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This was produced by TEXAS VIDEO PROS. It was a challenging piece to organize and execute. We feel like we did a great job in this new market for us. Ruby was happy with it. He is a rapper based out of Houston.

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Map of Texas – Close up

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Outward View

Outward View

At the Texas Coast, Rockport.

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No Tipping Allowed


By Eric Dreyer Smith








I wanted this job badly. Appleby had gotten the last celebrity. I’d have given anything to be there upon the stage with them. Yes, it was true the celebrities get to wear the fancy gowns, are the center of attention and get to speak the last words of the event. I merely would be there in humble clothing while attending them, and of course there was no tipping allowed. Still, I wanted to do this performance with all my soul. Finally Appleby, the senior man of that stage, acquiesced and the job was mine.

The fans were many on the day. Mostly cheering though as always a few hecklers were in the crowd. The grounds attendants cleared a path to the stage. A couple of young girls rushed the star of the show, but were easily held back by staff.

I hated my hat. It was black and covered too much of my face. Really, it obstructed my view from the ceremony and the fact that I had to go shirtless made the whole thing a little too much of spectacle for my taste. I always preferred to adorn leaning toward dignity. Still, the audience loved it that way and we were here to give them something special.

The celebrity was elegant, they usually are, I myself would be much more nervous but composure seems to come with the station for the famous lot. This was my chance to attach myself to their coattails – my fifteen minutes of fame near the limelight. I could tell the crowd wanted me to do a little ditty so I turned to the side showing my muscles and grinning.

Then it was her turn to speak. She was poetic and evoked majestic resonances that left the audience speechless. The silence was my cue.  She performed the ending in the French style – on her knees center stage, body upright to the skies and then she added a new twist, she held her arms out extended, as far as they might go, fingertips reaching wide to stage left and stage right. The audience gasped, holding their breath as the final act climaxed and signaled to go mad wild.

I did my job. Too bad there was no tipping. She could have afforded to give me a pretty penny. Yet, contrary to popular myth we only use a single blade and giving money to me would get no particular favor. My swing was true and the Queen’s head rolled bloodily to the feet of the fans in the first row. The throng erupted. The cheers were not for me, but the people could not help looking at me as I did my job, though I reckon many just focus on the axe itself.

The beheading was executed, no pun intended, precisely. This was the grand finale so I let the screams of the audience soaked into my very being and took it all as compliments. Granted the part I played was small, yet key. In the excitement some of her highnesses’ blood dripped on my new shoes and ruined them. I had purchased them especially for the occasion. Noticing that I lost concentration for a moment from all the praise of my work. Everyone then was charging the stage to get a look at her severed body. It was not me they were really interested in, just the results of my swing.

I had done my first royal. Overall it was the second in the last three years. Who knew there maybe a third soon? Maybe Appleby would be ill that day and I could go at it again?

I really wish we could swing the double bladed axe. I could add a little theater by whirling it between the dull and sharp ends. Wouldn’t hurt my paycheck either, but then again it would probably still be no tipping allowed.

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Simon Jones


By Eric Dreyer Smith








Simon Jones woke up with the usual numbness of having to face the grueling catastrophe of office life. He gave a half yawn and bounced himself off the bed past the snoring form of his petite wife. Simon’s juggling blubber sailed past the small woman like a dense puffy cloud against the backdrop of a thin blue sky.  He was glad he had the little woman. She accepted his fat. The office had been cracking down on fat lately: Lots of rules and forms and stipulations about fat in the workplace. Simon did not have to worry about all of that at home.  Despite the loveless times he and his wife were uniquely devoted to each other including their foibles.

Simon would not shower this morning. He had taken a bath the previous evening. It was a habit he began seven years before. He remembered it had been how his late grandmother used to prefer to bathe. It was a quite relaxing if unpopular habit. Most people, especially at the office, took showers. Maybe it was a Roman thing. His grandmother had been fond of reminding the family that her descendants had spanned the entire length of the Roman Empire. Simon did not have any details of what they did for the Roman Empire, but had always been assured that whatever it was then it had taken place in the northern parts of Rome’s territories where the good people were.

In fact Simon had a decent lineage of successful, patriotic and powerful people from both his father and mother’s stock. All this meant nothing at the office where Simon’s status of low man on the advertising totem pole poured on him humiliations that had long dried firmly and stuck hard. He looked in the mirror and remembered how he wanted to grow a beard. This would be in no way acceptable in the workplace, though he kept staring at the mirror conjuring hair suddenly sprouting from his face. The beard grew longer and longer until it covered the fat of his stomach. He liked himself more with this imaginary beard. He felt wiser for it and then it was gone. Morning routine mechanized itself like a Panzer tank on full throttle. Before he was aware of himself again Simon was sitting at his cubicle in the office, fully dressed with tie and absolutely no facial hair.

The buzz of the air conditioner unit matched the numb echo in his mind.  He was not awake. He was the sleepwalker. His early dreams of creation and oratory long gone; a drone in the hive: less than zero. He managed to summon the energy to turn on his computer. The humming automatically raised his consciousness to minimal functioning levels. He believed he held his own with this pack of coworkers, though he admitted to himself that he tended to lean toward short periods of excellence spurned on by fantasies that his employment was actually something else and this was followed by long durations of mediocrity with occasional slips into reputation damaging sub-terrains of effort and mistake. The office procedures over the years had grown increasingly complicated and absurd. The general desperation of society’s painful economic realities slammed into the hierarchies and methodologies of the office like a bull in a china shop. Endless accountabilities and systems of double, triple and quadruple checks plagued every process. Simon knew once he pressed the first button on the computer he was damning himself to a scrabble of exotic micro-miseries and data chases – all cataloged for endless superiors to review. He did it anyway. He pressed the button. He needed the job because he loved his little, foreign language-speaking spouse. She had come into the country twenty-five years before and their marriage was one of the last sanction citizenship by matrimony petitions granted. These were troubled times. The country did not want any more people inside of it.

The pop up on the screen directed Simon to address a situation in the Phoebus account. It was a medical management file order. Simon speedily divided the information into three sections. These were then saved in separate containment groupings and as well forwarded to three people: the assistant, accounting and computer management. Then one version was entered into the file save folder system: BARKLOUD. These was double saved there and then forwarded to Simon’s group assistant for verification entry. After these an email of what had been done so far was forwarded to Simon’s direct supervisor; Bonnie Cruditch. Then the paper trail began. Simon ran multiple copies of the information as entered then faxed versions to the host client as well as backtracking to confirm by email. A process order was handwritten and delivered to production.  Production made hard files and catalogued data before sending an email back to Simon for confirmation. Simon wheeled from station to station to accomplish the task. He drops off an innovation form on the account update to the data design department, which he first had three managers sign. Data Design would screen accounts for efficiencies, drop a hard copy and email on their findings to Simon who in turn had to pass on these findings to the account and his supervisor in addition to giving hard and electronic copies to the group assistant who confirmed back to him that she secure filed them. Simon then updated the account portfolio and sent this information on to the Marketing Development Department who analyzed the account stream for possible expansion points.  This too was sent back to Simon in hard and electronic copy and again sent on to account, supervisor and assistant for review and secure filing. If it had merit Simon would be called into Bonnie’s office for a strategy session to increase the account.

“How you doing today Simon?” inquired Bert Garza.

It was a minefield of a question coming from Bert. He had a license to be snide. He had been grandfathered in under the Homosexuality Freedom to Express Sarcasm Anywhere Disregarding of Women’s Rights or the Feelings of Non-Alpha Males Act. He was practically untouchable.

“Pretty good,” replied Simon attempting a neutrality of tone that did not rile up Bert’s instinct for sarcasm.

“That’s good,” said Bert.

Thank God. It must have worked. Basically, Bert was a massively territorial creature and any perceived threat to his domain was smashed down verbally.  He was one of the few who could say about a female manager, “she’s a total whore isn’t she?” and people would be so bewildered or intimidated by his protected status that it would go unchallenged. Some thought he was just being lightly funny. Simon Jones saw through it. It was wrong, but today he might not have to experience it since Bert’s mood seemed good.

Patty, the Group Twelve Assistant, had laid fresh copies of the new billing statement for the Phoebus account on Simon’s inauspicious desk. One was filed in the “Garden of Hanging Folders” drawer and the other put in the SOX folder for the Sub-Finance Department to pick up at the end of the day. Done. The morning was moving along briskly. Simon thought he could maintain this pace and the day would be over and relatively painless. He thought for a moment what Jing might be doing at home?  Likely hard at work perhaps doing a load of laundry that was too small and wasted some water, the bill had been too high lately, or cooking one her favorite soups. Jing was a full-time housewife. Simon was proud of that fact. He could support both of them with his position at the company.

Housewives were rare these days. Most spouses were with companies and many of the rest were with the Civic Corp. of Paid Volunteers. Jing might have liked to do some sort of work outside the home, but that dream had been given up years ago when they learned, despite original hopes, that Jing had no fluency for language. She simply could not pick up English. This fact forced a form of ritual and humility upon their relationship. It had grown to a peculiar, if isolated, depth much like a miniature two-person submarines capable of descending countless fathoms in order to study unseen, possibly terrifying or phosphorescent ocean life or perhaps one of those first two-person submarines, made of iron to put mines on the base of ships during the American Civil War, highly clever, but terribly in danger of a sudden destruction.

“Beep, beep. Beep.” Simon quickly picked up the phone at the beginning of the second in the series of beeps.

“Hello.  Simon Jones here,” he said.

“Simon can you come in my office for a moment,” said his boss.

“Sure,” replied Simon.

“Thanks,” said Bonnie.

Simon quickly jaunted to the back row of office doors. Bonnie’s was the third from the left. They were entrances to possibilities and rebukes. Simon assumed he was being called in to review the recent activity in the Phoebus account. Sometimes the micro-pinch happened that fast. Shouldn’t be a big deal as the account seemed in order and Simon felt on top of his game lately. He was about to peak into a success binge. He expected praise.

“Simon have a seat please. I’ve asked Mars to sit in on this,” said Bonnie.

This was unusual. Simon balked momentarily then complied.  It looked like a….

“Just want to do a quick review – quarterly this year you know,” said Bonnie.

Huh. The quarter had been okay: just a couple of odd setbacks early on.

Simon braced himself, “Okay.”

“Well starting off your quarterly numbers are a little below par, you tend to excel in follow up for some durations then seem to trend toward a slump period.  This algorithm shows the pattern of the last ten years with the company. We talked about this before, but corporate is tightening a little so we’ll have to work with you on this. Your up periods pretty much even out on balance and I’ve been happy with that over the years, but changes in oversight are coming just so you know. Likely won’t be as much slack on the down-slopes. Can you review and sign here,” said Bonnie.

Simon looked at it. Not so bad. They were on to him a little, but he had seen these types of reforms before. When times were tight this was the party line for a few months until things blew over. He could ride it out with a little extra effort and focus. He pretended to be engrossed by the wording and charts on the paper for a sufficient amount of time before signing his name.

“Now – I have to bring up your behavior early quarter when “Reality Office” was filming here. The popularity ratings for your performance were low. It didn’t reflect well on the company. Corporate took notice Simon and for starters they want you to enlist in “Improv” classes next year when the show comes back to film again. So I need you to sign this release affirming your cooperation in that,” said Bonnie as she scooted another piece of paper from her folder in front of Simon.

How many papers did she have in there? Simon got a little nervous. How bad could it have been for business that Simon did not have a good television personality? So, they wanted him to take some classes. This was getting more serious. He looked the paper over: Nothing hidden – just the pledge to try harder, practice and be more funny and/or interesting next season.

“Okay – I’ll do my best,” said Simon as he signed.

“Good,” stated Bonnie as she took the paper back from him.

Simon edged forward as preparing to leave, then.

“One other thing SImon. And this is a little disturbing. Internal Technology found this file saved in your computer,” said Bonnie as she showed Simon a copy, “do you recognize it?” she asked.

Simon could not deny it. It was his. He didn’t realize they were spying that closely. It had been in a file marked personal. Wasn’t anything sacred anymore?

“Oh that was just a joke – I thought about emailing it around to get a laugh you know,” said Simon trying to think quickly.

“A joke. It wasn’t taken that way by upper management. Let’s see it’s called, “A FORMULA FOR UTOPIA,” – then goes,” first we replace all teachers with cab drivers, then all lawyers with pre-school teachers, then all police with massage therapists,” and it goes on for a formula for the perfect restructuring of all society by replacing more apt vocations for others,” said Bonnie almost exasperated.

“It’s just supposed to be funny,” said Simon though at the time he had been upset and meant it in a more serious way.

“Well I’m afraid upper management didn’t see it that way at all and passed it on beyond the inner structure of the company level,” said Bonnie.

“What!” said Simon worried.

“It’s out of my hands Simon – as far I’m concerned in your relation to me as your supervisor you will have to attempt to improve on the points we previously discussed.  If this escalates it will be address by supra-structure company units – any questions?” said Bonnie.

“No I get it,” said Simon.

“Then that will be all,” dismissed Bonnie.

Simon got up and left the room.

Upon entering the general workspace the group was transfixed on the television. Simon, stunned, moved himself toward his cubicle.

“You look happy,” someone said facetiously.

Being targeted snapped Simon out of his daze.

“Oh yeah one of those days,” he replied.

“Already. You might get on a roll today,” said another.

“What’s all the buzz on the tube?” asked Simon.

“They’re closing in on Carlos Buddha Thin,” said another worker.

“Really,” said Simon getting interested.

Carlos Buddha Thin was the last gangster loose in the country. He was the most and only wanted. The last of the bad guys and it looked like the authorities, with their vast technologies and extensive networks of squealers, had the final villain cornered. He was speeding on the highway in a red Ferrari, dozens on cop cars on his tail and a swarm of helicopters overhead. He was out of hope. The last criminal would soon be done for and all eyes in the office were glued to the television as witness.

“The rich will be happy when they nab Buddha Thin,” said the group assistant, “the rich don’t like gangsters, never did.”

“Nor gangster movies,” chirped another.

Buddha Thin was famous for his UTUBE video uploads where he’d brag about his exploits, request donations for his favorite charities and go on crazed, drug-induced soliloquies lauding his heroic and mythical lineage that put in him such a fierce pride that his only possible response to the modern world’s confinements was a life of crime. Simon thought Buddha Thin could be suffering from the psychosis of a gene-memory bound bio-personality type whose instincts where hampered after generations of dystopia. If only half of Thin’s ancestral claims were true this would make sense. Still, few people, professional or otherwise, had the sophisticated understanding of the inter-influence of genetic biology and psychology as Simon Jones. If nothing else Simon Jones was an intellectual genius. Had that though ever gotten him anywhere? No. In any case he enjoyed thinking of himself as one of those who honestly could be considered “ahead of his time.”

Carlos Buddha Thin told people, through UTUBE, that he was the “REMEMBERED DESCENDENT” of the lost thirteen tribes of Israel. His ancestors through the super strength of their genetic make-up survived the Bubonic Plagues. They hid among the Celtic tribes as honored Shaman Warriors until being dispatched to the New World where they conquered bravely for the powers that be until those powers no longer needed them. He was the betrayed man; a supernatural martyr beyond the laws of good and evil and in touch with divine powers. He was the living fragment of Jesus Christ incarnate and ready for his fame on Earth that would prove immortal.

These thoughts remained in Buddha Thin as the police opened fire on his vehicle, killing him with one hundred and sixteen bullet wounds.

“So much for the future of prime time television,” cracked a co-worker.

It must have meant something thought Simon. This violent sudden death must be releasing a feeling in society that caused meaning. Some kind of echo that goes on through time to future people, cousins perhaps, that pick up the truth of what happened and give out subtle, miniature revenges to those connected to the perpetrators of these crimes or their beneficiaries. Probably when a big group of people are offended in such ways whole societies must bend in time to pay unconscious tribute to the remainder generations of those injustices. Buddha Thin’s mind must have connected largely to the purpose of the universe on the point of his death. This made sense to Simon, but he doubted if he would ever feel anything like that. His was a small life with no voice. He had been neutered long ago and any aspiration of contributing to the larger scheme vanished from his beliefs. He could not commit a crime. He had resigned himself to head down, follow the job and try to live until the end. Though today even that seemed threatened.

It would be hard to get back on the good side of HR.  He’d have to plot some course of action to perfect his image. It would mean a murderous drive to gain money for the company over the coming weeks, but that would only be part of the plan. He’d have to kindle the reflections of servitude to the cause and personal devotion to each individual superior without raising suspicion of his sincerity. It would be a great task, but he must do it to survive. Worst of all he would have to embrace each and every worthless, irrational opinion of all his compatr-IDIOTS in the company as to radiant his accordance with the overall goodwill of the general atmosphere. This especially now since the last gangster was dead. People would be looking for bad guys everywhere.

For that matter it was unfair that so much attention was being paid to last criminal on television while he, Simon Jones, was being severely rebuked for a little treatise on the perfect society. It told how far gone society had become.  Simon Jones secretly knew his worth. His treatise should be getting the study and attention of the brains and masses of the present world. Instead, he stood on the verge on condemnation. The Company was too powerful. It had eroded both the foundations of the people and masked the better interpreter of progress.  Simon’s family had helped build the great society that transmogrified into the present day Company; yet they did not remember him for it. The men had fought in every war and several had risen to high places in business. There had been professors, authors, treasurers, officers and great entrepreneurs, which all led to this singular point of extinguishment for Simon Jones. He should have been the generation of leisure and wit, but instead sank as an unknown cog in the wheel.      It was a inglorious, titanic shift in social perspective and Simon Jones, as epitome, suffered the brunt at the unheralded fulcrum and juncture of this tectonic civic rupture. His mind raced with the words that fed this picture of things.

Simon sat at his cubicle aware. The thoughts increased, he fantasized about grand protests, big change and great assassinations. He felt his anger course up and down his sleeves. He was unable to sense other parts of his body. Then he remembered. He had to work harder. He had to accomplish some perfection from his cubicle that the Company would appreciate. If not he risked losing it all. He put his head down and worked like a blinded mule on a treadmill. When he looked up again it was the end of the workday.

Simon needed counsel. He had one friend, a childhood one, who had made the grade with the new ways of society. Dejar Pentook was up and coming Big Company material. His unwavering devotion to the principles of mindless labor, unjust hierarchy and personal advancement had gotten him noticed by those who counted. He was already a manager. He phoned Dejar who agreed to meet at BACKDOWNS – a nearby sport bar. Simon phoned his wife.

“Hellooo?” she said.

“Me go see Dejar,” said Simon in the pigeon talk that functioned as their communication.

“Where?” she said.

“Go to BACKDOWN,” replied Simon.

“Okay. You good day?”

“Yes very good. You?”

“It’s okay.”

“Good. I love you.”

“I love you too.  See you later,” she said.

Simon hung up. He disliked speaking with his wife by telephone. The broken words without seeing and touching each other or using that special version of sign language they had created did not account for their true feelings of affection for each other. Talking on the telephone always seemed like a step backwards to before they really knew each other.

As Simon left the office, his shoulders slumped by burden. It was unfortunate that he ended up in business. It was all that was left to him though.

“Glad they got that bastard gangster!” said his boss, Bonnie, who was getting a company car, complete with a driver holding open the door.

“Yeah, wonderful,” echoed Simon.

“Hey listen Simon – I got a last minute call from HR – they want to let you go after all – listen come in the morning and we’ll go over it and signed the paperwork – O.K. see you then,” said Bonnie as she hopped in the back seat.

“Screeechhh….  BAM!!”

Then sirens and plenty of them.

A red Ferrari had jammed around the corner and slammed into the company car. Bonnie flew out the door and looked pretty damaged.

A man jumped out of the Ferrari.

It was Carlos Buddha Thin. He was alive. The news had lied. Simon Jones had never been that happy to see a stranger.

Buddha Thin ran past him on the street. The cops were right behind him and also jumped out of their cars in front of the newspaper’s office. Their guns began blazing. Buddha Thin fired behind him as he ran. The first bullet tore through Simon one way, than another hit him from the other direction. He fell bleeding. His last thought before going unconscious was that he would wake up in the hospital and HR would either forget or forgive him, because for sure this would make damn good Reality TV.



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A ditty about a local Celebrity

Tommy Lee Jones, Tommy Lee Jones

One of San Antonio’s very own

More than one Oscar he should own

Mention any part

He’ll jump on it and do it smart

Tommy Lee Jones, Tommy Lee Jones

If you see him in a local bar

Be wise and stay away far

Tommy Lee Jones, Tommy Lee Jones

Like Texas he needs space to roam

Dare to talk to him and he’ll look you in the eye

And curse your mama’s soul till you cry

Tommy Lee Jones, Tommy Lee Jones

One of San Antonio’s very own

His neighborhood is his kingdom

The cops watch out for him everyday

If you stroll your car near for a peek

Be ready to pay

Tommy Lee Jones, Tommy Lee Jones

More than one Oscar he should own

He loves local lore, his flicks help bury the dead

But if you live in this town

Watch that he doesn’t bite off your head

Tommy Lee Jones, Tommy Lee Jones


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