Power Grid Failure Chapter Twelve

Good afternoon. It is I Gigi the parti poodle here to introduce chapter twelve of my story Power Grid Failure. This week as you know the Oscar nominations were announced and I was once again snubbed. I don’t understand it. How could I have not received a nod? Just because I’m not in any films whatsoever I still believe I should be recognized for my outstanding work. I am a remarkable poodle and I write my own stories, a genuine rarity amongst canines and therefore I should be in contention for one of those glorious golden statues. Few people know this but there is a technical category awarded to outstanding dogs who have contributed to the film industry. I was even picking out a new collar to wear to the ballroom gathering when I found out I was passed over. I have contributed greatly to films this year writing letters to numerous studios and Indie production companies telling them how to better their scripts. I have been most helpful in turning around their little lost films and turning them into spectacular finished products. But do they mention me in the credits? Never! It is most distressing to my delicate nerves. I might have some serious ankle nipping to do. And with that thought here is chapter twelve of Power Grid Failure. Nyde!

Power Grid Failure

by

Gigi the parti poodle

Chapter Twelve

“We have nothing to talk about, Dragontail,” Reynolds says as they stand near the elevators.

“I beg to differ,” Dragontail says narrowing his eyes. “You got your freedom an entire year earlier than I did, you smooth talking conniving barracuda. I wasted all that time in prison, squandering my youth when I could have been furthering my career.”

“Your career didn’t further because your projects flopped. I told you to stick to what you’re great at: small indie stories. But oh, no. You had to go out and make this grandiose film about a Komodo Dragon who travels back in time and finds his long-lost relatives amongst the dinosaurs. I tried to tell you dinosaurs cost money. They’re big. They’re bulky. And they devour budgets.”

“Let me tell you something, Reynolds. You never understood my passion for Komodo Dragons, and you never understood my all-consuming creative vision.”

“Your creative vision was the reason we got caught, prosecuted, and incarcerated.”

“What about all those overpriced parties you threw? Like renting out an entire hotel so you could celebrate New Year’s Eve in style. At least I was focused on my dream. You were focused on your ego.”

“Wow. Just…okay, you know what? I’ve had enough of your whining and complaining. I went to prison right alongside of you and it sucked. Yeah, it was a white-collar prison and we had state of the art pool tables, golf on Saturdays and a prison-wide Pictionary tournament. But it sucked. And neither of us wants to go back. However, this evening you’ve already committed breaking and entering, attempted robbery and several cases of assault. You’ll be in the clink by sunrise.”

“Maybe. But you’ll be right back in there with me and that might just be worth it.”

“All because I got out one year faster than you.”

“Correct.”

“And you’ve got a plan to pin whatever it is you plan to do tonight on me.”

“Bingo.”

“You think that Dragontail guy is working with Reynolds?” Sloan asks Crystal as they stand by the desks in the office space.

“I’m certain of it,” Crystal says.

“What makes you so certain?”

“Because Reynolds let him in the building.”

“Did you see him let him in?”

“So, now you’re interested in what I have to say.”

Did you see Reynolds let Dragontail in?”

“I see a lot of things. I keep my mouth shut and my eyes open.”

“Is that a cut on me? Because let me tell you something, Weird Chick, the world was built for the talkers and I for one have no problem talking.”

“Just let her tell us what she knows,” Adams says.

“Yeah,” Crystal says. “I saw Reynolds let Dragontail in.”

“When?”

“About an hour before the lights went out. I headed to the cafeteria because the vending machine didn’t have those truffle bars, and I like those truffle bars. So, I took the stairs because I’m trying to get more steps in.”

“I was going to say, you’ve been looking fit lately.”

“Thank you. As I was on my way back up, I saw Reynolds come through the main doors which I thought was odd because he usually doesn’t get here that early.”

“You pay attention to how early the janitor gets here?” Sloan asks.

“I’m an observant person. Anyway, he entered the main doors with his keycard and this guy walked up behind him and Reynolds let him in. The guy looked exactly like Dragontail.”

“I knew there was something screwy about that janitor.”

“So, he is working with Dragontail,” Adam’s says.

“There’s got to be a way out of here,” Crystal says. “They wouldn’t have designed a way to put this building into lockdown without a manual override.”

“You’re right. But we’d have to contact security and that could be problematic.”

“What do you mean problematic?”

“Security techs are, well, psychopathic.”

“So, you’ve met these guys,” Sloan says.

“If you’ve met one security guy, you’ve met them all. They have these vacuous eyes, bushy eyebrows, and animated hands. They’re outgoing and love to be the center of attention and at social gatherings they always drink gin and tonic.”

“Sounds like you and these guys have history.”

“I’ve had my share of run-ins.”

“Groovy.”

“Anyway, I could try and contact security. Maybe if we explain the situation, they’ll unlock the building, and we can go home. But I just want to set expectations ahead of time.”

“Whatever. I know these types of guys. You just need to know how to finagle them.”

“I’ll see if I can find their contact information.”

“Thank you, Adams,” Crystal says.

“Certainly.”

Crystal and Sloan follow Adams over to his computer. They look over his shoulder as he rifles through a list of work contacts.

“Here it is,” Adams says. “Unicorn.”

“Unicorn?” Crystal says.

“Unicorn is the head of Building Security.”

“Of course, his name is Unicorn,” Sloan says sarcastically.

“I’ve met this guy before. Total militant wingnut. I heard once that during an office party he hacked into the mail server and forwarded emails to the significant others of everyone who was having an office affair. No one could prove he did it, but everyone knew. Even the guys who worked with him knew. A couple of them said they’d read something cryptic on his social media pages. But as scummy as it was it wasn’t nearly as scummy as what he did to Mr. Peek’s administrative assistant. The one who worked here before Tiffany.”

“What did he do to her?” “He schmoozed her. Flirted with her. Got her to trust him. Like a coyote stalking a sheep. Then he asked her out and she said yes because it was Valentine’s Day. She agreed to meet him at this restaurant, but he never showed. Turned out he was sitting in the parking lot the entire time.

When she finally left the restaurant, he followed her car. When she turned onto the highway, he tried to run her off it. I don’t know how she found out it was him but by the end of the week she’d turned in her resignation.”

“And this is the guy who’s our best shot at getting out of here?” Crystal asks warily.

“Afraid so.”

“Call him,” Sloan says.

“He doesn’t take calls,” Adams says.

“What do you mean he doesn’t take calls?”

“He prefers email.”

“Then email him.”

“He wants his emails animated. He says they’re more professional that way.”

“We’re short on time. Dragontail’s coming back around the corner any minute.”

“I designed something animated in Canva this morning before I went to work,” Crystal says. “I was going to use it for a project but…”

“Get it,” Sloan says.

“Fine,” Crystal snaps. “I’ll go email it to Adams from my notebook.” Crystal heads over to her desk to retrieve her notebook from her computer bag.

“That chick is strange,” Sloan says to Adams.

“What do you mean?” Adams says.

“You don’t think she’s strange?”

“No, she’s strange.”

“Why do you think she’s strange?”

“I asked you first.”

“She’s quiet. Never talks to anyone. And sometimes I think she’s watching me.”

“I heard she was in a pinewood derby tournament and kicked ass.”

“What’s strange about that?”

“She was the only adult.”

“Okay, I sent it,” Crystal says returning.

“Great,” Adams says. “Thanks.”

“I don’t know why this Unicorn needs an animated email.”

“It’s a power thing. It cuts down the amount of people who email him because sending him an animated email is time consuming. This woman he used to date sent him a sonogram picture of her baby that he’d sired, and he totally deleted it. He responded to her email saying if she wanted to send him a sonogram of a baby, the baby had to be dancing. Otherwise, it was a complete misuse of the mail server.”

“Sounds like a reasonable guy to me,” Sloan says. “I love those dancing baby memes.”

“Okay, well, I’ll just type up the email and…”

“Alright, kids,” Dragontail announces coming back around the corner from the elevators. “Let’s get this party moving along. I want you guys in there with Peak.”

Adams, Crystal, and Sloan look at each other and start moving towards Tiffany’s desk.

“You’ve got to send that email,” Sloan whispers to Adams.

“I’ll try doing it on my phone.”

Dragontail whips around and looks at Windy who is sitting at one of the desks. “Hey, Windy,” he says. “Come with us.”

Windy slowly rises, smooths her skirt, and timidly follows the group. She is sad because her kids are presently doing a school musical performance and she is missing it. She is frightened at being stuck in the building and being held hostage. She just wants to pick up something at the drive-thru, take it home and eat a late dinner with her family.

“Hurry up, Windy,” Dragontail says. “You remember that children’s story with the duck who’s always the last in line to board the boat. He’s the one who gets the stick.”

MY BOOKS

You can check out my books Chicane and the five installments in 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: SHE SAID (2022)-PEACOCK

Nearly every year it seems there are a couple of excellent Oscar worthy films that get passed over for awards. This year one of those films is She Said. Based on the New York Times Pulitzer Prize winning article by Jodi Kantor, Megan Twohey and Rebecca Corbett, and the book by Kantor and Twohey this is the case of how the Harvey Weinstein story got broken.

Megan Twohey (Carry Mulligan in an excellent performance) has just given birth to her first child. Before returning to work she gets a call from fellow New York Times journalist Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) who is working on a story about sexual harassment in the workplace. The focus is on Hollywood, primarily rumored predator Harvey Weinstein. Kantor’s problem is few to none of the women, who are bound by NDA’s, fear, and threats, will talk. And those who do talk are embittered by the dead ends they’ve arrived at when trying to tell their stories in the past.

The Weinstein assignment intrigues Twohey who had been working on a story about women sexually assaulted by Donald Trump before she went on maternity leave. Twohey is disenchanted Trump went on to become president despite his assaults. When she returns to work, she is given the option to either continue with her Trump story or team up with Kantor on the Weinstein story. She chooses the latter and she and Kantor begin an arduous but riveting journey involving researching legal paperwork, sidestepping threats, and looking for leads very much in the vein of All the President’s Men.

Power Grid Failure Chapter Eleven

Good afternoon. It is I Gigi the parti poodle here on another rousing Thursday to introduce chapter eleven of my story Power Grid Failure. This week I have gotten back to going on my walkies. It has not been as frequent because of rain. I do detest walking in the rain. This means I must wear a raincoat. I detest my raincoat. It is a silly garment with a hood that obscures my ability to see. I could hardly make it out the door to the street without running into things. However, my novelist adjusted the hood and made it better. Still, I dream of sunshine and green grass and flowers to sniff. We often run into other dogs on our voyages. Usually this is not a problem. However, we recently had two larger dogs who, albeit friendly, were a bit of a challenge. My novelist had to sweep me into her arms to keep me away from my adoring fans so I could get down the street. Other dogs are fascinated with me and my story writing. This, of course, is not a common activity amongst the canine community and so I have become a bit of a celebrity with them. They are also drawn to my stunning good looks. I am quite beautiful you see with my uncommon parti poodle coloring. Most poodles have hair which is one color while I am a brilliant pattern reminiscent to that of a Holstein cow. And with that thought, here is chapter eleven of Power Grid Failure. Mwynhau!  

Power Grid Failure

by

Gigi the parti poodle

Chapter Eleven

“This is how it’s going to go,” Dragontail says. “We’re taking over this building.”

“What do you mean, you’re taking over this building?” Martin asks.

“I mean we, that is us three,” he says motioning to his two henchmen, “are taking over this building and holding you hostage.”

“Do you mean you are holding all of us hostage or just Martin?” Windy asks.

“All of you. Did I not make myself clear?”

“Well, it was a little vague.”

“Okay, let me simplify this. The three of us are taking over this building and holding all of you hostage.”

“How?” Martin says. “We outnumber you.”

Dragontail whips out a weapon, aims it at Adams and fires. Adams drops to the floor and flops around like he is having a seizure. “This here levels the playing field.”

“Adams!” Tiffany screams and runs over to her fallen coworker. She turns to Dragontail and says, “What have you done to him?!”

“I call it the No Fun Stun Gun,” Adams says. “My newest invention. You see at first, I was afraid to invent things. But after six long years of being incarcerated, I learned fear was just a state of mind. And those six long years and a newfound state of mind allowed me to come up with this beauty. Isn’t that right, Reynolds?”

“You’re still on about that whole thing?” Reynolds says.

Dragontail marches up to Reynolds and looks him in the eye. “That whole thing? That whole thing? Reynolds, we committed the same crime together, a crime you plotted, and you got out a year earlier than I did. Yeah, that whole thing!”

“If you’d been more amicable in prison, they might have let you out a year earlier too.”

“Wow. Just…wow.”

“Are you going to hold us hostage or shoot us with a stun gun?” Crystal asks.

Dragontail pushes Reynolds aside and marches up to her. “Well, aren’t we the impatient one.”

“I’d like to know sooner rather than later so I can get my mindset in order.”

“Get your mindset in order?”

“One has a very different mindset if one is trapped in a building vs if one is trapped in a building while being held hostage vs if one is trapped in a building, being held hostage and shot at with a stun gun.”

“Rest assured your situation is the last one.” Dragontail points his No Fun Stun Gun at her and fires. Crystal instantly slumps to the floor.

“Stop!” Reynolds says, the humor gone from his tone.

“No,” Dragontail says and aims his weapon at Tiffany. He shoots but not before Sloan takes a flying leap into the line of fire.

Tiffany jumps back in surprise as Sloan drops like a marionette who’s just had its strings cut.

“Now,” Dragontail says turning to Martin and Windy. “I mean business.”

“What do you want?” Martin asks calmly.

“What do you think I want?”

“I have no idea.”

“Playing hardball, old man? Have it your way.”

Dragontail signals his goons who each grab one of Tiffany’s arms and drag her towards Martin’s office.

“Get your hands off me!” Tiffany exclaims struggling to no avail.

“Let go of her!” Martin demands marching after them.

Dragontail turns, pushes a button on his weapon and fires it at Martin. Martin yelps.

“You see what’s special about my No Fun Stun Gun,” Dragon tail says, “is it’s not just one setting. It’s an array of settings. A smorgasbord if you will. I can drop you to the ground, make you pass out, or just make you feel pain.”

“Why haven’t you fired it at Reynolds yet?” Windy asks.

“What?”

“Reynolds appears to be the one you’re upset with. Why haven’t you fired your No Fun Stun Gun at him?”

“Excellent question,” Dragontail says glaring at Reynolds. “I’m saving the worst for last.”

“Unhand my secretary,” Martin tells Dragontail’s henchmen inside the glassed-in area where Tiffany’s desk is located.

“You mean administrative assistant,” the first henchman says.

“What?”

“It’s not secretary anymore. Her title is administrative assistant.”

“He knows it’s administrative assistant,” Tiffany says. “But I actually like the term secretary, so I requested he refer to me as such.”

“Unhand my secretary,” Martin says again.

“We’ll unhand her when we’re ready to unhand her,” the second more sinister henchman says.

“Alright, Peak,” Dragontail says as he strolls through the door. “I think it’s time we separate you kids. Tiffany’s going into your office with my friend Craggy. You and I are going to hang out here with Remmel.”

“I’m not giving you access to my office,” Martin says.

Dragontail points his No Fun Stun Gun at Martin’s face and fires. Martin convulses and goes limp.

“Get Peak’s wallet, Tiffany.”

“And if I don’t?” Tiffany says.

Dragontail pushes a button on his weapon, aims it at Tiffany and fires. Tiffany feels a shock followed by searing pain. She grabs her cheeks and screams.

“Now, get Peak’s wallet out of his hip pocket.”

Tiffany moves over to Martin’s crumpled frame and rolls him over so he’s bottom’s up. Then she reaches into his hip pocket and retrieves the wallet.

“Now open it up and take out his keycard.”

Tiffany locates Martin’s keycard and holds it up. Dragontail snatches it from her and puts it in front of the keycard reader near the walnut doors. The reader turns from red to green and the doors unlock.

“Excellent,” Dragontail says. “Craggy, drag Blondie here into the big guy’s office.

Craggy grabs Tiffany’s arm and takes her into Mr. Peak’s office and shuts the door behind them.

Dragontail marches out the glass door and into the office space. “Reynolds,” he calls. “It’s time for you and me to do a little catching up.”

MY BOOKS

You can check out my books Chicane and the five installments in 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: WHO IS HARRY NILSSON (AND WHY IS EVERYBODY TALKING ABOUT HIM?) (2010)-FREEVEE, PEACOCK, PLUTO TV & TUBI

On January 2nd of this year Rolling Stone Magazine released what might be the most bizarre best of list of all time: 200 Greatest Singers. The list had peculiar rankings, odd choices and glaring omissions including:

Judy Garland

Pat Benatar

Billy Joel

Bobby Hatfield

Bonnie Tyler

Meatloaf

Art Garfunkel

Jim Morrison

Rodger Waters

David Lee Roth

Grace Slick

Peter Gabriel

Jennifer Hudson

Celine Dion

David Byrne

Dionne Warwick

Brandon Flowers

P!nk

Anne Wilson

But perhaps the most glaring omission of them all was one of the best voices of the 60’s and 70’s. Maybe the best with a staggering near four octave range and a tenor voice. So incredible was he, The Beatles collectively called him their favorite band. His name was Harry Nilsson, and he wrote a hit called “One” in 1968 made famous by the band Three Dog Night before bursting onto the scene singing “Everybody’s Talkin’” by Fred Neil featured in the Oscar winning movie Midnight Cowboy.

Harry went on to write and sing mammoth songs such as “Jump into the Fire” and sing other masterpieces such as “Without You” by Pete Ham and Tom Evans from the band Badfinger. Harry was known for using his own voice for his backup singers for recordings. He was also known for his novelty songs such as “Coconut” and was the creative force behind an animated film called The Point. Harry’s life was an odyssey in and of itself, rising from poverty in the slums of Brooklyn where his family was so poor, they had to eat dog food to stardom in Los Angeles and around the world. From his fragile first and second marriages, self-destructive nature, wild rock and roll lifestyle to his finally finding the love of his life and siring a large family, Harry was a music legend in his own right. Quite honestly, if you are making a list of best singers of the 20th and 21st century and you do not include Nilsson, your reputation and knowledge of modern music is up for serious debate.

Power Grid Failure Chapter Ten

Good afternoon. It is I Gigi the parti poodle here once again to introduce chapter ten of my story Power Grid Failure. This week my novelist has taken a break from our walkies. At first, I reveled in the rest. And then I became restless. I have learned the horrible meaning of the words housebound and stir-crazy. I must get out soon or I shall lose my mind. I am climbing the walls. I have even been engaging in peaceful conversations with the Maltese and such shenanigans cannot be tolerated. I must go for walkies again. I must breathe the air and smell the rain, the wind, the universe. I have heard dogs need to go on walks to keep their brain sharp. Mine is dulling by the hour. Soon I will be relegated to watching soap operas and game shows. A horrid fate. I will rouse my novelist tomorrow and make her walk me. I will demand she give me attention. I will let her know resting time is over. It is time to conquer the world! But for now, here is chapter ten of Power Grid Failure. Disfrutar!

Power Grid Failure

by

Gigi the parti poodle

Chapter Ten

Dragontail and Reynolds went back a long way to their college days. Reynolds dreamed of working in the corporate world, while Dragontail envisioned himself a stage actor living the bohemian lifestyle. His parents, however, had a different plan in mind. Their son had spent his childhood in and out of schools mostly due to expulsion. The breaking point came when one of his high school teachers told him not to focus on David Mamet plays and history at the same time. Dragontail replied, “Why don’t you talk to me like I’m an adult?” The teacher swiftly escorted Dragontail out of the classroom and down the hall. This left the rest of the students to ruminate on the building of The Great Wall of China until the last five minutes of class when a now meek and sullen Dragontail reentered the classroom. He was followed inside by the teacher who sported a contented look that would have turned Nurse Rached’s face a whiter shade of pale.

Dragontail, however, was not deterred from his thespian pursuit and continued to read plays in class albeit more covertly. It deeply upset him when he was cast in the lead role of Chad in his high school’s production of In the Company of Men by Neil Labute and his parents refused to attend. Especially after he dedicated his performance to them, a note which by his request was printed in the program.

When he went off to college, Dragontail attended prerequisites for business school but also enrolled in acting classes and auditioned for plays. His first break was in a student film playing a human sized ant who found solace in gardening. The director/writer received a 3.0 grade for his efforts, but Dragontail’s performance caught the eye of several other student directors, and he started getting cast in more and more roles.

Unfortunately, one of his parts was so popular even his parents, who had no interest whatsoever in the internet nor online video sharing social media platforms, happened to see it. They were stunned to find out their son had shaved his head bald to play Derek in the stage play version of American History X. Dragontail found himself inundated with texts, phone calls and written letters from his parent’s lawyer promising to cut him off from both his inheritance and the family at large if he so much as stepped foot in front of a camera or on a theater stage again. It was at this dark point in his young life that he by chance met Reynolds.

Reynolds, at that time, was every financially motivated parent’s dream. He had always envisioned himself becoming a real-life Gordon Gecko. From the time he entered fourth grade he wore a suit and tie and slicked his hair back with pomade to look like a grade school version of his favorite corporate shark.  His parents struggled to keep up with his demand for silk ties and gold tone cufflinks. When other kids came to school on Business Day to sell their handmade wares such as friendship bracelets, origami animals and Shrinky Dinks in the cafeteria, Reynolds showed up with a full color layout explaining how to purchase timeshares of certain areas of the playground. This was, of course, a complete scam. But his pitch was so compelling he was able to sell the principal springtime usage of the monkey bars.

Reynolds used his earnings to pay for a brand-new dirt bike. He was excellent at charming his teachers out of punishments that came his way for activities such as copying off tests, being late for class and talking his buddies into nabbing hair accessories from female classmates and selling them back to them at a profit.

Dragontail and Reynolds met in a microeconomics class shortly after Dragontail’s American History X fallout with his parents. Reynolds talked Dragontail into pledging his fraternity. This gave Dragontail newfound hope for his future and the fraternity in turn got bragging rights for having one of their brothers be the guy who played that skinhead in that American History X video. The boys became the best of friends and decided after college they would start a business together. Dragontail wanted to own a production company, but Reynolds was interested in more lucrative ventures. Reynolds talked his friend into founding a wearable technology company as he always envisioned crating a better smart watch than the ones that were on the market.

This concerned Dragontail as his background in computer science was novice at best. After going back and forth about it, they came up with a concept called Desperate Director, a watch designed for actors and singers that could alert a performer every time a new part came up, even before agents received the breakdown. In addition, the performer would receive data on the production and/or theatre company that was not easily searchable online.

At first, Reynolds and Dragontail were successful in both their ventures. Reynolds convinced Dragontail the profits from the smartwatches would more than finance a production company. They added additional functions to the watch including easy and organized ways to track your auditions, callbacks, and covert filming of the casting directors’ reactions to your monologues and songs. It helped actors know which auditions worked and which didn’t, and it provided a tailor-made list of monologues and songs that best suited them. Dragontail and Reynolds got interested investors quickly and the forecast for their future was bright. That was until they hit a small snag.   

The watch, though well designed and gorgeous to look at worked great…until you used it past ninety days. That’s when he started to burn customers’ wrists. There was no apparent reason for the bizarre flaw and when the two entrepreneurs tried to do more research and development on it nothing could be definitively detected. The two boys went flat broke. This was devastating especially for Dragontail whose parents had spent years saving money for him to attend graduate school. Dragontail had withdrawn every penny from his account with large penalties.

This left Reynolds and Dragontail with two choices. Either they could accept that they were young and still had plenty of time to pick up the pieces and move on with their lives or find a way to make their money back by engaging in a life of crime. They chose the latter. As neither Reynolds nor Dragontail wanted to end up in a maximum-security prison they decided white collar crime was the way to go.

The plan was Reynolds would interview and land a job in a bank as an accountant. Accounting wasn’t his cup of tea, but he was a natural at it. He’d studied it enough to sound charming and knowledgeable in interviews. They would continue to own Dragontail’s production company and use it as a front to launder the money Reynolds would embezzle from the bank. Reynolds had been the treasurer for his high school, fraternity and university and thus had an extensive background in embezzlement.

Reynolds went to several grueling interviews. On the last interview the three suits who sat across the meeting room table scrutinized everything about him from his clothes to the font he used for his resume. But he kept his cool and talked about why he was such an asset for their company and how no one else who walked in that door would have as spectacular a skill set as he.

Reynolds knew he’d convinced the guy in the middle and the hot looking brunette on the right. But the guy on the left seemed like he was on to him. When the interview was over Reynolds shook everyone’s hand even though the guy on the left had a limp handshake, he was certain he’d charmed the other two interviewers enough that their optimism would override this guy’s pessimism.

Reynolds was right. They offered him the position and after his training he let a month go by. That’s when he started cooking the books. His diligence paid off and soon he was funneling money into Dragontail’s production company. Dragontail finally got to greenlight a couple of projects he was certain would be profitable and was able to swiftly launder the money Reynolds funneled in. And to a certain degree their gamble paid off. Dragontail put out a feature that did well in festivals and got picked up for distribution.

And then things started getting ugly. Dragontail’s first film only made a modest profit. While it was in theatres, he tried making his dream film and everything went wrong: unexpected weather issues, the co-star quitting and the caterer getting into a boating accident.

Reynolds started getting sloppy at work. The guy who was on to him in the interview was on to him at work. Everyday Reynolds was certain someone was going to haul him off in handcuffs. And one day they finally did. No one embezzles three million dollars without making a few mistakes. Dragontail’s production company collapsed and clips from his disastrous would-be cinematic masterpiece became horrible memes.

Reynolds and Dragontail were each sentenced to ten years in white collar prison. Reynolds served five years of his sentence and was released for good behavior. Dragontail served six years. He was always bitter about having served one more year than his business partner and spent a long time planning his revenge. Dragontail could have built himself a great resume over those six lost years. He was disgraced and although not washed up, he was not able to get parts like he got in his college days or when he ran Fire Breathing Basilisk Productions. He did manage to get a local commercial and then another and then a string of frozen yogurt commercials. He became “that frozen yogurt guy”. Although it was nowhere near as challenging as playing Derek in his university’s stage version of American History X it paid the bills. And then more than paid the bills. And finally, it brought him in enough cash to start his own business again. Legitimately this time.

He tried starting up a production company again and called it Hydra Harridan Productions since Fire Breathing Basilisk productions carried with it a cloud of shame. He made one feature picture about a mountain man who lived in a national park and scared campers at night until the mountain man discovered his true calling selling handmade sunglasses crafted out of scraps of wood and working part time for the CIA.

The movie was picked up at a movie festival and enjoyed a modest distribution with decent critical acclaim. But the film nearly broke Dragontail and he got out of the production business and founded a hamburger food truck called Mountain Man, home of the famous Mountain Man Meal.

After establishing his business, Dragontail searched long and hard for Reynolds. He’d heard his former partner had gone home to live with his parents after serving time. But Reynolds was no longer there, which came as no surprise. Since Reynolds had started out his parents’ dream child and wound up their worst nightmare, all his parents’ friends spurned them because their kids had gone off to start successful businesses or landed jobs at Fortune 500 companies. This was more than Reynold’s parents could bear and within a month their son left their home and lived out of his car which he stole from his younger sibling.

Dragontail spent every spare minute of his time searching for Reynold’s driver’s license, phone number, and fishing license. Reynold’s had always been a fan of trout. This information helped lead him to Reynold’s address. The first time he spotted Reynolds was on a foggy evening in early October. Dragontail had gotten a tip he worked in a high-rise. After finding out the skyscraper was not all that far from where he usually parked his Mountain Man truck, he moved his location to the corner across from Reynold’s building. He parked it and flipped burgers in the back so the customers couldn’t see his face. He installed a surveillance camera so he could see who was coming and going and he noted Reynolds showed up just after nine a couple of times each week. Usually Mondays and Fridays. He always ordered the Mountain Man Meal. Occasionally he ordered the pie.

After a couple weeks, Dragontail followed Reynolds back to the high-rise. One night, Dragontail slipped inside the door behind Reynolds which was a rather dangerous thing to do considering there were cameras watching. Dragontail followed him up the stairs and watched him work. There was a profound satisfaction Dragontail got from Reynolds working as a janitor. And an even greater satisfaction knowing that his former partner worked a job which required him to clean up after others.

But it wasn’t enough to satiate Dragontail. He needed Reynolds to suffer and so he hatched a plan, hired muscle, and proceeded with his idea to pin a major crime on Reynolds.  

MY BOOKS

You can check out my books Chicane and the five installments in 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: WHITE NOISE (2022)-NETFLIX

This week’s film is based on the famous 1985 off-beat satirical novel by Don DeLillo. This story about death, American consumerism and shallow fixations is not for all tastes, but it is engrossing and fascinating to watch just the same. The movie was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor-Motion Picture-Musical/Comedy for Adam Driver’s whimsical performance.

Set in the early mid 80’s the film tells the story of Jack Gladney (Adam Driver), a professor of Nazi Studies at the College-on-the-Hill. Jack’s fellow professor Murray Siskind (Don Cheadle) teaches American Culture and longs to develop the niche field of Elvis studies. Siskind is obsessed with the beauty of car crashes in American film. Jack, on the other hand, is obsessed with death.

He is ironically focused on learning German for an upcoming conference. His fourth wife Babette (Greta Gerwig) is a likeable but ditsy woman who shares her husband’s fear of death. The two of them spend a lot of time trying to figure out who will die first. They have both been married multiple times and this is each one’s fourth marriage. They have four children between them, one they share and the other three which come from previous marriages.

While going about their normal lives there is an industrial accident where a truck runs into a train and an “Airborne Toxic Event” occurs. This forces the Gladney family and their neighbors to evacuate their homes with very little warning. On their way to an evacuation camp, what would normally be a mundane incident happens which changes the course of Jack’s life. Paralleling this, Babett’s daughter Denise (Raffey Cassidy) catches her mother sneaking pills, finds her mother’s stash, and gives the bottle to Jack to have them analyzed. They discover the medicine goes by the name Dylar, a mysterious drug that no one, including medical professionals seems to know anything about.   

Power Grid Failure Chapter Nine

Good afternoon. It is Thursday once again and I Gigi the parti poodle am here to introduce chapter nine of my story Power Grid Failure. This was post-Christmas clean up week and it has been most distressing. My novelist has been spending hours cleaning up after the holidays whilst I have been staying out of the way. But it is utterly exhausting watching her. She moves this, she moves that, she puts this away, she puts that away. I think human beings are devoted to organizing things far more than they should be. A poodle’s world is always in order. And if it isn’t I put it into order with far less energy than my human counterparts. If I want to organize my squeaky toys, I tell the Maltese to pick one up and put it there and pick another up and put it over there. And if I need my blanket moved, I bark at my novelist until she moves it where I want it. The point is to delegate. Use your resources. Avoid doing anything yourself except what you most desire. Otherwise, life is no fun. And life should be sparkling with fun except for those you allot to do your work for you. And with that thought here is chapter nine of Power Grid Failure. Bonne année!   

Power Grid Failure

by

Gigi the parti poodle

Chapter Nine

Tiffany and Adams enter the stairwell. Tiffany retrieves a small flashlight from her coat pocket and turns it on before they head down the stairs.

“Smart,” Adams says.

“I use it when I get off my bus,” Tiffany explains. “Otherwise, I’m walking home in the dark and I don’t want to get hit by a car.”

“Makes sense. Is that also why your coat is white?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Even smarter.”

“Yep.”

“What are we going to do if this guy has a weapon?”

“Who says it’s a guy?”

“It’s always a guy. Guys do these things.”

“We don’t even know what we heard. It might just be something that fell.”

“Maybe,” Adams says skeptically.”

They open the door to the lower floor and step inside. Tiffany shines the flashlight around. “Hello,” she calls out. “Is anyone here?”

Adams leans over and whispers, “Are you sure that was a good idea?”

“What?”

“Announcing our presence.”

“Don’t be ridiculous…”

Suddenly, they hear the sound again.

“Hello?” Tiffany says this time with less confidence.

“Let’s head back.”

“We can’t till we find out who or what is down here.”

“We have to…”

“Shh!”

Footsteps. Adams grabs Tiffany’s arm and motions towards the stairwell. Tiffany signals for him to wait. She turns off the flashlight. “Now we head back.”

They pivot and skulk towards the stairwell. The footsteps draw closer. They stop. Adam’s heart is pounding but he doesn’t want Tiffany to know. He does, however, want to move faster. The darkness is a deterrent, but he has the floor plan memorized having fixed plenty of computers deskside throughout the building.

“Let me lead,” he whispers. “I know the floorplan like the back of my hand.”

“Okay.”

Adams leads them towards the exit. Four desks to the left, break, turn left, four more to the right, break, turn right…

“Adams and Tiffany have been gone awhile,” Windy says wringing her hands. “When did they leave?”

“Six-thirty,” Sloan says who’s been counting every minute of Tiffany’s absence.

“It’s seven now,” Martin says looking at his Cartier Ronde watch.

“Six fifty-eight,” Crystal says glancing at her watch.

Martin scowls. “Does that thing on your wrist light up?”

“Yes. It’s a Timex Indiglo.”

“She’s right,” Reynolds says turning his phone around for the others to see. “Set by the atomic clock.”

“I set mine two minutes fast,” Martin lies.

“The point is they’re still down there,” Windy says. “Anything could have happened by now.”

“Maybe they hooked up,” Reynolds says grinning at Sloan.

“Tiffany has more class than that,” Sloan says glaring back.

“True. She didn’t hook up with you.”

“That’s it, janitor boy!” Sloan says and marches up to him.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

“Yeah, and why’s that?”

“I’ll kick your ass.”

“I was all state, wiseass.”

“You’re an insurance company?”

“Wrestling.”

“I was all state too.”

“In what?”

“Both of you cool your heels,” Martin growls. “My administrative assistant and my deskside tech are missing, and we need to find them.”

“Someone should go check on them,” Windy says.

Suddenly, the stairwell doors burst open, and Adams and Tiffany enter followed by three men dressed in Mountain Man uniforms. The man in the middle who appears to be the leader says, “Well, well. If it isn’t our old buddy Reynolds.”

“Dragontail!” Reynolds says surprised.

MY BOOKS

You can check out my books Chicane and the five installments in 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: DRIVEWAYS (2019)-SHOWTIME & Freevee

This week’s film is a quiet yet engrossing story about a woman and her young son who are tasked with the job of cleaning out her late older sister’s house. Kathy (Hong Chau) is struggling to make ends meet when she finds out her sister April has passed away and must go clean the residence out and get it ready to put up for sale. Her eight-year-old son Cody (Lucas Jaye), a quiet intellectual boy takes the road trip with her and when they finally arrive, they find out to their horror that April was a hoarder. A retired Korean War veteran Del (Brian Dennehy in one of his last roles) lives next door and when Cody first sees him sitting on his porch, they strike up a short conversation where Del helps Cody turn the water hose on so Cody can get a drink. But Kathy, upon seeing Cody’s wet shirt is quick to let Del know not to bother her son. However, as Kathy and Cody continue to clean the house Cody and Del strike up a friendship that transcends their age difference and brings a newfound joy to both their lives. This is a sleeper of a film and worth the watch especially for the fine performances as well as Andrew Ahn’s lovely direction and Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen’s well penned script.   

Power Grid Failure Chapter Eight

Good afternoon. It is I Gigi the parti poodle here to wish you Happy Holidays. It has been a busy week for me. I traveled a bit which is always disturbing. I can’t decide whether to lie quietly on my blanket or to stand up and bark at my driver. The Maltese always curls up and rarely finds the need to move around. But I must see what is going on outside the window. And I must say, I hate lane changes. And I do alert my novelist or whoever is driving the car to this upsetting experience and let them know my displeasure. I don’t understand why one must ever go sideways. The point is to go forwards. Sideways is just wrong on so many levels. I am a poodle, not a crab. And I am rather upset my stocking wasn’t hung up this year. I deserve a stocking to be hung up just as much as anyone and I am taking this up with my novelist. No such disregard for me should ever be exercised again. And if it is, I will personally tear down any stocking which is not mine and ransack the contents within. And with that, here is Chapter Eight of my story Power Grid Failure.   

Power Grid Failure

by

Gigi the parti poodle

Chapter Eight

“I think we should hear from Crystal first,” Reynolds says.

“Who?” Martin says.

“Crystal. She’s one of your employees.”

“Oh, yes. Our technical writer.”

“What do you like to do for fun, Crystal?” Windy asks.

“Well…,” Crystal says not wanting to be part of the conversation. “I guess I like coming to work.”

“Work?”

“I think what Windy is asking,” Reynolds says to Crystal, “or for that matter what all of us would like to know is what you like to do outside of work.”

Crystal looks around at her co-workers and says, “Sometimes I take the bus to the discount movie theatre.”

“Are there any particular types of movies you like to see?”

“Independent films I suppose.”

“So, you’re a cinephile.”

“Well, that’s what’s usually playing there. Sometimes I’ll ride the bus home, sit at my desk, and write about the film I saw.”

“Alright, Reynolds,” Martin says. “You’ve heard the rest of us spill our guts. Now it’s your turn.”

Reynolds stretches out his long arms and legs and folds his hands behind his head. “Let’s see. What do I like to do? What do I like to do…? Well…I like to play the stock market.”

Sloan scoffs. “I’d be surprised if you even had a savings account.”

Reynolds smiles. “I’ve played the stocks since I was in college. Even bought a small house with my earnings.”

“When?”

“A couple years after the housing bubble burst. The property was in foreclosure, so I got a bargain price. Today it’s worth three times what I paid for it.”

“If that’s the case, why don’t you sell it and buy something bigger?”

“Well, see that’s where Crystal and I share something in common. We both like working here. A bigger place would mean moving further out. And I’m young enough to keep working here for a while.”

“Why don’t you apply for a better job?” Adams asks.

“Interesting question,” Reynolds says sitting up. “Probably because no one will hire me for anything other than a janitor.”

“Couldn’t you take the money and go to college?”

“I’ve already graduated from college. I also have a criminal record. My record doesn’t stop me from investing my own money however.”

“You’ll have to give us financial advice sometime.”

“He’s not allowed,” Martin says.  

“What was that?” Tiffany says.

“Sounds like it came from downstairs,” Sloan says.

All heads turn toward the direction of the stairwell.

“Reynolds,” Martin says. “Go down there and check it out.”

Reynolds laughs. “Why should I be the one to check it out?”

“You’re the janitor,” Sloan says. “It’s your job.”

“I’ll go see what it is,” Tiffany says and heads for the stairs.

“No!” Sloan and Adams yell at the same time.

“I’ll go with you,” Reynolds says getting up.

“I’ll go too,” Sloan says.

“You just said it was my job.”

“What if it’s someone who slipped in before the blackout happened?” Crystal says. “What if they’re dangerous?”

“We don’t know if it’s a person who made the sound,” Tiffany says.

“We should all go together,” Windy says. “There’s safety in numbers.”

“It’s too bad we couldn’t just send an AI robot down there,” Adams says.

Sloan scoffs. “Yeah, I think there’s one in the supply room.”

“Someday we’ll revere robots more than people. In fact, in some ways we already do. Like music. There’s hardly any instruments anymore. It’s all electronic. Even the human singing voice is adjusted to how we want it to sound instead of how it really sounds. Soon we won’t want to watch human athletes or human actors or go to human doctors because we’ll be conditioned to believe robots are better at doing the job. And robots don’t eat or sleep or take breaks. They’ll just keep on keeping on and outdo us at every turn until companies don’t hire people anymore. Universities don’t take human students anymore. The concept of human jobs becomes obsolete.”

“You’re right. You do need a night out.”

“I agree with Crystal,” Windy says. “It could be someone dangerous.”

“Like I said before,” Reynolds says, “no one can get in and no one can get out.”

“Maybe it’s a inside job,” Crystal says.

“What do you mean?” Windy asks.

“What if whoever is down there wanted to get locked in?”

“They’d have to know the building goes into lockdown automatically during blackouts,” Reynolds says.

You knew this building locked down automatically during a blackout,” Sloan says glaring at Reynolds.

“So, you think the white-collar criminal turned janitor who happens to know the building goes into lockdown during a blackout set it up, so someone got inside before the place locked down and plans to commit some sort of a crime.”

Sloan takes a step into Reynolds. “Yeah.”

“I know all about your record, Reynolds,” Martin says. “I’m with Sloan on this one.”

“You don’t think I learned something from my mistakes?” Reynolds says.

“Not a chance.”

“Maybe it’s not some inside job at all,” Tiffany says. “Maybe it’s someone who got trapped in the building just like us.”

“I didn’t see anyone down there when I went to get the elevator drop key,” Reynolds says.

“We don’t trust you,” Sloan says.

Tiffany rolls her eyes. “I’m going down there to find out for sure.”

“I’m going with you.”

“No,” Martin says. “Adams, you go with Tiffany.”

“Yes, sir,” Adams says and he and Tiffany head for the stairwell.

“They might need a hand,” Sloan says following them.

“You stay here,” Martin barks. “I might need a hand.”

MY BOOKS

You can check out my books Chicane and the five installments in 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: THE DROPOUT (2022)-HULU

There have been several outstanding mini-series released in 2022, and this Hulu original is amongst the best. It tells the story of Elizabeth Holms (Golden Globe nominee and Emmy winner Amanda Seyfried in a brilliant performance) a bright and highly ambitious college freshman who after a horrific life changing experience drops out of Stanford to pursue her dream of becoming a CEO. Her product is a blood tests that requires only a couple of drops from your finger as opposed to a full venial draw. Before quitting Stanford, she pitches her idea to Dr. Phyllis Gardner (Laurie Metcalf) who punches all sorts of holes in Elizabeth’s scientific theory.

During her senior year of high school, Elizabeth enrolls in Stanford University’s summer Mandarin immersion program in China, where she meets another student Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani (Naveen Andrews) a thirty-seven-year-old multi-millionaire. After Elizabeth drops out of Stanford University, the two reconnect and began a complex romantic and business relationship. Together they found Theranos, a health technology company. Joining them is chemist Ian Gibbons (Stephen Fry) who after working for them for a few years begins see the conflict between the business and the science.  

Elizabeth’s neighbor and family friend Richard Fuisz (William H. Macy), a successful physician, entrepreneur, and inventor threatens to sue her company over patents. Failing that, he goes on a passionate rampage to ambush Theranos with the help of John Carreyrou (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), a writer from the Wall Street Journal and two young scientists Tyler Schultz (Dylan Minnette) and Erika Cheung (Camryn Mi-young Kim) who, like Gibbons begin to see the truth behind the facade.  

Power Grid Failure Chapter Seven

Good afternoon. It is I Gigi the parti poodle here to introduce chapter seven of my story Power Grid Failure. We are experiencing a La Nina in the Pacific Northwest and the temperatures here are lower than usual. This is the second time this year we’ve had snow before Christmas which is uncommon in this region. It is most cold outside, and I have not been able to go for walkies for several days. I have found the best way to exercise under these conditions is to rouse the Maltese and fight him. He is a peaceful sort who would have done well during the sixty’s hippie movement. This of course makes me want to attack him more. I have not done well in attempting this activity and a couple of times have found myself sitting alone in a room for a time-out. I detest sitting alone in a room for a time-out. It is boring and I need to manage and command those around me.

I am ready to fight you now.

Tucker, what are you wearing?

This is my sumo suit.

You look like a miniature balloon at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

I brought you one too.

I am not putting that inane thing on.

If you want to fight me, you must wear the sumo suit.

I am not fighting you wearing a beach ball.

Then I will fight you anyway.

Get away from me! This is ridiculous! Stop! It appears I must tend to the catastrophe at hand. In the meantime, here is chapter seven of Power Grid Failure. Merii Kurisumasu!

Power Grid Failure

by

Gigi the parti poodle

Chapter Seven

“I’ve got them,” Reynolds says as he re-enters the breakroom. He carries large yellow and red handheld flashlights which he sets up around the tables. “Saw them in the maintenance room when I went to get the elevator key.”

“Why, thank you,” Windy chirps. “It definitely adds ambiance.”

“You’re very welcome. Since we’re all going to be spending the night together, we might as well get to know each other on a first name basis. “I’m Reynolds, by the way.”

“I’m Windy.”

“Nice to meet you, Windy.” Reynolds turns to Tiffany. Tiffany eyes him warily, not wanting to share that information with him.

“I know the big executive’s name is Mr. Martin Peak.”

“Watch it, Reynolds,” Martin says. “You’re treading on thin ice.”

“You two know each other?” Sloan says. “Like on a first name basis?”

“We’ve met,” Martin says stiffly.

“How?’

“That’s none of your business.”

Reynolds turns to Sloan. “Do you know her name?” he asks pointing to Crystal.

“She’s our technical writer.”

“And her name is?”

“How should I know?”

“Martin said it earlier.”

“I wasn’t paying attention.”

“Apparently not.” Reynolds turns to Crystal and nods his head at Sloan. “What’s his name?”

Crystal looks at Sloan. “I’m not sure.”

“Maybe you two should introduce yourselves.”

Crystal looks at Sloan. “I’m Crystal.”

Sloan rolls his eyes and says, “Sloan.”

“See,” Reynolds says. “It wasn’t that hard. Let’s recap. I’m Reynolds. The executive there is Martin. You’re Sloan. And you’re Crystal.” Reynolds turns to Adams. “Why don’t you introduce yourself to Blondie?”

“Don’t call me Blondie,” Tiffany says.

“Sorry. Tech Guy, introduce yourself to the blonde.”

“We already know each other,” Tiffany says, “because Adams fixes my computer sometimes. And I know Windy from HR.”

“Yeah, but do you know Sloan?”

“I know he works here.”

“Yeah, but do you know his name?”

“No, I don’t know his name.”

“But I’ll bet he knows yours.”

“I know a way we could all get to know each other better,” Windy says.

“This is stupid,” Sloan says.

“No, it isn’t. It’s a social interaction exercise. We’ll go around the room and each of us will share an activity we enjoy doing.”

“What difference does it make?” Martin says. “We’ll all go back to our regular scheduled lives tomorrow.”

“Mr. Peak,” Tiffany says. “I think it’s a good idea. I know you could share some interesting things you do over the weekends.”

“I don’t want to share, and I definitely don’t want to go first.”

“But Martin,” Windy says. “You’re the leader of the group. It’s imperative you go first.”

“Windy, I put you in charge of social interaction this monstrous evening. You should be the one to go first.”

“Martin, you need to lead the group. I can’t give them the same sense of morale you can.”

“Fine! I like to build things.”

“Oh, that sounds fascinating! What do you build?”

“I built the first house my wife and I lived in.”

“Really?”

“Contractors screw you. I mean you’re stuck hiring guys like electricians and plumbers and roofers. But generally, I did most of the work myself. It’s a heck of a lot cheaper that way.”

“I’d have never pegged you for a guy who liked to get his hands dirty,” Reynolds says.

“Well, I am. And just because I’m older don’t think I won’t do it again. I have a little piece of property on the other side of the mountains I’m thinking of breaking ground on.”

“Why, Martin,” Windy says. “I never knew that.”

“Now you do. You’re turn.”

“Well,” Windy says delighted to be the center of attention, “I love throwing dinner parties. I know it seems like an archaic idea but it’s much more fun than sitting around at night watching those dreadful streamers. They’re so mind numbing. My husband just finished watching one of those lunatic criminals on tape going on and on about how he did this to this person and that to that person and how much smarter he was than the police. After a while those documentaries all sound the same. I think if some of those maniacs would have gone to a dinner party occasionally and made some real friends, they wouldn’t have committed those horrible crimes.

“Anyway, I love throwing dinner parties. They are so much fun. The hor d’oeuvres are my favorite part. Those itty-bitty gastronomical bursts of joy that explode in your mouth are pure heaven.”

“I think it’s your turn, Tiffany,” Martin says.

“Okay,” Tiffany says. “Well…I really like fashion. I love all the imagination that goes into it. I thought that 3-D flower stuff they did a couple of years back where they sewed the middle of the blossom to the clothing but left the petals unattached was super cool. I totally loved how they popped out free of constraint.

“I always wanted to start my own fashion label. I’d like to call it Tiffany’s, but I can’t because, like duh, Tiffany’s. So, I was thinking something like Choquant. You know, a little flirty but kind of, I don’t know, suave.”

“Did you study fashion in college?” Reynolds asks.

“No, I got my degree in sociology. I’m saving money to go to design school.”

“Marvelous!” Windy says. “Sloan, it’s your turn.”

“I already know what Sloan likes,” Tiffany says. “Stalking.”

“I’m not a stalker,” Sloan says.

“What do you mean you’re not a stalker? You stalk me every night!”

“Is that true?” Windy asks Tiffany. “Because if it is I need you to come to my office tomorrow and file a report.”

“I am not a stalker,” Sloan says. “I’m just an accountant!”

“What do you like to do besides stalking, Sloan?” Windy asks.

Sloan rolls his eyes. “I like to read. I like to go to the library and check out a stack of books.”

“What type of books?” Martin asks.

“I always enjoy a good finance book, but I’ve been trying to branch out lately and read action novels.”

“Adams,” Windy says. “What do you do for fun?”

“Oh, gaming for sure,” Adams says.

“That’s obvious,” Sloan says rolling his eyes.

“What’s wrong with gaming?”

“Nothing. It’s just predictable you’re a gamer.”

“Well, it’s not the only thing I’m into. And I’ll bet you’ve done your fair share of gaming.”

“Some.”

“Do you like first person shooter games, RPG’s, sandbox, RTS?”

“I like Grand Theft Auto.”

“Oh…of course, you do.”

“Is that some sort of dis on my gaming taste?”

“No. I just thought you might have brought something interesting to the table.”

“Like Stalker Guy 3000,” Tiffany says.

“Honestly, Tiffany,” Sloan says turning towards her. “You need to stop taking this whole stalking thing personally.”

“You’re stalking me. So, yeah, I take that personally.”

“Well, from what I’ve found out about you, you’re painfully predictable.”

“What do you mean?”

“I could stop following you for an entire week and know exactly where you were at any given time.”

“That’s not true.”

“Do you have any idea how many young women want to be a fashion designer? Not to mention what a filthy business it is. Do you even have an inkling of how many tons of clothing get tossed into the garbage each year? Even Goodwill and the Salvation Army can’t keep up with fashion’s fickleness. Workers at those places walk down the clothing aisles every week checking labels and thinning out what didn’t sell. They take that unwanted fashion and dump it into a gigantic pile that gets a second life as rags guys use to clean their cars.”

Tiffany looks at him with doleful eyes. “You’re a real sweetheart. I wouldn’t talk if I were you. Sitting at your desk every day pushing numbers around for some…”

“Alright,” Windy says. “I think this conversation has gone off on a tangent. This is supposed to be an exercise to help us get to know one another, not tear each other down. Not to mention the focus was supposed to be on Adams.”

“Yeah,” Reynolds says. “You already had your turn, Sloan, so shut up.”

“Stay out of this,” Sloan snaps back. “You’re a custodian. Have you ever even done a team building exercise before?”

“Nobody wants you telling them their hobby is stupid. They just want to talk about what makes them happy. So, do us a favor, Sloan. Shut up and let Adams talk about how video games get his rocks off.”

“Well, I wouldn’t say they get my rocks off,” Adams said. “I just really dig playing them.”

“Mr. Reynolds,” Windy said. “Since you’ve been holding the floor, why don’t you share what your favorite past time is.”

Reynolds leans back in his chair, folds his hands and smiles.

MY BOOKS

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: THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN (2022)-HBO Max

This week’s pick is nominated for eight Golden Globes including Best Picture Musical/Comedy. Set in Ireland in 1923 right as the Irish Civil war is ending, the story is about two longtime friends Pádraic Súilleabháin (Golden Globe Nominee for Best Actor in a Comedy and New York Film Critic’s Best Actor recipient Colin Farrell) and Colm Doherty (Golden Globe Nominee for Best Supporting Actor Brendan Gleeson). One day violinist Colm decides he no longer wants to be friends with Pádraic which throws Pádraic for a loop. Pádraic, a simple man, discusses his befuddlement with his sister Siobhán Súilleabháin (Golden Globe Nominee for Best Supporting Actress Kerry Condon) the most intelligent person on their island, and young Dominic Kearney (Golden Globe Nominee for Best Supporting Actor Barry Keoghan) the least intelligent person on their island. When Colm tells Pádraic to stop bothering him and leave him alone or he will cut off one of his own fingers, Pádraic vows to mend their friendship by any means possible.

The film was written and directed by the very talented Martin McDonagh (Golden Globe Nominee for Best Screenplay and Best Director) known for his masterpiece Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri for which he rightly won the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay and most definitely should have won the Oscar as well. The Banshees of Inisherin is not quite as good as that one, but that’s a very high bar and McDonagh should take most of this year’s writing awards just the same. Please bear in mind though this is a dark comedy, with the emphasis on dark, and it has a haunting quality that stays with the viewer long after the film is finished. The movie is also nominated for Best Score for Carter Burwell’s clever soundtrack.  

Power Grid Failure Chapter Six

Good afternoon. It is I Gigi the parti poodle here to introduce chapter six of my story Power Grid Failure. The holidays are here and with them comes film awards season. The Golden Globe nominations came out this week and we are anxious to find out who will take home the statues. My novelist and I are excited to watch some of the releases which are available on streaming in the coming weeks. I love to cozy up with the Maltese as my footstool and take in a great story. Occasionally, I will wear a silk robe and sip Starbuck’s Cocoa when I partake of such activities but that is a subject for another day. Until then, here is Chapter Six of Power Grid Failure. Joyeux Noël!

Power Grid Failure

by

Gigi the parti poodle

Chapter Six

Windy returns from her office carrying a pair of sheers. “Here you go,” she says cheerily handing them to Adams.

“These are great,” Adams says taking them and cutting the end of the pen.

“This better work,” Sloan says. “I’m fiending for food.”

“What if it doesn’t?” Crystal asks.

“What do you mean?”

“What if the food doesn’t satiate you?”

“I’ll turn into a big harry monster.”

“Like a Muppet?”

“Are you plugged in? It’s an expression.”

“Oh.”

Sloan turns to Tiffany and mouths “Wow”.

Adams cuts the back of the pen into four sections. He slides the cut end into the lock with his right hand and holds it. He grabs the lock with his left hand and shakes it. “That’s it!” he says as the “wheel of death” pops open.

“Hand me that turkey sandwich on the hoagie roll,” Sloan says.

“Now, wait a minute,” Martin says. “We are going to ration this out properly in an orderly manner. Windy, you are the most socially adept person here. I say you do the rationing.”

“Why thank you, Martin!” Windy says. “This is going to be fun.”

“How does that transfer into her overseeing food?” Sloan asks. “And what makes you think Windy is the most socially adept person here anyway?”

You definitely aren’t,” Tiffany says.

Sloan looks at her shocked. “What do you mean?”

“You’re a jerk.”

“I’m not…I’m hungry and…under duress. And I’m worried about my poodle.”

“That’s not an excuse.”

“Windy,” Martin says. “Please commence.”

“Well, alright,” Windy says. “It looks like the machine is due for restocking. I thought they would have done it Friday…”

“They couldn’t,” Tiffany says. “The guy said all the vendors were having their annual holiday dinner party.”

“Oh, that’s right! Well…it looks like we have four sandwiches…some red delicious apples…a few hummus and pretzel packs and cracker and carrot packs…four milk cartons…no, wait…there’s a chocolate one as well so five milk cartons all together.”

“Thank you, Windy,” Martin says. “How shall we divide this?”

“I’m a vegetarian,” Tiffany says. “So, I would be happy with the hummus and pretzel pack and an apple.”

“Fabulous,” Windy says. “Is anyone else a vegetarian?”

“Are you kidding?” Sloan says. “I’m halfway to a carnivore.”

“That goes without saying,” Tiffany mumbles.

“Well,” Windy continues. “We have a roast beef sandwich, a turkey sandwich, a ham sandwich and a vegan meat sandwich.”

“Vegan meat,” Sloan scoffs. “What a complete waste of bread.”

“Perhaps you would like the roast beef?” Windy says.

“Exactly.”

“No,” Martin says. “He needs to find out if anyone else has a reason they can’t eat the chicken or pork.”

“I can’t eat pork,” Adams says.

“Why?”

“I don’t like it.”

“Anybody else?” Windy says.

Sloan really wants the roast beef sandwich. But he knows he’d seriously lose points with Tiffany if he takes it. “I’ll have the pork,” Sloan says. “Give Tech Guy here the roast beef.”

“Hold your horses there, pal,” Reynolds says. “I’m a carnivore too and I say I have just as much right to stake claim to that roast beef and ham as you do.”

“But you’re the janitor,” Adams says. “Don’t janitors always bring their own lunch?”

“Not necessarily. In fact, that burger place on the corner is open until one and I had planned to grab a bite from there tonight.”

“How much does a trip to that food cart cost you on average?” Sloan asks.

“I usually get the Mountain Meal.”

“What does that consist of?”

“A Mountain Burger, Fourteener Fries and a large Stardust Soda.”

“Do you buy dessert?”

“Sometimes I’ll get one of those Blueberry Mountain Pocket Pies.”

“Okay, so all together with tax what does that set you back?”

“What difference does any of this make?” Crystal asks.

“What do you mean, what difference does it make?” Sloan says. “It makes an enormous difference. Do you have a Mountain Man Meal Card, Reynolds?”

“Of course, I have a Mountain Man Meal Card,” Reynolds says. Everyone in their right mind has a Mountain Man Meal Card!”

“What is the importance of having a Mountain Man Meal Card?”

“Every eleventh Mountain Man Meal is free. And I mean a burger, fries, and a shake!”

“Look,” Martin says. “No one can get a Mountain Man Meal tonight. Now, let’s finish picking out what everyone wants so we can all eat.”

MY BOOKS

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: EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE (2022)-SHOWTIME

The Golden Globe nominations came out this week and to kick off the awards season I thought I would offer up some of the nominees that are available on streaming. Two weeks ago, I talked about the superb miniseries DahmerMonster: The Jeffery Dahmer Story which received four Golden Globe nominations including one for Evan Peters for his outstanding performance in the title role. This week I am going to focus on a film like none I have ever seen before. This is a fast paced, complex multi-verse story about a frustrated overworked middle-aged woman named Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) who runs a laundry mat with her mild-mannered husband Waymond Wang (Ke Huy Quan). They have a grown daughter named Joy (Stephanie Hsu) who Evelyn struggles to understand. And addiding additional stress to their lives is Joy’s grandfather Gong Gong (James Hong) who lives with the Wangs.

The laundry mat is being audited by IRS officer Deirdre Beaubeirdre (Jamie Lee Curtis) a frumpy grouchy woman who scrutinizes every detail about the Wang’s business. When the Wangs arrive at the IRS office for the audit, something unexpected occurs: Evelyn is visited by a different Waymond from another universe of many Evelyn could have lived.

This is a challenging, complex script that is a lot of fun albeit at times a little frenetic and not perhaps as deep as other unique scripts like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Truman Show, Memento or Donnie Darko but well worth the watch for its exploration of a subject rarely shown in film. The movie is nominated for six Golden Globes including Best Picture (Musical or Comedy), Best Actress (Musical or Comedy) for Michelle Yeoh, Best Supporting Actor for Ke Huy Quan, Best Supporting Actress for Jamie Lee Curtis, and Best Director and Best Script for the team of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert.   

Power Grid Failure Chapter Five

Good afternoon. Gigi the parti poodle here once again to introduce chapter five of my story Power Grid Failure. Today I am in desperate need of finding something to give my novelist for her birthday. I asked her what she wanted, and she told me my company. That is a lovely thing for her to say but I know she wants a gift. Something tangible. Humans are so difficult to get presents for. The Maltese is presenting her with a still wrapped Lindor ball he found behind the couch, but I know I must give her something better. I cannot be outdone by the Maltese. I did find a quarter out on the sidewalk during one of our walks and I believe if I were to polish it up a bit it might do. Humans like shiny things, do they not. It would be so much easier if I could just get approved for a credit card. And start a Roth IRA. And purchase stock in Chewy or as those in finance call it, CHWY. Anyway, here is chapter five of Power Grid Failure. Buon Natale!

Power Grid Failure

by

Gigi the parti poodle

Chapter Five

“Where do you follow me to?” Tiffany asks Sloan.

“I…well…we ride the same bus,” Sloan says.

“That can’t be right,” Windy says. “Sloan lives on the Eastside and Tiffany lives near the University.”

As soon as she says it, Windy realizes she’s blurted out more information than the company wanted her sharing with employees.

“Really?” Reynolds says amused. “I’ll bet you know a lot of things about our little motley crew. What about tech guy here? What can you tell me about him?”

Windy looks at Adams. “He’s part of our technology department.”

“And?”

“I’m HR. It’s my job to keep employees’ information private.”

“What about when you get home? What about when you go out with the girls? Do you keep the employees’ information private then?”

“Absolutely.”

“How about after you’ve ordered one of those tropical drinks with a chunk of pineapple and a maraschino cherry skewered with a paper umbrella?”

A now uncomfortable Windy says, “I keep this company’s employee information under lock and key.”

“Except when you go over to Mr. Peak’s house for a summer barbeque.”

“What are you talking about?”

“So, you didn’t tell Mr. Peak I had a criminal record?”

“Windy is the best HR representative this company has ever had,” Mr. Peak says suddenly feeling uncomfortable.

“That may be, but she still told you about my record.”

“What did you do?” Crystal asks.

All eyes turn and look at her.

Reynolds furrows his brow and says, “Let’s go get that vending machine open.”

The seven workers head into the breakroom where the Circle of Death stands still and unlit.

“How do you propose we go about breaking in?” Martin asks Reynolds.

“Brute force,” Reynolds says. “I could take a hammer and break each individual window.”

“I have a better idea,” Adams says.

“Okay, hot shot. What’s your plan?”

“Well, my friends and I use to have this tubular lock pick you can get at hardware stores. The picks have seven, eight and ten pick variations. We’d stick them into the lock and pop! The machine would open.”

“And then you’d steal the money.”

“No, we never stole the money out of the machines. That would be a crime.”

“Then why did you break into them?”

“Just to see if we could do it. But it will only work if the machine has a tubular lock.”

“So, you have these picks in your desk drawer then?”

“No, they’re back at my apartment.”

“Great,” Martin says. “Thanks for that. Reynolds, get the hammer.”

“No, wait. There’s another way. You can pop the lock using a pen instead. Provided it’s the right size to fit the lock. I think this is an old enough machine we can pop the lock.”

“Everyone head to your desks and bring this man back your pens,” Martin says.

“Guess you’re not the sharpest crayon in the box after all are you, Reynolds,” Sloan snarks.

Reynolds scoffs as he watches everyone except Adams leave the breakroom. “I’m a janitor,” he tells Adams. “I don’t have any pens.”

“That’s a brilliant idea Adams has,” Tiffany says to Sloan as they head to their desks.

Sloan scoffs and says, “It’s just some old college trick he and his nerd buddies came up with because they couldn’t get dates.”

“I think Adams is cute enough to get dates.”

“Cute? You think that dweeb is cute? He’s a creepy troll who crawls under desks.”

“At least he doesn’t stalk me.”

“Now, look,” Sloan says stopping. “This whole thing that weird janitor was talking about is totally overblown.”

“How far do you follow me out every night?”

“We both head in the same direction to the bus tunnel and catch our rides.”

“I’ve seen you on my bus.”

“On your bus?”

“Windy said you live on the Eastside. Why would you get on my bus which never goes to the Eastside if you live on the Eastside?”

“I…we need to find those pens,” Sloan says then scurries over to his desk.

Crystal rifles through the pens in her large coffee mug. The mug is robin’s egg blue with bright pink flamingos all over it. Despite its appealing appearance it looks out of place in the dreary business building.

Crystal has several types of pens for her work. She’s especially fond of worker pens from Germany that flow smoothly when she writes. But she keeps a stash of ordinary Bic ballpoint pens. She’s certain the type of pen Adams needs to open the lock is not a high-tech one. Grabbing her writing instruments, she hurries back to the breakroom.

Windy enters the breakroom with a bouquet of pens in a kaleidoscope of colors. Mr. Peak who rarely uses pens these days and instead tasks Tiffany with typing texts and emails knows he cannot come back emptyhanded. He opens the top drawer of his desk, scans what he has and grabs a couple stray pens before heading to the break room.

“Alright,” Adams says after everyone returns. “Let’s see what we’ve got. Everyone put your pens on the table here.”

All the employees lay out their pen collections on the breakroom table. Adams starts rummaging through them.

“If you know how to open a vending machine with a pen,” Crystal says, “don’t you keep the perfect sized pen in your own desk drawer?”

“I used to,” Adams says, “but since the company provides us pens, I figured I’d save money and took mine home.”

“Well, that sucks,” Sloan says.

“Yeah. The company pens are too thick to fit the lock and by looking at the table here, most of you had the same idea.”

“But they aren’t all company pens,” Martin says. Isn’t there something here that will work?”

Adams puts his hands on his hips. “Maybe this one,” he says picking up Crystal’s Bic disposable ball point pen with a removable cap. “I’m going to have to cut the head off and take out the ink tube. Is that okay?”

“It doesn’t mean anything to me,” Crystal says.

“Okay, good. I need a sharp pair of scissors.”

“I have some in my office,” Windy says heading out.

“What if this doesn’t work,” Sloan says.

“Well,” Adams says, “I guess we’re going to have to find out.”

MY BOOKS

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: SLALOM (2020)-Showtime

A few weeks back, I recommended the 1988 film The Accused over Luckiest Girl Alive. This week I thought I’d recommend another movie dealing with similar subject matter, a tense intimate French film called Slalom. Written by Charlène Favier and Marie Talon and directed by Favier, the story is set in an elite ski club in the French Alps. Fifteen-year-old Lyz (Noée Abita in a luminous performance), a naturally talented skier who has been accepted to the prestigious ski club. Her mother Catherine (Muriel Combeau) who doesn’t truly understand her daughter’s passion for the sport has taken a job and cannot stay or visit the club often leaving Lyz on her own. Though not as experienced a skier as the other young hopefuls, Lyz is tenacious and hard working. This does not go unnoticed by the club’s lead coach Fred (Jérémie Renier) a charismatic but predatory man in his early forties who slowly grooms Lyz to be as much a champion like he once was as a victim. The film is reminiscent of the US Gymnastic team scandal touching on not only the physical and mental pressure put on young star athletes by temperamental coaches but also the devastation of sexual misconduct. I also found this article written by a former swimmer who in the 1960’s experienced firsthand the torture of narcissistic coaches: I was a teenage swimmer. It took me decades to admit my coach was abusive

Power Grid Failure Chapter Four

Good afternoon. It is I Gigi the parti poodle here to introduce chapter four of my story Power Grid Failure. It has been a snowy couple of days here. Snow always confuses me when I have to go out in it. I cannot smell things in the manner I am used to and the ground is cold and wet. Today it was frozen snow so it was slippery too. I am rather fond of running in it when it is powdery but this was an all around miserable experience. I will say I had a rather pleasant Black Friday weekend. I am not allowed to have a credit card or a debit card for that matter being a poodle and all though this lucky one did. Someday I will find a loophole and go on a grand shopping spree. My novelist may balk at the idea. But I think I would be excellent with credit. I would pay off my bill every month. I would only shop for what I needed at All the Best, Sellwood, Chewy, PetCo, PetSmart, and Tiffany’s. I am rather frugal you see. And now here is chapter four of Power Grid Failure. Happy Holidays!

Power Grid Failure

by

Gigi the parti poodle

Chapter Four

“Okay,” Reynolds says returning to the elevators. “I’m going to stick this drop elevator key into that hole in the upper right hand part of the door there. You know, the one that looks like the circumference of a small dowl.”

“Oh, I see it,” Tiffany says.

“I never knew that was what it was for,” Adams says.

“Yeah, that’s what it’s for,” Reynolds says. “Okay then, I’m going to turn it and this knuckle thing is going to drop at a forty-five degree angle and disengage the door on the other side. Then we can spread these doors apart.”

“We?” Sloan says.

“The elevator drop key will stop the mechanism inside and cause the doors to open. Best part is it sounds like the car didn’t go anywhere so they should be able to just walk out. You okay in there, Windy?”

“Oh, yes,” Windy replies. “Marty and I are okay.”

“Don’t call me Marty,” Martin growls.

“It’s just dark,” Windy tells Reynolds. “Very dark.”

“Well, it’s pretty dark out here too,” Reynolds says. “I mean we’ve got windows all around so that helps. And I am wearing a headlamp so I can see. So, we have some light…how you doing, Mr. Peak?”

“I’d be a heck of a lot better if you would just get us out of here,” Martin growls.

Reynolds turns to Crystal and mouths, “Grouch.” Crystal furrows her brow and attempts to smile.

“Okay, well, lets give this a go.”

Reynolds reaches up and sticks the elevator drop key into the hole on the top front of the right-hand door. He turns the key clockwise and everyone hears a click. The doors come apart and Mr. Peak and Windy hurry out.

“Oh, my goodness,” Windy says with a sheepish smile. “I thought Martin and I were going to be stuck in there for days.” Then she looks at Reynolds and says, “Thank you very much. It’s good to know we have custodial workers on staff who are also trained in maintanance.

“Well, I’m the only custodian here who’s trained in maintanance so…”

“I will start encouraging the hiring of more workers with your skill set.”

Reynolds smiles, turns to Crystal and winks. Crystal gets a perplexed look on her face. 

“Alright,” Martin says straightening his jacket and assuming the role of comander. “Let’s make sure this is everyone: Windy, Tiffany, Sloan, Adams, Crystal and…Reynolds.” He says Reynolds name with distane.

“The situation is,” Reynolds says, “that the doors in the building are locked and no one can get in or out. It’s mostly so no one can get in and loot the place.”

“Great,” Sloan says. “I have a desperate poodle waiting for me at home you know. She’s utterly neurotic.”

“She’ll be fine,” Windy says. “Poodles are bright dogs. She’ll find a way to get through the night without you.”

“Lucky poodle,” Crystal mutters.

“So, it looks like we’re all in this together until they get the power back on,” Martin says.

“I’m getting hungry,” Tiffany says.

“It’s only six-fifteen.”

“I only had yogurt for lunch.”

“The cafeteria is closed so we’ll have to come up with a different idea.”

“The wheel of death,” Reynolds says.

“The what?” Sloan says.

“That cylindrical carousel thing in the breakroom with all the sandwiches and mini pizzas and Hot Pockets.”

“You call that thing the “wheel of death”?”

“Everything in it is garbage.”

“Well I can’t argue that.”

“But it runs on electricity,” Crystal says.

“True. But if we break the sliding windows we could get the food out.”

“I am not eating some half-thawed pizza from a vending machine,” Sloan says.

“Well, it’s either we eat something lousy or eat nothing and starve,” Reynolds says. “There’s not a lot of options here and I for one would like sustanance.”

“I think the gigantic elephand in the room,” Martin says, “is we’re not taking into consideration how much this vending machine costs if we break it.”

“But almost no one buys anything from it,” Sloan says.

“That’s not the point,” Reynolds says. “The point is we need to eat and that machine has food. If we don’t find a way to get it open we’re all going to be miserable.”

“I am feeling a bit peckish myself,” Windy says.

“How exactly are we going to get into that machine,” Tiffany asks. “How to you intend to break the windows?”

“I am willing to bet our janitor/maintanance friend here has a marvelous idea.”

“Since we’re all going to be spending the night together,” Reynolds says, “before we break the machine open and break bread we should get to know each other’s names. I’m Reynolds, by the way.”

Reynolds looks at Tiffany who looks back at him with wide eyes not really wanting to share that information.

“And,” Reynolds says continuing, “I know the big executive’s name here is Mr. Martin Peak. He seems to know all your names but I don’t.”

“Watch it, Reynolds,” Martin says. “You’re treading on thin ice.”

“You two know each other,” Sloan says surprised. “Like on a first name basis?”

“We’ve met,” Martin says stiffly.

“How?”

“That’s none of your business.”

Reynolds turns to Tiffany. “So, who do you know here?”

“I know Mr. Peak,” Tiffany replies.

“What’s this guy’s name?” he asks pointing at Sloan.

“Sloan.”

“How do you know that?”

“He’s our accountant.”

“What else do you know about him?”

“Nothing really.”

“That’s interesting because I’ll bet he knows a few things about you.”

Tiffany looks at Stone then back at Reynolds. “What do you mean exactly?”

“Get to the point,” Sloan says, red rising in his face.

“The point is,” Reynolds says to Tiffany, “Sloan here waits for you to leave every night and follows you out.”

“You follow me out?” Tiffany says to Sloan.

“Like clockwork,” Reynolds says.

“Everyone leaves around the same time,” Sloan snaps.

“He could have left earlier this evening,” Reynolds says. “But he saw tech guy here fixing your computer so he sat back down and waited until you got up to go. Then he followed you out.”

MY BOOKS

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: DAHMER-MONSTER: THE JEFFERY DAHMER STORY-NETFLIX

This week’s pick is one of the best pieces of filmmaking of 2022. Harrowing, tense and unflinching, this ten-episode Netflix miniseries is an absolute must see. It tells the story of infamous serial killer Jeffery Dahmer (Even Peters in a brilliant career best performance) from his troubled childhood and teenage years to his chilling metamorphosis into one of the most horrific serial killers in American history. Dahmer had a 145 IQ, was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder, and psychosis. There is a likelihood he was a psychopath but because FMRI technology was not used on him, nor was he given a genetic test for alleles and his brain was cremated after a civil trial between his parents where his father won the case so that any postmortem testing that might be available in the future cannot be done, we will never know for sure. It is one of the only times in the entire series where Jefferey’s mother is shown to be correct.    

Jefferey’s mother Joyce Dahmer (Penelope Ann Miller) suffered from severe mental illness. His father Lionel Dahmer (fantastically played by Richard Jenkins) was an analytical chemist. A genetic recipe for disaster although their second son turned out normal. His father taught Jeffery at an early age to dissect roadkill which he did in the hopes that his son would share the same love of science he did. But unfortunately, it became a morbid fascination for Jefferey. Jefferey also became an alcoholic (which is common with people with HSS, one of the six alleles associated with psychopathy) and would drink alcohol openly in his high school classes. After flunking out of college because of his excessive drinking his father forced him to join the military and Jeffery’s drinking got him dishonorably discharged from there as well. Jeffery killed his first victim Steven Mark Hicks (Cameron Cowperthwaite), a young man looking for a ride to a Sweetwater concert, three weeks after his high school graduation. At the time, Dahmer’s father had left the family for his new wife Shari Dahmer (Molly Ringwald) and his mother took Jeffery’s younger brother and went off to chase UFOs leaving Jeffery in the house alone.

After his son’s dishonorable discharge, Lionel, frustrated and at a loss as to what to do sent Jeffery to move in with his grandmother Catherine Dahmer (Michael Learned), the only member of the family Jeffery seemed to show affection for. She was a Christian woman who tried to help her grandson find faith. Unfortunately, Dahmer ended up picking up men in bars and murdering them in her basement instead.

After moving out of his grandmother’s house Dahmer took up residence at Oxford Apartments where a brave and tenacious tenant named Glenda Cleveland (wonderfully played by Niecy Nash) starts hearing disturbing noises and smelling vile odors at the apartment building. Glenda begins a long and exhaustive journey repeatedly calling and reporting to the police trying to get them to investigate the odd happenings she keeps witnessing involving Jefferey, including trying to save fourteen-year-old Somsack Sinthasomphone (Braydon Maniago) from his impending doom.

One of the most fascinating facts of Dahmer’s life that is shown in the series was that when he was in prison, he chose to get baptized. Oddly the day of his baptism occurred on the same day as John Wayne Gacy was euthanized and a solar eclipse occurred.

Power Grid Failure Chapter Three

Good afternoon and Happy Thanksgiving! It is I Gigi the parti poodle here to introduce the third chapter of my story Power Grid Failure. This week the person who is known as Him is cooking Thanksgiving dinner.

Yes. We are having Vick’s VapoRub Turkey.

Yes, we are having a lovely…what?

We are having Vick’s VapoRub Turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. I am very excited.

No, you insipid Maltese. That is most definitely not what we are having for Thanksgiving dinner.

It is this year’s hottest recipe. I saw it on Tik Tok.

Are you mad?!

No. I rubbed Vick’s VapoRub all over the turkey early this morning.

You what?!

Him is just about to put it in the oven. I can smell the delicious fumes from here. I am breathing very, very well.

We’ve got to wash it off! How…why…I don’t even what to know! Hurry! Good grief! How am I supposed to enjoy a wonderful meal and watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving now?! I must rush off but before I go here is chapter three of Power Grid Failure. Adieu!

Power Grid Failure

by

Gigi the parti poodle

Chapter Three

“Do you think we’re trapped in here?” Windy asks Martin as they stand inside the dark unmoving elevator car.

“Try the emergency button again,” Martin says.

Windy tries pushing the large red button for the fifth time. “It’s hopeless. We’re stuck in here, Marty.”

“Don’t call me Marty. Only my wife calls me Marty and I hate it.”

“I’m sorry, but I don’t see a way out of here.”

“We’ll do like they do in the movies. I’ll open the ceiling, climb up on top and look around.”

“Don’t people end up falling that way?”

“Only bad guys. I’m a good guy.”

“I’m not sure that makes sense…”

“Of course, it makes sense. I’ll get up there and survey the situation.”

“Honestly, Martin. You’re afraid of heights.”

“Where did you get that idea?”

“It’s in your files.”

“You went looking through my personal files?”

“I’m an HR representative. It’s my job.”

“Just get ready to hoist me up, will you?”

“I genuinely don’t believe this will work.”

Mr. Peak takes off his wool blazer and loosens his tie. “Okay, now make a step with your hands like this,” he demonstrates lacing the fingers of his hands together. “I’m going to put my foot right there and hoist myself up to the ceiling, shove it aside and pull myself up.”

“What if your weight breaks the cables and we go plummeting to our death?”

“Good grief, we’re not going to plumet to our deaths, Windy. I’m going to have a look around and see if I can find a way to get us out.”

“Do you think you’ll be able to see?”

“Of course, I’ll be able to see.”

“But there’s no light in here. What if there’s no light out there?”

“The emergency lights should be switched on by now.”

Windy shakes her head and hums skeptically. “I will help you do this, Martin. But after you’re up there, I’m going to bang on the doors to see if anyone can hear us.”

Martin sighs and shakes his head. “Fine. Just help me up.”

Windy attempts to get as wide a stance as she can in her restrictive pencil skirt. She bends her knees for support and Martin puts his right foot on her hands and pushes with his left. He reaches for the ceiling and suddenly notices he cannot open the top.

“What’s the matter?” Windy asks.

“I can’t open it.”

“Why?”

“It doesn’t open.”

“You know, I have a nephew who works for the fire department. I think I remember him saying they don’t have elevator ceilings that passengers can open anymore.”

“Why?”

“Well, I think he said so people can’t get on top of an elevator and fall. The only way to open the top of an elevator is by a key only firefighters have.”

“Blast!”

“Come down here, Martin.”

Martin steps down off her hands.

“Let’s try knocking on the doors and see if someone can hear us and get us out.”

Martin sighs and nods his head. They start pounding on the elevator doors.

“You seriously play Dungeons and Dragons?” Sloan asks Adams.

“What’s your hobby?” Tiffany asks Sloan.

“I play racquetball.”

“You…really?” Adams says.

“What?”

“Well…you don’t look like you’re in all that great of shape.”

Tiffany’s eyes widened, surprised at Adam’s candor. She snorts despite herself. 

Sloan turns red and takes a step into Adams. “For your information, I play racquetball at my apartment complex five times a week.”

“Do they have weights at your apartment complex because those are great for building muscle.”

“I wouldn’t talk if I were you, D&D boy. You aren’t exactly winning any Mr. Universe contests.”

“You know, maybe we should go and see what that tech writer and janitor guy are doing.”

“Fine. Let’s go.”

“I’m going to try and open the doors,” Reynolds says to the elevator.

“What?” Windy says on the other side.

“The janitor is going to try and open the doors,” Crystal says to the elevator a little louder than Reynolds.

“He’s a janitor,” Windy says. “He’s not maintenance.”

“Look, lady,” Reynolds says to Windy. “I used to work in maintenance at one point so give me a chance here.”

“Can’t someone call maintenance?”

“She already tried. No one is picking up.”

“Try again.”

“I’m going to get a couple of tools.”

Inside the elevator Windy turns to Martin and says, “They’re going to get us out.”

“I heard,” Martin says. “How?”

“The janitor says he used to work in maintenance.”

“People say a lot of things. Just because he says he worked in maintenance doesn’t mean it’s true.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that, Martin.”

“That’s why you work in HR.”

“What if he screws up and makes it worse?”

“I…have faith in him.”

Martin rolls his eyes. “Of course, you do.”

Strapping on his headlamp, Reynolds takes the stairwell down to the floor where the maintenance office is. The emergency lights light the way. Being a custodian gives Reynolds the keys to almost every room in the building. And that includes maintenance.

If one were to think about it this gave Reynolds a lot of power. And if one were to be honest it would not be the first time Reynolds has taken advantage of said power. He opens the stairwell door and heads over to where maintenance is located. He grabs his keycard on his retractable cord and unlocks the door. But once he’s inside finding the tools is another thing all together. He needs a drop key to get the loading system to open the doors. A drop key is a half a foot long metal dowl with a long flat metal knuckle on the end. Not a sophisticated tool but a necessity just the same.

Reynolds doesn’t mind rescuing Windy from the elevator, but he and Mr. Peak have history. It is tempting to just leave Peak in there, Reynolds thinks, but keeping the guy stuck in an elevator shaft isn’t the way to build back any bridges.

Reynolds starts searching on the shelves against the wall. They must keep it in here somewhere. He sees a strongbox on the top shelf. He grabs a Little Giant step ladder that’s leaning against the wall, opens it, and climbs up. Of course, when he checks the strongbox, it’s locked.

“Great,” Reynolds says. “Thanks guys.”

This of course means two things. Either he can try and figure out the code or he can break open the box. If he tries to come up with the combination for the lock, that could take a whole lot of patients and time, neither of which he has right now. There are four dials on the thing, and he’d have to get them all right. Prying the thing open sounds good to Reynolds.

He starts searching around for something to wedge between the box and the lid. But apparently, maintenance doesn’t like leaving crowbars hanging around. The room is well organized so if they wanted to keep crowbars in plain view they would have. But Reynolds is sure they keep them out of sight so employees can’t come in and borrow one to use on an annoying coworker.

Against one of the walls there’s a steel cabinet where every door had a combination lock. Beside that there’s a cabinet with a heavy metal mesh front. Aiming his headlamp straight inside he sees a couple of crowbars leaning up against the corner.

“Great,” he says. “Just great.”

Reynolds plops down in one of the maintenance chairs and stares at the locked-up tools. After a minute he picks up the strong box and sets it on the desk in front of him. He looks at the four numbers the lock is set on: 7392. He tries to open it on that setting but just as he figured it’s not the right combination. He sighs and with his thumb turns all four numbers to zero. He turns the first number to one and tries the lock. Then he turns the first number back to zero and the second number to one and tries the lock.

MY BOOKS

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: FREE GUY (2021)-HBO Max

October, November, and December are usually the months when the best and the brightest films of the year make their public debut. These are often serious films determined to make their way into the minds of Oscar voters. But after a big thanksgiving dinner they are probably not the movies most folks want to sit down and watch. During the holiday most people want something solidly written and entertaining which is why this week, before the slew of heavy stories, I’m recommending this one.

Guy (Ryan Reynolds) is a bank teller living a normal everyday life…except he’s not. His bank often gets robbed, there are shootouts and car chases in the streets, and he obsesses over a mysterious young woman named MolotovGirl whom he passes on the street every day. He first notices her when he hears her singing the song “Fantasy” which happens to be his favorite tune. It turns out Guy is an NPC (non-player character) in a video game named Free City, a highly popular multi-player game owned by Antwan (Taika Waititi) an unpleasant eccentric tech mogul and CEO of Soonami Studios who owns the game. Young game creators Keys (Joe Keery) and Millie (Jodie Comer) believe Antwan stole the code from their original game called Life Itself, a sandbox game which integrated a unique artificial intelligence programing into its NPCs. Millie plays the game on a regular basis trying to prove their code was stolen while Keys reluctantly holds a tech support job for Soonami Studios.

One day Guy takes advantage of his free will and confiscates a weapon from a bank robber (a real player) against the warnings of his best friend Buddy (Lil Rel Howery) a security guard. Guy shoots the robber and takes his glasses which allow Guy to view Free City as if he were one of the real players and begins his journey as a gamer.