Saturday, September 28, 2013

Story 1: VIP (Part Two of a Two-Part Pilot)

At this point in the evening the riff-raff had arrived, so the VIP package’s shopping experience was decidedly not “crowd-free”.  Vendors shot T-shirts out of cannons to the highest bidders.  The grand prize was a Manly Men sweatshirt containing actual Manly Men sweat.  At $1,000,000, it sadly did not move until it was stolen mysteriously later that evening.
Food and drink were the usual 200% markup.  If you preferred, you could have your own wine-and-cheese tasting, complete with a sommelier coming right to your seat to refill your glass and offer recommendations.  Chipped or broken glasses resulted in ejection from the arena: all were warned.
The opening acts were greeted with polite applause, interspersed with polite coughs.  One musician waited for the audience to be entirely seated and silent; he stomped off the stage without performing because his time ran out.  A juggler was the penultimate performer of the evening; she got a few “Oohs” and “Aahs” before she jumped to her seat in the front row and put on her own Manly Men T-shirt.  The silence was deafening.
Then: the explosions – the cymbals – the strobe lights – the disco ball – the lions!  The Manly Men appeared to the sounds of the audience members screaming in the agony of pure devotion.  The Men swung over the stage on trapezes in honor of their idols, The Flying Wallendas.  One of the twins – no one could say as to which – missed on a tumble, but was caught by 20 fans as they rushed onto the stage in 0.000002 seconds to save him.  He was plucked out by Security, the rescuers were tasered back into their seats, and the show began in earnest.
No one heard a word these guys sang, since everyone sang along with them.  They demonstrated their new four-part harmonic resonance on their old hit, “I Want You To Be Me,” but no one truly appreciated the genius.  It sounded better on the CD anyway.
About halfway through the show, a military helicopter appeared, shining a light through the arena.  Fans booed and threw their soda bottles at it, knocking it awry.  It was later discovered that the chopper was doing exercises on radio silence and the pilot had thought the concert was a gathering of an army preparing to invade the town.  The military personnel disembarked and sat in the aisles for the remainder of the show, blending their cheers in with the masses’.
For the finale, The Manly Men selected some of the fans who had been hanging from the rafters to sing with them on stage.  Most of them got a few words out before fainting, but one managed to belt out a favorite tune in a lovely soprano, securing a recording contract on the spot from a music exec. who just happened to be in the audience.  She was whisked away before she could be murdered.
After the finale, there were two more finales.  One involved The Men taking turns napping while the others forced out the song through vocal cords that refused to work anymore.  The second had them gathering the instruments they had played earlier that night and throwing them into the crowd, vowing to never play them again, since: “This was the best show, the best audience, the best night we have ever had, and nothing we will ever do afterward will ever compare!  Ever!”  Those impacted by the flying guitars and the drum set knew the truth of those words.
There was more to come at the after-party for the few brave souls able to endure the additional price.  The remaining 99.9% of the attendees sat in their cars, waiting for their chance to move forward a foot.  An hour later, freedom from the parking lot prison was attained.  No headlights were needed, since all was lit by the fans’ warm glow.  It proved that magic does indeed still exist in this world.  In that moment of bliss, everyone really was a VIP.
The after-party having petered out during that mass exodus, The Manly Men pole-vaulted themselves onto their buses, drove over the arena grounds past the never-ending lines of refugees, and sped into the night on to the next stop of their tour, screaming their freedom into the heavens before sleeping the sleep of the just.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Story 1: VIP (Part One of a Two-Part Pilot)

When word spread that The Manly Men were coming to town, the fans knew they had to do the whole kit’n’kaboodle on that one.  The best concert package was VIP Ultra, which many found to be worth the steep price: after all, the group was the biggest thing to hit this burb since… Elvis.  Or maybe even James Brown.
The concertgoers arrived at the venue having to navigate the treacherous maze of parking lots.  Coming alone was the better to take it all in, but the worse to navigate.  Approaching two boys wearing the clothing of arena employees and playing soccer, the most popular response to the question of where to park was: “Just leave it up there”, with an arm thrown in the direction of a hill.  The second most popular response was: “There’s a concert tonight?!”
Caveat: there was a difference between the VIP package and VIP parking, meaning the purchase of the former did not equal the purchase of the latter.  When no other lot in sight appeared to be open, though, you took your chances, and some potential poor sap’s spot.
Check-in for the Very Important People was at 1400 hours.  Arriving half an hour before that time, one was greeted by a long line of the adoring.  There was a grand collection of T-shirts, creative signs, and cocktail dresses.  Some unhappy male faces were sprinkled throughout, revealing themselves to be devoted boyfriends.  One man on the line looked happy: he wanted to be there.  Oh yes he did.
The line-waiters eventually were bestowed with the sacred talisman of the VIP, which would be added to collections everywhere.  The exuberance of the crowd gradually shifted to concerned annoyance as the wait time encroached upon the pre-paid special time with The Men.  Would the fans not receive the full experience owed to the VIP?  Would they need to demand a refund mightily, and post complaints online nastily?  It almost seemed that this would be.  Several people on the line relaxed on their beach chairs and finished the novels they had brought for just such an occasion.  Meanwhile, plans to storm the gates were underway, and grappling hooks were prepared.  A party was in place to fire its human cannon when the gate opened for a VIP group, one that somehow ranked above Ultra.  There was an unusually large number of people who were special that day – maybe everyone attending was, in fact, a Very Important Person. 
The remaining groups then rushed the gates – what about the lines?  A sense of order needed to be restored, and quickly.  Event staff members understood the danger they were in and began calling groups in the proper order, three hours after their initial arrival.  There was a nagging suspicion that the band members were still sleeping on their bus when the VIPs first had arrived – those who had that thought kept it to themselves, so as not to ruin it for everyone.
As the first line advanced to a new line, the sunburns advanced to second degree.  There were many notes to self: next time, bring a hat.
The staff guided the line-waiters to the main audience seats, where The Men could be seen closer than they would be four hours from then, during the actual show.  The individual band members then slowly and purposefully trickled out to the main stage, turning on the audience’s screams as each one arrived.  Four men made up The Manly Men – Michael, Andy, Sandy, and Luke – but Luke was missing, so Michael went backstage to retrieve him.  Not thinking, he brought his microphone with him, allowing everyone to hear:
Michael:  Hey man, it’s started, you gotta come out now.
Luke: (sobbing) I can’t do it, I just can’t face them anymore!
Michael: You have to!  Our salaries depend on it!
Luke: I can’t take all the adoration!  I can’t be on all the time!  Look at my hands – I can’t stop shaking!
Michael: You just need more of that energy drink.  I carry it in injectable form.
Luke: (sniffs) OK.  (Silence for a few seconds) Whoo-hoo!  I’m ready, world – come and get me!
During this exchange, the other two Men looked extremely uncomfortable and kept signaling their handlers to go backstage, all the while trying to distract the VIPs by performing gymnastics and their new stand-up comedy routine.  Once all four of The Men were out on stage, they opened up the floor to questions:
Fan 1: Will you marry me?!
Andy: Which one of us?
Fan 1: Any one!
Fan 2: This is a question for Michael: when you sing in C-minor during a song written for the D-major scale, do you find your emotions nearer to the surface, or have you decided to finally change key to explore your range in both the upper and lower registers?
Michael: (blinks) That’s two questions!  Next!
One fan shot her hand into the air and jumped in her seat, right next to the handler holding the microphone.  She stood and pointed to Sandy.
Experienced VIP: Hi, this question’s for you: I go around collecting VIP packages on concert tours, so what I really want to know, is your name J.J., or is it Ryan?
Poster boards pelted her back into her seat.  Barring the wrong names, it was a legitimate question – Andy and Sandy are identical twins, and everyone claims to be able to tell them apart.  There is an underground theory that they constantly switch during performances to see if anyone notices.
This special group was then herded to the final line to obtain the much-sought-after photo with The Men.  The feeling was akin to waiting in line for the Ferris wheel at an amusement park.  One fan left an offering of gold upon the altar positioned next to The Men, which was nice.  Another fan tried to sneak off into the bushes with Luke; he was rescued by Security, and the fan was tossed into the arms of the righteously indignant crowd.  The number of those on line reached into the lower hundreds, but all felt that ultimate goal was worth the wait.
When it was the experienced VIP’s turn, she was the only one who did not need to be revived by the paramedics before approaching The Men.
Handler: You can shake hands down the line and pose for the photo.
Experienced VIP: Thanks, but the drill’s the same at all these things.  (Shaking Michael’s hand) Great job, guys.  (Shaking Andy’s hand) Keep up the good work.
Sandy: (Shaking the VIP’s hand) By the way, my name is Sandy.
Experienced VIP: I will never remember that!
Luke: (Shaking the VIP’s hand) Hi.
Experienced VIP: You poor dude, they always stick you at the end.
Photographer: Who would you like to stand next to?
Experienced VIP: As with children, I do not have a favorite.
She crouched in the middle of the group with her head thrown back, tongue out, and hands forming “Y” in American Sign Language as the photo was taken.
Experienced VIP: Thanks, guys!  I only need 57 more of these and then I can die!
She ran away laughing, with her arms raised triumphantly in the air.