The Snapple Discount Conundrum

Snapple, life, humor, Modern PhilosopherI like Snapple, Modern Philosophers.

If you read this blog, and haven’t picked up on that fact by now, I’m going to have to question your reading comprehension skills.

Virtually every afternoon, when the work day really gets me down, I find myself craving my favorite beverage.

Alas, the vending machines in my building do not dispense Snapple, regardless of how much money I shove into them.

So every day, I sigh and die a little inside as I try to pretend that my glass of water is just as delicious and refreshing as The Best Stuff on Earth.

Friday night, when I was grocery shopping (as I always do because I am a creature of habit), I came across an intriguing coupon on my store’s app.

$2.50 off a 12 pack of Snapple.

Snapple, life, money, humor, Modern PhilosopherI never buy the 12 pack, but that offer was as sweet as the beverage to which it applied.

How could I ignore it?  If I took advantage of it, I could bring a bottle to work every day, and enjoy a dozen consecutive joyous afternoons of placating my cravings.

So I took he plunge.  As wild and crazy as that sounds, I actually bought something not on my shopping list.

I didn’t set out to be a rebel, but sometimes, one just gives in to the call of the wild.

It wasn’t until the following evening, when I entered my debit card purchase into my check book, that I realized I had been conned.

They had lured me into buying the 12 pack with their tempting coupon, but then they hadn’t taken the promised $2.50 off my bill.

What the @#$% were they trying to pull?  Did they have any @#$%^&* idea who they were messing with?

Okay, I have to admit that I didn’t curse.  I wasn’t even upset.  I just added that to the post for a little dramatic effect.

I suddenly faced a philosophical quandary.  $2.50 wasn’t a huge amount of money by any means, but the coupon had definitely influenced my purchase.

coupons, money, humor, Modern PhilosopherPlus, even if it was some sort of unfortunate oversight, it still made me feel like they were trying to pull something over on me, and I didn’t like that.   If I didn’t say something, I’d convince myself I was a sucker who didn’t stand up for himself.

And to be honest, this country is already going to hell in a grocery basket.  If we don’t honor our coupons, the next thing you know, we’re enacting The Purge and drawing names for The Hunger Games.

It was my patriotic duty to march back to the store and demand my money.

But the Yankees were on, and it was late, and I was already pretty comfortable on the couch.  So I decided I would be an American hero the next day.

And hero it up, I did.

I marched into the grocery store, stood face to face with the high school kid behind the customer service counter, and politely explained what had happened.

His exact words, and I’ll never forget them because this was such a momentous occasion for me, were: “So, do you, umm, like just want your $2.50 then?”

@#$% yeah, I want my $2.50, son!

Again, I neither cursed, nor referred to the young man as “son”.  I did, however, nod and put out my hand for him to fill it with cash.

America, humor, Modern PhilosopherTwo dollar bills and a couple of quarters didn’t really feel up my hand, but the significance of it all certainly did.

I had stood up for what I believed in, and assured that every hardworking American still had a say in how this country does business.

And you know how I celebrated?  By drinking an ice cold Snapple at my desk this afternoon while dreaming of all the exciting ways I could spend that $2.50 that was burning a whole in my pocket…

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The Delicate Balance Of Life

life, philosophy, Modern PhilosopherYou might want to strap in, Modern Philosophers, because I plan to get a little philosophical.

I was out for my morning run.  The sky was dark, and it smelled like rain.  That seemed fitting as it matched my mood.  Black clouds were rolling in both figuratively and literally.

I wasn’t in the worst of moods, but I was feeling grumbly.  That consistent forty hours a week I spend outside The House on the Hill has been stressful lately, something was wrong with the clothes dryer, and I was upset that I hadn’t heard back from my producer about the TV series I created.

So I tried to run it out.  When I’m upset, I pick up the pace as if to take out my frustration on the ground by pounding it a little harder with each stride.

When I run, I get lost in my thoughts.  Since I’d just finished the TV series, I wasn’t able to drift off and write the next episode in my head.  As a result, I was forced to ruminate on the issues that had enticed the black clouds to return and cast a shadow over me.

I finished my run in a good time.  Apparently, I was more stressed than I’d realized.  As I was walking down the block to cool down, a fire truck raced past me with the sirens wailing and lights flashing.  Seconds later, an ambulance sped past.

Curious, I kept walking.  Both vehicles had parked in front of the apartment complex at the end of my street.  The paramedics were running with a stretcher to the front door.  Someone came out of the building and told them they had arrived just in time.

There was no sign of a fire, so I assumed it was a medical emergency.  I found myself saying a silent prayer for whoever those first responders were on their way to help.

And I realized that my problems paled in comparison to whatever was going on in that apartment complex.  I could always find another job, the dryer could be fixed or replaced, and my producer will get back to me eventually.

Ferris Bueller, life, wisdom, Modern PhilosopherNothing on that list was life threatening.  I was wasting valuable brain cells and precious time worrying about petty things instead of just enjoying life.  I walked back to The House on the Hill and focused on what I’d just accomplished.

Another run under my belt.  Ten episodes of a TV series written.  A house to go back to, even if there was damp laundry waiting.  A job to put food on the table, even if it did give me headaches.

I sat on the front porch and just appreciated the Spring morning.  Birds were singing. My freshly mowed front lawn looked great.  The skies had yet to open with rain, but I actually like a good storm so I anxiously waited for Mother Nature’s show to begin.

Shortly thereafter, a friend messaged me her thoughts on Episode Nine of my TV series.  They were all positive, and I got lost in a chat about the characters, the twist and turns in the story, and the little Easter eggs I’d planted in the episode.

Before I went inside for a much needed shower, I sent a tweet out into the world…

That seemed to sum up my morning perfectly.  Sometimes, life is a philosophical roller coaster, but who doesn’t enjoy a good thrill ride?

Much like my fellow Modern Philosopher Ferris Bueller, I’ve come to realize that I can’t slow down the speed of life, so I have to just stop and look at it, and then decide how to move forward with what I am able to control…

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I Finished Writing Season One!

writing, celebration, humor, Modern PhilosopherI’m excited to announce that I have finished writing Season One of my TV series, Modern Philosophers!

That’s no small feat, so I want to take a moment to celebrate the achievement before reality sinks it.

Ten episodes, over 500 pages, and I wrapped it up with an ending that is both satisfactory if the show only lasts one season, and also opens the door for new adventures in Season Two.

While I am thrilled with this accomplishment, I have also learned from my many years as a writer, to temper my excitement.

After all, if no one buys the series, and it never gets made, I will have just spent the better part of a year pouring my heart into a project that no one will ever see.

But let’s stay positive and talk about things like everything is going to happen as planned.

I’m proud of myself for tackling this age old philosophical question:

writing, take risks, humor, Modern Philosopher“What would happen if, rather than waiting for someone to discover my writing talent, I did something more proactive?”

I think Aristotle was the first to pose that question.  I know he never got around to writing that TV series that was always on his bucket list, and I didn’t want to suffer the same fate.

My producer friend had been after me to write a series, but I’d never really given it serious thought.

After all, I’m a screenwriter, who moonlights as a joke writer for television.  What did I really know about writing a TV series?

Do you mean other than all the hours of TV I’ve watched in my life, and then thought that I could either do much better, or wished that I’d come up with such a brilliant idea?

I didn’t know anything about blogging, either, and that’s turned out pretty well.

I’m always up for a writing challenge, and I’ve forever assumed that my boring life would be the perfect fodder for a popular TV series, so I had to go for it.

Let me be perfectly honest.  This has been a challenge like no other in my writing career.  One doesn’t just decide to create a TV series, and then it magically happens.

But the hard work has been exhilarating.  I’ve written pretty much every day for months.  If I wasn’t turning out script pages, I was scribbling down notes.  I recorded and watched hours of some of my all-time favorite  TV shows.

Parks and Rec, TV, writing, Modern PhilosopherI have an even greater appreciation for Parks & Rec and The Office now that I’ve re-watched them and studied them as research for my series.

All that work totally paid off.  I’ve never been this prepared for a writing project.

I’m infamous for coming up with an idea, and then just opening up the laptop to see where the story and characters take me.

This time around, I had outlines and a hard ten episode limit.

Sure, I still ignored the outline at times, and let the story and characters run amuck and lead me to the ending they wanted, but I always knew how the season was going to end.

Anytime I veered from my outline, some future story idea had to pay the price because there was no way the ending was changing, and I couldn’t write more than ten episodes.

Many ideas didn’t make it onto the page.  Luckily, some of them can be used in future seasons.  Others, however, will never have their moment in the sun.

Episode 10 was challenging because everything had to be wrapped up by that final page.  There was no Episode 11 option should I decide to wander off the beaten path.

I’ve known for months what the final two scenes were.  I just had to get there, and decide what absolutely had to make it into that final script.

At one point on Saturday, I was writing out on the front porch, and wandered across the street to talk to my neighbor about whether I should include a scene in the finale.  It wasn’t absolutely necessary to get me to my ending, but it would offer a little comeuppance for the character who’d turned into the series’ antagonist.

relationships, humor, writing, Modern PhilosopherIf you’ve been paying attention to my posts about this series, you know that a key story line is my meeting the woman who would become my ex-wife and go on to haunt my nightmares.

So perhaps that gives you some idea of who the antagonist might be, and why it would be tempting to write a scene where she gets a little payback.

That was a challenging decision.

About halfway into Episode 10, I realized that two of the minor characters, who had appeared in every episode to this point, were not in the outline.  Their stories had been wrapped up, and they were not involved in the final scenes. However, it occurred to me that if this series got made, and if it then didn’t get renewed for a second season, I’d regret not giving these characters some screen time in the last episode.

So into Episode 10 they went because it seemed like the right thing to do.

I did have a setback on Friday night.  I arrived at a point in the script that I knew was going to be difficult to write.  I had to recall one of the most heartbreaking events of my life, and I wasn’t sure how I would react to it.

I cried.

Like a baby.

NYU, writing, TV, Modern PhilosopherI wrote through the tears, and I just hope I did the scene justice.  Journeying back to my time at NYU has been a blast, but even though those were four of the happiest years of my life, I did experience a horrible loss during that time.

And it was something that could not be left out of the story because of how much of an impact it’s had on my life since.

When I finally made it to the last scene, I was depressed.  I didn’t want the story to end.  These characters have been living in my head for so long, and I’m going to miss them.

Hopefully, there will be more seasons, so I can play with them again.

Even though I’ve known the ending for months, I still cried when I wrote the last two lines of dialogue.  And not because they’re sad, but because I’m a big sap.

I did a read through of Episode 10 the next day, and those last two lines makes me cry again.  I just hope you all get a chance to experience them, too, and then tell me if they moved you to tears.

Everyone keeps asking me what happens next.  This is the part I hate.  I pour my heart and soul into these scripts, and now the business types have to decide if they are worth the money necessary to bring them to life.

Hollywood, writing, humor, Modern PhilosopherI’m going to stay positive.  I’m going to believe that this series will get made.

If my producer can’t get it done, then I’m going to figure out something on my own.

This story deserves an opportunity to entertain you all.  Let’s hope Hollywood agrees with me on that…

Are you excited to watch my TV series if it gets made?

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My Own Personal Death Star

Death Star, Star Wars, humor, Modern PhilosopherA long time ago, in a neighborhood far, far away, a lonely boy sat in his bedroom in Brooklyn, and dreamed about growing up to be a Jedi Knight.

That sad, lonely, nerdy boy was me, Modern Philosophers.

You didn’t need Jedi powers to figure out that one…

I wanted to trade in a boring life that centered around Catholic school and spending way too much time with my family, for an action packed life that involved journeying to strange, new worlds and freeing the galaxy from the Emperor’s clutches.

Plus, I absolutely wanted to get my hand on a lightsaber.  That thing would come in really handy every winter when I need to clear the snow from my driveway.

Of course, I also wanted the confidence that would go along with being a Jedi, and knowing the Force was strong with me.

Ben Kenobi, Jedi Mind Trick, Star Wars, humor, Modern PhilosopherI could never bring myself to talk to Cathy Fitzpatrick and tell her how I felt, so perhaps the Jedi Mind Trick would have been very helpful to a kid, who just didn’t understand how to talk to the opposite sex.

I am the nerdy guy you are looking for”…

It was fun to imagine I had been hidden on Earth to protect me from Darth Vader and The Emperor, as they worked to purge the Jedi from existence.

That would totally explain why I was so different from the rest of my family.

Alas, my dream of becoming a Jedi never came to fruition.

It’s hard to journey to strange, new worlds, when one’s aversion to driving keeps him from ever venturing out much further than a fifteen mile radius from The House on the Hill.

Although, I did make a visit to Wal-Mart this morning, and that place can totally give the  Mos Eisley Cantina a run for its money on a good day.

Darth Vader, The Emperor, Star Wars, humor, Modern PhilosopherThe closest I’ve come to toppling the Emperor has been writing monologue jokes and blog posts that poke fun at Darth Orange aka President Trump.

So I guess that makes my pen my lightsaber, which makes sense, since I’ve always been told that it’s mightier than a sword.

Much like Luke and Rey, I’ve found myself isolated in a desolate place while all the excitement takes place far away from where I could ever have an impact.

Of course, Maine isn’t a desert wasteland like Tatooine or Jakku.  It’s more like the ice planet Hoth.  Regardless, I still feel like life is passing me by while I wait for adventure to find me.

Sometimes, however, I feel like I’ve turned to the Dark Side.  And not just because I root for my beloved Yankees aka The Evil Empire.

I’m worried that I’ve taken it way beyond that.  Like I’ve somehow managed to construct my very own Death Star.

I can barely fix things around The House on the Hill, so I have no idea how I’d be able to build a space station capable of wiping out entire planets.  Maybe it has something to do with those latent Jedi powers that I’ve always known were buried deep below the surface.

Death Star, Star Wars, relationships, humor, Modern PhilosopherRegardless of how it came to be, I sense that my own personal Death Star follows me everywhere I go.  It’s always behind me, so I never see it, but if I search my feelings, I can tell that it’s there.

Hovering.  Waiting.  Rather than destroying worlds, however, this weapon blows up any sort of relationship in my life.

My Death Star ensures that I am forever alone.  I have no idea how it picks its targets, arms itself, and fires its deadly laser, but it’s extremely accurate.

My inner psychiatrist tells me that my Death Star is under my control.  Somehow, I am identifying threats, powering up the operating systems, and giving the command to fire.

Ironically, that would confirm my lifelong suspicion that I do, in fact, have Jedi powers.

What made me turn to the Dark Side?  This blog doesn’t have enough available memory for me to list every event in my life that could have led to my choosing the wrong path.

Something happened, though, that led me to fear that any serious relationship in my life was a threat.

Who is the Sith Lord who has secretly trained me to tap my anger, and become more powerful that I ever imagined was possible?

Oh, I have my suspicions, but I’d never list them here.

At the moment, I need to focus my efforts on finding a flaw in my own personal Death Star so that I can destroy it before I am cursed to living out my days all alone.

Rey, Daisy Ridley, Star Wars, humor, Modern PhilosopherI know my Rey is out there, but I’m afraid that she will wander into my life while my Death Star is still fully operational.

I don’t want her to be obliterated before she can rescue me with her unconditional love.

But how does one man destroy the ultimate weapon that he might have created without even realizing it?  What in the world has my beautiful mind done…

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The Magic Of Running In The Rain

running, health, fitness, writing, humor, Modern PhilosopherMy stepmother had a saying, Modern Philosophers, about how only a fool isn’t smart enough to come in out of the rain.

So perhaps it’s my stepmother’s fault that I  enjoy running in the rain.  After all, I was too frightened of her to stand up to her, but dashing through the raindrops is the sort of act of rebellion that’s right up my alley.

It was raining this morning when I left The House on the Hill for my run.  To be honest, since I run in the snow, a little rain is never going to bother me.

It’s not like I’m a wicked with who’s going to melt when the water hits me.

But I actually look forward to heading out in a storm.

And it’s not just because of the rebel in me.

There’s something magical that happens whenever I run in the rain, and that magic comes in handy during stressful moments in my life.

I wasn’t particularly stressed this morning, but it was a very long week.  I was run down, dealing with some nagging pain in my shoulder, and just not finding myself in the right mindset to write.

Sure, writing is also a great way to combat stress, but at the moment, I’m tackling the Season Finale of my TV series, and I was not going to do that when I wasn’t in the proper creative space.

running, health, fitness, writing, humor, Modern PhilosopherA run in the rain was exactly what I needed.

I had no set agenda when I set off down the driveway.  I just cranked my Foo Fighters station on the Pandora, and assumed the rain would work its magic as it always does.

Dave Grohl plus rain almost always equals my mind drifting off to a very creative place.  And this morning would only further prove that hypothesis.

I don’t even sense it happening.

One moment, I’m fighting my way up a hill, or checking my heart rate on my FitBit, and the next thing I know, I’m immersed in a scene from my story.

You know, as if by magic.

It’s like I’m transported, or having an out of body experience.

This morning, shortly after I hit mile one, I was in a scene with my two main characters.  I was just sitting there on a bed in the dorm room, listening in on their conversation.  As always, the scene played out like a movie for me, with me right there to take in every little nuance of the characters.

When that scene ended, I jumped right into the next.

Two different characters.  Totally new setting.  Outdoors this time.  In this one, the way the characters were dressed was very important, so I walked right up to them to examine their wardrobe.  Now I’ll be able to describe it exactly right in the screen direction.

Then I followed silently behind them as they walked down a garden path, and had a conversation that is quite crucial to the plot of the Season Finale.

Maybe all writers have this power, but it’s a trick that best reveals itself when I’m out on a run or a long walk.  If you add rain to the mix, then the scenes become even more magical.  Rather than just watching it play in my mind, I actually appear in the scene.  I’m right there, expecting the characters to address me directly.

running, health, fitness, writing, humor, Modern PhilosopherPerhaps one day, a character will turn and ask me a question.  I have a feeling, though, that I’d have to be running in a hurricane in order for the magic to be that powerful.

And let’s face it, only a fool would be stupid enough not to come in out of a hurricane…

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The Ghost Busting My Balls

Ghostbusters, nightmares, divorce, humor, Modern PhilosopherI was exhausted today because I didn’t sleep well last night, Modern Philosophers, and I know exactly who’s to blame…

My ex-wife!

Sure, we’ve been divorced for fifteen years, and I haven’t seen her for almost as long, but that doesn’t prevent her from haunting my dreams.

And last night, I didn’t have just one horrible nightmare about her.

I had two!

The one silver lining of this night of horrors was that I didn’t have the worst of my recurring ex-wife nightmares.  That’s the one where I wake up to find her standing at the foot of my bed, holding a giant knife as she watches me sleep.

That one gives me insomnia for days.

Last night’s midnight madness of the mind was the more frequent story.  I come home, realize she has left me, and desperately try to win her back while wondering how in the world I’m ever going to survive without her.

Freddy Krueger, nightmares, divorce, humor, Modern PhilosopherYes, Modern Philosophers, my ex-wife is the Freddy Krueger of broken hearts and relationships gone bad.

If I get divorced in my dreams, I end up heart broken and alone in real life.

It’s very unsettling.

I have no idea why I still dream about her.  As I mentioned earlier, I haven’t seen her or spoken to her in ages.  She’s not on my mind.  Down deep, I don’t secretly pine for her.

Sure, writing this TV series might have something to do with her appearance in my nightmares.  There is a character based on her, and the story of the early days of our relationship is an important plot point, but the story really is an ensemble piece, and the tale of how we came to be us is not at all the main focus.

When I’m trying to fall asleep at night, I might plot out upcoming scenes in my head, but I make it a point not to think about her character.  I don’t want to grant her easy access to my subconscious right before I fall asleep.  That would be madness!

And what’s the deal with the double feature of divorced themed dreams?

That has never happened before last night.  Usually, I wake up so freaked out from my nightmares about her that I don’t sleep well the rest of the night.  Any other dreams are afraid to form in my head because the characters are afraid they will run into my ex.

nightmares, divorce, ex-wife, humor, Modern PhilosopherI can just picture her, roaming the halls of my mind in a tattered wedding dress, hissing at anyone who crosses her path, and craving the taste of my shattered heart.

Just typing that sentence sent goose bumps sprinting up and down my body.

I’ll never sleep tonight…

These nightmares seem to preempt my regularly scheduled dream programming after I’ve had a particularly stressful day.

Sometimes, such days will inspire the dream about showing up for a big test having not studied for it, or the one where I’m lost on the subway.

Mostly, however, it’s the ghost in the white dress who haunts my dreams and busts my balls.  I might have gotten away from her in real life, but she still always gets the final word in my nightmares…

Do you have recurring nightmares?  Do you dream about people you haven’t seen or thought about in ages?  How long can I survive without sleep?

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Will We Ever Outrun The Calories?

running, health, fitness, humor, Modern PhilosopherI’m long overdue for a running post, Modern Philosophers.

I don’t want you to think that my lack of writing about running means that I’ve given up on the dreaded activity.

That’s never going to happen.  My memories of fat lazy me will not allow it!

Rest assured, I’m still at it five days a week.  In fact, April 1 was the two year anniversary of my running program.  Hurray for me!

Spring has been very slow to arrive in Maine.  The warmer weather means longer runs, but so far, it’s been cold, windy, and rainy, so I’m still hovering in the 3 – 4 mile area.

This morning showed some promise.  The sun was out, it was 50 degrees, but it was extremely windy.  I managed to push myself almost 4 miles, though.

Warmer weather also means that I switch up my route.  During the winter, I pretty much cover the same stretch of land because it’s safe and well plowed.  Today, however, I took off towards a road I haven’t visited since the fall.

Not much had changed.  I did see a dead racoon along the way, though, which was disturbing.  Sorry to mention it here, but I’m hoping that sending that little anecdote out into the internet will remove it from my memory.

Last week, I made the change from the FitBit Blaze to the FitBit Ionic.

running, health, fitness, humor, Modern PhilosopherI’m not a fan of change, but my Blaze really gave me choice.  One month shy of its second birthday, the device went bonkers.

Not that I was surprised.  After all, The Machines do plan to enslave us one day, and our dependence on fitness trackers is a major part of the plan.

My Blaze starting flashing the icon depicted above.  According to Google and the folks at FitBit Customer Service, that icon means that my device has been subjected to subzero temperatures for an extended period.

Now I know Maine is a frigid place most of the year, but this happened in April, and I was inside The House on the Hill every time it occured.

The best Customer Service could come up with was that my device was defective, and no longer under warranty.  I’m pretty sure I’ve heard the very same thing said about me more than once in my life, but that is entirely off topic.

Since it’s difficult to keep track of my thousands of daily steps in my head, I decided to upgrade to the Ionic.  I know, I know…I’m playing right into the master plan of The Machines, but I need to know if I’m getting more steps than Marcia in Accounting!

I’m definitely liking the Ionic so far.  The battery lasts longer than the Blaze, and the band is more comfortable.  The GPS seems to be more accurate, too, because I’m noticing my usual route doesn’t get me the quite same distance on my Ionic.

running, health, fitness, humor, Modern PhilosopherAs I was cooling off after this morning’s run, I checked my stats on the FitBit.  That was when this Deep Thought formed in my brain…

Do I ever run enough to burn off all the calories of my previous meal?

I’m pretty sure four miles wasn’t enough to burn off last night’s chicken tenders, but when I push myself closer to ten miles, I might actually have a shot.

That gives me a new goal for the summer.  Run until I burn off an entire meal!

It’s good to have goals.  What are you doing to stay healthy now that winter is finally behind us?

Posted in Fitness, Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments