Rocket Biologist

BLIFFEN SCRAGGMEISTERMAN minds his own farting business.

JEFFERNY BOWELSCRAPINGS enters.

JEFFERNY: Bliffen?

BLIFFEN: Yeah?

JEFFERNY: Got a minute?

Bliffen considers this, then checks his watch for an uncomfortable length of time.

BLIFFEN: No. Why?

JEFFERNY: I wanted to run some of my new bits by you before I hit up the open mic tonight.

BLIFFEN: The one at that dive bar in the bad part of town with all the skinheads, or the one at the perpetually empty pizza joint that smells like unwashed feet?

JEFFERNY: No, this one’s inside the unisex restroom at the cougar bar.

BLIFFEN: You’re not going to do more of that self-deprecating topical nonsense, are you?

JEFFERNY: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

BLIFFEN: You know damn well what I mean – “Have you read a newspaper?”; “What’s the deal with hair?”; “Did I mention my lackluster genitals and failed personality?”

An uncomfortable silence.

JEFFERNY: Do you want to hear it or not?

Another silence.

BLIFFEN: Come with me.

Bliffen leaves, Jefferny follows.

CUT TO:

Somewhere else. But this place has a full, possibly horse-sized SACK in it.

Bliffen and Jefferny enter.

JEFFERNY: What is this?

Bliffen hands Jefferny a stick.

BLIFFEN: Here.

JEFFERNY: What’s this for? Why is there a full, possibly horse-sized sack in here? Do you have a dead horse in there?

BLIFFEN: Don’t be ridiculous. Where would I even get a dead horse?

JEFFERNY: Then what is it?

BLIFFEN: Look. I’m not a rocket biologist. All I know is that we live in a perpetual Hell of endless news updates, instant gratification, and people’s need to masturbate in public about things they don’t even understand. (gestures) Also, I found him that way.

JEFFERNY: You could just say you don’t want to hear my bits.

BLIFFEN: Jefferny… If I didn’t want to hear your bits, I’d go down to the mic and ignore you to your face like everyone else.

JEFFERNY: Fair enough.

BLIFFEN: By the time any of us drives out to some show in an abandoned industrial park or a shiatsu laundromat that serves tree bark smoothies, millions have already pleasured themselves into a frothy rage over headlines to news stories they never read. They don’t have the energy to laugh at your reheated takes on cold, stale topics.

JEFFERNY: Uh-huh.

BLIFFEN: So, I came up with this. Whenever I feel the bubbling urge to excrete some pithy, yet witless thought on something topical, I come here and have at it for a bit. If I haven’t forgotten what I was going to say by the time I’m done, then I’ll go down to some dark, depressing place and tell a joke.

JEFFERNY: Does it work?

BLIFFEN: More so than my topical humor.

JEFFERNY: (shrugs) Worth a shot.

Jefferny hits the sack with the stick.

SACK: (pained grunt)

JEFFERNY: (yelp)

BLIFFEN: What?

JEFFERNY: It made a noise.

BLIFFEN: And?

JEFFERNY: I thought you said you didn’t have a dead horse in there.

BLIFFEN: He’s clearly not dead.

SACK: (grunts)

BLIFFEN: See?

JEFFERNY: How is this any better than topical humor?

BLIFFEN: It’s not. But at least this way I don’t have to go outside.

Last Scene w/ Dacota Wittacee-Nottakay

We now return to The Last Video Store On Earth with CINEMATICO MAGNIFICO, already in-progress. 

CINEMATICO: Welcome back to The Last Video Store on Earth. I’m Cinematico Magnifico.

Our next segment is “Last Scene w/”, in which I finally leave this godforsaken place to locate, tag, and interview the feral and semi-domesticated artists and entertainers lurking and crying in the dark corners of Southern California.

Today’s quarry is writer, director, and amateur ear-wax collector, Dacota Wittacee-Nottakay.

Enjoy.

CUT TO:

A hillside somewhere in Riverside, but not anywhere near a farting river. Cinematico joins DACOTA WITTACEE-NOTTAKAY beneath a tree.

CINEMATICO: (voice-over) I found Dacota sitting in the shade of a large oak set against the weed and bramble choked hills of Riverside. A tee-shirt with only the word “fart” printed across the front and a rather snazzy pair of jeans belied a lean frame. Long hair masked dark, expressive eyes. And his beard smelled of honey and cilantro.

I first met Dacota when he was performing standup comedy in a sports bar within a bowling alley within a nice place to live. Now, I watched on as he needle-felted small figures of people he had never met, yet loved all the same.

CINEMATICO: What consumes you to transmute such magnificently bizarro creations to life?

DACOTA: (incoherent mumbling)

CINEMATICO: Fascinating.

Dacota… There’s a discussion to be had as to whether or not – as well as to the possible whys – audience are a bit hyper-sensitive to material that challenges them these days. But I also believe there’s a discussion to be had regarding those who make such material being equally quick to deny or deflect responsibility. Has there ever been a time where you’ve regretted a joke, scene, or some other moment in your work, or perhaps felt you’ve outgrown your older material?

DACOTA: (incoherent mumbling)

CINEMATICO: I’m sorry to hear that. Perhaps others can glean something from such a tragic loss of life and limbs.

Dacota… May I call you “Dacota”?

DACOTA: (incoherent mumbling)

CINEMATICO: Wonderful.

Dacota, you’re a fellow cinephile. Have you ever felt betrayed or cheated by a film, and if given the opportunity would you set fire to those involved?

Dacota reaches into a small sack, releases a hummingbird.

CINEMATICO: (voice-over) But before answering my question, Dacota reached into a small sack at his side and released a hummingbird.

Cinamtico watches the bird fly off.

And as I watched the hummingbird vanish off into the otherside of the 91, the bearded man who smelled of cilantro spoke these words of wisdom:

DACOTA: (incoherent mumbling)

Cinematico turns back around to find…

Only a note and a needle-felted figure of Cinematico where Dacota once sat.

CINEMATICO: (voice-over) When I turned to thank Dacota for his time, he was gone. In his place, a needle-felted figure of me and a hand-written note. The doll resembled me, and had what appeared to be a time and date written into its pattern. The note explained the doll foretold my death and prayed I make use of the time I had left.

CINEMATICO: Shit.

CUT TO:

The Last Video Store on Earth. Again.

CINEMATICO: Dacota Wittacee-Nottakay is still at large, and is considered personable and charming.

Up next after the break, we take a look back at the 1997 seminal box-office disaster, “I’m a Middle-Aged Werewolf,” featuring John Jablonski and Maggie Sex-Pun.

What a Waste

BILLARY: Gentlies and Ladmen, has this ever happened to you?

Billary eats a bit of candy, throws the wrapper on the floor.

They chew on and on for a bit. Then…

Enter HILLIAM.

HILLIAM: Biliary, what are you doing?

BILLARY: (chewing) Sorry. Chewier than I expected.

HILLIAM: No. What is this that you’re doing?

BILLARY: (still chewing) Well, Hilliam. I’m demonstrating the latest mass-produced consumer monstrosity from Unicorp to this fine sampling of human capital stock.

HILLIAM: Human capital… What are you talking… (finally notices the audience) Oh. It’s one of these things then.

Biliary finishes chewing, swallows.

BILLARY: That’s right.

HILLIAM: But what’s that got to do with you littering like some lazy, littering… whatever?

Billary pulls out a broom and dustpan, sweeps up and disposes of the aforelittered candy wrapper in a nearby bin.

HILLIAM: Fascinating.

BILLARY: Indeed. And for only twenty monthly payments of eleventy dollars, this fascinating bit of modern contrivement – the Unicorp Monoticon Un-candy-wrapper-the-floor-ifier Home System – can be yours!

HILLIAM: Only eleventy dollars?

BILLARY: Not a penny more. Except for taxes, shipping, and any potential fines, fees, and court costs.

HILLIAM: The Hell you say.

BILLARY: The Hell, I do, indeed, say.

HILLIAM: But, Billary…

BILLARY: Yes, Hilliam?

HILLIAM: Why not toss the candy wrapper right into the bin instead of on the floor?

BILLARY: What?

HILLIAM: If nothing else, it seems a lot cheaper than eleventy dollars a month.

BILLARY: It’s for lazy people?

HILLIAM: Of course. But even the least financially-minded lazy person isn’t likely to bother cleaning up their own mess, even with the uniquely unimpressive cleaning power of the Unicorp Monoticon Un-candy-wrapper-the-floor-ifier Home System.

BILLARY: I spent a life savings on this.

HILLIAM: A life savings?

BILLARY: Well. Your life savings, if you want to get into specifics.

A beat. Then…

HILLIAM: (defeated) Shit.

On the Other Hand

A professional, wholly un-sexual massage parlor. MASSEUSE masseauses CLIENT.

MASSEUSE: Can I ask you something?

CLIENT: Will it help speed up this sketch?

MASSEUSE: Very much, yes.

CLIENT: Ask away.

MASSEUSE: Thank you.

CLIENT: Get on with it.

MASSEUSE: Right. Well. Would you like a happy ending?

CLIENT: I’m sorry?

MASSUES: I’m asking if you would like me to conclude our currently professional, wholly non-sexual exchange by…

CLIENT: Get on with it.

MASSEUSE: Is that a yes, then?

CLIENT: What? No. I mean… (puzzles this) No, no.

MASSEUSE: Are you sure?

CLIENT: (considers this) Not really. But this isn’t that type of show.

MASSEUSE: That’s a shame.

CLIENT: (to audience) It really is.

For a Good Time

The men’s room beneath the pier of a bustling California beach. HOST stands outside a stall, speaking to a camera. MURRAY ETTA is somewhere inside the stall, softly sobbing.

HOST: I’m Anatomically Incorrect, and welcome back to “Who Are You, And What Are You Doing in Here?” This week, we’ve come all the way out to the men’s room beneath Santa Carla Pier to speak with our guest, Mr. Murray Etta from Murrieta.

Host opens stall door.

Murray, pantsless, sobs therein.

MURRAY: Who are you, and what are you doing in here?

HOST: That’s correct.

MURRAY: How exciting!

HOST: I hope we haven’t caught you in the middle of something important.

MURRAY: No, no. I just come in here to be alone and cry.

HOST: Would you mind sharing your deeply personal emotional conflict with us and our viewing audience?

MURRAY: Oh. Not at all, not at all.

HOST: Wonderful.

MURRAY: You see, I just found today that I’m…

HOST: Dead? Dying? Pregnant? Your own brother?

MURRAY: Left-handed.

HOST: My god. I never knew.

MURRAY: Me either. Not until I went to my best friend’s funeral this morning and had to sign the registry. When I caught myself instinctively reaching for the pen with my left hand, I… (sobs).

HOST: Have you sought medical attention?

MURRAY: I demanded my best friend’s widow drive me to the emergency room the moment it happened. But all they did there was ask me a bunch of questions like, “What is wrong with you?” “Do you have health insurance?” and “Where are your pants?”

HOST: You weren’t wearing any pants?

MURRAY: Not after the fright I had. Imagine living to my age and having to learn something so horrific.

HOST: I suppose I’d soil myself, too.

MURRAY: Exactly! Thank you. My wife.. Sorry – my ex-wife wasn’t so understanding.

HOST: She divorced you at your best friend’s funeral?

MURRAY: She saw that pen in my left hand and smelled that mess in my pants… Well. We both knew it was over right there and then. Fifteen years and two-and-a-half children right into the trash along with my disgustingly soiled pants.

HOST: How depressing.

MURRAY: Heartbreaking, really. I just purchased those damned pants.

Walk the Room

KELLY enters her dark home, finds a man, MR. MUSIC, sitting at her kitchen table. She’s oddly not surprised by this.

KELLY: I don’t have any money. (gestures) Look at this place. You can tell I don’t have any money.

MR. MUSIC: I’m not here to rob you.

KELLY: Kill me?

MR. MUSIC: No.

KELLY: Serve me papers?

MR. MUSIC: What sort of life do you live?

A beat. Then…

KELLY: What do you want?

Mr. Music pulls out a GUN, sets it down on the table.

KELLY: I thought you said you weren’t here to kill me.

MR. MUSIC: This is for me.

KELLY: You’re going to kill yourself in my kitchen?

MR. MUSIC: I didn’t want to be alone.

KELLY: Bit dramatic. Why make such a show of it?

MR. MUSIC: Would you have preferred walking in on the end result?

KELLY: Fair point.

Kelly seats herself across from Mr. Music.

KELLY: Why my kitchen?

MR. MUSIC: You’re not going to call the police? Try to stop me?

KELLY: Do you want me to?

A silence. Then…

KELLY: Why my kitchen?

MR. MUSIC: (shrugs) One kitchen is as good as another.

Another silence.

KELLY: Why are you doing it?

MR. MUSIC: Does it matter?

KELLY: (shrugs) One reason is as good as another.

MR. MUSIC: I thought you’d be a bit more upset.

KELLY: Oh. So, you can think about someone other than yourself?

MR. MUSIC: Not often enough.

KELLY: Are you scared?

MR. MUSIC: Yes. But I’m more afraid of it not being the end.

Kelly stands.

KELLY: Well. Whatever you decide, don’t take too long deciding it. I’ve gotta get up in the morning.

MR. MUSIC: You’re leaving?

KELLY: Nothing I say or do can stop you. But if given the choice, I don’t have to sit here and watch you do it.

A final silence. Then…

Kelly leaves, turns out the lights, and goes to bed.

Till Death

JIMATHON JIMINY, an old man caked in dried blood and gore, enters, sits in his favorite chair with a roll of toilet paper and a large knife, and whittles away.

A voice, NINNY JIMINY, calls from somewhere in the kitchen.

NINNY: (off) Jimathon!

Jimathon ignores this.

NINNY: (off) Jimathon!

Jimathon turns to the kitchen, then back to his whittling.

NINNY: (off) Jimathon!

NINNY enters, looking like the twisted, mildly displeased specter of a murder victim.

NINNY: Jimathon!

JIMATHON: Tweak my thigh and kiss my ulcer, woman! Can’t you see I’m whittling this roll of toilet paper?

NINNY: Yes?

JIMATHON: Oh, good. I was afraid I was losing my mind there for a moment. What’s so important then?

NINNY: You left the gas on again.

JIMATHON: For Heaven’s sake, have you turned it off?

NINNY: No.

JIMATHON: I see. May I inquire as to the reason or reasons why?

NINNY: I’m dead, Jimathon.

JIMATHON: (considers this) Oh, that’s right – the accident.

NINNY: Accident? You murdered me.

JIMATHON: Are you still going on about that? I buried you, didn’t I?

NINNY: You have not. My body’s still rotting away in a trash bin beneath the kitchen sink.

JIMATHON: Alright, alright. But if you’re so preoccupied with being dead, why is your ghost bothering me about the gas, hm?

NINNY: Oh, I’m not a ghost.

JIMATHON: You’re not?

NINNY: Afraid not. I’m only the comforting creation of your desperate, dying mind struggling to make sense of its own impending, unintentionally self-inflicted return to nonexistence.

JIMATHON: I see… (puzzles this) So, no need to bother with the trash then?

Yesterday’s Tomorrow Today

CINEMATICO MAGNIFICO, who may or may not be an actual anthropomorphic bag of popcorn, speaks from The Last Video Store on Earth to an audience that may or may not actually exist.

CINEMATICO: Welcome back to The Last Video Store on Earth. Our next film this week is “Yesterday’s Tomorrow Today,” the latest bit of indigestible roughage from director Anthonio “Tony” Tonedeaf.

Based on Bill Billiamson’s classic erotic novella, “Shut Your Stupid Mouth, and Die Already,” “Yesterday’s Tomorrow Today” features Bleary-Eyed Squarejaw as “Jeffony Suburbs,” an unemployed candlelabler and deadbeat father desperate to save his daughter from the loving support of her stepfather, Minoru Tee, as played by a parking lot attendant only credited as “Doug.”

Here’s a clip.

Cut to a clip of a poor attempt at dramatic fluff in which BLEARY-EYED SQUAREJAW as JEFFONY SUBURBS bashes his skull ceaselessly against the steering wheel of his car.

SUBURBS: Metaphorical angst! Metaphorical angst! Metaphorical angst!

Cut to Cinematico.

CINEMATICO: While not quite the introspective character drama of his previous film, “Twist Them Harder,” nor managing the seizure-inducing charm of “Clitor You, Clitor Me,” “Yesterday’s Tomorrow Today” is a movie in the sense that it features actors performing scenes from a script in front of a camera and ultimately displayed on some sort of screen.

That said. While Tonedeaf’s latest work does manage to make me regret every moment spent with it, it still made me regret every moment spent with it.

But whether you find yourself drawn to the sadistically abusive love story between a man and his car, the artificial sweetener of familial neglect, or simply have little regard for the diminishing time any of us have, “Yesterday’s Tomorrow Today” exists.

A beat. Then…

When we come back, we’ll sit down with stand-up actress Brittigail Barbiturates to discuss her upcoming project, “Contractual Obligations.” But first, another complete waste of time.

An Occult Cult, Of Course

The sort of late-night radio call-in show with a host known only as MAGIC DAVE.

MAGIC DAVE: Ladies and Gentlemen. It’s the dead of night. You don’t know how you got here. (considers this) Huh. Neither do I. (shrugs) Congrats. You found Santa Carla Public Radio. This is “The Magic Hour” with Magic Dave. I’m Magic Dave, we are The Lost, and this is our hour, man.

Lines are open. Give us a call. Let thy sins be known.

Magic Dave looks to, fiddles with his board.

First caller – what’s your name, what’s your sin?

CALLER: (phone) Hey, Dave. Long Time Listener First Time Caller.

MAGIC DAVE: That’s a heck of a name you got there, Long.

CALLER: (phone) It’s a family name.

MAGIC DAVE: My condolences. So, what’s keeping you up tonight?

CALLER: (phone) Well. I may have recently stumbled across a literal demonic death cult, and I’m not sure how to feel about it.

MAGIC DAVE: Not the religious type?

CALLER: (phone) Yes, but no, except every other holiday. You see, in an entirely intentional attempt to isolate myself from any sight or sign of humanity as possible, I unintentionally found myself lost in some remote corner of Black Star Canyon.

MAGIC DAVE: That’s a cool story, man.

CALLER: (phone) Right. Well. Somewhere between realizing I had one hell of a walk back to my car and crying for my mother, I heard a strange chanting coming from deep within the old, abandoned mine shaft I’d foolishly chosen to expel both urine and insight into my predicament.

MAGIC DAVE: Happens to the best of us.

CALLER: (phone) To make a long hike through a dark, winding series of tunnels and tangentially related anecdotes short: I eventually found myself in a vast, underground cavern with an equally vast, underground lake. And in the center of the lake were a bunch of strange little men chanting a strange little diddy to a strange, yet maddeningly large, fleshy skeletal something or other sitting right there in the water like it was a kiddie pool.

MAGIC DAVE: There’s always that one guy hogging the hot tub at those places.

CALLER: (phone) Having spent my fair share of afternoons in Irvine, I can’t say I haven’t seen worse. But once I witnessed this entity drink the wailing souls of several middle-school science teachers, I figured I’d seen most of what they had to offer and politely left without signing the registry.

MAGIC DAVE: Well. It’s always a good idea to keep an open mind and expose yourself to new, interesting things. On a scale of whatever, how’d you rate your visit?

CALLER: (phone) Oh, at least a solid, mid-level cream.

MAGIC DAVE: I’m sorry to hear that.

CALLER: (phone) To make things even worse, I didn’t realize I’d left my keys by the toilet until I’d already made it back to the parking lot.

Juan in a Million

STEVE is the host of a radio show of his own making, and nothing good can or will come of it.

STEVE: I’m a figment of an uncaring universe, and welcome back to The Nightly Chill. Our guest this week is Juan Santana from San Juan Capistrano.

JUAN: The lady said this was going to be a survey…

STEVE: (maniacal laughter) Because that’s what we pay her to say! (to audience) Isn’t that right, folks? (self-applause) (to Juan) You know the rules, don’t you, Juan?

JUAN: Who are you?

STEVE: Wonderful. But for those of you at home, here’s how it works: Juan will be blindfolded, gagged, and abandoned in a random corner of this week’s city, with no phone, no wallet, and no clothes. If he can evade capture for seventy-two hours, Juan wins one-thousand dollars!

JUAN: Wait. That’s it?

STEVE: So you’ll do it?

JUAN: (considers this) Sure, what the Hell.

STEVE: …Wait. Really?

JUAN: Yeah. That’s like half my rent.

STEVE: Wow.

JUAN: When do we get started?

STEVE: …I don’t think I want to anymore.

JUAN: What? Why not?

STEVE: …I never actually expected anyone to go along with this crazy idea.

JUAN: Then why go through the trouble?

STEVE: Promise not to laugh?

JUAN: No. But why let that stop you now?

STEVE: Right. Well… I’ve been a bit lonely.