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Jeremy's Ramblings, Babblings, and Other Pretentious Bullshit.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
 
It’s been a very long time since I’ve written anything blog-wise (I know I still need to talk about the rest of the Young Playwrights Festival shows), and I wanted to wait even longer before putting anything down (hell, right now I wish I were asleep), but something has been bothering me for the past couple days, and I need to get it out:

As some of you may or may not know, I was asked by the Maverick Theater to write “Godzilla - The Musical” which, due to legal reasons, was turned into “Giant Green Lizard - The Musical”. The show opened this past weekend, the first of its seven-week run. It’s a huge spectacle of a show, employing a dozen original songs, two theaters and - in the second act - a miniature scale set of Tokyo which gets destroyed every night as a man in a lizard suit stomps around it. It’s very funny, and you will definitely get your admission’s worth out of it.

However, there are things that have emerged in the show that are offensive to the Japanese culture. I am not one who is a firm believer in being politically correct all the time. I quote “Avenue Q”: Everyone’s a little bit racist. And yet several of the laughs to be had in this show are easy laughs at the expense of a careless, lazy stereotype. If you leave the theater feeling uncomfortable (like some of my friends) or just plain wondering if I’m racist (like my mom), know that you’re not alone. Since the theater already put their own disclaimer on the postcards (“If you come expecting a play with substance, you won’t get your money back”), I offer my own words as to why a seemingly harmless show can seem so hurtful.

Before proceeding, I feel inclined to say that “Giant Green Lizard - The Musical” is, first and foremost, a piece of entertainment, meant to amuse. When I was asked to write it, it was to be understood that this was something to make audiences laugh and cheer, a spectacle as never before seen on a storefront theater stage. It was never meant as a show that someone could read into or pull special meanings from. Being a writer who naturally feels the need to provoke an audience into thinking about whatever happens to be on my mind, I found the prospect of writing something purely for the entertainment value an interesting experiement.

However, despite the insistence from the theater that the show is lighter than Ready-Whip on the moon, there is an undercurrent - albeit rather mild and not at all groundbreaking - that seeps through the piece. It is about the stereotypes we give each other. The “Godzilla” movies are firmly rooted in post-WWII Japan, when nuclear radiation was still in the air and paranoia about mass destruction ran rampant. Just like natural disaster movies in a time of war, “Godzilla” faced a society’s fears in a way that they could tolerate, through rubbery costumes and cheap special effects. And when the films came to America, they presented the Japanese culture - already a tarnished image - as a group of cowards, screaming and running at some cheesy being, while the noble American Raymond Burr came to save the day.

At the beginning of “Giant Green Lizard”, a rude American man by the name of Kevin sings a song called “Tokyo Baby”, which takes after certain naïvely prejudiced rock songs of the 1950’s. During that time, it was not unusual to hear Elvis singing, “A hard-headed woman is a thorn in the side of a man,” or to hear The Beach Boys using stereotypical Indian war cries as back-up for “Ten Little Indians”. Afterward, one of the Japanese characters, Toji-San, notes the offensiveness of the song, which Kevin shrugs off.

What takes place throughout the rest of the act is a small culture war, as Kevin and Toji-San criticize each other’s cultures. While everyone else seems to respect their surroundings (the Japanese characters speak English while in Tokyo’s only American-style karaoke bar, and - in a nice directorial touch - the American characters wear clothes that show a tourist’s fascination with Japan), Kevin and Toji-San repeatedly butt heads on the subject of food, myth and music (later, Toji-San launches into a one-man hoedown, joking that he is performing “a true American song”).

Then, disaster strikes, and for the second act, the two cultures come together. They unite forces to help the giant green lizard take down the monster that is ravaging Tokyo (on a set that is truly amazing). Working together, they all help save the day, and sing a song in which they celebrate their respective cultures (with references to Buddha and Tom Hanks). The last line of the show, which is sung, is “God Bless the U.S.A. and Tokyo”, complete with Japanese and American flags flying down. As intentionally cheesy and faux patriotic as the whole thing is, there is a reason for it all.

However, working on a show of this immense caliber - especially when time and money are limited - means that you are working on small details. As a result, characters did not get completely developed and themes were not fully explored. And while the American characters end up looking - for the most part - noble and courageous, the Japanese characters can seem like goofy, dense caricatures. What was meant to be an understanding of cultures has turned into a one-sided parody of a race of people.

Should you still see “Giant Green Lizard”? Certainly. The cast works hard and sounds great (Nick McGee and Enrique Munoz battling over Tokyo is one of the most enjoyable things I’ve seen in a while), the look of the show is unparalleled in Orange County storefront theater and there’s a lot of very funny stuff in it. However, I ask that you look past the accents and the stereotypical behaviors and listen to what the characters are saying - sometimes singing - to each other (I also recommend not bringing children to the show, despite the postcard’s insistence that it is for “10 & Over”. There is scary imagery, mild language and a lot of sexual innuendo. It’s more appropriate for teenagers and adults).

Anyway, “Giant Green Lizard - The Musical” plays through September 10th, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 3 p.m. It is $18 and plays at the beautiful Maverick Theater, 110 E. Walnut St., Fullerton, CA.

Friday, June 09, 2006
 

Fueled by an anonymous comment left on my blog, I have decided to write a new entry (for the three of you who care). This anonymous person expressed the wish that I comment on the Blank Theatre's Young Playwrights Festival. I'm not sure what relation they have to the festival, or why they so desperately wish to hear my thoughts on the subject, but whatev's. Since I have no new blogs of my own in me (I'm writing like a mofo...and mofo's write like...well, people that write a lot), why don't I comment on the teenage-written shows I've seen this month?

Okay, so last weekend was the first week of the Young Playwrights Festival. For those of you who don't know, The Blank Theatre puts out a call to the teenage playwrights of America and asks them to send their plays. Then they choose the twelve shining stars and stage them. I was first involved in the festival when they staged my play "Algor Mortis" in 2002.

This year, for the second time, I was on the Selection Committee. This means I read a buttload of scripts and helped choose the ones that I felt were the finest pieces of theatre. In amongst the high school comedies and "overbearing parent" dramas, there were many beautiful, funny, thought-provoking scripts that showed talent beyond the ages of their writers. And while none of them reached the sublime level of Yelena Moskovich's "The Sandwich Conscience" (a winner from two years ago, one of the finest one-acts I've ever read or seen), there were some real winners.

The first week saw an unusually good week for the Young Playwrights Festival, with two very promising voices. But first, we'll talk about Matt Grossman's "To Albany!" Grossman is a 14-year-old from New York City who wrote a political comedy about a doofus running for State Senator, and the doofus that covers his campaign. For being 14, Grossman shows some promise of being a good sitcom writer. It was nice to have a comedy with some intelligence behind it, even if the production went for the easy joke.

The second show of the week was the highlight. Jessica Juhrend is a home-school 16-year-old from South Dakota whose "Restless Peace" was a highlight of the 2004 festival. Her submission this year was "American Cheese", and judging by these two scripts, she has an incredible future in writing. This play centered around a father having three conversations with her daughter (who ages from 10 to 15 to 20), all while making a sandwich (what is with the sandwich-making plays at the YPF being so damn good?). The characters were exceedingly well-drawn, their dialogue was witty while staying grounded (VERY difficult to do), the cast was near-flawless and the direction was mostly tight (the choice of song and the overlong game of Tag were iffy, but those are minor complaints). Juhrend joins the ranks of Tessa Leigh Williams and Kit Steinkellner as emerging female playwrights to watch.

The third show was my favorite script in the festival, and as will sometimes be the case with the YPF, the production couldn't match it. The play was called "Noel" by Lisa Meyers. It was a beautiful, whimsical, original work that, through rewrites, miscasting and some funky direction, lost a bit of its edge. Suddenly, the magical world that Meyers had created was given some misguided parallels to "It's a Wonderful Life" and "A Christmas Carol", and the frenetic sense of a world in which anything can and will happen was not fully realized. Still, it retained a lot of its heart, power and beauty.

Next week will bring us Justin Kuritzkes' "Death and Taxes" (a charming comedy from a 15-year-old), "Jane Err" by Erica Drennan & Hannah Dean (a spoof of "Jane Eyre") and Erica Richardson's "Wasp" (one of the finest scripts in the bunch). You'll be hearing about these three in the next week.

Oh, and I'd also like to take this moment to applaud the incredible scripts that ended up not making it in the festival. There was Eric Levitz's "Penny", whose level of comic absurdity reached a climax with the lead character's father bloodied and having accidentally killed a truck filled with puppies. 13-year-old Kate Bethany Herzlin's "Happy Birthday To You" was a very promising 9/11 drama that had some really interesting ideas. Both Max Cuddy's "Getting Free" and Amy Claussen's "Remains" were very powerful scripts that unfortunately needed a great deal of cutting. And the saddest omission in this year's festival is Lucas Levya's "Death on Flagler". The dark comedy centered around two men selling hot dogs on a Miami street, when suddenly a buffalo collapses in front of them. It was quirky, witty and took a surprising twist. Levya is a promising voice whose work unfortunately goes over some people's heads. I'd love to read more of his work.

Viva la YPF!!!


Tuesday, April 18, 2006
 

So, for the first time since 1997, the Pulitzer Prize committee chose not to award a Prize for Drama. Christopher Durang's "Miss Witherspoon", Rolin Jones' "The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow" and Adam Rapp's "Red Light Winter" were all finalists, but none were considered worthy enough to award $10,000.

Granted, the eligibility period this year was only for nine months as opposed to the usual full year (which cut David Lindsay-Abaire's "Rabbit Hole", a clear favorite, out of the running). But it's also saying something that there wasn't a significant American play to open in the nine-month period. At this point, your eyes should be glazing over and your head should be nodding, despite the intensity and excitement from the rough-and-tumble world of Pulitzer eligibility.
Hmm, $10,000. Sounds nice.

So, this past week, I participated in a series of poetry readings at the Hunger Artists theatre. It is in celebration of National Poetry Month (since every month is officialy National *PUT CELEBRATORY THING HERE* Month, I'm going to make a National Gable Month. Perhaps May). I found a Robert Frost piece that I liked, and my sis found a great Billy Collins poem about having a hangover that she asked me to read.

Not having been a particular fan of poetry for, oh let's say, twenty-four years, I was surprised to find how much I connected to several of the pieces.

There was a Hans Ostrom piece about Elvis Presley and Emily Dickinson hanging out in Heaven together. There was a poem about marriage in which the protagonist spoke in random word pairings like "Christmas Teeth! Radio Belly! Penguin Dust!" There was another Billy Collins piece about the popular fads of past centuries (such as the popular game Find the Cow). There was a great Henry Rollins poem that says the word love "gets raped in the ass by a thousand convicts before it reaches what I feel for you", and ends by saying, "I wish I could sing like that guy from Boston. They rock like fuck!" And there were two fantastic original poems from our Company Manager Emily Brauer-Rogers and my sister (I'm leaving out Kelly Flynn's readings of vampire poetry and a piece by Jewel because, though his readings were quite inspired, the source material blew).

In fact, I found myself so inspired that the last night of the readings, I recited a little piece I had written a few hours before:


DEBRA MESSING'S SHOPPING LIST
by Jeremy Gable

Buttermilk
Pumpkin pie filling
Turkey breast (ULTRA Thin Sliced)
Sandals
SOS pads
Happiness
Massengill
Shasta Cola
Peanut butter (LOTS of peanut butter)
Someone who will love me for what I hide, instead of what I convey
DVD Copy of "The Wedding Date"
Tillamook cheddar cheese
Some kind of significant acting award
Pears
Swedish Fish (two bags)
Sunny D
O.J.
The Purple Stuff
To never be referred to ever again as Grace
A goldfish named Oliver Clozoff
Vicodin
Lettuce
Boo Berry Crunch (if not available - Cookie Crisp)
The ability to make my fans cry
The ability to make those I love smile
Napkins
A significant acting gig for my husband, not just guest spots on “Ned & Stacey”
To be one of the 50 Most Beautiful People again
To walk into a press junket and speak only in flag signals
To be with the one I truly love, Bebe Neuwirth
To tell Annette Bening to her face that “The Cherry Orchard” sucked and she sucked in it
To stop doing voice-overs
To make my little boy want to be with his mommy
To go back to the days when I was doing productions of “Angels in America”
To be truly, truly loved
Paper plates

And get it right this time, Rosita. I’m not paying you to buy Malt-O-Meal.


And on a final note, I am currently watching old episodes of the greatest robot daughter sitcom to come out of the '80's, "Small Wonder". YouTube rocks!


Monday, April 03, 2006
 
Boy, it's been a long while since I wrote one of these, hasn't it? Let me just dust off the keyboard here and...

So, hi everybody! What brought me back into the atmosphere of blogging (or "blogosphere" as I've heard one too many times)? The fact that yesterday, I was accused of aiding terrorists! WHOOPEE!!!

Right now, the hot button issue (especially in the wonderful world of Southern California) is illegal immigration. There's a new bill in legislation, and it's causing quite a stir. Should illegal immigration be a felony? Is it too harsh of a bill? Should we send them all packing back to Mexico or should we work to make them citizens?

Yesterday, Brey and I get into a discussion with someone about this particular issue (which we are, admittedly, not as knowledgeable and passionate about as we probably should be). The discussion quickly escalates into a debate, and finally turns into us just trying to figure out what this woman's argument is.

Here is the basis of her argument: "I am against illegal immigration, but I find the bill to be too harsh." Fine. That sounds fair. It seems like this discussion is going to be a breeze.

But then she pulls this: "What I hate is that I lose jobs because I'm not bilingual. I don't think it's fair that I'm losing jobs to people that refuse to speak English."

Now read those two sentences again. Once more, just for effect. You spot the inconsistency, don't you? So did everyone else in the room...except for her. No matter how many times we pointed out that to be bilingual you had to learn English, she was convinced that her way of thinking was quite clear and to the point.

Then the rest of her arguments are just an array of contradictions: America should be a mix of cultures, but all signs should be printed in English. You can speak your own language, but you have to speak English. Mexican immigrants are welcome, but they need to respect our country and follow the Caucasian language and culture. She cannot learn Spanish (because she apparently can't roll her r's), but it's impossible for someone from Mexico to have trouble learning English. It's a mix of what she really feels (Speak English, motherfucker!), and what she thinks she should say to us (Not that I hate Mexicans or anything...).

After refusing to accept that the Spanish language is not an illegal immigration problem (I'd blame that on living two hours away from Mexico), that forcing English on every citizen is a violation of the First Amendment (It's not Freedom of ENGLISH Speech. Just Freedom of Speech period), and that the number of languages you know is not discrimination when hiring (because she's going to sue them, whoever "them" is, and it's going to be "a landmark case"), she drops this one on us...

"Well, the case'll get shot down because of you two! This problem's going to get worse because of you two! The next time we're bombed, it's because of you two!"

Now, I'm trying to think of the right word here...Let's see, what is it?...It's on the tip of my tongue...Oh, yeah...

WHAT???!?!?!?!?!

Suddenly, because we're pointing out the inconsistencies in her argument, and because we're saying that we shouldn't live in a society where everyone speaks the same language, we love terrorists! Oh, c'mere terrorist and give us a big juicy kiss! *MWAH* We're okay with you and your fundamentalist ways! Here, let me carry that backpack for you.

Because as we all know, terrorism is a language issue. None of the 9/11 terrorists spoke English (except for the ones that did, which is most if not all of them). And only illegal immigrants are the ones that cause terrorist acts in our country (including Timothy McVeigh and Ted Kaczynski, which certainly don't sound like names of white guys descended from European backgrounds).

And throughout this entire time, I feel inclined to tell her that I have not once stated what I feel about the new illegal immigration bill (because I haven't read it and therefore have no opinion on it). I want to point out that I agree with her stance on illegal immigration. I have the greatest urge to state that if we white people truly respected the country, we would have shown up learning how to speak Navajo and Cherokee. I want to question her when she says she hates the term "cultural melting pot" when describing America.

But who knows what might happen if we keep talking. Brey checks the clock and we politely excuse ourselves.

Here in Southern California, there are a lot of problems concerning overpopulation and heavy traffic. The finger for these problems tends to point at the Latino community. Whether this is fair or not I cannot say (and to be fair, this woman not only expressed her frustration toward the Latino community, but the Vietnamese-heavy community of Garden Grove. No doubt if the Middle Eastern population congregated in one specific area, she would have choice words for them, too).

It seems very easy to be angry with the Latino community in Southern California. When I was living in Idaho, a friend of mine visited Disneyland for a week and came back frustrated with Hispanics. He admitted that it seemed rather easy to turn into a racist living down there. A few years later, I moved down here and found out, thanks to not only this woman but countless others, how true that is.

I do not support illegal immigration, and I do recognize that it is a problem in this country. And yes, the influence of Latino, Asian and Middle Eastern culture all over the community is unusual for me, coming from a place where the only genuine piece of foreign culture was a small Greek restaurant on Spokane Street (I still miss their fantastic turkish cigars).

However, I blame my ill feelings about the language and cultural barriers on my natural human reaction to be scared by that which I don't understand. Should we deny an immigrant who wants to take the legal procedures to become an America citizen the right to practice their own culture or religion? And if an overwhelming number of immigrants populate one small area, should that area refuse to be tolerant of their language? Why should I, who has only 1/16th of true Native American heritage in me, claim that the English-speaking population is superior to the rest of the population?

But then again, that kind of inclusive, accepting way of thinking is what leads to buildings being blown up, right?

Tuesday, January 31, 2006
 
On Friday, I bought the ultimate in wireless technology: A manual typewriter. It is a beautiful Olivetti Studio 44, dating back to 1952.

Isn't it a beauty?

For the past few days, I've been carrying it around, crazily typing out everything from play ideas to promotional materials for "4.48 Psychosis" to my Oscar nomination predictions (more on that later). Writing on a computer is problematic for someone who is as easily distracted as I am, and handwriting gives me too much of a cramp. So this is the perfect way of having a portable writing device with me wherever I go. Plus, hearing the old school sound of "click-click-click-click-click-click-DING!!!" is really quite satisfying.

So, with my new typewriter sitting proudly in the passenger seat of my car, I drove to Costa Mesa on Saturday and strolled into the second week of the eight-week playwriting class that I am taking at South Coast Repertory. The class is being taught by Noah Haidle, who made a splash at SCR when he wrote two brilliant, controversial pieces at the age of 24. One of those pieces is now playing off-Broadway in New York.

There I sat in the SCR Boardroom, staring at the poster of Ed Harris in their 1981 production of "True West" with about a dozen other writers. I was listening as several of the other members of the class were reading my latest play "Orange Alert" out loud. They told me how much they liked the developments from the seemingly normal O.C. world of the first act to the crazy, screwed up world of the second act.

Then Noah leaned forward and stated that he thought the piece felt like two different plays that did not match. He felt cheated when the beauty and realism of one of the storylines in the first act tragically turned out to be pretense in the second act. He wondered about the political themes that are presented.

And then I noticed something unusual happen. Those that were defending the play were now criticizing it. Suddenly, the term "two different plays" was being bounced around the room like a four-square ball. People were seemingly either reaching for things to criticize or they were going against what they had previously said. Could it be that they were agreeing with Noah because he was Noah? Seeing as these individuals were the same ones who spent fifteen minutes in the previous week's class desperately picking at his brain, this does not seem so farfetched.

I walked out of the class remembering why I've always hated the idea of being "taught" playwriting. Two different plays. From the very beginning that's what people said about "American Way", from those that first read it to the reviews of its first production. That tends to be my style. Taking an audience down one road, making them believe something is happening, and then pulling the rug out from under them and showing them what the play is really about. What makes that wrong?

People complained about how some scenes made them uneasy, took unhappy turns or left them with questions. Isn't that what a lot of good plays do? Does every play have to continue down one path to its inevitable conclusion? Isn't surprise an important element of storytelling? And for the love of God, just because someone who makes a living as a playwright disagrees, does that mean you have to betray your own opinions just to agree?

A few days have passed, and I have since rescinded my feeling of hating playwriting classes. I realized that the comments of Noah and those who agree with him, while misunderstanding my intentions, did serve a very useful purpose. They made me realize what I was intending with my play. The sudden shift in tone, and the consequences of these romances turning very, very foul, is representative of the awakening we get in the people and environments around us when we start seeing their faults and dark secrets. Yes, it settles into this leisurely pace in Act One and then suddenly becomes jarring, frantic and somewhat unsettling in the second half. But then again, doesn't life do that to us from time to time?

So thanks Noah and fellow classmates. I can't wait for next Saturday.

On a random topic jump, the Academy Award nominations came out today. Here are the categories I care about:

BEST PICTURE
Brokeback Mountain
Capote
Crash
Good Night, and Good Luck.
Munich

BEST DIRECTOR
George Clooney - Good Night, and Good Luck
Paul Haggis - Crash
Ang Lee - Brokeback Mountain
Bennet Miller - Capote
Steven Spielberg - Munich

BEST ACTOR
Philip Seymour Hoffman - Capote
Terrence Howard - Hustle & Flow
Heath Ledger - Brokeback Mountain
Joaquin Phoenix - Walk the Line
David Strathairn - Good Night, and Good Luck.

BEST ACTRESS
Judi Dench - Mrs. Henderson Presents
Felicity Huffman - Transamerica
Keira Knightley - Pride & Prejudice
Charlize Theron - North Country
Reese Witherspoon - Walk the Line

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
George Clooney - Syriana
Matt Dillon - Crash
Paul Giamatti - Cinderella Man
Jake Gyllenhaal - Brokeback Mountain
William Hurt - A History of Violence

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams - Junebug
Catherine Keener - Capote
Frances McDormand - North Country
Rachel Weisz - The Constant Gardener
Michelle Williams - Brokeback Mountain

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Brokeback Mountain - Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana
Capote - Dan Futterman
The Constant Gardener - Jeffrey Caine
A History of Violence - Josh Olson
Munich - Tony Kushner and Eric Roth

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Crash - Paul Haggis & Bobby Moresco
Good Night, and Good Luck. - George Clooney & Grant Heslov
Match Point - Woody Allen
The Squid and the Whale - Noah Baumbach
Syriana - Stephen Gaghan

A fairly predictable set of nominees for what looks to be a fairly predictable Oscar ceremony. The one big surprise is that "Syriana", which was based on a book by Robert Bahr, is in the Original Screenplay category (since it's been nominated for Adapted Screenplay everywhere else).

And who knows. Maybe "A History of Violence" and "Match Point" will take home screenplay Oscars, despite their unsettling shifts in tone.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006
 

Can we stop making names adjectives? Especially authors and playwrights? Every time I see or hear a name being turned into an adjective it makes me want to shove that person off a curb, so that they'll fall onto the pavement with an embarrassing and clumsy thud.

Anything described as "Kafkaesque" usually has nothing to do with Kafka at all. Just because there is a nightmarish situation without any real explanation or solution, that does not mean that it is "Kafkaesque". You know what it is? A fucked up situation.

The only reason I can think of for using a name as an adjective is to show everyone how well-read you are. Otherwise, there is a another way to explain it, a way that will still make you look smart without making you look like a asshole.

In just the past week, I've heard "Beckett-ish" and "Durang-esque" used. The best part is that the "Durang-esque" culprit made sure to note, "I did not coin that word. It's an actual word!" Which only tells me, "I'm not the pretentious ass who thought up this idiotic term. I'm just the pretentious ass that copied it."

I once heard someone say "Tarantino-esque". What the fuck is Tarantino-esque? When did he earn an -esque? Does that mean that the piece is hyperviolent and filled with pop culture references? Or that it stars Uma Thurman? Or that it has a shot from the trunk of a car in it?

The adjective-as-name trend has got me so cheesed that I want to make my writing as diverse as possible so that Gable-esque will never, ever become an adjective.

And now, just to prove that I'm a huge hypocrite, here are occasions in my past writings where I've used the -esque adjective that I've grown to hate:

* "The Ernest Thompson comedy that invites every shaky Hepburn-esque septuagenarian to talk about the loooooons." (09/08/05)

* "And then I watch Brey, who walks around in a way that is almost balletic in its fluidity and Keatonesque in its innocent humor." (03/10/05)

* "...(right down to the 'Hamlet'-esque plot device of a son talking to the ghost of his father)." (10/12/04)

* "I feel like I could at least write a post in this blog that is about something more arresting and profound than this Fellini-esque post about not being able to write anything" (10/08/04)

Further proof. I'm an ass.


Monday, January 23, 2006
 
A SPEECH MADE TODAY BY PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH, NOW WITH ADDED HECKLING:

Nellie, thank you very much. (Um, Mr. President, my name is Tom) I appreciate the invitation to speak. (Usually I just like to impose) I'm calling from Manhattan, Kansas. (Applause from people who like hearing the name Manhattan, Kansas.) Sounds like you got some good folks from Kansas there. (Applause from people who like to believe they’re “good folk”.) I want to thank everybody there -- if you're from Kansas, or anywhere else in our country (any of the other forty-three states), for your devotion to such a noble cause (the noble cause being my retention of power).

You believe, as I do (*COUGH, COUGH*), that every human life has value (except for those 2200 guys in Iraq. Who needs ‘em?), that the strong have a duty to protect the weak (much in the way that a school bully “protects” a kid’s lunch money), and that the self-evident truths of the Declaration of Independence apply to everyone, not just to those considered healthy or wanted or convenient (Warning: Declaration of Independence does not apply to minorities and the middle- to lower-class). These principles call us to defend the sick and the dying (unless we were the ones who made you sick or dying), persons with disabilities and birth defects (unless we were the ones who made you disabled or defective), all who are weak and vulnerable (unless we were the ones who made you weak or vulnerable), especially unborn children. (Applause from metal coat hanger manufacturers.)

We're making good progress in defending these principles, Nellie (The name’s still Tom), and you and I are working together, along with others, to build what I've called a culture of life (and it moves us all, through despair and hope, through faith and love). One of my first acts as the President was to ban the use of taxpayer money on programs that promote abortion overseas. (Applause from people who like hearing the words “money” and “promote”.) I want to thank you all for getting that ban on partial-birth abortion to my desk, a bill I was proud to sign -- (applause from people who like the name Bill) -- and a law which we are going to defend -- and are defending (and have defended -- and will defend -- and put on the side of the defensive) -- vigorously in our courts (I AM THE LAW!!!). Because we acted (in a high school production of “Harvey”), infants who are born despite an attempted abortion are now protected by law (unless they’re a minority or poor). Thanks to "Laci and Conner's Law," (note to self: send them a Valentine’s Day card) prosecutors can now charge ($37.50 plus shipping and handling) those who harm or kill a pregnant woman with harming or killing her unborn child, as well. (Applause from people who like to clap.)

We're vigorously promoting parental notification laws (Sir, ma’am, I’m here to notify you that you’re a parent), adoption (which I’m told is nothing like “Oliver!”), teen abstinence (we have armed officers at local makeout points all over the country), crisis pregnancy programs, and the vital work of our faith-based groups (Hi God, are you there? It’s me, fetus!). We're sending a clear message to any woman facing a crisis pregnancy (your choice and your life mean dick to us): We love you (not), we love your child (less), and we're here to help you (and by help you we mean take away your rights).

There's more work to be done (I’m still trying to figure out how to get oil out of birth canals). The House has passed a bill (who is only a bill, and he’s sittin’ there on Capitol Hill) to ensure that state parental involvement laws are not circumvented (looked that word up just this morning) by those who take minors across state lines to have abortions (Nevada, I’m looking at you). And the United States Senate needs to pass this bill so I can sign it into law. (Applause from people who just saved money on their car insurance.)

We also must respect human life and dignity (for once) when advancing (or suppressing) medical science, and we're making progress here, as well (We’re firing scientists nationwide). Last month, I signed a pro-life bill supporting ethical treatment and research using stem cells from umbilical cord blood (and all while eating spaghetti). I also renew my call for Congress to ban all forms of human cloning (I call it the Michael Keaton’s “Multiplicity” Act). Because human life is a gift from our Creator (Neo?) and should never be used as a means to an end (or “el fin” as the French would call it), we will not sanction the creation of life only to destroy it (at least not until you’re recruitment age).

By changing laws we can change our culture (and by change I mean destroy). And your persistence and prayers, Nellie (or Tom. Whichever), and the folks there with you, are making a real difference (Who, us? Oh, we’re just here for the free pizza). We, of course, seek common ground where possible (and then we go for full invasion); we're working to persuade more of our fellow Americans of the rightness of our cause (remember, America...we’re WATCHING yooooou...). And this is a cause that appeals to the conscience of our citizens (just like “Desperate Housewives”), and is rooted in America's deepest principles (do you mean the OLD principles of freedom and equality, or the NEW principles of greed and conformity?) -- and history tells us that with such a cause, we will prevail (because if there’s anyone who needs their rights taken away, it’s these crazy women! Take off those business shoes and make me some macaroni!!!).

Again, Nellie (whatever), thank you for letting me come to speak to you (if you start hearing a clicking on your phone, don’t be alarmed). Tell everybody there that I ask for God's blessings on them and their families (unless they don’t believe in God, in which case ask them to prepare for the cleansing), and, of course, may God continue to bless our grand country (because Lord knows someone has to look out for its well-being).

(Applause from people who follow an agenda that pleads to spare the lives of unborn fetuses while neglecting to shed a tear for those who die either in misguided wars or from poverty caused by a dwindling economy. Oh, did I say that out loud?)


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