Re My Death Notice

By: Ross Murray

Dear loved ones:

Enclosed is a photograph of myself that I would like you to use in the event of my death. And I do mean “death” and not “passing” or any other euphemism. If anyone refers to my “passing,” I want you to punch them hard in the stomach, even if it’s at the funeral home. Especially if it’s at the funeral home.

This photo is to be used for any death notices you choose to publish. In the event that my death is deemed newsworthy due to either fame or violence, whether this violence is inflicted upon me or by me, this photograph may also be issued to reporters camped out on my survivors’ doorsteps.

The photo’s resolution makes it suitable for enlarging should the need arise to place my likeness in front of a closed casket, which may be required due to said newsworthy violence or in the event that they fail to recover my body from the wreckage.

It’s not that I don’t trust you. I am taking this measure because I know you will have a lot on your minds, what with arranging my funeral, contacting friends and relatives, finding a big enough church, managing the waiting list and embarking on the elaborate six-week grieving process as outlined in my earlier letter. And from what I’ve seen from other death notices over the years, little thought goes into selecting the obit photo. The funeral director will ask you, “Now, I know this is a very difficult time and, believe me, we feel your pain — heaven knows we all loved Ross profoundly — but if it’s not too much trouble, do you think you might possibly try to find a photograph of the departed when you have a minute and can see through the stream of tears?” And then you’ll hand over the first photo you find. This worries me; I know those drag pics from Halloween 1997 are still floating around.

The enclosed photograph shows me smiling gently, my eyes twinkling with mischief in that winning way of mine, my hair neatly combed. You will note I am not chewing food. I am not wearing a ball cap. I am not sporting that regrettable goatee I grew one summer. I am not scowling. I am not in the midst of turning my head, unaware that someone is taking my picture. There is no red-eye. The photograph is in focus. The background is natural and unobtrusive. You can’t see open kitchen cupboards behind me. There is not half of someone else’s head in the frame. I am not drunk.

You will receive an updated photograph at least once per decade. Please use the most recent photograph. My mourners do not need to be reminded of my past choices in eyewear or be given the impression that I was in denial about my age. Using an obit photograph more than 10 years old is acceptable only if the deceased performed military service and is depicted in uniform. I have not served in the military and, no, my high school band uniform does not count.

In addition to death-related purposes, please feel free to use this photograph for any surprise announcements such as “Congratulations on Your Pulitzer” or “Kidnapped!”

Thank you in advance for your cooperation. I know this may seem like a small detail in the context of the colossal emptiness my death will cause all those around me. But a little planning will save us all — especially me, posthumously — some real embarrassment.




An Executive Producer’s Notes to Rosie O’Donnell Regarding Her First Month on The View

By: Jay Dyckman

To: Rosie O’Donnell

From: Bill Geddie, Executive Producer

Date: Friday, September 8, 2006

Re: Your First Week!!

Rosie’s back!!

Let me just begin by saying, once again, how excited we all are to have you on The View. Now, we all think this first week went pretty well, but there’s always room for improvement. So, please consider these notes as merely helpful suggestions designed to make your transition here as smooth as possible.

First, that whole Koosh Ball thing kind of died with your old show. Now, we appreciate the effort to reconnect with your fans, but it seems a bit out of place here. Plus, one almost hit Barbara in the head. We can’t stress enough how bad that would have been. In fact, just a general FYI for all future shows: Nothing should EVER come near Barbara’s head.

Also, it was difficult to tell, but were you napping during the “Hot Topics” segment? If uninterested in a particular topic, please just smile and head nod. And feet off the coffee table. At all times.

Wardrobe, Hair and Makeup. I know we agreed you could use your own people. And we certainly encourage all the hosts to cultivate their own personal style. But, as noted before, we are trying to achieve a certain aesthetic cohesion among the hosts. That said, I’ll simply end with a question: How do you think a mullet fits in with the others?

To: Rosie

From: Bill

Date: Friday, September 15, 2006

Re: Not Quite There Yet

Hmm. Well, let’s start with a positive. No Koosh Balls!

Moving along. We welcome spirited debate among the hosts. It has always been a hallmark of the show. And, of course, disagreements will flare up from time to time. But when you disagree with Elisabeth, it’s better to express that verbally. A caveat: “Suck it, blondie,” while a verbal response, is also not appropriate.

And definitely no more “two-for-flinching” punches. As you can see, Elizabeth bruises easily.

Finally, referring to Mrs. Star Jones Reynolds as that “psycho bridezilla” was kind of a backstage joke. Not for on-air. I’m pretty sure we had gone over that in pre-production.

To: Rosie O’ Donnell

From: Bill Geddie

Date: Friday, September 22, 2006

Re: Are You Reading These?

LESS ANGER. Would it help to have that on a permanent cue card?

Look, we get that “The Queen of Nice” moniker is officially retired. But how about “The Queen of Commonly Agreed Upon Standards of Decent Social Behavior?” That has a nice ring to it too.

And jeans? Again?

To: Ms. O’ Donnell

From: Mr. Bill Geddie, Executive Producer

Date: Friday, September 29, 2006

Re: You Are Contractually Obligated To Read This

No one authorized costume Fridays. (That was a costume, correct?)

Please stop asking guests to arm wrestle.

The set design may not be altered. Where did that Barcalounger come from?

And Elisabeth didn’t show up for work today and no one’s heard from her. Thoughts?


Advice From A Lebanese Home Remodeler

By: Michael Fowler

Q. I’m redoing my twin sons’ small (2x2x3 meters) bedroom to make it more livable for them. I’ve repainted and bought new wood furniture including bunk beds. My question is, what kind of rockets should I put in the room? The boys, aged 8, have fired off all their old Kassams, which they liken to flying car mufflers, and are begging for the powerful Raad missiles that they saw on Al-Manar, even though they understand Raads are hard to come by. The master bedroom and living room both contain Katyushas, and I’m wondering if I should stick with the Katyusha motif for the kids.

A. As a rule of thumb, the shorter-range armaments are the more practical and economical. If you already have Katyushas in your other rooms, you should stick with them. Tell your sons that they will be as the claws of a mighty lion with the tested and true Katyushas by their sides, and that the Raad is much too big to fit in their room. Katyushas come in several decorator colors, by the way, and fit in well with any motif.

Q. I’m building a garage for my old truck, clearing the ground of rocks and brush and gathering materials. Do you recommend a wooden or a stone structure?

A. It only matters that your garage is wide and tall enough to conceal a truck-mounted multiple rocket launcher. The ten-barrel launcher for small rockets, a simple device that can be mounted on even the oldest truck, is a welcome addition to any garage.

Q. My basement takes in water after rains fall in the rocky slopes behind my house. It’s nothing serious, just a damp floor and some mildew, but my young daughter sleeps down there with our Fajr-3 mid-range missile. I’ve moved the Fajr-3 upstairs and covered it to look like a sofa to avoid water damage to its circuitry, but now my little girl can’t sleep without her beloved missile by her side and cries pitiably through the night. Any tips on waterproofing my basement so that I can give my baby back her missile?

A. An outside retaining wall with a row of drainage tile along the base may solve the moisture problem, but you may still be leaving your loved ones exposed to Daisy Cutters. With simple but clever construction, you can easily turn your basement into a rock-solid bunker that’s also waterproof. Iranian stonemasons are particularly ingenious at this type of work, and I’m sure there are many in your town whom you may contact.

Q. I’m thinking of redoing the interior of my study. The faux oak fiberboard I have in place now doesn’t do justice to my hanging portraits of Khalil Gibran and won’t even stop a tank shell. Any suggestions?

A. I’d go with interlocking concrete bricks reinforced by 10 cm-thick sheets of solid steel. These are wonderful backdrops for Gibran and will block penetration by either tank or jet-launched projectile.

Q. My entire home was flattened recently during a bombardment, and I’d like to prevent this from happening again. My wives have picked out a Cali Bamboo privacy fence, but I’m thinking I need something more. I mean, our problem is not that we’re on a Pacific island and beset by Peeping Toms. We’re getting bombs dropped on our heads. Can you recommend anything that will keep us concealed while we dig ourselves out of the rubble and rebuild?

A. The safest thing is to wear blue UN helmets while you work. But nothing is foolproof except G-d.


Late Night Court Jester

By: David Martin

Good evening and welcome to the castle. I’m your host, Ethelbert the Court Jester, and we’ve got a great show for you tonight.

Joining us tonight is Grimbold the Court Juggler, Oswold the Lute Player and, from the castle over the hill, Merlin the Amazing Sorcerer. And because it’s Tuesday, we’ll once again be playing “Stump the Alchemist.”

It’s great to be here. Actually, it’s great to be anywhere considering the death rate from the plague. Boy, that stuff’s a downer. They’re not kidding when they call it the Black Death.

I want to thank those of you who had to stand in line for two hours to get in. What with the heat and the flies and the pox, I’m sure it was no fun.

How hot was it, you may ask? It was so hot that the dead body collector had to make both his rounds after sunset. It was so hot that the castle guards on the catwalk didn’t have to boil their vats of oil. It was so hot that even the fiery hell of eternal damnation was looking like a good place to cool off.

I just walked in from the village on the outskirts of the castle near the brook by the meadow and boy are my feet tired.

For those of you who came here tonight by ox cart, is that path from the village to the castle crowded or what? My brother Ethelred got so confused that he missed the off-ramp for the castle and the last I heard he was half way to Nottinghamshire!

And what about those crazy ox cart drivers? I’m not saying they’re terrible drivers but if you have to buy a new ox every other week, it’s time to take a few lessons.

Say, did you read about the King’s latest proclamation? No? Well, I guess with a literacy rate of five per cent, it’s surprising anyone read it.

Speaking of reading, I can barely make out the cue cards. I guess that’s what happens when you hire some young kid who speaks this fancy new Middle English. I’m not saying my English is old but I still read Beowulf in the original version.

But if you like the new Middle English, you ought to check out this Geoffrey Chaucer fellow. He was here at the castle last week and I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t mind taking a Bath with his wife.

We have some of our knights here tonight. Could you fellows stand up and take a bow? Oh, apparently they can’t. I guess that’s what happens when you wear your armor 24/7. I don’t even want to know what they use for underwear!

How many of you read about this item in the news? Well, actually, I’m guessing none of you did. As I said, with a five per cent literacy rate, it’s not like anyone’s carrying a library card – whatever the heck that is.

But maybe you heard it from the town crier. Yesterday Jon Sawyer, the inventor of the sawmill, died at the age of 82. Sadly, Jon got caught in his own invention and will be buried at 2, 4 and 6 o’clock. Smithy, could I get a rapid beating of the drums for that one?

How’s that for irony? Our drums player is named Smithy and the castle blacksmith is named Drumsman. Really folks, you can’t make this kind of stuff up.

Anyway, we’ve got a really great show tonight. We’ll be right back with Grimbold the Juggler, Oswold the Lute Player and a special appearance from Joan of Rivers. But first a word from our sponsor, the great folks at your local Grog & Mead drive-thru. Please give it up for Anonymous and the castle’s Limited Ensemble of String and Wind Instruments.