First, a preface about “bad” words, something I often think about. I understand societal pressures and norms and why some words are considered “bad” or “dirty.” I just think that they’re ridiculous. I think “fuck” should be a perfectly acceptable word and should be able to be used in all settings, under the right circumstances. To me, words are like spices and they should be used with the same discretion as a cook uses spices. Too much of any one spice spoils a dish, and using any word too much dilutes its effectiveness. I think it’s perfectly fucking absurd that we have words that we shouldn’t use at certain times or in certain places. That’s just fucking ridiculous. And, note that in this paragraph (including the title) I’ve already used “fuck” in various forms six times, and that’s too damn many times. It gets tiresome very quickly. However, if I knocked out a few of the “fucks” the paragraph would be much more bearable. Effin’ A, Cotton, Effin’ A.

Now, on to the meat of this post: little girls/young women swearing, mostly with the f-bomb, to get your attention: http://www.mediaite.com/online/little-girls-unleash-a-torrent-of-profanity-in-f-bombs-for-feminism/ I’ll admit that at the start of the video, I laughed. The other day I was having a discussion with my girlfriend about how a part of me will never grow up, and that part enjoyed this video for about 30 seconds or so. Then it just kept going. Fuck me, right? I stopped focusing on the content for a bit, and thought about how I would feel if it was my 11-year-old daughter in the video. Answer: I personally wouldn’t mind but I would worry about the personal fallout for her from doing it. I don’t know if that makes me a coward but I suspect it does, to some extent. Then, I drifted back into the content, and was amused again because it was refreshed, and then lost focus as it kept dragging on. For shits and grins I read the Facebook comments on the post, and I wasn’t surprised but as usual I was disappointed. I take that disappointment as a sign that I haven’t given completely up on society because of the internet, but I really should have long ago. I guess I’m a fucking dreamer.

Most of the comments didn’t focus on the message, per se. There were people praising it, people laughing at it, but for the most part there were people lamenting the downfall of our society and proffering that video as proof, and something something Obama. Again, I understand where they’re coming from even while not agreeing with it. I don’t think our society is crumbling and this video with girls gone obscene is our Caligula. I think our society is crumbling because most of us (and by “most of us” I obviously mean “everybody who disagrees with me” because I’m a snotty liberal) don’t give a second thought to something like this, which I think should be at least second- and third-thought provoking. We just react and post our diarrhea online in whatever form is convenient. Witness some of the Facebook comments: “Liberalism is a mental illness!” “No man will want to marry a girl with a filthy mouth.” “Greedy 1% libiot, Obama has put more gov’t BS between me and my doctor than ANY conservative!” “Way to ruin a message.” “That was awesome. I can hear the Family values party screaming at the top of their lungs about it on their way to see their lawyer about their 2nd divorce.”

I know, expecting Facebook messages to be anything above troglodyte level is a fool’s errand (I told you I was a snotty liberal). It’s just disheartening to see our discourse reduced to a few words of drivel, and it makes me wonder why the internet (aside from the obvious answer of anonymity) is such fertile ground for low-hanging fruit. I really should get over that because it’s not going to get any better.

Back on topic, and the topic is the fucking message of this video. I agree – somewhat – with the thrust of the video, if not the execution. I understand that if this video was made without the swearing it would disappear faster than Ebola in the US (and there’s no chance that statement will come back to haunt me). That said, I do have a problem with aspects of the message. They use dubious statistics, they paint all men as potential rapists, and they belabor their point. It’s like a microcosm of a Kubrick movie. I agree that women still sometimes, maybe often, get the short end of the stick from society (although that is changing, and rightfully so). I also wonder why we have to be so aware of breast cancer, but nobody seems to care much about colon cancer (I do get that boobs >>>>>>>>>>> colons). It makes me think of one of my favorite Calvin & Hobbes strips:

ch140727

And, sometimes I wonder if the problem isn’t everybody else, it’s me. That’s usually the case, isn’t it? If you think everyone else is the problem, you might be the problem. If you don’t know who the sucker at the table is, you’re the sucker. Patton Oswalt did a bit that resonated with me, about how his levels of excitement and disgust have turned from peaks into tiny hills, and I feel the same. I’ve mostly lost my ability to get outraged (although my girlfriend would probably disagree) or to get disgusted. Thankfully, my sense of amusement is still intact but the other two – they’ve flattened out. I just can’t get upset about this video, nor can I support it much, but I did get a chuckle out of it.

Maybe I really am the problem. Oh yeah, and I vote.

This article is a tumah!

Posted: August 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

Damn, I remember when my blog used to be semi-funny observations about life as an under-achieving white male.  Now it’s mostly just political stuff.  I need to find my humor again (it’s not a humah!  It’s not!).  Anyway, on to the subject at hand – a piece from mises.org about Elizabeth Warren’s 11 commandments of progressivism.  It’s full of empty rhetoric with little attribution.  My responses to the article will be in bold and italic, and I’ll attribute where I can instead of relying on emotion and things that sound right.  For the record, I sorta like Warren but I’m losing my affection for her as she turns out to be more of an empty suit that says the right things.  That said, that doesn’t mean I’ll jump on the bandwagon unless said bashing is legit.  A link for the article:

http://mises.org/daily/6841/The-Intolerance-Behind-Elizabeth-Warrens-11-Commandments-of-Progressivism

And the article with my comments added…

In a recent speech of which Politico claims absolutely energized the “Progressive” left, Elizabeth Warren laid out her so-called 11 Commandments of Progressivism(I couldn’t find a link anywhere for something on politico that backs up this rather specific (but not directly quoted) claim.  I found this article (http://www.politico.com/story/2014/04/elizabeth-warren-book-tour-106017_Page2.html) that mentions Warren feels energized, but that’s it.  Not a good way to start an article.)

In what follows, I will first give Warren’s “commandment,” and then explain how each so-called commandment cannot be implemented without official state violence and coercion. I emphasize that I am not going to use hyperbole or paint Warren in a false light. (The author claims he won’t use hyperbole, right after he mentions “official state violence and coercion.”)  I’m sure she is a nice person when one meets her. (Damning with faint praise.  This could have ended with either “bless her heart” or “with all due respect.”)  My point is not that Warren is nice or nasty (even though I just implied that she might be a nice person, which means she probably isn’t), but rather that she espouses a political economy that is based on political favors for some coupled with fierce intolerance toward many.

The 11 Commandments:

1. We believe that Wall Street needs stronger rules and tougher enforcement, and we’re willing to fight for it.

For all of the financial misconduct that we have seen from Wall Street, the problem isn’t a lack of regulation or a dearth of enforcement. No, the problem is that Wall Street is linked at the hip to the federal government and to the Federal Reserve System, which then uses Wall Street as a mechanism to pump cheap money into the system. At the same time, the state then protects Wall Street firms from the consequences that occur when investments in the financial bubbles the Fed creates fail.

Progressive Populists like Warren claim to abhor the tax-funded bailouts, (inflammatory rhetorical question – where’s the proof that they don’t?)  but they don’t object to the inflationary actions of the Fed, nor do they call for a halt to the symbiotic relationship between Wall Street and K Street. Yes, they might complain about the relationship, but at no time has Warren or any of her ilk ever called for a severing of the ties between Washington and Wall Street.

What Warren actually is saying is this: We want the state to have an even greater role in directing investments and determining the outcomes, and when the outcomes invariably fail — as we can expect central planning to do — then we demand ever more of the same. The results may be economically disastrous, but they provide marvelous political theater. (Nothing to back this claim up, although I agree with the italics above.  Politicians talk a great game but rarely deliver.)

Warren never will endorse free markets on Wall Street — and neither will Wall Street, which I believe to be instructive. Nothing would provide better discipline for the markets than free markets (pure speculation in both of these sentences), but Warren is not interested in market discipline; she is interested in the markets being forced to provide outcomes that violate economic laws, and then demanding even more government coercion when disasters inevitably occur. (And, she eats babies.  I think that part was edited out.  Yet another wild claim with no proof to back it up.)

2. We believe in science, and that means that we have a responsibility to protect this Earth.

Warren obviously is referring to the fact that not all scientists believe we are in the middle of catastrophic global warming — and that makes her mad (97% of climate scientists believe in climate change – note that this author still uses the somewhat misleading term “global warming.”  http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/  Yes, that means that 3% of climate scientists don’t agree and that makes this statement technically correct, but 97% is an overwhelming majority.  Note the inflammatory end of the sentence and the sentence that follows, and remember that the author started out saying he wouldn’t use hyperbole or paint Warren in a false light.  We’re only at at #2 and he’s already violated that promise twice.). In fact, it makes Warren so angry that she wants the state to intimidate scientists that don’t go along with Washington’s pre-determined “scientific” outcomes.

One does not “believe in” or “not believe in” science (Yes, actually one does). Science is not — or should not be — a deity (Agreed.  Science is provable, deities are not.). Science is about using certain consistent methods to ascertain and test various theories about the natural world. It also is about determining probabilities for certain, repeatable events and it should never be hijacked by politicians for their own uses.

If Warren truly did “believe” in science, then she would have no objection to scientists like Roy Spencer and Judith Curry explaining in public forums — without harassment — why they believe the current fears that Warren promotes about “climate change” are overblown.(Another use of hyperbole and painting in a false light.  A google search turned up nothing about Warren objecting to anything Spencer or Curry have promoted, but the author makes it seem like she did.). You see, in real science, the “discussion” never is over. Skepticism is the very heart of the scientific method, something that the “discussion-is-over” people like Warren refuse to hear.  (Again, no proof, just a base accusation.)

What Warren means is that governments should fund scientific research, and that the research should reflect what politicians like Warren want it to reflect. America’s current obesity crisis, for example, is linked directly to government bullying of scientists almost forty years ago, forcing them to accept the government’s “new” nutrition standards, including the government’s “war on fat,” which has been disastrous.  (Again, a wild accusation with no proof.  I’ve never heard of a “war on fat,” have you heard of it?  That aside, this is just a cheap and obvious reference to Michelle Obama and her various fitness initiatives.  Because liberals.)

3. We believe that the Internet shouldn’t be rigged to benefit big corporations, and that means real net neutrality.

I am no expert on “net neutrality,” (But I’ll go ahead and throw out a wild claim about it) but I don’t think that Warren is much interested in protecting the interests and rights of ordinary individuals who use the Internet, as she remains strangely silent on illegal spying done by the CIA and NSA which does absolutely nothing to protect ordinary citizens. (Nice false dilemma fallacy there.)

4. We believe that no one should work full-time and still live in poverty, and that means raising the minimum wage.

Translation: If you are willing to work for pay that is below what the government demands you be given, then you are breaking the law (Technically, I think it’s the other way around – the employer is breaking the law by not paying the minimum wage.). And what about those people whose productivity does not match what Warren believes the minimum wage should be? They are out of luck.

What Warren does not say is that the original purpose for imposing the minimum wage was never about getting people out of poverty. Instead, Progressives wanted to ensure that certain groups of people, blacks and Eastern Europeans living in the USA, would be priced out of the labor market. (I really should be disabused of expecting any proof for these wild claims, but yeah…what the hell are you talking about?   Another conspiracy theory with not a shred of evidence, just pure speculation.  But please, go on…) Given the unemployment rate for black teenagers in this country is at an all-time-high, one just might think that the Progressive strategy has worked very well. (And the return of the logical fallacy, this time post hoc ergo propter hoc [I had to look that one up to be sure, which means I've already done more research than the author of this article].)

It is the business owners that Warren so despises (Remember, he’s not being inflammatory or painting in a false light) who have to foot the bill of increased labor costs, and if they cannot, then the business closes, but Warren would of course not lose a dime. Lest one thinks she has any respect for entrepreneurs and people who have invested (See my previous statement), worked, and risked their own finances in order to start and maintain businesses, Warren has this to say, according to Progressive columnist E.J. Dionne:

“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own,” she said. “Nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for.” It was all part of “the underlying social contract,” she said, a phrase politicians don’t typically use.

Entrepreneurs, in Warren-speak, are social and economic parasites that should get no credit at all for anything. They just take advantage of government services and business success comes almost automatically and the entrepreneurs then extract wealth from the community via profits.  (Finally, some attribution.  And Warren is absolutely correct here, where she is quoted.  Note that after the quote the author begins this paragraph with yet more non-inflammatory, non-false light prose.)

5. We believe that fast-food workers deserve a livable wage, and that means that when they take to the picket line, we are proud to fight alongside them.

When I was fifteen years old, I worked at a tourist attraction near Chattanooga called Rock City. No one — including the politicians — believed that I should have been making enough to live on my own. Likewise, the vast majority of fast food workers are not people trying to live independently; they are earning money to help pay for their expenses, save for college, make car payments, and the like.  (This is one area where I actually agree with the author.  Minimum wage is not a livable wage nor is it meant to be.)

First, Warren does not even understand what we mean by jobs and wages. (Just because somebody disagrees with you don’t mean they don’t know what they are talking about or that they lack understanding.) A “job” is the application of labor to the creation of either a producer’s good or a consumer’s good. A wage is the payment given to the owner of the labor services for that particular service. It is nothing more than that.  ( Why is job in parentheses and wage isn’t?  Interesting choice by the author.)

Second, by insisting wrongly that employment is essentially a welfare scheme, Warren disconnects labor from production.   (What?  Where did Warren ever make that claim?) To use a Marxian term (Because all progressives are Marxists, of course), she endorses alienation as a labor doctrine in which the worker is alienated from any realities regarding his or her job. According to Warren, the job is nothing more than an income stream to the worker, with the stream having no connection at all with the value of what the worker produces.  (Again – what?  Where did Warren ever make that claim?)

If we were to take the reality — based upon laws of economics — of Warren’s statement, we get this: “If you are willing to work for less than what the state declares to be a ‘living wage,’ you will not be permitted to work at all, and should you seek employment without permission from the state, we will treat you like a criminal.” (Holy shit.  This is so insane that it should be on stormfront.)  Unfortunately, in Warren’s new order, (Again, the author is not being inflammatory.) there would be lots of labor criminals, people working off-the-books and ultimately marginalized people turning toward the fringe occupations that the state declares to be illegal.  (Again, not inflammatory or leading.)

6. We believe that students are entitled to get an education without being crushed by debt.

Student loan burdens are becoming greater, but perhaps we need to ask why that is so instead of telling students that someone else — often someone not privileged to have had a college education — will foot their bills. If pushed hard enough, I suspect that Warren (Again, not being inflammatory or speculative) would agree with fellow leftists that college should be both tuition-free and relatively open-accessed (I’m something of a leftist and I don’t agree with this.  Where is he getting this from?). Furthermore, in their minds, that should be no problem. (I have spoken to enough faculty members where I teach to know that a lot of leftist Democrats believe that colleges should not charge tuition or anything else, period.)  (Well, given your sterling record thus far in the article, I have no problem believing this.  You’re not trying to be inflammatory or anything.)

At the very least, it would seem, Warren believes that individuals that rack up large education debts should not fully have to pay those debts (Got any proof of that?  I know, you wussed out at the beginning by saying “it would seem.”  Come on, man.  This is getting old.), with the payments, instead, falling to the taxpayers, and even though it is quite clear that the personal “profits” from a college education tend to be privatized. Like the Wall Street firms and other crony capitalist outfits, Warren now wants an entire country in which certain politically favored groups (and firms) find their profits privatized, but their losses socialized, and paid for by everyone else.  (Again, not being inflammatory or speculative.)

7. We believe that after a lifetime of work, people are entitled to retire with dignity, and that means protecting Social Security, Medicare, and pensions.

Interestingly, while shilling for increases in these things (which, as always, are covered fully by taxpayers who will be forced to supply the “dignity” to others), Warren is not willing to afford “dignity” to entrepreneurs who saved, took big risks, and took chances with their lives to provide goods and services for the benefit of consumers.  (Do I really have to say it again?)

8. We believe — I can’t believe I have to say this in 2014 — we believe in equal pay for equal work.

Warren is not speaking of payment for men and women who do the same job in a market setting  (I’m over in the corner, banging my head on the desk (not literally), still wanting any sort of proof for one of these non-inflammatory claims.). In fact, there is a lot of evidence that shows that single women tend to outearn single men(You know what would be interesting?  To read further from one of the few links provided in this article.  Take this one.  Let’s go a bit further down in the article:  Here’s the slightly deflating caveat: this reverse gender gap, as it’s known, applies only to unmarried, childless women under 30 who live in cities. The rest of working women — even those of the same age, but who are married or don’t live in a major metropolitan area — are still on the less scenic side of the wage divide.”  Not quite the triumph the author makes it out to be, eh?

No, Warren is speaking of a term called “comparable worth,” in which government authorities determine the “equality” of jobs  (She is?  If you’re so certain of that, some proof should be easy to provide.). Such a process is utterly politicized, so what Warren really means is that the state will determine the so-called worth of a job, and then force employers to pay accordingly.  (This is totally true if you’re batshit insane and don’t want any proof.)  (Note: that was me imitating the author.)

9. We believe that equal means equal, and that’s true in marriage, it’s true in the workplace, it’s true in all of America.

If Warren meant getting the state out of the marriage business, I would support her point here. However, judging from all of her rhetoric, what she means is that everyone else should be forced to accept her definition of marriage, and anyone who does not will be fined or even arrested for holding onto dissenting views.

Warren constantly agitates for a thoroughly politicized society in which the state decides what is valuable, what is “legitimate,” and what kind of thinking should be permitted. When former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich this year was forced out because he had contributed some money to a “man-and-woman” marriage initiative in California in 2008, it sent a clear and chilling message to workplaces everywhere in the US: the only thing that matters is politics.

It didn’t matter that Eich was a major player in helping develop the Internet and his skills will be sorely missed. No, the Elizabeth Warrens of this world (Again, not being inflammatory or leading.  I hope you’re as tired of reading that as I am of typing it, but we only have two more points to go.  Hang in there with me.) care only about a person’s political views. (Maybe that is one reason Warren has expressed such hatred of successful entrepreneurs: they succeed outside of political ideology.)  (She has?)

10. We believe that immigration has made this country strong and vibrant, and that means reform.

Because the current immigration situation is a hot-button item that I would prefer not to touch (but I will, briefly…), given I can see arguments on both sides, I only will say that Warren’s vision of unlimited immigration (because “reform” obviously means “unlimited immigration.”) into an absolute welfare state would be a disaster. Warren has shown no proclivity to putting any limits on welfarism, and given her political record, I believe she sees new immigrants as a source of political support exchanged for welfare benefits.  (Well, if you believe it that’s good enough for me.)

11. And we believe that corporations are not people, that women have a right to their bodies. We will overturn Hobby Lobby and we will fight for it. We will fight for it!

The Hobby Lobby decision was quite limited (It’s way too soon to make that claim, and we’re already seeing evidence to the contrary: http://www.scotusblog.com/2014/07/wider-impact-of-hobby-lobby-ruling/), and the implications of the decision certainly did not call for the totally unhinged reaction Warren and others had. The US Supreme Court did not prevent anyone from receiving birth control devices or anything else. All it said was that there were four kinds of devices or chemical compounds which abortion opponents (and scientists, and stuff.  In other words, they call them what they are.) call abortifacients that certain employers could be exempt from providing free of charge for employees.

It does not prohibit Hobby Lobby employees from purchasing those particular chemicals or devices; the decision only says that Hobby Lobby does not have to pay for them, given the religious nature of the company’s owners and the fact that it is a tightly-held corporation.

Please understand what Warren is saying: the owners of Hobby Lobby have no rights. They are not people; only those with views similar to Elizabeth Warren have rights.  (That’s not what she’s saying at all.  But yeah, non-inflammatory blah blah blah.)

So there you have it.  William L. Anderson should be ashamed of the horrible article he wrote and Mises should be embarrassed for publishing it.  It’s that bad.  If I can paraphrase Zoidberg here:

As always, I welcome feedback and encourage anybody to call me on anything that is inaccurate.

I didn’t realize that when I did that, I affirmed myself as a liberal, dedicated to the downfall of western society and just a general scourge.  Because Costco is evil, apparently.  First off, they put the bible in their fiction book section, sparking an outrage in November of last year that I didn’t even hear about until just now.  That’s how much of an outrage it was!  Of course, I live in a liberal ivory tower complete with a cable package from DIRECTV (they’re probably also somehow liberal) that doesn’t have Fox News but does include every gay and cooking channel that exists or ever existed (the ones that have ceased to exist are still shown on a rerun loop).  I’m kidding, of course; I do have Fox News but like MSNBC, I don’t watch it.  If I did, of course, I would have known about the November Costco outrage and would have acted accordingly, which means I would have ignored it even sooner.  I could have saved myself months of ignorance if only I’d have watched Fox News!

But that was then, this is now.  Now, Costco has sparked outrage by temporarily pulling Dinesh D’Souza’s books from their shelves.  If you don’t know who Dinesh D’Souza is, you probably have the same liberal cable and internet service as do I.  He’s a conservative hero because he’s brownish and he’s tilted at Obama-shaped windmills for a few years now.  Costco pulled his latest book because it was selling a brisk 15 copies per location (http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/blog/2014/07/costco-defends-decision-to-pull-conservative-book.html); conservatives obviously didn’t care about the book and liberals already had coloring books to keep them occupied, apparently – even though liberals love to correct the grammar of others they are quite dumb and easily amused, hence all of us having coloring books.  So, Costco made a business decision and ditched Dinesh, and some conservatives showed how much they hate sound business practices by getting upset about this and ascribing political motives to the removal.  It had to be political because James Sinegal (the current Saul Alinsky, apparently), the co-founder and former CEO of Costco, is an avowed democrat.  That trumps good business sense, apparently, even though by just about any metric Costco is one of the most successful businesses in America.  So, a bunch of people who apparently didn’t care about D’Souza’s book while it was in the warehouse were suddenly upset when they couldn’t not buy the book anymore.  It reminds me of my daughter and some of her discarded toys; when I go to donate them to Goodwill (not the Salvation Army because I’m a good liberal) she suddenly gets interested in them again and doesn’t want to let them go.  Much like my daughter, these conservatives have thrown a snit and are urging the boycott of Costco.  In an amazing twist I’ve seen a few of them advocating Wal Mart in place of Costco.

Let that sink in for a bit: Wal Mart over Costco.

When I go to Costco, the first thing I notice is that it is clean and well-organized.  The next thing is the free samples because I’m a mooch and I love to get something for free.  After I’m done stuffing my face for nothing, I see that the employees are generally happy and seem to be glad to work there.  There’s also the quality of product that Costco offers – I know if I get something there it’s gonna be good.  If it isn’t good, they have a liberal return policy.  In short, Costco is just about everything a shopping experience should be.

Now, let’s venture over to Wal Mart.  The first thing you notice is the trash in the parking lot, and I’m not talking about the customers (racist high-five!).  Their parking lots are usually depressing.  Once you get inside you may get lucky and be in a clean Wal Mart, but that’s about a 30% chance.  That’s a true statistic that I just made up, no source needed because it sounds about right.  Most customers in Wal Mart don’t look like they’re happy to be there (I could make up a statistic but you get the idea) and neither do the workers.  Especially the workers.  It’s no wonder; Wal Mart treats their employees like my dogs treat their toys; chewing them up and moving on to the next one.  Just about every aisle you go down will have items left behind from other aisles from shoppers who just gave up.  There’s precious little joy in Wal Mart; it’s the consumer equivalent to…well, there’s nothing equivalent to Wal Mart.  They’ve succeeded by selling cheap products in bulk, one step above the 99 cent store.  I confess that I occasionally shop there just for the cheapness.  However, while I enjoy going to Costco I never look forward to visiting a Wal Mart.  Wal Mart is the cheap hooker of retail stores. 

So yeah, some people – a small but exceedingly vocal group, to be sure – are suggesting to boycott Costco and instead go to Wal Mart.  Pardon my liberal, but that’s about as un-fucking-American as it gets.  We should skip the good store and instead go to the bad store.  That’s grossly simplified but still accurate. 

About two years ago there was a big dust-up about Chick-fil-A, and how we should boycott them because their owner donated to anti-gay causes.  I’m proud to say that I did not boycott them; I visited them (and continue to visit them) at exactly the same frequency as I did before this news broke, which is almost never.  There were several reasons for that.  First, it seems like every time I wanted to go to one it was on a Sunday and they were closed.  Second, I always seem to live at least 25 miles away from one.  Finally, the times I have been there I wasn’t overly impressed with their food.  It was good, but not so good that I was in a hurry to get back. 

There was also a fourth reason, and the most important: boycotts usually affect the employees the most, and the employees aren’t who I would have a beef with.  I also understand that people have different beliefs than me and that I won’t always agree with them, and that’s OK.  We can agree to disagree, and each of us can go about supporting our causes.  I wouldn’t boycott a company for donating to a cause I agree with; wouldn’t it be hypocritical of me to boycott a business because they donate to a cause I don’t agree with?  Both are political, and by boycotting one of them I’m trying to invalidate their beliefs and rights.  I don’t agree with that, even if I don’t agree with you.  If I’m going to boycott a business it will be because they have terrible service or product, or because of reprehensible business practices.  Not because of a difference of political opinion.  One of the most glaring problems in the United States right now is the political divide and how extremists on both sides have made themselves unable to accept a difference of political opinion.  It’s also a false dichotomy because most of us will share quite a few beliefs but differ on a few issues, and those issues are being used to drive us apart.  Compromise in politics is dead and that’s a shame, because any adult will tell you compromise is a part of life. 

So, I will continue to shop at Costco.  Not because I agree with the politics of their former CEO, and not because they pulled D’Souza’s book off the shelves.  I will shop there because I enjoy shopping there and because they’re a well-run business that meets my consumer needs.  I will shop there because I’m an adult.

Did you know that? Man, I didn’t, and I was in the military for 20 years and I work on an Air Force base. Hey, the military got more days than the blacks!  Suck it, February.  Military Appreciation Month is not to be confused with Memorial Day (May 26th this year), a day to honor our fallen servicemen and women. Also not to be confused with Veteran’s Day (November 11), on which we honor our servicepeople still alive.

Also not to be confused with military appreciation day with your local sporting team, be they minor league or big league, be they baseball, football, basketball, hockey, rugby, quidditch, or water polo. 

Also not to be confused with the military discounts at places like Goodwill, 24 Hour Fitness, Ace Car Rental, Aeropostale, Amtrak, Anna’s Linens, Applebees, AT&T Wireless, Avis, Bass Pro Shops (I need to take advantage of this one), Berklee School of Music, Best Buy, Best Western, Budget Rent A Car, Chevy Fresh Mex, Chick-Fil-A, Cinemark, Costco, Dairy Queen, Dell, Fuddruckers, Geico, Gold’s Gym, Greyhound, Hertz, Hewlett-Packard, Hyatt, KOA, Kohl’s, Legoland, Lowes, Massage Envy…do I have to go on?  (No; find the rest here: http://militarybenefits.info/military-discounts/)  Just about any place you go you can get some sort of militart discount.  All you have to do is flash the ID card and ask.  Some chain stores don’t have a military discount policy but if you’re persuasive enough you can work something out.  I take advatage of this, but not as often as I could or should.  But yeah, not to be confused with Military Appreciation Month.

Also not to be confused with the countless organizations dedicated to helping active duty, retired, and former military members.  As with the discounts there are a bunch of them out there.

Also not to be confused with the politicians who constantly fellate the military whenever they are in front of a mic but don’t really do much for them otherwise.  Note: I refer to the military as them even though I am one of them for life, due to retiring from the Navy.  It’s been almost six years since I’ve worn a uniform and with every passing day my time in the military is becoming more of a memory and much much less of what I am.  I’m not entirely comfortable with being called a part of the military because that’s just not who I am anymore.  I’m proud of my service – although even saying I’m proud of it strikes me as somewhat odd – but it is a thing of the past. 

It’s also important to note that these feelings are because I can leave it in the past.  I left the military mostly unscathed, aside from the accumulative hearing loss that comes with 20 years in aviation and not wearing the foamies as much as I should have.  I know that my feelings about the military reflect my belief and good fortune that I feel the that the military doesn’t owe me anything.  I got what I wanted to out of the military and still do, and they got what they wanted out of me.  Fair dinkum, as they say in Australia.  That also explains why I sometimes feel a bit awkward when I use my retired ID to get a discount and somebody says “thank you for your service.”  You’re welcome, but I got a lot out of it too (and will for the rest of my life). 

I also understand that many weren’t as fortunate as me and left the military as fucked-up messes.  My opinion would probably be a lot different If I was in that situation.

With all that said, back on point: don’t we appreciate the military, perhaps, just a bit too much?  Doesn’t it all start to become some sort of theater that makes us no better than the poilticians?  I get that there is a lot of genuine appreciation for the military.  I also get that there are many things that are horrible and disgusting about how some military and ex-military are treated, and those things need to be addressed.  I’m not denying that at all, nor am I attempting to limit anybody’s free speech.  I’m just saying…the military isn’t full of heroes.  It’s full of the same people you see in your neighborhood, unless you live in Brentwood or something.  I’ll use the royal we here and say we (the military) are full of fuck-ups and good people, average people and great people.  We have brilliant servicemembers and we have some fucking idiots, and to be honest the scale sometimes seems to be tipped a bit towards the latter.  We have thieves and we have people of impeccable character.  We’re all over the board.  We’re just like anywhere else, except we have our own little club with our own rules, clothes, and lingo.  And, we keep people out of our clubhouses with guns and shit.  We’re normal people, except that we sometimes do some extraordinary stuff.

With all that in mind: do we really need a military appreciation month?  Instead of that, just go find a veteran and thank them.  Ladies, take it a step further and flash them (boobs are always appreciated).  Men, also feel free to flash, but don’t expect the same results.  Volunteer at a veteran’s service.  Donate to a military charity.  I just don’t think the military needs an entire month, in addition to everything else already in place.  We’re not fetish objects; we’re just ordinary average guys and gals.  If you appreciate us too much, it starts to feel less genuine. 

I have to tip my hat to Coca Cola, and the ad agency that came up with the “America the Beautiful” ad.  Coke knew it would generate controversy – as did just about anybody who watched it – and now they’re in the news cycle and will be for the next week or so.  “Controversy” can certainly be good publicity.  The reactions to the ad were predictable and perhaps overstated by those wanting to call out others for being intolerant (myself included, I will admit), or so I thought.  And then I saw a headline on my Facebook feed that reminded me that both sides are all-in on this.  It was from Herman Cain’s site, caintv.com.  I have no problem with Herman Cain and I enjoy his sense of humor, and I think he’s a shrewd businessman – hence why he’s jumping in against Coke.  The headline of the article read “The problem with the Coke ad: You don’t get to invent your own definition of America.”

Let that digest for a minute.  You don’t get to invent your own definition of America.  You, obviously meaning anybody who disagrees with me.  The headline was enough for me but I still read the article, and it was about what I expected.  “That’s a problem, because America actually has a real definition connected to its founding and history. And we need the America of that definition. The real one.”  Again – your definition of America isn’t the real one, if it disagrees with theirs.  “The goal of communists and socialists is to destroy our ideals from the inside out. Redefining words is child’s play.”  There we go, we got the twin boogeyman of the Obama apocalypse mentioned, communism and socialism.  What, no more love for Marxism?  Somewhere in a Russian tomb, Karl is crying tears of dust.

Actually, Coca Cola does get to invent their own definition of America.  Just like I do.  Just like the conservatives do.  Just like everybody does, and just like the founding fathers did.  The invented their own definition of America and even provided for it to be redefined as necessary.  Smart men, them.  Perhaps they shouldn’t have invented their own definition of America and just stuck with Colonial rule.

One of the not-so-savory aspects of the internet is that we are much more exposed to opinions that don’t just differ from ours, but seem to be diametrically opposed to them as well as being batshit crazy.  To me, it really is batshit crazy that people would get so upset about this ad.  If you disagree with it, fine.  I see stuff I disagree with all the time but I rarely vent about it, or even worry about it.  In my definition of America, that’s part of what you get with your admission fee and it’s part of what makes America, America.  This would probably be a horrible country if everybody agreed with me, or if everybody was in lockstep with any one person or ideology.  What makes this country work, and what we seem to be losing (of course, cable TV has a fiscal interest in playing up the differences, to get us to watch) is that ability to respectfully disagree with somebody and yet still respect them and form a compromise with them.  I respectfully disagree with you that having to press “1” for English is a bad thing – if I had a business I would certainly try to cater to as many customers as possible, and that would mean having voice prompts in different languages.  It’s good business sense.  However, I find myself falling into the “us and them” mentality when I see the overblown reaction to this commercial.  I just can’t understand getting so upset about it.

You may disagree with me, and that’s fine.  In my definition of America, we can do that.  But maybe, dial it down a little bit.  It isn’t the end of America.  It’s just you and me and we just disagree.

The Aftermath

Posted: November 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

The Aftermath

 

CHARACTERS

Roy – husband, mid-30s, short hair, just a bit out of shape

Janet – wife, mid-30s, trim, long red hair

Conroy – has something to do with Roy, looks exactly like him

 

SCENE 1

[Takes place in Roy and Janet’s bedroom.  King size bed, modern but nondescript furniture and bedding. ROY and JANET are both in bed, both with a sheen of sweat.  They are both sitting up with their back on the headboard, Roy in boxer shorts and Janet in a negligée.]

 

ROY

That was…wow.

JANET

I know.  That was incredible.  You made me come three times.  That hasn’t happened since [pause, JANET looks down and then continues] well, it’s been a while.  Good job, honey.  Wow. 

ROY

Well thank you, ma’am.  You were something else yourself.  I think you broke something on me but I’m not complaining.

JANET

If I did, it needed to be broken.  [Reaches over to her nightstand, grabs at nothing]  Hey stud, can you go get me a glass of water?  I need to replenish.

ROY

You got it baby.  [Stands up on the bed] Want anything else while I’m up?

JANET

Ha ha, not yet, lover.  Not yet, but soon.

ROY

Yeah, give me some time to recover too.  I’m not young anymore.

JANET

That’s OK, I need to rest for a bit too.  Now go get that water before I dry up.

ROY

On my way.  [Exits stage left.]

 

 

SCENE 2

[Takes place in the kitchen.  Modern fridge, elevated dining room table with four chairs.  ROY walks in from stage right past the table to the fridge to grab a bottled water.  CONROY is sitting in a dining table chair with his back to the wall, ROY doesn’t notice him until he walks by him on the way back to the bedroom (Stage right, where he entered) and then he starts.  CONROY is dressed in a ratty robe, open, and slightly dirty boxer shorts.]

ROY

What the…what the hell?  [Fumbles the bottled water and then catches it.]

CONROY

‘ello, mate.  Nice romp there for ya, eh?  Eh?  She was a fookin’ tiger, am I right?  [Scoots his chair out, leans back, sticks a hand in the waistband of his boxers.]

ROY

What the fuck are you doing there?  How’d you get in here?  What…

CONROY

Come now, mate, you know why I’m here then.  You let me in.  You wanted me here.  I showed you what to do with ‘er and you did it, right good.  Bitch hasn’t had a rogering like that since before she met you.  Wanna know who it was with?  I know.

ROY

No, I don’t wanna know.  No.  Wait…what do you mean you know who it was?  It wasn’t me? [Pulls out a chair, sits down, sets down the bottle of water.]

CONROY

Ah mate, come on, you know.  Fella she was with afore you.  Big burly guy, you remember.  Handsome devil, he was.  Hung like donkey, he was.  I mean, we’re…I mean you’re not bad down there an’ all but that guy.  Yeah.  Must have been difficult for him to sit down.  Eh?

ROY

Whatever, I’m not jealous of him.  He was a Neanderthal.  And, I’m good for her, she’s happy with me.

CONROY

Of course she is, mate.  Sure she is.  [Lights up a cigarette, takes a deep pull, exhales smoke toward the ceiling.]  You just keep telling yourself that, pretty soon you’ll believe it, right.

ROY

No, no, you’re not gonna do this to me, I’m not gonna fall for it.  She’s good with me.

CONROY

Right you are mate, for sure.  You’re all she ever wanted and most of what she needs.  But hey, what do I know, right?  I mean, I only showed you how to take care of her tonight and she’s only in there half knocked out from pleasure.  Whadda I know?

[From offstage, JANET shouts]

JANET

Hey, where’s that water?  Did you pass out or something?

CONROY

[Whispers to ROY] Let me take this one, mate.  Trust me.  [Yells offstage to JANET, in a voice that sounds exactly like ROY] Coming dear, just a minute.  [Takes another long drag on the cigarette, winks at ROY.]  Whadda ya say, buddy?  I can tell you all about it, and I can tell you how to make her forget him.  She still thinks about him sometimes, ya know.  When you’re having problems, and only flying  at half-mast, so to speak.  Eh?  I can make you make her forget him.  One-time offer though, and it’s about to expire.

ROY

No.  No, just no, okay?  I’m not falling for this.  Yeah, we did good this time but I’m not gonna push it.  She’s good right now.  She doesn’t need anything else.

CONROY

Right you are then.  She’s good.  She’s not even thinking about him right now while she’s waiting for you to get back.  [Takes another long drag on the cigarette and stubs it out on the tabletop.]

ROY

Right.  She’s good.  [pause]  Wait, wait…she’s thinking of him right now?

CONROY

Ah, she is then, but just a little bit.  It’s probably nothing to worry about, mate.  She’s gonna stop soon.  I’m sure she is.

ROY

[Stares at CONROY, then shakes his head.]  No, I’m not gonna…I’m not.  I’m just not.  [Pause]  OK.  I can’t believe I’m doing this, but…how?

CONROY

Right then, that’s a man.  But if you want my help you gotta be specific.  I wannna hear it from you.  How what?

ROY

[Puts his head in his hands, rests elbows on the table.  Looks back up at CONROY.]  How do I make her forget about…him?

CONROY

Ah, that’s my mate.  Right good then, it is.  How do you make her forget the last guy?  It’s easy then.  There’s actually a few ways to do it.  One, get her to do a threesome.  She really wants you to do that, be a man and take charge.  Tell her it’s gonna happen.

ROY

What?  Come on, man.  That’s crazy.  She’s not into women.  I know she isn’t.  She’d have told me or something.

CONROY

Right mate, I was pulling your leg.  She’d up and slap you if you tried that shit with her.  Good man, your head’s in the game.  OK, seriously then.  She wants you to take the dirt road with her.  Know what I’m getting at?  The dirt road?

ROY

What are you talking about?  [Pause]  Oh, oh no.  Not that, no she doesn’t.  I tried that before.  Twice.  Remember?  It didn’t work and she was pissed.

CONROY

Don’t trust me then, mate.  It’s up to you.  But if you don’t believe that, there’s one other way.  One other way for sure.

ROY

What is it?  You’d better not be fucking with me or you won’t be back for a while.  I know you hate that.  Tell me the truth, goddammit. 

CONROY

Ah, that’s my lad, that’s me lad for sure.  There’s some of the fire you need.  But you should know, I don’t show up when you want me to, I show up when I want to.  You don’t own me.  But yeah, the way.  The way to make her to forget about Big-Dick Jimmie.  How do I say this?  Let’s see…she wants you to get rough with her.  Really rough, mate.  Smack her around a bit.  Take charge, piss in the corner, mark your territory.  She wants you to show you that she’s yours.  Do it.  Take fucking charge. 

ROY

That’s…no way, that’s not possible.  That’s…hmm.

CONROY

Right, you know it’s true.  Deep down in our heart you know it.  Get rough with her.  Take it out on her.  Put her in her place, mate.  She wants it, she needs it.

JANET

[Yells from offstage]  Where’s that water?  Come on?  Are you still awake?

ROY

Just a second, honey.

CONROY

[Mimics Roy in a quiet voice]  Just a second, honey.  [Normal voice, snorts.]  You’re so whipped, mate.  You’re a pussy.  You couldn’t do it even if you wanted to, which you do.

ROY

I’m not falling for that shit, I’m not.  [Gets up, pushes the chair in and grabs the water.  Walks to stage right and exits.].   No fucking way, I’m not.

[CONROY smiles a broad smile and disappears.]

 

 

SCENE 3

[Takes place back in the bedroom.  ROY enters from stage left.  JANET is on the bed in the same position she was when ROY left.  The television is on and the remote is in her hand.]

JANET

About time you got back here.  Give me that.  I’m about to dry up here.

ROY

Damn, take it easy.  Here you go.  [Hands the water to JANET.  She takes a long drink, puts the cap back on, and puts the bottle on her nightstand.]

JANET

Finally. 

ROY

[Pause] What?  [Tilts his head at an angle, moves right next to JANET.}  What did you say?  Did I fucking make you wait too long then?  [Towers over JANET, who shrinks down a little.]

JANET

What?  What are you talking about?  Chill out, it’s OK.  I was just thirsty.

ROY

Chill out?  Chill out, eh?  How about this to chill out?  [Slaps JANET in the face, hard enough to make her head turn.]  Why don’t you chill out, and then get over here and blow me, bitch.

JANET

What the hell are you doing, asshole?  What was that for?  [Cowers, pulls the comforter up to her chin.]  Get out of here.  What happened to you?

[CONROY pops into the scene on ROY’S side of the bed.  JANET can’t hear him. CONROY rubs his hands together.

CONROY

Oh yes, that’s it.  Keep it going, mate.  Keep it going.  She’s getting as damp as a swamp on a summer day.

ROY

Shut up bitch.  Get over here and suck my cock before I give you another one.

JANET

What is this, some sick game or something?  What the fuck is wrong with you?  What are you doing?

CONROY

You know what you’re doing.  Don’t stop now, she’s on the edge.  She’s almost forgotten that other cock she used to ride.

[ROY gets on the bed and slaps JANET again.]

ROY

That’s what you want, isn’t it?  You dirty bitch, you know you like it.  Now start sucking me.

CONROY

Ahhh, that’s good mate.  She’s yours.

[JANET throws off the comforter and jumps out of bed.  She  opens the drawer on her nightstand and rummages in it, looking at ROY the whole time.  She finally grabs a large dildo and holds it in front of her.]

JANET

I don’t know what the hell is wrong with you but if you don’t get out of here right now I’m gonna shove this thing up your ass and break it off.  I swear, I’ll do it.  Get out.  Now.

ROY

What?  What the hell are you talking about?  You know you want this.

CONROY

Don’t give up now mate.  You have her.  Don’t quit.

JANET

I don’t know what got into you, Roy, but whatever it is you need to take it and get out of here.  Nobody does that to me, not even you.  Get.  Out. 

ROY

[ROY shrugs and backs away from her.]  You…you don’t want this?  You really don’t want this?

JANET

No.  Just get out.  Get out, asshole.  I don’t want to see you anymore.  Get out.  [JANET holds the dildo at arm’s length on front of her, between her and Roy.]

ROY

I don’t…wait a minute.  What?  Out?

JANET

[Screams] Get the fuck out, asshole.

[ROY hesitates and then exits stage left.  JANET slams the door shut behind him and then gets into bed and starts crying.]

 

 

SCENE FOUR

[ROY walks into the kitchen from stage right.  CONROY is sitting in the same chair he was in before, smoking another cigarette.  His robe is off, in a pile on the floor.  He looks disappointed.  Roy pulls out the same chair he was sitting in before and sits down.]

CONROY

What the fuck was that then, mate?  You had her and you let her go.  You were so close.

ROY

Just shut the fuck up, ok?  Shut up.  You saw that.  You saw how she was.  I scared the shit out of her.  I’m done.  There’s no way she’ll forgive me.  We’re done and it’s all because of you, you asshole.

CONROY

Because of me then?  Right, OK.  You know you wanted to do this, I just gave you permission.  You fookin’ nancy. 

ROY

No I didn’t.  I did it because you said it’d make her forget that other guy. 

CONROY

And it worked, didn’t it?  She’s forgotten all about him now.  Trust me on that, mate. 

[JANET enters from stage right.  She’s dressed in wrinkled clothes.  She doesn’t look at ROY as she passes him by.]

JANET

Good bye, Roy.  Don’t call me.

[JANET exits stage left.  There is the sound of a door slamming shut.]

CONROY

And there it is, my boy.  She has forgotten all about old Big Dick now.  Completely out of her mind, he is.

ROY

You fucking…you fucking asshole.

[ROY jumps up from his chair, knocking it over.  He reaches for CONROY as if to strangle him.  CONROY disappears.]

[The sound of CONROY’s laughter is heard, and it slowly fades.  ROY looks around the kitchen and then sits back down in CONROY’S chair.  He lights up the end of the cigarette CONROY was smoking.  ROY puts his head in his hands and then slumps down on the table, cigarette between his fingers.  It burns down to his fingers, making him cry out.  He flicks the cigarette into the sink.]

[The curtain closes.]

[End.]

 

My first one-act play

Posted: November 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

Again, for my advanced creative writing class.  Enjoy.

 

Retired

 

Characters

Captain Staggering

El Castigo (Captain Staggering’s sidekick)

Boltman (African American super villain turned super hero)

Nurse

Gazerbeam

Various unnamed retired super heroes

The action takes place in the Home for Retired Super Heroes (HoRSH).

[The living room of HoRSH.  CAPTAIN STAGGERING and THE CASTIGO are watching TMZ on the huge-screen TV in the rec room of HoRSH while other superheroes mill about.  STAGGERING is in a comfortable chair, CASTIGO is in a worn wheelchair.]

STAGGERING [gesticulates at TV while he’s talking]: Can you believe this shit?  Can you believe what Tom Cruise is saying now?  He’s comparing himself to the military and he’s a goddamned movie actor.  An ACTOR!  Can you believe that?

CASTIGO [wakes up after having nodded off]: What?  Oh yeah, unbelievable jefe, unbelievable.  What he said.

STAGGERING: I know!  What a punk.  He don’t know what the military goes through, or people like us, saving people’s lives and doing it for something other than a million dollars.  He’s a goddamned punk.  [looks around the room, lowers voice] And he’s a Jew too, I’m sure.  And probably a peter-puffer to boot.  That Sorry kid probably ain’t his. 

CASTIGO: I don’t know jefe, I’ve heard she’s his, but yeah, Cruise sucks.  [puts hands on wheels to roll away]. 

[STAGGERING puts his hands on CASTIGO’S leg to keep him from moving]

STAGGERING: Don’t go anywhere buddy, it’s almost dinner time.  Ha ha haha!  Now look at that.  There’s that Kardashian whore and her ni…her black husband.  Why do we need to see those two?  What have they ever done for anybody?

CASTIGO: I guess they’re just famous for being famous, you know?

STAGGERING: That and her sex tape when she was with another colored guy.  I tell ya, it makes me glad I’m going to be dead soon.  I don’t have to see this crap on my screen anymore and good riddance.

[from in front of STAGGERING and CASTIGO somebody yells “Pipe down, you old bastard.”]

STAGGERING: You shut up Gazerbeam or I’ll pipe you down.  Gazerbeam.  More like Gazerbum if you ask me, all you did.  Stupid eyes.

[The door to the HoRSH rec room is opened by an orderly and the nurse pushes in a hunched-over figure (Boltman)covered in a blanket,  in a wheelchair.  The nurse gets him to the center of the room and stops.]

NURSE: Okay everybody, it’s that special time again.  We get to say hello to somebody new.  We have somebody new staying with us.  Everybody, say hello to Boltman. [Boltman shrugs off the blanket and straightens up, looks around]

[murmurs around the room from other super heroes]

STAGGERING: Did she say Boltman?

CASTIGO: Yeah.

STAGGERING: What the hell?  Boltman?  Here?  This place is for heroes, not villains.

[STAGGERING gets up from his chair and walks over to where people are gathering around BOLTMAN.  He elbows his way through the crowd to stand in front of BOLTMAN. ]

STAGGERING: Well hello, Boltman.  Welcome to the HoRSH.  I hope you enjoy your stay here, where every day I’m gonna remind everybody of what you did and why you’re no hero, no matter what you did later on.  I know you.  I know who you are and I know what you are and I know you’re rotten to your dark core, and me and CASTIGO here [reaches behind him for CASTIGO, who is still by the chair where STAGGERING was sitting, and is dozing off]…I said CASTIGO here! [CASTIGO snaps awake, slowly rolls his way through the crowd to get by STAGGERING’S side] will be watching you all the time.  All the time.  You’re ours, boy.

BOLTMAN [looks up at STAGGERING and smiles]: Well, hello Captain Staggering.  Long time no see!  I’d hoped you could let that water under the bridge stay under the bridge but I guess not.  I’ve apologized over and over and over for it, I am truly sorry and I wish you nothing but the best.  That was another life for me and since then I’ve seen and followed the light. 

STAGGERING:  You can take your apologies and stuff ‘em where the sun don’t shine.  A zebra can’t change his stripes and you’re a zebra plain and simple.  I don’t trust you, never will.  I don’t think this wheelchair is even for real, you can probably still run your skinny ass off.  I’m gonna get you, man.

BOLTMAN: I’m sorry you feel that way, truly sorry. 

[STAGGERING turns away from BOLTMAN and walks away, pushing CASTIGO with him.  Everyone moves away from BOLTMAN, the stage lights dim and the spotlight shines on him]

[to audience]

BOLTMAN: It was a long time ago.  I was still a punk kid, and Captain Staggering and El Castigo were barely older than me, wet-behind-the ears super heroes.  Stagger was just like Superman, all big and strong and dumb muscle.  His super power was like he’d OD’ed on steroids and lived to tell the tale.  I don’t know how he recruited El Castigo to work with him.  Casty didn’t have any super powers but he was like Indiana Jones with the whip, I still have a scar from him.  El bastardo.  Anyway…as you can guess, my power was super-speed.  I know, black guy runs fast, ha ha.  Anyway…I’d just robbed a liquor store, second one that day.  I needed the money; super villains gotta eat.  I was walking across the Quinn Bridge when they finally caught up with me.  I was cocky, didn’t think nobody could catch me.  Had my back to them, didn’t know they were there, and Castigo slapped that whip around me, held me fast.  Shit.  Stagger came running up behind him and clocked me one, hard but not too hard, I guess he was afraid of hurting me too much.  Still had his whitebread image back then, ya see.  So I acted like I was knocked out; easy to do because I’d had plenty of practice doing it with my drunk-ass dad.  Bastardo loosened his whip and they gave each other a high-five.  I jumped up, pushed Bastardo…sorry, I mean Castigo – it’s ok, we’ve made up since then and he’s cool with me – over the bridge and kicked Stagg’s feet out from under him just like that, he dropped like a sack of potatoes.  How was I s’posed to know a beaner like Castigo couldn’t swim?  I thought they all could.  Anyway…Stagger got up, looked at me, and then jumped over the bridge and into the river to save his partner.  I ran away, laughing at them.  A little while later, I was moving my game up, robbing a bank, and Gazerbeam caught me, stunned me from behind with his peculiar peeper and kept me stunned until the cops got me and sedated me.  While I was in super prison I changed my ways, saw the light, whatever you wanna call it.  I changed and started doing good.  I guess the press liked my redemption story because they started covering me and ignoring Stagger.

[Spotlight dims, stage lights back on. GAZERBEAM walks over to BOLTMAN]

GAZERBEAM: Ah, don’t worry about him, he’s just a dusty old fart.  All he does is bitch and moan all day and drag his sidekick along with him everywhere.  Just between you and me, I think Castigo hates him and is waiting for him to die.

BOLTMAN: Hey thanks, GB, thank you.  I appreciate the support.  I’m not worried about him.  He ain’t nuthin’ to me.

GAZERBEAM: That’s all well and good but you best be careful, OK?  You never know what a sack of hate like him could do and it’s best not to chance it.

[GAZERBEAM pushes BOLTMAN away and STAGGERING moves to center stage.  Stage lights dim, spotlight on STAGGERING]

[to audience]

STAGGERING: Oh no, I can’t take this, I can’t take this.  I’m not gonna sit here and let that…that…African-American pull his wool over everybody else’s eyes.  This is my place, my house, this is where I belong and I’m not gonna let him stay here.  I know he’s still bad, always will be, and he’s here because he wants to take me out.  No way I’m letting a colored fella like him take me out, no sir.  He’s done.

[STAGGERING moves away from center stage.  CASTIGO get up from his wheelchair and walks into the spotlight]

[to audience]

CASTIGO: I’m not really crippled and I don’t really speak with an accent.  I’ve lived here all my life and I did good for myself, but then I ended up here and Staggering stuck me in this wheelchair and made me his Mexican monkey.  I was just too tired to fight him and now I have to keep up the act or he’ll beat me.  He’s still pretty strong, you know.  Not as strong as he was but strong enough.  [pause]  I hate him.  I can’t wait for him to die. 

[CASTIGO sits back down in his chair and rolls over to STAGGERING’S side, spotlight goes out.  BOLTMAN wheels back to center stage.  Stage lights back on]

STAGGERING [talking to CASTIGO].  OK, this is what’s gonna happen.  I’m gonna go over there to Boltman and push him out of his chair, scare the crap outta him, make him get up and show he’s a fraud. 

CASTIGO: Is that really a good idea, jefe?  What if he isn’t faking?  You’d better be careful, be sure. 

STAGGERING: Oh, I know he is.  I can tell when he’s lying, which is most of the time.  You just let me take care of this, stay back.  I don’t want you messing me up.

CASTIGO: Your wish is my command, jefe.  You got it.

[CASTIGO wheels to side stage.  STAGGERING and BOLTMAN meet at center stage.  Other super heroes form a sloppy line at stage rear]

STAGGERING: This is it, Boltman.  Time to give it up.  I know what you’re doing with that fake wheelchair.  I know you can still walk and run just fine.  I’m giving you one chance now, get up and show everybody what a fake you are.  I’m giving you five seconds before I make you show everybody you’re faking.

BOLTMAN: I don’t know what you’re talking about, man.  My legs barely work anymore.  Please, just let me be.  Just let me be. 

STAGGERING: Five…four…

BOLTMAN: Please, you don’t wanna do this. 

STAGGERING: Three…two…one.

[STAGGERING slaps BOLTMAN hard across the face, making his head snap.  BOLTMAN remains in the chair.  STAGGERING slaps BOLTMAN again, BOLTMAN’S        head snaps again.]

STAGGERING: Last chance, nigger.  Get outta that goddamned chair or I’m gonna make it hurt.

BOLTMAN [spits out a little blood, smiles up at STAGGERING] I don’t know what you’re talking about.  Do your worst. 

[STAGGERING upends BOLTMAN’S wheelchair, spilling him on the floor in a pile.  BOLTMAN doesn’t move.  STAGGERING stands over BOLTMAN.]

STAGGERING:  Get up.  Get up, god damnit.  I know you can.

[BOLTMAN still doesn’t move.]

STAGGERING: So that’s how it is, huh?  That’s how it’s gonna be.  OK then.

[STAGGERING  kicks BOLTMAN in the leg, BOLTMAN doesn’t move.  STAGGERING rears his leg to kick again and GAZERBEAM comes running over.  A beam of light shoots from GAZERBEAM’S eyes and hits STAGGERING, freezing him in place.  From stage right CASTIGO gets out his chair and snares STAGGERING with his whip and then pulls him to the ground.  STAGGERING is still as GAZERBEAM and CASTIGO help BOLTMAN into his chair.  CASTIGO gets back into his chair.

BOLTMAN [wipes dust off his legs, crosses them for a moment and then uncrosses them – nobody else sees this]: Um hm, that’s how it is. 

[NURSE walks to center stage, puts on a stethoscope and checks STAGGERING for a heartbeat.  She shakes her head and then stands up]

NURSE: He’s got a heartbeat but it’s weak.  I don’t know if he’s gonna make it.  He’s so old and beat up, I don’t think he has much longer left. 

[GAZERBEAM moves to center stage in front of STAGGERING.  CASTIGO and BOLTMAN get out of their wheelchairs and walk over to either side of GAZERBEAM.]

GAZERBEAM: That’s OK, nurse.  I think you’re right.  I think his time is over.  I hope it is.

[CASTIGO and BOLTMAN drag STAGGERING’S inert body off the stage.  Lights dim, curtains close]

[end]