A Bees’ Christmas Carol, Part Two

8 12 2010

Read Part One Here.

 

The clanging bells of Scrooge’s clock awoke him with a start. “What?! What’s this?” He cried, glancing over to the timepiece, its first and second hands currently resting at 12. “Blasted alarm. Once again something else that needs to be fixed in my life!”

“And it’s not even the most important thing that needs to be fixed, Zachariah.” A voice from the ether said. It was a woman’s voice. Delicate. Lilting. Scrooge would have found it relaxing, if there had been a body to place with such a heavenly sound. Instead, he clutched the worn sheets of his bed to his body, hiding the lower half of his face.

“W-who’s there? Show yourself!” He cried, with more terror than anger in his voice.

“Calm yourself, Scrooge,” The soothing voice said. Out of the darkness, a woman appeared. She was petite, with brown hair that draped over her shoulders. Her face was one of kindness, with a genuine smile for the miser. “I am the first spirit of Comedy your dear friend Thomas mentioned to you.”

Scrooge slowly let the sheet down from his face, his body still tense as he rested against the large headboard. “Oh, yes. Of course.” His eyes narrowed as he studied the spirit before him. “You look…familiar.”

The spirit smiled, her arms lifting from her lithe body slowly, then brushing her hands downward. “We spirits take on a form that can be found comforting. I believe the woman you are seeing was from a television show, with new episodes still being played to this day. A show that is found late at night on Saturdays.”

“Yes, well,” Scrooge muttered, sitting further up in bed. “Let’s get on with it then. Are you here to show me slides or give some speech about how comedy was simpler when you were around?”

“Nothing like that, Zachariah.” The spirit whispered softly, gliding to the side of his bed. She reached out with her right arm toward Scrooge, who shrunk back, his hands clutching his sheet tighter. The spirit laughed. “Zachariah, I am here to take you back to when you first started comedy. To a more innocent time, when laughter was all you needed.”

Scrooge’s eyes darted down to the spirit’s hand, then back to her face. Though he had spent the past few years of his life with the inability to trust anyone, he found the spirit calming, genuine. Tentatively, he held his right hand out. The spirit grasped it gently, whispering thanks.

Suddenly, Scrooge found himself no longer in his bedroom, but on a black stage. He peered out into the darkness, instantly recognizing the faded blue upholstery on the seats in the audience section. “But, it can’t be…” He muttered, stepping forward onto the stage.

“Yes, Zachariah,” The spirit clasped her hands in front of her, floating serenely in the upper left portion of the stage. “This is your old high school.”

“My God!” Scrooge cried, his bare feet padding along the stage. “It’s been 8 years since I’ve seen this place!” He turned around, his eyes wide as he took in the architecture. “I spent so much time in here. It was like a second home.”

“And you can’t have a home without a family.” The spirit said just as the doors from the hallway opened. Scrooge’s mouth went agape as he saw himself from 11 years ago. Hair curled high, a hawaiian shirt, and ill-fitting jeans. His hand ran over his head, kept clean by a #1.5 razor. “Good lord, look at me. Not a care in the world.”

The door swung open again, three more people entering. The first was a tall young man, with straight red hair in a bowl-cut that extended to just above his ears.  “Nathan!” Scrooge exclaimed. The second, another young man, around Scrooge’s 5’5″ height, with dark blond curls piled on his head. “West!” He exclaimed again, a hint of joy beginning to stir within his soul.  And the third was a young woman. Straight black hair pulled into a ponytail. At the sight of this girl, Scrooge stumbled back slightly. “…Laura.” He whispered.  Scrooge shook his head, the back of his hand reaching up to his eyes, wiping them quickly before spinning to face the spirit. “We must hide, spirit! I’ve seen enough of those time-travel movies that I know if my past-self sees me, then my future-self could no longer exist!”

The spirit laughed kindly, raising a hand up. “Relax, Zachariah. We are merely spirits, the same ghosts that haunt all theaters. We will not be noticed.” Scrooge’s body relaxed slightly as he joined the spirit at her side, growing silent. The four young people in front of Scrooge all moved to the stage. Nathan was the first to speak, stepping into the middle of the circle, the clap of his hands echoing throughout the auditorium.

“All right, guys, we got a competition to get ready for this Friday! It’s time we showed those fools over at Wayville that Lee High is as talented as they are!” The four of them nodded vigorously. Scrooge couldn’t help but smile at the sight of his younger self, balancing on the balls of his feet, bouncing his body slightly side to side. “Look, spirit! Look at that! I remember this! It was the practice before my first improv competition.” He couldn’t help but smile slightly at the memory. “It was an exciting time. A new time.” The sound of the group warming up brought his focus back to them.

The four young people were in a circle, tossing an imaginary ball around. “Zach, green ball!” “Green ball, thank you! West, green ball!” “Green ball, thank you! Laura, green ball!”

“Laura…” Scrooge chuckled under his breath, turning to the spirit. “Behold, spirit, the girl who got me into comedy in the first place.”

The spirit laughed, tilting her head. “Is that so, Zachariah?” Scrooge smiled and nodded, turning his attention back to the group.

“Indeed, spirit. I always had an interest in comedy. But, it was when I found out that she…” He gestured toward Laura. “…Was joining this improvisation group…You couldn’t sign me up fast enough.” He grinned at the thought, shaking his head ahead. “I was a young man in foolish puppy love.”

“Zach, green ball!” “Green ball, thank you! Laura, green ball!”

The spirit turned toward Scrooge. “What happened to these people, Zachariah?”

The joy in Scrooge’s eyes faded slightly, the smile from his face eroding slowly. “…I don’t know. After graduation, we all went our separate ways. Nathan went north. West stayed within the area. Laura went south, then north. And I…” Scrooge shrugged. “…I went my own way. I thought I had to get as far away from this place as possible. Become my own man and all that. And I did. I did become my own man.” He laughed bitterly. “My own man who isn’t able to keep in contact with people in his life.”

The spirit said nothing, her eyes softening as she reached her hand out, placing it gently on Scrooge’s shoulder. “Come, Zachariah. I believe you’ve seen enough.”

Scrooge looked at the spirit’s hand, then into her eyes. “Please, spirit. Let’s stay a while longer?” He could feel the spirit’s hand squeeze his shoulder, and knew her response before she even spoke.

“I am sorry, Zachariah. But what’s in the past is in the past. And, if all you think about is the past, then you won’t see the opportunities you have in the future.”

Scrooge nodded sadly. “Yes, spirit. Of course.” He stood up straight, hands smoothing out the front of his wrinkled nightgown before once again wiping his eyes. “Take me away, spirit. There’s no longer any need for me to dwell here.”

The spirit smiled softly, and within an instant Scrooge was back in his bed, under the covers. He sat up with a start, looking over to the clock. It only read five minutes past the midnight hour. “A dream,” he said, laying slowly back into bed. “Nothing but a…wonderful dream.”

He rolled onto his side, staring at the wall. His own words echoed through his mind. “There’s no longer any need for me to dwell here.” He whispered, before sleep finally overtook him.

To Be Continued…

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A Bees’ Christmas Carol, Part One

1 12 2010

Zachariah Scrooge sat alone in the office, before his writing desk, his worn overcoat wrapped around his large body.  His hazel eyes narrowed at the laptop screen in front of him, the flashing vertical line taunting him, daring him to type words.  Fingers tapped along the keyboard, only to be followed by an angry mashing of the Backspace button.  Staring at the faint glow of his laptop’s monitor, he finally slammed it shut, his hands raising up in frustration.

“Bah, humbug!” He cried, standing and moving over to the minifridge adjacent the glass panel windows. Pulling the door open, he bent down, peering long and hard before finally grabbing a Diet Dr. Pepper. The sound of carbonation filled the air as he popped the tab and took a sip, staring out onto the nigh-deserted street known as West Broad.

“Are you all right, Zach?” Came a voice from the hallway.  Scrooge turned to see Aaron Grant, his comedy partner, emerging from the shadows, arms filled with wrapped boxes.  “I heard you all the way from the mailroom.”

Grant was, by all accounts, a good looking man.  Tall, toned body, a perfect smile that was roofed by a perfect head of brown hair. His winter beard was supple.

Scrooge peered into his reflection of the window.  He was short, rotund, a fair smile, with his  dark blond hair receding into a widow’s peak.  His winter beard was but a patch on his chin and sideburns that grew unruly far too fast.

“I’m fine, Grant,” Scrooge muttered, his eyes remaining forward.  “Just another mental block, is all.”

“Oh, all right then, nothing too terrible, then.” Grant said, unloading the packages onto an empty desk. “I was wondering if you wanted to come by my place tonight. Stacey and I are doing a little gift exchange.”

“Gift exchange?” Scrooge turned to face Grant.  “What for? Her birthday’s already past, and yours is in June.”

“July, actually.”

“Whatever.”

Grant laughed, shaking his head.  “No, for Christmas.  It’s Christmas Eve.”

Scrooge rolled his eyes, putting the cold can to his lips.  “Christmas Eve. Harumph, just another day where I sit, attempting to think of clever things to say to the peons.” He waved his can toward West Broad, his eyes narrowing as he watched a man and woman walk, fingers intertwined with each others’.  Turning away from the window, his eyes focused on the pile of gifts.  “For a little gift exchange, that’s quite a few presents.”

“Well,” Grant said, smiling. “There are only a couple in here for Stacey.  I have a few for my parents, and a couple for my son.”

“That’s right, I forgot.” Scrooge muttered again, his eyes scanning the packages. “You and Stacey are having a child soon.”

Grant nodded, grinning wider. “April.  I know it’s a little early, but I just couldn’t help it.” He laughed, shrugging his broad shoulders.  Scrooge peered at him, then smiled.  It wasn’t a kind smile, however.  Far from it.

“Well then, if you are exchanging presents tonight, you should have no problem with coming in tomorrow morning.” Zachariah moved back to his desk, sitting down and reopening the laptop.  Grant stepped back slightly in surprise.

“But tomorrow’s Christmas Day!  That means food!  More gifts!  Sleeping in!” He moved his arms outward, palms toward Scrooge, attempting to appeal to the generous spirit of the large man in front of him.  Scrooge looked up briefly, then moved his attention back to the computer.

“That’s not possible.  There is work to be done.  Humor to be published.  You will be here at 8 a.m., or I replace you with a joke book sponsored by Garfield.” Scrooge’s fingers began clacking against the keyboard. “Be glad I’m letting you go home early tonight.”

Grant moved his arms down, shaking his head slightly as he scooped up the gifts.  “I really hope you understand what you’re asking is a very mean-spirited thing.  Christmas is supposed to be spent with family, not with a sly wit and a cynical point of view.”  He moved over to the door exiting out onto West Broad, pausing and turning back once more. “At least promise me you’ll go home tonight, and not spend the night here like you did last Christmas.”

Scrooge’s eyes never wavered from the screen. “I make no promise I have no intention of keeping. Now go.”

Grant’s eyes filled with pity as he turned away, leaving Zachariah Scrooge alone in the office.

One hour passed.  Then another.  Then another.  West Broad progressed from a steady stream of people crossing the window to a trickle, until finally it was barren.  Zachariah Scrooge leaned back in his chair, taking one more look his blog post.  He glanced down at his watch.  11 p.m..  Surely the roads would be clear.  With a stifled yawn and a shrug, Scrooge saved the post and stood up.  “I’ll finish it tomorrow.” He grumbled, ambling to the exit.  Placing his wool cap on his head, he stepped out into the cold.  “Harumph, blasted weather.” Scrooge said to himself as he slid into the driver’s seat of his Camry.

The engine came to life, and Scrooge’s face twisted into a mask of pain as he heard Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” come blaring through his car’s speakers.  “Blasted Christmas music!” He yelled, twisting the volume knob to the left so violently, it threatened to snap off.  Scrooge took a moment to enjoy the silence and solitude, and let out a long exhalation before pulling out onto the empty street.

As he drove, his thoughts drifted to Grant.  He could just see Aaron and Stacey, sitting together in their living room, exchanging gifts and looks of love between each other, both eager for the future.  “Children, hmph.” Is all Scrooge could say as he shook his head to clear out the vision.

Finally arriving to his home, Scrooge shrugged off his overcoat.  Locking the front door, he moved over to his couch, sitting down and picking up the TV remote.  “Christmas.” He growled as he clicked through the channels, his heart growing darker with each commercial or sitcom that espoused a holiday cheer which he did not feel. “Blasted holidays!”

Scrooge turned the TV off, tossing the remote down onto the couch and standing up. “Best get to bed and get the day over with.”

He moved to the bedroom, getting into his nightgown and sliding into bed.  His eyelids grew heavy, and he was just about to fall asleep when he heard a voice.

“Zachariah…” It was ghostly, faint.  Scrooge sat up in bed, his body tensing with fear.

“What, who’s there?!” He whispered.

“Zachariah…” The voice said again.  From the living room, Scrooge could see the glow of the TV.  His body relaxed, laughing at himself.

“Fool I am, I must have left the TV on.  I’m more tired than I thought.” He padded back into the living room, grabbing the remote and pressing the Off button.  But the screen stayed on, playing a cliche-filled commercial with holiday sentiment.  Scrooge slapped the remote against his hand, pressing the Off button again.  “Damn batteries.”

Suddenly, the channel changed! No longer was it a commercial or a sitcom, but rather a man dressed in a black bowling shirt with white down the front, cargo pants, and a Philadelphia Eagles baseball cap turned backward.  Scrooge peered closer, his eyes narrowing.

“…Thomas?  Thomas George?”

The man in the TV nodded.  “Yes, Zachariah, it is me, your old improv partner.”

Scrooge sat on the couch, slack-jawed.  “But, it’s not possible…you’re dead!”

Thomas nodded again.  “I am dead, Zachariah, and now I must roam the airwaves, amidst all the pop culture that I exploited within my improv scenes.  Reality shows, game shows, terrible sitcoms…They are my residence.”

Zachariah leaned forward. “But why are you here now, Thomas? It’s been ages since we performed together.”

Thomas raised an accusatory finger.  His dark eyes blazed with passion. “You have grown complacent, Zachariah!  Your humor once brought joy to hundreds, but now you have allowed your cynical views of life to overpower that humor!  I come with a warning: You shall be visited by three spirits tonight…the Spirit of Comedy Past; the Spirit of Comedy Present; and the Spirit of Comedy Yet to Come.  Heed their lessons well, Zachariah!  And also check out ‘Modern Family’, Wednesday nights on ABC!”

The television screen blinked off.  Scrooge sat on his couch for a long moment, keeping his eyes focused on the screen.  It blinked on again, Thomas filling the viewspace.

“Seriously, you need to get to bed so the spirits can come.” The screen turned off for the final time.

Scrooge stood up quickly. “Hmph, spirits.” He spat out as he moved back to his bedroom, crawling under the covers.  “Spirits…” he grumbled one more time before his eyes closed, drifting off into sleep.

To Be Continued…





Tilting at windmills. Or in this case, the Bat-Signal.

13 11 2010

Howdy everybody.  Zach here.  I have embarked on a quest.  A quest that is irrationally optimistic, completely fantastical, and a high percentage chance of failing completely.

But if you’ll give me a chance, allow me to explain.

As you may or may not know, casting is currently going underway for the third film in the rebooted Batman franchise, titled The Dark Knight Rises.  Directed by Christopher Nolan, the gentleman who also helmed the previous two films, it’s set to be released in July of 2012.

There have been multiple rumors on who the villain of DKR is going to be.  The Riddler has been eliminated, but that still leaves Nolan with a rich collection of rogues to pick from the Batman mythology.  Tom Hardy has been cast in an unknown role, but people are saying it’s likely he will be the main antagonist.

But I’m not here to talk about Tom Hardy.  I’m here to talk about me.

I want a screen test.  More specifically, I want a screen test to play one of Batman’s less-antagonistic antagonists, the Penguin.

Now why in the world do I want to do this?  A couple of reasons:

1) It’s Batman.

2) I honestly think I fit the physical characteristics of the Penguin pretty damn closely.  In the comics, animated series, and the Burton-directed Batman Returns, the Penguin is a short, fat man with a slight waddle to his gait. I too am a short, fat man witih a slight waddle to my gait.  Slap a prosthetic nose on me, and BAM! You got the spitting image of a young Oswald Cobblepot (The Penguin’s actual name, for you non-Batman readers).

Keeping up with my Don Quixote-esque quest, I’ve started a Facebook page which you can find here.  Like the page, and let’s see if I can pull off a Betty White and get noticed through social media.

If you’ve read this far, thank you.  And if you read the previous two reasons as to why I should do this screen test, and are needing some more persuasion, I understand.

So, why?  Why am I pretty much setting myself up for failure?

Honestly, I don’t have that much to lose.

I’m 26, working in an ice cream store, and attending college.  While those latter two statements work fine together, it’s the former that stands out.  Working in an ice cream while being in college is great if you’re 18, 19.  Not so much great when you’re old enough that your car insurance has gone down in price.

Don’t think I’m being pretentious.  I enjoy my job, and I’m happy to be going back to school.  But why not have this dream?  Why not try to make something of it?

I’m not demanding a part in the movie.  I’m asking for a screen test.  And being over here on the east coast with no representation, the onus on getting Warner Bros. and Nolan’s attention falls on me.

So I’m asking for your help, Click the link.  Like the page.  If you want to email me directly to offer support or to tell me I’m a fool, you can find my email address on the info tab.

Oh, and yes, I have acting experience.

Thanks for reading this, and thank you for the support.

Zach

And one more link for the page: Get Zach Arnold a Screen Test for The Dark Knight Rises.





So, it’s been a while.

22 09 2010

Hey there.

So, yeah, 4 months.

Sorry about that.

For what it’s worth, I’ve totally been thinking about updating this blog for the past month.  Every time I logged on, I thought to myself, “Zach, maybe it’s time you went back, did a little blogging on MoB’s site.”

Then, what do you know, I’d go and get distracted by something. 8 times out of 10, it’d be Sushi Cat, a game on Yahoo! that is completely simple, and totally addictive. The objective is to drop your Sushi Cat from the top of the screen, making sure he accumulates as many tuna rolls as possible until he becomes positively huge.

Being a man who also enjoys copious amounts of food, I could relate. I found it my obligation…nay, my honor!…to aid that fat feline in his quest for sushi supremacy.

That’s what happened the first two months of the sabbatical.

In July, I told myself that MoB’s site desperately needed updating. It’d been two months since I last typed out my thoughts, leaving people with a blog entry that quite frankly, while making me sound awesome, also gave the notion that it was maybe my opus. I had just given my valedictorian speech as leaving the graduation ceremony, ready to move on to the next phase of my life.

I wasn’t, of course. I was still doing improv, making people laugh, having a grand old time.

So one night I sat down and fired the laptop up, the Yahoo! homepage appearing.

I was so close to blogging. And then I saw it.

Sushi Cat 2: The Honeymoon.

I then spent the next 2 hours maneuvering my corpulent cat through puzzles, dropping him amongst oceans of raw fish and seaweed, cheering him on as he grew larger, hungrier, questing for the glory of complete domination of so many California rolls! Tears were shed in his defeat, only to be replaced with a steely determination. Sushi Cat, I give you my word that your honeymoon will be the best ever! And my word, to paraphrase Beau Bridges from the 1996 hit Jerry Maguire, “It’s as strong as oak.”

Finally, after gallons (or, for our friends to the north, liters) of blood, sweat and tears were poured out, I was victorious! Sushi Cat’s honeymoon was saved! The volcano’s flow of lava had been stemmed! Sweet glory of glories, I had ensured Sushi Cat would live to have a long, joyous life with his love!

So, yeah.

I guess what I’m saying is, don’t be angry, loyal readers. Be proud. Be proud that you stuck by your MoB man as he was off, fighting the good fight, helping out a cat that desperately needed it.

And now, you can see me strolling up the dusty lane leading to the metaphorical farmhouse, ready to be with you all once more.

And if you still have to be angry, blame Sushi Cat. If you can.

-ZA


I WILL COME BACK FOR YOU!





Improv. Why?

9 05 2010

That question is one I’ve found myself asking a lot the past couple of days.

Before we go any further, just so you know: I’m not retiring from improv.  I’m not even close to thinking about quitting this art that I’ve loved for the past 11 years of my life.  So if you’re hoping that this is going to be a big Lou Gehrig moment, I suggest you stop reading and do something else, like building a birdhouse.  Seriously, I don’t see enough of those small architectural wonders.

Back to the question at hand; Why in the world, for the past decade, have I spent my time studying, watching, performing, and loving this art form?

This question formed after reading Molly Buckley’s blog entry on her improv experience (Found here, on her brilliant website).  She posits that to her, the stage is her church, improv her religion.  Some may call it an extreme statement, but after seeing her perform for the past couple of years, I’d say it’s right on the money.  Molly rocks it out every time she performs.  So does everyone who’s a part of Made of BEES.

But why?  Why do I feel the compulsion to get up on the stage, perform for the masses, and bring smiles to faces?  Why am I not content to sit back, relax, and let the thousands of other performers through this great world do the entertaining for me?

Life would be so much simpler if I just threw in the towel, proclaimed “I’m done.”, and never worried about setting foot on the stage again.  There would be time to do normal things, like watch TV and go to bars and debate the merits of my favorite NFL team’s draft picks.  I could even try to breach the dating scene.  It’d be jarring at first to keep my focus on the beautiful girl in front of me than the dozens of potential characters that always frequent the restaurants, bars and bowling alleys.  But eventually that temptation would fade, and I’d be a simpler person.  A normal person.  A saner person.

So the question remains.  Why?  Why have I devoted 11 years of my life to studying, seeing, and performing improv?  After some soul-searching, I think I’ve found some answers:

  • Improv accepts.
  • It encourages.
  • It emboldens.
  • It always says “Yes”.
  • Improv never calls in the middle of the week, telling me that things just aren’t working out.
  • It never sends me an email, saying that I’m not qualified enough to be a part of it.
  • Improv shows me where I shine brightest.
  • It shows me my weaknesses, and then strengthens them.
  • Improv doesn’t discriminate.  It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, how much money you make.  All it cares about is you perform to the best of your ability.
  • It teaches me how to trust.
  • It proves it’s all right to be vulnerable.
  • Improv brings people together.
  • Improv helps me become the person I want to be.

There are more answers.  I just haven’t found them yet.

To Molly, improv is her church.  To me, it’s a mentor.  It develops me.  It pulls me out of my shell, telling me it’s all right to be who I am.  I can succeed, or I can fail.  Whatever happens, improv will be there for me the next day, and the day after that.  It doesn’t discard me.  It needs me as much as I need it.

There’s no telling how long this mutual need will last.  Maybe I’ll wake up one morning and find myself lacking the desire to get on stage.  Maybe the time will come when I have a career and a wife and a mortgage and I’ll have to put it aside.  Maybe I’ll finally take the advice of some of my more practical friends, and “grow up”.

But until then, I’m here.  In the present.  And presently, I’m about improv, and all the hope and joy and love that comes with it.

Yes and.

-ZA





Confessions of a Frustrated Blogger

17 04 2010

Such a sad, strange, man.

Disassociated Press, 4/16/10

Zach Arnold takes a long drag off his Marlboro Light before tapping the ash down to the concrete.  He’s a short man, rotund.  Comparable to the Penguin, one of Batman’s several nemeses.  Or perhaps that Travelocity gnome, which proclaims affordable deals for all travelers.  Tonight, however, as we sit on the patio of a TGI Friday’s, he most resembles what several of his generation have become…a frustrated blogger.

“You see people…” He takes another drag off his cigarette.  “…When most people go online, they aren’t looking to expand their worldview.  Nah, they wanted to do that, they’d read a book or…or a newspaper.  Nah, when people get online, they’re looking for escapist entertainment.  I mean, how else can you explain LOLcats and keyboard cats and dramatic animals…”

I nod.  Not in agreement, but to avert Arnold’s eyes as I close out my Twitter page on my iPhone.  Our drinks arrive.  The waiter sets my cranberry juice in front of me, and a Yuengling with a tiny umbrella inserted into the mouth is placed in front of Zach.  “That makes it classy,” He chuckles, pulling the umbrella out, nearly stabbing himself as he sucks out what little beer was absorbed into the wood of the toothpick.  He then asks me where he was.  I slide my notes over to him, which he pores over with intent eyes.

“LOLcats…dramatic animals…right, yeah.” He shoves my notepad back over toward me before leaning back in his chair, the tempered steel of the seat groaning under the massive pressure his grotesque body exerts upon it.  “Now, you see, I started blogging a while back.  Probably 2002, 2003, something like that.  And at first I was having fun with it.  LiveJournal.  Just putting random thoughts down, entertaining the few friends that read it.  Then I got to thinking that hey, I could use my writing prowess for something productive.  Get some debate going.  I was having people write some decent comments out, so why not fan the flames a little?  The first entry was supposed to foster a discussion on if our President at the time, George W. Bush, was using appropriate measures in his fight against terrorism.  I put that blog up and guess what?  Not one single comment.  Only 2 hits.  I know one of them was mine because I logged in at the library, see if anyone had posted anything.  That night, I put up a post debating the merits between eating ice cream in the hot seasons, and eating ice cream in the cold seasons.  Know how many hits that one got me?  65.  The writing was on the wall, baby.”

I had no idea why Mr. Arnold had addressed me as “baby”, but decided to push that aside.  This man was obviously getting drunk off one beer, or had been drinking before arriving at Friday’s.  I glanced at my watch.  Where the hell were my fried green beans?  A loud belch from across the table snapped my attention back toward my portly interviewee.  Swallowing the small amount of bile that had crept into my throat, I asked him to continue.

“Let’s see…ah, yeah, after that LiveJournal thing, I stumbled onto blogspot, and spent maybe a year or so using that thing.  My heart wasn’t really into it, though, and I stopped posting maybe 8 months in.  But!” He exclaimed, snickering as he leaned forward, resting his short arms against the table.  “I got asked to join this spectacular improv group, called Made of Bees.  And whaddya know, we get a website going on WordPress.”

I nodded again, this time in agreement.  Yes, Made of Bees was an improv group nothing short of phenomenal.  Over the past two years, they had entertained hundreds of people, leaving a residue of hilarity with every crowd they encountered.  Truly, greatness personified.

My eyes return to Mr. Arnold, who while I pontificated on the magnificence that is MoB, had fallen asleep.  A quick shake arose him from his slumber, followed by five minutes of assuring him that yes, only five minutes had passed.

“Sorry about that.  Anyway, I decide that hey, I’m in this group, I need to start contributing in some way, other than sheer sexiness.” He leers at me, a sloppy grin across his face before continuing.  “So I start writing on there.  And I figure that since we’re a comedy group, I need to write some funny stuff.  So I had blogs about me and my cousin wrestling in the backyard, how I named my sideburns, all that crap.”  Arnold accosts our server just as she places my appetizer down, requesting another Yuengling with umbrella, punctuating his drink order with a “darlin'”.  After watching our server leave, he continues.  “So I get a few posts into it, and once again, I got people putting comments up!  Telling me how they’re enjoying the hilarity and cleverness and that they’re looking forward to my next tale.  Once again I had ’em in the palm of my hand.”

Arnold looks off into space, a mix of nostalgia and drunkenness clouding his eyes.  “I had power.  That felt good.  It felt…right.  But I wanted to use this power for good.  To bring some light into this world.  So I started writing some satirical stuff, like about how Obama was getting in trouble because he wanted to address all the schoolkids.  People reacted well to that.  And once I got that reaction, it was like a drug.”

His euphoria wouldn’t last long, however.  Arnold’s eyes grow dark as he begins the next part of his saga.  “And then…Aaron had to come and screw it all up.”

Aaron Grant, another member of the spectacular Made of Bees, was also a regular contributor.  He had written three pieces.  One decrying the former Ukrop’s market chain for utilizing senior citizens as cart pushers, and two which detailed his adventures in the gym.  The first entry discussed a woman with a horrible tattoo on her lower back, while the other discussed the inability of old men in gym locker rooms to be clothed.

“And what do you know?” Arnold slurs, his eyes closing and opening slowly.  “When I come back on to check the blog, the views on Grant’s entries sky-freaking-rocketed.  I looked at the search terms, the words people used to get to the site.  I was…shocked when I saw that 20 people had come to the site using the search term ‘elderly nudes’.  I mean, ‘elderly nudes’? What kind of sick freak looks up ‘elderly nudes’?”

A plethora of them, apparently.  Grant’s blog entries quickly became the crown jewel of MoB’s site.  In fact, his first volume on the disturbing things he’s seen in his gym has garnered over 3,500 views alone.  That’s almost half of the total page views for the Bees’ site itself.

I look back at Arnold, who is now weeping openly.  There, at this TGI Friday’s, sits a broken man.

“I’m done, baby…” Again with the baby.  I brush it off.  “…From now on, no more suave political commentary.  No satirical stuff.  Just straight, flat-out funny stories about my life.  I mean, everyone loves to hear stories about fat guys getting stuck on things, right?”

I assure him he’s correct.  He smiles a sad smile, leaning back in his chair, of which the legs are now bowing out.  “I’m proud of Grant, I am.  That boy knows what the people want.”

I nod in silent concurrence, glancing back at my iPhone, enjoying a silent triumph as I become the new mayor of Friday’s in 4square.  My victory is only slightly marred by my now-cold fried green beans.

Fin

-ZA





Prom and Blazing Saddles.

6 04 2010


I try to stay optimistic.  I really do.  There’s a lot of good in this world, I promise.  There are still people out there who believe in the flourishing of the human species, and that kindness is a currency that can be freely spent.

This instance, however, is not one of them.

Lesbian Teen Sent to Fake Prom

How in the world do you find it correct to send a person to a decoy prom, solely because you do not agree with her lifestyle?

I am going to deal with this the only way I know how: Through humor.

Thus, I present to you “The Greatest PTA Meeting Ever!”

It’s 9 pm on a Wednesday.  Teachers, administrators students, parents have all gathered in Altoona High’s gymnasium.  There are multiple dialogues going on throughout the crowd.  Laughter comes from the rear seats.  Finally, Principal Wallace steps up to the podium.

Wallace: (Bangs gavel) If I could have everyone’s attention.

The crowd goes silent, all eyes on Wallace.

Wallace: (Clears throat) Now, I’ve called this meeting because it seems that we have a…uh…situation.

Mama Thomas stands up in the back

Mama T: A situation?!  This is a crisis!  This is the worst thing to hit upon our little town in the time we’ve lived here!

Members of the crowd murmur in agreement

Wallace: Settle down, now.  I realize that you are all upset that we have a…lesbian in this high school.

Student 1: And she wants to attend prom with her girlfriend!  What’s up with that?!

Jock: Hey man, could be hot.  Two chicks at the same time, know what I’m sayin’?!

Jock gathers high-fives from the other jocks.

Mama T: I don’t want my precious little girl having to see that preposterous affront to the big man upstairs, especially on what’s gonna be one of the best nights of her life!

Parents all murmur in agreement

Wallace: I understand your worries, Mrs. Thomas, and don’t worry, I’ve come up with a great idea.  We want you normal students to have a prom.  But we also have to set something up for the…lesser people.  Which is why I’ve come up with this…

Wallace pulls out a DVD of the Mel Brooks’ classic Blazing SaddlesThe audience looks at the DVD, then back at Wallace, confused.

Wallace: For those of you not familiar with this movie, there’s a scene toward the end where the evil guy is threatening to come in and destroy the small town that is under the protection of…what was that black fella’s name…

Voice from the back: Cleavon Little!

Wallace: Ah, yes!  Thank you Jim.  Cleavon Little.  Anyway, he gets all the townspeople together, and they create a replica of the town.  Not a full-fledged replica, just the storefronts and a few wooden cut-outs of the townfolks.  Then, Little and the town all just move to another place, and let the bad guys go and find that decoy town.

Mama T: So what you’re saying is we need to make a decoy prom, so that immoral shrew can go be with her other immoral shrew, and the normal kids can have a fun, gay-free prom?

Wallace: Exactly!  And we’ll send a couple of the special-ed kids to it, too.  That way all those photos you students will be taking to put on your Facebooks or MySpaces will be gay and mentally-handicapped free!

Cheers erupt from audience.  Multiple high-fives are given.  Tears pour from the eyes of the morally conscious parents, clutching their innocent sons and daughters to the bosom.

Jock: You the man, Principal Wallace!

Mama T: You are so moral!  But where are we going to get the funds for a decoy prom?

Wallace: We’ll take it out of the budget for the theater department!

More cheers

Jock: Yeah!  Because everyone in theater is gay!  That’ll show them!

Mama T: My baby’s prom is saved!  Thank you, Principal Wallace!

Wallace: My pleasure.  And if I may paraphrase from this movie (Gesturing toward Blazing Saddles) “Lesbians?  We won’t allow no stinkin’ lesbians!”

And Scene.

Way to display a love for all people, Mississippi high school.  Good job.  Really.

-ZA

Thanks to Jezebel.com for posting this story.