Tag Archives: Humor & Satire

The Greenwich Village Literary Review Spring 2015, Vol. II, No. 1

TABLE OF CONTENTS

OUR COVER

Cocktails
W. Jack Savage

NON-FICTION

History –
Yip Harburg: A Lyrical Activist Against Social Injustice Leigh Donaldson & Ernie Harburg

Memoir –
Memories of Judson Samuel Bean
My Mother’s Kitchen Erica Miles

FICTION
Tribute Sarah Bates
Sweet Sixteen Magda Benigna
Three Boys V. Conejero
Fire Box 598 Joe Corso
The Reunion Henya Drescher
Two Voices: a Tale from the Ancestors Mindy Kronenberg
Consequences Ann Ormsby
Jack of Hearts Leslie Silton

HUMOR & SATIRE
The Original Survivor Man Bill Batcher
The Good Neighbors James Como
The Art of Sleeping by Tootie translated by Erica Miles

POETRY
Night Duty Mario Ascueta Aguado
Baalbek, Lebanon, Makawao Forest, Opening Night’s Doors, Wind, What the Sky Tells Us Marguerite G. Bouvard
Extra Padding, Sunrise/Sunset, Ute Carson
At the Eye Doctor’s Office, V. Conejero
Seasonal Utterances (Spring), Julie Lauton
If These Walls Could Only Talk, John Lysaght
The Cat, In Memory of a Well-Loved Dog, Richard Merli
The Goose Who Loved Golf, John F. McCullagh
Portrait of My Mother, Erica Miles
The Party, Mindy Ohringer
Untitled No. 2, Dave Rullo
Near Holly Springs: Good Friday, Jeff Streeby
The First Floor Apartment on 84th, Lorien Vidal

ART & PHOTOGRAPHY
Cocktails, W. Jack Savage
Fountain 1, Samuel Bean
Fountain 2, Samuel Bean
Skycrapers with Clouds, Kyle Hemmings

BOOK REVIEWS
Robert J. Cooney reviews Jacob M. Appel’s short story collection Einstein’s Beach House
Richard Merli reviews Gary Beck’s book of poetry Civilized Ways
Erica Miles reviews Steven Jay Griffel’s novel Grossman’s Castle
Ellen Schecter reviews Erica Miles’ novel Dazzled by Darkness

– CONTRIBUTORS’ BIOGRAPHIES –
Contributors – Current Issue 

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The Original Survivor Man by Bill Batcher

Since coming to work at Jordan River Productions, Phil Viper, recent graduate of Bethany Video College, has come up with one killer idea after another for the next hit TV show, only to have every one of them shot down by the JRP board of directors. But now he knows he has a surefire winner–a reality show. All he has to do is convince the board to underwrite the project, then get a pilot in the can, and pitch it to sponsors. Well, actually there’s one other detail he needs to square away first. He is sitting at his desk when his secretary buzzes.

Viper: Yes, Janet?

Janet: John the Baptizer is here, Mr. Viper.

Viper: Oh good. Send him right in…. Mr. Baptizer, thanks for coming by. I’m sure you must be a busy man.

John: Yes, well, I was crying in the wilderness.

Viper: Tell me about it. That’s how I spend most of my time here!

John: I was building a highway in the desert, preparing for the Kingdom of Heaven.

Viper: Oh, good. Nothing important then. Judging from the way you’re dressed, I knew you had the day off, right? Well, you’re probably wondering why I asked you to drop by.

John: You want to know how to flee the wrath to come?

Viper: Oh, so Janet told you about the board meeting tomorrow. Let me get right to the point. You know Bear Grylls.

John: Is he a Pharisee?

Viper: Oh, ha ha, good one, JB. You don’t mind if I call you JB?

John: —-

Viper: No, you know, the guy on Man vs. Wild? The Discovery channel? The “born survivor?”

John: Has he been out to the desert?

Viper: You’re kidding. He’s been to the Sahara. Everest. Everglades. You name it. If it’s wild, he’s been there.

John: Hmmm, I don’t think I’ve seen him.

Viper: Really? Well, then how about Les Stroud? The Survivorman? I think he’s on the same network.

John: You know I don’t watch television.

Viper: Oh, wow, yeah. They probably don’t have cable out there, do they? So anyway, JB, you see, these survivor shows seem to be hot right now. Viewers just love to watch these guys eating grubs, and biting off live frogs’ heads, and getting lost, and showing things they do with their piss, and, well, you get the idea.

John: ????

Viper: We here at Jordan River Productions think we can trump all these johnny-come-latelys with a show starring the one, the original, survivor guy.

John: And that would be?

Viper: Ha ha, good one, JB.

John: —-

Viper: Oh, you meant that question. Why, you, of course! I’ve read your bio on Wikipedia. How you lived in the desert on just locusts and honey, right? That kind of stuff makes great footage. Chasing down some hip-hoppity insects and chomping off their legs. Yeah. Now, you gotta provide a running commentary, how these buggers got more protein than a Big Mac. That sort of thing. I understand you’re used to talking to an audience, right? I mean, some guys, you pin a mic on them, they start shaking like a reed! Then the next scene can show you finding a beehive in an old tree or something. You probably get stung a lot, right? The viewers eat that stuff up. We’ll have to bleep out the words you use, of course. FCC is real fussy about that.

John: Well, I don’t really think…

Viper: And then show how you make those fur pants you wear. From killing and skinning to sewing and fitting. The whole shebang. What is it? Leopard?

John: Camel.

Viper: Hmm, Leopard would be more exciting, but whatever, we can work on the details later. Now, we’ll have to add variety to keep the series going, of course. You can’t be in the desert every week. Viewers would drop out like flies if they knew what to expect. So another episode I’m thinking about is surviving a shipwreck. How about that, JB? Some island somewhere. Malta maybe. We can pretend it’s deserted. We just need to have a camera crew there when your ship goes aground. And another crew on board with you.

John: Look, I…

Viper: Now, every week, you can drop things about your background. Stuff that prepared you for this kind of lifestyle. I read you were an only child. Your mom had you late in life. And your dad was a priest. Probably had a lot to do with your eccentricity. No offense, man. Is it true your dad didn’t talk for nearly a year? My old man never talked much either. Couldn’t get a word in edgewise.

John: I don’t think my parents should…

Viper: Hey, you know what would make a cool episode. Surviving a stint in prison. I mean, if you eat that stuff in the desert, you could probably hack it on prison food, right? We could arrange to have you arrested on some trumped up charge. That’d make great publicity, JB. It got the Dog a lot of press. Maybe hold off until the second season for that one though.

John: Listen, there’s a crowd of people waiting for me down by the river, so if you’ll excuse me.

Viper: No, I got a better idea. End of the first season. Last show. End with a cliff hanger. There you are rotting in prison. Hey, JB, you’re going to love this. We’ll show a big party going on next door. Dancing girls. That’s another hot genre, you know. Dancing With the Stars. You know how to Tango? Never mind. You’ll get let out, of course, but we won’t show that until season two. What do you say? Sounds great, right?… JB?… Where did he go?… Janet, did you see him leave?… The guy with the weird pants, that’s who. Oh, now I’m in deep doodoo. If I don’t show the board this guy’s signature on a contract, they’re gonna have my head on a platter.

The Good Neighbors: A Sort of Fairy Tale by James Como

Sean, twelve years old but as big as a flabby fifteen-year-old and clumsier than a crippled rhino, plays his television through the night. His neighbors, an old married couple, whose bedroom is on the other side of Sean’s wall, are bothered but indulgent: he is slow and, they believe, otherwise troubled. Even with the TV, he sleeps with his light on, and there are often loud noises to go with the light, sometimes startling, banging thuds.

The old man speaks to the boy’s apologetic father; it turns out Sean is afraid of monsters, monsters in the dark, monsters under his bed and in his closet in the dark. The banging is the sound of Sean throwing things inside the closet as he searches for the monsters, which he thinks will disappear if he finds them before they find him.

One day, the old man, who would sometimes look in on the boy when he was alone, speaks directly with Sean, telling him there are no monsters.

“But how do you know?” asks the boy.

“Because we’ve lived here a very, very long time, Sean, and we don’t see them.”

“But,” answers the boy, unconvinced, “that doesn’t mean that they’re not here or won’t come back.”

“Really? You sound pretty sure, Sean. Tell me, what are these monsters like?”

“Well. . .” The boy hesitates. “They are very scary and disgusting and mean and always hungry.”

“I see.” The old man is patient. “Can you tell me what they are like? You know, what they look like?”

“I’d rather not,” the boy answers.

“Why, Sean? Why don’t you want to describe them?”

“Because whenever I do, like to other kids, who I think must know about them, they laugh at me, that’s why! They make fun. The school counselor sent me to a doctor, and when I told him about the monsters, he gave me pills.

“Oh, I see. Did they help?”

“No.”

“Well then, Sean. Tell me. How long has this been going on?”

“All my life. My whole life. I’ve never slept by myself in a room without monsters.”

The old man was not a very big believer in pills that changed people. But he did believe in clarity and understanding. You could do a lot by just talking to people, he thought.

“Sean, listen to me. I don’t make fun of people, no matter what. And if you can tell me what the monsters look like, maybe I can help.”

The boy looked up into the face of the old man, who, though bent over, was still pretty tall. “Really?  How?”

“I’m . . . not quite sure, Sean. There could be few different ways. But I know I’ve helped lots of people. I do know that talking helps. And I promise that I will never tell anyone anything that you tell me—unless you say I can.”

The boy waited a long time. The old man waited with him. Both were very, very still.

Then the boy said, “They are bigger than my bed. There are, like, six of them? And they all have three heads and mouths filled with huge, huge, huge teeth. And they drool. And they have tentacles, lots of tentacles. And each tentacle has claws at the end that snap real hard. And they slide around like snakes, even though their bodies go straight up. And they’re slimy. But I don’t think they can see me. They move all around like they’re looking for food–that’s me!—or they’re, I don’t know, lost or something, and after they bump into stuff, they go back under the bed or into the closet. Until the next night.”

“Ah!” exclaimed the old man. “The classic swamp creature!”

The boy’s eyes widened. “You know them? You believe me?” The boy’s eyes were as big as two full moons.

“Of course,” answered the old man. “They’re not here.”

Now the boy was becoming shaky. “But how can you know? How can you possibly know??”

“I told you, Sean. We don’t see them.”

The boy, now screaming: “BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN THEY’RE NOT HERE!”

The old man, not screaming, but looking straight at the boy, tells him, very firmly, “Yes, it does Sean. It sure does mean that they’re not here.”

The boy wants to believe, wants to believe so badly, so he asks again, “How can you know for sure? Why are you so sure?”

The old man waited, uncertain. Then he stooped very slowly to face Sean, eye-to-eye. He grimaced, because bending hurt his knees and his back. But when he was finally at Sean’s level, he spoke, softly and with a shrug of his shoulders, but all the while looking Sean right in the eye.

“Because we beat them all, Sean.”

“Beat them? You beat the monsters? What do you mean? How did you do that?”

“Yes Sean,” said the old man, the pain growing in his knees. “All of them.”

“But how? How could you possibly do that?”

So slowly and so very painfully, as though knives were cutting through his knees and into his back, the old man unfolded himself until he was standing upright.

“Okay, Sean. I see your problem. How could you believe such a thing? Listen. Wait here. I have to get my wife. Together we’ll . . .you’ll believe us, Sean. Just wait. I’ll be right back. Will you wait?”

The boy just nodded, and the old man turned and left to cross the hall. He came right back with his wife, who had expected that it might come to this. She said nothing, but with a smile, nodded at the boy, who just stared.

“Now, Sean, you will see why I’m so sure. But, listen, while we’re convincing you, you really have to be still. Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

“Real still. And quiet. Okay?”

“Okay.”

The old man looked at the boy a long while, finally satisfied that he understood.  Then he spoke.

“I’m sure Sean—we are both sure—because—”

And the old folks began to change. Their heads shrunk into their bodies, and three monster heads grew from each neck. Huge and twisted and just ugly, with long, drooling teeth. Their arms turned into tentacles, and other tentacles sprouted from all over, each with snappers. And their legs got all twisted together and turned into big, thick, slimy tails. And they grew—way bigger than any monsters Sean had ever seen. And they clicked and they slurped.

“You see Sean? Do you understand now? Do you get it? We are the worst monsters of all—and we ate them! All of them. Every single one of them. Everywhere!”

And when the old man monster said this, both monsters began to click and slurp a lot, like they were excited. Then they calmed down again.

“Now all the other monsters know that we’re the baddest monsters—ever!”

The boy was petrified—he felt as though he had literally turned to stone—at first.  Then he started crying, and then sobbing, with his eyes shut tight, and then he realized that he was all right, that nothing was happening to him. So he opened his eyes and looked up, and he saw the two old monsters laughing. So he started to laugh, too, even though it wasn’t all that funny.

“Now watch this, Sean. This is so cool.” And the two monsters turned right back into the old married couple who lived right next door, still laughing.

Then the boy stopped laughing and asked, “But I . . . I’ll be okay?”

“Perfectly, Sean. We’re the baddest monsters just with other monsters. We have nothing against people. Nothing at all. Long ago we realized we were good monsters. And you . . . well, you’re our friend. In fact—” and the old man looked at his wife, who nodded. “You’re our best friend. In fact, you’re the best friend we’ve ever had! Now we’re old and want only peace. And quiet. So turn off the TV and shut the light and we’ll look out for you, okay? Nothing can touch you. Nothing can bother you in any way. Ever.”

Again, there was a long silence.

“As long as we get our sleep . . . .”

Thereafter, darkness and silence ruled at night. Sean saw no more monsters. Ever.

He would always be slow, and would seem a bit nuts to everyone who knew him. A therapist told him to write the story down as a movie script, and he did, and only five years later, he sold it to Hollywood, because the old couple had . . . connections. And the show was a hit. Sean became rich. And very famous. He became known as the founder of Neo-Gothic Crypto-Realism, whatever that means, and his name was mentioned in the same breath as Tarantino’s and Hitchcock’s and Rami’s. And people wanted to know when the New Sean would come along, but none did, because Sean kept making movies, one every two years, about all sorts of monsters. He won two academy awards, one for writing and one for directing. He even acted in some of his movies and was pretty good. Everybody forgot all about other so-called “multi-talented stars,” like Ben Affleck, who were now just . . . boring.

And then people finally knew that Sean was crazy, for sure, when he bought this really, really old couple several big houses, each one right next to each of his own mansions. And that’s how they always lived, side by side, and nobody could figure out who those old people were. But it didn’t matter, because they all lived happily ever after.

THE END

The Art of Sleeping by Tootie, Translated by Erica Miles

Make sure you have a good meal first. Get your human’s attention by sitting near your dish and giving her the look. If you don’t get fed right away, grab one of her legs between your paws to show her you are serious.

When your meal comes, eat to your heart’s content, concentrating on the wet food. Although it is mixed together, try to lick the wet food off the dry food, and leave over any dry food you don’t feel like eating.

After eating, take a break and leap onto your cat tree to get your bearings. Your human may feel inclined to pet you a bit at this point. That is fine, and perfectly in order.

Once you’ve digested your food, leap down to the floor and take a few swipes at your toy mouse to give yourself some exercise. Then walk around the room in a relaxed fashion, and smell everything you pass, in case anything has changed since you were last there; take a thorough inventory of your territory. Now comes the best part.

Leap onto your human’s bed. It’s especially nice if she’s sitting at her table, facing you and radiating approval. Examine all the rumpled blankets and find one that’s especially good to tunnel through. See if you can get to the other end that way. Explore all parts of the bed.

Pick out the nicest plush blanket and knead it a bit with your paws–to make it yours. Stare off into space (you’ll see your human admiring you out of a corner of your eye), until your eyes focus on nothing. Then nestle down onto the softness underneath your belly and let your head rest on your front paws. Drift off into a light sleep. You may still sense your human watching you, but that should just add to your sense of bliss. You may find yourself dreaming of food or softness, and experience an overall sense of security.

Relax more and more, till your mind becomes totally empty. You will now enter into a deep sleep, radiating perfect peace into the room around you. This is the attainment of the state known as “catsana.” You have reached the highest level of catitude. Stay in this state for as long as possible, and if anything should chance to disturb you, such as your human’s clattering her plates as she gets up from the table, you may look up for a moment, and then return dutifully to what you were doing.

Believe me, nothing will ever keep you from it for very long. For you have now mastered the art of sleeping, and you may go in and out at leisure.

Tootie sleeping

Photo credit: Erica Miles

 

The Great Debate by Charlene Wexler

The Great Debate?

What if God and his angels operated like the President and U.S. Congress when humans were created? It might have gone something like this.

God: We’ve been fighting over these humans for six days and six nights. I want to play golf tomorrow, so let’s finish the negotiations.

Angels: We wanted to adjourn weeks ago! Besides, we don’t like negotiating with you! Anyway, fifteen toes and fifteen fingers? Are you crazy?

God: But that was your idea!

Angels: But now that you adopted it, we oppose it! Anyway, the number is uneven. They will never figure it out.

God: Then let’s make them smart enough to figure it out.

Angels: We oppose socialized education. Anyway, a few can be smarter, but we have to keep the majority dumb.

God: Why?

Angels: Somebody has to do the dirty cleanup jobs.

God: And I bet you want that to be my constituents, not yours.

Angels: Hey, we don’t want a dirty planet. Our constituents would complain.

God: Okay, we’ll go with your ten fingers and ten toes, if you will let me put 206 bones in them.

Angels: Two hundred and six bones? Big spender! Budget buster! Are you crazy?

God: Listen they will need spares. The bags of bones you budget-cutters bought are seconds, and they will break easily.

Angels: You have two of most organs, but only one heart. Why? Is this a conspiracy?

God: It got too complicated to route all that blood in two directions, so I gave up.

Angels: We said you were lazy! Let’s move on to another topic. We think all humans should be pink. Like in the red states.

God: No, blue would be better

Angels: You always favor the blue states! Anyway, we already used all the dye on the plants, and animals. We only have so much money to spend. Can’t raise the debt ceiling, you know.

God: Ok, so what color should we use?

Angels: How about brown? We have a lot of brown left over.

God: I like brown.

Angels: You like brown? Maybe we should re-think this. What about different shades of brown, from almost white to almost black?

God: I really would miss giving them some color. What about making the toes different colors?

Angels: What’s with you and toes?

God: Listen, we have a little blue and green left over. Not enough for toes, but maybe enough for the eyes. Now the tough part. I don’t want to be bothered constantly making new humans when the old ones wear out.

Angels: So let’s give them organs to reproduce on their own.

God: Where should we put the organs?

Angels: Put them anywhere. They will only use them a few times when they want to have children. And by the way, even though it looks like we have a deal now, if we change our minds, we’ll shut down the Universe!