Classic: Mike O’Brien, Shouts & Murmurs, The New Yorker

From Shouts & Murmurs, The New Yorker: 7 December 2015

“How to Live an Alternative-Comedy Lifestyle” by Mike O’Brien:

After you stop volunteering at the senior citizens’ home, get the most normal job ever. The more normal, the more hilarious. On most days, stroll in a little late, with your hair parted down the middle, and say, “Sorry I’m late. I was just livin’ on the edge. Are y’all Aerosmith fans?”


Mess with everyone by putting a whole roasted pig with an apple in its mouth in the break-room fridge (Before you do this, become a great cook so you can prepare the pig yourself and carve it for everyone.)


Memorize your co-workers’ favorite conversation topics. Discuss these with them, and let their knowledge genuinely impress you. This may sound difficult, but once you’re in the alternative-comedy groove your questions will flow naturally. If you become invested in your co-workers themselves, and therefore in their answers, they will never figure out that your presence at the office is a gag.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

GHOST SOLDIERS: Almost Done

Her next book after Ghost Soldiers is a biography of Jesse James by T. J. Stiles. Then, she’ll move back into fiction with Kate Walbert’s A Short History of Women. With any luck, she’ll get to Walbert’s book just in time for the elections.

She watched all three debates. This last one was potent: there was one certifiable meltdown. When a man says live, on camera, to an audience of millions, that his opponent is “a nasty woman,” you can forget everything he said earlier about respecting women. He could have said “a nasty person.” But he said: nasty woman. As if her gender made it even more nasty (And you, sir, are a nasty man!)

Someone tweeted that he thought it would be a good idea to re-name all public restrooms to read: BAD HOMBRES and NASTY WOMEN.

All those in favor, say “Aye!”

Anyhoo, Back to Ghost Soldiers. The raid to free the American POWs in Cabanatuan has a very surreal quality. First of all, the POWs do not seem impressed by the American Rangers who’ve just arrived to rescue them, and are reluctant to leave the camp. Quite a few of them have to be actually kicked in the rear end because the Rangers are on a very tight program.

After the camp is completely emptied, the leader of the raid does a last check of each and every barrack. He’s all alone. Satisfied that the Americans haven’t missed a single POW, he fires a flare into the sky, visible for miles, to signal the end of the mission.

But they do leave one man behind. A British POW who’d gone deaf, who was using a latrine, who didn’t come out until everyone — Rangers AND POWs had left. The operation had to have taken at least an hour, so — the man was constipated?

There is also an American Ranger who is shot by one of his own men (by accident), from point-blank range. And this Ranger can’t stop saying, to his last breath, “By my own men. By my own men.” The men around him try to comfort him by assuring him that he was shot by a Japanese, but he refuses to believe it and just keeps repeating, in absolute horror, “By my own men.” Until he dies.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Local 2: Street Art, San Francisco

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is LOCAL.

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4th St., San Francisco, This Morning

Hundreds of people passed by this sign, probably. How many noticed the art?

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So whimsical! A closer look at the art.

Only in San Francisco. So random. Who was the artist?

This was on 4th and King, across the street from the Safeway.

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Self doesn’t know why, this made her think of Antoine de Saint-Exupery: “It is only with the heart that one can see wisely.”

Oh, San Francisco. Crazy city. Crazy people. Art is everywhere.

Stay tuned.

 

Curious About the Kevin Hart Movie?

And you are! You know you are!

If you can’t get there, because you’re one of the 99% of Americans who have to work in an office (as opposed to tele-commuting, where no one can see you clock in or clock out, and no one will know if you decide to break up your workday by sneaking into a local cineplex), all you have to do is go to this great movie review website, http://www.rogerebert.com, and read the (3-star) review there, by Odie Henderson.

Self must confess: this is the very first review by Henderson she’s ever read. So she cannot believe it when he writes, “. . .  I don’t have very much to tell you . . . I can’t tell you the jokes because I wouldn’t do them justice . . . My work here is done. Thank you, America! Good night and God bless!”

Mr. Henderson, if you should ever feel the need to branch out from your current line of work (movie reviewer: but why would you ever want to do that? Self would kill, KILL, for a job such as yours), she thinks you might be able to get a gig somewhere as a stand-up comedian.

Stay tuned.

The Raid on the Cabanatuan POW Camp: p. 164 of GHOST SOLDIERS

Much to the chagrin of the commander of the operations, it seemed like the American Rangers’ presence, so close to the POW camp in Cabanatuan, was an open secret to anyone within a day’s walk of the camp — no, to anyone in the entire province of Nueva Ecija.

First, more and more Filipino guerrillas kept appearing, offering their services. Next, the welcoming committee in Platero, the nearest town to the camp, arranged a veritable extravaganza:

The Americans had barely begun the approach to Platero when they were halted by the strains of singing, carried on the evening breeze:

The tune was hard to make out, at first, but then Prince caught it — “God Bless America,” the familiar stanzas rendered in thickly accented English, the melody charmingly curdled stale note. At the entrance to the town, a few dozen teenage girls dressed in white gowns were singing in sad, sweet voices. It was like a hastily arranged beauty pageant. The local school principal had gone door to door recruiting the prettiest young women from Platero and the surrounding countryside. Some of the girls shipped garlands of fresh sampaguita flowers over the Rangers heads and offered welcoming kisses.

Behind the cordon of singers, the village bustled with the sounds of cooking and preparation. The town were planning a feast. People were slaughtering their chickens and cows, building fires, stirring vats of stew. The villagers had prepared a classic Filipino fiesta, with all the gaiety and spare-no-cost lavishness, everyone brimming with a warmth that would almost seem cloying if it wasn’t so obviously sincere.

Self is convinced that everything, everything that happens in the Philippines, gets turned into melodrama at some point. Our history is full of tragi-comic events, and the one self has just finished reading is one of them. It’s the end of three years of occupation, one can say that the Filipinos were not doing too badly if they had enough food to impress the Americans.

The Filipino taste for drama shows them to be skilled comedians (and self remarks on this with a complete absence of irony, you’d better just take self’s word for it), with a comedian’s impeccable sense of timing. If the Japanese had spies in the village, they would have known for sure something was up, especially when the Filipinos de-camped and left the village a virtual ghost town. Self hoots because you know, you’re never sure what the ruse was: the welcoming committee or the fact that everyone took cover, as far from the field of action as possible.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Elevator Scenes: Black-ish

Self watched The Emmys this year. Surely anyone watching would have heard about Black-ish.

She just stumbled on it tonight. There are two scenes in tonight’s episode that were so on-point, and both of them take place in an elevator.

Elevator Scene # 1:

There’s Anthony Anderson (She’ll insert his character name here as soon as she googles) about to step into an elevator. The elevator doors part, and here is a moment: there’s a little white kid in there, all alone. The kid has blonde ringlets. She looks like Shirley Temple. Her eyes are swollen from crying.

Anthony Anderson looks at her. He just looks at her. And in that moment, self knew exactly what he was thinking: He cannot, simply cannot, be laying his hands on a white child he doesn’t know.

While he stands there completely immobilized, the elevator doors close on the weeping child.

Elevator Scene No. 2:

Anthony Anderson and two colleagues stand in an elevator. The lone woman with them in the elevator car is white. She’s on her cell. She says, into her phone: My Visa Number is: xxxx-xxxx-xxxx, not giving a hoot about anyone else in the elevator. Anderson and his friends exchange looks behind her back.

White woman goes on to say: I’m single. And I live alone. Oh, don’t worry. The security cams don’t work. That’s just for show.

And by this time, the three men in the elevator are exchanging serious freak-out looks? Cause all three are African American.

Self was so LMAO! ROFL! LOL!

So good.

Stay tuned.

American Horror Story: Evan Peters

When self was in London, this past summer, she walked all the way from Russell Square to the Odeon on Shaftesbury just to see X-Men: Apocalypse. And about halfway through, Quicksilver appeared. And then self remembered his scene in X-Men: Days of Future Past.

A week later, she was in Oxford. And her hotel was right across the street from a movie theatre. She had time to see the Bodleian but not the Ashmolean. And she even got to see X-Men: Apocalypse again. And all because of Evan Peters.

By now self knows he’s a regular on American Horror Story. But she is such a fraidy cat, she never risked watching a single episode. Until today.

What else to do on a beautiful Saturday afternoon? She decided to watch American Horror Story. She scanned, episode by episode, until she got to one called “Coven,” which she thinks was either in Season 2 or Season 3.

The opening credits were a compendium of scary sights. But self was able to endure.

TRIGGER WARNING: Some Not-So-Nice Things, i.e. Horror, Depravity, Sexual Deviation and — need self say more?

Jessica Lange appeared, all floozy and wrecked. Then Emma Roberts appeared, in trashy faux-fur and miniskirt, side-eyeing a shirtless next-door neighbor. Then Evan Peters appeared, blonde. In flannel shirt. On a bed. Next to a blonde who looked significantly older.

Then it appeared that his head had at one time been separated from his torso. Not only his head, but also his arms. Everything was still healing, but there were a lot of sutures.

Then, a younger blonde appeared, rescued Evan Peters, and returned him to his mama, an awfully decrepit-looking Mare Winningham (She had a stud on her chin. Way to go, Big Mare Mama!). Then Evan’s Mama began to kiss him on the mouth. It took some time before self realized that the writers of this show were indeed going to go there — Holy Cow! This is one crazy show! So depraved (by American TV standards, that is)! She loved it, just loved it!

Apparently, every single oddball character actress in America is in this show. Aside from the aforementioned Jessica Lange, Mare Winningham, and Emma Roberts, Kathy Bates is in it.

Characters are all kinds of deviants. Huh!

It was getting dark and self was getting major creepy vibes, so she stopped watching after just two episodes. But, kudos to the writers and producers for putting such wickedly anarchic stuff on American television. And for keeping it up for six seasons.

Stay tuned.

Everlark Comments

Self began a new multi-chapter fan fic last week. (It’ll be her 9th; this is really getting out of hand but whatever).

In the last couple of chapters, readers have been more or less agreed:

  • Why does Katniss keep asking Peeta so many questions it is weird but he answers them anyway?

(It’s called: device for advancement of the plot, dah-lings!)

  • This chick has word vomit or something! (Uh-oh!)
  • Katniss has the worst foot-in-mouth tendency ever!

Self finds all these comments somewhat endearing, what the hey!

Self had no idea, none, that her Katniss she was crossing boundaries. Shows you how much she has to learn about modern-day courtship rituals.

One time, self wrote something about a boyfriend visiting his girl in her college (They were having a long-distance relationship) and he ended up spending the night in her dorm room and readers were like: What? That’s so not OKAY! (Really? Why? People did that all the time when — never mind!)

Someone else told her today: Your writing is so different than most (If you only knew, dear Everlark fan fic reader!), it’s so lyrical. My problem is: Why are your chapters so short?

(It’s called subtlety and restraint, dah-ling! Because self is quite the flash fiction writer! Oops! In fan fic, it’s not flash-fiction, it’s called a ONE-SHOT!)

Self finally decided to partner with another Everlark fan fic writer. And together, we are writing an AU to the AU that is all Everlark.

She works hard, self’s collaborator. She has written one of the 10 most-read Everlark fan fics EVER. That is according to statistics compiled by this famous xxx fan fic website. The fact that she agreed to write outtakes for self is so humbling. Not to mention, hers are triple the length of self’s. And so much more funny!

Packed with tattooed girls and bands and grunge clubs. Which of course self has no first-hand knowledge of because she is really a nun writing from a cloister on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Pray Mother Superior doesn’t find out!

Stay tuned.

Starting New Everlark: HEEEELP!

Self, what is wrong with you? At this point in 2016, the last thing you need is to start a new Everlark fan fic.

She posted it as a one-shot last weekend. Just 400 words, no biggie.

Then she got comment after comment. Which kinda got her excited.

This is her story: Peeta is a homeless man, and Katniss is an office worker, and the homeless man strikes up a very innocent conversation with Katniss. Everyone was all like: OMG that is so sweet!

Self wrote 3000 more words in one day! But all the interchanges so far take place on the street and self has no idea how to move the action to Katniss’s apartment. Where it obviously needs to go.

Readers are naturally impatient and begin offering self some helpful hints:

“Umm. Maybe it’s raining and Katniss invites Peeta to step inside?”

Or: “It’s foggy and chilly and Katniss doesn’t want Peeta to freeze to death!”

“She drops her wallet and Peeta retrieves it and Katniss’s address is on the license so he finds her building and rings the buzzer?”

Then, the backstory for why Peeta ended up homeless. More reader suggestions:

  • “Maybe he’s a war vet suffering from PTSD?”
  • “Maybe he was evicted from his apartment because he lost his job and couldn’t make the rent?”
  • “Maybe he’s a filmmaker doing a documentary on the homeless and decides to do guerrilla filmmaking?”
  • “Maybe he was a chef and the restaurant closed?”

Johanna appears in the story as a punk drummer in a rock band that plays in grunge places (fast disappearing in San Francisco but — creative license, after all!) She has a tattoo of a picnic basket on her arm and Gale, Katniss’s current boyfriend, finds that so overwhelmingly hot! Gale is all over that picnic basket tattoo! Hell, yeah!

Turns out Johanna and Peeta are related. Like, distant third cousins. Johanna doesn’t know Peeta has become one of the homeless. Peeta gets hired to model for Cinna because even though he is homeless he still has a pretty good figure. He gets paid $1000 in cash.

New dilemma: What in the heck is self going to have Peeta do with $1000 in cash?

  • Maybe he could open a bank account?
  • Maybe he could buy some new clothes?
  • Maybe he could buy Katniss some flowers?
  • Maybe he could take a few art classes?

Self will sleep on it.

Stay tuned.

 

 

GROUND: Sylvain Landry Week 2-02

For Sylvain Landry’s Week 2-02 Prompt: GROUND

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A chicken has its 15 minutes of fame.

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