Saturday, May 31, 2008

Excerpt from the work in progress play THE TEA POT COLLECTOR

OWEN is a 70-year-old reclusive white man. NEDA is a 14-year-old street wise black girl. What brings them together is a mutual love for Owen’s tea pot collection. We join the play at the point where they are having tea together for the first time.

OWEN: Watch it. This is hot.

NEDA: What is it?

OWEN: Tea. My own blend. It’s hot.

NEDA: Where’s the tea bag?

OWEN: This is real tea. Peasant.

(SHE takes a sip of tea, burns her tongue, yelps in pain.)

Did I mention it was hot?

NEDA: I burd by toug, (I burned my tongue.)

OWEN: I did. I’m almost positive.

NEDA: What’s this black stuff in the bottom of the cup?

OWEN: Tea leaves.

NEDA: And they’re supposed to be there?

OWEN: Later I’ll read your fortune, if you’d like.

NEDA: What’s that smell?

OWEN: My own blend. A full bodied aroma, don’t you think?

NEDA: Smells like warm cat pee.

OWEN: It’s an acquired taste.

NEDA: Gotta be.

OWEN: Would the reigning debutante care for a small repast?

NEDA: You’re talkin’ about me again, right?

OWEN: I am.

NEDA: An’ you asked me if I wanted somethin’ t’ eat. Didn’t ya?

OWEN: I did. Yes

NEDA: You sure do know a bunch of big and useless words.

OWEN: Maybe you’re not ready for this.

NEDA: T’ eat?

OWEN: To make it an occasion.

NEDA: I eat every day. I do. I’m not liein’.

OWEN: Do you have your gloves?

NEDA: Mittens. I’ll run home an’ get ‘um.

OWEN: In your lap.

NEDA: What?

OWEN: Your gloves. Pretend. They’re in your lap.

NEDA: I’m eatin’ lunch with mittens on. In th’ middle of summer.

OWEN: Gloves. You are. And it’s not lunch. You’re breaking your fast.

NEDA: Uh-huh.

OWEN: Elbows off the table.

NEDA: Uh-huh.

OWEN: Frances, my dear, would you care for a small repast?

NEDA: Yes, please. See? I can do it.

OWEN: Ah, let’s see …

(OWEN reaches for an imaginary plate of finger food.)

Oh yes, we have a choice; crumpets, scones, or tea sandwiches.

NEDA: Oh, how will I ever choose? I don’t think my little mind is able to make such a big decision. You pick.

OWEN: Nice try.

NEDA: I’ll take the sandwich … please.

OWEN: As you wish.

NEDA: I don’t know what that other stuff is.

OWEN: Now the gloves.

NEDA: You really eat with gloves on.

OWEN: I don’t. You do.

NEDA: Why?

OWEN: If you’d rather not …

NEDA: Puttin’ on the gloves.

(SHE pulls the “gloves” on, all the way to her elbows.)


(OWEN frowns.)


OWEN: They’re tea gloves. They go to the wrists only. You put on opera gloves.

NEDA: Sorry.

(NEDA rolls the “gloves” back down to her wrists.)


OWEN: Very proper.

NEDA: Now what?

OWEN: Now you eat.

(NEDA stuffs a “sandwich” in her mouth.)

NEDA: Yum.

(NEDA notices that OWEN is staring at her.)

What? What I do?

OWEN: Not like that. Not … Look.

(OWEN takes a “sandwich” and nibbles around one edge.)

You watching?

(HE then takes a “napkin,” daintily dabs his mouth, places the napkin in his lap, and folds his hand over it. )

What do you think?

NEDA: You don’t wanna know.

OWEN: Yes I do.

NEDA: I’m gonna starve t’ death. That’s what I think.

OWEN: It was good enough for my grandmother.

NEDA: Lemme talk to her.

OWEN: She’s been dead for years.

(NEDA stares at him with a “I’ve proven my point” look in her eyes.)

Excerpt from the play THE REVENANT

FRANCESCA is facing the Inquisition. At the moment SHE is in her cell, silently mouthing what appears to be a prayer. Actually, it’s the spell to summon the demon ASMODEUS. Dressed as a monk, ASMODEUS obligingly steps out of the darkness.

ASMODEUS: You have called. I have come.

FRANCESCA: … from whatever part of the world, come presently, come affably, manifest that which I desire. I command thee by Whom all creatures …

ASMODEUS: Command? You command? Command the dung at your feet, then, and the worms that live upon it. There is your kingdom now.

FRANCESCA: I command thee, O demon Asmodeus; in the name of the ten guardians of the Sepherat: Keser, Chochma …

ASMODEUS: Persist as you will. Although for what further purpose I cannot imagine. You have requested my presence. I am here.

FRANCESCA: Angels are requested. Those of the lower regions are commanded.

ASMODEUS: Ah. The pupil now instructs the teacher. Have I been thus enjoined to play word games?

FRANCESCA: You have taught me well. To properly name a devil gives power over him. I name you the demon Asmodeus, tempter of men, destroyer of marriages, Prince of whores.

ASMODEUS: If I be that illustrious Prince, then you must be my most eager and loyal subject. Although I must confess a disappointment. Loyalty is only effective if it’s tempered with a degree of – shall we say – imagination.

FRANCESCA: Sweet Asmodeus, do not admonish me for that which I have pledged; to serve and obey.

ASMODEUS: This is why you have so rudely called me hither? Consider your task accomplished, then. You serve me better than you know.

FRANCESCA: How may that be, when I am so confined. For your love I have dared everything. Is my usefulness so easily dismissed? Was I not a witness to murder, and a receptacle for your indulgence beside that still warm body? Do I not stand mute before my judges, endure bludgeoning without crying aloud? Is there to be no surcease? Tell me the purpose I serve, and I will be comforted.

ASMODEUS: You serve MY purpose! That should be enough. As for your comfort, pleasure and pain are two faces on the same coin. In one there is always a reflection of the other. Do not despair. Revel and rejoice! Take your comfort from the sensations of the flesh, for that is all I ever promised you.

FRANCESCA: You promised the material things of this world. Wealth, power, domination over others. My name respected and feared.

ASMODEUS: I have given unstintingly all you’ve asked for, and more. Do not be so foolish as to think such gluttony as yours lasts forever.

FRANCESCA: I was to be given these things for my lifetime!

ASMODEUS: So you have them. For your lifetime.

FRANCESCA: I know you are without compassion or pity, but is there not some bargain I may yet devise for my release and those things I hold dear?

ASMODEUS: You waste my time.

FRANCESCA: Wait! For my freedom, then. All that I have for my freedom alone.

ASMODEUS: You intrigue me after all. With what would you bargain? What is still yours to give?


ASMODEUS: I thought as much.

FRANCESCA: Myself! I can still give myself!

ASMODEUS: A husk fit only for swine? When you were twelve you were of value to me. Why should I bargain for used goods when new are mine for the taking?

FRANCESCA: My soul, then. My everlasting soul.

ASMODEUS: That is not yours to give! The soul is a feather, buffeted by the wind, an inconsequential speck caught up in the conflict between the Gods of the Upper and Lower regions … usually to land on the shore of least resistance. Do not speak to me of your soul. Give me something I may hold in the palm of my hand.

FRANCESCA: It was desire for all I could not have which led me willingly – nay, eagerly – into iniquity’s hot embrace. I tell you, devil, you cannot understand the hunger in here, that no table scrap, however generously given, may satisfy.

ASMODEUS: All these years of instruction and still you have a dullard’s lack of perception. I not only understand that delicious hunger, I engender it.

FRANCESCA: Then know you that the path I trod is not a lonely one. The pitfall which lured me beyond its rim may be used over and again, if it is effectively baited.

ASMODEUS: The creatures I hunt are small. There is no need to slaughter a calf to tempt a mouse. No, your arguments are logical, as well they should be. I taught you the technique. But they fail to convince. I nurture desire for something. I care nothing for the thing itself.

FRANCESCA: There must be something! Some THING! Else, why are you here? Am I truly adept enough to cause your appearance by my will alone? If so, I am in a better position to bargain than I thought. Or … have you come merely to gloat over my wretchedness? No. I have neither risen so high nor fallen so low as to be worthy of more than passing derision. So there must be something, if I have wit enough to grasp it. Something obvious, perhaps so natural to my sight that is invisible. A task incomplete, or one yet to be performed. Yes! Speak, devil! Whatever it is, I shall do it. But there will be a price.

ASMODEUS: Feckless woman, why do you so entreat me? I have long ago given you the keys to your cell – cunning and guile. Do not be too clever for both our purposes.

FRANCESCA: I perceive you are of a single mind in this regard, and I shall comply with your demands. But I still wonder which has the greater worth, the deed or the perpetrator.

ASMODEUS: I had thought you a valuable tool, molded of hardened metal and tempered in fire. But if that tool bends easily or breaks with use, then it is of inferior material and quickly discarded.

FRANCESCA: If a tool receives proper care and handling, it may be useful for many years, and considered a prize possession. But if it is ill used, to be thrown away too soon, it is not the fault of the tool, but of the craftsman. Do you hear me, devil?! Have a care you do not discard your tools in haste!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Excerpt from the play CORIE

BEN abandoned CORIE twenty years ago. Now he has returned, telling her that he never stopped loving her. At the point where we pick up the dialogue, we are well into the second Act, and BEN has just informed CORIE that he is dieing of leukemia.

CORIE: Window’s still hot. Been dark for hours, but th’ window’s still warm t’ th’ touch. An awning would be nice, don’t ya think? Some cool shade from th’ heat o’ th’ sun. Wouldn’t that be nice?

BEN: Would you sit down for a minute?

CORIE: Had an awning once. Cheap flimsy thing, all canvas an’ wood. Norm tol’ me th’ first big wind an’ it’d be gone. It was.

BEN: I’m worried about you.

CORIE: I know what I want – saw a pitcher o’ it in th’ Sears catalogue. Aluminum an’ steel. Pretty, too. White with a green edge. I could order it – be here in a couple weeks. Wouldn’t take long for us t’ put it up. An’ then we could … we could … somethin’ …

BEN: Please don’t do this.

CORIE: What? I’m not doin’ nothin’.

BEN: You’ve had enough pain in your life. I don’t want to cause you any more.

CORIE: Ya don’t cause me pain. You’re m’ pleasure an’ m’ joy. Don’t ya know that?

BEN: I have leukemia.

CORIE: An’ you’re getting’ better. That’s what them pills are for. Ya haven’t coughed hardly, all day.

BEN: Some days are better than others, that’s all.

CORIE: Don’t wanna talk ‘bout it no more.

BEN: We have to.

CORIE: Monday – no, wait – Tuesday, we’ll drive up t’ th’ clinic in Elkhorn.

BEN: That won’t help.

CORIE: Lincoln, then. They got hospitals there, good as anywhere.

BEN: You’re not listening. I’m not going to get any better.

CORIE: Stop sayin’ that.

BEN: It’s true.

CORIE: Ya don’t know that – not for certain. Not for positive certain.

(BEN starts to object.)

No. Lemme finish. I know what you’re thinkin’ – I don’t know what I’m talkin’ ‘bout, jus’ clutchin’ at straws. Well, maybe I am, but so what? I’ll clutch at ‘em all day, if I’ve a mind t’. Beats layin’ down an’ diein’, don’t it? I buried m’ maw an’ paw, m’ son, an’ m’ best frien’. An I’ll tell ya somethin’, I purely didn’t like it much. Held Edie’s han’ for twenty-six hours straight, ‘till it wasn’t Edie no more, jus’ a dead thing liein’ there. But I never gave up – hopin’, prayin’ – never did. So if ya think I’m gonna give up easy on you, you’re wrong! I won’t! An’ if I won’t, why are you?

BEN: You think that’s what I’ve done?

CORIE: Ya made me a promise once.

BEN: What was that?

CORIE: Don’t ya remember? When we was first together, an’ everythin’ was such a wonder – we stayed up ‘till three, four in th’ mornin’, every night?

BEN: We made a lot of promises.

CORIE: One. One special one. Ya promised when we got old, you’d try t’ live long enough so I could die before ya? Ya remember? I didn’t wanna be old an’ alone without ya. Scared me. Shouldn’t I only pretend that happened?

BEN: Don’t be cynical.

CORIE: I’m not – don’t have ‘nough experience for it – ‘cept what I learned from you.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Excerpt from the play ROUGH DRAFT

THE WRITER is completing the rough draft of a story. At this point the character of RUPERT has returned to his lover CYNTHIA after being away at war.

RUPERT: Cynthia. My love. You’ve changed.

CYNTHIA: Changed, my dearest? I haven’t changed – I have stayed just as you remembered me. It’s you who have changed.

RUPERT: I suppose I have. The war …

CYNTHIA: I know.

RUPERT: What do you know?! Wait – I’m sorry … I was wounded, did I tell you that? How have I changed?

CYNTHIA: In little ways.

RUPERT: It was in the Google …


RUPERT: Where I was wounded.

CYNTHIA: Oh? And where is that … exactly … where …?

RUPERT: About a hundred miles north of Paris.

CYNTHIA: Oh. And … I mean … where does it hurt?

(THE WRITER types.)

RUPERT: In my head.

(THE WRITER types.)

In my arm.

(THE WRITER types.)

In a place I can’t show you at the moment.

CYNTHIA: Oh dear.

RUPERT: Oh dear?

CYNTHIA: I’m sorry you were wounded.

RUPERT: I was wounded?

CYNTHIA: That’s what you just said.

RUPERT: I did?

CYNTHIA: You don’t remember?

RUPERT: Remember what?

CYNTHIA: Being wounded.

RUPERT: I was wounded?

CYNTHIA: In the Google.

RUPERT: A hundred miles north of Paris.


RUPERT: I don’t remember.

CYNTHIA: Nothing? Anything?

RUPERT: It comes and goes. Did I tell you I was wounded?

CYNTHIA: Yes. Beside that, what do you remember?

RUPERT: Clean slate. Nothing.


RUPERT: Why is that?

CYNTHIA: How should I know?

RUPERT: It bothers you, doesn’t it? We know each other, and it bothers you I don’t remember.

CYNTHIA: The important thing is that you get better.

RUPERT: We’ve known each other a long time? We’ve known each other a short time? We do know each other.

(CYNTHIA stares it Rupert,)

Oh-h-h …


RUPERT: We … know, that is, KNOW … and uh, that is, YOU … and you know that … I don’t … I mean I DO, I really do, but I don’t … know … that I do … know. Is this making any sense to you at all?

CYNTHIA: I’m trying.

RUPERT: So I was thinking … that is, you know, I was thinking …


RUPERT: I was thinking, I mean – it occurred to me that, if maybe, maybe we were to uh, that is, if we … knew each other … a little … maybe my memory would come back. Maybe. You know – I think that doing things that are familiar to me … might … it was just a thought.

CYNTHIA: Do you really think that would help?

RUPERT: Cross my heart!

CYNTHIA: I don’t know what to say.

RUPERT: I understand.

CYNTHIA: If you really think that would help …

RUPERT: I do! I do!

THE WRITER: Rupert hesitated, wondering if now was the time …

RUPERT: No no no. Hesitation – bad thing. Bad. Mind your own business!

THE WRITER: … wondering if now was the time to tell her …

RUPERT: Tomorrow! I’ll tell her tomorrow! Promise!

THE WRITER: ... the time to tell her his terrible secret ...

RUPERT: Later tonight. I’ll tell her tonight. Later.

THE WRITER: … this terrible secret he had been keeping …

RUPERT: Fifteen minutes! Please!

THE WRITER: … a secret he could no longer keep alone. A secret he must share with …

RUPERT: Alright! Alright! So what’s this big deal secret? And make it quick.

THE WRITER: Approaching Cynthia, he takes her tenderly in his arms …

RUPERT: That part’s good.

THE WRITER: Looking deep into her eyes, he says …

RUPERT: Darling, there’s something I have to tell you.

CYNTHIA: What is that, my dearest?

RUPERT: I have no idea. What?

THE WRITER: I have an incurable disease.

RUPERT: I’ve got a very bad cold. (HE coughs once.)

THE WRITER: I have a wife and three children in another town.

RUPERT: I have relatives in Outer Mongolia.

CYNTHIA: You do?

RUPERT: So it seems.

CYNTHIA: We’ll have to go visit them sometime.

RUPERT: Yeah sure.

THE WRITER: I’m actually gay.

RUPERT: I’m actually ga … ga …very happy to be here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

An excerpt from the play MORGAN

I’m in a mood tonight. Melancholy. It’s late. Dark. Quiet. In the past, this has not always been a good thing for me. Normally on nights like this I’d enjoy nothing better than to go out and howl at the moon. I truly want to do that.

However. It’s raining outside. From past experience, I know it’s difficult for me to get a good howl going when the moon is behind the clouds and my feet are wet.

Because of this I feel more inclined to share something with you tonight. It’s funny in a way. I’ve made all these claims about being a playwright, and I don’t think I’ve ever shared anything I’ve written.

And so, BECAUSE it’s late, and BECAUSE I’m in a mood, I’m going to give you what I consider to be the best monologue from the best play I’ve written. You’ve never seen it before. I’ve never offered it for production. But I give it to you tonight because you will understand what I’m saying.

A young Morgan le Fay has joined a coven of witches in order to advance her knowledge of magical spells. Her teacher, however, is concerned that Morgan’s focus is along the lines of black magic only, ignoring the more common earth magic and potions.

WITCH: A mage of worth is filled with wonder for all things. Knowledge is gleaned from the richness and variety of experiences. She can ill afford the luxury of a SINGLE abiding passion. If one favors the darkness, she will be blinded by the light.

MORGAN: And if the light gives naught but pain, would she not be wise to avoid it?

WITCH: And in so doing, avoid all the light may disclose? Smell the air. Do it.

(MORGAN sniffs the air,)

What say you? What do you perceive?

MORGAN: Nothing. Air.

WITCH: You do not allow yourself the most simple – the most basic – of pleasures. There’s no weakness, no surrender, in the enjoyment of that which is freely given. Given! Not bartered. Not sold or purchased. The light, the air …

MORGAN: Nothing is freely given! Not even air. It is taken!

WITCH: Can you not smell the scent of hay fresh mown? The faint tickle of dry leaves burning? You take them, true enough. But what price is attached? The trees below, shimmering in the moonlight … The stars above. Look to the stars, tell what you see, what you feel … what THEY cost you.

MORGAN: I once thought they be not stars but mirrors of my soul – those myriad twinklings set apart, aloof. How alike we are, I thought, to watch as bourgeous kingdoms rise, gasp for life and fall. To remain pure, chaste, unreached and unreachable, thereby avoiding the countenance of that soiled creature – God, in His perfect wisdom – permitted to begrime the earth. To live forever! To never age, or … or if to die, to die apurpose, a bright burning gash across the heavens. I thought them supreme! Omnipotent! One with the creator! But with the coming of the simple morn they depart, those stars. Frightened – no, offended – by the belligerence of the sun. I remain. I. Take me with you! Leave me not to face the iniquities of this little life … which draw me away … which make me less like you.

(MORGAN laughs.)

They do not hear me. Or, if hearing, disdainfully ignore my supplication. And in my heart, that secret place where truth be not denied, I am pleased – grateful! For if in compassion they respond, then they be more like me than I would be like them. And so … for a space I forgot them, moved as I was toward consuming sorrow, the pain within all too jealous for attention. And now I think again we are alike, those stars and I. Distant. Untouched. Unknowing. Affecting not the nature of any living thing, save as a curiosity. Existing for the mere sake of … existing.

WITCH: A pity there be no magic to fill an empty heart.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


... from one who has done that.


Friday, May 23, 2008

Running For Office

No, I'm not using this space to promote one potential president over another. But I think there are single pictures that define a candidate. For example:

Everyone assumed Dewey would beat Truman. So much so, that some newspapers were printed in advance.

When Gary Hart ran for president, he dared the press to get him. This photo with Donna Rice did it.

Michael Dukakis thought this picture would help him. It was memorable, alright. It ended his career.

And then there is this picture. In the foreground is Barack Obama, standing in front of 75,000 people on May 18, 2008, in Portland, Oregon. Win or lose, my thought is that this picture will ultimately define the campaign.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

New Kid On The Block

Hey gang,

The picture on the left is of JAYNIE ROBERTS, a playwright living on the west coast. Jaynie appears to be on a par with most of us - certainally facing all the questions and hurdles we talk about every day. Check her out. She doesn't bite ... I don't think.

And how was your day?

Monday, May 19, 2008

My Life As A Movie

I value my friends. Most are involved in the Arts in one manner or the other.

All are unique. One such friend is Dan, who - on a bet- watched a thousand movies in one year. He later wrote a school report on his venture, and I thought it was interesting. How many people could or would attempt such a thing? So here are a (very) few highlights from his report. Enjoy.


One thousand movies in one year. It is such a mind boggling feat to attempt. With the average length of a movie standing at 1 hour and 45 minutes, that comes out to be about twenty percent of an entire year. Given that most people sleep for at least a quarter of a day, watching movies for a little less than a quarter of a day is a rather sizable chunk.

Devoting one’s year mostly to watching movies could be considered a strange thing, but the oddest thing was that a few of the movies I watched coincided with what was going on in my life.

Four months in, I was Harry Burns from When Harry Met Sally.

I was the Man with No Name in A Fistful of Dollars. Like them, I was a mercenary for hire.

I was at movie five hundred. I was over the hump. It could only go downhill from here.

I was Woody from Toy Story. No, I wasn’t a toy nor was I a cowboy.

I finished my one thousandth movie a week before my year was up. It ended with my favorite movie of all time, Pulp Fiction.

Now that I was done, I had all the free time in the world. I literally didn’t have to watch three movies a day anymore. I could hang out with friends more, play the video games that have been piling up, or even catch up on the music that I have missed. I just didn’t know what to do with my time, so I decided do the one thing that I wasn’t able to do for that entire year. This was something that I really wanted to do. So I did it.

I decided to watch The Sting.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

In response to a post dated Saturday, 5/17, on one of my favorite blogs, Spirituality 4 Dummies.

Birdie Dear,

Whenever I’ve been involved in almost any form of outreach ministry, I’ve always run into those people who say to me, “I can have a relationship with God, or I can have a relationship with people, but I can’t do both. I can worship God quite well in my back yard, thank you. I don’t need a building.”

To be blunt, this approach to theology not only doesn’t work, it’s a lie. Jesus said, “love your God with all your heart, AND love your neighbor as yourself.” (We tend to ignore that second part.) He also said, “take up your cross and follow me.” (We REALLY want to ignore that one.)

Why? How does that actually apply to us?

First, it’s easy to say “today I’m going to improve somebody’s life – I’m going to bring some lucky person truth and love, harmony and grace, I’m going to give this sorry individual something truly wonderful – me!” (So … okay … maybe we don’t put it EXACTLY that way, but … if we are truly honest, we figure we’ve got it more together than the human jetsam with whom we are dealing. If we were truly honest we’d say that.)

The hard fact is this; it’s a two-way street. Not only are we supposed to go out, but we are also supposed to open the front door and invite the hypocrites IN. “No, really, I insist. Have a seat. Sure, you can put your feet on my coffee table. No problem.” It’s called an invasion of our personal private space. It’s called giving beyond tokenism. It’s called accountability – and to people who are our inferiors (and maybe a little scary), at that.

And here’s the funny part. God’s world is often backwards from our own. We are supposed to reach out to others because it’s beneficial to us. When we extend grace and mercy to people who are truly unworthy, maybe … maybe maybe maybe we get some small idea of what it’s like when God extends grace and mercy to us.


Friday, May 16, 2008


First it was Julie (103 things you may not know about me.) I survived that one. Several of us survived that one, come to think of it. Maybe more than several.

SHEEP! That’s what we are – sheep sheep sheep!

Anyway … (heavy breathing aside) … I thought as long as I stayed off the Internet, I’d be just fine.

And then along came Fred. (Hmmm. “Along Came Fred.” Sounds like a 1960’s beach movie, doesn’t it?)

This was emailed to me today. The request was to fill in the information, send it to everybody I know blah blah blah.

Why me, Fred? What have I ever done to you? Uh … never mind, don’t answer that.

Anyway, here’s what I received:

Four, Four, Four, Four...
A) Four places I go to over and over:
B) Four people who e-mail me regularly:
C) Four of my favorite places to eat:
D) Four places I would rather be right now:
E) Four people I think will respond:
F) Four TV shows I watch all the time:

And I started to answer, when it occurred to me that the questions were far more interesting than the answers.

SO; here are my answers, Fred. Here are also my questions ABOUT the questions.

Four, Four, Four, Four...

A) Four places I go to over and over: (Please define “go to over and over.” “The bathroom” is the first place that comes to mind. Maybe “the kitchen” would be the second place. “The bedroom” and “back to the bathroom” would complete my answer to that question. Then again, do you mean OUTSIDE the house? In that case, my answers would be “to Wendy’s,” “to church,” “to seed,” and “to pieces.”)

B) Four people who e-mail me regularly: (The salesperson who tells me I just won a new computer, anonymous, a man wanting to know if I can tell him where my ex-wife is presently living, and – oh yeah – Fred.

C) Four of my favorite places to eat: (That one’s easy – laying down, sitting up, standing, anyplace in between.)

D) Four places I would rather be right now: Los Angeles, Moscow, Toronto, asleep – but not necessarily in that order.)

E) Four people I think will respond: (Before I answer that question, please answer this one. Respond to what?)

F) Four TV shows I watch all the time: (Four? You’re telling me there are four now?)

There. I’ve answered your questions. Now – Julie, Birdie, Lorie, Q, LuLu, Nicki, Fay, Dan – I invite all of you to join in. It’s fun!

(Do you maybe get the very slight impression that if I’m going down, I wanna take as many of you with me as I can?)

If so …


Tuesday, May 13, 2008


There's no social comment here. I just think this is a great poster, and I like looking at it every once in awhile.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A question of Innocence

On her blog, One Lap Around The Sun, Julie Morrison posed the question, “What is innocence?” I thought this was a good question – had, in fact, worked through this issue a few years ago, and without a satisfactory answer.

Here’s what I thought at the time, and a few of the pitfalls I encountered. Maybe, with your help, together we can at least point this question in a better direction.

Let’s start with our old friend, Noah Webster. He defines innocence as following; “(a) a freedom from guilt or sin through being unacquainted with evil: (b) chastity: (c) freedom from legal guilt of a particular crime: (d) freedom from guile or cunning: (e) lack of knowledge.”

So, okay, that all looks good. But one thing is left out of the equation, and that’s perception. Webster says innocence is “being unacquainted with evil.” (Point a). But isn’t the perception of evil subjective? For example, we consider slavery to be evil, but we didn’t always feel that way. Were the founding fathers of this country evil?

Here’s another question regarding perception. A few years ago there was a backlash by Christians against the Harry Potter books. Many people argued that these were occult in nature. (And several of these same people argued that Halloween falls under the same heading.) At the time I was interested in these questions, and read every article and book I could find which addressed these issues. Here was the (general) conclusion. The Harry Potter books are evil if you think they are evil. In other words, if you read something that in your mind you consider as evil, then it is evil. (Point e) Although I thought this response was simplistic, there was a grain of truth here.

Here’s another way to look at it; a person who is naked is regarded as anywhere from pornographic to embarrassing, at any rate lacking in chastity. (Point b) But a nude person is considered to be Art. You could say I’m arguing semantics here, but I’m not. I’m arguing perception.

In this same regard, you can’t even use the Bible as a reference point. (Point c). In Matthew 5 it says that “everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court …” In other words, our debate here is seemingly moot – no one is innocent.

And that, my friend, is as far as I got. Where innocence is concerned, my vague and unsatisfactory conclusion is that this quicksilver quality is largely illusion. A specific society in a specific country at a specific time determines what or who is innocent within the framework of that society, at and in that time and place. And this society as a whole is made up of cell groups – perhaps a large number of them. In turn, each cell is membered by individuals, each with personality scarred by both heritage and experience.

Is innocence, then, like beauty, determined in the eye of the beholder?

What do you think?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Spending Time With Friends

I spent the evening with friends. Five of us sat around a table on a second floor balcony overlooking the lobby of a very large yuppie church. As we munched on our smuggled-in pizza, we ignored the two score people below us who were on their way to a variety of classes.

We were there for a common purpose. Being writers, we talked about writing. But there was an intimacy and a respect and a trust that permitted a most uncommon vulnerability to permeate our discussions.

When I returned home (and for the remainder of the night), thoughts of Sam, Julie, Kim, and Kerry floated lightly just on the edge of my conscious mind. Something had evolved in my relationship to this group.

The answer, of course, was that we had become friends. At the same time, this same answer seems simplistic, certainly overworked and often misapplied. We had been strangers. By joining and regularly participating in the same writer’s group, we had become the equivalent of co-workers. When had this become something more?

My question, then, is this; what are “friends?” Is it possible to define this type of relationship? (And if you CAN define it, does that in some way weaken it?) I turned to poetry – I wanted to find something that would express, well, the spirit of a group friendship. Nothing was there. Apparently, according to the very best of poets, a “friendship” is something that only happens between a man and a woman – resulting in and/or leading to heavy breathing on SOMEBODY’s part, then yeah, sure, that’s friendship. Must be it. Gotta be.

But how do you define a group of people who just like to get together and hang out?

Huh? Whadda ya say to that?

Being a writer, I may need to know how things like this happen. What if I wanna write about it some day? So, have you thought about that?

See what you guys have done to me? No no. All you wanna do is get together and enjoy each other’s company. Is that fair? Selfish – that’s what I’d call it. I mean – would I do something like that to you?

And … can we do something like that again? Soon?