Friday, January 29, 2010

Gretchen's Diary

Liebes Diary,

Ich bin in liebe... nein!!!

I mean NO! Tara says I must keep practicing writing English. Start over.

Dear Diary,

I am in love with the most wonderful man in the world, and he asked me to marry him last night!!! Ach du lieber, I thought I would faint!!! All my dreams of a wonderful future have come true! I feel like princess in fairy tale!

It was wonderful party at Kewl Beanz! It was so nice seeing Betsy, Lizzie, Betty, Ronda, Barry, LadyCat, and Bachelor. I really enjoy seeing my buddy Mister Toast again! I made him tea when we come flying back from Denver. My drinking buddy Alan was on vacation, so he couldn't be there.

Of course, biggest surprise was at end of party, when Skipster got on one knee and asked me to MARRY HIM!!! No one was expecting that! My best friend Tara couldn't speak for twenty minutes! Ha ha. Of course I said, "YES!!!" I never knew he cared for me the way I care about him. People were hugging and congratulating us. Lizzie told me she would love to sing at wedding!

When we get back home, there was two dozen red roses from him, a big plastic balloon shaped like a heart that said, "I love you," and this brand new private diary with my name on it, that I'm writing in for very first time. Skip said, "Well, Tara keeps a journal. Maybe now you can, too." My silly mind was already racing with wedding plans. Tara will be my maid of honour, of course. And I'm sure Skip will ask Mister Foxster to be his best man. Uncle Kris will give me away. I want Mister Toast to be our head usher...

I couldn't stop looking at my beautiful ring...

Suddenly, Skip said something that sent a cold chill down my back!

He said that reporters will now all want interview with me. Oh NO!!!

I have never told Skipster this.

I was already married once before! A long time ago in Germany.

My mama and papa were killed in car accident the night before my twelfth birthday. My Uncle Kris and his family adopted me, and taught me how to play many musical instruments. I would also sing with their band. When I was teenager, I met Friedrich while we were performing in Berlin. I thought he was so handsome. I fell in love! My family said I was making mistake, but I disobeyed and moved in with Friedrich in a very small apartment. We were married two weeks later. At first it was very nice, but then he started changing...

He would get drunk, and come home and be mean to me. First he would yell, then one night he slapped me, saying I had cheated on him! I had NEVER done anything like what he said! He started hitting me more and more. I would put on heavy makeup and wear sunglasses so my Uncle Kris wouldn't see. I learned how to lie, and make excuses.

Then I found out I was pregnant. Oh, how I LOVED that baby inside me! My name, "Gretchen" is German for English version of "Margaret." Saint Margaret is patron saint of expectant women. I always wanted a little one of my own! I thought that maybe after our baby was born, Friedrich would change.

Instead, during my pregnancy, he got worse and worse. Then came that horrible night. He hit me around our apartment, opened up the door and pushed me down a flight of stairs.

When I woke up in hospital, the doctor said that he was sorry. My dear baby was gone...

He also said there was a very good chance I could never get pregnant again.

My heart was broken.

When my Uncle Kris finally figured out what had happened, he marched right up the stairs to our apartment, kicked in the door and threw Friedrich down those same stairs! Then he dragged him out onto the street, kicking and punching him all the time, and calling him very bad names in German!

Uncle Kris took me back in, and Friedrich and I got divorce. Friedrich also got time in jail, after his two-month stay in hospital. Uncle Kris, his family and I decide to move to America, and we settle in South Dakota for ten years or so, where band was very popular. We toured all over United States. I also started eating a lot and gaining weight, which is why I probably did not have boyfriend. Many men in America do not like women who are "pleasingly plump."

One night I see on satellite TV, German Entertainment Show that said famous writing partners in America had split up. Then I saw HIS face for the first time. It was a very kind and gentle looking face. Also somewhat sad. He had long black hair that swept across his forehead. He said (with German subtitles) he was looking for a "Personal Assistant." I did not know what that was, but it sounded important. Even if I not get the job, I still wanted to meet the Skipster. I told Uncle Kris that I wanted to try to do something on my own. Uncle Kris being very protective now, did some checking up on Skipster. He found out that the Skipster had a very good reputation as a gentleman.

He also said that he read in "Peeps" Magazine, that next to Tom Hanks, Skip was known as one of "the nicest guys in Hollywood." Uncle Kris went on to say that the Skipster didn't hang out a lot in Hollywood, but preferred to personally fly his private jet back to his studio in Alabama, where he would occasionally host a few friends at private parties. Finally my uncle said, "And it appears that Mister Skipster recently wrote a huge check to The Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence.


Uncle Kris bought me two-way bus ticket to Pleasantview, Alabama. To hide my weight, I wore one of the purple costumes I used in the show. I was the first one Skip talked to, he smiled at my costume, didn't act as if he noticed my weight, and he hired me right there, even though I could only manage a few words of English, and we both had to use my little flash cards to communicate! I was SO thrilled! I also met Kato and Tara, who have both become my best friends.

Our first group picture:

Ha ha. I think back on that picture now. Tara (who can speak German) told me to "Lighten up and lose the braids."

I told her back, "I will, if you lose that yellow miniskirt."

We both laughed, and been best friends ever since.

When Skip's writing partner Foxster came back, I was kept on the staff. Tara started teaching me English.

Oh, dear diary! Those wonderful months of working next to Skip, and going to wonderful parties as his escort!

Our first picture together at big party that Mister Toast had. I was so nervous, but everyone make me feel comfortable:

I would gaze into Skip's large, soft brown eyes, and admire that he never seemed to lose his temper, or have a bad word for anyone. When we would come back to Alabama, I would lie alone on my bed in my room, and write "Skip," over and over on pieces of paper... like a schoolgirl. I would fall asleep with his name clutched in my hand. When I would wake up the next morning, his would be first name I see. And like Uncle Kris had said... he was always the perfect gentleman! Extremely courteous, very professional, and always respectful of me. He never ever tried any "funny business." I never told him about Friedrich and my baby, because in truth, that subject had never come up.

I found that Skip is very good at keeping secrets to himself. If people say something to him in private, he will never blab it all around. He would make a good spy. I am the same way. But I did tell Tara about my past. And I just know she would never tell the Foxster.

But when Skip told me reporters wanted to find out more about me, I panic!!! I told Tara about it. Tara told me I should (as she said), "Come clean, and tell him NOW! When reporters start digging around, your past will come out like Joe The Plumber!"

OH!!! What if Skip gets mad that I never told him? Right now I am SO scared!!! I wouldn't blame him if he called off engagement! What if he thinks I am virgin?

Okay. Must stop shaking.

I must be honest with him. He's in his bedroom now. Going to knock on door, and walk in and tell him the whole story. Oh, dear diary. Oh, dear God. Wish me luck...


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Our Little Contribution To Primetime...

The Skipster says: Responding to an early morning "summons" from the Foxster, I went into our beautiful conference room at around 8:10, and found my partner anxiously awaiting me.

He smiled and shook his head. "I keep forgetting, you're new at this."

"New at what?" I asked.

"This whole 'relationship' thing." I sat down, waiting for him to continue. I knew there'd be more; a man of few words, he's not. And this was the first time he and I had been alone since Tuesday evening. "I don't often give advice. I dislike giving it. But when someone asks for advice, and I do give it, and they ignore it... well... I dislike that even more."

His choice of words seemed angry, but the tone of his voice told me he was just messing with me. So I egged him on by asking "Gee, whatever could you be talking about?"

"Gretchen, of course. You asked me how you should handle it, and I said 'Take it slowly. Slowly.' Remember?"

"Vaguely," I said, suppressing a smirk.

"Vaguely. Terrific. If you'd told me what you were planning, I would have tied you up and stuffed you in the trunk of the limo!"

"But I didn't, Foxster..."

"She could have said 'no' when you proposed, Skip."

"But she didn't, Foxster."

"It could have all blown up in your face!"

"But it didn't, Foxster."

He finally burst out laughing. "You took one hell of a chance, old friend! I am so glad for both of you that it worked out!"

"Worked out? Isn't that a prepositional ending?"

The Foxster's exact reply is, unfortunately, unprintable.

"Anything else?" I replied.

"Yeah. You're a jackass." He "toasted" me from his end of the table with his mug of coffee.

"Is that why you called me down here so early?"

He sat up straight in his chair "No!" he exclaimed. "You're not going to believe this. I got a call from an NBC exec named Punky Brewster at eight o'clock."

"Why so early?"

"It was nine o'clock in New York. I had to explain the whole time zone thing to her. Never mind that. Evidently, she's head of programming -- this week, anyway -- and she told me about how the old peacock is desperately searching to fill the 10 p.m. slot, because of that debacle with Jay and Conan. She wondered if we had any ideas."

I leaned back in my red chair, and thought for a moment. Conan O'Brien is a good friend of ours, and we were both a little miffed about the initial treatment he got from 30 Rock.

After about five seconds, I leaned forward. "Okay, here's what I have in mind. We'll agree to come up with a concept, and deliver scripts for at least the first few episodes. We want Executive Producer credits for the length of the series. Plus, we retain the rights to any and all new characters we create."

"Great!" the Foxster exclaimed. "What's the concept?"

I paused for a moment for dramatic emphasis. "The NBC Mystery Movie. A rotating 'wheel' with three different shows. They can air them on consecutive nights if they want to."

The Foxster gave me a blank stare. "Uhh... hasn't that already been done? Like, back in the seventies?"

"Yep," I answered. "We're basically going to sell a series they already own back to them. Serves 'em right, after what they did to Coco."

The Foxster broke out in a wide grin. "Oooh, don't let him hear you call him 'Coco!' So, who's going to write these fabulous series?"

I grinned back at him. "Do we even care? As far as I'm concerned, Gretchen, Tara, and Kato can write 'em!" The Foxster got a big laugh out of that!

Forty-seven minutes later, we had our three shows fleshed out, to debut under the NBC Mystery Movie umbrella. We pitched it on a conference call to New York, and it was a quick sale.

Here are the shows:

Dude On The Run.
A dude is running from something. He doesn't know what, and neither do we... but boy, is he running. He travels from town to town, and solves a local mystery in each episode. Our own Gretchen Von Grüber will write the scripts.

Who The Hell Am I?
A gal with amnesia travels from town to town, helping people she meets along the way and solving a local mystery. Our own Tara King will write the scripts.

Montefusco, T.S.A.
A guy who has a nose for ferreting out terrorists follows them home on his own time, solves a mystery, and foils their fiendish plots. Our own Kato Kato will write the scripts.

Punky at NBC was ecstatic! "This is the greatest idea for a series I've heard in my life! Who do I write the check out to?"

The Foxster spoke up. "Actually, that should be 'To whom should I write out the check,' Punky." After that, he and I could only smile...


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Thanks to One and All!

The entire staff of Simpson/Lynch Studios -- The Skipster, The Foxster, Gretchen, Tara, Kato, Vickie, Carla, and even Orson, who's on the mend -- wishes to thank all of those who attended the Kewl Beanz! Grand Opening, both on our blog and on your own blogs. It was a huge success, and your contributions were vital in making it so.

Our staff has the day off today, to rest, recuperate, and attend to various private matters (especially the Skipster and Gretchen, as regards that final choice).

If you missed the event, feel free to check out all seven chapters from Tuesday... and we strongly suggest you read them from the beginning!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Tara steps up to the microphone.

Tara: Folks, I'm exhausted, as are most if not all of you, so I'll be mercifully brief. From the entire staff at Simpson/Lynch Studios, I must thank you all for your participation! You have all helped to make this the Blogger event of the decade! Everyone's contribution was valuable in one way or another, so I don't dare single anyone out! (looks at Foxster) Yes, I know, David, that was a prepositional ending. Deal with it, lover. (scattered laughter) You've made this "job" of mine an absolute delight, and it's been a thrill meeting celebrities, personal idols, and some real people, too. (laughter) So as things wind down, let's just have music, and dancing, and get our little butts out of here by midnight so the Pleasantview cops don't have to raid the place! (laughter) But... no more surprises, okay? (laughter) Thank you all, and enjoy the rest of your evening. I love you! Goodnight. (Tara leaves the stage as the remaining guests applaud.)

PART SIX of the Kewl Beanz! Grand Opening: A Surprise for the Guys

Tara (stepping up to the microphone): Ladies and gentlemen... Patrons and honored guests... On behalf of Simpson/Lynch Studios and the Kewl Beanz! coffeesh... errr... restaurant and night club, I'd like to thank you all for making this experience a once in a lifetime event! (applause) And now, Gretchen and I have a special treat for all of you, and that includes the Skipster and the Foxster as well! Gretchen and I -- with the assistance of our more musically-inclined guests, sequestered backstage with microphones -- have put together a little tribute of sorts to "our guys." And to put the frosting on the cake, we have flown a surprise guest here for the occasion. Standing behind me, on my left and your right, is none other than Mary Weiss, the lead singer of the Skipster's favorite female vocal group of the 1960s and early 1970s, the Shangri-Las! (applause)

Tara: We've flown Ms. Weiss here at great personal expense...
Foxster (yelling from his seat) : My poor, besieged debit card! (scattered laughter)
Tara (smiling) : Exactly! Anyway, between our hand-held microphones and the overhead mikes, we ought to get a pretty good sound, I hope! (gesturing to Kato, at the piano) And now, Kato...?

The Foxster says: After their incredible number, Gretchen and Tara thanked the guests (especially those who'd sung in their offstage back-up chorus), and the incomparable Mary Weiss, of course, from the stage. Tara spent a few minutes mingling with the crowd. (It just occurred to me that the Pleasantview citizens has a relatively small turn-out. Maybe because so many of them work for us here!)

Tara finally sat down next to me. "So," she said, "what did you think? Did you like it?"

Over my sunglasses, my eyebrows rose in amazement. "You're kidding, right? That was a mind-blower! Didn't you see me on my feet, dancing?"

"Oh, is that what you called it? Dancing?" she teased. "What were you doing?"

"I think it was the Monkey... or maybe the Mashed Potato..."

"Looked more like you were mashing some poor monkey."

"I didn't know you could sing like that," I said, ignoring her wise-cracks.

"Oh, come on! You've heard me sing before. Remember 'Silent Night,' for the Christmas post?"

I smiled and shook my head. "Not like that. Not quite. That was in-freaking-credible!"

"So," she said, with deliberate understatement, "You did like it."

"I loved it. And that reminds me..."

"What does?"

I fiddled with my bow tie. "Umm... well... during the song, you and Gretchen kept singing 'I love him, I love him, I love him,' and... uhh..." What I wanted to ask her was not coming out well. We'd grown so close in the past few months, I had to know if she really... I mean, I wanted to ask her if she...

Oh, Lord, I can't even say it to you, fellow babies! The "famous writer," stuck for words. Crap!

"Those are the lyrics, you know... Mr. Foxster." She called me "Foxster." She only does that when she's mocking me, albeit playfully.

But joking or not, she wasn't saying what I'd hoped she'd say, so I merely replied, "Oh. Right. Of course." Damn!

"My gods!" Tara said aloud, looking upward, "Is this guy really that blind, or just that insecure?"

"Tara, what are you..? I mean..."

"Finish a friggin' sentence, willya?" she said, laughing.

"Sorry! Tara, this probably isn't the place to discuss this... but there are some people who aren't as afraid to say what they feel as much as..." Oh, Lord, I was floundering again!

She reached out with her left hand and touched my cheek gently. Then -- only after looking around to make sure nobody was watching us -- she raised my sunglasses slightly, looked me straight in the eyes...

And finished my sentence for me, matching almost word-for-word what was in my mind! "Lemme guess, handsome. There are some people who aren't as afraid to say what they feel as much as they're afraid to say it first!" I blinked; she lowered my sunglasses. "Well, am I right?"

"Yeah. Yes. Sometimes you're afraid to say... something... because you don't know what the other person's reaction will be. If there were any way you could be sure beforehand, of course, then it would be..."

"David, you talk too [expletive deleted] much! We're evidently both the kind of person who doesn't want to say 'it' first!" Then Tara impulsively grabbed my bearded face in her hands, and pulled me to her for a long kiss.

"David," she said, after a long -- but very comfortable -- silence, "what about the Skipster? What was his reaction?"

"Didn't you see him on his feet, too, mashing yet another monkey, as you so quaintly put it?"

"Yeah, but... Did he say anything?"

I thought for a second. "Hmm. Now that you ask... not really, even when I said 'Damn, Skip, we're the main hosts here! How the hell are we going to compete with an act like that?' And the Skipster just grinned, got up, and walked away from me without a word!"

Ah, what the hell, now I just want to relax and watch everybody else have a good time on the dance floor.

To Be Concluded...

PART FIVE of the Kewl Beanz! Grand Opening: Dinner is Served

The Skipster says: Welcome one and all to the Grand Opening of Kewl Beanz! As a special surprise, tonight's "Celebrity Chef" will be none other than Gordon Ramsay! We figured if anyone could whip the kitchen into shape in a hurry, he could!

The Foxster says: Kato was a bit offended at first, but finally admitted that even he couldn't accomodate all the guests. Plus, he made a vague comment about "having something else [he had] to do" during the proceedings tonight, anyway. (And it's not like anyone will ever get to "invade" Kato's kitchen at the SnL Studios themselves, right?)

The Skipster says: When you are finally seated at your tables, our helpful and friendly servers will be bringing you tonight's Amuse-Bouche.

It consists of a large broiled Stuffed Portabello Mushroom with Minced Stems, Chopped Parsley, Pimento, Garlic, Green Onions, and Parmesan Cheese, sautéed in White Wine. Everyone gets one. (Note to the Foxster: Please don't change all my capital letters to lower-case, okay? I know it's a sentence, and not the title of a book, but I wanted this part to look impressive!)

That will be followed by Cherry Sherbet in Champagne to cleanse the palate, and small individual Veggie Trays.

Right before the main courses arrive, every table will get a basket of warm homemade sweetbreads and raspberry butter. (Note to the Foxster: I didn't capitalize those items. Happy now?)

You are welcome to either help yourself from the buffet, or order from our menu.

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!

Please enjoy yourselves!

PART FOUR of the Kewl Beanz! Grand Opening: Not Mr. Toast


Kewl Beanz! approximately half an hour ago. Tara is mingling with the guests. She notices a Man in a far corner of the room. She impulsively walks toward him. We see the following conversation from the Man's point of view.

Tara (extending her hand): Hello! Are you Mister...? (pauses) No, of course you're not. Mr. Toast has a full head of... (brief pause) I'm so sorry! That was incredibly rude of me!

Man (taking her hand and clasping it firmly): Not at all. This Mister -- "Toast," is it? -- is obviously not me, so why did you think I was he?

Tara: Umm, well, frankly, he and I have wanted to meet for ages, and... you were staring at me.

Man: Terribly sorry. You're just... very striking.

Tara: Oh! Thank you. (pause) Which one of the "internet crowd" are you? You're not Barry, are you?

Man: Actually, I'm one of the Pleasantview crowd.

Tara: Oh, but they're not supposed to arrive until later.

Man: My sincerest apologies.

The Foxster suddenly comes up beside Tara. She notices him.

Tara (to Foxster): What happened to your nap?

Foxster: Couldn't sleep, so I had more coffee. Look, you need to speak to some of the staff, especially... Vickie. (Tara sighs.) She's not too thrilled with serving coffee and drinks, apparently. Then, we need to get changed. (brief pause) Have you seen the Skipster, or Gretchen?

Tara: No. I've been looking for Mister Toast.

Foxster (to Man): If you'll excuse us?

Man: Of course. Nice meeting you, Ms. King. I'll see you again.

Tara (as she and the Foxster walk away from the Man): Sure... Nice meeting you! (Tara and the Foxster exit, as the Man smiles.)

PART THREE of the Kewl Beanz! Grand Opening: Ohhh, We Got Trouble!

Scene One

The ground floor of Kewl Beanz! It is shortly before one p.m., and the Foxster is pacing back and forth at the foot of the stairs... and singing.

Foxster (to the tune of "Trouble" from "The Music Man"): Ohhh, we got trouble! Yesss, we got trouble! With a capital "T" and that rhynes with "B" and that stands for Beat... (Tara enters and stares at him.) ...nik.

Tara: Have you lost your mind?

Foxster: Working on it.

Tara: What's going on upstairs?

Foxster: There are four guys up there in your little beatnik haven, having way too much fun.

Tara: Who are they?

Foxster: I don't think three of them are anyone we'd know, but the fourth one, according to Kato's description... Well, you'd never believe it.

Tara (heading for the stairs): So, let's get up there!

Foxster: Hold it. I don't want you to get hurt. (pause) Or me, either, frankly.

Tara: You're kidding, right? After I've been trained by Kato for all this time? Let's go! (Tara takes the Foxster's hand, and they ascend the stairs side by side.)

* * * * *

Scene Two

The upstairs "beatnik haven," as the Foxster described it. Two men are playing pool, while drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes. Two other men are acting like overgrown children, kicking over chairs, breaking glasses, etc. Tara and the Foxster open the door.

Foxster (calmly): Okay, guys, enough's enough...

Tara (impatiently): I don't think they even heard you, hon. (screaming) HEY, YOU JERKS! THAT'S ENOUGH! KNOCK IT OFF!

The two men who are basically raising 47 kinds of hell stop what they're doing and advance toward Tara and the Foxster. The First Man not-so-gently places his right hand on Tara's left arm.

First Man: Listen, sweetheart...

Tara: Do not call me "sweetheart!" (Tara grabs the offending hand with her own right hand, and expertly twists it -- and the arm attached to it -- until the man has fallen to the floor in front of her, on his knees.)

First Man (grimacing with pain as Tara continues to hold his arm): You're lucky I don't hit broads...!

Second Man (advancing toward Tara): She ain't gonna be so lucky with me. I'll hit anybody.

Suddenly, the Foxster is standing between Tara and the Second Man.

Foxster: No. You won't.

Tara (from behind the Foxster): David, I could handle this clown just as well as I did the other one.

Foxster (casually turning his back on the Second Man): I know you could, baby. But as long as I'm around, you'll never have to.

Second Man: Hey, blondie, are you done talkin'?

The Foxster turns back to face the Second Man. He removes his dark sunglasses, folds them, and hands them to Tara.

Foxster: In the words of Gary Cooper... "Yup."

The Foxster unleashes a left-handed uppercut which sends the Second Man backwards and onto the pool table. The Second Man lies there, unconscious.

The Third Man, and Jack, the fourth man, have been playing pool all this time. Now, their game is interrupted.

Jack (to Foxster): You just ruined our game, pal.

Tara sees Jack for the first time.

Tara: Ohmigods. It's you! You're one of my idols!

Jack (shrugging): Yeah. I get that a lot.

Tara (recovering herself): Then you should act like you deserve it. Why did you bring these men in here?

Jack (defensively): Hey, I wasn't the one smashing things. I was just waiting for someone...

Tara: Ronda. I know. But did you even bother calling her to tell her you'd meet her here? (Jack shakes his head, no.) And it is true that you didn't cause any of this commotion, but as I said, you brought them here. (Tara points to the Second Man, still on the pool table, and speaks to the First Man and the Third Man.) You two, get him out of here. And don't come back.

Jack: What about me?

Tara (pointing to a nearby chair): You're going to sit down and wait for Ronda. (Jack looks at her, somewhat amazed.) Don't say what you're thinking, either. You're just lucky I don't hand you a broom! (Jack seats himself on the chair, while Tara shakes her head.) All the great writers and poets you could have brought here, and you brought those thugs! (pause) What would your mother say if she could see you right now?

Jack doesn't reply. Tara and the Foxster exit the room, closing the door behind them.

PART TWO of the Kewl Beanz! Grand Opening: Remote Broadcast from Tara


Montgomery Regional Airport. Tara stands there, facing the readers. It is approximately 10 a.m., Central Time.

Tara: Well... (sighs) Here I am, still at the airport in Montgomery, feeling like a TV reporter on location...! But I wanted to share some good news with y'all. (pause) As is typical with the team of Simpson & Lynch, what started out as a modest little retro coffeeshop grew to be much, much more. But I wanted a place to kick back and relive the days of the Beat Generation, when people such as Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, William Burroughs, and the like were all alive and well, and changing the cultural landscape of America, if not the world. A place for the Beats, not the beatniks -- Kerouac himself disliked that word, a media creation -- to hang out, read poetry, drink coffee, smoke cigarettes, and listen to cool, cool jazz. Even once the Skipster was brought out of his period of channeling Maynard G. Krebs, I thought that was still possible. (brief pause) And it is! The Skipster has oh-so-kindly allowed me to set up an upstairs room at Kewl Beanz! -- as yet unnamed, any suggestions? -- which is sorta intimate, with soundproof glass panels that drop down so you don't hear the intrusive music from the first floor! This ought to be a really...

Tara's cell phone rings.

Tara: Oh, sorry, folks, hold on. I gotta take this; it's Kato. (into phone) Kato? What's up, buddy?

Kato's voice: Tara, there's a problem.

Tara (nervously): Talk to me...!

Kato's voice: I'm watching over that upstairs room. The one that isn't even supposed to be open yet.

Tara: Yeah, I was just telling...

Kato's voice (interrupting): Listen to me, please! There's some... some guy, here. He showed up a few minutes ago with a few friends. They're having a few drinks, smoking like chimneys, and playing pool!

Tara: Playing...? (pause) Kato, there's no pool table in that room!

Kato's voice (frantic): There is now!

Tara: Okay, okay, buddy. Don't panic. I'll be there as soon as the last of the guests get here. If they don't arrive soon, I'll get Gretchen to assign Vickie here to greet 'em! She's not doing anything for this event anyway...

Kato's voice: One more thing, Tara. Do you know anyone named Ronda?

Tara: Yeah, she's one of the internet guests. She hasn't shown up yet, or at least, she hasn't gone through me. Why?

Kato's voice: Because this guy has asked me three times already "where the hell" she is!

We hear the sound of glass breaking in the background. Kato disconnects the call without saying good-bye. Tara stares plaintively at the readers.

PART ONE of the Kewl Beanz! Grand Opening: Arrival in Montgomery

The Skipster says: The early arrivals -- Lizzie, her as-yet-unrevealed date (see her blog for more info), and my buddy, Tony Stark -- are here! Lizzie was running late, so I called Tony and asked if he'd mind expediting her trip to the airport to meet us!

The Foxster says: Ohhhh, boy. I must've gotten, what...? About an hour of sleep? Lizzie and her companion were all tuckered out from an earlier engagement, so she eventually got a bit of shut-eye while he stayed awake and partied with Tony. I downed a cup of strong coffee -- I was "working," after all -- for every alcoholic beverage that they imbibed, and I still passed out while they rocked on! The tireless, diligent Ms. Von Grüber kept watch over drunks and sleeping souls alike, until I regained consciousness somewhere over Alabama.

The Skipster says: After a surprisingly-peaceful flight (albeit with lots of free booze served by flight attendants Gretchen and the Foxster) that took us from Point B to Point A, we flew on our final approach over the city of Montgomery, Alabama, with Kato and myself giving them a nice smooth landing on Runway 10! Best landing I ever did at minus five feet a minute, and I didn't spill a drop of the guests' booze or the Foxster's coffee.

I love our Boeing Triple 7! I think everyone should have one!

The Foxster says: Once inside the airport terminal itself, I saw that my poor sweetheart, Tara, was fast asleep. She'd been stationed here, as it were, for roughly eight hours, just in case anyone else showed up early! (And strangely, it seems that no one from TSA bothered her whatsoever in all that time.)

I woke her, and she rose, determined to go back to her post until all the guests who'd chosen to arrive via airplane had done so. She was carrying a cardboard sign, I noticed, but she refused to show it to us, saying it was a "surprise." Okay, I figured. I know better to argue with her unless it's really necessary.

The Skipster says: After a nice ride down to Pleasantview on I-65, we made certain everyone had checked into the Pleasantview Country Club and Spa, and that they were satisfied with their accomodations. Kato will be doing back-and-forth limousine trips between the country club and Kewl Beanz! itself, chauffeuring party goers who either want to try KB's breakfast offerings or just want to relax and unwind from one place to another.

Tara says: Here I am, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, waiting for the rest of the best, you might say, LOL.

That Tony Stark is a living doll, I gotta tell ya! (Of course, I always have had a weakness for bearded, older-appearing men, ya think?) He kinda makes you feel he's a cool exec with a heart of steel, if ya know what I mean!

Lizzie was terrific, even if a tad tired, and I hope everybody I meet today is as nice as she was. And Lizzie's date? Whoa, baby! What a dreamboat. He could crawl out of a mud-hole and look mint! I recognized him immediately, of course, having seen several of his films. He gave out with a simple but warm "nice to meet you" and my knees got weak. Wait till y'all see him.

So, anyhoo, David -- or should I say, the Foxster? -- asked me to tell you that the second post in today's series oughtta be hittiing the 'net anytime between 10 and 2, depending on how fast the others arrive.

Until then, I'll be waiting right here at Montgomery International, waiting for our internet friends and one additional, special guest.

Oh, and before I forget: I'll be asking all of our lady guests if they have any talent when it comes to singing! (It's for a little surprise Gretchen and I have cooked up for David and the Skipster, so puh-lease keep it under your hats, so to speak, okey-dokey?

See you on the flip-flop!

Monday, January 25, 2010

"Accept the Word of One Who Knows!"


The conference room of Simpson/Lynch Studios. It is approximately 8 a.m. The Skipster sits alone, in his usual seat at the head of the table. The Foxster enters, yawning.

Skipster: Close the door, will you, please?

Foxster (closing door): Where's everyone else?

Skipster: Working! They've all got a ton of stuff to do already. (brief pause) No, this meeting's just for the two of us.

Foxster (jokingly): Uh-oh, what did I do now? (The Skipster smiles, but doesn't reply. The Foxster begins walking toward the coffee machine, but stops short.) No coffee? Umm... Want me to brew us a pot?

Skipster: Actually... Have you oh-so-characteristically hidden any beer in the mini-fridge?

Foxster (feigning innocence): Skip! In the conference room? And at this hour? For shame! (Suppressing a grin, the Skipster glares pointedly at the Foxster.) Okay, okay. Two breakfast brews, coming up. (The Foxster opens the small refrigerator, moves a few items, and pulls out the two bottles of Molson Golden which were hidden in the rear. He opens both while walking to his customary seat at the opposite end of the table from the Skipster. When the Foxster arrives at his chair, he slides the Skipster's open Molson along the length of the table with an expert flick of the wrist. The open beer stops scant inches away from the Skipster. The Foxster and the Skipster smile, as the Foxster sits.)

Skipster: Okay, I'll get right to the point. First of all, I should tell you that during the past few days, I've been able to recall virtually everything that happened during that embarassing "beatnik phase" of mine... and I really appreciate all the support you and the other three gave me while I wasn't quite "with it."

Foxster: No problem. Are you going to tell the others that, too?

Skipster (pausing): I... Well, you know how I am... (Foxster grins and nods) Look, David... (Foxster's eyebrows rise slightly at the Skipster's use of "David.") I'm usually in control of my emotions. But right now, I need some personal advice. (pause) Actually, I have sort of a confession to make. (The Foxster folds a white napkin, neatly placing it onto the front of his black turtleneck sweater, at the neck; it looks eerily like a clerical collar.)

Skipster (smiling wryly): Real cute... "Father Fox." (The Foxster removes the napkin and leans back in his chair, lighting a cigarette. He produces an ashtray, seemingly out of nowhere, as the Skipster lights a cigarette of his own. The Skipster looks up at Gretchen's portrait on the wall, then looks back at the Foxster.) Y'know, I envy you and Tara. Even though she's an employee, you always keep it professional during working hours. (long pause) Did I ever tell you about my childhood?

Foxster: Not in any great detail, no.

Skipster: My mother was what you would call a taskmaster. She demanded the utmost in perfection from me, and I had to keep my emotions in check. My father just went along with whatever she said. As I grew into adulthood, I had several brief romances, but whenever things started getting serious, I'd make up some lame excuse to bail. (pause) Am I rambling? (Foxster smiles and nods vigorously, while the Skipster pauses again.) Then... I enlisted in the Army.

Foxster: Oh, good, finally something I did know.

Skipster: Well, I was sick of taking orders, so I applied for OCS... one of those "ninety day wonders." (sipping his beer) Then I got assigned to... well, that doesn't matter. Anyway, all my life, I've had to act a certain way. I demand professionalism from our staff. I demand the best from you... and vice versa, of course.

Foxster: Is this really what you call "getting to the point?"

Skipster (smirking and shaking his head): You're the emotional one, while I'm the never-say-die businessman. I'm the master with plotlines, and you're the master with dialogue...

Foxster: And comma deletion...

Skipster (smiling, but otherwise ignoring the Foxster's wisecrack): I'm content to sit and make business deals, while you take personal chances with your frequent flings. And finally, you find love with Tara, while I find...

Foxster: You "find" that you're in love with Gretchen.

Skipster (after a long pause): Yes, I am. She's a wonderful woman. (Foxster nods matter-of-factly) I wonder if she feels the same way about me?

The Foxster laughs, and the Skipster stares at him quizzically.

Foxster: You're kidding, right? Of course she does!

Skipster: Are you sure?

Foxster (uncharacteristically serious, albeit briefly): Anyone with eyes can see it, my friend. (pause) Anyone but a "never-say-die businessman," evidently... (long pause) So, are you going to be smart, and take the first step? Or are you already getting ready to "bail," as you put it, before you even get the ball rolling?

Skipster: Hm? Oh, no... Not this time! I just wanted your advice on how to handle this. (long pause) Do you really think she loves me?

Foxster: With all her heart. (smiles) I have no idea why.

Skipster (smirking): Yeah, neither do I. Neither do I.

Foxster (finishing his beer): Okay, then! My advice is this: Start out slowly. Slowly. Ask her out on a "real date" and see where it goes from there. (seriously) No one here at SnL would think anything would be affected professionally between you two! If Tara and I can manage that, you certainly can!

Skipster suddenly changes his body language, leans back in his chair, and finishes his beer.

Skipster: Okay, about tomorrow's party...

Foxster (softly, and strangely serenely): Ahhh, back to normal.

Skipster: Has anyone other than Lizzie asked for a pick-up by the SnL One?

Foxster: Not yet...

Skipster: Well, if... Aww, shoot! I forgot to send my flight uniform to the dry cleaners!

Foxster: Gretchen already took care of that. (brief pause) She sent Kato's, too.

Skipster: She did?

Foxster: Of course she did. She's already worked out our entire schedule. (pause) What did you expect? That 'Director of Operations' title is pretty all-encompassing. (pause) And I know you. You only suggested that promotion because you knew she could handle it. (brief pause) And naturally, I agree. (The Foxster gets up and walks toward the door. As he passes the Skipster, he points back toward the ashtray, and the empty beer bottle he left on the table.) You get to clean up. (Foxster opens the door to exit, but turns back to look at the still-seated Skipster.) Now, don't forget my advice, which you asked me for! Take things slowly! (The Foxster exits the conference room.)

Skipster (nodding): Slowly. Slowly.

To Be Continued, Early Tomorrow Morning...

* * * * *

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hot Water!

Scene One

The large "rec room" of Simpson/Lynch Studios, where, among other things -- such as the pinball machine, swimming pool, bar, jukebox, etc. -- the hot tub is located. It is mid-afternoon.

The Foxster enters, clad in black slippers, black swimtrunks... and dark sunglasses. He is carrying a large black towel. As he nears the hot tub, the Foxster sees that Vickie Wickie is in it already, at the far end, seated so that only her head and shoulders are visible above the waterline.

Foxster: Oh, hi, Vickie!

Vickie (cheerfully): Hi, yourself, Foxster! Boy, this water feels great... and it'll be so nice to have some good-looking company.

The Foxster gets into the hot tub. Vickie moves a little closer to him. He begins to speak, but then looks at Vickie below the water's edge and immediately -- and obviously -- becomes uncomfortable.

Foxster: Uhh, Vickie... This would probably be a good time to mention that our hot tub and swimming pool are not what they call "clothing-optional."

Vickie (feigning shock): Oh, dear! I'm so sorry! (She immediately climbs out of the hot tub. She is completely naked. She stands there briefly, making absolutely no attempt to cover herself.) My clothes are over there... (In a stance which can only be described as a "pose," Vickie points to the wicker lounge chair situated roughly between the jukebox and Kato's workout equipment.) So's my towel. I'll throw that on! (With an exaggerrated sway and bounce, Vickie all-too-slowly walks toward the lounge chair, before inhaling deeply and turning back to face the hot tub, with her shoulders slightly thrust backwards.) I sure hope I didn't...

The Foxster is gone.

Vickie: Ohmigod, is that freakin' guy whipped, or what?

* * * * *

Scene Two

The Foxster's bedroom, only a few moments later. The Foxster enters, closing the door behind him. Tara is on the bed, lying on her left side, reading a romance novel.

Tara: Done already? Wow, that was quick!

Foxster: Uhhh... yeah. (There is a long pause as the Foxster stares at Tara, who has resumed reading. Finally, she looks up at him as he stands there.)

Tara: What.

Foxster: It's none of my business, of course, but have you ever thought about getting a boob job?

Tara (laughing): No! Absolutely not! Why on earth would you ask that, anyway? I thought you didn't like them. (laughing again) Boob jobs, I mean, not my...

Foxster (interrupting): I don't. I hate boob jobs, pretty much. (pause while Foxster thinks of Vickie) Just curious. (pause) Good. Don't.

Grinning, Tara shakes her head and goes back to reading.

* * * * *

Scene Three

The Pleasantview home of Milo Fenderbender, early evening. Milo enters through the front door, and walks into his living room, on his way to the kitchen. He stops abruptly. Vickie is sitting on the couch, reading an issue of Women's Wear Thursday which she has brought from home.

Milo (cheerfully, albeit somewhat sarcastically): Vickie! What a delightful surprise. Been a while, hasn't it? (dropping the friendly facade) How the hell did you get in here? It's not like I have a doggie door, or anything...

Vickie: Ha-freaking-ha. Cool it with the wisecracks, Milo. The lock hasn't been made that can keep me out. You should know that by now. Anyway, did you get my little present the other day?

Milo: You mean, the envelope full of glossy photos? I knew they were from you! Yeah, of course I got 'em. Who are all those jokers?

Vickie: Who are they? Ohmigod, didn't you read my notes on the back of them?

Milo: Notes?

Vickie: Holy...! Go get them, you idiot! (Milo goes to his desk, and removes the envelope from the top drawer. He takes out the five photographs, and looks at the back of each. When he's done reading, Vickie speaks.) Okay, I'll make this short. Those five "jokers" are my latest project. You've heard of Simpson/Lynch Studios, of course...

Milo (matter-of-factly): No.

Vickie (exasperated): No? Haven't you been reading the local papers?

Milo: Not lately. I've been... rather busy.

Vickie: Doing what? (brief pause) Never mind, forget I asked. (pause) The first two, also known as the "Skipster" and the "Foxster," have been funneling a small fortune into the Pleasantview economy. And there's a lot more money where that came from. Which is where I come in, obviously.

Milo: Obviously. But, seriously... "Skipster" and "Foxster?"

Vickie (nodding): Two over-grown boys, hob-nobbing with the rich and famous. (brief pause) I've already gotten a job there, as their Executive Assistant. Easy enough, when every other application conveniently disappears...

Milo: Same old Vickie. What's the plan?

Vickie: Pretty basic. I figured I could replace one of the two girlfriends. My initial target was the Foxster, since he seemed more accessible. You know the type: Creative, emotional, heart worn on his sleeve...

Milo: In other words, a born sucker.

Vickie: That's what I thought. But today, I overheard him telling his little chickie-poo he was going to take a soak in their hot tub, so by the time he got there, I was waiting for him. Stark naked. (Milo whistles appreciatively.) To make a long story short... he turned chicken and took off while my back was turned.

Milo: He resisted a chance at you?

Vickie (nodding): Too afraid to cheat on his pathetic lady love, I assume. So now my plan is to move in on the Skipster. He's much more businesslike, but on the plus side, he seems rather indifferent to the blonde Kraut bimbo who's obviously infatuated with him. (long pause) So, are you in? Plenty of money to spare if you find a way to help grease the wheels.

Milo: No thanks, Vickie.

Vickie: No?

Milo: No. But I wouldn't mind nailing that short-haired chick...

Vickie: Good luck. She's the Foxster's property.

Milo: Like that'd stop me.

Vickie: You'll have your chance Tuesday night. They're throwing a big bash for the grand opening of Kewl Beanz!

Milo: "Kewl Beanz!"?

Vickie: You haven't even heard about that? (pause) It's a coffeehouse with delusions of grandeur, you might say.

Milo: Coffeehouse? Like in the old beatnik days of the '50s and '60s? Sounds like it could provide a few laughs. Do I need an invitation, or is it an open thing?

Vickie: That's the beauty of it, for you, anyway. It's a closed event, supposedly, but everybody in Pleasantview has an open invitation.

Milo: Heh. I'll be there.

Vickie (rising): Just don't be stupid enough to hang around me.

Milo: Wouldn't think of it. (Vickie walks by Milo on her way to the front door.) Oh, one more thing, Vickie...

Vickie (turning back): What's that?

Milo: Do I have to start calling you "the Vickster," now?

Vickie (coldly): You do, and I'll cut your frigging heart out.

Milo (chuckling): To quote Casablanca's Captain Renault, "That is my least vulnerable spot."

Vickie (smiling grimly): You and me both, Milo. You and me both. (Vickie exits.)

To Be Continued...

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

The (Not Quite) Final Countdown

Scene One

The Foxster's first-floor bedroom, shortly before eight a.m. The Foxster is lying face-down on his bed. He is shirtless, and shoeless; he wears only black slacks, black socks... and his dark sunglasses. Tara kneels beside him on the bed, as she administers a light back rub.

Tara: So, less than a week before the grand opening of Kewl Beanz!, and I've been going over the guest list...

Foxster: Yeah, I noticed the paperwork on my desk.

Tara: Anything you'd like to mention?

Foxster: Only that you made one misspelling on your list. There's not supposed to be an "H" in Ronda's name...

Tara (playfully pulling Foxster's hair): I'll cross it out.

Foxster: Already did that.

Tara (pulling Foxster's hair harder): What I meant was, is there anyone you'd like to add to the list, smartie!

Foxster: No, why?

Tara: Well, aside from the fact that we've extended an open invitation to virtually everyone twenty-one and older in Pleasantview...

Foxster: Half of whom work for us now, at the club...

Tara: And all of whom I didn't bother writing down...

Foxster: Understandable. So, why should I add anyone?

Tara: Besides your internet friends who'll be attending -- and by "your" I mean yours and the Skipster's -- I just wondered about your Hollywood friends, or maybe your contacts in New York, and the like?

Foxster: I wouldn't exactly call the entertainment crowd our "friends." Just because we interact with them on a business level doesn't mean we want to socialize with most of them. Why else would our headquarters be in Alabama?

Tara: Oh. So there's no one you're inviting?

Foxster: Skipster suggested Susan and Tim, but word has it that they've just split.

Tara: What about Brad and Angelina?

Foxster: Thank you for not saying "Brangelina." (Tara smiles.) They've been... pretty busy lately, according to the papers.

Tara: So, they're not broken up, too?

Foxster: No. Why do you...? (pause) Lemme guess. Reading the tabloids again, hon?

Tara (laughing): Guilty as charged. (pause) What about... you know... Ben?

Foxster: He'll probably show. I imagine he has the night free...

Tara: So, it looks like we'll be concentrating on schmoozing with the internet crowd.

Foxster: We certainly will.

Tara: I noticed they're mostly women, so far. Lucky for you, you big flirt!

Foxster: Heh. (pause) Umm... Tara, speaking of the "internet crowd," I should probably tell you about... something... that happened at an earlier internet event... since it involves one of our guests for Tuesday...

Tara: This was before you and I became an "item?"

Foxster: Well, sure. Before we even met, actually.

Tara: Then it doesn't matter, baby! So relax. I plan to charm the pants off of everyone who shows up.

Foxster: As long as you don't mean that literally, sweetheart! I think Barry and Mr. Toast would like that far too much!

Tara: Very funny, "Foxster."

Foxster: One more thing, hon. Has anyone other than Lizzie asked for a "pick-up" by the SnL One?

Tara: No, not yet.

Foxster: Well, I hope we'll hear from anyone who needs transportation before the 26th!

There is a knock at the door. Foxster sits up and reaches for his black turtleneck sweater even as he slips his feet into his black loafers. Tara gets off of the bed and answers the door. Kato is standing there. He notices the Foxster, who is now seated on the bed, adjusting his shirt.

Kato (embarrassed): I'm not interrupting anything, I hope!

Tara: No, nothing like that, Kato. What's up?

Kato (to Foxster): Gretchen, Mr. Skipster, and I were hoping that you would make the call to Orson's veterinarian from the conference room, on the speaker, so we could all hear how he's progressing.

Foxster and Tara nod. All exit the room, as Foxster closes and locks the door behind them.

* * * * *

Scene Two

The second-floor conference room, at approximately 9:00 a.m. Gretchen and Tara are alone in the room, minutes after the Skipster, the Foxster, and Kato have left. Vickie enters.

Vickie: Hey, girls, good morning! (Gretchen and Tara nod in greeting, both forcing smiles.) Umm... I just passed Mr. Skipster and Mr. Foxster downstairs, as I came to work. (pause) Did I... miss something?

Gretchen: We were just learning out about Orson's condition.

Vickie: Ohhhh, that's right! The poor little kitty! Foxster called me last night to tell me about his injury. (Gretchen and Tara exchange meaningful glances.) How is the little dear?

Tara: He's stable, thankfully. They've given him half a dozen tests...

Vickie (mischievously): Including a CAT scan?

Gretchen (bristling): Is that supposably a joke?

Tara (whispering): That's "supposedly," hon. (Gretchen shrugs.)

Vickie: Well, of course it was a joke. It was only a joke.

Gretchen: It is unfunny. Orson is a segment of the family.

Vickie (muttering): Geez, he's only a cat...

Tara: He's family, as Gretchen said, which is more than... (Catches herself, as Vickie stares at her pointedly.) Well, if you'll both excuse me, I have work to do... (exits)

There is an uncomfortable silence as Vickie and Gretchen stare at each other briefly.

Gretchen: I must also be working. Excuse me as well, please. (exits)

Vickie (softly): Fine. Don't tell me how the little dust-mop's doing. Like I care anyway. (Vickie sits at the head of the conference table.) Little fuzz-head's just lucky I didn't kick him harder.

* * * * *

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