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Category Archives: By Jack

My Indiegogo Film — By Ben

My Indiegogo Film — By Ben

I know I haven’t updated this thing in ages. And that’s because I’ve been super uber busy. I started this blog about 3 years ago as an exercise to write and I wrote some posts that I am very proud of. I even had a story bumping around in my head that I did as a series of Jill posts (Marty’s 1/2 Dozen) which is very dear to me and I will finish, but probably in another format. Since moving out to LA I’ve had some tremendous opportunities.  I did some reality TV work, was a writer’s assistant on an AMAZING hidden camera magic show – The Carbonaro Effect (if you haven’t seen that show click right here right now!!!), got to work in the writer’s room of one of my favorite shows of all time – Robot Chicken, and I’ve gotten to write with some amazing writing partners to producer material I am incredibly proud of.

So what’s all this about then? Well, I’m taking one of my screenplay shorts and I’m filming it. Yes, this is an ask you to fund my project plea, but I gotta start somewhere. So if there is any of you out there that enjoyed MackJackandJill.com and what to see what else I can do or just want to see me grow as a writer and an artist, please click the links below and give me a couple of bucks. $5? $10? More? It’s all good. Just like the Facebook page for all I care. But please please, help support me. Just this once. And maybe once this baby is made, we’ll see some more from Mack Jack and Jill.  

This is the Indiegogo Campaign.

Click Here

The Facebook Page

https://www.facebook.com/WhatsTheHoldUpFilm

–Ben

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Posted by on August 26, 2014 in By Jack, By Jill, By Mack, Writing

 

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Searching for Gambit – By Jack

Actually Ice Man was harder to find. But everyone wanted Gambit more.

 

When I was 10 years old, I was on a manhunt for Gambit. Part Toy Biz’s second series of X-Men action figures (pictured below.)

A roster of the dream.

A roster of the dream.

You could walk into any Toys ‘R’ Us, KB Toys, or Lone Star Comics and see on the shelf any of one those beloved action figures. Except Gambit (and Iceman, but his toy was stupid.) You see, much like the De Beers diamond cartel, toy companies intentionally withhold certain figures to create a demand. So when a box of X-Men figures shipped, its contents included plenty of Banshees, Forges, Saurons, and the three different versions of Wolverine. But the a Gambit figure might be only one per box, or even none at all.

So in order to conduct my manhunt, I called previously listed toy stores everyday for about 6 months. To this day I still have the Toys ‘R’ Us number memorized. Even though it’s been closed for about 10 years. My phone call went something like this.

Toys’R’Us Automated Phone: Thank you for calling Toys R Us. We are conveniently located on 5505 Arapaho Road. Across from the Preston Wood mall. Our hours today are from 9 am to 10 pm.  If you need help with–

Little Jack presses 0.

Toys’R’Us Representative: Thank you for calling Toys’R’Us how can I help you?

Little Jack: Um..I was wondering if you’ve gotten your shipment in for the day.

Toys’R’Us Representative: Is this Jack?

Little Jack: Yes.

Toys’R’Us Representative: What is it you’re looking for again? Power Rangers?

Little Jack: No, I’m looking for any shipments of the X-Men Series 2 action figures.

Toys’R’Us Representative: Hold on, let me check.

2-5 minutes later. 

Toys’R’Us Representative: We did, but didn’t get any Gambits.

And that’s what I did with my childhood when I wasn’t playing video games.

So why am I telling you about this? Well I’ve been out of a job for a few months now.  I’ll spare you the details of my rise and fall from the reality TV world, my adventures of the writers’ room of an unnamed but super mega awesome scripted TV show, and finally my depressing return to the restaurant frontier. I decided once and for all to do what it takes to get the office Production Assistant job that is so coveted by any and all aspiring TV writers.

Between Deadline, Below the Line, Che Equis’s Temp Diaries, and a few secret tracking boards, I’ve managed to compile a list of television pilots currently in either development or production. (See below).

Spreadsheet

This is just a sample of the document in my Google Drive. In actuality it spans over 100 pilots. And each day I update the list’s phone numbers, status, and then scan for who I have slated to contact for the day. Then I call.

Here’s how it goes down.

Production Intern/Assistant: Something Something Productions.

Adult Jack: Hi, I was calling to see if the production company of [insert show name] pilot has been set up yet.

Production Intern/Assistant: Oh I uh…I don’t think so. Try calling back in a month. (They always say a month).

Not the best answer in the world, but at least you can try them again.

or

Production Intern/Assistant: Yeah, here’s the production office number.

This is actually bad, because most likely if the production office is set up, then it is staffed up too. But still worth a shot.

or

Production Intern/Assistant: No not quite yet. Probably next week though.

That’s the answer you want!

Adult Jack: Great! Has a line producer or production coordinator been hired for the project.

Production Intern/Assistant: Yeah, actually.

Adult Jack: Wonderful. Might I be able to forward my resume to them for staffing?

And it goes from there. Then you have to check back.

So as you can see, I can’t help but feel the parallel between my adulthood and childhood. It’s a slug, but you gotta do it.  Sad fact: You know how I finally got the Gambit toy? My friend found one for me. Which sadly, despite my best efforts, is probably what I am going to need to actually land the job.

—Jack out.

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2014 in By Jack, Writing

 

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Fools and Fiends – By Jack

Steven just didn’t get people and it was painful for me to watch. He was raised by and still lived with his Christian grandparents. There is something about the ultra-religious that just doesn’t get how people relate. It didn’t help that his weight gave him a double chin and belly that draped over his belt.

I tried to be respectful and mature when he came talking to me about the latest movie trailers. But his inability to recognize my lack of interest forced me to often cut him off mid-sentence. The only thing worse than his movie rants were his awkward situational jokes. Jokes so cliché and predictable I felt like I was in a Garfield comic strip. Something akin to “Monday’s are just the worst” or “I’m dead without my coffee.” Feeble attempts to start conversation, that instead left you wanting to run away.

So despite my best efforts, I ended up bullying him from time to time. Nothing too terrible. Just a slight relapse into the middle school persona I was less than proud of. Sometimes I would send him on a coffee run to the far away Coffee Bean for the office (opposed to the across the street Starbucks) or pretend I was on a conference call, mouthing conversations into my speaker phone when I’d see him approaching (one of the advantages of a clear sliding glass door of my office.)

Today Kelly and I were getting drinks after work. Kelly was the production coordinator for Monster Car Concoctions.  I had had my eye on her since she was hired two months ago. Some girls are beautiful and some girls are cute. Kelly was the perfect mix, desirable yet sweet and approachable.  The way Belle from Beauty and the Beast was quirky, but sensitive and down-to-earth. Slowly, we had started to build a rapport.

See what I mean?

But I hadn’t had the directness to officially call our drinks a “date”, so before I knew it, half the office was joining us. I tried to make the best of my dashed expectations. What would Mack do? As Happy Hour turned to regular bar hours, I had managed to enjoy myself with other coworkers while at the same time joking and comfortably engaging with Kelly. But every time I started to achieve that level of undivided attention from her, Steven would pop in, “Hey guys, they serve California rolls, but it’s not real crab. Why are they charging 9 bucks for them?”

“I don’t know…I think it’s something you’ll have to ask them.” Kelly responded, more sincerely then I would have expected. To which Steven then proceeded to actually do. “Sometimes that guy just makes my spine crawl.” I finally came out with it.

“Steven? I think he’s cute and endearing.”

“Really? You want me to set you up with him? I bet he’s free this Saturday.”

“Stop it. He means well. And nicer than most of the people we work with. ”

“There’s just something that really puts me off about him.”

“Well you know what they say? When ever something annoys you in someone else, it’s usually because it reflects something in yourself that you don’t like.”

“Is that so? You get that from a cookie at Pei Wei?”

“I’m serious, we see what we don’t like in ourselves in others.”

Just as I was about to reply, Steven cut in with “They claim that even though their crab is made from white fish, they can ‘attest that their sushi chef’s expert craftsmanship’ is not only worthy of the price but ‘is actually priced at a discount.’ Coooome on!”

“That’s a tough one Steven, but it’s too rich for my blood. I had better settle up.” At that Kelly took her coat draped on her chair, sliding her slim and tender forearm into the first sleeve.

“Where are you going? The night’s still young.” I pleaded (trying to sound relaxed.)

“I’ve got that conference call at 6 am. Why does the network have to be on the east coast? But give me a call sometime, maybe we can finish that conversation.” She winked then went up to the bar to pay and left. I sunk into my chair and took a defeated gulp of my pilsner.

“Hey, hey, hey! I can see what’s happening there, you like Kelly!” Steven chimed in like he had finally seen the 3D image in one of those Magic Eye pictures. I rolled my eyes. I was starting to be too drunk to censor myself. “But Jack. You’re going about it all wrong.”

“And what should I be doing to go about it all right?” This should be good.

“You should treat her with respect…”

“Oh yeah?”

“…listen, make sure she knows you care for her…”

“My God, you’re sooo right Steven!”

“…and do you want to know the most important thing?”

“Please…hold on. Can I record this? I may need to review the more complicated points.” I pulled out my phone, it may be a good thing to send out in a mass email.

“By all means! You should subscribe to my Youtube page.”

I started laughing so hard it was hard for me to keep my phone steady. Steven felt like my monkey. Running to do anything I wanted. I couldn’t help but indulge in the power from time to time. I took a deep breath to record the upcoming monologue.

“I’ve been watching you for a while Jack. I see how you talk to Kelly. Trying to be her friend but at the same time trying to get close so you can make your move. And I have got to say that is wrong.”

“Wrong?”

“Yes. Wrong. She is a sweet girl, Jack. She deserves better than you. Don’t think I don’t know what you’re after.”

I put down my phone.

“Look, Steven.  I know your grandparents have given you some crazy values–”

“Jack, I see what you do–”

“Seriously Steven, that Christian stuff can rub people the wrong way–”

“I see everything, Jack.”

“You see, that’s what I’m talking about. It kinda comes of as creepy.”

“I see the filth you look at online.”

“Excuse me?”

“The pornography and the fornication. You view some unholy material, Jack.”

“Woah. What are you talking about?”

“I check up on you. It’s important. Micah 7:5, ‘Trust you not in a friend, put you not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of your mouth from–”

“What do you mean, you check up on me, Steven? What are you talking about specifically?”

“I am aware of your internet browsing history. And I have to say I was mortified–”

“How? Did you go on to my computer? It’s password protected.”

“Jack. Your name spelled backwards with your birthday isn’t a very original password.”

Suddenly everything went fast and slow at the same time. I struggled to fully acknowledge that this…buffoon…had had access to everything in my digital life.

“And Jack, you should also probably have different passwords for all your other websites and email…and banking.”

“Banking?”

“Oh yeah. And you should be much more diligent about filling out the security questions, otherwise someone else might do it for you. You’ll never guess what Chase thinks your mother’s maiden name is now.”

It suddenly became hard to breath…

 

To be continued…

 

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2013 in By Jack

 

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Onward and Upward Higher! — By Jack

…Continued from the post below. “What do you mean ‘you don’t talk to me that way’? I’m your fuckin’ CEO!” Max’s yell could be heard from his office, echoing through the bullpen. Donald stepped out of his office out into the open. He was going to make a show of it.

“You don’t call my assistants ‘your bitches’, you don’t call my sound mixers ‘incompetent fuck wads’ and you don’t call me–” Donald announced as if he were nailing a reformation on to the post schedule’s cork board.

Max stomped out of his office like a bully who just received a weggie from a chess club champion. He teetered on the edge of cool composure in the face of anger and going atomic. Then he stared Donald down which shut him up mid sentence. He was literally face to face. Noses no more than an inch away from one another.

Donald was a husky man, not quite thick enough to be called fat. Long gray curly hair that went down his back, topped off with a baseball cap. Mutton chops and a bushy mustache. He wore jeans, sneakers and a Spurs jersey. He was a man who had been bullied before, but couldn’t resist fighting back. Max on the other hand was never used to the push back. It dumbfounded and infuriated him. He had an Ari Gold style to match the temperament. Finely pressed silk-like khakis, French cuffed dark red shirt, a class ring on one hand, a Rolex on the other. And always perfectly trimmed hair. Everyday it looked like he walked in with a fresh haircut.

Max pulled away. “You know what? I was wrong. You’re not a shit stain. You’re a monkey. You don’t think I haven’t talked to people. Your crew? The network? The clients on location? You showin’ up late. 12 hour shoots that last 16 hours. Receipts for $300 dinners your crew says they never had. Footage that barely resembles the episode pitch. Hell I got editors working round the clock to fix the shit you told the DP to shoot. Makes me wonder what the fuck you’re doing. Then my brother sends me this.”

He pulls his phone to show him a video.


“And all I can think of is, that reminds me of Donald. It must be all you fuckin’ do in that office of yours. Because sure as shit nothing else is getting done.”

Donald is fuming. But he has no comeback. He knows he’s fucked up. The only person people bitch about more than Max is Donald.

“You need me to finish out the series, Max.”

“You know, I don’t think I do. I’m so confident in how worthless you are, I think I’m going to have…”

Max peers around the bullpen. He starts wagging his finger as if he was playing eeny, meeny, miny, moe. Finally he stops dead on me.

“Jack.”

“Seaver? He was a PA like three months ago. ”

“And he cast your whole show. He knows more about the companies than you do.”

“You can’t be serious! Max, bud!”

“I’m not your bud. I’m also not your boss anymore. Clean out your office and get the fuck out.”

Then Max walked off pulling out his cellphone to watch the Youtube video again. “I love that fuckin’ monkey drinking his pee! I’m going to call this the Donald video from now on.”

Donald couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it. And neither could anyone else in the bullpen. Everyone was looking at me. Donald stood there for a second then finally turned to me and said, “Kid, you’ve no clue what you’re getting into. Good luck.”

–Jack Out

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2013 in By Jack, Writing

 

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Upward and Onward — By Jack

Meant for bigger things.

Lazarus Motors just pulled out. The crew is scheduled to land in Michigan two hours from now. And I didn’t get the location release ahead of time.

For anyone unfamiliar with television production, this is bad…very very bad. Without that release, a legal document agreeing to let us film the yacht builder’s facility, $600 plane tickets per crew member (of which there are 7) and 3 nights of $150 per night hotel rooms (also per crew member and also non-refundable) totaling $7350 dollars, will go to waste. That doesn’t account for day rates or travel expenses of those crew members or equipment rented or baggage fees. And when the airline doesn’t have media rates, a truckload of film equipment equals a shit load of baggage fees.

Long story short. I am fucked.

Back up nine months ago. Suffering 2 months of unemployment destroyed all my New York savings. I took a deli counter job. I was serving a chocolate cream pie when I made a joke to a guy on his third martini. I honestly don’t know what the joke was, but before I knew it the guy offered me a job at his documentary production company.

“I like you kid. You remind me of a really good shit I once took.”  He handed me his business card which, I swear, was made out of aluminum. Embossed in big letters was the name Max Luxburg. If I could have crumpled it up, I would have. But instead I gave him call the next day.

Before I knew it I was sitting in a cubical of a loud and hectic bullpen. Walls and floors made of marble echoed the chaos like a basketball court. But for the first time in my adult life I had an email address with my name followed by a company and weekends off. It felt good.

I started out as a production assistant, but instead of copying papers and making lunch runs, I was instantly given a short web series to produce.

“Knock it out of the park, penis head.” Ever since I shaved my head, I found I liked the bald look. But Max made no reservations about phallic comparisons. “You’re from New York. You know how to get things done.” Then he got on his motorcycle and drove out the emergency exit from his office.

To be honest, producing the show, a collection of short segments about pet stores around Los Angeles wasn’t that hard. It mostly involved calling stores and shelters, trying to convince them were weren’t trying to make them look crazy or stupid (which we were)  and figuring out how to make a schedule work between them and our “avant- garde” host Doggie Dave.

Max continued to throw projects my way and I kept doing what needed to be done. So then he bumped me up to assistant producer on Fill My Grill, a show about customizing BBQ equipment with Richard Karn.

Then one day I was at my desk when I heard Max knock over a bowl of jelly beans. The clash echoed through out the whole office, as the usual chaos came to a silent halt. What followed was a yell of, “What do you mean ‘you don’t talk to me that way?'” Something was up and someone was getting fired.

To be continued…

–Jack Out (Also I won’t drag this out like Jill. I’ll update it in a few days.)

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2013 in By Jack, Writing

 

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The Jackass — By Jack

Out of control.

Speeding down Van Nuys, Marcy demanded Donovan stop for the yellow light. Her Mini Cooper came to a halt so suddenly, I’m sure the tire tracks will be scorched into the boulevard for at least a decade. I quickly became fascinated by Donovan’s recklessness. In my life I’ve always been analytical and careful. Careful of my safety, careful of other’s feelings, careful…of well everything. And this guy seemed to be the antithesis of that. I had to take a closer look at this man/boy who represented everything I was not. I guess that’s how I ended up in his girlfriend’s car quite possibly endangering my life.

Marcy is a host at a bistro I managed to get a job at. People from work were supposed to meet up at this bar after the shift. But as usual I ended up there too early, so I went to a nearby In-N-Out. The minute I walked in, I heard someone call out my name. It was Marcy. The relaxed eyelids and blithe smile was starkly opposite to her usual demeanor and thus a dead giveaway that she was stoned. Sitting with her was her boyfriend Donovan and his friend Johnny. Donovan instantly engaged me and asked if I wanted to smoke out with them. I figured, why not, and got my burger to go. In the time it took me to get my burger Donovan managed to connect with me on our east coast roots, get Johnny to scarf down his two burgers for the sake of expediency, and jumped behind the register counter to grab me a cup of water and give a high fives to three of the employees. On our way out we passed two cops. Donovan gave them both a high five then decried “You know what I always say? Don’t shoot ’em, fuck ’em.” Once the police officers were safely inside, he climbed onto the trunk of their squad car, posing, and had Johnny take pictures on his iPhone.

I was ambivalent, torn between running as far away from this guy as possible and trying to figure out his secrets of confidence and charm. I could see Marcy’s frustration growing. She wanted to check the bar to see if anyone from work was there and Donovan insisted they head back to the apartment to smoke more weed. He told her to check the bar while he grabbed the keys to her Cooper from her purse. When she emerged from the bar, she found him tearing up the parking lot driving wildly in her car. Mack had always said that girls were attracted to dangerous guys despite their best interests. I had always rolled my eyes at the notion, but here was the proof. Continually Donovan dismissed Marcy’s wishes for wildly foolish and sometimes dangerous choices. His only reprimand? A slight nagging, immediately ignored. And as quick as I was to judge Marcy, there I was, getting in the car with him. Who was this guy?

Back at the apartment, he smoked me out and then danced crazy to Afrojack’s Rock the House. Marcy played with her dog and Johnny tried to dance too. But Donovan just danced harder putting Johnny in his place. I got a text from my coworkers informing me of their arrival at the bar. Marcy immediately wanted to return so Donovan rolled a joint for the road. Immediately my mind jumped to the probability of culpability should Donovan’s driving get us pulled over and the joint was found. I figured, should such a thing happen, one joint on his person probably wouldn’t get me into much trouble in California. But I was aware of the risk.

But here’s where my concept of Donovan radically changed.

Up until this point I saw a wacky, gutsy, foolish and possibly overcompensating individual with an abundance of charm. A dangerous combination? Definitely. But the danger was from a place of foolishness and youth. Something that hopefully, life’s hard lessons could correct. Then I saw something else. As we got back into the car. Donovan takes out the joint and hands it to Johnny. “Hey buddy, can you hold this?”

Could it just be that the joint wouldn’t have been safe tucked behind his right ear? Or maybe it would have been crumpled in his jacket pocket? Possibly. But the way I saw it. Should he get pulled over, the joint wouldn’t be on his person, it would on his friend’s. That’s then I decided the jackass was an asshole. He would never listen to Marcy’s nagging to slow down. I was, now, actually concerned for the pedestrians as the Cooper turned right in front of them crossing the intersection. And later that night I would sympathize without surprise when Donovan would decide he was too cool for the bar and leave Marcy to cab home.

Donovan’s self-centeredness bordered on psychopathy and I was glad he was gone. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t fascinated by him and what he was able to accomplish with his ability to influence those around him.

–Jack Out

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2012 in By Jack

 

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Meditations on Fools — by Jack

One after the other

Ed Wood, Derek Zoolander, Shaggy and Scooby, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Ron Burgundy, Donna Noble, Falstaff, and the holy trinity, Larry, Curly, and Moe. What do these cinematic and literary icons all share? Their ineptitude for logic and common sense. In other words, they’re fools.

I’ve begun work on a new spec scripts (finally) and decided to make the theme of the story centering on the archetypal fool. So in preparation I’ve begun meditating and ruminating. It seems that every comedy has a fool of some sort. In sitcoms, there’s usually the idiot character. Friends had Joey, Seinfeld had George Castanza, and The Simpsons may have the greatest fool of all time, Homer. In film, we’ll watch whole stories about Forrest Gump, Everette McGill, and Don Quixote.

Sometimes they exist to amuse us and make us feel better about ourselves. They dance through life, as random happenstance protects them from danger, completely unaware. (Think Baby’s Day Out)

But sometimes the fool is not so lucky. These ones are trapped by their short comings, doomed to make the same mistakes over and over again. I sympathize with this fool. Their struggle is a reflection of our own wrong headed but continued behavior. Ed Wood is a difficult movie for me to watch for this very aspect. I will point out that this fool is, many times, not a fool at all. But someone who views the world in such a new way, he is rejected. Moneyball‘s Billy Beane is a primary example. And although he is right, it doesn’t make him any less tragic.

Why is the fool a necessary part of our pop culture? Maybe it reaches back to when we were children. We were cruel to the fool in class. The crueler we were to them, the more we distanced ourselves from the possibility we could be one ourselves. We lacked the sympathy and compassion to do otherwise. As we grew older, we viewed our parents as the fools. (In many teen geared sitcoms, the parents are the bumbling idiots, completely out of touch with reality.) And as we graduated into adulthood and came to see the expansiveness of reality, some of us started to view ourselves as the fool. Taking chances we couldn’t possibly guarantee the success of. Or getting ourselves into complicated situations where, in the confrontation of the moment, we acted foolishly. While in retrospect, the wiser choice seemed so obvious.

Have you ever heard of candy floss?

Have you ever heard it called candy floss? WTF Britain?

These two sides, the fanciful fool and the regretful one…I want them to meet. Set them at odds. I want to take the pained lamenting man and have him grab the dancing moron by the shirt collar and demand answers and ask confronting questions. I want these two to hash it out. And at the end I’ll have them reassemble back into one and see if the fool has changed. I honestly don’t know if he will. I’ll have to find out when I write the story. But in the meantime, I want to take a good good look at him and for a second pretend…

The image I see is of a man, hunched over in his bar stool cradling his pint. It’s a rare moment for him, or perhaps only a moment he has when he thinks he’s alone. I’m not sure if he can identify where his life has gone astray. I’m not even sure if he is even aware of it. He is on a path that he cannot change himself. When he notices that you are there, that he is no longer alone, he spins in his bar stool raising his glass. He pats you on the back or maybe playfully punches you in the arm. He tells you something and he’s so excited to tell it to you. To him it seems like an incomprehensible epiphany so profound that it must have been bequeathed by God himself. And you would be happy for him if you’d not heard it a dozen times before. You offer to buy him a drink. He laughs, dismissing your offer in an attempt to hold on to his dignity. You realize it is painful for him to accept your kindness. But he cannot afford not to. He tells you stories with inflated details and unlikely happy endings. He gives you unsolicited advice and improbably business secrets. And when it’s time for you to go he claps your forearm, pleading that it is far too early for a departure.

You want to comfort him but it is too much. The notion being that any help you render will not possibly bring any sort of lasting change. He now knows the time is at its end and release your arm. He gives you a smile and a thanks, then says he’ll get you the next time. You wish him luck. He swirls around in his bar stool another couple of times.

Just some thoughts.

You know what Mr. T pities.

Does he really need a sign?

–Jack Out

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2012 in By Jack, Writing

 

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