Sunday, December 17, 2006

Season's Greetings from Asbury Park

Holiday Poem

'Twas the night before Christmas, all white with snow,
I was sitting home waiting for the fat man to show.
The cookies were baked and the tree was all trimmed,
My stocking was hung and the lights were all dimmed.
On the stereo King Curtis played soft and I started to snooze,
I admit I had one, or two, ok... maybe four shots of booze.
I sat back to wait and became rather sleepy,
And from there things went awry, got downright creepy.
Cause a buzz or a dream can't explain what came next
The events that unfolded have left me quite vexed.

My peace was disturbed when I heard a loud clatter.
A strong gust knocked over my glass and vodka went *splatter*.
I jolted and tensed, suddenly spooked and confused.
I heard a low laugh; wry, breathy, and dark, but also amused.
"Oh screw me," I said as I got really scared,
"Getting robbed on Christmas? Shit. Dammit. Crap. Merde!"
Then the air got all cold, and the sax faded low,
A door creaked shut, then a laugh, "Heh. Ho."
It wasn't from far, this sound was terribly close.
The hair on my arms rose, I knew this was a ghost.

I took a deep breath and smelled salami no less
My mind was all hazy, this was causing me stress.
The smell made me think of my dead Uncle Sal,
But Sally was friendly and I sensed this wasn't a pal.
"HEY! HO!" it said again and it gave me a shiver.
When I turned 'round and saw him, my knees sure did quiver.
This wasn't my uncle, and it wasn't a trick,
I was standing in front of a guy dressed like Saint Nick.
But something was wrong, and I craved a martini,
Because this fellow resembled James Gandolfini.

"I've been sent as an ambassador," he said with a flair.
"To take your requests. That is, if you dare."
I just stood there dumbly, blinking my eyes,
Unsure if this visit was my curse or my prize.
"You're a very bad girl," he said full of malice.
Suddenly I wished I'd visited my brother in Dallas.
"I’m also here to warn you," he said full of glee.
I thought, who is this punk that is threatening me?
But I looked at him again and I couldn't stay mad,
Although he's a gangster, he's also a really sweet dad.

Gimme a break, you thought I'd still be afraid?
Dead, alive, ghost, whatever, I had it made!
He shouted again and I squealed with joy,
But the look on his face said he wasn't a toy.
He went, "You have to atone, you gotta do something nice,
"Listen to me now, I won't be telling you twice.
"Think smart and think hard, and then say something quick,
"I am a present sent instead of St. Nick."
"Alright, that's enough," I said as I poured us a drink.
"What's going on? I need time to think."

"Listen to me," Jimmy, he said it quite loudly,
"You've had a nice year." And at that, I beamed proudly.
He was right, it was true, in three collections I'd been pubbed,
And for a Pushcart I'd been nommed, nothing had flubbed.
Fate had been kind, I'd really been lucky,
With that sort of year, who cares if the money from it was sucky?
Then Jimmy surprised me, as he stated his case,
It felt like a great big merry old slap in the face.
"You're naughty," he said, "and that's not all, there's much more,
"You're a gambler, a drinker, and a bit of a whore.
"But I've come anyhow, because you're really quite brash,
"To take down your wishes, which I'll grant in a flash."

It's been a good year, oh yes, that's quite true,
But as much as to luck, I owe it to you.
I did lots of writing, this I know well,
But without fabulous readers, it wouldn't be swell.
So to Jimmy I said, "A kind word or a read, those things I hold dear,
"I want to send out greetings to those who helped me this year.
"Now give me a moment, the words I must carefully choose,
"To make sure I offend no one, be they Gentiles or Jews.
"To everyone I wish mostly for happiness and lots of good cheer
"And for all these things to continue throughout the next year.
"So whether it's Christmas or Hanukkah, I hope you have fun,
"These are my greetings, but wait, I'm not done,
"Let's not forget the Buddhists and Muslims -- both Shiite and Suni,
"And for myself? I hereby wish for a naked George Clooney!"

"It's been a good year, so on some others I'll brag.
"Myfanwy, she's great, she's in a book and a fancy lit mag.
"Ellen Meister's another one, she's really quite grand,
"Her book's a big hit, let's strike up the band!
"I wish for her the same as I wish for myself:
"A visit from George, he'd make one sexy-bitch of an elf.
"Ah but I hope you excuse my pervy, self-serving digressions
"This year was a smash success for her Secret Confessions.

"Matt St. Amand's no fool and these are the facts,
"This year he pubbed his first novel, called Randham Acts.
"J.D. Riso is a sweetie, that's really quite true,
"I loved reading her new novel, it's simply called Blue.
"Then there's a guy, we all call him Biff,
"His writing is fluid, never stilted or stiff.
"He's got four novels, he's a writing machine,
"He makes me so jealous it hurts in my spleen.
"My dear old friend W.B., I hope he makes a good buck,
"His book is a riot, it's called How Not to Suck.
"My agents, Bernadette and Gretchen, you're truly a delight,
"You dealt with my troubles and helped make them right.
"Mark, you'll be a big hit on TV, that's what I think,
"Thanks for the boost, and thanks twice for the link.
"Don Capone is my buddy, and for him this year was a thrill,
"We all love his stories, collected in Sunset Hill.
"To Rebel Press I owe tons of thanks and gratitude,
"In Rebellion he pubbed a story of mine, and it wasn't even lewd!
"So readers and fellow Rebels, let's give him a snap,
"And if that's not your style, you're welcome to clap.

"Ruthie's Club pubs prose and pics with some spice,
"And to me this past year, they've been exceptionally nice.
"I landed a story with a place they call Phaze,
"My hopes for success, they surely helped raise.
"Zane is a slick one, and she did me a favor,
"by putting my story in the book called Caramel Flava.
"Mr. Jakubowski is a cool one, let's call him Maxim,
"He put my story in Mammoth, and it's really a brash one.
"And for this next one I'll give thanks all through the night,
"I finally made it into the collection by Susie Bright!"

"I'd be quite remiss if I didn't mention AI,
"Sweet singing Elliott was the apple of my eye.
"To the Yaminions, I hereby do tip my hat,
"And hope your year is as happy as Simon's head is so fat.
"Though cupcake lost out to barbeque loving Taylor Hicks,
"The year was quite fun, and on Daughtry I took my licks.
"Next season will be grand, this theory I will posit:
"To keep ratings up, Seacrest will come out of the closet!"

"So for all these good times, all these folks I do thank,
"But just a couple more, before my mind goes all blank.
"So now to the folks who give us scribes quite a kick,
"Let's hear it for reviewers, they're all very slick.
"Whether we find them online or in a print mag,
"they give us great blurbs and reasons to brag.
"I got one from Kirkus, ain't that a kick?
"But take care of them all, won't you St. Nick?
"Last but not least, to all the readers, my sincere thanks galore.
"My only wish is that next year, I can gain a few more."

"Well that's very nice," Jimmy said with a smile.
But I knew that his cheer was covering his guile.
"Your news is quite nice but your wishes were lame.
"Think bigger, think bolder, think fortune and fame."
It took me a moment, but then it was perfectly clear,
I knew the perfect wish for all the writers here.
So I sucked in a breath and chose to go quick,
Because these iambic couplets were making me sick.
So I clapped and I shouted and let out a squeal,
"The same thing for everyone -- a six figure book deal!"

And then I leaned in, to give Jimmy a kiss,
But he backed away, and it went down like this.
I tired to cajole him, my eyes got all mooney,
But he said, "You never should have dissed me for that 'madigan George Clooney."
Crestfallen and shocked, my jaw dropped to the floor,
And I watched very sadly as he walked toward the door.
In spite I lashed out, "You're just on TV, you're no Al Pacino!"
In parting, he said, "Hey babe, watch it, you're no Mira Sorvino."
"Pardon me," I said, "But she's and actress and blonde and really wealthy."
"Class ain't from money," he said. "You should be feminine, more like Melfi."

So these are my final wishes: To everyone, be of good cheer,
To the writers I wish you prime pubs all through next year!
To reviewers and readers, I bless you some more,
Happy Holidays forever to you and to yours.
I hope you have a have a great time with those you love bestly,
And that your holiday is even gayer than Carson Kressley.
May your days be cheerful and burdens be light,
Thanks for reading my blog, and this lame poem tonight.
It took patience and timing and caused me some stress,
But the result leaves me pleased, but also perplexed.
Blame it on cheer, or call it good luck,
I made it through this whole story without saying "fuck"!

But as Jimmy walked toward the door, I was really quite sad.
And knew this gift was also my punishment for being so bad.
All would have been well if just for the night he'd have stayed,
But this was a rhyming first-person, dammit, and I didn't get laid!
But then Jimmy halted, and then he brightened my day,
He said, "I'll give you one more for yourself before I head on my way."
I wished big and wished bright, with all of my nerve,
And then I shouted it loudly with plenty of verve.
Same wish as last year:
"I'd work hard on a screenplay and never be lazy,
if you'd get me a film option from Martin Scorsese!"

Monday, December 11, 2006

Perfectly Frank

Happy Birthday, Mr. Sinatra.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Let Nothing You Dismay

It's the time of year lots of network shows roll out the red, snow-covered carpet for Santa and air their very special, heartwarming Christmas shows, whoring themselves out in sweaters and snowflakes to match the theme of the kitschy Gap and Target ads. I, being the sentimental fool that I am, for the most part enjoy these. Taking the buche de noel this year has to be NBC's Studio 60.

They had writer Matt fighting to air a Christmas show -- not because it makes for good product placement or ratings stocking stuffers, but just because it's jolly. And it wasn't just a matter of coming up with Holiday themes, the quest included the ludicrous scampering and scrounging to come up with coconuts for snow for the set. But that's not enough. As if. They also had enough nobility, bravery, and do-goodery coming from everyone else in the cast to make Frank Capra blush. I mean. Seriously. Somewhere, Jimmy Stewart was watching this broadcast and saying, "N-now that's cockle-warming."

Of course, that's the one drawback to the Studio 60 characters -- they're so fucking wonderful it loses a bit of conflict and makes me feel small about myself. I mean, even George Bailey got pissed at the newel post, yelled at his daughter to stop playing the damn piano, and drunkenly rammed his car into a tree. But no seasonal stress can break the spirit of ye merry gentlemen and women of Studio 60. Even though Jordan had what society at large considers a sleazy past and regardless of Danny's coke addict history, there just aren't any sharp edges to these characters. They're going to do the Right Thing all the time, damn the consequences. And best -- there are no consequences! No one gets fired or gets anyone else fired. It all works out for the best and a quality sketch comedy shows airs every week!


I like it anyhow. It's not Dexter, which I love, and which you should be watching, too. It's Studio 60. And that's fine by me.

But I also give Schlamme and Sorkin extra props for their good cheer with this episode, because they did me a favor. As part of the storyline, they featured a group of New Orleans musicians organized by the Tipitina's Foundation. And during an extended musical interlude, they played an original arrangement of "O Holy Night."

The lead trumpet decked my halls, that's for sure. And though I like jazz, I'm not an aficionado of current musicians, so I didn't recognize who was pulling that beautiful tone from the horn. Behold! The glorious wonders of the web. I got the lowdown from NBC's website, and found out all about the Tipitina's musicians, and learned that the trumpeter was Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews. The song they performed on the show is currently available for free from iTunes, but, since I'm an American to the core, I was a good trick and went the extra distance and picked up a copy of Andrews's CD, The End of the Beginning.

So, good on Schlamme/Sorkin for giving the stage to the musicians that night, and also for giving me the present of some new music to investigate. They put some classy Ho Ho Hoing into the holiday Ho Ho Whoring.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

1 out of 3

Michigan got screwed. That's all I have to say about that.

It's Dec. 5, and I'm already thoroughly disgusted with winter.

But! On the bright side, I just read a great non-fiction story in the new edition of Edifice Wrecked: "Boracho Bolivar" by William Reese Hamilton.