Okay. I've done it. I finished another script. It's a collection of sketches and songs called "Let's Revue." Truth to be told, it's more a case of rewriting a script than writing one.
This script started out life as an act I intended for the corporate entertainment market that I called "The Amazing Three-Man One-Man Show." The idea came to me in the late '90s that Rule of Three, the by-then defunct comedy trio I was part of, could reunite and make money by doing some corporate gigs. Although we had done some live performances, we never really had an act that was designed for live performance. Mostly, we just recycled things we had done on audio, not all of which successfully transferred to the live stage.
In the months before implosion, we did a one-night thing that was an attempt to come up with a theatrical presentation. It was a kind of variety show with guest acts and a through line about how much one of the three of us hated working with the other two. (I was not the one.) There was one new sketch and some recycled stuff and some passive-aggressive scenes written by the member of the team I'll call Disgruntled Guy. The whole experience turned out to be the straw that imploded the camel's back.
Still, my naive optimism led me to think that we somehow had a future together. This belief and the non-cynical idea that the gentlemen I was dealing with were decent at heart and that the problems we had could be surmounted and corrected proved to be the source of a very deep and enduring pain for me. I've learned cynicism from two very astute teachers.
But before the knives were inserted and twisted, after only a few kicks to the crotch and slaps in the head, I thought that it might be a good idea to assemble our more stage-worthy bits and songs into a form appropriate for either theatrical or corporate venues. In the late evenings of less than a week, I assembled what I thought of as an outline in draft form, a starting point, not an end. True, I had written some new stuff and uncovered an old chestnut or two from the files that hadn't been previously performed, but I had also figured that we could all three rewrite the whole thing, trim it, change it, and make it our own.
When I presented it to my former writing partner, he was cold toward the project (after all, it hadn't originated with him), and I didn't even bother to present it to Disgruntled Guy, who had long since gone out of his way to be as insulting and condescending as possible to both my wife and me. He never told me that we had problems that we needed to discuss or even that he felt we were no longer friends. He was just a shit.
Eventually, I gave up. Every time I extended my hand, I got a slap in the face or worse. At last, the pain became great enough where I had to give up on them. That's when I started developing this show.
The script that I finished today is very different from "The Amazing Three-Man One-Man Show." I cut, I refined, I rewrote. I made it my own. For what it's worth, I made it my own.
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
The first announcement is this: I signed the damn online petition yesterday. Happy? Huh? Are ya?
I was really just hoping to be the one millionth signer, since I'm guessing that there would be some sort of prize involved. Also, if I don't defend the right of cartoon rabbits to interview families headed by lesbian mothers, who will? And in conclusion, I would like to say, "Power to the People. Power to the People. Power to the People. Power to the People, right on!"
The second announcement is this: I finally finished the first episode of "The Political Thing." That means I've got nine scripts in the bag and only four more to go. The next thing I'm going to work on is a collection of sketches and songs I call "Let's Revue," because the sketches and songs are already written and I can just polish them up and knock the thing out in a week. At least, that's the plan.
Finally, I would like to announce that the "Next in the Series" team has grown by a factor of one. Tom O'Neill (known in the Firesign Theatre underworld as Doc Tech) has consented to bring his considerable skills to the editing, assembling, and mastering process. He's also going to compose some of the music and just be a general audio jack-of-all-trades. This is a real boost to the project, and I couldn't be more pleased than to have a partner of his caliber along for the ride.
We've embarked on putting together a demo for the show taken from the actual scripts. This confection will be used to lure unsuspecting investors into our nest. I believe the current internet jargon appropriate here is "Moo-ha-ha-ha-ha!"
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
So, there I was yesterday, poking along through the doldrums of my working life, when I got an email from MoveOn.org. (It's gotten to where you can't sign one petition without being inundated with email. I've got John Kerry and Ted Kennedy already stalking me. Now I've got this bunch.) Apparently, a recommendation has been forwarded from a House subcommittee to cut funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and to eliminate Federal funding entirely in what they call "the out years." This can be verified by actual news articles in The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Center for Digital Democracy--whatever the hell that is. MoveOn has a petition to sign, of course.
I actually clicked on the petition link, but couldn't bring myself to click "Submit." I couldn't think of a comment. And the reason is this: I am conflicted about the whole issue of government funding for arts and media.
Now, let me start out by saying that I am not against public broadcasting. Even though they are a bunch of left-wing freaks. (Just a joke. As far as I know, they're a fine bunch of guys and gals, all as mainstream as the Mississippi.) I don't think the cuts are justified monetarily, not since merely cutting three or four of the Pentagon's more outlandish weapons systems would provide funding for the entire domestic budget as it is. No, it's not about politics and money. It's about money and politics.
As has been demonstrated repeatedly since the current Republican insurgency took control of most of the government in 1992, who pays the piper calls the tune. Since public broadcasting is dependent on Federal funding like a junkie is on smack or like I am on snack cakes, the tenor of broadcasts can be altered not by the withholding of funds but by the threat of withholding funds. And before you know it, you're watching The Newshour with Jim Lehrer and Adolf Hitler, and there's a contract out on Buster Bunny's head.
Republicans understand money and its uses. They know how you can make people dance like monkeys at the end of an organ grinder's chain for the sake of a few dollars. They know how to use it to entice and how to withhold it as a strongarm tactic. Republican leaders like to study the tactics invented by Hitler and Goebbels, always taking time to point out what bad men they were, but praising their innovations and methods. They've studied propaganda and are familiar with its practices.
The funny thing is that public broadcasting still has to resort to all kinds of begging and pleading in order to stay on the air. It has its beg-a-thons and is all too often reduced to shilling for corporations. It stands on a street corner with a cupful of pencils hoping for the kindness of strangers. Whether it remains on the Federal dole or not will not alter that.
I'm not sure what the answer is. Public broadcasting reaches into sparsely populated communities where Clear Channel and Comcast dare not tread. But can it continue to accept government funds and still remain anything other than the official state media? I don't know.
But I'll leave you with a prediction: The recommendation of that subcommittee will end up shelved once everything gets to a final appropriations bill--and after PBS and NPR have made some sort of concessions concerning content.
Sunday, June 12, 2005
As an Irishman would put it, I'm just after finishing a traipse through the online Sunday New York Times, and, as usual, I'm left with the feeling that the jamokes in Washington feel themselves to be a ruling elite, as a kind of royalty rather than as our employees. I vacilate between anger and despair at the way our republic has slipped away from us. Augustus had to defeat his rivals in battle and enter town within living memory of his uncle's dictatorship in order for him to assume the rank of Emperor and to reduce the Senate to a mere rubberstamp for his whims and dicta.
The recent uproar over judicial nominations was, in fact, a discussion of the imperial presidency and the role of the Senate as either representative of the People or lapdog of the executive. We forget that Rome was nominally a republic and that its Senate was not dissolved. In theory, the Senate retained its powers and perogatives, but, due to the politician's instinct for craveness, it relinquished its duties and traded them for the perquisites that come from being a stooge.
The logic behind the arguments put for by Dr. Frith and his neocon lackies was that the Senate serves the President and not the People. The first of the blocked nominations to move forward was a woman who--as judged by the attorneys who argued cases before her in Texas--was blatantly incompetent. The second was a black woman from California who believes that there is a higher law in this land than that of the Constitution--the law of God--and who also apparently believes that she is just the oracle to interpret it.
The compromise that was made was a monument to craveness and an abrogation by the Senate of its Constitutional responsibilities. Of course, there is nothing new in this. The vote that authorized the President to do whatever he damn well pleased in Iraq and the surrounding area was a complete abrogation by the Senate of its Constitutionally mandated authority to declare war, as has been every vote concerning military action since the Gulf of Tonkin resolution.
That both houses of Congress are overrun with mice and weasels is beyond argument. If there is anyone in Congress who works with any principles greater than those of a card sharp, then that person has remained well hid. And this is why, at long last, I have decided to put forward my own proposal for political reform.
It has occurred to me that the People (to whom any rights not enumerated in the Constitution are supposed to fall--including the right to privacy) have only one weapon left if we are to regain control of the government that is supposed to serve us and not rule us. We have the vote.
Somebody once asked W.C. Fields who he would be voting for. He replied, "I never vote for anybody. I always vote against." Given the current state of affairs, I have come to the conclusion that this is a wise policy.
So, this is my proposal. In the next election, don't vote for. Vote against. Vote against the incumbent, if at all possible. Let's throw the bastards out. And then the next time, do it again. And keep voting the bastards out until the members of Congress and the President himself come to realize that they do not own us. We own them.