Friday, July 27, 2012

The Grocery Bag Scene

August 6-12, 2012, ActorBoy and I will be appearing at the Dakota County Fair, Farmington MN, as part of the cast for the brand new Dakota Chatauqua. It's a tent show full of original songs and both humorous and dramatic sketches (but mostly humorous) based on true events from Minnesota history. This is a resurrection with the production staff and most of the cast members from the 1999-2005 iteration of the show, but with all new material...some of which, I have written.

To give you a taste, and with hopes of enticing any local readers to come see the show, I share with you here the script for one of the sketches. The facts about the invention of the grocery bag with handles are accurate. The plot line of the inventor's wife being a lovely distraction (i.e., a bit of a tart) is fabricated.

Walter Deubener: Hello, my good sir, nice little store you have here.
Abner: Thank you. I do what I can.
Walter Deubener [extending hand]: Deubener’s the name… Walter Deubener
Abner: Abner Singlenite.
Walter Deubener: And this is my lovely wife, Lydia.
Abner: Oh…my…um…pleased to meet you.
Lydia: The pleasure…is mutual.
Walter Deubener: Lydia and I used to run the little grocery stand in the Kresge building in St. Paul…you know, the corner of 7th and Cedar?
Abner [focused on Lydia]: Cedar…riiiight.
Walter Deubener: Well, I noticed a little problem. People would only buy as much as they could carry in a single bag…because they had to use both hands to carry the one bag…isn’t that right, Lydia?
Lydia: Oh yes…they had to use both hands.
Abner: Both hands.
Walter Deubener: We tried all sorts of things. I wrapped up their purchases with heavy string attached to a wooden handle, I supplied market baskets…nothing worked.
Lydia: It was SO frustrating.
Abner: Frustrating.
Walter Deubener: Finally one night, it hit me like a lightning bolt out of the blue: handles.
Abner [coming to]: Handles?
Lydia [capturing his attention again]: Handles.
Walter Deubener: We made up some prototypes, tested them out, and now, as of May 27, 1919, I hold a patent on the Deubener Shopping Bag. You see, with these handles here, customers can carry away up to 50 pounds in each hand. Just look at all the things I can put in this bag.
Abner: Just look.
Walter Deubener: At only 5 cents each, these little marvels will more than pay for themselves with all the extra sales you’ll be making. [Lifts the loaded bag, but all the canned goods are left behind.]
Lydia: How many would you like?
Abner: I’ll take two…er…two hundred.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Observed Absurdities™ 6 - Question of the Half-Month

At Big Brother, Inc., the multi-national corporation that pays me for my epic technical writing and editing skills, there is an attempt to engage The Average Worker, on the company's private intranet home page, called Question of the Week. It's a multiple-choice question, sometimes about general trivia, but mostly focused on a bit of information from BBI's vast storehouse of self-absorbed minutiae.

It gets published once every two weeks.

Yes, that's right. That's a sure sign of how focused BBI is on engaging with its average worker: publishing a "question of the week" every two weeks.

Last week, I was greeted with this brain-teaser:

Just in case the picture isn't clear enough, here's what it says:

For how many years has [Big Brother, Inc.] provided products and services in the Middle East?
   O More than 50
   O More than 30
   O More than 40
   O More than 60
   O I don't know

For the record, "I don't know" is always one of the options, and, with very little thinking  -  methinks  -  one should be able to realize that it could very well always be a correct response.

And then there's this particular array of possible answers, which, if the company-sanctioned Correct Answer is "More than 60," includes FIVE correct responses.

See what I mean, jelly bean?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Missed It By That Much

A true story from an old friend...thank you, Alice Dozenliv Heeranimore.

Alice's car was being worked on, and she had a loaner from the car repair establishment so she could still go to work, run errands, and text her friends as a productive member of society.

Having finished her duties at work, Alice returned to the parking lot, pressed the car's remote door-unlocking-thingy, and tried to open the car's door.

The operative word in the previous sentence is "tried."

She could hear the locks change their position when she pressed the remote, but the doors wouldn't budge. Driver's door, passenger door, front, back...absolutely no luck.

Being a resourceful gal, Alice thought she might be able to get in through the trunk's back-seat escape hatch. It would certainly be awkward, and she hoped to the highest heaven nobody would walk by while she was doing it, but it seemed like her only option.

When she popped open the trunk, it was the next car over.

Friday, July 6, 2012


The Associated Press publishes a daily feature called "How Old?!" wherein it lists the names of famous people who were born on the day, what they are famous for, and their ages. Sometimes the ages are a surprise (What?!? Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen are only 26?), and sometimes the relative ages of two celebrities is a shock, as I recently tweeted: KenOsmond/EddieHaskel turned 69 the other day. TheTrueShocker is: Liam Neeson is only 9 years younger. (You can follow me on Twitter, @deweyroth, but don't expect gems like this every day.)

Then there are other times when it's something totally different that gives me pause. Take this quote from Wednesday, June 27, 2012, for example:  Reality star Khloe Kardashian is 28.

Reality Star. What does that even MEAN?!!?

Let's see if taking the words separately helps.

re-al-i-ty...noun: 1. the state or quality of being real; 2. resemblance to what is real; 3. real things, facts, or events taken as a whole, i.e., state of affairs, as in "the reality of the business world" or "vacationing to escape reality"; 4. In philosophy, something that exists independently of ideas concerning it.

So far, I'm not seeing any correlation to Ms Kardashian.

star...noun: any of the heavenly bodies, except the moon.

Ah, well...THERE you have it! Though, even at that, I'm not convinced "reality" has much to do with it at all.