WAR OF THE WORLDS

The DIrectors Guild theater was surprisingly full for a Monday night, 9:30 showing of WAR OF THE WORLDS. The movie, with destruction that makes INDEPENDENCE DAY look like a WB cartoon, is actually "disturbing" — this is not a "popcorn movie" — especially at the Directors Guild theater where food and drink are not allowed. Something about the invaders, and Americans being refugees in their own country, strikes a chord resonant with the upsurge of fascism. Other flicks where aliens attack have people running and screaming, but this film shows the displaced, homeless, bereaved, searching, fearful aspect of those "running extras" that we’ve not seen except in newsreel footage of armed invasions and other wars. And this was WAR OF THE WORLDS — so it was.  Morgan Freeman narrated,  Tim Robbins received applause when his face came on screen, and Dakota Fanning solidified her reputation as the best screen actress under five feet tall. Tom Cruise is over five feet tall, isn’t he? He worked hard too. Special effects were astounding.

Next up for critique: The Devils Rejects. Haven’t seen it, but sure have it on my to-do list.

SLOSHED IN THE UK

<<<<<<<< Dangerous Desperados Drink in Blackpool

See the woman over there with one eye going the opposit direction of the other? That’s Donna. The excessively unusual fellow next to her is her boytoy, Russ.  This couple recently caused an uproar in Blackpool when they showed up sober. As anyone familiar with Blackpool knows, anyone in that vacation spa for more than 45 minutes is required to (a) be intoxicated (b) wear a funny hat.

Dragged before the local magistrate, the couple was soundly upbraided for conservative behavior, and ordered to make fools of themselves immediately. As you can see from the photograph, they complied. You may say "OK, Russ is wearing a funny hat, but Donna simply looks as if she is on her way to the Pendleton Roundup." You must understand that she is wearing a cowboy hat and she is Irish, living in Oxfordshire, UK. They don’t even have horses in Ireland yet, and rodeos are not the seasonal event in Oxfordshire. They were finally allowed to leave on the condition that if they ever return to Blackpool, they must start drinking a good one hour before arriving, preferably behind the wheel of a careening vehicle.

Tonight I’m going to the Directors Guild screening of WAR OF THE WOLRDS.  Hopefully, they will have a special feature explaining how Tom Cruise held AUDITIONS for the role of his new girlfriend! Yes, AUDITIONS! "Have you ever played the girlfriend of a movie star previously?" A friend of a friend was one of the starlettes called in to test for the part of Tom’s new love. "Do I have to sleep with him," she asked with trepidation and loathing. "Yes, I’m afraid so," replied her agent "but you put on a fake mustache, use a deep voice, and wear this unique device." 

Meanwhile SpongeBob Squarepants was arrested in Florida for indecent exposure after My Little Pony and Rainbow Brite joined him at an adult XXX Japanese anim screening. Details are not yet inked in, but the first sketchy reports paint a  not-so-pretty picture of our underwater role model waving somthing about resembling a small sea urchin.

<<<< PUBLIC SERVICE MESSAGE

Today we have a licensed character endorsement for race unity. For those of you who may worry that this is an extension of “fan fiction,” or the utilization of a licensed logo without appropriate approval from the legal rights holders, relax — it’s legal and approved. Race unity, and the elimination of racial prejudice was an issue close to the heart of the Saint’s creator, Leslie Charteris, who experienced racism first hand. His father was Chinese, his mother British. This is preferable to having one of your parents being a hamster, and the other smelling of Elderberries. According to sociologists and social psychologists, racism, nationalism, sexism, and anti-Semitism have increased in America. So has the cost of health care and the price of a Big N Tasty at McDonalds. Obviously, the answer to the question, “How do we reduce prejudice in America,” is “government enforced price controls on medical care and fast food.” A forced roll back of the Big N Tasty to 99 cents is the first step, never allowing the McRib to see daylight again is the second. Yes, ever since I had a heart attack, I’m more conscious than ever of what I eat — and as I only eat fast food from Micky D’s or BK’s value menu, Kosher deli items such as the “ALL SALT SANDWICH” at Nate n Al’s, or the KASHA & BOWS Special “Save Money, Retain Fluid!” at Sid’s, this stuff is important to me. So is the price of Rx drugs. They have become so expensive, that there is now a black market of Plavix and Inderol, smuggled into America in innocuous looking bales of contraband marijuana from clandestine pharmaceutical labs in countries we call “Third World.” Like me, you’ve probably asked yourself a thousand times, “What is Third World?” No one knows. We just know that America is FIRST WORLD and that’s all that counts!
You have also probably asked yourself, “What kind of gun would Jesus use?” Obvious answer: “Blessed are the Peacemakers.” The classic Colt Single Action Army “Peacemaker” was introduced in 1873, and remains in production today. In our collective consciousness, it remains the gun most associated with the American West, where it was unquestionably the most popular full sized revolver of the late 1800’s. Yep, Jeus may have ridden an ass, but today he would fire a Colt. You may quote me on that.

<<< THAT PHOTO OVER THERE

I eat Jewish food which, as everyone knows, goes in and NEVER comes out. There is farfel in my system from 1963, and a matzoh ball from Passover, 1956. Each item of Jewish food is tagged as if on Wild Kingdom and then tracked laboriously through the digestive system. There are kasha and bows in the belly of Shelly Berman that date back to before the flood. As for my photo on my blog – yes, i keep changing it. Why? Because I get complaints that either I look too serious, too silly, too old, too young, or too constipated. I am changing the picture again — I’m going to use a picture of a Las Vegas Cam Model who, for $4.95 a minute will show you how to make sure NOTHING gets out of ANY opening EVER!

WHO IS DAN BROWN?

Dan Brown is a best-selling author.  People buy his books. That’s what makes him a "best-selling author."   Being the best-selling salesman does not mean that you are a salesman whose books sell as if written by Dan Brown. This is all very complex.  Dan Brown’s book, The Da Vinci Code has sold more copies than …well….just about everything on Earth.  My books only sell well to the people who buy them — women who date serial killers because it’s a makes a statement. The statement is "I’m out of my mind!"

I do keep track of my sales — or someone does. Writers get royalty statements which make perfectly clear why you can’t pay your bills — they send out books, the store sends some of them back, but as they dont know how many will come back, they TAKE A GUESS and deduct that from what you are paid.  Why can’t they take that guess BEFORE they ship out the books?  I’ll tell you why. Because if they are wrong and send out too few, then they will lose sales. This happened with my book MURDER IN THE FAMILY when it was on the second tier of NYT Best Seller list. It was heading for the top when, yes, they ran out of books. You can’t be in the top 10 if the book is on backorder.  What i dont understand is why my first royalty check for MITF was three times more than the royalty checks for my next three books combined – and the sales are consistently THE SAME for all of them! Yes, it must be the GUESS HOW MANY WILL BE RETURNED factor.  This is all too confusing for me, as you can tell.  It could be worse — i could be a musician, song writer, or other fictional character. Brian WIlson was owed $33 MILLION in back royalties from Capitol Records. "OOOPS, sorry Brian we somehow didn’t notice that $33,000,000.00 we didn’t pay you."

When it is easy to overlook $33 million in royalties, it’s a miricle that I get anything at all. 

Writing the Short Story

I was thinking tonight about my nephew, Tod Goldberg. He is a brilliant author, as is his brother Lee, and his Uncle Burl. All three are shy, modest and ever-so-helpful to the surging sea of pre-published (unpublished) would-be-writers who continually (a) kindly ask for our insightful advice, or (b) tell us that because we are published authors, we are clueless fools.

The best safeguard against the "b" category is to charge for insightful advice, guidance, and homework assignments. This is called "teaching," or "instructing."   All three of us have managed to fill anywhere from an hour to 90 minutes per class with sufficient anecdotes and re-phrased verities to suck up the alloted time while successfully sustaining our students’ voluntary consciousness.  Tod, however, is the only one of us who pulls this off with profitable, respectable consistency at an accredited institution of higher learning. In celebration of the release of Tod’s new book of short stories, Simplify, I present this 500 word short story starring — Tod Goldberg.

Mr. Goldberg’s Class: Writing the 500 Word Short Story

“The essential problem with your story, David,” explained Mr. Goldberg politely, “is simply that you set your sights too high for a first effort.”

“Meaning what, exactly?”

“You’re trying to run before you walk, pardon the cliché,” said the instructor. “Your title, `A Perfect Murder’ is a bit grandiose – in real life, a murderer can’t drag a dead body all over L.A in public without someone getting wind of it, so to speak. Write what you know, David.  Perhaps something such as `How I Feed the Dog’ would be more appropriate.”

David stared at Goldberg quizzically. “I don’t have no dog.”

“What I mean, is that I want you to write something less complex. Keep it simple.”

“Well, yeah. I did write on both sides of the page,” admitted David. “So, I should just do one side? That would be more simpler?”

“Simpler, yes,” said Mr. Goldberg, smiling and sighing and glancing at his watch. “However, I do admire that you put so much effort into it. I recognize that you are a very dedicated student.”

David shifted his weight, cleared his throat and stammered out what was obviously an important question. “What do I do about the ending?”

“Well, the ending has to make sense in light of everything that came before it. As it is now, the story sort of…well…just stops.”

Perspiration dripped from David’s forehead, translucent drops plopped on crude pulp pages, puckering the author’s erratic Scripto scrawl.

“Here’s my best advice, David,” Goldberg said, offering a warm smile. ”Re-write the story at the end of the semester. By then, you’ll have mastered the basics. I know you’re eager, David. That’s good, really it is. You’re just a little impatient.”

“Thanks for your encouragement; Mr. Goldberg,” said David. “I really want to write good ‘cause it’s important to my mom. She had a book published once, you know. So, she’s always been on me to write good, .too.”

The student hurriedly gathered his things. “I almost forgot,’ he said nervously, “she’s waiting for me in the car. See you Monday.”

Goldberg responded with appropriate social echo; David quickly walked out of the classroom and down the stairs to the parking lot. On the way, he crumpled the story’s pages into a sweaty ball and tossed them in the trash can.

“I’m sorry for making you wait. Mom,” he said, splaying his denim clad posterior across the driver’s side cracked black plastic bucket seat.   “I was talking to Mr. Goldberg, and guess what? He says I’m a good student. Really! I’m learning just fine, he said. I’m just impatient, that’s all. I need to be patient, you understand, right?  So, you gotta be patient with me too, okay?”

Mother nodded as David fumbled the key into the ignition, started the engine, and forced the gear-shift into drive. “There’s just one problem Mom.” His tone was as cautiously casual as trepidation allowed. “It will be the end of the semester before I know what to do with your corpse.”



Copyright 2005 Burl Barer. All Rights Reserved

WAL-MART JOKE

I may be a story teller, not not a joke-teller. I seldom remember jokes, and those I do recall are best not shared in mixed company. My question for today is, "Who writes the Jokes that people send via email?"   I recently received the following joke — it is well structured, and has all the indications of being crafted by a trained joke writer — via email. The original author is not credited, nor is he/she receiving royalties. Which brings us to the next questionL "Is joke downloading the same as music downloading?"  Will I be arrested and run the risk of prosecution for downloading elements of humor and not paying for them? What about p2p joke file sharing? If the joke was written post 1900, it is probably picaresque plundering to pool our humor resources.  What is a law abiding citizen to do?

ONE DAY, IN LINE AT THE COMPANY CAFETERIA. JOE SAYS TO MIKE BEHIND  HIM, "MY ELBOW HURTS LIKE HELL GUESS I HAD BETTER SEE A DOCTOR"

"LISTEN, YOU DON’T HAVE TO SPEND THAT KIND OF MONEY" MIKE REPLIES.   "THERE’S A DIAGNOSTIC COMPUTER DOWN AT WAL-MART. JUST GIVE IT A URINE sMPLE AND THE COMPUTER WILL TELL YOU WHAT’S WRONG, AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT IT TAKES TEN SECONDS AND COSTS TEN DOLLARS…..A LOT CHEAPER THAN A DOCTOR."

JOE BRINGS A URINE SAMPLE TO WAL MART, FINDS THE DIAGNOSTIC COMPUER, DEPOSITS TEN DOLLARS AND POURS THE SAMPLE INTO THE SLOT.

TEN SECONDS LATER, THE COMPUTER EJECTS A PRINTOUT:
"You have tennis elbow. Soak your arm in warm water and avoid heavy activity. It will improve in two weeks. Thank you for shopping @ Wal-Mart"

THAT EVENING, JOE BEGAN TO WONDER IF THE COMPUTER COULD BE FOOLED. HE MIXED SOME TAP WATER, A STOOL SAMPLE FROM HIS DOG, URINE SAMPLES FROM HIS WIFE AND  DAUGHTER, AND A SPERM SAMPLE FROM HIMSELF FOR GOOD MEASURE.

JOE HURRIED BACK TO  WAL-MART, EAGER TO CHECK THE RESULTS. HE DEPOSITED TEN DOLLARS, POURED IN HIS CONCOCTION, AND AWAITED THE RESULTS. THE COMPUTER PRINTED THE FOLLOWING:

1. Your tap water is too hard. get a water softener (aisle 9)
2. Your dog has ringworm. Bathe him with anti-fungal shampoo (aisle 7)
3. Your daughter has a cocaine habit. Get her into rehab.
4. Your wife is pregnant. Twins – they aren’t yours. Get a lawyer.
5. If you don’t stop playing with yourself, your elbow will never get
better.
Thank You for Shopping @ Wal-Mart

Now, I don’t know who wrote that joke, nor do I know how much money you owe for reading it. You may owe more if you laughed, a bit less if you chuckled, etc. In any event, perhaps the best way to avoid difficulty in this matter is to make a donation to my "Laughing all the way to the Bank" fund via PayPal.  Just go to http://www.paypal.com and make a donation to BARER COMMUNICATIONS. Memo it: "Joke"

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ROBERT DENIRO?

What’s the deal with Robert DeNiro? Remember when he made real movies — ok, he had a few clunkers in the old days, but nothing as outright horrid as GODSEND – a piece of crap that just stops, not ends.  He is working constantly — that’s good — sort of like Michael Caine who, like Gene Hackman, is always excellent even if the movie sucks, but WHAT IS WITH DeNIRO!?!??!  When was the last time he had a memorable role equal to his status as an actor? Well? Is it HIDE AND SEEK — with FOUR alternate endings?  I’ll find out today — I rented it, along with De-Lovely and House of Frankenstien. So far, House of Frankenstein is light years ahead of GODSEND — right now, the Frankenstein monster (Glenn Strange) is dragging Boris Karloff,  lisping, into the bog! Ooops, that was it THE END.  Universal Studios certainly wasn’t much into epilogs.

Well, STEALTH is done. It isn’t exactly the longest novel — a mere 50,000 words. That’s 3,000 less than THE SAINT but maybe it will be longer in Japanese.

The Jolson Story Again and Again

When my sister, Jan and I were visiting our Mom in Seattle, we delighted all of us by putting The Jolsen Story in the VCR. Mom has a big plasman screen TV, and stereo headphones — she was smiling ear to ear for the duration of the flick, and so were Jan and I.  We have always loved Jolson, and whenever I feel homesick, or lonely or depressed or nostalgic, I’ll put on Jolson. Well, they had The Jolson Story at the corner video store so, naturally, I rented it and have been half-watching/all-listening as I write Stealth (almost done, and pre-deadline).  As the warm up act today is the Kevin Spacey Bobby Darin bio-pic.  Don’t know if it is any more accurate than Jolson’s but I did notice they left out his early folk years (not folk rock) in the era of the Chad Mitchell Trio when Roger McGuinn (later of the Byrds) was backing him on banjo. The pic gives the impression he went from rock to lounge. Who cares? I wonder if there was a novelization of the screenplay. The film is rather artsy-fartsy, and Spacey doesn’t lip sync to Darin’s originals — he sings the tunes himself. Not bad, but not Bobby Darin, That’s All.

YOU AINT HEARD NOTHIN’ YET

You Ain’t Heard Nothin’ Yet!

2005

Long Island

Jolson Festival

Saturday, August 27

from

9:30 a.m.

to

4:30 p.m.

Knights of

Columbus

2985 Kenneth Place

Oceanside

Long Island

,

NY

(just 35 minutes from NYC Penn Station

via

Long Island

Railroad to

Oceanside

Station, L.I.)

starring

Tony Babino "The Heart of Al Jolson"

accompanied by the piano artistry of Dave Gross

——————————————————————————–

also scheduled to appear

Radio Personality Joe Franklin

Janet Cantor Gari – the daughter of Eddie Cantor

Brian Gari – the grandson of Eddie Cantor

Richard Halpern – Mr. Tin Pan Alley

John Kenrick (Mr. Musicals101.com)

——————————————————————————–

FESTIVAL PROGRAM Registration, Muffins, Coffee & Tea

9:30 – 10:00 a.m.

Welcome by Jan Hernstat

10:00 – 10:30 a.m.

John Kenrick (Mr. Musicals101.com)

will show a multimedia

presentation on Al Jolson

10:30 – 11:30 a.m.

Society Auction (please bring items)

11:30 – 12:30 p.m.

Lunch Buffet

12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

The Heart of Al Jolson – Tony Babino

1:30 – 3:00 p.m.

Special Video Presentation

3:30 – 4:30 p.m.

Please bring your Jolson items for the auction.

The Lunch Buffet includes a Salad and

Chicken Parmigiana, Sliced London Broil (beef),

Penne a la Vodka (pasta), Southern Fried Chicken,

Dessert and coffee.