Here, There be a Writer

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

There is always time...

Something has occurred to me. When you think that your have had the wrong choices, that there is always time to make new and better choices. Part of this stem from reading James A. Owen, "Drawing Out the Dragons" and "The Barbizon Diaries", well much of it has, as they are truly amazing books, but this year has been about looking at your choices and choosing to make those better choices. I have made some truly DUMB choices, or mediocre choices that let to MAJOR regrets, but now I see that you can't let the past dictate how you live. I don't mean that one should forget the past, after all, "If you forget the past, you are doomed to repeat it..." Quite simple in logic, but not in practice. I am quite guilty of this, but lately I can't bring myself to follow that path anymore.

See, some time ago I realized that I wanted to write, not just part time, but I wanted to be a real writer. After a good many years of false starts and fake attempts, I started this blog, and I took my skill to heart. I started writing. I might not be at publishing level yet, but I am making the start. Not all of my choices are the best, but I am trying. This blog is a place to test some of this writing, as is my Facebook Writing page. I am learning to take risks! I am willing to put my work out there. Even after a number of years post college of not writing and wasting my time. It really wasn't wasted when I look back on it, I just wasn't ready.

Chevy Spark AKA the Uni-Pickle
This is a lot like a number of things that I have encountered lately, some even over the weekend. While visiting my dad for Memorial Day I got to ride in his new car. Not many people know this, or know my dad,  but he has been without a license for too long. He finally chose to re-apply for his permit and now as a new car (Chevy Spark) and will be completely licensed by mid to late June. Yes, there had been mistakes made prior to this, but my dad finally took his chance to make his life better. I am very proud of him!

Me and Sarah (my new hero)
This weekend I also got to have coffee with my friend Sarah from high school and who also has brain damage related to a car accident (alcohol related). She cannot remember the accident and was in a coma for about 3 months. she woke up to being in her hometown not where she was living at the time, and yet there she sat before me a strong woman and that has striven to beat the odds and reclaim her life (she has her license and can drive). After the standard questions that I asked, and I asked them honestly, to which she answered honestly; how could I not respect this woman. She told me that she just wanted to be treated normally, to work and live a normal life. I was determined to not stare at her one eye (I don't have a great way to describe it), which looked like a lazy eye. She looked good and sounded pretty good for someone with her type of injury. We talked about our husbands, how we each had gotten married, our hopes and aspirations. I suggested that she take up writing to help her deal with some of the emotions about her accident, even told her about my blog and how through the blog i could reach a wider audience and maybe she could reach out to others with brain injuries, maybe find a support system (not that she doesn't have a great local support system), but sometimes it helps to have like minded people to talk to. Note: If anyone knows about any online networks for those with brain injuries, please shoot me a message as I would loved to pass along the information to Sarah.

The biggest critic in your life will always be you. Don't let that critic win! Always know that you always have a second chance, a second day, and second try in this life to make better choices.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Dialogue....

I took a class in college called "Epic and Romance" and within that class we read "The Odyssey", "Song of Roland", "Beowulf", and "the Once a Future King". It was definitely one of my favourite classes to attend, one because I was reading a lot of classic that I hadn't read before and my professor was the father of Anne Ramsey of 10,000 Maniacs (and looks like King Arthur). One of the papers for that semester was a creative paper on some of the characters that we have read about. I chose a short dialogue with Beowulf, Charlemagne, and Arthur.

It wasn't the most amazing work of mine, but I had fun writing it. So, since I was sifting through old papers, I happened upon this one. i couldn't resist dusting it off and editing it a bit for you wonderful readers. I feel like there are plans to expand this into a longer one act.,. not sure what will happen, but I kind of have the juices flowing with the possibilities.  

I present "Kingdoms and their Kings"

 Setting: An old castle, worn down with age, falling apart. One of the towers has no roof and there’s a faint, but pungent odor of horse dung, rusted metal, and leather. The wind blows, carrying the smell, it comes and goes wafting in and out of existence.  It's almost like it is dying. The time is unknown, but by the looks of the castle’s disrepair, it would have to be in a far flung time of the castle's birth. Remnants of the past still linger here: swords of great battles are hung on the walls, stuffed animal bursts and a huge arm of a beast hangs on the wall, and a large round table made of oak stands in the center. There are three other objects lain center of the table.

In this chamber sit the once mighty monarchs, Beowulf and Charlemagne sitting. They are talking, reliving past wars, great deeds, and warfare, in general.

 (Pointing at Beowulf) I remember, good Sir, the day I rode to my nephew’s aid. Oh! Tragedy was in the air. I knew he would need me, but he arrogance damned him. He was so ready to fight those Paynims, those brutes.

 Really? So, you say, but what are these paynims, if you don’t mind my asking, Sir?

 Paynims. You know paynims. Pauses Well…paynims are, well, they are those ignorant savages that raise their evil spirits to us goodly Christians harm. They practice the darker arts, evil spells to poison our flesh He whispers to Beowulf. They are not Christians. Plus… they…well they steal land that could be used for the good of France. Nodding

 Ah! I see, good Sir, you do not know me well. Do you not recount that I am a Paynims, as it were. Glares at Charlemagne But, I remember you, Charle. You fight well in battle, both with sharpened tongue and blade. Pausing to emphasizing But, have you killed the devil with your bare hands…hmmmm…such as the likes of Grendal…hmmmmm…

Suddenly there is a knock. The huge oak door shudders with a weak sigh. The door, embedded with iron handles opens, in walks a stately gentleman of about the age of seventy. He looks around. His eyes are Rheumy and befuddled, eyes casting their own shadows. He looks at the men and then at the table. Smiling. He sees what he had been looking for, for there lying on the table are three of the finest looking blades ever crafted by the Gods: Joyuese, Hrunting, and Excaliber. The air no longer smells of dung and leather, but of fresh steel, fire, and blood. It fills their nostrils.

Say! My word, Gentleman, you have my sword! Why do you have my sword? Arthur’s eyes are now blazing. An internal fire burns behind his suddenly shielded eyes grey eyes.

Well, how else were we going to get you to come and join us?

You have a point. looks at Charlemagne So what were you talking about?

Oh, nothing Smiling. Just battles and glory. Like reminiscing about the good old days.  Beowulf laughs out loud, a jolly laughs that befuddles the old king

Say! Weren’t you in that battle at…at…stumbling over his words....Beowulf, where was that battle of his…? Glances over to Beowulf

Bedegraine! Yes, I believe it was Bedegraine.

That’s it! Bedegraine! looks at Arthur, who is now studying his boot Arthur?

Yes! Confusion. He wears a sad countenance. What were you saying? Pause Oh, I remember now, My love, she was truly beautiful. My Guenever. By God's bones, did I love her he is silent.

No, Sir, we were talking about your battle of Bedegraine Charlemagne turns to Beowulf and whispering. You thought I was losing it? He’s flipped completely.

Whispering Well, think about it, Charles. He lost his love to a vagabond knight, he slept with his half-sister, and he was killed by his nephew who happened to also be his SON. I think that is enough to make anyone a bit batty. Oh, and he had to endured years with that crazy sorcerer.

True. But, still one should be able to look back on those ‘battles’ and come back stronger than ever. Arthur suddenly looks at Charlemagne

Suddenly becomes alert Hey, I heard that! Don’t think that because I have 'lost' it, that I can’t have it back. It took time to create the order of the Round Table. I brought them together. I loved Guenever and Merlyn. Merlyn, he taught me a lot; he even cared when no one else did. Guenever loved me, until Lancelot, but even then I could not hate her. As for Morgause and Mordred, can’t I guy make one mistake… fuming, his eyes were red rimmed and leaked anger. Sweat poured down his forehead.

Both looked at him. They were amazed.

So, what are you going to do about it? eyes locked onto Arthur’s Huh?

I’m going to challenge both of you to a duel.

Grinning Ha! We got him.

The look in their eyes was sheer pleasure. Beowulf picked up Hrunting. It had been so long. He kissed his blade, as Charlemagne kissed, Joyuese, and Arthur Pendragon with the mighty Excaliber.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Wanton Destruction and Friends...w00t!

This is what happens when a friend tells you to come over and help destroy shit.

Once there was a play set that had sat in the yard, alone, left forgotten in the rain or snow. The time had past and the children seldom came around anymore. It sat and waited, the days passing into weeks, passing into years.

It's wood beams starting to rot in places, and spiders lived in and under it's beams. Unused and practically forgotten, what would become of this lonely sentinel?

An honourable discharge, where the amputated limbs will be burn in an effigy of greatness to the gods and what is left will be commemorated in an ostentatious memorial to 
the rites of spring.

See the progress and fun that we had utterly destroying the play set and raping Chelsea's childhood. Oh, and Brian is Saw-some!!

 David took his turn with the Sledge-O-Matic! It really was some of the best therapy that he has had in years. You take that wood! No more will you provide hours of enjoyment for children! Damn you, to hell!!

 And yet, who suffered? Actually, no one! Everyone got a chance to take a crack at busting up shit. What did we have to show for it...well, a pile of burnables for the bonfire that night and an appetite for a yummy dinner prepared by Chelsea's Mum.

There was also puppies that came out to visit the wanton destruction, and one cat named Peanut who loved top walk by the fire.

It was a great day/evening with friends, food, and booze!

Suki and Mama Chelsea!
Me and Tank

Peanut and Sheriff

JP the Fire Starter!!

Burn Baby Burn!

Dammit Jim, I'm a Doctor, not a Street Sign!!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Theatre Babies

When I signed up to be the director for Charlotte's Web, I knew nothing of what a director was. I knew what a director does within a producer and over the years I became more aware of the detailed pieces that make up an stage manager, assistant director, and director, but I was really unprepared for the reality of being a director.

You see, as a director you are a Time Lord, you know everything that goes on and are in charge of A LOT of things, but unlike a Time Lord, directors have production teams to help them manage the multitude of tasks that make up a show. Other has said that directors are like mother birthing a baby into the world. Your show grows and shapes with you and when it comes to Tech Week, you birth the babe to an awaiting audience that is ready to laugh, cry, and sing along with you.

This is the truth I have left my experience with Charlotte with. I help to conceive and birth an amazing show into the world. As I grew so did my actors and crew, they became better, they made the show truly what it became after my part was over. I never realize how personal a director is with their show. The subsequent crash post-show was pretty intense.  I had to let go of my baby (kind of like a parent letting their children go onto college), or in Whovian terms, I had to regenerate, or leave my Rose in an alternate universe, or let the Ponds go to another time. I know SPOILERS! Sorry!!

I feel like I was both a mother to Charlotte Web and a Time Lord. I put forth my everything into what I am doing, and afterward I swore off directing for a while (even theatre, although that didn't last). I the all know Time Lord of Charlotte and Web Mama! I was a life changing experience, and I loved it! It helped having an AWESOME cast that took chances and dared to put themselves out there. I will direct again, but in the mean time I have really started writing again. I even tried writing a play back in September of 2012. What an enlightening experience. It is now the new mothering experience!

I wrote a play about a girl and her aunt who have to learn about each other after a long estrangement, part autobiographical and part understanding. I had 2 of the best actors to write for for that 24 Hour Theatre (for Keuka Lake Players), thus "The Time was Right" was born and performed in 24 hours. I was up until almost 4am writing, but it was worth it. Clara and Becka did an amazing job, and I found how much I loved writing something that people were going to enjoy. I became determined!

Now it's March 2013 and there's a scriptwriting contest going on while I am running a 24 Hour Theatre event in Montour Falls for the Lake Country Players. I was determined to write a new show for this contest. The night of LCP's 24 Hour Theatre I started an unnamed script. By the end of the weekend I had "Out for a Walk", and with that I entered "Out for Walk" and "The Time was Right" into the scriptwriting contest. I had to wait a week of so for the results....oh the agony! The theatre Mom in me was going crazy, then at the KLP Annual Dinner, I was awarded with the privilege of having both show chosen for a Spaghetti Dinner 1 Act fundraiser for Mother's Day weekend.

There were auditions and rehearsal for a month to prepare, but nothing could prepare me for the enjoyment and amazement at seeing my work being performed for a live audience, and HAVING THEM ENJOY THE SHOW TOO!!

As with theatre, in 2006 when I auditioned for me first show, I was bitten with the bug, the writing bug. I have been doing theatre since 2006, about 7 years. I've had many onstage and backstage triumphs. Now is the time to enjoy my writing endevours. This blog was the first of many challenge I have put to myself in order to get my writing out there. I have been an avid poet since high school, although I started writing in 8th grade. I can add play write to my resume. I also am working on a full play that I wrote for the now defunct Screnzy project through NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and a complete novel written in 2011 for NaNoWriMo, and a few short stories. I have a number of ideas and finally the drive to see them through.

I am a proud Theatre Mama, of both Theatre kids and my own works! It's a great feeling. i can only move forward. If I don't write then I cannot improve. A Writer has to write, so I must write. Life is truly AWESOME!

 “Purpose is the reason;
 Will is the means;
and Will guided by
Purpose leads to Aréte:
the fulfillment of one’s
potential for

~James A. Owen

Monday, May 13, 2013

Twlight Zone (Now you have the Theme Song stuck in in your Head)

There are few TV shows that leave me feeling truly entertained after having watch them, Doctor Who is one of them, but another show that I have grown up with and feel a special kinship with is "The Twilight Zone." Even after having watched the entire series via Netflix, or DVD (in the case of of season 4, which is NOT on Netflix. How irritating!). I still get this sense of joy and the creepy jibblies from this little show. My parents and I would watch, ever year, the New Year's Twilight Zone marathon on the Sci-Fi channel. There stories were just very well done, even believable. Granted my Dad used to tell me that people were scared more easlier in the 50's and 60's, but I still got the jibblies after watching, "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" or "Mirror Image". I feel that Rod Serling gave me my first sense of storytelling.

Twilight Zone is one of the most unique shows out there...with The Outer Limits (TZ younger brother) a close second, (I watch the Outer Limits less). Twilight Zone aired first in 1959 and had one of the best creative minds at the helm, Rod Serling, a screenwriter, play write, radio/television producer. Here are a few neat facts about Mr. Serling:

1. He was born in Syracuse, lived in Binghamton,  and died in Rochester, NY (it's kinda of funny to note that there are a number of episodes that mention someplace in New York state: Buffalo, Ithaca, Cortland, Syracuse (I live in Corning, which is only about 90 minutes from Binghamton, so I feel a kinship because of this). Rod even taught at Ithaca College briefly.
2. Out of 156 episodes made for the Twilight Zone, Rod wrote 92 of them, that's over half. All of the stories are really good, but his were especially well done. He definitely knew how to tell a story.
3. Rod Serling had been stationed in the Phillipines during WWII and there are a number of episodes that feature the Phillipines as the setting, that and death.
4. He was a boxer in the army, another subject that he used with some degree of frequency.
5. Rod loved to perform and his father had built a stage in the basement of their house where he and other children would put on plays. He also was into radio while in college. Hmm, I see  pattern here.

Today, I would like to present my top 10 favourite Twilight Zone episodes (with minimal spoilers, darling!)

Honourable Mentions (because there really are too many episodes too mention):
~Two (September 15, 1961)
 Starring Elizabeth Montgomery and Charles Bronson...The survivors of a major war and there are only two left. Very little dialogue, but that's the best part. I think it's also my favourite thing that Charles Bronson was in.


~Death’s Head Revisited (November 10, 1961)
A Nazi Captain in the SS returns to a concentration camp and meets the ghosts who are still live there.

10. The Monsters are Due on Maple Street (March 4, 1960)
I remember this from high school. I believe it was in one of my English books as a short story. I have recently discovered a PDF file of a play adaptation. We may have even watched this in class. I seemed to remember really enjoying class that day because of this episode.

9. The Changing of the Guard (June 1, 1962)
Starring the Indomitable Donald Pleasance (I shot him SIX times!)
A touching story about learning the value of your own worth.  

8. Time Enough at Last (November 20, 1959)
Starring Burgess Meredith
What happens when you get what you want, and then Irony comes to visit.

7. 22
Probably the creepiest thing, outside of "Mirror Image". The waking nightmare of an overworked dancer and her nightly 'trips' to the morgue.

"Room for one more, Honey."
6. Will the Real Martian Please Stand up? (May 26, 1961)
In the vein of a Whodoneit, but more like a Whoisit, trying to figure out who the REAL Martian is. It is very similar to Monsters on Maple Street, with people trying to place blame on others who are different.

5. Mirror Image (February 26, 1960)
What would happen if you met yourself, or your twin from a parallel universe? This is definitely the creepiest of episodes, with a Vera Miles playing Millicent Barnes who encounters the strangest events in a bus depot in Ithaca, NY. This is one of those episodes that reminds me of where I live. I sounds silly, but I like when I encounter show or movies that mention places I lived in, or live near and frequent.

4. The Midnight Sun (November 17, 1961)
This episode reminds me of a one act that his husband once performed (well twice now) that is based on the world of Firefly/Serenity. That post apocalyptic world with people living in a dying world. How would life really be like in this world? 

3. Five Characters in Search of an Exit (December 22, 1961)
This is the type of show/play that I would love to write, because you don't know anything more than the characters knows at the start of the episode. There is a play called "Six Actors in Search of the Author" by Luigi Pirandello about 6 discarded characters that are looking for a way to live in the play that is being rehearsed. I think that Rod used that as inspiration for this episode.

2. Eye of the Beholder (November 11, 1960)
Starring Donna Douglas (Ellie Mae Clampett) and Maxine Stuart.
What do we consider beautiful? It's a nice reminder that beauty is what we perceive it to be. Little did I know that the spoken lines were all performed by Maxine Stuart while under bandages, and when she was revealed at the end of the episode, there was Donna Douglas. I had thought it was Douglas the whole time. Originally, Maxine Stuart was gonna voice the one line of dialogue after the bandages came off and dubbed over Douglas, but in the end, Douglas had perfected Stuart's voice to say the line herself.

 1. Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (February 28, 1964)
Ambrose Bierce
This is my Favourite short story ever! Written by Ambrose Bierce, I read it in  high school and later college. It's just such a twist. I was even more thrilled when I discovered the there was a Twilight Zone episode of "Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge". I didn't know that it was originally a French short film that Rod Serling included in his show, because it was so awesome, that and it's was cheaper to pay for the right than show another episode (as he usually went over budget).

After the "Something Different" Spaghetti Dinner Theatre this past weekend, which featured one of my one acts, "Out For a Walk", I feel a closer kinship to Rod Serling, as the script has that thriller feeling and a  twist ending. While I am still perfecting the art of the twist ending, I am really proud of the cast for "Out For a Walk". I think Rod would have been proud of it too. I might even put it on the internet when the DVD is done.

Friday, May 10, 2013

So, I have been a little busy lately...

I didn't post back on Sunday and it's been almost 2 weeks since my last post. Feels weird! Truth is, I hate when I don't post. It's gotten to be regular, almost habit. I have been crazy busy with this "Something Different" Spaghetti Dinner Theatre, that is way there hadn't been a blog since almost 2 weeks ago.

See, I normally am busy with the various theatre productions I am involved in, but somehow this one turned into some different [ha! pun intended :-)]. Back in March, Keuka Lake Players had a script-writing contest for 1 acts (about 10 pages or less). I had one script from last year's 24 Hour Theatre (with KLP) that I wanted to submit, but I wanted to write another, try something different [this might happen throughout the blog, folks]. While my writer's for the Lake Country Player's 1st annually 24 Hour Theatre were writing, I started writing this new script, and while NOT written in 24 hours, it was written in about a weekend (give or take). These scripts got submitted and BOOM, both were chosen, out of 10 scripts 6 were selected. it was the most surreal thing ever to have my work chosen to be performed. I was pretty giddy about it, I will admit, in a bit of shock that my writing was good enough (as most writer's tend to be about their work).

Sara Love (director) with David
Cut to auditions for "Something Different", I think the  more exciting part for me was hearing people read my scripts at auditions and seeing who was auditioning for the said parts than actually auditioning. I was also auditioning, but NOT for my own shows. I wasn't going to read for them anyway-those parts I didn't write for me, they were for others to play-which also happened to be the director's rules too. 

This show, this "Something Different" was something different. There was going to be only 4 weeks, roughly of rehearsal time and low tech theatre as Sara calls it. That meant crunch time from the time of casting. not only had I been cast in 3 shows (one part had only 1 page of dialogue), but now I was stage managing the show too. It was a whirl wind month of rehearsal 3 days a week and lots of line prep work, props collecting, set organizing, and food planning (for the spaghetti dinner part).

Megan Sermonis as Anahandra (promotional photo)

The amazing part? The amazing part is that we have 6 awesome shows with 6 awesome casts that are going to perform tonight (5/10) and tomorrow night (5/11). They have made 6 different worlds that will be performed and am so proud of everyone.

It's a Mother's Day show that has comedy, drama, suspense, and of course Mothers too!

Some photos from rehearsal time at the Love's house. Don't worry, no spoilers here! If you are in the area today, Friday May 10th or Saturday May 11th, come to O'Malley Hall in Bath, NY for SOMETHING DIFFERENT! Tickets are 15.00. It'll be fun!!!