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The Motivational Speaker at the Theatrical Intermission

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Good Afternoon:

Last night, I attended the world premiere of Marissa Skudlarek’s Pleiades!, overall a very good show and an auspicious beginning to what I believe will become a long and distinguished playwriting career. Three women about half my age, all about the same height, with the same shoulder-length brown hair and almost the same blue jeans, took seats next to me, and during intermission, the one on the right started talking television.

“It’s like that show, um, you know, that TV show.”

The middle one said, “Oh, yeah, sure we know what you mean, that show.”

The one on the left laughed.

Right whined, “you know which one, the mystery one.”

Middle said, “Which mystery one? Criminal Minds?”

Left chimed in with, “That show is so gross! A villain who gouges out the eyes of his victims and inserts them into the eye sockets of stuffed animals?!”

Right said, “Who comes up with that s—?”

Left replied, “The writers are the criminal minds on that show.”

Middle asked, “So is Criminal Minds the one you’re talking about?”

“No, let me look it up on my phone.”

Middle said, “No. Don’t do that. Put your phone away. You do not need your phone, you can figure it out on your own, you need to fight this dependency of yours and learn to think for yourself.”

“I do not need my cell phone to think for myself!”

“You do!” laughed Left. “You totally do!”

Middle said, “In fact, I have a better idea. Give me your phone. You don’t need it and I will prove it.”

“Will you give it back?” asked Right, timidly.

“Promise.”

Right surrendered her phone, gingerly.

Middle said, “Look, I can help you. Just clear your mind and think. Think about the stars. Think about what they look like, or what are their names? Forget your phone, focus on their faces.”

Right said, “This is so hard. Maybe Castle?”

“My mother loves that show! Castle is her favorite!” exclaimed Left.

The other two looked at Left and their upper lips curled up, a sure sign that Castle is an old people’s show, at least in the learned judgment of Middle and Right. Full disclosure: I’ve seen about two dozen episodes, and I’m old (by their standards), so perhaps they’re right.

Middle said, “So is it Castle?”

Right asked, “The guy has curly blond hair, right?”

“No, it’s brown.”

“Then it’s not Castle. Oh, I know! It’s The Mentalist! The cute guy does have blond hair, right?”

Middle said, “Right, you must be talking about The Mentalist. I am so proud of you. You can have your phone back. See what you learned? You figured it out for yourself, you did not need your cell phone. You are better than your device.”

“Yeah, I guess so.”

Left said, “So why did you want to talk about The Mentalist?”

“Uhhhhhh.” Long pause. “I, um, forgot.”

Middle and Left stared at her, but fortunately the lights went down and the second act began, and for a moment I wondered why three women about half my age, all about the same height, with the same shoulder-length brown hair and almost the same blue jeans, would even think about three hour-long television crime dramas at a show like Pleiades!, a play that bears zero, absolutely zero resemblance to any of them.

Vonn Scott Bair

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Friday Night & Free Enterprise on San Francisco’s 71-Limited

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Good Evening:

Even in laid-back San Francisco, the evening commute home is usually filled with people decompressing after a tough day at work. Breathing out the stress, breathing back in their sanity, that sort of thing. Well, one young gentleman wearing a San Francisco Giants hoodie sat in the very last row in the back of the 71-Limited at 5:00 pm, and he wanted to help. He really, truly and verily wanted to serve humanity, to help make people’s lives better, to help them relax after a tense day. He really, truly wanted to make our lives better. He also wanted to make a buck.

So using the hearty phony bonhomie of a radio commercial announcer, he made his marketing pitch:

“Did you have a rough day today? Are you feeling just too d—ed stressed? Don’t you wish that you could just relax? Well, I have the answer to all your problems.”

Now he held up a clear plastic sandwich bag filled with the true San Francisco Treat.

“Smoke weed–and blow your troubles away.”

My stop had arrived, so I had to depart, but as I left, I did observe a few people furtively checking their wallets and purses and glancing around at the other people furtively checking their wallets and purses.

Vonn Scott Bair

PS–How can you not love free enterprise?

I Do Not Understand Reality, 11 December 2011

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Q: How many Santa Clauses live in the Lower Haight?

A: I don’t know either; I lost count after about a hundred.

San Francisco experienced its annual gathering of Santa Claus impersonators yesterday, with several hundred to possibly a thousand meeting in front of City Hall and then fanning out all over the city, not doing what Santa Clauses do; instead of handing out presents and letting children bit on their laps in department stores, a thousand Santas went pub-crawling. Either in bars or on sidewalks walking to the next bar. And that is what I do not understand; isn’t that something Santa would do on December 26?

Then again, this is San Francisco; in simple English, we don’t do normal Santas. We do Santa differently here. What follows is a list of as many unusual Santas that I can recall:

  1. Hundreds of Santa Claus-ettes in Santa Claus dresses with hemlines all the way up to there, and I bet their legs got awfully cold once the sun started going down and the wind started kicking up.
  2. A Protest Santa, carrying a protest sign: “Occupy North Pole!”
  3. A Gandalf the Grey Santa.
  4. A Dr. Frank-N-Furter (from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”) Santa.
  5. A transvestite Santa.
  6. A George Clinton (Parliament-Funkadelic) Santa.
  7. Female go-go dancer Santas.
  8. Male go-go dancer Santas.
  9. A tap-dancing Santa Claus who asked for my business card, but I think I’m much too old for her. But I could be wrong.
  10. A blue Santa Claus who was not singing “Blue Christmas,” so he probably was not a fan of the Indianapolis Colts.
  11. A Patrick Willis Santa Claus (linebacker, #52 for the San Francisco 49ers, and anything but a Santa Claus to opposing offenses).
  12. A Cowboy Santa Claus, yep with a red cowboy hat and red velvet chaps (possibly a Brokeback Mountain theme?).
  13. A 19th Century St. Nicholas in the traditional brown and green outfit.

However, and I feel proud of my city to be able to write this, I did not see even one Elvis Santa. This is San Francisco. We have imagination here. Now if only we didn’t have so much of it

Vonn Scott Bair