Things I Find Inexplicably Funny

  It’s that magical time of year, where I have to dig in, eschew all social contact, and sacrifice myself to finals. I’ve been spending the rainiest day in recent memory reading academic journal articles on Abstract Expressionism, and when this paper is finished and handed in, I will never want to look at a Jackson Pollock painting again.  Maybe it’s oxygen deprivation making me feel compelled to overshare this with you.

I used to work at an upscale men’s clothing store down at the Jersey shore (just to give you an idea: men’s golf shirts, $50 each) that was so mind-numbingly boring that we used to place bets based on how overplayed the songs on the South Jersey lite FM radio station were (i.e., how many times will we hear this song this week?). There was a period of time where the song of the week was “Leather and Lace,” but they never identified the artists. We all knew it was Stevie Nicks and somebody, but we couldn’t identify the male vocalist. It took a full week before someone finally correctly identified it as Don Henley.

You know your job is mind-numbingly boring when you can write, in your head, a full gender-studies article on the cultural relevancy of the lite-FM chestnut, “Leather and Lace.” It made me fall in love with the song. It wasn’t a great summer, but there are worse fates.

Years later but still years ago, I convinced my friend Jeremy to sing this at karaoke with me. Being completely blotto, I blew it so badly that I still owe Ms. Nicks an apology.

So, that might explain why I find this pee-myself hilarious, at least through the first 4 minutes.

Ferrell’s comedy takes a while (and it’s not work-safe, you have been warned), but at 4:15 or so, Dave Grohl just takes it back and owns it (and me).  I’ve never been a huge fan of, specifically, The Grohl- his presence is ubiquitous enough to have become cultural wallpaper at this point. But his ability to simplify and perform this overplayed song compellingly shows you why, much like Chickenman, he’s everywhere, he’s everywhere. Guy’s got some chops, and I wouldn’t mind that served up with some caramelized onions.

But then Ferrell breaks the absolute cardinal rule of the guitarist-worshiper. No matter how funny you think you are, no matter how complicated your bromance, YOU DO NOT DISTRACT THE GUITARIST. Guitarists in general tend to be skittery creatures, and it’s a complicated juggling act for them to perform and make it look like they’re not self-conscious. One wrong move and they will tear back to Mom’s basement, the six-pack of Schlitz and the stack of vinyl records before you can say Stairway To Heaven. Deep down inside every guitarist is a kid who finds a complicated, ancient and beautiful stringed instrument less threatening than people.

Musicians make good partners for writers.  When you need to go crawl into a cave and scribble and scrape out a few hundred words and try to make sense of them, they will not miss you when you’re gone. They will, in their weird way. You might come out later on and find a mouse on your doorstep.  In reality, they’re off doing their own scrambling and scraping. Whatever you do, when the machine is in operation, do not distract them. You might end up with a 12-string neck in your ribs, and you will deserve it.

Free Range Theatre!

Guess what, folks, I, Lindsay Harris Friel, Crazy As A Loon Playwright, am having a CRAZY LINDSAY’S GIVING IT AWAY FOR FREE SALE!  Are you looking for a  short play for your theater company, church, school, speech class, ESL class, whatever, with four characters, a simple setting, and a timely conflict to perform, but can’t afford the royalties? Well, WORRY NO MORE!  With all the hubub and froufrou about reproductive rights, pregnancy as the latest fashion accessory and tabloid cover headline, and personhood, this play guarantees that your audiences will have plenty to laugh or complain about for weeks! Just read the following and copy or paste it into the text editor or word processing software of your choice, print it out, memorize the lines and let theatrical MAGIC ensue! All I ask is that you credit me as author.  I own the copyright, and you can’t change the script, but I’ve left you plenty of room for subtext, and all you have to do is pay me in exposure!

Thanks, and have a super day!

BREAKFAST IN AMERICA

CHARACTERS:

MICHAEL: a man in his late 30s to early 40s

KATE: a woman in her late 30s to early 40s

FREDDY: a waiter, a beefy, overly-jovial lad in his early 20s

EILEEN: a waitress in her 50s

SETTING: A diner in Northeast Philadelphia. Typical diner accoutrements: formica and chrome table and fittings, so on & so forth. Television on the wall broadcasting the news.

TIME: The present day, a lovely Saturday in springtime, noonish.

AT RISE: MICHAEL and KATE sit at a table sipping coffee. The table is right next to a wood and glass partition, slightly higher than the diners’ shoulder height. MICHAEL is playing with his cell phone.

KATE: I’m so glad we have this time together.

MICHAEL: What? You’re as bad as I am with the whole cell phone thing.

(FREDDY comes bouncing up behind the partition)

MICHAEL: Oh, crap.

KATE: Don’t say anything, stay low.

FREDDY: Hi, guys!

MICHAEL AND KATE: Hi.

FREDDY: How y’seguys dooin’?

MICHAEL AND KATE: Fine.

FREDDY: So, y’seguys gettin’ breakfast or lunch?

MICHAEL AND KATE: Breakfast.

FREDDY: Ehh. Y’seguys go out last night?

MICHAEL AND KATE: No.

FREDDY: oh, Y’seseguys goin’ out tonight?

MICHAEL AND KATE: No.

FREDDY: Yer not?

KATE: Nope, this is our big adventure for the day.

FREDDY: Why not?

KATE: I have a research paper to do.

MICHAEL: Yup, we’re got stuff we have to do.

FREDDY: Ah, I hearya. I never get out any more either. I won’t be gettin’ out for a while neither, cause my girl, she’s havin’ a baby.

MICHAEL: Yup, we know.

KATE: You told us.

FREDDY: yeah, my girl’s havin’ a baby. I’m so scared. I’m terrified.

KATE: mm-hm.

MICHAEL: mm-hm.

FREDDY: An’ this time, it’s not like the las’ time, cause this time, it’s a boy, and my daughter, I don’t know, I mean I see her, but she’s a girl, and-

KATE: Wait a minute. How many kids do you have?

FREDDY: Well, I got the one, my daughter, an’ like I see her sometimes, an’ her mom, we’re like, friends and stuff, but-

KATE: Oh, look, the president’s on TV. (starts playing with her fork)

FREDDY: -but like, now, you know, I got a son, and it’s with my girl.

MICHAEL: Mm-hm.

FREDDY: You guys got kids?

MICHAEL AND KATE: Nope!

FREDDY: Ah, come on! No? No kids?

(KATE starts stabbing the palm of her hand with her fork)

MICHAEL: Nope!

FREDDY: Why not? What’s wrong witchyew?

(KATE starts corkscrewing the fork into the palm of her hand to keep from stabbing FREDDY in the eyeball)

MICHAEL: Cause we have stuff to do. We’ve got projects. Right, honey?

KATE: Right!

(MICHAEL and KATE high-five)

FREDDY: yeah, but I mean, come on, what would you guys do if you had, like, an accident?

(KATE continues stabbing herself in the hand with her fork, looking at MICHAEL)

MICHAEL: You cross that bridge when you come to it.

KATE: What kind of accident? Like a car accident?

FREDDY: No, you know, you know what I mean, if it happens?

MICHAEL: You just cross that bridge when you come to it.

FREDDY: Cause, like, my mom, she had my brother when she was forty-six-

(EILEEN comes rushing out with a tray of food, talking just a little bit too loudly.)

EILEEN: Here we are!

KATE: Oh, scrambled eggs! That’s me!

MICHAEL: There’s our breakfast! Yum!

EILEEN: Can I get you two some more coffee?

KATE: That would be lovely! Thank you!

EILEEN: Is there… anything else I can get for you?

(KATE dives into her food. MICHAEL looks up, FREDDY is gone.)

MICHAEL: I think we’re fine now, thanks.

EILEEN: I’ll be right back with your coffee. (she exits)

KATE: That is absolutely not okay. That is not okay AT ALL.

MICHAEL: It is not okay.

KATE: I mean, what if you asked someone why they were using a cane? Or told them to just drop the cane? It wouldn’t be appropriate. It would be rude.

MICHAEL: Honey, I just want to have a nice breakfast.

KATE: I wanted to have a nice breakfast too.

END OF PLAY

And SCENE. Questions? Comments? Anecdotes? Let me know!

There’s no such thing as “between projects.”

After over a year of [almost] weekly blog posts, Vince and I took a few months off. This wasn’t on purpose.  We had some other things suck up our time and energy, most notably:

1) Quitting smoking. I’m sure there will be a future, detailed post about this work in progress.  Suffice it to say that it took up most of our head space starting in mid-December. In the meantime, please know that we are not converted and ideologically we are still smoker-positive. However, the Fine Turkish Turkweed, she is an expensive and harsh mistress.  So,  Nicorette is my new constant companion, and for the month of February, Vince made sure we were well stocked with Cherry Tootsie Pops.

2) The Conshohocken Curve. Whether it’s where you tap your brakes or where you break free of the herd, that phrase is embedded in the minds of everyone who moves within and without the Greater Philadelphia region from years of radio traffic reports. When it floated to the top of Scott Rogers’ brain one day, Vince knew this had to be the name of the band they’d been working on with Alan Kaufman.  For now, the band is practicing and getting ready to record demos, with drummer Mark Sugarman. Keep your cool cat clothes pressed and on a hanger at the front of the closet, because the rock, blues and folk-rock dance pop express train is getting ready to roll.

(How was that? How’d that sound? Do I still have the marketing-copy chops? Huh? Huh? Do I? Huh?)

3)  This semester is such a switch for me that it feels like my head is on backwards. I’m taking courses that are all about what things look like and how that affects society, and/or how society affects what things looks like.  So, I have to know the difference between talud-tablero and duo gong, ruquhn and rubakha, Whistler, Tanner and O’Keefe.  All of this falls into the “things that sound dirty but aren’t” category, and not in a good way.  I’ve been learning the craft of storytelling for a year and a half, now I have to use all the “analyze, memorize and identify” parts of my brain.  so, yeah, just when the learning curve started to make sense, it flipped.

Worry not, internet. Your favorite writer-musician power couple of love has been doing just fine.  Amanda Palmer is in Australia recording a new album and Neil Gaiman is in an undisclosed location writing a new book. In the meantime, you have Lindsay and Vince.