Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Arrive in Style (or, "Our Baby's Back!")

I'm not quite sure how he finagled it, but The Skipster arranged through "a very generous UNCLE" to get the "SnL One" (our customized Boeing 777-232ER) back safe and sound... and with two new Rolls-Royce engines! So The Skipster, Kato, and myself showed up early in the morning at Montgomery Regional Airport in Alabama and there she was, right outside the window.

Of course, my primary concern was locating the full case of Jack Daniel's No. 7 (with the green label -- and forget what you may have read, I think it's better!) which I had carefully hidden a few months ago... for medicinal purposes only, of course.

We explained to two TSA people that we were here to pick up "our plane," which caused one of them to look at us like we were crazy and ask, "Oh, yeah? And just what plane might that be?"

The Skipster, in his beatnik persona, wasn't helping matters any. "C'mon, cat! Keep it cool, daddy-o! We're here for the wings, man! Like, it's got the pink slips, and the good hands of Allstate all over it, dig?"

Two more TSA guys came over, eying Kato suspiciously. One of them, the only one of the four wearing a mustache, finally spoke to him, asking "What are you? Japanese?"

"Chinese," Kato patiently corrected him.

"What's your name?"


"That's a Japanese name. Show me your birth certificate." My eyebrows rose at that one. Like I always carry my birth certificate with me!

"Look," I butted in, pointing out the window. "We own that plane, parked right outside. And we can prove it!"

"How?" asked one of the more helpful TSA fellows.

"Well..." I began, hesitantly, "It's got the registration in the glove compartment?""

The Skipster shook his head. "Close, but no Tiparillo, Daddy-O. It's not, like, a Ford Pinto."

Kato spoke up. "The registration number is on the aft fuselage section. Just enter it in the computer, and 'Simpson/Lynch Studios' will pop up."

"Pretty smart for a little Japanese fella, ain'tcha?" the mustached TSA guy said mockingly.

"Chinese," Kato corrected him, a little less patiently this time.

One of the first two TSA men we'd talked to sat down at a desk computer and typed in the registration number, which he could read through the window. Within seconds, the screen displayed the information. "Okay, which one of you is Simpson?"

The Skipster raised his hand. "On the spot, Daddy-O."

"And which one is Lynch?"

I muttered, "That would be me."

All four of them actually looked very displeased that we had been telling the truth. "Okay... So you want to do what, again?"

The Skipster opened his mouth to speak, but Kato jumped in first. "We just want to check it out to make sure it's okay. Maybe start up the engines and get some readings on the gauges. Then we'll be on our way."

"Nope. No can do." The four TSA men chuckled.

"No can do... what?" I asked.

"We can't let the three of you on that plane at once," one of them said. "Homeland security rules."

The four of them were really starting to annoy me. Exasperated, I asked, "What 'rule' is that?"

The one with the mustache looked at me right in the eye and grinned. "Any rule we wanna make up!" The three others laughed. "Look, buddy, we're TSA, and you're not! We got our jobs courtesy of President George W. 'Two-Terms' Bush! Can you poor saps make the same claim?"

"No," I admitted, "thankfully not!"

Kato looked at The Skipster and me. "Gentlemen," he murmured, "this is getting us nowhere."

"I dig it, cat. These suits are, like, denseville!" said The Skipster, who turned to make his way toward the jetway connecting our plane to the terminal.

One of the TSA guys yelled, "Hey, you! Stop!" as he started to draw his freakin' gun! Suddenly, it seemed like everyone was yelling for one reason or another.

Hey, I'm no coward, but when guns are involved...! "Skip! Do what he says!" I yelled, even as I myself dropped to the floor and covered my head. Only three or four seconds passed... then suddenly, everything was quiet. I looked up and saw Kato standing with his arms crossed, four automatic pistols neatly arranged at his feet. I stood, looking around me to see that all four burly TSA guys were lying unconscious on the floor!

Meanwhile, The Skipster had swiftly made his way onto our beloved plane. He quickly located my case of Jack Daniel's "green label" in an overhead compartment above seat 47, and was exiting the plane with it. However, quite unexpectedly and coincidentally -- as so often happens in the Simpson/Lynch world -- a new employee at the airport decided to push a red button... "just to see what it would do," as he was later quoted as saying.

Unfortunately for The Skipster, this innocuous-looking red button retracted the jetway!

Kato and I watched, horrified, as The Skipster fell twenty feet to the hard concrete, still clutching the case of booze!

We both ran outside as fast as we could. Thank goodness The Skipster was still alive! (And thank goodness not a bottle was broken... but I digress.)

The Skipster slowly opened his eyes. "Gretchen...?" he whispered. I looked at Kato, who was smiling. Kato looked back at me, and actually winked! Anyway, Kato helped The Skipster get to his feet. "Foxster...? Kato...? What...? Where...? Who...?" The Skipster mumbled "Vootie..." as his gaze shifted from Kato and myself to slightly upward. "Whoah! We got the plane back? Fantastic!"

Kato and I looked at each other, wide-eyed. For the first time in weeks, Skip wasn't talking like Maynard G. freakin' Krebs! "Good Lord... He's got his mind back!" I said.

During the next minute or so, Kato and I hurriedly filled The Skipster in on the "Kewl Beanz!" project, and various other things that had gone on during the past month.

Finally, indicating the plane, The Skipster said, "Well, if we're going to host a party, at least we can pick up some of the guests in style!"

And so, to sum up... If anyone is planning to arrive at our Grand Opening early, we can provide your transportation on Sunday, January 24th. Just let us know!

Thanks for your time.

P.S. ~~ I was a bit concerned that our little skirmish with the TSA foursome would come back to bite us on the butt, but The Skipster said, "Not to worry! I called my oh-so-generous UNCLE, and those four dimwits have been transferred to San Francisco International Airport, where they can reflect upon the error of their ways... while learning the difference between Chinese and Japanese!" (Note to self: Someday soon, I'll have to ask Skip why, whenever I refer to his "uncle," he edits my draft to say "UNCLE." I never complain -- after all, I constantly edit his SnL posts to take out 47 or so extra commas, and such -- but still...)

Pardon Me, Do You Have Any Grey Poupon?

Well, hello all you Hoppy Poople, from me... "The Soused Chef!" (Already "half-soused," and hoisting his 32-ounce plastic "Big Gulp" cup filled to the brim with Franzia® "Sunset Blush" out of a box, toasts his Gentle Readers.)

I hope your Christmas was a very happy one, and you enjoyed the Prime Rib of Beef Au Jus, that I told you how to make last time. Mine was... okay... I... (starts sobbing with the bitter memory of a really lousy Christmas).

All I got... was a Gift Box Selection of Grey Poupon® Dijon Mustards! And that was only because the delivery guy dropped it off on my doorstep by mistake!

(Finally composes himself, and chugs the entire cup of wine. Tosses the empty cup over his shoulder.) But at least the good thing about this, is that the Dijon Mustards contain booze! I guess if you run out of the hootch on a late Saturday night, you could chug a jar of "Grey Poupon® Savory Honey!"

(Wipes tear from eye.) But now the New Year is fast approaching, and I personally think it's probably the most depressing holiday of the year! That dreadful song, "Auld Lang Syne" reminds me of a funeral dirge, and I have to stay at home because of all the "amateur drunks" on the road, making it dangerous for all us "professional drunks."

But a nice elderly lady named "Starr," moved in the apartment right next door, and has graciously accepted my invitation for a New Year's Eve candlelight dinner in my bachelor pad.

Now the question is, gentle readers... what to prepare for Starr? I asked her what her favorite food was, and she answered "St. Patrick's Day."
"Excuse me?" I responded.
"Ya know... that stuff you have on St. Patrick's Day."
"Corned Beef and Cabbage?"
"Yeah! That's it!!! Corned Beef and Cabbage! Gawd... I'd do anything for Corned Beef and Cabbage!" She licked her lips and made a "yummy sound."
That sealed it in my mind right then and there!!! Fortuously, while spending a lonely Christmas Day reading the little Recipe Booklet that accompanied the Mustard Selection, there was an easy recipe for a Corned Beef, Potato and Cabbage Salad! And I want to share the recipe with my gentle readers!

Plus, a recipe for something called a "Grey Poupon® Bloody Mary."

It calls for Vodka... and I know I have that! Yep... right here in the old liquor cab... (realizing the liquor cabinet is missing a bottle of Vodka, he frantically begins searching for a bottle of Vodka that his best friend "The Fox," has cleverly hidden again, in order to continually "mess with his head." Finally locating it in the "relatively unused" upstairs utility closet, he discovers an accompanying note reading, "BwahaHA! T.F.," and a crudely drawn picture of a hand holding up a middle finger.)

(Victoriously he takes a big swig out of the bottle, with a loud "Cowabunga!!!")
Now we need to go down to our favorite supermarket, and pick up the following things for ourselves:
1 Bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Rachael Ray uses it all the time, and I think she's hot), 1 Bottle of Cider Vinegar, 1 Jar of Grey Poupon ® Harvest Course Ground Mustard, 1 Jar of Grey Poupon ® Spicy Brown Mustard, 1 Bottle of Worcestershire Sauce, 1 Bottle of Tomato Juice (I like to use V-8 ®, because it gives you "2 full healthy servings of vegetables," which is a good thing to have in the booze. Plus... Starr looks very healthy for an elderly lady, and I want to keep her that way.), 2 lbs. New Potatoes, 1 pkg. Celery Stalks, 1 16 oz. Bag of Coleslaw Blend, Half a Pound of Corned Beef and finally, one of those cute little plastic Lemon Juice squeezit thingies.
Go to the friendly, smiling teenaged gal, with a name badge reading "Buffy," at the front register, and pay for all this. While scanning your purchase, Buffy will invariably ask you, "Did you find everything okay?" If you want to be a real smartass, you can answer, "Well, Buffy... I can't figure out for the life of me, why you have the cans of tuna fish in the jelly aisle," leaving Buffy with a very confused look on her face, and giving yourself a cheap chuckle as you walk out.
You also might want to stop by the Package Store, and get a few more bottles of Vodka. After all, it could be a long night.
After putting away the groceries, we now sit and wait patiently for New Year's Eve to arrive. I like to pass the time watching the pendulum swing back and forth, in the grandfather clock in the living room. Occasionally, I might peek through the front window, in case Starr is trying to sneak out.
Finally, the big night arrives!
Corned Beef, Potato & Cabbage Salad
1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup cider vinegar, 1/3 cup Grey Poupon ®Harvest Coarse Ground Mustard, 1 bag (16 oz.) coleslaw blend, 2 lb. new potatoes, cooked and quartered, 1/2 lb. corned beef, chopped.
Mix oil, vinegar and mustard in large bowl. Stir in coleslaw blend. Add remaining ingredients; toss to coat. Cover.Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

Grey Poupon ® Bloody Mary
1-1/2 oz. Vodka, 3 oz. tomato juice, 1/2 tsp. lemon juice, 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp. Grey Poupon ® Spicy Brown Mustard.
Mix all ingredients except celery. Serve over ice cubes in tall glass. Add celery stalk. Makes 1 serving. (You'll probably want to make a few pitchers.)
Oopsie! There's a knock on my door... "Come on in! It's unlocked!"
Starr walked in really upset about something. Finally she calmed down enough to tell me what it was.
"I am really freakin' pissed! I was supposed to get a present from my parents delivered for Christmas, and it has never arrived! It was a Gift Assortment of Grey Poupon® Dijon Mustard! By the way, what's cooking?"
Your Best Friend In Cooking,

The Soused Chef

Friday, December 25, 2009

Your Official Invitation to the Grand Opening of "Kewl Beanz!"

Kewl Beanz! Is Opening and We Want You There!

Your chance to RSVP!

Mark your calendars for the FIRST EVER Blogger Event sponsored by Simpson/Lynch Studios! You and your guest are formally invited to the GRAND OPENING of "KEWL BEANZ!"

Our commercial... produced by the Skipster for a total cost of three dollars and forty-seven cents...

Kewl Beanz! is more than just a coffeehouse for progressive free thinkers! It's also a venue for international performers of all types, with two fully-stocked bars (on two separate levels) that'll make any drink in the world that you want, a large wine cellar, and the only Six-Star-Rated restaurant in Alabama... or the world, for that matter!

Enjoy the warm brick decor and beautiful works of original art... the soft glow of candles on your table, as you dine from a menu featuring items sure to satisfy any culinary urging... or you might want to partake of our unlimited buffet and free drinks all day long! (By the way, I've just been informed that the Amuse-Bouche for that evening will be a large broiled Stuffed Portabello Mushroom with Minced Stems, Chopped Parsley, Pimento, Garlic, Green Onions, and Parmesan Cheese, sautéed in white wine. Yum!)

For a better look at the menu, please
right-click on it to open it in a much
larger form, in a new tab or window!

Unwind on the dance floor, as you twirl with your partner to music of any and all varieties! Feel like getting up and sharing some poetry with us, to appreciative finger snaps? Be our guest, and trot on up to our "open mike" stage, Daddy-O!

Date: Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Time: 5am-Midnight (CST)
Place: 330 Main Street, Pleasantview, AL

Formal Attire Is Requested.

Book your flights early into Montgomery Regional Airport. Your Social Director for the event (and yours truly), Ms. Tara King, will happily greet you upon your arrival! (You'll recognize me by the dark purple blazer, the miniskirt, and the whistle around my neck; I'll be bouncing up and down, waving wildly, and carrying a clipboard. I'll recognize you by the lost looks on your faces as you emerge from the jetway.)

Then, you'll be comfortably whisked in a 24-passenger stretch limousine by Kato, our Transportation Captain, to the Pleasantview Country Club and Spa, where your stay and all amenities will be absolutely FREE! (Tipping is encouraged, though; Simpson/Lynch Studios won't cover that. We have to set some financial limitations, after all!)

A variety of free transportation will also be provided (from a horse-drawn carriage to a helicopter) to bring you and your date safely to your grand entrance on our Red Carpet!

Inside, you will be greeted by our smiling and friendly cocktail servers, with trays of Dom Perignon champagne, and displays of hors d'oeuvres of caviar, seafood, and other savory treats demonstrating our Southern Hospitality. The Skipster and Gretchen, along with the Foxster and me (after I'm done picking up the last of the guests), will greet you personally! My BFF Gretchen will also be presenting all the ladies with her trademarked long-stemmed yellow roses!

Please be advised that this will be the biggest thing to hit the tiny town of Pleasantview since the Civil War! We won't be at all surprised if bleachers are put up across the street so that the local townsfolk can gawk and applaud as you arrive! (Note: If you have a problem with the hordes of paparazzi that will be on hand, we can arrange to whisk you in discreetly through a special entrance.)

Please submit your RSVP by signing our guestbook. And please help us in promoting this "once in a lifetime event" by placing our cute little sidebar icon, with a link to our site, on your own blogs. Feel free to post announcements, updates, and the like on your blog as well! Show us what you're wearing (Gretchen and I have to do some serious shopping!), and tell us who you're with! Thank you!

Finally, on the actual day of the Grand Opening, pop in to this site often, as we will be having constant updates throughout the event, as well as updates to our satellite sites!

Hope to see a lot of you there!

Gosh... this is soooo exciting!

Carpe diem, cats and kittens!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Silent Night - Sung By The SnL Staff

The Staff wanted to do something special for our readers. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Anita Lynch: October 20, 1917 - December 19, 2009

It is my sad duty to tell our readers that David M. Lynch's mother, Anita Lynch, passed away peacefully in her sleep this morning, in Massachusetts.

David can be reached at his site:

Sleep in Heavenly Peace, Anita. I know she was always very proud of her son.

Much love,


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The History of a Creative Endeavor - A "Theme Thursday" Post

Heyheyhey there, all you ginchy cats'n'kitties! This is the ol' hipster Skipster layin' down tracks to, like, fill you in on the SnL Studios' most recent history! (No rule that sez "history" has to be, like, ancient history, you dig?)

At first, we had the grooviest directors and producers in Hollywoodland vying for the opportunity to produce our Kewl Beanz!TM commercial gig. However, when they glommed to the fact that the Foxster and me were nearly out of clams, the offers dried up to, like, nothingsville.

Set in cement in, like, the doldrums, we did, like, the next best thing.

We made a plea for handouts to squares and hepcats alike on YouTube, you dig?

These were, like, the only two responses that got carrier-pigeoned to my emailbox...

The first was from a "landlocked surfer" in Southern California, who's obviously a coffee-fiendish newbie with "Windows Movie Maker."

Odds bodkins, cats! It, like, did a Gene Krupa drum solo on our respective heads, and just made me want to shuffle downstairs and grab some Z's.

The second was from some 98-year old dude in a Florida retirement pad, who put "Ed Wood" on his resumé as his "favorite film director of all time," and that '60s Brit-chick Petula Clark as his "favorite female vocalist."

We all were doin' time in the universal mind, saying that that was not going to be "keepsville" either. (Although the Foxster kind of looked like he actually dug it while Pet's voice-over was beltin' out the beat!)

Then Tara, her pretty peepers flashin', suddenly pointed Skipwards and blurted out, "Hey! What are we spinning our wheels for? We have a talented video maker right here in this room!"

I mumbled into my turtleneck that I hadn't slipped the skin to a video cam in years, ever since my "traumatic accident with a circus elephant."

She stood up, stretched her gams, and did the Hokey-Pokey in my general vicinity, a Chesire Cat smirk on her face. She began poking me in the ribs, and goading me. "C'mon... what are you, huh? Chicken? Huh? Are you a big chicken? Bar-awwk, buck buck!" Then she started groovin' to "The Chicken Dance" around the second-floor studio and conference area, while the other cats split their sides.

Suddenly Gretchen, of all people, played her riff, rapping in English (which she's been copping to more and more lately). "Ja! That is right, Tara! Skip tell me about all these 'Gold Adder Awards' he win for his videos!"

"Addy Awards," I piped, tryin' to, like, set her straight.

Gretchen goofed on me like I hadn't uttered syllable one... and then she, like, got up and boogied with Tara in "The Chicken Dance!" What a mind-blower, you dig?

Then Kato jumped in, speechwise. "Have you lost your faith in yourself, Mister Skipster? I can help you get it back! Spend a few hours in the rec room on the punching bag with me. Remember in Star Wars when Luke used the Force?"

Why does Kato grok everything in terms of Star Wars?

Meanwhile, my writing partner and best amigo, the Foxster, was just sitting back, playing it cool in his red swivel chair, sippin' the java with a big grin on his bearded puss... gettin' a kick out of every moment of the girls shaking their fannies in the "Chicken Dance."

I held my hands up. "Cats... Cats! We don't even have any pro video equipment to shoot a spot with... and that's if I'd even jump for the wor... the w... the wwwwwwwww...!" Couldn't bring myself to use that four-letter "W" word, dig?

Then Tara did something I'd, like, never copped to her doing priorwise! She leaned forward, planted both of her tiny paws firmly on the armrests of my cushy red swivel chair, and looked me straight in the peepers! Sotto voce, she said, "Mister Skip! Gretchen, Kato, and myself have already made significant sacrifices to keep 'SnL' alive. Maybe now, it's your turn!"

I shot a glimpse over at His Foxiness, who just, like, bobbed his head like he was boppin' to the beat of an inner drummer and muttered, "She's right."

I looked upon the cookie-cutter faces of Gretchen, Tara, and Kato, who were all casting their gaze Skipward.

I sucked in the atmosphere like I was inhalin' a Kool, and bobbity-bobbed right back at them. "Okay... Cool. Let's light this candle! Reet-reet-a-rooney!""

Gretchen applauded, with waterworks -- OOH, bad scene! I used the "W" word! -- makin' a high tide in her eyes, and everyone else made like monkeys, imitating her. I had just gotten a "standing O" from my partner and staff members, and I hadn't done anything yet!

But my grey matter was already slippin' and a-slidin' into "Producer Mode."

All the cats'n'kittens sat back down... and they, like, all stared at me.

"Dig it," I speechified. "You all grok that we don't have a lot of moolah right now. The bestest we could do is to cop some ten second spots on local cable, late at night. And it's gotta be really laid back."

I caught Gretchen scopin' me out with those puppy-dog orbs of hers. "That's my man," she whispered. "That's my Skipster."

"You go, boyfriend!" Tara shouted out, punching her fists on mine. (And for a tiny little chickadee like Tara... she hits really hard!)

"Remember... the Force is with you, always," nodded Kato solemnly.

The Foxster bobbed his noggin some more. Then he looked at me, smilin' like Satchmo. "Skip... Thinking back on our early history, do you remember 'Old Number 47,' that we first used in the advertising biz?"

I flashed my pearlies in remembrance, and snapped my digits in approval! Natch! This would wor... w-wor... I mean, this would do the trick, man! Kewl BeanzTM, to coin a phrase!

Outtasite, man! We're makin' HISTORY!

To Be Continued...

Monday, December 7, 2009

"Special Guest Post" by Tara King!

Hey, everyone! I'm waving atcha! Can you see me? LOL!

Well, drop down a notch, and you can get an eyeful.

This is the one'n'only Tara King, the Simpson/Lynch Studios intern, talking to ya. I'm also gonna be the manager of the Kewl Beanz!TM coffeeshop, once we get that puppy open! (Or should that be "coffee shop," two words? Ahh, who cares, rilly?) It should go great, if I can keep the Simpson/Lynch crew (including ME, I gotta admit) from sucking down all the java and screwing up our profit margin! LOL!

I'm also the "significant other" (or "Flavor of the Day") of the dude everybody else 'round here calls The Foxster. But to me, he's always David. (Gotta add, I call him "David" and a couple of OTHER pet names, but those are private & personal, a "behind closed doors" kinda thingy, ya know?) I can say absutively posilutely that I am head over heels in LUV!

That's "in luv" with ORSON, his CAT, I mean! Who'd you think I meant, silly? (Psych!) Occasionally, mostly when David and The Skipster are tied up with so-called important writing projects, or otherwise into stuff that takes them away from the studio, I get to post instead. I hope I don't bore you to tears when I'm doing it. If I can get to be HALF as popular as my BFA and co-worker, Gretchen, has gotten, you'll make my day!

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot to tell you this! I ADORE a good romance novel! My bookcase is filled three deep from top to bottom with dog-eared paperbacks from this guilty pleasure of mine. Historical romance, gothic type stuff, you name it... Those little yarns get me all misty-eyed and goose-pimply! LOL! So if any of you have a recommendation for a fantastic romantic story you've recently read, please lemme know! (They're perfect to curl up with in my flannel jammies, with a nice, big cup of hot chocolate!) If I like it, I'll post it on the sidebar with a big "shout out" to you!

Now, if any of brave souls would like to learn a teeny-tiny bit MORE about me, knock yourself out and click on the "Tara King's Profile Here" link on our sidebar. However, don't be thinking you're gonna learn TOO too much. A woman has to have some secrets, ya think?

David and The Skipster say I should come up with some kinda unique sign-off, much as The Skipster has "Vootie!" and David has "Thanks for your time." Terrific. All I can come up right now is that the old Latin phrase, carpe diem, or "Seize the day." Shows that my education wasn't TOTALLY wasted, ya think? LOL! So that's how I'm gonna make my little exit, at least for today.

Carpe diem,
Tara King

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

"A Small Circle of Friends" -- A Theme Thursday "Friends" Post

Well! As told in great detail in our previous post, Simpson & Lynch have permanently cut our ties with the WTF. They've threatened a lawsuit for breach of contract, but we're not worried. As the Skipster says, "If those cats try to, like, sue us, I'll just go back in and like, blow the entire place up, daddy-o!"

What a little joker.

Anyway, Kato is back "home," safe and sound. He's even leaving Orson the Cat alone! He has been eying the perky Tara King and myself a bit uneasily, probably wondering why the Skipster has so readily allowed us back into the fold.

Yes, that's right! Skip and I decided to compromise, and since Kato is back at SnL Studios, so is the perky Tara King, my girlfriend and my -- I mean, our -- intern. Skip suddenly seems surprisingly open to the perky Tara King's return. By the way, he's been spouting a lot of stereotypical beatnik jargon lately -- as illustrated by the above quote -- which I originally assumed was his way of teasing the perky Tara King and myself about our shared love for jazz, Beat poetry & literature, and the like. I say "I originally assumed" because... well, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Everybody here loves Gretchen! (And I've also grown quite fond of her family, a/k/a "The Kris Von Grüber Happy Oompah Band!") Her knowledge of English is increasing at an unbelievably rapid speed, I must say. She and the perky Tara King have an especially tight friendship, which obviously began very soon after Skip hired the two of them, while I was away from the fold.

After realizing recently that our partnership had entered a period of financial hardship, the Skipster and I began wracking our collective brains for a solution, and came up with... nothing. (I hope this doesn't extend to our future writing endeavors!)

Anyway, I suppose it was a good omen that Skip and I approached each other with the same idea at the same time. In so many words, we both suggested that we assemble the entire staff in our newly redecorated second-floor studio.

As we talked, I couldn't help noticing what I can only call Skip's "new look." He was dressed... well... like I usually dress, in a long-sleeved black turtleneck shirt, with matching black slacks, and black sunglasses. Skip, however, also wore a black beret, and what I'd originally thought was merely careless shaving of his chin in days gone by was now unmistakably a budding goatee. "Hey, Skip, I know you admire me and all," I joked, "but do you really have to dress like me?"

He looked at me like he didn't even know what I meant!

I made the announcement calling our staff together on the studio intercom. Skip had vanished. I was the first to arrive in the second-floor conference room. I fired up the coffee-maker, looking at the large photos of Skip, myself, and the others which adorned one wall. (And how many employers do you know that actually post pictures of their entire staff on the walls of their conference room?)

Kato was the second to arrive. "Kato," I said, nodding in greeting.

He nodded back, and replied, "Mr. Foxster." I was about to suggest he call me "David" instead -- I rarely expect, or want, anyone to call me "Silver Fox" in a real conversation -- but instead, I just thought, Whatever, and didn't bring up the matter. I suppose that little by little, that silly "Foxster" name has wormed its way into my consciousness. After all, I certainly don't mind it when Gretchen's Uncle Kris and the rest of the band call me "Herr Foxster." (Of course, they also often feed me delicious German culinary dishes, and give me more than enough extra to feed the perky Tara King, Orson the Cat... and a small army. But I digress.)

Kato and I sat down at the beautiful glass conference table with our cups of coffee, and waited for the others to arrive. Before they did, however, Kato looked me directly in the eye and said, "Mr. Foxster, I have a question."

"Sure, ask away."

"Mr. Skipster told me you tracked down the Honky Tonk Man, and thrashed him soundly. Why did you do that?"

I'm usually pretty good at staring people down, but I had great difficulty returning Kato's piercing gaze right then. "Umm... I don't like it when people don't play fair. He cheated during the match, and broke a guitar on Skip's head!"

"He also was complicit in my kidnapping. That didn't influence your actions at all?"

"Uhhh... not really. I... I did it for Elvis!"

Kato smiled wryly. "I'm not sure I believe you, entirely."

Then Gretchen and Skip entered the room, followed by the perky Tara King, who was carrying Orson the Cat. The others took their seats, after obtaining cups or mugs of coffee. We would need coffee for this meeting. After all, as a great mind once said, "A writer without coffee is half a writer."

Skip stood and faced the rest of us. "Dig this, cats," he began, "The Foxster and me, we're like, totally busted, man! I mean, like, persona non grata with the greenback cats! Not even, like, three coins in the fountain, dig? Like, it takes clams to make clams, and the ocean is, like, drysville! This combo needs to find a gig to, like, scrape up some shekels, and I mean, like, yesterday!"

I stood. Skip was carrying this "beatnik" thing too far. "What Skip means is that we're broke, and we need to find a way to generate some income." All three members of our staff had no expressions on their faces. (Orson, meanwhile, merely alternated between nuzzling the shapely ankles of the perky Tara King and lapping coffee from his own coffee mug.)

Pressing on, I added, "Unfortunately, and unavoidably, this also means that while we're in this financial bind, your salaries will be put on hold." I looked at Gretchen, Kato, and the perky Tara King. Still, no emotion showed. "Under these regrettable circumstances, if anyone wants to leave and find other employment, there will, of course, be no hard feelings."

Kato spoke first. In a voice which was soft but firm -- much like the perky Tara King's... umm... never mind! -- he said, "I will not leave." As if in appreciation for Kato's loyalty, Skip snapped his fingers enthusiastically.

Gretchen looked lovingly at Skip, who seemed sadly oblivious to her adoring gaze. "Nein..." she whispered, shaking her head. The Skipster did his finger-snapping again.

"And I'm not going anywhere, either!" stated the perky Tara King decisively, looking into my eyes pointedly. What a doll.

More snaps from Skip, who had sat down and was writing on a yellow legal pad. He always had one at hand during our story plotting sessions. He looked up at us, and murmured "Groovy, cats. Like, ultimate coolness."

Kato spoke again. "Perhaps the five of us could begin some sort of business, even as Mr. Skipster and Mr. Foxster work on some new creative project, or projects? With my humble cooking skills, perhaps... a restaurant?"

At the word "cooking," Gretchen's full and expressive eyes flashed. She excitedly rattled off a sentence or two in German. My grasp of the German language is tenuous at best -- mostly what I gleaned from reading Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos comics as a boy -- so I dearly wished at that moment that she had resorted to her customary communication via flash cards. I had caught the word "Kato," but not much else.

The perky Tara King smiled at my confusion. "She said that we could open a German-style biergarten, or 'beer garden.' That is, if Kato wouldn't mind having help in the kitchen, for a change."

I looked at the perky Tara King curiously. "You speak German?" She shrugged. "Sorry, I didn't know."

She grinned impishly. "You never asked."

Kato actually laughed, and said to the perky Tara King, " 'You never asked?' Perhaps we should start calling you Wolverine?"

Wow. An obscure comic book reference to a minor catch-phrase from the X-Men -- a bit of characterization which I also "got," of course -- from Kato? That was interesting.

"I'm not sure," I said, hating to put a damper on the others' enthusiasm. "By the time we applied for and got a liquor license, if we got one... Well, we all might be living on the street!"

"Never again!" muttered Kato.

The perky Tara King looked sympathetically at Kato, and I wondered what she knew that I didn't. (A lot of things, apparently.) She held up her coffee mug, and looked directly at Skip. "Then how about something simpler. Like... a coffee shop?"

Skip's eyes grew wide, as did his smile. With a finger-snap that sounded like a rifle shot, he literally jumped up into a standing position on his chair, howling like a deranged wolf and knocking his yellow legal pad to the floor! "That idea is the ginchiest, kittycat! Like, endsville! I say yes, yes, and most affirmatively, yes!"

As Gretchen and Kato smiled in mute agreement, I added, "Okay, we'll try it! Now all we need is a name for this coffee shop..."

"Really? You really want to use my idea?" said the perky Tara King, gleefully, rising out of her chair.

Skip, Kato, Gretchen, and myself all replied in one variation or another of "yes" -- Skip's version was merely some more damned finger-snapping -- as the perky Tara King sat back down, giggling like a schoolgirl. "Kewl beanz!" she exclaimed.

Oh, Lord, I thought, there's that cutesy little catch-phrase of hers again, the one that always makes me cringe.

And yet...

From either end of the table, Skip's eyes met mine through the darkened lenses of our sunglasses. We both smiled.

Skip looked at the perky Tara King with the utmost gravity, and said, " 'Kewl Beanz!' it is... Tara." As he jumped off of his chair and made a dash for a nearby computer, he said "Groovy, man, groovy! I'll whip up a ginchy logo, like, right now!"

Sensing the magnitude of this moment, I called a halt to the official meeting. Kato and Gretchen left the conference room, but the perky Tara King and I...

Wait a minute. Time out.

Ever since Skip had hired her to be his intern, Skip had referred to my now-girlfriend as "the perky Tara King." And ever since I'd met her, I'd done the same. But now, finally, Skip and I were finally accepting her as a viable, contributing member of the Simpson/Lynch Studios team. From now on, "Tara" will suffice. She's come into her own, as it were.

Giving her this small token of respect is the least I can do for the woman I... that is... for my girlfriend.

Besides, the "perky Tara King" bit was getting tired... wasn't it?

After brainstorming solo on the computer and coming up with a... *ahem*... "ginchy" logo, the exhausted Skipster left to go downstairs and "pile up some Z's." I noticed that his yellow legal pad still rested on the floor beside his now-vacant chair. I picked it up and casually glanced at what he'd written.

I stared at the pad that he usually fills with pages and pages of copious notes and doodles during our meetings. By then, Tara was working across the room on her own computer. I called her over, and we both stared at the only thing Skip had written for the entire one hour meeting:

Hopingly, pantingly, squallingly...
Outward thrusting in pain and shock and disbelief...
Hopingly, graspingly, aspiringly...
Impermenently permanent...
All interest cancelled...
Howl... H-o-o-O-O-O-W-L-L-L!

WTF (and I don't mean the wrestling federation)?!? Tara and I looked at each other for a minute in stunned disbelief. Finally, I broke the silence. "Wow! I knew he was upset about losing the SnL One, but I didn't think he was this upset!"

"David, think about this! It's much more than that. I think we're seeing the true effects of that bump on the head!"

Tara and I looked at each other and simultaneously said "Oh, my God!" (Actually, I could have sworn that Tara said "Oh, my gods." Funny, that...)

"Strange, isn't it?" I said, as Tara and I left the conference room, followed by Orson the Cat. "This started out as a meeting of employers and employees, but it turned into a meeting of... friends."

She smiled at me perceptively. "I know why you said that."

"Because being with you these last few weeks has re-awakened the long-dormant, sensitive side of me?" I suggested.

"Well, that would certainly be nice, but... no."

"Why, then?"

"So you could shoe-horn this story into fitting with Theme Thursday's 'friends' theme."

"Well, there's that, too," I admitted.

Thanks for your time.

Leaving Mr. Toast's First Annual Christmas Tea

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and we must take our leave and return to Alabama, and "Simpson/Lynch Studios!" Thank you Mr. Toast!

Gretchen and I had a marvelous time, and we hope to be back again next year!

This morning, Gretchen's "Oompah Band Family," surprised me yet again, when they presented me with this outfit, and insisted I put it on!

At least, I was able to talk the Captain into letting me fly the Delta CRJ-700 out of Aspen, after I presented my credentials. The mountains sure are pretty!

I really miss flying my private Boeing 777-232ER! Hopefully, I'll get it back really soon!

(And yes, the first male voice you'll hear is mine, talking to the tower, and making the deparure announcement.)

Oh boy! Here we go, for another three-and-a-half hours!!!

Have a great Holiday Season, everyone!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Entertaining At Mr. Toast's First Annual Christmas Tea!

(Bings crystal glass softly)

May I please have your attention, ladies and gentlemen? On this fabulous occasion, I would like everyone to stand, raise their glasses, and join me in toasting our esteemed friend, Mr. Toast, while at the same time, remembering the upcoming Holiday Season. Let us hope that this event, will be the first of many more in the years ahead.

"Mister Toast, it is said that a man with friends is blessed. Tonight we have seen very many of your friends, which must mean you are truly blessed! We thank you for holding this event. I think I speak for all of us here, who are enjoying a lovely time... who all wish you good luck, good fortune, and good health in the future."

And, in the words of Groucho Marx...

"Here's champagne to our true friends...
and true pain to our sham friends."

And finally, in the words of Sir Walter Scott...

"Heap on more wood! The wind is chill.
But let it whistle, as it will.
We'll keep our Christmas merrier still."

Salute! Thank you, everyone!

(Gretchen shyly gives Mr. Toast a friendly hug, and whispers in his ear, "Frohe Weihnachten, Herr Toast!" )

(Skip sits at piano. Both Skip and Gretchen donning dark sunglasses.)

Thank you very much. And thank you, Gretchen for that fine interpretive dance! I'll have to admit, she's a lot more fun than that horrible "Cammie" person, I brought to "The Willow Manor Ball!"

(Looks around)

Speaking of my devoted "personal assistant"... where did she go??? As my friend and writing partner, David M. "The Foxster" Lynch (who by the way sends his regrets that he couldn't make it tonight) would say, "Dude!!! Where's my secretary???"

Anyway, Miss Gretchen Von Grüber... whom I believe is wearing yet another Stella McCartney creation, has promised "something special," in honor of Mr. Toast, and all you wonderful people.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have NO idea what it is... and... and...


And, she has... just reappeared... in a completely different... hairstyle?!?

Hmm... Okay... I must admit, it looks rather nice...

Now she's handing me some sheet music, and pointing me towards the piano, with that "pretend stern look" she does around the studio...

(Bows formally to Gretchen, who can't help but crack a little smile.)

Well, folks... THIS is going to be interesting, as I KNOW she hardly speaks any English!

(Skip sits at piano. The lights dim. Gretchen nervously steps up to the microphone.)










NOW, I know why she kept listening to that Linda Ronstadt album over and over again, for the last two weeks! You sounded amazingly just like her! Thank you Gretchen! That was outstanding!

(Gretchen beams)

Last but not least, if you direct your attention to the huge video screen descending from the ceiling... here's something guaranteed to get everyone into the Holiday Spirit!

I proudly present, Celtic Woman... featuring my favorite, the always-ebullient Chloë Agnew! (She's the one in the pink dress.)

(And I just know, that when my best friend and writing partner, "The Foxster" first sees this, he's gonna say, "Forget Chloë Agnew! I wanna see more of the girl with the fiddle!")

And a very Merry Christmas Season, to you and yours!

AT Mr. Toast's First Annual...

Gretchen's "Red Carpet Arrival," posing for the paparazzi. One of the women journalists covering this event shouted out, "Who are you wearing?"

Before I could come to her aid, and without blinking an eye, Gretchen answered in a German accent, "Stella McCartney."

I tried to tell them I was wearing a suit from British Designer Paul Smith... but they weren't interested in me!!!

Another one asked, "How do you like America?"

Again, Gretchen calmly answered with a smile, and an accent. "I love this beautiful country! The people I've met are wonderful!"

She's been coached by someone!!!

And, like at last evening's dinner, Gretchen again brought long-stemmed yellow roses, and presented them to all the ladies, as I lugged in a case of fine California champagne.

"Für dich..."

And so, we have officially arrived at "Mr. Toasts First Annual Christmas Tea!" It is really a treat, to see so many people... some I know, others I don't.

But after all... the purpose is for everyone to get aquainted, and re-acquainted. Like a family reunion. You know, when some long-lost relative starts a fight with another long-lost relative, and what started out as a nice party, turns into a nightmare from hell... complete with thrown food, post-traumatic stress disorders, crying babies, ambulances, and riot police! But I digress...

For those of you that don't know me, my name is Skip Simpson. I'm a multi-billionaire, and I'm single...

Whoa!!! Back ladies!!! Heh heh...

I am currently semi-retired from a successful career that included, Award Winning Screenwriter, Concept Artist, Opening Act in Las Vegas for Carrot Top, Pitchman on late-night television for the "Wonder Chopper," Second-String Quarterback for the 1978 Cleveland Gerbils, Family-Planning Counselor in Wasilla, Alaska, Greeter at Wal-Mart, and International Spy.

Lately, I've re-teamed with my writing partner of many years ago, Mr. David M. Lynch, or as I call him... "The Foxster." We run a highly successful studio in Alabama, which is losing money faster than water through a sieve, which we have creatively named "Simpson/Lynch Studios". I'm proud to say, through our involvement in many legititimate business concerns, and many more illegitimate, we make more money in a single hour, than Microsoft does in an entire year!

Accompanying me on this trip, is my faithful and devoted "personal assistant," Gretchen Von Grüber who, as she said, is wearing a dress from British designer Stella McCartney. Also accompanying me on this trip... is her entire damn family, who have an "Oompah Band." They'll be playing outside. I tried to locate them as far away as possible, and if we keep the doors shut, the windows down, and talk really really loud... I'm sure we'll barely hear them!

I've put together a quick "slideshow" of the festivities thus far... so if someone could get the lights? Ah... thank you, Mr. Toast!

Gretchen's family requests that we watch the "Bavarian Dance Of Joy." Her uncle, Kris Von Grüber (whom I've nicknamed "Uncle Santa") cornered me beforehand, and with a sly wink, put his finger aside of his red nose, nodded and said I had to "learn this dance for the Big Wedding Day."

Then, up the chimney he rose...

So, I'm supposed to learn this dance...

Yeah... as IF!!!

Check back later, as I will be giving a toast, and also be playing some quiet jazz on the piano, at the "After Tea Reception." Hope to see you all there! Plus, Gretchen has hinted she wants to "surprise" everyone. I have NO idea what she has planned!

Enjoy the Tea Party!

Picking Up Alan Burnett...

As some of you know, Alan Burnett took a wrong turn somewhere and wound up in Aspen, SWEDEN!!!

Luckily I still have a "few friends in the right places," and was able to send a Concorde to pick him up...

He should be arriving with us in about 4 hours. Gretchen and I have already reserved a nice room for him at "Bob's Pretty Good Inn." They have a cute Swedish waitress in the Dining Room that Gretchen thinks he'd like...

Here's Alan's adventure so far...

Monday, November 30, 2009

A "Twofer" -- "The Fox and the Hound(dog)" and "The Search For Kato!"

From the Foxster Silver Fox:

The Skipster had disappeared, but I was only slightly concerned. From some remarks he'd made earlier, I was pretty sure he'd gone looking for Kato. Skip had dropped enough hints that Kato was kidnapped by the head of the WTF. I was only worried that his recent, frequent headaches wouldn't impede his mission.

Being alone here in Alabama -- well, except for Gretchen, Skip's able-bodied (and how!) assistant, who anxiously awaited his return, and her entire family, which is camped out in the Simpson/Lynch Studios backyard -- I realized there was still a loose end to tie up. I borrowed a cell phone from Gretchen's affable Uncle Kris, made a few quick calls, and drove my rental car to my destination.

And that destination was the "lair" of the Honky Tonk Man!

By "Honky Tonk Man," I'm referring to the WTF's knock-off version of the "genuine" Honky Tonk Man (real name, Roy Wayne Farris) of WCW/WWF fame. This Honky Tonk Man is a schlub named Arthur Prunesqualor.

The team of Simpson and Lynch owed him, big time.
  1. He'd cheated in his wrestling bout with the Skipster by having two goons enter the ring in order to help him win the match.
  2. He smashed a guitar on Skip's skull, a cowardly act which has caused Skip's unnervingly-frequent headaches.
  3. He undoubtedly was "in on" the kidnapping of Kato.
  4. He has defamed the image, if not the name, of Elvis Presley, the King of Rock'n'Roll!!
And getting even with him was my job.

Just in case things went horribly wrong, I stopped by Motel 6 to see the perky Tara King -- my intern and girlfriend -- for what could have been the last time. I've really grown attached to her. She's apparently classically educated, worldly beyond her years, and loves many of the same things I do (including Orson the Cat). Other than the fact that she continually leaves my jazz LP collection and related literature lying all over the place, she's close to perfect. Well, that and her favorite, somewhat-annoying cutesy catch-phrase, "Kewl beanz!" I mean, really! But those are minor things. She's been dressing in black lately; I'm not sure if that's because I always dress in black as well, or if she's just identifying with the 1950s-1960s American beatniks she so admires. The perky Tara King kissed me good-bye and told me to be careful. It's almost like she knew where I was going, although I didn't tell her!

Briefly, here's what happened. After finding the location of the Honky Tonk Man's Lair (or "HTML" for short), I showed up at the door of his home, situated in the seedy part of a (thankfully) nearby city.

I knocked. He answered. (Luckily for me, in his street clothes he looked a lot less imposing than when in character.) He recognized me immediately and screamed like a little girl, slamming the door in my face. I kicked it in, only to see him running away. I followed him out the back door, into a maze of alleyways behind the building.

I couldn't see him, but I'd find him. I'd gotten his scent. He smelled like pork grease, and if there's anything I have a "nose" for, it's the flesh of the pig!

Heh. He was mine!

Piece o'cake. Pork-scented cake, that is.

My final punch was thrown after saying "This is for Kato... and the Skipster... and Elvis!" Then I let the wimpy Elvis wannabe skulk off into the night.

Thanks for your time.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

From the Skipster:

I've decided to take matters into my own hands.

I really need to have Kato back here, because he really is one helluva cook and a bodyguard (even if he can't take care of his own self)! And he is also an "encyclopedia of knowledge" regarding comic books, old movies, and science fiction! Much like The Foxster, whom Kato despises. (That last part sounds familiar, like I've written it somewhere before!)

Plus, my "personal assistant," Gretchen misses him!

Thanks to my old sources at British Intelligence, I discovered that the British-born head of the upstart WTF wrestling federation, Bruno Drake, indeed kidnapped Kato, in order to keep Kato from interfering in my match with the Honky Tonk Man and his two goons, and to keep me working for the WTF! If I don't agree, they will kill Kato! Hmmph. Looks like I'm back in action, one more time! After all, I didn't get that "License To Kill" by selling Girl Scout Cookies!

(Why am I hearing the voice of "The Movie Guy," the late Don LaFontaine, saying this next part?)

In a world of avarice and deceit...

They thought they knew him...

They were wrong...

Dead wrong!

Payback! This time, it's for real!!!


Monday Night Dinner At The Hotel Jerome

Gretchen and I have arrived at the fabulous Hotel Jerome! This is what greeted our eyes and ears on first arriving...

Gretchen smiled and said, "Joseph Haydn. Streichquartett Opus eine Nummer zwei."

Great! I always liked that selection... now I know what it is! I can already tell that this is going to be fabulous! If there's one thing I love in the world, it's fine dining with classical music playing softly in the background!

I think, she wanted me to tell the ladies, that tonight she's wearing Amani. Gee, that's funny! I thought it was a dress! Ha ha...

(Skip quickly shuts up, when he sees Rebecca giving him a dirty look. Gretchen tugs at Skip's sleeve.)

Oops... I think Gretchen wants to say something...

(Gretchen in a soft, shy voice...)

"Vielen Dank für mich einladen. Du bist sehr nett."

(She smiles at everyone, and holds up one of her little flashcards that she uses to communicate.)

Um, I think that means she's happy to be here!

(Gretchen holds up another card.)

What? You want to go see "Cinderella???" Ohhhh.... you feel like Cinderella! She loves that movie! She cries every time she sees it, back at "Simpson/Lynch Studios" in Alabama! I think Gretchen still believes in fairy tales...

(Gretchen quickly unwraps a box she's been holding, and smiling nervously, gently hands a long-stemmed yellow rose to each one of the ladies.)

"Für dich..."

Well... isn't that sweet! If I recall, I think a yellow rose means "friendship." Either that, or she thinks we're in Texas! Ha ha...

(With another dirty look from Rebecca, Skip shuts up again, and looks down at his feet. Gretchen produces a large black box from her red shopping bag, and hands it to Skip.)

Ahem... well, we've also brought along a "little something" that I've been saving, for just such an occasion...

So, let the dining begin!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

When Black Friday Comes... (with apologies to Steely Dan)

Oh, good grief!!!

Welcome to Saturday, folks!

It's a darned good thing I feel so optimistically about the renewed partnership of Simpson and Lynch! Let's just say that the past few days have not gone well.

After the bogus and underhanded tactics during last Sunday's wrestling match that the WTF -- the new wrestling federation that consistently rips off the WWF's golden era -- had arranged between Skip and their Elvis Presley wannabe, the Honky Tonk Man, I did everything in my power to convince Skip that we should both quit the WTF. (With our feud officially over, what did we need them for anyway, right?) Skip insisted we save that conversation until later, claiming he had a headache. I didn't take him seriously, at first -- I mean, I'd certainly gotten the "I have a headache" excuse before, although never from a guy, obviously! -- but... more on that later.

After he removed his "Macho Man Randy Savage" suit and I took off my "Hulk Hogan" outfit for what was arguably the last time, Skip and the lovely Gretchen Von Grüber (who'd removed her outlandish "Miss Elizabeth" garb) invited me to the newly rechristened Simpson/Lynch Studios in Alabama as soon as I could make it there. I agreed to follow them there from the WTF stadium.

(But first, Skip insisted we wait until the stadium cleared in hopes that Kato -- Skip's missing houseman, cook, and bodyguard -- would come back from wherever he'd disappeared to. No such luck.)

I arrived at 35 Woodland Drive (somewhere in Alabama) with my entourage -- that would be my personal assistant and girlfriend, the perky Tara King, and Orson the Cat -- and problems began.

Skip would not allow the perky Tara King to enter his home. (He was glad to see Orson again, however.) Ordinarily, I would have immediately leaped to her defense, but I didn't want to strain the bonds of rekindled partnership with Skip. After a quick explanation -- with which the perky Tara King heartily concurred -- I handed her the keys to our rented car and my debit card so she could bring Orson to a nearby Motel 6.

Ever since the perky Tara King had betrayed Skip by "defecting" to me and bringing Orson back to me as well, Skip had effectively disowned her. He wanted nothing more to do with her. I understood his point, but...!

This began an uncomfortable discussion between Skip and myself. Even as I fought for the re-inclusion of the perky Tara King in Skip's -- now our -- staff, I told Skip that I wasn't too thrilled about the prospect of Kato coming back from wherever he'd gone. For one thing, he has a creepy fondness for the idea of the corpulent Orson becoming a meal...

And another thing is that he hates my freakin' guts, of course...

Anyway, Skip and I debated these issues for quite some time, each of us controlling our tempers out of respect for our renewed friendship/partnership. While we talked, Skip's assistant and... girlfriend(?)... Gretchen paced about. She doesn't speak very much English, but she was obviously intelligent enough to get the gist of our discussion.

Finally, Gretchen left the room, muttering something in German which sounded vaguely obscene. When she returned, she was carrying a pack of "flash cards" which Skip told me she often uses to communicate.

She held up a card which pictured the planet Uranus.

"Skip," I said, "You know her much better than I do. What the hell does that mean?"

His brow furrowed; then his eyes opened wide with a flash of understanding. "Umm... I think she's trying to say that we're both being @$$holes!"

The conversation was shelved until a later date.

Things settled down after that. Skip and I popped a few beers open brewed a few pots of strong coffee and starting making plans for the future.

Monday morning, Skip called some contractors and arranged for an addition to be built to house me and my cat during our frequent visits (I, of course, fully intend to have the perky Tara King move in there, too, as soon as that issued is ironed out.) They showed up Monday afternoon and started work after Skip handed them what I assume was a sizable check.

The perky Tara King was kind enough to drive by and drop off some of the jazz albums and books I'd brought from Massachusetts. (She loves stuff from the so-called "Beat" era, and has been devouring any and all of my Jack Kerouac novels, my Allen Ginsberg poetry books, my William Burroughs novels, related music, etc.!)

Things started going sour when the contractor's boss arrived on Wednesday morning, screaming and swearing because Skip's check had bounced. I was an embarrassed witness to this confrontation. After the contractor had left with a promise to return later that day expecting cash, I took Skip aside and said, "Listen, Skip, it's none of my business, but if you're really in a jam right now, we can pay him out of our Simpson/Lynch Studios account."

Skip looked at me sheepishly. "You don't understand. The check I gave them was from the Simpson/Lynch account!"

"Oh, that can't be right!" I exclaimed. "I'm calling the bank!" And suiting the action to the word, I picked up the phone... only to find that it had been disconnected.

"What's going on here?!? Where's all our money?!?"

"Gone toward all our expenses, I assume," said Skip. "Staff salaries, mortgages, lawyers' fees... Gotta love those automatic payments! And neither one of us put a red cent into the coffers during all the time our stupid feud was going on."

"Oh, wow... You're right. But haven't you monitored our balance?"

"Not lately. I was too busy training for the wrestling match between the two of us. Didn't you?"

"No," I admitted. "What a revolting development this is, as Ben Grimm used to say."

"Look," said Skip, "I can't discuss this right now. I'm getting another one of my headaches."

"You've been complaining about headaches ever since that Elvis guy swatted you with his guitar. You really need to get that checked out."

Skip laughed bitterly. "Yeah, right. Like I can afford the medical bills right now! It'll just have to wait."

Putting our plans for the proposed Simpson/Lynch theme park on hold, Skip and I started planning how we could get our fortune back. Uncharacteristically, we came up with nothing!

And then yesterday... Friday...

It was roughly after 5 a.m. when I awoke. What was that ungodly noise outside? I jumped out of bed and threw on a robe, even as Skip started pounding on the door of the guest room where I'd spent the last few nights (well, when I wasn't sleeping at Motel 6).

"What's going on?" I yelled. "Earthquake?" (Do they even have earthquakes in Alabama?)

"Worse!" Skip exclaimed. "It's Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe!"

"Who?" Then I remembered. That was the finance company we made payments to for the Simpson/Lynch jet.

Ohhhhh, no....

Skip and I rushed to the bedroom window, only to see this!

They took the jet.

THEY... TOOK... THE... %$#&%$#... JET!!!

Thanks for your time... and brother, can you spare a dime?