# 28:

To be in heaven
and not know you are in heaven
is one of life’s great tragedies.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




Sainthood


















The road to sainthood
is paved with sin.




~ by Russ Allison Loar
~ Photo by ?
© All Rights Reserved

# 179:

Criticism may be necessary,
but it’s more profound to construct
than criticize.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved





Alternate Endings





On center stage is a large, green chalkboard mounted on a wooden swivel frame. Standing stage right is geeky Lab Coat Man wearing a white lab coat with many pens in his pocket protector. He’s wearing oversized black oval glasses and holding a long wooden pointer. On stage left, next to the chalkboard, is a six-foot Toucan wearing a large striped tie. He has a giant yellow beak he uses rhythmically when he dances. A door is visible in the background.

The Italian song, "Zooma, Zooma"

{Music opens in new tab. Click original tab to return to text while music plays.}

starts up with a vamp, waiting for Lab Coat Man to begin his song. He begins to sing, pointing to the lyrics on the blackboard as he sings them in an Italian accent while Toucan dances gaily in place.

LAB COAT MAN: ♫ Take a toucan to a tie shop, buy a tie for toucan too. (Music vamps – Toucan dances) Take a toucan to a tie shop and he wear a tie like you. ♫

More vamping and Toucan dancing while the sound of loud knocking becomes apparent, as if from an adjacent wall or ceiling. It’s Angry Neighbor shouting muffled complaints that cannot be heard clearly.

LAB COAT MAN: ♫ Take a toucan to a pie shop, buy some pie for toucan too. (Music vamps, Toucan dances) Take a toucan to a pie shop and he eat some pie like you. ♫

More vamping and Toucan dancing while the sound of knocking grows louder and Angry Neighbor’s voice becomes more furious.

Lab Coat Man flips the blackboard over where the words of the chorus are written in large letters for the audience to sing along.

LAB COAT MAN: Everybody sing! ♫ Ay, yi, yi, toucan like a pizza pie. Ay, yi, yi, toucan like a pizza pie. Ay, yi, yi, toucan like a pizza pie. Ay, yi, yi — ♫

Suddenly, Angry Neighbor bursts through the door and points a gun at Toucan while the music abruptly slows down and stops with the sound of a needle scratching across the surface of a record.

ANGRY NEIGHBOR: I told you! No pets!

Angry Neighbor shoots Toucan with a gun that ejects a red flag upon which the word “Bang!” is written. Toucan grabs his chest, swoons and attempts to hold on to the blackboard, then collapses on the floor.

Lab Coat Man pulls out a gun from his pants pocket and shoots Angry Neighbor. His gun also ejects a red flag with the word “Bang!” written on it. Angry Neighbor grabs his chest as Toucan did and collapses behind Toucan.

The song, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” begins to play while Lab Coat Man bends over the dying Toucan.

LAB COAT MAN: (After mournful consideration of Toucan, holding his wing, looking into his eyes) You’re the last toucan Angry Neighbor will ever shoot—on this planet anyway!

TOUCAN: (Looking lovingly at Lab Coat man with raised head, then as he lowers his head, with his dying breath) Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!

LAB COAT MAN: (Standing up and turning toward the audience) Now, the alternate ending!

Lab Coat Man and Toucan resume their places while Angry Neighbor leaves the stage. The scene repeats. "Zooma, Zooma" begins to play.

LAB COAT MAN: ♫ Take a toucan to a tie shop, buy a tie for toucan too. (Music vamps, Toucan dances) Take a toucan to a tie shop and he wear a tie like you. ♫

More vamping and Toucan dancing while the sound of loud knocking becomes apparent, as if from an adjacent wall or ceiling. It’s Angry Neighbor shouting muffled complaints that cannot be heard clearly.

LAB COAT MAN: ♫ Take a toucan to a pie shop, buy some pie for toucan too. (Music vamps, Toucan dances) Take a toucan to a pie shop and he eat some pie like you. ♫

More vamping and Toucan dancing while the sound of knocking grows louder and Angry Neighbor’s voice becomes more furious.

Lab Coat Man flips the blackboard over where the words of the chorus are written in large letters for the audience to sing along.

LAB COAT MAN: Everybody sing! ♫ Ay, yi, yi, toucan like a pizza pie. Ay, yi, yi, toucan like a pizza pie. Ay, yi, yi, toucan like a pizza pie. Ay, yi, yi — ♫

Suddenly, Angry Neighbor bursts through the door and the music abruptly slows down and stops with the sound of a needle scratching across the surface of a record.

ANGRY NEIGHBOR: You’re having a party and I wasn’t invited?

LAB COAT MAN: Why of course you’re invited. The party hasn’t started yet. We were just rehearsing!

There’s a loud knocking at the door. Lab Coat Man opens the door and Pizza Delivery Boy enters.

PIZZA DELIVERY BOY: One extra-large banana pizza to go!

Lab Coat Man, Toucan and Angry Neighbor all look at one another for a moment, then burst out laughing while the “Zooma, Zooma” vamp begins again. They all sing the chorus together.

LAB COAT MAN: Come on everybody! Sing along!

All begin to sing, while singing offstage actors costumed as slices of pizza wearing ties dance onto the stage, tossing slices of pizza to the audience.

EVERYONE SINGS AND CLAPS: ♫ Ay, yi, yi, I like a pizza pie. Ay, yi, yi, Toucan like a pizza pie. Ay, yi, yi, I like a pizza pie. Ay, yi, yi, Toucan like a pizza pie. Ay, yi, yi, I like a pizza pie. Ay, yi, yi, Toucan like a pizza pie. Ay, yi, yi, I like a pizza pie. Ay, yi, yi, Toucan like a pizza pie. ♫

Singing continues until audience enthusiasm begins to wane as actors leave the stage. Then the music is abruptly slowed and stopped as before with the sound of a needle scratching across the surface of a record. Angry Neighbor pulls out a machine gun.

ANGRY NEIGHBOR: Wait a minute! I told you no pets!

Angry Neighbor shoots Lab Coat Man and Toucan in a barrage of fire. Their bodies shake as they are riddled with bullets, then crumple to the ground. Angry Neighbor surveys the carnage, then blows smoke from the barrel of his machine gun, grabs a piece of pizza and exits through the door.




Curtain



~ by Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

# 111:

I am skeptical of any advice
that contains the words: “You must . . .”



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved





I Slapped My Father, Hard



















I  slapped my father hard, a clean open-fisted slap that sent his bifocals skidding across the kitchen floor.


It was the culmination of my accumulated rage against that man. It was a reaffirmation of the difference between us, of the vow I’d made to never, ever become anything at all like him. It was complete rejection, without hesitation.

It was a vow often repeated but first intoned when I was eight years old, the morning after The Dream. It was a dream that would both instruct and haunt me for the rest of my life. In The Dream, I saw my parents as I’d often seen them late in the evening, from behind a canvas shade pulled down to cover the glass-paneled door that separated my tiny bedroom from the family room where they spent their evenings watching television. My makeshift bedroom was originally a den. Although their house was built by an architect, it was not designed for two children. I was the second child.

By curling the edge of the shade back a bit with my thumb and forefinger, I could watch television shows that were on past my bedtime, and I could watch my parents. I discovered my mother smoked. She had never, ever smoked in front of me or my older sister, and especially not in front of her parents who lived next door, who would have been horrified. I also saw my parents drink. Sometimes they filled the house with strangers who talked loud and drank and talked louder and drank more and filled the house with smoke and loud frightening laughter surrounding and invading my tiny dark room.

My parents acted gracious and kind when observed by others, but alone at home they were troubled and angry. I was often jolted out of sleep in the middle of the night by the sobbing and screaming of my mother, by the angry accusations shouted by my father. I knew this meant I would be severely disciplined the next day for the smallest transgression. I would be hit. It might be a slap across the face, a spanking or repeated blows during the frenzy of unharnessed rage.

I spent most of my younger years assuming guilt, wondering why I was such a bad child, deserving of so much punishment. But as I grew older, I developed a growing awareness that I was not really the cause of their anger, just the excuse.


THE DREAM:

I was standing next to the glass-paneled door in the dark of my room and pulled back the shade just enough to see my parents turning off the television. They began pulling at their hair. Finally, with great effort, pulling off the masks of their human faces, revealing their true faces, the faces of wolves. After removing their clothing they were fully transformed into wild and frightening fur-covered beasts. They snarled and snickered, malevolently amused at their deception, walking on four legs toward their bedroom and out of my sight.

The next morning I vowed I would never give in to these wild beasts, these devourers. I would fight them. I would defend myself. I knew their secret.




~ by Russ Allison Loar
~ Artwork by Kevin Hensels
© All Rights Reserved

# 164:

There is no greater gift
than the gift of a new day,
along with the health, sanity
and freedom to make use of it.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved