Thursday, September 14, 2006

Next Show! Sept. 24. 8:00 PM. The Walk of Shame!

This month's Storytime is going to be a classic. The theme says it all: The Walk of Shame! Maybe it's the morning after the best night of our lives? Maybe we just had too much fun!

One guarantee: You WILL have too much fun this Sunday, Sept. 24, 8:00 PM at the legendary MAGNET THEATER!

The four writers are: Lianne Stokes, BC Edwards, Rachael Mason and me, David Serchuk!

Here are some writer bios:

Lianne Stokes has been doing stand-up on the NY indie scene for five years. Known for her brashy, high-energy style she appreciates that "Dudes think she's funny." Most recently Lianne's had the pleasure to perform her show, "And, God Created The Woman." Oh! She's also got a blog. That said blog is often linked to by

B.C.Edwards feels ridiculous that he uses his initials as his pen-name, but there's not much he can do about it now. He is currently a producer for the Upright Citizens Brigade Touring Company, and has frequently been told that his nose is adorable.

David Serchuk is a reporter at Forbes, and a producer at Just this week he met The Donald. Hooray for him. He is proud to host Storytime, and loves to read at other shows like the Brutal Honesty series, Writers Working and the upcoming "Mama D's Art Bordello."

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Next Show! 1,000 Words!

Everyone knows that a picture is worth 1,000 words, but this month Storytime PROVES it! That's because this month we are writing 1,000 word stories in conjunction with pictures that are important to the writers!

Meaning: The writers will bring in pictures, that you will see, and they will write a 1,000 word story explaining that picture! 1,000 exactly! This is a very cool, smart experiment, and you will totally love seeing what these creative writers do with 1,000 words!

The four writers are: Timothy Cooper, David Serchuk (me), Kristina Sepulveda and Becky Yamamoto!

Some bios:
Kristina Sepulveda is a big dreamer and heavy sleeper. She has performed acts of hilarity at Magnet Theater, Chicks and Giggles, People's Improv Theater, and the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. Before performing, she did politics, and before that, she did poetry on various stages in Orlando and in studies at Florida State University. She looks forward to her next pursuit to being completely unrelated from the last.

Timothy Cooper works as a playwright, screenwriter, humorist, and restaurant critic, sometimes combining those four occupations in weird ways. He also does lots of script doctoring.

Some work of his you might have actually seen includes the comedy short THE CHOCOLATEER; a chapter of the feature film REALIZATION, which recently premiered in Chicago; the family musical SCOTCH & POISON, performed last year on the Frying Pan at Chelsea Piers; and SAVIOUR, a documentary drama that’s had readings at The New Group and The Culture Project. He is currently in post-production for the comedy food pilot SERVED.

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Next Show: July 23! Theme: The Last Time I Cried!

I'm psyched for the next Storytime! It will be July 23, 7:00 pm at the Magnet Theater, and will feature four great young writers: Lucia Aniello, Damon Ketron, DC Pierson and Benjamin Vigeant. Short bios below, except for Benjamin's which is to come. See you at the show!

Lucia Aniello is a writer/cartoonist based out of Brooklyn. She can be seen performing improv comedy with Pax Romana at the Magnet Theater or singing songs very poorly at various comedy venues in New York City. She also is the co-creator of Save the Whales!, a Brooklyn-based bi-annual 'zine (e-mail for a free subscription). Lucia graduated from Columbia University in 2004 with a BA in Film Studies and really had a good time there.

You can find Damon Ketron at You can also catch Damon at the Magnet Theater on Saturday nights in the show Megawatt with the House Improv team Baby In a Corner. Damon is also working on releasing an album by the end of the year on his indie label, form of...Records!

DC Pierson is a senior at New York University, where he studies writing for television. He writes and performs comedy with Dominic Dierkes and Donald Glover in a group called DERRICK ( DERRICK's show "Outtakes" happens the last Monday of every month at the UCB Theater. The group also has a script deal with Comedy Central. DC publishes poems, stories, and un-asked-for opinions at his website,
The Wal-Mart Crotch Rocket Getaway

Part IV

(by David Silverman)

The sound of every police car in Shawnee County available to respond at the height of Crazy Days was both louder than the sound in your ears from an iPod turned all the way up playing Bad Moon Rising and softer than the whine of a colicky baby in the seat behind you on a red-eye from LA to New York.
As the sun shown down through a vacation-brochure blue sky littered with puffy white clouds as soft and as menacing as cotton balls—two-bags-for-a-dollar-made-in-China-being-purchased-by-a-laid-off-autoworker cotton balls—the lone deputy and the captain, who had been in the back of the squad car sucking down an Italian-style-combo sandwich when the alarm from the Wal Mart had come in, put on the best show they could.
The deputy took up a shaky position behind the open door of the cruiser, and cranked down the window. Not even power windows, the deputy thought, and I left dental school for this. “Come out with your hands up,” he yelled into the broken megaphone—using it more as a shield than a loudspeaker.

“What’s that?” Aimee Carson said, her voice high pitched and throaty, like a speaker at a fast food drive-thru, or like a four-foot-two forty-year-old prostitute for whom life had been always hard. Puberty had brought pimples but no hair, hips, or tits and she made her living pretending to be the pre-teen she never ceased to appear to be—except with sex. Kind of like Aimee Sedaris in that TV show Stranger’s With Candy, but without the copyright violations implicit in that comparison.
“Nuh un.” Wyler said, while pushing his hand under Aimee’s ‘80s Madonna-style beaded necklaces and ripped halter top and kissing her neck as hard as he could. His Fry-Guy costume hung half off, half on his torpid body exposing his flabby arms and the tattoo around his left nipple that read, simply, “Peas.”
It was surprising what a person, and perhaps especially Wyler, could accomplish, sexual speaking, with a Fry Guy costume. But it wasn’t surprising that Aimee and Wyler had met in the Wal-Mart parking lot--each with a different goal. One, to meet Matt Klesko and tell him you are not attending St. Rosemary’s Junior High on the hill, but are in fact a drug-addicted whore who has been tricking him into sex for money and Madonna outfits and now realizes that even she can’t continue to use him like that. That he should keep his job at Wal Mart, get as far away from an awful, awful woman like her, and find himself a true love who can love him back. And the other to complete the plan dreamed up by his twin brother, and Wal Mart management expert Tyler. Tyler, fourteen seconds older than Wyler. Tyler, the pushing force who had made their mother scream so loud in pregnancy that her voice was distorted like whippoorwill from that moment forward. Tyler always had a plan and Wyler always had to do it.
But instead, Aimee, who had a weakness for big, strong guys in a costume related to any internationally recognized brand, and Wyler, a man with Down’s syndrome and a weakness for women who sounded like his mother, ended up in the dumpster behind the loading dock groping each other like a fat man attacking a stack of quarter-pounders after six months on a reality TV show where they did nothing but stop you from eating quarter-pounders cause that was the only idea that passed the test groups.

“Give me that damn thing,” the captain said, switching off the siren that the deputy had left on. Above him, the cotton ball clouds had turned a deep shade of grey. They soaked of up the sun like makeup off the cast of a high school version of cats. “Where did you learn to say that? Saturday cartoons?” He walked around the front of the squad car, his hands comfortably at his side. “We have you surrounded,” he shouted. “Best you boys just come out peacefully.”

“What do you think?” Max said, sort of to Carl, who couldn’t decide whether to re-cock the shotgun or to lie down and cry, sort of to Bruce, who looked remarkably untouched by everything, sort of Ralph and Frank, one heading to unconsciousness in his purple papier-mâché costume, the other, bewildered, his bright red 250 CC Shark shattered and intermingled with his fractured limbs and mangled bits of door frame that intermittently bing-bonged the familiar, but now sarcastic welcome tones of friendly automatic doors the world around.
But Max was unfazed by all this. He had regained his composure. It was like when he’d gone to jail the first time. When the lights went out and he had to establish who was in charge. Gone were the “Fucks” and the “Jesus Christs!” and the “Stop, Carl, don’t you recognize me? It’s Me, Max, your brother’s son. The little boy who you gave your Number 16 shirt to in 1967 when the Kansas City Monarchs disbanded. I’ll give you some of the money and write into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY to a friend of mine who works there and get you nominated.” All those ludicrously complicated adrenaline-filled pleas and revelations were over.
“What do you think?” Max said, again.
Carl looked at Max like a man who had just killed another man and hadn’t had the credits roll or cut to commercial—a man with his shoes touching less blood than Hollywood would lead you to believe a man contains, but still plenty of real, sticky, clotting hemoglobin.
“Looks like there’s only two of ‘em,” Ralph said, edging his face up to the window—using Grimace’s trademark milkshake as a makeshift crutch.
“What do you think?” Max repeated, wiping a bit of makeup from his face. “That guy wasn’t one of us,” he said feeling the greasepaint on his fingers. “Kinda hard to say blowing Minnie Mouse’s head off was self-defense.”
Carl edged his white-and-blue Keds back from the blood as Max swung his Hamburgler’s bag with the comically large dollar sign around to his chest. “Murder, Carl, ‘s a lot worse than trying to steal a few bucks with unloaded pistols.”

Someone was banging on the dumpster. Ka-thong. Ka-thong. Aimee struggled to get her Super Girl Underoos back on.
“Unh,” Wyler grunted, more annoyed at having to reduce himself from the master fucker, literally, to the second out of the womb as he pushed a soft hand against the green metal lid.
“Get out,” Tyler shouted, “get fuckin’ out.”
Tyler’s face behind his thick black-framed glasses was all twisted in the full fury of a plan going exactly—exactly—right, until Aimee came out of the dumpster behind Wyler. At the sight of her skinny ass Tyler’s face opened like a three-in-the-morning, filled-to-the-mathematical-edge-of-its-meniscus-by-an-automatic-machine-manned-by-an-angry-man-who-still-lived-at-home-with-his-mother, value-meal-sized coke-a-cola dropped on a dirty floor.
“What the fuck?” Tyler, said meaning, I tell you to do something and you fuck it up with some broad who must be half your age. Not that that matters, because you are so totally useless that if it were possible to call a number and have you sterilized, I would put that number on redial and go to the bathroom with the Sunday NY Times crossword puzzle, which would be especially difficult and time consuming for me, your brother who, like you has Down’s syndrome, thereby causing them to come and cut your nuts off over and over—because even for a man with Down’s syndrome, Taylor was a shit-head.
“Ready,” Wyler said, meaning, I am ready to complete the plan, brother of mine. As we had discussed, I help you carry bags of cash.
“No.” Tyler said, meaning, All my planning to get those idiots to rob the Wal Mart. And what a wonderful plan it was. They didn’t know that all they have is a tenth of the month’s receipts and they’ll take all the blame. While I’ve got the real money stashed somewhere else. Somewhere secret. After all, who would suspect sweet little old me?
“He looks like you,” Aimee said.
“No.” Tyler said, meaning, No. Or, on maybe, No, I don’t look my brother. I’m much more beautiful.

“We’ve got all day if you do,” the captain shouted, tilting his hat back a notch and then crossing his arms. “And you can stop hiding back there,” he said to the deputy still crouched behind the star painted on the open squad car door. “They’re not going anywhere. These Wal Mart’s are built on the cheap, no windows, one door in the front, and the loading dock locked to keep employees from wandering out on smoke breaks. Or don’t you read the papers.”
The deputy peaked over the top of the door.
“And another thing, Pearson,” the captain said, “They’re a lot less likely to think we’re alone if you would stop trying to get that door to have sex with you.”
I don’t read the papers, jerk off, the deputy thought as a light rain began to fall, I use the Internet.

“Back door,” Carl said.
Max looked up and out across the store, his eyes darting with hope.
“Locked,” Bruce said. “Already tried,” and he waved, for effect, the bolt cutters he had stolen from Seasonal Hardware.
“Shit,” Max said, returning to swearing instead of thinking.
“Opens,” Carl said slowly, still focused on Minnie Mouse’s decapitated polka dot dress, “if there’s a—” And then simultaneously with Max, “fire!”
Frank moaned.
Ralph put his arm in his mouth liked he used to when his father took out the bottle of Old Smuggler whiskey.
And Bruce pointed at the propane tanks next to the barbeque grills with his cutters.
Who’s on the top bunk now? Max thought. Hamburgler is.

The deputy stood up as six cruisers from the State Highway patrol in Lawrence pulled into the parking lot—their mirrored sunglass drivers the epitome of Clint Eastwood cool—the real Clint, not the pussy I’m-an-old-man-who’s-going-to-die-eventually Million-Dollar-Baby Clint, but like the Gauntlet Clint, especially the part at the end, when they’re all whacking on him with their fists or metal chains or Billy clubs, you know, the whaddaya callit, the gauntlet, yeah, that was wicked.
The clouds had merged into a pizza tin grey slab, blocking out the sun. And just as the troopers had begun plugging in their search lights, a Bang! came from within the store.
“I’ll put in a good word to the judge for the first one of you out of there,” the captain shouted as he moved his hand to his holstered revolver, and the skies opened up. There was a moment of quiet, like the whole world was waiting for the old lady in the front of the line to hand the cashier a check for two dollars and three cents, when all of a sudden the windows of the Wal Mart blasted out, cause that’s what always happens.

“I don’t know, who the fuck are you,” Aimee said as the loading dock door flew open, billowing out four cursing men in McDonald-land costumes, Hamburgler, Mayor McCheese, and the Grimace carrying three sacks with dollar signs and a slumped Ronald, like Jesus taken off the cross. Behind them was a twitching Wal Mart employee with dark stains on his shirt, and behind him, a wall of black smoke.
“No!” Tyler yelled, hysterically waving his fists in the air as lightning flashed overhead. “No smoke break!”

“There’s a culvert behind the store,” the captain said to the still sunglassed trooper. “They’d break their necks if they to run that way.” He fiddled with the brim of his hat. “Seriously, these boys just got in over their head. They’ll be running out here ready to give up any second now. Let’s just get the fire department folks here. No need for you troopers to escalate this.”
Without a word, the trooper made a series of hand signals to his lieutenant who was holding the leashes of eight German shepherds, all drooling thick saliva. The lieutenant released the dogs and barked a command indistinct in the crack of thunder.

In the flood control culvert behind the store, Frank, on the ground, regained consciousness for a moment. He watched Max struggle to pull himself up the rain slicked concrete. Everyone was sliding, the sounds of dogs could be heard. It’s over. Frank thought. Even if we get away, that jail striped Hamburgler outfit isn’t going to help.
Tyler was slap punching Carl, “No,” he said over and over.
Carl pushed him hard in the chest. “I’ve already used this once,” he said lifting the shotgun.
Tyler stumbled back and fell in the mud.
“Help me up,” Carl said.
“Help you?” Max asked, incredulous.
“I’m the only one strong enough to lift one of you fat bastards over the wall.”
This required trust. Max didn’t like trust.
“You remember that baseball shirt? I told your father, my brother, I’d take care of you.”
“Bullshit,” Max said.
“Maybe,” Carl said, pointing over his shoulder. “But it’s that or let the dogs get you.”
A dog had descended on Tyler, biting his glasses and parts of his nose to bits.
Max cupped his hands and Carl put his foot in them. He heaved his bulk upward and grabbed onto the edge of the culvert. At the top he turned around.
“You gave your word,” Max yelled.
“Throw up the money,” Carl said.
The dogs had moved onto Frank and were circling Ralph.
“The money!”
Reluctantly Max tossed the bags.
“You promised,” Max yelled.
“And you tried to rob my store,” Carl said and ran.
Shit. Max thought.

Aimee stood behind the dumpster hugging Wyler. As dumb as he was, he couldn’t hate her for not being normal. He felt like hope—like the time that doctor had tried to stretch her out. “Of course momma loves you short, but she’d love you a whole lot more if you were normal sized.”
Wyler had gotten rid of the fry guy costume and to the police they had looked like just a scared, if extremely unsightly, couple who had gotten caught up in the whole thing.
“Let’s go,” Aimee said.
Wyler reached into his pocket and read the slip of paper he found there.
Aimee read over his shoulder. “Take out the trash? No, come on.”
He pulled out of her grip and grabbed a bag of garbage from the dumpster.
“Come on,” she said.
With the sounds of fire engines, dogs, and thunder, Wyler and Aimee walked away. The rain had slowed and at an empty diner down the road they sat together on one side of a booth sharing a cheeseburger deluxe, the bag of trash between them.
Aimee took a quarter from her fanny pack and reached over Wyler to put it in the Rocola Jukebook.
“Shit,” she said, turning the selector knob and frowning, “All they have is new Madonna.”
She punched in R5 and sat back down. “So what was so important about the damn trash? Your mommy put that note in your pocket,” she asked as, Hey Mr. DJ, Put a record on, I wanna dance with my baby warbled from the two inch speakers.
Wyler shrugged, opened the bag cautiously and peered inside with a squinted eye. He smiled at Aimee.
“What? You like trash?” She leaned in, holding his shoulder for support. Within the red tie sash of the bag she could make out bundles of cash.
“I like peas,” Wyler said. “You like peas?”
The Wal-Mart Crotch Rocket Getaway
Part III

(by Ari Voukydis)

This isn’t the plan.

His heart racing and sweat beading off his white face-paint, Frank spilled out into the Wal-Mart parking lot, blinking in the harsh Topeka sunlight. Head pounding.

This isn’t the plan.

From behind him, Bruce’s voice, muffled by the cavernous Mayor McCheese mask but audibly sharp with fear: “Frank!”

Frank took a slow deep breath and scanned for cops. None.

“Frank! Where are you going? Don’t leave us!”

A shotgun and the chimes of breaking glass. This definitely isn’t the plan.

Another voice, Max’s: “Jesus FUCK, Carl! Stop! Please! Let’s talk this out.”

To Frank’s left, the getaway motorcycles: beautiful red-and-chrome Sharks. He willed himself to leave, to run to one of the Beasts, throw the money in Her sidecar, and tear off into the anonymous embrace of the Crazy Days parade. Blend in with the freaks and float away with the rest of the garbage.


But that’s not the plan.

“Hey! Ronald Fucking McDonald!”

The plan – which seemed so foolproof just 24 hours ago – had in retrospect all the hallmarks of a fiasco. Dress in matching costumes and rob a Wal-Mart: Romantic. Bad-ass. How could we possibly screw that one up?

Let the record show, that’s what a Bad Plan looks like, and if one had to pinpoint the exact moment it graduated from Bad Plan to Dangerous Lunacy, one might point to Bruce’s insistence on unloaded guns. You know, for safety.

Still, it might have worked. Alone, maybe each of them could have pulled this off, but together, no. Doomed. Too much weird alchemy. Too many variables. The whole became less than the sum of its parts, and just because a plan is crazy doesn’t mean it just might work. To be fair, it just might have. But the Hamburglar got greedy, Mayor McCheese lost his nerve, and a drunk old man found a gun and a sense of purpose. Now Grimace was going to bleed to death if someone didn’t get him to a hospital. So now, a choice: Ronald McDonald could either try to save his friends and get killed, or abandon them altogether and see how far he could get before the spineless pricks gave him up to the police.

Res ipsa loquitur - the thing speaks for itself – all those connected with the operation are liable for negligence. Fucked if you do, fucked if you don’t. America. What a country.

This isn’t the plan.

Or is it? Maybe the plan just sucks.

“Fuck it,” Frank said, and sprinted to the Shark, tossed the sack into the sidecar, and lept onto the saddle. He took several deep breaths to compose himself, running over his mental checklist, trying to predict what he was about to do wrong.

Fuck it. No more plans. Do it. Let the brain play catch-up. Plenty of time to cook up plans in jail. He backed the bike up, gunned the engine, and rocketed towards the sliding glass entrance. For a moment he felt perfectly alive, electric, immortal. By the time he realized the automatic doors weren’t going to open, it was too late. For the rest of Frank’s life doctors would periodically tell him that he had no business surviving that crash, and he knew they were right. But today was that kind of day. Nothing was going according to plan.


Carl Boggs lowered his shotgun. The Hamburglar’s offer made some sense. The McDonalds Four would drop the money and leave. Carl saves the day, nobody goes to jail, nobody dies. Carl could even pocket a couple hundred and who would know? It was a good plan. And it would have probably worked, too, if that clown on that motorcycle hadn’t exploded through those glass doors and sent everything straight to Hell.


Later, long after the chaos had subsided -- after the body had been taken away and the survivors interviewed, after the late-night comics had picked the carcass clean of irony, and after Sam Brownback had gone on TV and found a way to blame the Democrats – after the chips were counted and everything had run its course, there was only one fact left upon which everyone could agree: That as bad as things had been, it wasn’t until Matt Klesko showed up that things really went to shit.


Congratulations, Matt Klesko! It is your lucky day! After today, things will be different. Today you are 33 years old, making six-fifty an hour to walk around the Topeka Wal-Mart in a Minnie Mouse costume, handing out free samples of Disney-themed snacks. Today, for the last time, your marching orders come from a pushy assistant manager who makes everyone call him Team Leader Tyler and docks your pay if you remove your costume’s head in front of customers. TLT is stocky, loud and arrogant. He has blond hair and entirely too much team spirit for someone with his salary. Most people, upon meeting Ty, have the same reaction: “He’s unusually sarcastic for a guy with Down’s.”

But that doesn’t matter. Wal-Mart doesn’t matter. Tyler Brown certainly doesn’t matter. And that’s because you, Matt Klesko, are in love. Real love. The kind of love you’d long since decided was only for other people, maybe for nobody. You love Aimee Carson and Aimee Carson loves you and tonight, you’re going away. Leaving Wal-Mart, leaving Topeka, leaving Kansas. You crush out your Parliament, put the Minnie Mouse head back on, and head onto the floor to wind up your last day at Wal-Mart.


When you’re playing a Disney character, the head is the real problem: you can see out of it okay if you tilt your own head just right, but you can barely hear or be heard – a deliberate choice on the part of the Walt Disney Company, and one that you particularly appreciate: You’ve told Ty to go fuck himself close to eighty times, and he’s never heard you. You step into Housewares. There’s less ambient noise than usual but there’s a lot of yelling. You catch yourself hoping that Ernst is finally kicking the holy hell out of Ty, like he keeps saying he will, but suddenly you don’t care. The old Matt Klesko wishes for those kinds of things. The new Matt Klesko, the Matt Klesko who Loves, does not. You smile to yourself as you turn towards Lawn & Garden, and this is what you see:

Blood, fertilizer, pottery shards and nickels. Some guy in a Mayor McCheese costume pressed up against the north wall of Aisle 19. At his feet is Grimace: the left side of his giant purple body torn to rags and wire, the terrified man inside bleeding out onto the pale linoleum. The Mayor has taken off his oversized gloves and clutches a pistol. And you realize: These ignorant turds are robbing a Wal-Mart. In broad daylight. And not just in McDonald’s costumes, but in the two worst possible McDonald’s costumes. And you, Matt Klesko, know a thing or two about costumes. Did they really not try the costumes on first? Anyone who’s done even a day of mascot work can tell you that you can’t see shit out of McCheese’s head and the Grimace costume’s legs start at a man’s actual knees, so you can’t ever move faster than a sad, careful shuffle.

And you think, Aimee’s never going to believe this. Then you think, I wonder if Aimee’s too young to know who Mayor McCheese is? And then you think, Wait. Nobody would pick those two costumes unless they were the only ones left. There are probably more bad-guys in the store. You duck behind a rack of reasonably priced canoes and force yourself to concentrate. How many other gunmen would depend on where the costumes came from. If they got them at Party City then we’d just be missing Ronald and the Hamburglar. But if they got them at Marty’s Parties then you have to factor in the possibility of Birdie the Early Bird, Officer Big Mac and, depending on how committed they were, a half dozen Fry Guys. You know what, Matt Klesko? You’re a smart motherfucker. Would have made a good cop.

And then you think, Fuck this. And you head south towards the exit. Towards Aimee.

You feel rather than see the sudden movement to your left. You wheel around: Fear, then relief. It’s one of Wal-Mart’s Greeters. You remember this guy. Surly son of a bitch. Used to play for the Kansas City Monarchs, or so he says. Carl something. Carl is holding a shotgun he must have grabbed from Sporting Goods and Jesus, you have never seen Carl this angry. Boggs. That’s his name. Carl Boggs. The blast from the shotgun hits you in the eyes and tears off the top of your head. You’re dead before you hit the floor.

Nineteen years from now, contractors working on the basement of the house you used to live in will find the secret room, and the bones of your young victims, and the photographs, and all the little hands in the jars. And Aimee Carson will grow up safely, and dozens of other little girls will grow up safely. And Carl Boggs will never know how many lives he saved. And you got away with it, didn’t you? All because some half blind former Negro-Leaguer got drunk and thought Minnie Mouse was a McDonald’s character. What did I tell you, Matt Klesko? Today is your lucky day.


It was a long time before anyone speaks. Boggs, pale, has laid down the shotgun and slumps against a remarkably affordable flat-screen TV. Staring blankly at the wall, listening to the alarms, focusing on one idea: Do not throw up.

Max staggers to his feet and helps Bruce take off his McCheese head. Three motorcycles outside. This could work. He and Bruce could ride, stuff Frank and Ralph into a sidecar each, take them less than four miles to Doc Yardley’s place and holy shit, if they got very, very lucky, they might even be able to pull this off.

This was a good plan. And it probably would have worked, too, if the police hadn’t shown up.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Wal-Mart Crotch Rocket Getaway
Part II
by Peter Olsen

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference."

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference."

Frank chanted the Serenity Prayer a third time as a second ficus plant exploded above his head into a shower of roots, leaves, stems, topsoil, and those little round styrofoam things that they put in potted plants in Lawn and Garden stores, salt-and-peppering his red Ronald McDonald wig with perfectly pH-balanced Wal-Mart brand potting soil. Frank, crouching midway down the small tool, fake plant, and insectiside aisle, could see the slumped figure of Ralph in his Grimace costume bleeding out onto the floor. Bruce cradled him gently as a man in a Mayor McCheese outfit with a large exit wound hemmoraging both synthetic fluffy stuffing and money can do anything gently, in a kind of McDonalds cum pieta pose.

The robbery was not going exactly to plan.

The first two to three minutes of the operation had been clockwork--hell, a minute into it, Frank had half a mind to call up Hollywood CA right then and there and spout off the whole idea so that they could go ahead and film Heat 2 and be done with it. The sudden emergence of four Glock-toting registered trademarks of the McDonalds corporation into an otherwise peaceful Wal-Mart Super Center had sent most of the few customers there running out the front door with the assumption that either a robbery, an al-Quayda attack, or some kind of dadaist pinko leftie battle of the mega-brands type protest was occurring, and that in any event they wanted none of it. Grimace and McCheese took opposing positions across the front doors while Ronald and the Hamburgler hit the two nearest registers. The plan was that Max, as the Hamburgler, would yank the drawer from each register, dump its contents into a canvas sack, hand the sack to Ronald/Frank, who ferried it to a zippered slot in the back of Bruce's Mayor McCheese head. Frank figured that, due to the Crazy Days parade and the general piss-poor response time of the Topeka PD, they would have a good fifteen minutes to make it to their motorcycles and drive off to effect an almost leisurely escape onto the highways of Kansas, so he wasn't too worried when the Hamburgler got greedy and hit the register three. Two extra minutes wasn't going to kill them. He did began to feel some small pangs of concern when Max walked to the next register after that, and so Frank shouted to him, "Hamburgler. We have what we need, now let's go."

Max retorted, "C'mon, Frank, we can't think small now!" pushing his empty pistol into the face of the cashier.

Frank quickly jumped to a near panic. "Codenames only! Codenames Only!" but the Hamburgler shrugged his shoulders, dumped the register into a bag, and walked over to the last register.

Now there was no way that Max could have known that Old Lady MacGruder had done her monthy cat shopping earlier that morning and had paid for the entire $50 purchase of fancy feast, kitty litter, a scratch pad, cat nip and a single copy of "OK Magazine" entirely in nickels, and even if he did it's not likely that he would have had the gumption to break free of the drive of adrenaline.

He handed off the canvas sack to Frank who, without much in the way of grace, staggered to Mayor McCheese and stuffed the sack into the zipper.

Bruce wobbled and the Mayor McCheese head tilted. "I'm not going to be able to bike with this. We're going to have to even out the weight. Pour the bag out into the head!"

"No, no no no no." Frank yelled back, "You take one turn on the bike, you're going to have a bunch of nickels in your face!"

"No, I'll just just shake the head. they'll sort themselves out. Ralph, turn my head." Max retorted.

"Codenames! Fuckheads, use codenames! Why don't i just wash this goddamn clown mask off my face and turn myself in right now!

"Geez. ok. Grimace, dump the G. D. nickels, turn the mask and trim this, ok."

Ralph reached into the head and opened the bag, emptied it, then rotated and jiggled the foam rubber mayor McCheese mask trying to get the nickels to even out, and in the process turned both the foam rubber eyes and the actual eye slit that Bruce needed to see with 90 degrees to the left of where they were supposed to be.

Frank was on the verge of calling out something along the lines of "You alcoholic Sanka swilling fuckheads. Do you want to go to jail? Do you want to go to jail for robbing a Wal-Mart? Do you want to go to jail for robbing a Wal-Mart dressed like this?" when he saw a line of police cars crossing the frontage road parallel to the store on their way to the parade. Crazy Days was supposed to have started half an hour before so the police here now meant that the police were running at least two hours late. Frank had figured they'd only be an hour behind at most and was shocked to see his already diminished expectations failed so miserably.

"Away from the doors! Route B!" Frank yelled, and they all ran through sporting goods towards the service entrance at the back of the Lawn and Garden center, Ralph leading Bruce by the hand and still managing to knock over about five-thousand dollars worth of sports equipment onto the floor.

It wasn't, however, until Carl Boggs actually started shooting that Frank began to see the cracks in his plan. The main problem, he realized, was that they were robbing a Wal-Mart. Not only was it unrealistic to hang the collective hopes of lust and escape, comfort, a better life, and luxury of four greatfully recovering alcoholics on the shoulders of a four-way split of the take from a single Wal-Mart Super Center--a kind of criminal soft bigotry of low expectations--there just had to be a softer target somewhere in the greater Topeka area. Which lead him to crack number two: he had not expected resistance. Because while the security guards remained both unarmed and asleep, the customers vacated the building, and the cashiers were pliant and cooperative, if surly, during the course of the robbery, the greeters decided that they were not about to let crazies from outside the Wal-Mart family disturb the shopping experience of their customers and that, dammit, they were going to take a stand then and there. Or one of them was at least, and that greeter's name was Carl Boggs.

Finally crack number three: Frank realized that four unloaded Glock pistols were not anywhere near intimidating enough to subdue a crazed greeter bent on ensuring the customer satisfaction rating of his store. And while the Wal-mart corporation will not stock Maxim or FHM Magazine, the original albums Nevermind by Nirvana, A Boy Named Goo by the Goo-goo dolls, Look what the Cat Dragged In by Poison, Mr. Happy Go Lucky by John Cougar Mellencamp, and the self-titled debut by Sheryl Crow, as well as the books America: the book and When Will Jesus bring the pork chops, no self-respecting store bearing the Walton family name in the center of a vast Red state would be caught dead without a well stocked gun selection behind the back counter of it's sporting goods section. So while the four costumes were wrestling with the McCheese head, Carl headed back to the gun counter unlocked it, grabbed a Beretta AL391 Urika 20 gage semi-automatic sport shotgun, loaded it and fired at the four characters as they ran through Lawn and Garden.

Carl had been aiming at the brightest of the four of the people he could see, Ronald McDonald, but luckily for Frank, Carl had been rendered legally blind by thirteen years of drinking Sterno to take the edge off life. Unluckily for Ralph, most of the buckshot hit him instead. A brief snowfall of purple fuzz and down stuffing floated around him as he stumbled into a row of bone meal bags in Aisle 19. The three other men ducked into the aisle as a volley of buckshot exploded the first ficus plant. Frank leaned back against a 15 pound bag of fertilizer and began reciting the Serenity Prayer.

"Carl! Carl!" Max yelled, and poked his head into the gap between a potted azalea and an aloe vera plant, eliciting only another volley which, while aimed directly at him, harmlessly destroyed a weed-whacker a few feet down the aisle.

"Carl. You've gone and shot Ralph. You know his sister."

"Hamburgler, don't do this! Don't give us up," Frank yelled. "We can still get out of here!"

"Why should I trust you, " Carl yelled. "You're the Hamburgler!"

"Look let's all calm down and talk this out," said Max, removing the hat and thief mask.

Frank popped bolt upright. In his head, the serenity prayer and the words "this isn't the plan, this isn't the plan" began a loop playing over and over. He felt himself stand up and then run -- as best he could in red size 14 clown shoes -- towards the Mayor McCheese head. Dancing through the sea of nickels, he grabbed a sack of money and, without stopping, turned a 90 degree angle towards the back entrance, leaving a shoe and his clown nose behind him on the floor. With shotgun blasts destroying reasonably-priced power tools, lawn furnature, hoses, and a box of cutout CD's in his wake, he stormed out the back emergency entrance, towards the motorcycles, towards the parade, and towards the Crazy Days Queen, Shelly Jasper, waving serenely at the people of Topeka.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Let's hear it for the boy!

I finally was able to post a picture on the blog! Thanks to the helpful advice of David Silverman (see Comment #3). I am seriously like a chimp placed in front of a word processer, totally unable to do anything that's not obvious, or already in the toolbar. But there you have it, the sparkling Storytime postcard as created by Lauren Butler, ne Snyder.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


(Note: This is the first part of the April 16,2006 four part story. By Saara Dutton, Pete Olsen, Ari Voukydis and David Silverman. Copyright the Authors. They collaborated on this one story together to see how it would go. The story was composed in the fashion of the child's game Telephone. Writer 1 handed off her story to Writer 2, who handed off their story to Writer 3, who did not see what Writer 1 wrote. Get it? Anyway, I think it turned out very well.--Dave.)

Pt. 1
by Saara Dutton

Speeding down Wanamaker Road to his A/A meeting on a typically windy Topeka day, inhaling his last Lucky Strike cigarette, Frank Wurtsbaugh had exactly three things on his mind:
He hated his job. There were few professional fates worse than being a wedding DJ in Topeka, Kansas. In fact, if he had to play "Dancing Queen" one more time for one more fat assed bridesmaid hopped up on white zinfandel he was going to rip her fucking arms right out of their sockets and beat her with them.
Shelly Jasper had a pussy like no other.
3.) In exactly 24 hours he and three other alcoholics would be robbing the
Wal-mart Super Center he’d just passed.
And while he really should have been focusing his attentions on the third thing, he couldn’t stop thinking about the second. Damn if that pussy wasn’t tasty. Normally he wasn’t too keen on heading downtown, but this pussy was different. Like it had vitamins and nutrients and…you know, other good shit in it. He felt energized afterwards. It was like spinach or something. Well sort of. Except as a kid no one ever told him,
"Frank, eat your pussy or you won’t grow up big and strong."
Still, he wouldn’t have the worry about the third thing on his mind if it wasn’t for the first thing. The salary for a wedding DJ in Topeka, Kansas wasn’t exactly what you would call lucrative. Enduring a work environment that was both sonically stagnant and rife with assholes gave him nothing in return but a malnourished bank account. Which brought him to the second thing. If he wanted to keep a woman like Shelly around, he needed an infusion of cash pretty quickly. A woman like that needed money for pedicures, teeth bleaching, and dance lessons.
Sure right now she was just in the chorus of the Helen Hocker Center for the Performing Arts production of CATS, but soon she’d be on Broadway, like her idol, Chita Rivera. With looks like Shelly’s, it was bound to happen. Not many women could claim to be Queen of the Shawnee County Crazy Days Parade for three years in a row. Which is why tomorrow while she was waving prettily at everyone from the top of a shiny float, he’d be taking care of business at the
Wal-mart Super Center.
Point was, all three things in Frank Wurtsbaugh’s mind were inextricably linked.
He pulled into the parking lot of the Baptist church at the same time Ralph Thigpen came roaring in on his metallic blue Honda CB 750. Frank opened the door to his Bronco, threw down his cigarette and stubbed it out with a satisfying twist of his lizard skin cowboy boot.
The two men acknowledged each other with chin nods, strode into the church and down the stairs to the dismal, industrial carpeted basement, the air smelling of stale Sanka. Frank frowned. It was bad enough when you couldn’t have booze anymore, but why did everyone punish themselves by drinking Sanka instead?
Frank spied Bruce Perkins and Max Westby off in the corner, whispering by a dying ficus plant. Dressed in a turd brown velour track suit that looked stretched to the seams, Bruce was shoving his third doughnut down his gullet. It occurred to Frank that Bruce wasn’t actually an alcoholic at all, and only attended meetings for the doughnuts.
Max on the other hand looked scrawnier than ever, and his black beard had been groomed into a spade shape that started on his cheekbones and ended halfway down his throat. It also occurred to Frank that Max needed to find some other outlet for his creativity besides experimenting with his facial hair. He looked like an idiot. Frank nudged Ralph and they both made their way over to the two men and the ficus plant.
Max took a sip of Sanka and said under his bad breath:
"You all ready for tomorrow?"
"Yeah," said Bruce, brushing crumbs off his belly. "I just don’t know about the costume idea."
"What do you mean?" said Frank, glancing around the room to make sure no one could hear. "It’s perfect. No one will know who we are."
"What if we scare little kids? We’re toying with cherished childhood memories here," Bruce countered.
"The guns aren’t going to be loaded," Frank pointed out. "And little kids are already scared of Ronald McDonald. This will just confirm their suspicions."
"Yeah but Frank, you’re the only one who is going to be dressed like Ronald McDonald. What about the rest of us?"
Frank rolled his eyes. "Look, The Hamburgler is already a criminal…And Mayor McCheese…well…everyone hates politicians."
"What about Grimace?" interjected Ralph. "Everyone loves Grimace. He’s purple, he’s jolly."
"Fuck Grimace. Are we going to do this or not? Last I heard you three jackasses had just as many reasons as me to get extra cash. Or has that suddenly changed and nobody’s kids need tuition money or an extension on the house or a honeymoon trip to Bermuda?"
They all shook their heads and looked at the floor. Frank knew he had them all by the balls, or at least the wallet.
"Okay then. Ralph, you got the getaway motorcycles all ready?"
"Yeah," he said picking a booger and flicking it on the ficus plant. "The belt is giving me trouble on one of them, but I’ll fix it tonight. Won’t be a problem."
"Make sure you do, ‘cause I don’t want any surprises. Alright, so the deal is, we storm the Wal-mart. Ralph and Bruce stand guard."
"What about Carl Boggs?" Ralph interrupted.
"What about him?
"He’s the greeter at the front of the store. You know, the guy who says stuff like, ‘Welcome to Wal-mart! I like your sweatshirt."
"I know what a greeter is, Ralph."
"The thing is, the guy’s a little slow. Like maybe his mom drank one too many cans of Miller Highlife when she was pregnant with him."
"What’s the problem with that? Seems like it helps us."
"Well, he always wants to talk for a long time. And he’s a real nice guy, so it’s tough to get away from him. He always asks how my sister is doing."
Frank glared at Ralph.
"Okay," said Ralph. "Just thought I’d mention it.
"Right, said Frank. "So Max and me hit registers one and two, which are closest to the doors-- "
Max shifted his weight, little as there was of it, from side to side. "I don’t know Frank," he said. "I tried on that giant Mayor McCheese head last night. It’s kinda bulky. I mean, it’s huge. And it seems a little loose. Do I have to wear it? Can’t I just put pantyhose over my head?"
"No fuckin’ way Max," Frank hissed. "What the hell is wrong with you people? Where do you think we’re going to stash all the cash? Why do you think I built in that special compartment? The Mayor McCheese head is vital to this operation."
There was silence as the four of them ruminated over the great importance of the Mayor McCheese head. Bruce burped. "Excuse me," he said softly.
"So," continued Frank. "We stuff the head with the money, run out to the motorcycles and split up in four directions. Just remember to steer clear of downtown to avoid the Shawnee County Crazy Days Parade. Okay?"
Frank took stock of his cohorts as they nodded without enthusiasm: One fatso in a doughnut crumb-covered turd brown tracksuit, one idiot with a spade-shaped beard and one inept nose picker who had managed to pluck a booger out of his left nostril while leaving a choice nugget hanging in the right one. He sighed. There was so much more that he wanted to say. But the basement was now brimming with fellow alcoholics, so Bruce, Max, Ralph and Frank took their seats.
With the Wal-mart Crotch Rocket Getaway plans weighing heavily on their minds, no one could concentrate much on the meeting. It was hard enough just sitting still. However, The Serenity Prayer did take on special meaning to Frank as the four of them recited:
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference."

To be continued ...

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Next Show: May 21!

Anyway, we have our lineup for the next show and I am psyched. It's going to be: Me, Randi Skaggs playwrite and schoolteacher, Helen Coster, journalist at Forbes, Sara Barron, an excellent comedic writer and host of the Moth Storytelling Series and Coree Spencer, another excellent up and coming writer in New York.

It will be May 21. And the theme is The Day Before Yesterday. Meaning that the show is May 21, and writers will all write about what happened to them two days before the show; i.e. the day before yesterday.

Anyway, please keep your eyes peeled for seriel installments of last month's story, that was read on April 16, starting soon. As the prior post explained it was a four-part story written by Saara Dutton, Pete Olsen, Ari V. and David Silverman, and it was really cool.

I also plan to write about what Storytime means to me, why I started it, what it's been like, who has read, and also to publish some of my own stories that I have written for the show. And maybe some of my other stories as well. Because, you know, I am a writer.

Also, if you have any questions about Storytime, or would like to read please contact me at I can tell you what you need to do to get on, put you on the mailig list, and just fill you in on the full spectrum of the Storytime world.