Sunday, November 24, 2013


     Sorry we haven't chatted in awhile.

     Writing has picked up considerably. So has exposure, apparently.

     I entered a short play in a local contest. It won a presentation, which was a week or so ago. I attended, and I must tell you, it's always a grand feeling when you see people saying your words, expressing your thoughts ...

     I entered TWO one-act plays in a contest in Atlanta, Georgia. This was months ago, and I have been told that both are still in consideration. ONE would be fine, but the chances that both are still in the running, well, that is rare indeed, and I am certainly honored.

     In mid summer I entered one of my better plays in the Writer's Digest Playwriting Competition. Results will be announcer in the Spring. Modestly, my plays have always placed well in this contest during previous years, and they graciously gush over my work. Still, who knows? Maybe somebody will see this one and do something ... (And why not? I'm having a good year so far.)

     A play I wrote for a competition in Indiana is also doing well. The man in charge has called me several times, and I'm impressed by how impressed HE is. I really do hope this one wins - serious money here.

     And all this has inspired me, at least to some degree. I'm in the process of writing a sequel to one of my earlier plays. Never done that before. Fun and very interesting.

     So there you have it - ego trip all the way, but I wanted you to know what's been going on in my life.

     As always, thanks for being there.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Civil War In Syria, And Our Involvement In It.

     I posted this on Facebook and got such a response that I thought I would re-post it here.

     I have been reading with great interest about our growing itch to involve ourselves in the Syrian civil war. We are presently approaching the point where Congress and the Senate will approve the President’s request to punish the President of Syria for (supposedly) gassing his own people. 

     This brings three questions to my mind. 

     First, who are we gonna hit? I don’t see good guy-bad guy here. I see bad guy-worse guy here. They keep changing positions, and none of them at all like us very much. 

     Second, we will go in there on the pretext that gassing people is a bad thing. Isn’t the implication there, then, that dropping bombs on them is acceptable? 

     And third, I don’t have enough of the facts. I certainly don’t trust any news service. Everyone seems to have his own spin on what is or should be the proper course of action, based on inside information only a select few posess. For whatever reason, Russian President Vladimir Putin seems to be the only mature intelligent voice out there, and that truly does scare me. Truth is, nobody wants us there. And, as bad as it is, it’s a civil war. My thinking is that as long as the conflict remains within the borders of Syria, it would be in our best interests to stay out of it. On the other hand, when have we ever done that?


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A (somewhat) New Path

     I took back my life a few days ago.

     As a writer, I've enjoyed my share of success. Certainly I've seen a number of my plays produced. But there was always a quality to that effort - everything being a "hands on" experience, up to a point. Then I got my agent who lives in Oregon (I've had two agents as a playwright. The first one lived in South Carolina and worked tirelessly for me. seven days a week.) And, perhaps that's the point - my last agent was selective, allowing opportunities to pass that I felt should have been investigated. (On the other hand, he booked one of my plays at a theatre in Edinburgh Scotland I never thought would have happened, since in it I poke fun - lightly - at the Scots.) The point of all this is that my agent and I have parted company, and I am once again booking my own plays, making my own decisions (and keeping the 15% commission). Shall I find another agent? Of course. Eventually. In the meantime I'm looking, and finding the present situation not entirely unpleasant.

     And I'm starting a new play. The babe and I went to a Farmer's Market last weekend and I bought a loaf of bread from a charming baker who told me she loves her work, and would "bake bread 24 hours a day if (her) husband would let her." With that thought, I was hooked - and am in process of writing a one-act about a woman who gets up at 2:30 in the morning to start a loaf of bread baking, and then goes back to bed. The entire play is dialogue between husband and wife IN the bed. (And for those gentile readers who might be shocked about a play where a man and woman are in bed together, I would point out the fact that since they ARE married, there will not even be the suggestion of sex involved ...)

     For the first time in a goodly number of years, I'm not directing any plays, nor do I have any scheduled in the near future. I would never have thought this - lack - would bother me, but it does! (One of the great secrets of relaxation is to yell at actors for a couple of hours and then go somewhere and have a very dry martini.) As a point of interest, the last theatre I worked for just entered their first play in a contest without me. (They came in at a dismal last place ...)  

     Just this week I got back from visiting my new doctor ... (I've outlived my previous THREE. What does that tell you?} Anyway, I received a completely clean bill of health. (And this somewhat surprises me. I've rarely done anything to actually deserve that.

     ... except perhaps one thing. I love to walk, and am blessed with an abundance of parks nearby. Two days ago I found myself on a pier, half a mile in length, that surrounds a peninsula. The pier is just off shore, and if there's a purpose to it all, I certainly can't find it. There's not even a play here. Fiction, unlike reality, must make sense somewhere along the line.

     And how was YOUR day?


Friday, August 23, 2013


     Today is Friday, August 23rd, 2013 at exactly 9:01 PM, according to the little measurer of time that's built into my computer. I don't know why I feel that it's important to have said that, except that when I post these things sometimes it says it's 2:47 in the morning and it really isn't.

     I entered two plays in a contest today - in a city where I once worked. In fact, the theatre where the plays will be read is a building I helped design, and then moved away before the first shovel of sod was turned over. Just thinking about it gave me an odd feeling. And it still does at this very moment.

     I was offered the opportunity to co-direct a play written by a friend of mine. After attending a couple of rehearsals I dropped out. Without going into a lot of details, have you ever been involved in a project and every instinct in you is telling you to leave by the nearest exit? (I co-directed a play a couple of years ago, and I should have known better this time. It's like two men in a canoe trying furiously to paddle in different directions at the same time.)

     I am acting as an advisor (only) to another friend who is also directing a play. It came to me that for the first time in half a century I don't have a play of my own to direct. I have purposely backed away - for awhile - so I could do some serious writing, but it's amazing how quickly you can find yourself out of touch.

     I feel better now. Thank you for allowing me to bring you up to date on my musings.


Friday, July 5, 2013

The 5th of July

     Another 4th of July has come and gone. I know there were parades. I didn't go. It's not that I'm lacking in patriotism - I'm not. But in those periods of time when we are not at war with ... somebody, we quickly forget why we celebrate this holiday in the first place. Let's face it - veterans marching down the street are not nearly as interesting as the well-endowed pageant queen in the back seat of an open convertible. (For that matter, when was the last time you actually saw veterans marching down the street?)

     And so, we choose to honor High School marching bands, clowns on miniature motorcycles, and candidates for political office. We have replaced flag carriers with participants in bed races. And perhaps this is a good thing. Germany and Japan, once our most bitter enemies, have prospered with our help and become our strong supporters. Russia actually needs us now for a number of economic reasons, and England - (Remember them? That's where all this started.) England has almost blindly followed us in too many of our adventures ... (Think not? Ask Tony Blair. Isn't he presently the British representative to the South Pole?)

     So I stay home - listen to the fireworks (and gun fire) from a respectable distance. I drink a shot of Vodka in Mexican beer to all those who have gone before me and those who have followed. God bless you! I thank you for your sacrifices. I would love to think we have learned something from our history, and that your descendants will never be called upon to follow in your footsteps ...

but I don't think that will happen.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Shameless plug time ...

My wife's novel, PAINTING THE RAIN, has now been published by for Kindle reading (or on iPad or use to send it to your personal computer.) If you are interested, it can be found (easier) by looking for both the title AND the author (J.E. Ocean). It costs about $10.00 American to download, but the process is amazingly easy ... (And obviously so - I did it.)

The story is based on a play we co-authored, but she "fleshed out" the characters and plot to an absolutely amazing degree.

Of course I'm prejudiced, but from my own professional point of view, the work is gripping, and the climax both powerful and unique.

She is now working on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th books. I can hardly wait.


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Our house

Finally, after many years, I'm living in the home of my dreams.

My wife, being an artist, has decorated our rooms with warmth and whimsy ...

A stoneware image of the kid ...

And Chicken George, who guards our front door.

Our family history grins at us from our stairs.

I love impressionistic art, like this ...

... and this, which is actually a part of the set for OF MICE AND MEN.

Being writers, we do not own a television set, unless you want to consider this pillow on our bed ..

Ok, ok, I lied. I keep a 7 inch TV hidden in my sock drawer, and when my wife is away I send the cat out of the room, turn out all the lights, and watch "Are You Being Served?"

I hope you're happy now. You know all my secrets.


Friday, June 28, 2013


My wife's book is scheduled to be available in the Kindle version on Amazon within the next five days.

This publishing business has certainly been an interesting experience for the both of us. PAINTING THE RAIN started as a play we co-authored. Later she decided to "flesh out" the story (adding 100,000 words ...). not knowing the finished work would go thru five editors - including myself, and result in a necessary Facebook website (J.E. Ocean), opening both a post office box and a separate bank account, and much correspondence, of course, with Amazon,. The past few days has been involved with graphic artists simply to create the book cover ... and the first reviewer has been requested.

I ... think I'm gonna stick with plays. I write, put it on a disc, send the work to somebody and they send money back. I like the simple life.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Kid

Today a casual acquaintance commented on my blog from yesterday, pointing out first that my style of placing sentences one only occasionally following another was "artsy."

Not knowing that he had already garnered umbrage, he then postulated the theory that, since her Mother and I are both ... unique, our daughter must most certainly take after (shall we say) more normal (and obviously) distant members of our families.

It is with a degree of righteous indigestion that I must point out that this individual does not know me at all; he does not know my wife, the kid, certainly nothing of our family relationships, nor any true appreciation of what is perceived by us as "normal."

And so, with only a token amount of heavy breathing, I will do somewhat to set the record straight.

In regard to the writing "style" of the last blog, I'm sorry to disappoint you. I wrote in the correct form - that is to say in a manner acceptable to most schools where grammatically flatulent sentence structure is encouraged. When I hit "Publish," the blogger mucked it up. I didn't look at it until today, and I wouldn't change it now unless someone gave me cookies.

In regard to Art, my wife is the true artist, and I'm an acceptable craftsman. Together if we can imagine something, we can build it. M y philosophy has always been, "if it's not fun, don't do it." This does not make me a libertine. Rather, my mindset is on the sweet moments in life, rather than the sour. Further, as you know, I write and direct plays. Convincing actors to do things utterly humiliating is always a great reliever of stress.

In regard to daughter, she has been one of the abiding loves of my life for years, and I can honestly say she's one of my best friends.

If  I might take credit for anything, it would be in encouraging her to be whatever she wants to be.

And "normal"? OF COURSE she's normal. If you ran into her on the street, you'd hardly notice anything out of the ordinary.

Okay, the beard, maybe. And the sword. But other than THAT ...


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

OF MICE AND MEN (No, not THAT one - the OTHER one.)

     Sorry, it's been awhile since our last chat.

     I'm excited. A play I've been working on for years is nearing completion. It's THE TEAPOT COLLECTOR, and I've so enjoyed pouring my soul into it that I never actually expected it to reach a conclusion. But it is a-l-m-o-s-t there. Now I can't wait to see it finished  ...

(Aren't writers strange ducks?)

     My wife's first novel, PAINTING THE RAIN, is set to be released by Amazon on Kindle sometime this month. I have had reactions falling all over each other ...

     (1. NOW she can keep me in the style to which I might wish to be imagined)

     (2. The book is lifted from a play we co-authored. In the novel the dashing leading man -
coincidentally named Jack Petersen - is KILLED OFF by the author on page 2.)

     (3. Our daughter is getting married. The wedding is going to cost more than my first house.)

     (4. We might be able to travel to those strange mythological lands we've read about in weighty
tomes - like England. I have this abiding love for Brit wit, and, although I am comfortable with
American, French, German, and Egyptian hieroglyphics, the English language remains a
challenge. My only solace is in the fact that the English don't seem to have any more luck with
it than I do. )

     I leave you with two photographs - because I am inclined to do that. The first is aforementioned daughter, The second is Chicken George, created by my wife, and guarding one corner of the living room. In case you are confused, Daughter is the one with dark hair.


Sunday, March 31, 2013

Beyond Mockingbird

     TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD closed well. We played largely for sold-out performances (even selling the box seats reserved for the director and guests.), and often received standing ovations. I must admit, I have a good thing going. Because I direct successful plays, I get top actors to audition. And, because I get top actors to audition, I end up directing successful plays. It's not rocket science.

     AND, I keep telling myself that's it - I'm done directing. Finished. At least for awhile. Go away. I wanna write something. My wife has a novel coming out soon - a hundred and ten thousand words. And what have I written in the past year?

     I truly think I need to get away for awhile. Patterns are far too comfortable here. Juli and I have talked - England would be nice for a while. A little while. No big city. Somewhere peaceful. I could rent a big dog and a pipe. Or perhaps somewhere deep in Normandy. My French is a little rusty, but - since I am American - it's no worse than my English. On the other hand, and for no good reason I can understand - the Brits seem to actually LIKE us. With the French, you never know ...

     Gotta do something soon. I'm already scheduled to advise on plays in April and November.

     We had a good Easter today (and I hope you did, too.) Ate blackened chicken, potato salad, fire corn (don't ask), fresh croissants, hummus, olives, and tomatoes. Followed this with cheap Mexican beer and ridiculously expensive Starbucks coffee. We completed the afternoon by driving to the park where we were married and making sure "our" tree was still doing well. It is.

     Thanks for hanging in there with me while I rant. As always, afterwards I feel better.


Monday, March 11, 2013

Dear Penpal

Hi y’all …

     I thought I’d take a few minutes to bring you up to date on the direction life is taking me at the moment …

     The play I recently directed is playing quite well. The book of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is apparently required reading in some schools, so our audiences are liberally sprinkled with High School students (who sit like chess pieces among the grey heads who actually remember the times being portrayed.) In any case, we are presently playing to largely sold-out houses, and have received a more than generous share of standing ovations. (Cool. A theatre that makes money tends to invite you back. Another theatre is already in the asking questions stage of what could be negotiations … “What? We thought you retired. We are opting for this play in November, and were wondering …” Way cool.)

  My wife’s first novel, PAINTING THE RAIN, is scheduled to be released in a few weeks, and we are excited about that. The work is a fleshing out of a play we co-authored, so we could win on several fields right now. It has been my observation that when good things come my way, they happen in multiples. Don’t know why, but I’m certainly not complaining.

     And then there is Fred. Fred is a lopsided cactus plant I’ve had for years. We get along very well, thank you. I set him on the back porch in the Spring, and bring him back in sometime in the Fall (when I think of it.) And our lifestyles have outlived numerous relationships for both of us. However … what I’m trying to say in my own coy way, is that Fred and I are no longer alone. I have Juli and Fred has Fern (and a bazillion of Fern’s sisters.) The air smells clean in the corner of our dining room. It takes some getting used to.   

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Another Openin', Another Show ...

We opened to a standing ovation.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Auditions were last week-end, and went well, considering ...

     (... considering I was using the original version of the play, and the theatre had optioned a REVISED script without telling me. "It will be fine," they said. "Hardly any differences at all," they said ...)

And, of course, there were significant differences. Two actors dropped out because auditions were something less than professional (along the lines of Mickey Rooney saying, "Hey, gang, let's find a barn and do a play!) I stuck it out, and eventually things were smoothed out ... (A word to the pretenders - NEVER hold auditions for a play you haven't actually read.) The show will survive, in fact I suspect it will be quite good. (I love working with ensemble, and many of my "regular" performers auditioned.) On the other hand, I doubt - at the moment - that I will apply to direct at this particular theatre again.

I hate "blocking" a play, which consists of telling actors where to move on stage. Pretty boring stuff, this. Thursday was even MORE interesting. The theatre furnace died, and we rehearsed on a stage with the temperature hovering at 42 degrees. Some would say this is dedication. Some would say it's something else - my hands were shaking so badly I couldn't read my own writing on the script.

Other than that, everything was just ducky. I can hardly wait for the next rehearsal - Sunday evening - to see what new, uh, challenges occur.

They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I think I may go lift a Volkswagon just for fun.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

ROUGH DRAFT closes well

   ROUGH DRAFT closed today after a limited run. I surprise myself by being more disappointed in that fact than I expected to be.

    Certainly the fact of closing doesn’t bother me. I have written many plays, they all have an opening night, a run, a close, and – hopefully – someone somewhere will pick them up and the whole process starts again. Hopefully.

    And I wasn’t expecting a great deal from the company that optioned ROUGH DRAFT. They are the “Shots In The Dark Independent Theatre Company.” … uh-huh. A young group this, figuratively and literally. To my jaded eyes they were children of the old Mickey Rooney school – “Wow, gang, let’s get a barn and do a show!” (And, I suspect, they picked my show to produce because it purposely is inexpensive to stage.)

  Further, I knew from the one rehearsal I saw, they were largely inexperienced in the comedic timing necessary to pace this thing correctly.

  But – I give them this – they had talent. On each performance night they learned something new, and the show was improving measurably by the time the run ended.

 So. Will this work be done again? I suspect it will. Audiences liked it. But I would have liked to have seen this group have a handful of more shots at it, just to see how far they could have taken it.



Saturday, January 12, 2013

Ta-d-a-a-a-a-a ,,,,