Friday, August 19, 2016

HIP. HERE. NOW.

It is upon us. No dress rehearsal - this is our life. One more show to go. Just over 24 hours away. The band united a nation. First, slowly over the course of years of faithful commitment to the True North, and then again underlining it these past few months since we first heard the news, in one long concert event that has reached across the country and by the end of Saturday night will have gone around the globe. The band has reached an end that took thirty years to arrive at.

It may be true that not every Canadian is a fan of the Hip, but that fact that so very many of us are and that so many of those are snarling mad for them more than make up for those who yawn. So many of us won over throughout the years (I can walk you to the place in my hometown where I heard Small Town Bringdown when it first came out. Yea, I've been here all along.) All our home towns were cryptically being sung of then, and again over and over through the years. They shot a movie once, in my hometown, it's where I saw the Constellations pushing around a weathervane Jesus while stranded at the Unique Motel. Gord Downie managed to speak specifically to and of all of us.

This goodbye has been so unusual – unique even. Bands have broken up before. Musicians have died. Great things have come to an end because of tragedy and illness. But how many times have an artist’s fans been gifted with a farewell like this? How many times have the artists been gifted with it? Bowie – he knew what was coming and he made it art, but none of us knew what it was all about until he was gone. And we never got a chance to say goodbye. Prince – just gone. Even Spirit of the West… while close in essence… they didn’t fill arenas and there was no last great work – the magnitude was not there, and though I did not get to see any of those last shows, it sounds as though off-stage John Mann had already lost much of himself (which is heart-breaking). But in this case, Gord (and the rest of the fellows too, but let’s face it, their tragedy is that after thirty years of being the ‘other guys’ in Gord Downie’s band, they end has really – understandably - been ALL about him facing his final bow) has also been given this gift. 

I was fortunate to get to see them on the second night of the tour – the first of the two Vancouver shows. It wasn’t the best concert I’ve ever seen, nor the best Hip concert I’d ever seen (Tie: Canada Day 1992, Thunderbird Stadium or November(ish) 1993 Royal Theatre, Victoria – too hard to call.) but I have no doubt it is the one that I will remember the most. There is a moment – a very long moment – that will probably be the single most memorable concert moment of my life (and hey, I saw U2 right after the Enniskillen bombing). Grace, Too was the last song of the main set and there was a point where Gord stopped and looked out at the crowd where a look came over his face….  It went on for probably half a minute. I think we can safely say that Gord Downie was not known for his emotional honesty. Which is not to say that he was a disingenuous performer exactly, but that his style was (and for one more night, IS) a weird fantasy world of mime performed to dense, sung poetry and surreal monologues. Whether he had entered the persona of a doomed sailor, or an ill-fated pool-cleaner or half of a Canadian Bonnie & Clyde, or any of the thousand other characters from tales he vaguely told in a thousand different concerts, he was rarely showing us what Gord Downie himself felt. But not in this moment. He took in the crowd. Appreciative of them and appreciative of the moment. Appreciative of the place in our country’s history he has been given. A place he built out of a thousand pieces of the obscure Canadiana he appreciated. He wasn’t saying “thank you.” He was just being with us for a moment, knowing that all the tiny pieces like this one – that each we had taken for granted as they past had added up to something bigger and this moment embodied it. His part in our collective history, mirroring the impact of his career. Obviously, I don’t know what he was thinking in that moment – but that’s what I took away. Then the moment passed and the mime returned, hitting balls and throwing javelins into the crowd – shining a microphone-shaped flashlight out into the dark….

The moment in question occurs shortly after 2:45 - but you're going to watch the whole thing, right?


I’m trying hard not to put expectations upon tomorrow’s show. I'll watch the CBC broadcast from Kingston in the Woodward's Atrium - practically home. I’m going because it’s the last. I’m going because it is something that Canadians across the world will be sharing.  (For two hours or so, we will collectively quit paying attention to the Olympics. This band means a lot to Canada.) I’m going because I can share it with Jodie and December. (The former isn’t a Hip fan, but understands the importance. The latter doesn’t really even know the Hip yet, but someday I hope she will look back and recognize that the event was significant to me and that she was glad to have shared that.)  I do expect they will do the same thing they’ve done across the country where they spend the first half hour playing to each other, all but ignoring the audience – which is a tremendously powerful statement of brotherhood. I expect the crowd will sing along to even the most obscure of tracks. I expect I’ll cry before its over – hell, I’ve been crying intermittently about it being over since May.


And yes, Gord, you were always right. We will miss you. None of this “wait and you’ll see” bullshit. We will. Fully. And Completely.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Highest Office

Good morning Padawan.

By the time you read this, it will be old news. In fact it was practically old news by the time it happened. Yesterday something pretty amazing happened. Something that was a foregone conclusion by the time it happened. But something that had taken far longer to happen than it rightfully should have.* For the first time in history a woman was nominated to run for the President of the United States.**
It didn't happen here. Canada has already had a woman as Prime Minister, but we have yet to have a woman lead a party to victory, so we ourselves have some ground to cover. But the US is not only our (get ready for a few cliches) the big dog in the yard and our closest ally, but also totally fascinating - and fascinated with itself, so its hard to ignore. For all its myriad failures, it does get a lot of things right... or it least it has been - we shall see what happens in November.
Come November we will be witness to one of two things - either a woman will be President of the US for the first time, and that is pretty exciting; or the most objectionable candidate ever*** will be in office and while I don't want to be one of the historical cycle of sirens of the end-times who think the Golden Years are behind us, if Donald Trump becomes President, things are sure going to get interesting and while its likely to be entertaining, it isn't likely to be the sort of entertainment the world wants.
I really want to believe in this moment in our better angels. I want a world for you where you can reflect back on the day your Dad told you that this amazing moment in history had just happened and how it meant nothing to you at the time, and that though you hardly recall what it was like before you are so blessed to live in a true Golden Era where the bounds of equality are more inclusive than any generation before, where you, as a woman know no limits to what you may achieve. Where the men at your elbows are friends and colleagues and equals and no-one bears a false imprimatur of value based upon birthright of any measure.

Anyway... when you read this in whatever future manifests, the day I just spoke of - that was yesterday for me.

Love Dada.

*Note that Hillary Clinton losing the Democratic nomination in '08 should not be considered a social failure. Everything that was lost in women's causes was gained and more by people of colour.

**I acknowledge that other women have been in contention in the past as Vice-Presidential candidates, running for nomination without achieving it and running as nominees of parties that are politically irrelevant in terms of their ability to launch a campaign with any (let alone realistic) chance of success. Being didactic about this diminishes the impact of the actual achievement, I don't want to delve any further into it at this point.

***Yup, even more so than Nixon - his pinnacle of vilification came after he was elected.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Gord Full Stop

“It makes no sense how it makes no sense.”
                Blow at High Dough – from Up to Here

You pretty much have to be Canadian to know that 2016 has struck again.
This morning the news hit my generation of Canadians like the Rogers Pass avalanche. (The only way to do this right has to include a few obscure pieces of Canadiana.) Gord Downie has terminal brain cancer - a glioblastoma.
He isn’t gone yet. But I have to process this now. Forgive me for eulogizing him prematurely. I can’t do this twice.
You may have to have hit adulthood in the late 80s or early 90s above the 49th parallel for this to be true, but for those of us who did, this is Prince. This is Bowie. This is one assholebastardmutherfucker of a year.

“There’s more worms than earth in the afterlife.”
                Leave – from In Violet Light

I’ve lost track of how I ended up being the harbinger, but it has become a bit of a sick joke among friends that this is all my fault. I suspect that I wake up early enough that I am the first one tapped into the news cycle… although Jodie has actually been the one breaking the news to me on most of these things.  Lemmy (three days short of 2016), Bowie, Prince, very nearly Sinead O’Connor (and don’t begin to think that drama is over yet) as well as a long list of diminishingly relevant supporting cast from Glenn Frey (who touched our generation, but was really a luminary of an earlier time) to John Berry – the Beastie Boys’ Pete Best, to Phife Dawg… the depth of my rap and hip hop cred is admittedly shallow. It has escaped few people that 2016 has it out for our music idols.  In Canada we’ve already faced the farewell tour of Spirit of the West, as John Mann cannot carry on due to early on-set Alzheimers, and now we are awaiting dates for the final Tragically Hip tour. I will try to be there. But I’m going to be a complete mess.
Both Bowie and Prince hit me. Bowie comes a hair short of making my list of artists I think can do no wrong, and is responsible for one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen. Prince, I never loved, but I always appreciated and I respect his impact on the music world.  I didn’t cry for either of them.  But this morning I wasn’t surprised when a few minutes after getting the news I felt the tears well up in my eyes.
As 2016 cut swathes through pop-culture I was holding my breath and crossing my fingers that at least my top three would get through unscathed. But that hope is gone now. (U2 & Pearl Jam, to answer the associated question.)

“Get Ry Cooder to sing my eulogy.”
                At the 100th Meridian – from Fully Completely

I could take you to within yards of where I was when I heard my first Tragically Hip song. I was listening to the radio on my way to a friend’s house.  The DJ had some blah blah about a new Canadian band out of Kingston and then Small Town Bringdown was unleashed upon my future. A few years later, playing in a band myself, our bassist suggested that we should play Blow at High Dough from “this new band” he’d heard of. I was delighted that The Hip weren’t yet another of the long list of bands that hit my radar once and then disappeared.
When I was touring in the early 90s with the Juanabees, The Hip were always in high rotation and we did our best to convert non-Canadians to the church of Gord – his bizarre mid-song sermons of fractured thought.  “I’m wearin’ my red shirt!” he told us on Canada Day in 1992, as he went on to muse about whether he should burn it there on the stage or save it for the next 25 year benchmark of Confederation. It looks like he should have burned it. That concert – their third in that day as they played coast to coast – still stands as one of the greatest I’ve ever seen. We had been in the sun all day and The Hip were probably the 10th or 12th act of the day, but everyone in that stadium found the reserves to give every joule of energy put out by the band right back to them ten-fold. It was a revival.

“God has left the museum for good.”
                Scared – from Day for Night

The band behind him was – is – a highly functioning rock and roll unit, and it is unfair as it is inevitable to diminish their contributions. Despite the fact that they were all better raw musicians than Gord, The Hip were nothing without him.  It wasn’t just his riveting stage antics that did it.  While he wasn’t the greatest vocalist, indeed some of his cliché embellishments were kind of mock-worthy (E.g. By 1994, his penchant for hopping up an octave on the last syllable of a line was boringly predictable… fortunately he out grew that one.), his lyrics made him an unofficial poet-laureate of Canada. Each song was a perfectly crafted puzzle – always with enough clear intent to invite you to glean more, but every one with enough depth and obscure reference as to be tantalizingly out of reach.  And every now and then he would succinctly encapsule a universal feeling with hideous economy that could strike me to the core.  Never was this more the case for me personally than with the last line of “Ahead By a Century.”  By now I’ve forgotten what exactly was going on in my life that made it so pertinent, but on the very first listen that line – “Disappointing you is getting me down” – tore into my present with the violence of the Lac Megantic explosion. I was in tears before the final chord faded.

“Did I read it all wrong? Or have I just not gotten it yet?”
                Bring it All Back – from Road Apples

More than that though, over the course of his thirty years in the spotlight, Gord focussed his own eye repeatedly on a number of subjects that recurred throughout his poetry that seemed to tie together his work into some kind of tangled unity. Numerous Hip songs make reference to any number of nautical mishaps either in process (Nautical Disaster) or in the narrator’s past (Fiddler’s Green), with varying levels of direct (The Dire Wolf) and oblique (Locked in the Trunk of a Car) reference.  The same goes with crime – usually lurid, often Canadian;  Hockey – Gord was a goalie of accomplishment… at least at the Juno Cup; and of course more diabolically dysfunctional relationships than any lifetime has time for. But throughout it all it was unabashedly Canadian. Canadian in a manner that not only defined his style, but also in a manner that could mark something as Canadian by right of having fallen under his gaze. He loved Canada and he became a singular part of Canadian culture.

“Heaven is a better place today because of this. But the world is just not the same.”
                Heaven is a better place today – from In Between Evolution

I saw them 5 or maybe 6 times. It would have been more if not that by some frustrating bit of fate The Juanabees tour was always travelling West when the Another Roadside Attraction Tour was travelling East. Without fail we would play Winnipeg while they were in Saskatoon and two days later we would have switched places. I'm not sure I'll handle it well if I go to this last tour, and maybe it would be best if I don't. But if the opportunity presents itself, I don't think I can afford to not see them one last time.

"Those melodies come back to me. Time beyond our heartbeat."
                Escape is at Hand for the Travellin' Man – from Phantom Power

We have one last album. Man. Machine. Poem. Its due in a few weeks. Even the title scares me, like once again he has said more in three words about one idea than I can express in several pages of rambling. Of course he is much closer to whatever thought processes face the terminally ill. I feel like there are emotional hand-grenades destined to be hidden in there - little windows into his mind as he faces the event horizon of life. And we all know he is capable of expressing those ideas in ways that will fascinate, confuse and devastate. I eagerly want to tear into it, but I've avoided the pre-release single. I didn't have a reason before now. I don't want to face the reality that it is the end.

"When the birds can be heard above the reckoning carts doing some final accounting."
                Poets - From Phantom Power

Fuck.



Sunday, November 08, 2015

Remembrance Day Musings on Lieutenant-Colonel Harjit Sajjan, Minster of National Defence - Guest Post by C. Scott John

(Note I realize this is almost impossible to read on mobile - I'm working on that, though Blogger is NOT behaving.)

A good friend of mine posted a really fantastic reflection about his experiences in the military reflected in the light of Harjit Sajjan being named Minister of National Defence. Scott entered the military at the same time as Sajjan (as is outlined below) and had some experience with Sajjan over their years of service.  I'll let Scott fill in the details.
Scott posted this on Facebook and it immediately had a response from people that they would like to share it - I heartily agree, and thus I am doing my part here with permission of the author.

Over to Scott... 


My semi-regular Remembrance Day musings ( I know I am early, but I have toddlers so have to take advantage of any free time I have).
I am thinking of current affairs this year. I am sure everyone has heard of Harjit Sajjan being appointed as Minister of National Defence. 
While I certainly can't claim to really know him on a personal level, I met and had conversations with him on a professional basis quite a number of times.
I joined the military at the same time and place he did,1989 in Vancouver and was able to bear some witness to his experiences firsthand. The community of soldiers in Vancouver was and is quite small and most of us knew each other to some extent.
It might be shocking to think that at that time turbans were not allowed in the RCMP and were effectively unheard of in the military. Even years later, Sikhs were not even allowed to enter Canadian Legions because of a rule insisting that they had to remove their headdress. He would have been allowed to march in the Remembrance Day parade and attend festivities which almost certainly terminated at a Legion, but not come and sit with his colleagues for the many hours of stories and celebrations afterwards (even if he didn't drink alcohol). I wish I could sit down and ask him about how it felt for him on that most important of days for a soldier to feel unwelcome and excluded from the camaraderie of those who had donned a uniform.. Was there a place for him where he was welcomed in those early days? I hope so.
The Forces at the time were not exactly bastions of individual liberty that embraced uniqueness. Heck, it took a decade to convince them that my desire to have a left handed holster for my pistol (which as a Military Police officer could have been the difference between life and death) wasn't just me wanting to disrupt good order and discipline. Even then I had to go buy it myself as it would have been unseemly to actually issue me one.
Minister Sajjan was one of the first to test those rules and the institutional intolerance and racism. I have heard that he was refused from one army regiment before he was "allowed" to join another.
His being allowed to wear a turban with his uniform was big news in every mess around the area, and universally decried as offensive. Comments ranged from mere condemnation of him not wanting to be "like us"... all the way to threats of violence.
I wish I could say I was a bigger defender of his rights, I largely ignored it as just talk. The only time I remember calling someone on their crap was when someone was making the comments that it was unsafe to allow him to serve because he couldn't wear a gas mask and helmet... I recall shrugging my shoulders and saying that they have somehow managed in the Indian and British armies for the last couple hundred years.
My first impression of him as a young officer (I don't recall having spoken with him before he was commissioned) was that he was cold and unfriendly... as an MP that wasn't too odd of a reaction to my presence so it never really occurred to me that it could have been a result of battling daily against near universal disdain for his turban from low level soldiers, all the way up the chain of command to the most senior officers.
As time passed, it seemed like everyone just got used to seeing him, though in my own experience I didn't see a lot of overt acceptance... I wasn't a part of his regiment and left the military in 2005, so I only have an observer's perspective. I can only assume that within his own unit, he more quickly just became another soldier to be judged on his merits.
Fast forward to a few days ago. He was appointed as the Minister responsible for the entire Canadian Military (what the hell did I do with my life if we both started at the same time and he managed that).
I have many friends who served in the military and belong to a number of veteran related groups. The response to his appointment has been effectively universally hailed as a major victory by soldiers of all political persuasions. One of "us" (an actual soldier) was now in charge. ONE OF US... let that resonate a little.
In my own experience, I can tie a thread from my first days in the military where he was considered an unwelcome anomaly... all the way to him being lauded as a standard bearer for all soldiers.
I feel like I was a witness to history, something that will or should be in textbooks for students to learn in every high school social studies class.
I think it is important to remember that some of these battles are recent, some yet to even be fought. At the same time I amazed at how far we have come in my own time. While it may seem to be glacially-paced to those living it, in the perspective of history it will be considered to have happened at lightning speed... within the arc of a single man's career. 
This Remembrance Day I will be scanning the faces of the soldiers walking by on parade and will be paying special attention to the various colours of skin, diversity, and whether there are a few more turbans on the heads of young Sikh warriors. I will see it as a trail blazoned by pioneers such as Minister Sajjan and others. I will stand a little straighter in my own uniform because of it.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Brought to you by the number 'X.'

What were we thinking?
Monsters.
They self-identified as “monsters” and we just let them lull us into a state of complacency over fifty years.
Yeah, its all clear in hindsight, but now we are totally ‘F’-ed.
All the “furry, blue and cute too” was all an act and we just fell for the inclusivity gambit hook, line and sinker.
The roommate bought in on that hilarious cookie-diet (didn’t we all?) and ended up paying the price for his blind faith in the benign nature of baked goods. Flesh. THAT is what they truly wanted, and that is what they got.
I have to wonder if maybe they hadn’t culled the herd a bit in the past. Just given themselves a preview of the sweet meat to come. After all, where did those first two grocers go? Or the land lady’s first husband? Or that deaf chick.I can just see it - a garbage can sneaking up behind her one mid-summer night. Nice quiet midnight snack.
When they finally decided that the word of the day was “feeding-frenzy,” (A beautiful day for them.), you would have thought that the sheer amount of meat on that bird or the damned mammoth would have slowed them down, but no.... Too damned many of them living amongst us. Too many of us making the final mistake of trusting a friendly invite to tickle.
So few of us left.
Holed up in the castle for now. Our host keeping a careful tally of who is still alive and encouraging us to get one good night’s sleep so we have strength to co-operate for the siege to follow.
I should sleep too. He swears he won’t rest until we are all asleep. He promises he won’t even stop for a drink until we are all at rest.
I’m so thankful there is still someone you can count on.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Princess Arc - Another post from the tablet of a writer…

On the way to daycare today December and I got in an excellent discussion about character arc in movies.
She is four.
She loves princesses – Disney Princesses, of course.
So really we were analysing the princessinessitudeship of the canon Disney princesses and comparing them to their peers.
What follows is a summary of our conclusions:
Snow White: Born a Princess. Has Princesshood stripped from her. Regains it.
Cinderella: Not a Princess. Becomes a Princess through marriage.
Aurora (Sleeping Beauty to those of you not immersed in the Cult of Princess.): Born a Princess. Not told she is a Princess. Returned to Princesshood. (Though from her perspective she is like Cinderella in Princess-arc, she is in fact more like Snow White.)
Ariel (“The Little Mermaid.”): Born a Princess. Sacrifices/Risks Princesshood (depending on interpretation). Marries into an entirely different Princesshood.
Belle: (That would be ‘Beauty’ as in “Beauty and the Beast.”) Not a Princess. Becomes a Princess through marriage.
Jasmine (A rare non-titular Princess – from “Aladdin.”): Born a Princess. Briefly pretends not to be a Princess. Stays a Princess – in fact the Prince becomes a Prince because of her.
Pocahontas: Born a Princess. Stays a Princess. (Though it bears mentioning that her title is never Princess – it is a cultural equivalent of Chieftain’s Daughter. This is accepted in the canon without much question.)
Mulan: Technically never a Princess! Not even culturally equivalent. But if we accept the general tropes of the Princesses and that she is included as one of the Princesses in the canon by most measures and subsequently re-align her arc with the parallel components then she progresses as follows… Princess. Pretends to not be a Princess. Becomes a more Princessy Princess than before.
Tiana (The Princess and the Frog): Not a Princess. Hooks up with a Prince who has forsaken his Princehood… so really never becomes a Princess.
Rapunzel (You’ve probably heard of her though her film is named the entirely unobvious “Tangled.”): Born a Princess. Taken away and not told she is a Princess. Returned to Princesshood. (Basically the same as Aurora, although in a much more progressive and watchable film.)
Princess Merida (From “Brave” – to the point where lots of people mistakenly call her ‘Brave.’): The
first Disney/Pixar Princess, incidentally. Born a Princess. Stays a Princess. Tells the Princes to sit and spin.
Princess Anna (Perhaps you’ve heard of the indie-darling art-house film “Frozen” – which actually gave us two Princesses.): Born a Princess. Stays a Princess. Has an older sister and (SPOILER) hooks up with a commoner, so is destined to remain a Princess.
Princess Elsa (also from “Frozen.”): Born a Princess. Becomes a Queen (Basically a Princess who has levelled-up, so same thing but… more.) Eschews Princess/Queenhood in favour of Ice-Queen/Princesshood (AKA Being a Hermit.) Returns to regular Queen/Princesshood but is ‘out’ as an Ice-Queen/Princess.
Anyway…

Not really any great insights there, but it was a lot of fun to break it down with my kid.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Shazbot...

When I heard the news about Robin Williams' suicide, my first thought was "of course." That was mixed with a very instant and heart rending sadness.
I'm not going to try to gloss over the fact that he made a metric fuck ton of shit in his career - perhaps even more shit than good - but the good, the great was game changing.  I say this as someone who was unmoved by Garp, Mrs. Doubtfire, Good Morning Vietnam or Dead Poets' Society.  Take those four off the board and there is still Jumanji, Aladdin, Good Will Hunting, Awakenings and that time he broke how situation comedies worked... Mork and Mindy.  With that kind of resume, who cares that he also did Toys, Jack, Death to Smootchy and, yes, The Crazy Ones? He had plenty to take pride in.  And yet... Fame, fortune, awards and accolades, respect and love meant jack shit in the end.
It wasn't exactly a secret that he was troubled, yet most of us managed to ignore it. But looking back... Mork's smile seems pretty forced, and most of his most brilliant (and even joyous) roles (even those I felt unmoved by) were all deeply steeped in melancholy. He was the Charlie Chaplin of the turn of the 20th/21st Centuries. A genius comic, whose comic insight was born in an immortal sadness that also made him a great dramatic actor.
All of a sudden it seems a miracle we had him around as long as we did.
This is going to sound bad at first, but perhaps his death by his own hand was the right way for him to go - his last blessing upon the world.  Perhaps the spotlight that his death is putting upon depression is what the illness needs. A bit perhaps like Rock Hudson did for the AIDS crisis.  It's not quite the right comparison, but its about as close as we are likely to find.
I never met Robin Williams, but I do have an odd and ironic connection to him. Ask me about it some day - this isn't the place. But none the less, when I got the news, I quit thinking of Robins Williams in terms of Hook, Club Paradise, RV and the other detritus that fills up his body of work - 'cause that stuff doesn't matter.  Those are the performances that happen when someone is willing to take a risk - and his entire career was built upon taking those kinds of leaps.  Every now and then his leaps would lead to something like The Fisher King - a performance of divine beauty... and that (to be selfish for a moment) is what we are really being robbed of.  And for that I cried.  In public.  It was small, but I couldn't hide it.  A cashier at the toy store I was in brought me a tissue (I credit her for being really observant) and I coaxed my daughter outside, where she asked me "Daddy, why are you talking funny?"  I don't think I could possibly explain to her the loss I felt - so many of us felt these past two days.  I urged her to go play in the waterpark, while hundreds of other people also ran about gleefully too - clearly none of them had received the news....



....Na-nu. Na-nu.

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Glass Princess

The Glass Princess          Or
“A Fairytale you can’t read to your kid, but if you paraphrased it and took out all of the inappropriate digressions and language, they would probably enjoy.”

Once upon… whatever, you know the format…
There was a Princess named Crystal
Of course her name is Crystal. It totally had to be Crystal. Which is SO on the fucking nose, if you didn’t already realize it. This IS after all a fairytale called “The Glass Princess,” that level of obviousness is just derigeur. Think about it – Cinderella? Puh-leeze! Maleficent? Fractionally better. Prince Charming? Honestly? My birth certificate might as well read “Snarky Writer.” So yeah, her frikkin’ name is Crystal.
And her parents, the King and Queen died. Deal with it.[1]
So Crystal, who is still too young to take the throne – is taken care of by her aunt, the evil witch Sathar.[2] Sathar had been second in line to her brother to take the throne until Crystal was born, but blah blah blah… line of succession dee blah… the kid screwed it up for her. Hell, Sathar was probably responsible for the King and Queen’s death, but that’s not really important – all it serves in the narrative is to make her more evil, but that ought not be necessary because her name is frikkin’ Sathar and names don’t come more wicked than that… except maybe Maleficent – gotta give Mauswitz that one.  Either way, Sathar could only have grown up to be a witch or to lead a death metal band. Given that this happened in the early 19th Century at the most recent, there wouldn’t have been a lot of amplification around, so the latter was extremely unlikely.
Soooo… parents die, evil witch becomes the Regent and one day not too much later Crystal is mysteriously turned into glass… Gee, I wonder how that happened?
But for some reason, Crystal, despite being having been turned into an amorphous solid is still mobile and sentient. And for some other reason that subscribes to the fairytale logic of “maybe if we ignore it, no one will question it” – rather than just kill Crystal outright when nobody is paying attention (it worked for Richard the III), Sathar decided that it was best to turn the only person between her and the throne into something really fragile and just hope that she would do herself in by random chance while descending stairs in an over-tired state. Just go with it – I could probably make sense of it if I really cared.[3]
Fortunately someone really close to Crystal – possibly sentient piece of furniture, or a talking animal, or maybe just a strict but fun-loving nanny with a really amusing song with lots of nonsense words at the beginning of the second act – had the good sense (and for some reason the authority) to confine Crystal to her bedroom for… well, ever. And then the whole place was covered in wall to wall carpets and tapestries and every chair was upholstered in thickly padded chenille, or something similarly unthreatening.
Crystal spends the next few years locked up in a padded room for her own good… and it is boring, so I’m only taking up this one mention of it. It sucks for her and it would suck for us if we were burdened with the details.
But, lucky Crystal, her aunt Sathar is cool – or pretends to be. Sathar feels her pain. Being a proto-Goth, Sathar understands the tedium and goes out of her way to bring some fun into the little glass girl’s world.
After years of waiting in vain for the kid to trip and shatter, Sathar starts sneaking up to her room in the middle of the night and bringing her down to the Great Hall to play on its hard marble floors.  And somehow Crystal always seems to barely avoid disaster ‘cause she is plucky, lucky and dextrous. Sathar encourages her to let her spirit free, to be bold and adventurous… but when that fails to get results night after night Sathar really starts to lose her shit.[4]
Sometime around here the Kingdom is visited by the Prince of Somewherelseistan who is on tour with his band or looking for eligible princesses[5] or conducting important trade talks (‘cause that is exactly what every children’s story needs is a good section about commerce – just ask George Lucas.) One night, struck by a bout of sleeplessness[6] the wandering Prince heard noise from the Great Hall and he came to watch from a loge.[7] He became immediately entranced by the transparent Princess[8] as she chased a rubber ball across the floor of the hall. So he watched her from above night after night – which in modern times would be creepy and borderline illegal, but in antiquity was romantic.[9] 
Then one night Sathar had had enough and got fed up. She waited until Crystal was standing in front of the window and ran at her with her arms outstretched – apparently she had no magic in her repertoire that would provide a solid nudge.[10] The Prince watching from above saw what was happening and gasped. Crystal heard him and looked up, distracting herself from the rubber ball which she stepped on and fell over, cracking her cheek on the marble. Sathar, arriving at the empty space where Crystal had been moments before, tripped on her niece and went tumbling out the window… again conveniently lacking appropriate magic to prevent herself from toppling to her grizzly death a hundred feet below on the rocks.
The Prince rushed to Crystal’s side.[11] She took one look at him and the improbable meeting of hearts (AKA “lust”) occurred again, just in time to neatly wrap up the narrative in a convenient little bow.
The Prince kissed her see-through lips and…. Okay now that I’ve used those words – “see-through” – I realize I never addressed how Crystal dressed.  Its not specifically germane, and thus I didn’t really think of it. But if she was practically invisible one would have to wonder how much she cared about what she wore.[12] And that would become immediately relevant when the Prince kissed her because, as always happens, that disrupts the magic and poof Crystal is suddenly transformed back into a normal girl… but with a cute little dimple where her cheek got cracked. No details after this matter whatsoever until we get to…
Happily Ever After.



[1] Yeah, it’s the oldest cliché in the fairytale universe, but here’s the thing – reality check – it has to be that way. In most cases at least. If the parents were in the picture, either they would solve the issue or there never would have been an issue in the first place. Snow White. Mom lives? No evil queen marries into the family. Ditto with Cinderella. Frozen? If Mom and Dad are around to solve the dispute then the film doesn’t happen… or they are the worst parents ever.
[2] Chances are you didn’t “get” that. But assuming you did… Yay Star Frontiers! I miss that game. I went looking for an appropriate evil name for the villain and an unanticipated detour landed me on a website about Star Frontiers.
[3] Okay, okay! Something like: “Everyone in the kingdom would know that Sathar was the number one suspect, and once she had been exposed as a murderer she would be forced to abdicate the throne (to the number three person in the line of succession who otherwise has SFA to do with this story.)” Of course that does leave the question open of why Crystal’s aunt, the witch went entirely without suspicion when Crystal mysteriously was turned into a block of glass.
[4] In private, of course.
[5] I totally want to pluralize “princesses” as “princessii” even though there is absolutely no grammatical sense to it. It could just as erroneously be “princessa” or “princessae” or “princessatae” or “princesseax” or “princeves” or “princessieus” or “princessera” or “princesseries” or “princesseren” or STOP! Just stop it. Stop. …Thank you.
[6] Not unlike the insomnia that is spawning this tale.
[7] Loge - /lōZH/ - noun: a private box or balcony enclosure in a theater. Origin – mid 18th C. French.
[8] No clumsy metaphor intended.  It simply isn’t there to be had… but if someone doing a screen adaptation can make it work; Hey, more power to ya!
[9] This may be somewhat deconstructionist, but Frozen already let the air out of the “love at first sight” trope. So I’m stuck with either blantantly retreading that single example, or acquiescing to the demands of the genre… which is also by definition retreading – and in so doing actually copying far more works than the single outlier. Funny, that.
[10] This would not have been an issue for a Jedi.  However, on the other side of the coin, there is no Jedi Mind Trick that will turn anyone into glass, so circumstances would have never got to this point. Force-choking on the other hand….
[11] Which if you think about it, probably took an agonizingly long time due to the architectural vagries of classical castle construction, but only takes a moment on the page or courtesy of non-linear editing software.
[12] It has been pointed out, quite rightly, that I dropped the ball here. Of course Crystal is clothed. Its a frikkin’ marketing opportunity. The Mouse House wouldn’t have made that error.  Every single one of their princesses has a TM’ed look that withdraws cash or credit directly from the pockets of the parents of four year old girls everywhere.  Of course Crystal has her own unique dress… but I can guarantee it isn’t cellophane with clear trim.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Tim's Vermeer - Movie Review

The essential measure of any documentary film is whether its core subject is interesting - or, if broken down a stage further, is it both informative and entertaining?
Tim's Vermeer broadly speaking meets with success on both parameters.
Of course you can't please everyone, and not everyone will be interested in inventor Tim Jenison's obsessive quest to duplicate a work of Johannes Vermeer by mechanical means using only the materials available to the Dutch Master himself. The description of the film falls short of piquing my interest, despite having personally experienced a moment of profound artistic reverie seeing one of Vermeer's works (the uncharacteristic exterior The Little Street)at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. However, put the film in the hands of Penn & Teller (the latter directs while the former acts as narrator), and now I'm curious.
Is it informative? Certainly. I learned about Vermeer of course, but really what Tim's Vermeer offers is a fairly geeky (the good brand of geeky) deconstruction of the science and the obsession behind Jenison's quest.
Entertaining? Usually. However this is ultimately where the film fails when placed against the "is it interesting?" yardstick. For the majority of its run time the film finds ways to amuse, but relatively late in the game it fails in what strikes me as a rather obvious and one would think thusly-avoidable manner. From early on it is demonstrated that Jenison's technique - which is convincingly proposed as being a likely variation on that which Vermeer used - is slow and laborious. When it finally comes time for Jension to put brush to canvas and paint "Tim's Vermeer" (he selects The Music Lesson) in the last third of the film, the entirely wrong choice is made. Teller plays too much upon the tedium. Far too many a book, play and film has foundered on the rocks of trying to portray boredom effectively in an engaging manner, andTim's Vermeer sadly sails with them. Fortunately the rest of the film has much to intrigue, and a day later I am looking past its other faults to the questions it raises about the boundaries between art and science, inspiration and invention.
The film was apparently considered for an Oscar nomination and it can be easily seen both how it was in contention for nomination - it is thought provoking - and how it dropped the ball and came up short.
The failures ultimately revolve around Tim Jenison, although it wouldn't be fair to say they are his fault. Tim is clearly a brilliant guy - any dispute of this is laid to rest with his introductory biography. And he isn't ASD-alienating, Sheldon-Cooper-like brilliant.... at least not much.  He is socially grounded, makes witty and accessible quips, and for the most part is relatable as a person. But that isn't quite the same as being an ideal central figure for a documentary. The catch of course is that without him - it is after all his brilliant insight that drives the entire film. Without him the film would be at least a tad fraudulent, and more likely, non-existent.
Jenison's brilliance manifests in the depth and detail his speech and as a result he needs editing, and no foresight was put into this fact when shooting his interview segments, resulting in a distracting number of jump cuts.
Also though Jenison is clearly moved by the completion of his goal - and rightfully so, it is an amazing feat and a commendable proof of concept - I felt nothing myself. Nothing about him evoked a feeling of empathy from me to him (and Jodie mocks me regularly about how easily moved I am) ...which seems like a pretty critical flaw for the end of the film.
But put my criticism aside, Tim's Vermeer has more to be said in its favour than against it.  It gets my recommendation for anyone with an interest in either art, science or Penn & Teller.... or even those relatively few folk who know already how Tim Jenison changed the world before he ever picked up a paint brush.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sitcom - AKA Three Young Hitlers in a Baggie by The Juanabees

This came up on Facebook recently, and I'm posting it here mostly to fill in some blanks in some people's awareness.

Many people who know me know that I spent a big chunk of my 20s touring Canada in a comedy troupe called "The Juanabees."  Those were some cool times.  At one point we were called "Canada's best comedy troupe without a TV show" - which at that point put us third to CodCo and Kids in the Hall. But in the same year we were also mocked heavily by haters, so let's not forget that here I am 20 years later and no one outside of my circle of friends remembers the Juanabees.

What follows is the full script of our fourth show.  It was variously called "Sitcom" (as it had been conceived as a 90 minute sitcom put on stage) and at other times (at Canadian Fringe Festivals) "Three Young Hitlers in a Baggie" which was a promotional riff on the names of some of the more popular shows from previous shows on the Canadian Fringe Festival circuit.

This show was the artistic high-water mark for the Juanabees, though the main tour was one of our roughest - but that is a story for another time.

The play was outlined over the course of a dozen meetings with myself, Rob Fredrickson and my main collaborator through my years with the Juanabees, Norm McConnell.  I fleshed out the script before it was workshopped by Rob, Norm, myself as well as our director and stage manager, Matthew Bissett and Mike Rinaldi, who joined the team on short notice and only made the show better.

This version of the script is a representation of the show in its final version - about three years after its original run and three separate mountings with various cast configurations.  This does represent the "best" version of the show, though there were definitely gags which worked better the first time around than the last. "X-Files!" in the first scene was originally "'Trek's on!" and I am not convinced that the (then) update of cultural reference was worth the change. Also many of the visual gags, are at best only implied here and just don't have the impact they did live.

After this show's last tour I left the company to pursue other things.  Norm carried on for a while with the Juanabees, notably creating a serialized sequel to this which I was never able to see, but did get to read some scripts of which were very funny.  As to this script, it still makes me laugh, even though it is getting dated and there are bits that I am proud to have contributed to the history of Canadian comedy.

Enjoy.


­SITCOM
a stage play

CHARACTERS:

ACTOR ONE:
Mark Bloe - A student.

ACTOR TWO:
Nigel DeMentia - A bottom rung executive & latent serial killer, but the audience doesn't know the latter part yet.

ACTOR THREE:
Teak Phlegming - A bicycle courier from dimension x. But the audience doesn't know the latter part yet. Teak is written as male but can just as easily be female.

ACTOR FOUR:
Everyone Else - With some strategic cheating from actors one through three. Ideally the audience never clues in to the latter part.


SETTINGS:

The living room at #13 Cecelia Blvd: With TV, couch, table and exits to outside, kitchen & bedrooms.

The Smudgy Pigeon: A pub.

HappyMart: A convenience store, video rental outlet and "Lance and Willow's Rice-o-teria."

The Street:  A secluded section of street illuminated by a single street light.

The various settings should be easily changed in only a few moments of blackout. Maintaining the speed of the action is more important than the accuracy or detail of the set, so either a large stage with separate areas for each set piece or on a smaller stage the set should be as universal as possible.

BLACKOUT ONE:

"Funky Town" by Pseudo Echo begins.

Blair: It's Blair Faire on the air on WFUZ flash in the pan radio. It's the drive at five on this sunny afternoon and I can't believe the heat in the bowl. We're all going to be sleeping without our sheets tonight. Here's one of my favourite one hit wonders. It's Pseudo Echo with Funky Town....

Music continues and fades.

SCENE ONE:

No. 13 Cecelia Blvd. - Evening

Teak is sitting alone in the living room. He is perched over top of the telephone. After several moments he pounces upon it.

Teak: Hello.

He hangs up, waits and pounces again.

Teak: Hello?

And again.

Teak: Hello? Is anybody there?

Mark enters.

Teak: Hello?

Mark: What are you doing?

Teak: You know how sometimes you pick up the phone and there's already someone on the line even though it hasn't rung yet?

Mark: You're trying to do that?

Teak: Yeah.

Mark: Why?

Teak: Maybe they'll think I'm psychic.

Mark sighs and leaves.

Teak: Hello? Hello?

Nigel: (Offstage.) Teak!

Teak: Hello?

Nigel enters.

Nigel: Teak?

Teak: Hello? Is anybody there?

Nigel: Oh for God's sake. Teak!

Nigel snatches the phone from Teak and hangs it up.

Teak: Hey!

Phone rings.

Teak: Oh!

Nigel: Hello?

Teak: Ahhk!

Nigel: Dale! Phone!

Dale: (Offstage.) Got it!

Nigel hangs up.

Nigel: We've got to talk.

Teak: No we don't.

Nigel: Yes we do.

Teak: No we don’t.

Nigel: Yes we do.

Teak: Eat and breathe.

Nigel: What?

Teak: Eat and breathe. If we don't eat and breathe we will die.

Nigel: What does that have to do with...?

Teak: You said we have to talk. We don't. We have to eat and breathe. If we don't eat and breathe, we die. We don't have to talk.

Nigel: That's not what I mean....

Teak: Monks.

Nigel: Monks?

Teak: Monks don't talk, they don't die.

Nigel: Yes, alright! Look, you have to do the dishes.

Teak: No I don't.

Nigel: Yes you do.

Teak: No I don't.

Nigel: Yes you do.

Teak: Bushmen.

Nigel: Bushmen?

Teak: Bushmen don't even have dishes, they don't die.

Nigel: Yes, but it's your turn to do the dishes.

Teak: So?

Nigel: We all agreed we'd do the dishes when it's our turn.

Teak:  What about you and Mark?

Nigel: Mark and I do the dishes when it’s our turn.

Teak: I never see Dale doing the dishes.

Nigel: Nobody ever sees Dale at all. He never leaves his room! How can he even make dishes if he never leaves his room?

Teak: I don't make dishes either.

Nigel: Yes you do!

Teak: I buy them.

Nigel: Ahh! You're being difficult.

Teak: You're getting mad.

Nigel: You're damned right I'm getting mad! I get mad when you get difficult!

Teak: You're not making any sense.

Nigel: Is there any getting through to you at all?

Teak: Huh?

Mark enters.

Mark: It's eight o'clock.

Nigel & Teak: X-Files!

Nigel and Teak sit and watch TV, turning off the rest of the world. Mark begins writing in his diary.

Mark's Voice:  Dear Diary, June 6th 1996. All told today has been a fairly average day. I got up, went to school, came home and listened to Teak and Nigel argue. Not that I'm complaining. If they weren't arguing, something would be askew... askew? A-S-C-U... No. A-S-K-O... Hmmrn....

Mark addresses the audience directly.

Mark: To hell with this. There are easier ways to deal with the exposition. Now where was I...?

Nigel: Teak, the point is moot. Darth Vader exists in an entirely different cinematic reality. Even if Mulder could withstand The Force, they'd never meet each other.

Teak: You under-estimate the power of the dimensional vortex.

Nigel: Dimensional vortex? No such thing.

Teak: There is so. I learned it from the Wisdom Troll.

Nigel: Oh for God's sake.

Mark: Ah yes, Teak and Nigel's arguments.  They aren’t really arguments in the classic sense of the word.  For two people to argue effectively, they both have to connect with what the other is saying. I don't think Teak connects with anything anyone says.

Teak: Commercial!

Teak gets up and leaves.

Mark: Imagine a man conversing passionately with a chimpanzee, and you've pretty much got the idea. Don't get me wrong. Chimpanzees may be fairly intelligent, but they just don't have the same priorities we do. Neither does Teak.

Teak returns from the kitchen. He is carrying a bag of small dried fish like you would find in Chinatown.

Teak: Fish?

Mark: No.

Teak returns to TV-land.

Mark: He doesn't eat like normal people, he doesn't dress like normal people, and he certainly doesn't act like normal people....

Teak: You know how Mulder and Scully are trying to prevent the earth from being invaded by an evil dimension?

Nigel: Yeah?

Teak: It's not true.

Nigel: No shit.

Teak: This is the evil dimension.

Nigel hits him.

Mark: And then there's Nigel. Y'know those advertisements above your head on the bus? That's Nigel. He sells those spaces for a living. Nigel and I go way back. I remember the first time I met him. It was the first day of kindergarten. We were all supposed to be drawing pictures of our homes and families. Nigel had been sent to the corner for drawing an anatomically correct picture of his adoptive fathers. I hit him in the head with the class hamster, and he just kind of opened up to me. He's been my best friend ever since. It's a bit of chore sometimes though....

Nigel: Mark, do you think you and your friends can keep it down? I'm trying to watch X-Files.

Mark: Sorry Nige.

Teak: Fish?

Nigel: No.

Mark: Nigel's honest, dependable, he's got good fashion sense...

Nigel: Mark, you are interrupting the show television was made for.

Mark: But, he's a little obsessive....

Nigel: MARK!

Teak: They're crunchy!

Nigel: PISS OFF!

Mark lowers his voice to a whisper.

Mark: And a little pushy.

Mark beckons the audience away from the television and Nigel.

Mark: Nigel is the centre of his world. Anyone or anything which doesn't revolve around him suffers his wrath. He's passionate about every detail of his life. Every year at Christmas his fathers send him a case of Maalox. He's tried therapy, but every psychiatrist he goes to inevitably ends up taking a long sabbatical just as Nigel begins to feel he's getting something out of it....

Nigel: Ahhh... Dana Scully, I'd do anything for her.

Teak: Fish?

Nigel: Thanks.

Mark: I have a third roommate as well. Dale. You don't see him here, and you wouldn't even if you sat there an entire week. Dale is endowed with the ability to not leave his room. Actually, that's not true. I've seen evidence of him leaving his room. His groceries get eaten, visitors come and go, I've heard him in the bathroom. But I've never actually seen him. In fact if the police asked me for a composite sketch of Dale it would probably end up looking like Mr. Potato-Head... or maybe Ernest Borgnine. But as long as he pays the rent, I'm happy, and my Mother is happy. She owns this house. She lives uptown. I manage this place and freeload off of her while I work on my third bachelor's degree at the University, and lie to the student loan people about my living expenses. All in all, the situation suits me fine.

Nigel: Good episode. I liked the part where Cancer Man got his face sucked off by the flying vampire pancakes.

Teak: Yeah, but space crabs don't really do that.

Nigel: How do you know?

Teak: It happened to my uncle once.

Teak picks up the phone.

Teak: Hello?

Nigel grabs the phone from Teak.

Nigel: Teak!

Nigel and Teak scowl at each other. Teak leaves.

Nigel: Mark, I've got a problem.

Mark: It's Teak isn't it?

Nigel: No, it's the dishes.

Mark: Maybe you should talk to them about it.

Nigel: Look, Teak never does his dishes, and no matter how I appeal to him he still never does them.

Mark: Well, here's an idea Nige. Who's dishes are they?

Nigel: They're mine, I bought them when we moved in.

Mark: Why don't you tell him that he can't use your dishes anymore. That way he'll have to wash them for fear of being caught.

Nigel: That's a good idea. That's a great idea! Teak! Hey, Teak!

Mark: Nigel, I wasn't serious.

Teak enters.

Nigel: Teak.

Teak: Nigel?

Mark: Nigel…

Nigel: Mark.  Teak…

Teak: Nigel.

Nigel: Look…

Teak: Mark.

Nigel: LOOK…

Teak: Dale!

Dale: (Offstage.) Yeah?

Mark: Nothing!

Phone rings.

Nigel: Mark?

Mark answers phone.

Mark: Yeah?  Dale!

Dale: (Offstage.) Got it!

Nigel: STOP IT!! Alright. Teak.

Teak: Nige...

Nigel: Ah! Look. If you aren't going to wash your dishes, you aren't allowed to use them anymore. Got it?

Teak: Okay… Nigel.

Teak leaves.

Nigel: Well, that was easy.

Mark: Nigel's been having some trouble at work lately. I think now would be an appropriate time to talk to him about it. Say Nigel, did you get that promotion you were after?

Nigel: Don't get me started.

Mark: Nigel's immediate superior was found dead in an alleyway last week.  The police suspect foul play. What's the matter Nige?

Nigel: I said don't get me started.

Mark: So you didn't get the job?

Nigel: I don't want to talk about it.

Mark: You sound upset.

Nigel: No I'm fine. I just don't want to talk about it.

Mark: So someone else got the job? Someone less deserving than you?

Nigel: I didn't say that!


Mark: Are you feeling a little useless and down on yourself?

Nigel: Shut-up!

Teak enters the room wearing boots covered in duct tape – sticky-side out. He is sticking to the floor with every step.

Mark: What are you doing?

Teak: Vacuum is broken.

Mark: Ah.

Nigel: Oh for God's sake....

An old man bursts through the door.

Nigel: Oh no.

Mr. B.: What is this? What's going on here? Who are you people? What are you doing in my house?

Nigel: Mr. Bludfluke, this isn't your apartment. You don't live here anymore!

Mark: This is Mr. Bludfluke. He used to own this house twenty years ago. Sometimes he forgets what year it is and escapes from the seniors centre and shows up here, thinking it's home.

    Teak has continued walking about the living room. Nigel and Mr. Bludfluke are arguing. Mr. Bludfluke shoves past Nigel as Mark quits talking. Mark turns to observe the chaos behind him. Teak begins to sing loudly.

Teak: I love to go a wandering along the mountain path…  (Etc.)

    Nigel has wrestled Mr. Bludfluke to the floor. Mr. Bludfluke is hollering obscenities and preaching against disrespect towards veterans like himself. Nigel picks him up and out the door.

Teak: Val-der-ahhh!

Teak exits into the bedroom.

Mr. B.: (Offstage.) You're going to break my colostomy bag!

Teak: (Offstage.) My knap sack on my back!

Something bursts off stage.

Nigel: Oh shit !

Mr. B.: I told you!

Mark: Sometimes around here entire days go on like this.

Scene.

BLACKOUT TWO:

Blair: Hello caller. Who is this?

Randi: This is Randi.

Blair: Good evening Randi. Where are you calling from?

Randi: I am calling from my place of employment. Please do not tell my boss.

Blair: Oh, I'm afraid I'm going to have to.

          Randi: Oh my goodness! (Sound of receiver dropping. Randi's voice recedes to background.) Oh! I am dropping the phone! (Returning to receiver.) Please do not do that.

Blair: Hey, don't get too worked up. I'm just kidding Randi.

Randi: Oh thank you.

Blair: What would you like to hear?

Randi: I would like to dedicate this to my special friend at HappyMart. Please play "Let's Go All the Way?"

Blair: Got a little 'Sly Fox' you'd like to get tropical with eh, Randi?

Randi: Oh, you could be saying that twice!

"Let's Go All the Way" by Sly Fox fades in, then out again.

SCENE TWO: The Smudgy Pigeon - Evening.

Pat is wiping the bar.

Mark enters.

Mark: Ah! The Smudgy Pigeon; home of low life beggars boozers and bar rats. You won't ever find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious. I only come here because it's the closest bar to my house... and all my friends come here... and everybody knows my name.

Pat: Norm!

Mark: Mark.

Pat: Oh, right. What suits your fancy?

Mark: Draft, Pat.

   Pat: Sorry. The taps are down. The God - nyah! - blessed pumps are broken and of course everybody wants draft. It's a real pain in the gynh! - flowers.

Mark: Make it a bottle of Canterbury.

Pat: You got it.

Pat leaves.

    Mark: That's Pat the barkeep here. Good guy really, but he's got a slight disorder. He's got an inverted form of Tourette's Syndrome. It seems that whenever he's upset about something he feels compelled to say nice things about it. It's rather crippling at times, which only makes him more stressed. It can be really disconcerting to see him throw a temper tantrum. Imagine Marilyn Manson using Shakespeare's Sonnets as epithets.

Teak enters.

Teak: Hey Mark.

Mark: Hi Teak.

Teak: Guess what.

Mark: What?

Teak: No, no guess.

Mark: I don't know. You won a hundred bucks on the 6-49?

Teak: Nope. Well, guess again.

Mark: I don't know Teak. It could be any one of millions of things.

Teak: It starts with the letter 'T'.

Mark: I DON'T KNOW. What?

Teak: I quit my job.

Mark: That doesn't start with a 'T'.

Teak: Sure it does. 'Teak' - Me - I quit my job.

Mark: I don't know whether to be sorry or scared of you.

Teak: Oh, don't be sorry. It's a good thing. And you know what the best part is?

Teak waits for a response from Mark. Mark gives him a reprimanding look.

Teak: I fixed it so I can't ever go back.

Mark: How did you do that?

Teak: I put my bike lock on the outer door of the dispatch office, and then I ate the keys. Now I can't get back in.

Mark: Teak! What about the people inside?

Teak: Don't worry. They've got a vending machine.

Mark: Teak, why would you even want to fix it so you can't go back?

Teak: Temptation.

Mark: Excuse me?

Teak: Temptation. If I ever get the whim to go back to a lousy job like that, I can't.

Mark: But don't you need the money?

Teak: Yeah, but I've got a new job licking stamps.

Mark: Licking stamps.

Teak: Yeah, twenty-five dollars an hour, and it's Union.

Mark: Twenty-five dollars an hour for licking stamps?

Pat enters with order pad and Mark's beer.

Teak: Plus benefits.

Pat: Can I get you anything Teak?

Teak: Um... yeah. Do you make substitutions on your menu?

Pat: We can.

Teak: Great. I'll take the bacon and tomato sandwich.

Pat: Bacon and tomato.

Teak: Hold the tomato.

Pat: No tomato.

Teak: Add watermelon instead.

Pat: Watermelon instead.

Teak: And no bacon either.

Pat: No bacon either.

Teak: Frosted flakes and mustard.

Pat: Frosted flakes and mustard.

Mark: These aren't the droids you're looking for.

Pat: These aren't the droids we're looking for.

Mark: Move along.

Pat: Move... Hey! You quit your fu - nyrk! - Family Circus hi-jinx. Anything to drink?

Teak: Scotch on the rocks. Hold the ice.

Pat: Right. Oh yeah, if you see that roommate of yours, I've got a bone to pick with him.

Mark: How so?

Pat: That son of a - nygh! - foufou bunny never tips. He comes in here, makes demanding orders, wants the pre-stuffed burger with no green peppers. I have to cut the thing open and pick out every last ­gnyk! - beautifully chunky pepper. He's a high maintenance patron. Fifty, sixty dollar tabs and do I ever see a penny? No! He pays the bill and that's it. I don't want to see him in here anymore if he isn't going to tip. I swear, if he doesn't smarten up, I'm gonna wind up and give him a good - gnyh! - hug!

Mark: I'll have a word with him Pat.

Pat: Thanks.

Pat leaves.

Teak: Quick a pen! A pen! I need a pen!

Mark: Why what's going on?

Teak: I just got an idea for a perpetual motion device.

Mark: Uh, Teak...

Teak: I just have to figure out what I'll use for fuel.

Nigel enters.

Nigel:  Pat!  Vodka!  Straight up.  Make it a double.

Pat enters.

Pat: We don’t serve doubles.

Nigel: Then make it a triple.

Pat: You know I can't do that.

Nigel: Well, give me two singles in the same glass.

Pat: Alright.

Pat leaves. Nigel joins Mark and Teak.

Nigel: Citizens.

Mark: Hey Nige, what's eating you?

Nigel: What do you mean?

Mark: You never order a double.

Nigel: Sure I do. Pat just never gives them to me.

Pat enters with drink.

Pat: Ahh! Go soak your - kgnn! - porcelain caste cheeks, Sunshine.

Nigel: Poke me pansy. (Downs his shot.) I'll see you guys at home.

Nigel leaves.
­

Pat: Why, he didn't pay at all! Why that - yneg! - golden god of heavenly wonder! I oughta - gkak! - wine and dine him like a lady should!

Pat leaves.

Teak: What's with him?

Mark: I don't know.

Teak: Someone sure shoved his belly weasel on the wrong side of the snow muffin.

Mark: What?

Teak: You know... shoved his... y'know...?

Mark: I don't understand.

Teak: Didn't your family ever say that when you were a kid?

Mark: No.

Teak: Well we sure did where I came from.

Mark: Well, maybe I should have grown up there.

Teak: Oh no. They wouldn't like you there. You're not... pointy enough.

Mark: Pointy?

Scene.

BLACKOUT THREE:

         Blair: And now it's time for a WFUZ flash in the pan radio 23.5 second news update. Brought to you by the Smudgy Pigeon. On the lighter side of the news, the staff of a downtown courier company were mysteriously locked with a bike lock in their dispatch office overnight. Nobody was injured in spite of the poor circulation in the overnight heat. Also in the news this morning, a body was found in the city streets when a dog pulled the carcass out of an alleyway in front of Al's fruit market. Police are issuing a statement for the press later this afternoon. And now, back to the music....

"The Freshman" by The Verve Pipe fades in and out again.



SCENE THREE: HAPPYMART - MORNING

An entrance bell rings. Mark enters.

Buddy: Good morning my friend. Welcome to HappyMart.

Mark: Good morning Buddy. (To audience.) This is HappyMart, the neighbourhood convenience store, video rental outlet and Lance and Willow's Rice-o-teria. (Buddy is confused and can't figure out who Mark is talking to.) Lance and willow are latter-day hippies. They own the franchise. Pretty much all they eat is rice. They import it from around the globe, but only sell it to their closest friends. This is where we come for all our personal grocery needs, in spite of the three hundred percent mark up. But it's convenient, that's why they call it a convenience store.

Buddy: Is there anything I can help you with?

Mark: No thanks Buddy, I'm just getting breakfast and a newspaper.

Buddy: Ah, breakfast. Can I suggest Eggos? Aisle three.

Mark: No.

Buddy: McCainine Microwavable Minute Bacon? It's in the freezer case.

Mark: No, I think I'd rather have cereal.

Buddy: Cereal. Multi-grain Wheat-o-Bix?

Mark: No.

Buddy: Captain Sugar Mallows?

Mark: No.

Buddy: Choco-Frosted Margarine Balls.

Mark: Thanks, I'd rather have something healthier    Ah! Fruity Crunch Jell-O-Flakes! I love this stuff. It stays crunchy and when you add milk, it turns into a rainbow of colours.

Buddy: Will that be all?

Mark: No. (Lowering his voice conspiratorially.) Do Lance and Willow have any good stuff in?

Buddy: We just got a shipment of Thai long grain.

Mark: Is it any good?

Buddy: It's hydroponic man.

Mark: How much?

Buddy: Twenty bucks a gram.

Mark: Mmmm. Too rich for my blood. Got any of that basmati left?

Buddy: No, but we've got some Uncle Ben's in aisle two.

Mark: Never mind.

Buddy: Taking the day off again Mark?

Mark: Yeah, Teak and Nigel are at work. I've got the house all to myself.

          Buddy: Ah, house to yourself. You'll be wanting a magazine then. The new issue of 'Shaved Mound' just came in. It comes with a free, pull-out, twelve foot, glow in the dark, scratch 'n' sniff ceiling poster. It's the magazine for guys with acute Freudian problems.

Mark: No. Newspaper will be fine.

Buddy: Newspaper comes with a complimentary coffee.

Mark: No, no that's quite alright.

Buddy: It's free. It comes with the newspaper.

Mark: No, I'm really not a fan of the coffee here.

Buddy: Here take it. Take it.

Mark: No.

Buddy: It's fresh.

Mark: I don't care! I don't want any!

Buddy: Lance and Willow watch the security video tapes. If you don't take the coffee, I'm in big trouble.

Mark: No.

Buddy: Please?

Mark: No!

Buddy: Alright. Anything else?

Mark: Yeah, give me a copy of 'Good Will Hunting.'

Buddy: Alright. Can I see your video card?

Mark: There you go.

          Buddy: And your driver's license? And a major credit card. Medicare card, birth certificate, citizenship card, bank card, Fitness World membership card, business card, Rocket Richard rookie card...

Mark: Hey! Is there a problem here?

Buddy: Yes, your membership has expired.

Mark: Expired? But it's a lifetime membership.

Buddy: Yes I guess I'll have to rectify that (He pulls out a shot gun. Mark grabs his stuff and runs from the store.) Have a nice day!

Scene.

BLACKOUT FOUR:

    I Don't Like Mondays by the Boomtown Rats fades in as it is coming to an end. Blair Faire sings the last few words, mocking the plaintiveness of Bob Geldof's vocal.

Blair: …the…whole…day…down. Yeah. This is Blair Faire on the air and that was the Boomtown Rats with “I Don't Like Mondays." Another one from the 'Who cares where they are now file.' This is WFUZ Flash in the Pan Radio. Now let's go back to 1985 with this little ditty from Boys Don't Cry, and believe you, me, “I Want to be a Cowboy…”

"I Want to be a Cowboy" by Boys Don't Cry fades in and out again.

SCENE FOUR:

NO. 13 CECELIA BLVD. - MORNING

Mark comes home.

Mark: It's such a good feeling - to know you're alive. It's such a happy feeling - when you're growing inside. And when you wake up ready to say, 'I think I'll have a snappy new day.' (Mark has taken off his shoes, and put on a cardigan and slippers.) Ahh... there's nothing like a day to yourself. Kick back, relax and do absolutely nothing, with no fear of interruption from keys scraping in the lock.

Phone rings.

Mark: Hello?

Voice on Phone: Hello, is this 49 avenue?

Mark: What?

Voice on Phone: Is this 49 avenue?

Mark: Uh, no. You must have a wrong number.

Voice on Phone: Thank you.

Mark hangs up and sits back. There is a knock on the door.

Mark: Who could that be? Come in!

Postman enters.

Mark: Ah! It's the Postman. Hello Postman.

Postman: Hello. Is this No. 13 Cecelia Blvd?

Mark: It most certainly is.

Postman: As in... Cecelia, you're breaking my heart...

Mark: Yes, that's right.

Postman: ...you're shaking my confidence daily...

Mark: You can stop now.

Postman: ...Oh Cecelia, I'm down on my knees, I'm begging you please to come home...

Mark: I've heard the song before.

Postman: Ho-ho-home.

Postman & Mark: ...Making love in the afternoon with Cecelia up in my bedroom. Making love. I get up to wash my face, when I come back to bed someone's taken my place....

Mark: (Sighs.) That's very clever.

Postman: I've got a parcel here for Teak... Tninen... Fdornen... uh... um, Grommen?

Mark: Phlegming?

         Postman: Yeah. Just sign right here. (Mark does.) It's right outside the door. (Leaving.) Lie-la lie. Lie-la lie lie lie la-lie. Lie-la lie.

Mark: (Following.) Thank you!

Postman: Have a nice day!

    They leave and a mysterious box enters of it's own volition. Mark enters, a bit confused. He looks at the box and tries to pick it up. It shrieks and leaps away from him. It then growls and begins to chase Mark. The phone rings. Mark answers it.

Mark: Hello?

Voice on Phone: Hello, is this 49 avenue?

The parcel lurches at Mark. Mark's attention is more on the parcel than the phone.

Mark: No. No this is not 49th avenue.

Voice on Phone: Are you sure?

Mark: Yes I am sure.

The box continues lurching, much to Mark's dismay.

Voice on Phone: So this is a wrong number?

Lurch, lurch. The parcel starts stalking Mark.

Mark: Well, it's not a correct number is it?

Voice on Phone: Uh... Do you know what is....

The box is advancing on Mark.

Mark: Look I gotta go. (Hangs up.) Ole! (Mark herds the box into Teak's room.) Okay. (He sits.) Milk... Juice... Cereal....

Knock at the door.

Mark: What now? Come in!

There is a strange small person at the door.

Luka: Hello. My name is Luka. I live on the second floor. I live upstairs from you. I guess you never....

Mark kicks him out - literally.

Mark: Go away.

Phone rings.

Mark: Hello!!

Voice on Phone: Is this 49 avenue?

Mark: No this is not 49 avenue!

Voice on Phone: Oh, Okay. One moment please.

Pause.

Second Voice on Phone: Hello is this 49 avenue? I am looking for...

Mark: No this is not 49th aven...

Unseen by Mark, Mr. Bludfluke enters.

Second Voice on Phone: No. You do not talk. You do not talk when I am talking. When I am talking, you do not talk, you listen. Attend to me! Attend to me!

Mark: Okay, I'm sorry.

Second Voice on Phone: I'm not worrying. Just one moment.

Mark: What? Do they travel in packs?

Pause. Mr. Bludfluke has a swig of orange juice, which he immediately regurgitates back into it's container.

Third Voice on Phone: Hello?

Mark: Yes, I'm still here. Same wrong number.

Third voice on Phone: Is this 49 avenue?

Mr. Bludfluke stuffs a handful of Jell-O-Flakes into his mouth and starts masticating.

Mark: No. No this isn't 49th avenue. This is Cecelia Blvd. Is there a specific part of 49th avenue you wish to speak to? The crosswalk? A manhole cover maybe? Or is there actually a specific house?

Third Voice on Phone: So this isn't 49 avenue?

Mr. Bludfluke tries to wash the Jell-O-Flakes down with a mouthful of milk, but it too ends up getting returned to it's container.

    Mark: No it isn't! What have I been telling you people? I mean what are you doing? Randomly phoning numbers hoping that you will stumble upon somebody who lives on 49th avenue? No! How foolish of me. (Mr. Bludfluke has found the remote control. He is fascinated by it, continuously turning the TV on and off.) You're phoning my number over and over, hoping that magically it will suddenly change to 49th avenue. But would that help you? What if this was 49th avenue? Okay, okay! This is 49th avenue. Now what do you want?

Third Voice on Phone: Oh, sorry wrong number.

Dial tone. Mark hangs up. Mr. Bludfluke dives behind the couch. Mark returns to his breakfast. He picks up the opened OJ.

Mark: What the hell?

    Mr. Bludfluke's hand appears over the couch. He turns the TV on. Mark is confused. Mr. Bludfluke turns the TV off. Mark is weirded out.

Mark: Teak!? Nigel? …Dale?

    Mark returns to his cereal and pours a bowl. Mr. Bludfluke turns the TV on again. Mark gets up. He walks to the TV. Mr. Bludfluke watches him. Mark whacks the TV. As he does, Mr. Bludfluke turns it off. The phone rings. Mr. Bludfluke escapes out the door. Mark turns to the phone. He stops himself. He lets the phone ring. The phone rings. Mark unfolds the paper and reads it as he pours his milk. The phone continues to ring. Mark has some cereal. The phone keeps ringing. Mark continues eating. The phone rings faster. Mark looks at the phone confused. The phone rings some more. Mark looks for the remote control. The phone rings more insistently.

Mark: Alright! I give up. Where's the remote control?

The phone rings more. Mark gives up. He answers the phone with exaggerated calm.

Mark: Hello?

Click and dial tone. Mark approximately loses his sanity. He hangs up.

Mark: Why can't I just have some peace and quiet?

Knock at the door.

Mark: This had better be important. Come in! (Enter Constable Chisholm.) What is it!? (As he realizes who he has just hollered at, he switches from AC to DC.) Ah, Constable Chisholm, the local beat cop who will play a crucial part in the play right at the climax. What can I do for you today?

          Constable Chisholm: Oh I just came by to get introduced to the plot before I'm actually needed. So as to reduce the cheesy nature of my deus ex machina like insertion later in the show.

Mark: Well, you must have some real excuse to be here rather than simply this self-aware intrusion into the action of the play.

Constable Chisholm: As a matter of fact I do. I'm looking for a person named Luka.

Mark: Ah, he lives on the second floor.

Constable Chisholm: He lives upstairs from you?

Mark: Yes.

Constable Chisholm: I think I've seen him before. If you hear something late at night....

Mark: Some kind of trouble, some kind of fight?

Constable Chisholm: Just don't ask me what it was.

Mark: Just don't ask you what it was.

Constable Chisholm: Thanks son.

Mark: You are my father!? You son of a bitch! You've got a lot of nerve coming back here after what you pulled! Seventeen years and you think you can just walk right back into my life....

Constable Chisholm shuts Mark up by threatening him with his billy club.

Constable Chisholm: No no no - 'Son' in that context is simply an affectionate nickname, not a declaration of relationship.

Mark: Right.

Constable Chisholm: Right. I'm sorry.

Mark: Bye.

Constable Chisholm: Bye.

Constable Chisholm exits. The phone rings. Mark answers in total despair.

Mark: Hello?

Voice on Phone: Is this 49 avenue?

    Mark: Fuck! No, this isn't Fucking 49th FucKinG avenue. Don't FucKinG even FuCKinG think of FuCKiNG phoning the FUCK back! I FUCKING SweaR, I'LL FUCKING KiLL You WiTHiN A FUCKING InCH of YoUR FUCKING WORthLESS FUCKING LIFE YOU FUCKING FUCK! FUCK, FUCK, FUCK, FUCK, FUCK! …Hello?  (Dial tone. He hangs up.) Alright, video. To hell with the remote control - I'm no lazy ass couch potato. I'm not above a little physical activity! (Mark puts in the video.) Alright. Robin Williams - Oscar winner, my hero. I've been wanting to see this since it came out.

He sits as the video begins.

Video: VideOpensore presents 'Adventures in Canadian Trout Fishing' with your host Noddy Midriff.  Hey there Noddy. Hey. Sure is a nice day for fishing out here on Lake Brackettybott.... (It continues spouting similarly inane dialogue.)

         Mark: What? Why that lousy little punk! I'm gonna take this right back right now and (He has gone to the VCR and is looking at it confused.) What? Where's the eject button? What kind of stupid VCR doesn't have an eject button? There's one on the remote control. I DON'T HAVE THE REMOTE CONTROL!

Phone rings.

Mark: Look, if you're calling for 49th avenue, you had better just hang up right now 'cause you don't want to hear what I have to say to you.

Zeffie: Glm. Uh, is Gdh, Teak there? Gdrn.

Mark: No, no. He's at work.

Zeffie: Glm. will you let me know Glk, when he gets in?

Dial tone. Mark hangs up. Teak walks in. Mark hollers directly at the phone.

Mark: He's home! He's home!

Teak: Ah!  Zeffie called.

Mark: Why are you home so early?

Teak: I got fired. I've been diagnosed as having Ethyl's Disorder. Apparently I lack the critical enzyme in my saliva which activates stamp glue. So they fired me! So, I'm walking down the street with Zeffie talking about it and suddenly he turns to me and says, "The chickens are back, I can feel them." So I turned. And there they were. We ran, and right outside The Smudgy Pigeon, they ran into the light of the neon sign and Bang! - they melted! Zeffie says to me, "Do you remember what we did last time this happened?" I shook my head. He said, "Neither do I." (Teak seems to think this is pretty significant and deep.)

Mark: Ah. A package came for you today.

Teak: You didn't touch it did you?

Mark: Yeah.

Teak: Excuse me.

    Teak exits to his room hurriedly. Mark sits down with the newspaper. There are screams and gunshots heard in Teak's room. Teak returns.

Teak: Damn. Now I have to order another one.

He pulls out a form and begins to fill it out.

Mark: Was it dangerous?

Teak: Only to people.

Mark: Oh. Good.

Mark returns to his paper. Teak tries to lick his stamp.

Mark: Hey Teak, look at this.

Teak: Paper.

Mark: Yes, but look at this.

Teak: Newspaper.

Mark: Would you just read this!

Teak: Could you lick this for me?

Mark: Do you remember how Nigel's boss was killed last week?

Teak: Yeah.

Mark: Well listen to this. "In a strange set of circumstances, an executive partner of Paul Behrir and Sons Advertising has been found murdered. This is the second killing of a member of Behrir and Sons staff this week. Police refuse to speculate if the crimes may be related."

Teak: Whoa! Nigel had better watch out.

Mark: Yeah, he picked a dangerous place to work. But wait, it continues.... Police have been unable to determine the cause of death, but autopsies show that both victims had exceptionally high citric acid content in their bloodstreams. The only evidence was a single sunglass lens found at the scene."

Teak: Weird.

Mark: Yeah.

Nigel walks in wearing broken sunglasses. (One lens is missing.)

Nigel: Citizens.

Mark: Nigel, we were just reading about... Beyahhh!!!

Nigel: What's with you?

Teak: Mark's had one of his days.

Nigel: Ah.

Teak: People sure are dropping off like flies at your office, huh?

Nigel: Yeah, just like flies, baking in the sun. Hey, 'Canadian Trout Fishing…'

Mark: Teak… Teak… (He can hardly speak, he's so scared.)

Teak: Are you losing your voice? You shouldn't yell at the phone so much.

Nigel: Hey, were there any calls for me?

Teak: I don't know. I was being chased by chickens.

Nigel: Ah. Mark? Any calls for me?

Mark: For - four - forty-ninth avenue....

Nigel: I see.

    Nigel puts down his glasses and picks up the paper. He's ambivalent about the headline. Mark grabs the sunglasses and motions to Teak, pointing at the broken lens.

Teak: Those are Nigel's. (Mark shakes his head and points again.) Yes they are. (Mark shakes his head again.) Yes they are! (Mark continues to indicate 'no'.) YES THEY ARE!

Nigel: Ahem.

Mark: We're just... going to play charades.

Teak: Cool!

Nigel: Alright. (Returns to paper.)

Mark points at glasses.

Teak: 'My eyes are blind I cannot see?'

Mark shakes his head. He motions as if hanging himself by a rope.

­Teak: 'Hang 'em High!'

Mark refuses again. He slashes his throat with his finger.

Teak: 'I cut myself shaving?'

Mark shakes head and pretends to shoot himself in the temple with his finger.

Teak: 'Bang bang, the British are coming!'

Mark is getting very frustrated. He begins to strangle himself with his hands.

Teak: 'MY BALACLAVA IS ON FIRE!'

Nigel: Excuse me, I'm trying to read the paper!

    Mark looks at Nigel. He puts the glasses on Nigel. He looks from Nigel to Teak. Back to Nigel, and again to Teak. He is desperately trying to telepathically tell Teak what he is driving at.

Teak: (Clues in.) AAAAAAH! I have to do the dishes!

Mark: I have to help Teak.

The pair run into the kitchen. It takes them all of about four seconds to do the dishes. (SFX) They run out of the kitchen and run out the door.

Teak: Bye.

Mark: Bye.

Nigel: Uh, bye.

Nigel is bewildered at his roommates industriousness. He checks in the kitchen.

Nigel: Hey. Where'd that sink come from?

Scene.

BLACKOUT FIVE:

"Zombie" by The Cranberries fades in. It fades out.

         Blair: A little Zombie going out to you on this steamy afternoon. Outside the WFUZ studios there's an ugly yellow-grey smog cloud. So if you can, hop on your bike and leave the 'Beamer' at home. Update on the body found this morning. Police have connected it to the slaying last week of a 39 year old man. All names are being withheld, but both victims were employed at the same office. And autopsies on the bodies reveal that both had exceptionally high citric acid content in their bloodstream. Police have nicknamed the culprit "The Scurvy Slayer." Now back to WFUZ flash in the pan radio.

"Criminal Mind" by Gowan fades in and out again.

SCENE FIVE:

THE SMUDGY PIGEON - AFTERNOON

    Mark and Teak are in the pigeon obviously drinking themselves silly as fast as they can. Pat enters and picks up their empty beer bottles.

Mark and Teak: Umm! (Pat replaces them with full bottles.) Yeah.

Pat leaves.

Teak: Holy holy, man!

Mark: Yeah, shit.

Teak: Nigel's... killing people.

Mark: Yeah… Well, wait! We don't know that for sure.

Teak: But his glasses…

Mark: Maybe he dropped them.

Teak: While struggling with a victim.

    Mark: OR getting on the bus, or running up a flight of stairs, or bending down to pick up a dime. It could have happened a thousand different ways.

Teak: But all of the victims are from his office.

Mark: Coincidence.

Teak: Nigel wanted all their jobs.

Mark: Yes, alright, but it's all circumstantial. We don't KNOW that Nigel is killing people. I mean he was always such a nice quiet boy who kept to himself.

Teak: No he wasn't.

Mark: Oh yeah. Shit. We better find out.

Teak: We could ask him.

Mark: Go right ahead.

Teak: You go ahead.

Mark: It was your idea.

Teak: He's your friend.

Mark: He's your roommate.

Teak: He's your roommate too!

Mark: He eats your fish!

Teak: You hit him in the head with the hamster!

Mark: Flip for it!

Teak: Call it.

Mark: Heads.

Teak flips a coin. He catches it, looks at it and deliberately drops it.

Teak: Ooops! Call it.

Mark: Heads.

Teak tosses the coin into the air. It doesn't flip. He catches it, and looks at it.

Teak: It didn't actually flip. (Mark sighs.) Call it.

Mark: Heads!

­Teak flips the coin. Catches it, looks at it and over reacts to some unseen, bogus influence.

Teak: Whoa! Did you feel that?

Mark: Give me that! Okay. Now, no matter how it flips, or how it lands, the loser has to confront Nigel. Call it…

Teak: Tails! Ha!

Mark flips coin and looks at it.

Mark: Best two out of three?

Teak: No way! You said…

Mark: Alright…

Nigel enters.

Nigel: Citizens....

Teak and Mark: Hi Nige.

          Nigel: You guys left the house in such a hurry, I didn't know where to find you. But then I thought... Smudgy Pigeon. Oh hey, good job on the dishes. PAT! VODKA! MAKE IT A DOUBLE!

Pat enters, furious.

­Pat: Forget it Nigel.  I've about had it with you. You haven't tipped me once in the past three years you've been coming here, you - nkeg! - Teddy bear!

Mark: Pat, give him the double.

Pat: Not a chance. I don't even want you in here. If you aren't going to cough up, you can walk. I don't want to see you in here again.  Kapish - gnek! - Prince of my heart!?

Mark: Pat…

Pat: Forget it. He can put it up out front, or he can leave.

Mark: Here, here's his tip.

Nigel: Hey! Don't tip him for me.

Mark: Pat give me the money.

Pat: No way, you tipped me. It's mine.

Mark: I tipped for him, not me. Him. It was just my money. His tip.

Nigel: It wasn't my tip. I don't tip.

Mark: You see? It wasn't a tip. Give it back!

Pat: You don't tip?

Nigel: I don't believe in tipping.

Pat: You don't believe in tipping?

Mark: You know what these guys make? They make shit.

Nigel: Don't give me that. He don't make enough, he can quit.

Pat: You don't care about counting on your tips to live?

          Nigel: Jesus Christ. I mean you aren't starving to death. You make minimum wage. I used to make minimum wage, and when I did I wasn't lucky enough to have a job society deemed tip worthy.

Mark: You don't have any idea what you are talking about. These people bust their ass. This is a tough job.

          Nigel: So's working at McDonald's. But you don't feel the need to tip them. Why not? They're serving you food. But no, society says don't tip these guys over here, but tip these guy's here. That's ­bullshit.

Mark: Pat please. Get him his drink.

Pat: No.

Mark: Trust me, it's for your own good.

Pat: Not until I see a tip.

Mark: I already tipped you.

Pat: Right. Right.

Pat exits.

Teak: Mark…

Mark: Alright! Alright! I'm all over it. Nigel?

Nigel: Yeah?

Mark: What happened to your glasses?

Nigel: Broke.

Mark: Yes, but how did they break?

Nigel: They fell off. Alright?

Mark: I see... um...

Nigel: What? Is there some kind of problem here?

Mark: No... Yes... Well... I don't know.

Nigel: You sound confused.

Mark: I am. I just... well, we... we were...

Nigel: Yes?

Mark: You haven't done anything rash lately, have you?

Nigel: Like what?

Teak: Mark, just ask him if he did it.

Nigel: DID WHAT!

Mark: Well, there's been a lot of trouble around your office lately...?

Nigel: Ahhh... I see. Yes. I did.

Mark & Teak: You did!?

Nigel: Yes.

Mark: Well, how can you be so blase about it?

Nigel: Blase? I'm not blase. As a matter of fact I'm pretty damned happy with myself.

Mark: Happy with yourself!?

          Nigel: Yes! I realized something. I realized that there are two kinds of people in this world, those who go out and get what they want, and those who don't. Those who go out and get things go places in life, those who don't... don't!

Mark: So you started killing people.

         Nigel: Not without reason. I wanted their jobs, they were standing on my path to success, so I eliminated them. Up until last week, I was someone who waited for life to come to him. I used to be just like you.

Mark: ME!? Hey, I'm in school. What about Teak? He's unemployed and couldn't hold down a job if he tried.

Teak: Hey!

Nigel: But he DOES try!

Teak: I try.

Nigel: You, you hide behind the veil of school...

Teak: Veil of school.

Nigel: Working on bachelor of fuck all number what?

Teak: What?

Nigel: Four?

Teak: Four?

Mark: Three!

Nigel: I took charge of my life. I saw something I wanted and I took it.

Teak: Took it.

Nigel: Can you say the same? Aren't you proud of me?

Teak: I'm proud of you!

Mark: Will you shut up?

Teak: Shutting up.

Mark: Proud of you? How can I be proud of you? You're a cold-blooded killer.

Nigel: I'm a new man!

Mark: That's great. I really love the new you. I'm really glad you searched your soul and found yourself. Tony Robbins would be so proud. You just see something you want and you take it. Take, take, take. That's all you ever do. Take, take, take. Do you see anything else you want? Here, want Teak's beer? Take it!

Mark passes Teak's beer to Nigel.

Teak: Hey!

Teak takes Mark's beer.

Nigel: That's the idea!

Mark: Oh for Christ's sake.

Teak: How do you do it?

Nigel: Ever get lemon juice in a cut?

Teak: Ouch, yeah, that happened to my uncle once.

Nigel: Imagine getting it injected straight into your veins. Then, when it gets to your heart…

Mark: That's obscene.

Nigel: It leaves no obvious trace.

Mark: It's sadistic.

Nigel: (With a grand gesture.) I'd call it brilliant!

    They all freeze like at the end of a television episode. After a moment, Pat enters. He picks up Teak's empty beer. He suddenly realizes that nobody else is moving. He is confused. He pokes Teak. No response. He goes to Nigel and tries to take his beer. It is firmly set in Nigel's hand. He gives up and spits in the bottle before turning to leave. He notices something in Nigel's breast pocket. He reaches in and pulls out a twenty dollar bill. He smiles, pockets it and leaves.

Scene.

BLACKOUT SIX:

          Blair: The 235th caller to correctly tell me: From what movie comes the quote, “What do you want to do with your life?" will win tickets to next Saturday's opening of the Twisted Sister Reunion Tour! So now let's listen to this…

"We're Not Gonna Take It" by Twisted Sister fades in and out again.

­SCENE SIX:

NO. 13 CECELIA BLVD. - EVENING

    Mark is watching X-Files. Mr. Bludfluke enters with the remote control and changes the channel. Mark looks at him. Mr. Bludfluke laughs and leaves. Mark sighs as if this has happened a hundred times within the past day. Which it has.

Mark: He's been so happy since he got the remote control I just don't have the heart to take it away from him. I just wish he'd change it to something other than the Shopping Network.

Teak looks frantically out of his room.

Teak: Mark! Mark!"

Mark: What? What is it Teak?

Teak: You didn't just see me leave here, did you?

Mark: Mmmmm, no?

Teak: Good. Would you let me know if you do?

Mark: Uh, yeah, sure.

Teak: Thanks.

Teak renters his room.

Mark: Hey! Spray on hair! I've heard about this stuff. I wonder if Nige'd like some for his Birthday? And it sure would improve my self-esteem at the beach.

Teak, dressed in entirely different clothing enters from outside.

Teak: Hi.

Mark: Uh, Hi Teak????

    Teak enters his room. There is a scream. His door opens. The new Teak comes out a foot or so with a pair of arms wearing his original shirt strangling him. They drag him back inside. Pause. Teak re-enters (from bedroom) and sits.

Mark: What was all that about?

Teak: What was what?

Nigel enters.

Teak: Hey Nige. Say, did you get that job you killed for?

Mark swats him.

          Nigel: No. I did not get the job. I go to all the trouble of eliminating someone who's job I want and then someone else gets the promotion. That's fine for them, but what about me? I get nothing, after all that work and trouble. Maybe if I had someone else kill somebody for me, then I'd get the promotion. Hell, I'd even pay somebody for the service, if it worked. Hey! That's a great idea! Why don't I start killing people for other people who want their jobs? I could start my own job placement agency. And furthermore, it's justice. An unfair number of young adults are saddled with dead-end nowhere jobs. Why? Because all of the good jobs have been taken by people only a few years older than them, who are too young to die any time soon. And by the time they do, those jobs will be better filled by younger, more vital applicants. So this is a service to society, by forcing openings in the job market for people who need them now. Instead of allowing it to remain two walls of opportunity, one too soon and one too late - evening out the imbalance. Giving us an opportunity to find a worthwhile niche in society rather than being crushed between the gears of an over-employed bourgeois. This employment agency is more than a job, it is a duty, a mission, a campaign, a CRUSADE!!!! AAAAh ha ha hah ha !

Nigel exits. Teak and Mark look at each other stunned. Teak's attention is caught by the TV.

Teak: Hey look! Pewter Elvis statues!

Mark: Cool!

Scene.

          NOTE: If the need is felt to divide the play into two acts, this would be the place to do it. I personally feel that it works best as a long one act.

BLACK OUT SEVEN:

          Blair: WFUZ Flash in the Pan Radio! Where all the artists who only had one crack at fame, still get air time. Going into five in a row, from the class of '86, who remembers this Flash in the Pan?

“Spirit in the Sky” by Dr. and the Medics fades in and out again.

SCENE SEVEN:

THE STREET - NIGHT

    There is the sound of a struggle. A day-planner flies through the air, landing in a pool of light under a street lamp. A man in a business suit stumbles out of the darkness.

Victim: Who are you?

Nigel steps into the pool of light.

Nigel: I'm your worst nightmare.

Victim: What do you want from me?

Nigel: Shut-up!

Victim: Please don't hurt me.

Nigel: (Using a syringe to suck the juice out of a lemon.) Don't worry, this isn't going to hurt…

Victim: Thank God.

Nigel: …For long.

Victim: Oh God! Look, I've got money… Keys to my Audi, My… (Looks at day-planner.) Uh! (Looks away desperately trying to draw Nigel's attention away from the book.)

          Nigel: Ah! Day-planner. Daily tool of yuppie oppressors everywhere. Let's see what we have here. Hmmm. Tuesday. Take Cyril to Ace Dentura - Pet Dentist to fit him for 'Kitty Caps.' (Tears out page. Victim is clearly distressed.) Wednesday. Take the Audi to the brake specialist. Hmp. (Tears out page.) Today, Thursday! Oh.
          It appears you missed something here  Career planning with the Scurvy Slayer!

Victim: Don't you write in there!

Nigel: Shut-up. You might get this back.

Victim: I'll do anything you say.

Nigel: Roll up your pant leg.

Victim: (Tries.) I can't.

Nigel: Pull them down then. (Victim looks confused. Nigel threatens to pull out another page.) Pull 'em down! Good. Now rollover. Roll over!

          Victim: (Rolling over.) I haven't done this since college. (Nigel swabs his calf.) Hey that doesn't feel as bad as' I... (Nigel slams the needle into his leg.) ARRRRG!

Nigel: Hold still! Hold still!

Victim: What is that?

Nigel: Lemon juice.

Victim: Lemon? Egads! You're the Scurvy Slayer!

Nigel: Didn't I just say that? You ought to read your day-planner. Check Thursday!

Victim: Please don't kill me!

Nigel: Too late, you're already dead.

Victim: Oh God. Everything you say… is a cliche! I can't take it! (The victim tries to run.)

          Nigel: The pain ought to hit right about... Now! Followed by a ticklish feeling in your thigh. Then you lose all control of your leg. As the spasms subside, the lemon juice reaches your groin causing at first a feeling of pleasure, then impotence and agony. Luckily, the lemon juice then makes you lose all feeling in your lower body.

Victim: Dear Jesus, I can't feel my legs! (Nigel nudges him.) Oh shit! (He Falls.)

          Nigel: Then the lemon juice enters your stomach causing at first acute hiccoughs. Then nausea and convulsions. It all stops for one brief moment, just long enough to ask one final question.

Victim: Why?

Nigel: Well, most of my victims have one last request.

Victim: No, I mean why are you doing this to me?

Nigel: Oh. Sorry to waste your last moments like that.

Victim: ARRRKGH!

Nigel: The calm before the storm has ended. The lemon juice has entered your heart. It will all be over in just a moment.

Victim: ...rosebud...

(Dies. )

          Nigel: What the hell did he mean by that? Hmp. Ah well let's get you out of here. (He lifts the body but slips and falls in an obscene position.) AAAAAAH! Shit. Okay, get off. (He pushes the body away. It falls back on him. This continues.) Get off. Get off! GET OFF!

Someone enters just short of the light. Nigel hears him.

          Nigel: Oh, God! Uh... why of course I love you dear! Heh, heh, uh here give me a kiss. (He pulls the corpse's lips to his just as Teak steps into the light.)

Teak: Nigel!

Nigel: Teak! Oh thank God it's you.

Teak: Oh Nigel! Oh man, I'm really sorry....

Nigel: No, no Teak this isn't what it looks like.

Teak: Look Nige…

Nigel: (Overlapping.) Teak, Teak! Oh God.

Teak: If you're in the closet, that's cool and everything. But hey, (Pulls out a condom.) be safe man!

Nigel: Teak, I'm not gay. This man is dead.

Teak: Dead?

Nigel: Yes.

Teak: That's really sick!

Nigel: No! Teak, look. Listen. He's the manager at 'The Warhol Boutique. I just got a client in commercial art school.

Teak: Oh! You're working!

Nigel: YES! (Sighs.)

Teak: Sorry, didn't mean to disturb you. See you at home.

Nigel: Teak. Teak! TEAK!

Teak: Hm?

          Nigel: Will you help me get him off of me? I've got a lot of work to do tonight. I have to kill Blair Faire from WFUZ before the morning show.

Teak: Cool, I love his stuff!

They struggle with the body, ultimately ending up with Nigel in yet another obscene (but this time mobile) position.

Teak: Are you sure you aren't gay?

Nigel: Just go before his bowels loosen!

They exit.

Scene.

BLACKOUT EIGHT:

Sky: Welcome to the brand-new morning show. I'm your host Sky Faltzburg. Here's the Crew. Hey guys!

Crew: Woo woo! Yeah! Woo!

Sky: Ahh, it's a wonderful Saturday morning. How's the weather? Let's ask Captain Cumulo Nimbus, the Weather Pirate.

Weather Pirate: Arrr!

Polly: Caw! Whew-hoo!

Weather Pirate: Arr, shut-up Polly. It's going to be a hot day today Sky. Arrr.

Sky: A hot day again! Well, what are we gonna do guys?

Paddy: We could go to the baseball game.

Sky: Oooh, it's Paddy the Sports Leprechaun. What if it's too hot out to play?

Paddy: We could still have hot dogs and beer!

Crew: Woo-hoo!

Sky: How right you are paddy.

Mr. Sneed: Uh, Sky could you read this please?

Sky: Oh my!  It's Mr. Sneed the station manager. Now what have we here?  Oh, I see. Um, WFUZ Radio would like to extend our deepest sympathy to the family of Blair Faire. He was a good co-worker, loving husband, and great DJ for Flash in the Pan Radio. In his honour, we would like to break format for a moment and play one of Blair's favourite songs. And so, going out to the man who died so I could have his job...

Crew: Woo-hoo!

Sky: Thanks guys. Here's some VanHalen, 'cause Blair would have wanted it that way.

SCENE EIGHT: NO. 13 CECELIA BLVD. - MORNING

   "Jump" by VanHalen is plays. Mark is eating a banana. He begins to tap his toe to the music. He then begins to sing, using the banana as a microphone. When the chorus comes, Teak bursts in from his bedroom using a broom as a guitar. They sing and dance and airband together until the next chorus. Nigel walks in. The guitar solo starts. They don't notice Nigel as they play air guitar. He watches them act like idiots. He shakes his head and turns off the radio. Mark leaps to his feet. Teak continues, oblivious to the lack of music.

Nigel: Citizens. (He kicks Teak, who jumps to his feet.) What’s up?

Teak: We were just... jumping.

Nigel: Aren't we all. You wouldn't believe the night I just had. I must have filled a dozen contracts by this morning.

Teak: Work is good?

Nigel: Too good. I'm completely bogged down. And then I get jobs like the last one this morning.

Mark: Do we have to hear this?

Teak: What happened?

          Nigel: I got a client who was a fry cook at McDonald's so I had to dispose of his manager. Now you wouldn't have believed this guy if you saw him. He must have been scarfing down all of the reject burgers.

Mark: They reject burgers?

Nigel: He must have weighed like 380 pounds.

Teak: 380 pounds. Let's see, that's... 170 kilograms... or... 18 and one-half shmagmargers!

Mark: Shmagmargers?

Nigel: Look! Do you want to hear this or don't you?

Mark: No.

Teak: (Simultaneously.) Yes.

Nigel: Well I couldn't move him let alone lift him. So, I had to find a way to break the body into carryable pieces.

Mark: Oh God.

Teak: How did you do that?

Mark: Spare me the details.

Nigel: I ran him over about sixty times in my new car.

Mark: Wait a second. When did you get a new car?

Nigel: I got a new Audi last week. I told you business was going good. As a matter of fact, I'm going to have to expand.

Teak: How are you going to do that?

Nigel: I put an advertisement in the newspaper.

Mark: An Ad in the paper? What does it say? Kill for cash? Death for dollars? Murder for money? You'll make a killing when you toss your basic human morals to the wind?

Nigel: No. (Pulls out classifieds.) Here Teak, why don't you read it out.

Teak: (Nigel mouths the words proudly.) “Are you between the ages of 19 and 30 and not earning at least 300 dollars a day? Realize your full potential. Call me now!"

Nigel: Great huh? I just can't figure out why I haven't got any response.

Teak: Sounds like telemarketing.

Nigel: Give me that! I… Wait! It doesn't matter. I just realized something. I've got all the manpower I need right here.

Mark: Oh no. No. No!

Nigel: What about you Teak? You're out of a job.

Teak: I don't know Nige. You mean killing people?

Nigel: Well, no. Not killing people. Liberating.

Teak: Liberating.

Nigel: Come on, it's for a good cause.

Mark: Teak don't do it.

Nigel: Competitive wages. Tax free.

Teak: Hmmm.

Mark: Teak, think about it. Think about what you're getting yourself into.

Teak: No.

Nigel: No!?

Mark: You're doing the right thing Teak.

­Teak: I won't do it. I can't get involved.

Nigel: Teak, you already are involved.

Teak: What?

Nigel: Last week when you helped me move that body.

Mark: You helped him!?

Teak: Just a little.

Nigel: You're already in too deep Teak. You might as well make a little profit while you can.

Mark: I can't believe I'm listening to this.

          Nigel: Once more Nigel and Teak are dear friends, once more. To close the wall up with those yuppie dead. In truth there's nothing so becomes a man as a modest job and gainful utility. And when the cries of the unemployed blow in our ears, then we shall imitate the action of the tiger. Thinning the herd and replacing unfair nature with hard favoured occasion. Strike the iron while it's hot. Seize your chance and make hay while the sun doth shine. You are without job and I in need of aide. What could more nobly suit a man than to fight along side his brethren 'gainst a common foe. So, band with me upon the usurpers and I shall line your pockets with wealth to spare. At my arm you shall have the knowledge in your soul that you have served a purpose higher than any seraph army. So what say you? I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips, straining upon the start. So follow your instinct and upon this charge cry "God for Scurvy, Nigel and his war!!!"

Teak: I'm in!

Nigel: Away!

Nigel and Teak rush out.

Teak: Kill!  Kill!  Kill!

Nigel: From Hell's heart I stab at thee!

Mark: Help?

Scene.

SCENE NINE: EVERYWHERE - ALL OF THE TIME

    As "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor plays, we watch Nigel and Teak kill several generic professionals. (Possibly The Village People.) In between each killing we see a newspaper headline spinning towards us like in cheesy movie sequences. These headlines in order read: "Scurvy Strikes City!", "Fourth Week of Terror!" and "Qh the humanity! 'Scurvy' slays 50th." At the end, Nigel and Teak dance together as money rains from the sky.

Scene.

SCENE TEN: No. 13 CECELIA BLVD. - MORNING

Mark enters the apartment. Nigel and Teak are dancing together among piles of money on the floor.

Mark: What the hell is going on here? What's all this money doing on the floor? It's a bloody mess!

Teak: Too busy.

Nigel: We haven't had time to clean up.

Mark: Is it just me, or is that just a little ironic? Look, mid-terms are coming up, both my roommates are homicidal maniacs…

Nigel: That's an exaggeration.

Teak: Nigel's a homicidal maniac, I'm just hired help.

Nigel: We're businessmen.

Mark: (Grabbing broom. Threatening with it.) Look! Point is I'm too stressed out without having to clean up after the two of you.

Teak: Be careful with that broom Mark.

Mark: What? Are you afraid of a little broom Teak?

Teak: Well, sort of.

Mark: Why?

Teak: My uncle got hit with a broom once. It made him impotent.

Mark: No way?

Teak: Yeah.

Mark: That's bunk.

Teak: It's true. But he countered the effect. (Teak grabs Nigel and holds him between Mark and himself.)

Nigel: How?

Teak: He went to the Wisdom Troll. Wisdom Troll told him to go to the person who hit him with the broom and hit him back seven times. This reverses the effect.

Mark: So if I hit you with this broom, you'd hit me back seven times?

Teak: Yes.

Knock at the door. Nigel breaks away.

Nigel: Come in!

Elder Stan enters.

          Stan: Hello there, I'm Elder Stan. God has made room for you in his kingdom, and you can read why in my new set of twelve books about infidelity, masturbation...

Nigel: Excuse me.

Nigel gets the broom from Mark and beats Elder Stan soundly with it. Elder Stan flees.

Stan: Jesus Christ!

Nigel: Thanks! (Returns the broom and exits to the kitchen.) Ah ha ha hah ha!

Teak: Wisdom Troll also says that it's lucky to live in the same house as a mad man.

Mark: I don't feel very lucky.

Teak: He also invites good fortune into his home by spreading dung through all his living areas.

Mark: Don't even think about it.

Nigel: (Re-entering.) Hey citizens, look at this! It's in this morning's newspaper. “An unprecedented phenomenon is sweeping the city. Death toll rises to a confirmed fifty four, only one dozen shy of making the Scurvy Slayer the most prolific serial killer in history. Perhaps more astounding than the sheer industriousness of the six week rampage, is the public response. Young urban professionals who seem to be the primary victims are outraged, and in most cases scared. However, younger age brackets, adults in their twenties, are fascinated. They seem to look to the Scurvy Slayer as some kind of hero - a Robin Hood for the Turn of the Century." Isn't that great? A Robin Hood for the Turn of the Century?

Teak: Wait a second. If you're Robin Hood then who am I?

Nigel: Um, Tonto.

Teak: Cool. Tonto.

Mark: Nigel, you're kidding yourself. You can't cover it up with heroic phrases. I don't care if you're the Braveheart - William Wallace of serial killers. Self-made man or not, you're still sick. Look, I think it's about time you step back and look at things from a fresh, objective viewpoint.

Nigel: Oh my God! You're absolutely right. How could I be so blind?

Mark: Good, so you're going to turn yourself in?

Nigel: What? No. I'm going to expand to other cities. Come on Teak, we're off to HappyMart. We're going to look into franchising.

They exit.

Mark: In my own defense, I would like to point out that I did not create the monster. I inadvertently fed it steroids, but my hands are clean. I've been opposed right from the start. (He singles out one audience member.) You, you saw it, you witnessed the whole thing. I'm innocent. You can't blame a guy for turning a blind eye where friends are involved. Can you? Can you? (Mark swats the person with the broom and runs away, off stage.)

Scene.

BLACKOUT NINE:

Sky: Hello caller welcome to request line… Hello? Okay… line two. (Feedback.) Jesus! Turn down your radio! Christ caller! Fuck, what are you - stupid? Jesus. Oh. Fuck… shit. Damn - I mean shit. I uh, er, hello? Your name please?

Luka: My name is Luka.

Sky: And what would you like to hear?

Luka: Something by Suzanne Vega.

Sky: Sorry caller, she's got more than one hit, I can't play that. Anything else?

Luka: Chumbawumba?

Sky: Now THAT I can do!

“Tubthumping” by Chumbawumba fades in and out again.

SCENE ELEVEN:

HAPPYMART - MORNING

Buddy is standing at the counter. He has a MondoMug (Big Gulp-esque drink - a mocked up KFC container.) which he sips. Pause. He occupies himself. A longer pause. He waits. Nothing happens. He smiles and nods at the security camera. Pause.

Buddy: I've got a BA in anthropology.

Pause.

         Buddy: That must be how I got this job over all the other applicants. Now I get to put my over qualifications to work nightly. Making coffee, maintenancing the HappySlush machine when it makes the wrong consistency of HappySlush. I sit up over night drinking far too much Coke, selling cigarettes to customers coming out of the Smudgy Pigeon. Then, once the Pigeon closes, anyone who still wants a drink comes over for a nice bottle of Listerine. Mouthwash? Aisle two. Aisle Two? Farther! Past the tampons. It's really kind of depressing having to face this side of humanity. Especially when you get shit on as hard as you do in my position. No one respects the plight of the night shift convenience worker. I work minimum wage and people expect me to pick up the difference of the few pennies they're short for their M & M's. If I did that for everyone who comes in here. I'd be working here for free. That MondoMug has gone right through me. Excuse me.

Just as Buddy moves to go, the entrance bell rings. Nigel and Teak barge in.


          Nigel: See Teak? This is where it's at. National franchising. HappyMart has stores right across the country. I bet that the guy who came up with this convenience empire has houses on both coasts, and every exciting city in between. Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver...

Teak: Calgary!

          Nigel: I said exciting cities. See, what it's all about is standardizing and mass production. Every MondoMug is the same, every HappySlush is the same. unfortunately, so is every coffee.

Teak: Igh.

          Nigel: What we have to do is find some way to standardize our service. We'll have to work on that. MMM! And while we're here we should pick up some more lemons.

Teak: Hey Buddy.

Buddy: Hey.

Teak: You alright?

Buddy: Fine thanks.

Teak: You're looking a little pale.

Nigel: Teak will you help me with these?

Teak tries to help.  Chaotic physical comedy ensues.

Nigel: Teak?

Teak: Nigel.

Nigel: Teak!

Teak: Nigel?

Nigel: Teak!

Teak: Nigel!

Lemons end up all over the floor.

Nigel: Teak, pick those up! Buddy, lemons. Ring 'em up.

Buddy: That will be $19.50.

Nigel: $19.50 for three lemons?

Buddy: There's been a strange glut in the lemon market lately. Supply and demand.

Nigel: Right.

Teak: You sure you're alright Buddy? You look a little tense.

Buddy: I uh... gnnn!

Nigel: You are looking a little stressed Buddy. Job getting you down?

Buddy: MMMM.

Nigel: Well, you're in luck. Bet you didn't know I've gone into business for myself.

Buddy: MMn?

Nigel: Got my own job placement agency. You thinking of maybe working your way up the HappyMart ladder?

Buddy: MMNH!

Nigel: Well, just sign right here and you'll be manager in just ten days! (Pokes Buddy who's bladder fails him.)

Teak: You sound relieved Buddy.

Buddy: You could say that.

Nigel: You ought to be. Soon you'll be Numero Uno.

Buddy: I know what the first thing I'll do will be.

Teak: What's that?

Buddy: I'm going to fix the coffee so that the night shift employees don't have to drink so much damned Coke to stay awake.

Teak: You can fix the coffee?

Buddy: I find your lack of faith disturbing.

Nigel: Buddy, if you can fix the coffee here, you deserve a real reward.  Tell you what, we'll discount the service. One hundred dollars.

Buddy: Oh, money's no object.

Nigel: Alright. Five hundred it is. Come on Teak, let's get a taco.

Teak and Nigel exit.

Buddy: I've still got two hours left in my shift.

Scene.

BLACKOUT TEN:

Sky: Hello caller.

Buddy: Hello?

Sky: Who am I talking to?

Buddy: Am on?

Sky: Yes you're on.

Buddy: You mean I'm on the actual radio?

Sky: Yep, you're live. What's your name?

Buddy: Buddy at HappyMart.

Sky: Hey Buddy, welcome to the show. So, what do you think about today's topic: "The Scurvy Slayer?"

          Buddy: He's cool. "The Scurvy Slayer" is giving new life and excitement to this city. You don't know who's gonna die next. It could be me. It could be you.

          Sky: I see. Well, I don't think it will be me Buddy. Tell me, how do you respond to the suggestion that "The Scurvy Slayer" is only attacking established professionals?

Buddy: More power to him. We need room. They've got it coming. Those bourgeois bastards can cram it up their…

Sky: Thank you caller! (Aside.) Jesus Mike, where do you get these people?

SCENE TWELVE:

THE STREET - NIGHT

Teak is struggling home with the HappyMart manager's body in a bag.

Teak: God this guy's heavy.

Constable Chisholm: (Entering.) Excuse me Son.

Teak: Oh. Hello officer.

Constable Chisholm: You dropped this bloodied shirt a ways back there.

Teak: Uh, thanks.

Constable Chisholm: That's quite the stain. You might try putting some soda water on that - or perhaps some lemon juice.

Teak: Thanks, I'll keep that in mind.

Constable Chisholm: Say, I just finished this MondoMug from HappyMart. Mind if I put it in with the rest of your garbage?

Teak: Yeah, sure. No! No I can't.

Constable Chisholm: What do you mean you can't?

Teak: Uh… the bag is all full. Isn't that right bag? That's right! Say 'Hello' to the nice officer. Hello Mr. Pig, hello!

Constable Chisholm: It doesn't look that full to me.

Teak: It's really very full. It just doesn't look that way from the outside.

Constable Chisholm: Now how can that be?

Teak: It's very special garbage. It's extra dimensional garbage. It takes up way more room than it looks like.

Constable Chisholm: Let me get this straight. Extra dimensional garbage?

Teak: Uh-huh.

Constable Chisholm: I gotta see this!

Teak: Negative. Negative. I have a reactor leak in here now. Uh… large leak - very dangerous.

Constable Chisholm: Look Son, all I want is the truth.

Teak: You can't handle the truth!

Constable Chisholm: Oh yeah tough guy? We'll just have to see about that.

Teak: Aaaaah!

Teak charges at Chisholm.

Constable Chisholm: Whoa! Whoa Son! There's a time and a place for violence.

Teak: (Turning his back on Chisholm.) Right. You're absolutely right.

          Constable Chisholm: (Pistol whipping Teak from behind.) And that time is now! Now you wait right there and leave your little parcel just right where it is.

He steps aside and talks on Walkie Talkie.

Constable Chisholm: Chisholm here.

Walkie Talkie: Gohda tou loh solo?

Constable Chisholm: Tinderhousedogfacecabbagepatch.

Walkie Talkie: Soam peetah lay.

Constable Chisholm: Over and out. Son, there's a matter I have to discuss with you.

Teak: I can explain.

          Constable Chisholm: There's a limit on the size of receptacle you can leave for the civic garbage crews to take away. You can't leave that on the street for pick up. You'll have to take it down to the transfer station yourself.

Teak: Yessir! Yessir!

Walkie Talkie beeps.

Constable Chisholm: Excuse me a moment. Chisholm here.

Walkie Talkie: Cheezamott boffast.

Constable Chisholm: "The Scurvy Slayer!" In my neighbourhood? How'd you find out?

Walkie Talkie: Poskynot sumblastness.

Constable Chisholm: Prescription sunglasses. Where is he?

Walkie Talkie: Nistafot fostalotovard.

Constable Chisholm: #13 Cecelia Boulevard. As in "Cecelia, you're breaking my heart. You're shaking...?"

Walkie Talkie: Yeahyeahyeahyeah.

Constable Chisholm: Alright. Send SWAT team, K-9 patrol, forensics unit, bomb squad and back up. I'll be there right away.

Teak rushes away with the body.

Walkie Talkie: Rawcha ohvenowp.

Constable Chisholm: Over and out. Son, I have to... Son?

Chisholm turns to leave. He stops, he runs the other way. He stops and runs back. He pulls out Walkie Talkie.

Constable Chisholm: Chisholm here. Where am I?

Scene.

BLACKOUT ELEVEN:

Sky: (Fading in.) …heard by five men named Tony. At last report the priest was in stable condition, but the goats had to be put down. (Music begins.) That's the news. This is WFUZ Flash in the Pan Radio. All the world's great one hit wonders on one station. And now a 23.5 minute Non-stop-flash-back-rock-block!

Music rises. "The Future's So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades" by Timbuk 3. It fades out.

SCENE THIRTEEN:

No. 13 CECELIA BLVD. - NIGHT

Nigel is watching X-Files. Teak enters, body on shoulder.

Teak: Nigel! Nigel!

Nigel: Ho! Calm down. Christ almighty! What is this?

Teak: HappyMart manager.

Nigel: HappyMart manager! Teak, how many times have I told you not to bring your work home with you? It's bad form.

Teak: I was in a big rush, man.

Nigel: Teak you're never in too big of a rush to dispose of a body.

Teak: The cops are coming.

Nigel: It only takes five minutes to weigh a body down and throw it in the river.

Teak: The cops are coming!

Nigel: A little care and attention to detail is the key to success!

Teak: THE COPS ARE COMING!

Nigel: There's never time to do it right… (Sirens wail outside.) but there's always... time... to... do it... again...? Did you just say the cops are coming?

Squeal of brakes.

Teak: They're here!

Nigel: Great. Just great! Now what are we supposed to do with this thing? If you had just got rid of it in the first place.

Teak: But I had to come tell you that the cops were coming.

Nigel: Nevermind. We just have to find some way to get rid of this.

Nigel & Teak: Garbeurator!

They exit with body to kitchen. We hear them.

Nigel: Just stick his feet in there.

Teak: Okay.

Garbeurator noises. Blood squirts out of kitchen.

Nigel: Dammit, this isn't going fast enough!

Teak: What should we do?

Nigel: Look through the drawer to find something to cut it up with.

Teak: Like what?

Nigel: Anything. Anything we can use to speed this up a bit. Anything that will slice, dice or otherwise dismember this corpse.

Teak: How about this. It slices, it dices. Look it will go right through this tin can, and it still cuts right through this tomato!

Nigel: That's not a tomato.

Teak: It kind of looks like a tomato.

Nigel: Just give me that. Here you use this knife.

Teak: I can't.

Nigel: Just use it.

Teak: I can't.

Nigel: Just take it - cut pieces...

Teak: But... but I can't!

Nigel: Why the hell not?

Teak: You said I can't use your dishes. (Bong! - The hollow sound of someone being hit with a pot.) Okay. I'll use it.

Mark has entered and looked around the living room.

Mark: Holy cow! What are all those police cars doing out there? Somebody must be in trouble. SWAT team, K-9 patrol. This is going to be better than TV. Bad boys bad boys whacha gonna dooo....

Mark enters kitchen.

Mark: For crying out loud you guys, I told you when you use my good knife to put it back in it's sheath… Oh my god!

Mark stumbles back into the living room followed by more blood. He pukes behind the sofa.

Constable Chisholm: (On megaphone.) We've got you surrounded. Come out with your hands up!

Teak comes out of kitchen, arms raised. Nigel pulls him back.

Mark: There's no way out.

Constable Chisholm: There's no way out.

Mark: We only have one minute.

Constable Chisholm: You only have one minute.

Mark: Nobody told me there'd be days like these.

Constable Chisholm: Nobody told you there'd be days like these.

Mark: Strange days indeed.

Constable Chisholm: Most peculiar Mama.

Nigel: For God's sake lock the door!

Mark: I'm locking the door.

Nigel: Amateurs!

As Mark approaches the door, Mr. Bludfluke barrels through it, knocking Mark down and out.

Mr. B: Who are you? What are you doing here? Wake up! All you punks ever do is sleep. You loaf! I'm talking to you. Get out of my house!

Mr. Bludfluke uses the remote to turn on the TV.     The opening theme of X-Files is heard.

Mr. B: Where the goddamn piss are my pickles!

Nigel & Teak: X-Files!

They each enter with a bloody limb in hand. The fight Mr. Bludfluke off with the body parts.

Constable Chisholm: We fire in 5... 4... 3... 2... 1...

Just as Nigel and Teak sit down, there is a round of gunfire. The TV blows up.

Nigel: Jesus!

Teak: They shot the TV!

Mark regains consciousness.

Mark: What the hell is going on?

Nigel: The police are here.

Mark: Oh wonderful. I'm in the middle of mid-terms and my night of studying is ruined by a siege of my apartment. Thanks Nige.

Nigel: Hey, don't look at me. Teak's the one who led them here.

Teak: I didn't lead them here, they were already on their way.

Nigel: Already on their way? How'd they find out then?

Teak: They traced your prescription sunglasses Nigel.

Nigel: Oh shit.

Mark: Way to go Nige!

Nigel: Give it a rest.

Mark: You and your stupid crusade!

Nigel: Let it alone already.

Mark: You arrogant, scruffy looking nerf-herder!

Nigel: Who's scruffy looking. (Phone rings.) Jesus Christ! (He answers it.) What!

Voice on Phone: Is this 49 avenue?

Nigel: What? No this is not 49th...

Gunfire. Slow motion. Nigel is shot several times. He falls to the ground. Mark pulls him into his arms.

Mark: Noooo!

Nigel: Aaaaaaaaaaaa...!

Mark: Nnniiigggeeellllllll!

Teak: The grassy knoll!!!!

Slow motion ends.

Mark: Nigel! Nigel are you okay?

          Nigel: What does it look like? I'm fucking dying here. All this blood is scaring the shit out of me Oh God, I can't believe they killed me.

Mark: Hey - HEY - Listen to me. Nobody's dying here. Are you a doctor?

Nigel: RRRRRRGhh....

Mark: Tell me are you a doctor?

Nigel: Nnnn – no Hurk!

Mark: Oh God, Nigel... Nigel! Stay with me. Please don't die!

Nigel: (Sings.) Don't you fret M'sieur Markus I don't feel any pain...

Mark: (Slaps Nigel.) Stop it! You're hallucinating! Hang on, hang on Nige... Listen, I didn't mean to call you a nerf-herder.

Nigel: 'Sokay....

Mark: I didn't mean to call your crusade stupid.

Nigel: It's okay... You don't understand... I did it all for you....

Mark: You what?

Nigel: Yes you know it's true. Everything I do - I do it for you.

(Dies.)

Mark: What? You what? What are you talking about? Nigel! What does that mean? Nigel? Oh Nigel....

Pounding on door.

Constable Chisholm: We're coming in!

Teak stands up ramrod straight and pulls Nigel's coat over his head. Constable Chisholm rushes in and slips in the vomit.

Constable Chisholm: Shit!

Mark: Watch out for the vomit.

Constable Chisholm: Get away from the body. (Mark does. Constable Chisholm checks Nigel's pulse.) He's dead. Move away from the coat rack. (Mark steps away from Teak. Chisholm puts hand cuffs on Mark.) Let's go. (Slips in vomit.) SHIT!

Mark: Watch out for the vomit.

Constable Chisholm: Got anything to say for yourself?

Mark: Sometimes around here, entire days go on like this.

Constable Chisholm: Yeah whatever. Move it. (They leave.) You have the right to remain silent...

Teak pulls the coat off his head and looks around.

Teak: Noxious.

Unholy Disembodied Voice: Teak.

Teak: Who? Me?

Unholy Disembodied Voice: No, the corpse. Of course you.

Teak: Well, you do have strange and mysterious powers.

Unholy Disembodied Voice: Shut-up.

Teak: Sorry.

Unholy Disembodied Voice: Your mission here is complete. It's time to go.

Teak: Oh, great! Can I take my...?

Unholy Disembodied Voice: No!

Teak:... How about my?

Unholy Disembodied Voice: NO!

Teak: Man. Extra-dimensional parents are such a drag.

Teak exits.

Dale: (Offstage.) Guys? Guys, can you keep it down out here? I'm trying to sleep. (Entering.) Guys? Guys? Hey Nige... (Phone rings. He goes to the phone. Slips in vomit.) Shit. Who left this casserole on the floor? (He picks up the phone.) Hello, Dale speaking, President of 49th Avenue Consulting.

Scene.

BLACKOUT TWELVE:

"Right Here Right Now" by Jesus Jones fades in and out again.

Sky: And now a WFUZ 23.5 second news update. Brought to you by HappyMart. Well folks, it's over. Last night after a brief stand off, the police gunned down "The Scurvy Slayer." Dead is Nigel DeMentia, confirmed to be responsible for at least 55 deaths in this city over the past two months. Missing is Teak Phlegming, one of "The Scurvy Slayer's" roommates. The other two, Mark Bloe and Dale Vickery were questioned by the authorities and subsequently released.

SCENE FOURTEEN - EPILOGUE:

THE SMUDGY PIGEON - MORNING ­

Pat and Mark are in The Pigeon.

Pat: Drink?

Mark: No thanks.

Pat: It's on the house.

Mark: Canterbury. (Pat brings it to him.) Thanks.

Pat: Pff... 'S nothing.

Mark: No, thanks for bailing me out.

Pat: Oh. That. You owe me 8OO bucks.

Mark: Don't worry. The police told me I'm not supposed to leave town. Besides, my student loan is coming in.

Pause.

Pat: You okay?

Mark: Yeah.

Pat: Liar.

Mark: Yeah. I guess I'm still in shock. I'll get upset once everything hits me. Nigel was my best friend.

Pat: I know you and Nigel were close. I hated his guts. I don't know what to say....

Mark: You don't have to say anything. It's just his last words. I wonder what he meant.

Pat: What did he say?

Mark: He said, "Everything I do - I do it for you."

Pat: He was probably trying to give you a complex.

Mark: Yeah, Nigel sure had an odd sense of humour.

    Pat: Yeah, he sure shook this town up and turned it on it's ass. Jesus what a bastard. ???? Bastard. Holy Shit! I'm cured! Quick ask me for a double.

Mark: Can I have a double?

Pat: What?

Mark: Can I have a double?

Pat: No! You can't have a double. What kind of twisted fuck are you? We don't serve doubles. Fuck, fuck, fuck. Thanks, you're beautiful.

Mark: Wait. Are you sure you're cured?

Pat: Yeah, I really meant that last part. I'll get you that double now.

Pat exits.

Mark: Mind if I turn on the radio?

Pat: Go right the fuck ahead!

    Mark turns on the radio. It begins to play "Murder by Numbers" by The Police. He switches stations. It plays "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" from Les Miserables. He quickly changes again. "I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight" by Cutting Crew plays. Mark begins to sob and changes the station again. He finds WFUZ....

Sky: Good news folks! Heat wave is over. We can expect rain tonight to wash our streets clean of blood and lemon juice. Here's a little EMF going out to Nigel, where ever he is. Hey Nigel, it's been unbelievable!

"Unbelieveable" by EMF begins.

Mark drinks a toast to absent friends as the lights go down.

Scene.

Play.

Show.