Saturday, October 31, 2015

All Clear

Trick-or-treaters have retreated to home bases
With bags of sweets and plans to stuff their faces.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Spooky Resemblance

"Strangers sit next to each other on flight, meet their doppelganger"

On the face of it (groan), this is uncanny:

But they are different ages, and different heights, and don't look nearly so identical in this other photo:

Okay. Not twins. So has anyone asked, instead,
if maybe they'e both descended from Erik the Red?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Gourd Go Boom

Unexpected hazard in Chicago schools:

"A student at a Near West Side charter school is suing for injuries she says she suffered when a pumpkin exploded in a class science experiment."

The chemistry class mishap occurred a year ago, on last Halloween. But the suit was filed 2 days ago. Maybe there's a one-year deadline to sue.

As we enter full Halloween mode,
Don't let your pumpkins explode!

Revolution Not

I came across this old video of the Beatles performing Revolution in 1968 on TV. It's a bit different from either of the 2 standard versions, but much closer to the single than the White Album version.

It's hard to remember, but in the upheaval of the late sixties, some people looked to the Beatles and the Stones to take the lead in calling for a true political youth revolution. There was even a cult-classic B-movie premised on the idea that a violent youth revolution would be led by a charismatic rock singer.

Charlie Manson, a charismatic lunatic who fancied himself a singer, tried to start a revolution and race war by... killing Sharon Tate and company.

Both the Beatles and the Stones backed away from the idea of endorsing violent revolution.

As Lennon wrote in this song:

"But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao,
You ain't gonna make it with anyone anyhow."

The same year as the above Beatles appearance, the Rolling Stones released Street Fighting Man, with these lines:

"Well now what can a poor boy do, Except to sing for a rock & roll band?
Cause in sleepy London Town there's just no place for a street fighting man."

Violent revolution did not in fact occur.
And the tumult of those years is now a blur.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

UN Warning

Some say that red meat
Is a bad thing to eat
But I'm in denial. 
Its taste makes me smile. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Marketing Synopses

Years ago I took a class on the business side of playwriting, from the late Russ Tutterow. I think it was called Marketing Your Play, and one really key tool, that we spent a lot of time on, was the marketing synopsis. It's supposed to be fairly short, it's supposed to include indications of dramatic structure without giving away every plot twist. And it's supposed to give some indication of characters and themes. 

Yes, I was writing one yesterday, because I was submitting a new play to a group that performs readings. I have a tendency to resist, to want to say, the play takes 87 pages, with no wasted words, to state itself, I can't boil it down to a paragraph or two! But of course I can. 

I suppose if I worked according to a formal outline more, I might have a pre digested summary ready at this point. But I work from a vague sketchy outline, and then when I'm done I step back and ask: how would I summarize this?

I'd feel belatedly dumb
If I couldn't find a sum. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Fisher Looking Good

That's a still from the new Star Wars trailer. It's Carrie Fisher and (I think) Harrison Ford. I was struck by how beautiful she looks, and thankful that she hadn't wrecked her face with plastic surgery the way some actresses do.

I hear there's a ginned-up controversy over the fact that she had to lose weight to win the role, as if appearance was not integral to being a movie star. Most of these people wouldn't have these jobs if they didn't look really good on camera.

I haven't seen her in that many films. Perhaps I liked her best in The Blues Brothers, where she played a psycho ex-girlfriend:

I thought the new trailer looked promising. Of course, I've been fooled before by Star Wars trailers. Three times in fact.

Call me a dope,
but I have new hope.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Crafty Art

I came across this quotation:

"A playwright is a poet disguised as an architect."

I think that's a clever
way to describe the endeavor
of crafting a structure to hold
the vision you want told.


"Imagine a future where masses of men divorce themselves from the world and have sex with robots instead of people."

Such a future isn't here,
and I trust it isn't near.

Self Harm

Is something wrong, ethically, with self harm? You hear people say things like "do whatever you want, as long as you don't hurt anybody else." But, what if the person you are hurting is yourself? Is that ethically neutral? If you think so, your moral focus is on your relations to others.

In real life, self harm typically does harm others, too, at least indirectly.

But is that the reason self harm is wrong, or is it just one reason self harm is wrong?

Or you can stand this on its head, and argue that the reason harming others is wrong, is that it harms you. You should be forming your self into a person who deals with others on a win/win basis. That is the kind of person who thrives and is happy.

Out in the real world ethical map
there's lots of value overlap.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


Nothing perfectly rhymes with fifth,
But you can come close, if you catch my drift. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


I'm generally sympathetic to the idea of open immigration. At least in the context of a free economy. And I believe in the right to keep and bear arms.

But then there's this thought-experiment where uniformed Russians show up at your border with weapons in hand. Do you wave them in?

Of course it's absurd. It's a thought-experiment! They run to the ridiculous. But, no, you don't let the Russian Army in.

The question is: when does immigration morph into invasion?

Curiously, the ecologists are always talking about "invasive species"... wouldn't it be more circumspect to refer to them as "thriving immigrant species"?

Of course, in the thought-experiment, we're all the same species, and what put me in mind of it is the mess in Europe.

Is Europe ready to be a melting pot?
I fear that really it's not.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Feeling Good

I believe some running injuries, particularly marathon injuries, are really post-race injuries, that occur when you're walking around sort of stiffly with sore muscles. 

That's what I'm trying to avoid. 
If I fail I'll be really annoyed. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015


I ran a marathon yesterday. I had prepared oddly, perhaps even lackadaisically, due to my summer being occupied with my FringeNYC adventure.

2 weeks ago I actually ran 24 miles, but very slowly. So yesterday I tried to crank up the speed, and was rewarded with the threat of cramps in my thigh (quad) muscles - on both legs. They never fully seized up, charlie-horse style, but they were threatening. So I had to slow down a lot.

It was a lovely race on a forested trail along the Des Plaines River.

It started here:

I'm not sure why it's called that. I mean, it's near a road called Half Day Road, which is near another road called Old Half Day Road, but I don't know what it is with all these Halves.

Perhaps it's a conflict between the Halves and Have-Nots?

I believe the people deserve
a Full Day forest preserve.

UPDATE: Curiosity got the better of me and I researched this odd "half day" thing. Wikipedia has an article! Here's the wacky part:

'In reality, a horse and carriage could make it to Chicago in a half day but some believe the area was actually named after Potawatomi Chief Aptakisic, the chief at the time the area was settled. The name was anglicized as "Half Day" or "Hefda" and a cartographer spelled it "Half Day", and the misnomer stuck, giving rise to the reputed, but erroneous, derivation of the name.'

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Bold Action

We were driving in the South Loop tonight, going through an intersection, and I see a young man diving to the ground and grabbing the leash attached to a little fluffy white dog... who was running into the busy intersection.

Then the young man gave the leash back to a lady, from whom the dog had apparently escaped.

Little dog, you were lucky.
That could have ended yucky.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Illinois Impasse

Illinois is issuing IOUs to lottery winners.

And the state comptroller says she won't be able to fund the state pensions next quarter. On the bright side, retirees will still get their checks somehow.

It's because the state lacks a budget. Our Democratic legislature and our Republican governor can't come to terms.

Here's a headline:

Illinois budget impasse seen lasting for weeks

That headline is from July, which is the start of the state's fiscal year.

Of course, the name of the game is blame. Each side hopes the other will be blamed for whatever inconveniences arise.

So far, I don't seem to have been inconvenienced.

But if your need for instant lottery winnings is great,
I recommend playing in some other state.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Cubs Win

I went to a Cubs game once. Well, part of one. I left early. Had somewhere to be.

Being on the south side of town means that there is no excitement here about the Cubs. No honking horns. No firecrackers. Crickets.

But it's nice to see the Cubs winning in the post-season, mostly because I know so many people who love them, this team that hasn't won a World Series in more than a century.

All they need is 8 more wins,
and the Series is theirs!

Maybe if they could just sneak up,
and take the other teams unawares.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Murder Your Starlings

This weekend I was doing "carpentry" on my next play... a process which I find requires a certain tough-minded resolve to make changes to scenes that seemed settled.

And it got me thinking about a saying I hear writers say: you must kill your darlings.

I've never felt any affection for that saying, but I started wondering who had said it, because I couldn't quite remember. I vaguely thought it might have been Dorothy Parker, that acerbic poet of Manhattan.

But actually it seems to have originated with a person not much remembered, Arthur Quiller-Couch, a Cambridge lecturer:

"If you here require a practical rule of me, I will present you with this: 'Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it — whole-heartedly — and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.'"

It's reminiscent of another piece of advice, this one from Mark Twain:

“Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very;' your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”

I'm inclined to think Quiller-Couch, the Killer-Coach, is offering a hazardous paradox. It cannot be the case that you should simply delete any piece of writing that you really love.

You can possibly live without "very"
but only keeping the writing
that you find unexciting
would be depressing and scary.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Dreaming of National Debt

I had a dream that my wife was handing me some spending cash, and that one of the bills was a 200 dollar bill, with the words "Debt Bomb" prominently featured on the back.

In the dream I kind of stared at it, thinking something was wrong.

The United States has no two-hundred dollar bill,
but as for the "debt bomb", I fear we will
face a detonation
in the form of big inflation.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Free Beer

A bar in my neighborhood, a bar that appeals to White Sox fans, and has taken to taunting the Cubs.

"The pub... used one side of its marquee to announce that customers will get free beer every time the St. Louis Cardinals hit a home run against the Cubs in the National League Division Series."

Paradoxically, I suppose that the bar will be showing the Cubs vs. Cards game. How else will you know when you're due a free beer - except by watching the game?

Instead of just ignoring,
they're actively deploring.

Friday, October 09, 2015

True Story

It's good that we have firewood, since one of my dogs likes to chew on logs. 

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Somebody vs. the Pirates

Apparently there's a north side team. I can't quite remember their name.

But after one inning,
they were winning,
and when all was done
they had won.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015


Some beleaguered believers are predicting that the world will end Wednesday, 10/7/2015 - tomorrow!

"The eBible Fellowship, an online affiliation headquartered in Pennsylvania, based its prediction on a previous claim that the world would end on May 21, 2011. Obviously that prediction was wrong, but the organization is confident that this time they are spot on."

On Thursday when they're proven wrong,
I bet they sing a different song,
probably like "please give us a break,
we made another math mistake".

Monday, October 05, 2015

Preparing for a Marathon

It was a dark, cloudy day for training. 
At least it wasn't raining!

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Mad Dog

So the Oregon shooter seems to have been a profoundly troubled young man of mixed race who had a thing for the Nazis.

Perhaps it takes an extra dose of "confused" to be a mixed race Nazi fan.

Which group can we claim
is to blame?

I would just say that he was disturbed
and should have been curbed.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Not So Super

In Pennsylvania, where I don't think they have a city named Metropolis:

"Man of Steal? Cops say Superman shirt was suspect's undoing"

He stole a laptop while wearing the shirt - and had to bolt away from the owner, who got a look at him.

He was then found by the police, still wearing the same shirt, trying to sell the laptop to someone else.

Being easy to sight
is crook Kryptonite.