Posts Tagged ‘Cuisine by Brian Schropp’


November 5, 2015 Leave a comment
Brian Schropp on Cuisine

Brian Schropp on Cuisine

The cool winds of late Fall could not keep me comfortable in the huge rainbow pizza outfit I have been wearing this week. By mid-afternoon, my body was on the verge of collapse from the constant walking up and down Fairland Ave (with NO lunch break). My face drenched in sweat with the sparkling rainbow makeup (applied before my shift) running down like tears. The interim manager, Ms. Van Palmolive Verracut, would check on me now and again screaming from her car, “you need to be magical!! Let the joy of your heart SING!!!” That was her way of telling me if I didn’t pick up my game there would be a beating with the ‘rainbow stick’ waiting for me back at ‘The Round’. So, the prancing and dancing would hit overdrive causing deep foot blistering not to mention the mental anguish of all my fellow Deep Northern Suburban neighbors seeing me act the fool.

I can now tell you, for a fact, there is nothing more embarrassing than being knocked over by the wind of a speeding vehicle and then having other motorists throw bottles and trash at you while you scramble to get up. The two days have seemed yet again like two years with my limited, Mom-controlled intake of breakfast sandwiches not helping my mental state.

So I was up early this morning, extra early, the rainbow suit got quite dirty yesterday from all the trash-throwing so a deep cleaning was in order. Plus, Ms. Van Palmolive Verracut wanted to apply a new face paint design using some super strong acrylic which would stick to my skin longer but would possibly be more toxic. “Those are the risks, Bri,” she commented.

​Van Palmolive Veeracut- now gone!!!

​Van Palmolive Veeracut- now gone!!!

Then, just like a few weeks ago, as I turned the corner of Lorain and Fairland, I felt the same sense of dread hit me when I saw the yellow police tape again. Everything almost played out like before expect for a few minor details. The policemen inside the front door tripped me up a little when I walked in and one muttered “rainbow pansy” which made the group snicker.

Detective Gee-Temple was still over at the prep station but this time he was building little stacks with the pepperoni. His words were still the same. “Looks like there might be an early shift in your future, Bri.” His arm went up to reveal a new set of invisible stairs. “She’s gone–”

Right on cue I mouthed the last word.

“Yup, seems like a giant bird swooped down the other night snatching Verracut while she was getting into her car. We’ve been having those problems with the big pelicans…” He trailed off strangely, then recovered. “Lloyd Byas-Kirk is out back. he’ll show ya.”

We made the same walk to the back parking lot. Lloyd was of course out there. He was leaning against the railing looking at a dirty, beat-up porn magazine which had been by the dumpsters for a few weeks. Gee-Temple and I were right upon him before he even noticed us.

My fellow reporter squinted up at the sky like he was staring into the sun even though it was a cloudy day. “Folks down the road heard her over their house around 10:30 last night. She was screaming about unicorns and pizzas, her voice got fainter and fainter as the bird took her up and then she was—–gone.”

He then motioned over to her car (which had rainbow and unicorn decals all over it).
The driver’s side door was still open which I guess was the only proof they needed.

“So no one saw the actual bird?” I asked.

Detective Gee-Temple

Detective Gee-Temple

There was an awkward silence before Gee-Temple spoke. “Giant birds come down from the Northern Hills every once in awhile and swoop people up. It’s a shame but it happens.”
“Plus the folks down the street heard her screaming OVER the house,” Lloyd chimed in looking at me like I was the biggest idiot in the world.

“What happened to her bodyguard?”

The Detective pointed into the woods. “Footprints leading into there are more than likely his. Probably became so distraught he ran into the woods, you hear that happening when people witness a giant bird snatching another person, it just happens. Probably get eaten by hill people if he wanders too far in like that other fella.”
Officially, no one really knows what happened to the other interim manager, Davis ‘Bud’ Huggins, since a search party never went after him.

So now I sit here in the office using my portable teletype wondering if we will open ‘The Pizza A-Round’ today. I can see through the office window ‘Big’ James and Charlie ‘The Nugget Guy’ making their way across the parking lot. I guess word is spreading quickly about an absent manager and they are coming to clock in. I have no doubt the others will be here soon and we will give it a go!! As always I will keep you updated!!-Bri

The Rainbow Pizza Woes: Brian Schropp on Cuisine

November 3, 2015 Leave a comment
Brian Schropp

By Brian Schropp

I was running late for my job which always sends me into a panic. The paper had called wanting me to do this ‘Distant Island Foods Festival’ at some dusty, beaten-down, kinda creepy looking reception hall. I know very, very little about the cuisine from those far-fabled islands (expect certain fried foods) so I was shocked ‘The News’ wanted me there. My editor assured me the whole shebang would be an easy affair with the recipe for my food presentation already prepared for me. I honestly don’t remember too much about the event, I attempted some half-hearted speech before falling off stage and into the laps of the horrified guests and representatives from the islands (I was pretty ‘light headed’ from the diet my Mom had me on). After downing a case of some of the most AMAZING strawberry milk I have ever had, I was able to rebound slightly by making a somewhat respectable ‘Distant Island Spring Loaf’ (Brock Belvedere at least seemed to enjoy it).

Thinking I did my own acceptable ‘C+’ standard I was off on my push scooter hoping no one at ‘The Round’ would be that upset. Word had leaked of yet another interim manager starting soon and after the horror show which was Davis ‘Bud’ Huggins I didn’t want to make a wrong impression. Securing my scooter with a big heavy chain and gigantic padlock to a light pole in the strip mall, I hustled as quickly as possible inside to join the craziness which should have been the early afternoon rush. The silence which greeted me inside was overwhelming, even the lights were turned off. Had my work finally sank into the bottomless pit of bankruptcy without our real boss, Scott, there?

That’s when I heard the faint humming coming from the darkened prep area behind the phone counters. I crept slowly forward bracing myself for whatever lay in the darkness.

“Hello-hello?” I called out softly.

The Rainbow Pizza that made everyone sick.

The Rainbow Pizza that made everyone sick.

The humming stopped and in the glare of the store’s blinking unanswered phone lines, a woman’s face appeared. She was an older woman with some sort of patch or wads of newspaper covering one eye. In the glare of the phones she looked somewhat menacing. I was about to scream when she put a finger to her lips. “Shhhhh, please be very quiet, your fellow co-buddies are trying to sleep.”

She took me gently by the hand and escorted me past the phones to the prep area. And in an image which will never leave my mind, I found all my fellow ‘Pizza A-Round’ employees laying on mats taking a nap.

“Lay down and join them,” she whispered in my ear.

I looked over at all the phones (she must have turned off the ringers) which still flashed with all the holds and incoming calls. “But shouldn’t we be taking all these orders?”

She lightly patted my butt. “No Bri. If our customers want the most wonderful, magical, unicorn-dreamed, pizzas available, we must have all our co-buddies rested to create that wonder. I want you to join them and fill your nap with sweet pizzas flying over rainbows.” I had no idea what she was talking about but I liked how she was using the term ‘co-buddies’ which I had invented earlier this year.*

So I took a mat next to Chet Cameron who was secretly trying to smoke one of his foul- smelling cigarettes. “What’s going on here Chet?”

“This new interim manager has been treating us like little kids all day. Can you believe she is letting us take a nap and we’re getting paid for it?!!”

“Have we taken any orders today?”

“A few early on. We can only make this weird ‘Rainbow Pizza’ which uses all this food dye. I think customers are getting sick off it, we had a few complaints before the phones were shut down for nap time.”

​Our 'Make A Pizza Exercise'

​Our ‘Make A Pizza Exercise’

The interim manager (whose name is Ruth Van Palmolive Veeracut, I later learned) walked up and down the napping rows lightly humming a sweet tune while chanting a stream of consciousness song dealing with ‘pizzas’ and ‘rainbows’. A few folks started to wander into the store, most looking somewhat ill and complaining about the pizza they received.

“You are disturbing nap time!!” she told them in a voice that only a lady suffering from the deepest Hell of bipolarism could muster. With the snap of her fingers a big guy wearing a ‘Pizza A-Round’ shirt (too small for his bulk) came out of the office to throw these people to the curb. He then locked the front door. I think this dude might have been a former bodyguard for President Pondicherry.

The lights gradually started to come back on, very slowly, almost as if they came on too quickly our marvelous dreams would be forgotten. “Ok everyone, UP-UP-UP!! Before we begin selling rainbow pizzas again we are first going to do a little coloring exercise to stimulate the imagination.”

‘Big’ James in particular seemed excited when the box of crayons were brought out. We were each given a sheet of paper with a black and white picture of a pizza.

“Now, you must color in and make your own fantastical pizza. Only ones which are truly magical and filled with the innocent joy of the heart will be acceptable!”

Some of my ‘co-buddies’ gave a good effort, others just a lukewarm attempt. Myself, having no idea what this lady was talking about, just attempted to draw a nice looking pepperoni pizza while staying in the lines. After everybody was finished she carefully looked over each pizza and placed them in two piles. Then she placed everyone in two groups which corresponded with the piles. I, for some reason, was left out of both groups and made to stand in the middle.

She looked at ‘Group A’ which was to her left. “Your pictures were delightful!! So filled with the early promise of a Deep Northern Spring it sends my heart in a flutter. You truly have good in your heart!”

She turned to ‘Group B’. That stern almost evil voice returned. “I really don’t know what to say about you lot. Obviously life has corrupted you in some way making your heart a foul, wretched place. The Pizza A-Round no longer requires your services, you can get out.”

Current interim manager.

Current interim manager.

This group had the likes of Chet Cameron, Charlie ‘The Nugget Guy’ and even ‘Big’ James. The last was almost in tears saying he really did his best. The group’s protest was cut short when a certain snap of the fingers happened again making the big guy reappear. My fellow brothers in arms were quickly shown the door.

While the remaining ‘co-buddies’ scrambled to get the shop back running for the evening dinner rush, Ruth came up to me. “To tell you the truth Bri, I was going to put you with the ‘B Group’.” Much like ‘Big’ James I was stunned– after all, I had stayed inside the lines!! “You just slightly, ever so slightly, managed to stay out of that group but your uninspired picture is not ‘A Group’ material. So I have the perfect position for you here…” She raised her hands and in a giddy voice said, “you will get to amaze and delight all your fellow neighbors by wearing a huge rainbow pizza outfit I ordered!!”

Now readers I ask you, how is Ruth Van Palmolive Veeracut any better than Davis ‘Bud’ Huggins? Are rainbow pizzas, which will more than likely make people sick, the answer to the turn around for the Pizza A-Round? I will of course keep you updated. As always, please keep your mind and mouth open to new ideas. Happy Eating!!!-Bri


*-Editor’s note: see Schropp’s article of 3/18/15.

The Battle of the Bra Buffets

October 28, 2015 Leave a comment
Brian Schropp on Cuisine

Brian Schropp on Cuisine

Looks like there is a fierce war brewing between two local restaurateurs both using the cutting edge concept of the lunch bra buffet. It turns out there is a large, if somewhat silent, community of bra-wearing men in Deep Northern Suburban Lankville. With this area being known for its ‘hard workingman’ roots (mainly from all the factory jobs at the ‘Lankville O’s’ processing plants) there is a certain stigma associated with the ones who come out as ‘bra wearers’. To me, being of course of a more liberal, tender mind, I see no reason for this shame. These tough, rugged men are just like you and me- somewhat straight, God-fearing, Small Motel Girls Wrestling-watching lads who just happen to like the feel of a nice tender bra caressing their man boobs.

On one side of the fight you have my friend Eddie who happens to be the originator of this genius idea. You might remember him from previous ‘Schropp On Cuisine’ articles, one in particular in which I tell of his struggling restaurant and how the concept of the bra lunch buffet turned it around. It was to my shock upon a recent visit (his place was located at the ‘Double-Headed Moose Strip Mall’) that I saw how things were going downhill again. What had once seemed like a very upper middle class bra-wearing clientele was now more of a lower if not downright homeless crowd. These unkempt men showing off their unwashed torsos and secondhand bras were also making what was called a ‘hobo food bra’ in which the cup sizes were bigger so they could get more grub for the buck.

​My friend Eddie, the originator of the bra buffet.

​My friend Eddie, the originator of the bra buffet.

Eddie who was bringing out a huge tin foil tray of off-colored macaroni and cheese from the kitchens was not happy. “This is very bad Bri. Those hobos bras are eating into my profits. I have no other choice but to let these street men do it, the other cleaner clients are now gone.”

“Where did they go ?” I probed.

Eddie took me outside and pointed across the street. On the other side of the tracks (there are literally train tracks) is another strip mall which looks exactly like the one I was at…how I never noticed it before was beyond me. On the far right corner was a place called ‘Dan Ming’s All Day Lunch Buffet’ in glowing red neon. Under it was another smaller neon sign which read ‘Males Only’.

My bra-wearing friend shook his head. ‘Dan used to be a good friend of mine. Met him at a bra-wearers support group many years ago. Came to try my buffet and then stole the idea for his own. How could a fellow brother in a bra betray me like that?” His eyes welled up a little. “Say Bri, can you go over there and check it out? I have too much pride and I need to know what is making the more cleaner, well-off customers go over there.”

There was no reason to bring out the waterworks. I didn’t want to say it but I was actually excited about looking into another person’s concept of the bra buffet. If this place had cleaner bras and food that was not leftovers from the local food bank I might even try some. So I took my time crossing the tracks, I had forgotten that the newly reelected President Pondicherry had promised the area a ‘light rail’ if voted back in office. The problem was these trains were more like powerful steam engines than commuter trains. Plus they ran at a very frequent schedule jam packed with people– I wondered (aloud as it turned out) why it was suddenly so popular with only a quarter mile of track completed. It would take more time waiting for the trains than simply walking that distance.

Anyways, soon I was entering the establishment of ‘Dan Ming’s All Day Lunch Buffet’. What struck me at first was how clean the restaurant was compared to Eddie’s. Next the place was jammed pack with bra-wearing men. Government workers, academics, poets, philosophers, retail workers all sitting at tables enthralled in discussions while enjoying their food.

I was greeted warmly by the owner himself, Dan Ming. He knew who I was right away and was pleased to see me. “It’s a great honor to have a cuisine writer of your caliber join us. Please, let me take you over to a special booth where I will have a waiter bring over a sampling of what we offer.”

As he lead me further into the establishment, I saw he had three different buffet stations, one for hot food, one for cold, and a salad bar. All looked well-stocked and clean with plenty of lean bras at each. It was at this point I saw fellow Lankville reporter, Brock Belvedere sporting a pink lace bra at the salad bar. He seemed quite embarrassed that someone recognized him so I didn’t wave.

Dan Ming

Dan Ming

Dan sat across from me at a small table near the kitchen. A waiter came over with a glass of strawberry milk without me even asking! Mr. Ming had sure done his homework and knew how to impress! “I hope you are not mad at me, Bri” he said. “I am not trying to put your friend Eddie out of business. I just saw the potential in what he was doing and knew I could pull it off. Take a look around you Bri, the whole bra-wearing community is out enjoying themselves.” He paused for a second. “Would you like to–you know–”

Like I said earlier in this article I am a very liberal person but the idea of wearing a bra doesn’t usually float my boat. I mean, sure, we have all had those times when you might sneak a bra out on a nice peaceful afternoon while you’re alone in your basement apartment. But out in public? It definitely wasn’t my thing.

“As you can see, I don’t really have much of a bust so my bras are pretty small which gives the customer a smaller serving size. But with the quality of food I have been charging slightly more than Eddie, $12.95 to be exact. So far it seems to be working but I don’t know if I can keep them at that price no matter how good it is. If Eddie got his act together his bigger bra size alone could spell trouble for me.”

Dan looked down at the table, deep in thought.

“Why don’t you just buy bigger bras for the customers to use?” I asked.

Dan Ming shook his head. “The one thing Eddie and I agreed upon is if you are opening an honorable lunch bra buffet in these parts, no matter how good or bad, you must only use the bras that you yourself wear. It’s a sign of honor and respect. And if anybody dared try to, well let me just tell you, there are a lot of folks tied to the mob who come in here–“.

A waiter brought over a sampling in a frilly purple number which Dan said he used to wear when he had ‘more of a nightlife’. He was exactly right, the food was spot on just as the serving size was small. After a few more minutes of conversation I decided to head back to give Eddie my thoughts. As I was leaving, Brock discreetly came up to me and asked if I could keep quiet about seeing him at Dan Ming’s. Even though he recently deleted his social media profile he didn’t want me to write anything in my article. Well Brock, for the sake of the ‘great leap forward’ I have decided to put you in this article so maybe it will be the catalyst for you to come out (at least to your mom) on this subject.

I again carefully crossed the ‘light rail tracks’ back to Eddie’s. He was upset by what I had to tell him but I pleaded with him to get somewhat better food and maybe clean up a little and now and again and you might see some success. As if right on cue, one of Eddie’s dirty customers in a large teal granny bra came over holding his stomach, his face turning the color of the mac and cheese he just ate from his other makeshift hobo bra. The man opened his mouth to speak but nothing came out but vomit, off-colored mac and cheese vomit for at least two minutes. Yes, my readers, Eddie has a very uphill battle ahead of him.

Until next time, please keep your mind and mouth open to new ideas. Happy Eating!!!-Bri

SPECIAL REPORT: Pizza Man Disappears

October 22, 2015 Leave a comment
By Brian Schropp

Brian Schropp, Special Pizza Correspondent

So, it was a very early day for me at the Pizza A-Round, I had to be there at the crack of dawn to give the signboard a good wash. “Going to be walking up and down Fairland Road all day mister,” Davis ‘Bud’ Huggins had said to me the previous night. He chuckled faintly. “Going to work that chub off you once and for all.” He thought that remark was somewhat hilarious and looked to the local jocks from the high school (he just recently hired them) for approval. “Alright boys, throw him in the dumpster. His shift is over anyways.” NOW THAT WAS UNCALLED FOR!!! I pulled myself from the trash and did the slow walk home stressing over the next morning.

​Davis 'Bud' Huggins- where did he go?

​Davis ‘Bud’ Huggins- where did he go?

The dawn came calling far too soon, the alarm clock buzzing portending the doom and gloom that awaited me. My Mom was concerned about all the breakfast sandwiches I was eating, “you just had a plate full last night, you can’t be eating those all the time. Plus the ‘Shop ‘N’ Bulk’ stopped carrying those huge plastic containers of strawberry milk. I think it’s time you cut back on those too.” Didn’t she understand how stressed I was over all these changes at work? She countered that being an adult was to handle these types of work situations in a mature fashion unlike the time I had the major meltdown under the main display table at ‘Pete’s Slacks Emporium’ (a job I had a LONG time ago). I told her this was much different citing me winding up in a dumpster as an example. My dad looked up from his ‘Word Jumble’ and motioned to the baseball bat by the front door. “Son. Don’t take that crap from them, take that bat with you and set them straight.” I know my dad wants me to stick up for myself more but didn’t he understand my sweet and tender nature? My mom of course thought I was ‘over- exaggerating’, she didn’t think someone as wholesome and good-looking as ‘The Bud’ would do such a thing. If she only really knew!!

OK-OK, I know, dear readers I’m getting side-tracked, you guys want the juicy details of the main story. Anyway, I was on my push scooter trying to get my head around working a full godawful day. When I turned the corner by Lorain and Fairland Road I saw all the police cars at the Pizza A-Round. I pushed harder on my scooter cutting through traffic to glide right in under all the yellow police tape wrapped around the parking lot. Inside I found a bunch of officers at the front counter shooting the shit while drinking coffee from small styrofoam cups. Calls were already coming in early for orders, the cops were picking up the phones and pretending to take them as a joke. They didn’t seem to care that I was there so I went past them and found Detective Gee Temple by the main prep station. He was absently turning a ladle around in a pizza sauce can.

“Hey there Bri, might be having a short work shift today. “Seems like your boss (here, Gee-Temple removed a piece of paper from his pocket to make sure he got the name right) Davis Huggins is gone.”

My mouth dropped open and mouthed the last word he said.

“Yup, a co-worker came in earlier this morning to find the place had not been locked up. Lights on, pizza ovens still running with pizzas on the floor, you get the picture. The back door was left wide open as well, Mr. Huggins’s big obnoxious pickup truck is back there, just no him. Footprints which I believe are his go right into the woods. So yeah, looks like he is gone.” Gee Temple waved an arm in the air like he was revealing some invisible stairs Davis Huggins had stepped onto.

We stood starring at each other for a moment without saying anything. “So Bri, Lloyd Byas-Kirk is already out back. Let’s check to see what he has to say.”

Detective Gee-Temple

Detective Gee-Temple

Walking by even more policemen with tiny styrofoam cups we passed the cleaning sinks to the back parking lot. Huggins’s big obnoxious truck (with bull horns on the grill) stayed silent giving no statement on the events it had witnessed last night. Lloyd Byas-Kirk was by the dumpsters, he seemed enthralled by the poking of a dead rat with a stick.

“Hey there Lloyd, what do you make of all of this?” Gee-Temple asked.

Lloyd looked up with a slight vacant look in his eyes and then pointed the stick (which now had blood and guts from the rat on the tip) towards the woods. “Well the footprints match someone of his weight and height. Had to be him, just walked off in the middle of the night.”

“Think he coulda’ been blown into the woods and destroyed like that Nixon fella?” Gee-Temple asked excitedly.

“Nah, just walked off,” Byas-Kirk replied. Gee-Temple seemed disappointed.

​”Yup, just walked off,” the detective finally agreed. “Was just telling Bri here all about that. The co-worker also showed me what Mr. Huggins wanted posted on the social media site last night. Just snapped under the pressure and walked off—-gone.” He waved his arm in the air again.

Lloyd turned to me. “Didn’t you say once those woods lead up to the hill country?”

I nodded– hadn’t my fellow reporter read the articles I did earlier this year about my adventures in the Northern Hill Country?

Gee-Temple shook his head. “Well, if that’s the case and he makes it all the way up there then Mr. Huggins is a goner for sure.”

Lloyd went back to poking the rat.

A few hours later all the police hubbub died down and the yellow tape was removed from the parking lot. “Are you going to try and open?” the detective asked while both of us watched the phones ringing off the hook. A very ragtag crew had showed up, it wasn’t ‘The A Crew”, that was for sure. I decided it was worth a shot, I would put on my best Scott impersonation and give it a go. Well, my readers, let me just tell you, it was hell, chaos ruled the next few hours. I can’t remember everything– much like a soldier in the heat of some terrible battle the memories all blur together. I just remember we didn’t get much right, in fact maybe not a single order. There was a lot of screaming, lots of yelling, tears and then some more.

By early afternoon something quite magical happened. With the news of Davis ‘Bud’ Huggins departure, the ‘old crew’ started to come back in like they were never fired!! ‘Big’ James, Charlie ‘The Nugget Guy’ and finally by four, Chet Cameron!! With the ‘Master of the Prep Line’ at the helm the orders finally started coming together and going out right!! By late evening word had gotten down to us from the owners that a new interim manager would be coming in the near future. But when? How would this new person be? When would Scott be back?

I will continue to keep you updated!! Until next time, please keep your mind and mouth open to new ideas. Happy Eating!!- Bri

Clown Hamburgers: Part II

October 20, 2015 Leave a comment

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By Brian Schropp

By Brian Schropp

Yes, I know how many of you are anxiously awaiting the second installment of ‘Clown Hamburgers’. It’s a tale that would blow the minds of anyone with just the slightest interest in hamburgers, demonic psychic clowns, possessions, gun battles, giant grease fires, the deep metaphysical secrets of ‘Highway 71’, and so much more. The gut- wrenching horror of how I endured the ‘Six Foot Special’ (actually it was a double so it was more like a ‘Twelve Foot Special’) with extra bacon and cheese. How it looked, tasted, how it felt rumbling through me, the subsequent visions I had. Even in victory over the soul/artery-clogging special, the sickest most twisted man I have ever encountered, Mack Milford, going back on his word and not giving up the knowledge Scott needed to find Lizzie Starlight. What Scott’s sister did to get someone so sinister and just downright evil to get that information. The blowing up of the restaurant causing true Hell to be unleashed. An article truly of epic proportions, one that would, hands down, have been the finest piece of cuisine writing/journalism ever seen in the pages of the Daily News. But alas, something more pressing, something far greater has impacted me in the past few days, torn my mind into a thousand tiny pieces, making everything before seem like a jumbled mess on the cutting room floor of my mind. You have one man to ‘thank’ for all this my dear readers and that person is interim manager of the ‘Pizza A-Round’, Davis ‘Bud’ Huggins.

​Davis 'Bud' Huggins

​Davis ‘Bud’ Huggins

I’m just going to say this outright- does this man have any idea how a pizza place is run in Deep Northern Suburban Lankville? The answer is of course an astounding NO!! Sure, he may be a successful ‘no nonsense’ pizza manager from the Southern Plains Area, good for him. Did he ever think that maybe our area is a special somewhat unique place which might differ from the drab tastes of the Plains area where all they want are basic simple pizzas? The place which I hold dear in my heart is in a state of chaos. This is the pizza nadir, friends, the pizza nadir.

Fixtures of the establishment who made the place run like Charlie ‘The Nugget Guy’ and ‘Big’ James are now gone. Fired in fact because ‘we need people who can work all stations not just one item.” I will be the first admit that ‘Big’ James wasn’t the most hygienic employee nor the nacho cheese station in any shape for passing the simplest health code standards but if you don’t have a specialist in something how can you be giving the best product possible?

Chet Cameron, ‘the master of the prep line’– I was not his biggest fan yet I knew what he brought to the excellence of ‘The Round’. Huggins kept insulting Chet on his handling of toppings (especially the green peppers) which drove Chet to the breaking point. He got up in the interim manager’s face causing a fierce shouting match. ‘The Bud’ picked him up in a bear hug and threw poor Chet right out into the street telling him never to come back. I’m not a fan of Hank Cameron, who is Chet’s uncle and manager of ‘Foodville’, but if he has any sway or power in local Lankville politics he might call in some favors to have Mr. Huggins forcibly removed from our Suburban area- that would be great!!

Chet Cameron, one of the greats, now gone.

Chet Cameron, one of the greats, now gone.

Some of the other mind numbing ideas, getting rid of hot menu items like ‘The Pizza Eggwich’ and ‘The Mid-Morning Snack Pizza’. Yes I know those were two of my own ideas-I don’t take it personally- OK, maybe slightly, I just can’t stand it when people don’t recognize genius. And this goofball is far from a genius. We had a ‘back to basics’ weekend where all we served was pepperoni, sausage and cheese pizza. Who the hell just wants that boring stuff? People around here want a little nacho cheese on top. Oh. what’s that? Right, we don’t have a nacho cheese specialist to put that on anymore!!! Sales were miserable and this guy had the nerve to continue to blame us!!! Oh I must not forget the fact that he has decided to move up our opening time to 10:30 instead of 8. Doesn’t this clod realize we make money off the ‘lonely high schoolers’ who want to stuff a pizza (maybe even a $19.95 Mid-Morning Snack Pizza) in their face before first period? The phones were ringing off the hook the past few mornings and he wouldn’t let us answer them!! Yet another money earning demographic for us, the confused older folks coming in looking for the dialysis center next door– we now have to treat them with ‘kindness and respect’. How can we get as much as possible out of them without adding a little threatening tone to our voice? All they want now is a glass of water.

And please don’t get me started on that huge green chair he brought in for Brock Belvedere’s mother which everyone keeps tripping over. It takes up so much space in the dining area!!

Now for the biggest insult to me– my once highly prestigious role of being in charge of the cleaning team with even my own ‘managerial sink’ now reduced to cleaning cracks in the front sidewalk with a toothbrush and walking up and down Fairland Rd (which is very DANGEROUS by the way) with a ‘pizza billboard’ around me. No matter how many people drive by insulting me or throwing things in my direction I must smile and wave (With ‘The Bud’ checking up on me and yelling at me if I have the slightest hint of a frown).

I could go on and on but now I am overwhelmed again just thinking about all this. I’m sitting in my basement apartment at home trying to get myself together with a tall glass of strawberry milk and a plate of breakfast sandwiches. How much longer my readers, how much more can I take of this? it’s almost been a week—

Clown Hamburgers

October 15, 2015 Leave a comment

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By Brian Schropp

By Brian Schropp

I was hot and heavy into a mid-day trash run at the ‘Pizza A-Round.’ The newest round of management (in Scott’s absence) was cracking down on some of our ‘lackadaisical habits’ and four days worth of used pizza goods were heading to the dumpsters. It was turning into a one man job, the new manager needed all other help for the lunch rush and said I was the most expendable. This guy for some reason was really cracking the whip expecting correct addresses on phone orders, correct toppings on pizzas and even following all cleaning procedures to health code standard, EVERY TIME!!! He said that ‘once the ship was righted’ he would look into what I really do here and see how I can fit into ‘the new grand plan’ (whatever that means). Anyways, there I was dragging one over-bulging bag after another across the back parking lot hoping none would rip open causing an even greater mess. The new manager was giving me a time frame on getting this enormous task done (which was very short) PLUS expecting no follow-up clean up. So instead of hitting my normal groove (with my headphones jamming away to 102.9, the ‘kooky’ oldies station), I was sweating bullets making myself overly-anxious.

The heat of the afternoon sun started to feel like the sting of my new boss’s metaphorical whip. I stopped to wipe my brow and took a good hard look at the dumpsters– they were filling up fast. Would there be enough room in them? How would this new guy react if there were still trash bags left in the kitchen? More importantly, would he give me a lunch break after this? Would I still be able to make free food now? I didn’t pack a lunch!! I felt I was about to faint from the heat, hunger, and worry to all these unanswered questions.

Scott's sister

Scott’s sister

The screech of tires pulling into the back parking lot brought me back to reality. Once my eyes came back into focus I saw it was Scott’s sister in a bright pink 87′ Neptune! She turned down the volume on the stereo (she was listening to 103.5 ‘The Hammer’). “Hey goofball, Scott needs your help again, get in.” She paused for a moment grabbing something from the backseat. “Put this on, Scott said you would need it.”

Without questioning her, I picked up the adorable pink kitty one piece pajama set (with footies) and put it over my work clothes. It fit like a glove. Opening the car door, I took a look behind me at the open back door of ‘The Round’. I babbled something about making the new manager upset.

“Well Scott is still officially your manager, right? Just let that a-hole know that once you’re back.”

I saw the logic in this and got into the pink Neptune which was already speeding off before my butt hit the seat.

She tapped the glove box with a half-drained whiskey bottle. Inside, I was delighted to find a plastic bottle of strawberry milk from my favorite convenience store. Twisting the cap off, I was about to take a swig when Scott’s sister leaned over to pour some whiskey in making it spill all over my now pink kitty lap. “You’re going to need this once I tell you what’s going on.”

“How crazy is this going to be?”

She took a BIG swig from the bottle before replying. “Pretty damn crazy Bri. Have you ever heard of a place called ‘Clown Hamburgers’?

“That place is real?!!”

The lore of ‘Clown Hamburgers’ is legendary. I thought the place was just a made up urban legend from some school blacktop. Located somewhere on the Western and Southern Lankville border (not far from Highway 71 where real crazy shit happens), this was the place where people who knew they are going to die or just want to die go to have their final meal. Supposedly everything on the menu is so unhealthy that it will help speed up or at times even cause instant death.

It is said the clown idea originated to help the dying have a fun and somewhat joyous final passing but over the years (probably due to being so close to Highway 71) the clowns became more twisted and demonic. I was surely stunned learning this place existed.

“Well we gotta go there because the owner may have information on this bald-headed freak lady Scott is looking for–”

“Lizzie Starlight!!!” I interrupted. I didn’t mean to but I got worked up– I went into the story on how I thought Lizzie was bald from the first time I laid eyes on the woman. Scott’s sister flashed me her version of ‘The Scott Look’ so I took the cue and let her continue.

“Scott and the dude who owns it now, Mack Milford I think is his name, a real sick twisted fuck. Well they go back a long ways, grade school and all that shit. You can say they have a history with each other, some good, most not so good. For whatever reason Mack knows some stuff which will supposedly help my bro but the shit is not willing to give it up so easily. He told Scott the only way he would share this news is if someone he knew came down and endured the ‘Six Foot Special’. This person had to be somewhat close to him but could also either live or die and it wouldn’t matter. Some sick price to pay, huh? Scott said there was no other person alive who could possibly survive that ordeal but you. Scott is in the deep, deep South fighting some cult shit so I am here to take your goofy dumb ass. So, now you know there is a real risk involved, are you up for the challenge?”

​Clown Hamburgers, a place of death

​Clown Hamburgers, a place of death

Indeed a very high risk!! This ‘Six Foot Special’ was just as big of a legend as the place itself. A meal so bad, so filled with heart-clogging fat and mysterious preservatives, it could kill you after only a few bites. Did I have a chance of overcoming it? Imagine if I did, I would become legendary myself!! To me, there was only one answer and the answer was YES.

“Good.” Scott’s sister gave a slight smile. “You really didn’t have any choice in the matter.”

With the place being still a few hours away, we had plenty of ‘down time’ in the car. Pretty much after she said her peace, Scott’s sister turned the radio back up and was content drinking her whiskey along with smoking some sort of foul-smelling cigarette. Her flip phone rang incessantly but she ignored it. The scenery of the Northern Lankville super-highways passed by quickly.

After the buzz of my strawberry milk wore off, I turned down the volume for some much- needed small talk. “So, how is Grandma, and your folks?”

“Grandma sends her love.” She paused for a second before cracking up. “Just kidding, she probably doesn’t remember who the fuck you are. Daddy had a few days of acting ‘normal’ then decided he needed to be all crazy again.”

“Is he hiding a cake?”

“No, this time its Ma’s recipe for her ‘Tuna Surprise’. Shit was hitting the fan right when I was leaving but this thing for Bro’ was a more pressing matter.”

There was a long awkward silence before she spoke again. “What the fuck is that smell?”

“Oh, I think it’s my Pizza A-Round clothes.” I went on to explain how I was doing the trash run before she came and how I thought this new interim manager was being unfair about a few things. I think she lost interest quickly because she soon turned 103.5 ‘The Hammer’ back up to full blast. For the sake of my sanity she did produce another strawberry milk and with a nice touch of whiskey I was good again.

As any alcoholic will tell you, with a good buzz on, time flies quickly. Soon enough we were pulling into the parking lot of Clown’s Hamburgers. We were greeted by a pretty creepy clown named Sydney (we would soon learn he was Mack’s ‘main clown’). I will admit, I was pretty taken aback by the large axe he was carrying. Scott’s sister didn’t seem so phased, she turned the radio off and rolled down the window. “I’m Scott’s sister, where the fuck is this Mack douche.”

“Ah!” Sydney gave an evil grin while pointing his axe. “Mr. Milford is expecting you. Just drive around back to his personal residence. And please, have a very merry death!!”

“Go to hell you stupid fuck.”

Pulling around back, we found that his ‘personal residence’ was just a broken down trailer attached to the restaurant. Scott’s sister checked her guns before getting out. “Come on Bri, let’s go show this shithead who’s the boss.” I still had a good buzz on so I was strutting slightly, feeling a little like a ‘bad ass’ even though I was wearing the pink kitty pajamas (which I knew by now was her own personal joke). Sydney was slowly creeping around the corner humming a show tune with the axe over his shoulder. Scott’s sister gave off much the same confidence as her brother so I wasn’t really that afraid.

​Mack Milford and family plus Sydney his 'main clown'.

​Mack Milford and family plus Sydney his ‘main clown’.

Not even knocking, she kicked open the screen door and walked right into the living room. Mack Milford was with his family enjoying a game of wall checkers.

Mack gave a warm smile. “Welcome!! Come on in!”

Scott’s sister was taken aback slightly by the cheerful greeting. “Do you know who I am?”

“Of course!! Sydney and I can communicate telepathically.” He said this like it was no big deal. Sydney came in behind us still humming his show tune. The room was filled with a deep, dark presence. How did I keep ending up in these metaphysical food-related situations?

His kids started tugging on his pant leg. One asked, “Who is that big silly stinky pink kitty?”

“I think that thing is here to try the ‘Six Foot Special’ at Daddy’s restaurant. Do you think the stinky kitty could survive that?”

The kids giggled and shook their heads. Mack turned to his wife. “Get their highchairs ready dear, they will want to see this.”

Scott’s sister was trying to regain her composure. “So we got a deal, right? This goofball eats the special and you spill the beans on the bald chic.”

“How do I know this fool in the outfit is close to Scott anyway?”

“The goofball works for him at the pizza place.”

Mack squinted his eyes “Wait a sec, you’re Brian Schropp, that food writer.”

I nodded my head in pride. My name was really getting out there!!

“I love your stuff.” He turned to look at Sydney. “Guess since we have THE premier cuisine reporter on our hands we will have to double the special plus add some extra cheese and bacon to the mix.”

The main clown dropped the creepy act and became all too human. “Wait a sec—listen Mack– you can’t do that, there’s no way the kid is going to make it!!”

“Oh, I’m serious.” He gave a little wink to his kids. “I’m DEADLY serious!!” Mack and his offspring were getting a good evil giggle out of the comment. “Come on gang, there is no more time to waste!! Let’s head over to the restaurant and get this show on the road!”

Scott’s sister turned to me, shrugged, and mouthed, “I’m sorry.”

How, my dear gentle readers, how was I going to make it through this?!! Well, check back for my next thrilling article for all the exciting details (and no, I’m not ‘clowning around’). Until next time my faithful, keep your mouths and minds open to new ideas, Happy Eating!!-Bri

Brian Schropp on Cuisine

October 8, 2015 Leave a comment

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I was giddy with anticipation after receiving the invitation via Electronic “Snappy” Mail. Arnold and Dotty Blake, family acquaintances who lived a few streets over here in the Deep Northern Suburbs, were opening their first restaurant and wanted me to come over to try a few recipes. I was brimming with pride– it was nice to think the Blakes thought highly enough of my ‘advance taste profile’ to want my opinion. My mom, however, was pretty skeptical of the invite. “Why the hell are they opening a restaurant?” she said, looking at the fancy engraved note on the kitchen table. “They have been retired for years.” She then proceeded to yell in the direction of the living room- “Honey, aren’t Arnold and Dotty who live down the street retired?!”

By Brian Schropp

By Brian Schropp

“I think so dear!” my Dad shouted back. He was in his armchair solving the daily ‘Word Jumble’ in the paper.

My Mom was shaking her head. “Doesn’t make sense. I remember the few times we went over there for neighborhood functions that the food was really bad. I think your dad got sick once eating a hamburger.” Again my mom shouted over- “Honey, didn’t you get sick one time eating a hamburger over there?!”

“Yeah, it was pretty raw in the middle, I think I threw up in their grill!” I heard my Dad give a slight curse, he must have messed up on a letter in the jumble.

“I just don’t get it.” It felt like my Mom was trying to solve the mystery of the century. “Dotty stayed at home even though they had no kids, God knows what she did all day. And he was some type of salesman—“Honey, what did Arnold Blake do again?!!”

Arnold and Betty Blake

Arnold and Betty Blake

“He was a salesman for ‘Nuts, Ah!’ Used to sell nuts all over Lankville, that was back when nuts were a big business, now I think all they’ve got is that kiosk in the mall!” I heard my dad turn on the TV, clearly the jumble was tough today and he didn’t want to be disturbed any further.

“What could a former nuts salesman and his more than likely alcoholic housewife possibly offer anybody in the way of food? And why are they asking you to try stuff? Are they just microwaving breakfast sandwiches?”

I tried to tell my mom that maybe she was being a bit too cynical and even though the Blakes might not be the most skilled chefs, an open mind was needed until the food was tried. This led into a little tangent about how I felt that they (my Mom and Dad) didn’t really respect my work at the paper nor realized how others in the community valued my critical look at most food-related things. But after my rant was done, I looked up to find my Mom had left the kitchen and was in the laundry room folding some sheets. She must have realized I was done ‘standing on my soapbox’ “Well if you are going over there I hope you know you are going to wear something halfway decent. Not any of your ‘Pizza A-Round’ garb, I won’t have Dotty talking about us to others.”

So a few days later I was practically skipping out my front door on a cool crisp evening eagerly awaiting the feast ahead. I had had a few days to dream about the possibilities of the culinary delights, putting my creative mind into overload. Knowing my articles and rep as a food writer, they undoubtedly had some dishes which were geared towards my “advance taste profile”. Maybe real cutting edge fancy stuff like my ‘Deep Northern Meat Bits Loaf Topped With Sweet Southern BBQ in a Green and Yellow Butter Sauce’ for example.

I was greeted by Mr. Blake almost as soon as I had turned into his street. It was almost as if he was waiting in the bushes for me. He shook my hand vigorously while guiding me quickly to their house. “Thanks for coming out Bri. We really appreciate you trying this food.” I tried to ask him which articles he and his wife had enjoyed that made them select me for this task. “Oh, you write for the Daily News? That’s great, you will really enjoy this then” all the while walking me with a steady pace and still pumping my hand ebulliently.

I thought that was pretty odd but really didn’t have time to inquire– we were now at the front door where Dotty Blake was waiting with a big smile on her face. “Good to see you Bri, thanks for coming. Did you bring anyone with you?”

“Oh no. Your invite clearly stated I should come alone. So Mrs. Blake, what do you have in store for my taste buds? They are ready to be tickled.”

“Step inside and see.”

I guess I didn’t have a choice, the momentum from my escort sent me straight through the door. Once everyone was in, the door was closed quickly behind. The Blakes lived in a smaller older northern suburban ranch style house, one that has both the living room and kitchen together in the front. I saw the pan on the stove top and quickly went over to investigate, truth be told I hadn’t had a bite to eat for quite a few hours, saving my appetite for this visit. “I’m keeping my mind open to anything,” I said. “In addition to this dish, if you have a breakfast sandwich or two you can microwave as well, my stomach is really growling–”

Advancing to the stove top I was in for a very bitter disappointment, the only contents in the pan were a few ‘southwestern wieners’ on top of some corn. My first thought was to of course keep the thoughts open, maybe the wieners were stuffed with something. I took a bite and then quickly spat it out, the wieners weren’t even cooked!! Nothing is worse my dear readers than putting a cold southwestern wiener in your mouth. I nibbled a bit of the corn which turned out to be your typical (probably from Foodville) canned corn.

I turned around. “What’s going on guys?”

​Fell for the ol' 'southwestern wieners' with corn in a pan trick

​Fell for the ol’ ‘southwestern wieners’ with corn in a pan trick

Mr. Blake spoke first. “Sorry Bri, the whole opening a restaurant invite was just a ruse to get you over here. We had our orders, there is someone who wanted to talk with you in private.”


My heart thumped with fear when two men entered from an adjoining room, they wore white robes with pizza slices on them. The Floating Baby Pizza Slice Cult!!!!!!

“Follow me into the rumpus room. The leader of the’ Deep Northern Suburban Sect’ wants to see you.”

I hesitantly followed. How could there be a deep northern sect? How deep did this cult go? And more importantly what horrors could await me in a place called a ‘rumpus room’?

I was made to sit down in a nice comfy armchair (much like my Dad’s). Mr. Blake was grumbling how that was his chair but the cult members told him to be quiet. There was a little ceremony involving candles, a bunch of yelling, interpretive dancing, and pizza slices. Both Arnold and Dotty Blake joined in, so they were definitely in this mad cult. Once this foolishness was done a cult member (with pizza smeared on his face) shouted “All hail The Deep Northern Suburban Sect Leader!”

Then from a back room this person walked out. At first I couldn’t tell who it was– their robe was very fluid, covering the face and body. Was it a man or woman? Could it be Lizzie Starlight (who is really BALD btw)? Slowly advancing, the figure stopped before me and pushed back the long hood. And I shit you not dear readers, it was a Lankville reporter, THE SAME LANKVILLE REPORTER WHO IS ALSO THE HEAD OF THE BSU (Breakfast Sandwich Underground). The ‘sect leader’ stood before me with a sinister grin taking in my dropped jaw. “Startling you again I see.”

I wasn’t sure if the comment was a reference to the time I was brought to the grocery store or just the other day when this person innocently knocked into me in the crowded paper bullpen. “You sure keep yourself busy, with the paper, terrorist attacks, cult stuff–,” I said.

“Shut up, we don’t have time to talk about me.” A real Jekyll and Hyde personality. This reporter, whose articles you read everyday, who you bump into on the streets and have a quick talk and laugh– you would never guess the true insidious nature that boils deep within. “I brought you here to talk about one thing, that manager of yours, Scott–”

“Where is he?!!” I hadn’t heard a word from Scott since the curious note he had left me (see my last two thrilling articles!!).

“Somewhere in Southern Lankville.” The cult leader/dear reporter shook their head. ” We thought he really was a chump but this guy is proving us wrong. He’s hell bent on finding Lizzie Starlight and is tearing through all the’ Southern Baby Pizza Slice Sects’. He’s a one man wrecking crew!! We need to find something to stop him, some kind of weakness. Only a person close to him will have the answer–.”

From one of the long robe sleeves a piece of sparkling glass in the shape of a pizza slice was produced. It was lifted in front of my face slowly where it was waved back and forth. “Now watch the glass and tell me how to stop him!”

I watched the pizza slice swing back and forth and its brilliant glow. After a few moments all I saw was the glowing pizza slice with the soft yet evil laugh of the Floating Baby Pizza Slice in the background. Yet with all this metaphysical trickery it could not compel me to reveal anything about Scott.

I wish I could tell you who this reporter is!!

I wish I could tell you who this reporter is!!

“Damn must be the bumpkin in him,” my fellow reporter muttered. “Come on Bri, just tell us something-anything. I mean, we put all these scary robes on and everything.” This in a goofy comical tone. much like what you would expect.

“No way, Scott is my friend.” I clutched the sides of the armchair ready for the cult to do their worse. Mr. Blake briefly complained that I was ruining his chair but yet again he was silenced by the cult members.

The reporter’s face turned from comical to evil again (maybe bi-polar?) “I wish we could torture you, slowly grind this information out of your mouth here in this rumpus room. Yet I am forbidden to harm you for reasons which I won’t go into. Just remember this, if you hear from that manager of yours you tell him ‘The Floating Baby Pizza Slice Cult’ will find a way to stop him. Now go—”

“Do you mind if Ms. Blake heats up some of the southwestern wieners and corn? I haven’t had anything to eat since early afternoon and don’t know if I have the strength to get home.”

“JUST GO!!!”

Once safely back at the house I alerted The Pizza Cult Division of what had happened. Racing over there, they found the Blake’s house empty. The force (along with my folks) were pretty doubtful about my story until one officer pulled out the stove and found one of the wieners lurking in the space behind.

I will not reveal who the reporter was for two reasons- first and foremost the safety of my family. Second, even if I told the Pizza Cult Division who the person was I doubt they would believe me. I swear it would blow your mind!!

So with a heavy heart I can not give you the food review I was hoping for. I sure hope this cult business is cleared up soon and things can get somewhat back to ‘normal’. Until next time my gentle readers, please keep your mind and mouth open to new ideas. Happy Eating!!-Bri

September 30, 2015 Leave a comment

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By Brian Schropp

By Brian Schropp

So there I was, dressed pretty as a picture in a pink dress with makeup on. Scott’s Grandmother was leading me around the trailers (in their traditional Eastern Lankville ‘F’ formation) to where Scott’s Dad (Daddy) was being held. My knees were shaking in the adorable white stockings with rose prints I was wearing. Supposedly these were the actual stockings Daddy’s sister had been buried in (exhumed to help me play the part of the dead woman. I could hear the rantings and ravings of Daddy before we even reached his trailer.

“I sure hope the loon tells you where that infernal birthday cake is,” Scott’s Grandmother was muttering while twirling around the gun she held on me not so long ago. “Sure looked like a damn fine cake.”

We were in front of the trailer door far sooner than I had hoped. I was shaking all over now, the screams were a mere trailer wall away. I’ve dealt with some loonies in my time (one is even running for President currently) but this one seemed on a whole new level.

Scott’s Grandma was making last minute adjustments to my makeup while trying to calm me down. “Now just go in there and try not to talk too much. Hopefully in his crazed state he won’t question your voice. Be direct as possible and just try to find out where Ma’s cake is. I’m hoping with just the shock of seeing ‘his sister’ he will blurt it out. Once you get that answer, you get out as quick as possible and lock the door behind you. We don’t need him running loose again.”

After a few deep breaths, Scott’s Grandma unlocked the door and slowly opened it.

Scott's Dad (Daddy).

Scott’s Dad (Daddy).

“Daddy-Daddy? We brought someone to talk to you. Just calm down, now. It’s your dead sister—.”

There was an eerie silence coming from the trailer, a complete contrast to the madness a few seconds ago. Grandma nodded her head and I slowly crept past her. “Now just be direct and find out about that cake.” With a slap on my butt she closed the door behind me.

Daddy was across the room in a corner by the window, his hands were tied behind his back and he was breathing heavily. The man’s eyes were red with tears which glistened off his cheeks but for the moment his face was the picture of calm. “Thelma? Is that really you?”

I smiled sweetly, giving a little wave.

“Talk to me girl. Why did you come back from the dead again? Why are you here?”

I giggled a little before speaking. “I was hopin’ you could tell me where that birthday cake might be hidin’. The family is sure pitchin’ a fit about it.”

His eyes narrowed. “It doesn’t sound like you Thelma.”

I had to think quick on my feet. “Well I’ve been dead for so long. Bein’ buried in the ground changes you.”

“Step out more in the light so I can see ya.”

I stepped out a little more and gave a quick twirl, giggling again. “See, just plain ol’ me!!”

“You’re still a beautiful sweet thing even after all this time.” He paused and nodded over to the corner opposite of him. “See that over there? That hot dog costume was your favorite thing to wear. Remember when we got it at ‘Sir Frank’s Medieval Hot Dog Park’? Now if that’s really you Thelma you will go on over there and put it on.”

I walked over, dusted off the costume and even though it was a few sizes too small I squeezed myself into it. My stunning cosmetic face popped out of the front. “See Daddy it’s really me.”

His face grew even calmer. For a few seconds I thought this kooky scheme might actually work. Then the rage quickly filled his eyes and spread to his face, finally causing his body to jerk up and tug madly at the bonds which held him. “YOU AIN’T MY SISTER!! YOU’RE JUST THAT DAMN FOOL BOY WHO WORKS WITH SCOTT!!”

With the rage of a thousand Dr. Nickelbee’s he rushed at me. And yes my life did flash before my eyes, I honestly thought this was the end. Sometimes it’s the simplest things that save you, this time it was a nail sticking just enough out of the floor. Daddy in his mad dash tripped right over it and with no hands to brace the fall he smacked the floor hard, knocking himself out.

Not sure what to do, I did my best making myself comfortable in the awkward suit until he woke up. Daddy wasn’t out for too long. He lifted his head up and with the look of a great philosophical master said to me, “You got part bumpkin in ya’, I can tell.”

I nodded my head. I could plainly see the madness was at least temporarily knocked out of him. Now if I didn’t have a heart I would just get the info on the cake and leave. But I knew Scott cared for his dad even if he didn’t really show it so if I could get to the root of the problem maybe I could help. “Why did you steal your wife’s birthday cake in the first place?”

The tears began to flow again. “That woman–that damn woman don’t deserve no cake. Nor do I deserve anything anymore. The way our son disgraced us, our family’s honor, the shame upon us. We will be laughed out of this hill before long, We were a family which was feared in these parts until—until…”

“The Floating Baby Pizza Cult,” I said softly.

“To be unknowingly involved in something so awful is disgrace enough but now my boy had to really screw it up!! He done gone and laid with that witch woman who was—-”

I couldn’t even say it for him, it was that awful.

Daddy jumped up yelling a roar only a member of Scott’s family could do. He hopped around howling before kicking a table of guns behind him. “SHE WAS BALD, THAT DAMN WITCH WOMAN WAS BALD!!”

So very true, Lizzie Starlight who turned out to be a High Priestess for the cult was completely and utterly bald (and I KNEW IT from the first day I saw her). It’s a very old code that stands in these hills of Eastern Lankville but still holds true even today. If a man unknowingly beds a woman who is bald it brings instant shame to that house which will never be forgiven.

Scott's Mom with her birthday cake.

Scott’s Mom with her birthday cake.

Daddy collapsed on the floor and rolled around with the unending pain. After a moment he looked at me. “Tell that damn family of mine I will just be crazy for a few more days, I feel it almost gone from me. Tell grandma to leave some water and an open can of ‘Lankville O’s’ inside the door. And if they really want to celebrate that woman’s birthday, well, then the cake is in the fourth rusted truck in the field.”

I left Daddy to his madness. Crossing the field in my hot dog suit and makeup, I reflected on how Daddy’s disappointment in his son almost reflected my own Dad’s dismay with me. Hopefully, if Scott survived his fight against the cult maybe this could bring us closer again.

Well, Scott’s Mom was over the moon when I brought the cake in. I was glad I could make her day and give this now damned family at least a little bit of enjoyment.

How would you, dear reader, imagine any festive occasion with Scott’s family turning out? Yes, of courses, it was soon a chaotic mess. Scott’s Mom decided she didn’t want to share any of her cake since it was missing for so long. The yelling and throwing of trailer items was soon replaced with guns drawn between Scott’s Mom, Scott’s Grandmother and Scott’s Sister. I quickly slipped out with ‘my outfit’ still on (the women had refused to give me back my clothes). The sun was setting fast over the hills and I somehow had to get home wearing this mess!!

Until next time dear readers, keep your mind and mouth open to new ideas.

Happy Eating!!-Bri

Meeting Scott’s Family: A Very Special Brian Schropp

September 22, 2015 Leave a comment

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By Brian Schropp

By Brian Schropp

The note came to me during a hellish mid-morning rush at the ‘Pizza-A-Round’.

Truthfully, all times have been quite hellish since Scott (my manager) has been away. He initially got wrapped up in the glam and glitz of community theater with his lover ‘Lizzie Starlight’ (not her real name, actually BALD!!). And now Scott is out seeking revenge upon her once it was revealed that ‘Lizzie’ is really a High Priestess of a whacked out pizza sect who tricked Scott into doing some of her evil dark cultish bidding.

No one at ‘The Round’ had heard from him since and it showed- the place was almost at its breaking point, teetering on full-blown anarchy. Rumors were running wild along the prep line that the owner was going to be bringing someone new in soon but who knew when that would be or what would Scott think when he got back?

I didn’t see who dropped off the message (one of the phone staff brought it back to me). I was too busy trying to help Big James clean up his nacho cheese station. Without the stern hand of Scott lording over him, he had really let it go and weeks worth of nacho cheese were encrusted on his work table. The Health Department (making a surprise visit) were giving us two hours to clean up the mess (along with a million other areas) so I was taking an industrial-size sander to it.

The note itself was just a folded piece of paper which either had blood or pizza sauce on it. Pulling up my goggles (safety first!!!) I took a look-

Bri- Need a big favor. Word has gotten to me that some ‘major shit’ is going down on the homestead. It was my Mom’s birthday a few days ago and for some reason, Dad hid her cake. This will not stand. I want you to go over, assess the situation, and find that cake. Be back soon-Scott

At the bottom were vague instructions on how to get to his house.

I was at a crossroads on what I should do. I didn’t feel right leaving “the Round” on the verge of possible permanent closure yet Scott wouldn’t have sent the note if it wasn’t urgent. I was going to ask Chet Cameron (who fancied himself ‘the big dude on campus’) but he was up to his eyelids getting pizza after pizza out of the oven. So I went to Charlie ‘The Nugget Guy’ who was crisping up the chicken delights for a ‘Mid Morning Snack Pizza’.

My manager, Scott. When was he coming back?

My manager, Scott. When was he coming back?

“Well Bri, Scott still is technically in charge so you would just be following orders. Anyway, this place is so crazy right now with the health department here that no one will notice you were gone. Just look over there, Big James has been snoring in that corner for hours without one fool giving a second look.”

So, taking Charlie’s advice, I crept out the back, unchained my push scooter and headed towards Deep Eastern Suburban Lankville. I never understood why people called this area ‘suburban’. Sure, there are houses (mainly trailer homes) scattered around but it’s mainly large rocky hillsides with a low-lying swamp region. It was taking all my strength to push my sleek scooter up the winding roadways (I had also been using an industrial sander not that long ago) and then the sudden mind-numbing descents marred by the semi-poisonous smell of  ‘swamp gas’.

Up and down, up and down. I lost all sense of direction which really didn’t matter because Scott’s directions were so vague in the first place!! Not to mention all the natives in their huge trucks or rusted out cars flying around the corners almost knocking me off the roadway. The madness finally came to a head when one guy in his truck pulled over after almost hitting me. I didn’t really notice him (or his loud cussing) I was too busy in my haze muttering to myself, slowly pushing the scooter up the steep embankment. The next thing I knew I was flying off the hill with my scooter (broken in two) not far behind. The sweet hand of fate must have been looking out for me. I bounced off an Eastern Pine with minimal impact and landed in a heavy bed of pine cones that cushioned my fall. I rolled down the rest of the way. The big tumble shook me out of my fog and I dusted myself off while taking a look around.

Scott's grandmother

Scott’s grandmother

Before me was a group of trailer homes, three of them to be exact, in the classic Eastern ‘F’ formation. My heart beamed when I saw by the mailbox a spray-painted cardboard sign which read ‘Scott’s Domain’. I knew Scott was a popular name for the area plus it was known in these parts that last names weren’t used but hopefully I had just hit lighting in a bottle. I realized this was the correct port of call when a little further down the driveway there was another spray-painted sign which read, “I AM SCOTT”. Rubbing my hands together I thought, “let’s get down to this cake business.”

Approaching the first  trailer (which made the back of the classic ‘F’ shape) I was greeted by an older lady pointing a gun at me. This turned out to be Scott’s Grandmother.

“You better start talkin’ quick, why you’re steppin’ on Scott’s Domain.”

I waved the note in the air. “Hello!! Scott sent me here to help you guys.”

She aimed the gun and shot the note right out of my hand, it was quite a feat of marksmanship! “A lot of folks named Scott in these parts. A lot of folks bring notes too.”

“He-he said in that note that his Dad hid a birthday cake. I’m pretty sure I have the right place, I saw a spray-painted sign back there with ‘I AM SCOTT’, he yells that all the time.”

“Well, that is my grandson’s ‘calling yell.”  She eyed me up and down more carefully. “We did get a note from Scott saying he was sending some sort of simpleton who worked for him.”

“I bet he couldn’t reach that person so he got me instead.”

She eyed a pile of trash bags that were near me. “Scott said the person would know what to do with them sacks.”

Scott must have forgotten to include this detail in his note but I knew what to do anyway. I took off my clothes and made a trash bag poncho out of one.

“And the dance? The note also spoke of a dance.”

Again, not referenced on my side. I could only think of one thing, the popular ‘Pizza Whip’ dance which Scott would make employees do for a chuckle. So I gave it my best shot (so I wouldn’t be) flinging my arms and hips in that nutty rhythmic motion.

After a full minute she chuckled and told me to stop my gyrating . “Scott sent us no note, haven’t heard from that little shit since this damn pizza cult business. I guess any fool who goes through these lengths musta’ been sent here. Come inside and mind the waterworks.” I decided to leave the trash bag poncho on.

Inside their ‘living area’ there was a younger woman (Scott’s Sister) trying to comfort a middle-aged lady (Scott’s Mom) who had her head down on the kitchen table crying uncontrollably. The sister looked up at me and asked, “Who is this freak and why is he wearing a trash bag?”

“Says Scott sent him on down to talk with Daddy about the birthday cake.” The mention of the cake sent Scott’s Mom into a harder crying fit.

Scott’s Sister took a swig from a bottle she was holding before talking. “Oh yeah, I meant to say Scott sent a letter about him.” She nodded over to a messy area which had a few chairs and a TV showing a scrambled talk show, “Said if it was really him he would know what to with that outfit.”

I walked over and saw a pink dress haphazardly thrown over one of the chairs. I looked at some of the other dirty clothes laying about in hopes that it could possibly be another garment. “Nope said it was the dress.” Could Scott’s sister read minds?  Why didn’t he mention this in the note!!  I quickly took off the trash bag and got into the dress, then giving myself a nice spin around. I thought the pink ensemble actually fit my form quite well!

Scott’s Mother looked up through the tears. “And the make up, the letter also said make up—“. I had no idea how to apply any sort of cosmetics so with the unsteady hand of Scott’s Sister (I could smell whiskey on her breath) the bright blues and deep pinks were applied.

When all was said and done I stepped back for the three ladies to see. “Well–isn’t this proof enough?!!”

Scott's sister

Scott’s sister

There was brief silence. The silence was followed by hysterical laughing. Even Scott’s Mom who moments before was on the verge of a breakdown couldn’t control herself. After many, many minutes of laughter, things finally calmed down. Scott’s Grandmother led me over to the kitchen table and told me to have a seat. She got a glass of strawberry milk out of the fridge for me. “Start drinking this and we will tell you what’s really going on.” Scott’s Sister walked over and started to pour the contents of her bottle into my glass causing it to spill over. “You’re going to need this breakfast sandwich boy.”

Scott’s Grandmother spoke again. ” Now let’s quit all of the joking around, yes Brian, we knew you were coming. The situation with the birthday cake is all too real. Daddy has hidden it and won’t tell us where or why. We got him tied up in another trailer, no easy feat, still won’t give us any clue. He’s hysterical, ranting and raving like a mad man. At first we thought it was just a bender but the man has been sober for a few days now.”

Scott’s Mom, who was in good spirits, turned sour again placing her head on the table. “I just want my cake!!”

I was looking at my make-up job in the reflection of my strawberry milk glass. “Why the dress and the make up?”

“Well Bri, Scott’s sister has been staying in touch with Scott throughout his ‘pizza cult ordeal’. They have always been close, a little too close sometimes if you ask me. Anyways, since Scott couldn’t come back he came up with this crazy scheme. He said he always thought that in a dress and make up, you Brian would look exactly like Daddy’s long dead sister which in fact you really do!”

Scott’s Grandmother took out a picture and showed me-she was quite right!!

“It’s a long shot but we’re hoping if you go in and pretend to be the long lost spirit of his sister you will be able to get the whereabouts of the cake. A very risky plan though, if Daddy catches on even with his hands tied he will attack like a savage dog. We had to somehow get you in the dress and make-up in case you said no.”

“What about the trash bag?”

“Scott said you would fall for anything. That was me just having a bit of fun–”

Scott’s Mom looked up from the table again, a sobbing mess. “You gotta help me get my birthday cake!!”

What choice did I have now? Could I pull off playing the part of Daddy’s dead sister? Find out next article dear readers. Happy Eating!!-Brian

UPDATE ON THE PIZZA CULT! Cuisine by Brian Schropp

September 17, 2015 Leave a comment
By Brian Schropp

By Brian Schropp

As I promised dear readers I’m updating you on the events surrounding my last article and, boy, there is a lot of ground to cover!

Lankville authorities descended on the Pondicherry Performance Center in full force the other day. Paddy wagons, helicopters, people in riot gear climbing down ropes, boats with guns trying to make their way up from the nearby shallow creek. I was watching all this from Dr. Nickelbee’s electric car in the parking lot (I was trying to get it started for him) so luckily I didn’t get swept up with all the other people being dragged out and beaten and then tossed into one of the wagons. A small tear did come to my eye when I saw Scott being brought out separately in cuffs and placed in a squad car. He didn’t seem to put up much resistance. I wondered if maybe it was the ‘sparkling water sorta shit’ he drank now instead of beer or maybe “the old Scott” was just a front to deceive people from his true cultish intentions.

When the authorities learned who I was they said a Special Agent from the ‘Pizza Cult Division’ wanted to speak with me. I was brought to their makeshift command center which was being set up on the other side of the parking lot. Inside the main trailer, I was introduced to Agent Spiffy. I have to admit I was getting pretty nervous– I was unknowingly involved in many aspects of the play. Agent Spiffy assured me I wasn’t under suspicion but that he just wanted to hear my version of events, unless I wanted to admit I was a part of the ‘Floating Baby Pizza Slice Cult’, then I would be thoroughly beaten and thrown in with the others. He was pretty upfront about the through beating part.

I told him what I knew about Scott, Lizzie Starlight, the play and even everything that had happened at the ‘Pizza Inn.’

Evil Abomination- The Floating Baby Pizza Slice!!

Evil Abomination- The Floating Baby Pizza Slice!!

Here is what I learned from Agent Spiffy– Lizzie Starlight is, in reality, a High Priestess for The Floating Baby Pizza Slice Cult and has been using community theaters all over Lankville to convert unsuspecting citizens into cult members!! Get this folks, Lizzie Starlight isn’t even her real name, just one of many aliases! And even crazier, THAT’S NOT HER REAL HAIR (I knew it was a wig!). Spiffy said that all High Priestesses are ‘bald as a cue ball’ (he giggled kinda weirdly after saying that phrase). The way the scheme went down was that Lizzie would attach herself to whatever production was going on in town, specifically the worst one possible (mine must have been an exemption), then slowly introduces pizza elements by adding in The Floating Baby Pizza Slice. Agent Spiffy wasn’t sure if the big slice was some sort of advanced machinery or the evil metaphysical being itself but the thing would ‘subtly hypnotize’ the audience. Not everyone would be affected, just a few would be brainwashed and would automatically know where to go after the show was finished. From that point on they were ‘easy pickin’s’ (again he giggled weirdly after saying the last two words) to become mindless cult members. He also admitted some didn’t fully turn but still went home and maybe stabbed a loved one or baked a pizza without knowing why.

I needed one thing cleared up. The Chairman from the Performance Center had told me Lizzie was a renowned screenwriter and a lot of people knew her.

“A very ‘easy peasy’ (again the giggle) answer for you Bri, we believe the Chairman was either being manipulated by Lizzie via black magic or an actual, converted cult member. Either way we will get the answer from him.” He motioned me over behind his desk and on a small B&W TV set (which had been placed on the corner) showed me a live stream from an windowless bleak interrogation room. The Chairman was in there and readers I will not describe (for your sanity and your lunch) the ‘interrogation techniques’ being employed. After a few seconds I had to turn my head. “Sorry you had to see that, we in the ‘Pizza Cult Division’ don’t mess around.”

I told Spiffy my fears of what they might do to Scott, I knew in my heart of hearts he couldn’t really be involved in all of this. He assured me no real harm would come to my manager unless it was proven he was a member– indeed, they had never heard of his involvement until a few days ago.

At this point another Agent came in and told Spiffy the Performance Center had been cleared but there was no sign of ‘Lizzie Starlight’ or any large baby pizza slice!! Spiffy shook his head and muttered “Damn,’slippery as a greased-up seal'(insert weird giggle). Then, to the other officer, “OK, let’s burn it down.”

I looked out the trailer window to see men in Biohazard suits race up to the venerable old building with flame throwers.

I begged– NO– I pleaded with Agent Spiffy to let me go inside first and save the contents of the vending machines. “Nope Bri, can’t take any chances when it comes to pizza cults.” And as the building went up in flames I fell to my knees with tears now flowing freely.

An hour or so later I was on my push scooter heading home. I was thinking of ways to ask my folks to loan me the money for Scott’s bail if he was going to be released. I knew it would be a long shot getting a single dime for Scott but it was worth a try. Of course my folks (and the rest of my family) were out when I got there.

I decided to prepare myself a mid-morning snack and wait. In the kitchen, I thought I heard some strange sounds coming from my ‘basement apartment’. Walking slowly down the steps and turning past the laundry room to my area, I found none other than Lizzie Starlight. She was sitting in a meditative pose inside a circle of pizza slices, then another circle of candles (no other lights were on). I wasn’t too surprised to find her in a white robe with pizza slices printed on them– she was also missing the wig and COMPLETELY BALD.

A steady creepy chant was coming from her which sent a slight chill down my spine. She opened her eyes and gave an overly sweet smile. “Brian dear, I’ve been waiting for you.” She got up and carefully stepped over the candles towards me. Every fiber of my being wanted to run yet somehow I was paralyzed. She got close enough to loosely put her arms around my neck, she smelled like pizza and the dark arts.

I muttered, “I cant believe this—what you’ve done to everyone—to Scott–‘.

She put a finger to my lips “There’s no need to talk about that fool. He was a minor puppet in a much, much larger game. You see Brian, for the glorious and mighty Floating Baby Pizza Slice to come back to our physical world there needs to be a rebirth. I was brought here to Deep Northern Suburban Lankville because the visions told me the person was here. At first I thought it was Scott but now through deeper meditation I found that I was wrong. The real chosen one is you—.”

Lizzie Starlight- who really is completely bald!!

Lizzie Starlight- who really is completely bald!!

Lizzie moved back slightly to remove her robe–she was totally nude!! (And let me tell you readers, women look COMPLETELY different naked in real life then on the scrambled porn late at night on Lankville cable!). She moved and kissed me passionately on the mouth. Then I blacked out—

—At first there was just the darkness, then slowly a little light was moving towards me. It was accompanied by a horrid, otherworldly laugh. Slowly the iridescent haunting glow of The Floating Baby Pizza Slice headed towards me. I knew it was coming to take over my soul, my whole being, so it could rain terror and destruction on Lankville for eons! Wait—-abstractly from another corner of the infinite void of my mind came a hurricane whirling at a great speed!! I could vaguely see the bumpkin trailer spinning around inside and heard the sweet chorus of them fill all around me. This metaphysical force of wind caught up to the baby pizza slice and slammed right into it!! A huge explosion followed by a blinding white light—I saw a million universes being born and then dying at once. Another light—then darkness—the ringing—.

— And I slowly realize I’m laying on my basement apartment floor and the telephone is ringing. I carefully look around and see that Lizzie Starlight is now gone, the only evidence left are the pizza slices and burnt out candles. I slowly get up giving myself the once over. I don’t feel different mentally or physically, my clothes don’t even seem disturbed. Did I actually ‘do the deed?’ (Somewhere I hear Agent Spiffy giggling).

On the phone is Charlie ‘The Nugget Guy’ from ‘The Pizza-A-Round’– Scott has been cleared by the authorities and is there!! He said I should get down there quick. So I hopped on my push scooter and set off (ignoring the insults from the neighborhood kids along the way). Finally making it to work, I found the inside completely quiet with no phones or nobody working– it was like everybody in Lankville knew not to call or show up. The employees were circled around Scott’s door somewhat curious but mostly scared. They whisper that Scott had come walking in normally but VERY silent closing his door behind him.

“We figured you were the best one to see if he was OK,” Charlie said, nervously moving his hat on his head.

I nodded and slowly opened the door. “Scott…Scott?” I closed the door behind me.

He was almost done putting on his ‘Traditional Deep Eastern Suburban Lankville Outfit’. There was already a pile of beer cans around his feet with a few six packs on the desk. He pulled open a desk drawer to pull out two hand guns which he tucked into his outfit.

“Didn’t sell them all yet–,” he muttered over to me.

“Scott are you–?”

He flashed me a hardcore ‘Scott Look’ so it was best to keep my mouth shut. “I’m going after her Bri, her and all those damn cult fucks. I’m not going to rest until they all pay, even if I have to go through some big baby pizza slice. She made a fool out of me–I OPENED MY HEART TO HER–and I was repaid with manipulation. Not only for trying to discretely convert me or innocent others to the dark side but she was—was—COMPLETELY BALD!!! ME, SCOTT-THE KING OF KINGS-MAKING LOVE TO A COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY BALD WOMAN!!”

​Scott in his traditional outfit.

​Scott in his traditional outfit.

He slammed his hand straight through the top of his desk. Splinters flew everywhere.

I wanted to tell him I could share in his pain but I wasn’t even sure if anything had happened between Lizzie and I. “Is it a good idea to go after this pizza cult alone, Scott? They seem really dangerous, I know you are in pain–”

“I AM SCOTT!!!!” he roared at me with the force of a thousand warriors. The force was so great it knocked me back into his pizza sauced stained office chair.

And with that, Scott swung open his door with everybody outside stepping back over each other to get out of his way. He stormed out to the parking lot and got in his 1987 Neptune. It took a few tries to start (he didn’t drive for a few weeks) then with a loud backfire the vehicle roared into reverse.

With a few heavy jerks Scott was out of the parking lot.

When will he be back? What will happen with the ‘Pizza-A-Round’ in the meantime? I will continue to keep you updated. Happy Eating!!-Bri

Is There an Evil Side to Pizza? Brian Schropp on Cuisine

September 15, 2015 Leave a comment
By Brian Schropp

By Brian Schropp

Is there an evil side to pizza? I know dear readers, pause, take a deep breath and really think about it. Of course, your mind automatically retreats to all the good- the anticipation of opening that delivery box to all the cheesy goodness inside, the way the pleasure zones of the mind sparkle when the mixture of cheeseburger and tomato sauce hits your quaking taste buds whilst enjoying ‘A Mid Morning Snack Pizza’, the joys of watching the hottest pizza play around ‘Ektar- Pizza Champion’. But could there be darkness lurking just behind all that light?

I was back from my somewhat enjoyable if rather disturbing vacation (please see my last article!!) and was shocked to find four daily showings of ‘Ektar- Pizza Champion’ at the Pondicherry Performance Center. Scott, my manager at the ‘Pizza-A-Round’ (now sporting a beret with pizza slices on it) was over the moon when he passed me at the front doors. “I can’t believe it Bri, this play is finally making me famous!! I never thought I could be what society deems a ‘somebody’.” I tried to ask him how things were at ‘home base’ (my silly nickname for ‘The Round’). “Don’t know to tell you the truth, been way to busy with this play to really deal with that place. Press interviews, hanging out in the coolest theater nightspots, getting my feet rubbed by beautiful groupies, it’s all so much!” I found this a little odd– even though he often talked about leaving the ‘pizza trade’ for bigger things I never thought he would just abandon ‘The Round’ so suddenly. I also took note of the nicer clothes he was wearing and some recent weight loss. “Quit drinking the beer and now I’m drinking this sparkling water sorta shit Lizzie gives me. Making me feel clear you know? Coming up with all sorts of shit for the follow up plays. Did I tell you I’m selling my guns?—”

Dr. Nickelbee- the LAST person I wanted to see.

Dr. Nickelbee- the LAST person I wanted to see.

At this point Lizzie Starlight (co writer of Ektar and my former stage partner) came up from behind and started to rub Scott’s shoulders. “Say sweetie, the next performance is going to start soon. We need to see if that actor playing ‘the fourth pepperoni stick’ is really up to snuff.” Scott took leave, grumbling under his breath about what would happen to the actor if he messed up. At least he waved a quick goodbye to me, Lizzie didn’t even acknowledge my existence!!

Even though I was only gone a week I had a hard time getting into the performance center. Having a big part early on in the making of this play seemed to have no weight on getting me through the doors– I needed a ticket for the sold out show. My pleas of needing to check out what was new in the vending machines were falling on deaf ears when I suddenly heard, “don’t worry-don’t worry I have an extra ticket for him!!” I turned around to see none other than my whacked out therapist Dr. Nickelbee pushing past people and waving two tickets excitedly in the air. Just great, I thought, he is LAST person I wanted to see having just returned from vacation.

Why a freak like him had two tickets I will never know. He also spent the extra extra dough and got the really good front row cushy seats which he was all giggly about. Before the show started he kept asking me how my vacation was (while rubbing my leg). When I tried to tell him how strange my trip had been, he would just cut me off and start talking loudly (annoying the folks around us) about how much he was looking forward to the play. He had even bought fake ‘Ektar novelty horns’ (the character is half-man, half-buffalo) in the lobby and put them on.

Finally the lights started to dim (and he was gripping my knee tight!!). I was surprised to find the opening changed. The laser light show was now the opening scene followed by what appeared to be a bigger and much more realistic floating baby pizza slice. After a moment, the eyes of the baby lit up and it started talking in a weird voice that didn’t make any sense. I looked around and saw that the audience was totally mesmerized by this! It was then that I felt Nickelbee’s hand tighten on my knee–I turned to see his face twisted in pure horror. Before I had time to find out what was wrong he stood up screaming.


The Floating Baby Pizza Slice- true evil?

The Floating Baby Pizza Slice- true evil?

Then Nickelbee fled holding his head shrieking out the door. The lights came back on and the giant pizza baby floated back behind the drawn curtain. People were looking around at each other strangely. I was of course overly-embarrassed by the whole ordeal and with the dirty looks I was getting from the stage hands I knew it was best for me to go after Dr. Nickelbee.

I found his car open and abandoned in the parking lot and could hear his screams a few blocks away. The electric car must of broke down again, I thought. I walked slowly after him, following his loud howls in the night (which was one continuous stream) all the way through Northern Lankville to his offices. He left the office building and his own personal office door wide open. I heard him sobbing from under his desk. I walked over to where I usually sit on the couch and grabbed a few peanuts from a bowl on a nearby table. It took me a moment to find the right words. “So,—I take it something was bothering you?”


I had no intention of really staying but the peanuts were those sugary kind which taste like candy, they can be so addicting!! Before long he just started to babble from under the desk. He talked about having visions of the baby pizza slice ever since he was a little kid. The slice would tell him to do all sorts of bad things, things he didn’t want to talk about. This otherworldly slice would also haunt his dreams telling him that one day all of Lankville would worship the baby like a God. When he was a teenager ‘the evil’ (which Nickelbee was now calling it) was trying to get him to kill elected officials!

“It was then Bri that I knew there was only one thing I could do. In my dreams I had to eat the floating baby slice, swallowing that thing whole would end the horror. CAN YOU IMAGINE FORCING YOURSELF TO EAT A BABY WHO IS MADE OUT OF PIZZA?!! HAVE YOU EVER HEARD ANYTHING SO ABSURD?!!”

Supposedly, that did the trick for him until he saw it floating before him tonight.

There was a long silence and then he returned to a sobbing mess and I’m pretty sure I smelled urine. With the bowl of peanuts also finished I really had no other business here. Walking back, I started not only thinking about tonight’s events but the things that happened during my stay at the ‘Pizza Inn’. Could they somehow be related? Then it dawned on me- the beret which Scott was wearing tonight looked much the same style as the robed men I saw at the Inn– white with tiny pizza slices on it!

Paranormal Investigator Dexter Kornish.

Paranormal Investigator Dexter Kornish.

I desperately needed more answers. Instead of heading home I went over to the house of renowned Paranormal Investigator Dexter Kornish. I am a big fan of his books on the supernatural occurrences along Highway 71 and other like subject matters. He was very gracious letting me into house late at night and even offering me a large glass of strawberry milk. We sat down in his spacious offices which were located in the basement with some old exercise equipment.

“So Bri, how can I help you?”

I was nervous about relating the whole story so far. What if he didn’t believe me? I never read anything about a floating baby pizza slice in his books before. He listened attentively to everything I said then took a pipe out of his desk drawer and began puffing on it. He shook his head and muttered “absolutely fantastic.”

After another pause he turned directly to me. “I’m going to let you in on a little secret which I hope you won’t share (sorry Dexter but I have an article to do!!) Half the stuff I write about is pure BS. Total crap just made up for money.”

My heart sank to the floor “You mean the stuff about Highway 71?—”

“Oh that place is totally fucked beyond belief, you wouldn’t wanted to know the truth about what’s going on there. You see the money I make off writing about the fake happenings helps me channel funds into my real paranormal investigations- the things I share only with fellow investigators. If the real stuff got out your typical Lankville citizen wouldn’t be able to handle it. If their minds didn’t explode they would certainly go mad jumping off buildings and the such. I hate to tell you this but the Floating Baby Pizza Slice is far too real.”

Kornish took a large stuffed folder out of a messy file cabinet. “Have you ever read about the pizza prohibition and how it started?”

“Of course! In school they told us it was about criminals smuggling illegal cheese from the Lankville Islands to all the pizza places.”

“That’s what they what you to believe. The real reason, which has been covered up by the Lankville higher ups for years, has to do with pizza cults.”

He showed me photostats from the file folder with all sorts of articles and secret documents telling of the pizza-related societies who tried over the years ‘topping’ the current rule of law in Lankville. Several made references to a floating baby pizza slice who was either worshipped or came to people in visions. Dexter even had a whole separate folder on the slice which told about these demonic possessions since the beginning of recorded Lankville history!! In recent times it seems these particular stories have trailed off until last year when sightings came back full force.

He took out a picture from a top drawer, it a screen shot from some grainy VHS tape.

“This was taken only last week from a top secret Pondicherry home video. See that strange triangular shape in the sky?”

Actual footage of the slice!!

Actual footage of the slice!!

I looked really hard. “Not sure if I see anything.”

“Oh come now, really look hard. You’re no dummy!”

I squinted with all my soul. “Yeah-yeah I think I see it!”

“Recorded evidence of the slice, what further proof do we need that the floating abomination from the underworld is indeed back? So you say this play everyone is raving about has something like this in it?” I nodded. “And it’s being run by your manager at the ‘Pizza-A-Round and a woman named ‘Lizzie Starlight?’ Well I better go up there tomorrow and check this out. Until then DO NOT WRITE ABOUT THIS IN THE PAPER AT ALL!!”

Well readers, it’s been a few days since that conversation and I haven’t heard from Dexter Kornish at all. I know what he said but I am now publishing this in hopes someone has information about his whereabouts. If anyone does can you tell him to contact me via the paper. I tried tapping on his basement window a few times but his folks keep chasing me off. Can all of this be true? And how far is Scott wrapped up in it? I thought I knew him and not only thought of him as a manger but somewhat of a friend as well. I’m going to try find answers to all of this and will let you know dear readers what I uncover. Until next time- please keep your mind and mouth open to new ideas. Happy eating!!-Bri

Notes from the Stage Floor Part II

September 2, 2015 Leave a comment
By Brian Schropp

By Brian Schropp


The opening weekend for my reworked stage play ‘Eggs And Bacon On The Prairie’ went fairly well with most of the showtimes selling at least three or four of the really good fluffy seats. Unfortunately, the Chairman of the Pondicherry Performance Center didn’t think it would be enough to help save ‘this goddamn wreck of a sinking ship’. In my heart I wanted to try and do my best to save the flailing center; the vending machines were quite special here and I doubt I would find their quality anywhere else.

“The script needs to be worked on even more,” he suggested. “You can’t have that same debacle next weekend or else you’re really up shit creek. The positive feedback we’re getting from the folks who happen to wander in here and we somehow convince to buy a ticket comes down to two main points- the breakfast sandwiches and the spanking. You need to keep those in and keep them strong. I want the audience’s mouths to be watering with the thought of breakfast sandwiches and the feeling in their own butts sore. Also, for me personally, could you keep in those darn rascally dream creatures? They are so delightful!!” He said the last part in a high pitch creepy sort of way which made me uncomfortable down to my soul.

​Lizzie Starlight, did not share my vision.

​Lizzie Starlight

So it turned into another long night for myself and my co-creator Lizzie Starlight trying to make a new story work. We both knew we had the fundamentals of a tale that needed to be told– the trick was finding how to make the audience not only ‘get it’ but also to ‘FEEL IT.’ By the early hours of the morning in the haze of cigarette smoke from Lizzie and the piled up pork rind bags from me, we had the new play down. The main character of Zachariah was eliminated completely and replaced with a half-man half- buffalo character named ‘Ektar’ (human name) or ‘Running Cheese’ (his buffalo name). His story was one of a outcast from two different worlds (the human and the buffalo) that fought against each other. He wanted to bring peace to these warring factions by way of these marvelous food creations his ‘dream spirits’ would bring him. I was really happy with the dream sequences– they really showed the basics for making a good breakfast sandwich, almost like a cooking show. Two songs in particular- ‘B.E.C.TB Find Out What It Means To Me’ and ‘The Wild Buffalo Wings Song’ were both included and ALL the lyrics were written by me. B.E.C.TB of course stands for the standard bacon, egg, cheese, tender biscuit ratio used when critically looking at any breakfast sandwich. The buffalo wings song is at the beginning of the play and is more of a dark piece which tells of humans killing a buffalo to make the wings. I feel this somber number really helps highlight the war between the two.

The actor playing 'Ektar' (Running Cheese)

The actor playing ‘Ektar’ (Running Cheese)

So, with very little sleep to be had the next day was another long affair, new sets needed to be made and a quick casting call went out to find our new lead. Lizzie put herself in charge of getting the right actor for this critical part by putting all the young aspiring community stage actors through some tough spots. I put myself in charge of finding the vending machine company’s number to try and see if they could put some type of strawberry milk option replacing the diet cola that no one seemed to buy.

It seemed almost in a blink of an eye that the play in its new form was coming together. I give full credit to Lizzie Starlight and her directional talents. By mid- week the actor who was playing ‘Ektar’ was shining and inspiring the other actors either playing human or buffalo to get into their parts. Songs with newly-added dance routines were being learned under new, somewhat crudely built sets. I was sitting back in the second row of fluffy seats sipping on a strawberry milk wondering how anything could go wrong now.

Of course once that thought is put into the universe it has no choice but to come true.

“Bri, Bri? Where the hell are ya’?”

I recognized the voice of Scott, my manger at the Pizza-A-Round, immediately. Feeling like I was somehow slacking off on a shift, I dropped my strawberry milk over my shirt before stumbling down the theater seating trying to get out as quick as possible.

Picture of my manager Scott relaxing at home.

Picture of my manager Scott relaxing at home.

“Christ Bri, what the fuck? You keeping calling out of work for this shit?” I was doing my best to straddle both my work on the play and my pizza job, trying to keep both sides happy. But I knew with the troubles here that the scales had tipped dramatically to one side. I also knew Scott wouldn’t understand anything about this and could turn the situation into total chaos. I tried my best to gently nudge him outside but he was in full ‘Scott Mode’ He wanted to make the production pay for taking such a valuable employee away. He moved around the set taking swigs from his flask pushing down stagehands and threatening to urinate on a few of the set pieces. At one point he even grabbed ‘Ektar’ and started to make fun of him– reducing the poor young stage actor to tears.

At this point Lizzie Starlight came back in (she was taking a small break to ‘re-fro’ her hair) and that was when the shit really hit the fan. Like two bulls they clashed in the center of the stage with all the actors and stagehands running for cover. Foreheads touching each other, yelling at the top of their lungs– I couldn’t let this go on for much longer, not only did I fear Scott brandishing some sort of firearm, I also knew Lizzie was a tough cookie who might swing a punch.

I somehow got Scott to calm down and with the promise of some pork rinds got him to sit down in a fluffy seat. I asked him to watch a run through of the play, keeping an open mind. If he didn’t like what he saw then he could destroy whatever he wanted to on the stage. This was also a good practice for the cast– putting their necks on the line with their performance. Much to my surprise I found that once settled and with the lights turned down, Scott really got into it!! The buffalo wings song hooked him right away, leading into the violence between the humans and the buffaloes. What astonished me even more were the gushes and chuckles with Ektar’s interactions with the dream creatures. I’m not sure that the entire the play moved him so much (I heard Scott snoring from time to time) but there were no aggressive movements so that was a good sign.

When the play ended and the lights came back on, Scott slowly got up from his seat. A glazed, almost child-like look was in his eyes. He slowly wandered up on stage and gently took the startled Lizzie by the shoulders.

“Your vision, it’s–so–so–wonderful!”

Then to everyone’s delight/horror Scott and Lizzie started to kiss passionately. We thought it would be over in a few minutes but those minutes turned almost into a full hour. Things got even more awkward when they went behind the sets to really get it on. There was no holding back their primal screaming and thrusting which echoed in the theater. A few of the stagehands started vomiting, I went off for more strawberry milk.

The floating baby pizza slice at the end

The floating baby pizza slice at the end

You would think Scott accepting the play (and Lizzie) would be a good thing, well dear readers it turned out to be the exact opposite. The two became inseparable not only getting it on loudly whenever they could but with Scott ultimately adding his ‘vision’ for the play. The two quickly started to rework the script adding in scenes where ‘Ektar’ goes to a pizza place in the future (our time) and meets a studly manager who bestows his wisdom and knowledge of the pizza trade. A long list of pizza items are added to the final feast which brings the groups together and cuts back heavily on the breakfast sandwiches. Also a lot of the human spanking needed to be cut to save on time. Who wants to see just a spanking or two? And to top it all off there is now this weird trippy ending (with a full laser show) where a baby pizza slice comes floating out and rambles to the paying audience how the universe is just a giant metaphysical pizza or something along those lines.

I try to remain optimistic that the changes in the play are for the good. Maybe folks who have a stronger passion for modern day pizza dream sequences can get something out of it. I have decided to keep my name in it since a few of my ideas are still in there. The renamed play ‘Ektar- Pizza Champion’ will be showing at the Pondicherry Performance Center Thursday and Friday evenings at 7:30, Saturday afternoon at 3PM, and Sunday evening at 5PM. Fluffy and rusted gym seats still the same price as last weekend. Until next time, please keep your mind and mouth open to new ideas. Happy Eating!!-Bri

Notes From The Stage Floor

August 25, 2015 Leave a comment
By Brian Schropp

By Brian Schropp


I have been keeping this under wraps for most of the summer but now with the wheels firmly in motion I can share some exciting news.

I had been approached earlier this year to write a screenplay for the Lankville Community Players for their Fall season. I was told they needed a blockbuster, something to ‘finally put butts in the seats’ of the expensive Pondicherry Performance Center that was built a few years ago. Other productions written by fellow reporters did not sell many tickets. Dick Oates, Jr’s ‘Funny Stories’, Brock Belvedere Jr’s ‘Onion Soup For Breakfast’, and Fingers Rolly’s ‘Screaming In the Desert’ while to me were solidly-written stage pieces somehow didn’t capture the audience’s imagination. I thought long and hard in my basement apartment about what theater goers would want. A time period piece in the backdrop of the rough, struggling ‘prairie years’ would offer plenty of human drama to embrace. And out of these struggles, a ray of some hope, the promise of breakfast sandwiches to come perhaps, would be a sure fire hit. Also there needed to be spanking, lots of on-stage spanking, folks really get into that. So working with the center’s stage director, ‘Eggs And Bacon On The Prairie’ was born. I was particularly proud of the character of ‘Zachariah’, a young man with special visions (bumpkin maybe?) who sees the breakfast sandwiches in his dreams and will one day make them a reality to save the others.

The original cast, Zachariah is on the far right

The original cast, Zachariah is on the far right

With the writing of the screenplay being the easy part, the grueling task of auditions were up next. The two-day process was filled with lots of singing, dancing, laughter, tears and one unfortunate challenge. The stage director was ultimately pleased with the casting, I was just concerned about the proper actor to play the Zachariah role. Honestly, I found it hard to focus on all the little details of the production especially with the selections of catered food and vending machines in the performance center. But I knew the play was in good hands with this director- we shared the same vision and he promised me none of the spanking scenes would be cut.

Of course, nothing ever goes to plan. With production in full swing, the sets being built and the actors learning their lines, the stage director mysteriously left and never came back. The Chairmen of the Performance Center needed me to fill in until another director could be found. Well, we all knew this was going to be a disaster but no one could even begin to fathom how badly it would turn out. Everything spiraled out of control quickly, the actors (even though they were just community players) tried to change their lines and wanted the spanking scenes eliminated. The dude playing ‘Zachariah’ said he couldn’t find the character’s ‘voice’ and could not understand how the breakfast sandwich visions were such an integral part of the show. Within only a few hours to go until opening night, the entire original cast walked off. After calming my nerves at the vending machine (they had some excellent barbecue pork rinds) I had no choice but to have the stagehands take over the roles. These guys were VERY uncomfortable not only with acting in general but also with dressing as women and spanking each other. Yet, they agreed to take on the roles and I had to admire their dedication to making this screenplay work. The down side was that the set creation had to take a back seat plus with their lack of stage skill I had to cut back on a lot of the dialogue and improvise a few more spanking scenes.

​One of the many spanking scenes.

​One of the many spanking scenes.

The next day, the Chairman approached me by the vending machines. He was not happy with what he saw.

“The story didn’t make a lot of sense to begin with but I have no idea what’s going on now. Seems to me a lot of men in drag paddling each other with some other guy running around holding his head yelling about breakfast sandwiches. Now, I have nothing against new wave theater but this just doesn’t have a place in our performance center.”

He was back a little while later with some crazed-looking woman sporting a big afro which I was pretty sure was a wig. “Bri, this is Lizzie Starlight. She is a very renowned stage director (I had never heard of her) with years of successful shows (I had never heard of them) and I think she is the best person to take this shambles over. We have a very short period of time to get this back on track and make it a hit. Please sit down with her and see what can be salvaged.”

Things did not start out very well- she just didn’t see eye to eye with my vision. I tried to tell her that even though most things had gone downhill the original story was still solid. Flipping through the screenplay Lizzie shook her head. She said the play needed a major overhaul for it to work. She still thought it should take place on the prairie but advised that the play should focus on the character of Zachariah. “It should be of Zachariah coming home after a day of hard work in the fields and going to sleep. They play should center around his dream, it will be a MARVELOUS dream!!  He will meet and encounter colorful and delightful characters that can only come from a vivid imagination. All these creatures will help to form his understanding and love of breakfast sandwiches. He could also travel into the future and bring back the sandwiches from some wondrous space city.”

​Lizzie Starlight, did not share my vision.

​Lizzie Starlight did not share my vision.

Even though I did like the breakfast sandwich aspect remaining in the play, I had a hard time understanding how the dream would work. The dream seemed somewhat goofy not like the powerful visions I had originally written. I made two points– one, the Chairman not liking ‘new wave’ theater and two, the disastrous ‘onion dancing dream’ scene in Brock’s play. She was very stubborn like me in the creative process and did not acknowlede my concerns. I huffed off for some more pork rinds (major kudos to the person for keeping the the Performance Center’s vending machines fully-stocked).

The next day Lizzie was there early and had the sets changed with the dream creatures brought in. I had to salvage some aspect of my original work so I talked to her about some of the spanking scenes. We agreed to include a part where Zachariah would enter a ‘terrifying nightmare’ in which he would encounter a mass spanking going on in a field. Lizzie thought the scene would show ‘the limitations of simple joy and wonder in adult people’– I just thought people would like it.

The dream creatures Zachariah will encounter.

The dream creatures Zachariah will encounter.

After coming back from getting my ‘daily rinds’, I sat back and watched the production start to take shape. I had to admit she did have a strong presence about her and took firm control of the production. I even found myself chuckling at a few scenes where Zachariah meets a few of the dream creatures. I felt comfortable chiming in on some technical aspects of breakfast sandwiches that they were getting wrong.  Even though this was a long way from my original intent, I feel like part of my voice is still in the play and I back this show 100%. So if you are looking for some upcoming weekend good times stop by the Pondicherry Performance Center and catch the show!  Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday afternoon. ‘Good fluffy’ seats up front-$22.50 (comes with a free foot message coupon for ‘Al’s Foot Rubbin’ Palace’) or $4.50 for the rickety rusted gym seat (no coupon). I will keep you updated dear readers on how the first weekend goes! Until next time, please keep your mind and mouth open to new ideas. Happy Eating!!-Bri

Beware of Traveling Pizza Men! Brian Schropp on Cuisine

August 18, 2015 Leave a comment
Brian Schropp on Cuisine

Brian Schropp on Cuisine

I have heard the tales of traveling pizza men most of my life but I honestly thought they were just the stuff of legend and folklore. Vagabonds and ne’er-do-wells traveling the roadways with their compact pizza stands setting up shop sometimes for a day or even just a few hours selling ‘wholesome pizza’ to an unsuspecting public. These con artists were out just to make a quick buck and nothing else. The ‘pizza pies’ were usually made with the lowest quality toppings available or ones that were stolen from actually pizza shops. Horror stories of people taking their pizzas home only to find that the ‘crust’ was made of simple cardboard or that the ‘sauce and cheese’ was really just red paste and shredded packing peanuts. By the time the police were called these evil fiends were already far down the road counting the real ‘dough’.

Most of these tales sprang up during two different times in Lankville history- the lean and hard depression years and the ‘pizza prohibition’ years. Both eras were so far in our past that many (including myself!!) took these men to be almost myth. Well, sadly I had to learn the hard way that this practice is very much alive.

A picture from the 'pizza prohibition' years. A very dark time in our history.

A picture from the ‘pizza prohibition’ years. A very dark time in our history.

Of course all of this would happen when my manager Scott had stepped out to run a few errands one day last week. Our early afternoon rush had just ended and there was always a bit of lag time before the mid-afternoon rush would pick up. I was in the back showing my ‘cleaning team’ the finer points of some new scrubbing brushes when Big James (the kid in charge of the nacho cheese) came up to me.

“Huh– Bri, it looks like there is a-huh-group of guys outside—and huh—they’re setting up what looks like a pizza stand–singing and yellin’ and-huh-stuff like that. No one knows what to do cause Scott isn’t here.”

We were also between assistant managers yet again so I peeled off my yellow cleaning gloves and headed up front with Big James. We joined Charlie ‘The Nugget Guy’ by our storefront window who was keeping an eye on the whole thing. “Looks like traveling pizza men to me and they’re putting on quite a spectacle. Got a whole huge crowd gathering around them now. They know what they’re doing– setting up by the dialysis center. Those old folks don’t know if they’re coming or going.”

I pressed my face really close to the glass. “I can’t believe there is really such a thing as traveling pizza men!”

Charlie shook his head and gave his usual sarcastic snicker, a snicker born out of many hard years in the pizza trade. “You better believe it’s still a thing. Whenever times get tough you will see traveling pizza men trying to earn a quick buck. All I know is our mid-afternoon rush is going to start soon and if we do nothing about it these guys are going to take a big chunk of our profits.”

Big James took off his cap and scratched his head. “What should we do?”

Another snicker, this time a bit more nervous. “One of us is going to need to go out and tell these guys to move on.”

I pulled my face off the glass making a popping noise like a suction cup. “Maybe we should wait until Scott gets back.”

“He pretty much trusts us with the afternoon rushes so he might not be here until evening. Who knows what will happen by then.”

Neil Cuppy, a 'sucker' for pizza.

Neil Cuppy, a ‘sucker’ for pizza.

“You should go out Bri,” Big James added– quickly trying to get himself out of dealing with it.

“Yeah-yeah Scott likes you the best anyways. Plus I got a bummed knee and all so I really can’t.” Charlie was already holding the door open for me.

I knew arguing was going to delay the inevitable so I wiped my hands on my crusted pizza apron and headed out into the afternoon heat. The crowd was gaining in size as I made my way across the blacktop. They had indeed set up right by the front door of the dialysis center so not only were they getting the people coming in and out but everyone driving by had a nice clear view of the show. There were four of them all dressed like a “barbershop quartet”. They had the folks tickled and distracted, doing song and dance numbers while making the pizzas quickly out of their tiny tasty bake oven and the toppings put on from a makeshift table. They even wore ‘name tags’ with false names like ‘Johnny Pizzeria’ to look legit. As I pushed my way to the front I stopped for a moment to watch in awe and wonder at how fast these guys were moving. So fast that in fact I think people were not even sure what they were buying, the dog and pony show had them spellbound.

I was bumped by fellow Lankville reporter, Neil Cuppy who had just purchased one. He held the box up proudly “Say Bri, these fine folks are such a hoot! Can’t wait to sit in my car and try a slice.”

“Neil, I think they’re traveling pizza men and might be ripping you off.”

“Don’t be silly who would try to scam anyone on such a joyous thing as a pizza? You folks over at ‘The Round’ need not to be jealous, you know I will be back for my lunch there tomorrow.”

I turned my attention back to the traveling pizza men (the opinions of Neil Cuppy have always mattered little anyway). One of them had noticed my standard issued ‘Pizza-A-Round’ outfit. “Lookey here folks, a roly-poly lad from the local pizza establishment who must be tired of his own boring crust!!” He said this very loud and whimsical, making everyone laugh. “Please when buying our fine pies don’t let him in our secrets!!”

Three of them broke into a song (I have to admit– their harmonizing was spot on) while one in the corner shouted, “Get your pies- get your pizza pies!! Made fresh for only five dollars!!”

I made my way around the fast and furious exchange of cash to speak with the cashier. “Uhm, excuse me- excuse me sir–”

He tried to ignore me by talking his game louder. I tugged at his striped shirt sleeve- “Can I just have a word?”

The man turned to me, eyes blazing. He spoke very softly so no one else could hear. “WHAT, do you want?”

I am never good at confrontation. “Uhm, I know all about you guys. Not only are you taking business away from my workplace, you are also fooling these fine people. I think you guys should leave, believe me you don’t want to be around when my manager comes back.”

​The Traveling Pizza Men, please beware!!

​The Traveling Pizza Men, please beware!!

His eyes bore into me even further from behind his glasses. All I could see in them was a pure, dark soulless evil. Again he spoke very softly, “Listen chubby, we will be out of here soon enough.” He casually pulled a little bit of a thick pepperoni stick from his pocket just enough for only me to see. “Now you are going to slowly walk back across the parking lot, go in, and lock the door and wait for us to leave. You do not want to be on the receiving end of this pepperoni stick.”

What was I going to do?!! I know what Scott would of done– there would have been none of this talking business, just bloodshed, but I’m not Scott. Before I had time even to think about a solution, Neil Cuppy was back comically and awkwardly climbing over the crowd. “Sirs-sirs-you made some sort of mistake with my pizza! Instead of pepperoni there are these strange metal bits spray-painted orange. I chipped a tooth!” I heard one in the middle mutter to the other “Shit, they’re opening their pizzas too fast–”

The scene turned tense quickly– people who had just paid their five dollars threw open their own boxes to see what was inside. Shouts of all sorts of things were heard ‘confetti’, ‘plastic tubing’, and ‘razor wire’ were some of the more popular ones. A vicious slapping fight ensued with the traveling pizza men trying to pack up their stuff and the conned reaching over the table trying to grab their money back. The one with the glasses took out the pepperoni stick and things turned uglier. The crowd was in a full uproar but with many of them being older folks from the dialysis center they had a hard time fighting back physically.

The next thing that happened was purely my fault, I should of had my wits about me and been far away from this chaotic mess. But I was caught up in all the action and was standing there like a bump on a log with my mouth open.

I was clearly in the way of these men who were nearly packed up. The bespectacled cashier wasted none of his breath in giving me a firm whack over the head with that thick pepperoni stick so they could get away. I went down like a ton of sausage and cheese pizza brick rolls.

First there was black and then a light—and then, yes, the sweet chorus which I haven’t heard in so very long. I was having a bumpkin vision!!! We were somehow having a picnic in the middle of a giant tornado. Three bumpkins (one with a tail!!) had set out a large red and white checkered blanket with all sorts of food. Even though we were spinning in this whirlwind everything was peaceful and calm. Their destroyed trailer was circling around us in the background. All the plates had strange food items not yet invented but someday I would remember them and bring them to life; I vaguely recall pairings of meats and various cheese sauces for the most part.

Slowly, I heard my name being called from outside the tornado– at first a whisper and then becoming louder. When I was brought back I was still on the ground in the parking lot with Scott shaking me asking if I was OK. The police had sealed off the area and were taking statements from people (I even saw Neil Cuppy with an ice pack over his mouth). I learned from Detective Gee Temple that this particular group have been very active of late and probably the pepperoni stick was stolen from another nearby pizza place. Scott drove around after the cops were gone in hopes of getting a little bit of revenge. But these guys know how to make a swift getaway and I’m sure they were already in another suburban neighborhood.

So please dear readers be careful and use extra caution when you are out and about on our streets. Don’t be a Neil Cuppy and get swindled into a quick fix pizza– they are not always what they seem. Until next time please keep your minds and mouths open to new ideas. Happy Eating!!-Bri

THE BSU STRIKES! Brian Schropp on Cuisine

August 11, 2015 Leave a comment
Brian Schropp on Cuisine

Brian Schropp

It all began with me stopping at the ‘ShopSmart’ to pick up a few items for the book release party at the ‘Pizza-A-Round’. With the recent success of my book ‘Breakfast Sandwich Boy’ my manager, Scott wanted to see if he could possibly add his name to the Lankville bestsellers list. His book,’The Pizza Trade’ is a collection of stories told to me by Scott about the pizza business. There was a full out party staged in our dining area with balloons and cheap booze plus copies of the book for sale. With the purchase of the book you even get two free nuggets and a slice of cake (but you also have to spend $20 on menu items just to get in). So I was picking up some markers at the ‘ShopSmart’ in case someone wanted their book signed by Scott. I was really hoping this would be a success. I would hate to see the fallout if no one shows; Scott had already been drinking the whole day just trying to get his nerves under control.

The cover of Scott's exciting new book 'The Pizza Trade'

The cover of Scott’s exciting new book ‘The Pizza Trade’

With markers in hand, I decided I was also a bit hungry (it was a full four blocks I walked from the ‘Pizza-A-Round) and went to grab a delicious ‘ready made’ breakfast sandwich. I recognized the cashier on duty– he belonged to the BSU (Breakfast Sandwich Underground) and gave a discount to others of his kind when purchasing a breakfast sandwich. The cashier (who I will not name) wasn’t very talkative but I really didn’t give the matter a second thought. It wasn’t until I was almost out the door that I noticed I wasn’t given any discount. I went back to see what happened.

“Say (name withheld), I think you forgot to give me that club card discount for the sandwich.” I exaggerated a few winks since we couldn’t talk freely with other Non-BSU’s around.

The cashier didn’t respond- just shook his (or her!!) head while ringing out another customer. Thinking maybe it was just a bad day for this person I left again putting it out of my mind. I was a block or so up the street when I heard the screech of tires from the street behind me and looked back to see a rather large older model car round the corner (knocking a trash can off the sidewalk) and advancing to where I was standing. The driver side window rolled down and I could clearly see three folks in this jalopy (two in the front and one in the back). All were also known members of the BSU.

“Get in Bri,” the driver said while the back door on my side was thrown open. The other two were looking around to see who was watching.

“What’s going on guys? I don’t have time- there is this book signing at work I need to–”


The one who was in the back reached out quickly and gave a hard tug on my sleeve. I knew better than to try and mess around with these folks. Before I even had my door closed the car was racing off taking yet another sidewalk too closely and almost hitting a family. The one in the back snatched the bag out of hands and started to go through it taking out the markers and asking me what they were for.

“For Scott, my manager, he’s going to sign copies of his book–”

The person chuckled. “That loser knows nothing about food. What breakfast sandwich options do you guys have on your menu there?”

“None I guess but I don’t know why—-HEY!!”

unnamedHim/her rolled down the window and threw the markers out. The next thing from the bag was my breakfast sandwich. “Thought you would of had this eaten by now.”

“I was just about too—HEY YOU CAN’T–”

The joker ripped the packaging open without a care in the world and started to eat it slowly in front of me. “Yum, yum- the ‘ShopSmart’ always knows how to make them right. What do you think? Or has your ‘advanced flavor profile’ moved on to other things now? No matter, just give me your shoes and hat.”



Off they came and out the window they went.

“I’m going to get in trouble for losing my work cap.”

“Well here is a new one for you-”

The now empty shopping bag was placed over my head and tied tightly around me. “Can’t have you squealing on where we are taking you. Just sit back and try to relax, we will be there soon enough.”

The car took many twists and turns but I’m pretty sure they just drove around in a circle for a few minutes and pulled up in the loading area behind the ‘ShopSmart’. I was led up some steps (with the bag still on my head), brought inside, and put into a heavily air conditioned room. My suspicions were confirmed when I heard the intercom paging people.

“Wasn’t I just here?”

One of them slammed the door closed. “You have no idea where you are at!!”

I was made to strip and checked THOROUGHLY to make sure I had no recording devices on. Instead of giving me back my clothes I was given a ‘trash bag poncho’ to wear. “Sorry Bri, orders from the high ranks to make sure you were clean. Someone from the top wants a word with you, and I really mean from the top-the way top-‘The Upper Biscuit’ top.”

Which Lankville Reporter is in the BSU?

Which Lankville Reporter is in the BSU?

I raised my eyebrows from inside the bag. In the pecking order of the BSU it goes-The Lower Biscuit, The Egg, The Bacon, The Cheese, and then finally The Upper Biscuit. This meant the person was big time in the movement and made things happen. Why did they want to talk with me? I had only a loose affiliation with the BSU.

After what seemed like a lifetime the door opened again. “About time,” one of the kidnappers grumbled.

“I knew the plan but I’m a very busy person–”

That voice, I knew it!!! Once the bag was untied from my head I saw I was correct. Now dear readers, I am not going to reveal the name of this individual. Even after all this I still somewhat know and understand the ideals of what this movement is doing and I will not be the one to publicly out a member. I will just said that one of The Upper Biscuits is a fellow reporter for the Lankville Daily News. You read and enjoy their articles every day with your morning toast and jam. This the last person on the paper payroll you would expect.

“I see your shocked expression Bri, I will admit it’s a gamble making myself known.”

I tried to ask a question but it just came out a garbled mess.

“I’m not going to screw around- just going to get straight to the point. We of The Upper Crust are not happy with your articles for the paper. You were meant to help promote and spread the cause of breakfast sandwiches so that maybe, just maybe, they might get an equal playing field.”

“I do, I mean I try—”

“Do you really? Your first few articles had promise, it’s true. Since then it’s just been a mess. Pizza Eggwiches, bumpkins, hill people, half the time the articles don’t even make sense.”

“Yes, breakfast sandwiches are my life. It’s just so much else has happened to me since I began writing–”

My fellow reporter held up a hand to silence me. “I’m not here to listen to excuses Bri. I am here to let you know that your connection to the BSU is now over. No more discounts, no more coming to our secret late night tasting parties. You are not an outright enemy but what we call a ‘luncher’. Just remember how entrenched we are in every aspect of life in Lankville. You know that gelatin dinner thing you created, ever wonder why the warnings got so bad? I mean don’t get me wrong that thing is a health hazard, just with a word from us and it was raised ever so slightly. Remember how your Mom tried to fix you some breakfast this morning?”

“She swore she bought a box of breakfast sandwiches the other day.”

“She did. (pause for dramatic effect) We took them in the night. Again, this is just a warning- don’t mess with us and we won’t mess with you.”

I got the point loud and clear…my wallet was taken and my ‘Friend of the BSU’ membership card (which is disguised to look like your normal everyday retail discount card) was confiscated. For some reason I was allowed to leave from what looked like the manager’s office back of the store. I did get my wallet back but none of my clothes. So, in my ‘trash bag poncho’ I decided I was still hungry but instead of buying another ‘ready made’ breakfast sandwich I just bought a can of sloppy joe mix. Somehow having a breakfast sandwich at that moment didn’t feel right. The cashier hastily put up the ‘register closed’ sign right when I was walking up and I had to fumble around with the self checkout machine.

Luckily my clothes were outside on the sidewalk in the bag which was tied over my head (I guess they have some sorta heart, they could of thrown them in the dumpsters if they really wanted to) and even found my hat, shoes, and the markers for Scott’s book signing (these items were a bit beat up from the traffic).

It was a long four blocks back to the ‘Pizza-A-Round’ not just because people were making fun of the ‘trash bag poncho’ from their cars and doorways but also because I was reflecting on how my life will be different going forward. Everything seemed just a tad bit darker, who was really a friend now? Is this the price you pay for growing as a cuisine writer? Questions best left to answer in due time and after a busy book signing. Looks like it’s a pretty good turnout (which shouldn’t be a surprise, it’s a pretty wonderful book!!) and my poncho was also a hit among the crowd!! Until next time readers, please keep your minds and mouths open to new ideas. Happy eating!!-Bri

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