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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Sketch of a Woman, Take Two

I mentioned — and proved, frankly — in my last post that my ImprovBoston sketch class assignment to write a ‘strong woman character’ didn’t go exactly as planned.

So I took another shot at writing a sketch featuring a female character. This time, one without the Bubonic Plague, if at all possible.

I managed that. But I did put her in a trailer park. Susan B. Anthony will no doubt be pantsing me when I make it to hell.

Meanwhile, here’s the ‘other’ sketch. Also with a woman (though that wasn’t really the point any more; I know when I’m licked). And also featuring a parody of a television show that I am — or probably should be, at least — mortified that people now know I watch.

I’m not sure this qualifies as ‘suffering for my art’, exactly. But mostly because it’s probably not ‘art’. The ‘suffering’ is all too real. Happy weekend, kids.


[Open on wide shot of Etta and Dirk, sitting at opposite sides of a small table. On the table are a number of small figurines and a shiny cup.

A few yards behind the table is a line of people waiting to have items appraised. The murmur of the crowd is plainly audible. Among the people shown are: a woman with an inflatable beach ball, a man with a rolled-up carpet with shoes sticking out the top, a family wheeling a shopping cart containing a sleeping old man, a young woman with a car fender, and an old man in bermuda shorts and Hawaiian shirt leaning on a crude wooden crucifix.

Close shot of the table, with the crowd noise fading to background. On the right is Dirk, in dapper attire and with an air of expertise. On the left is Etta, an older woman wearing a rumpled ugly ‘grandma’ sweater. Etta speaks with a faint Southern twang.]

DIRK: Please, tell us what brings you to the Roadshow today.

ETTA: Well, last Saturday I was trawlin’ at the flea market — that real nice one over at the Big Lots; you been to that one?

[Dirk purses his lips and shakes his head ‘no’, with obvious disdain. Etta takes no notice.]

ETTA: Anyhow, I know most of the fellas who set up shop over there. But last week, there was this new stall — over by the Goodwill dumpster — and it had some real nice trinkets and such. So I wanted to come see if I got a good deal on anything.

DIRK: Electrifying, yes. Can you tell us what exactly you bought that day?

ETTA: Well, sure, hon. First off, they had this whole collection here of the cutest little tuxedo teddy bear figurines.

[Close shot on the figurines, which are ‘grandma kitschy’ and otherwise as she describes.]

ETTA: Here’s one driving a car, and one in a daisy patch, and here’s one figure skating, and… ooh, my favorite, look — they’re all playing cards. See how the poker chips are all little honeycombs?

“Congratulations, Etta. We’ve just made the world a slightly better place.”

DIRK: Quite. Tell me, Etta, what did you pay for this collection of… what must be a dozen or more figures?

ETTA: Well, they sold me the whole set for a hundred and six dollars. I whittled ’em down from one-forty, too. Took some doing, too, I’ll tell you.

DIRK: I see. Well, what you have here are several examples of a series of figures known as ‘Bear Formalities’. Are you perhaps familiar with this particular set?

ETTA: Naw. I just thought they’d look real adorable on my doodad shelf.

[Closeup on Dirk as he speaks. An overlay appears for a few seconds at the bottom of the screen, reading:



As he continues, the camera pans across the various figurines.]

DIRK: Naturally, yes. Well, I can tell you something of the history of these ‘Bear Formalities’ pieces. The company that produces them is called the Heavy Mining and Petroleum Processing Concern of Greater Shandong Province, in mainland China. These figures are formed from contaminated mining slag and crude oil byproduct, using enormous molding robots running around the clock. They spit out thousands of these abominations every week, which are then trucked to their figurine headquarters, where underaged orphan workers spend eighteen-hour days shackled to easels in their art studio sweatshops. The company routinely bribes local officials to look the other way on human rights violations, smuggling charges and the presence of dangerous carcinogens in these, as you say, ‘real adorable’ little bears. They’re ubiquitous, cheaply made, morally reprehensible, _extremely_ unattractive and quite possibly poisonous to touch. These figurines are, simply put, an affront to God himself.

ETTA: Well, gosh. I had no idea. But… what are they worth?

[Dirk holds a stylus near one figure, as though he’s about to point out some feature.]

DIRK: May I?

ETTA: Sure.

[Dirk reaches around the collection and with his arm swipes the figures off the table and into a trash can.]

DIRK: I’m afraid their maximum value lies at the bottom of a landfill. Congratulations, Etta. We’ve just made the world a slightly better place. Now let’s talk about your other piece here, the cup. How did you come by this, exactly?

ETTA: Well, it was at that very same flea market booth. I’ve been needin’ some new cups, and this one had a red sticker, which meant it was just a dollar. So I threw it in with the… uh, the reprehensible bears there.

DIRK: One dollar. I see. And this was meant for your ‘doodad shelf’ as well?

ETTA: Oh, no, it’s much too pretty for that. I like the way those baubles and such on the side sparkle in the sunlight, so I keep it on the windowsill in the kitchen.

DIRK: And have you had it appraised before? Any idea at all of its value?

ETTA: Well… old June in the next trailer over said she’d give me a carton of Camels for it. But I said ‘no sale’.


ETTA: Nah, I like the way it shines. And anyway, I only smoke Lucky Strikes.

DIRK: Of course. Well, Etta, it would seem that your choice of cigarette is a ‘lucky strike’, indeed, as this cup is actually quite an interesting find.

[Close shot of the cup as Dirk describes it and points out features.]

DIRK: For starters, this piece is very old. As you can see, it’s covered in 24 karat gold leaf, but this was added many years after production. If we turn it up to see the bottom, like so, we find the original fired earthen surface. Given the technique here, the material, and the style and shape of the piece, we can date this cup’s manufacture to somewhere around the first century AD, give or take a few decades.

ETTA: Oooh.

DIRK: Oooh, indeed. Furthermore, it turns out that these — ahem, ‘baubles and such’ that you mention are, in fact, hand-carved emeralds, rubies and high-clarity diamonds. You see them here around the lip, here on the handle, and here, at the base.

ETTA: That’s good, right?

DIRK: Oh, we’re just warming up, dear. If we look back at the base, here we see a small firer’s mark. The name of the artist is lost, unfortunately, but these initials here are in Aramaic, which places our cup’s origins firmly in the Middle East region. And if we look carefully inside the rim, here near the red discount sticker, we can faintly make out an inscription made by an early owner, nearly faded over time. That inscription, when translated, reads, “PLEASE RETURN IF FOUND: PROPERTY OF JOSEPH OF ARAMITHEA”.

ETTA: Oh. D’you think he wants it back?

DIRK: Well… uh, no. Joseph was a Biblical figure in whose tomb Jesus was said to be buried. Legend has it that Joseph collected blood from Jesus in a cup — or ‘grail’, very much like this one. That cup became one of history’s most sacred artifacts. Men have searched for it for hundreds upon hundreds of years. It formed the basis of much of Arthurian legend. Etta, I’ve conferred with my colleagues and we believe that this cup — your cup — may indeed be The. Holy. Grail.

ETTA: Whoa. That’s good, right?

DIRK: Some would say so, yes. I’m not sure how to properly convey this, but — look. This stain here in the bottom of the cup. This could be the _actual_ blood of Jesus himself.

ETTA: Nah. That’s Sanka.

DIRK: Excuse me?

ETTA: Well, I’ve taken to drinking my morning coffee out of this mug. And… you know, sometimes the dishes don’t get done right away.

DIRK: I see. Sanka?

ETTA: Well, I put it through the dishwasher. But that stain just will _not_ come out.

DIRK: [Momentarily stunned] Bu… All right, Etta — just one other thing. Traditional legend holds that the receiver of the Grail must first prove him- or herself with a test of worth and honor. Was any such test administered when you purchased the cup?

ETTA: Well… now that you say it, I *did* find it odd that he insisted to know if I was a Sam’s Club member.

DIRK: Sam’s Club?

ETTA: Yep, had to show him my card and everything. He told me to be real careful with the cup. And not to use it in the microwave.

DIRK: [Again stunned]

ETTA: Which I most certainly have *not*. So that’s good… right?

DIRK: [Recovering] Uh… sure. Yes. Don’t microwave the Grail. Okay. Well, Etta, it’s pretty clear that what you have here is indeed the Holy Grail of Biblical, popular and modern legend. It’s difficult, certainly, to estimate a dollar value for one of the most famous and priceless artifacts known to mankind. It’s not in what we’d call ‘mint’ condition, of course, and there’s been some restoration work done, which could affect the value. Maybe? We’ve sold several other goblets and chalices from this era, but nothing as elaborate or… um, sanctified as this. It’s a rough estimate at best, but I’d say at auction, this piece would probably… incite a holy war among nations and religious sects clamoring to possess it. You might serve humanity best, frankly, by changing your name, moving to a trailer far, far away, and continuing to enjoy your morning Sanka from it.

[Closeup of the Grail, with ‘treasure chest’ overlay underneath reading:



Wide shot of the table and people in line, paying little attention to Dirk and Etta. The usual crowd murmur is audible. Dirk scrutinizes the Grail while Etta digs in the trash can, recovering her figurines.]

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