Posts Tagged ‘Carl Nelson’

From the Editor’s Perch

October 3, 2014
I Promise to Keep All Speculation Under 25 MPH

I Promise to Keep All Speculation Under 25 MPH

Rampant Speculations

 

Perhaps Poets describe this best, because they seem to rock the mental boat more often than most.  But it seems we live upon a raft of assumptions floating upon a reality that is often quite fluid.

 

At one time we assumed the earth was flat and that the sun passed overhead of us and that the Gods and Angels would from time to time visit.   Now we assume the earth is round, that we orbit around the sun, and have our suspicions that those odd creatures which visit us from time to time might be aliens, or government agents or most likely the hobgoblin of susceptible minds.  Our assumptions about the Creation have changed.  Assumptions about our place in the Universe has changed.  Enter quantum mechanics and our assumptions about physical laws have changed.  But as to these odd manifestations who visit us; largely only the names have changed.

 

In John A Keel’s book, The Mothman Prophecies, which is largely an examination of paranormal experiences in and around West Virginia in the early 60s, he points out the various assumptions concerning reported paranormal experiences.  He details the parallels in descriptions of meetings with Angels, Demons, Gods, Aliens and Men in Black, down through the ages and across cultures.  And he speculates that it makes more sense to think that these representatives of another world might have happened through what he imagines as portals to another dimension than as aliens who have travelled light years through space.  He speculates that this might explain their presence in tales of the obscure down through history.  That it might explain their purported foreknowledge of events coupled with a rather bumbling understanding of our ways.

 

In effect he is speculating that it makes more sense to attribute events to imperfections in the fabric delimiting one dimension from another, than to aliens with such supernatural intelligence as to travel light years from their homes and then to appear clumsy, inept, incommunicative and without a discernible purpose when they finally arrive.  They appear more to want to study us, than to harm us.  Which is what one might expect of some creature who has found themselves suddenly adrift in a strange world.

 

After all, there is hardly anything more common to our lives’ experience than imperfections.  Imperfections and deterioration seem to be the natural nature and course of events.  What Keel seems to be suggesting is that there might also be imperfections in the natural laws confining one Universe from Another.

 

And if we have imperfections in natural laws, might this most likely be due to deterioration.  After all, life’s battle is largely one against the forces of deterioration.  So why should Platonic Ideals not be victims of wear and tear like everything else in the Universe?  For example, has the force of gravity always been thus – or is it a remnant of a much more coherent and enveloping (shiny and newer!) physical law?

 

We look back and theorize what must have been and what must have occurred to create what we have now.  But isn’t that assuming the same natural laws?  What if the past were created under physical laws which may have functioned quite differently prior to their deterioration.  If we understood what those laws might have been, might the historical record make more sense, or arrange itself quite differently?  Is there a physical law we might hypothesize to explain concordances which currently appear random?  What might be the next physical law to deteriorate?  Can we find evidence of the deterioration of physical laws currently, either nearby or in deep space?   What would happen to a traveler who has passed into a region where a further deterioration of a physical law has occurred?  Would their ship be rendered useless?  Would they die?  Would they have strange powers?  Would it create a hell of a problem, or just a tiny one – say, if they kept their speed down below 25 mph?

 

We make a lot of assumptions when we peer into the past.  And then we extend those same assumptions into the future.  Is anything else in Nature so confined by the present as our mental capabilities?  It doesn’t seem so.

Photo by Tin Tin Nelson

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Quantum Travelers

August 8, 2014
Your Editor, Carl, With His Quantum Sibling(s)

Your Editor, Carl, With His Quantum Sibling(s)

This is a column where your dutiful Editor follows the retirement paths of his quantum siblings as they appear suddenly throughout the Universe.

Well, entangled twin particle Larry has made it to Brisbane, Australia following engine and autopilot troubles traversing the Tasmanian Sea.

http://www.sailblogs.com/member/pantarhei/?xjMsgID=327389

Entangled particle Gary has been exploring the Garden Wall trail.

Entangled particle Gary has been exploring the Garden Wall trail.

While entangled particle Gary has been traipsing cliff sides on the Glacier National Park’s Garden Wall Trail.  Where they have witnessed this charming old goat.

Glacier Goat

Glacier Goat

From the Editor’s Perch…

July 31, 2014
Seattle and Environs

Seattle and Environs

In the Big Cities There’s Really Only One Game in Town, and It’s Out of Town

 

A criticism lobbed by the inhabitants of our large cities of our country’s rural areas and small towns is that they are ‘provincial’.  And ‘provincials’ are seen as uneducated and unsophisticated people who have the speech and narrow, limited attitudes of rustics and small town Babbitts.  This is seen as a bad thing.  And in some respects I’d suppose it is.

 

However, there is at least one respect in which small town life is refreshing.  I’ve lived in Seattle for many years, and now I live in rural Belpre Ohio, a small town across the river from Parkersburg, West Virginia.  Most people here are as they pretend to be.  Your waitress is a waitress.  Your bank teller is a bank teller.  The electrician, garbage collector, lock repairman, heating and air conditioning fellow, the insurance salesman, the nurse, and on and on are who they pretend to be.  And so far I’ve found them to be quite competent, solid and hard working.

 

I was talking over our policies with my insurance salesman who has his office a couple blocks away just the other day.  He’s a younger fellow, smart, good looking, and working out of a small cottage converted to business use which is on the main thoroughfare.  He had always lived in a small town and was wondering if he shouldn’t try living in a big city for a while, and asked me what I thought the differences were.  Off the top of my head I said, “Well, they’re probably more ambitious.”  But I was ruminating more on this after leaving his office, when it occurred to me, that a most interesting difference was that the people in large cities see themselves as acting on a world stage.  They see their concerns as world concerns.  They see themselves as arbitrating the path of civilization, the future of our planet.  Their concerns are big and important… usual crucial.  So they can get pretty hot about them.  In this small town I’ve moved to, the concerns are much more human-sized.  (Though they can still get hot about them.)

 

A problem I’d had in the big city was that probably all of the people I knew were not on a world stage.  They discussed things as if we were.  But actually the world stage for whatever issue we were discussing was usually New York or Washington D. C.  or some other world capital where the actual Mandarins of opinion worked and thrived.  My personal experience was not a credible currency for argument.  What was credible and powerful in conversation was information, opinion – and especially attitude – as disseminated by these Mandarins… all of the talking heads out there in the media.  So, though important conversations on the face of them seemed to be between the people you were speaking with, they were actually discussions over the digressions of various mandarins.  This is tedious once you begin to recognize the mandarins.  You’ve heard all the moves and countermoves.  It is also suffocatingly pedantic.  In this respect, the blogosphere is a recent help.   You send me your link.  I’ll send you my link.  We save each other the waste of a lot of hot air – the inaccuracies of interpretation.  And neither of us read it.

 

In the big city the waiter is not a waiter, (they’re actors, artists!), the salesman is not a salesman (he’s a promoter), the tech fellow is not a tech fellow (he’s an entrepreneur), your teacher is writing a book…  Not many Americans in big cities.  They are World Citizens.  In the big cities married people are not really married (in the traditional sense), nor are they really religious, nor are they really the sex they appear to be (either through clothing or desire)…

 

Everybody is a big potato in the big city!  No small potatoes there.  I used to complain to my wife that, “I wish many of my artist friends would just admit that we are small potatoes.  Maybe we will become big potatoes some day.  But if we could just admit that right now we are small potatoes – maybe we could have a satisfying conversation.”  But up and onwards the whole system goes in its ambitious, progressive frenzy.

 

In the big cities there is really only one game in town, and it’s out of town.  In the provinces there’s really only one game in town, and it’s right here.  There’s the big difference.

Belpre Ohio1

Photos by Google Images

 

From the Editor’s Perch

January 20, 2013

Voice Workshop Matt1

Miracles Erase Themselves

If you are like me and listen to a song you love compulsively, until the glitter rubs bare to right down to the neurosis – then you might share my frustration with familiarity.

But if you are also like me and relish relaxing in your same old living room over-stuffed chair and falling to sleep in your same old bed, being around the same people, then you also might share my experience that familiarity creates a lovely affection where nullity reigned.

(What you can’t see is me taking a couple days to ponder this quandary.)

(Maybe it’s a good time to read something.  Do a little research.)

Wikipedia says that “A miracle is an event attributed to divine intervention”.

This would indicate that it’s not the event itself, no matter how remarkable (or unremarkable), which is its defining character.  Rather, it is the presence of the divine.  So, the miracle could come upon us quickly or grow upon us slowly…

But why do miracles disappear?  Even miracles which reveal themselves to us slowly (like the comforts of home and hearth) can become a loathsome burden if we were to remain frozen in them, past their prime.  (see  https://schn00dles.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/work-work-work-with-rita-andreeva-45/  ) For example, even I don’t want to lie in the sack forever and snooze, or to sit in my chair all day.  What causes this dissipation of the miracle?

Most philosophers define a miracle as an ‘unnatural event’; something which ‘interrupts the Law of Nature’.  However, for my money, Baruch Spinoza’s explanation gives us the more workable insight.  Wikipedia says, “In his Theologico-Political Treatise Spinoza claims that miracles are merely law-like events whose causes we are ignorant of.  We should not treat them as having no cause or of having a cause immediately available.  Rather the miracle is for combating the ignorance it entails.”  So, it doesn’t take me long to realize the beauty of a song I love.  But I must sit in my chair a little longer to realize the pleasures of the home and hearth.

This may sound like a modern day scientific/rationalist explanation; that a miracle is simply something we don’t understand yet.  But I would interpret Spinoza’s explanation to say that we are ignorant of God’s presence in our day to day for which the miracle is a re-education.   That God is merely a law-like event whose cause we are ignorant of.

Unfortunately, as humans, our memory of the divine is really short term.  You need only read the Old Testament for a continual reminder of this affliction.  We seem to have to re-live each miracle as if born-again a thousand times.  It seems it is very difficult for our short term memory of the divine to stick.  It’s a wonder God hasn’t tossed up his hands with vexation and announced “these people just can’t learn!’  Actually, I think He does this in the Old Testament – or mutters words to this effect.

(As Moses was later recorded to have said by his biographer, “I grew just to quail, when He would begin to mutter.”  :0   )

Apparently God won’t be written down, packaged or sold.  When we try to re-create His nature through mechanical means, either through art or sloth – the miracle becomes a neurosis.   No gold bricking or lolly-gagging about the Elysian Fields for us.  It seems in this World, we must all get out of bed, take out the ear buds, and get to work if we want the New Jerusalem.

Photo by Carl Nelson

From the Editor’s Perch

October 1, 2012

Does Christianity Help Us to Think Better?

(It’s what the evidence may say.)

 

It seemed to be a tradition of the Great Poets such as Blake and Yeats to fashion a personal cosmos of irrational actors and energies to describe underfuries of the real world; that is, the cosmological subtext.  And Poets various as Donne, Dickinson, Milton, Hopkins, and Elliot have used the testimony of religion to inspire and vivify their writing. And whereas we all expect of Poets a little irrationality, it’s little noted that the Great Sir Isaac Newton was a practicing Alchemist nearly all his life.  Or that Kepler, Voltaire, Paine, Washington, Franklin, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Edison, Gandhi and Duchamp held beliefs quite at odds with the modernist society they helped to create.

Einstein is famously quoted to have said, “God does not play dice with the Universe.”  All these personages held a belief in the irrational which is scorned in our scientific and atheistically oriented age.  But I wonder if such belief does not help us to realize on a grander scale and to orient our thinking towards what might be most successful?

Neurologists have found something contrary to what is nominally believed, which is that rational thought gives us our best decisions.  In fact, on the contrary, when the affective portion of our brains is severed from our rational thinking processes, the brain can reach no conclusions at all.  The person’s thinking is greatly impaired.  Apparently we need our emotions to orient and to direct us.  So, it would seem to follow, that some experience navigating irrational thoughts would be of benefit to the mind in its entirety.  So that rather than being just a useful tool to balance the checkbook, the mind can achieve its grander purpose, which is genius.

A lot of modern thinkers are repelled by the chaos of irrational thought and by the infinitely ambiguous quality of myth, as if it were contemptible to contemplate whatever is fanciful with a process less than ‘scientific’ and more than ambiguous.  But if we want our thinking to take us somewhere, doesn’t it make more sense to anchor our ‘vessel’ to a current, no matter how deceptive and inexplicable, than a fixed buoy?  How can we to travel to somewhere new, if we insist so upon knowing exactly where we are at each instant?

A Religion’s great benefit (aside from possibly being True J) is allowing the Believer to know where they are, even when their rational mind cannot identify any landmarks.  Religion lowers the anxiety threshold.  A strong faith helps us to endure when we find ourselves in strange terrain.  A great Religion is like a great river explorers follow, because they figure correctly that the river best knows the landscape.

It’s often said that all religions are the same, and so should be equally respected.  This is most often said, in my experience, by people who have very little respect for religion at all.  In truth, there are great differences between various religions; and some are better than others.  And how do we know which is which?  It is the age-old problem of locating the false prophets.  “By their fruits ye shall know them.”  What could be more practical – or even ‘scientifically minded’ for that matter – that to measure things by their results?

By this gage, Islam right now is looking like a few desiccated, blackened figs which smell of cordite.  Buddhism is still hunkered around its rice bowl in many poorer areas of the world, while pretending its mind is elsewhere.  And Christianity is looking for all intents and purposes to be in the lead.

Of course all of history is not yet written.  But if you want to use your mind to its best advantage, to gain the best life possible, it currently looks like Christianity is the best river from which to chart the landscape.  Why?

Don’t know for sure.  But it’s what the evidence may say.

Photo by Carl Nelson

Addendum:  After mulling the responses, I’m thinking…  Hey, conflict is fun.  But mostly, this tiny essay’s urge is just to toss this thought (which had occurred to me) out there:  That all of experience and happening is like rain falling on the landscape of our brains.  And the channels these experiences exploit and the rivers of thought they create say something about how the brain has found best to handle this overwhelming onslaught of experiential data which rains down upon it every day and night since time immemorial.  And the great religions might be thought of as the great rivers which move and channel this experience through our brains towards some productive end.  And if these religions mark the best way to drain these watersheds of experience; perhaps they also give us an insight into how best to follow a current of thought to its most successful conclusion… any thought.

From the Editor’s Perch

September 28, 2012

Keeping our head straight; thinking right…

Photo of Actor/Playwright John Ruoff by Carl Nelson

Murders in Progress

September 24, 2012

Episode (4)

Does the Name Nancy Loomis Mean Anything?

          “Does the name Nancy Loomis mean anything?”

          “Sir, do you have some information you wish to share with the Kimmel County Sherriff’s Bureau?”

          Ruth liked the word ‘Bureau’ better than the word ‘Office’.  It sounded vaguely Federal which, she felt, gave it more ‘Oomph’.  Sheriff Leland didn’t.  But then again, Sherriff Leland never answered the phones.  So Ruth figured the two of them were whoever she said they were. 

          “I don’t know.”  Ramey was on a disposable cell phone he had picked up in the city.  He had a box of them.  After watching all of the TV shows he figured one could come in handy.  And he had been right.  He couldn’t have these calls traced back to a practicing dentist.  That could cause all sorts of difficulties.  “I’m not certain, I mean.”  Ramey was looking out his car window at a flower stand.  He was working his way, left to right, through the various hanging baskets of assorted flowers, slowly pronouncing the name of each.  This seemed to keep the flashes of horrible imagery, terrible things really, from overwhelming his thoughts.  “Petunia,” he said softly.  “Chry-san-themum”…

          “Sir, you’ll have to speak more loudly,” Ruth said in her Passive Aggressese, getting a bit annoyed.  After all, this was Federal Business.

          “I don’t know!”  Ramey shouted.  Then tried to calm himself, moving onto the next hanging basket of florals.  “Begonia…  I mean, I’m not sure.”

          “What information is it that you wish to share with the Kimmell County Sherriff’s Bureau?”  Ruth said again, mustering all of her authority.  These ‘informants’ were so flakey.  She had often told Sherriff Kimmel, ‘sometimes I wish we could just haul them in and beat it out of them with a rock!’, which had gotten a laugh.  But she also wondered if Sherriff Leland hadn’t become a pussy.  After all, she was the one in the trenches. “Is there information that you wish to share with the Kimmell County Sherriff’s Bureau?”  She growled more loudly, “…sir.”

          “I don’t know.  I mean, I’m not sure if I do or not.  If the name Nancy Loomis means anything to you, that is, if it figures in a current, by that I mean an, on-going investigation, then, I figure, I do.”

          “I know what current means, Ramey,” Ruth said, finally discarding all of her patience.

          Ramey looked at the cell phone as if he had been cheated.  He had asked the fellow in the city directly: ‘Is this phone traceable?’

          “How do you know my name?” Ramey asked, the disbelief creeping into his voice.

          “You’re my dentist!” Ruth barked.  “Everybody around here knows your name Ramey.”

          Ramey flushed.  “Well fine, then!”

          “What is it you want Ramey?  … for the fourth time.”

          “I need to know if the name Nancy Loomis, figures in any way into your investigation,” Ramey’s voice trailed off softly, “of the recent murders…”

          “I’m sorry sir, but ….”

          “Ruth, it’s me, Ramey!”

          “And I told you, I know who you are, RAMEY.  But we can’t reveal any information on an ongoing INVESTIGATION.”

          “Well then, for Pete’s sake! Ruth.  Just tell me if the name Nan-cy Loo-mis  figures in any way in what is currently happening in the investigation.”

          “That would be to reveal information.  This phone is for incoming information: tips and leads only.  Now if you would like to leave a tip or a lead, or any other information you may have or know of relating to the current INVESTIGATION, I would be happy to write it down and relay it to Sherriff Leland.  Do you have any of that information?”

          “I don’t know!”

           “Well then, perhaps you could call us back when you do know, sir.”

          “That’s not my job, that’s your job,” Ramey pointed out.

          “Are you phoning to tell me my job Ramey?”  Ruth’s voice went from Passive Aggressive Bureaucratese to actively hostile in a quick second.  Which was a relief, Ramey felt.

          Ramey quickly said the names of three more flowers.

          “Okay, Ruth.  Let’s do it this way.  You’re into me for $300. of past dental work on two old fillings with a deteriorating crown coming up that could fracture any second, given the nature of this ‘fractious’ conversation.  Now do you really want to give the only practicing dentist within 50 miles – as the crow flies – trouble?”

          “Are you trying to threaten a Federal officer, sir?!”

          “YES!” was Ramey’s curt reply.  You didn’t stay in a dental practice long without learning to play trump.

          Ruth ground her teeth, then stopped, remembering what Ramey had just said.  Then Ramey could hear her polished nails clicking on the desk as she thought it through.  The one with the big phony rock on it struck loudest and last.

          “Okay Ramey,” Ruth said.  “I’ll give Sherriff Leland the message.”

          The finger with the big rock on it struck once again.  Then, dial tone…  Ramey smiled.  Sherriff Leland was a patient with a lot of gum problems.  He’d get back.

Photo by Carl Nelson

From the Editor’s Perch

September 16, 2012

Our Monolithic Local Theater

As a playwright of 15 years experience, I’ve become conditioned to having my the hairs on the back of my brain stand up whenever I hear a theater worker gush about how much they respect playwrights.  I imagine it’s something in the realm of how an African-American reacts wherever someone remarks, “Oh, I just love Black people!”  They suspect that somewhere in this person’s experience there has been a great black maid… truly one of the family

Because my experience in the Theater has been that most theaters like their playwrights either dead or out of town.  Directors will declare it can’t “be done” that way.  Dramaturges will insist that ignoring their advice is tantamount to intentionally blemishing their career.  And the Producers will say that if they do not get their way, although they love the play so much!! the production will be cancelled; the play will be dropped.  If the playwright is not dead, or out of town – they may soon want to be.

 This is because most mid to high end theater nowadays is not creative.  They are production entities.  They are like the copyists of the old-time Louvre.  Known, established hits of the recent season are imported, and the theaters’ job is not to fuck them up.  The critics report on how well they have done this.  “Yes!  In this production they magically recreate the flair of Titian’s brushwork.”  It’s educational.

Copyists

 WELL, all that has changed!  according to a recent article in the Seattle Times by theater critic Misha Berson:  “Move over, coffee: It’s playwrights’ day in the sun in Seattle”.  The larger theaters all say so!  And, apparently, it’s all come upon us quite suddenly.   

 Three months ago in a meeting of the Dramatists Guild at the ACT Theater, representatives from the Rep, ACT, Issaquah’s Village Theatre, and the 5th Avenue, announced that they were now intent upon establishing playwriting entities within their theater’s organizations in order to foster the creation, work shopping and perhaps production of New Plays.  

I asked them a number of questions then.  First, why all of a sudden?  Local playwrights have been doing everything short of tossing bombs at their doors for the past 15 years of my experience in an effort to make just this sort of thing happen.  Their non-committal answer was just a general shrug and a few general statements to the effect that, the time seems to be right, or it seems to be what is currently in the air.

Well, who can really say?

 (This writer suspects that it is the money.  You want to understand any organization, you follow the money.  And major theater in this town has seen patrons and income steadily decrease in numbers over the past many years.  At the next Dramatists Guild meeting the Artistic Director of another major theater in the area said that she had had to let all of her assistants go.  If this is true throughout the industry, then the next jobs to be lost are going to be those of the very people who were  speaking to us.  This can be a motivator.

 

But why, suddenly, are they so chummy with Playwrights?  WE haven’t any money.  Trust me. 

 I suspect it’s either due to a major change in grant or funding priorities among the philanthropic entities, though your erstwhile reporter here has come up blank.  Perhaps they are just getting desperate and are casting about wildly in their death throes like large animals.  Or perhaps, when you take the money away, people become creative… or at least open themselves up to the idea.)

 Well, part of the answer is that they are not really chumming up.  They are allowing the playwrights into their theater.  When asked the benefits of this, the lone playwright of the group who was part of this newly hatched program said, “Well, I get to talk to other playwrights.”  He thought for a while.  “And I get to use the copy machine.”

Let’s see. “I get to use the copier machine.”

(Hallelujah!  I thought.  I have to say, this whole charade was getting me pissed.)

 They all made it very clear that they were not just opening the theater doors ala carte.  They planned to contact select writers with invitations.  These writers would then be allowed to work and talk with other writers somewhere on the theater grounds.  And out of all of this, if the powers that be deemed the product of sufficient quality –  some portion of this would at some point have scheduled readings – when they could be arranged, if the budget was there for them.  And hopefully from this might come some productions.  (Smiles all around.)

 (I was steaming.  ‘I could scratch something out today, have it read down at the Odd Duck tonight, and in a show there, or in the TPS Theater by the end of the next month!’  My ears were blowing smoke.   ‘And all without having budgeted a dime’.  A street person could DO this.)

 And in case they had qualms about the dubious quality of such work coming out of a rundown place such as the Odd Duck?  I would remind them that the two playwrights they so prized, and had produced upon their own stages, and had been just now passing congratulations back and forth about – had passed through just such a scenario at the Odd Duck, in years past, themselves.)

 So I asked them, “Why not just save your selves a lot of time and effort and money and just cut to the chase?  Go see the shows produced around here which have done well and give them a leg up?”

 (I didn’t add, “Because that’s what you do already!)

 It was not just a question of quality, was their answer.  It was also finding the show which was right for their theater.

 “But in ten years you haven’t yet found a show which was right for your theater?” I asked.

 Believe us, we’ve looked, was their answer.

 (This kind of shit just makes your jaw drop.)

 “But Joe Boling, an independent fellow who had tried to see how much theater he could attend within the Seattle area within a year, by attending every day… (They all nodded their heads and smiled.  They all knew the guy.)  …found he couldn’t see all of the productions, within a year, there were so many!  You couldn’t find one success out of all of those produced scripts, over the past 10 years which was suitable?”  I asked again.

??????

Believe us, we’ve looked, was their answer. 

They didn’t blink.  They didn’t break ranks.  You’ve got to hand it to them, when it comes to p0litical playbook, these folks know their way around.  They appear when they are invited, and then they come bearing gifts – to mute any criticism which might rear its ugly head.  That would be unseemly.  And it had muted me.  What I should have continued on to ask was this:

(“Let me phrase this question another way – since it seems you have to be hit on the head with a big stick!   If local theater producing new, local plays has created audience with a series of hits – while your theaters have been steadily losing audience…  Wouldn’t it be more logical to say that perhaps your theatre is not ‘right’ for this town?”)

 But they propped their sagging tits of an argument up this time with a few anecdotes about how time consuming and taxing watching new theater could be.  Which led to the condolences passed amongst themselves, (they were all on good relations), regarding sacrifices that a person makes for the theater… 

 So I figured that was enough questions from me for a while.  Since no other playwrights attending followed up on my queries, I just sat and simmered. 

 The other playwrights asked questions about how one became picked by a theater; how one should best submit their work to the theater, and on and on; just dogs, basically, who were sitting on their hind legs asking politely what the protocol was to be for chasing the bone.  And one thing the panelists agreed upon was that there was no equation to give!  They were looking for quality, and then something which tugged at their heart.  But one thing we could do was to research the theater we were sending our scripts to.

 (A little background here:  The Dramatists Guild recently supported a study of the state of live theater in this country, which caused somewhat of a sensation when it came out around a year ago.  Not only was it shocking how little even quite ‘successful’ playwrights made from their theatrical productions (not even close to a livable income).  What struck closest to many of us (especially me!) was the finding that there were no scripts produced in major theaters around the country from mailings.  The playwrights in all cases that were produced had a personal relationship with that theater.)

 For example, said the fellow from the largest theater.  If I receive a script and it has blah, blah, blahs name on it.  I know that that person hasn’t researched our theater at all, because they haven’t been the literary manager here in several years.  So into the round file it goes…

“You’re kidding me. The guy thinks HE’s still the Literary Manager?”

 (The arrogance of these people just twists me in knots.  At ten cents a sheet, the playwright may have spent $12.00 for the copy, another several dollars for the binder, maybe $3.00-$6.00 for the postage, and then double that amount for the return envelope and postage.  This is not to mention the year (or years) and turmoil spent to write it.)

 So I had to ask:  “So, after you have produced a new play, how do you go about selling it to the other major theaters.  Do you just make sure you get the names correct and mail it to them?” 

 (And even though a person would need be an idiot not to suspect the answer, they were either too blindsided, arrogant or stupid not to suspect I was being arch.  Because they said…)

 Oh no, no.  We try in every way we can to get them here to see it!!! 

 About this they all agreed.

 And then it was pretty much over.  I left without speaking.  If I did start talking, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to stop.  And also, it was pretty clear that neither the panelists nor the other playwrights were much interested in what I might have to say, might be.

 But to finish up, I think I’ll just say what I have to say right here:

 I agree with Jon Jory (founder of the Humana Festival) that the future of live theater is probably at the amateur, semi-professional level of production.  What I see happening here are the deaths throes of a large, monolithic creation which is currently stumbling under its own weight, and fighting to retain what employment there is.  Large theater as we know it is going down… It’s getting re-sized, re-packaged.  Who knows, maybe even chopped up for its parts…

 (An administrator’s head… maybe an arm?   Here’s a thumb.  Maybe get it bronzed?  Ha, ha.)

 But theater as it’s about to be will be coming to your block.  And who knows?  Maybe soon.

And more about that, later. 

Photos by Carl Nelson of Person and Actors whose sentiments may very well not be mine.

From the Editor’s Perch

September 6, 2012

I Love a Rant!

Reasoned discourse is fine if you are trying to learn something; to absorb some information.  But for full disclosure, I prefer the rant.  The rant is an emotional outpouring lightly sprinkled with the facts all helter skelter like on a chocolate donut.  A rant is a somewhat intelligible discourse with an address.  A rant lets you know where that person is coming from.  A rant surfs the emotions, often using colloquialisms and argot.  A rant can be a description with a personal stamp to it.  Take this one by one of my favorites, Celine:

“As for sick people, patients, I had no illusions . . .  In another neighborhood they’d be no less grasping or jugheaded or weak-kneed than the ones here.  The same wine, the same movies, the same sports talk, the same enthusiastic submission to the natural needs of the gullet and the ass would produce the same crude, filthy horde, staggering from lie to lie, bragging, scheming, vicious . . .  brutal between two fits of panic.”

Notice how this master of the rant does not raise his voice or descend to foul language, neither does he spit or wave his arms.  No!  He evokes his emotions and his argument through a calm display of observation.  Each of the little sprinkles on his donut smells like a turd.

A reasoned essay will give you lots of reasons something is believed; but the rant will disclose the reason.  It’s said that a good discussion will cover both sides of an issue.  Well, a rant will disclose the underside.  Perhaps that’s why I love the rant.  It’s all about subtext not being happy where it is, and demanding more.  A rant is you, wanting to put your face to things.  A rant is the slave unbound!  A rant is the language of the underdog.  A rant is the flesh talking!  And the flesh is weak.  And the fact that we are all weak is probably the truest thing ever said.  Which isn’t to say that every rant need be emotionally ugly…

 “When you’re not used to the comforts and luxuries of the table, they go to your head in no time.  Truth is always glad to leave you.  With next to no encouragement it will set you free.  And we manage very nicely without it.  Amid this sudden plethora of comforts a fine megalomaniacal delirium finds no difficulty in overwhelming you.  I started telling tall ones in my turn, intermittently discussing hives with the young cousin.  You extricate yourself from your daily humiliations by trying, like Robinson, to put yourself on a level with the rich by means of lies, the currency of the poor.  We’re all ashamed of our ungainly flesh, our inadequate carcasses.  I couldn’t make up my mind to show them my truth; it was as unworthy of them as my rear end.  I had to make a good impression at all costs.”  – Celine

A rant can reveal a vulnerability (as above) – or even a lukewarm tribute:

“When we walked through the busy streets together, people turned around to pity the blind man.  People have plenty of pity in them for the infirm and the blind, they really have love in reserve.  I’d often sensed that love they have in reserve.  There’s an enormous lot of it, and no one can say different.  But it’s a shame that people should go on being so crummy with so much love in reserve.  It just doesn’t come out, that’s all.  It’s caught inside and there it stays, it doesn’t do them a bit of good.  They die of love-inside.” – Celine

A good rant can describe just about anything a human can (and will) do.

Photo by Carl Nelson of a Scene from Saving Harry, (Nick Cameron yelling, and Daniel Wood suffering).

From the Editor’s Perch…

August 18, 2012

How to Catch and Kill a Fly with Your Bare Hand

 You needn’t be fast.  It’s a question of creating the trap and then, timing!  (But having a large hand may be a plus.)

 

Figures 1 & 2

 

First approach the sitting fly with your dominant hand.  (See figure 1.)  Notice that the fingers are moderately spread, like the bars on a cell.

As your hand gets closer to the fly, the fly must decide what to do.  (See figure 2.) 

Figure 3

The fly will act when your hand is within a certain distance.  (See figure 3.)  If the distance to safety is made shorter by flying between your fingers, then this is the direction in which the fly will fly.

Figure 4

By trying to trap the fly repeatedly, you will discern at what distance the fly will make his move.  You need simply to begin closing your fingers together slightly before this distance, and then tightly as you continue… and the fly is yours!  (See figure 4.)

 

Illustrations by Carl Nelson


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