Monday, March 31, 2014

A Reply From PBS

Dear Mr. Hans,

Thank you for your kind note. As you have noticed, Mr. Selfridge isn't onscreen quite as much this season. This is completely due to Jeremy Piven's busy schedule rather than the thousands of letters we've gotten from viewers noting that anyone with his unrelenting enthusiasm would have died before they turned five.

However, Mr. Selfridge remains the moral center of the show, so whether it's more accurate or not we will probably not rename the show, as you suggest, "Some Guy Who's Freaking Out Because He Has Too Many Kids And A Girl Who Is Seriously Overworked."

All the best,

Thursday, March 27, 2014

As a writer, I'm unusually attuned to what's going on in the world. You probably haven't noticed, but on TV these days there are two major trends: people coming back from the dead, and kids with magical powers.

Aside from being very popular, these types of shows are also inspiring. Between Believe and Resurrection, they've reawakened my sense of wonder -- and not just wonder about how big of a part cat food will play in my retirement plan. Inspired by their success, I'm merging the genres and writing a heartfelt yet uplifting TV pilot about people who come back from the dead and discover they have magical powers, tentatively entitled I Can't Believe I Resurrected! I don't have a lot of contacts, though, so if you know anybody in the industry feel free to send them the three sample scenes below.


STEVE stands outside the bakery his WIFE owns. He rearranges his hair with one hand while holding a bouquet of colorful flowers with the other. As he enters, he watches his wife pass a bright pink box to an old man with a gracious smile. When she glances over and sees STEVE, her mouth drops open.

MARGO [through tears]: Ohmigod! I can't believe this! No -- don't say a word! I don't care what happened. I'm just so happy I won't bother the universe for an explanation. I don't care if the sun had to spin backwards, or time had to turn inside out. Every night I prayed for just one more minute with you, and now my prayer has been answered.

STEVE: Yup. And look -- I can make a handkerchief dance!


The DOCTOR has just left and JESSICA is resting peacefully. While she stares at MR. WHISKERS, her stuffed penguin, it twitches and jerks, and then as if weightless it slowly rises into the air. It lazily circles JESSICA's head, and soon is joined by PICKLES, CHICKEN CHICKEN and PLOP in a fluffy pink tornado.

JESSICA's mother hurries past the half-open door holding a hamper full of dirty laundry.

JESSICA [staring wide-eyed]: Look, mommy! LOOK!

MOTHER: Mommy's busy now, sweetheart. Give me a call when you can make middle-aged women lose weight.


DOUG and TERRY are truck drivers who were killed when their truck flipped over during a Chicago snowstorm. The sun is out this afternoon, though, as they wake up in the cab. They understand that something inexplicable has happened to them, then excitedly realize that DOUG can erase wrinkles from clothes and TERRY can heat up cold coffee with just a touch of a finger. After their clothes are tidy and their coffee is gone, they talk about returning to their families.

TERRY: Well, I'm going to go up to my wife and say, "Sweetheart, I've come back from the dead with a magical power. Now, I know what you're thinking, but all that matters is that I'm back and I love you and, more than anything, I want us to be together again."

DOUG: Hey, that's pretty good. I think I'll use that too.

DOUG goes home and nervously knocks on the front door of his old house. His WIFE opens it. She shrieks and drops her mug of coffee, which shatters.

DOUG: Sweetheart, I've come back from the dead with a magical power. Now I know what you're thinking.

WIFE: Really? Okay. Well, so I've been fucking your brother. SO THERE!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Cher is preparing for another farewell tour, but at the age of 74 she's running into some problems. In rehearsals, apparently, she's having a hard time getting her big red weenie hard enough to ride.

Russian Thugs Think St. Patrick's Day Celebration Is Gay, Beat The Shamrocks Out Of Irish


Friday, March 21, 2014

Dear Bill Donohue:

You want to give the gays a taste of their own medicine. They want to march in New York's St. Patrick's Day Parade, so in retaliation you say you want to march in our Gay Pride Parade. And you want to hold a banner that reads, "STRAIGHT IS GREAT."

Unlike Irish Catholics, gay people are actually inclusive, so it looks like they're going to let you do that. Just for future reference, though, know that your compassionate Christian request isn't remotely equivalent to ours. We want to hold banners that read, "LGBT CLOG-DANCERS," or "GAELIC GAYS," or "ERIN GO BRAGHLESS LESBIANS." To approximate you, we'd have to carry one that read, "WE MAY BE GAY BUT YOU'RE ALL DRUNKS."

Hope this helps,

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I'm an insanely ambitious writer. I yearn to change the world. I want to uncover corporate conspiracies that will put an end to human rights abuses and changes peoples' lives forever. I want to expose corrupt government officials and cause military leaders to turn on their tails and run. But I'm also well aware of the old adage, "Write what you know," so today I'm going to write about oily skin.

I first realized I had oily skin when I was eight. I used to do all the tests in my sister's Cosmopolitan magazine, despite the fact they'd already told me I was a lousy date, lousy in the sack, and definitely having my period. Naturally I took the oily skin test. I washed my face, then fifteen minutes later rubbed a Kleenex onto my skin. If the Kleenex snagged, I had dry skin. If it remained pristine, I had normal skin. If it turned slightly transparent, I had oily skin.

I could have wrung mine out and fried chicken.

The zits that appeared over the next few years prompted an intensive, lifelong research into skin wellness. Before folks start calling you Pizza Face, check out my findings below.

All the skin-care specialists agree that facial scrubs are either good or bad for your skin. Maybe they exfoliate your skin, stripping off dead layers and exposing fresh skin, or maybe they irritate your skin and make you break out more. It's easy to test. Try using a scrub: if you break out after using it, then the scrub definitely helped or hurt.

Me, I look to the science. See, zits are caused because your body's natural oil can't escape if your pores have gotten clogged by dirt. Naturally, then, the best way to prevent this is to forcibly push vast quantities of almond meal into your skin. Use all ten fingers to make sure the ground-up skin-care spheres fits snugly into your big round pores. (You can also make an inexpensive facial scrub with lemon juice, olive oil, and sugar. It too reveals fresh new skin, and if your skin gets over-irritated you'll break out in Jolly Ranchers.)

Still, I can see how scrubs could hurt your skin. I mean, if your skin was angry because you ate a Cheeto on Friday, what do you think rubbing it with liquid sandpaper will do? Zits are your skin's cry for help. If a kid starts crying, you think a brief encounter with a belt sander will fix everything? The good news is, if a scrub makes you break out, you can tell all the people who stare at you that it's your extra-good hygiene that caused it.

I can confidently say that diet has absolutely zero to do with your complexion. I tested it: I ate nothing but garbanzo beans for a year and a half. It didn't affect my skin at all, though I did start to darken slightly because nobody would let me indoors.

I've never tried Accutane because I don't trust drugs. You know how Viagra was invented? Some scientist was fiddling around with chemicals and he came up with something he thought might treat heart disease. He gave it to a trial group of people, and when they died they all had hard-ons. "Eureka!" he shouted, not nearly as bittersweet as when his patients shouted it.

After I heard that story, I started to assume that's how all drugs are invented, and that's how I think Accutane came about. I'm guessing they gave it to a small group of people, and a coupleof weeks later noticed they all had clearer skin. They said, "Hey, cool -- we invented a skin treatment!" They designed a logo and packaging and didn't really check to see if, oh, it dried out your pancreas too.

See, Accutane decreases the body's production of sebum. You really think all those feisty molecules are going to get into your bloodstream and say, "Okay, everybody: straight up to the face!"? Yeah -- and everybody who goes to Disneyland runs straight for The Carousel of Progress. I mean, there must be some reason pregnant women aren't supposed to take it. If it really just affected the facial region, kids would be born looking like Heidi Klum.

Checking the literature, it appears Accutane does dry out vast portions of the body. The makers have listed this as a harmful side effect, though I think they should turn a negative into a positive by adopting the motto, "WHO NEEDS TO BE MOIST?"

About the only treatment I can wholeheartedly recommend is salicylic acid. It exfoliates, but unlike a scrub it won't clog your pores. Instead, it makes your skin noticeably thinner, which is really the only solution for breakouts. Now when you guffaw at a movie theater, when you sigh on the subway, when you raise you eyebrows at a job interview, your zits will pop by themselves. Picture yourself having friends over for dinner. "Here it is," you'll be saying proudly, "Roman's Eggplant Parmesan. I know you're going to love it, if I must say so my -- Oops. Sorry. [PAUSE] You know what? I think there's some fried chicken in the fridge."

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sexually Ambiguous Man Tricks Straight Dudes Into Looking At His Ass; Humiliation And Fun Ensue

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin will star in a 13-episode half-hour original comedy series on Netflix called Grace and Frankie.

The comedy focuses on nemeses Grace (Fonda) and Frankie (Tomlin) facing the last chapter of their lives, though not in the way they expected. When their husbands announce they are in love with each other and plan to get married, the women find their lives both turned upside down and to their dismay, permanently intertwined.

Sigh; isn't it wonderful living in a whole new age? When I was a kid, gay people broke up families and slinked off in shame. Now they're breaking up families and getting hitched. Progress!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

I saw a friend playing a game on her cellphone recently and I asked her what it was. "Candy Crush Saga," she said. It was official: everyone in America was playing it. She was on level 264, she said, after two months of "play." I figured if it was good enough for her -- she's a doctor, and pretty enough to have a real life -- it was good enough for me. I downloaded it and played it and was immediately sucked in. I blundered my way through screen after screen, and when I'd finally burned through all my lives I put it down and cataloged everything I'd learned.

1. People are really stupid.

This isn't to say I didn't have fun, for about fourteen minutes. With the first screen I was hooked. I have nearly a degree from a major university, so I had to fire up long-dead parts of my brain that did logical thinking. I slid one candy, and BOOM! Slid another, and BANG! I congratulated myself as everything went according to plan.

And then the screen said, "OUT OF MOVES. PAY ME 99 CENTS TO CONTINUE PLAYING."

Now, I'm guessing the CCS designers are pretending the thing is intellectual stimulation, but when screens pop up and immediately rearrange themselves because there isn't one single move available then you know logic won't make the slightest bit of fucking difference. See, I enjoy puzzles, with one little qualifier. THEY HAVE TO BE SOLVABLE. Rubik's Cube probably wouldn't have been a huge fad if you had to complete it in six twists. And I don't know many people who'd tackle a crossword puzzle that had clues like "Seven unrelated letters," or "A seafaring mammal, seriously misspelled," or "This is what it might sound like if you had to describe Howie Mandel and you'd had all of your teeth pulled."

It's like if somebody gave you a log and asked you to whittle a likeness of Abraham Lincoln. You might jump to the task. You might try your best. Call me crazy, though, but I wouldn't whip out my wallet if they came back after five minutes and said, "Hey, I'll lend you a knife for five bucks."

Anyway, rather than just complain about it, I've decided to be constructive and capitalize on it. In a few days I'll be launching Leprechaun Lotto Letters, a wacky new game that one day may also let everyone on Facebook know boredom has erased your standards. On each screen you'll get a random set of letters, and you have to make as many words as possible out of them. If you're a CCS fan I'm thinking you'll get hooked from your very first try:

X Z K P Y 4 N

Okay, you've got the letters, now GO! You only have a minute! Oh, and I guess I forgot to tell you: if you send me 49 cents via PayPal you can also use the letter I, and for 99 cents you can use an A or an E. For $1.99 I'll give you a whole new set of letters, which currently are a little something like A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y and Z.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

"There's nothing about gays in [Arizona SB 1062], but the gay community decided to make this their measure. And the thing that I think is getting a little tiresome is the gay community have so bullied the American people and they have so intimidated politicians that politicians fear them and they think they get to dictate the agenda everywhere. Well, not with the Constitution you don't." -- Michelle Bachmann

I completely agree with Ms. Bachmann, though the liberal media has ignored her insightful comment. I challenge them to double-check the bill that would have protected our religious freedoms by allowing businesses to pick and choose who they serve based on religious beliefs. Is the word "Gay" in there? No. "Lesbian"? No. So why were the gays in such an uproar?

The simple truth is the bill doesn't randomly attack homosexuals: it doubles-down on every group that God has singled out in any religious tract. Those self-centered, bullying gays hijacked a bill that would have had a thousand victims. But noooo, every time you think up a new way to discriminate they all start squealing, "Me! Me! Me!" Everything has to be about them, and not just when they're buying sweaters.

Here's a Bible quote that shows Arizona SB 1062 would have reached far outside the LGBT community.

And an angel descended in a golden light before Abraham, and in his joyousness he proclaimed, "O great follower of God, prithee never sell futons to little people."
Got that? Another target of SB 1062, but I don't see dwarves harassing their Congresspeople over their Constitutional right to buy uncomfortable Japanese furniture. Then there's this quote from Matthew:

Zebediah, the itinerant shepherd, beheld a burning bush from which poured forth a solemn voice intoning, "You know what is also an abomination to me? Chicks who wear Uggs in the summer."
God verbally smote even more people in the New Testament:

Moses came down from the mountain bearing two stone tablets, and he held them up for the Israelites to see. The first was inscribed, "Thou shalt not kill" and "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain." The second just read, "And by all that is sacred, please keep doughnuts away from fatties."
Okay, I could be wrong. Maybe gays are the only minority group singled out in the Bible. But that doesn't mean Ms. Bachmann is playing semantics with a law that creates a category that covers only them. Maybe that's the way she thinks! I mean, imagine this scenario. You and Michelle Bachmann are at the county fair, and eight hours of eating cotton candy and deep-fried pickles has gotten you both feeling rowdy.

MICHELLE: I'd like to ride in a circle on a wooden animal that goes up and down while organ music plays!

YOU [burping up corndog]: Oh, yes! A carousel sounds like fun!

MICHELLE: I never once used the word "carousel," and frankly your bizarre inclination to jump to such a strange conclusion frightens me. I'm calling the police right now so there can be a formal investigation of your carousel-related desires.

Whatever the truth is, the bullying gays won by unfairly smearing this bill, and we poor Christians lost. It's a hard loss, I have to admit. I mean, the Bible tells us that homosexuals will be burned alive for all of eternity, but since that's not going to happen until Jesus returns I'd at least like to keep them away from my pineapple nut muffins.

Monday, March 10, 2014

On This Day In 1934

10:15 a.m. Hungarian scientist Gabor Csoncy invents a device that translates a cat's meows into English.

1:45 p.m. Dr. Csoncy smashes the device after Ginger Puffums says, "You know why you can't get a date?"

Really? This passes for a talent in 2013? Pretty much any kid can sound like that if you put nembutal in their oatmeal.

Still, I love these comparisons. They're not insulting at all. Look! There's a dung beetle with the zest and verve of Gene Kelly.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Target is the place for saving money UNLESS YOU'RE MAKING METH.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Watching the Academy Awards, I was really put off by the clip from Twelve Years A Slave. I mean, it seems like a terrific film, but the repeated references to God alienated me. As a long-time atheist, I can't identify with people who have such bizarre beliefs.

Rather than just idly whine about this, though, I decided to take action. I'm currently writing up a screenplay for a similar epic, but this one won't rely on belief in a higher power so it should find a larger audience. Fingers crossed! Below are a few sample scenes I've written for Fred, the Atheist Slave. If you have any Hollywood connections that can help get this project off the ground, feel free to forward my work to them.


FRED is walking a dirt path from the field to the plantation when he passes a woman in her Sunday best.

FRED: Dear sister, where are you headed on such a lovely morning?

WOMAN: Why, my brother, I am headed off to church. My life on earth may be doomed to a bad end, but my soul need suffer no similar fate. Soon the day will come when Our Lord releases us from these iron shackles to sit by his side for the rest of eternity.

FRED: But sister, does he not reward us now? Look at the flowers! Smell the fresh air! Is the world not its own heaven?

WOMAN: Huh. You know, you're right! I think I'll go back home and eat.


FRED is sitting in the last row of a ramshackle church. It's hot: he's sweating, and the woman are fanning themselves with their hymnals.

PREACHER: Brothers and sisters, I know our bodies are beat down by the blistering heat. I know our backs are broken by our ceaseless toil. But let us know allow our spirits to soar by giving the Lord our thanks with the song Amazing Grace.

FRED: Preacher, I cannot keep silent! How can we continue to believe their is someone watching over us, when our plight has become unbearable? How can we delude ourselves that we will be saved when this savior may never come? Perhaps instead of singing a song that would bolster our Maker, we sing something that raises our spirits instead?

PREACHER [thinking]: Darn it, Fred: you're right. Do we all know the words to Mairzy Doats?


FRED and a WOMAN are working in a field when suddenly she straightens bolt upright.

WOMAN: I can't take it any more! I work my fingers to the bone, and what do I get in return? My children have no future. My parents are dead. I pick 400 pounds of cotton a day and feel the wrath of the whip, while our godforsaken master sits on his porch drinking lemonade in the cool breeze. God may smite me for this, but the only way I get up in the morning is by picturing the wrath God will unleash on him on Judgment Day.

FRED: But sister, we need not delude ourselves in the name of comfort. Science has shown no rational explanation for God. Odds are very good that Judgment Day will never come. I know we'd all love for justice or karma or whatever you call it to be enforced by some kind of higher power, but is there not some satisfaction to be derived from knowing Dude could not look stupider?

WOMAN: Wow. I never thought about it like that. Thank you, kind brother! Now when I pick cotton at least I won't have wool over my eyes.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

One of my neighbors went out of town over the weekend, and he asked me to check in on his cat two or three times a day. I said sure. When he got back, he sent me this email:

Hey Roman --

Thanks for watching Iggy. I really appreciate it. If I can pay you off in whiskey let me know.


This confused me. I mean, I live in Brooklyn. EVERYBODY drinks whiskey here. Has he never been outside? It's like asking your cellmate if he wants a pack of cigarettes and soap shaped like a knife. Even if I didn't drink whiskey, I know roughly eight hundred people who drink whiskey, and they're nice when I'm nice.

I was actually kind of offended by this. I'm puzzled by his hesitance. Like, "I'm busy, and I'm not going to do anything nice for you unless you specifically ask for it." Maybe gifts of alcohol can be a problem in Amish senior communities, but nowhere else. It's not like buying a paisley scarf for Jeff Foxworthy.

My friend Steve wants me to call his bluff with the following reply:

Hi Frank --

I'm honestly a bit confused. You take me for a drinker? What was it that gave you that impression: the bulbous red nose? The urine-soaked pants? Did you catch me having sex with Liza Minnelli?

Cordially yours,

I'm tempted to give it a try, but I'm pretty sure he wouldn't apologize with an even larger gift of alcohol. Anyway, that's not my style. I'm not confrontational. If a bottle of something doesn't turn up before the next time I watch his cat, I teach it to poop in his shoes.