For better or worse, Silt Ridge is the new home of Morris Crimpanfortis V. His chief goal is to get back to Burbank in order to start producing TV shows again, which is what he does best. But having spent months in this backwater market, he’s beginning to wonder if he’ll ever bust loose again. Things could be a lot worse though. Silt Ridge is built on hills and ridges, a lot like San Francisco. Only it lacks the water, the bridges, North Beach, Pacific Heights, cypress trees and the Marina District . . . well, you get the picture.  Morris has a lot of friends who are very supportive, so that’s a plus. He’s also got a group of people who want to kill him.

Getting that Old-timey Silt Ridge Feeling

Home Sweet Home … Really?

It’s snowing intermittently in the abandoned coal fields of eastern Pennsylvania. It is growing dark, though it is still quite early in the afternoon.

My feet are propped atop my desk in the old will-call ticket office of the Graphite County Opera House. I stare at town square down a sweeping marble stairway through a multi-paned window. Smack dab in the middle of downtown is a fifteen-foot bronze beaver, now collecting a mantel of snow. The beaver wears a miner’s hat, complete with lamp. Lore has it that the beaver dug up the brittle rocks that were later determined to be the elusive Oyster coal, prized for its superior propulsion properties and ultra-clean burn rate, perfect for starships and interplanetary factories. The discovery fueled America’s Pre-Sunspot “Propulsion Revolution,” and the intergalactic land rush was on . . . until the sunspot storms turned everything into rack and ruin.

Disastrous Live Game Show Still Raising Eyebrows

It’s been over a year since I arrived on the scene with little or no fanfare. This came on the heels of my disastrous live game show at the Burbank studios where contestants competed for cash and prizes and exotic vacations based on an untested herbal cleanse protocol–do I have to go into it again? The concept was doomed from the get-go, and I’ll just leave it at that. Okay?

While everyone in the family was having a cow about how I disgraced the Crimpanfortis name,, they got me a one-way ticket from LAX to JFK, and my new life began. I rented a car for the last leg of my sojourn to Graphite County and dropped it off at a little local office that wasn’t open more than four hours a week. Our TV station mirrors that small-town mentality.

Silt Ridge Resembles San Francisco . . . Minus Just about Everything

Silt Ridge has a number of districts and neighborhoods. It is laid out on steep hills, much like San Francisco but without the water–or the bridges; or the Haight; or North Beach; or the Marina District; or Pacific Heights; or . . . well, you get the picture.

There are remnants of Victorian homes and a few stately albeit rundown stone mansions. I reside in the fourth-floor garden apartment of one such estate. The name of the property is Buttoned-down Acres. It is the home of the family who made its fortune weaving quality coats and jackets–first for the miners and then for discerning men and women around the world. Sixty-three-year-old Francesca LoZelle is the sole heiress of the estate after everyone else bailed for South Carolina and points offshore. The only time there’s friction is when I’m late with rent because Daddy withheld my paycheck for one reason or another–just because he can and just to see me sweat. Francesca has a pet dog named Buttons that is part-Pekinese, part-poodle. We get along fine, even when I’m late on rent.

A Passel of Desolate Zip Codes

There’s not much to do in Silt Ridge. They’re still trying to restore satellite service following the last sunspot attack. The mountains keep out signals from TV stations in New York City, Scranton-Wilkes Barre, Philly and Baltimore. Our station, WBVV, tries its best to stand out in the quality of merchandise offered on its shopping platform. But with the disposable income at an all-time low in the struggling burg, there aren’t many orders made from our surrounding zip codes.

Revving Up the Old Desire to Pitch Again

A thought suddenly hits me: I’m just wasting away here, feeling sorry for myself. I sit up at my desk; the world stops spinning and I attain a clarity of focus rarely felt. It has been too long since I pitched Noreen on my show concepts. What was I thinking the last two years? I’ve been suspended in a malaise that has completely throttled my creativity. This is a new dawn, a new awakening. It’s time to rise and shine and start pitching again!

I glance at the phone. This is my chance to call Noreen and start the process that will get me back to Burbank. Concepts whiz around in my head. I can’t believe this; I’m actually excited about pitching again.

Before I call, I do something of preeminent importance: I go outside and shovel the wide marble stairway