He’s still wearing his love-making crocs and forgot to slip on his wingtip Oxfords, before leaving his flat. The confidence he had in the beginning, is starting to slip away and is replaced with a fear that he might not make it, because he is after all, walking slower than the flames are spreading. He shakes his head, this was no time to be thinking about the laws of physics. At the risk of looking uncool, he starts to power walk, with really exaggerated arm swings, to build up momentum, because he can feel the heat from the flames that are almost upon him. Johnny Awesome is no longer gliding effortlessly, but stumbling, as he tries desperately not to die and have the movie end at a reasonable time. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees a, Wings N Things, food truck, parked on the corner. With a last ditch effort to survive, he leaps in the air, like an Olympic high jumper. As he extends his legs, one of his love-making crocs, flies off and hits an elderly woman in the face, who is carrying grocery bags. The unsuspecting woman loses her grip on her bags and the force of the croc, knocks her to the ground, rendering her unconscious. Produce begins rolling out of the grocery bags and into the street. Johnny Awesome breathes a sigh of relief; he made his landing safely, as the elderly woman gets engulfed in flames. The croc, which ricocheted off the old woman’s face, had skittered underneath the food truck. Johnny reaches underneath the truck, grabs the slightly-singed, Egyptian blue croc and places it back on his foot. Nothing, not even the threat of death, was going to stand in the way of his twenty-four hour love making.

Felicia Raven, is the last marine left alive from her squad, that was sent to eradicate a hostile alien species called the, Candoborgs, from the planet, Ultar. This planet of unlicensed proctologists, like to probe human asses with all the vigor of … well, licensed  proctologists. The Queen has gotten aboard Felicia’s ship and has damaged the primary flight controls, so that she is unable to set a course for home. She has been searching frantically, trying to find the secondary controls, so that she can program another path home, while the Queen is in hot pursuit. Felicia sees a switch, conveniently marked, “secondary.”  Felicia pulls the switch and the ship has a new heading home, but now the Queen Candoborg has her cornered. Felicia knows there is only one tried and true way to kill an alien, and that is for it to get sucked out the airlock. The airlock always worked, in fact, Felicia shoved her mother-in-law out the airlock last month, when she kept complaining about her pot roast being dry. It’s been a source of contention between her and her husband ever since. The Candoborgs are over eight feet tall and can easily lift you up and tear you apart, but only after they give you your free colonoscopy. Felicia darts under a table and quickly maneuvers just around the Queen and away from her mighty grasp. She runs to the rear of the ship, where the airlock is located. The Queen, who is irate at this point, because she has already missed her son’s clarinet recital, scrambles to catch her. Felicia judges that the Queen is standing close enough to the airlock and hits the open button. The Queen is blown toward the door, while reaching in vain to try and grab something to hold onto. They both look at each other at first in surprise and then the Queen looks at Felicia in mortification. Her ass has gotten stuck in the door and it’s plugging up the entire exit. The Queen, who has learned to speak English by watching 80’s reruns of Dynasty, tells her that she’s gained a lot of weight over the holidays. Felicia sympathizes with this, because she has put on a few pounds herself. The Queen proposes a deal, that if she helps her out of this and never tells anyone, she promises to leave the planet alone. She also tells Felicia, that they are less interested in asses and more into breasts now anyway. Felicia considers this proposition and decides that a chance at saving the planet, is worth her own personal risk and she can tell the Queen is sincere. She pushes the button to close the airlock, so that it won’t suck them out, once she is able to free the Queen. Felicia finds a crowbar and tries to wedge it in between the Queen’s ass and the door. She pushes on the crowbar with all of her might, but her ass just won’t budge. Felicia has another idea and leaves the Queen to go to the kitchen. She reaches into the fridge and pulls out two sticks of butter. When Felicia returns with the butter, she realizes that there is no way that the Queen will be able to butter her own ass, so she will have to do it. Felicia sighs, and with a stick of butter in each hand, she wriggles her hands in and starts to grease up the alien’s rump, like she is trying to keep food from sticking to a frying pan. She greases the sides of the airlock too. Felicia determines that she’s added enough butter and takes the Queens hands into hers, pulling with all of her might. The Queen’s ass slides through the door with an audible, squish. The two look at one another and begin to laugh. Felicia returns to Earth with a hero’s welcome. The mayor commends her bravery for buttering an alien’s ass and saving the Earth. Felicia is then awarded a key to the city.

Baxter Price, looks at his phone’s screen saver and sighs. It’s a picture of him and his girlfriend of three years, Emma Singer. They are both wearing a, I’m with stupid, t-shirt with arrows pointing at him. She’s gone now, about to get on a plane, leaving to a far away wasteland. Her plane was leaving for Cleveland in another half hour and he was all alone watching his, Police Academy box set. Baxter starts to text her, to tell her not to go, while Michael Winslow is making sound effects in the background. He puts his phone down, deciding that would be too reasonable and expedient. Instead, he’s going to rush over to the airport and stop her from getting on her flight. He hops in his Pontiac Aztek, which needs new shocks, tires, brakes and motor, but other than that, it runs like a dream. He starts the car and it makes a, please just let me die sound before it begins to run. Baxter looks at the clock, her plane leaves in thirty minutes and it takes forty minutes to get to the airport from his house. He can do it, he determines, by driving fast, sheer tenacity and completely ignoring the laws of space and time. Baxter takes off down his street, a 25 mph residential area, going as fast as possible. He weaves around pedestrians, honking his horn at them, until he makes it to the exit ramp for the highway. He speeds along at 100 mph, with a Bayside Breeze, pine-scented car freshener, dangling from his rear-view mirror, silently screaming for help. He doesn’t see the police car, that’s parked off on the shoulder and whizzes past it without stopping. The policeman starts to turn on his blue lights and then switches them back off, deciding that he was driving a Pontiac Aztek and probably had enough problems. Baxter pulls into the airport and parks the car right in front of the US Airway lane, not caring about getting his car towed, or a ticket, or important life choices. He dashes towards gate 7, before he realizes, that is the wrong gate and turns around. As he does, he stops dead in his tracks. His olfactory nerve, transmits an impulse to his tiny brain receptors, that he smells cinnamon. He looks around, and there by a Sunglass Hut, like a shiny beacon of hope, is a Cinnabon. He glances at his phone and realizes he still has a few minutes before Emma’s flight is supposed to leave. Baxter walks in and can’t believe his luck, there’s no one else in line. He orders a large caramel PeaconBon and doesn’t even notice, that the Cinnabon employee doesn’t make a new one, but takes the one that has been sitting out there since the morning and hands it to Baxter. Baxter, who is mesmerized by the sight of caramel, pecans, frosting and it’s squishy dough, a phrase also used by Emma, to describe his love handles, sits down and slowly savors every morsel. When he’s done, he yawns and stretches his legs. He has completely forgotten the reason he came to the airport. Baxter walks out of the airport and rides off into the sunset in his Aztek, with a two hundred dollar parking ticket and icing still clinging to his chin.


80’s Sitcoms: 5 Ways Every Problem in Life Can be Resolved in 30 Minutes.


If 80’s sitcoms have taught us anything, it’s that all of life’s difficulties can be solved in just 30 minutes. Every problem, from finding a prom date, to battling anorexia, can be remedied by highly predictable plot lines, ending with really trite and overly simplified dialogue, from a well meaning parent or teacher. Having watched countless 80’s shows and wasting precious hours of my life that I can never get back, I’ve come up with five things that must be present, in order for you to learn a valuable life lesson.

The Cable Knit Sweater. Yes, they’re itchy and make you as unattractive as possible, but goddamit, they solve problems! When some authority figure, usually a father, who doesn’t have a steady job, yet his family is middle class, has one of these bad boys on, it means it’s time to cut the shit. Whether it’s braided lattice in gaudy neon colors, or a Christmas sweater in July, you are about to get a stern talking to my friend, using every blunt and unsophisticated means at their disposal. The recipients of these pearls of wisdom, also wearing their own miniature version of this brash and unappealing garment, sit on their beds, with their heads down, hoping the show will hurry up and get canceled. After what feels like a painfully long time, but only thirty minutes have gone by, your teen pregnancy has been dealt with and you no longer have dyslexia. How do we know the issues have really been resolved? We know, because dad’s bulky, mock-neck cable knit sweater said so.

The Catch Phrase. In order for things to run along smoothly, to reach it’s anticlimactic zenith, it’s very helpful if one or more characters has a catch phrase. The catch phrase is reliable and oddly comforting, like your grandmother. The phrase could be a question, “whatcha talkin’ about Willis?” or just a two-word phrase, “have mercy.” Every episode, you’re lying on the couch, staring dead-eyed into a wooden behemoth, with antenna that can reach Mars and waiting to hear, “kiss my grits!” When one of the Olsen twins (you didn’t know there were two of them at the time and now you somehow feel betrayed) utters, “you got it dude,” you feel like your life of never solving that Rubik’s Cube and crying into your pillow, while the Smiths are playing, can now proceed. GI Joe taught us that, “knowing is half the battle” and we just assumed the other half, was how to accessorize urban warfare couture. Sometimes we knew precisely when the catch phrase was going to be spoken, because it signified the end of the show like Hannibals, “I love it when a plan comes together.” The catch phrase was essential, because take away that and you’re just left with an absurd premise about aliens who like to eat cats.

The Stereotype. If there is one thing that 80’s sitcoms had no shortage of, it was stereotypes. How can problems get resolved, if there aren’t slightly racist and homophobic token characters. The wise cracker, the square, the very gay man, the fat funny girl, the bully…ad nauseam. Every Asian American had to speak like Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid. Any non-Murcian, had to speak in broken English, otherwise, how would we know they’re foreign. The Spanish American from Fantasy Island shouting, “De plane! de plane!” It was essential that the disabled person have down syndrome, to be the representative for the entire disabled community. Every show hired a bunch of lazy writers to compete for the best, one-dimensional character they could contrive. (Fuck character arc!) You simply can’t get to that all important resolution, unless your show has major and ancillary characters that we can predict.  I’m sorry, but if you’re overweight, you better be funny or at least mildly amusing, because what else have you got.

The Wacky Neighbor. It can’t all properly come together, without the crazy, but lovable (not really) neighbor like Steve Urkel, Kimie Gibbler, or the man we only new as, “Wilson” from Home Improvement, who apparently never worked, ate or went to the bathroom, because he was always in his yard and available to dispense advice, to all of Tim’s, macho bullshit problems. The wacky neighbor never knocked, because that would be for normal human beings. Oh no, this neighbor burst into your house unannounced, without knocking, made a few wise cracks that were funny, as indicated by the laugh track and then left, as unceremoniously as they came. They could only come in while you were talking, vacuuming or doing some other inconsequential thing, never while you were doing something embarrassing. Can you imagine if Mr. Roper burst in, while they were having a menage a trois on Three’s Company! Well, you can now, in fact that’s probably all you’ll think about from now on. There was nothing untoward about male neighbors like Lenny and Squiggy, walking right into a females apartment, without knocking. It’s not predatory behavior; it’s quaint damn it!

The Single Dad. Whether it’s a divorce, or mom died in a freak accident involving leg warmers, no one cares, as long as this attractive dad is available. Typically, it’s a  stay at home dad, who is always and I do mean always, on hand to be the voice of reason. This great dad tackles all of the kids problems, even if the problem is, that their dad never leaves the house, except to go on a date. Single dad, did we mention that he was single, can be preachy or a jokester, as long as he uses sarcasm as part of his parenting style. Danny Tanner, from Full House, might be a narcissistic control freak, but he cares about the well-being, of the fifty extended family members that live in his house. Only single dad, can elicit the background elevator music in those tender loving family moments.

Me, circa 1988

Look at it! Do not avert your eyes! Stare into the geometric patterns, of my heinous sweater, until you become hypnotized or feel mildly nauseous.

Do Republicans Dream of Electric Sheeple?


Sci-Fi fans might remember that the Voight Kampff test, was a test that was administered in Philip K. Dicks’ novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and also in the movie, Blade Runner. The test was designed, to determine if a person was real or a replicant, by eliciting empathetic responses, which a human would give and detect replicants, because they were supposed to be incapable of discerning emotions. The Voight Kampff test has now been redesigned, but instead of detecting replicants, it can now detect Republican officials. Here are a list of sample questions taken from the new test.

A poor person comes to you, explaining she is a single mom working two jobs. She can barely make ends meet and relies on food stamps to feed her family. She begs you, not to cut the food stamps program from the Federal budget. What do you say to her?

  • Don’t worry, I won’t cut the funding for the program.
  • Food stamps? Ain’t nobody got time for that.
  • Offer her an Arby’s coupon for a free curly fry.

A man’s son was just killed in a mass shooting. He asks you what you are going to do about assault weapons. What do you say to the man?

  • Pull out a gun and shoot him.
  • I’m going to propose legislation to ban assault weapons.
  • Give everyone a gun, including monkeys and babies.

A teenage boy comes to you and tells you that his parents are illegal immigrants and are about to be deported. How do you respond to the teenager?

  • Invite the parents to work in your sweat shop for below minimum wage.
  • Propose an immigration reform bill that, would allow his parents to stay.
  • Start to offer him an Arby’s coupon, but then don’t, because you remember that you wanted to use it later.

A gay couple invite you to the bakery they own, where they make wedding cakes. What do you say to the couple?

  • I would love too!
  • Ask them if they have a minute to talk about Jesus.
  • Pretend to be dead.

A family has lost everything they own, because of a hurricane.  They want to know what you will do to help them and others like them. How do you respond to this family in need?

  • Give no fucks.
  • Give them food and water and tell them about the emergency services that are available.
  • Assault them with a paper towel roll.

An actual flaming turd, is a Republican candidate running for the Senate. It eats kittens, sells crack to kids in your neighborhood and judo chops old people. Do you give your support to this candidate?

  • Absolutely not!
  • If these allegations are true, then you might think about reconsidering.
  • Give money to its Super PAC.

The results of this test are supposed to be kept confidential, but I will share them anyway. Mitch McConnell’s results were inconclusive, because he passed out during the first question, at the mention of, “poor person.” Steve Mnuchin’s results were also inclusive, because he had to stop midway through, to count his bars of gold. However, two-thirds of our government have now been retired.