16 July 2010

Another Poem Available Online

I didn't get notice when the poetry for the July issue of Literary Mama went up, but did think today to go look again, and to my delight, "Vasilissa's Doll" is now in electronic print.

01 July 2010

Juliet in the Funeral Parlor: Just Say No.

Here's another installment from the now defunct Creating Text(iles), this a review of an opera, from December 7, 2006:

At some point recently I promised to discuss the production of Romeo and Juliet: The Opera which I went to recently. I learned a lot. I learned that if you are producing a version of Romeo and Juliet, whether it's been transformed into an opera or not, and it occurs to you that making the Capulets into modern-day Mafia owners of a funeral home would add a lot to the deeper meanings of the plot, you should lie down for a while till you sober up, BEFORE you go on over to a meeting with the director and begin to throw your weight around.

I'm all for messing with the classics. Hell, I've got a sense of humor. No prob. So my objection to the version of the opera that I went to is NOT that people tweaked the holy works of Shakespeare (and Gounod, as far as that goes), when they should have left them alone on account of their sacredness. Nope. My objection is that if Juliet has decorated her bedroom with coffins, it just doesn't make any sense for her to get all hysterical at the thought of waking up from the poisoned sleep and seeing Tybalt's ghost.

You can't buy it. She's been sleeping with ghosts all along.

Also, why are the Capulets having all their parties in the funeral home
itself? Have they no home to go to? Are they ALL just so addicted to hanging out with the corpses they can't go home?

No. The Mafia part, fine. Hell. Set it in the city streets with New York gangs. I think the Mafia part could have worked nicely.

But having the Capulets spend all their time, waking or sleeping, playing or working, in the funeral home just. Does. Not. Work.

I was reminded of the classic livejournal page, "THE THINGS I WILL NOT DO WHEN I DIRECT A SHAKESPEARE PRODUCTION, ON STAGE OR FILM."* The site's up to well over 400 entries now, and I haven't got time to go through it all, but if the Capulet Funeral Parlor isn't the list, it damn well should be.
*Oh, I love this site with a mighty passion.

Some highlights:

"Lady MacBeth should never give her biggest speeches lying facedown on a green couch."

"I will not have Romeo and Juliet's clothes gradually become more modern as the play progresses, to symbolize that their love is eternal, especially if this means that Juliet has to wear a pink mini skirt for her death scene."

"Should I choose to portray Lady Macduff as pregnant, I will ensure that her bump is secure."

"I will not begin A Midsummer Night's Dream with a song and dance number featuring Puck tap-dancing."

"Rosencrantz and Guildenstern will not enter on a miniature train."

"I will remember that Much Ado is a comedy. I will refrain from having the company dress in funerial black for the wedding, dance to sombre music, and then die in a bombing raid. Even if am labouring under the misapprehension that this would be terribly artistic. "

Lord, it makes me want to go harrass Shakespeare just for the sheer fun of it.

Maybe that explains the funeral parlor......

01 May 2010

In Which I Explain the Whiskey Rebellion 1791-1794

I'm in the process of taking down my blog of long ago, Creating Text(iles) -- I stopped writing in it and said farewell in May of 2007, but I kept it on the server, in case anybody needed it, but I don't think they do anymore, so I'm going to save the money; the blog and all its archives will disappear into wherever it is that internet sites go towhen they disappear.

But before I do that, I'm going through and saving any bits of writing that seem to me to be worth keeping track of. By which I mean that they amuse me.

Here, for instance, is a useful explanation of the Whiskey Rebellion, taken from one I wrote in 2006:
Back when Our Federal Government was very young, it discovered it needed a bunch of money, on account of having gotten terribly into debt whilst winning freedom from the imperialist teadrinkers. So it created a bunch of taxes, one of which was the tax on whiskey. Now, this was a problem for the farmers out in Western Pennsylvania, which was at that time The Western Frontier, cause whiskey was what they were shipping back to the Eastern Cities. Why was this, you ask? Well, I'll tell you. It was cause 1) the Eastern Cities didn't need wheat and rye; 2) the Eastern Cities needed a lot of whiskey; 3) grain, turned into whiskey, was WAY more profitable than grain in its unadulterated state, and 4) grain, turned into whiskey, was WAY more transportable than grain in its unadulterated state, and since the roads sucked, this was an Issue.

Shall we have a new paragraph? Why not. Ok. So the local farmers needed to sell whiskey, and they were opposed to paying taxes on it. Why? Because 1) they operated in a barter economy, unlike the denizens of the Eastern Cities, and did not have cash to hand, and 2) as far as they could tell the federal government wasn't doing anything for them, such as keeping them safe from the local native population, which was, understandably, annoyed by their presence, but that's a whole nother story, or, indeed, making the roads passable.

So. The farmers didn't pay the tax. They were told they had to pay the tax. They didn't pay the tax. Tax collectors appeared. The farmers did Bad Things to them. The farmers were served with writs. They ignored them.

The farmers marched on Pittsburgh in order to burn it down, but were met by the citizens of Pittsburgh, who had set out tables of food and drink. The farmers burnt down one barn, after, I guess, having been placated with sausage and beer. The federal government sent soldiers. It took SO LONG for the soldiers to get here (see sucky roads, above), that everybody had disappeared. So the soldiers didn't have to do much except stand around, but this was proof that the federal government meant what it said, by God, so we should all behave.

The end.

So there was a civil war, though there weren't a lot of casualties, thank goodness. Actually, the Whiskey Rebellion was a model for a nearly tolerable civil war, I'm thinking. Keep it short, keep it simple, keep it fairly safe. Have no massacres. And in the end, since there were soldiers stationed in the county, there was a Sudden Cash Flow, and everybody could pay the taxes. Also, since there were soldiers stationed in the county, the roads got better. This is called Dramatic Irony.

29 April 2010

The Hazards of Crime

Some weeks ago, my brother Jim asked me, "so is this James Joyce any good?" -- which is an odd question, coming from a person who Enjoys Reading. But he was a history major, and never got exposed to any Dubliners when he was a young man. Turns out he'd run across Finnegans Wake, and thought, oh, I've heard of this, it's by that James Joyce guy. And then he bought it. And then he tried to read it. And then he stopped.

I've got a bucket list of books I want to read before I die -- finished War and Peace; am in the middle of the 12 volume unabridged Clarissa -- and Finnegans Wake is not on it. I will happily go to my grave with Finnegans Wake unread. Perhaps one of my loved ones who would find it hilarious -- Jim comes to mind -- can read it to me when I'm on my death bed. Perferably when I'm in a coma.

At any rate. I put together an unbirthday present for him of Dubliners, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses, and that Burgess book ReJoyce, as a sort of helpful how to get through Ulysses guide, and had amazon.com send it off.

For reasons unknown to us, they divided the books into two batches. And though the site said that indeed Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Dubliners got delivered, Jim never saw them.

This happens sometimes, when the postperson leaves packages at his door, cause in the Albuquerque apartment building where he lives, sometimes his fellow tenants seize opportunities when they find them, and a box from amazon.com caught somebody's eye, and the package got delivered, all right, but somebody else is reading Jim's books. Or decorating the trash with them.

I had amazon send some more, and they got to Jim safely.

But I do dearly love the thought of someone stealing a treasure box -- things you can sell! maybe eat! whatever! -- and discovering that alas, what they've got is James Joyce.

Makes me almost which I'd send some Beckett instead. That would be even funnier.

02 February 2010

Poetry for Imbolc

Actually, there's two parts to this entry today: 1) poetry offering and 2) poetry update. thus:

1) Poetry Offering

as my contribution to the 5th Annual CyberSpace (Silent) Poetry Slam, one of my all-time favorites, in which the most accomplished English Court Poet of All Time compares the courtly lover to a fish in sauce (Because He Can):

To Rosemounde

by Geoffrey Chaucer

Madame, ye ben of al beaute shryne
As fer as cercled is the mapamonde;
For as the cristall glorious ye shyne,
And lyke ruby ben your chekys rounde.
Therwyth ye ben so mery and so iocunde
That at a reuell whan that I se you dance,
It is an oynement vnto my wounde,
Thoght ye to me ne do no daliance.

For thogh I wepe of teres ful a tyne,
Yet may that wo myn herte nat confounde;
Your semy voys that ye so small out twyne
Makyth my thoght in ioy and blys habounde.
So curtaysly I go, wyth loue bounde,
That to my self I sey, in my penaunce,
Suffyseth me to loue you, Rosemounde,
Thogh ye to me ne do no daliaunce.

Nas neuer pyk walwed in galauntyne
As I in loue am walwed and iwounde;
For whych ful ofte I of my self deuyne
That I am trew Tristam the secunde.
My loue may not refreyde nor affounde;
I brenne ay in an amorouse plesaunce.
Do what you lyst, I wyl your thral be founde,
Thogh ye to me ne do no daliance.

2) Poetry Update:

There may be an infinite number of narratives which explain why I spent several decades NOT writing poetry (and being tormented that I wasn't writing poetry; it's not like I just forgot, or that I didn't care), and then was able to start writing poetry, and I have none of those narratives to which I currently owe allegiance. I didn't write. Now I do.

Sometime in about June, I started writing every morning, the first thing after I made a pot of tea. I'd write for an hour, maybe two. I'd journal, I'd work exercises out of the various books of writing exercises I own. I started writing other stuff. I wrote a draft of a short story. I wrote notes for a play. I wrote poetry.

In September, I started sending it out. To date, 5 poems have been either published or accepted for publication. More are out there. A chapbook MS is at a press for review. Another chapbook is being put together. A third chapbook is being thought about.

I went to a writer's weekend workshop and came away with two poem drafts, notes for several other poems, and plans to find a place to get a low-residency MFA in poetry.

That's my update. Didn't write. Now do.

Here's a link to one of the published poems.

And many thanks to That Brigid. Many.

01 February 2010

5th Annual CyberSpace (Silent) Poetry Slam!

WHAT: Bloggers' Silent Poetry Reading

WHEN: Anytime tomorrow, February 2

WHERE: Your Blog

WHY: To celebrate Imbolc, the Feast of Brigid, or, if you prefer, Groundhog Day.

HOW: Post a poem, one of yours or someone else's, on your blog, anytime February 2. If you do, link back here in the comments (or directly over at Oak's place if you like), so we can keep track of the web. This gets bigger and bigger every year