Posts Tagged ‘Carl Nelson’

From the Editor’s Perch…

August 12, 2012

Editor’s note:  Have your wife and neighbors ever asked you to go out and kill something, and you rebel?

Editor and His Dog Camping

Moss

I’m a big fan of moss.  Moss is cool, soft, green, pleasant to the touch and makes for a lovely ground cover, especially on a hot day, while discouraging weeds.  Moss has retained its nature for millions of years.  It evolved to be what it is at about the same time as the little arthropods which crawl across it.  Its nature dates from pre-history.  It arrived just after God I would suppose – perhaps as a second thought.  You find moss on a lot of graves, and in nooks and crannies and on the backsides of things. 

 

Moss is the sort of plant which will suffer fools.  Moss is what is left after we’ve done all the ‘important’ things we are going to do.  We’ve made that name for ourselves.  We married the leggy blonde and spawned that perfectly proportioned family.  We have more money.  Our politics make yours look like Lincoln logs.  Our kids have done better than your kids.  Plus! they can kick your ass, and we won WWII… did we mention?  Moss is left to coat everything in a lovely, romantic emerald green, kind of like all those dead Irish partisans’ monuments.

 

Moss is the sort of plant which will suffer fools.  And not, ‘Look at me, I’m lording it over you.  ‘Cause you’re stupid and morally unfit and lazy, besides.’  Moss does not preen, except to try and be the best moss it can be!  Moss-type people find other’s preening to be of interest enough.  And in the end they shall turn it into something nice, and soft, and green… romantic, even.  There’s an endless task for you.

Photos by Carl Nelson

From the Editor’s Perch…

August 10, 2012

Walking the Streets

I complained to a friend of mine, about a brief encounter with a vagrant on a downtown street, who had pestered me into conversation: “It’s so corrosive to the social fabric, so deleterious to the social compact people need to form in order to care for one another,” I complained.  “Here this guy is; he comes up to me and starts a friendly conversation.  He asks me questions, and draws parallels between us, like he wants to know me.  And as soon as he figures I’m not giving him any money, he leaves.  Or if I do give him money, he only chats further as long as he figures he might get more, and then he leaves.  He doesn’t care a fig about me or want to know me at all!”

My friend cast me a laughing smile, as if I were the world’s most pampered whiner.  “Of course he wants your money.  What do you expect?  He’s living on the street.  You have the money, and they don’t.”  He spoke with the assurance of a professional social worker.  “How do you think they’re going to act,” he looked at me as if to wonder if I were emotionally blunted, or had suffered a complete failure of imagination.

Well, nevertheless, I think it makes a great deal of difference how people  do act.  If I were to tell my friend that in my experience, the real reason people end up on the street is not because they run out of money, but because they  run out of friends – he would no doubt laugh at my idiocy and say, ‘The real reason they are out on the street is because they are flat broke!’

My friend believes what is needed is a total economic transformation of our current system and much more government involvement.  And this will come with more education.

Not that my friend is going to help them either.  In fact, he just shakes his head when I give one of these scam artists money!  But some of these street fellows: they show a bit of sales skills; we have a little fun parrying, they’re good story tellers or actors; maybe they are just shy or I admire their stoicism; or they are just pathetically so over the top!  As an aspiring theater person, I just feel I just have to toss some money in the hat.  I’m not supporting a drunk; I’m supporting the Arts.

 Photos by Carl Nelson

From the Editor’s Perch…

August 6, 2012

http://nycp.blogspot.com/2012/07/republican-theater-festival.html

My friend Scot sent me this link, bless his soul (that he denies he has)… even though it made him “gag”.  (One of the great things about newer technology and the internet is that you throw up in your own home, on your own keyboard.  You can tell people about it… but it’s not the same.  Happy Face!)

Anyway, any pro-Republican stance is such an odd event to have happen in the live theater community that it has gotten some press:  http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/2012/07/26/republican-theater-festival/

The last theater I’ve heard of which offered a platform for Republican ideas was the year the Humana New Theater Festival produced by the Actors Theatre of  Louisville offered William Buckley a play spot in the line-up (1988-89).  This was a nationally recognized event which brought enormous media attention to the Louisville Theatre.  Which was just what the festival founder and the idea’s originator, Jon Jory, had had in mind.   When Jory spoke to the Seattle contingent of The Dramatists Guild in 2011 he said that his thinking was that if theater is drama involving everybody, why not bring the one contingent which was not currently represented on the stage to the Festival?   He got what he wanted, but he added that it was “5 years before some people in the Theatre would speak with me”.  (He didn’t mention how nice this can be.) 

My personal idea of what a Progressive’s argument might look like.

Anyway, we haven’t travelled any distance since then!  Perhaps Progressives are as bright as they believe they are, because political theater nowadays is still what it was thoseadays: agiprop, show trials, or puff pieces for the latest liberal topic d’jour, with a fall-off to plays about racism, and those awful Nazis who are even better than Nixon to kick around.   Progressives are somehow able to make time stand still and make no change at all happen; which is something Conservatives have been straining to do for ages!  (A hard palm to the forehead.)

I don’t know how good this Theatre Festival will be.  On the one hand, it has enormous conversational and situational ground to mine.  On the other hand, good theater with an authentic voice can take a long time to create.  Like a major league club, you need a lot of farm teams and a lot of amateur players all over the country who ardently aspire to a dream.  You need a lot of Conservative writers, standing on the shoulders of a lot of others to create a zeitgeist which can press on the gas pedal with as much strength as it is now pressing on the brake.  And they need to build an audience with a taste for this.

But… it’s a start.  And it would make us look better than clubbing Harp seals.  – Carl Nelson

Images borrowed from the Internet.

From the Editor’s Perch…

August 3, 2012

What if Who You Are is a Loser?

Artists struggle with this fear constantly.  And well, the good news is: it’s not all bad. 

With losing comes an incredible amount of freedom.  Nobody much wants to regulate you, or direct you or to control you – because there isn’t much in it for them.  And hapless as you are, it would require a lot of effort.   So you can pretty much say what you want, do what you want, act as you want, dress as you want, dream as you want, do just about anything as you want – as long as you remain unsuccessful.  If you consider that most things have very humble beginnings, this places the loser out there on the forefront of just about everything, with the opportunity to create just about anything, and to move the world! I mean, most everything new which ever happened in this world began with a mistake.  (Why, just look in the mirror!)  And that’s you.  So keep your spirits up, first off.

The bad news is that when you are a loser, you’re alone.  And it’s the loneliness which is almost crushing.  No one will listen to you.  And it’s very difficult to make money.  People will laugh at you.  And without these levers of money and attention, moving the earth is very difficult.  In fact, doing anything is trebly difficult – and this can include just getting out of bed.  You may sink into your depression as if it were a soft mattress.   And you may think, as you stare at the ceiling fan turning in the sultry afternoon air in your cheap, anonymous rented drab green room and finish the warm beer, which doesn’t taste very good, but it’s something,  ‘Where’s the daylight here?’  ‘Where’s the good news?’ ‘ Why not just put the gun in my mouth?’  Well, my friend, the daylight is streaming in here, right in through that window!

So.  Alright.  And just to keep my readership up, I’m going to suggest something…

What to do if Who You Are is a Loser.

Surely you’ve seen the horses racing at the track.  The tinier the rider, the faster the horse can go.  So if you’re a loser, the first thing you need to do is to face up to it.  The surprising thing of it is, is that what keeps most losers down is their unwillingness to ‘go with it’.  They keep contorting themselves into a winner’s posture.  It’s a ‘failure to launch’, really.  Accept what you are, and let it out.  Let it go.  Let it free!  Let it thrive.  Quit imagining yourself as a winner, and take a little pride in yourself.  Allow yourself the freedom to parade yourself and to exploit the pride you find in your uniqueness.  You are small, but you control the horse.

So if you are a loser, what you need to do is to attach yourself to a winner – in a way, that makes you an asset.  You need to sniff around until you find someone who can take advantage of you.  Oppress you to their needs!  Yes.  Sure.  Place yourself in a position where they can sniff you out.  Go to where the action is.  Find out who the players are.  Go into your juggling act, and see who is hiring. Remember, weakness is provocative!  You are a great catalyst; an initiator!  You are what makes the world go ‘round.  And you needn’t get rid of your pride; but just save it in a different place.  Make it appear as a different object, so it isn’t trifled with.  Because every winner requires an awful lot of losers.  They need more of you than you of them.  So the only trick you need is to make them pay for your services.  And they’ll do that when you control the situation.

You all set?  Okay.  We’re done then.

OR, there is this one more strategy:  Find a natural winner whose nature and outlook you trust. Join their team!  Help them, and be a loyal follower. 

This anecdote from a Reader’s Digest article years ago has always stuck with me.  A teacher was writing a letter of recommendation to an Ivy League College for a student of his.  After enumerating all of the student’s exceptional talents the teacher went on to say, “I can’t say he has the qualities of an exceptional leader; but he does make for dependable and resourceful follower.”   The Dean of Admissions included this note to the teacher with a copy of his Letter of Acceptance.  “With all of the natural leaders we admit around here, we can probably use one good follower.”   

The one thing a leader cannot buy or coerce is loyalty.  And the wise winner cherishes them dearly.  Are you a loser capable of great loyalty?  Well then, you’re a shoo-in. 

Photos of Troupe Comique by Carl Nelson

From the Editor’s Perch…

July 28, 2012

We’ve Had Our Suspicions

Criminals as Spiritual Savants?

A country song called the Pittsburgh Stealers is a “cheatin’ song” about a steel mill worker who works the day shift; who’s carrying on with a “southern girl” whose husband works the night shift.  And they’re “stealin’ luuve, every chance” they git.  Sung by a father/daughter team called the Kendalls, it has always been a favorite of mine, if for nothing other than the opening line:  “I found myself in Pittsburgh, working in a steel mill.” 

I loved this idea of life as awakening to find yourself in some situation with an amnesiac’s idea of how this came to be…  finding yourself as this fine melody (with a whining pedal steel) in Pittsburgh having an illicit affair… sneaking around, meeting again and again on back streets.    The sentence, “I found myself in Pittsburgh, working in a steel mill.” for all its commonality seemed filled with awe. It seemed to heap awe on top of the prosaic, the quotidian, the dull, daily, repetitive, common grind of very common people like a dollop of ice cream making an ala mode out of what otherwise was a pretty common slice of life.  And then, serving it up for the higher menu price.

Anyway, while singing along with this song on my way to work – putting a dollop of something better on top of my own very common day –  the uncomfortable thought struck me that I had heard sociopaths on tv and read about sociopaths in prison cells describing their criminal experiences in much the same way… as if the crimes they committed were somehow fate  …as if some other agency were responsible for their life and actions, and they had just watched, as if from a dream. 

Long ago while enrolled in medical school and learning how to interview a patient, I remember the attending saying,  “Listen to the patient.  They are telling you what is wrong.”  And it has struck me throughout life how often people are telling me just that.  So perhaps criminals are not lying to excuse their guilt; perhaps their lives really are aw(e)ful affairs; and we have the criminal as a spiritual savant. 

…huh? 

And it came to me how evil – and seductive – this sense of awe can be; this sense of connection to something much larger and all-knowing and powerful than ourselves.  Can proper religious experience and spirituality be so easily hijacked?  It’s something we search for in the Arts; and yet which is most often found when we pry the top off our Ids, which is, as Webster’s describes it, “the undifferentiated source of the organism’s energy…”,  and let all Hell loose.  – Carl Nelson

Photo of the actress Ruth Tru by Carl Nelson

From the Editor’s Perch

July 21, 2012

How Much Justice Can You Afford?

Given the World as it Is.

Okay.  So I’m nearing retirement age and still just figuring out how things work.  One of the things I’m not going to like about dying is not knowing how the story ends… and then not stopping off for coffee afterwards, with a smart and insightful companion, to sort out how it all fit together.  But enough of that.

I was in a bar years ago talking with a new acquaintance – who was a bit of a hothead.  A fellow next to him interrupted us, hoping, I suppose, to be included in the conversation.  My acquaintance told him to butt out.  The fellow, being I suppose a little miffed and a little drunk, made a retort.  My acquaintance took him by both shoulders and tossed him off his stool where he lit on the floor and went sliding.  The bartender jumped the counter in a blink and hussled the guy out the front door before anyone had a chance to say much of anything… except for the guy who was shouting his indignation the whole way. 

I was puzzled at the time, because it seemed that my acquaintance was the person who did the violence and so I had expected him to be the one tossed out of the bar.  The moral I drew at the time was that it is easier to toss out the loser than the winner, of a fight.  But as time has passed I’ve considered that there was probably more at play: the bartender had probably been hoping to remove this bothersome patron from his bar, and my acquaintance’s behavior gave this bartender his opportunity.

This principle shows itself in the workplace.  Someone does something to you that is absolutely wrong.  No question.  But before you create a stink, and rally the others to the justice of your crusade, you’d best ask yourself… who does the boss like better?  Or rather, who fits in around here better?  You may be an exemplary employee, but if you’re the Odd Duck – usually it’s best to keep your mouth shut, retain your low profile, and proceed to plan B. 

This is probably the thinking of a lot of illegal immigrants…  and Poets, too – if you could knock a practical thought into their heads.  – The Editor

Photo by Carl Nelson

From the Editor’s Perch…

June 24, 2012

Selling Art

Creativity and Sales

Posture is Everything

SELLING

Selling is a great teacher.  And one thing selling has taught me is that in order for people to part with their money, they have to feel certain.  People must feel certain that what you are offering is what they need.  And people must feel certain that you can provide what you are offering.  After that, you are dickering over cost.

Of course, each of these factors bleed into one another.  But, what they all have in common is this feeling of certainty

This presents problems for the marketing of Art.  Because Art is full of questionables, imponderables, unnamables, inscrutables, immeasurables, unfathomables… the list is long.  But all have one thing in common: ‘uncertainty’. 

Now whether people are buying something or giving money away, they still want this sense of certainty that their assets are not being wasted.  So how does one go about selling Art?

Well, the only thing more uncertain than Art might be people.  And traditionally people are sold by dressing them up in certainties.  You dress successful; you act successful; you speak successful; you move successful; you associate with success – you appear successful… and you stand your best chance of being purchased successfully, because you have made people most certain of your success.

Art is sold in much the same way.  What is absolutely undefinable, unfathomable and inscrutable is dressed up in the certainties.  Let’s see how this applies to the theater.

Your average regional theater purchases successful produced plays to present; it uses successful authors; it hires successful directors and actors and set, sound and lighting people.  Its productions take place in up to date venues located in the better part of town.  It struggles to become the most prominent (successful) theater in town.  The more successful the theater appears, the more money it is given.  And the more money it has, the less risk it can afford to take.  Because, the rule is, you only spend your money with certainty.

CREATIVITY

The creative artist creates.  They are not re-iterative.  They lack production tools, marketing brio…  Everything is a prototype.  Nothing goes into production.  Once something has been produced, then the artist’s job is done. 

The creative artist tends to spurn the trappings of success, because trappings are hindering, because they are already known quantities, because they are certain.   The artist’s job is to pursue what is uncertain, ineffable, unknowable and caste it in the certain.  For example, we cannot wholly know a person – but we can write their speech.  We can record how they act.  We can illuminate and give insight.  We can create the feeling of certainty.  “They feel so real,” an observer might say, or even, “I knew that person.”  From immanence (pagan) or transcendence (Judeo-Christian), but more likely from some of both such certainties are sculpted.  The creative artist sculpts certainty from risk.  And because money is shy of risk; money necessarily skirts the creative.  It is a very great artist indeed who can create the certain as a naked thing, and just walk them out of the sea.  Even the best often must dress them in some fashionable garb or another.

So, okay.  I’ll cut right to the chase and say, yes, money is good for Selling; but it’s bad for Creativity.  So the next time your hear your local Arts organizations lamenting the fact of there being no money out there for the Arts…  just think:  Maybe bad for them, but good for us!

Photo by Carl Nelson

From the Editor’s Perch…

June 23, 2012

 

Does Art Make You a Better Person?

A lot of people, mostly artists I’ve noticed, say it does.   And it’s usually only artists – or people in arts related careers, who are pitching for a fuller revenue stream  – who broach this topic.  You rarely hear of a lawyer, or a garbage collector, or a plumber, or a cop, or a mayor, or any of any number of professions raise this question about themselves.  They seem to take it for granted that being paid for doing something useful is worthwhile, and hopefully, that participating in life in this capacity makes them a better person.  But it may not.  That’s the way it goes.  A person has to get the food on the table. 

However, artists have a lot of trouble even ‘getting food to the table’.  So another reason to justify doing what they are doing seems necessary.  Personally, I would keep looking for a reason, because I haven’t seen the theater turning out superior persons.  Mostly it makes them like gambling addicts who will squander their last few dollars to create a hit.  Their relationships founder; their lawns are not mown;  weeds abound in the flower beds, their homes tilt; the children either aren’t conceived or grow up a little funny, and financially the whole consortium dances right along the edge.  Actors and writers maintain that assuming the personalities of a variety of characters gives them insight into the human condition.  What I see is that it adds quite a little arrogance to their own condition.  We are always writing/acting ourselves.  Who’s kidding who?  It’s as plain as the nose on our faces – which doesn’t change.  Has art made me a better person?  I can’t say it has.  But age, and life, may have formed me a bit.

How About Beer?

But has beer made me a better person?   I can’t say it has, either.  But I enjoy it.  And so I enjoy art.  I enjoy making it.  I enjoy watching and listening and experiencing it.  I enjoy talking about it.  And like most artists, I figure out a method  of paying my way.   Isn’t that enough?  

Photo by Carl Nelson of John Ruoff/Mime

Addendum:  “There are, of course, more important things than art:  life itself, what actually happens to you.  This may sound silly, but I have to say it, given what I’ve heard art-silly people say all my life…  Art shouldn’t be overrated.”  – Clement Greenberg

From the Editor’s Perch

June 8, 2012

Living Longer

Honey, we need to talk about our son.

It surprises me that some news does not get more of a ‘rise’ than it does.  For example, many years ago I read a small squib in the newspaper which noted that sociologists had found that children of practicing nudists had negligible rates of juvenile delinquency.  (Why?)  I’ve never heard anything more about this.   And currently our teenage son is behaving well, so we’ve had no reason to test it.

And now, just the other day, in an NPR interview I heard that scientists doing an experiment found that rats fed every other day lived 65% longer than rats fed every day.  They also noted that after correcting for other variables, Mormons are suspected of living longer because of the monthly fasting required by their faith. 

Well now, if I were to live 65%  longer, that would pencil me out at about 150 years, and I would be able to see what is going on around 2100 AD.  Moreover, I reasoned, if fasting would enable a person to live 65% longer – wouldn’t he/she also necessarily be 65% healthier.  And if I live well into the advent of The Great Singularity, isn’t it possible that I could go on to live forever?

So, I’ve decided to fast one day/week.  Yesterday went fairly well.  The first few hours following breakfast, I was more ravenous than at any other time.  All I could think about was food.  And I became appalled at how eating seemed to mark all the most pleasurable landmarks of my day.  But I reassured myself that this was pretty much all my dog and cat and the cows in the field I drove by every morning thought about, so it was a reasonable experience for an animal to have.  And it didn’t mean I lived a shallow life.  Which calmed me.

Then, as the day past, my hunger took a back seat to other activities.  And by the next morning, I honestly felt no hungrier than on any other morning.  Physically I felt better, except for a little listlessness.  It reminded me of an observation a friend of mine who served food in a homeless shelter made.  He said the men initially were quite docile and happy to find a warm place to eat.  But as soon as the food got in them, they often became quite bellicose.  All of the anger and resentment they felt about their situation began to express itself. 

I just became a bit more animated.  I’m not homeless.  And a day begun with a good breakfast is just a finer experience.  Anyone would guess that.

Anyway, if this works, you should be hearing quite a bit more from me.  Time will be on my side.

Photo by Carl Nelson

Seattle Celebrity News!

May 4, 2012

Jorj Savage: the first OLLIE

OLLIE’S SPIRIT LIVES ON…

Editor:  The Dangerous Theatre in Denver has picked up the Ollie ‘spirit’  (first embodied by our own Jorj Savage – see interview right here: https://schn00dles.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/ive-had-death-threats/ )  And opening night is today!  Catch a bus, or catch a flight… but put this on your bucket list.

Ollie’s Day Out

Written by Carl Nelson

Directed by Patricial Goodman

Featuring the talents of Art Goodman, Hannah Richards & Ben Telayo

 

Are you ever too old to appreciate the beauty of a young woman? Ollie doesn’t think so. At the age of 84 he seeks out beauty wherever he can. He finds Niki alone and not so patiently waiting for her boyfriend in a hotel bar. By the time Paul shows up Ollie has fallen in love with Niki. She has grown fond of Ollie and is not about to let Paul off the hook so easily for being late.

May 4 – June 10, 2012

{NOTE: No performances over Memorial Day Weekend}

Fridays at 7:30 & Saturdays at 7:00

Sundays 6/3 & 10 @ 1:00 (includes brunch in the ticket price)
Tickets $20.00

$5.00 Discount for students, seniors, military and members of the

Colorado Theatre Guild.


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