Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Story 163: Circus of the Sol - Auditions

            (In a rundown auditorium, a harried-looking man in the fifth row is the only one sitting in the audience)
            Visionary Director: (Consulting a clipboard) All right, backstage – next!
            (Two Acrobats enter from stage right, hauling a portable trapeze set)
            Visionary Director: OK, what’s your story?
            Acrobat 1: She’s from Germany, I’m from Austria, and we –
            Visionary Director: I didn’t mean your life story, I meant what’s your shtick?
            Acrobat 2: We fly through the air with the greatest of ease.
            Visionary Director: Go ahead, then.  And for liability reasons, please note: it’s not a gimmick – there really is no money left in the budget for safety nets.
            (The Acrobats swing around for a minute, somersault through the air a bunch of times, and catch each other when they finally land)
            Visionary Director: And?
            Acrobat 1: …And that’s it.
          Visionary Director: I will offer you my parting words of wisdom: this circus is a place of magic, of wonderment, of delight, of mind-boggling and physics-defying feats of fantasy, and you just handed me garbage that anyone with all their limbs intact could do.
            Acrobat 2: (As they exit) We’ll take our amazing talents elsewhere, and good day to you!
            Visionary Director: I’m sure there's plenty of room at B.B. and the Bros.!  OK, who’s next?
            (A Unicyclist enters the stage)
            Visionary Director: Get out!
            Unicyclist: But I also juggle –
            Visionary Director: Unless you can also ride that thing up the walls and across the ceiling, it means nothing to me.  Next!
            (The Unicyclist exits and a woman holding a bow and quiver enters)
            Visionary Director: So what’s your bit?
            Contortionist: I fold my body up into impossibly small shapes and finish by firing arrows with my feet.
            Visionary Director: I’ll bite: show me what you’ve got.
            (The Contortionist does her thing)
            Visionary Director: Hmmmmm… pass.
            Contortionist: (Still folded upon herself with her feet holding the bow) Oh come on!
           Visionary Director: Listen, this show needs zip, this show needs zing, this show needs ooh, this show needs ahh, and this show needs all that kicked up to the infinite degree – there’s a reason why this is called “Circus of the Sol” and not “Circus of the So-Far-Away-I-Can-Barely-See-It-Proxima-Centauri,” do you get my drift?
            Contortionist: I also can levitate five feet mid-contortion.  (Does so)
            Visionary Director: You’re in – next!
            (The Contortionist hand-walks off the stage in glee while a Clown enters)
            Visionary Director: No clowns!
            Clown: I don’t understand – there are clowns in your shows!
            Visionary Director: Not obvious ones!  Out!
(The Clown exits, red shoes squeaking) 
Visionary Director: Next!
(A mysterious-looking trio descends from the ceiling, surrounded by silks and dry ice.  After they not-quite-land, they begin performing magic tricks)
Visionary Director: Hold it!
(The three freeze)
Visionary Director: Can you all do the exact same routine upside-down?
(The three silently consult each other, then nod in agreement)
Visionary Director: Good – you can ascend from the stage and we’ll hook you up to wires during the last third of the first act.  Just make sure you keep changing how far away from the floor you are at all times.
(The three nod in agreement)
Visionary Director: You can disappear now.
(They do)
Visionary Director: (Consulting his clipboard again) Is it too much to ask for people to make a bit of an effort to transport audience members into a world of wonder?  Performers are so lazy these days.  Next!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Story 162: `Tis the Season to (Not) Give

            (Two women are seated next to each other at a long dining room table)
            Cousin 1: So, I got another set of address labels in the mail.
            Cousin 2: Oh no.
           Cousin 1: I would never be able to send enough mail to use all the labels they give me – do you ever send that much mail?
            Cousin 2: No, and even less as the years go by.
           Cousin 1: Maybe I should mail them back, but they can’t use those labels since they’re not, you know, me.
            Cousin 2: True.  Did you get the embroidered quilt from that one organization yet?
            Cousin 1: No, but I did get a set of calligraphy pens yesterday.
          Cousin 2: You know, I may actually have given money to whatever causes they say they’re promoting if I knew for certain that it would go to those causes, instead of to this stuff they send to bribe me into giving money.
            Cousin 1: I know!  It’s self-defeating.
            Cousin 2: I have an idea to get them to stop sending me stuff, but it may not work.
            Cousin 1: That’s all right – do tell.
            Cousin 2: From now on, every time I get one of those envelopes, I’m going to leave it in the mailbox with a note on that reads: “Return to Sender – I Have Died.”
            Cousin 1: Ha!  Wait, why not just write “Recipient Has Died”?
            Cousin 2: Reverse guilt, plus I want them to freak out that a ghost may have written it.
          Cousin 1: That might get them to take your name off their mailing list: “Stop Sending Me Unsolicited Junk – Your Chicanery Has Killed Me!”  Oh, thanks for the turkey, Grandma, it looks delicious.  (She takes a plate from Grandma and starts eating) You know, that also may work on the legitimate charities that send me requests for more money in the same letter that thanks me for the donation I had just sent.
            Cousin 2: (Also eating) Maybe, but I wouldn’t want to freak out the real ones too much: they may report us to the FBI that we’re committing mail fraud.
            Cousin 1: OK, we’ll just do it on the fake ones that send labels, then.  And the ones that send checks that we’re not supposed to cash.
            Cousin 2: Never understood that angle, unless it’s to get a copy of your signature if you do cash the check.
            Cousin 1: Ooh, that would be a devious little ploy.  I feel like I saw it on TV once.
            Cousin 2: You did.
         Cousin 1: Well, I suppose our lives are pretty good if all we have to complain about is neverending junk mail.
            Cousin 2: You have a point.  I only regret the amount of garbage and waste of resources that it generates.
            Cousin 1: (Raises glass) To reduced waste!
            Cousin 2: (Raises glass) I’ll give thanks to that!  And to that pumpkin pie with my name on it sitting over there.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Story 161: Connection Failed

            “I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is a week away.”
           “I know, right?  It still feels like I’m just getting over summer, and Halloween was a blip even though the decorations were everywhere since July.”
            “Yeah… Yep, just got the notice that most of I.T. will be unavailable on November 24.”
            “Oh, man!  They’re always unavailable for something – what is it this time?!”
            “Oh.  Right.  Never mind.”
            *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *         
            “Since it’s Tom’s birthday next Wednesday, I’ll mail his gift tomorrow so it should arrive a day or two before then.”
            “That’s a good idea – he told me he'll actually be out of town on a ski trip on his birthday, so you might even want to mail it now.”
            “Sure – thanks!  By the way, I have an extra ticket for that concert on Wednesday, if you know anybody who’d want to go.”
            “Hm – what about Tom?”
            “For the concert next Wednesday.”
            “Wouldn’t that be a little impossible?”
            “I don’t see why – he likes that band a lot.”
            “Would he be able to see the show from the slopes?”
            *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *         
            “I have a meeting at 2:00, so I need to move our other meeting to right now.”
            “No can do – I have a meeting in five.  How about 4:00?”
            “Got another meeting then.”
            “Hm.  Mind skipping lunch today?”
            “OK.  I’m taking my lunch after this meeting coming up, but I should be done around 1:50.  Want to do our meeting then?”
            “I have a meeting at 2!”
            “Oh, right.  How’s tomorrow looking?”
            “Terrible.  I have meetings all day.”
            “Um-hm.  So would 3:00 be all right then?”
            *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *         
            “That new finance manager is so nice – I think she’ll do well here.”
            “I haven’t met her yet, but I hope so.  That last guy was an absolute troll.”
            “I’ll say.  Oh look, the newsletter’s in: here’s a picture with the new hires this month.”
            “Uh-huh, I’ve met all of them, except – who’s that lady on the left?”
            “…The new finance manager.”
            “Right!  Heh, heh, heh, hoo boy.”
            *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *         
            “It’s A applies to B except when there’s C; why can’t you remember that?!”
            “Sorry, the mind’s synapses fail to fire sometimes.  I’ll try harder.”
            “Please do – we really can’t have any more mistakes.” (Leaves)
            “Getting yelled at again?”
            “Yeah, I keep messing up the C bit.  Can’t seem to make the connection when it appears.”
            “Maybe just be on the lookout for it more often – that usually works for me.”
            “What does?”