Archive for August, 2011

Moi Le Cthulhu

Posted: August 30, 2011 in beTwixt & beTween

He found himself floating.

The noise in the sardine can shaped bus didn’t disrupt his thoughts. How can one complain from noise and the sounds that make up life’s ambient soundtrack?

Sadly some do and those are the very same assholes that lock themselves up in a room with a cigarette in one hand and a pen in another. The smell of coffee fills the room, where this so called writer is trying to squeeze a few good ideas from his mind. He is sitting there on his chair like a man leaning over a dirty porcelain bowl waiting for the last few drops to run out from an aging bladder.

I am going to keep this short. I only wrote this because I wanted to add a few words to the above illustration. So a picture speaks a thousand words! Well fuck maybe I want it to speak a thousand words + 405 words.

So where were we? Sorry had to drive my Grandmother to my uncle’s place. See my creative process didn’t get fucked up. I pity those who find it hard to be creative under fire.

The shell that brought down the wall didn’t stop Waheed Wehdani from finishing page 30 of his novel, Wolves with One Foot in the Trap. He heard the roaring of the tank that was stationed up the road. Its chained wheels tore through the flesh of the earth. “Zionists bitches…” he thought to himself.

That’s another story …

Back to the man who found himself floating.

Suddenly his lower body disappeared. Pain shot through his spine. Five gray tentacles shot from the bleeding void.

“Fuck it hurts! Nobody told me that metamorphosis hurts like a hardened piece of shit.”

He forgot the pain the moment he heard the screams. People were pushing and shoving. Men screamed like women, and women, well, they screamed like women too. Fear filled their eyes that were glazed with a matte finish.

Half man half octopus the young man tore through the roof and shot towards the azureus sky.

“Funny! I never realized I can fly or survive the coldness of space. Fuck! Now how am I supposed to finish writing my 1000 word essay on the process of creative writing? I have two days left. Shit!”

A shade of sadness splashed across the canvas of his face. You could read the title of his thoughts in his eyes.

“Moi Le Cthulhu! Moi Le Cthulhu!”

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By Mike V. Derderian

With shaky yet hesitation-free hands the ghastly figure cut through the fabric, the skin and the bone.

Snip snap! The Singer scissors that it held in its boney hand melodiously sung with an eerie rustling sound.

Snip snap. Snap snip. Snip snap. Snap snip. Snip snap.

Blood splattered everywhere and entrails flowed to the ground profusely.

What a hellish and joyous sight if you were a murderous monster.

From afar, at the corner of the Death Room the servants, minions and velvety ass-kissers observed in horror.

Snip snap. Snap snip. Snip snap. Snap snip. Snip snap.

The ghastly figure then pulled out the bloodied bones that came out with a sludgy sound. “What precision! It is like peeling meat off a roasted chicken,” one attendant whispered to another.

Passing a barbed wire through a silver needle’s eye the General’ hands moved like that of an experienced seamstress.

Hiss, hiss the needle whispered with every dive into the fleshy ocean of the meaty fabric. Hiss, hiss!

“It is done!”

Reaching down to a pile of the finest cotton, sheared from the slaughtered lambs of man, he filled out the sewn shape until it gained form.

“Ah! Truly a masterpiece in the works! Observe the latest artsy fartsy piece of my inventive hands that haven’t been ravaged by time ladies and gentlemen and monsters,” the General, holding an incomplete cloth-like doll, with elation intoned.

Bloodshot eyes bowled at the grisly doll that looked like a disfigured troll. The attendants of this demonic ritual dared not sigh at what was once a lively man, who had a family, a wife and children; lest their skins be cut, blood in a bucket be drained, bones be sawed and bodies be stuffed like plush apes with dead plastic faces.

Tear drops began to formulate around the General’s empty sockets. Not able to hold back the General, releasing an agonizing howl, finally broke down in tears.

Everyone in the room in horror recoiled; some even soiled their puffed up pants that are dropping from the weight of the gold and silver lining the insides of their greedy pockets.

How can such a ghastly figure weep you might ask?

“Sniff, snaff. Snuff Sniff. Boo hoo hoo!” Cried the General, “behold my friends how I laboriously invest my time by wasting lives as if I was squeezing juice out of a ripe lime! So easy! So easy! How can anyone say life is hard…”

Self-explanatory

Posted: August 16, 2011 in beTwixt & beTween

This is my take on constructive criticism and feedback feat. Triump, The Insult Comic Dog

3arabeyat عربيات

Posted: August 11, 2011 in Arabesque

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have a thing for Egyptian black and white movies, Egyptian actors and actresses like Rushdy Abaza, Mahmoud El Melejee, Estefan Rosty, Shadia, Soad Hosni, Hind Rostum, Nadia Lutfi, Ahmad Mezher, Nahed Sherrif and Foad Al Mohandes.

I didn’t count everyone. The above posters are a work of passion that I hope one day to showcase part of an exhibition …

I once stayed in my hotel room in Aqaba after a Stand-Up Comedy gig to watch a black and white movie! Yes, I wanted to watch the movie; plus, why would anyone want to stroll across a sandy beach under a starry night without his Other Half.

Kung Tfu 3aleik

Posted: August 8, 2011 in beTwixt & beTween

By Mike V. Derderian

If a mouse has the fastest heart rate in the animal kingdom  then I always morph into a furry twitchy creature before a stand up show. I get so nervous that I try not to eat or drink anything.

No, I am not afraid, or lack confidence, as I’ve spent three days working on my material. I don’t memorize. I merely link the keywords that connect my stories and punclines. Wish I had Yousef’s actor’s memory. Yousef Ziad Shweihat, who is with me in our 3al Wagef Comedy Troupe. Our third accomplice is Hamzeh Jabri.

The anxiety doused nervousness has become my stand up comedy pre-show ritual.

For the past few months I’ve been performing at Murphy’s Pub, where I feel comfortable shoving the envelope in the faces of its frequenters as a disgruntled Jordanian, who has an existential-socio-political agenda.

Mind you I said disgruntled because I am one of the many Jordanians who smile at a hot loaf of bread at any bakery in Amman, Jordan, my city, my country.

Now back at Murphy’s [No they haven’t paid me to mention them twice].

A few minutes in the toilet and I am ready to go, after I went of course and fulfilled nature’s call. A comedian with a full bladder is bad karma for himself.

I am now officially ready for my 15 minutes or less (usually 1o), where I will face the eyes of strangers and hopefully receive some of their laughs.

So as I said earlier, for the past two years I’ve been performing stand up comedy part of a local troupe that comprises of Yousef Shweihat, Hamzeh Jabri along with Bassam Alassad, our biggest supporter, semi-for-free-agent and fan since day one.

It is very hard to find people whose humor you understand let alone humor you can work with. I am proud to say that in Hamzeh and Yousef I have found my comedic soul mates.

On April, 28th,  I along with Yousef and two other Jordanian comedians opened for international Comedians Rami Salame and Rehman Akhtar, at The Landmark Hotel.

After the show I realized that I am forever hooked to this mind and psyche breaking practice.

Why would a person want to narrate stories that end with punchlines to a crowd of strangers, who might or might not laugh at his routine?

I have no fuckin clue! Its not the money – at least not at this point. You know what I am lying. I know why I do it. I do it because I love to be heard. I do it because it makes me feel good after a good show. When it doesn’t it makes me feel like crap flushed down a toilet. I do it because I wanted to do it ever since I saw Robin Williams’ Good Morning Vietnam, that also made me end up behind two outdated mics at Radio Jordan’s 96.3 FM for the past six years.

I don’t do stand up on a nightly basis. Amman is a small city and writing material on a daily basis would prove herculean. This is why Yousef, Hamzeh and I decided to hold a monthly show at Murphy’s Pub (third mention – I seriously should ask for money) with new material [from scratch] with every show.

Back to the show at the Landmark. There were familiar faces in the crowd. Of course these faces made me scrap my show’s opener and half of my adult themed jokes. There were freakin babies in the crowd; babies, their momies and daddies and grandparents. Yes, to the discomfort of them all, I rubbed it in their faces big time. As a comedian I had to.

Had three adult themed routines about the art of cuss words. I begrudgingly had to scrap it though when I realized there were old ladies and children. Again why the fuck would you bring children to a stand up comedy show? Why?

Performing in a pub is not like performing in other places. The crowd plays a big role in keeping and discarding bits of your routine.

Still loved every minute of that evening. Some jokes click and some don’t. That’s the equation. It is a trial and error aspect and in our cases, comedians, performance, trial and error.

To the surprise of everyone I decided to do my routine in Arabic. I am known for my stubbornness and insistence on performing in English because I am constantly told: Jordanians don’t get it when it is in English.

Bullshit I say. Anyways that’s cow fodder, God willing, for the next post of So You Faced the Crowd … Then What?

I arrive to a show with a set of lines and stories that I adapt to the faces I see. You try to predict what is the best show opener.

When facing the crowd and hearing the laughs directly you know you did it; you see it in their eyes; you feel it through a tap on the shoulder from someone you don’t know after the show. The laughs are the likes and comments.

So You Faced the Crowd … Then What?

We bid the organizers goodbye and if there were any friendly faces we salute them. We cross our fingers that we get paid on the same night. Usually not the case. Hey you are in the Middle East. They have to give you that extra mile long run after your money.

So after the Landmark show I wished Yousef and his wife Deema, and Hamzeh good night. Every post show night is the same for me. I head home. Best feeling ever: Extremely hyper, the result of the laughs!

“Hey I am taking Rami and Rehman to a place. Want to come?” a comedian asks. I jokingly say while forming a hand gun using my fingers at my forehead, “the Mrs. would kill me! Time to go home for this comedian!”

Heading home I try to remember if the fridge is empty. I head to Abdoun Supermarket where I used to hang out as a kid back in the 80s when the term Street Children was still in use, and you actually ran wild with children in the streets, part of a silly bicycle gang. Nowadays you get a sense that Amman was visited by the Pied Piper.

Abdoun Supermarket now has a new management yet it still feels like the old place that I ran into whenever I could during the hot Amman summers.

Abu Yaqoub the owner fell ill and all his employees left: Some died and some had their legs amputated. Life is a bitch! One mean bitch!

I walk in and greet the clerks, who in turn greet me. Always shop near your home so as to build trust with the supermarket owner. Try it. Whenever you are short on cash they’ll just say, “Later man! Later!”

So I quickly run towards the packed shelves. Pick up a box of local Labaneh, Turkish Labaneh for Nesrin [I am not anti food. I am anti-stupidity and the other stupid human crimes that were committed on the face of the earth for various stupid reasons] and Keri for my little mouse Amie.

Knowing that my grandmother is sleeping over I pick up a small can of Anchovis. I don’t know why but I remember my grandfather used to eat them. I automatically assume my grandmother loves them too.

Picking up a three pack economy Fine tissue boxes and roast turkey I find myself at the cash. “Are we done man!”  “Yes!” with a hyper tone I answer.

On that night I picked up two Amstel beet bottles. I tell the man working there. “Are these cheaper from the cans?” He says no. The cans are 2.25 JDs and the bottles are 1.10 JDs. I take the bottles. My approach to drinking is rather minimal like my illustration. Lots of black line lost in white spaces. Meaning I drink a bottle a month at the best. When I do I make sure I don’t have radio work the following day.

Tomorrow is Friday and I no longer have morning shifts on that day. I constantly use my working at 96.3 FM part of my routine and introduction. Whenever I tell someone that I work there they instantly say, “right! Are they still alive!”

My fingers curl in a fist but instead of throwing a punch I throw a punch-line, “Yep we’re still walking with dinosaurs!” Don’t you just like sensitive people! Idiots! They laugh. Mission accomplished.

The guy at the cash forgets to put the Amstel bottles in a bag. “Hey don’t be fooled by the Pampers! I drink!” I place the beer in a black bag and head home, where my wife experiences my hyper activity first hand by telling me, “Lower your voice!”

I run to my grandmother, Georgette, my mother’s mother, who doesn’t smell of Jasmine like Marajane’s grandmother [read Persepolis]. Mine smells of her. One gentle kiss from her sends me back to my days of innocence that were spent at their home in Damascus.

I tell my wife some of the evening’s highlights and if she smiles it means the joke is still working. The hyper activity stays so I write a little and if I feel like it I illustrate. [I just yawned. My brain wants more but my body is giving in].

Until 3al Wagef’s next show …

And if you’ve reached this far … thank you from a Homo sapien, a writer, a comic artist and a comedian trying to get a hold of a banana in a world governed by apes …

Icarus

Posted: August 2, 2011 in La Poem

Written on February 3, 2009

Warm wax dripped over his broad shoulders. It didn’t burn his chapped skin as much as it gave his naked body a tingling sensation. His hands clutched the wooden handles the same way an infant holds the hands of its mother.

His mother; he can barely remember her face.

He was getting closer. Touching the warm and holy visage was what he wanted to do from the moment he jumped over that cliff.

“I can make it,” he thought.

His father’s distant voice echoed in his weary mind, but the weight of his body that was pulling him down distracted him from grasping their meaning.

“A life without hope is like lying in a tomb without bothering to fight the gravedigger, who is hurling dirt over your shrouded face. I escaped my shroud. Here I am when all was lost, and will be no sooner I caress the noble features of this burning orb,” he said to himself.

Muscles painfully jolted and bones cracked but he kept on going, leaving behind a trail of feathers. The cogs attached to an iron plate on his back gave out a monotonous sound as they turned and turned. He was in much pain yet he never stopped. The leather straps that curved through his flesh, were now bound to the skin by layers of dried blood clots, through which warm red drops sifted like dew formulating over a perspiring leaf—the constant motion kept his wounds open and he was bleeding to death.

For a moment the white fleece of a cloud enshrouded his tired and bleeding frame, cooling his burning veins. Sweat trickling down from his wet hair reached the contours of furrowed forehead. Turning his head he saw his father again.

“He won’t reach me in time. Farewell sweet man. You who have carried me all my life,” the young man whispered in the direction of his bearded father, whose voice was hushed by the roaring wind.

“Zephyr is with me so worry not father. We’ll meet in the hereafter but first I have to cross the Dark Beyond. I can no longer see. Gentle and warm Helios let thy worm embrace guide me to your bosom,” he prayed with his eyes closed.

The leather straps attached to his wings were cracking and the rope that encircled both his arms reached the bone and was turning loose. Heavy tears streamed across his red cheeks. Blinded by the burning brightness the man, who was now guided by his ears, refused to stop, even as his blood streamed like a river heading to its watery deathbed to the sea-unchanging.

“Life never sounded so better,” was the final thought rushing through his head that went headlong into the icy water.

Broken feathers floated towards the moving surface. A voice from within the clouds bellowed, “Icarus…Icarus.”