Tuesday, December 24, 2013

December, Montgomery County


Montgomery County

A Play in One Act


Now an Off-off-off-off-off-off-off Broadway hit!

See it now! Limited Engagement!

Written by: Ken & Lesley Neufeld

Directed by: Ken Neufeld

Dramaturgy: Lesley Neufeld


Ken Neufeld                 Lesley Neufeld

And, Riley, the Wonder Dog

December: Montgomery County

A Play in One Act


STAGE DIRECTIONS: It’s the second week of December and the Neufelds are decorating the Christmas tree. Their faithful Golden Retriever, Riley is asleep on the couch.

KEN: (animated, yet cautious)

                       Hey, Sweetie, here’s a thought. Let’s NOT do a Holiday Newsletter this year!

LESLEY:       Oh no, we can’t quit now! We’ve done an original, smart-aleck-y newsletter for 25 years! Besides, we have fans out there!

KEN:            Yeah, but how in heck do we get a new idea at this late stage? We’ve done song parodies on everything from Christmas carols to American folk songs to Broadway musicals; twice in fact. And we absolutely hit our peak with our Beatles suburban album.  Remember, “Peace, Love and Barbecue?”

LESLEY:      Loved it! My other favorite was the Ken and Lesley Trading Cards. “Collect All Six!” Remember that? And our movie reviews? And Suburbia, the Musical - with the hit song from Les Miz, “Bring Milk Home”? Hilarious!

KEN:             That was a good one. So was our parody of “The X Files,”…”The “N Files.”

LESLEY:        Ah, we were young then. Hand-done illustrations and photocopy paste-ups - the production took us weeks.

KEN:            Exactly. That’s what I’m saying. Who’s got time? Christmas is right around the corner! Besides, we’ve got to stay current. We’ve got to be fresh.

LESLEY:      We need Photoshop. Oh, well. Something will come to us. It always does. We just have to think about our usual topics – travel, house, work, Riley, giant zucchinis – and then find a funny concept, like we do every year.

(K&L continue to decorate the tree.)

LESLEY: (pauses)

                     Well, let’s think. What’s been big this year that we could have fun with? Twitter? Selfies? Miley Cyrus? Rob Ford? Photo Bombing?

KEN:           Hm. Maybe. Photo Bombing has some possibilities. We could talk about our trip to London and Scotland. But we could photo bomb you lurking in the background in that picture of William and Kate with the baby.

LESLEY:       That’s funny. And we could photo bomb you into the movie set for “Braveheart!” Ha! What else could we photo bomb? How about our major front step and sidewalk renovation?

KEN:           I could be in a photo with President Obama advising him on Canadian health care – you know, give him a bit of Tommy Douglas talk.

LESLEY:       Oh, I don’t know about that one! That’s going to rub some people the wrong way.

KEN:              Good point. It would be difficult to do the photos.

LESLEY:         Unless we get Photoshop.

KEN:              Maybe Santa will bring you Photoshop.

LESLEY:         That’s about as romantic as getting a Lady Schick.

(K&L stop for a sip of wine. Riley continues to snooze.)

LESLEY: (humming American Woman)

                        I know! How about Canadian songs?

KEN:              What Canadian songs? We’ve never done Canadian songs because nobody knows any Canadian songs.

LESLEY:         Sure they do! “I’m a Lumberjack and I’m OK!”

KEN:              That’s not Canadian, it’s Monty Python.

LESLEY:         Oh, right. O.K., Canadian folksongs, then. (Singing) “I’ze the b’y that builds the boat,”

KEN:              What?

LESLEY:         You didn’t learn Maritime folk songs in school?

                        Then, how about “Four Strong Winds,” or “Canadian Railroad Trilogy?” or “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”?

KEN:              Have you seen Gordon Lightfoot recently – he should have a talk with Kenny Roger’s plastic surgeon.

(K&L put a few more decorations on the tree.)

KEN:              Sure was a nice trip to Scotland this summer though.

LESLEY:         Ach, laddie. I loved it.

KEN:              Me, too. What I saw of it, anyway. I didn’t really look at the scenery much. Driving on the wrong side of the road kinda took my focus.

LESLEY:         You were ok once we stopped and we pried your knuckles loose from the steering wheel.

KEN:              Yeah. I earned a wee dram of single malt that day!

LESLEY:         What’s your excuse for the wee dram on your oatmeal at breakfast?

KEN:              Hey - “When in Rome” or at least Glasgow.

(Riley gets up, yawns, stretches, goes over to sniff the tree and then goes back to the couch.)

LESLEY:         Poor doggy. He’s a pooped pup. The girls at Club K-9 said he played all day with his buddies.

KEN:              Well, I’ve been working all day too. OK, yeah, don’t say it, “We work so others can play.” Anyway, I’m pooped and it’s bed time.

(K&L unplug the Christmas tree lights and head upstairs to bed. Riley bounds up the stairs ahead of them.)

LESLEY:         You know, we really are so lucky. We’ve had such a good year.

KEN:              True. I have the best job in the world. We live in a great community. We have good friends and family. And you’ve got volunteering at Dayton Visual Arts Center - and your blog (www.braveneufworld.blogspot.com) and dancercise class.

LESLEY:         And you love your walks with Riley and your trips to New York to see shows.

KEN:              It’s a Wonderful Life!

LESLEY:         Hey, that’s the show you’ve got running right now! (pause) Maybe a newsletter idea will come to us tomorrow.    

KEN:              Say, “Good night,” Lesley.

LESLEY:         Good night Lesley.


Merry Christmas to All and Happy 2014!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Conversations with 60-Year Olds

Their morning routine is well...fairly routine for the most part. Breakfast and read the newspaper while watching the “Today Show” on the kitchen TV. After he eats his Cheerios, he goes upstairs to shower and get ready for work. She feeds the dog. This one day he got up and picked up the remote to turn off the TV as he usually does.

Her:      No, leave it on, please. I want to see a story coming up. They said that woman who sings has a big announcement.

Him:       Oh, who’s that?

Her:       You know the one. She made it big a couple of years ago.

HIM:      Weren’t you just watching a minute ago when they said what was coming up?

HER:       Yeah, but I wasn’t paying attention. You know who I mean. She won that contest.

Him:       Carrie Underwood? Is she going to announce that she isn’t much of an actress?

Her:       Ha Ha. No! It was that woman that was on, “American Idol.” No, no, I mean, “British Idol.”

Him:       You mean, “Britain’s Got Talent”?

Her:       Yeah, yeah! That’s it. Boyle. Somebody Boyle.

Him:       Oh, yeah. Sarah Boyle.

Her:       No. That’s not right. What IS her name?

Him:      Yeah….it’s Sarah Boyle. Scottish. Les Miz.

Her:       Les MIZ?!? That’s Sarah Brightman! Anyway, Scottish?? Les Miz??? Les Miz takes place in France!

Him:       Sarah Brightman wasn’t in Les Miz! This Boyle woman from Scotland sang a song from Les Miz and she won “Britain’s Got Talent.”

Her:       Oh, Yeah! “I Dreamed a Dream!” That was a song from Les Miz! That’s right!

He went upstairs. She sat down with another cup of tea. Matt Lauer on the “Today Show” led in with the story about the woman.

Her: (calling upstairs):    SUSAN!!!

Him: (from the bathroom):          Who?

Her: (standing in the hall at the base of the stairs):           It’s Susan!

Him:       Who’s Susan?

Her:       Sarah is SUSAN!

Him:       What?

Her:       That woman who sings! It’s SUSAN BOYLE!

Him:       Thanks.  Can I finish shaving now?

Her:       Yeah, sorry. I thought you’d want to know. I would have been thinking about it all day.

Him:       What’s her big announcement?

Her: (returning to the TV in the kitchen):              I don’t know. I missed the story.

You can’t make this stuff up. What’s troubling is this ominous question: What are they going to be like when they’re 80?


Saturday, December 7, 2013

You Must Be Used to Cold Weather! You're Canadian!

Winter weather warnings started on Wednesday. Forecast:  a Friday storm. Snowpocalypse. Snowmageddon. Ice. Sleet. Freezing drizzle. Snow. Power outages affecting millions. Trees downed. Highways shut down. Airports paralyzed. Traffic snarled. Schools closed. Businesses shuttered. For days. And it was headed our way!

I checked weather.com every hour. 90% chance of a wintry mix changing to snow starting Thursday night and lasting right into early Saturday morning. It looked bad! This could be REALLY bad! The web site headlines bleated: Winter Storm Could Impact Millions!!!! The margin headlines were even worse!

“Don’t Let THIS Happen To YOU!!” (It showed a photo of a badly-blackened, frost-bitten ear!)

“THIS Killed 50 Million People!” (You don’t want to know!)

“BEWARE! Dangerous New Threat Ahead!”

“That’s Not Snow….it’s SPIDERS!”

“What’s the Germiest Place in Your House!?!”

“Sperm Whale EXPLODES!”

Holy cats!! What was happening? The sky must be falling! This really IS going to be The End of our days on Earth! No wonder everyone was panicking!

By Friday morning there was a ½ inch of snow on the ground! TV morning shows announced that the schools were closed! I hopped in the Subaru and drove cautiously along empty, dry streets that the snow plows had already cleared to get to our local market. I bought blizzard provisions and a bottle of Scotch. (Might as well have emergency supplies!) Temperatures plummeted to near freezing!

I watched the snow fall all day. It must have piled up to, Oh Merciful Heaven, 4 inches by nightfall! The evening news showed people scraping ice off their windshields! And plows clearing streets! Someone sent in a photo of lawn chairs with little piles of snow on them! It was ghastly! I had to look away!

But you have to hand it to people. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. A neighbor was out there with his snow blower at 11:00 on Friday night, making his sidewalk safe again. It makes your heart glow a little brighter knowing we CAN overcome.

Now, don’t get me wrong; I have a healthy respect for a decent snow fall. I grew up in Winnipeg. I learned to drive in Winnipeg. And as many of the people we meet here in the US like to observe, “You must be used to cold weather! You’re Canadian!”  As unwitting as that comment may be, it’s true! It fazed us not one bit to drive in a snowstorm. I can remember only 3 times in the 25 years I lived in my hometown from the day of my birth to the day Ken and I moved away that snowfalls caused any major disruption. I think snow caused schools to close only once during my childhood and teen years. The temperatures might be 30 below. The drifts might be higher than your house. And visibility might be zero in a blinding snow storm, but we walked the 6 blocks to school anyway, by gum! We wore long underwear! Our buses ran! We never lost power! Our Dads drove to work! I mean, if you were too scared to drive in snow, you didn’t go out all winter. We were cool. My Dad taught me how to handle a 360 degree ice skid in the Polo Park mall parking lot. We carried survival gear in the trunk and we laughed at winter weather.

Ken and I moved to Vancouver in 1980. In the rain forest on the west coast, snow is an oddity and on this occasion the white stuff was really only promising to pile up to an inch or so. We didn’t pay too much attention to our first snow fall….UNTIL….I rode home on the bus with a co-worker that day. There was an air of panic among the passengers. My friend explained to me that a snowfall could paralyze a city that was so unused to it — a city with no snow removal equipment. A couple of years previous he and his office mates had slept at their desks one night because a monster snow storm had shut down the city. I freaked. There was no way I wanted to do a sleepover with those clowns! After that I became terrified by snow. I avoided winter driving whenever possible.

Eventually we moved to Buffalo. Now we’re talking snow. I regained my driving confidence once again. But Buffalo is a city that generates serious snow. Snow that could defeat even us intrepid Canadians. One Christmas season we got a steady eight feet of the stuff within five days. Eight feet. Do you know how much snow that is? It is an impressive amount, is what it is. All we could do was dig a tunnel for the dog so she could go out to do her business.

So, I must admit that I giggle a bit at all the fuss made over a mere dusting of snow. And I’ve learned whenever someone blurts out, “You must be used to this!” to smile proudly, sagely and say, “Yes, yes. We Canadians thrive on the cold!”