Hang On Sloopy

By Grant Robbin

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Hang on Sloopy. We’re going on a magical mystery tour. The 60’s. New York City. Greenwich Village. A kaleidoscope of sights, sounds and smells. A psychedelic happening! Everyone Peter Maxed out in bell bottoms, platform shoes and long sideburns (mostly the guys). The scent of weed and body odor blowin’ in the wind on MacDougal Street.

The Village is Grand Central Station for all kinds of performers – musicians, singers, actors, comics. Many famous, more desperately trying to be. Among the chosen: Jimmy Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Richard Pryor, etc. They performed in clubs like The Bitter End, The Village Gate and Gerdes Folk City, and they hung out in the Village between gigs and tours.  Continue reading

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The Law Firm Sagas: #4 An Action Adventure

By Amber Robbin

Law Firm 4

16:20

I emerge from the boardroom like a bat out of hell, just having endured a painful, two-hour meeting with Georgia and Nancy about the database overhaul I’m “spear-heading.” This translates to: “you’re about to spend every waking moment of your life correcting thousands of mailing addresses so that Mr. and Mrs. Rich Deusch can be sent their gift basket of ass kisses to their current multimillion-dollar address.” I have no time to think about what that might mean for my hopes of not hating my life. I have to get back to my desk immediately if I have any hope of walking out the door at 5:30 to my much-needed therapy appointment.

16:30

I have an hour left and a dozen binders piled high on my desk. I’m printing with my right hand, labeling with my left, and hole-punching with my foot. Continue reading

The Law Firm Sagas: #3 A Sci-Fi Thriller

By Amber Robbin

scared-woman-hitting-keyboard-at-her-desk-computer-300x218I was nearing the end of my first month with the firm, and as time had passed, my co-workers had begun to appear more and more like machines to me. They marched past my desk in eerily straight lines, their steely gazes transfixed in the direction they were headed. Sometime before lunch on a routine day, the secretary Nova came to my desk with several case files. “Amber, I need these retyped, formatted exactly as they are now,” she said in monotone, beaming herself back to her desk before I could ask any questions. I escaped down the elevator shaft to take my break, less than eager to start retyping.

I took a seat in the corner of the marble lobby and called my father, desperate for human connection. But I couldn’t get a signal. It was too bitter outside, so I resigned myself to huddling in the corner and opened my lunch. For an hour, I watched people passing in droves through the giant, echoing space. They moved just like my co-workers – a bunch of soulless androids floating in straight lines. I was sucked in to their mesmerizing dance and began to experience some sort of mind-meld with the group. Continue reading

Pet Shop Boy: Part 3

By Michael Gutgsells9u8wl9d7v-preview

Life was for sale at the pet store, and it went to whoever was willing to pay. The cost of a purebred dog was in the thousands, and even with all the problems from so much inbreeding, people still wanted them. Each breed had a specific set of prices you were able to use when making a sale. I made a single sale, to a gay man buying a Yorkshire Terrier. Instead of getting used to it, I became more uncomfortable with the practice. We loved the dogs that lived in our little cages, and yet we sold them to whoever was willing to pay, without screening them.

There was a Pomeranian I called Barnaby. He was gentle, quiet, and sweet, his coat white, brown, and tan. I took him out whenever possible to pet and play with him. All the feelings I didn’t feel for Carlos, all the loneliness and disgust were eased when I was with little Barnaby. I was just present. The price was insurmountable, but I started thinking about taking him home. I would get him lion cuts so he’d always look this cute, and we would be best friends and experience everything together. I could even take him to England and back to college. I started looking into it and talking to my parents, who were by no means dismissive of the idea. They wanted me to think it through, though, since it was a huge decision. I agreed. It wasn’t practical, but I loved the tiny dog.  Continue reading

Pet Shop Boy: Part 2

By Michael Gutgsell6

The work was numbing. I pulled products to the front of the shelves, turning them label-forward. When it was really slow, I would open a book about dog breeds and try to study. The Owner/Wife would waddle out of the back and tell me to do something productive, so I would take a feather duster and shift grime around. I hated how boring it was, and I hated that I was denied the opportunity to actually learn anything. A job like that dulls you, it blunts the edge of your mind. The summer slipped by, blank and uninspiring.

The store was usually dead, and the employees shuffled about, attempting to look busy – Barbara by the birds, Mike, the owners’ son, in reptiles and fish, the squinty-eyed manager Dave near the puppies, and me in accessories. The shelves were just tall enough that I could only see the tops of everyone’s heads. Barbara’s dyed hair was always piled high on her head in the same way, with a couple inches of gray getting longer every day. Barbara had a smoker’s wrinkled-paper-bag face and long fingers with brightly painted nails. She once told me, in a deadpan, defeated voice, that she “couldn’t afford to work here, but she couldn’t afford not to work.”   Continue reading

The Law Firm Sagas: #2 A Western

1By Amber Robbin

Georgia was tough as nails, a woman with the skin of a buffalo and the constitution of a rattlesnake. She was always looking for her chance to strike, hiding her ruthlessness behind shifty eyes. She kept the office in line with the threat of her slow rattle, always prepared to save her skin by sinking her fangs into someone else’s. She had fought her way up to be the biggest toad in the puddle, and it damn sure hadn’t taught her to deal in favors. She was so crooked, she could swallow nails and spit out corkscrews.

Sitting in her office, she glared at me from behind her stiff, straw bangs. I reckoned I’d won the squabble, still she’d only fork over fifteen minutes a day of overtime (not the full hour and fifteen I toiled longer than all the rest). I decided to pull in my horns and take what I could get. I took to my feet slowly, holding her stare, then pivoted deliberately on my heel and swaggered down the hall back to my desk to claim my winnings. It would take much more than one slippery, superintending shrew to make me back down.  Continue reading

Pet Shop Boy: Part 1

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By Michael Gutgsell

When I came home to Cleveland, where my parents had recently moved, the cafe where I had worked the previous summer had shut down. That was the first of a number of businesses that closed shortly after I left. A few years later I fancied myself the black widow of small, locally-owned businesses. With Cafe Limbo’s closing, I had no job to go back to, though I needed the money: I was looking forward to studying abroad in England for my junior year.

Though I knew I needed a job, it was difficult to actually find one. As the days turned into weeks, my mom got increasingly pushy. At one point she dropped me off on a road riddled with potholes and lined with boarded-up warehouses and told me to apply at every single fast food joint along the stretch.

“Look at this place! Do you want me to die in a Rally’s parking lot?” I practically yelled.  Continue reading

“Have Your Agent Call Us!”

RSC47513_1024x1024By Grant Robbin

“Have your agent call us!” All too familiar words to any struggling actor or performer trying to get a gig. Yes, there are open calls, but most of the juicy jobs require an agent to tout your unbelievable talents. Without an agent, you’re nobody. With an agent, you’re somebody! Somebody people should pay attention to.

Backstory. When I was in college, a little after The Holy Wars, there was a draft. No, you twenty-somethings, I don’t mean a cold blast of air. I’m talking about Vietnam and the opportunity to die for your country for no good reason at all, and, guess what, you didn’t need an agent, and you get to play a soldier. Awesome! (I never use this word in real life, but I’m trying to connect.)

So, there I was, standing in line with dozens of other young “hopefuls,” naked, as a cold hand clenched my testicles, and I was told to cough.  Continue reading

The Law Firm Sagas: #1 A Mystery

By Amber Robbinphoto 2 (3)

It was a grey day. A forebodingly overcast sky drained every speck of light from the smutty Chicago streets. I sat in my rolly chair at the front desk and gazed through the window as the storm clouds rolled in. I was on tight deadline. My weekly phone fact e-mail was due for submission to the whole office, and I was at a loss for what typeface to use. I had almost ruled out Garamond as too stiff and settled on Elephant for a little good humor, when suddenly, I looked down at my attendance sheet and had a heart-stopping realization…

None of the partners had come to work! It was a Friday, like any other…except different. I called my supervisor, but she didn’t pick up. Surely she’s not missing, I thought. I rang the one assistant I felt I could trust, but she was away from her desk too. Then I recalled, Dorothy never came to work less than a half hour late. My pulse relaxed a bit. I’d have to try another assistant. I dialed Ashley’s extension and held my breath. She picked up. “Ashley, what is going on? Why is no one here today?” “Ohhh, ya knowww, they all left early for that partners’ outing this weekend. Jest the secretaries in the house todayyy, hehehe!”  Mystery solved. Or was it… Continue reading

Things I Could Do with My Life: A Self-Involved Rant from When I Was 22

By Amber Robbin37203_1451624247436_3715866_n

I feel a bit overwhelmed and lost these days amongst the fields of career-dom. I try my best to remain calm and take deep breaths while I sort through audition postings and the likes of craigslist. I try to make the job search fun, kind of like how my mom used to make doing homework fun when she would sometimes help me. She’d set up target points throughout my assignments: “When you get to number 20, take a break and we’ll dance to some Billy Ocean. Then you gotta focus till problem 40 though!” So now I light a couple candles, put on the fan, open a bottle of wine, pick some super cool indie artist I know nothing about (whose cd I don’t even have, so I have to listen to their tracks one-by-one via YouTube), and of course, bring up Facebook on a layaway tab on Safari in case I should be blessed with a disturbance at any point while drafting my cover letter.

I found this one posting under the “ETC.” section on craigslist for a sleep study. I got really excited and thought, this is something I can do Continue reading