Time Warner/Comcast – The system works!

Good news! My terrible cable company, (which I am forced to have because my landlord does not allow satellite dishes), Time Warner cable is being bought by an even more terrible cable company, Comcast! I sure am glad that the government got rid of all these restrictions that would have prevented these kinds of mergers. That way, with less competition, I’m probably guaranteed to get better service, more choice and the latest technology, right? What?! The opposite, you say?? I mean, sure, with even less competition, the cable companies have no incentive to change any of that, but I’m positive that they will do so out of the goodness of their own hearts. I’ve seen the commercials, they care about their customers. Sure, my bill is over $200 a month and my Internet goes down every other week, but that price must include one of those fancy new DVRs that record six shows at once, right? No? Well you know what they say, “recording two shows at once is better than six” People say that, right? And just who am I to question the wisdom of buying channels in packages? There’s got to be some logical reason they do it like that.  I mean, I feel like I really don’t want to buy ten Spanish language channels just to get H2, but then again, that’s probably just Time Warner’s way of reminding me not to be a racist; that must be it. Do you really think they would say they are constantly trying to improve their service and support if they weren’t? Are they just liars trying to maximize their profits for the benefit of their shareholders? That sounds a little far-fetched, doesn’t it? After all,when I was on hold with them for almost an hour, the recording that kept playing must have said that they care about me, over and over about a thousand times! Are we, as a society, so mistrusting that we are just born to doubt that huge corporate conglomerates have our best interests at heart? Is this how low we have stooped as a society? Shame on us! And like Time Warner says every time I finally get through to complain about how high my bill is, there’s nobody putting a gun to my head and forcing me to get HBO! If I don’t like it, I always have a choice. Not a choice of another cable company or satellite, of course, but according to some guy in a overseas call center named “Mike” that if I want to pay less, I can always get less channels. Thanks, Mike! In summation, before you go complaining that the FCC is just a tool for corporate lobbyists who constantly strive to wring more money out of consumers while claiming that they don’t need government oversight restricting innovation when all they really want to do is eliminate competition by successive mergers that seek to monopolize the market, just remember, some of us aren’t so willing to be so cynical. I mean, do you really want to go back to the 80′s where you could slide a piece a cardboard in and out of the top of the cable box and get all the pay channels for free?Image

Weasel Town!

Okay everybody, I know I’ve been somewhat MIA lately, but that’s because I’ve been working on my new, super secret project. Which coincidentally, I am ready to take the wraps off of right now! Well, sort of.

I have been making a cartoon with my friend, Nathan Hamill. It is called Weasel Town. It is about the adventures of 2 friends, Dipster and Haunches. One is a dog, One is a cat. I’m not sure which is which, but I can tell you this right now, there are no weasels. Derek Waters from Drunk History is the voice of Dipster and Jason Ritter (Parenthood and starring on Gravity Falls this fall) is the voice of Haunches. It is animated by Xeth Feinberg and features the voices of Simon Helberg )Big Bang Theory), Craig Anstett (Funny or Die Presents), Lindsay Weiglein (Stone Darling), and Sarah May Bates.   It is premiering on the Shut Up! Cartoons channel on YouTube July 11.I will be at Comic Con to sneak preview the 1st episode. For now, you can check out the trailer. While you’re there, why don’t you subscribe and make sure to give a thumbs-up, if you like what you see. That really makes a difference! Thanks so much, Eric!

The return. A play in one act.

 

The culprit.

INT: RITE AID.

ME: excuse me, I would like to return this Axe body spray.

MANAGER: for what reason?

ME: it doesn’t work. The commercials say it will get you laid, no problem. I haven’t had sex in 3 years.

MANAGER: how do  I know you aren’t lying? For all I know, you could have had sex twenty minutes ago.

ME: why would I lie about that?

MANAGER: I don’t know, but without any proof, I can’t give you a refund.

ME: what kind of proof? Do you want to smell my dick?!

MANAGER: Yes.

ME: What? Really?

MANAGER: Yes.

DRAMATIC PAUSE.

ME: Okay.

END.

Five Things I Have Learned From Riding The Bus Three Times

ImageMe and some girl.

I know what you are going to say, “But Eric, isn’t the bus just for poor people?” No, you are wrong. The bus is for poor people AND drunk drivers who’ve lost their licenses AND crazy people who are afraid of driving. AND me! Well, I technically belong to the poor people category now, but I digress. Riding the bus has been an eye-opening experience for me. I wouldn’t recommend it.

1.The bus driver doesn’t like it when you waste time by proclaiming, “grocery store, please!” And then walking on without paying.

2. Random strangers don’t appreciate it when you sit next to them and say, “I’m riding the bus!” Apparently, there aren’t as many Simpsons fans on the bus as I would have thought. (See also: 1.)

3. The bus has a TV on it, but the times that I have ridden it, it has always been showing educational lessons. For instance, there was a grammar segment where they discouraged people from using my favorite word: irregardless.

4. Contrary to what I have heard, I didn’t see any evidence of people refusing to pay the bus driver being okay with this. I am aware that it appears I am contradicting myself with lesson 1, but I assure you, I eventually walked back and paid my fare.

5. And most importantly I have learned that I am the kind of person who will wait twenty minutes for the bus and doesn’t mind paying $1.50 to go 7/10 of a mile just to avoid six.minutes of walking, while also being the kind of person who doesn’t have the money to blow ten bucks on a cab ride to accomplish the same thing.

My monkey suit lawyer.

I object!

I’ve had my lawyer, Dick Van Pac-Man, for 23 years. Ever since I sued McDonald’s at the age of 7, Dick Van Pac-Man has been by my side.

4 years ago, when he got horribly burned in a grease fire on over 80% of his body, I vowed to repay his loyalty. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting him to live through the night. But he did.

all through the emergency surgeries, the skin grafts, rehab and his eventual, miraculous return to work, I was there.

The problem is, he looks gross.

That sounds mean, but I’m just being brutally honest with you.

You know when you put a hotdog in the microwave for too long and it explodes?

So he went back to being a lawyer, but predictably, there wasn’t much work for an exploded microwave hot dog lawyer.

And that’s a shame, really. He’s a damn good lawyer. My $7.3 million settlement would attest to that.

I mean, I guess if you could be a lawyer strictly over the phone, he would be fine. You know what, that’s not actually true, because his voice got sort of messed up too.

So what do I do with this guy? He looks like a circus sideshow reject, he can’t get work, he poops in a bag tied around his leg because he’s got no sphincter, but I have a sense of loyalty to him that I just can’t shake.

And then it hits me. Against my  better advice,  we are eating lunch in a downtown Burger King, when a lady comes in with a kid in a stroller. The kid takes one look at ol’ Dick and loses his shit. The kid’s crying, the mom is horrified and it’s a replay of the exact same situation we’ve been in a hundred times. only this time, something clicks. The mom pulls a stuffed monkey out of her bag and puts it right in the kid’s face to distract him. She’s making noises, waving it around, anything to make the kid stop staring at my horribly disfigured lawyer.

And it works.

Dick goes back to his whopper, but I start thinking. Why isn’t this kid scared of the monkey?

A few days later, I show up at the law offices of Richard Van Pac-Man, Esq. with a big surprise.

A monkey suit!

“A monkey suit?” He asks, “You want me to wear a monkey suit?”

I tell him to hear me out. He’s gotta live his life. He’s got to go out in public. But when he does, he makes children cry. Not him, I tell him, his appearance. The monkey suit takes that away. Levels the playing field, as it were. People will no longer scream and cry.Sure, it’s a bit odd, but at least they’re not horrified. And it’s a conversation starter. How long has it been since you’ve been in an actual conversation with somebody other than me, I ask him.

eventually, I win him over. He agrees to try on the suit. For the 1st time since his accident, he enters the room and I don’t visibly recoil in horror. I laugh! I tell him he looks great.

He’s got all kinds of reservations about it. “People won’t take me seriously in a monkey suit, blah blah blah.”

but I’ve thought of everything. I present him with a monkey suit sized tuxedo, top hat and cane. For court, I tell him.

Now there’s no way I can really be sure of this, because even if he wasn’t wearing a full monkey suit and mask, the fire burned most of his lips and mouth completely off, but I think he actually cracked a smile. It’s hard not to.

I am happy to announce that Richard Van Pac-Man,esq. has returned to work, busier and more successful than ever.

Oh sure, there was some growing pains. Some difficult conversations with the judicial system. But one of his biggest cases since getting back was an enormous judgment in his favor for a landmark discrimination suit, that he took up against anybody who would seek to bar him from practicing law while wearing a monkey suit.

Thanks to him, if any lawyers get horribly disfigured and wish to practice law while wearing a monkey suit, their rights are protected in the state Constitution.

plus, the publicity generated by the lawsuit and resulting media coverage, resulted in a barrage of new clients, because honestly, who isn’t going to want a guy in a monkey suit as their lawyer?

Things are looking up for Mr. Van Pac-Man in the personal department as well, thanks to the growing popularity of an Internet subculture called “Plushies.”

And you would say I’ve done nothing good with my life, mom?

Dragon dictate – extra characters fix

I am writing this as a public service. I use DragonDictate to do all my typing. I am a writer, so it is important for me to be able to write. I have some nerve damage in my right hand, which makes typing hard. Dragon Dictate is a good solution for me. Unfortunately, it started to act weird on me. It would insert extra characters at the end of whatever I was typing. This drove me crazy. I could not find a solution anywhere on the Internet. But I found the solution, buried in the help files and I am going to share this with you, in case you are in the same boat as me. I’m not going into why this happens, but it’s something to do with when you use a keyboard or mouse in conjunction with the dictation software. Which I do and which you probably do. I found it nearly impossible to write anything, solely with the dictation software. Anyways, what you want to do is when you find the program is acting weird and generating extra characters, speak into the microphone the words “purge cache”. Then, just delete the extra characters and continued typing or dictating. It only works for a little while, so you will probably have to do it again. If you want the full explanation for why this happens, search “purge cache”in the help files. I hope this helps you, it has worked pretty well for me.

NPR 3-minute fiction contest

So, I entered this: http://www.npr.org/series/105660765/three-minute-fiction and I lost. You can go to that site and read what won, or you can stay here and read my losing entry!  The parameters were that it had to be less than 600 words and feature one character arriving somewhere and one person leaving the same place. Enjoy!

 

Take it or leave it, by Eric Filipkowski

“Excuse me, sir, could you hold the door for me?”

Chip looked behind him to see the elderly female letter carrier approaching, her arms overflowing with letters and packages.

“I’m sorry, do you live here? I don’t recognize you from the building.”

She stared at him for a long second.

“I’m the mail carrier. I work for the post office.”

“Or so you would have me believe. Who is to say that you didn’t just rent that costume to gain entry for nefarious purposes?”

“Is this a joke?” She asked.

“That’s what I would like to know.”

The awkward silence was interrupted by a new arrival. An attractive blonde girl in her early twenties approached the door.

“Now her, I recognize!”

He lifted his arm to allow her ingress. Once she was in, he ignored the protests of the postal worker and shut the door. He pretended not to hear her banging, while he addressed the blonde woman.

“So, I’ve never seen you around here before.”

“I just moved in. Don’t you think we should let the mail lady in?” She asked, as the banging was getting louder and more persistent.

“Nah, she’s fine. You’re just moving in? That’s interesting.”

“Why is that interesting?”

“Because I am actually in the process of moving out. It’s a shame, really. You’re just my type. I have a thing for attractive women.”

She rolled her eyes.

He looked her over. “Let me guess: you’re an actress. From somewhere out in the middle of nowhere, with dreams of stardom?”

“Close, Florida.” It was now her turn. “Let me try: you’ve been out here for 15 years, did some bit parts on TV, a few commercials, but you never hit it big and now you’ve grown tired of living in an apartment you pay too much for and your only joy in life comes from shitting on the dreams of the people who still have hope and love in their hearts. Sound about right?”

He was no longer smiling. “I would hardly say it was a few commercials. More like fifty. The other stuff was spot on.” The smirk started to come back.

“Can I give you some advice?” She asked.

“Isn’t this supposed to go the other way around?”

“I already know where to get head shots and never take my top off for an audition I see on Craigslist. I’m being genuine.”

“Okay, shoot.” He said.

“When you’re out in the real world, don’t be afraid to change it up. If this isn’t working for you, try something else. Try being a real person. If it’s been a while, you might be surprised when you see how people react to it.”

She smiled at him and turned to get on the elevator.

He stood there and thought for a second about what she had said. He opened the door for the mail woman and with an apologetic look, said, “I’m sorry about that, I really am. I don’t even live here. That blonde girl paid me fifty dollars to do that, but honestly, it wasn’t about the money. I was too scared to say no. She had this crazy look in her eyes!”