Sunday, September 30, 2007

I'm Having a Movement

Bite and Smile will return on Wednesday. I am in the process of moving my self and my possessions - along with two cats and a beautiful girlfriend (who has done more than her share of the work and I am now her indentured slave as a result) - from Edgewater to Logan Square here in Chicago. So, time to pack up the ol' iMac.

Please visit some of my other friends while I'm away. Just don't be a blog slut about it. I expect you here when I get back!

The Graffiti Table
Angry White Guy
Clever Title
I'm So Tired

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Saturday Morning Cartoons!

The Mighty Heroes (1966)

Here's an unusual cartoon that I barely remember. It ran for one year as a part of a Mighty Mouse series. It was created by a young Ralph Bakshi (later of Wizards and Fritz the Cat fame and mentor to John Kricfalusi of Ren and Stimpy). I remembered the heroes, particularly Rope Man and Coo-Coo Man, but I couldn't recall anything else about them, including the title! I actually stumbled across them while looking for a different cartoon.

The damned thing about this cartoon is that it looks great. The characters, including the villains, were all very clever and original. It's just very poorly written. All the stories follow virtually the same story structure - City in trouble, Mighty Heroes called to help, Mighty Heroes ineptly battle the bad guy until they somehow turn it around, bad guy gets caught. They never spend any time developing the characters or their relationships. We never learn about their origins or why they are even together. All the heroes seem to be of an even peer status and don't seem to have any feelings either way about each other. And even though they all have a unique ability, they don't seem to have a unique perspective.

The dialogue is atrocious, mostly made up of "To the rescue!" "Up, up and away!" "I'll get him!" "Take that!" etc.

So, why include it? Well, like I said, it looks great And if you are at all a Ralph Bakshi or John K. fan, it's interesting.


Yesterday, I asked...

"A man in Morrisville, North Carolina was charged with assaulting a government official when he did what?"

12% thought "Gave a dirty look to a cop"
- That's right. He punched the cop with his eyes. Um, no.

12% picked "Flashed a cop"
- Boy, if you could sue someone for assaulting their eyes, none of us would get any work done. So, no.

1% chose "Hit a cop with his car"
- The darn thing was, he hid the car in his shoe. No.

75% hacked up the right answer "Coughed on a cop"

According to The News & Observer, when Morrisville police officer Chris Gill handed him a ticket, Kent Kauffman coughed. Next thing Kauffman knew, Gill was charging him with assault on a government official. A Wake County judge will decide the intent behind Kauffman's cough, because he doesn't have anything better to do with his time, apparently.

Friday, September 28, 2007

And Now...The Rest of the Story


Assistant Director’s Cut: Fake Deleted Scenes and Alternate Endings

Courtesy of Mr. Chris Othic.

This assignment is one of my favorites. I like it so much that at one time myself and a group of writers did an entire show based on this premise.

The basic idea is that you are writing fake deleted scenes and alternate endings for your favorite movies. When you are choosing a movie to write a scene for, you should know the movie fairly well and it’s best if the Average Joe probably knows a little bit about it also. This means you will probably be writing fake scenes for movies like Star Wars, The Matrix, The Sixth Sense, Brokeback Mountain, and similar movies. You can probably get away with writing about a movie that is a little more obscure, but it should at least have an element to it that most people know about.

First you want to generate a list of movies that you are familiar with. You can do this from your own personal choices, or look up lists of top movies at sites like IMDB or Then you can go down the list and start generating ideas. You can either do fake deleted scenes or alternate endings.

For instance, in the show we did we had a deleted scene from Star Wars, which was the surprise party for Darth Vader thrown by his staff to celebrate the completion of the Death Star. Vader got some gag gifts, and we made fun of his funny breathing. We also had a scene from The Exorcist that was the “lost” slumber party scene where a possessed Regan invites her girlfriends to sleep over. You can imagine how that went with some vomiting and head spinning. When you are doing a deleted scene it’s really a parody of the tenants of the film (vomiting, head spinning) and also add some comic elements. The Exorcist slumber party was also a clash of context as in incorporated typical slumber party behavior with horror movies.

Alternate endings are a little different in that you are obviously taking the ending and giving it a comic twist. For example, we had an alternate ending for the movie Seven in which Brad Pitt’s character opens the box that contains Gwyneth Paltrow’s head, only in our version the box had anything but her head in it because apparently John Doe kept getting his seven deadly sins confused.

One last note: it is probably easier to make fun of any genre except comedies. You may be able to pull it off, but most comedies are already funny, and when you try to make fun of them it doesn’t always work. The other genres tend to work much better.


Yesterday, I asked...

"The Guolizhuang restaurant in Bejing claims to feature China's only what?"

34% answered "Pancreas Pancakes"
- Nope. It was only added because it sounded better than "Pancreas Platter," which they don't have either.

10% picked "Poop- Poop Platter"
- Even though it's what we all think of when we order the Pu-Pu Platter anyway, the answer is "no."

10% thought "Palate Platter"
- No. Probably the boringest answer, but really gross when you think about it. Ew, you're eating a mouth!

46% ordered correctly with Penis Platter

According to The Telegraph, situated in an elegantly restored house beside Beijing's West Lake, Guolizhuang is China's first speciality penis restaurant. Businessmen and government officials can sample the organs of yaks, donkeys, oxen and even seals. In fact, they have to, since they form part of every dish - except for those containing testicles. Choke on that!

Dog penis with plum, anyone?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

No Childrens Left Behind

Why He Embarrasses Me

"As yesterday's positive report card shows," Bush said, "childrens do learn when standards are high and results are measured."

That, and because he's spending a billion dollars a day swapping blood for oil and claims he's fiscally responsible with our tax dollars.

Say what you will about Bubba, I think he and Gore put this country on track. They weren't perfect, but there was a positive, forward momentum. I don't consider myself a full-blooded democrat. In my first presidential election, I voted independent. But when Clinton was elected after eight years of Reagan and four years of George H, I felt, literally felt, a weight lift off my shoulders. It was exiting and a time of growth. Now, every day, when I read the news, I am just bewildered. How can this be happening and why are those with heart and a true moral compass so impotent to stop the madness?

I don't know. I do believe it will change with the next election, but I'm impatient and I want change now. I want justice now.


We are at our halfway point as we enter into our fourth week of Soiree Dada: Blinde Esel Hopse. Reviews have been favorable and audiences have been great. If you want to get into the show for five dollars less than "normal" people, say "Medulla Oblongata" really slowly at the box office.




Is tonight! Uptown Writer's Space at 6:30pm. Bring any ol' sketch you want to get feedback on, hang out with other writers and read scenes out loud and giggle, get ideas for your next scene, eat cookies.


Yesterday, I asked...

"A man at the Oklahoma State Fair prevented a horse stampede by doing what?"

34% said "Giving them cotton candy"
- Sure. Calm them down with sugar. Works for children, too. Not!

16% thought "Singing songs from 'Oklahoma!'"
- No, but the western ballet dream sequence almost put them to sleep.

8% picked "Tasering them"
- Isn't that the answer to everything, bro?

42% got it right with "Biting one of the horses in the ear"

According to the Associated Press, the coach of Oklahoma City's minor-league hockey team helped prevent a possible stampede of Belgian horses at the Oklahoma State Fair by biting one of the animals on its ear. "That's how you stymie a horse," he said. "You bite as hard as you can, and it won't move." This also explains the Mike Tyson-like ear chomps his hockey team's opponents seem to mysteriously suffer.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


This is a scene that I wrote late last year for Teatro Bastardo's show at Sketchfest in the early part of this year. It was originally seven pages of what I thought was comedy gold. The other members of Teatro thought maybe there was only five pages worth of comedic precious metal. And they were right. It's good to work with people who will tell you exactly what you need to hear to improve your scene. It was the first "conventional" scene I had written in a long time. By conventional, I mean that it is a pretty straightforward three-person scene that takes place in a doctor's office. I tell my students that what they write about is arbitrary. What makes the a scene unique is their own voice as a writer. I have seen what seems like hundreds of scenes that take place in doctor's offices, so this was my challenge to myself to come up with one of my own.

This scene was also in our run of the show a Joke at the Skybox a few months later.

Written by Joe Janes
Final Draft

(Lights up on Jason and Jill. Jason is in his 40s, Jill is in her 30s. They sit in a doctor’s office.)

I feel good about this.

Me, too, honey.

If everything works out, we might just have a little visitor by Christmas, and it won’t be Santa.

(They laugh. Dr. Millmer enters with a clipboard.)

All right, then, Jason and Jill Methusiak. I have your test results here.

Every fertility doctor we’ve seen has run tests, Dr. Millmer. I don’t think you’re going to tell us anything new.

Perhaps not. Just a formality. Jill, you’re plumbing is in tip-top shape. Pristine, in fact. The uterus is slightly tilted, but that just makes things a little interesting, right, Jason? And Jason, your sperm count is amazingly low.

We already knew it was low-

Amazingly low. I could count your sperm with one hand (mimes the action). You’re a late bloomer, aren’t ya’?

I waited until my 40s to get married, if that’s what you mean.

Fortunately, you married someone fifteen years your junior. Jill’s youth gives us a fighting chance here. If you had appropriately married someone close to your age, forget it. You’d be planting your dried up cornhusk in a dust bowl.

Dr. Millmer. We’ve been to five other doctors without any success.

We’ve been trying for years to get pregnant. Spent a lot of money. A lot of money.

We had given up until I saw your ad on TV.

Good. Then you know I mean business. Now, I can run you and Jill through the usual routines. Fertility drugs, Viagra, ovulation monitoring. We can even do the embryos and the turkey basters. Those are all very expensive methods and, as you already know, unlikely to work in your situation. Even if it did, do you want to tell your son his dad was a turkey baster? Sure would put a damper on Thanksgiving.

Exactly how do you help us have a baby, then?

Jill, let me ask you this. Do you want your baby to be conceived in a laboratory by people wearing hairnets and rubber gloves? Or do you want to kick start that fertilized egg with unbridled skull-melting s-e-x?

All this time we’ve been dealing with thermometers and ovulation when we should have just been going for it?

Well, yes and no. You see, Jill, your vagina is like a vast, open fertile field. Rich top soil aching for seeds to take root. For that to happen, you need an irrigation system that can get the job done. Jason, you’re the irrigation system. And you’re watering her field with an eye-dropper. You, Jill, should be writhing on your back in ecstasy while your fallopian tubes are drenched with man juice like water from a fire hose. You, Jason, should probably not even be in the same room. Remember -? (He counts on one hand)

And who should be in the same room with my wife, Dr. Millmer?


You’re going to help us have a baby by sleeping with me?

Purely professional. Although, I could certainly get lost in those brown eyes of yours.

(She blushes.)

This is ridiculous.

Scoff all you want. I have a proven track record. If the thought of actual intercourse makes you uncomfortable-

I’m fine.

I’m not.

There doesn’t even have to be direct contact. Instead of sleeping with you, I sleep near you and just point in your direction and – Ka-pow! These boys can swim, even across dry land! They’re like marines and ninjas and Zulu warriors all rolled into one. I’ll check with the nurse and see if she can schedule us a session in the Baby-Making Room. (He reaches for the phone).

You have a whole room devoted to making babies?

Loaded with state of the art stuff, too. Whatever you’re into. Personal massagers, handcuffs, Doritos. I’m a feather man, myself. And there’s a two-way mirror, Jason, so you can bear witness to the miracle of conception.

I thought the whole point is that you use my sperm.

Don’t be selfish, Honey.

Your sperm, Jason? (He hangs up the phone.) Do you want a healthy baby or some drooling mongoloid flipper-handed circus freak? Should any of your coughing and wheezing soldiers should ever make purchase in her loins, men your age are more likely to have babies with birth defects or down syndrome. I have you outgunned, Jason, and outmanned. My testicles are huge. Here’s a picture (He hands Jill a snapshot. She’s very impressed. Jason intercepts it and hands it back, after taking a peek.). The grapefruit’s for scale.

Let’s go, Jill. I’m not going to hire another man to sleep with my wife.

Wait. Look. I’m sorry. Maybe I was a little too strong in making my point. You seem like a really nice couple. I want to help. You could adopt, but the only real winner there is the baby. Usually some foreign baby that doesn’t even speak English. And doesn’t resemble either of you. At least, with my method, as vulgar as it may seem to you, your baby boy will have his mother’s features and my brain, and by that I mean, large testicles.

You really think it would be a boy?

It almost always is. I have testosterone running down my leg. Really. Feel here. See how damp-

No, honey. Not like this. Well find another way. Let’s go sign-up for those tantra classes.

(Jason exits, Jill walks out backwards miming “call me” to the doctor. Jason comes back and pulls her out of the room.)

DR. MILLMER (to his penis)
Boys! Rally the troops! We move out at dawn!



Yesterday, I asked...

"A man in Oregon had his vanity plates rejected because the state considered his last name offensive. His last name is what?"

66% were quite certain it was "Suckett"
- No. Nor was the fellow from Nantucket.

9% ventured "McCracken"
- Nope. Phil McCracken's name is safe on behalf of all the McCrackens around the world.

There was no loving for "Pimp"
- Sounded like a good christian last name to me.

25% scored the offensive word "Udink"

"Udink?" Offensive? According to the Associated Press, the state of Oregon has ordered a family to turn in the vanity license plates on its cars because their Dutch last name, Udink, is similar to an offensive word. You might think the key word there is similar. That "dink" sounds similar to something else, link "bink," which is probably the least offensive word possible for, well, binking. But, no. Their problem is with the word "dink."

DMV spokesman David House said the word can be treated as a verb, which gives it a sexual reference. Well, really, Mr. House, you can say that about any word, can't you?

"Oh, man, I housed her hard!" "I really need to get housed." "Mmm, time for the little piggy to build his house!"

I want everyone to get janesed tonight. Wang chung janesed.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Loud Sunshine

Here's another short scene for the Writing Samples section. I wrote this one around the same time as "The Spy Who Dated Me." Again, I didn't like it after the first draft and didn't appreciate what I wrote until months later. I attribute this to having lofty goals while writing and judging the first rough draft too harshly. It's my foray into writing a surreal scene.

Written by Joe Janes
First draft

Old Man
Young Man
Beautiful Woman

(Lights up on a lone man sitting on a chair center stage. He is an older man, slightly unkempt. He wears dark glasses. Sr there are two more chairs. Sl is a single chair. A very well dressed young man enters sr with a briefcase. Soft violin music begins to play offstage. He sits and sets the case next to him. He opens it. Inside the case, all there is standard fare for a sack lunch and a small thermos of milk. It is lunchtime. The young man opens a bag of chips. He then unwraps a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He opens the sandwich and carefully places chips on it. He smashes the sandwich and begins to nibble on it.)

How many minutes in yellow?

OLD MAN (continuing)
How many minutes in yellow?

I don’t understand what you’re asking.

I was told the sun is yellow.

I guess. You could say it’s orange, too.

In that case, how many oranges does it take to make yellow?

Well, if you’re talking abut the sun, the sun is huge. It would take at least 48 oranges.

And how many carrots?

Add five.

I smelled green, today.

What does green smell like?

Like grass. I heard someone mowing a lawn and I smelled green.

Green can also smell like limes.

I can feel green, too.

The young man opens his thermos and pours small curd cottage cheese into the cup.

Me, too.

A beautiful woman enters and sits down SL. She is dressed as though she’s about to go to a fancy charity ball. She wears an iPod. She begins to knit. Her yarn is blood red. Both the old man and the young man turn and look at her and then return to looking out.

How long is black?

Black as night? About ten hours.

I mean height.

Oh, very tall. About 5’ 8”.

The young man begins to eat a very large dill pickle. Unsliced.

A man dressed in 1920’s swimwear with a bathing cap, goggles and the number 44 painted on h is back enters and walks into the house. He slowly swims laps through the rows of the audience.

What about the color purple?

What about it?

I have no idea what it is. Is it like jazz?

No. It’s not that.

Is it fuzzy?

No, not that.

Is it like dew on barefeet?

Not that.

Then what is it?

I’m not sure what it is. Only what it isn’t. I’m quite certain it’s not wet fuzzy jazz on barefeet.

What kind of sound does purple make?

The young man makes a bleating noise. The beautiful woman sets down her knitting. Takes off her iPod. Looks at the two men. They look at her. Disgusted, she leaves.

The young man has finished his lunch. He closes his briefcase and stands.

It’s more golden than orange or yellow.

What color is golden?


He exits.

The Old Man rises. As he exits, he sneezes, blows his nose, looks at his handkerchief.


He exits.

The swimmer drowns.



Yesterday, I asked...

"A recent crime spree in South Africa is being blamed on a gang of what?"

10% said "Ex-policemen"
- Plying the tools of their trade, no doubt. Or just "no."

Nobody thought it was "Cult members" or "Soccer players"
- My fault. They are synonymous and cancel each other out.

90% got it right with "Hungry baboons"

According to Sky News, chacma baboons, which live wild in the Cape peninsula, have been raiding people's homes for food and causing thousands of pounds in damage. According to one resident "They get into the kitchens, they know where the fridge is, they open it and take everything, and then they defecate everywhere." Still sounds like soccer players to me.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Spy Who Dated Me

I'm still working on a heavy deadline with a corporate writing gig, so I decided to take the opportunity to beef up the "writing samples" section of BS.

Here is a scene I wrote earlier this year while developing material for a Teatro Bastardo show. I didn't like it and never showed it to anyone until a few months ago. It's one of those cases where the writer truly is the worst judge of his or her own material. It's also a lesson in giving yourself enough time to let something "cool off" so you can go back and look at it with fresh eyes. Although, I don't think that cool off period needs to be six months! When writing the first draft, I set my expectations too high. I wanted to write something gut-bustingly funny, dark and edgy. This ain't that, so I was disappointed. Now, I really like it. It's a lot of fun. I hope you enjoy it.

By Joe Janes
First draft

Michael– mid-40’s - M
Tracy – mid 40’s – F
Ludwig – mid-40’s

(Lights up on Michael and Tracy at a café.)

Well, this is nice. It’s refreshing to meet someone who actually looks like their photograph.

Isn’t that the truth? I met someone last week who said she looks ten years younger than she is - probably because the pictures on her profile are from ten years ago.

I think the most important quality in a relationship is honesty. And if you don’t have that at the start…

Then you’re never going to have it.

Well, once you catch someone in a lie, you’re always going to wonder if that person is telling the truth.

I couldn’t agree with you more. Let’s make a deal. Tonight, we tell the absolute truth. No matter what. I can’t think of a better way to get to know someone.

I accept. To honesty. (She raises her wine glass and they toast.)

What do you do for a living?

Oh, boring old job. I work at the Chicago Board of Trade as an administrator. I run an office. No big deal. What about you?

I’m a secret agent.

You sell real estate?

No. Secret agent. As in, I work for the government.

If you’re a secret agent, then why are you telling me? Doesn’t make it much of a secret.

Well, I wanted to be honest with you. Look, Tracy, I know we just met, but I find you attractive, I think there’s some potential here, I don’t want to blow it by lying to you.

I see. Well, thank you for your honesty. Do you like your job?

Very much so. I get to kill people.

You get to kill people?

Bad people, mostly. You know, evil villains. It’s very gratifying.

What, you mean, like, you have a license to kill?

Want to see it? (He takes his license out of his wallet and shows it to her.)

Oh, my God…

I know. Can you believe that mustache? What was I thinking? I made them take the picture twice. Is that vain, or what?

I did the same thing with my passport. You’re stuck with it for ten years, you should be happy with it. How long are stuck with that ?

They make us renew it every two years. Have to take an eye exam and everything.

An eye exam?

Well, you know. Don’t want us killing the wrong person.

Are you allowed to be telling me all this stuff on a date?

Well, to be honest, it is frowned upon by the agency. It can make me vulnerable.

Vulnerable can be sexy.

Tracy. I’m 44. My whole adult life has been nothing but a string of affairs with super models and the kept mistresses of evil-doers. It’s time for me to have something, someone, more substantial in my life.

How many people have you slept with?

Oh, I don’t know. Probably 100. 200. It’s on file. How about you?

Much less than that.

I know it seems like a lot. Most were in the line of duty. The men, any way. And that bird.

(Ludwig, an older waiter with a scar and ill-fitting clothes enters and serves them coffee. He speaks with a heavy foreign accent.)

Here’s is your coffee.

We didn’t order any coffee.

Compliments of the house to the young lovers.

That’s sweet.

Thank you very much…


Align Center MICHAEL
Steve, Do you have any soy milk? I’m lactose intolerant. There – I’ve never told anyone that on a first date. This is so liberating.

I’ll be right back. (He exits.)

So, you don’t do dairy.

I don’t do death. Or dairy. Don’t drink it, Tracy. I think it’s poisoned. Smells like arsenic.

I think that’s the chicory.

(Ludwig returns with soy milk.)

Here’s your soy milk, sir.

We’ll just take the check.

(Michael does some judo-y stuff on Ludwig, ultimately snapping his neck.)

It’s okay, everybody. He has a license for this sort of thing.

I’m sorry our date was interrupted.

Do you go through this kind of thing everyday?

Most everyday. I have Mondays off. When can I see you, again, Tracy?

Not when. Where?

Okay. Where can I see you, again.

(Tracy takes a knife off the table and throws it at Michael’s chest. It hits him and he goes down.)

TRACY(with a heavy non-descript European accent)
In hell, Michael. In hell.

(She laughs maniacally as Bond-type music comes up. She stops laughing. Exits. Comes back. Puts a few dollars on the table and exits, again. Lights fade.)


On Saturday, I asked...

"To protest the food being served to him, a prisoner in New Hampshire sent a federal judge what?"

68% answered "A stool sample"
- Nope. Nothing from the wood shop. Wait, what kind of stool did you think I meant?

16% picked "A tooth"
- And then the federal judge put a quarter under the prisoner's pillow while he, no.

16% thought "A bent spoon"
- Which he bent with his mind!!! Mwahaaaaaaa!...Nope.

Nobody picked the right answer this time, "A hard-boiled egg"

According to the Associated Press, a federal judge was driven to rhyme after receiving a hard-boiled egg in the mail from a prison inmate protesting his diet. Wolff, 61, says he is an Orthodox Jew and has accused prison officials of refusing to feed him a kosher diet. Wolff also says he cannot tolerate hard-boiled eggs and is suing the state Department of Corrections for $10 million. Wolff is serving 10 to 20 years for sexually assaulting a 7-year-old girl. I think they should Cool Hand Luke him.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Saturday Morning Cartoons!

The Adventures of Johnny Quest (1964)

Two things I didn't know about one of my favorite cartoons growing up.

One - that they only produced one year's worth of cartoons and it aired in prime time. Which means the networks threw the reruns onto Saturday mornings, because I would have been too damn young to appreciate it in 1964.

Two - that Tim Matheson was the voice of Johnny Quest.

Who's Tim Matheson? This Guy!

Otter from Animal House!

Johnny Quest was exactly who every kid in the world wanted to be. Johnny had a dad, Dr. Benton Quest, who was a brilliant scientist who had his own lab and private jet. The muscle of the outfit and pilot of the jet was the ultra-cool Roger "Race" Bannon. Johnny's best friend was Hadji, an Indian boy who was also a snake charmer. And then there was Bandit, their dog, who pulled his own weight and didn't overload the series with a case of the cutes. I think what I liked most about it is that all the human characters were pretty good role models for being a male. Dr. Quest, although the smart one, wasn't a wimp. Race wasn't macho, he was a man's man. Johnny and Hadji were smart without being obnoxious. They were curious, made mistakes, and took responsibility for their actions. All while having kick ass adventures like fighting giant one-eyed robot spiders. And they all treated one another respectfully, honoring the dynamics of father-son, adult-child relationships without any condescension from the adults or derision from the kids.

The series also featured some of the best to come out of Hanna-Barbera's studios, often emulating the look and feel of an adventure comic book. That might explain why they only produced a year's worth of episodes. Pre-computers, animation was done by hand and very expensive.

Here are the opening credits, which features one of the best ever cartoon theme songs and a glimpse of all the cool monsters in the series.

The closing credits kick some butt, too, featuring a few scenes from the original test pilot.


Yesterday, I asked...

"A new Nigerian state governor is having domestic problems caused by what?"

50% answered "Not spending more money on furniture"
- Nope. They got plenty of places to sit and won't be embarrassed if dignitaries unexpectedly pop by.

25% thought is was "Not allowing the in-laws to move in"
Nope. Let the in-laws fend for themselves.

12% picked "Not showing affection in public"
- No. Given his religion, this probably isn't an issue.

13% got it right with "Not naming one of his wives 'First Lady'"

According to BBC News, Adamawa State Governor Murtala Nyako has four wives, all rivals for the title of "First lady"- and the accompanying perks. Ten polygamous governors in the mainly Muslim north have the same problem. At a news conference, Governor Nyako said that as a Muslim "all my wives have equal status." Bill Clinton is now considering a political career in Nigeria.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Everyday Epics


This assignment is about making something big out of the ordinary.

First, to come up with an idea, you'll be making two lists of ten. Side-by-side.

The first list is stuff you need to do regularly, whether it's once a week or once a year or once every few years. Make sure you include stuff that requires the involvement of other people. So, if you do your taxes by yourself, it may not be a good candidate for this. But if you use an accountant or tax service, perfect.

Here's a sample list..

1) Go to the dentist
2) renew my driver's license
3) buy stamps
4) get an oil change
5) visit my family
6) celebrate an anniversary
7) get a haircut
8) celebrate my birthday
9) take cat to vet
10) vote

The second list is one or two things that would either prevent you or inhibit accomplishing this ordinary task.

1) forced to go to new dentist who is a relative
2) counter person hates me
3) long line and slow service at post office
4) usual place closed, have to go to a chain, have an undecipherable coupon
5) my uncle will be there
6) fighting with spouse, but trying to have a nice time at favorite restaurant
7) favorite barber not there, have to use the female stylist
8) everyone wants to make it a bigger deal than I do, or vice-versa
9) cat does not want to go
10) the person checking people in is ultra-pro the party opposite of mine

So, pick the one you think might have the best scene potential. I think a very simple, common task works best for this. I like the idea of going to a chain for an oil change. There are ways to heighten it. It could be a very expensive car. Maybe even an antique, but definitely has a strong emotional connection for the owner. The mechanics keep trying to pad the bill with petty crap. The car owner, who used to use the same guy for the last twenty years, just wants to find an honest mechanic he can trust and build a relationship with longterm.

The assignment is to take a common task or event and turn it into an epic adventure. But keep what makes it an epic true-to-life and personal. A hurricane can certainly make a trip to the vet an adventure, but having such a strong external force can override the characters and relationships. It also takes it out of the realm of common and ordinary. Try to keep the elements as ordinary as possible. In buying stamps, a postal worker doesn't need to go, well, postal, but they can certainly be power-hungry or attention hungry. We've all dealt with difficult relatives or service people. Have that be what makes the scene an adventure.


If you want to get five dollars off the cost of your ticket, go up to the box office and say "I heard Tristan Tzara was a pansy." Then giggle like a schoolgirl.


Yesterday, I asked...

"Matt Wilkinson of Portland, Oregon tried to impress his ex-girlfriend by doing what?"

24% picked "Juggling hand grenades"
- Nope. Besides, it was only one. With a bowling ball and a chain saw. No danger at all.

15% answered "Climbing Mt. Hood naked"
- Nope. Rope burns and frostbite. Puts bad image in my brain.

15% chose "Setting himself on fire"
- Nope. But wouldn't that suck if he did that and it worked? He have to endure a painful, crispy, crunchy love life.

46% got it right with, of all things, "Putting a snake in his mouth"

According to the Associated Press, snake collector Matt Wilkinson of Portland grabbed a 20-inch rattler from the highway near Maupin, and three weeks later, to impress his ex-girlfriend, he stuck the serpent in his mouth. He was soon near death with a swollen tongue that blocked his throat. Trauma doctors at the Oregon Health and Science University saved his life. "You can assume alcohol was involved," he said.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Done Nodded


Last night was a ton of fun. I love it when I am in the presence of brilliant, funny people, who also happen to be really nice. Don and I got to the Uptown Writer's Space early. We went on a run (more like a brisk walk) to buy some red wine and a variety of snacks. We set up the space with folding chairs and we're ready to rock by 7pm. Laura, a volunteer at Uptown, came in and helped us out by greeting people.

It was a small conglomeration of bloggers and friends, but I am very satisfied with the flow and content of the show.

Lindsay Muscato opened the show reading from her blog, Lindsay Lives Here. She related humorous stories from her days as a teacher. My favorite had to do with a student writing the phrase "ass parade" on the chalkboard.

An anonymous author - sans puppets, by the way - read posts from her blog Life and Times of Big Calabaza. My favorite was her story about her experiences in a hip hop dance class and trying to bridge the gap between more experienced students and newbies. Although she did not deliver on her request to use puppets, I forgive her.

Greg Wendling of I'm So Tired read from his friend Madge's blog, Madge's Musings. We were even treated to a listen to a voice-mail explaining why she wasn't there. She was lost and was eating a sandwich she bought from a man on the street. I particularly enjoyed Madge's description of the funeral she would like to have when she dies. I, too, now want a pulley system installed so people could manipulate my head and see all sides of my nicely coiffed skull.

Keri Myslinksi of Moments of Coherency - and the only blogger on the bill with zero connection to any other blogger reading last night - read a funny piece giving tips to homeless people on how best to increase the possibility of receiving change and a surprisingly touching piece about the death of a bird that flew into a building.

Amy Guth of Big Mouth Indeed Strikes Again rounded out the first half and, hands down, read the funniest post of the evening. One simple sentence about a night in New Orleans.

"I just saw a drag queen with Down Syndrome."

I also blew my hosting duties by not plugging an upcoming event Amy is hosting. It's called The Fixx Reading Series at The Fixx Coffee Bar on Thursday, September 27th at 7:30pm.

The second half was the formal presentation of "The Nod." Dave Awl, Thea Lux, Nat Topping, Don and I all sat off to the side of the stage. Through a quick succession of "Rock, Paper, Scissors" we determined Dave would go first. He read a post about "inventing" iced tea. This led Nat to go up next and read his version of the history of coffee. Thea followed that up with an awkward encounter with a handsome Starbuck barrista. I followed it with a letter to George W. about getting out of Iraq and going to war with Canada. The connection was equating our addiction to oil with a coffee addiction. Don then followed that with a diatribe on "no smoking" regulations. So, that's how our half unfolded. We laid down connections like tracks for a train as the train was running. Some connections were direct, some were loose. I followed a piece Dave did about a book on Pearl Harbor with a piece I wrote about arguing with my girlfriend called Rules of Engagement.

Thea wrapped it all up with a hysterical piece about baby-sitting and cleaning up the pooh of "Little Buddha."

It was a great time and Don and I will do this again. Look for announcements about it in the coming weeks.


There is no Soiree Dada this evening due to a previously scheduled event at the Cultural Center. That means I'll be hooking up with my writer peeps at the Uptown Writer's Space at 6:30pm. Come join us. Bring a scene to read and get feedback or hang out and get inspired.


Yesterday, I asked...

"In Australia, a six year old boy is under investigation for running an after school club that featured what?"

46% tried to score with "American Rules Football"
- It would be an affront to their nation to try to bring sense to their national sport, the answer is "no" while you run laps around a round field trying to figure out how to score a point with your pigskin.

36% tried to musically score with "Rock and Roll"
- The youth tried to bring rock and roll to the small community, but the local fire and brimstone minister squashed him at every turn. Makes you want to run into an abandoned warehouse and dance with a kangaroo. Not!

No one thought the kids might be meeting over "Drugs"

18% scored, and I do mean scored, with "Sex"

According to the Melbourne newspaper The Age, the Education Department there has investigated claims a six-year-old student ran a "sex club," involving up to half a dozen 1st grade students. The department has admitted that the student exposed students to sexual conversations and proposed activities, but denied the existence of a "sex club" in spite of reports from parents whose children say otherwise. According to shadow education minister Martin Dixon, "The culture (in the department) seems to be one of hiding the problem instead of fixing the problem." There was a "gaping hole" in the regulations, which needed to be re-written.

After saying the words "gaping hole" he licked his lips, rubbed his hands like a praying mantis, and returned to reading his magazine,
Gaping Holes Quarterly.