Good morning. It is Thursday once again, and I Gigi the parti poodle am here to introduce the first chapter of my new story Power Grid Failure. Although I am delighted to present you with a new tale, this has been a sad week for me. My novelist was called away on some unexpected business and the Maltese and I were left with…him. I have been standing at the door and staring out the window waiting for my beloved writer to come home. I have not been sleeping well and I wake up to find myself watching comedic movies to try and cheer myself up. Moments of panic overcome me. I think I am hearing noises. I long for comfort.
I am here to comfort you. I am Tucker and I am a Maltese.
Be gone, small beast. You bring me no solace. I am awash with misery.
Our novelist will be back soon.
What is soon? We are dogs. We have no concept of time.
You know it’s Thursday.
Yes, well…many other dogs have no concept of time. This is the winter of our discontent.
I think it is still Fall…
Oh, brutal agony! I am consumed with darkness and gloom. Will my sorrow never end? When will my dear novelist return to feed me, give me treats and stroke my gentle curls? I cannot eat. I cannot think. I pace about with no direction. Despair is my only companion. Come home, my precious poet. Return and tear me from my hideous torment!
It is okay, Gigi. You always have me.
Oh, horror, you terrible beast! Why do you leave me with this cruel fate?
There, there. There, there. Would you like to borrow my Nylabone?
I despise Nylabones! They are wretched incarnate. Leave me now.
But I cannot leave you with such big tears in your eyes. There, there. There, there.
Pardon my sobbing, dear reader. Agony! Agony! Here is chapter one of Power Grid Failure. Jouir.
Power Grid Failure
Gigi the parti poodle
Monday, the day of the moon. It is early December, and the light has disappeared. A typical evening in the downtown Redoubt Tower. Everyone is finishing their workday. It is now five fifteen PM.
Fifty-year-old Martin Peak, executive does not want to go home. His wife spent an exorbitant amount of money on Christmas gifts on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. And Martin is not happy about it. They’d agreed to downsize their holiday haul this year because they and their two teenagers are taking a trip. But instead, his wife doubled it. Martin is looking for an excuse to stay late so he doesn’t have to go home, sit in his study, look at his credit card statement and lament over the multitude of charges. Despite spending every weekday morning running stairs at the university field house, Martin has packed on an extra fifteen pounds since summer. Probably from too many martinis because his wife will not stop shopping.
In the glassed-in area just outside Martin’s office sits the desk of his administrative assistant, an attractive blonde former sorority girl named Tiffany. Tiffany is fresh out of college where she finished a sociology degree. She excels in her choice of casual business dress having memorized the color wheel and knowing what shades suit her best. She started working for Mr. Peak a little over a year ago. She knows her boss has been grouchy all day which makes him talkative. He has popped out of his office several times to chat. Tiffany tolerates his chattiness as he treats her well and pays her well. Still, she would appreciate it if he would shut up.
Sloan is an accountant. He sits outside Tiffany’s office. Sloan is obsessed with Tiffany but has never once had a conversation with her. This, however, has not kept him from stalking her. He times his lunch break with hers and sits two tables away where he has an excellent vantage point. He follows her down the elevator at night and gets on the same bus she takes from the bus tunnel. He gets off at the park and ride and takes the bus all the way back to the tunnel and then catches his real bus home.
Sloan owns a toy poodle named Flora. He found her wandering around his neighborhood once when he went for a Sunday jog. All she had on was a purple collar with silver spikes and a round silver tag with the inscription FLORA on it. The tag bore no phone or address and after a quick trip to the local vet, no microchip. No one answered any of the social media posts he put up or any of the adverts he taped to the lamp posts around the neighborhood. Later he found out why. Flora was insane.
Across the hall from Martin Peak’s glass enclosed space is the office where Windy the HR representative works. She is a jolly, slightly plump woman with neatly cut short brown hair. She is around the same age as Mr. Peak. Unlike Martin however, she doesn’t require imbibing on lunch martinis to make her chatty. Windy chats constantly. About pretty much anything and nothing at the same time. On the shelf beside her desk is a large collection of plush beavers. It is difficult to believe toy companies make these many styles of plush beavers. Windy attended OSU and got her degree in Human Resources. Behind her desk is an abnormally large orange and black OSU pennant which is difficult to miss.
Over near the Janitor’s Closet is a small windowless room. This is where Adams the deskside support technician resides. A cot was installed in his office in case he needed to fix something overnight. Adams is one of those college graduates stuck in limbo waiting for his career to begin. He is a whip smart programmer who holds a degree in Computer Science. But a fulltime job at a major computer company always eludes him. Every week he scours the job boards for something he’s qualified for. And every week he comes up emptyhanded. A mountain, albeit a neatly stacked one of computer certification books sits by his desk. Some for Cisco some for the MCSE. He’s passed the first tests for the latter but has four to go. And having to work all day crawling around under employee’s desks telling them to reboot their computers or unplugging their personal fan or heater or whatever USB devices they have is a waste of his time. He is bored of being unchallenged and underappreciated and every week holds out hope that maybe, just maybe he’ll get a call offering him an interview.
Crystal is a tech writer who sits in the back corner on the opposite side. She is one of those young women who, unlike Tiffany, tends to blend in with the furniture. She is quiet and rarely speaks more than a few words to anyone on any given day. She is often tasked with translating a slew of business dreck into something legible but inane. She knows if you boil down all the graphics and verbiage presented to employees it is often better said in a few clear concise sentences. The problem is, of course, employees are not often fluent in clear concise sentences.
Crystal catches the bus to work each day and steps off the elevators, goes to work, eats her sack lunch in the break room rarely ever purchasing anything from the cafeteria downstairs, works late and leaves without anyone ever acknowledging her. At night she writes erotic short stories worded with far more imagination than she has experience.
Right around this time Reynolds arrives on this floor of the Redoubt Tower. Reynolds is the janitor. He is fully aware that life sucks and aspires to nothing. He is oddly clean cut and reminds one of a well-groomed criminal. No one has ever bothered to educate themselves about Reynolds or all things Reynolds…except Mr. Martin Peak. But if they did, they would find a shocking wealth of information.
Martin Peak reluctantly says to Tiffany, “I’m going home now.”
“Okay, Mr. Peak,” Tiffany replies. “Have a good evening.” As she says this the lights flicker.
“Huh. Weather’s been good out there. I haven’t heard of any windstorms coming or anything.”
“Neither have I.”
They both glance up at the light ready for it to flicker again.
“Well, anyway. You have a good night, Tiffany. You have any plans this evening?”
“No, Mr. Peak. It’s Monday.”
“Yes. Yes, I suppose it is. Well…have a good evening.”
“You too, Mr. Peak.”
As Martin leaves, the door to the HR Representative’s office opens and Windy steps out. “Oh, hello Mr. Peak,” she says cheerily. “Are you heading home?”
“Yes,” Martin says, suddenly aware that Windy wants to walk out with him. If this happens, he will have to have a conversation with her which will continue all the way down to the elevator and into the parking garage which was near unbearable. “And I’m in a hurry,” he adds.
“Oh, so am I,” Windy says perkily. “We’ll walk fast together.”
“Of course,” Martin grumbles.
At the same time Sloan slips on his blazer and slides his laptop into his bag. He glances at Tiffany who is still behind the glass. He slowly sits back down so as not to draw attention to himself and waits for her to leave. As he does the lights flicker again.
“That’s twice those lights have flickered, isn’t it?” Adams says to Sloan as he walks by.
“Yeah,” Sloan says. He watches Adams head over to Tiffany. She greets Adams with a smile before he crawls under her desk. Sloan realizes he’s going to have to wait until Adams finishes tinkering with Tiffany’s computer. He feels like a voyeur watching them.
Crystal had one more page to type then she could leave. She wanted to get it done so she could catch a bus before six. If she didn’t catch one before six it would take her longer to get home and she was hoping to see that new movie that just came out last night. She had no idea how she would tolerate her life if she didn’t have cable. She’d read ten books on the bus going to and from work this year. Cable was her only friend right now.
Reynolds saw the lights flicker a third time. He couldn’t care less if they went out. He had a headlamp. He could still see enough to do his work. His main concern was hot water. Would he have enough hot water to mop the floors if the electricity went out?
“What do you think is causing the lights to flicker?” Windy asks Martin as they stepped onto the elevator.
“It’s almost winter,” Martin says as the doors closed. “It could be anything.”
“I just want to get home.”
“So do I,” Martin said not because he wanted to get home but because he wanted to get away from Windy.
“Did you contribute to The Holiday Tree?”
That blasted Holiday Tree, Martin thought. Every year the company members were encouraged to pick a tag from a tall, bloated pine tree in the lobby and purchase a gift to give a child. It was a nightmare. He was supposed to take his family to Lake Tahoe for Christmas this year and everyone was on him about wanting new ski gear. And the boy wanted a motor scooter and the girl wanted diamond earrings and the wife already had three pieces picked out at Fox’s Gem Shop. How was he supposed to afford to get a kid a toy with all that burden on his credit cards? Not to mention he needed a new SUV. The one he drove was five years old. It was practically a dinosaur.
“I’m looking for the perfect gift,” he tells Windy. “I like to take my time and pick out something appropriate.”
“Oh, aren’t you sweet!” Windy gushes. “We’re buying two mountain bikes for a couple of kids this year.”
“Isn’t that generous,” Martin says wanting to kick her. Mountain bikes? Not one but two? Was she nuts?!
“Oh, you know,” Windy says. “We set aside a little money for charity each year. Even the twins chip in!”
“Yeah, well, there’s nothing like family participation, is there?”
“The twins have always been philanthropists you know. Philip is becoming an Eagle Scout this year.”
“Wow…you must be proud.” Martin’s son Devon was getting his “I avoided detention and stopped smoking Juul” award this year. Martin of course blamed the boy’s delinquency on his mother. “My daughter is in the school play.”
“I didn’t know she was into the arts,” Windy says. “We’ll have to come see the play.”
“That would be nice.” Martin’s daughter was playing a sizable role but only because of a bribe. If she broke up with her lowlife upperclassman criminal boyfriend and found at least one extracurricular activity, they would give her back her credit card. Money talks and boyfriends walk. Suddenly, the elevator stops. Martin reaches over and pushes the buttons, but nothing happens.
Martin tries the buttons on the elevator again. The elevator remains in limbo.
“Oh,” Windy says. “What’s going on?”
“I don’t know. But we’re between floors.”
“At least the lights didn’t go out.”
Just then the elevator lights go out.
You can check out my books Chicane and the five installments of my Musicology book series Musicology: Volume One, Baby!, Musicology: Volume Two, Kid!, Musicology: Volume Three, Twist!, Musicology: Volume Four, Sweetie! and Musicology: The Epiquad on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback editions. You can also check out Musicology’s web site at www.musicologyrocks.com and vote for who you think will win Musicology!!!
STREAM OF THE WEEK: WEIRD: THE AL YANKOVIC STORY (2022)-ROKU
This week’s film is one of the most anticipated of the fall season. Back in 2010 Funny or Die did a short starring Aaron Paul, Olivia Wilde and Mary Steenburgen called Weird: The Al Yankovic Story which was a spoof of biopics staged as a movie trailer. According to Al Yankovic, fans kept asking him when the actual movie was coming out and so finally Mr. Yankovic and the short’s director and writer Eric Appel got together and penned the script for the full-length feature movie now running on ROKU.
When I first saw the trailer, I genuinely thought Weird Al and Madonna had had an affair early in their careers. This made sense to me because these are two highly original, talented, intelligent icons who honestly make a more believable pairing than Madonna and Sean Penn. Sean Penn, let’s face it, dropped out of Santa Monica Community College after one semester and went full retard which earned him an Academy Award nomination but not a win. His also liked to punch members of the media in the face…which is good and bad. Somehow, he managed to win two Oscars.
On the other hand, Weird Al is a likeable personality who entered Kindergarten one year early, skipped the second grade, and earned a degree in Architecture from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Madonna has a 140 IQ and was awarded a dance scholarship to attend the University of Michigan. So, it made complete sense to me they may have dated. Sadly, they didn’t, and Sean Penn and Madonna ended up divorced to no one’s surprise. Some of the movie is true and much isn’t. That is half the fun. But I still wish Madonna and Weird Al had dated, married, had genius kids, and nurtured each other’s careers. That just makes more sense.
Young Alfred Mathew Yankovic (Richard Arron Anderson) is a weird kid. His mother Mary (Julianne Nicholson) and his father Nick (Toby Huss) don’t understand him. Especially when he shows a talent for changing the lyrics of well-known songs. One day a door-to-door salesman (Thomas Lennon) comes by selling accordions. Al’s father beats the guy up and tells him he is peddling instruments of the devil. But his mother purchases the instrument as an early Christmas present to Al and encourages him to practice in secret. Al does and when he becomes a teenager (played by David Bloom) he is enticed into going to a polka party where he shows off his superior musical skills. The police come and break up the party and Al is brought home where he has an altercation with his father and moves out before he moves back in and finishes high school.
Young adult Al (brilliantly played by Daniel Radcliff) moves to LA and shares an abode with his three friends Jim (Jack Lancaster), Steve (Spencer Treat Clark), and Bermuda (Tommy O’Brien). Al proposes that he should pursue a career in making up lyrics to famous songs they tell him to go for it…and to go make them sandwiches. When Al goes to the kitchen, he sees a package of bologna with Steve’s name taped across it, is suddenly inspired and “My Bologna” is born.
Al gets a gig at a biker bar and is terrified to go onstage. But with the encouragement of his roommates who suddenly become his band he hits the stage with his future hit “I Love Rocky Road” and is discovered by none other than Dr. Demento (Rainn Wilson) who catapults Al’s career into stardom.
One day while Al is hanging out in his opulent Hollywood manor, he is visited upon by none other than rising superstar Madonna (also brilliantly played by Evan Rachel Wood) who seduces Al to get him to do a parody of one of her songs and the two of them begin a torrid affair.