It’s All About the Drama

“People are basically insane,” playwright David Manet says in a writing class I’m taking. “We miss a connection, we have an evil impulse that wants to lead us astray,” he goes on. “We live on the dark side and the cure is religion. Another word for religion is drama.”

Did I hear him correctly? Yes. Manet is a devoted Jew, and espouses his religion with conviction and fervor.

“All drama is failure and lies,” he says.

You can say that again. Story of my life.

“Don’t be boring,” he warns. FullSizeRender (20).jpg

How can you be boring if your life is full of drama? Everybody’s life is dramatic. It’s so dramatic Hollywood couldn’t invent it, I say. And since you’re the protagonist in your own story, make it good.

“Dialogue is just gossip,” he tells me. Now he’s talking. I’ve got enough for several books.

“Narration is the death of drama,” he continues. No wonder school is boring.

“The live audience in a play are idiots individually, but collectively they’re genius,” he says. “They paid you a compliment by coming to see your play. Drama helps them face the truth and they come for the truth.”

“Movies don’t challenge people, drama does,” he says. I’ve been saying that for years. To prove the point, just listen to a child explain away something he did, like break the TV screen with a baseball. It’s drama at its best.

Calvin says, “It’s drama for me when I go after a rabbit. My nose quivers, my body is on alert, and my singing voice takes over. Better than opera.”  beagle

 

 

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Grab It While You Can

With all these sexual harassment allegations popping up all over the place, it’s a wonder we can live normal lives these days.

Every day there’s a new one.

The truth is if every industry, especially the media and government, were to come clean, there wouldn’t be anyone left to make movies or run the country.

We’re all a bunch of scoundrels. It’s in our DNA. cropped-photo1.jpg

Sexual harassment is as old as the bible itself. Just read Genesis where it all began.

What floors me is how women expect to gain respect dressing the way they do with cleavages to their belly buttons, skirts wrapped around their waists and backsides like plastic wrap leaving nothing to the imagination, and stilettos like walking stilts.

If fashion returned to modesty, if women wore clothing that was attractive and decent, then men might behave themselves. Maybe. There’s no guarantee. For complete assurance of respectful behavior between the sexes everyone would require heart purification surgery.

Calvin says, “Dogs don’t have these issues. We are what we wear. We wear what we are. Simple.”  beagle

 

 

 

 

Sock It To Me

It was beginning to appear that her interesting face covered a most uninteresting mind. – Anne Perry

He would look at you as is he were really interested in all you said. Hcropped-photo1.jpge never seemed to be merely polite. It was almost as if he were half expecting you to turn out to be special, and he did not want to miss any opportunity to find out. – Anne Perry

Don’t mistake a street address for where you actually live. – Ruth Reichl

Art is what we call the thing an artist does. It’s not the medium or the oil or the price or whether it hangs on a wall or you eat it. What matters,
what makes it art, is that the person who made it overcame the resistance, ignored the voice of doubt and made something worth making. Something risky. Something human. Art is not in the eye of the beholder. It’s in the soul of the artist. – Seth Godin

“So was that the reason you left Herminia?” Miss Prim said.

He looked at her in silence for a few seconds, as if trying to guess what lay behind her question.

“I think you didn’t really love her,” she said.

“No, that’s where you’re wrong,” he said firmly. “I did love her. I loved her very much. But the day came, or maybe the moment, I don’t know, when I realized that she was asleep, whereas I was fully awake, absolutely, and totally awake. I’d climbed like a cat up onto a roof and I could see a beautiful, terrible, mysterious landscape stretching out before me. Did I really love her? Of course I did. Perhaps if I’d loved her less, cared for her less, I wouldn’t have had to leave her.”

“I thought the religious were closer to other people than anyone else.”

“I can’t speak for anyone else. I only know what it’s meant to me. It’s been my touchstone, the line that’s split my life in two and given it absolute meaning. But I’d be lying if I said it’s been easy. It’s not easy, and anyone who says it is is fooling themselves. It was catharsis, a shocking trauma, open-heart surgery, like a tree torn from the ground and replanted elsewhere.

“And there’s something else,” he continued, “something to do with looking beyond the moment, with the need to scan the horizon, to scrutinize it as keenly as a sailor studies his charts. Don’t be surprised. My story is as old as the world. I’m not the first and won’t be the last. I know what you’re thinking. Would I turn back if I could? No, of course not. Would a newly awoken man willingly go back to the sleepwalking life?”

–         From The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera

Calvin says, “Oh brother, what have you been drinking?” beagle

Top Will

I just returned from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

I’ve been going there for 20 years and I’ve seen a lot of people come and go from the company.

Will is still a staple – barely. He’s hanging on by his thumbs from Juliet’s balcony.

He can’t be fired because he has top billing.

But they’re trying. Cleo

Shakespeare is not a go-to author for most young people.

I admit even in my day I didn’t take Pericles to the beach.

So they’re marginalizing Will and inserting musicals.

This time it was Guys and Dolls.

So what.

But the young loved it.

And that’s what it’s all about.

The next generation.

I’m so sick of hearing this.

It’s as if the world will topple if the young aren’t drawn into the things we love.

I say let them create their own fun and leave Will to hoof it on stage for our sake.

Besides, we’re paying for it, they’re not. They don’t have any money.

Calvin says, “‘The lady doth protest too much, methinks.'”

 

 

 

 

 

 

A New Friend

I met a woman I instantly fell in love with. Her name is Cordelia Spencer and she’s a retired family therapist of 30 years who now wants to spend her time writing mysteries.

She’s moved out of the Bay Area for Southern Oregon where she’s among her kind – writers, actors and impersonators.

“Having spent so many years listening to patients I feel I can become them,” she says with a chuckle.  “Oh the stories I can tell.”ashland trees

Her one companion who is allowed to distract her is Maurice, a 2-year old Cardigan Corgi who was bequeathed to her by a patient who died.  You will find Maurice with a wary eye constantly by her side. “At first I was angry at having to take him, but he’s become my best friend. I suspect he plotted his way into my heart.”

Cordelia and Maurice live in a condo overlooking a beautiful park filled with trees and a roaring creek. They have no furniture in the apartment except for a bed and a computer table for Cordelia’s laptop. Cordelia prefers it that way. She spent 30 years in a home with a husband and two children surrounded by clutter. Now she has the space she craves and likes it that way. Maurice, on the other hand is not so sure because he spent the first two years of his life on silk sheets and enjoyed a pampered life. Since being adopted he’s had to learn to be a dog.

So far Cordelia has been unable to write a word. Every time she opens her laptop her children call or a friend drops by. And they usually need help. And Cordelia can’t say no.

Calvin says,”I have to meet this Maurice character. Silk sheets? Are you kidding me?” beagle

 

 

 

 

A Little Child Shall Lead Them

I had an interesting ride home on the subway this week.

My car was packed. Lots of people standing. A young mother and her child in a stroller came on. She positioned herself by the door and hung on.

In no time flat her baby boy, no more than 2 years old, began bellowing.

She ignored him.

His voice got louder.

The mother looked down at him and just stared.

The child began to yell. Big goldfish tears ran down his cheeks.

Mom stood there motionless.

Tension was rising in the car.

The kid was screaming even louder.

Out from between people’s legs a little girl, dressed in a pink hat, emerged and stood in front of the boy. She looked up at the mother as if to say, “Aren’t you going to take care of this?” She held in her hand a large opened bag of Cheetos and offered it to the boy. photo(131)

Instantly he was quiet.

He shoved his arm into the bag, extracted a Cheetos, and began to chew on it.

The little girl disappeared.

Mom never said a word.

The subway car made it’s routine stops, people got off, the crowd thinned out, a seat became vacant and mom sat down.

The little girl appeared again and offered the boy some more Cheetos. He plunged his arm into the bag and retrieved another one.

Mom never said a word.

I went back to my book and when I looked up again, Mom and son had gotten off the subway.

I’m not going to comment on the mother. For all I know she wasn’t the mother, but a babysitter. Or if she was the mother, she was in a frightful state of mind. Probably numb from the struggles of life. And in her shoes I would have reacted in the same manner.

What did make an impact was how a simple gesture of kindness can affect a whole lot of people.

It also showed me how powerful a child can be in the midst of a tense-filled moment.

Calvin says, “If I had been there that little girl and I would have wolfed down that bag of Cheetos together, tossing the occasional one to that boy.”beagle

The Roar of the Fog

This is Fergus in the header picture. I’m allowing him top billing for a while. Not too long, mind you, otherwise you’ll forget me, and I couldn’t bear that. So this is his fifteen minutes of fame.

I didn’t think I’d like Fergus when I first met him. To begin with, he was furry. Then there was his pedigree. He didn’t have one. He also was humorless, all business if you know what I mean. I suppose his stint at the pound turned him into a serious dude. But then he struck it rich. He was adopted by a woman with a heart as big as the sky and he’s become almost human. I swear there are times when Fergus is sitting quietly by the window observing the fog rolling in off the ocean that he looks like a university professor.

“Calvin, did you know that fog doesn’t come on little cat feet?” he said one evening puffing on his pipe as we watched the sunset.

“That’s shattering news, dear fellow,” I said. “Here I thought cats donated their paws every evening to produce this stunning effect.” photo168.jpg

“Carl Sandburg would be disappointed at your lack of appreciation for his Fog poem.”

“Did he live in San Francisco?”

“Chicago,” Fergus said moving into the living room, circling twice on the Persian rug, and settling down.

“Then he knows nothing of fog,” I said. “Fog comes rolling in, and it descends from the top down, not the other way around.”

“So how would you describe it if you were a poet?”

I poured myself a brandy and paced the room. Fergus watched me from under his strawberry blond lashes.

I disagree with Carl Sandburg
The fog doesn’t come creeping in on little cat feet
But comes barreling down the hillside
Like a locomotive arriving into a train station.
If cats were involved
The fog would hiss and spit and claw and yowl and make a terrible fuss
Like they do every night under my window.
With arched backs and glowing eyes
They’d move in jerks and fits
Down the mountain
The fog emerging like long strands of paper
From a shredder.

My performance silenced Fergus. He puffed on his pipe and let out plumes of smoke.

I curled up into a neat heap on a silk pillow and waited.

“You live in a noisy world,” Fergus said with a sigh.

“True. What about my poem?” I said.

“It’s clear you don’t like cats.”  beagle