Thursday, November 26, 2009


     My name is Underdog. You may remember I had a Saturday morning cartoon show back in the '60s. I was big. I was physically small, especially on the TV sets of the time, but I was big in Show Biz terms. Now I'm physically large, but I'm basically a Show Biz has-been. Back then, there were Underdog comic books, Underdog lunch boxes, Underdog watches, you name it. 

     Eventually, however, the show got canceled. I was devastated. My girlfriend, Sweet Polly Purebred, dumped me and started dating George Of The Jungle. I began hitting the bottle pretty hard, and I wallowed in self-pity for over a year. My agent, Sid Tinsel, finally called me one day with a job offer. I asked him what it was. "As a result of all your queries,” I said, “is it perchance another series?" (I always speak in rhyme. It's part of my Underdog schtick.)

     "Well, no," he said.

     "Will there be an opening day, the kind you find with a Broadway play?"

     "No, it's not a play."

     "Tell me it's not controversial: a tampon ad or a beer commercial."

     "Not exactly."

     "Please enlighten me, but do not frighten me!"

     "They want you to be a balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade."

     I was aghast. 

     "A balloon? A balloon? Do you take me for some buffoon?"

     "Take it easy, Underdog."

     "How would I achieve this feat? Underdog is quite petite!"

     "You'll have to bulk up," he said. "You've got plenty of time."

     "This requires thought aplenty. Let me call you back in twenty."

     Even before I hung up the phone, I knew I had no choice. My back was against the wall and I had to take whatever work I could get. I called Sid and told him to write up the contract.

     Over the next several months I ate like a pig. Not literally. I called Porky Pig for some tips, but he told me he ate slop. I didn't want to eat slop. So I ate a lot of pastries, pizzas and Texas Tommys.

     I literally, well, ballooned up. I was humongous. You have to remember, this was years before De Niro gained a bunch of weight for his role in Raging Bull. But like Bobby, there's nothing I won't do to for my art.

    Finally it was late November, and a meeting was scheduled with the Macy's people. It was two days before Thanksgiving. At the meeting, Sid introduced me to two Macy's executives and one doctor. What was a doctor doing there, I wondered. I found out when he handed me a prescription. I asked him what it was for.

     "It's a combination of sodium chloride, sodium bicarbonate and potassium chloride," he said.

     "If I am prying please accept my apology, but what is all that in layman's terminology?"

     "It's an extremely powerful laxative."

     "Why in the name of all that is holy would you give me this? Explain to me slowly."

     The doctor explained. "You'll need to completely cleanse your system tomorrow before I perform your balloonoscopy on Thanksgiving morning, Mr. Underdog. The balloonoscopy itself involves blowing you up with helium, of course."

     "'Of course'? 'Of course'? Helium pumped in a dog by force?"          

     Sid chimed in. "The helium is what makes you float, Underdog. How did you think you were going to float?"

     I hadn't thought about that, I must admit. How else WOULD I float? Jeez, what had I gotten myself into?

     I put the prescription into my cape's inside pocket and signed the contract. I had no other options. 

     I stopped at the drug store on my way home and got the stuff. It was a huge, plastic, four-litre container with white powder at the bottom, along with four flavor packets to choose from.

     The next day I read the instructions and started the process. I added water to the powder and shook it until the powder dissolved. I gulped down my first eight-ounce glass. It was vile. I tried adding a flavor packet. I chose cherry. Bad choice. It tasted worse. I drank another glass every ten minutes until the container was empty. I barely got each glass down without throwing up. Then the real fun began. Let's just say I stayed within close sprinting distance of the bathroom for the rest of the day, and we'll leave it at that. Finally it was over, and I went to sleep, exhausted.

     My alarm clock went off at dawn and I kept my appointment with the gastroballoonologist at the hospital. The nurse told me my blood pressure was a little high, but said it was probably just due to balloonoscopy anxiety. She had that right. The anesthesiologist introduced himself and the nurse inserted an IV into my vein. I began counting backwards from 100. The next thing I knew I was waking up and my balloonoscopy was over. I hadn't felt a thing. It's like every Macy's balloon will tell you: it's the prep day before a balloonoscopy that's the ordeal. The balloonoscopy itself is a breeze. Literally.

     I was strapped to the table to prevent me from floating to the ceiling. They wheeled me to the start of the parade route and attached tethers to me. A lot of my old friends were in the parade, and it was good to talk with them about happier times. 

     The parade started, and they put me in front of Popeye The Sailorman, and right behind Linus The Lionhearted. Linus was having a slight problem with flatulence, but that's quite common after a balloonoscopy.

     I've been in the parade ever since, and I have to admit I now look forward to it. (Except for prep day.) It pays the rent, and it's good to see my friends every year and see the smiles on the faces of the kids lining the parade route.

     And this year I'm hoping to get Betty Boop's phone number.

. . . . .

This story originally appeard in Narrative magazine.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


This just in: It was learned today that the aging process sucks.

Film at eleven, if anybody remembers to run it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


     Gizelle was looking for money.

     Her sister Yolanda was looking for love.

     One night they went looking in a singles bar, and in walked Cedric.

     Cedric had it all. He was wealthy, handsome and kind to animals. Even disgusting ones, like rats. He was a saint. And loaded. And hung like Mr. Ed. He had technicolor hair, a razor-sharp Adam's apple and he drove a DeLorean. When the DeLorean was in the shop, which was often, he rode a white steed.

     He sat at a small table in the corner and ordered a daiquiri. Not shaken, not stirred, just politely jostled.

     The sisters Indian-wrestled to see who would get to throw herself at him. The huskier Yolanda won the contest easily, but, ironically, threw Gizelle right into Cedric's lap.

     Yolanda watched in horror as Gizelle remained on Cedric's lap and the two seemed to hit it off immediately. They reminded her of a ventriloquist act, and she hated ventriloquism with a passion, almost as much as she hated plates twirled on sticks.

     Yolanda's other passion was darts. She walked over to the dart board and surreptitiously grabbed one. She stood in a corner and waited for just the right opportunity. When no one was watching she threw the dart and it landed on one of her sister's gigantic silicone breasts, releasing a torrent of silicone into Cedric's daiquiri. Embarrassed, he excused himself, went into the men's room and never came out.

     Blood is not thicker than silicone, but the two sisters got over the incident immediately nonetheless. There were many such incidents in their past, and there would be many such incidents in their future. There would be other Cedrics to fight over and other implants to puncture. They ordered a pitcher of Cosmopolitans and had a good laugh over the whole thing.

     Cedric made a new friend in the men's room, so this has turned into a happy story all around.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009


     Why is Larry such a happy lamp? Hell, he's the happiest lamp in the whole goddamn house. Whether he's being turned on or off, he just seems to exude joy. I notice it, my wife Janet notices it, even little Roy, Jr. notices it.

     Why is Larry such a happy lamp? I'll tell you why Larry is such a happy lamp. I just figured it out. Larry is such a happy fucking lamp because his on/off switch is also his penis, that's why.

     I feel I shall be physically ill now.