Calling all videography, drama and media students at Virginia Tech, I have a task for you:
In the tradition of Armisen and Brownstein, it is time to create the show Blacksburgia, and make it a YouTube series. I would pledge a sum of money (and help raise some) to finance such a project. The show will revolve around the adventures of two characters (for now let’s call them Frankie and Bridgette) who both are on the Blacksburg City Council and taking graduate courses at VT while investing in various small businesses. Or something. The main theme song can be written and recorded by Wild Nothing.
To help you produce this project, here are some rough sketch outlines.
Put a Hokie Bird on It
Fred and Carrie guest star as quirky, prickly, myopic entrepreneurs who advise several local business to “put a Hokie bird” on everything in order to help their items sell more. It actually ends up working, until they’re issued a cease-and-desist order on behalf of Virginia Tech for failing to adhere to copyright law.
Frankie and Bridgette are trying to get to the new Indian restaurant when they come to the new roundabout and are unsure of how to drive through it. They begin talking through it, about when and where to turn. An hour later, they are still talking through it. Night creeps over the city. They are still in the roundabout, figuring out where to turn.
La Leche League Lactivism Litigation
A group of women form a breastfeeding support group circle on a park lawn. A disturbance is created by a pervert who keeps creeping up on them. A complaint is lodged against them because their group is offensive and indecent. When they prepare to argue against the complaint before the city council, we discover that the complaint is not actually about their “expose breasts”, but was a complaint from a radical feminist art shop owner who believes breastfeeding and domestic motherhood to be demeaning to women, and that society should not be exposed to such repressive practices. Later, the art shop owner hangs a painting of a naked woman with breasts exposed just outside her window. She receives a threatening phone call demanding that she take the painting down. An investigation leads to a man who confesses. It turns out the man was complaining not because the painting was indecent, but because the woman in the picture was ugly. The judge finds him guilty of harassment, and when the judge gets home he pours a glass of wine and admires the painting of the naked woman he has purchased.
Hooptie Ride Ad
An ad for Hooptie Ride featuring drunken testimonials, including sorority sisters, frat boys, bar hoppers, runaway brides, hookers, two white boys who listen to hardcore rap and drink Fuze to try and sober up, a sassy 10-year-old on having a birthday party, and an old lady who just wanted to get to the airport to see her daughter. The Hokey Pokey Rickshaw, The Mystery Mobile, The Yellow Submarine, The Purple People Eater and other magical mystery vehicles are shown cruising down the road as a casual rider pukes out the back window. The crew is shown cleaning the smell off the plush upholstery to ensure a pleasant ride for future customers. “Warning: Good Times Are Closer Than They Appear!” Rides are 8 dollas a pop.
Vegetarian with Fish
Frankie and Bridgette decide to eat consciously and visit Gillie’s restaurant. They spend twenty minutes figuring out exactly what kind of restaurant it is: “Vegetarian with fish. Ok, so there’s no meat, but there is fish. Yes, and there’s also eggs? Ok but that’s vegan, right? I just want to make a conscious decision. Are we doing the right thing here? Who makes your bread? Ok, so not everything’s local but some of it is? Which foods are local? Your potatoes—are they organic? But they are vegan. Your burgers are vegan too, right? What do they use? Where are the beans farmed? This fly in my soup—is it locally harvested? I’m still confused about the whole vegan but also fish thing. Honey, are we making the right decision here? Oh, there’s live music!”
Across the room is a couple visiting their son at VT for the weekend who also stopped by the restaurant:
“Vegan? What’s that? Oh you mean it’s vegetarian? You don’t serve any meat here? Well then why did we–oh, you have fish! Well I don’t want fish, I want a burger. You have burgers? But you said there’s no meat. Bean burger! What’s that? Is it vegan when there’s no meat? I can’t hear over that man’s guitar. Um, excuse me, that woman is just breastfeeding her baby out in the open for everybody to see and her boob is hanging out. What kind of bistro is this?”
A young married couple with a child recounts their journey from regular diapers, to cloth diapers, to cloth toilet paper, to, finally, their invention and advocacy of cloth carpet. Much like the diapers and toilet paper, the couple discovered that they could save on worrying and constant cleaning if they just allowed their toddlers to urinate, defecate, and vomitate on their cloth carpet made from recycled materials, which they wash once among with a steam vac. The go on and on about the benefits.
Save the Curb Strip
A group of green activists have blocked the scheduled demolishing of a small curb strip that is soon to transform a 2-lane stretch of road into a 3-lane-stretch of road. Although the curb strip has only 400 sq. ft. of grass and three small bushes, the activist group relentlessly stands in the way of construction plans on every level. Freddy and Bridgette work out a truce with the activist group, allowing the patch of grass and three bushes to be “transplanted” to an awkward spot in the middle of a parking lot. Out of habit, drivers who frequent the parking lot continually drive over the grass strip that they forget has been moved, and the activist group perceives it as a defiant stand against all things green, furthering their paranoia. They bravely decide to tear up pavement and try to plant seeds underneath, but are won over when they realize how difficult it is to dig up pavement without industrial road equipment, so they settle for dumping the seeds into various man-holes across the city, in hopes that there will be a seedling revolution.
The Perpetual Rotating Cadet
Frankie and Bridget are working in the VT library when they spot some ROTC cadets walking on the sidewalk outside their window. They observe that the cadets have to walk in straight lines parallel to the sidewalks and turn at right angles on the corners, and are only allowed to turn to the right. One of the cadets gets “stuck” somehow at an odd spot and is locked into a perpetual loop of taking two steps and turning right. The stare out the window at the poor cadet. “Are we allowed to, like, help him or something?”
Sustainable Meth Lab
This webisode is a PR/instructional video for a sustainable meth-amphetamine production laboratory that seeks ecologically sustainable ways to cook meth while using as little energy as possible, using more natural, biodegradable resources, producing fewer greenhouse gases, and relying on solar energy. The video is meant to be distributed secretly, but accidentally leaks to the mayor, who receives the video from an anonymous tip. But with all the talk of phenylacetone synthesis and hydrolyzing formyl amides, he doesn’t actually pick up on it being “meth”, but some sort of chemical production lab of some sort helping the community. So he sends Frankie and Bridget on an errant to commend the lab with an award for sustainable pharmiculture, accidentally sparking a scandal based on a misunderstanding. In the end, the judge sentences the meth lab producers to years in prison, but then reduces the sentence due to their efforts at sustainable cooking.
Ladies and Gentlemen…Nikki Giovanni!
Billy Cosby is invited to do his final stand up act at Virginia Tech. Unaware of Nikki Giovanni’s attitude towards Cosby’s attitude towards the “young thugs with their pants hangin’ down” across America, the university asks Nikki Giovanni to write a poem dedicated to his life and work for African Americans, and urges her to include a line about “jello pudding pops” (because it alliterates after all). She throws up a big stir about it, and huge protests gather around the English department demanding that Cosby not do his final show at Tech. Nikki begins to receive hate mail for causing Cosby’s show to cancel, mail mostly from old white people.
In the wake of the high school sinkhole disaster, numerous citizens are worried that their property, or that one of the various establishments they frequent, is sitting on a sink hole. In order to quell recent fears of property values and the population declining, Frankie and Bridgette must hire a geologist to alleviate any suspicions and reassure the populace. He checks the town out, and addresses the town in a press conference. During the press conference, the geologist reassures the crowd that there are no–the ground under the stage on which the geologist is standing suddenly gives way, and he is swallowed up in a sink hole. Frankie and Bridgette look at each other, then at the sinkhole, then at the crowd, then at each other. The crowd panics and runs off. To be continued…
Farmer’s Market Fiasco
A war breaks out between retail outlets and a Farmer’s Market that tries to open up in the parking lot. The retail outlet fights with zoning ordinances to shut down the market, while Freddie and Bridgette scramble to evade a lawsuit and keep the Farmer’s Market running.
They design a tent-like structure that qualifies as a “building” in order to satisfy zoning laws. The permaculture consulting firm, which has set up their booth at the market, must hire another consulting firm to find a way to qualify them as a vendor, and not a contracting service with an open-air office. The live musicians try to play their music on the sidewalk while walking back and forth, so that they do not impede parking zones or pedestrian crosswalks. The permaculture firm finds out a way to “hand out literature” but officially complete their sales in a delayed transaction that takes one business day after the market is set up. Other vendors pose as extremely early tailgaters and stand under green umbrellas as a secret sign to customers they are selling their goods out of their truck beds.
Eventually, it is decided that the market has been grandfathered in under the “establishment use” clause, and nobody can really define what a farmer’s market actually is. But customers love the edgy, underground feel of how business is now being conducted that they continue doing business “undercover”, some of them actually unaware that what they are doing is now officially legal, and vendors keep it quiet, now that sales have spiked since they were suspected of lawbreaking.
It is discovered that Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University has been using Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” as an entrance song for over 3 years without actually ever asking the band for permission to use the song. The band had been so busy suing various downloading sites and radio stations that they hadn’t noticed. Freddy and Bridgette are hired to help cover up any trace that the Hokies ever used the song as an entrance song and come up with a new song. But they are too late. Metallica arrives with their road crew and confiscates the personal belongings of various students as collateral for stealing the rights to their music, and drive off in a flash, leaving dozens of students naked in their empty dorm rooms. The hokie bird is seen on the field wearing a Metallica T-shirt. The ref blows a whistle and calls a foul on the fowl. The bird is tackled. To the tune of “Fuel”.
Blacksburg: The Chicago of the South
Attempting to improve Blacksburg’s image during the cold months, as well as draw tourists to boost the economy of local establishments during Christmas break when students are gone, Freddy and Bridgette are commissioned by the Town Council to create a PR campaign with posters that say “Blacksburg! The Chicago of the South!” It turns out that Chicago is not that great of a place to live, that the cold, windy weather is nothing to joke about, and that there are not enough yankees in town for the population to take kindly to comparing the area to the North. Defeated, they walk home a cold, dismal, lonely street. A single man from Chicago stops them and asks for directions to the nearest deep dish pizza place.
The mayor wants a Trader Joe’s, and he won’t stop ’til he gets one. So he gets Frankie and Bridgette to start a campaign to encourage the town to be in favor of bringing in a Trader Joe’s. The plan: Give away free Hawaiian shirts to the town’s citizens. The only problem is that it’s the dead of winter in January. The mayor interprets this as a response to unhappy citizens and fear that he will not be elected again, so he backs down on wanting a Trader Joe’s. A growing number of citizens who wanted a Trader Joe’s feel betrayed, and begin to wonder if he’s out of touch with the town. In order to push for bringing in a Trader Joe’s, a group of disgruntled citizens begin wearing Hawaiian shirts, even though it’s the dead of winter, to show the mayor how much they want a Trader Joe’s. He sees this as a sign of success. Still, Trader Joe’s has yet to come to Blacksburg. The mayor then makes a move: “Look,” he says, “it’s either a Trader Joe’s or a Wal-Mart.” The Trader Joe’s is built within a week, breaking a world record in the swiftness that a shopping center has been planned and constructed in a metropolitan area.
The Mighty Mighty Blacksburg Indian
While digging through old relics of the early Blacksburg days, Freddy and Bridgette discover evidence that Blacksburg High School’s mascot used to be the Blacksburg Indian, including a cartoony caricature of a Native American warrior. Under pressure from their new extremely politically correct boss, they rush to destroy all evidence that this was ever true. After misplacing one of the relics, in a most farcical farce they fearfully suspect a conspiracy to expose the public to this most embarrassing fact, and hunt down the last remaining evidence that we used to be The Blacksburg Indians.
Freddy has a question about his electric bill. He tries to contact Appalachian Power, but finds that they are a mystery organization that will not answer phone calls, or respond by email or snail mail. He and Bridgette try to enter the AEP headquarters and confront someone about his bill, but cannot find the entrance. Once they do, they find it a complicated labyrinth of non-doors and non-hallways, and secretaries who won’t answer questions directly, but ask for them to try another door. In frustration, they try to sabotage the building by cutting it’s power, but the auxiliary power only cuts on. Freddy arrives home to find that the entire town’s power has been cut off. His next bill has arrived, charging three times the normal amount. Bridgett offers to pay this bill for him, but the bill is rejected, with a statement that they must take a check from the one the bill is addressed to. Bridgett’s power goes out too.
The Man with a Ponytail Who Reads to His Dogs
This sketch is exactly what it sounds like. 5 minutes of a man with a ponytail who reads to his dogs in the park. May or may not be based on any actual account of a real person.
Mad Max of Hokie Quarry
A group of young men have built a Mad Max car and have broken into the Highland Park dolomite quarry to film the car driving about and pumping flames into the air in a jagged, post-apocalyptic landscape. The police arrive to charge them with breaking and entering, and the men decide to try and evade the cop car, creating a bizarre chase scene that results in both the cops and the Mad Max car running out of gas. Disconnected from society, a vicious, anarchic war ensues in order to obtain the last quart of gas. Gas that soon goes up in flames as they both watch their cars destroyed in the pyre.
The Lion the Witch and the Math Empo
Frankie and Bridgette are fighting over a closet space when they pull back their fur coats and stumble into a magical, mystical land full of Mac computers as far as the eye can see. A man with the legs and horns of a goat identifies himself as their tutor and welcomes them to the Math Emporium. He hands them a red solo cup and tells them this is their key to getting any kind of help they can imagine. All they have to do is raise the red solo cup. When they ask him why the cup is the key, he tells them the secret, that red solo cups have a magical power to attract upper classmen. The two students ask how they can return to the Math Empo, and the tutor tells them that it is a fantastical place far far away from campus, and they must travel by magical fur coat closet. Or take the BT. Frankie and Bridgette take the red solo cups everywhere they go, and begin to give up easily on everything they are doing, raising the red solo cup to ask for help tying their shoes, choosing a new phone plan, or finding something to watch on Netflix. True to their word, the tutors always show up, and do everything for them.
Farmer’s Market Milkman
A man sets up a milk stand at the Farmer’s Market to sell raw, unpasteurized milk. He begins making good business until a policeman arrives to arrest him. The farmer makes a huge speech to the crowd about how it shouldn’t be illegal to sell raw milk, and they all cheer. Then the cop explains he’s arresting the man because it turns out he’s not using grass fed cows, and the crowd boos and hisses at him and throws tomatoes at him before he’s hauled away.
Revenge of The Plaid Avenger
John Boyer is teaching his highly sought after “world regions” class when he is informed that, due to budget reasons, he will still be teaching the class, but that it will now be online. He shows up in the empty auditorium with a small iPad sitting on a table, filming him. A local band crew arrives on stage and announces they’ll try not to make much noise while they set up for the show that’s playing that night. He cries.
But then, he is slowly joined by Jason Russel, Carmen San Diego, Aung San SuuKyi, Charlie Sheen, and a host of other previous guests, all decked out in various stereotypical regional garb. Together they join in a circle and sing “We are the World, We are the children”. This chorus causes all the online viewers of the class to leap from their chairs, run to Burruss Auditorium, hold hands and join in song. The UN pauses their latest session and tunes in to the class in order to sing along. Everyone joins the Peace Corps.
A WASP family adopts a child from Africa in order to impress their fellow affluent neighbors, who they believe are not convinced that they are charitable and kindhearted. They take their children to Pandapas pond, only to embarrass themselves. During their picnic, they scorn her for not using her utensils properly. When the child curiously picks up a bug, they demand that she “put that bug down this instant. What do you think this is, Africa?” Their day continues with such shenanigans of white guilt turned paternal perturbation.
Frankie has become involved in Toastmasters, wherein people get together for lunch and practice making speeches as a form of self improvement and building communication skills. On “invite-a-friend” day, Frankie invites the young cadet whom he and Bridget saved from being stuck in a perpetual marching loop. Because it’s lunch in town with a bunch of adults, the cadet doesn’t think to wear his uniform. However, the dean of the ROTC program is there. Luckily, the dean does not recognize the young man without his uniform, as he does not recognize any cadet without their uniform. But when Frankie introduces the cadet to the dinner club, the dean realizes that he is out of uniform and places him on probation.
Book Meditation Group
A combination yoga meditation group/book club forms at a local coffee shop wherein attendees read from a “spiritual-non-religious” book and then meditate. It becomes problematic when members are trying to place themselves in difficult meditation postures and keep their books open to the page they are reading together at the same time. The group leader spends most of the meeting attempting to help everyone stay in their posture and keep their book open at the same time. Everyone grows frustrated, until they look around and see the relaxing posture of other patrons who are silently reading, legs curled up in a booth, with a cup of coffee, meditating.
A grad student becomes angry that the African American Heritage room in the student center is never occupied, except by white students looking for a quiet place to study. She tries to stage a protest against this act of racial oppression. A couple other students show up, but a miscommunication has led to the protest organizational meeting being held in a room that at the same time is occupied by a class on Anglo-Saxon language and literature that had to move from its normal meeting place. The student views this as an act of white aggression, and doubles her efforts to protest white suppression of blacks. Frankie and Bridgette are roped into “negotiating” a stand-down in order to save the face of the university, but feel uncomfortable doing so because of their whiteness, so they try to find an African American who will join them, only to struggle to find a non-offensive way to say “we need your help because you’re black”.
The BT Bus That Ate Everyone
It’s early morning. A host of zombified Blacksburgians shuffle down the sidewalks to the bus stop, where they board a Blacksburg Transit bus. Josh Edwards, bus driver in a camo hat and beard, lets the weary zombies aboard, where they take their seats and stare blankly out the window. Amidst the silence of 7:45, the human Josh Edwards glances back at the zombies, and begins to speak to the undead:
“How’s everybody doin’ today!”
Suddenly, heads roll upward and groan.
“Is anyone alive back there?”
Their nodding, pivoting heads begin to turn toward one another.
“Hey, what position does a pig play in baseball?”
Smiles begin to crack on the face of the undead. Golden sunlight beams in through the window.
Human Josh Edwards begins to tell more and more jokes, breaking the curse of the undead. He challenges one rider with earbuds to find another rider wearing earbuds, and ask them what band they are listening to. The undead begin to speak.
The bus pulls to a stop and revived human beings emerge. As they lively step off, another droning mob of zombified corposes stumbles on board. Josh Ewards glances into the rearview mirror.
Radio Killed the Talent Show
Shelor hosts their annual high school talent show, and invite the stars of a local radio program to host the show. They light up the family friendly evening with their corny jokes, until one of them accidentally slips out with an awkwardly off-color joke about “boobs”. There are sudden gasps and giggles, and Frankie and Bridgette realize they will have to arrange a public apology from the radio show, the school superintendent, and Shelor Motor Mile, just to appease the family audiences over what was really a somewhat clean remark that everyone forgot about by the end of the night, but only remembered with a more shocking memory after the apology airs on the radio–more people know about it because of the apology than from actually hearing it–, when especially the joke is incidentally repeated on the radio in the midst of the apology, causing more controversy, which calls for another apology…
The Culturally Naive Writing Teacher
Bridgette takes a writing course offered to the community, and her classmates are a diverse set of community immigrants and international students. The teacher begins making good-intentioned but awkward comments about his classroom being like the UN and assumes he knows about other cultures, only for the students to give him blank stares like he’s an idiot. He keeps apologizing for the English language being so complicated until an Indian student raises his hand and says “actually, English was very easy for me to learn,” and several students nod their heads. The teacher, flustered, begins making the assignments harder to prove that English is so hard to learn.
VCOM Practice Patient
Students at VCOM practice diagnosing an elderly volunteer who roleplays that he has Alzheimer’s. They ask him questions and find out he doesn’t remember who even dropped him off, and they successfully diagnose him. Only to realize he really is experiencing dementia and does not know where he is or where to go next.
The Home Place
Frankie and Bridgette decide they’re tired of Blacksburg food spots and want to try somewhere outside the city of Blacksburg. Everyone warns them not to leave and wander into the unknown mountains beyond. They go anyway, and after getting lost and winding down an old back road eventually discover an old farmhouse that welcomes them in. They relax nostalgically on the front porch until a twangy voice announces “Baaaaarnum! Paarty of Seeeeeven!” They join another group of strangers and sit at a table full of food to be passed around Thanksgiving style. It feels strangely just like a home they’ve never had, and they lose track of time. They eventually find themselves perpetually trapped in a never-ending feast of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans and apple butter. Never to stop ordering more. Never to leave. Cut to black. End of episode.
It’s graduation day, and thousands of seniors are sitting in Lane Stadium, relieved that they have finally taken all the classes and satisfied all the requirements in order to earn their degree. We are in the middle of the M’s now, about halfway through. A girl–we’ll call her Alison Mellencamp–is called up to walk on stage and receive her degree. Before she can grab her paper copy and shake Steger’s hand, the provost halts the proceedings. “Hold up,” she says, scanning the document in front of her. She glances up at the student with a stern look. “It says here you haven’t hiked the cascades yet.”
Frankie and Bridgette notice that the Hokie Bird statues are beginning to disappear and reappear in various locations in the town, and police are looking for the vandal, It soon becomes apparent that the birds are actually stationing themselves for an some kind of invasion. Then they realize it is really a misunderstanding and that the Hokie Bird statues just want to go home, and are circling up for the mother ship to take them away. In a nod to Close Encounters, Fred plays “the hokie pokie” on a keyboard and then considers going on the hokie ship with them. The ship makes a gobble sound as it flies away, and everyone cries.
[Special bonus guest episodes created by Conley Owens]
They Found His Body in the Duck Pound
A scuba diver discovers a body in the duck pond, a human corpse that had been weighed down by concrete boots. Every possible explanation is arrived at until the campus police discover it’s a prank played by the VCOM students, using a cadaver.
Freddie and Bridgette are sent to review a new restaurant in the area, The Fork and Roast, located on First and Main. They enjoy the food, although it’s not that great, so they wonder what the big deal is about this place. When the waiter asked them how their food is, they misinterpret some secret signal, and are then directed to a back room where there is a black market, selling contraband unlicensed Hokie gear at a reasonable price.
Virginia Tech hosts a fair for “fusion clubs”, which includes, but is not limited to, the following:
Open carry furries,
hula-hooping jazz musicians
black culture fencers
fantasy football larpers
mycophiliac mushroom-collecting poets
manga ultimate frisbee team
knitting on ice