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Showing posts from February, 2010

WE INTERRUPT THIS PROGRAM

As with the terrible verbal crime committed recently by Rahm Emanuel against Mrs. Palin and her son (Google “retarded”), breaking news requires that DBD set aside its regularly scheduled post. Tiger Woods has at last emerged from his long night of the soul. Finally he has shared with a rapt world his guilt, his acceptance of his guilt, and more of his guilt. It would be wrong just to continue on our frivolous way, as though nothing had happened. We trust you understand.



Anyone on the planet who has not watched Tiger in this important moment in his life and in the life of golf and in the lives of twelve or fifteen of his sex partners, and his wife and mom, and his endorsement sponsors is either conducting research deep below the earth’s crust, or is suffering from a terminal illness, and has elected in favor of cryogenic suspension.

Commentators are divided in their reactions. One school of thought points to Tiger’s lack of emotion while delivering his remarks, presenting himself…

STANISLAVSKY TWO: DEEPER STILL INTO GAWKER PATHOLOGY

Barbara’s temp job as a movie extra led to good times for DBD. Among them were stories related to a crime film being made at one of the many defunked plants in the Detroit area.

--The set was fantastic, just amazing. Urban sinister at its best.
--We do that well here.
--Across from where we parked, there was this long, sort of outdoor corridor between huge warehouses. Like an alley, but wide. Looming. Then, inside, these wide, dingy halls. But it was a hard day.
--How so?
--I’m just glad I went to the bathroom before I joined the others. Five hours, and not one break.
--Why not?
--I don’t know. Maybe because it’s an indie film and they don’t have any money.
--You need to budget for pee breaks? Porta-potties can’t cost much to rent.
--You asked, I don’t know. But the crew worked very hard, I can tell you that. They were all very focused.
--And no catering? Nothing to eat? In the credits, they always mention the caterer.
--Nothing. But I went to the bathroom first, so that was good.…

STANISLAVSKY REMEMBERED: DIVING DEEP INTO CHARACTER

Because of cheap coolie labor now available all over the world, added to which are the huge tax breaks offered to foreign car makers by southern states conveniently hostile to unions, the former car capital of the world—Michigan--has had to take drastic steps. Among them are tax breaks, offered not to foreign companies, but to our domestic film industry. The result has been a blizzard of movies being made in the state. Before we left for Florida, Barbara worked in several.


--Are you excited about tomorrow?
--I guess I am. Yes, I am. I’m looking forward to it.
--And the title again?
--Crave. It’s a crime story. I appear in a murder scene.
--One of several, or just the one?
--One what?
--Murder scenes. I see you have your little costume bag all packed.
--I don’t know how many murders take place. They said to bring four or five different outfits. So they can choose.
--Maybe one for each homicide. And you’re cast in the role of a gawker.
--Watch the mockery, please. Extras aren’t “cast…

TERRA FIRMA BIOFEEDBACK

Before leaving Michigan, we learned something new about our community



--Did you know we had a sweat lodge right here in our own backyard?
--Not before I saw the article.
--Do you know what they are?
--The name pretty much says it, don’t you think?
--You do what? Just get under some tarps and sweat?
--Well, there has to be a little more to it, I suppose. Etiquette to be observed. Special clothes, hand signals, bowing. You have to have people trained to prepare the rocks. Sometimes, everything’s done in silence.
--Silent sweating. That shouldn’t be too challenging.
--You know what I mean. The spiritual experience. In some places, it’s supposed to be silent, in others they chant or drum.
--What are the rocks for?
--I thought you read the article.
--It said nothing about rocks.
--The lodge is like a sauna. Rocks are heated in advance until they’re red hot. Then they bring them inside to promote the sweat-lodge experience.
--I loved the names of the leaders. Please hand me the paper.
--I ass…

HSE 4 SALE

THESPIANS & GROWTH-HORMONE PATIENTS WELCOME


Last fall, it became all too clear that we would need to sell our Michigan house. But before we listed it, a realtor "made contact," wondering if we were interested in showing the place to an out-of-town client. We agree to let her see it




--Are you pleased with your efforts?
--Pleased isn’t the word. I did my job, that’s all. I was cordial and chatty.
--Did this Jane person fall in love with the old place?
--You coward. Leaving me here alone like that. Taking off with the dog.
--I told you over and over I was going to. Didn’t you believe me?
--I thought you said it for emphasis. To express how little you liked the idea of selling the house.
--That’s exactly true. I hate the idea. It’s why I left.
--Where’d you go?
--To the park on Martin Road. Chelsea wasn’t much interested. So, give me some details. You say she was theatrical.
--Dramatic, but not over-the-top. She said she played the woman teacher in The History Boys. She …

COMPLEXITIES OF THE PEIGNOIR

Is learning what lies beneath the surface always advisable?



--I had to shake you. “Honey? Honey?”
--Well, I was having a nightmare.
--I was up early, reading my mail in the study. I went in the bedroom, I thought you were having a stroke. You made this gargling sound, then you were denouncing someone. You used to do that just after we got married. I’d wake up to this muttering, guttural rage. I thought you were dreaming what you really wanted to say to me. You don’t do it now.
--No, it was just a nightmare.
--Tell me.
--A dog and a bobcat were fighting. I was trying to protect the dog.
--Our dog?
--No, a different one. Dark reddish brown, like an Irish setter.
--Huh.
--But it wasn’t an Irish setter, it was bigger. Heavier. Like a lab, but taller.
--One of the new hybrids. And you were protecting the dog.
--Trying to.
--I’m curious. How did you know the other animal was a bobcat? Have you ever seen a bobcat? I haven’t.
--No, I just knew that’s what it was.
--Maybe someone named Bo…

CONVERSATON PIECE

Yes, it does look like that, but don’t say it.


--Is there anything I can do?
--No, sweetheart, thanks anyway. Dinner in about twenty minutes.
--What’s this?
--That’s the pesto. Right out of our garden.
--I see.
--What’s it look like to you?
--Well…
--It looks like a little token from a Canadian goose.
--Jesus, Barbara. You have a way of setting the table.
--Be honest, that’s what you were thinking. I could tell from your expression.
--I was going to say it looks like finely chopped spinach.
--Don’t worry. I promise it will look better when it comes out on the plate.
--When the token from the Canadian goose comes out on the plate. Please go to commercial.
--Let’s see… OK. “I just finished a magical, luminous, hauntingly beautiful work of fiction by Barry Knister.” How am I doing?
--Very well, almost perfect. Clearly, you’re paying attention to your dust jackets. Magical, luminous and hauntingly beautiful provide just the right breathless tone, both lilting and meaningless. Please continue…

COMING OF AGE

Ah, summers, and drinks before dinner on the patio. Except if it isn’t someone using a leaf blower, or a weed whacker, or a lawn mower, or roofers with staple guns, or someone riding up and down the block on his male-menopause straight-pipe Harley, or using the time before dinner to cut some pavers with a diamond-blade saw, it’s dribbling.


--Hear that?
--Do I look deaf?
--Honey, deaf people don’t look deaf.
--Of course I hear it. Dribbling, shouting. He’s out there alone, but still practicing his court shout. Having just girls was not all bad.
--Which is it, do you think? When an adolescent boy’s voice changes, is that when he gets his first basketball, or is he given the basketball with the onset of puberty? To bring about the change of voice? You know, like forcing blooms in a hothouse.
--They’re loud, no question. I remember practicing my backhand against the garage door. I’m sure that had something to do with dad’s first coronary. And our neighbor ending up in detox.
--It’s …

RUN SILENT, RUN CHEAP

To take advantage of the tax credit last fall, we had a new furnace installed.


--Thank God that’s over. I thought the plaster would fall off the walls.
--It took all day. Yes, the drilling was loud. Poor Chelsea had her resigned look.
--She has many resigned looks.
--I mean the one of reproachful resignation. The one that says, “I’m a helpless beast obliged to live with people who have lost their minds.”
--It was just the one guy, essentially. Tom. Working all day. He had help this morning for about forty-five minutes, that’s all.
--You have to admire him.
--I do. Of course I admire him. Anyone who has trouble operating a hose caddy is bound to admire such people.
--What do you think he was, Rumanian? Greek?
--Albanian. He had Albanian eyebrows.
--All that work. He couldn’t have been over five-five.
--If that. I went down after lunch. You should’ve seen all the tools. He must have had twenty different things spread out on the floor.
--Anyway, here’s to our new furnace.
--To our new …

RETARDATION NATION

DBD generally presents dialogues based on earlier conversations. Today, though, the issue before us is so urgent that other business must wait. The matter is fraught with such highly charged emotion that my wife Barbara had to lie down with a cold compress over her eyes. She asked me to assume responsibility for our response to the crisis.

If it needs to be said—and it’s hard to imagine anyone not caught up in the furor—the ugly story has to do with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel attacking the mentally challenged.

(You can be confident I’m up to taking on this grave subject because I just used “challenged,” not “handicapped.” Use of the latter is always a dead giveaway you are dealing with a really bad person. Someone like Rahm Emanual.)

Here’s the story. In a closed meeting, Emanuel let loose with a tart comment on liberal Democrats who have been complaining that Obama has thrown health-care reform under the bus. Which now that I think of it is a pretty darned insensitiv…

LEGACY COSTS

Once we got to Florida, I thought I was supposed to talk to a book club about my latest novel, but I was cancelled.

--What did he say?
--That the woman who chairs the club’s selection committee chose a bodice ripper instead.
--I’m sorry, honey. I thought Just Bill was a sure thing.
--So did I, and I’m sure ____ is embarrassed. He thought it was just a formality, the selection process. He was very apologetic. I told him the woman’s bad taste wasn’t his fault.
--There really is no accounting for it, is there? Taste. How anyone could choose another romance story over your novel—I just don’t get it.
--No, you can account for it very easily. Like stupid political opinions, bad taste in literature can almost always be explained.
--Oh I know there are reasons. But they so often don’t make sense to me.
--Dumb opinions are embraced by people unwilling or unable—which is really the same thing—to even hear an idea or point of information at odds with inherited opinions. With conventional wis…

SNOWBIRDING CONCLUDED: YANKEE AGGRESSION

--There it is.
--It’s a key road marker for us, isn’t it? When I see it I always feel I can smell the barn just below the state line.
--“CATFISH DINNERS ALL YOU CAN EAT JESUS IS LORD.” I love the absence of punctuation. I would stop sometime, but I don’t feel comfortable in southern Georgia. I’m talking about anywhere fifteen or twenty miles south of Atlanta.
--Do you really mean that?
--I don’t know. Sort of. I know it’s not fair to the New South and all that, but something happens, I also know that. All at once, the gas station toilets are really grungy. People look sullen to me.
--You can’t be right, but it seems like that to me, too. At least along the Interstate. I’ve been in restrooms that didn’t look to have been cleaned in a month.
--I think of the Jesus-is-Lord-catfish sign as a bookend match-up with the one in Ohio. You know, that long shed of a factory building. On one half it says something about The Bible is the Word of God, which flows directly into U.S. Plastics …