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Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Conning Tower

Franklin Pierce Adams was a giant in his day. Through the first four decades of the 20th Century, his initials were perhaps as well known as any other set, including TR and his nephew, FDR. He was a journalist and versifier, a translator of Horace, and a panelist on the radio quiz show, "Information, Please." He was also a cultivator of young comic talent, and his well-loved column, "The Conning Tower," showcased early writings by such writers as George S. Kaufman, Dorothy Parker, Morrie Ryskind, and Ira Gershwin.

"The Conning Tower" was a kind of humorous miscellany. Readers contributed comic verse and jokes. FPA winnowed through the contributions and contributed his own verse, notes, jokes, and epigrams. He delighted in setting up the vaious tidbits in specials fonts and doted on its look. On Saturdays, he would recount his doings among the members of the Algonquin round Table in "The Diary of Our Own Samuel Pepys."

Long before the advent of blogging and the ubiquity of the Internet, I had among the list of Projects-I-Never-Got-Around-To the idea of reviving The Conning Tower. If I remember correctly (and I probably don't), I had thought of trying to market it to the ever shrinking number of local newspapers around the country, from the big city dailies to the small town weeklies. It never got done.

It has occurred to me, though, that this is an approach that blogging is probably perfectly suited for. Of the blogs currently of my ambit, only Phil Austin's Blog of the Unknown comes close to being this.

It would not be hard to do. I could set up a new blog called "The Conning Tower" (if that title is not already taken), contributors could e-mail me stuff, and I could compile it and publish it. I don't see this as being a daily event, but as an occasional group effort, I think it might be fun.

What do you think?

P.S. A Dialogue entitled, "WWJD":

Person: Rev. Robertson, what would Jesus do about Hugo Chavez?

Robertson: Whack him!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

The Quality of Marcy

One of the least popular features of this blog has been the entries in which I update progress on various scripts and describe the history of the composition of them. Today I continue this tradition of disinterest with an update on a script called "The Quality of Marcy."

"The Quality of Marcy" started out some years ago as an idea that my wife had for a short story. Hers was a dark story of betrayal and forgiveness concerning two sisters. When she told me the idea, I immediately jumped on it, and told her that I thought it made a good basis for a play and one with a lot of comedy at that. My vision of it didn't quite square with hers, though, and I sort of backed down and Stephanie sort of put it to one side.

The topic came up from time-to-time, though, and eventually we decided that I would just go ahead and write my version of it and that she might write her version still at some other time. (I think it would be interesting if she did. It's unlikely that the two would be recognizable as having come from the same idea. Fraternal twins instead of identical.)

I started thinking about it seriously about three-and-a-half years ago and then started to write it as a stage play shortly thereafter. A big chunk just popped out right off the bat, and I thought the writing of this script would be a breeze. I was wrong.

Another big chunk came and then nothing. I decided to try it as a radio play, converted the format and got a little more. Then nothing. It accumulated in fits and starts over three years. I thought about changing it back into a stage play, but never got around to reformatting it. I put it aside while I finished other scripts and then decided to shelve it for consideration as part of the first season of "Next in the Series."

But things changed.

I'm not sure what happened, really. It was too short to be a play, but it looked like I could keep it short enough to stay within an hour format. It was almost done. My wife liked what she had read. It was more of a drama than any of the other scripts, but still not quite an evening of O'Neill. (Although I have, for some years, played around with an idea that would have more of an Ibsen feel to it. It is the story of a man who spends his life in a seaside village perfecting the art of filling the chum buckets that the fisherman take with them to sea to attract fish. I call it "The Master Baiter." Maybe someday I'll be able to get a handle on it.)

Anyway, I worked on "Marcy" over the past week or so and finished the draft. It seems all right. I think I'm pleased. Stephanie liked it when she read it today. So in it goes.

Now, all I have to do is write two more episodes of "The Political Thing" and season one is written. Just like in the "Niagara Falls" sketch, we go step-by-step, inch-by-inch.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A Possible Reprieve or Pardon Me

I don't know that I'll be adding much to this blog as time goes by, but I have decided to not delete it, at least any time soon. Occasional posts are still possible, although I'm not really sure what direction I want to take it in.

But I won't delete it. Not yet. No real reason to.