Life After 9/11

By Jacquel May All Rights Reserved ©

Adventure / Thriller

The Stale Grapes News

“And in closing news, last night in the city of Barstow, California, a man and a woman were arrested for breaking into a gay bar. The couple in question had initially claimed that they had been sent to the bar by God to convert the gays to Christianity. The bar’s owner had no comment about the incident, but a patron at the bar said that it would be nice if these so-called ”Christians" could stay in their own useless world and leave the rest of us alone, a comment that is quickly drawing ire from many of the city’s residents.

“I’m Sean Michael Rowes and that was my final answer. Be good to your parents.”

The show quickly came to an end as Sean said his final words. The camera was shut off and the lights dimmed. As the crew cleaned up the set, Sean said to Mobley, “This is getting tedious. Can I please get something decent to report?”

“I’ve noticed,” said Maverick Mobley. “The stories around here are dull and lame. I bet you can do better than that!”

“How?” Sean cried out. “It’s not like I can’t poke fun at the news that’s going on here and...”

Then it hit him. “That’s it!” He cried out.

“What?” said Mobley.

“I can poke fun at the news!” Sean cried out. “Like how Jon Stewart and David Letterman make fun of the news every night. People like satire.”

“Such as the gay couple that broke into the church during a Sunday service and attempted to shut down the place because Christianity was considered to be a threat to their right to be together,” said Mobley.

“Yeah, that’ll work,” said Sean.

“That’s incredible!” said Brock Jonson, who could hear them from the adjoining room. “The audience will love it!”

“I know,” said Christina Bishop as she showed up. “Sean makes up the opposite of the news, and the world will beat a path to his door.”

“Yeah,” said Mohammed Salazahr. “I can foresee this happening: Sean’s going to bring satire on the map. He’s going to do for the Internet what Walter Cronkite did for the evening news.”

“Yeah, I know,” said Sean. “Maybe we need to remake this news broadcast into a straight-up parody of the news.”

“And we’ll show the world exactly what is wrong with news broadcasts nowadays,” said Christina.

Mobley, Sean, Brock, Mohammed, and Christina had worked at the Oystertainment Station since 1997, when Phineas Perlman (founder and CEO of the station) had apparently died of lung cancer. The manner of his death was under investigation, as rumors of him being murdered surfaced all over the media.

Because of those rumors, Perlman’s wife Rebecca had been accused of murder in his death and was sentenced to spend the rest of her life in prison without parole.

“So, what do we call our new news show?” said Brock.

“I was thinking about calling it Alternative News,” said Mohammed.

“No, that’s a bad idea,” said Brock. “We need something else, something that’s more exciting.”

“What did you have in mind?” Christina blurted out.

“We call it the Sour Grapes News,” said Mobley. Everyone stared at him as he continued, “because while the news channels everywhere like to sweeten the stories they tell, we here like to give the stories we tell a dash of hard-core realism.”

“That’s great,” said Sean, “but instead of that, let’s call our news show the ”Stale Grapes News“. The name ”Sour Grapes" is too normal.”

“I’m not sure about that,” said Willem Claybourne, who also worked at the station. “I don’t think that Alexander Jones would like it if we changed our news show without his knowledge or consent.”

“Then we’ll just have to be subtle about it,” said Mobley. “Alexander just wants mediocrity like the other news stations, but that’s not what the American people want.”

“But what do the American people want?” said Sean. Everyone stared at them, but Sean said, “Seriously. Mobley, Mohammed, and I are British. We don’t know Americans like you guys know Americans, and you are Americans.”

“So what do we do?” Christina blurted out.

“We’ll be making some very subtle changes to the news,” said Brock. “And I think we’ll start by calling this news broadcast ”The Stale Grapes News“.”

“Good idea,” said Clayton. “I’ll tell the others and we’ll change the title of the show. The set changes come tomorrow.”

“Yeah,” said Sean. “That’ll give us enough time to prepare to do this year’s Dummy Awards.”

The Dummy Awards (which was a parody of the Oscars) began in 1978, when an angry 16-year-old Sean went on Saturday Night Live and declared ”Star Wars IV: A New Hope" to be the dumbest movie he had watched in theaters. (”Return of the Jedi" was also voted dumbest movie in 1984, but ”The Empire Strikes Back" was replaced by ”Raiders of the Lost Ark" in 1981.) Many people assumed that Sean created the Dummy Awards as a joke on Saturday Night Live, but the awards show quickly became popular in 1979 when the audience voted ”Up in Smoke" as the Dumbest Movie of the Year.

After that, the Dummy Awards became fully ingrained in popular culture, especially in the 1990s, when Sean famously badmouthed Disney-made cartoons and even slammed Gary Goldman for his decision to make the infamous Anastasia cartoon (that incident happened in 1998).

Yet in 2000, after Sean called George Lucas a complete idiot for making the Phantom Menace, he was forced to deal with death threats from angry Star Wars fans. (At one point, the California state guard was dispatched to protect him from hordes of people who wanted his death for daring to call Star Wars ”the biggest waste of time that Hollywood has invented“.)

Yeah, let’s not start.

Anyway, Sean said, “If it’s anything like what happened two years ago, those Harry Potter fans are going to come out of the woodwork and demand my head when I announce “Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone” as the Dumbest Movie of the Year.”

“Or probably not, since the majority of them are little kids,” said Mobley. “Children don’t have much say when it comes to matters like this. Believe me.”

“Now let’s not be stupid,” said Sean. “Children can be offended by some of the stuff that I’ve said. Remember last year when I said that children who prefer to read the classics are smarter than those who read comic books? Kids who like to read comic books sent me hate mail because I insulted them.”

“Yes, I remember that,” said Mobley. “Well, it’s not so much as the children who are offended, but it’s the parents who buy stuff for the children who you need to watch out for. I bet that most people haven’t forgotten about Father Diego’s anti-Harry Potter rant on your show a few months ago.”

“No they haven’t,” said Sean. “Which is why we need the Stale Grapes News. If we can pull this thing off, there’s no telling how far we’re going to go in terms of not only getting the information out there, but influencing the people that we tell.”

“Well, I hope you’re right,” said Mobley. “It may seem like a foolish idea now, but down the line, people will be thanking you for everything that you’ve done.”

“That’s all I want,” said Sean.

On March 25, 2002, the entire population of Santa Cruz tuned in at 10:30 PM and saw this:

“Good evening and welcome to the Stale Grapes News, where your news is full of hardcore realism. And yes we have some stuff for you. Last Sunday, in the city of Rockdale, Colorado, a gay couple broke into the Bethany United Methodist Church church, where service was interrupted for almost an hour and a half. They said some very derogatory things about Christianity before being removed from the place by the police. Says a parishioner whose name cannot be mentioned for security reasons, “It’s a sad thing when we’re not allowed to worship our God just because some people don’t agree with His views on marriage.” The couple will now be charged with trespassing and other pending charges.

“In other news, the popular clothing store The Quaint Pargoda Clothing Store has announced that it will no longer carry clothing sizes over 24. That’s because those poor people who work in those Asian sweatshops just can’t afford to make clothing for extra large people anymore; also, a size 28 shirt use this more materials than a size 16 shirt. So what does this mean for us fat ugly Americans? You better lose weight now or have no clothes and risk going to jail for public nudity.

The Oscars have come and gone, and the movie ”A Beautiful Mind" took home the award for Best Movie. Denzel Washington won the Best Actor award while Halle Berry won the Best Actress award. Ron Howard walked away with the Best Director award and Shrek won the best animated feature film award. Oddly enough, the popular children’s movie ”Frostfall" didn’t get any Oscar nominations or win any Oscars (which was a disappointment for Rising Star Film Productions as well as my cousin Logan and Moviemagic Films) but the good news is Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone didn’t get nominated or win anything at all. So there’s still hope for humanity. I can’t say the same for ”The Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Ring“, which won four Oscars.

“Also, congratulations to Robert Redford and Sidney Poitier for being awarded the honorary Academy Award and to Arthur Hiller who won the Jean Hersholt humanitarian Award. Thank you for hosting this year’s Oscars, Whoopi Goldberg. But I didn’t like Felix Flowers’ speech about how and why the September 11th attacks should have happened. That guy needs to go back to school and learn the meaning of freedom and what it means to be an American citizen.

“For all you guys who like to keep up with the Golden Raspberry Awards, let me give you the rundown on who won what award: ”Freddy Got Fingered" almost swept everything. Yeah, that was one stupid movie that never should have been made in the first place. As for everything else, I have nothing to say.

“But for all you folks out there who are begging for something better than the Raspberry Awards, be on the lookout for the Dummy Awards, which will be taking place on March 31, 2002. ”Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone" leads the pack with nine nominations, ranging from Dumbest Adapted screenplay to Dumbest Use of Special Effects and even Dumbest Book-to-Movie adaptation. For the first time this year, we will be rewarding the Dumbest-Writer-of-a-Book-that-became-a-Movie, with J. K. Rowling for being slated to take that award. I hope to see you all there at the boardwalk.

“I’m Sean LeSouse Rowes and I would like to remind you all that there is a correct way to watch your evening news. If you prefer to watch Fox News, you’re doing it wrong. Now you know.”

Within an hour and a half of the Stale Grapes News being debuted, Alexander Jones called him into his office, where he said, “I can’t believe you did this, Sean. What were you thinking? “If you’re watching Fox News you’re doing it wrong.” I’ll have you know that Fox News is fair and balanced!”

“No, Fox News is where I get my comedy from,” said Sean. “Plus, they don’t know what fair and balanced is, even if it kicked their butts from here to China! Besides, my new new show is going to show the world exactly what is wrong with today’s news. Notice how I didn’t sensationalize any child kidnappings or celebrity misbehavior; nobody wants to know about that. They just want the news.”

“And you want to know something impressive,” said Mobley, “the numbers are in. People have been watching this broadcast and they like what they see. Nothing too exciting or over the top, just the news. What Sean did for us was give us what we needed to hear. Now we can all gather around the watercooler tomorrow and talk about how ”Frostfall" didn’t take home anything and Harry Potter being nominated for the Dumbest Movie and how everybody who didn’t see ”A Beautiful Mind" are missing out on a good movie and if you hate Denzel Washington, you’re a fricking racist.”

“Wow. If you say so,” said Alexander. “Of course, I will have you do another Stale Grapes News broadcast, if you promise to host the dummy awards at the University of Santa Cruz.”

“Okay, fine,” said Sean, “but I tell you something: if you’re a Harry Potter fan and you get offended by Harry Potter getting the Dumbest Movie of the Year Award, don’t come crying to me, because you were warned.”

He then walked out the door before Alexander could get another word in.

The next day, as everyone at work all over the United States gathered around the watercooler to talk about the Stale Grapes News, Sean himself had to deal with a very angry Deirdre, who was demanding answers about how and why a parody of the movie ”Frostfall" going to be broadcasted during the Dummy Awards.

Or as the conversation went:

“What the hell is this crap that I’m hearing?” Deirdre snapped in anger and she called Sean up to let him know her displeasure at learning about the ”Frostfall" parody. “Why is Frostfall being parodied by by the guys at Twisting Fantasy?”

“Probably because your movie was so good that you got 4 Saturn nominations,” said Sean. “Also, you got to make this country admit that it likes that supernatural fantasy hit.”

“I don’t care what you’re doing, but please don’t let them show that parody on your awards show,” said Deirdre. “I’ve already had to deal with not being part of ”The Spirit Keeper" and watching that group poke fun at it with that spoof ”The Soul Takers“, but I can’t let ”Frostfall" be destroyed like that.

“But you don’t understand that Twisting Fantasy really likes your movie,” said Sean, “and what better way to pay homage to such a great movie that trounced Harry Potter by making fun of it?”

“You think?” said Deirdre.

“Okay, so ”Falling Snow" isn’t much of a parody title,” said Sean. “Now let’s have a little faith and stop taking your movies so seriously.”

“I’ll do that when I retire from making movies,” said Deirdre. “You do know that parodies are the lowest form of entertainment, don’t you?”

“Not where it counts,” said Sean. “But not to worry, because Harry Potter is going to be voted the Dumbest Movie of the Year, and people are going to wake up and understand that not all popular children’s books should be made into movies.”

“If you say so,” said Deirdre. “I’ll have you know that I’m working on ”Frostsnap" right now as we speak. And when that movie comes out in November, people will forget that the Harry Potter movies exist. That’s what I want to see.”

“And what you want is what you’re getting,” said Sean. “But I implore you and Logan to come to Santa Cruz so that he can receive his award for having the most shocking turnaround. After all, you cured him of his partying ways.”

“I’ll have to think about that one,” said Deirdre, “but I won’t be making any promises.”

“I appreciate that,” said Sean.

To make a long story short, the Dummy Awards was held in the theater of the University of Santa Cruz on March 31, 2002. As projected, ”Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone" swept the awards in all of its categories, with Alan Rickman receiving the (1) Margo Barrett Award for being the actor whose talents were wasted. J. K. Rowling took home the award for (2) Dumbest-Writer-of-a-Book-that-became-a-Movie.

Yet, the biggest surprise of the evening was when Sean awarded Logan the Shocking Act of Redemption Award, better known as the (3) Phillip Brady Award. Very few people saw that coming, and it would be the most talked-about events around the water cooler the next day. (As we all know, Logan was once a party boy until he met (and rescued) Deirdre from her kidnapper. The rest of that story you already know.)

As anticipated, the minute that ”Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone" was announced as the Dumbest Movie of the Year, many Harry Potter fans began to protest, believing that Sean was wrong to give the movie that title (and claiming that another movie should have taken the title instead). But remembering the last incident involving the ”Star Wars" fandom, (as well as a warning from Sean himself saying that he would personally have anyone who sent him a death threat arrested), the protesters were silenced by the general population.

And when Logan’s image as a husband, father, and TV/movie director was revealed to the world, no one would foresee the drama behind their sudden and unexpected marriage and Logan and Deirdre’s pasts being brought to light...


(1) The Margo Barrett Award was named after the actress Margo Barrett (1969-1996), who starred in the C Movie ”The Eyes of Brian Turner (1995)“. After Sean claimed that the movie wasted her talent (as well as having a dumb plot line and a pathetic cast of characters) at the 1996 Dummy Awards, she committed suicide at the age of 27. Sean decided to name the ”Great Actor in a Movie that Wasted their Talent Award" after her.

(2) The ”Dumbest-Writer-of-a-Book-that-became-a-Movie Award" was later renamed the J.K. Rowling Award in 2003. Future recipients of the award included Philip Pullman and Christopher Paolini in 2008 and Stephenie Meyer in 2010.

(3) The Phillip Brady Award was named after the actor Phillip Brady, who was notorious for being a 1980′s Hollywood party boy instead of his movies The Blue Dolphin (1984), Beyond El Dorado (1985), and Mission: Infinity (1987). His astonishing turnaround in the year 1993 (which was prompted by his marriage to the actress Harriet Baker in 1991) was the inspiration for the ”Most Reformed Actor" award, which was awarded to him in 1997.

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