Tag: Aaron Blaylock

The Naturals

“Woodruff and Bob, you’re up,” Master Chef Heirnon said.

“Hehe,” Bob giggled.  “He said Woodruff and Bob Europe.”

“No, he said you’re up, you are up,” Woodruff said.  “As in, it’s our turn.”

“I know, but we’re in Europe and he said you’re up.”

“Focus Bob.”


Bob adjusted his toque blanche and stepped to the counter.  Woodruff stood up tall and pulled at his double-breasted white jacket.

“We’ve prepared a world’s fair presentation with spicy cumin lamb shanks, eggplant cannelloni, and a black bean garbure as an appetizer,” Woodruff said to the dignified panel of chef’s sitting on high stools behind the counter.

“We chose black beans to bring a more Latin flare to this French dish,” Bob explained.

“Very good, let’s see you plate your creations.”

“Yes sir, Master Chef.”

“Woodruff, he used plate as a verb again.”


Woodruff pulled a shiny white bowl from under the counter and Bob retrieve two matching plates and laid them in a row on the wood-planked counter.  Woodruff ladled a thick steamy stew into the bowl and Bob sprinkled bay leaves on top with a dramatic flick of the wrist.

“We’ve added a pinch of cayenne to start the fiesta in your mouth,” Bob said as Woodruff pushed the bowl gently across the counter.

With pomp and circumstance the three men picked up spoons and tasted their offering.  The short chef with the double chin hummed pleasantly as he ate, while the tall skinny chef in the middle nodded his bald head enthusiastically as he swallowed.  Master Chef Heirnon smile proudly and gave them an approving wink as he set his spoon back on the counter.

“Next we have our eggplant cannelloni…”

“Which we call our eggplanet cannelloni, because it’s out of this world.”

Bob grinned and paused for laughter that did not come.  The judges sat back in their stools and folded their arms.

“Out of this world,” Bob repeated.  “You know, eggplanet, like a different planet.  An eggplanet, like a planet of eggs, not our planet…”

Master Chef Heirnon drew in a deep breath through his nose and shook his head.

“I told you they wouldn’t find that funny,” Woodruff whispered.

“Fine, you were right.  Happy?”

“We’ve stuffed these cannelloni with minced beef, garlic, rosemary, shallots, and of course eggplant,” Woodruff said, ignoring his partner’s failed comedic interlude.

“They are also infused with fresh oregano, extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt and ground black pepper,” Bob said.  “And a secret ingredient that rhymes with shak’n.”

Bob raised his arms in the air and gyrated his hips from side to side as he bit gently on his lower lip.  Again, the judges stared back, unimpressed, and Master Chef Heirnon buried his head in his hands.

“It’s bacon,” Bob added sheepishly.  “Like, what’s shak’n bacon.”

Woodruff cleared his throat and continued to place the tubes of pasta on the shiny white plate.

“You see we’ve got some nice brown edges on the cannelloni, so we’re going to top it with a béchamel sauce.”

“Just a little nappe to cover the crepe and pull out the flavors inside.”

“Then we take this blow torch and melt the shredded parmesan cheese on top, until matches the brown edges of the cannelloni.”

“I call this cautting the cheese,” Bob quipped into the void at the opposite end of the counter.  “Cautting the cheese.  Like cauterizing…cautting.  Nothing?  Come on, this is gold.”

“Pardon my associate,” Woodruff said through grit teeth.  “He must be a little under the weather.”

“If by under the weather you mean at the top of my game, then yes, I’m under the weather,” Bob said.  “These guys don’t even deserve this material.  Like they don’t deserve the enhanced tomato sauce and olive oil glaze I whipped up.”

Bob haphazardly sprayed lines of red sauce over the plate of cannelloni as Woodruff forced a smile and offered their dish to the judges.  It was once again met with smiles, nods and hums of approval and Woodruff breathed a sigh of relief while Bob sulked at the end of the counter.

“For our entrée we’ve cubed and braised lamb shank with a spicy cumin dry rub.”

“Dry like your sense of humor.”

“Give it a rest, Bob.”

With a grunt, Bob folded his arms and pouted.

“The rub is a mixture of granulated garlic, cumin, and chili flakes.”

“Chilly like your funny bone,” Bob interrupted.  “Cold and frozen.”

“After marinating the shanks in the spices overnight we skewered them and grilled them over hot coals.”

“Like I skewered and grilled a bunch of stuffy chefs who clearly have forgotten how to laugh.  Hey-o!”

“Monsieur Bob, please,” Master Chef Heirnon pleaded.

“Apologies, Master Chef,” Bob said.  “I’m done, I promise.  We set the whole thing off with a tangy sweet sauce with sesame oil, gochujang, apricot jam, soy sauce, honey, minced garlic, white rice vinegar, and fresh ginger root.”

Meticulously, Bob waved the bottle over the skewers and poured lines of sauce back and forth across the plate.  Woodruff slid the plate across the counter and the chef’s each took up a skewer and began to enjoy, in their customary way.  When they were finished the chefs nodded to each other.  Master Chef Heirnon produced two white aprons from under the counter and walked around to stand between Woodruff and Bob.

“It is with great pride and pleasure that I introduce Monsieur Woodruff and Monsieur Bob as the newest graduates of Le Cordon Bleu Academy and welcome you to the rank of Master Chef.”

Woodruff bowed as he ceremoniously raised the apron strings over his head and around his neck.  Bob knelt to the ground and Master Chef Heirnon gently hung the apron around his neck.  He stood up and took hold of Woodruff and Master Chef Heirnon’s hands and raised them over their heads.

“We did it!”

“Congratulations, I’m proud of you both.  You are the finest students I have ever had and the most naturally gifted flavor curators I have ever known.”

“Thank you Master Chef,” Woodruff said.  “But you haven’t even tried our dessert.”

“There’s more?” the short chubby chef asked with excitement.

“Oh there’s more,” Bob said.  “This is our pièce de résistance.”

“Please may we try it?” the tall bald chef asked.

“May you?” Bob said.  “Mais oui.”

All three judges burst out laughing.  The tall bald chef doubled over and lost his hat, while Master Chef Heirnon and the short chubby one slapped one another on the back as tears streamed down their faces.  Bob nodded proudly.

“I knew I’d get ‘em, eventually.”

Woodruff pulled a silver dome from under the counter and the judges all fell silent.  He placed the dome-covered platter at the center of the counter.  With eager expressions the chefs eyed the silver shield that veiled the mystery of the promised masterpiece.

“This is why we are here.”

“This is what we came here to do.”

Together, Woodruff and Bob uncovered the platter to reveal two ordinary pieces of white bread stacked on top of one another.

“What is this?” Master Chef Heirnon questioned.

“A sandwich?” the short chubby chef said indignantly.

“Not just any sandwich,” Woodruff said.

“The perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” Bob said.

“I don’t understand.”

“A peanut butter and jelly sandwich is the most versatile food of all time,” Woodruff explained.

“You can eat it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner,” Bob added.  “And now we’re bringing it to dessert.”

“We call it PB&J All Day.”

“You can eat it whenever you want to satisfy any appetite or craving.”

The judges eyed the sandwich skeptically.

“We’ve hand-ground unsalted peanuts, added honey, palm oil, hazelnuts, and Himalayan salt,” Woodruff said.

“The hand-ground peanuts give it both a crunchy feel in a creamy delivery,” Bob said.  “The strawberry jelly was imported from a family owned strawberry patch in Wisconsin and is naturally in fused with cheddar cheese fumes from the nearby dairy farm.”

Master Chef Heirnon picked up the PB&J and hesitantly took a bite.  A smile exploded across his face and he quickly offered the sandwich to his colleagues.  In a matter of seconds the chefs had consumed the peanut butter and jelly goodness, down to the last crumb.

“That was amazing!”



“We know,” Bob said.

“Thank you,” Woodruff added.

“How did you make this bread?”

“Oh that,” Bob said.  “It’s just Wonder Bread we got at the groceries store.”

“You can’t improve on that,” Woodruff said.

“No you cannot.”

“Well, we’ll see you all later.”

“Wait,” Master Chef Heirnon said.  “Where are you going?”

“Home, I guess.”

“But you are master chefs now.”

“Yeah, and that’ way cool, but after you make the perfect PB&J there’s really nothing left to do.”

“See ya when we see ya,” Bob said.  “Thanks for the aprons.”

“Jusqu’à ce qu’on se revoie,” Woodruff said.

The chefs sat in stunned silence as Woodruff and Bob exited the kitchen.  Master Chef Heirnon removed his toque blanche and hung his head.

“There goes the greatest chefs the world will never know.”

Woodruff folded his apron in half and draped it over his shoulder as they stepped out onto the Parisian cobblestone streets.  Bob flung his apron over his shoulder like a cape.

“Those guys were nice.”

“Terrible sense of humors, though.”

“You know what I’m craving right now?”

“The perfect PB&J?”

Bob produced two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from the fold of his white double-breasted jacket.

“I love you.”

“I love you too, Woodruff.”

“I was talking to the sandwich.”

“Oh, uh, me too.”

“You named your sandwich Woodruff?”

“I name all my food Woodruff.”

“That’s disturbing.”

“Not as disturbing as finding a guy singing to his pan flute on a gondola in Venice.”

“You said we’d never speak of that again.”

“So then I guess we have seven things we’ll never speak of again.  Deal?”


Not My Jam

“I’m so excited!”

“Me too!”

“Do you think we’ll get to see Bigfoot?”

“The guy who sold me the tickets guaranteed it.”

“Woodruff, this is the greatest thing that’s ever happened.”

“Totally.  And I can cross ‘Meet a legendary creature’ off my bucket list.”

“I thought we did that when we went parasailing with The Rock.”

“I’ve told you fifty times, that wasn’t The Rock, that guy’s name was Dwayne.”

“He looked EXACTLY like him though,” Bob said.  “And he smiled just like him when you told him he should get a job as a stunt double for The Rock.”

“Yeah, but then he made that unsolicited hotel recommendation,” Woodruff replied.

“We never did find the Smackdown Hotel.”

“I don’t think it exists.”

A rusty pickup truck, with no muffler, rattled by them and billowed exhaust fumes all over sidewalk.  Woodruff and Bob coughed and choked on the toxic black cloud.  Bob placed his hand protectively over the basket he was carrying.

“Ew, that stinks.”

“I hope he’s not going anywhere near the jam.”

“So what’s a monster jam like, anyway?” Bob asked.  “Is it like a party or a convention?  Or are the monsters just really enthusiastic about jam?”

“I’m not sure,” Woodruff said.  “The tickets just say Monster Jam presented by Talking Stick Resort.  The poster I saw mentioned Bigfoot, Monster Mutt, Zombie, and Grave Digger.”

“Do you think Grave Digger is a monster or does he excavate monsters?”

“Good question.  I’ve never heard of him.  Maybe he’s a monster sidekick.”

Woodruff and Bob crossed the street, toward the arena with a colorful digital billboard flashing Monster Jam.  They joined the back of a line that led through the ticketing gate.  The group of men in front of them wore greasy old ball caps with black and white checkered bills.  Several people in line were carrying old flags with different monster names.  The man closest to them turned around with his nostrils flaring, above his bushy mustache, and sniffed at Bob.

“What is that smell?”

“Oh, those are my mullets,” Bob responded.  He lifted the lid on the basket he was carrying to reveal a small tank of water inside, with dozens of silver and orange fish swimming frantically from side to side.

“Why did you bring fish to the Monster Jam?” the man asked as he plugged his nose.

“The dude who sold Woodruff the tickets said we’d better get mullets.”

“We Googled it and couldn’t decide if he meant the fish or the haircut,” Woodruff explained.  “So Bob brought the fish and I got the haircut.”

Woodruff removed his furry brown hat, with googly eyes, to show his new hairdo.

“We’re not sure if the monsters are going to eat the fish or if they just like them” Bob said.  “Or if they find this hairstyle appealing.  We just want to make them happy, whatever the case.”

“That ain’t no mullet,” the man said, and spit a wad of chew on the ground.

“The interwebs said it is a hair style that is short on the sides,” Woodruff replied.

“Well yeah, but that ain’t it,” the man said.  He turned to his friends and cupped his hands over his mouth.  “Hey Hank, take off your lid!”

A tall skinny young man removed his greasy ball cap and spun around.  Long luscious locks blew behind him in the breeze and flowed up to a tight crew cut.

“That’s a mullet, business in the front, party in the back,” the man said.  “What ya got there is a Mohawk.”

“Do you think Bigfoot will be offended?” Bob asked.

“I don’t know ‘bout that,” the man said.  “But ya can’t bring pets or food into the arena.”

The man glanced down toward Bob’s basket of fish.  Bob closed the lid and held the basket behind his back as they approached the security gate.  The group in front of them, which included the man with the bushy mustache and the tall, skinny, mulleted young man, passed through the metal detectors.

“What do we do?” Bob whispered back to Woodruff.

“Uh, dunno,” Woodruff replied.  “Ditch the fish in the bushes and we’ll get them on the way out.”

“And go in mulletless?” Bob asked.  “Are you crazy?”

“We have no choice,” Woodruff said.  “Be cool.”

Bob quickly stashed the basket in the large potted bush next to the security gate and passed through with his hands in the air.  Woodruff removed his belt and placed it on the table, as he followed Bob through the metal detector.  The hulking security guard eyed them suspiciously but did not stop them.  With forced smiles, Woodruff and Bob shuffled away from the security gate into the arena.

“That was close.”

“Tell me about it.”

“I just did.”

Sounds of revved up engines echoed through the halls of the pavilion as Woodruff and Bob approached the center of the arena.

“Are the monsters going to be driving cars?”

“Uh, I think the monsters are the cars.”

Woodruff pointed down at a black and green truck with Grave Digger written in red and white.  Grave Digger jumped off a dirt ramp and drove over a row of smashed up cars.  The crowd cheered and yelled as the truck’s massive tires peeled through the dirt and mud on the course.

“Look, there’s Bigfoot,” Woodruff said, pointing to a giant blue truck with big black tires and Bigfoot written on the side.

“Well that’s disappointing.”

“You’re telling me, I shaved my head for this.”

“What are we gonna do with all those fish?”

“We could open an aquarium.”

“In this economy?”

“Good point.”

Woodruff and Bob stood in the tunnel that led into the arena and watched oversized truck after oversized truck jump and smash their way through the muddy course.

“This is worse than that time we thought we met The Rock.”

“I still say that was The Rock.”

Bob sighed deeply and Woodruff’s head slumped forward.

“You ready to go?”

“Yeah, let’s bounce.”

“Bounce what?”

“It’s an expression.”

“Meaning what?”

“To leave, depart, or exit.”

“Then why didn’t you just say that?”

“Why would I say that?”

“No, not that,” Woodruff said.  “Say let’s leave.”

“I thought I did.”

A voice on the loud speakers said, “Boys and Girls, brace yourself for Robosaurus!”

“That sounds promising,” Bob said.

A forty-foot tall dinosaur-shaped metal beast rolled out onto the dirt track, spewing flames from its nose.  It picked up a car with two hands and crushed it in its massive jaws.

“Okay, that was amazing.”

“Now we’re talking.”

“We’ve been talking.”

“It’s an expression.”

“I don’t get you.”

“Do you want to go down and meet the dino-flamy thing or not.”

“That’s what I’m talking about.”

“Um, what?”

“It’s an expression,” Woodruff said.

Bob shrugged his shoulders and they merrily pranced down the stairs toward the giant flame throwing monster.

“Do you think it likes mullets?”

The Greatest Snowman

“A nervous hush has fallen over this crowd as we wait for two revolutionaries to take the ice.”

“Two revolutionaries and a snowman.”

“Right you are, Barbara, don’t discount that snowman.”

“Chuck, I haven’t been this excited since I found out Mylie Cyrus wears spanx.”

“The tension in the air is palpable, just one skate standing between an unlikely duo and history.”

“They’ve already made history, Chuck, they literally invented the sport.  And here they are representing their country on the world stage.”

“It gives you goosebumps.”

A rolling wave of voices rose from the grandstands and swelled into shouts and cheers.

“Speaking of goosebumps, here they come!”

“Can you feel that crowd!  This is what they came to see!”

“Barbara, you know I don’t like hyperbole, but this moment right here has got to be the greatest in Olympic history.”

“No question, Chuck.  Woodruff and Bob have lit this stadium on fire.”

“Ooh, watch out, the ice might start to melt.”

“I meant figuratively, Chuck, but I wouldn’t put it past them.”

“I certainly would not,” the announcer chuckled.

“Let’s just watch quietly as these two visionaries glide majestically to the center of the rink.”

“I’m trying to, if you would shut your yapper for a minute.”

Barbara cackled uncontrollably before composing herself after a violent snort.

“But seriously, the gravity of this moment is not lost on anyone.  We are witnessing the coronation of the first ever Snowling Olympic Champions.”

“Should we explain Snowling, for the uninitiated in our audience?”

“You mean those living under a rock?”

“Oh behave,” Barbara said.  “Snowling is a test of snowmanning with a hybrid twist of speed skating, ice dancing, and curling.  It is the ultimate winter Olympic sport and we owe it all to these men circling the rink right now.”

“Woodruff and Bob pitched the idea to the IOC just a few months ago and it was unanimously voted into the games.”

“And throughout the prelims it has been the highest rated program on television.”

“Capturing the hearts and imaginations of the world.”

A muffled voice sounded in the distance, on the public announcement system in the arena, which was nearly inaudible except for the last three words, Woodruff and Bob.  The crowd swelled with a fresh round a cheers and then feel completely silent.

“Here we go, the long anticipated moment,” Chuck said.  “Woodruff and Bob set up in their usual positions at opposite ends of the snow pile.”

“They told me yesterday that it helps them mentally focus their energy on the snow.”

The blow of a horn through the speakers echoed in the arena.

“And they’re off, look at that speed and precision.”

“This is the patented Newtofski Method, or stack and pack.  Woodruff stacks the snow and Bob packs it into a sphere.”

“It’s like getting to see Michelangelo carve David out of a marble slab.”

“Only with fifty million people watching.”

“Exactly!  They’ve already formed the base with just over thirty second elapsed.”

“They’re well ahead of their own world record pace.”

“It feels like they set a new record every time out.”

“Because they do!”

“The torso is complete and Woodruff has started the stack for the head.”

“And Bob is packing!”

“They brought coal with them from Virginia and Pennsylvania, which they mined themselves specifically for these games.”

“And unlike the Russia’s, who were disqualified for using enlarged coal, Woodruff and Bob bring out the personality of the snowman with placement, not size.”

“The carrots are locally grown giving it that international relations touch that they are known for.”

“You couldn’t ask for better ambassadors of goodwill than Woodruff and Bob.”

“The face is set and Woodruff is applying the arms.”

“Bob just produced a red, white, and blue scarf from his pocket!”

“He’s swaddle the neck of the snowman!”


“No rules against that.”

“Nor should there be.”

“Guiding their masterpiece by the limbs they flow effortlessly into the free skate.”

“They have two huge techniques before they show us that world class speed.”

“The first comes right here, triple snowcow into a double toe loop, right into a camel spin!”


“Brilliant, absolutely brilliant!”

“And the snowman never left the ground.”

“Which is critical if it’s going hold together until the slide.”

“No question.”

“Here comes the quadruple lutz into an upright spin.”

“They bring the snowman with them on this adventure.”



“They absolutely nailed it!”

“This crowd doesn’t know whether to cheer or cry.”

“I’m doing both.”

“Now they really bring the heat.”

“Two full laps around the arena with their snowman in tow.”

“Woodruff and Bob use the fireman carry, hoisting their snowman off the ice and cradling it between them.  Bob said sometimes it feels like the snowman it carrying them.”

“Woodruff told me that what speed they lose to wind resistance they make up for with the lack of friction.”

“There’s no arguing with the results.  Coming around the final turn they are WAY ahead of their record pace!”

“Watch how effortlessly they set up for the slide.”

“They rest the snowman back on the ice like it never left.  Bob eyeballs the target and glides the snowman in the right direction while Woodruff adjusts the speed with the brush.”

“They are like the Simon and Garfunkel of Snowling.”

“It’s heading straight for the house!”

“This is it!”

“They’ve done it!”


“This is what Snowling is all about.”

“A picture perfect finish for a picture perfect snowman.”

“The Greatest Snowman!”

“A new Olympic record, a new world record and the first ever Snowling gold medal!”

“It’s only fitting that it goes to the fathers of Snowling.”

“You’ve got that right, Barbara!  Listen to this crowd!”

Chants of Woodruff and Bob and U-S-A reverberate throughout the arena.

“This is a night none of us will ever forget.”

“Let’s go down to Melissa who is rink side with the new champions.”

“Thanks Chuck, tell me Bob, how does Olympic gold medalist sound?”

“Oh wow, Melissa, I just can’t even put it in words.  I mean we never thought we’d be here.  And now…it’s amazing.”

“Woodruff, can you talk about all the build up to this moment?”

“Well, we’ve trained so hard to get here.  We knew we’d be facing the greatest snowlers in the world and we’d need to bring our A game.  I’m so grateful for this guy right here.  I couldn’t have done it without him.  And I wouldn’t have wanted to.”

“You give each snowman a name, tell me, what did you name your gold medal snowman.”

“Herbert.  We named him after Woodruff’s Uncle Herb.  He’s watching from the hospital right now after his third appendectomy.”

“They just keep growing back, but he’s a fighter.  He’s gonna beat this.  Love you, Uncle Herb.”

“Well, on behalf of Uncle Herb, the United States, and the world, thank you for blessing us with a performance we’ll never forget.”

“Thank you Melissa, and THANK YOU AMERICA!”

“Go USA!”

Lost Dog

“Do you hear that?”


“A phone,” Bob said.  “A phone is ringing.”

“A phone?” Woodruff asked.  “A phone from where?”

“A phone, a phone is ringing.”

“You just said that sentence double.”

“I just said that sentence double?”

“You just said that sentence double, right there.”

“Ooh!” Bob exclaimed.  “It’s a baby dog, stuck in a log.”

“You mean a puppy?”

“Stuck in a log.”

“This is serious!”

“We have to help him.”

“Let’s save the puppy.”

“Let’s save the doggy.”

“We’ll save the puppy.”

Woodruff and Bob jogged over to the log and rolled the dog over on its hind legs.  The little black and brown tail wagged back and forth in the air.

“I’m Woodruff.”

“I’m Bob.”

“And who are you?”

“You’re a wonderful pet.”

“And we’ll help you.”

Woodruff knelt down and scratched the dog’s backside while Bob stood back and scratched at his own head thoughtfully.

“What’s gonna work?”

Woodruff took hold of the log and presented the tail end of the dog to Bob.


Bob gently grabbed the dog by the haunches and they pulled in opposite directions.  The black and brown brindled dog slipped free from the log and the three of them fell to the ground.  Bob held fast to the puppy, who licked his face vigorously.

“Well this is a friendly little guy,” Bob chuckled.

“Very licky,” Woodruff replied.

“Whoah!” Bob yelled and pointed in the air.  “Look at that!”

“Look at what?” Woodruff said, as he turned around to see a giant oak tree.

“I just saw a Frisbee with a sail and blue wheels fly in from the sky!  It looked like a tiny flying boat.”

“A flyboat?”

“No, a flying boat.”

“Is this like the time you swore you saw a UFO?”

“First of all, a Nerf football and a UFO look remarkably similar at dusk, and second, this is nothing like that.”

Woodruff shook his head and walked over to scratch the puppy behind the ears.  After he was licked thoroughly by its little pink tongue, Woodruff wiped his hands on his pants.

“He’s got no tags, and no collar.”

“Can we keep him?”

“He probably has a family that misses him.”

“Woodruff!  Look at that!”

Bob pointed back by the tree and Woodruff spun around to see a turtle, a guinea pig, and a duck walking out from behind the trunk.

“Are they wearing hats?”

“Uh huh, and capes too.”

“Good eye, Bob.”

“Now do you believe me?”

“Wait, are you saying that a guinea pig, a turtle, and a duck flew here on a Frisbee?”

“Uh, they’re wearing capes and the duck has a pilot’s helmet, who else would be flying a Frisbee with wheels.”

The caped critters made their way over to Woodruff, Bob, and the rescued puppy.  They squeaked and quacked at the black and brown fuzzball, who cocked his head sideways and looked at the curious newcomers.

“You think they’re here to help.”

“To help the baby doggy, and save the day?”

“You mean the puppy.”

There was a loud bark from the other side of the grassy hill beside them.  The puppy yelped back and a black dog with pointy ears came trotting over the hill.

“I think it’s his mommy,” Woodruff said.

The young dog leapt out of Bob’s arms and hurried to reunite with the black dog with pointy ears.  They sniffed and licked each other before prancing back to Woodruff and Bob.

“We saved the puppy!”

“We saved the puppy.”

“We saved the puppy,” Bob grinned as he pet the pooches.

After a few licks of gratitude the dogs turned their attention to the caped critters at their feet.  The puppy sniffed at the guinea pig as his mother sniffed at the turtle.  All at once the puppy scooped up the guinea pig in his mouth and shook it side to side.  His mother chomped down on the turtle’s shell and similarly shook it around.  As the two dogs trotted away with their new friends in their jaws, the duck quickly waddled back behind the tree.

Woodruff stood up and brushed his hands together and Bob wiped at the dog hairs on his shorts, as they watched the dogs dance merrily over the hill.

“You know, they’re not too big.”

“And they’re not too tough.”

“Going from hero to chew toy has got to be rough.”

“Where do you think that duck went?”

“To the flyboat?”

A red Frisbee with a pinstriped sail and blue wheels flew up into the sky.

“To the flyboat.”

“Sorry I doubted you.”

“No worries, I kinda thought I was seeing things too.”

“What do you suppose powers that little ship?”

“And how did they learn to fly?”

“Well, it is a duck.”

“Good point.”

Woodruff and Bob strolled up the hill in the direction the dogs disappeared.  A tiny blue cape floated between them on the breeze.

“You think we should save the guinea pig?” Woodruff asked.

“Save the guinea pig?”

“Save the guinea pig.”

“Nah, I’m sure they’re just playing with it.”

“You’re probably right.”

They stepped over a tiny red cape, lying in the grass and caught sight of the mom and her brindled baby in the distance.

“I just had a great idea for a band name,” Bob said.

“What’s that?” Woodruff asked.

“Lost Dog,” Bob replied.  “That way you get free advertising when people put up lost dog fliers.”

“Genius!” Woodruff said.  “Ooh, or Help Wanted.”

“Perfect!” Bob said.  “Or We Buy Houses, Ca$h.”

“Or Free Debt Counseling.”

“Or Yard Sale.”

“Garage Sale would work too.”

“Totally, how is there not already a garage band name Garage Sale.”

“I don’t know!”

“These are million dollar ideas!”

“I know!”

“We should celebrate!”

“This calls for some celery!”

“What?” Bob said with a scrunched up expression.

“I don’t know where that came from,” Woodruff said.

The sound of dogs barking in the distance floated on the breeze as Woodruff and Bob turned and headed toward the pond.  They walked in silence for several minutes as the barking slowly trailed off.

“Was that turtle wearing aqua socks?”

“I think he was.”



This Mean This

Woodruff crouched next to Bob in a muddy wash, the roots of a mighty tree jutted out of the ground between them.  They fought, in vain, against their panting breaths as quietly as they could.  Woodruff’s hair was matted to his head in a sweaty mess, while Bob’s face and neck was covered with mud and grass.

“Just leave me, Bob, I’m not going to make it.”

“Don’t say that.”

“It just all went wrong.”

“I know.”

“It’s my fault.”

“It’s not your fault.”

Bob slowly peeked over the berm behind them, out at the deathly still field that stretched out to a distance tree line.  He slumped back down and closed his eyes.

“Did you see anything?”


“We’re in trouble.”


The acknowledgement of the cold hard truth hung in the air.



“I’m scared.”

“How’s your leg?” Bob asked, unable to speak his own fear.

“I’ll live, I think.”

Woodruff lifted his bloody leg out of the sludge, his pant leg torn right down the middle to reveal the painful gash.

“Can you run?”

“I’m not sure.”

Bob grimaced and turned himself around to face the protective wall of grass and black clay.  He stretched his neck up and peered out over the field.  There was no sound and nothing moved outside of the blades of grass shaking slightly on the breeze.

“I don’t see them anywhere.”

“They’re out there.”

“Maybe they left.”

“Why would they do that?” Woodruff demanded, with his attention on his wound.

“I don’t know,” Bob replied.  “It’s 4:30, maybe they went home to watch People’s Court.”

“Yeah, Bob, I’m sure that killing machines, bred for stealth and destruction, paused from their ongoing mission to annihilate mankind to watch People’s Court.”

“It’s riveting television, that’s all I’m saying.”

“We need to focus, or neither of us is going to make it out of this alive.”

“You’re right, we need a plan.”

“Maybe we could wait them out,” Woodruff suggested.  “It will be dark soon, we could try to sneak out under the cover of night.”

“No good,” Bob said.  “If we move they’ll be able to sense the tremors of our footsteps on the ground.”

“What if we lure them out?”

“Are you crazy?  That’s like challenging Mike Tyson to a game of Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots.”

“Is Mike Tyson good at Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots?”

“I assume.”

Woodruff shrugged and nodded along.  Bob drew in a deep breath through his nose and sighed.

“We’ve only got one choice.”


“No!” Bob exclaimed.  “An all-out frontal assault, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid style.”

“Don’t they die?” Woodruff asked.

“The freeze frame finale is unclear.”

“Which one of us is Butch Cassidy and which one is the Sundance Kid?”

“I’m clearly Butch Cassidy.”

“Even though I called dibs on young Paul Newman if my life story is ever made into a movie.”

“How would that even be possible?” Bob asked.  “He died, like ten years ago.”

“CGI,” Woodruff replied.  “They did it with Peter Cushing, with Jeff Bridges, they’ve been doing it with Rob Lowe for years.”

“Fine, you can be Butch Cassidy.”

“Alright then, it’s settled.  Kill or be killed.”

“If I’m going to bite the dust, I’m glad it’s with you.”

“Me too,” Woodruff said.  “It’s been an absolute pleasure, like our super bowl party.”

“Those bowls were super.”

“And soup-er.”

“My favorite was the stainless steel punch bowl.”

“Don’t forget about the finger bowls.”

“Or the spice bowls.”

“Never forget the spice bowls.”

“Woodruff, it’s been an honor.”

He shined a smile on Bob, as tears pooled in the corners of his eyes.

“On 3,” Woodruff said, clearing a tickle in his throat.  “1, 2…”

“Wait, is it go on 3 or 1, 2, 3, go?”

“Doesn’t matter, pick one.”

“Fine, let’s go on 3.”

“All right, 1, 2…”

“I changed my mind, 3 and then go.”

“Okay,” Woodruff drew in a deep breath and scowled at Bob.  “1, 2…”

“What if we count down from 10?”

“Bob, you’re stalling.”

“I’m not stalling, I’m…uh, I’m styling?  Stoking?  Staging?”

“What are you two do’n in the ditch?” a raspy voice called from above them.

Woodruff and Bob looked up at a scrawny old man in a straw hat and a pair of bib overalls.

“Get down, Farmer Brown,” Woodruff said.

“Hey, that rhymed,” Bob’s voice chimed.

“What happened to your leg?” Farmer Brown asked, as he climbed down into the ditch.

“Stepped in one of their holes as we were escaping,” Woodruff explained.

“Escaping?” the farmer asked.  “Escaping what?”

“Them,” Bob said and pointed toward the open field.

Farmer Brown lifted his straw hat and scratched at his thin gray hair as he looked out over the field.  He pursed his lips and shook his head, as he turned back to Woodruff and Bob.

“I hired you boys ‘cause ya said you could git rid of my problem.”

“They proved more ferocious than anticipated,” Woodruff replied.

“They’re gophers,” the farmer sighed.

“Ferocious gophers,” Bob added.

“We tried playing music, because gophers don’t like loud noises,” Woodruff said.

“Who told ya that?”

“Wikihow,” Bob replied.  “But they must not be Fleetwood Mac fans because it just made them angry.”

“It ain’t that hard, ya goobers,” Farmer Brown said, as he shook a burlap sack in the air.  “Ya just get some dog droppings and put them ‘round their holes.  They’ll bugger off if they think there’s a predator about.”

“Dog droppings?”

“But we don’t have a dog?”

“Well, most any critter would do,” Farmer Brown said.

“You know, they may not be leaving because they think there’s a predator,” Woodruff said.  “Maybe they’re leaving because you put poo on their doorstep.”

“That’s why Uncle Charles left us.”

“I thought you said your Uncle Charles died?”

“He did,” Bob said.  “He slipped on a frozen turd on the doormat.”

“I can’t believe ya’ll wasted a whole morning on foolishness.”

“That’s nothing,” Woodruff replied.  “We once wasted a weekend on malarkey and hogwash.”

“Haha, yeah,” Bob said.  “Who knew lemmings were such followers?”

“That’s it,” Farmer Brown said.  He took off his straw hat and hurled it down into the mud.  “I’ll take care of these varmints myself.”

With the burlap sack in one hand, the old farmer took hold of the tree roots on climbed up out of the ditch.

“Be careful,” Woodruff said.  “They’re really riled up.”

“Shoulda known when they asked to be paid with pie,” the old farmer muttered.

He shook his head and disappeared over the grassy berm.  Woodruff and Bob waited anxiously for sounds of conflict.  After several minutes of silence, they heard the pounding footsteps of the old farmer and the chatter of an army of ground dwelling rodents in the distance.  Farmer Brown came tumbling back into the ditch with his overalls covered in dog droppings.  Bob plugged his nose and Woodruff held his breath.

“This means war,” Farmer Brown said.

“No it doesn’t,” Bob said.  “This means this.”

“What are you blabbering about?” the old farmer demanded.

“This doesn’t mean war,” Bob replied.  “War is a state of open armed conflict between two hostile groups.”

“He’s right,” Woodruff said.  “This is used to identify a specify thing or a situation just mentioned.  This cannot mean war, this means this.”

The old farmer’s mouth fell open and he looked above Woodruff and Bob with terror in his eyes.  They turned around to see a gopher standing atop the berm with a menacing expression on his furry face and a turd in his little paw.

“They’re hostile and they’ve armed themselves!” Woodruff yelled.

“Run for you lives!” Bob shouted, as they turned and scurried out of the ditch.

Nothing But Nest

“Is that the last McGriddle?” Woodruff asked.

Bob dug through the wadded up napkins in the greasy bag, until he found the bottom.  He looked at the breakfast sandwich, wrapped in yellow paper, and then back at Woodruff.  With a solemn nod of his head, Bob confirmed the awful truth.

“I’ll play you for it,” Woodruff said as he waved his putter at Bob.

“Oh, now you want to play golf,” Bob said.  “Two minutes ago you were all ‘You can’t play golf in Central Park, Bob.’  And now…”

“No, I said there’s not golf course in Central Park, Bob.”

“Ba!” Bob scoffed.  “That doesn’t matter.”

“Uh, I think it does.”

“Look at all this grass,”

“And people.”

“And trees.”

“And people.

“It even has water hazards.”

“And people!”

“No problem, before you hit the ball just give one of these,” Bob said as he turned and cupped his hands around his mouth.  “Fore!”

Several pedestrians ducked and look frantically in Bob’s direction.

“Would you knock it off,” Woodruff said.  “You’re going to give somebody a heart attack.”

“You can’t give somebody a heart attack,” Bob said.  “You can cause a heart attack.  I’ve done that.  Six times.”

“You’ve caused six heart attacks?”

“That depends, are we talking strictly about people or are you including raccoons?”

“Let’s include all living things with hearts that can be attacked.”

“Oh, then I’ve cause eight heart attacks.”

Woodruff shook his head at his friend, who sat next to him on the park bench.  Two blonde women jogged by in matching pink outfits and smiled at Woodruff and Bob.  Woodruff waved at the joggers as Bob began to unwrap the McGriddle.

“Hey!” Woodruff protested.


“We haven’t decided who gets to eat that.”

“You were serious?”

“Yeah, I’ll play you for it.”

“You know the old adage,” Bob said.  “Never mess with a lumberjack when pancakes and sausage are on the line.”

“But you’re not a lumberjack,” Woodruff replied.

“Ancestry DNA says I’m 0.000017 percent lumberjack.”

“I’ll take my chances.”

“Your funeral.”

“How is losing a breakfast sandwich my funeral?”

“Have you ever been to a funeral?” Bob said.  “There are zero breakfast sandwiches.”


A brisk breeze blew an empty coffee cup down the cobblestone walkway until it lodged between the curb and the bench across from Woodruff and Bob.

“Okay, we’ll go shot for shot until somebody misses,” Bob said.  “I’m going across the cobblestone and into that cup.”


Bob squinted one eye nearly closed and lined up his put.  He drew in a shallow breath and struck the ball.  It danced across the old stones in the sidewalk and slid right into the cup.

“Boom!  That’s how it’s done!”

“Calm down,” Woodruff said.  “Watch this.”

Woodruff produced a florescent orange golf ball and placed it at his feet.  He surveyed the cup for a moment and checked for passersby before he looked back up at Bob.  With a grin and a wink, Woodruff smacked the orange golf ball, while keeping his eyes on Bob.  The orange blur went shooting across the cobblestone and careened into the Styrofoam cup on top of Bob’s ball.

“Daaaaang, Woodruff!”

“That greasy McGriddle is as good as mine.”

“All right,” Bob said with a bow.  “After you then.”

They let a second pair of joggers pass by and retrieved their golf balls from the cup.  Woodruff hurried up the walkway with Bob on his heels.  They stopped at a fork in the path.  One fork led out to a large pond and the other bent back toward a grassy knoll.  A mischievous smile spread across Woodruff’s face.

“Time to take this game up a notch.”

“I’m ready.”

“Okay, down this path, off that turtle shell, and up into the trash can.”

“No way.”


Woodruff dropped his ball and hit it before it came to a rest.  The ball raced down the path, straight for the turtle that was resting on the bank of the pond.  There was a loud crack as the ball bounced off the shell and looped back into the trash can.


The startled turtle began to retreat into the pond.

“Yeah, the turtle’s leaving!” Bob cried.

“You’d better hurry then.”

“That’s not fair.”

“All’s fair in love and pancakes.”

Bob quickly squatted down and placed his ball on the ground.  He plucked a blade of grass and dropped it gently in front of him to gage the wind.  The turtle had just reached the edge of the water when Bob stood up and whacked the ball down the path.  It slowed in the mud only slightly before striking the turtle shell and popping up and in the trash can.

“Booya!  Beat that!”

“That was impressive.”

“Impressive?  I hit a turtle fleeing into the water.  That’s nearly impossible.”

“Nah, I once shot into a kangaroo’s pouch at a hundred yards, and she was hopping away from a dingo.”

“Why would you shoot a golf ball at a kangaroo hopping away from a dingo?”

“Everyone knows an adult dingo cannot swallow a full sized golf ball,” Woodruff explained.  “She used it as a choking hazard and got away.”

“Clever girl.”

“Your turn.”

After retrieving their golf balls, Bob followed the path that led around the grassy knoll.  He picked a spot just clear of a grouping of large maple trees and held up his fingers to form a square.  Bob peered through his finger square and panned from one end of a long walking bridge to the other.

“Over the bridge, off the park bench, nothing but nest.”

“Let’s see it.”

Bob settled over the tiny white ball and swung his hips from side to side.

“Be the ball,” Bob whispered.

With a deep breath, he closed his eyes and drew back his club.  A swing and a clack sent the golf ball flying into the air over the gothic bridge.  The sound of a ping echoed back under the bridge as the white sphere hit the iron park bench and flew high up into the old maple tree.  It landed softly in an abandon nest of twigs and leaves.

“Nice shot!” Woodruff said.

“Thank you,” Bob replied with a deep bow.

“That’s going to be tough.”

“Tougher than hitting a hopping kangaroo at a hundred yards?”

“No,” Woodruff smiled and dropped his ball in front of him.

“Hey!” a deep voice shouted as Woodruff drew back his club.  Woodruff looked up at the shouting man, who wore a suit that matched his jet black hair.  His swing sent the ball flying toward the man in the suit.  The man ducked and the ball hit the lamp post behind him and flew over the bridge and up into the nest.  “What are you doing?”

“Uh, playing for the last McGriddle,” Bob said.

“And you totally yelled in my back swing.”

“Yeah, uncool.”

“You can’t play golf in Central Park,” the man in the suit protested.  “Your gonna hurt someone.”

“You really should have yelled fore, Woodruff.”

“My bad.”

“You guys are nuts!” the man in the suit waved his arms in disgust and walked back under the bridge.

Woodruff and Bob shrugged their shoulders and wandered into the grass.

“Okay, my shot.”

“Nuh uh, you lost.”

“Did not,” Woodruff argued and pointed up at the old maple tree.  “Nothing but nest.”

“Over the bridge, off the park bench, nothing but nest.  Not over the yelling guy, off the lamp post, over the bridge, nothing but nest.  Doesn’t count.”

“Well last round you hit the mud before you hit the turtle.”

“So we’re both disqualified then.”

“Fine, so who gets that delicious breakfast sandwich?”

Bob looked over at a row of park benches.  An old man, with holes in his shoes, was sleeping under a newspaper.  Bob looked back to Woodruff, who gave an affirming nod.  Gently, Bob nudged the sleeping man with holes in his shoes.  The old man stirred and sat up.  He looked down at the yellow wrapper in Bob’s hand.

“Excuse me, sir,” Bob said.  “Would you hold this for me while I race my friend down to the pond and back?”

Woodruff turned and bolted up the path.

“Winner gets the McGriddle!” Woodruff shouted.

“Cheater!” Bob cried.

The man with holes in his shoes watched as they raced away from him.  When they were out of sight he unwrapped the greasy sandwich and took a bite while he perused his paper.

Raiders of the Last Gardyloo

A white mist covered the top of the waters as the skiff sailed forward.  Even without the fog, their visibility would have been limited by the thick leaves crowding the narrow waterway.  Woodruff leaned over the bow and peered through the haze.

“You ever wonder what they do with the sleeves from sleeveless shirts?” Bob asked, leaning comfortable on the boat’s dormant motor.


“The shirt sleeves, what do they do with them?”

“On a sleeveless shirt?”


“I don’t think they were ever there.”

“That doesn’t make sense.”

“How come?”

“Because shirts have sleeves.”

“Not sleeveless ones.”

“Sleeveless what?”



“What are you talking about?”

“What’s the difference between pants and shirts?”

“You where pants to cover your legs and shirts to cover…”

“Your arms, right?”

“And your torso.”

“But your pants could cover your arms and torso.”

“No, there’s no hole for your head, no collar, and the legs aren’t cut to fit your arms.”

“But your shirt could cover your legs?”

“I guess, as long as it had sleeves.”

“Exactly, so a shirt has to have sleeves.”

“I’m not following you, Bob.”

“All’s I’m saying is that if it didn’t have sleeves, ever, it shouldn’t be called a shirt,” Bob replied.  “It should be called a torso covering with arm holes.”

“I’m not going to argue with you,” Woodruff said.

“Because I’m right.”

“Because you’re crazy.”

“You’ve never wondered what happens to the sleeves from a sleeveless shirt?”


Bob slumped his shoulders and pouted.  Woodruff shook his head and turned back to the bow.  The gentle sloshing of the water and the distant chirping of insects was the only thing cutting through the silence, which loomed as thick and heavy as the fog.

“We should open a sleeve shelter,” Bob finally said.  “Where we find loving homes for unwanted sleeves.”

Woodruff turned around and opened his mouth to speak, but words failed him.

“We could call it Forsaken Sleeve,” Bob continued.

Woodruff just stared blankly at his friend.

“Our slogan could be Tanks for your chari-Tee.”

Before Woodruff could respond, the skiff crashed into something and flung Woodruff overboard.  The off balanced vessel also tossed Bob into the murky water.

Bob quickly rescued his brown fedora from the drink and swam to Woodruff.  He held his head up out of the water and paddled back to the boat, with Woodruff in tow.  They both grabbed hold of the side of their watercraft and looked to see what had struck it.  Rising out of the mist was an ancient stone wall with green moss growing through the cracks.

“We’re here,” Woodruff said.

“So cool.”

With Woodruff pulling from the bow and Bob pushing from the stern, they followed the stone wall to a grassy bank and climbed ashore.  Woodruff squeegeed his wet pants while Bob shook water to all sides like a dog.  The mist dissipated as they climbed the stone steps that led up the hill, next to the towering wall.

“How do you know it’s here?” Bob asked, as he flopped a sopping wet fedora on his head.

“In the tenth century the Queen of Sheba traveled to Jerusalem to seek the wisdom of King Solomon,” Woodruff began.  “Her son Menelik is said to be the fruit of that meeting.  The legend says when Menelik left Jerusalem, to return to the country of his mother, he and his party took the ark with them.  It is said to have rested here ever since, guarded by celibate monks who vow to protect the ark for as long as they live.”

“Wow,” Bob said.  “Where did you learn about all that?”


They were met with a rod iron gate at the top of the hill, where the mist parted and the sun shone down on the structure like a heavenly spotlight.  Beyond the gate was a beautiful garden, surrounding a circular structure made of wood and stone.  A lone figure in a dark robe approached them.

“I am Father Haile Silas,” the man in the dark robe said.  “How may I help you?”

“Hi, I’m Woodruff and this is Bob.”

“We’ve come to see the ark.”

Woodruff shot a reproving look at his over anxious friend.  Bob raised his arms and, with his mouth opened slightly, shook his head back at Woodruff.  The monk stood silently and did not address Bob’s declaration.

“Yeah, um, we…” Woodruff struggled to recover in the face of the hooded gatekeeper.

“You know, the one that was on Indiana Jones,” Bob continued.

Woodruff again turned back to Bob with an earnest non-verbal petition for his silence.

“Do you get movies out here?” Bob asked the monk.  “You know, Doctor Jones.  Adventure archeologist.  The whip, the fedora.  Nazis.  Nothing?”

The monk gently removed his hood and peered at the two visitors.

“I am the guardian of the ark you speak of,” Father Silas said.  “Only those who have been anointed and taken an everlasting oath to protect it are permitted to see the ark.”

“Cool, I’m down.”

“Bob, he’s serious.”

“So am I.  This isn’t our first everlasting oath.  We signed that non-disclosure with Crayola and they don’t mess around when it comes to protecting their color palette.”

“The anointed have been brought up and prepared for the express purpose of bearing this glorious burden, passed down for thousands of years.”

“So that’s a no?”

The monk simply stared back at Bob with a resolute expression on his face.

“Bob, we should go.  Sorry to have disturbed you.”

“You’re giving up, just like that?”

“You heard him, we are not permitted to see it.”

Woodruff turned back to the monk and bowed.

“Again, we are sorry to have disturbed you.”

“Yes, totally.  Sorry to disturb, but could we use your bathroom before we go,” Bob said.  “That wat I had for breakfast is not agreeing with me.  Ya know, curry does a number the old bowels.”

The monk raised an eyebrow and examined Bob carefully.  Woodruff grinned uncomfortably as the trio stood in silence.

“You know, the little explorer’s room?” Bob explained.  “The restroom.  The outhouse.  The water closet.  The powder room.  The John.  The toilet?  The loo?”

After another long pause Father Silas produced an old skeleton key from beneath his robe and unlocked the gate.  He pulled it open and gestured for Woodruff and Bob to enter.  Once inside, the old monk closed and locked the gate and led the way down a small footpath, away from the circular stone church.

“What are you up to?” Woodruff whispered.

“I’ve got a plan,” Bob spoke through grit teeth as he smiled at the monk, who momentarily turned to observe them.  “I’ll distract him and you run over to the church and get a look at the ark.”

“I’m not going to do that.”

“Fine,” Bob whispered.  “You distract him and I’ll go.”


The monk stopped in front of a small wooden structure and gestured into the dark opening.  Bob bowed as he passed by Woodruff and entered the outhouse.  Inside, he discovered a long rectangular window at the back of the facilities.  Bob tossed his fedora through the window and quickly squeezed himself through the opening and let himself down the back side of the outhouse.  There he found the old monk waiting for him, with Woodruff standing off in the distance with his arms folded.

“Oh, uh, yeah, funny story,” Bob stammered, as he scooped up his fedora.  “I was, uh, just…”

“We have guarded the ark for over three thousand years,” Father Silas said.  “You think you’re the first one to try the old bathroom ploy?”

“Can’t blame a guy for trying,” Bob grinned sheepishly and fidgeted with his hat.

Father Silas escorted Woodruff and Bob back to the iron gate and out of the sanctuary.

“Again, so sorry for all this,” Woodruff said.

“Do you have like a gift shop where we can buy a survivor or something,” Bob said.  “You know, just to prove we’ve been here.”

The solemn monk turned, without a word, and began to walk back toward the old church.

“It could be anything really,” Bob said loudly.  “A brochure, a commemorative coin.  The latch of your saddle, the sleeve of your shirt.”

Father Silas turned back and smiled.

“Under these robes we do not wear shirts,” the old monk replied.  “We wear a torso coverings with arm holes.”

“See?” Bob said.  “These monks get it.”


“What day is it?” Woodruff asked.

“It’s Saturday,” Bob said.  “Or Monday.  I’m not sure.  When did Oceanic 815 crash on the island?”

“Uh, I think we started LOST on Friday.”

“What episode are we on now?”

“The Lighthouse, I think.”

“Oh, um, that’s one hundred and eight episodes at forty-four minutes a piece,” Bob calculated.  “Factoring in pauses for potty breaks and to pay the pizza delivery guy…”

“And the Uber driver with our takeout from Jade Palace,” Woodruff interrupted.

“Right,” Bob said.  “Um, well, it’s probably late Monday or early Tuesday.”

Woodruff stood up from his seat and stretched his arms high above his head.  He yawned and scratched his back, as he walked over to the drawn curtains.  Bob picked at the popcorn kernels scattered over his blanket and smelled his old blue t-shirt.  Woodruff pulled back the curtain and looked outside.

“It’s dark out,” Woodruff said.  “You think we should get some sleep?”

“But the smoke monster,” Bob said.  “And Hurley, and baby Aaron.  We’ve got to know what happens to baby Aaron.  What about Kate and Jack?  Are they going to get together?”

“You said the same thing about Jim and Pam.”

“And they did get together, you’re welcome.”

“And what about The West Wing?”

“What about The West Wing?” Bob replied.  “That was riveting television.”

“Yeah, SEVEN seasons of riveting television!” Woodruff exclaimed.

“Well, five and three-quarters were actually riveting.”

“And before that it was Arrested Development.”

“Those Peanuts call backs were hilarious.”

“And Breaking Bad?”

“How could he just watch Jane die?”

“And Gilmore Girls.”

“I still say Rory should’ve ended up with Logan, he challenges her.”

“And 30 Rock.”

“Liz Lemon proved you can have it all.”

Friday Night Lights.”

“Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.”

The Great British Baking Show.”

“You loved Mary’s Bakewell Tart.”

“Yeah, that was delicious,” Woodruff nodded and looked dreamily at the ceiling.  He shook his head rapidly and looked back down at Bob.  “That’s not the point.”

“What’s the point then?”

“We said we’d stop after we learned who Don Draper really was…”

“I did not see that coming.”

“And then we said we’d turn it off after Titus and/or Kimmy found true love.”

“Hashbrown, no filter.”

“This all started because we wanted to know what the Stranger Things were.”

“I’m not going to fight again, Woodruff, Eleven would beat Matilda hands down.”

“Bob, how long have we been watching Netflix?”

“Well, let’s see, I got a 30-day free trial on New Year’s Day, when Will rode his bike home and got pulled into the upside down by the Demogorgon.”

Woodruff tapped on his digital watch and his face was illuminated in its blue glow.  His eyes grew wide as he stared at the digital display.

“Bob, it’s February!”

“That’s not possible,” Bob said.  “My New Year’s resolution was to be more physically active.”

Woodruff flipped the switch on the wall and they both squinted and blinked at the explosion of light.  All the counter and table top space was covered with pizza boxes and Chinese takeout cartons, and the floor was littered with empty microwavable popcorn bags.

“Oh boy, there goes my resolution to eat better.”

“How did this happen?”

“I don’t know, I blame David Fincher.”

“We’ve, uh, we’ve got to get some sleep,” Woodruff said, rubbing his eyes.  “Or get outside.  We need to clean this up.  I gotta take a shower and get a clean change of clothes.  I need to call my broker and let him know I’m alive.  Oh my goodness!”

Woodruff drove into a pile of pizza boxes and started throwing them to either side.

“What?” Bob asked as he leapt out of his recliner.


“Lou who?”

“Lou,” Woodruff repeated.  “The iguana that followed us home from Jamaica.”

“Leaping lizards!” Bob exclaimed, as he began to peel through the cartons and boxes on the floor.

“Lou,” Woodruff called.

“Lou?” Bob cried.


Woodruff and Bob dug through the pizza box jungle as they made their way to the kitchen.  There they found a long green iguana lying on its back, on the linoleum floor, in front of the fridge.  His tongue hung out and his hind leg twitched.


The iguana’s head snapped up and he looked at Woodruff and Bob through groggy googly eyes.  Woodruff turned him over on his stomach and Bob laid a piece of pizza crust near his front claws.  Lou began to chew on the crust, listlessly.

“Thank Ted Danson he’s okay.”

Woodruff rinsed out a metal bowl and placed it on the floor.  Bob filled the bowl with what remained of a 2-liter bottle of Dr. Pepper and Lou began to lap up the room temperature brown liquid.

“Maybe we should get him something to eat besides pizza and egg rolls,” Woodruff suggested.

“Nah, you’ve got all five basic food groups covered.”

“That doesn’t sound right.”

“Bread,” Bob began, holding up his fingers as he counted.  “Pizza dough, boom.  Vegetables.  Cabbage, boom.  Fruit.  Pizza sauce, boom…”

“Pizza sauce?”

“Tomatoes are fruit.”

“Apologies,” Woodruff said.  “Continue.”

“Dairy.  Mozzarella, boom,” Bob said.  “Meat.  Eggs.  Plus, there’s pepperoni in the pizza and pork in the egg rolls, double boom!  Balanced diet.”

“But pizza is like loaded with carbohydrates, and egg rolls are deep fried.”

“Fact, everything is better when it’s deep fried and your body needs carbohydrates to live, look it up.”

“Can’t argue with that.”

“You could, but you’d sound like an idiot.”

Woodruff and Bob left the kitchen and made their way through the sea of empty popcorn bags, back to their easy chairs.  Bob shook the kernels off of his blanket and Woodruff plopped down on the cushion and held a half full popcorn bucket to his chest.

“We can’t go on like this, Bob.”

“I know.”

“This isn’t healthy.”


They sat and stared at the message on the screen.  Are you still watching “LOST”?  Woodruff picked up the remote and hovered between Continue Watching and Back.

“You know, we’re almost finished with the series,” Woodruff said.

“And it would be a shame not to see how this turns out.”

“We could just watch to the finale and then shut this thing down.”

“Totally,” Bob said.  “Although I did see that A Series of Unfortunate Events drops soon.”

“And we still haven’t seen The Crown.”

“Or Ozark.”

“Or House of Cards.”

“And I hear good things about Daredevil.”

Iron Fist looks cool too.”

“Don’t forget about Jessica Jones and Luke Cage.”

“Oh, and The Defenders!”

13 Reasons Why has an interesting premise.”

“Thirteen reasons why we should keep our Netflix subscription.”

“Okay, but right after Godless, Frontier, Marco Polo, and Master of None we are canceling.”

“No question,” Woodruff agreed.  “We catch up on the latest season of The Flash and it’s over.”

“You don’t want to give Supergirl a try?”

“Bob, be reasonable, know when to say when.”

“You’re right, Woodruff, you’re right.”

“And we’re going to make sure we take breaks to sleep and go outside this time.”

“For sure.”

“Come on, Lou,” Woodruff called back toward the kitchen.  “We’re about to find out what lies in the shadow of the statue.”

“I’ll get the lights,” Bob said, as he leapt up from his chair and closed the curtains.

Traffic Buster

“What’s the worst thing about traffic?”

“The stop and go, the delay, the cars, the people, the pollution, when your crayons melt from the heat.”


“What’s under the tarp?”

“It’s part of the presentation.”

“Your presentation just moved.”

“Bob, focus.”

“Uh, I don’t know, what’s the worst thing about traffic.”

“The view,” Woodruff said.  “All you can see are bumpers and brake lights.  It’s not just congestion of the roads, it’s congestion of the mind and soul.”

“That’s what my proctologist says.”

“Well, beneath this tarp is the cure.”

“For my colon?”

“For traffic.”

Woodruff tugged on the giant brown tarp with showman-like fashion and raised his arms as it floated to the ground.  “Ta da!”

“An elephant?”

“His name is Buster.”

“I don’t get it.”

“We ride Buster to work to avoid traffic.”

“I’m pretty sure taking an elephant on the Interstate is going to be the cause of traffic.”

“Don’t you see?” Woodruff said.  “With Buster we will be above it all.  No bumpers, no brake lights.  We’ll have a clear view in every direction.  Plus, we won’t be in the confines of a restrictive car.  We’ll be free.”

“I don’t know, Woodruff.”

“Just give it a try.”

Woodruff held up his right arm and made a waving motion with his left hand.  Buster knelt down on all fours and bowed his head to the ground.  Bob looked from the elephant to Woodruff and back to the elephant.

“Okay,” Bob said as he stepped on Buster’s leg and climbed unto his back.  Woodruff followed and squeezed between Bob and Buster’s large head.

“Hup hup,” Woodruff said.  Buster rose up and lumbered out of the hangar into the daylight.  “Buster, take a left on 29th and take I-95 South.”

Buster’s trunk tooted his reply and rapidly carried them up the road.

“I don’t have anything to hold onto, Woodruff.”

“Put your arms around me.”

“You’d like that, Sicko.”

The giant pachyderm shuffled up the onramp to join a slow moving caravan of cars, trucks, vans and semis.  A baby blue Prius honked at them as Buster joined the line.

“We’re tromping here!” Woodruff shouted.

Woodruff, Bob, and Buster were faced with a stream of red brake lights in front of them, which followed the highway up and over a bend.

“Wow,” Bob said.  “You were right.  This is already way better.”

“I told you.”

There was another series of honks and beeps from the baby blue Prius behind them as the traffic slowly pulled forward and Buster failed to pace.

“What is that guy’s problem?”

“It’s the congestion.”

“Hey Woodruff, look at that,” Bob pointed to his right.

Woodruff sat up straight and looked out over the rippling blue ocean.

“Beautiful,” Woodruff said.  “Hey Buster, look, you can see the ocean.”

Buster stopped and stood up on his hind legs.  Woodruff grabbed hold of Buster’s head and Bob grabbed hold of Woodruff.  A gentle breeze cut through the trio and another round of honking from the baby blue Prius disrupted their moment of Zen.

“Would you halt the honking!” Bob shouted.

“Uh oh.”

“What oh?”

Buster rocked back and a small tremor rippled through his body.

“In Pachydermish halt means make boom boom,” Woodruff explained.

Woodruff and Bob spun around and looked back as Buster dropped a steaming brown boom boom on the hood of the baby blue Prius.  The driver slammed his hands on the steering wheel with a disgusted look on his face.

“Run, Buster!”

The giant elephant bolted down the shoulder of the Interstate and knocked into a u-Haul truck, which nearly sent Bob sailing over the median.  He smashed two more side mirrors and tipped over a motorcyclist as he stampeded up the overpass.  A siren blared behind them and red and blue lights reflected off Buster’s gray body.

“Pull over, Buster,” Woodruff said.  “It’s the fuzz.”

Buster slowed to a stop and the police cruiser pulled up right behind them with its lights still flashing.

“No boom boom, Buster,” Bob said as he looked back of his shoulder at the perplexed patrolman.

“Is there a problem officer?” Woodruff asked.

The patrolman, in a black uniform, took off his mirrored sunglasses and put his hands on his hips.

“Do you know why I pulled you over?”

“Your honorable honorness, I didn’t know halt meant boom boom,” Bob said.  “But that Prius was begging for it.”

“What?” the patrolman questioned with a crinkled up mustache.

“I don’t think he knows about the pachydermy plop,” Woodruff whispered.

“Speeding?” Bob asked the patrolman.

“I pulled you over because you are riding an elephant on the Interstate.”

“There’s no law against that,” Woodruff replied.

“Actually there is.”

“Oh, well, uh…”

“What were you two thinking?”

“This is how you win at rush hour,” Bob said.

“What are you talking about?”

“You know how your colon gets congested and your proctologist gets all philosophical?”

“Are you drunk?”

“No,” Woodruff said.  “But Buster here is trunk faced.”

Woodruff and Bob chuckled and shared a high-five.

“This isn’t a joke,” the patrolman said.  “Do you want to go downtown?”

“We’re actually trying to get downtown right now,” Bob said.

“I meant to the police station.”

“No thank you,” Bob said.  “We’ve seen a lot of police stations.”

“Yeah,” Woodruff agreed.  “Remember Santa Barbara?”

“They were nice.”

“That blonde detective liked you.”

“Jules?” Bob replied.  “We still keep in touch.”

“Hey!” the patrolman interrupted.  “I’m serious.  I’m going to cite you two and impound your friend there.”

“Impound, Buster?” Woodruff said.  “More like imton.”

“Ha!” Bob laughed.  “Nice one.”

The patrolman chocked his head and placed his hand on his hip.

“He doesn’t get it.”

“You know,” Bob said to the unamused patrolman.  “Pound.  Ton.  ‘cause elephants are heavy.”

Buster tooted his trunk in a laughing fashion and the corners of the patrolman’s mustache turned up in a smile.  The traffic moved slowly by and a baby blue Prius with elephant poo on the hood rolled up.  A hipster with a brown beard stuck his head out the window.

“Haul them off to jail!” the hipster demanded.

“Did he say halt?” Woodruff asked.

Buster raised his tail and the hipster quickly rolled up his window and sped forward, colliding with the pickup truck in front of him.

“Move it along,” the patrolman said the Woodruff, Bob, and Buster.  “It’s citation time.”

“Hi ho, Buster, away,” Woodruff called and they rambled up the Interstate.

“Best commute ever!” Bob said as he held tight to his friend.

The Last Jedi Review

I won’t keep you in suspense.  I did not like Star Wars: The Last Jedi.  I did not like it a lot.

I have seen the film twice now, my small contribution to its massive financial success.  My hopes were high on opening night, as my brother-in-law and I took our seats and basked in the glow of the famous opening crawl.  However, there was an immediate disturbance in the Force and by the end credits I felt betrayed and bewildered.  How could this story have gone so horribly wrong?

I spent much of the weekend trading messages with my friend, and fellow Star Wars fan, about how disappointing and distressing The Last Jedi was.  After picking (and nitpicking) at the details and overall tone of the movie, I began to think I was being overly critical.  After all, there were parts I enjoyed very much.

I took my sons to see it a few days later.  This time I gave myself license to enjoy the movie for what it is, a Star Wars film for a new generation, but as I sat through this dumpster fire once more it reconfirmed everything that felt wrong, from the tone, to the plot, to the characters.  I left the theater and mourned all that might have been and everything we lost with The Last Jedi.

WARNING: Beyond this point there be spoilers!

From the opening scene I was bothered by the tone.  Don’t get me wrong, I laughed.  The prank call from Poe to the First Order was hilarious.  What bugged me though was that it undercut an already thin villain, in General Hux, and completely negated any tension built from the crawl of the desperate escape.  Then, just minutes after the yucks on Hux, we are asked to care about nameless bomber pilots, and their sacrifices, when they attempt to destroy a battleship that is so formidable that it is ill equipped to deal with a single X-Wing fighter, or a squadron of bombers, or able to target a base or a starship in a timely manner.  Not to mention the fact that you can’t drop bombs in space, there’s no gravity!

Smash cut to Ahch-To where we pick up right where The Force Awakens left us, Rey standing in front of old Luke Skywalker.  We’ve waited two years to hear what Luke will say or do when he is presented with his father’s lightsaber.  In some ways we’ve waited 30 years for this moment.  And what happens?  Luke literally, and figuratively, throws it away.  Both times I watched it, several people in the theater chuckled, but I was deflated.

We were ten minutes in and it was clear that Rian Johnson was set to throw away everything that had come before.  The question that I still have is, why?  JJ Abrams proved you could make a Star Wars movie for a new generation and still deftly use the building blocks, and characters, from the original films.  To a truly spiteful level, Johnson had no interest in doing that.

Say what you want about The Force Awakens, three intriguing questions came out of it.  1) Why did Luke go into hiding and what will he say?  2) Who is Rey, who are her parents and why was she abandon on Jaku?  3) What is Snoke’s story?

Johnson’s answers in The Last Jedi?

1) An eternal optimist, who never gave up on his father (a genocidal maniac, who cut off his hand), was going to murder his nephew in his sleep for having bad thoughts.  So he went into shame hiding and renounced his religion because he couldn’t keep an emo kid from succumbing to a bad influence.  If every father (or father figure) did that there wouldn’t be enough weird rock beehive huts on Ahch-To to accommodate us all.

Oh, and what will he say?  Nothing.  He’ll toss the lightsaber away and lock himself in his room, because that’s exactly how any of us would react if a young lady showed up at our doorstep with a family heirloom and a distress message from our sister.  Then Chewy, who was dramatically underused, beats down his door and Luke learns that this girl arrived in the Falcon.  And here Johnson throws another middle finger at Abrams and cuts away instead of showing us Luke’s reaction to learning that his old friend and brother-in-law was murdered at the hands of his own flesh and blood, and Luke’s former pupil.

Oh yeah, Johnson throws more shade at The Force Awakens, and the Skywalker dynasty, by having the tantrum-throwing Ren destroy his helmet in the elevator.  This helmet was a physical manifestation of his connection to his grandfather and, just like a lightsaber toss over the shoulder, it was discarded.

Immediately following that we watch Kylo struggle with the decision to kill his mother.  In an intense and emotional moment he chooses not to pull the trigger, only to have his colleagues destroy the bridge and we watch Leia get sucked into space.  She is floating in space, Guardians of the Galaxy style, before she wakes up and space floats, Mary Poppins style, back to the exploded bridge.  Because, the Force, that’s why.

Speaking of things the Force has never done before, back on Porg island, while Rey patiently waits for her ungracious host to finish fishing and milking alien sea cows, she gets a ForceTime message from Kylo Ren.  Yeah, that’s right, they can talk to each other and even see each other, but not their surroundings.  ForceTime, available on iOSnoke 17.  Rey shoots through the stone beehive hut and we are treated to these bizarre fish nuns and now must grapple with the fact that Luke hasn’t been living in seclusion but in a Cod Commune.  I’ll just leave that there for the moment.

Now things really go off the rails.  The B-storyline quickly devolves into a slow speed space chase where the First Order, who can now inexplicably track ships at light speed, can’t catch up with a ship that is right in front of them.  And this same organization who turned a planet into a weapon that could destroy other planets across the galaxy, can’t build a cannon that can reach a ship which they can see with their eyes through their front window.  They could literally step out on the deck and hurl rocks through space at the fleeing Resistance ship, but it was out of range of their guns.  If that wasn’t ludicrous enough, we have to endure a side mission (by two woefully unqualified side characters) to find a code breaker/thief who can get them on a ship to disable the miraculous technology that can be disarmed by a maintenance worker and that every janitor is privy to its location.  BOO!

While we’re on the subject, why was maintenance girl sent on this mission instead of the best pilot in the galaxy?  Maintenance girl could have stayed back and stalled and then it would have made sense for them to withhold the plan from her.  Also, why was maintenance girl allowed to pilot the speeders in the finale when there were clearly trained soldiers just sitting it out in the foxhole?  Her whole character was so contrived and this whole storyline asinine.

Switching back to things we actually cared about, Luke sneaks on to the Millennium Falcon, during a really funny exchange between Chewy and his dinner.  Luke is reunited with R2D2 and I start to think this movie might yet be redeemed by a touching tender piece of nostalgia, but immediately we are treated to more hilarity “Hey, sacred island, watch your mouth.”  This was so out of character for this version of Luke that I wanted to throw the middle finger to the screen.  You can either go with old cynical jaded Luke who has lost his faith in himself and forsook the Jedi order or go with playful banter between a droid and his master, the faithful steward and last protector of a dying religion.  You can’t have both.

So Luke decides to teach Rey a lesson (three of them actually, but she only gets two lessons).  Not how to be a Jedi but why she shouldn’t want to be.  Luke says the Force is not light or dark and does not belong to the Jedi, which is actually really well said.  I always assumed that to be true, from Obi Wan’s original explanation of the force as the thing that binds us, runs through us, and connects us.  At no point did I feel anybody laid claim to the Force but if that’s how Luke needed to teach it then I’m fine with it.  When Rey shows sensitivity to the Force and awareness of the dark side of it, Luke loses his cool again.  Rey trains herself with the lightsaber and disturbs the fish nuns again (eye-roll).

We flash back to the gamblers paradise where Finn immediately shows he cares as little for the mission as we do.  They give BB-8 some funny things to do and a whole bunch of I-Don’t-Care happens.  Poe is at odds with an interim Admiral who I can only describe as “Wouldn’t it be cool to have Laura Dern in a Star Wars Movie?  But how would that work?  Who cares, get her a purple wig and we’ll figure it out.”  Purple-hair Laura Dern doesn’t share her master plan, because reasons.  Her master plan, by the way, is to cruise by an uncharted planet with an old rebel base on it and send out cloaked ships while the First Order continues to follow their RV that’s about to run out of gas.  Did I mention they have cloaking devices now?  The First Order designed something that can track a ship at light speed but not a scanner that can sweep for escaping vessels right in front of them.

So Rey goes into a Dark Side Funhouse and then Luke catches her Force touching with Kylo Ren and loses his junk.  Rey and Luke stick fight until she takes him down and threatens him with a laser sword.  Yeah, Luke called it a laser sword.  Boo!

She tries to convince him that there is good in Kylo but Luke, who made the same argument for his youngling murdering father, would rather just lay there in the rain than trust hope.  When Rey finally sees what a disappointment Luke is, she leaves.

Of course Luke’s first thought is “I should burn that old tree and those old books.  That will show the Force.”  Yoda shows up and I squealed a little.  They even brought back puppet Yoda, or CGI’d puppet Yoda.  Either way, YODA!  He delves out wisdom after conjuring lightning and cracking Luke on the noggin with his Force Ghost cane, which we can add to the list of things we didn’t know you could do with the Force.  How are these guys losing to the Dark Side?  I’m starting to think that Force Ghosts are selfish jerks.

Skipping the “Nobody cares about the mission to disable a tracking device that won’t matter because the plan is to abandon ship anyway” storyline, Rey jettisons herself from the Falcon in an escape coffin that can be piloted into Snoke’s ship.  Snoke shows how powerful he is.  He can move people and things around at will and connect them via ForceTime from across the galaxy.  He can even foresee the future, but he can’t see a lightsaber turning on the armrest next to him.

Who is Snoke?  Answer 3) You’ll never know, so shut up.

The fight scene that follows is really cool though.  Then comes the old “join me and we’ll rule the galaxy” invite.  Rey refuses and Kylo Ren tells her that he saw her parents through the Force and that they are junkers who sold her for drinking money and died penniless.  Answer 2) Well, that sucks.

Purple-haired Laura Dern tells the First Order to “Track This!” and crams her hyperdrive in the First Order’s Snoke hole.  That visual was dope.  So well done.  The audio space vacuum was amazing.  Probably the best Star Wars explosion and that’s saying something.  It almost redeemed the atrocious dialogue written for purple-haired Laura Dern.  “God speed.”  When in all of Star Wars history has God ever been mentioned?  It’s the Force.  You know, may the Force be with you.  Not God speed.  “No, don’t turn back.  Full speed ahead.”   Were they not going “full speed ahead” already?  Cause they really should have been, seeing how they were escaping and all.

I won’t even waste time and energy on the disposal Captain Phasma, since the screenwriter/director didn’t either.

The surviving spark that will light the fire that will… (too exhausted to care) lands on not-Hoth and holds up in the old rebel base.  The First Order slow marches from a distance to give Poe and company time to jump in old speeders and ramble out to battle.  Chewy, the Porgs, and Rey show up in the Millennium Falcon and lead the TIE Fighters away from the battle.  That was also outstanding.

Enter poorly thought out dialogue again “Concentrate all fire on the speeders!”  What were they concentrating all fire on before?  There are only 13 speeders, that’s been well established.  The reckless Poe calls for retreat, because Leia and purple-haired Laura Dern reformed the loveable scoundrel with secret admiration and stern reproving (boo!), but Finn charges forward anyway.  Only to be run down from behind by maintenance girl, who had retreated and then turned around to catch him from the side.  How?!  Was he not going full speed ahead?

The portable cannon, that apparently doesn’t work in space against a slowly fleeing space cruiser, blows a hole in the base.  The spark that will light the…(sigh) loses hope until Luke Freaking Skywalker shows up!  Wait, why is his hair shorter and his beard darker.  Something’s not right.  Oh well, Luke is here!  He kisses Leia on the forehead and throws 3PO a nod before walking out to face down the First Order with his laser sword.  In a dazzling display of pyrotechnics, Ren orders Skywalker blasted into salt dust.  Just For Men Luke emerges from the smoke and flames unscathed and Ren condescends to fight him.

The spark that…(head shake) follows the crystal foxes to the rock avalanche while Luke dances with Darth Poser.  Our suspicions are confirmed when Ren slices through the Force projection of Luke.  Another disappointment for what was a stunning visual.  After telling Ren that the Resistance was only beginning his projection fades away before we watch actual Luke fade away.  Because he was tired?

What a complete waste of Luke Freaking Skywalker!

Rey force lifts the boulders and rescues the spark…(growl).  Like a dozen people board the Falcon and escape.  Kylo Ren enters the base with salt troopers and finds the Falcon’s fuzzy dice projection, which somehow survives just long enough for Ren to see it, even after Luke has vanished.  When the Force awakened it must have learned new tricks.

Finally we are treated to indentured children from the B-storyline recounting the legend of Luke Skywalker facing down the First Order (even though they should be recounting how Leia used the Force to come back from the dead and fly through space) their taskmaster tells them to get back to work.  One of the boys Force fetches his broom and looks up at the sky.  Uh, I think we’ve already seen a young mistreated slave boy with Force powers.  Somebody take that kid’s midichlorian count, stat.

Unless you are a special little snowflake born in the last twenty-five yearss, this film was not made for you.  You might have enjoyed it, but this movie was the equivalent of Disney giving the keys to the car to an unlicensed Millennial, more interested in sending a funny SnapChat to his online “friends” in Asia than safeguarding the family vehicle, and he drove this piece right into a ditch.  Search your feelings, you know it to be true.

Help me JJ Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.