Monthly Archives: February 2009

Unbelievers, they just can’t believe it’s not butter.

Betty placed the four plates on the table carefully, one for each of us, and parceled out our all-we-can-afford-nowadays ‘breakfast’: Two slices of toast smeared with our mystery Subject-of the Day. The race to consume and comprehend began…
Alfie: “I can’t believe it’s not butter. Simple as that.”
Betty: Then you believe that it is, in fact, butter, Alf?”
Alfie: “Well yeah, I guess that’s the only logical conclusion.”
Jimmel, speaking with his mouth full, broke in: “No, he only said he can’t believe it ain’t.. you know.. butter.”
Betty: Then what the hell does he believe it is, wise guy, chopped liver?”
Jimmel: Oy, Betty you pedantic little nin-com-poop, listen for a change. Alfie only confessed to his inability to Believe.”
Alfie: *thankful for the support* “Yeah, ‘what he said’– I’m like, an agnostic.
I listened raptly, though the whole thing reminded me of yet another 693-comment Xanga post on the Existence of God. Searching my plate in a futile hope of finding any remaining crumbs and coming up bereft, I chimed in:
Me: “Yeah guys. A true atheist would say ‘This is-or-is not butter. This I believe. Amen,’.. oh, and ‘there is no God’. End of subject. But Alfie here, he’s holding out for the lab-test results: ‘Specimen contained zero animal fats or proteins. Butter ruled out conclusively’.
Jimmel: So what is it,nu.. ‘Betty’, if that’s your real name?”
Betty: “Margarine.”
Jimmel: “Why don’t they just admit it.”
Betty: “Marketing, who knows? Suspense.”
Alfie: “Hey, why not call it ‘I can’t believe you guys can’t believe it’s not butter'”
Me: Oof, Don’t go– meta- like that, Alf, not on an empty stomach…”
Alfie: “Anyway, God died 65 million years ago. When He let that stupid comet wipe out four billion years of ‘character development’. Almost knocked the earth off the whole stack of giant turtles.”
Me: “You saying the dinosaurs had character?”
Alfie: “They stuck to their guns a lot longer than we’ve been able to so far. Plus, the whole deal sucks, I say. Some  wannabe hands God a note, there beside the swimming pool; One word: “Mammals” and God buys it? Just like that?”
Jimmel: “I think it said ‘Plastics‘. I saw the movie.”
Betty: “At least mammals give milk. As in, duh, ‘maketh butter’?”
Me: “yeah, ‘just add water’. Or…um.. remove it”.
Alfie: Speaking of which, this stuff has a real plastic-y after-taste.”
Betty: “Then you do believe it’s not butter after all?”
Alfie: “Who cares? I’m starving. What’s for lunch, Bett?”
Betty: “You guys’ll love it.
Me: “Lemme guess, ‘I can’t believe it’s not bread’®?”
Betty: “Oy, you cheated. No fair.”
Alfie: “God is dead. We now have living proof.”
Jimmel:” So what you gonna do now, Alf? Now that you don’t believe in anything anymore?”
Me: “He’ll probably go to Law school.
Alf: “Yup, and one with a cafeteria(!) . But thanks anyway for breakfast, Bett. Food for thought at least.


Q: What the hell motivates you to write this stuff?
A: Eehh.. Tryin’ to deconstruct ad-copy, I guess.
Q: And hoping somebody’ll find it humorous?
A: Sure, can’t deny that. I got 130 subs. Trying to ‘raise ’em from the dead’.
Q: But it takes time to write.
A: A half hour, plus/minus punctuation, bold, italics, quotes, underline, indent
Q: That does make it easier to read.
A: Yeah, I’m good at that part, by now. Content rulez though, of course.
Q: Think anybody’ll slyly hint that he ‘got’ the refs? You know, like The Graduate, or the
Simpsons or the “Turtles all the way down’?
A: Tell ya the truth, ‘Q’, I used to let that make or break my day. Now lately I’m pretty sure I
write 50% or more for myself. Or family: This one’s mainly for my son who also saw the “p implies q” problem in the “Can’t believe it ain’t Butter” label
Q: You’re a lucky guy, ‘A’
A: Yeah, the God I never believed in for a second does genetics like a champion. Don’t make me
cry now.
Q: Sorry. What else you working on?
A: Packing, collecting bills, decoding train schedules
Q: Bon voyage… to anybody stupid enough to fly to a colder climate.
A: At least they got a schvartze leader-in-charge, honest and smart, finally. We don’t even have
a white one worth saluting. Fuck, all Bibi did last time was to lick the decals off the presents
foreign dignitaries gave us. Him and his stupid joke-of-a-wife, Sarah.
Q: Sucks. No wonder you write dumb stuff to take your mind off it.

Talking Venus here…

“Just a second,” I begged the lady on the phone from Puppets R Us®
“I already gave you  one!” Her tone left no doubt that our conversation was wrapping up.
“Well, how about a second second then?” I asked politely, adding “at the risk of repeating myself…”
“Let me get this straight.” she growled. “Your dummy’s broke?”
“That’s what I said.” I said, for what seemed like the fortieth time. “The arm fell off.”
“So sew it back on, idiot. Whadya want from me?”
‘Great public relations this drone’s got’, I thought to myself.
“…and then it got, like, got …um.. run over.” I continued, then decided not to bother this she-devil with the gory details, the accident.
“So you need a whole new arm?”
“No, Ma’am, I just need a new hand-made hand made…”
I explained, “At the risk of..”

“Yeah, ‘of repeating yourself’. What’s the model number?” she finally asked me, smelling a profit.
“Says here… hold on a second, says here ‘Hand-maiden 2000’
“Where?”

“Right on the front of her back.”
“”You mean on the ‘back’ of her back, right?”

“Yeah, I guess, ‘stage-back’, to the audience.” I gave the evil lady a point.
“Ok, Lemme check.”
I heard the sound of papers being shuffled, then “Wait, the ‘Hand-maiden’s  hand-made in Portugal, you knew that?” ‘Ms Congeniality’ came back on the line.
“Yeah, she told me.” I joked, working on  rapport and  momentum. “She keeps going on about her childhood as a balboa tree in Lisbon..”
“Gonna run you an arm and a leg.” Eight hundred bucks, pay in advance, not including tax.”
Spoken sternly. So much for humor.
“That’s the best you can do?” I quibbled, hoping for an ounce of mercy.
“You thought of running her as an amputee?” Ms Marionette-from-Hell was now dripping sarcasm.
“Sure, lady. ..and you’d make a perfect deaf-mute, now that we’re talking as professionals. That way I wouldn’t have to hear you call me a ‘dummy‘”
“Sir, I called you an ‘idiot‘. Don’t put words in my mouth!”
she almost screamed.
“Hey that’s my job, duh. I’m a ventriloquist. Be glad it’s only words, sucka.” I realized with that that we were probably finished with our little phone-friendship, and banged the receiver down in its cradle.

All that was left was to smile at my dear ‘challenged’ Hand-maiden, and ask her, for the thousandth time: “S’awright?”

She stuck out a fuzzy tongue at me, smiled, and answered in her husky baritone “Sawriight!!”And then… (I swear I didn’t move my lips,) she added “Better armless than charmless, senor.”


A: Questions?
Q: I saw this one on Ed Sullivan, right?
A: Yeah, Sunday nights, on the davenport in your pajamas..
Q: Black and white though. Yours is more ..you know, ‘colorful’.
A: I think it woulda got past the censors though, even then.
Q: Harmless entertainment.
A: Yup. Now ‘gehe schlufen’.awright

Senor Wences and “Pedro”, for anyone who could forget.

Fourteen basically random steps to a Last-second Passport Renewal:

1) Get awake at about 3:30 AM. This ensures that you’ll have plenty of time to grab the bag with all your documents and walk a couple steps to your car, to leave for the train station by 5:15. Oh yeah, you also have time to take a shower, considering that A) last night you slept in your clothes in a pile of rags in the corner, as befits someone too stupid to check his passport expirey-date until two days before his flight, and B) Who knows, they might want to take a picture of you, which shall live in infamy, or ten years, whichever is worse.
2) A ten minute drive to the train station. It’s dark, but there’s a helpful supervisor on duty. He sees you spend more than three seconds trying to make any sense out of the Ticket-Automaton, and offers to help:
“Where’re ya going?’
“Tel Aviv, Central Station. Next train.”
He pushes a few magic buttons, asks “You got seven shekels?” You hand him the money, he feeds it into the coin-slot and walks away. Of course the coins all get rejected, and end up in a wire cradle I wish I had a picture of. You really need wire-cutters and needle-nose pliers to get ’em back out. The second time it works.
3) The next failed Automaton is the turnstile to get out onto the tracks. It rejects your ticket. Four times. Teh ‘super’ walks over and just opens the main gate to let you through. Gives the machine a little kick, saying “Made in Holland”, as if that explains everything? At least its not ‘our fault.
4) The train actually shows up, and Lo and behold, the Mosaic “Light-bulb unto the nations’ have now started to put actual names and numbers on them(!) As of this year, I guess. Since Obama. But when the conductor on the train sees your ticket he just frowns:
“No good.”
“What, no good, I just bought it.”
“When?”
“Five minutes ago.”
Finally he explains that my ticket is only good for trips after 9 AM.. “Says so right on there.” pointing to a miniscule smudge of failed printing. “They won’t let you off the train.” He sighs.
“They’ll send me on to Damascus?” I ask, playing on his sympathy
“You got six shekels?” he asks.
“Sure. Here” I hand him a couple more worthless coins and get three(?) new tickets, each one saying “2 shekels” on it. The ride takes 20 minutes. I’m the only passenger. And of course there’s no one to bother to check anything when I get off.
4) Scene: Tel Aviv Grand Central Whatevah. There are no whatsoever signs hinting how to connect to ‘the busses’. You get out and walk around the neighborhood till you see a bunch of parked busses. ‘Information’ (sic) is all boarded up. A security guard tells you “Bus 10, Gate 4, Ben Yehuda, that’ll get you near the embassy”. Gate 4 does have a sign mentioning Bus 10. Bus 18 shows up fifteen minutes later. A Romanian guy you’d asked, who told you he was taking number ten, gets on it. You ask the driver, “This is 18?”
“No, it’s 10.”
he says.
“But it says 18!” You insist.
“Yeah right, but it’s 10. Get on already.”
This is how horrific mistakes happen, to Israelis and tourists alike, millions of times every day here, by the way.
5) The bus meanders through Tel Aviv’s narrow streets for fifteen minutes, and you get off at the stop you assume is correct, after asking four people where the right one was and doing a gestalt summation of opinions. Luckily the Embassy is a giant concrete mausoleom surrounded by steel barricades and twenty security guards. Hard to miss. It’s now 6:55. Just in time to hear, for the first time, along with everyone else already in line for the 8AM opening, that any objects other than your papers and money are prohibited inside the building, including cell-phones, car-keys, hand-bags, etc. They can be conveniently stashed at a little store-front a couple doors up the street, for only 10 shekels a day. The line in front of it already goes to the corner, and that place opens at 7.
6) Fast forward: Items stashed, you wait naked in the cold to be led through the x-ray, palm-smear test, and metal detector. The room for U.S. citizens is empty. Nice quiet place to wait. in fear and trembling, for an hour.
7) The big news is that they buy your sob story, agree to give you a one-year emergency passport, for only $75. First, of course there are three pages of forms to fill out. You tire of writing your name in ALL CAPS seven times. Not to mention having to re-do the whole exit-re-entry-exit-entry in order to get pictures taken down the street.At the Stash-House, conveniently. The girl behind the camera makes it easy to smile, at least. And finaly, they tell you to come back at 3:30.
8) Yeah right, after a pleasant six-hour romp, roaming the streets killing time. If you’re lucky like me you have a friend, an artist, only a 45-minute walk along the Mediterranean shore from the Embassy. But how to call her? The phone is locked in the security stash. At least you wore decent clothes, on the wise assumption that they’d pull that “2 official-size and weight photos, please.” out of their hats. Two shekels cons the girl in the stash joint to let you have your phone. You call and perfecto: “Come right over.” she says. that’s what friends like Sophie are for.
9) This kibbitz would ordinarily be the fun part, except that you’re worried stiff that something will still screw up. Her breakfast and dinner is superb, conversation stellar and heart-felt, and at 2:00 you start the long walk back to the Embassy, getting there at 3:00. (beer is sold at a number of points along the way…)
10) The guard, (or actually all five of ’em whom  you asked the same question (just checking consistency here) tells you to be there at 3:30, no earlier, and to please not wait in front of the door. Regulations. You quick-check when the stash-house closes. 4:00. Great! Another failure window to fall through. A Russian girl this time. Smaller breasts, but adequate for the job. She gives you the distinct impression that she’s been talking about you with the morning girl. You give her your suit-jacket also, as hot as it’s become outside, and go stand and wait, feeling ‘angsty’, if that’s a word, leaning up against the embassy wall.
11) Now this item should be in BOLD FACE. Ten seconds later, along comes a slightly obese but friendly girl in a green dress made from significantly less fabric than the task required. She hands you a pile of coins. 18 shekels, and leaves, headed toward the stash-house. Stymied, you must admit to being, although you’re betting that it’s probably some money which must’ve fallen out of your pocket somewhere; you run back to Stash-City, where you shake her hand. (Ok, I kissed it) and thank her, saying “Me’all ooh me’e’ver” (above and beyond’ ..the call of duty) She smiles graciously. And then you add “Must’ve fallen out of my pocket, right?”
She looks dumbfounded. “No, I thought you were a..”
OMG! She thought I was a homeless beggar?
And on a day when I never looked so well-off, albeit worried sick. You make like to hand her back the money, but add, partly to smooth her embarasment “Actually, I am practically peniless, haha.”
And she hands you another 15 shekels! All that’s is left to do is to coax a quick theater-tear, and tell her. “I’ll remember this till I’m 120, at least.” Weird; The whole incident. All the rest is epilogue.
12) You pick up your prized passport, get back on Bus 10 without incident, get to the Train, buy a ticket for Beit yehoshua (home-ward bound), and ride like a prince. (By the way, how Seth managed this whole feat in a foreign language and with no snafus, in both directions, while he was here visiting… well, I take off my hat, (and hair-piece if I were Blago-butt) in abject honor to that kind of spy-class talent!)
13) The car starts at the train, almost overheats in the traffic jam during the five-mile trip home. And of course there is One Final Incident
14) Some typical world-class Israeli Asshole driver
, behind me the whole way, spends most of his time blowing his evil horn at me. I never know why. Here in Israel the red light changes to Yellow-plus-green for five seconds before becomming full green. He uses the ‘yellow-alert’ as a signal to start torturing my innocent ass to ‘step on the gas already’. So a mile from my house I hear a cop’s megaphone screaming “T’at’tzor b’tzad!!” (‘Stop on the side -of the road’) That’s how they have to do it here, since the bubble-lights on Hebe-cop-cars are turned on forever as soon as the decals dry on the cruiser; they then have no other way to tell you they want your money. Anyway, I pulled over, only to hear the fuck-head horn-blower again plying his evil craft. So I pull forward some more, and the cop yells out the window, “Not you, Toyota.(me) “You, Mister Horn-blower”. “Yippee!! The guy’s gonna pay now for ‘excessive horn-use. That was enough to propel me homeward, tired but happy, stopping only to blow part of my faux ‘street-beggar’ mother-lode on a pair of my favorite brews. This time I can say I deserved it.

See you all from Obama-land shortly. Johnny-the-documented alien.

Ghostwriter?! ‘Say it ain’t so’.

    Feeling confessional tonight, I take pen to keyboard to reveal the Awful Truth: I have this, er, ‘helper’.. to.. you know… like, help me write my posts ‘n stuff.

You people probably guessed already. Plus, that big-mouth  textual analysis scholar, what’s his name, who spilled the beans in this month’s Biblical Archeology Review pretty much gave me no choice but to come clean. He even assigned names to Solberg’s supposed team of authors, based on their stylistic quirks.‘ The ‘R’ source, the ‘P’ scripts, the “E” material’, etc. Well, close, but no Dead Sea scroll fragment for you, buddy. It’s just me ‘n ‘E’. Whom you might as well meet…
    Actually, my last entry: ‘Why’s ‘Important’ important?’  is a perfect text to tear apart. See, all the logical, rational, linear stuff, well, that’s me. I finished it in a half hour, re-read, and said “Damn, that’s dry… Boring, even. I better go get ‘E'”

And that’s just what I did. A short drive to the corner store, where Bavarian Dark Ale 8% is only 7 shekels a can, a quick check of my pocket change: Yup, pathetic but still good-to-go for a pair of them babies, and I came home with my ghostwriter, Ethan Ollie by name, so’s we could work together on creating a document worthy of HTML-ing.
‘E’ speed-reads it, rolls his eyes skyward, (ok, ceiling-ward) and asks, “Where’s the pizazz, Sol-butt-head?” I shrugged glumly, knowing he was right. Again. But here’s the part I love about him. He doesn’t just criticize, he actively contributes. Like this:
“You remember that time in Haifa, this lady was dying  for you to meet her eligible daughter, you know, back when you were doing the orchestra for  Mr.Name-Drop Here’?”
“Sure”.
I told him, and quickly realized how relevant the story was to the theme. She’d explained some word to me, I remember thinking how dear it was of her, and that I’d marry her on the spot if she hadn’t had a mustache. And so ‘E’ took over, wrote out the vignette in five minutes, added a few further procreation-themed innuenda, and voila. Ready to post.
Except for the Q&A. He always helps me with that part. We fight over who get’s to be ‘A’, though. ‘A’s supposed to be, like, me. JS. But ‘E’s always saying stuff like “J, you’re an effes (‘zero‘) without me. You ask the dumb questions this time.”

   I usually let him win. Maybe out of pity though: In the morning, he’ll wake up as an empty aluminum can worth a nickel deposit, but I’ll still be ugly. And prosaic. Wait, that’s not how the story goes! . Whatever. At least I’m honest.

Why is “Important” important?

Me: “Um, can you please pass me the.. uh.. whatever we call ‘that stuff’, Missus Lupner?”
Ms. Lupner
: “Ro’tev”. She hands me a dish of gravy, glances at her watch, and goes back to her kitchen chores. I do my best to repeat her pronunciation; a new word for me, ‘khrote’ev‘…whatever.
Her luscious daughter, noting my dis-satisfaction, reaches across the table and scoops up a spoonful of gravy, licks it up with demonstrative relish, and says  in a conspiratorial tone, although we’ve only just met:
” ‘Ro’tev’, Yoni, b’glal sh’zeh ‘ra’toov‘, nu?” (‘It’s ‘ro’tev’ because it’s ‘wet‘,(‘ra’toov’)’, ok?”).
“Aha!”, I exclaim, trying not to attract the elder Ms Lupner’s attention. ‘Wetness’ is very much on my mind.
“Tekef ani mas’bir’ah le’chah ha’col” (‘I will shortly explain everything..’) Lisa Lupner winks, and I relax, knowing that, if nothing else, I will soon be privy to linguistic secrets only dreamt-of a few months earlier.


Back when I was still learning new words in hebrew I met two distinctly different types of helpful souls:
The first class of advisor, ‘Mr. Bare bones’ contented himself (and thereby seemingly fulfilled his obligation) by simply stating the requisite hebrew word. There ya go buddy. I always thanked him, but reminded myself to get a second opinion… From:
‘Ms. Bones, flesh, and a beating heart’. These linguistic jewel-cases seemed to realize that I wanted and needed to know, not just the word, but also its:
1) Spelling
2) Its ‘pattern of usage’, i.e. when and among what kinds of people is this word generally heard, in preference to its synonyms:
3) Yes, I also usually got a nice synonym-package, plus, wait, there’s more
4) Other words built on the same root.
5) Which finally told me the whole story… In a word, “Why  was this word chosen to carry this concept?
My mental vocab-files now carry a picture, for almost every word, of the guy (or in the preceeding example, girl) who took the time to explain it all in this satisfying fashion.
   And since Hebrew is such an earthy, carnal, and knowing language, (even with its limited vocabulary), I now mostly ‘think’ in hebrew: whatever thinking is; juggling pictures, sounds, threats, reassuring cooing noises, deciding stuff, you know…



So What’s “Important“?
Um.. ‘kha’shoov’. chet, shin, vav, and vet, in that order. And I can’t think or say the word without thinking about its ‘sisters’:
mach’shev’
-‘computer’
‘mach’sha’vah’ -n. ‘thinking, cogitating
‘khee’shoo’veem’ n. ‘calculations’, as in “please show your work

Ok, and there’s a non-prurient point here?
    Yes, I’ve developed a serious fetish for turning around and looking back at English words, demanding the same level of comprehension. And my victim-du-jour here is, as the title states: ‘Important’. As in, somewhat restated, “Why does ‘Important’ mean.. um.. ‘important’?
Ok, there are, of course, plenty of web sites offering ‘to-die-for’ explanations of the etymology of any word you feel like entering into the ‘search’ window. I view that as ‘cheating‘, like ‘building the Andrea Doria.. out of pre-cut balsa wood with instructions’. (5 bonus points here).
I vastly prefer to learn to meditate all by myself. To ask: “What’s being ‘imported’?” A: Nothing, that’s a dead end, Johnny. Hmm.. So far so good. 
“Ok, ‘port-‘, as in ‘de-port’, re-port’, um.. ‘Portnoy’, portugal’?”
Another dead-end. I mean, Portugal used to be important, I guess, as was Phillip Roth, but no help there.
“Related to ‘impotent’?” After all, it’s just an ‘R’ away. Problem is, I know nothing about this word, (except once when I was commisioned to assist a girl-with-a-mustache to become ‘with-child’, and discovered  not only that “Love is all you need“, but that in my case, it may even be a non-negotiable prerequisite. So forget impotence. I did.
“Impertinent”?  A relative? Of all the nerve! I just can’t think that deeply right now.. ‘Pert’ is ‘areolae’, in my book. Real purty, but then I lose my train of thought….



And so, sad and trivial though this issue may be, I do regret having to leave you all twisting in the wind as to Important‘s Face-book profile, friends-list, and current status. Luckily, we’ll be able to look it up centuries from now. If it’s still important.

Q: So, what do your 127 subs think when they read something like this?
A: Not much, haha. They may not consider it important.
Q: Especially if they’re, like ‘dead’?
A: Bite your tongue! I would’ve gotten a funeral announcement, no?
Q: Mebbe not. It all happened so suddenly, see..
A: I just wanted to discuss an aspect of language acquisition.
Q: Who cares?
A: Oy, Es muy importante
Q: Und auch sehr wichtig, nicht wahr?
A: очень важный

Q: Lotsa ways to say ‘khashoov’, huh?

A: Sure looks like it.

Downsizing

Startling News!
I was startling to get-  (sorry, “starting)  to get lost in the math. Starting out-(Oops, I meant ‘staring’) out into space. An article on “staring theory” (Um..’string’ theory, ugh). All of a sudden a bee flew in the window and tried to string me. (er..make that ‘sting’ me.)
“Why?” I asked her.
“You sting when you read.” She said. (No, I think she said “sing”)
“And that’s a sing?..I mean, ‘a sin’?” I needed to know.
“Mebbe not a ‘sin’, but it ain’t kewl. It’s not especially ‘sin’ these days… Oof, you got me doing it!  Make that …’in‘ these days’..”
“News to me” I shrugged.
Now I don’t know what to do. Thirteen dimensions in string-theory was startling enough, and now this? I read on,  mutely. All that’s left of a startling article is… the bee…oh, and ‘I’.

Prose ‘N Cons

“Apropo the purported proportions in your proposal, you purposeless little porpoise:”
    I suppose I shall not soon get my  chance to use this😦 to tell the fishy little PR man at Haifa Chem-Tech ® that he needs to remember whose misbehavior led to the toxic spill, and to leave the matter to the field engineers.) Oh, and hari-kari would be a nice add-on. But then I’m out of luck, as I mentioned above. Just when the ‘p’s and ‘r’s were about dripping from my pores.
Well, there’s always tomorrow’s prose. ..it has its pro’s and cons, though.
    Speaking of whom, one of my sisters works at a high-security library. Most of the books in there will never see the light of day. No, seriously, it’s a well-known Penitentiary, where the penitents go to make amends. And license plates. Hard-core hardened criminals read Hardy in hard-cover in her hardly-luxurious reading room. ‘Bad lighting (and in such small portions, too’.) They should have thought of that before-hand, those dimly-lit con-men and con-women.
   I’ve spent some time ‘behind bars’ myself, I’ll admit. There’s stuff you can do back there in the parking lot which would would be frowned upon on-stage, and who enjoys being frowned upon? Plus knowing we got exactly 20 minutes, not counting tuning up for the next set, to ‘swap ideas’ is paradoxically liberating. But then so it is at the Library, if you happen to choose the most remote, unread stacks to frolic between, recklessly wet-spotting  the sensibly-priced commercial-grade carpet. Staring up, past her blue eyes and natural blonde, at the sad shelved folios: “Jsolberg: 2007 Saved Posts”. In paperback, *spits* the Ignominy!
    But there are more prosaic pressing issues. That horrid Fish-in-gaberdine, spokes-poison for the reckless Porphenol-diamine Cabal set up right next door. He needs a letter or two. ‘P’ and ‘R’ come to mind.

Q: What about your ‘Salesman’ post? You only gave it two days to attract the adulation of the xanga-hordes.

A: I stopped worrying about that a while ago. It’s there, if anyone’s got the time. Meanwhile, life goes on. Meh..

“Birth of a Salesman”: (spark-gap notes)

Plot Synopsis:
Act One: Ex-musical and procreative ‘itemWally Niedermann returns early one night to his modest house in Saratoga Springs, NY, much to the suprise of his attentive wife Belinda, who is heard saying: “Didn’t you have a gig at ‘The Third String’, Wally?” Her none-too-coherent husband professes not to have remembered it, and instead chooses to bore her with the details of his new career… as a sales-person for local doll-bizness-icon Shirley Wagner’s “Bubbes R Uns” mall outlet. Belinda, with twenty long-suffering years of exposure to Wally’s quirks, makes him a cup of instant coffee and retires half-heartedly to her quarters, to dream of men on whiter horses, etc.
Act Two: Wally’s first day of work finds him listening obediently to Shirley’s pep talk. Not before she is heard to say
“Funny, you don’t look Jewish, Needleman.”
“It’s ‘Niederman’, and yeah, we look different depending on the role we play. You were expecting Dustin Hoffman?”,
Wally replies.
“Whatever”,
Shirley shrugs. “Anyway, listen and listen good, Noodleberg, I’m gonna turn you into a salesman like mankind never seen..”
“You mean like that guy on the coffee cup? My buddy Beez’s got a cup, it says “To The World’s Best Salesman:”a  picture of a guy bidding fond farewells to a bunch of Eskimos, each with his own brand new refrigerator; the guy’s getting on the boat home ‘n he’s got money, like, falling out of his pockets..”
“Something like that. Let’s just go for selling feathers to chickens, for now. You hit your quota the first month, and I’ll throw in a little  prize for you.”
Shirley winks.
And so Wally resolves to do the utmost in his new job. ‘Every Tom, Dick, and Harry needs a doll, after all,’ he says, to the scenery, ‘..not like in the cut-throat muzik-biz’. The Scene closes as he is re-arranging the Katchinka-Doll display for the 43-rd time, not having had much of a chance by 4:00 PM to prove his new-found mettle. But something about the ‘feathers to chickens’ remark kinda sticks in his mind. ‘I bet they’ll be calling that a ‘motif’ years after I’m dead.’, he thinks to himself. Wally resolves to plant some bird-seed in the backyard that night.
Act Three: A week of staring at ‘No-Sale’ on the register convinces Wally to grasp his fate by both hands. He returns home one night to find Buffy, his teen-aged daughter idly watching American Idol on the 14″ TV they’d hidden in the tool-shed when the re-po man came by. Wally shares his plan with her:
“Buffy-le, I really need your help this time, like, tomorrow morning at 10:00...”
“But Dad, I got soccer practice…” she protests.
Wally is in awe of her sucesss as the goalie on the local Skidettes winning team, but persists:
“You know that chicken-suit you wore for the Class Play? Ok, here’s what I need you to do..”
Wally lays out the details, as Buffy listens distactedly, at one point suggesting:
“Why don’t you just get Heppy to do this. He’s, like, um.. ‘un-encumbered’, ya know.?”
“Your brother’ll never cut it, Buff. He couldn’t play a chicken if he had a hen for a Mom.” Wally spits dismissively. Heppy, overhearing this slight, decides to go for one of his long walks. Buffy agrees to do her best, if only to please her Mother.
Act Four: It’s 10:04 at Dolls R Uns. Shirley Wagner, the owner, is busy cataloging inventory when Buffy walks in, convincingly attired as a large yellow chicken. Wally pretends not to know her. After a few minutes of aisle-gazing Buffy decides on a purchase:
“This Teddy Polar-Bear? You think it ‘makes a statement’?”
Wally gazes at her, seemingly not recognizing her, but still wondering whether he might’ve over-stressed’ character-development’.
“Sure thing, Ma’am. As you can see, it’s actually a ‘Bi-Polar Bear. See them eyes? They’re pure Cobalt chloride; change color with the weather, or the mood, or something like that.” Shirley shows signs of finishing her chores.
“And does he.. you know.. um.. ‘wet’ his-self’?” Buffy continues to get ‘into’ the part, perhaps a bit too actively.
“Um.. well, I assume it does, Ma’am.” Wally sees Shirley nodding from the back room, as if to stage-whisper: “Tell her anything, Wal.”
“But of course, for only ten bucks more, you can take home this model.” Wally guides the ‘chicken’ towards the center aisle. “This one’s really gotta pee..”, he tells her, then covers his mouth in embarassment. “Solid wood, too. ‘Poplar’. Lasts forever.”
“Ooh, I like him.” Buffy tries to act excited. They’d agreed on fifty bucks, max for the whole charade, and the wooden bear comes in pretty close, at $42.95.
“But is it ”me?” she persists. Wally just nods, as if to tell her, ‘Good girl, ya done fine, now pay up ‘n get outta here.’  “Of course it’s ‘You’‘” Wally says, picking up the bear and walking towards the register. He looks back to catch his ‘chicken’ moving the staff ladder, to get a closer look at the Featured Doll, high up on the shelf. Its packaging screams “The Doll that puts ‘U” in the center of the Action!” and in smaller letters: ‘Comes with 13 awesome ‘in’ outfits!’
“Dad. Can I?” is all she says. But Shirley hears it. Wally hears it.
“Ah, the ‘Popular-us Maximus'” Shirley breaks her silence. “All the kids are buying ’em. US-made, too.”
Wally discretely hands his chicken-daughter a credit-card, one he’s ‘borrowing’ from a woman he kinda knows pretty well from The Third String. He makes a point of asking Buffy very clearly: “Maybe you should ask your Dad first, before you charge it?” Buffy looks a bit confused, but catches his nuance. Not so the audience, who, as this Scene ends are not sure what Shirley makes of the remark.. They eat pop-corn nervously… and wait for:

Act Five: Where one tension is resolved, but another is created: Shirley congratulates Wally: “Needleman, welcome aboard!” she smiles, throwing her arms around him. He responds somewhat coldly, telling her, “It’s ‘Noodleberg!“, and wondering what, in fact, his real name is, he suddenly remembers that he is now out $129.95, to his own daughter, and worse, ‘she left with the receipt!’, on which Belinda will certainly find his lover’s name and address . “That’s all Heppie needs!” he says out loud, cryptically, and asks Shirley for an hour off, intending to either 1) check germination on his bird-seeds or 2) kill himself. On the walk home he sees Heppie down by the lake, throwing seed to the ducks. This reminds him that he’s never planted anything in his whole life, which kinda scratches off option one.

The End.



Q: Sad, huh?
A: Not really. Maybe you missed ‘the point.’
Q: Which is?
A: Which is, mainly, that the progression,’POLAR’to ‘POPLAR’, and then to ‘POPULAR’ symbolizes ‘Man’s capacity
for growth, career-change, hope… Stuff like that-there.’
Q: Yeah but Wally’s a loser, a lamech, a schlump who can’t even…
A: Sure he is, that’s why he kills himself.
Q: He does? I missed that part.
A: Scroll down, Q.
Q: Oh yeah, you’re right. “The End”


Suzy: Nice story, Dad. I liked it better than the original.
A: Thanks, kid. You can take the suit off. Must be hot in there.
Suzy:. But I’m not wearing anything underneath…
A: …and itchy, too. Wait. What ‘original‘?
Suzy: You know, duh, ‘Author Miller’, What was the name of it?
A: Damned if I know. Go ask yer Ma
Suzy: Wow, thanks for reminding me. I got soccer practice in ten minutes. CYA


The Aliens all speak English, up to a point..

“I hear they’re here again.”, I pointed vaguely toward the tree-line in the distance.
 “Where?” Sacco asked excitedly. Too excitedly. I shoulda kept my mouth shut.
“‘Where‘ is neither here nor there, Joey, the point is..”
“Yeah, man, the point is, did they come in
..”
“Yup, ‘..in good taste’? Scary, ain’t it?”
I shuddered. Joey looked like he was thinking about, um, seasonings…
“Just so they don’t get ‘out of control’, like the little greys” he spit into a puddle as we kept walking.
“‘Course in the end, the greys gave up over the language-barrier thing,” I reminded him, “They got sick of it, and ‘left right away’
“Haha!. Don’t blame ’em. Know what time it is, by the way?”
I slid back my sleeve. “Got her right here; the watch I love, loosely speaking. Eight thirty… plus tax, of course.”
“Dat’s what I was waiting to hear. ‘Watch I Love Lucy’, speaking of aliens.”.
Joey hears what he wants to hear.
“Who, Dezi?” I was trying to concentrate, to tell the truth.
“We could go shoot up down-town first”, Joey offered. ‘Rudy’s Red-Hot ‘n Cold Storage’, you know where I mean?”
Our versions differed. I hated the joint.
“Yeah so we can fight it out over under-weight bags of… of..”
“Of boy and girl, ok, and sugar. So, who’s counting?”
“Um, me?”
I threw him a look which included the general area where his wallet would’ve been, had he had one. ‘Beneath contempt’, those greasy little gonefs.”
“Right on.”
Sacco spit again. It don’t take much to get him to spit. “We are, loosely speaking, ‘above reproach‘”. So what’s with the aliens, Big J?”
“I pity them. They shoulda known better. I mean, ‘Three’s Company? ‘Eight is enough’?” They would’ve intercepted those broadcasts on the way here, way before Alpha Centauri Junction…”
“Hmm.. ‘Petticoat Junction’?”
Joey laughed. “They’re probably here for Lucy though. An’ it was too late to turn back.”
“Hey. ‘Ball and Chain’, we could go cop there. I be down with those monkeys.”
I looked at my watch again and Joey seemed to be buying the new plan.”We could get there, hit up, and still catch Hogan’s Heroes. Or Dark Shadows.”, I suggested. No spit this time. And so that’s just what we done, in a manner of speaking.


Q: And the obligatory disclaimer?

A: Yeah, ‘Don’t try this at home’… without a space-suit

Q: Damn. Out of luck. I had one, but it took up too much space in the closet. Plus it didn’t suit me.

A: Oy.

Suzy: No really, what’s the point?

A: Suzy! You sweetheart. I was hoping you’d ask.

Suzy: That’s why I just did.

A: Ok, you see all those odd ‘left right’, ‘up down’, ‘over under’ thingies in the piece?

Suzy: Didn’t notice ’em, tell the truth..

A: That’s cool, you’re a native speaker, but the aliens, it’s a different story. They bite into ’em, spit ’em out, an’ check the fuel supply for the trip home, screaming ‘Gevalt’ the hole weigh

Suzy: Thank God… Our secret weapon.

Q: I knew that….