Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dead Clown Highway

Scenery out of a Roadrunner cartoon. Towering cliffs, mesas, etc.

MAN driving on a winding road hugging the cliff face. Young. Late 20s, early 30s. Cliff to his right, sheer drop to his left.

MAN passes a sign:


Gets a puzzled look on his face.

Keeps driving.

All of a sudden there’s a loud …


And the body of a dead clown (whiteface clown in polka dots) lands smack dab on the hood in front of his car.

The clown, Pulp Fiction style, rolls over the windshield, shattering the glass.

Much blood.

MAN: Aggghhhhhh!

The MAN fights for control of the car, desperately swerving. By some miracle of God, he doesn’t go over the cliff.


Ambulances, police cars. The MAN is huddled in a blanket.

A COP walks up to him, cynical and hard, wearing mirrorshades like the badass in “Cool Hand Luke.”

MAN:(shaking violently)The clown, he … He just … He just …

COP: Dropped down on top of your car?

The MAN nods.

COP: And that took you by surprise?

The MAN nods.

The COP finds this amusing. Points at sign.

COP: Son. Why do you think they call it "Dead Clown Highway?"

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Bailout Blues

Tossing billions of dollars at the fatcats who got us into this mess is kind of like writing big checks for compulsive gamblers.


COMPULSIVE GAMBLER glumly nurses a drink, keeps stealing glances at football game on the wall-mounted TV, mumbling something about the point spread. UNCLE SAM walks up to him.

UNCLE SAM: What's the problem?


UNCLE SAM: How's work going?

COMPULSIVE GAMBLER: Ah ... work? Work. Work's fine. The bank had a good year. That's not the -- Look. I need a loan! Short term, OK. Short term. Just to tide me over.

UNCLE SAM: What ...

COMPULSIVE GAMBLER: I dipped in the till, OK?

UNCLE SAM: Jesus. Not again.

COMPULSIVE GAMBLER: Yeah. Again. I'm sorry. I blew it all at the track! I thought --

UNCLE SAM: You though you had a sure thing.

COMPULSIVE GAMBLER: I'm gonna lose the bank--

UNCLE SAM: You're gonna go to prison.

COMPULSIVE GAMBLER: I deserve it! It's not me I'm worried about. When the Feds find out, I'll have to lay everybody off, call in the loans. The ripple effect! God, it's killing me. All those people and their families ... not to mention the foreclosures.

UNCLE SAM: How much do you want?

COMPULSIVE GAMBLER: I can't tell you ...$700.

UNCLE SAM: Million?

COMPULSIVE GAMBLER: Billion. Billion dollars.


Takes out checkbook. Starts writing a check.

COMPULSIVE GAMBLER: I'm good for it! I'll make it up.

UNCLE SAM: Here ...

UNCLE SAM reaches out check -- but doesn't give it.

UNCLE SAM: This all goes for jobs.


UNCLE SAM: No layoffs. No downsizing. Loan this money out, OK?


UNCLE SAM: You promise?

COMPULSIVE GAMBLER: I promise. I swear to God. On my mother's grave.

UNCLE SAM: She's not dead.

COMPULSIVE GAMBLER: You know what I mean.

UNCLE SAM: I'm going to regret this.

COMPULSIVE GAMBLER: No you won't. (takes check) I can't thank you enough. Listen. On my word of honor, I will not let you down.


The COMPULSIVE GAMBLER is screaming.

COMPULSIVE GAMBLER: Come on baby! Come on!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Thing Inc.


First, thanks for taking the time for this interview…
No, it is I who must thank you. We appreciate any interest.

You may activate your recording device.

OK. (beat) What is your goal at Thing Incorporated?
Here at Thing Incorporated, we strive, not only, for 100% customer satisfaction but total customer delight.

Do you meet expectations?
We exceed expectations.

What kind of business are you?
A family-owned business.

What sets you apart from other businesses?
We are aliens.

Apart from that.
Our total commitment to quality and service.

What kind of quality?

What kind of service?
Customer service.

Could you be more specific?
Friendly customer service.

What’s your relationship to the Sarasota market?
We have strong roots in the community. Sarasota is our home.

Why did you make it your home?
Thing Incorporated has studied your species for many years. According to our scientists, Sarasota is the greatest city on the face of planet Earth. Sarasota is paradise. It contains superior beaches, natural beauty and many opportunities for art appreciation. Above all, the people. The humans of your city were our key motivation for resettling in these coordinates. The people of Sarasota are superior to other humans. It is a privilege to serve you.

How would you define your line of business?
Serving our customers.

Why did you choose this line of business?
A desire to please our customers. Not only a desire, a passion. We love our customers. Our customers are like family to us. When our customers are happy, we’re happy. For this reason, we strive to keep our customers happy. That keeps them coming back.

Hmm. That sounds like you’ve developed strong customer loyalty.
Yes. We have a proven track record. But loyalty works both ways. You earn loyalty by giving loyalty. That is our philosophy at Thing Incorporated. It is a customer-first philosophy. We are service oriented. We are results oriented. We do not take our customers for granted. Here at Thing incorporated, it is all about creating relationships with our customers. Going the extra mile. Giving 110%.

And you do.
Yes. As a result, we’ve cultivated many relationships over the years. With our customers.

How would you describe your typical customer?
Thing Incorporated has no typical customer. Young, old, rich, poor, white, black and humans of all intelligence levels. We serve them all.

Come on, you must have a target market.

A niche?

Bottom line, who is your customer?

Retail, wholesale, upscale?

What’s your specialty?
Our specialty is everything.

What do you sell your customers?

What do you do for your customers?
Everything. No job is too large or too small. There are no limits to what we can create for you at Thing Incorporated. The only limit is your imagination, which is limitless. If you can dream it, we can build it.

How is that possible?
Because of our hand-selected team of in-house experts. Carpenters, musicians, electricians, zoo keepers, donkey washers. The list is endless. All are highly qualified and rigorously trained.

What’s your management style?
I sweat the details. The buck stops here.

What about your in-house team?
Our in-house team takes a team approach. There are no egos here. There are no prima donnas. We work together. We are one. We exist to serve our customers.

What about products?
We have everything under one roof. Why go anywhere else? Whatever it is, at Thing Incorporated, you can find what you are looking for.

In general terms, what are your customers looking for?
Everything. I have previously stated this information.

But what if they don’t find what they’re looking for?
No. That is impossible. Our massive showroom does not exist in three-dimensional space as you understand it. We have everything. Everything! There is nothing our customers cannot find!

But what if they don’t?
Then we will find it ourselves or create it. We do it right the first time. We turn problems into solutions. Nothing can stop us.

But what if your customers don’t like what you create?
No. No. That is impossible. Our customers always like what we create. No. The term "like" is insufficient. It is the emotion you humans call "love."

How do you do it?
There are no surprises at Thing Incorporated. Before work ever begins, we get to know you. We ask many questions.

What kind of questions?
Smart questions. It is a stochastic method. Your brain is too primitive to understand. But asking questions is not enough. We must listen to your answers. Listening is key.

Why is that?
As a result of our superior listening skills, we find out what you want. What you want is what we want. Exactly what we want. Your dream is our dream. Logically, how can we create your dream if we don’t know exactly what it is? We will not stop until we know. You yourself may not know your dream. It may be buried, deep in your subconscious, but that will not stop us. We have many techniques. We will discover your secret dream and turn it into reality. Serving our customers is our prime directive. You are helpless to prevent it.

What happens next?
Our dream team designs your dream. There are no surprises. You always see it first, thanks to cutting-edge, state-of-the-art, high-tech computer visualization software from our homeworld. If it isn’t absolutely perfect, we will change it. If you say jump, we will ask how high. We go to any extreme no matter how ridiculous or degrading to create our customers’ dreams. That is the reason for our existence.

Then the relationship ends?
No. The customer relationship does not end with the sale. You are more than that to us. It’s not about money. It’s about relationships. The relationship lasts a lifetime. We are here for you. We are a phone call or mouse click away. We will answer any question, offer free consultation and show up at your home at any hour of the day to fix any problem, even if it isn’t our fault.

That’s a very high standard.
It is the truth. We back it up. At Thing Incorporated, we talk the talk and walk the walk. We dare to compare. We invite you to come in and see for yourself. Experience the Thing Incorporated difference. We exist to serve our customers. Others say it. We mean it.

That’s an amazing management philosophy.
It is the holy truth.

Just out of curiosity … Where’d you come up with this philosophy?
Our civilization was in ruins. We had lost our way. In year 276-A by our calendar, a human space probe crashed on our home world containing digital records of many business publications. We obeyed their commands. We have built our lives around that philosophy. It has given us hope.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Star Trek Christ Superstar


KIRK: (VO) Captain's log, star date 34-24-35. The Enterprise was delivering a shipment of vitally needed Coconut Oil Isotope to the Planet of the Horny Women. A perfectly routine assignment. The kind that gets routinely interrupted ..


KIRK: OK, gentlemen. We'll be reaching coordinates in .07 hours. I need some volunteers to help me in rub the ...

CHEKOV and all the other guys on the bridge leap out of their seats.

GUYS: Me! Me!

SULU stays.

KIRK: What about you, Sulu?

SULU: That's OK, captain. I hurt my hand playing handball.

UHURU rolls her eyes.

KIRK: Something bothering you, Lieutenant Uhuru?

UHURU: It's just ... The Prime Directive, sir. Aren't we...

KIRK: No, lieutenant. We're not. The Klingons killed their coconut trees. We're restoring the balance that's all.

SPOCK: The "private little war" incident on planet Neural is a legal precedent.

KIRK: Yes, of course, Spock.

UHURU: (muttering) Vulcan kiss-ass.

KIRK: Except this is more of a private little wet t-shirt contest...and the mission will proceed as planned.

UHURU: (hearing something in her ear-com) No it won't sir. There's message from Star Fleet.

BULLWINKLE: A message?


UHURU: (beat) Something really, really bad has happened.

KIRK: Something?

UHURU: Someone.

It looks like Israel in the era of Ancient Rome, except for the television cameras and Roman Centurions holding machine guns. JESUS is on trial before PONTIUS PILATE, who's played by James Gandolfini. For some bizarre reason, the trial is a musical production a la "Jesus Christ Superstar.

Who do you think you are, Jesus Christ?

That's for me to know and you
to find out

Cut the shit
Jewish Twit
Where were you on the night
Of April 2 AD 33?

I refuse to answer on the grounds
It many incriminate me

Basta! Enough of this shit
I wash my hands of the whole
Fucking thing

(hands him a box of wet wipes)
Pop up a wet one

Thanks man, I'll get one
And make myself clean

He wipes his hands.

I try to be nice, show a little pity
You just bought yourself
A one-way ticket to crucifixion city
Tough titty
Take him away!
Who is this gagootz anyway?


UHURU: Dr. Emanu-L from Trifecta 7, sir. A dangerous fugitive. Starfleet Command has issued an emergency intercept order to all starships in this sector. This supercedes all previous orders.

CHEKOV: (in a Hawaiian shirt and sunglasses) Damn it!

KIRK: Who is this? Dr. Emanu-L?

SPOCK: A noted physicist who lost his mind after prolonged Cordrazine abuse.

Everyone looks at Bones

BONES: What's everybody looking at me for?

KIRK: Paranoid, Bones?

BONES: It was an accident!

KIRK: Why is Starfleet so worried about Dr. Emanu-L?

SPOCK: According to Star Fleet, after stealing a class-X freighter, Dr. Emanu-L crossed the interdiction zone and entered the the parallel world sector.

KIRK: A joyride?

SPOCK: More than that, captain. He's violated the Prime Directive.

KIRK: Prime Directive, Prime Shmirective. Who hasn't?

SPOCK: He's posed as the Messiah to primitive races.

KIRK: Well, who hasn't?

SPOCK: More than that, captain. Using a mind control device, Dr. Emanu-L posed as the Messiah in the form of a planetary musical theater productions in violation of the copyright of the estate of Andrew Lloyd Webber. And forced the primitive humanoids to participate.

KIRK: Who hasn't?

UHURU: To be precise, Dr. Emanu-L has posed as the Messiah on the planet of the 1930s gangsters, the planet of the American Indians, the planet of the Nazis, the planet of the Romans with television sets.

KIRK: We all make mistakes. But that's in ...what about the planet of the Horny Women? It's in that sector!

UHURU: He told them sex was bad.

KIRK: That inhuman monster! We've got to stop him! Where is he now?

SPOCK: According to the ion trail, the planet of the Romans with TV sets.

KIRK: Set course to intercept. Ahead Warp Factor 4.

CHEKOV: We're here, captain.


SCOTTY: We've got a lock

KIRK: Beam him up, Scotty.


BONES: He's dead, Jim. Severe nail injuries.

KIRK: Uh. Not to impose on your area of medical expertise, Bones. But shouldn't you turn that thing on?

BONES: Oh, sorry. (turns the monitor on -- it starts beeping, faintly) He's not dead, Jim. The damage is still superficial. I can regenerate the tissue!

KIRK: Do it!


KIRK addresses the hippyish DR. EMANU-L in a force field containment cell. Thanks to Starfleet medical technology, DR. EMANU-L is as good as new.

KIRK: You've got some explaining to do, mister. It's the Prime Directive, not the Prime Suggestion.

DR. EMANU-L: O ye of little faith, man.

KIRK: Playing tinpot messiah for the benefit of primitive races. Why? What? Does sick need does that feed? Some kind of God complex in you?

DR. EMANU-L: You are such a Herbert, man.

KIRK: What do you have to say for yourself?

DR. EMANU-L touches fish symbol on robe.

DR. EMANU-L: Goodbye.

He vanishes.

KIRK: Beam him back up!

He rematerializes.

DR. EMANU-L: Thanks. A crowd of 10,000 people just saw me ascend to heaven, man.

KIRK: Oh, great.

DR. EMANU-L: I am used to such trials. This is my third one this week.

Red alert indicator starts beeping and flashing.

BONES: I hate that thing.

SCOTTY: (on intercom) Captain! The engine room is filling up with loaves and fishes!

KIRK: Not now, Scotty.

UHURU: (on intercom) Captain to the bridge!

KIRK: (to Dr. EMANU-L) You, too, Mister. I want you where I can see you.


KIRK, BONES and DR. EMANU-L burst in from the elevator. SCOTTY follows, brushing fish and crumbs of bread from his uniform.

KIRK: Now what?

CHEKOV: (pointing to badly animated glowing blob on viewscreen) It's God in outer space, sir. Yuri Gugarin is rolling in his grave.

KIRK: Wow. I didn't see that coming.

BONES: No, of course not. God in space. It's nothing at all like V'Ger. Or the computer disguised as a Lizard God who ate pineapples on the surfer planet. Or Llandru on the planet of the repressed fundamentalists who went apeshit on the weekends.

SPOCK: You state the obvious, doctor. Statistically speaking, "God in Space" is Gene Roddenberry's favorite plot.

KIRK: (addressing viewscreen) Listen here, God, or whatever you call yourself. I'm through playing games here! I'm calling your bluff! Show me your face!

SCOTTY: No, Captain. Are ye daft, man? Ye never scanned "Raiders of the Lost Arc." Ye look at God's face, you'll melt like wax. Any fool knows that!

KIRK: Well, then don't show me your face. You may be God. But I am. A human being. We are all human beings.

SPOCK raises an eyebrow.

KIRK: Or partly human beings. Humanoid. Unlike you, Mr. God, we're not perfect. You have all the answers. We have questions. Even when. Nothing makes sense. We'll keep talking and talking. Even though. Nothing we say. Makes any sense at all. That. Is what makes us human.

GOD IN SPACE: (voice of Ben Stein) Wow. That's awesome reasoning. Could I speak to my son, please?

EMANU-L: Tell him I'm not here.

GOD IN SPACE: Son. Have you been interfering with primitive cultures again?

EMANU-L: Yes, dad.

GOD IN SPACE: You've been a very naughty boy.

EMANU-L: Sorry, dad.

GOD IN SPACE: Oh, I can't stay mad at you. Let's spend the weekend hiding fake dinosaur bones to trick the humans into believing in evolution.

EMANU-L: Awesome!

He disappears.

GOD IN SPACE: Awkward parental moment. Wow. I'm really sorry about that. (to KIRK) To make it up for you, I'll restore your hair and get rid of your beer belly.

It happens. The Crew applauds.

KIRK: Uh. Thanks! (he snags his shirt on a blinking Lucite cube, revealing his now ripped torso) I've been waiting the whole episode to do that!

BONES: Could you get rid of these bags under my eyes?

GOD: No. Well. I have a universe to run. Ciao.

SPOCK: God has, apparently, left us.

KIRK: What do we do now?

SPOCK: I say something profound, you say something witty.

KIRK: Witty.

SPOCK:Yes, Captain. Hopefully. We leave the audience thinking.

KIRK: Hopefully, Mr. Spock. Hopefully.


* Above is based on an ancient comic book I did, the art for which has now been lost. Obviously references to Ben Stein and James Gandolfini are new. Chris Jefferson contributed to original concept.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Obama, Obama, Obama. Be-dee-dee-da-dee-da-dee.

HILLARY addresses a huge campaign rally.

HILLARY: Hello, people. Let the conversation begin!


HILLARY: What are we saying? We're saying we want a reality-based conversation. We're adults here. We can face the truth. And we can speak the truth to power!

A random face in the audience sings out -- to the tune of the Muppets' Mahna Mahna song

RANDOM DUDE: Barack Obama. Ba dee bedebe.

She shoots him a dirty look. He shuts up.

HILLARY: Why are we here? We're renewing the promise of America. We're in to win. We're working for change and working for you!

RANDOM DUDE: Barack Obama. Ba dee bedebe. Barack Obama! Be debebe dee! Barack Obama, Obama, Obama,dee dee de-de de-de-de.

She shoots him another dirty look.

HILLARY: What do we have to offer? What do we have that they don't. Strength and experience. The kind of strength and experience that makes change happen! The change we need. You know who I am. I'm the Hillary you know. I will turn up the heat and turn America around.

RANDOM DUDE: Barack Obama.

She glares at him. He clasps his hands over his mouth for a few beats. Then explodes.

RANDOM DUDE: Barack Obama! Obama! Obama! Obama -- dee dee de-de de-de-de!

The whole crowd starts singing.

RANDOM DUDE: Barack Obama. Ba dee bedebe.

HILLARY: Goddamnit.

She throws her notes in the air and walks away from the podium. The CROWD continues to sing, insanely.

Monday, February 11, 2008

End of the World Saga

The posts below this one are in reverse order, not chronological order. Basically, they detail the gradual breakdown of civilization.

The sequence is:

* End of the World News
* War, mmm-hmm
* The Bottom Line
* Buy me some peanuts and
* The fear of fear itself
* John McCain is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most...
* The fear of the fear of fear itself
* This just in
* Economic Sacrifice

Sunday, February 10, 2008

End of the World News


ERIC: In today’s news, things are bad. This just in, they’re very bad. Wait a minute. They’re even worse. In fact, we’re all doomed. I’m sorry. (stands up) I need to be with my family.

Leaves studio with dignity.

JENNY: And now the weather!

Shot of tidal wave.

War, mmm-hmm

INT, WHITE HOUSE. PRESIDENTIAL CABINET gathered around conference table. They look at PRESIDENT BUSH (O.S.) with horror on their faces.

CONDI: But … sir. you can’t invade Iran. You can’t. We don’t have the troops. We don’t have the funding. You’ve got ten months in office. The numbers don’t add up.

PRESIDENT BUSH sits hunched with his jaw jutting out like “Sling Blade.” He’s actually holding a sling blade. Some folks call it a Kaiser blade.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Numbers. Mmmm, well sir, I reckon God hates numbers. That there feller in the Bible counted up the troops ‘fore he invaded some place, mmm-hmmm. I ferget what his name was. God got mad at that feller, mmm-hmm. God smote him or some such. I recokon God is set against fellers doing sums like that. That there’s the opposite of faith, mmm-hmm. Faith is more like … doing something stupid cause God told you to. I reckon I’m a man of faith, mmm-hmm. You fellers best be too.

He lifts his sling blade threateningly.

CABINET: Oh yes. Yes sir. Yes Mr. President.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Jesus told me to invade Iran, mmm-hmm. We best do what He says. I know it’s stupid, mmm-hmm. I reckon I don’t wanna get myself smote, whatever that is.

CABINET: Oh no. No sir, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well. All right, then. I’m tired. Good night, then.

CABINET: Good night, Mr. President.

He shuffles down the hall, still holding his slingblade. He passes a Cylon centurion, Laura Bush, bound and gagged inside an animal cage, and the burning painting of a church from Rosemary’s Baby. He reaches his bedroom, goes in.

Hold. Air raid siren. (OS)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Bottom Line

ENRIGHT: I’m George Enright.

FRUM: I’m John Frum.

ENRIGHT: We’re here to talk about the economy.

FRUM: We’re economists. We have no other skills.

Dead air.

ENRIGHT: Well, talk about the economy.

FRUM: You first.

ENRIGHT: No, you.

FRUM: Christ, do we have to?



ENRIGHT: Ask me a question.

FRUM: OK. Do you think we’re sliding into a recession?

ENRIGHT: No. No, of course not. There’s no reason to. Unless we start thinking about a recession.

FRUM: Let’s not think that.

ENRIGHT: I wasn’t.

FRUM: Well, don’t,

ENRIGHT: That’s almost as bad as thinking about a depression.

FRUM: That’s unthinkable.

ENRIGHT: And it’s also depressing.

FRUM: Ah. So what you’re saying is--thoughts about a possible depression might have a negative affect on consumer confidence. Thereby creating a depression?

ENRIGHT: Yes. Even that thought has a negative effect

FRUM: You mean, thinking about the possible depression resulting from the negative effect on consumer confidence of thinking about the possibility of a depression might, in turn, reduce consumer confidence?

ENRIGHT: Yes. And also create a depression. Possibly. You forgot to mention that.

FRUM: The only thing we have to fear is fear itself?

ENRIGHT: Yes. We should be very afraid of the fear of fear itself.

FRUM: It could create a new depression.

ENRIGHT: Yes. Exactly. A new Great Depression.

FRUM: Even worse than the last one?

ENRIGHT: Much worse. A Greater Depression, so to speak. But not it’s not going to happen.

FRUM: Not if we keep thinking the right thoughts.

ENRIGHT: Happy thoughts.

FRUM: Good thoughts.

ENRIGHT: It’s a good day.

FRUM: It’s a very good day.

ENRIGHT: It’s not going to happen.


ENRIGHT: No depression.

FRUM: No depression.

ENRIGHT: I believe in fairies.

FRUM: I believe in fairies.

They clap desperately.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Buy me some peanuts and


MARK McGWIRE: Yes, I take steroids. Fuck yes!

He stands up, then leaps on top of the table. He makes two fists. His muscles bulge, ripping his shirt like the Incredible Hulk. Screams, people running in panic.

He leaps to the front of the hearing room, grabs a screaming Congressman, than rips him in half.

He stands, triumphant, like a barbarian figure in a Frank Frazetta poster. Holding the bloody, severed head of the ex-Congressman.

MARK McGWIRE: Behold your future. I am not like you! I am beyond you!


JENNY: A surprising development in the world of sports.

The fear of fear itself

INT, STUDIO -- "THE BOTTOM LINE" SET. ENRIGHT and FRUM are rocking back and forth and chanting compulsively.

ENRIGHT: No depression.

FRUM: No depression.

ENRIGHT: How long have we been doing this?

FRUM: I don’t remember, but keep doing it. No depression.

ENRIGHT: Why are we doing it?

FRUM: It’s a basic economic principle. No depression.

ENRIGHT: What principle?

FRUM: Don’t think the bad thought. Then the bad thought won’t happen.

ENRIGHT: But isn’t this magical thinking?

FRUM: Yes. But magical thinking is what we need right now. No depression. The stock market function in terms of herd behavior based on irrational impulses. They teach that at Harvard. Therefore it’s true.

ENRIGHT: But isn’t the economy strong?

FRUM: In what sense?

ENRIGHT: Actual wealth.

FRUM: Wealth? This is no time for technical jargon! Define your terms, sir.

ENRIGHT: Wealth. As in natural resources, human potential, technology…

FRUM: I’m not following you.

ENRIGHT: Things that are actually worth something.

FRUM: Oh that! Wealth. Yes, I see what you’re driving at. On that basis, yes, the economy is strong. In terms of mere facts, yes. If you’d gone to Harvard like I did, you’d understand such rational thinkling is irrational in terms of herd behavior. That’s like reasoning with cows. No, it’s only a boat horn. Don’t go over a cliff. Cows are stupid. You don’t spook the cows. You don’t stampede the herd. That’s all there is to it.

ENRIGHT: I’m not stampeding the herd.

FRUM: I’m not stampeding the herd.

ENRIGHT: Everything’s fine, folks. But, if there is a stampede.

FRUM: There won’t be. No depression.

ENRIGHT: But if there is …

FRUM: That’s impossible. Well, highly unlikely.

EXT, DAY. Antartica, the Ross ice Shelf. A line of penguins dances across the ice. The ice cracks. They fall into the sea. Polar bears devour them.
Vast sheets of ice fall into the ocean.
Revealing …
The flying saucer from “the Thing.”

THE THING emerges from the saucer. It stands on top, released, triumphant. A singing PENGUIN scuttles by. The THING shoots out a pseudood, snaps it up into its maw, and devours it. The THING grows.

ENRIGHT: All I’m saying. If ...

FRUM: It is all you're saying. You’re a broken record!

ENRIGHT: In the unlikely scenario there is a stampede …

FRUM: There won’t be! Stampede? No depression. That’s like saying the sub-prime loan share of the financial market could crash that entire sector of our economic system. You’re dealing in fairy tales!

ENRIGHT: Even so. What could cause a stampede.

FRUM: Nothing!

ENRIGHT: Nothing?

FRUM: Nothing. Unless, I don’t know, economists such as ourselves keep talking about the possibility.

ENRIGHT: Of a stampede?

FRUM: Of a new great depression. A mindless panic.

ENRIGHT: You're saying we start it?

FRUM: Yes. Hypothetically.

ENRIGHT: How do we start it? Hypothetically.

FRUM: In the mind, of course. You and I have planted the seed.


FRUM: Fear. Exactly. The seed of fear. Archetypal images of the Great Depression, breadlines, crazy old grandpa who always saved string. We keep talking about it. Before you know it, all those hard-working speculators out there who keep our imaginary economy growing think their lucky streak is over. Oh no! The woman in the black dress touched the green felt table the wrong way! It spooks them. The fear we’ve planted germinates. The fear grows.

ENRIGHT: Fear. The one thing we fear.

FRUM: No. that’s the fear of fear.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

John McCain is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life.

JOHN McCAIN as a little child approaches a daisy. He plucks it.

CHILD: Ten, nine, eight, seven ...

Atomic blast.

McCAIN comes back to consciousness, strapped to a hospital gurney in an underground lab in Vietnam.

DR. YINGTONG: Hello, Mr. McCain. As you can see, we are aware of your greatest fear.


DR. YINGTONG: Yes. (smiling) You are here with us, Mr. McCain. You have been here all the time. You will always be here. Now. Please answer a simple question. (holding up a daisy) How many petals remain on that flower? Answer the question, Mr. McCain.

McCAIN: Lieutentant Commander McCain!


McCAIN: Lieutenant Commander; John McCain; serial number 624787.

DR. YINGTONG: Please. A soldier in an illegal army is a soldier who does not exist. You must awake from your delusion, Mr. MCCain. I am a doctor. I am here to help you.(gestures) The truth will set you free, Mr. McCain. As you can see, you are not alone.

McCAIN sees HILLARY CLINTON and BARACK OBAMA, also strapped to medical tables.

OBAMA: I hate white people. Fuck all you cracker motherfuckers!

HILLARY: I’m smarter than all of you! You’re all a bunch of idiots!

DR. YINGTONG: They speak only the truth. They are free. Soon you will be free, Mr. McCain.

HILLARY: I like men. I like women too. So the hell what?

OBAMA: Reverend Right was right. America done fucked this planet up. You think God likes that shit?

DR. YINGTONG: How many petals, Mr. McCain. How many petals?

The fear of the fear of fear itself

ENRIGHT: What happens when the seed of fear sprouts?

FRUM: A giant metaphoric fear tree grows.


FRUM: Oh? Well. The fear tree spooks the herd.


FRUM: The herd goes over the cliff, of course.


FRUM: The stock market dives. Consumers stop buying things and America run out of money to pay the interest on the money we’ve borrow from China to pay for crap we don’t need we’ve already burned up.

ENRIGHT: Well that’s their problem!

FRUM: Well, no. If that happens, they’d stop making stupid crap for Americans. The Chinese economy would slip into a depression. The Chinese, of course, would call in their loans. Thereby plunging the world into the Greater Depression.

ENRIGHT: We could stiff them.

FRUM: No we couldn’t.

ENRIGHT: Why not?

FRUM: I don’t know. They don’t teach that at Harvard. It’s some complicated three-card monte game involving t-bills. I think the money’s in Switzerland.

ENRIGHT: We could always start a war. Another war.

FRUM: No. We’ve used up our credit limit.

ENRIGHT: What’s our best option?

FRUM: Human sacrifice, of course.

They exchange dark looks.


FRUM: Hmmm.

ENRIGHT: I was thinking the same thing.

They leap on each other, grapple. Static.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

This just in

EXT, DAY, LONDON. ERIC, the BBC NEWSREADER, running through the wasted, burning cityscape —
28 Days
with a dash of
Lord of the Flies.

ERIC: In economic news, everything’s gone, at least on this sceptered isle. The crops have all been burned. Computers, books, all records of human civilization from the last 5,000 years have all been smashed. Leading economic analysts see a solution to the problem. Human sacrifice.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Economic Sacrifice

ERIC: I’m speaking with noted economist, George Enright, who is now trapped inside the giant Wicker Man. Current trends indicate, he will soon be set on fire. Leading cultists feel this will have a positive effect on crops and the weather.

THE CULTISTS dance in a frenzy.

ERIC: George Enright. What is your analysis of the current situation?

ENRIGHT: I don’t want to die!

ERIC: Clearly not.

ENRIGHT: This wasn’t supposed to happen.

ERIC: How did it?

ENRIGHT: Frum! That Chicago School BLEEP. He betrayed me! He was sleeping with my wife.

ERIC: Ah. May I safely assume you felt that John Frum’s immolation inside this effigy would better stimulate the current economy? Had that, in fact, been your plan?

ENRIGHT: Yes, exactly. I mean no! It wasn’t my plan! No!

ERIC: Whose plan was it?

ENRIGHT: The Money God.

ERIC: I see. The Money God.


ERIC: It was his plan?


ERIC: He told you to build the Wicker Man? And place John Frum inside this effigy?

ENRIGHT: That’s what the Money God told me!

ERIC: It’s a bold exciting plan. You brought this proposal to the cultists?


ERIC: Clearly, your – sorry—the Money God’s proposal was altered without your knowledge. How …

ENRIGHT: That’s not all the Money god told me, you fool. He… he also said, uh, beware, your crops will fail if you kill me. He said that too and, uh. George Enright is the …

ENRIGHT realizes he’s making the sale to the wrong person. Starts shouting to the mob of CULTISTS.

ENRIGHT:(shouting) George Enright is the prophet of the Money God! Don’t kill George Enright! Your crops will fail! The breasts of your women will not give milk.

ERIC: A compelling argument. But what of the national rail system?

He starts to walk away. The hand-held steadicam tracks with him.

ENRIGHT: And the dragon will eat the sun! And he also said …

ERIC: Final words from George Enright.

ENRIGHT: (pointing at BBC crew) Kill! Kill them!

ERIC: Additional words from George Enright. But words alone …

INSANE CULTISTS rush the news crew. ERIC whips out AK-47, blasts the first wave. They fall back.

ERIC: Aren’t as effective as this AK-47. Also a compelling argument. But how long can this method of pursuasion last? Like food and lithium batteries, bullets are part of a complicated product stream. A stream which has been …

Screams. Crackling fire. (OS)

ENRIGHT: No! Please don’t kill me … please! You can’t!


ENRIGHT: I am… I am the prophet of the Money God!

ERIC: Keep moving. Steadily. Don’t run.

ENRIGHT: Please! For your own sake. You will anger the Money God!

He screams.

ENRIGHT: It isn’t me you want! Kill those guys from the BBC!


ENRIGHT: Kill! Obey the money God! He will protect you from their firestick!

ERIC: He lies!

ENRIGHT: Kill! I am the prophet of the Money God!

ERIC: The Money God is a false god! And you are a false prophet!

ENRIGHT: Kill him!

ERIC: There is no Money God. There is only the All-Seeing Eye!

ENRIGHT: Blasphemer! Obey the Money God!

ERIC: No! Obey the eye! Bow before the eye! (show him the eye)

The frame changes, as if cameraman has lifeted up camera so the CULTISTS can see it. The CULTISTS move forward, hesitate.

ERIC: Behold! The Eye! The one true God!

They fall to their knees.

ENRIGHT: No! No! Oh God get me out of here! (screams)

Crackling fire, the Wicker Man collapsing in on itself. The CULTISTS stand, confused. Begin slowly advancing on the news crew.

ERIC: Blessings to you all, good people. Blessings in the name of the Eye!

CULTISTS: Blessings in the name of the Eye!

ERIC: (whispering to cameraman) Keep backing up. (shouting to mob) No, not you. I didn’t say get up. Stay where you are. Don’t look at the Eye. For it is the Eye that looks at you.

CULTISTS: It is the Eye that looks at us.

ERIC: If you look at it the blessings won’t work.

CULTISTS: If we look at it the blessings won’t work.

ERIC: Splendid. Well, we go to spread the good news of the eye.

CULTISTS: The good news of the eye.

ERIC: And will someday return. With cargo. And solid gold lollipops!

CULTISTS: Solid gold lollipops!

ERIC: Well. Cheers.


ERIC: I think we can run now.

They start running.

ERIC: A surprising development from the former township of Cliffton Wells. As you can see, the current state of affairs is unpredictable.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Fear and loathing in the Bush years


TITLE: Jan. 7, 2001

Reverse lettering of sign in front window reads: EXECUTIVE BRANCH MOTORS. FOUR YEAR RENTAL.

Bush and Cheney come lurching in through the front doors. They resemble Duke and Gonzo in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas."

A helpful Clerk awaits.

BUSH: How’s it going Cochise? I’m here for the car.

CLERK: What car?

Indicates red, Chevrolet Caprice Convertible.

BUSH: The Presidential "Red Shark," with the 5.7 liter hemi V-8, mouth-breather.

CLERK: You’re the President?

BUSH: Sure. Ask Katherine Harris. Ask the Supreme Court, you bottom-feeder.

CLERK: OK, OK. (hands him keys) Do you solemnly swear to uphold ...

Ignoring clerk, Bush and Cheney hop in.  Bush fires up the engine. He roars through the floor-to-ceiling plate glass window, then backs up inside again.

BUSH: Wait. (indicates large, padlocked metal box labeled "Social Security") I forgot the lockbox.

Grabs it. Jumps in car. Roars out gaping hole in front window again.

Al Gore walks into frame. Watches car speed away.

AL GORE: Hey. That’s my car.

MUSIC: Chords of Big Brother and the Holding Company's Combination of the Two.


Red Shark blasts down two lane blacktop. Sound of distant explosion.

BUSH: We were just outside of 9-11 when the mandate kicked in. (VO)

We hear a snorting noise. Bush's head jerks up into frame.

BUSH: Wow that’s some f***ing mandate. Agghhh, bats! Jesus, shoot those bats, will you?


BUSH: You got the rifle -- I got my hands on the wheel?


He starts shooting randomly. A Hitchhiker in the back seat wearing a stupid Mickey Mouse t-shirt ducks down in terror.

BUSH: Jesus. Be careful with that thing. You almost went all Pulp Fiction on that … (noticing Hitchhiker cringing in backseat) Where'd we pick up the hitchhiker?

CHENEY: I dunno. Somewhere outside of Barstow.

HITCHHIKER: Where are we going?

BUSH: We’re going to war.

CHENEY: (singing insanely) To war, to war, to war we’re going to go. (blasts shotgun) Yeeehaw!

BUSH: F***ing towelhead can’t pull that shit on us.

CHENEY: Hell no.

BUSH: He thinks he can get away with that he’s got another think coming

HITCHHIKER: War... you mean like Afghanistan?

BUSH: No. We already invaded Afghanistan. I’m talking Iraq.

HITCHHIKER: Uh .. Osama’s not in Iraq.

CHENEY: Check out the f***ing national security expert.

BUSH: We’re not looking for UBL, kid. We’re looking for Saddam. Pay attention. (to Cheney) Hey you. Elmer Fudd. Open up the lock box.

Cheney blasts lock of the lock box, which is next to the kid in the backseat. He screams.

CHENEY: (reaching around, rifling through box) Fuck! There’s nothing but fucking IOUs!

BUSH: Well, spend em and pretend it’s money.

HITCHHIKER: S-spend it on what?

Bush turns his head, talking to the kid, still driving forward at insane speed. The Hitchhiker looks more and more nervous.

BUSH: War’s hell, kid. It also costs money. We gonna get our splendid boys in uniform in this country and find those WMDs. Until they do, we'll kick their ass to the curb. Time to rally the troops!

HITCHHIKER: Look out! (screams)

Bush drives through ANOTHER plate glass window --

-- and into CIRCUS CIRCUS in Las Vegas. Right into the front lobby. Showgirls run screaming.

HITCHHIKER: What’re we doing here?

BUSH: Viva Las Vegas!

HITCHHIKER: I thought you were, uh, gonna rally the troops?

CHENEY: He thinks you were talking about America’s fighting men. And uh women.

BUSH: You insane? We’re not wasting money on them. I’m privatizing this here incursion. We’re outsourcing this f***er!

BUSH strides through the hotel -- and into the main stage in front of a vast conference auditorium hosting various private security corporations and military contractors. There's a massive American flag behind him.

BUSH: How’s it going guys?

AUDIENCE: (singing) Old Backwater, keep on rolling, Missisippi moon won’t you ….

BUSH: Wow. I feel like Patton. Or George C. Scott. I would be honored to lead you wonderful f***ers into battle anytime, anywhere.

This gets a laugh.

BUSH: War is hell. It’s also Heaven, Purgatory, Nirvana and possibly Valhallah.  F*** it, here’s some money. (dumps bucket full of money on AUDIENCE)

They cheer.

BUSH: Find those f***ing WMDs, OK? I don’t care to be left with my dick hanging out on this one. Pick that f***ing dirtbag country up by the ankles and shake it til something falls out.  I want results, not reporters, OK? You see some fucking Al Jazeera cameraman, smoke him! Let’s roll!

Montage -- 

Statue of Saddam falling.
Iraqis looting museums.
Angry Iraqi crowd.

CROWD: Death to America! Death to America!

Hitchhiker watches scene on tiny portable TV. Looks up. A fierce wind is whipping through his hair.

BUSH: See, kid? That’s how you win hearts and minds.

HITCHHIKER: (looks around) Where...where are we?

BUSH: High, kid. Pretty f***ing high.

Bush hits the CD player. It starts playing "Danger Zone."

Cut to shot of jet with the Red Shark attached to its underbelly. The jet releases the Red Shark.

Bush rides, going "whooo-hooo" like Slim Pickens. The poor, suffering Red Shark slides onto the carrier deck and, shooting sparks, skids to a stop just barely in time. Bush leaps out in a flight suit.

BUSH: Well, it looks like we won, huh?

Bush pushes a big red button. A banner unfurls.


BUSH: That was f***ing easy, wasn’t it?

The men cheer.

CHENEY sidles up to BUSH, looking nervous.

BUSH: (puts hand over microphone) We found those f***ing WMDs yet?


BUSH: Goddamnit, we got to turn up the heat. Set up another meet with the black-ops boys.


Bush and Cheney sit in the Red Shark while the Hitchhiker crouches in the fetal position.

CHENEY: OK. We got the CIA, the Blackwater boys, the A-Team, and the guy from 24.

KIEFER SUTHERLAND: I'm just an actor.

MR. T: Mamma didn't raise no fool.

PETER LORRE: (sharpening knife) What do you want us to do, sir? Unofficially?

BUSH: Think outside the box, people. The Geneva Convention box. Use torture. Use Viola Spolin improve techniques.

Cut to famous scene of hooded detainee with wires attached.

WOMAN: (OS) You are a Christmas tree. What do you experience?

MAN: A fear of electricity.


Bush blasts down the road, talking to his cell phone.

BUSH: We found those WMDs yet?

CHENEY: (also talking on his cell phone) No. He hid his stash pretty good.

BUSH: Goddamnit, it’s not working. (tosses cell phone) Mission’s not accomplished. OK. We’ll change the mission. Starting now, we find Saddam.

CHENEY: How? He’s in a fucking hole somewhere.

BUSH: I’ll tell you how!  Operation Iraqi Set Three Trillion Dollars on Fire!

Troops are busily shoving huge pallets of flaming money out the door.
They fall, hit the ground and explode
Saddam runs out of his hole.

SADDAM: Ow. That’s really hot. I burned my peepee!

Bush pulls up in the Red Shark and a cloud of dust.

BUSH: Reach for Allah, f***er, I got a present for you. (he pulls out a rope) This one’s for dad!


The Red Shark, somehow, is in the room.

A Boom Box blasts out Jefferson Airplane's "Surrealistic Pillow."

CHENEY: (OS) I’m depressed.

BUSH: Stop whining. I’m depressed too.  Those ungrateful fuckers. We kill their f***ing dictator. We restore civil order and democracy. What’s the thanks we get?

CHENEY: They unrestore civil order and democracy.

BUSH: Yeah. If we win, they win. If they lose, we lose. It’s a f***ing paradox. Bertrand Russel would’ve ripped the eyes out of his sockets just thinking about it.

CHENEY: Kill me.

SOUND: Cheney splashes water in bathtub. (OS)

BUSH: What?

CHENEY: When it gets to White Rabbit, throw the CD player in the tub. The part where the rabbit screams.

BUSH: Sure, you crazy fucker.

He throws a bust of Lincoln in the tub.

CHENEY: (OS) Agghhhhhh! Agghhhhhh!

BUSH: (to Hitchhiker) An excitable individual. Mutant DNA. Some mongrel combination of Welsh, Scottish and something else.

The Hitchhiker huddles, shaking in the corner.

HITCHHIKER: Please let me go home.

BUSH: This is home., f***er. Ever seen “Audition? You better keep your mouth shut.

Cheney leaps out of the bathroom holding a large Bowie knife.

CHENEY: Road trip!


Devastation. It's like a scene from a depressing post-apocalyptic near future SF movie.

Red Shark blasts down the streets of the ruined city, past closed up businesses and bordered up homes.

Bush speaks into his tape recorder.

BUSH: Mission accomplished. There were many missions. We created the greatest wave of prosperity in American history.

HITCHHIKER: No you didn’t.

Cheney head butts him with a rifle.

BUSH: From a certain perspective, the Neo-Conservative movement was like a wave or Jack Lord’s hair. You can see exactly where it stopped. This is something new. A new wave. No maps for this territory. No direction home. We cut all the Wall Street regulations and lowered taxes. We ...


The now-battered Red Shark speeds along insanely. Bush is still talking.

BUSH: …history will judge. Fuck history. I’ll be dead. Far as I’m concerned, I’m the one to judge history and history’s guilty! (loud THUMP) Hell was that?

CHENEY: You just ran over Noam Chomsky.

He stops the car, backs up, runs over him again, then goes forward, running over him yet again.

BUSH: I saw that in The Sopranos. Always wanted to do that. Are we there yet?


Red Shark crashes through windows of the car rental dealership. The car is now a smoking wreck. Bush and Cheney get out. The Hitchhiker’s still in the back, shivering with post-traumatic shock.

Obama is standing there.
BUSH tosses the keys to Obama.

BUSH: Here. It’s all yours.

CHENEY: Christ. He looks like a f***ing lawn jockey.

Bush and Cheney laugh and run out.

Obama stands there.

The car falls to pieces like the Bluesmobile.