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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

What Do You Think?

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And just for the record, the title to this entry is not meant to be read in a sarcastic growl.

Here's the situation: I've come to realize that there are two possible ways of marketing this show. First, as half-hour episodes. I'm figuring that I can come up with 12, which would mean that those 12 would get four plays during the course of one year.

The second approach is to group them into four bundles of three. The set of scripts I've just finished (Plant Your Wagon) and the one I've just started work on (The Political Thing) are both three-episodes sets in themselves. Further, there are three scripts related to the characters of Jerry and George. I've written two other scripts that are related by the use of TV parodies that interrelate to the main story. The 12th script will use characters from both those earlier scripts, which will really tie that group together.

My thought is to try to market them as quarterly specials--perhaps in conjunction with pledge weeks. Does this make sense to anyone besides me and the Mrs? I figure that the stations would have two opportunities to insert pledge breaks, which I have to figure is a selling point, right?

On a related note, I think I'm going to change the name of the series to "Theater in a Box."

Unlike the General Election, each vote counts here. Let me know what you think. I'm interested.

Monday, March 28, 2005

All Right, So I Lied

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I know that I said that I was going to put "Plant Your Wagon" on hold, but over the weekend, I decided to forge ahead with it. The end result is a bouncing baby script. I ended up just trying to fit everything onto the end of episode three. I haven't timed it yet, but it is probably a little long, a problem with which I will deal once there's some money on the line.

But it is done. Eight half-hour scripts down, four to go.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

"Plant Your Wagon" Update

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I finished the third episode of "Plant Your Wagon" over the weekend. At least, I think I did. The problem is that the script is about five minutes short for public radio standards. It was theoretically possible to finish the whole shebang off in one scene, but I already have the final song written, which would take up about two minutes, leaving me only three minutes to wrap up the whole story. That, to me, seems to be shortchanging the work as a whole, and I'd rather be right than on schedule.

And I closed the last scene on the perfect note for the end of an episode. So, end it short I will.

Right now, I think I'll just fill in the time with a conversation with a couple of members of the cast, just get a couple of people around a table with microphones and talk about whatever for however long and then edit it down to the best five minutes.

At this point, I don't know that the fourth episode will turn out to be a full 26 minutes of dialogue either, so I might round that out with a one-act or maybe more conversation. I'm in a mood to buck the system, so why not?

Since "Plant Your Wagon" is going longer than I expected, I'm going to have to write at least one more song and think through the whole sequence of events before I start trying to write it, so I think I'm going to concentrate on Drayton for a while and try to get that draft finished so that I can add to my collection of rejection slips before I'm too old to appreciate them.

And, of course, I'll keep blogging.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Drayton Reborn

As you may or may not not know or remember, I have been slowly writing a novel and posting the accumulation on a blog called Michael Drayton, Detective Guy. The problem for the average reader, though, was that, in true blog style, it was coming out in bits and pieces and each new bit would displace the bit before it and the only way to read the damn thing was backwards.

I have fixed that. I have created a new blog called Michael Drayton, Detective Guy that has an index as the first page. Each chapter is listed and linked in correct order, so all the reader has to do is click on the link to Chapter One and go from there.

Please feel free to check it out and tell your friends, especially those friends who are editors at prestigious publishing houses. It is a work in progress, so only the first nine chapters are currently posted. However, I have started Chapter Ten and will continue posting completed chapters as they occur. And I'm hoping to give this some serious attention again very soon.

And thanks to those who have kept with me through this.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

St. Patrick's Day

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I am half Irish by heritage, a fact that I end up contemplating every March 17th. Actually, I’m not quite half Irish; to claim so would be a falsehood. My mother was the Irish-American descendent of Irish-American parents. Her father was the first member of his family to be born in the United States, his older brother and sister having been brought to fruition in the Old Sod. Her mother’s family had been in the U.S. since before the Revolution, apparently (and I mean the American Revolution, not the one the Irish call The ‘17), and a small amount of miscegenation had allegedly occurred along the way. My great-grandmother is quoted as saying, “I have some English blood in me, and if I knew which vein it was in, I’d open it up and let it out.”

Also, judging from the jet-black hair my mother had in her youth, we are what you call “Black Irish.” That means that one of the Spanish survivors of the defeated and destroyed Armada who washed up on the Irish side of the Irish Sea wound up falling for some fair Colleen among whose descendents I count myself.

You don’t have to be Irish to write a sentence like that last, but it doesn’t hurt.

My grandfather’s family came from a town called Arva in County Cavan. Cavan is in the Republic despite being part of the Province of Ulster, due to it having a Catholic majority of its population back when the partition was made in the ‘20s. I am an Ulsterman, no doubt descended on a line from Cúchulainn himself, and proud of it, despite The Troubles, despite the IRA, despite their Protestant counterparts. Were an Orangeman to approach me, I would gladly offer my hand in friendship, not a fist in anger. It’s the only answer.

For many years, I refused to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day. When someone would inevitably come up to me and ask, “Where’s your green?” I’d point to the veins in my wrist and say, “In there.”

I do not drink green beer, although there might be a Guinness in my future. I have been known to occasionally taste Irish whiskey, whiskey being an Irish word meaning, I think, “waters of life.” My grandmother cooked with an Irish flair, which means that everything was cooked into submission and served hot and inedible. The Army used to use her pork chops to line armored vehicles and her vegetables looked like they had been on the Bataan Death March. This is why you rarely hear people say, “Let’s get Irish tonight.”

It is a grand culture, and one about which I know too little. I’ve picked up bits here and there and spent some wonderful times in the company of the Rhode Island Irish Drama Society. And that’s one thing you have to say about them Micks. They know how to throw a great party. And so, on this St. Patrick’s Day, let me offer you the Irish toast: Sláinte!

Monday, March 14, 2005

Passing the Stick (Better Than Passing the Stone)

Taking the stick from Stephanie:

1. You're stuck inside Farenheit 451. Which book do you want to be?

In Fahrenheit 451, individuals memorize one book apiece in order to preserve them. (I was reminded of this by another blogger who did this survey.) Therefore, the question is, which book would I like to memorize. Given the current state of my memory, I better choose The Cat in the Hat.

2. Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

Maybe the whore who beguiles Yossarian in Catch-22. You want ficky-fick? Oh, wait. Charlotte from Charlotte’s Web. Thirty-eight years later and still going strong.

3. The last book you bought was...?

My wife and I tend to buy collectively, but, I’d say it was The Skin of Our Teeth.

4. The last book you read was...?

Will in the World by Stephen Greenblatt. A biography of Shakespeare. Interesting reading, but closer to speculative fiction than biography. And I’m a confirmed Stratfordian.

5. What are you currently reading?

Franklin and Winston by Jon Meacham. As in Roosevelt and Churchill. Interesting and well-written histoical study of the realtionship between the two.

6. Five books you would take to a desert island...

Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
Much Ado About Me by Fred Allen
Six Plays by Kaufman and Hart by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart
The Wisdom of Laotse by Lin Yutang

What three people are you passing this stick on to and why?

Phil -- because it could fall anywhere in the cultural spectrum from SpongeBob to James Joyce.
Mark – who doesn’t have a blog, because I don’t know what to expect. (He can use my blog, if he’d like.)
Robert – who also doesn’t have a blog, because he cares about literature and what it can do. (He’s also welcome to use my blog, if he’d like.)

Monday, March 07, 2005

My 'Net Worth Increases

Last Friday night, I was sitting in front of the TV letting the narcotizing effect of cathode ray help me readjust after a surreal day, when I heard the chime come from the PC indicating that an email had arrived.

Being a compulsive consumer of mail both electronic and postal, I got up to see what it was. It turned out to be from one of the webmasters of The Firesign Theatre website. He was seeking to link to this here Blog in order to give the folks on their mailing list (some 1300) the chance to inflict my tale of going west on themselves.

In reply, I offered him the manuscript of the entire thing if he wanted it. He did. As a result, I am now represented on the web not only by this Blog, but also by this tiny corner of the Firesign website.

What does all this mean? Probably not much, although it is nice to get published by somebody who isn’t me.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Post Script

Apparently the ending on the recently concluded series of posts, "The Adventure," was a bit sudden for the typical reader. The reason it stopped so suddenly is because that day is a blank to me. After I gassed up the Chevy Airbag, I kind of lost consciousness. However, my wife has pledged to help me reconstruct the events of that day so that I can write one more installment, one that will give America (or the most infinitesimal fraction thereof) the ending it craves.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The Adventure, Part IX: Hello, I Must Be Going

We applied our time-tested method of getting lost in order to find anything to the search for a restaurant. Rounding a bend, we came upon a Chili’s. Unfortunately, we didn’t notice it quickly enough and couldn’t get to it without becoming the kindling in a two-car ball of fire. A mall loomed ahead on the left and, although the mall itself was closed, there seemed to be a restaurant still functioning. On closer inspection, it turned out to be an Applebee’s. It was after 11:00 and the rest of the city seemed to be dark.

We pulled into the mall parking lot and got to a convenient parking spot in front of Applebee’s just in time to see the last employees drifting out into the night. It had just closed.

Having the can-do spirit that made this nation great, we regrouped and decided to go back to the Chili’s. Having learned circumspection, we approached cautiously. There were encouraging signs: For example, the lights were on and there were cars in the parking lot. We strode to the door insouciant and fancy-free. That is, we were until were got a gander at the hours of operation. They closed at 11:30. It was now 11:25. We entered the vestibule wondering if we would be welcomed or ejected as latecomers and ne’er-do-wells. A young lady greeted us at the door. “Is it too late to eat?” Mark asked.

“Of course not!” she said and showed us to a booth.

We ate, we drank, we talked, we laughed. The two—uh—robust gentlemen who had sat to my right during the first act of the show were seated a couple of booths away. For an hour or so, we pelted each other with our thoughts and observations. We couldn’t be certain, but the waitress—the same young lady who had seated us—seemed to be favoring our table over the other ones she was tethered to.

She gave us simple directions for getting back to the motel, directions that we came close to screwing up, but didn’t. Back at Fun Central, a bottle of scotch was cracked, but the party was breaking up. Bernie went to his room. I realized that I had been awake for 24-hours straight, and Mark and I drank a toast to this accomplishment.

I was going to have to get up at 5:30 in order to get to the airport in time get properly searched, so I stumbled off to my room and bed. The party was over.

* * * * *

My old friend adrenalin kicked into gear as soon as my alarm rang. Before you could say, “hospitalized for exhaustion,” I was showered, shaved, and dressed and on my way to drop off my key card.

The lobby was closed and a sign directed me to the night window. I pressed the bell and a sullen youth appeared at the window. I slid my key card into the tray, and he took it, looked off to his right and said something that didn’t quite make it as far as my side of the bulletproof glass. It sounded like he had said, “Stay there,” so that’s what I did. After a minute or two, the sullen youth reappeared at the window and said, quite audibly, “I said, ‘You’re all set.’” His demeanor and the edge to his voice made it clear to me that I was no longer welcome at that window, so I adjourned to the Chevy Airbag.

Traffic was almost nonexistent as I glided along the One-O-One toward the bridge. It being the Bay Area, fog clung to the contours of the road and hills, and everything was beautiful and serene and quiet. I crossed the bridge, and the towers disappeared into the fog and clouds.

Everything was going smoothly until I was faced with a fork not far past the tollbooths. The sign was no help, so I just stayed with what seemed to be the main route. This turned out to be the wrong way since, within moments, I was spit out on Lombard Street headed in some direction I might have known in 1969, but was clueless about now. I saw Lyon Street, which intersected with the street my boyhood home was located on at a distance of one house. I went further. I saw what appeared to be a drug deal going down on a street corner. The two young men may have been swapping recipes or waiting to donate vital organs to those less fortunate, but I didn’t care. Inside my now-fevered brain, they were drug dealers. Having been lost for much of the preceding twelve hours, I decided to cut my losses and just turn around. Maybe I could zip up Lyon Street and take a gander at the place I regarded as my true home.

I’ve since calculated that I was about one-half mile from the intersection of Washington and Lyon, from my childhood and a cargo load of memories, however, that path was blocked. Lyon Street was egress-only at Lombard.

I continued and was almost immediately greeted by a sign for Route 1. Within moments, I was back on track and retracing my steps to the airport. This time, there were no delays, no rerouting. The flights were less densely packed, and I could stretch out a bit. My calling card refused to work, so I bought some long distance so that I could keep in contact on my way. And none of it mattered. As the fifth flight I had taken in about thirty-six hours landed, the only thing that mattered was that I had finally gotten home.

The End