‘Exciting Times: The Future of Robotics with Professor
Scores of people fill the audience like anonymous judges in
the court of public opinion.
From behind the curtain, Vance makes jabs at the curtain in
an attempt to find the opening. Finding the part, he enters.
FREEZE FRAME with caption: VANCE
A few steps later he trips and barely manages to keep his
He pans the audience disheveled, half-shaven, and sweaty.
Squinting with bleary eyes he has trouble making out anything more than an
audience of blobs.
Vance CLEARS THROAT and blinks some.
He presses a CLICKER.
SLIDE: ‘Love’ in fancy cursive lettering.
His initial jitters fade and he regains his composure,
becoming the consummate professional.
NEXT SLIDE: People dancing around a bonfire.
the world people dance, sing, fight, kill and die
for Love… but what
is it… really?
NEXT SLIDE: A person about ready to be fed into an MRI
We scanned the brain of patients
who told us they
were in love and this is what we
NEXT SLIDE: brain scan with a small area lit up mid-brain.
in a tiny little factory near the base of the brain
called the ventral tegmental area. We found activity in
called the A10 cells. Cells that actually make dopamine.
NEXT SLIDE: Diagram of the chemical structure of dopamine.
A natural stimulant, and the cells
spray it to many regions. Indeed,
the A10 region is part of the
brain’s reward system. It’s below
the brain’s cognitive functions,
the thinking processes, it’s
below your emotions, it’s part of what we call
core of the brain associated with
wanting, with motivation,
with focus, and with craving. A
region of the brain that will
take huge risks for enormous
gains. A big rush.
NEXT SLIDE: map showing the different regions of brain;
neo-cortex, limbic, and reptilian. Vance gives a lazy blink and subtly sticks
out his tongue with the slide in background.
same kind of rush one receives when being liked on a social
Vance uses his cell phone as a prop and on instinct almost
presses the button to check his phone. He slips the phone back into his pocket.
And to a much larger degree the
same kind of rush and the
same region of the brain that is
activated by doing cocaine.
NEXT SLIDE: Cocaine laid out on a table.
But just like the rush of cocaine,
what goes up must come down.
NEXT SLIDE: The word ‘Entropy’, text is dissolved and
scattered towards end of word.
Or another way to put it; entropy.
Everything moves in one
direction; from order to chaos,
from hot to cold, this is
the second rule of thermodynamics,
according to the laws
of Phyllis… physics… physics…
Vance takes a long blink and a deep breath. He opens his
eyes and glares out on the audience sneering.
studied this perverse, fuzzy feel good concept for most of my
adult life. And I
have come to the undeniable conclusion
that love is no
different than motorcycle racing, chanting
mantras for many
hours in high altitudes, or the adrenaline
rush that comes
from jumping off a cliff without a parachute.
purpose is to keep down the infant mortality rate.
A cruel trick of
evolutionary biology. Love is biochemically no
eating large amounts of chocolate! But I
Vance lifts the CLICKER and glowers.
NEXT SLIDE: A picture of Vance on graduation day in cap and
gown; holding someone who’s been cropped out of the photo.
graduated from Ohio State University the same year the
Big Ear Radio
Telescope was dismantled to make way for
a golf course expansion. For
decades the Big Ear
had been searching the skies for
signs of extraterrestrial
NEXT SLIDE: Giant satellite dishes.
They thought they found it in 1977. Radio
Jerry Ehman was
combing through observation data,
evidence that alien civilizations might be trying
using radio waves, when he saw something
so interesting and
so unique that he circled it and wrote
‘WOW’ in the
NEXT SLIDE: picture of the ‘wow’ data print out.
turned out to be nothing… probably nothing… but that
didn’t matter as
much, because for that one brief moment
he had found what he was looking
for, the possibility that
there was something out there,
something that might end
humanity’s isolation. That’s what
love is. And sometimes
you send out those messages not
expecting to hear back,
like SETI, like the search for
Intelligence. Love is a hoax.
Vance takes out his cell phone, hovers his thumb over it as
if to text, then lets it fall to the ground and stomps it into oblivion with
the heel of his boot. He loses his footing and falls to the ground. Heaving
some, Vance is on the verge of sobbing.
it doesn’t end there. Oh no. Oh God no. You see, a month
after that signal
was received the Voyager 1 was launched
into deep space,
far away from our Solar System. The Voyager 1
is the furthest
man-made object from earth, ever. Aboard NASA
included a gold
plated record that contained information about
humanity. They put
lots and lots of audio on the disk, but one
song, one song in
particular, a song by Blind Willie Johnson,
called ‘Dark was
the Night and Cold was on the Ground’ was
represent to whoever or whatever found it what the
human emotion of loneliness
is. Blind Willie Johnson wasn’t blind
his whole life, he
was blinded when his step-mother threw lye
in his face and he
died of Malarial fever when his home burned
down and he had nowhere
else to live but on wet newspaper…
And now his song
is out there in interstellar space representing…
that song… that
song… love is… it’s a crocodile… on the…
Unable to contain his welling emotions, Vance loses it and
breaks down CRYING. Enter a robot with a tissue extended being controlled
remotely by Professor Yakimoto.
Vance looks up momentarily and, returning face
to cupped hands, CRYS even harder.
The TED (or TIM) TALK logo flys across the screen.
Based on the wildly successful, long running Chicago Show hosted by Jake Penzell, this Comedy Trivia Extravaganza will challenge your knowledge and test your nerves with our outrageous Physical Challenges. Prizes for the winning teams every Friday. Check your political correctness at the door and prepare to enter the Best Damn Trivia Show in Town! Come see it before the Palm Springs Decency Board shuts us down!!!
Nixon sits in an armchair and stares out on the audience as if they're a roaring fire. He is listening to his OLD TAPE RECORDINGS, which play faintly in the background. The reel runs out. His gaze shifts to Checkers (dude in dog costume) who lays on the floor next to his chair. Checkers lifts his head and the two make eye contact. Nixon breaks eye contact first and returns to his far off wistful look.
NIXON: You know, I have moments of clarity, moments of lucidity... where I see what I've done... ah heck, what do you know Checkers, you're just a dog...
Nixon gets up and retrieves Scotch bottle from corner.
NIXON: You know, you know sometimes I feel like a dog, yeah, a dog that's been beaten for so long that... well...
He pours drink and circles his spot as though looking for something.
NIXON: A dog that's been beaten for so long that he gets to know himself through the beatings.
Nixon sits. Checkers SIGHS.
NIXON: My father tried to drown me... The Anaheim Ditch, by Yorba Linda standards, it was a historic ditch… brought in fresh water for the citrus crop, sugar-loaf soil, nothing would grow… my father figured he wouldn’t buy fertilizer until he brought in enough lemons to pay for it. He went bust. Idiot. Anyways, we weren't allowed to swim in it, or wade in it, the other kids, they were allowed, their parents let them, not us, not Frank, not my father. Prick. One day he saw us, me and my brothers, caught us playing in it. That miser grabbed me by the scruff of my neck, hauled me out, pushed me back in, taunted me, then threw me and my brothers in a couple more times just to drive the point home. The neighbor kids all laughed. Real hoot it was. Cock-suckers. He tried to drown me, tried to drown all of us… I’ve never told anyone that story. At least no one ever tried to drown you... it was one time and that was a Goddamn accident! I apologized, for crying out...
Checkers gets up and sits at Nixon's feet.
NIXON: Sometimes I wish you could talk, Checkers. And sometimes, I wish I could just be quiet. It’s like with the Great Silent Majority, once they get started, they never shut the fuck up!
Checkers wanders about SNIFFING. Nixon sets up another reel, hits a few buttons, slugs his drink, and pours another.
NIXON: I get it; you’re supposed to running wild with a pack of your peers, not here, in this gilded cage. People aren’t that hard to figure out. People are like dogs, like a pack of wild dogs. People want to feel important, essential, they want to feel like they’re part of a group. Part of being part of a group is being loved. People want to be loved. People want to feel loved, Checkers. You love me, don’t you Checkers? I know you’d say so… if ya could…
Nixon slurps down his drink and pours another. Nixon doesn’t notice Checkers taking a shit behind him. Checkers returns to Nixon and paws at his knee.
NIXON: … Could ya Checkers? This once? Maybe just this once? I need to hear it. I think I need to hear it. Is it that impossible?
Checkers goes back to SNIFFING. Nixon shakes it off, sips drink.
NIXON: Maybe I don’t need to hear it… maybe nobody needs to hear it… be nice though, be nice to hear it… You know, maybe the Hippies are right, with all that free love shit, then, again, it’s got to mean something, it has to be earned, it can’t just be free… it can’t be that easy… it’s like I’ve always said, you can fool some of the people all the time, and all of the people some of the time… but ya can’t… well ah… you know…
Nixon demolishes drink.
NIXON: And the rest you carpet bomb into the fucking stone age… ha… you know that’s not, I shouldn’t have said… Look at me, I’m talking to a…
Nixon lets out a SIGH, gets up, stokes imaginary fire. He paces the length of the stage, gaining momentum.
NIXON: They’re gonna try and crucify for this. This, this, this thing, this Watergate thing… and you know, I’ve been set up. It’s a set up. Sure, I authorized the fund, they’re calling it a slush fund, but I never gave the go ahead to break into the Goddamn hotel. My tapes will prove that. My tapes will exonerate me. They’ll show… That’s why I, why I’ve… It’s this whole Bay of Pigs thing. But I tell ya what, I’m not going down without a fight. I’m a fighter Checkers. In ’62 they thought I was done. Hell, I thought I was done! When I made that speech saying, ‘you won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore.’ Felt like a dog. Just like a bloody dog. But I didn’t stay down. That’s not me. It’s in my blood; to get up and fight. And I even told Pat back then… I told her... Pat… thank God I’ve got Pat… you know… I used to drive her around on dates… when I first met her… I used to… used to drive her around… Jack Kennedy could get any girl he wanted… Jackie… Marilyn… but me… I used to be Pat’s fucking chauffeur while some swinging dick was in the back seat necking her… Christ I’m a fool! This entire time, a Goddamned irredeemable fool!
Nixon collapses and begins to SOB. Checkers walks over, rubs his snout against Nixon and licks him some. Nixon SNIFFLES.
NIXON: Oh Checkers! You’re the only one who’s been loyal, been good to me. I love you Checkers. I love you more than any stinking person in this whole Goddamn rotten world. I love you so much Checkers! You hear me?! I should have married you. I should have married you Checkers!
Nixon kisses Checkers between the eyes. Regaining his composure, Nixon returns to his chair. A beat and he realizes the TAPE RECORDER has been running.
NIXON: Oh no… I thought I hit play… oh God, the recorder’s been running for... 18 minutes?! Oh God no!
Nixon presses a button to rewind the tape, producing a HIGH-PITCHED SQUEAL. When the tape returns to its origin he promptly smacks one last button.
Hillary: boy this restaurant is fancy schmancy, you know what, and to tell the truth, it doesn't do anything for me, give me a greasy spoon or a mom and pop on main street in Anytown America. Am I right? Yeah! Maybe even a Pop and Mom. See, I'm funny. So congratulations on winning the contest, do a you know you beat out over a billion people to have dinner with me!
Greg: wow... a billion people?
Hillary: a billion people.
Greg: Really, a billion people?
Hillary: I have international appeal!
Hillary: Let's sit. What's your name son?
Hillary: Great! So tell us a little about yourself?
Greg: yeah, well, originally I'm from Minneapolis, well actually a suburb of Minneapolis, see my parents moved from Buffalo when we were young...
ACTION: Hillary is on her phone
Greg: There's 7 in our family toe...tal.... are you even listening?
Hillary: suuuuure.... Buffalo... me smoke 'm big peace pipe....
Greg: you know that's rude. It's treating me like trash
ACTION: Hillary giddily texts and swipes away on phone when something occurs to her and she slowly looks up horrified.
Hillary: Do the emails from your trash box delete automatically? I mean if they're moved back to the inbox but then not favorited, i mean before hiding them in the do not read folder... oh god....
ACTION: Hillary stomps on phone/drops it in water and hands phone carcuss/ glass of water to the waiter.
Hillary: Dispose of this. Make it look like an accident. And for god sake, make sure the dumpster locks.
ACTION: waiter walks away and there's a tense moment.
Greg: I'm pretty sure they have a back-up server.
ACTION: another waiter comes out.
Waiter: Can I take your drink orders?
Hillary: I'll get a Shirley Temple.
ACTION: Hillary winks a lot, the waiter doesn't really get it.
Greg: um, just a coke.
Greg: the thing is, Hillary, I mean Mrs. Clinton, or ah Madam Secretary, what do I call you?
Hillary: I've been called worse, ha!
Greg: the thing is my friends sort of set me up, er signed me up for this. I mean you're nice, i like you and all, it's just I'm a Bernie Supporter.
Hillary: ... well jeez apparently you don't like that much.
Greg: no, it's just, the thing is, like this restaurant, okay, like the guys in the kitchen are working really hard, they're busting their asses so the people who take orders can look good. The people up front get the recognition. They get the tip. They get all the glory. But they're just the face of it. Bernie Sanders is like the cook, sweating his balls off in the kitchen, making our food, giving us something proper to digest. And you're like the waiter, or waitress, or whatever you call it.
Greg: Exactly, you're a server; to the banks, to Wall Street, to the Military-Industrial Complex, the Prison-Industrial Complex, every complex you can think of!
Hillary: Look, we're here to have fun, so loosen up. Congratulations!
Greg: And why even have an election if it's gonna be decided by superdelegates?
Hillary: Super delegate, that's funny (does superhero theme sing via mouth trumpet) I'm here to save the day. Ha ha, well now that's a hoot.
Greg: I mean seriously don't you think the superdelegate thing has run it's course and needs to go?
Hillary: (looks around) sure. You got a good head on your shoulders, have ya thought of college, in space?
Greg: i mean, like in Wyoming, how the hell did Bernie Sanders beat you by 12 points and only get 7 delegates out of the 14 possible deletes?! What's the point of even having an election?! That's like Russia.
Hillary: it's not like Russia.
Greg: it looks a lot like Russia.
Hillary: (game show buzzer noise) nope, sorry, try again!
Greg: well it's like China then.
Hillary: ... Look pal...let's try to have dinner... okay bub? And let's not talk about all this negative stuff. Whew, Phew, so negative... you! Take a chill pill Mac. Whew. So negative. A nice dinner. None of this talk about Benghazi. Or massive voter fraud. Or deleting Classified e-mails. Or the NSA monitoring our phone calls, emails and everything else Or using the Clinton Foundation as a cover for tax evasion, hiring cronies, taking bribes from foreign countries. Or drafting trade deals that have effectively sold this country to the Chinese. Or arming the Muslim Brotherhood and funding the Muszadeen, which became Alciada then ISIS, to fight the Soviets in the 80's. While we're at it least not mention Whitewater, Vince Foster, commodity deals. The IRS targeting enemies, Libya, Iraq, Iran. DOJ spying on the press. SOLYNDRA! Threats to all of Bill’s former mistresses. Or that time I stole the White House silverware when Bill left office. Or Secret Drone Rapes in Nicagra... whew I need a drink after that one!
Greg: Wait, what was that last one?
Hillary: (collects herself after a moment of panic) you really don't think I'm that stupid, do you Jeffrey?
Greg: The name's... (smugly) What can we talk about then?
ACTION: Hillary huddles with suits or touches her earpiece.
Hillary: sports. We can talk about sports... if you like...
Greg: ...Did you see the Patriots game last night?
Hillary: Let's just order food.
ACTION: Both hide faces in menus.
Greg: try the crow.
Hillary: I hear the Chef is very good here. He'll take care of you, he works for the CIA...
Greg: (gulp) the CIA?
Hillary: Nyes, the Culinary Institute of American. (puts down menu) well I know what I want. Garsong?
ACTION: waiter enters with drinks ready to take orders.
Hillary: yes mooseuer I will get the fried balony sandwich, I believe they call it a Trump steak here. Ha Ha Ha!
Waiter: we don't, I don't know what that is, we don't serve that here Secretary Clinton, Mrs.-
Hillary: I know that! I didn't think you served - I was making a joke - oh nevermind...
Waiter: I'm sorry, I didn't know, if that was a joke....
Hillary: Just give me the house meatloaf.
Greg: I'll have the duck. Thank you.
ACTION: waiter takes menus and is away.
Hillary: duck, eh? That reminds me of this one time I flew into a war zone under heavy fire and we had to duck coming off the plane.
Greg: Yeah, that never happened.
Hillary: heh heh. It could have.
Greg: it didn't. You come to a nice restaurant and you order the meatloaf?
Greg: well, little Richard, if you really must know, it reminds me of a meal my grandmama used to make when we were kids... kinda of salty... really salty...
Greg: kind of like spam.
ACTION: Hillary in mid drink spits it all over Greg.
Hillary: the spam folder!!! What if you archive your spam folder in the favorites under junk in the inbox on outlook!?!?!? Oh no!!!
Hillary: Stewart I have to go to the little girls room to find out if they have one for transgendered people....
ACTION: with a shit-eating grin, Hillary fast slow walks away keeping her eyes on Greg who stares straight ahead drenched. A long beat and he turns to the waiter.
Greg: she's not coming back, is she?
Waiter: she does this every time...
ACTION: Greg turns to audience/camera
Greg: you know, when I accepted a dinner invitation from Hillary Rodham Clinton I never knew I would be on the menu...
ACTION: the Chef comes out and sticks Greg in the neck with something concealed in his paw. Greg collapses on the table as the Chef snickers off.
A scorching sun sets, at which point the dusty denizens of the desert breathe a collective sigh of relief. The desert; where the plants and animals have adapted and mutated to survive this barren alien landscape. The desert; where life simply refuses to die. The amber glow of the distant hydrogen helium orb receeds behind the mountain bringing with it a sublime darkness. Lizards squirm out from under their rocks and people leave their air conditioned homes. The dark is the bats' playground... oh god.... the bats....