Friday, April 25, 2014

I Am Making You Sneeze

I look at the mountains and tears start to roll down my cheeks and I smile, as I am trying to be more sensitive.

I am the mountain he is looking at and crying and smiling about - is he always like this? What an emotional wreck - how can you people stand that? Can't you find someone more normal to be friends with?

I am steaming broccoli because it is the right thing to do - the humidity was dangerously low.

Broccoli here! Enjoying a lovely steam bath. What? You say he is going to eat us?!?! I knew it! He had that look in his eye when he bought us from the store.

I colour outside the lines in my colouring book as I refuse to obey the rules - plus it is abundantly clear that I need glasses.

I am the drawing that he has so recklessly coloured in, on and around. Although he may feel badly now, he will forget about me in a few minutes, but I will be left here to suffer forever until I am put out of my misery at the recycling depot.

I water the garden on the morning of a hot summer's day greatly enjoying the smoothness of the hose - should probably go see my therapist again soon.

You know, I always felt there was something "off" about how he holds me, the hose. And that is saying a lot - I'm used to be held rigidly like an automatic rifle shooting water bullets at plants, juvenilely like something used to urinate with and even lovingly like we were twirling during a romantic slow dance. I could tolerate all of those, but, the way he held me...I guess I would call it a mixture of passive aggressive and patronizingly jovial, but what do I know from complex emotions, I'm just a hose.

I take the mammoth unabridged dictionary off the shelf with great gusto - I have no intent on reading it - that was all just for show.

If you are going to take me off the shelf, the least you can do is open me and learn something or maybe caress my binding or even a simple hug would suffice.

I am feeling out and out deflated right now- why did I choose to spend the afternoon blowing up all of those balloons after she left me?

Wheee!!!!! Wheeeeee!!!! Yahooooo!!!! It is so awesome floating in the air, not a care in the world, at the whim of the breeze. I mean until you've been an inflated balloon, you just haven't lived. And I should know, being a lifelong balloon and all. Not sure if it's an option for you, but if you can give the whole balloon thing a try, you just have to do it. 

I pace up and down in the hall and then decide to pace sideways using shuffling-type steps performed in a semi-crouch before I finally get your attention, as even you can't tune out my ridiculously distracting pacing.

Click, clack, click...I am those shoes, the ones that pace in the hall, the same ones you hear fast approaching in the darkness, I'm also the ones that follows you on deserted streets, and I'm the ones tap dancing on your grave in your nightmares...Ha ha ha! Got you! Had you going, didn't I? Relax - we are just your old, much-loved, sneakers in the front closet. Nothing to be worried about.

I eat a banana for breakfast every morning and I feel...proud?

Aye! As a proud banana from a long line of proud bananas, I can tell ye this. My great-grand pa used to place me on his knee and say "Ahoy matee. We bananas used to sail the seven seas and ruled when times were good. Yaarrr, those days were glorious and we have lived to tell the tale. Nary a banana will walk the tongue plank and be eaten, ye mark me words. We bananas will fight and no man will board us. Now where is me rum?" Did I mention, we are pirate bananas? I don't exactly know why - my great, grand pa was little off and drank way too much rum (everytime I asked dad how a banana even drinks rum, I got a smack that nearly opened my skin and made me prematurely brown and bruised). My ancestor thought he was a pirate and the rest of us just followed along - quit judging me.

I spend the weekend cleaning out my attic coming across prized family heirlooms, dusty photo albums and old Halloween costumes that cause me to laugh out loud - then I realized, I don't have an attic.

Who was that? How did he even get here? Here is what happened...he came up my stairs, he opened my door and....disturbed my dust! Will he come again? It has been years since I have felt so...loved.

I am working on a challenging math problem and although I love challenges and puzzles, it is just making me hungry for cake.

Soooo....stop doing the math problems? Duh! I'm just sayin'. As a card-carrying member of the cake, we don't love being eaten. Like it's not horrible, but it ain't that exciting for us. So, why don't you put down that math book and go enjoy some fresh air. Skip or run or do whatever you humans like to do. And if you must eat, eat some fresh fruit - sorry to be so frank, but do you really need another piece of me? Yeesh - can you get a load of this guy - sitting around doing math...and it's not like I'm just sitting around with a sign saying "Eat Me" - what? I am? Okay okay - bad example, but still. Stop Eating So Much Cake!

I can't stop sneezing and I am starting to think that something is making me sneeze - there is no way this is purely coincidental.

Sam Sneeze here. I am making you sneeze. I'm doing it now, I've done it before and I will do it again. Why do I do it? Does it serve any greater good? Is it part of some grand scheme or plan? Can I make it sound funnier and more cartoonish? Am I tight with Cameron Cough? All good questions, but I have no idea, I'm just a sneeze.

I have decided that I need to exclaim more often to get my point across, but I am having a hard time nailing the timber and inflection of exactly three exclamation points - any less wouldn't be forceful enough and any more would drive people away.

I am an exclamation point and contrary to popular belief, I enjoy quiet strolls on the beach, lazy Sunday morning brunches doing the crossword and romantic movies on the couch at home. I'm not sure where everyone got the idea that I am some loud and crazy guy hellbent for excitement and thrill. I'm more at home on a country ranch then a disco party and I prefer mild, subtle food then burn-your-nose-hair-off chili. I need a new PR guy. 

I am sitting watching a frog by the pond and get the shivers - just a pretty cold morning and the frog won't stop staring through me almost like he sees within my soul.

It gets old pretty fast. Odd-looking, constantly-shivering guys with nearly empty souls just sitting there staring at me. Where have all the good ones gone?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Why Did We Leave Our Banjos At Home?

We are on a beautiful and relaxing walk in the nearby forest.
You comment that in many ways we are very similar to the trees that surround us.
I have to fight back the overwhelming desire to push you down and yell "timber".
You reveal that in moments of frustration you want to metaphorically chop me into kindling.

We are in our backyard on a beautiful summer's day doing some weeding in the garden.
I remark that in another life we could have been cute little puppy dogs.
You laugh and start to bark loudly, which is funny initially and then considerably less funny when it passes the 10 minute mark.
I finally get you to stop by smothering your face with long, deliberate, yet frisky licks.

We are preparing an amazing brunch, with you scrambling the eggs as I am toasting the bread.
You indicate that in a certain light we could pass for human-sized jars of dill pickles.
I am not sure how to take this but I instinctively turn my hat around and around trying to tighten it so you can't try to reach inside.
You wait until I am asleep before filling my water glass on my nightstand with a mix of vinegar, water, dill, garlic and salt and then placing my hand in it to begin the pickling process.

We are boarding a bus headed for Mexico.
I think that with the proper head wear we could easily pass for monarchs.
You turn slowly and regally towards me and silently indicate that you expect me to kiss your shoe.
I turn on my smart phone and start researching methods of regicide.

We are searching for wild rabbits to feed, all-the-while clutching pieces of carrots and celery in our hands.
You tell me all about an idea for a science fiction novel you thought of where large, dinosaur-sized bunnies try to feed wild humans scraps of vegetables.
I am quite surprised both by the thoughts in your head and also that I nearly dislocated my eyebrows as a result of those thoughts.
You stand there for a few moments, bemused by my reaction, before slapping me silly with a stalk of limp celery.

We are spending a rainy Saturday afternoon eating popcorn and watching movies.
I murmur to myself that I wish it was a sunny Wednesday and that we were eating peanuts and watching a magic show.
You bite your tongue to stop from saying something insensitive, after debating biting my tongue instead.
It is moments like this that make me wish you were a rubber tree and I was a plantation worker needing to extract your valuable rubber latex.

We have decided to repaint all of the rooms in our house.
You strike a particularly intimidating pose while wielding a brush.
I shrink away from you scared in equal parts by the pose and the brush itself.
To lighten the mood you shave off my carefully groomed and highly restrained mustache and delicately paint on an elaborately comical one in its place.

We are instituting new rules around the house that more closely agree with the laws of physics.
I wish that we could somehow bend the laws to make us significantly more attractive.
You make plans to cover yourself completely in magnetic tape.
I decide to carefully arrange the multiple prisms I have on hand to attempt to refract you.

We accidentally purchased 50 pounds of apples at the local farmer's market as we thought we saw a decimal that was just a pit.
You suggest that we bake a huge apple pie and, after it cools down, we hide in it and freak out your sister.
I get a horrible headache after 30 minutes of attempting a look that combines squinting, furrowing, and lip pursing all the while peeling apples for this pie.
In the end, you change your idea to just giving her a card and out of frustration I dump 20 pounds of peeled, cored and sliced apples on you, but decide to take the cinnamon and brown sugar home with me to use next time.

We are playfully playing tag in our bare feet on the sand at the beach.
I yell out to you that I love you despite the sheer amount of seaweed caked to your back.
You stop playing tag, cease smiling, slowly peel away the seaweed never once breaking eye contact with me.
Why did we leave our banjos at home?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ideas For Plays: The Dramas Part 1

I've decided to brainstorm about play ideas as I aspire (no, that is too strongly put...what's a word that means "kind of aspire"? Just that aspire invokes this image of me spending tons of time and energy and brain power towards that pursuit and I just don't want to mislead the reader now. I may choose to mislead a subset of you later on, just don't want to start that way. I was raised that way) the idea of becoming a playwright (no! I mean I do like play writing, just that saying I like the idea of becoming a playwright sounds a bit too simple and "plain Jane" and I am not a "plain Jane" - if I must be a Jane, I'd at least like to be considered un-plain, or at least, less plain or only plain on Tuesdays...where was I?...right! "like" is a boring descriptor for how I feel about being a playwright)...ummm as I enjoy thinking about ideas for future plays that I probably will never write (way to go, Paley, only took you 15 minutes to describe a very simple thing and you used, and are still using, way too many sidetracking, distracting, parenthesized add-ons, that it makes the paragraph next to impossible to follow. Bravo, "writing guy", bravo. Note to self- stop having conversations with yourself when you are supposed to be writing for others. If you want to converse with yourself, go hide in the bedroom closet like you used to before you got a blog.)

I'm starting with some ideas I had for some Serious Plays (or would it be Serious Ideas for Plays or perhaps Plays That Result in Serious Ideas, or maybe the word serious will scare people away, namely me - I'm often not in the mood for things that are too serious - we all enjoy a chuckle or a giggle, don't we...sorry, sorry, perhaps I am just wasting time and should just make with the ideas already as the casserole is almost done or perhaps the "wasting of time" is all part of the process?) I guess I could just go with convention and call them "dramas", but that is only fun when said with a true Australian accent. Plus, using the word drama, makes it all sound so grown-up ("but, don't forget that you are 43 now" - "wait, who said that?!?!" "you did, just that you used italics to make it appear to the reader that someone else is here with you, but there isn't. You are alone, sitting at the computer, attempting to shave your back hair with one hand while typing this with your other and preparing to eat an entire tray of tuna casserole, pretending to be literary" "okay, okay, okay - man, next time I talk to myself in writing, I should remember to invent a more interesting "person" to talk to, or at least someone with fewer piercing - just too much glare for the eyes.") we go with the dramatic, serious and thought-provoking ideas (I added in thought-provoking as it may capture a few more people who are doing a random Google search or if I include it as one of my 35 hashtags when I tweet about it). Keep in mind these ideas are straight from my brain and are "brainstorms", which means some may be great ideas and some may be beyond stupid and others may have aspects of both wrapped together into an idea that "doesn't do much for anyone". I plan to follow this up with idea for funny plays and then with ideas for totally, ridiculously, nonsensical plays and finally plays about dolphins. There will be no stone unturned. Of this I promise you.

Enjoy these "serious" ideas! (still wondering if I should have just called them Dramas, but after making you read all of the stuff above only to change it now would seem like I was wasting your time more than I actually am. Another question is whether you can ever really enjoy a drama - you can appreciate it, you can empathize with the characters, you can understand the issues  -but enjoy? I guess if you aren't finding much enjoyment in the rest of your life, you may just enjoy anything - even these ideas. You're welcome?)

One last note, I have opted to refer to myself as "the playwright". So there. It's a step up from many of the other things I used to call myself.

1)      "Life and Death" – The lights come up on 3 people on stage sitting spaced apart and having their own spotlights and they alternate telling stories in first person from my life – focusing on the tough times (for example: having a hard time making friends in kindergarten and having to settle on a rock), the heart break (like the time I was told by a girl I liked that she wanted to keep our relationship the way it was and then running away screaming and then doing this again and again everyday for a month), and the lack of enough cheese (honestly there was just never enough cheese, even when I won the local lottery and purchased a few whole wheels of gouda. I came to suspect that my roommate was either eating it when I wasn't watching or that he owned a set of hungry mice, which would explain all of the squeaks I heard in his room - I didn't feel comfortable asking about them)– the play ends in total darkness with sound-effects of wind blowing and bats screeching and after a few moments my voice can be heard saying "don't cry for me, or actually, on second thought, I would really appreciate if you did cry for me." Before you boo, remember this is a drama and dramas must be packed full of things placed their solely for dramatic effect.

2)      "The End" – A man sits alone in a room contemplating the end of his existence. As the lights come up we observe him alternating between crying, moaning and coughing (I guess we are to assume he either is sick or is suffering from allergies which makes the audience wonder why he doesn't take something for that already). We then see a series of short scenes performed around him using area lighting that show us why he is in the state he is in. 
      (a) his son was in accident - a team of doctors work around the clock trying to figure out how he got piano keys embedded in his back. Thankfully they are able to save him, but they will definitely need to pay for a new piano or make due without the high notes. Doctors are seen telling the dad that his son will never play again and the dad drops to his knees crying while the son is jumping up and down, overjoyed. The audience is left to surmise that the son may have accidentally on purpose impaled himself with keys. 
      (b) we see a scene at the local bar with the man heavily drinking and sometimes getting rowdy.Yet sometimes he drinks and becomes an amazing storyteller - we see him telling vivid tales from the war surrounded by a crowd that is hanging on his every word (and slur, remember he is very drunk) and other times he drinks and performs scenes from Swan Lake in the corner (hey, he ain't hurting anyone, plus Swan Lake is very popular in these parts of the country).
      (c) he loses his job - we see his boss calling him into the office and yelling and screaming and literally throwing the book at him. The audience is probably supposed to assume the book is both heavy and important (possibly a rare edition) and many audience members seem more concerned for the health and welfare of this very meaningful book then for the man who is clearly hurt from the exchange (the book seems to be doing quite well, yet this doesn't stop the audience from passing around a collection hat for it). The boss continues to yell and yell and it goes on for quite a while. After some time, the man gets a bit peckish sitting there and listening to his boss yelling, so he decides to start his egg salad sandwich (which coincides with a vendor walking up and down the aisles selling egg salad sandwiches - it is a great marketing plan - the vendor sells out in minutes).
      (d) we see the man arrive home and catch his wife cheating on him which makes the audience hate her even more than before (she is an easy character to dislike - she is demanding, angry, dishonest, demeaning and always makes him triple-wash the potatoes). We are left to guess who she was cheating with and what they were doing and why she is wearing a mask and snorkel, but some questions are better left unresolved. 
      (e) he finally files for bankruptcy as all he has left are peanuts - lots and lots and lots of peanuts  (evidently he invested hard in peanut futures when the market was looking good and the value of peanuts was at an all-time high and then he stupidly refused to sell even when his brother, the peanut farmer, insisted he did due to the blight). 
      The play ends with the man looking straight at the audience and asking how he did tonight. The audience doesn't respond, as it is a well-trained audience and you just never break the "fourth wall". Little do they know but the actor was really looking for some honest feedback as the director just doesn't do that.    

3)    "The Big Test" – Some students are cramming for a huge test that will heavily influence their futures. There is lots of nervousness before the test - one girl can't stop laughing, another guy is pacing up and down, two others are so nervous that they forget they are characters in a play. Each student takes turns talking directly to the audience as the others freeze in the background and they tell us what is on the line and the consequences for them if they fail (one boy needs to pass to enter college, another girl needs to pass or else her parents will disown her - although she admits she may have misunderstood their conversation as she was at quite a distance and was solely reading facial expressions and body language, yet another kid needs to pass or else he can't become a store mannequin placement adviser, and another girl needs to pass as failure is not an option - the audience believes her completely, which is exactly what the playwright wants). We see them writing the test and each takes turns reading questions out loud to assist the audience as they can't read the paper from where they are sitting (this appears to all as a blatant example of cheating and we all wonder what the teacher is doing while this is happening - this often makes some audience members get up and leave and re-enroll at school as possibly the rules for taking tests has changed recently and have become much more lenient). Other kids respond to each question with their thinking in their head – they don’t communicate with each other (the sample questions and the answers have the unintentional result of making the audience feel pretty slow and uneducated and wishing that the playwright would just cut to some pratfalls and other immature teenage boy humour about female body parts and flatulence just so the audience can have a welcome break from feeling so dumb). Intermixed with that we hear their thoughts and emotions during the test, plus comments and reminders from the teacher about how much time is left. As the test is winding down the questions get more and more profound and more and more personal  and just as we start to realize that this is a science fiction sort of thing where citizens must all take a test when they turn 18 and it places you in society and determines what role you play and if you fail you are eliminated, we notice that all of the audience member have been strapped to their chairs and the actors are walking around giving us test papers and chanting slowly and robotic-ly "now it's your it's your turn". The play is most likely a metaphor, because I heard that the use of metaphors is good.

4)      "My Relationship With Frieda" – A typical boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-is-sad, boy-contemplates-enlisting-in-the-army-but-decides-to-collect-bottles-caps-instead relationship from beginning to end. The play alternates scenes between the couple meeting (let's have that take place at a coffee shop so that this hackneyed cliche can be as hackneyed and cliched as possible, leaving just a hint of another level of cliche just in case) and slowly getting seriously involved (one particularly poignant scene of their courtship involves the couple standing far stage left as a prop girl pours bucket after bucket of ice water on them to simulate a rainstorm) and then breaking up (an attempt was made by the playwright to have both characters try to convince the other not to break up with them and yet have both characters want to do the breaking up - this scene elicits much groaning from the audience, although the groaning could be contributed to the "cheap" cheese the theatre owner has opted to use on the nachos) and this is intermixed with scenes where each discusses their view of the relationship with their small group of friends and/or parents almost like a reality show. This play jumps all over from past, present, future and some "other" time and place that no one is totally sure about - there is a good chance that the playwright also had no idea and included these scenes as a means of distracting the audience so that it would delay the realization of how bad this play actually is. The break up occurs under a harshly red spot light that seems to make everyone present quite angry and then a year passes and the two characters bump into each other at either at a polo match (if the two are to be upper-class), a laundromat (contractually obligated to have a scene in every fourth play take place at one), a retail store at the mall that sells designer gloves (so someone can be slapped by a glove, also part of the contract), or at a public stoning (the play may be a period piece) and they have an awkward conversation (during the initial read-through, the actors had a ridiculously awkward time reading this scene and the director had to put in many long hours at rehearsal working with them to seem less awkward to moderate success) but agree to meet for coffee later on. Friends/parents from both sides are against it  - "let's say the coffee is too hot and it scalds your tongue - remember that nothing good happens when a tongue is scalded - it just hurts" says her father; "how can you be sure that she hasn't spent the past year travelling, studying and researching coffee and has been biding her time and awaiting this opportunity to bring you to a coffee shop, demonstrate her near-encyclopedic knowledge of coffee resulting in much embarrassment on your part" says his mother, and yet he goes and she doesn't show up – THE END (maybe change the ending as even I, the playwright, am booing at my own lame ending). OR (this is much better) - maybe the play mirrors an actual relationship that the playwright or one of his family members has experienced only not-so-subtly changing the facts to make it more interesting, humiliating and attractive to Hollywood-types and to attract them, the two do meet, share a romantic kiss, and then ride off into the sunset on a white stallion while a group of Flamenco guitar players play.

5)      Play in a Play Idea – 2 to 4 people are in a scene in which their characters have strong emotional attachments and arguments with each other (think soap opera stuff ...did you really think about soap operas right now after I suggested it? Cool! Now think about really cute guinea pigs and which Guinea they would root for in a soccer tournament - Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, or The Republic of work is done here). We see the scene stopped and the director (and stage manager perhaps?) come on stage and give directions, ask for stock market advice, shake off their legs that had fallen asleep in comical fashion etc.) Offstage everyone is an entirely different personality but the high emotions of the play and jealous relationships offstage start eating away at them until the offstage is more intense then on. In fact the offstage intensity is so real, that the playwright had to take long breaks writing these scenes (plus the non-fat, no-sugar Vanilla frozen yogurt that tastes oddly like cold cardboard with a hint of vanilla was also calling his name, something he wishes it would stop doing). The whole play takes place on the stage - in rehearsal and out of rehearsal - it was considered to have the whole play literally take place backstage, but it was determined that the audience would get really bored just hearing the play and not seeing anything and would wonder why they hadn't stayed home and just listened to a radio play as at least they could soak their feet in Epsom salts at the same time. The play could end with a murder or two (why stop there? kill them all!!!! Oops, did I actually write that?) and then the audience realizes that the whole thing was a play (that is the one or two audience members who didn't figure it out immediately realize this). The on-stage/off-stage bits are opposites early on, but when the off-stage parts change and evolve the play itself could change to make it more like what the off-stage life was originally like. The original play could be 2 couples in love or 1 guy and two girls, and he cheats and they fight over him or 2 guys and a girl and the director is romantically tied to someone. Maybe the stage manager likes the director and the ones who didn't get along on stage are married off-stage etc. Or maybe on stage all of the characters are super slow and not all there and offstage they are super-intelligent beings who mock their on-stage counterparts to the point where the on-stage characters hate their off-stage versions of themselves so much that they start to plot against them.Whoa. This, play within a play format is far from an original plot ploy, but is just so much fun. A strong consideration was to add a few more "in a plays" to it until we get in so deep that the characters who are only "in a play" are rendered speechless and look to the brainier-appearing audience members for help. I mean it is not easy to talk to a character who is in the play that is in the play, but to talk to a character who is in the play in the play in the play in the play is really really really hard to do. I mean what do you talk about? This idea thankfully did not come to fruition, but one can only wonder if it is just a matter of time knowing how the playwright loves over-complicating everything and then laughing at the resulting lack of comprehension (this idea is a small example of that).

6)      "The Basketball Player" - The play is centered around George, a budding basketball player, whose dream is to play professionally. The entire play is George, standing centre stage, dribbling a basketball near a stage mic, which greatly amplifies the sound. After a few minutes, an audience member stands and yells "ENOUGH WITH THE FREAKIN' DRIBBLING!!! AT LEAST TAKE A SHOT OR DO SOMETHING, ANYTHING ELSE - THIS IS DRIVING ME CRAZY!" George doesn't even flinch or look up and continues bouncing the ball. After another few minutes, most of the audience just can't take it anymore and leaves, except for one young boy, who sits, transfixed and mesmerized by the ball and by George. The playwright had considered the unforeseen twist that maybe the boy was the actor and George was actually in the audience, but that just made no sense at all (which strangely was a good enough reason to scrap the idea, as often that is all the playwright needs to expand upon something). Another idea was that maybe the boy was an actor as well, maybe George at a younger age before the night the UFO was spotted. Regardless, the audience is 99% gone and enjoying a sub sandwich right now so all of these ideas are moot. Possibly the dribbling of the basketball is a metaphor for something, like a commentary on the slow decay of morals in this modern time in which we live or more likely the play is being used by a psychology grad student as part of their research.

7)  "The First Date" – A very jittery guy is on a first date, and it isn't going well. He is so nervous and is fighting so hard to hide it that he is coming across as stone-like. He knew he'd be nervous, but was aiming more for cutely nervous rather than nervous-to-the-point-of making-everyone-concerned nervous. His date is a beautiful young woman who is very naive and confused - she asks questions like "what is a date?", "why did that person just bring us a basket of buns and rolls?" and "who did you say you were again? Are you here about papa?" About 5 minutes after the audience has given up on this couple making any real intelligible conversation, the two character's figments show up. (For those not familiar with this sub-genre, a figment is essentially the inner-self of the character who can communicate and relate with their "real" self and the audience, but cannot be seen by the other character. Figments can see and talk to each other too. Figments are often utilized to voice what characters are actually thinking about, but are too shy to say. Other times, playwrights use figments to voice their own political or philosophical ideas that are often not popular and could, if spoken by the actual characters, lead to censure or imprisonment. The playwright thinks that if these radical thoughts and ideas are spoken by figments, that aren't real, he will get off Scott free. He is incorrect.) Anyways, the nervous guy and his date’s figment come out and survey the scene and upon noticing how comically (yet, not at all funny) the date is going and that they have almost lost the room, quickly huddle up and decide to try and salvage the play by performing card tricks, parts of their stand-up routine and fielding questions from the audience about sexual health. But, in the end these two figments are the heroes and they help the two characters through their date and us through this play (plus they handout some very useful and educational pamphlets on contraception). The moral of the story seems to be to always bring along a friend who can act as your figment by making your unintelligent, incomprehensible, ridiculous thoughts seem more socially acceptable, brilliant and funny. If you are fortunate enough to date someone who also has a figment, you can allow the two figments to court each other and work everything out, while the two of you eat buckets of fried chicken without a care in the world. The only risk is that the two figments will fall madly in love and abandon you completely. Unlucky for you, but lucky for the owner of the friend chicken place around the corner.

8)     "Death Visits" – One night smack in the middle of the prime-time TV schedule, Death shows up at a guy’s door and motions that his number is up and it is time to go. After a few moments spent making sure that this isn't some sort of elaborate prank, he realizes that this is actually Death personified and that, much as popular literature and fan websites have predicted, Death is not one for fooling around and that he is gravely serious.  The man, trying to stall, invites Death in for a glass of milk and some cake, but Death isn't in the mood for cake, especially as he is experimenting with a non-Gluten diet right now. Clearly nervous and not at all in the mood for a guest in the first place, the man then proceeds to offer Death each and every food, beverage and spice in the house which Death says no to - this portion of the play goes on for 25 minutes. The audience cannot be sure if it is solely the man stalling and trying to delay the inevitable, or if it is just the playwright's inability to decide where he wants this play to go. Finally, Death agrees to a plain piece of tofu, mainly to get the man to shut up. Sitting at the kitchen table together, the man breaks down into inconsolable crying -wailing that he doesn't want to go and has so much to live for. The crying is loud and embarrassing, and Death, although quite used to his line of work, starts to feel badly and also just wants the man to stop making so much noise as the neighbours may grow suspicious. Death gets up and comforts him saying things like "it's not so bad, it will be okay, you are only dead" and "just think, I could have been here to sell you magazine subscriptions that you don't really need but end up saying yes to mostly to get rid of me and then the magazines just pile up and up until your wife/girlfriend complains and complains for you to recycle them or something" and "shhh, if you're really quiet and well behaved I promise we'll stop for an ice cream on the way." The man pulls himself together and excuses himself to go to the washroom to tidy up. Once in the washroom he paces up and down devising a plan for escape. Upon returning to the dining room, he offers to play Death a game of chess and if he loses he will go and if he wins he gets an extra month to live. Death is hesitant as this is not his first time around the block and he has had many an offer similar to this one. Death begrudgingly agrees to a game of chess. The game begins and it is very close. As they had not established any time restrictions, the game (and the play) go on for some time. Coincidentally the local chess championships is going on next door to the theatre and is easily more entertaining - the players joke, are animated and take multiple breaks as they launch into musical numbers more befitting the Broadway stage. The playwright tries to take credit for the actual chess match as well and tries to disown his play to no avail. In the end, Death wins, but comes out looking like a loser as he celebrates way too much and then he receives significantly less applause than the man does at the closing curtain. 

9)      "The Jungle" – The entire play takes place in the jungle. This involves tons of work for the props and set people to create the environment and the heating bills are off the charts as the director constantly has the humidity set to 40% (somewhat similar to a hot yoga class - in fact, with the humidity so high and the audience in a constant state of dripping sweat, improptu hot yoga classes have been known to randomly break out amongst the audience members while watching the play). A number of birds, butterflies and monkeys were released into the studio during the rehearsal period and over those three months have made the place home - warning - rows M and N are home to some new baby monkeys and their mother is super protective. Prospective audience members are promised to feel like they are in the actual jungle while they are watching the play so along with the animals and the humidity, vines are hung throughout the theatre and there is this hard-to-place smell that is 100% jungle and 100% disgusting (the playwright is aware this adds up to 200% and his reasoning is that no one calculate percentages accurately in the jungle, especially when trying to get rid of the smell of monkey feces). Before the curtain comes up we hear screaming humans and screeching of monkeys and roaring of lions followed by the crackle of a BBQ and the sounds of someone enjoying a lip-smacking meal. And the smell of the BBQ is intoxicating (now is a good time to remind everyone that the playwright has just opened his new BBQ restaurant across the street from the theatre - and no, lions, monkeys nor humans are on the menu - we asked, and evidently all three are illegal to serve and we are told, morally reprehensible as well. Who knew?). The lights come up on our main characters - a set of four Americans next to a rusty old jeep. Jungle noises and music are played quite loudly for the first scene and we see the characters miming conversations that seem to tell us that they came to Africa a year ago as a break from their boring lives as accountants and they were on a lovely safari when their jeep broke down. It is really hard to tell what happened next - possibly they traded their money with a bunch of gorillas who promised them transportation and safe passage to the nearby village only to urinate on their money and then use it as part of a burning ritual (it is fairly unclear and we are left to wonder why they don't just turn the sound down so we can hear the actors who are forced to yell over the noises and music). The audience begins to get very frustrated with the lack of audible dialogue - also the music is on a 2 minute loop and if we have to hear the same songs again for the 10th time someone is going to lose it (my money is on the heavy-set guy with the receding hairline and the massive goatee or the little old granny in the front row). Just as we can't take it any longer the music fades down and we hear the characters planning their next move. Hank is in charge and he is trying to convince Sheila that they either need to start walking that way or eat Mark. Sheila is fairly okay with either plan but doesn't want to give Hank the satisfaction of knowing that she agreed. Josie has a wicked sunburn (not part of the script - she fell asleep on the beach on an off day but she is a spectacular improv performer and has incorporated this into her part) and is trying to find some aloe vera. All the while Mark is hanging out with some zebras he "befriended" - honestly, he hasn't been quite right since the night they had to eat their shoes to avoid starving. Just when the characters appear ready to turn on each other, a strange man appears. He is clean shaven, is wearing a pressed suit and has either been blessed with naturally pearly white teeth or has spent a lot of money on whitening strips. The man emerges from the bush and claps his hands loudly three times causing everyone to immediately drop what they are doing and focus on him. He clears his throat and, speaking with an unplaceable, yet exotic sounding accent offers them some gum. Who could say no to that? The five of them sitting around chewing gum, having a grand old time, almost forgetting their predicament. Then the suited man jumps up and asks them if they want to come away with him to a land where everyone are fairies and elves. This is the end of act 1. Act 2 opens with the four of them back at their accounting firm, sitting at their desks chewing gum. The End. The audience is left to wonder not if that was a waste of time (it was), but if the playwright is simply running out of ideas at this point and is solely trying to satisfy some sort of minimum word requirement for a creative writing blog (he isn't...I mean he isn't solely doing that). And why is the second act so short? A common feeling is that the play was meant originally to be one act, but the playwright needed to take a break as his leg was falling asleep so he decided to end the first act to always remind him of that time he was writing when his leg fell asleep.

10)    "The Reunion"– A guy and a girl run into each other 15 years after graduating together from high school. They catch up and reminisce and go over mistakes they made back then or things they wish they had done differently. Both were really popular but now lead empty/unfulfilled lives. They spend the entire hour-long play looking back at missed opportunities and depressing shortfalls over the past 15 years. They talk about how they liked each other and just never acted on it, which makes them even more depressed. At the end of the play, with tears rolling down each of their faces, he asks her if maybe, just maybe, they were to go out now and fall madly in love then it would all have been worth it - the heartache, the failures, the firings, the cheap and disgusting simulated cheese. And just when the audience starts to perk up at the thought of a happy ending, they both decide that it would be too much work and they go their separate ways. For some odd reason many people view this play twice and bring raw eggs by the dozen with them the second time.

Stay tuned for The Dramas: Part 2 coming soon....

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

While She Wishes, He Wonders

She was at the retail store trying on clothes and looking at herself in the mirror and was wishing she was buying a mirror instead.

He was walking in the woods and enjoying the peace and quiet, the fresh air, the escape into nature and he wondered if now was a good time to start smoking cigars as he was trying to add distinguished to his list of personality descriptors.

She was chopping onions and tomatoes, making gazpacho, wishing she had the chutzpah to explore the wonderful world of bisques.

He sat by himself on a smooth rock on top of a local mountain so wrapped up in his own thoughts that he barely noticed the amazing panoramic views and he wondered if he should be as concerned as he was about how the rock got so smooth.

She was trying to decide what present to ask Santa for Christmas and she wished that just once she could be the present.

He was jumping down the street attempting to solve quadratic formulas while he jumped and he wondered if anyone else on earth was doing the same exact thing he was doing right now and if the two of them were to meet by some stroke of luck that maybe they would become the bestest of friends, always together and they would spend rainy afternoons huddled together under the big oak tree.

She lay on the beach in her new bathing suit enjoying the sun as screaming kids ran around in the water and she wished that she could gather all of the small crabs together and direct them in a fabulous "Thriller"-style dance routine.

He spends his days speaking gibberish wondering why no one asks him over for dinner except for that odd woman at the library who only speaks in a completely unintelligible language.

She stands on the end of the 5 metre platform at the aquatic centre knees slightly quivering and she wishes that she could bend space and time or at least learn to make a grilled cheese without burning the bread.

He is called "insane" by his friends all the time and he wonders if he should start acting the part more of the time. That will show them.

She frantically and dramatically pounds on the keys of her piano for hours on end wishing that she owned an oboe.

He is being visited by friends over the weekend and he wonders why it took so long to grow a mustache of such high regard.

She only buys blue sweaters as she wishes she can pile them high on her bedroom floor making a "sea" of sweaters.

He twiddles his thumbs as he basks in the moonlight and he wonders what is the big deal with basking anyways.

She finally completes her 5000 piece jigsaw puzzle that has taken up her living room floor for the past three months and she wishes the floor would be as happy to see her as she it.

He always enjoys opening and closing the driver's side window in his car yet he wonders if he "should" enjoy it so much.

She goes shopping often and over a series of weeks and months buys 595 cans of clam chowder soup and methodically constructs a pyramid of cans in her kitchen wishing that some divine power would simultaneously open up all of the cans and that the resulting soup wave would wash her away.

He has decided to go back to school to become a doctor but he stands, paralyzed, outside the door of his first class when he wonders if the nurses and other doctors will miss him when he retires one day.

She wants to exit quietly and unceremoniously but wishes that someone had given her a pop up card. She loves things that pop up, especially inside cards.

He longs for sleep and is just about to drift away all-the-while wondering if he should purchase a new pair of sandals, but this time for the sole purpose of wearing them.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

When I Stop to Think: My Body

Most mornings I am racing to get up and get out of the house, but there is the rare day where I am able to take my time. On those mornings I often find myself standing and staring at myself in the mirror in my room and I start to think.

I think about my eyes - all seeing, all knowing (except for the forehead who knows even more but is pompous beyond belief), the window to my soul - who I am sure greatly appreciates having a window. Can you imagine a windowless room? Enough to make you depressed and a depressed soul would be the last straw (not that a repressed soul or simply a pressed soul would be a walk in the park either). I hope that my eyes enjoy their vantage point from up there on my head - looking down on the rest of the body, seeing "everything" but almost definitely feeling a bit left out as I doubt they are ever invited to parties. At least they have each other, although I have a sneaking suspicion that my right eye thinks the left one is a dweeb.

I am concerned about my belly button. Does he wish he was an outie and more a part of the outside world? I imagine he must feel like he is stuck at the bottom of a well, hoping and praying for someone to help him out, or at least stop and talk for a while. I do contemplate talking to him, but I'm having a hard enough time socially right now as it is.

I think about my neck. The connection between the head and the body, the brain and the heart, that thing and that other thing and the north/south connector between the prospering towns of Lower-Southern Chin-ville and Upper Northern Chest-town. I see it acting as the canal that allows all trade and the economy to continue smoothly for the body and quite enjoying this role. I imagine it saying "I know I cause you pain sometimes, but think of me as a bridge, if for some reason a bridge analogy is of particular benefit to you" - necks are nothing if not a bit confusing, especially in their use of incomplete metaphors.

I often dream about my spleen and I can almost hear it say "none of you - not you, or you or even you, know anything about me, the spleen, or what I think or feel! You are all about the "amazing" heart and those freakin' kidneys, and no one has any love for me. I just get so angry sometimes I want to rupture or tear a little bit and then maybe, just maybe, I'll get a little bit of your time. You selfish little..." Man, does that spleen go on and on or what? Between you and me it is definitely no heart or even a liver, and that's saying something.

I think about my knees - I'm sure they are like the chin for my legs except they are far more liberal in their views especially the ones pertaining to dating before marriage. Good ol' knees- I feel badly for them for all of the times I've used them to better myself or to land on when I wanted to give my butt a break. I'm sure the knees know their day is coming when they will inevitably become creaky and they will get the final laugh, a long, slow, creepy laugh that will make me want to run away, which I won't be able to do with my creaky knees, which will lead to more creepy, old knee laughter.

I often am quite forgetful as I am preoccupied with my toenails. Somehow, despite all of their wear and tear, all of the daily abuse, the accumulation of misuse and abuse, the cracks and chips, they remain, far and away the happiest and gleeful body parts. Not only are they a beacon of hope and cheer, but they also send a message to the rest of the sniveling parts from far and wide that no matter how down on your luck you think you are, there is nothing a smile can't cure. Got to love those effervescent, smiling, breaking-down-the-stereotype toenails! These are not your grandfather's toenails - those, tough-as-nails, toiling in the fields or the coal mines, those bluish, moldy and bloody toenails - these nails have it good and they never stop smiling.

I think about my freckles. Do they see themselves as rocky islands floating in the sea of my skin, or more like splattered ketchup or possibly each freckle is part of the collective whole all working together to take over the tyranny of my skin. The other possibility is that I am over thinking this.

I love my hair and I can almost hear it saying "Woah! Check me out! I'm curly, I'm glossy and I know my way around the block, if you know what I'm saying. Sure you can temporarily restrain me with a hat or a bandana or, if you are in the mood, a fancy cloth made of the finest Arabian silk, but you can't keep me down forever. Yes, I may be receding, and a few more of me are turning gray and for some reason some of my relatives have moved into previously uncharted territories like the nose and the ears, but I am still the flag on this flagpole. Those rumours of my demise were greatly exaggerated." Note to self- stop giving the hair a turn at the podium.

I think about my blood. It is quite possibly the best thing to have coursing through my veins and believe you me, it knows it. My blood knows it's value and is constantly threatening to go on strike if not given a new contract with more perks. The last negotiation involved every other Sunday off, bereavement leave when white blood cells die and free dental care. I argued that dental care made no sense and refused to sign the deal on principle alone and as a result I spent the next two weeks in the hospital due to some rare blood disorder. Every once and a while I will grow tired of this situation and look into replacing it with a younger, cheaper and something less likely to stain fluid, but I always come crawling back. Lucky for me my blood really digs my veins and, to a lesser degree, my arteries and it always wants to stay.

I think about my knuckles and I pity them. Everyone, throughout the ages, has seen them as low-intelligence brawny fighters who settle things with harsh and punishing blows. Maybe we all have it wrong. While I too have fallen prey to this stereotype from time-to-time, I can imagine the knuckles on my left hand saying to the right hand knuckles "Oh mon cherie, you look dazzling tonight in the moonlight with your eyes sparkling. Je t'adore. How I long to hold you again and dance as one. I dream of the two of us, at the grand ball, dressed to the nines and whirling around and around and around as a hush falls upon the crowd. You are my buttercup, my angel and une femme par excellence." Stereotype shattered. Boom.

I am under the impression that my heart is so overly sensitive, that the veins and arteries have to "walk on eggshells" all of the time when they enter or exit the heart. Everyone is probably hyper-aware of the heart's emotions and that it is figuratively wearing it's own heart on it's own sleeve (if a heart had a heart and if it had sleeves - I know, I know, too many ifs). I once imagined the heart as a popular figure - sort of a go-to body part for love and dating advice and one who had a very popular call-in radio show. I'm not sure what happened to that heart, because the one I have now is a bubbly mess constantly on edge of losing it, almost like it has had it's heart broken. I'm looking at you pancreas.

I think about the small of my back. There it sits far below the rounded, fleshy shoulders and just below the bony spine and between the love handles and above the bum. Despite being geographically isolated I know that this small, seemingly inconsequential spot is aware of its importance. I'm sure that it sees itself as that special, out-of-the-way, off-the-beaten track hangout that isn't in the guidebooks. If you are lucky to know someone who tells you the location, you will be in for the time of your life. The small of the back is a secret, and it likes it that way, and if you go, you will never be the same.

I have some strong beliefs about my teeth - always clicking and clacking and chattering. Those guys just never shut up and they are providing an unwanted soundtrack for the body. While everyone else is trying to get some shut-eye, those teeth are either constantly making noise or chewing. Having said that, I'm sure the rest of the body hopes that those teeth are taking their job as the gatekeepers to the body seriously. And they are, I'm sure. They strike me as no-nonsense, bad-ass, bodyguards interrogating each and every morsel, particle, drop of liquid or any other foreign substances before they can enter "the shrine". Those teeth are all bad cop and no one gets in easy. It doesn't matter who you know or what sort of money or fame you think you have (that's right kale and quinoa, even you), everyone has to impress those teeth or else it is no dice.

I think about my appendix (something I've luckily never had to do before). I'm sure that he the sort of guy who just sits on the side of the road in his lawn chair chugging cold beverages watching the traffic, looking like he hasn't shaved for a few weeks. All of the passersby do their best to avoid him, not because he looks dangerous, but because he appears to be teetering on the edge of insanity and he just might burst at any moment.

I love my fibula, tibia and femur. I can just see those three "stooges" keeping the rest of the bones in a constant state of laughter what with their vaudevillian prat falls and other comical hi-jinks. When they are "on" these funny bones never stop vying for the next big laugh, but when the lights go down, and the show is over, I can almost feel the three of them huddled together and sharing their innermost feelings and thoughts that are just so neurotic and paranoid and oh
so melodramatic.

I'm having such a struggle with my elbows these days. Let's call it a difference in opinion. Those elbows believe that there is a God who not only created all life on earth but who also daily provides order to the universe and who watches over us all. Yes, those elbows believe that there is life after death and that how we live in this life will lead us either towards a fiery eternal existence in hell or a time of infinite joy in heaven. On the other hand, I believe that they are just elbows and the last time I followed an elbow blindly I spent three weeks in a Texas jail.

I am daydreaming about my calves and can imagine them lamenting about the poor state of the economy, because what are calves if not painfully and predictably negative about inflation, employment rates and the value of an ounce of gold.

I think about my jaw, clenching and unclenching, keeping things alternating between being tight-lipped and allowing my mouth to gape open giving the impression that I'm not all there. My jaw is just biding his time waiting for the perfect moment to unveil his secret. To be honest, my jaw really freaks me out.

I am taking some time out of my busy schedule to look down at my heals and I see that they are cracked and white. I can hear them saying "Would it pain you to rub a little ointment on us from time to time? And a soak in some nice, warm water with some Epson salts would really hit the spot too. Attacking the calluses with a pumice stone would really show you care as well. Hey, we are not too picky - we'd even settle for some of those not-too-expensive soft heal inserts for your shoes. And, while we have your attention, you should really think about cleaning out the garage - not to take your wife's side, but we've seen the garage and it is mess. Just sayin'. And not to sound all naggy likes those ankles up there, but you should consider cutting back on your salt and sugar intake. As much as we dislike the state we are in as heels, all cracked and not-taken care of, but it is in our best interest if you stay around for the long term."

After all of this time, I can finally see my bladder for what it is. He is an extremely grouchy gunslinging cowboy with a hair-trigger temper and an intense hatred of rabbits. Oh yeah, and he also collects urine that is excreted by my kidney, but I'm pretty sure he wishes we will all forget about that. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

I Am Trying To Laugh Like a Hyena

I am debating letting the cat out of the bag, as the public outcry seems to be growing exponentially and I just can't deal with the negativity right now. I'm just warning you that once that cat is out, I can't be held responsible for what happens next. If it were me released from a bag, I'd be fairly unhappy. Don't take that as a threat, more just a statement of fact. On a side note, if you have any other animals you'd like bagged, I will have a newly vacated bag fairly soon and lots of free time.

For years now I've heard the rumour that you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Well, after a long time of blindly accepting that statement as fact, I decided to find out for myself. Step 1: find an old dog. Well, after many a lonely Friday night driving up and down the lanes - check! Step 2: learn some new tricks. I dedicated Saturday mornings for a month, practicing and practicing until finally I mastered a wide array of new tricks all the while having to hear the moaning and whimpering of that old dog in the next room - check! Step 3 (the easy one): teach said dog the new-found tricks. Initially, to my surprise, this was very challenging both because of his obvious lack of interest and energy and my being saddled with my unrealistic expectations. Plus I had already printed and distributed posters around the neighbourhood announcing our triumphant debut show. Failure was not an option - or else I'd always be known as that guy who bragged to everyone about his old-dog-trick-teaching ability and couldn't even teach the dog one single, simple trick - while that would be true, it is just far too long and cumbersome a name to be known by and I would have never been able to show my face in certain circles again (not sure which ones or where they are located, but just knowing it would make me unhappy and always on edge). I'll be honest, there were many times I considered just scrapping the plans and either finding a new dog (especially one who seemed to have a certain proclivity for tricks) or reverting back to some old, tried and true tricks or leaving town on the next train (do people still escape that way?). To make a long story short, tricks were learned and life was never quite the same afterwards.

People are worried that I'm like a wolf in sheep's clothing and I'm not sure how to take that. I will admit that in many ways I am quite wolf-like, what with the sharp claws, the insatiable appetite, the conniving and cunning approach to life, and my love of howling and all howling related activities. And I will also come clean about my love for clothing made out of sheep's wool - it is dazzlingly white, fluffy and comfy beyond belief, a big step-up from the old clothes I used to slum around in back in the day. Those sheep's clothes make me feel like a part of an elite, sheep-clothing-wearing club that dominates the social scene and is the talk of the town. I am told it is wrong for some reason to be wolf-life and to wear the clothing I love, and if others continue to talk about me behind my back in this way, I will be forced to sneak up on them all innocent like and then potentially maul them. I mean if I am being called a wolf I may as well play the part. They've been warned.

When I was young my mother used to tell me to count sheep to fall asleep. Many a night, I lay there in my bed trying to settle down and sleep and those mindlessly jumping sheep were there to help. Sometimes, in my waking and more lucid hours, I would wonder why the sheep were continuously jumping over the same fence. Where were they coming from and where were they going to? Did they enjoy jumping or would they have been equally satisfied walking around the fence if they could have located the gate? Did they feel a certain safety in numbers, as there seemed to be a lot of sheep going to the same unknown destination or did they just have a hard time limiting the guest list and leaving certain sheep out? And why were they always smiling while they jumped rhythmically - did they just love a great tune, really enjoy the exercise as it did wonders for their abs, or, as I suspected as a child, did they know a secret they just weren't sharing? Almost like "we know where we are going and why we are jumping and why we are smiling, but we aren't telling you, little boy. So just head off to sleep already, so we can stop smiling and jumping and head off to the adult sheep party we have planned." I know my mother was aware of my concerns when she her me mutter my wish before blowing out my candles on my 9th birthday - "just once I want to be invited to a private sheep function", which, even for me, was a fairly odd thing to say.

I am often told that I am as blind as a bat. Me as blind as a bat? I wish! Those bats are so cool and fresh and now. They are all like some birds who got done amped up with their funk to scary levels no one has eva seen. Bats dart this way and that way all about their crib and they take nothing from nobody. Are they blind? True dat. Do they care? What do you think sucker? They are taking the blind train to awesome town and you can't even afford a ticket! You hear that? That's what I thought. Bats don't care and they gots styles.They are far too busy flying around, eating fruit and stuff and are taking names (and occasionally napping). Youse best be steering clear of those blind, majestic kings and queens of the caves or if you can't, at least duck as they can't see where they are going and they will probably scratch you something good. But don't feel sorry for them, they ain't watching that show. And neither am I! Why am I told that I am blind as a bat? Not totally sure, haven't given it much thought, to tell you the truth....(actually just did some research and I found out that bats aren't blind at all...that's right they did that too.)

I am trying to laugh like a hyena. I am also trying to walk like a hyena, hunt for food like a hyena, socialize like a hyena and scavenge like a hyena. Essentially, I am trying to be as hyena like as possible. I promised my father I would, and no matter how many times he tried to talk me out of it, I am a man (until the transformation is complete) of my word.

"Oh bee's knees!" my grandmother used to exclaim about nothing in particular. She was like that, if you know what I mean. When dinner turned out great, it was the bee's knees. When a movie had a great twist at the end, it was the bee's knees. If she slipped and fell she'd say bee's knees. When she carefully dissected a large number of actual bees attempting to find the knees, she was sadly disappointed and not even my Charlie Chaplin-esque humour could cheer her up.

I often escape to this place inside where I am the messenger who has been given the important task of sending the life-or-death message to the king. I race against time on horseback through the overgrown forest. Upon my arrival a hush falls upon the castle and I approach the king and queen 
cautiously. I unfurl my scroll and take a deep breath knowing that so many lives depend not only on the message itself, but also on the eloquence of my delivery. I wet my lips, clear my throat and I squeal like a pig. After a moment's silence, the gathered crowd cheers riotously.

I've decided to come out of the closet. Not that closet! (at least not today -the sliding doors are stuck) No, the other one. I will admit that I've enjoyed my two day holiday in the closet. It was a bit dark and fairly cramped, but at the same time very invigorating. Anyways, I am coming out to let the awaiting public know that it is true- I aspire to be a monkey's uncle. After almost no thought at all, here is what I think I need to do. Book the next flight out of here and head straight to the Democratic Republic of Congo or the Republic of Congo (if I can handle the lack of any democracy or the sole reliance on a pure republic for a few weeks). Once there, spend some time eating the food, becoming one with the people and soaking up the sun. After some time, rent a jeep and take a drive out to the jungle and find a pack of monkeys who seem amenable to my presence. Watch from a far for a week and then slowly and incrementally start participating in monkey rites and rituals and cultural events. Now the next part I'm a little unsure, but I am hoping that one particular female monkey will stand out and catch my eye. If not, I'll have to take a 
sizable leap of faith and pick one randomly. The key aspect is that she has a brother or sister with a child as I've put in all of this time and effort, not to speak of the multitude of diseases and skin ailments I've subjected myself too, just to be a monkey's uncle. And keep in mind I am only needing to marry a monkey, nothing too weird sicko, and marry her I will. It will be a fairly extravagant wedding, at least from the monkey community's point-of-view. Afterward we return from our honeymoon, I will begin the challenging task of earning my new niece or nephew's trust and love. If not, I'll just fly home and continue my life's work: sketching pictures of cute kittens wearing adorable mittens.

I only cry crocodile tears. Especially when you make me so sad. Why you need to do it, I'll never know. Possibly it is your deep-found respect for crocodiles.

My friends are always referring to me as a dinosaur. Well, initially that got my back up and made me pretty annoyed and pissed off. A dinosaur?!?! Like I'm that old and obsolete? And some of them are older and arguably more obsolete than I am! But then I started to think, maybe being called a dinosaur isn't so bad. Yeah, maybe dinosaurs worked hard everyday to put food on the table (rock? ground?) for their family, and maybe dinosaurs were caring and sensitive "modern" animals who eschewed outdated gender stereotypes and maybe dinosaurs loved spending their free time exercising both their minds and their bodies constantly attempting to better themselves. Well then maybe, just maybe, I am a dinosaur. And proud of it. And if those friends keep calling me that then I'll either eat them (if I am a carnivore) or squash them (if I am a herbivore) or play with them (if I need a friend).

I have been told for years now that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Despite my many attempts, I have no idea at all what this means! When will I ever have a bird in my hand? I mean, unless it is dead and then what sort of weirdo am I? Killing birds only to walk around with their decaying carcasses in my hand!?!? Am I trying to become significantly more unpopular and smelly? Okay, so let's say I could obtain or procure said bird and let's just say, for argument's sake, that the bird is still alive and came to rest on my hand on its own volition. How? Well...maybe I developed a new, irresistible bird seed that birds from far and wide flock to. What? It's possible. You have no idea if I have been revising a bird seed formula for years now or not. Anyways - I now have the bird in my hand and we are parading around town. In my dreams, this is a truly majestic bird with amazingly colourful feathers and it draws the high regard of all passersby. But somehow, this bird in my hand is worth two in a bush? What?!?!? How is that possible? There is just no way a bird that I somehow "convinced" to be in my hand is equivalent in value to two random birds in a bush! I mean what are the birds doing in the bush that is making anyone else's life demonstratively better in any way?!?! Sure they may be attractive and make lovely cheeps and chirps for me to wake up to on spring mornings, but unless those birds are able to complete all of my yard work in a timely fashion and pick little bugs out of my hair without making my scalp bloody it sounds like a wash to me at best.  

When I was 21 I was nearly badgered to death. Even telling this story now brings me close to tears. I was camping alone in the woods and came across a friendly clan of badgers. I'm not sure how it happened, but after a short while, we learned to communicate with each other and soon afterwards, truly understood each other's hopes and wishes and feelings. The two weeks I spent with those badgers were one of the highlights of my life -  a time I really felt loved and a truly accepted part of a group. Things couldn't have been better and if I wasn't due back at university for the start of the next semester I could have seen myself staying. On the final day, all of us were growing emotional and sensing the impact of my leaving. I'm not sure exactly why - maybe it was my emotional state or possibly the exhaustion I felt after having not slept well getting used to their nocturnal schedule or maybe it was because I was starving - whatever the reason,  I raided our group's huge collection of earthworms, insects and grubs that were being saved for the winter. Suffice to say this was not a hugely popular move and after being attacked and beaten by this small collection of short-legged, weasel-like creatures, I gathered my belongings and walked 10 metres to my car and drove home.

Stallions race wildly on the beach kicking up huge clouds of sand. A mother bird feeds her babies in their precariously balanced nest. A lonely buffalo wanders aimlessly wondering where his friends have gone. The father penguin warms his baby boy while his wife braves the icy water in search of food. A team of termites hollow out an old tree trunk. And through it all there is whisper on the wind that only one who is truly listening can hear. The voice softly calls out "How now brown cow?"

I am a not a night owl. I am more like an late evening owl or sometimes a daytime owl. Well, not actually a daytime owl, probably closer to an early to middle afternoon owl although sometimes that can stretch into the early evening depending on what I had for lunch. Somedays I jump out of bed and could pass for a morning owl, except there are no morning owls, so I usually go to the gym and try to delay the olwing until at least the late morning or early to middle lunchtime. I agree that a night owl makes more sense, but I'm just to worn out from the day to make it happen. So, ideally middle to late lunch or early to mid afternoon and occasionally something around dinner time are my favourite times. If you are needing an owl impersonator or someone to do some owl-type chores or just to sit around looking wise, you know when is best for me. If you really are in need of a night owl, I hear Joe is good for that.

The early bird catches the worm, or so I've been told since I was a child. To test that theory, I woke up at the crack of dawn for two straight weeks and crouched ready to spring in my backyard. The result? Aside from witnessing a few beautiful sunrises and enjoying many sprinklings of fresh dew, I now have a collection of an array of "early birds". Enjoy your freedom worms!

There is more than one way to skin a cat, but only one way that meets the standard of the ICSA (the International Cat Skinning Association) an association I find abhorrent, yet whose agenda is oddly compelling when one of my cats won't stop meowing and scratching at the door at 3am.

You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink. Well maybe the horse just isn't thirsty have you thought about that, smart guy? Nope! You are just sitting there what with your horn-rimmed glasses and your goatee just assuming that all horses must be thirsty and that they would appreciate your gift of some water. Well, let me tell you, your water ain't all that. First - it's lukewarm - I know because I got down on my hands and knees all horse-like and tried some. Yuck! Either put some ice in it or don't expect any one to be drinking it. Second - it's got strands of hay in it. Let me tell you something - horses like hay and they like cold water, but they don't like them mixed together! It would be like me mixing in some of your peanut butter and jam sandwich with your milk. Do you want that? Well, I tried some (that's why there was a bite from your sandwich and your glass looked used) and it wasn't that great - soggy sandwich and muddy milk. Third, maybe the horses want things to be switched up from time to time - like maybe some green tea for digestion? Or some pomegranate juice for all of the antioxidants? Or maybe some espresso  -mostly because that would be so muh fun for us to watch. So, that's right - you can do all of the horse-to-water leading you want, but just don't expect to get the result you are looking for.

I, like most people, enjoy a good wild goose chase. For many years people had domesticated goose chases, which were boring and hard to sell tickets for and almost definitely fixed. I am glad those sad, sorry days are behind us.

I am sly like a fox. Shhhh.