Wednesday, October 22, 2008

For Their Consideration

Well, I went and done it. I have submitted the entire manuscript of Michael Drayton, Detective Guy to an independent publisher. Since they wisely give no guidelines on how long it takes them to get through the slush pile, I have no true idea how long I'll have to wait to hear back. And that's fine.

Now I can put it aside in my mind and let the Fates take up the load.

In the meantime, I will be concentrating on my non-Drayton novel, Such Is Life. And I've started seriously thinking about the second Drayton tome. As pertinent thoughts occur to me about that, I'll post them here.

And now we wait.


Anonymous said...


Why not the impertinent thoughts, too?

"Such Is Life"...Great title. I wasn't at all surprised, but delighted rather, to read that two sentences had turned into a multi-page story, and that one paragraph needed to become a recitation of tales. Not surprised because, well, such is life.

May the Fates load the dice so that they roll your way.

Len said...

I'd like to say that I'm banning impertinent thoughts just because I'm such a scamp that there would never be anything other, but the truth is most likely that I'm just getting old.

It seems that Such Is Life is determined to be one of those stories that doesn't evolve sequentially, but mostly in a series of random explosions, which can be fun. I'll probably just end up blatting out an outline-in-draft-form and then going back and expanding on everything. This method seems to work for me, and if A.L. Rowse was right, it worked for Shakespeare, too. And I've always felt that Shakey and I were two peas in a pod. Or maybe two separate pods, his being the ones where the genius peas hang out.

Anonymous said...


Old impertinences never die, it's said, they just...well, I haven't gotten that far, yet.

Non-sequential evolution--that will be fun.

Have you read "Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare" by Stephen Greenblatt? It's a gooder.

Cast your pod on the waters, I say, for it will come back peaing to you after many days. Where there's a Will, there's a way, after all. The more non-sequential, the better.

Len said...

Peapodcasting? Great idea!

I have read Will in the World--I read most of it on various planes when I flew to CA to see the Firesigns--and felt that too many sentences started with phrases like "He must have felt--," which, of course, there's no reason in the world to think he must have. But I'm far too much the specialist in this area and no doubt offer a jaundiced view based on my own prejudices and theories.

My friend, Art, is reading it now and enjoying it very much.

Anonymous said...

I noticed that too, all that "must have felt" stuff. But, I thought, why not? At least that's how this guy feels he felt. And I'm not informed enough to feel one way or another. I do know I like Shakespeare a real whole lot. That Kid's got potential...Not so by the way, didn't you somewhere (on the making Norman Happy blog?) write about non-Monty Python theories about how someone else "wrote all his plays and my wife and wrote his sonnets"?

yours generally,

Peabrain Caster

Len said...

Yes. There is a whole series of posts on the Norman Mailer blog devoted to ripping apart those abominable theories, particularly the ones involving the current "favorite" for a nonexistant position, Edward deVere, the 17th Earl of Oxford.

Obviously I like Shakespeare, too, but particularly in performance. Both as actor and audience, really, although I've only ever done scenes as an actor. He makes it so easy for actors, though. It's what George C. Scott said, "You just get on the train and ride."

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, what's the matter with me?--I keep forgetting you are an actor in as well as President of Len Club For Len.

"Abominable" they are, those so-called theories, to say the least. Like the anti-intelligence to Shakespeare's resplendent glorious intelligence. Rip those "theories" a new one, every chance get. (I said that, as P. would say.)

I first 'heard' Shakespeare being Shakespeare when I watched the series of (then available on video) RSC productions of his plays. Oh, and the Olivier handpicked cast production, performed and recorded near the end of his life and broadcast on PBS, of "King Lear". You know, I still have the t-shirt I was wearing the night I first saw it; by the end of the play, when Lear carries in Cordelia dead in his arms, that shirt was soaked thru with tears

Len said...

I am the President--and Flounder--of the Len Club for Len, which is a pretty sad statement all around.

I missed Olivier's Lear back in the olden days, but have just found it on YouTube, so I will start watching it tonight or maybe another night when I can get through the whole thing in one shot. A great actor in the greatest of great plays. Can't be bad.

I remember those RSC productions, too. Wasn't Cleese Petruchio in Taming of the Shrew? Speaking of whihc, I saw, many years ago, a TV presentation of Joe Papp's production of Shrew with Meryl Streep as Kate. Jesus, she was good.

Anonymous said...

Was it J. Cleese in Shrew?! (Wholesale outlet up in Maine: J. Shrew). The one that got me the most, back then, was Derek Jacoby's "Hamlet". The Olivier Lear, you'll again know why (and I agree with you) you call it "the greatest of great plays". And the cast!...Well, you'll see.

Years ago, I saw a performance of MacBeth, in Poe's Baltimore--with just the barest of props and scenery but 'in period', Christopher Plummer as M. and Glenda Jackson as Mrs. M. Both of 'em rendingly hugely great at dialing M. for Murder.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and shit I forgot to include in last post!--have you seen Al Pacino's "Looking For Richard" DVD?

Len said...

I have not--seen or even heard of--Looking for Richard, but you have quite rightly divined that it is right up my street. On to the YouTube list it goes.

It's such a joy to watch great actors playing Shakespeare, and I would think that watching Glenda Jackson and Christopher Plummer in MacBeth was a lead-pipe cinch to be wonderful.

Have you ever seen Ian McKellen in his one-man show Acting Shakespeare? I saw it both on TV and live when I lived in DC a couple of decades ago. I went up on stage to be one of the many extras who die while he does a scene. So, yes, I've been onstage with Sir Ian, and I died.

Anonymous said...

"Looking For Richard", do see it. It's singular, with many great actors, and their process of preparing and rehearsing the play...And there's one scene (with Winona Ryder and Al as Richard III) that, to me, is almost unbearably good. I've so wished that a full production of the play was done and included as well.

The one-man Ian was performed here in Princeton at McCarter Theatre, and though I didn't get to die with him, I was enthralled enough to have done so if my part had called for it.

The joy of all that invention, the torrents of inspired language, the sound and texture, oh and the meaning, and the, and the, yes, the joy. (I think I'm channeling Molly Bloom at the end of "Ulysses"

Len said...

I watched some (I don't think all of either is available) of both Looking for Richard and King Lear on YouTube last night and very much enjoyed both. My one criticism of Looking for Richard (and it really isn't with the film, it's with Al Pacino and whoever was helping him with the opening monologue) was that they changed the line from "G of Edward's heirs the murderer shall be" to "C of Edward's heirs." They do this because they realize that the first name of Richard's brother, the Duke of Clarence, is George and that Richard is trying to frame him, so they think that changing it to C is equivalent and will be easier for the audience. Of course, that speech is rife with double meanings and almost nothing means just one thing alone. And, of course, that goes for the G as well. It also refers to Richard himself, the Duke of Gloscester, and it's a joke. A gruesome and ugly joke, but I think that Richard finds it quite humorous indeed.

A small matter, though, and it certainly wouldn't keep me from some day watching the whole thing.

Anonymous said...

I prefer it and want it the way Shakespeare wrote it, down to the letter. I remember looking that up, about the monologue. I want it the way Shakespeare wrote it and not 'easier'. "...speech is rife with double meanings and almost nothing means just one thing alone..." Making it 'easier' doesn't make it any easier anyway.

Len said...

I actually knew that if there were anyone who would appreciate double meanings, it would be you. and I mean that as a high compliment.

It happens to be a monologue I've thought about at some length. why, I'm not sure since I've never performed it for anyone but myself. It's just fun and a way to occasionally exercise the actorly muscles.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking too, as I infered you did because of the maven you are too with double-meaning, that "...speech is rife with double meanings and almost nothing means just one thing alone..." meant to include our langauge and speech as such. That protean and fecund polysemy that flows through and overflows in Shakespeare constantly. To interiorize his language, word by word, hear it sounded, even if to you as your sole audience, now that's gotta be a great joy...

Any thoughtologue of yours on that monologue is certainly welcome to this bumponthelogue.

Len said...

It would probably take me hours to write it all out. As an actor, my first, most basic approach is pretty simple. Identification.

Richard was the youngest of three sons and so am I. And so I draw on those feelings, emotions, and memories, which works rather well in a speech in which Richard plots against both of his brothers and, I think, spends a fair amount of time describing the eldest, Edward.

I think that when he says, "Grim-visaged war hath smoothed his wrinkled front," that he is thinking, quite plainly, about Edward, the warrior-king turned libertine. (Which is exactly what Edward was in history.) The speech then has very specific overtones of envy and malice, but, since he is talking about his brother, there is also an underpinning of admiration and pride, however tarnished by Edward's recent debauching.

This section runs as counterpoint to the opening, in which Richard stakes his claim to being "this Sun of York" that banished "our winter of discontent."

After complaining about the change from a martial life to a civil one and expressing what can only be termed disgust for his brother, he goes into an extended rampage--on himself. Were I to play him, unlike the character played by Richard Dreyfus in The Goodbye Girl, I would seek to minimize both the hump and the withered arm. In my ideal production, Richard would appear almost normal but cast a crookbacked shadow. His deformity is clearly psychological rather than physical.

This becomes apparent in the line "dogs bark at me as I halt by them." After all, what can you expect from a dog who doesn't know you? He might as well blame the breeze for rubbing his cheek. I think that that entire section builds to the dog line, which, when I'm doing it right, comes out as almost an explosion.

The section that finishes this:

"Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace
Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to spy my shadow in the sun
And descant on mine own deformity."

is where, I think, he reigns in this outburst and directs himself for the final run of his thoughts, which begins with

And therefore,—since I cannot prove a lover,
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain,
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.

Focused on his plan, he is pretty pleased with himself, and in the phrase

To set my brother Clarence and the king
In deadly hate: the one against the other

he means to set the king in deadly hate against Clarence and not both against each other.

The toughest line for me to perform is "Dive thoughts down to my soul--Here Clarence comes," but I'm working on it.

Anyway, as they used to say on TV, you asked for it.

Anonymous said...

Ask for it I did, and heartily glad of it. Thou speakest well thy soul's deep-diving thoughts.

"In my ideal production, Richard would appear almost normal but cast a crookbacked shadow. His deformity is clearly psychological rather than physical." That's interesting...Do you read it, then, that Richard in viewing himself through his inner deformity magnifies his own outward misshapen form, and because everything outward in his world is, so to speak, 'in the shadow' cast by his inner deformity? I can hear the 'instance of the dog barking' line as an explosion of utterance---it's seemed to me a kind of cry of abject pain...Nothing more natural than a dog who doesn't know you to bark at you, you say, and yet, here, what is 'natural' and 'unnatural' get all twisted up and turned around, it seems, by something broken and become monsterous in a human nature...To have the shadow project and 'reflect' the 'true nature', that's good.

Len said...

Yeah, I have loads of good ideas for things I'll never do. You can take the boy out of the the theater, but....

I think, yes, that Richard's worldview is through a glass misshapen, a clear-glass funhouse mirror. Since I like minimalistic and representational sets and mood established by lighting, having his inner deformity (and I've never before typed that word so many times in one day) projected on a scrim would be a lot of fun, if it only happened at key points.

I'm thinking through this as a director while I type.

The trick would be in finding the correct point--moments, really--in the script in which to show the insanity that shadows him.

Anonymous said...

For some years, I 've had a file titled "Another In A Series Of Big Ideas"...Though, and since I'm something of a serial idea-ist, there's been no point to having a separate file. I know where to look if I can't find myself.

Repeatedly typing "inner deformity" is fun! "...the insanity that shadows him..." Yeah (as P. would say). That "insanity", S. so precisely, I want to say with excrutiating precision, embodies it in his character, the 'sanity' that runs or purports to rule the world.

On the S. subject, in another thread of conversation, I refered you to Self-Made Hero graphic novel publisher...They have a tandem project--did you see it?--called "Shakespeare Manga". This is in the U.K., mind you, and has been well received (if whatever the award they were awarded is a fair indication).

You'd do well, if from your quiver of talents, you ever fired an arrow of presentation of S. for young (but not only young) readers...(The big idea habit, again.)

Len said...

One of the professors in the department I work in collects all sorts of Shakespeare ephemera, which he displays in a case just down the hall. I'll have to ask him if he's familiar with Shakespeare Manga. He'll flip if he isn't already aware of it.

I'm with you on the presentation arrow idea, and I wouldn't be quivering, either.

I had a chance about 15 years ago to do a scene from The Tempest in front of a class at Georgia State. It went well. I played Prospero as the frustrated parent of a teenage girl. Good times.

Anonymous said...

...If he hasn't, do you and I each get a 'production' credit? And while I'm at it, is there a copy of FST's "Anythynge You Want To" displayed? I got the product title backwards. It is: Manga Shakespeare. They're already crazy go nuts with a first annual costume and performance contest.

I meant to comment on your preference for minimalist production of the ways of the Will. The Plummer/Jackson "MacBeth" was exactly that, and, I thought, it was so very effective...Mainly the space of the stage, the actors themselves, and the play--it was all there, and with nary a prop or backdrop. Between scenes, in the dark, the actors would carry off and bring on the few things needed, when needed, for the next scene. Looking at sample Manga Shakespeare pages, not so much with the minimalist...How, to your eye, does that play with the Play's the thing?

Len said...

I have placed my copy of Anything You Want To in my briefcase and will hand it to him when I see him next, most likely tomorrow. Thanks for mentioning it.

My whole theory of theater is based on the notion that everything beyond actor-meets-text is window dressing. That's, of course, the extreme sport version, but I have to say that I hate walls. And realistic sets. It probably comes from having been exposed to too much Thornton Wilder at too tender an age. The one-acts even more so than Our Town.

Anonymous said...

Do not most, if not all, modes of ancient theatre function without these walls, as you call them? Actor-meets-text, and the event of the play is in that meeting? I hate that place where they make walls, Wall Street, too.

At the ‘overnight’ summer camp I was sentenced to for several of my pre-teen years, I once was in a production of “The Skin Of Our Teeth”. I wasn’t any kind of actor, but even then I had to be near, and to hear, language that wasn’t daily puerility and insanity disquised as ‘sanity’ and ‘normal’. I loved that line “The dogs are sticking to the sidewalks!” Later I learned and loved how the play played on and worked with certain stories, well-known as they are unknown to fans and detractors alike, in the Text of the Torah. I also did situational improve, when I was ‘at camp’, out there on stage on my lonely and given a situation to make the funny with. I don’t believe it was me anymore now than I did then, though memory says otherwise.

(my friends call me) "Joe" Antrobus

Len said...

Wilder is one of the least remarked upon influences on the Firesign Theatre. They refer to his work at least twice, in Dwarf, of course, and more subtly in Bozos.

In his epistolic novel, The Ides of March, Wilder has Cleopatra write the following to Julius Caesar in a letter: "Crocadeedja is happy-unhappy, Crocadeedja is unhappy-happy."

Unhappy Macnam, that is.

You're right that the modern box set did not make its loathsome appearance until relatively recently in theatrical history. The Greeks, the Romans, even Shakescene, for crying out loud, did wonderfully well without realistic sets. to bos in the set, I think, is to box in the imagination, and boxing in the imagination imprisons one of the best allies the theater has.

Anonymous said...

Shakesport himself was not boxed in by the box set, that's good to hear. You don't want to box in the plays of that guy. Our universe may be in a "Local Bubble", as some bubbleosophers posit, but imagination should not be boxed in by anything, even a universe. I am relying on Imagination to remain the only free nation, without borders or demand for passport.

Long long had it been since I'd thought of Thorton Wilder. Thanks for the reminder. So good.

Please explain, if you will, FST's references to T.W.'s work "more subtley in Bozos".

--Just another bozo-in-a-box on this Antrobus

Len said...

Doctor Memory says, "The Doctor is unhappy-happy," just as Cleopatra does in The Ides of March. That the FST expanded that yin-yang approach into a leitmotif for the Doctor is, of course, a given.

The ImagiNation encompasses land both fecund and desert, with the Not-So-Divine Sarah (who is a work of the imagination) currently ruling over the Bubblehead Tribe in the Buy-High, Sell-Low Desert Area. And I'm not being Fey here, either.

Anonymous said...

Doctor Memory says that...Figures. My memory needs some doctoring. The binary, the 1's and 0's, the choice is between 1 or the 0-ther, but then, gosh darnit, you've got to choice all over again once you've made a choice. Won't somebody just make their choice for me?!

I've read in a Bubblehead tract that "the Last shall be Burst", but I guess that only applies to the 'real ImagINation'.

Len said...

My favorite soap-bubble opera is "As the Bubble Bursts," in which Clint Bubble folows a green span and builds a mansion on a cushion of air. Does it come crashing down? You betcha, guys and gals!

Anonymous said...

Oh man, that one's the best! I used to invest my worthless time in watching "One Life To Derivative" and "The Wrong and the Senseless", but then I heard about those wild credit-swapping parties the cast of "As The Bubble Bursts" has.

By the way, if you're looking for just the right bedtime story on the subject to read to your son, I recommend "Goldie Sachs and The Three Scares".

Anonymous said...


Just saw your en vacance 'gone fishin' sign posted over at the 'happy Norman' site...a "word fast", the fecund rest and fallow of silence--words and the writer's work with language need their Yobel--their 'jubilee year', as much as anything else that partakes of a creative cycle whose origins are hidden and unpredictable...Don't let me oblige you here, therefore.

I'd meant to ask you--but a reply can wait, if you've read Jan Kott's "Shakespeare Our Contemporary" (translated into English from the original Polish). This book was available to me when I was in high school and very successfully infused the Shakespirit into me.

Len said...


I expect the vacation will only last until slightly after the election. There's just enough un to my certainty of a good result that I'm not concentrating properly on anything else.

Discussion, though, is good, good for the mind, good for the soul. Therefore, let us let the discussion thrive.

I have not read Shakespeare Our Contemporary, but have found it at the university library and will check it out this week. Thanks for the recommendation.

Anonymous said...

The voter intimidation, the caging, the purging, the criminal conspiracy and activities of vote suppression, the tampering with, the flipping (with no paper trailing)of, the disappearing of votes and ballots...It's enough to un anyone's certain, of that I'm certain.

Every day, no matter what the year, I think of the Fool's line to Lear: "Kill the physician and bestow the fee upon the foul disease!"

And so, yes, let the conversation play on. Oh, "Give me an ounce of civet, good apothecary, to sweeten my imagination."

Len said...

What's interesting to me is all the frothing at the mouth that those on the far right are doing. I'll give them this though: They haven't started talking openly about moving someplace else if Obama wins. Although you'd have to think that neo-Soviet Russia would be attractive to the average apparatchik.

And, yeah! Yeah! Where's the damn civet?

Anonymous said...

Yeah to your yeah!

"Frothing" dear L., civet sweetened or no, you are too kind...Delusional raving, I'd call it, but then, you know me, I get all nostalgic for when one could tell the difference. Better make that, nostalgic for the supposition that there once was a time when one could tell the difference.

Neo-USSR, why not? At least they're 'red states', and they appreciate 'government' as a division of organized crime.

Len said...

It has been the most extraordinary display. And the more the raving backfires, the worse it gets.

I've long thought that Darth Cheney and pals identified more with Brezhnev than they did with Ronnie Rayguns. And now the poor Rooooskies (said in my best imitation of Slim Pickens) have a soviet government with oligarchs to boot! I don't know what i expected when the wall came down, but it sure as hell wasn't that.

A week and a day before freedom. Barkeep? Another civet. And make this one a double.

Anonymous said...

A different Wall. perhaps? I concur with your long thought, and as it happens just recently read a long essay (by an historian, I think) that argues the same premise. Of course, with all the missing 1's and 0's in my doctored memory, I can't remember the title or where I saw it. If I find it again, I'll reference it for you. Meantime, when you've read some of "Shakespeare Our Contemporary" opine some about it my way.

In civetas veritas.