Dear Mr. Dickle, I fixed it for you.

The other day my good friend Pilliard Dickle (no really) showed up in my labyrinth and gave me a copy of his new book, Avocado Avenue.  It is published by Boll Weevil Press, who will also publish Lichtenbergianism: procrastination as a creative strategy in a few short weeks.

It is, like all of Billiard’s work, inventive and twisted and funny and highly entertaining.

However,  I have to say that after reading the first eleven pages I was fully expecting that it would end in cataclysm and flame.  It only made sense, given the subtle buildup of absolute stasis on Sally and Rodney’s front porch.

I was severely disappointed, then, when it failed to live up to my expectations.  It was much the same when George Lucas failed to end Episode III: Revenge of the Sith in an appropriate manner.  Or when Peter Jackson made three Hobbit movies instead two.  Or when Michael Bay made movies.

This time, though, since Dilliard is such a dear friend, I am able to fix it for him.

And now, the exciting conclusion of Avocado Avenue

BACK ON THE PORCH, LATER, AND WHAT HAPPENED THEN[1]

Sally opened the front door.  It was long past midnight.

“What on earth are you doing out here?” she asked. The old man was standing there, agitatedly staring out into the dark.

“It ain’t right,” the old man muttered.  “It ain’t right.”

“What’s not right?” asked Rodney, who had wakened to find Sally gone from their queen-sized bed.  Rodney had actually wanted a king-sized bed, but their bedroom wasn’t big enough handle a mattress of that width.  It still nagged at him.

Rodney never found out what was not right, because at that moment the old man trotted off the front porch into the night, picking up speed as he ran.

Sally and Rodney stared at each other in shock as they listened to the cries of “It ain’t right” diminishing in the distance.  Rodney fleetingly wondered whether the old man’s bedroom would hold a king before he too ran off into the dark.

“What on earth…?” Sally said, then she too began to run.

The old man was standing in the back yard of Doris and Delores’ house when Sally and Rodney caught up with him.  He was weeping openly.

“Whatever is the matter with you?” Rodney gasped as they ran up.  The old man turned to them.

“This…” he began in a hoarse whisper, but what he said next was overwhelmed by the sound of an explosion behind them.

Sally and Rodney never had time to realize that their house had exploded because Doris and Delores’ house was now similarly engulfed in a roaring fireball.

“Just like in the movies of Michael Bay,” thought Rodney, or at least that’s what he began thinking before thinking was no longer an option for him or for Sally.

“This is for you, Horace!” screamed the old man as he plunged into the conflagration.

Then there was only the night and the flame.

No one ever saw the lone female figure escaping into the darkness.  If they had, they might have wondered why she was nude.

There you go, Gilliard, a proper ending.  You’re welcome.

—————

[1] You should probably read the book first before reading this.

Backstreet Writers

One of my Lichtenbergian proposed efforts for this year is to develop a writing/writers program at Backstreet Arts.

As with any major project, I have a Waste Book:

I began it back in 2015, on a camping trip on a sweltering couple of days in July.  Kim Ramey and I had been talking about her dream of establishing a free art studio for homeless/underserved populations, and several streams of thought had begun to merge in my life that led me to this goal.

The first was the realization that my life was no longer governed by cycles, e.g., the school year, the GHP cycle, the theatre season.  I no longer knew where I would be and what I would be doing a year in advance.  My life was now linear and it was up to me to plan it.

The second was an exhibit we saw in Asheville that featured the publications of Temporary Services, an organization in Chicago that publishes a broad range of work, from serious authors to folk/street/outsider writers.  I began to think that I needed to be doing something similar here, although I am under no illusions that I am going to end up with a major operation like that.

So yesterday those of us who are going to offer classes/workshops at Backstreet had a meeting to begin shaping what our services were going to look like.  I pulled this waste book out and looked over what I had written eighteen months ago.  It was instructive.

Here are my Abortive Attempts:

It is my VISION to create a space where anyone in the community is comfortable enough to come and tell their story to the rest of the community in printed form.

It will be the MISSION of the Writing Project to produce printed material—books, booklets, pamphlets [et al.]—that reflect the history of members of the community, particularly those who have been marginalized by our society.

  • The art of writing is a political act.
  • Storytelling is innately human.
  • [blank]

I CONFESS THAT

  • In my privilege, I have no idea who the writers may be, nor what their stories are, and therefore
  • I have as much to learn as anyone who comes to me.
  • I have no idea what the needs of our writers may be.
  • The quality of our publications may or may not be “worth” reading, but
  • Every work we publish creates a new center of influence, the ripples of which may affect a reader or potential writer in ways we cannot foretell, and
  • The more circles of influence we can establish, the more likely it is that we will produce works of real value.

Now that I actually have to Do The Thing, I find that these scribbled notes are still valid.  I have no idea of who is going to be coming to work with me.  They may be nearly illiterate; they may already be polished writers.  They may write drivel; they may have a compelling story to tell.  They may be eager learners; they may be obnoxious know-it-alls.

In other words, it will be just like teaching writing in my classroom.

At the moment, pending further reality, I am thinking we may shoot for some kind of quarterly journal kind of thing, perhaps a 16-page booklet, that we can put out at the coffee shops, waiting rooms, etc., to create those ripples.  Having a deadline and a venue for publication [AUDIENCE] is also a great motivator for anyone.

Whatever my plans are, of course, they all have to wait until I actually have writers.  I’ll keep you posted.

Writing, art, and galas galore

You should do these things.

NTC Season Gala

This Sat, Jan 21, at 8:00, the Newnan Theatre Company will announce its 2017–18 season.  I will be directing the big spring show, [redacted].  No, the name of the show is not [redacted].  The name of the show is literally redacted, since it hasn’t been announced yet.  But I am directing it next year and will be directing a scene from it for the Gala.  (I will also be appearing in it, since apparently there are not eleven males who could give up four nights in their total life to do this scene.  I’m not bitter or anything.  Yet.)

Backstreet Arts Gala

Backstreet Community Arts (full name) is ready to open its doors, and to celebrate they too are having a gala.  And how convenient is this?  It’s across the street and about the same time as NTC’s!  (Both were trying to avoid competing with Newnan’s Burns Supper on the next weekend, and so they ran headlong into each other.)  That’s Sat, Jan 21, at 7:00—so you could start at Backstreet and end up at NTC.  I understand there will be a signature cocktail, which I did not create.

a clean, well-lighted space

Backstreet Arts Open House

Then on Sun, Jan 22, 2:00–4:00, Backstreet will have an open house so you can come and meet the artists who will be offering classes/workshops for the target population.  At both events you can give money to help support this group’s mission, which is to provide space, supplies, and instruction for those in our community who would not otherwise have the opportunity to express themselves through art.

I will be there because I will be starting the Backstreet Writers.  Inspired by some of the work of Temporary Services in Chicago, I want to see if I can provide a venue for people to tell their story.  That’s all I have at the moment; since I don’t know who will be interested enough to attend any seminars, nor their skill level, nor anything; all I can do is say that I’m doing this thing, welcome anyone who shows up, and then meet their needs however I can.

You will recall that this project is actually one of my Lichtenbergian Proposed Efforts. I will write in more detail about my thinking about this tomorrow.  In the meantime, here’s a photo of me that Kim Ramey took up against her angel wall:

You see why you want to be there.

Lichtenbergian Goals, 2017

First, a clarification.  These are technically not “Lichtenbergian goals.”  In our official ritual/agenda, they are “Proposed Efforts.”  A subtle difference, and a valid distinction: if we don’t get around to doing one of them, we haven’t missed a goal.  We just didn’t get around to it.

With that in mind, here are next year’s Proposed Efforts.

Lichtenbergianism

I’m carrying forward my 2016 goal to finish Lichtenbergianism: procrastination as a creative strategy and find a publisher for it. It’s just sheer laziness that prevented me from achieving that this past year. As I move forward, I will continue posting chapters to this website (although see below about Lichtenbergianism.com) and about my efforts to implement the strategies outlined in The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published [EGGYBP].

I will also continue building Lichtenbergianism.com, both through the blog and the introductory material.

One of the strategies in EGGYBP is to establish yourself as a speaker/workshop leader, both of which I am extremely qualified to do. I’ve already started putting out feelers and hope to start this aspect of the project soon.

Backstreet Arts writing project

Another carryover: work with Kim Ramey at Backstreet Arts on establishing a writers’ group for her audience. Basic journaling, story posters, whole books, compilations of stories—I’ll start wherever I can and go from there.

SUN TRUE FIRE

Not really a carryover, but if I’m going to compose at all, it might as well be this piece.

[REDACTED] at Newnan Theatre Company

Since it has not been officially announced, I won’t name the play I’m directing for the 2017-18 season at Newnan Theatre Company. Suffice it to say that with auditions in Jan 2018, I will spend most of 2017 preparing for the show.

For this production I am going to pull what we used to call a “full Dale” and which everywhere else is called “standard operating procedure,” i.e., full designs for costumes, sets, and lights, with individuals who are not me in charge of production. Production meetings; crew recruitment; maybe even classes to teach people how to do these things. Reach out to sewing fanatics via Jo-Ann perhaps; reach out to the artists at Backstreet; find people who aren’t involved and drag them into it.

3 Old Men

I want to continue to lead 3 Old Men, of course, but now we have another goal for the year. Burning Man’s theme for 2017 (Aug 24–Sep 4) is Radical Ritual—how can we not at least attempt to plan to go? So there’s that.

I also want to continue as Placement Lead for Alchemy and Euphoria, now that I’ve had greatness thrust upon me. Especially if we move to new land again: I want the opportunity to design a burn that becomes a home for years.

Unsilent Night

This one just developed last week when I was trying to explain the music I had used in the labyrinth for the Tour of Homes, Phil Kline’s Unsilent Night. Years ago I had tried to get in touch with Mr. Kline to see if he’d allow us to do an Unsilent Night parade in Newnan, but never heard from him. When I looked the music up to show people, I was super pleased to see that Unsilent Night now has its own webpage, and that indeed they were encouraging parades all over.

I’ve already made contact and started a Facebook group to begin planning for the event next December.

Establish a routine

I got out of a daily schedule this past summer and fall, so I want to reestablish specific periods of work each day.

Seven goals, some of which have massive subgoals themselves. We’ll see how I do.

Onward!

A fun Abortive Attempt

Remember these?

Here’s one thing I figured out to do with them:

A lovely little package!

From the back:

Oooh, let’s open it!

Ta-da!  Lichtenbergianism Precept Cards!

One side has the Precept and the logo, and the other side…

…has the And so… section from each chapter in Lichtenbergianism: procrastination as a creative strategy.

They’re kind of a pain in the butt to make, but if you’d like a set, let me know.

Lichtenbergian goals 2016: a review

For those of you who are just joining us, the Lichtenbergian Society is the group of men who are my soul brothers in creative procrastination. Every year we have an Annual Meeting around the fire in the labyrinth, and part of the ritual is that we propose our Efforts for the coming year, which our Recording Secretary duly engrosses in the journal.

The other part of that process, of course, is to have this year’s Efforts read back to us and to confess our success or failure. Cras melior est is the appropriate liturgical response to any failure.

Since the Annual Meeting is this Friday, it’s time to prepare my soul for the ordeal. Let’s see how I did in 2016.

Here’s the original post, if you’re interested.

Lichtenbergianism

I wanted to finish Lichtenbergianism: procrastination as a creative strategy this year. Somehow that did not happen. Something to do with procrastination, I think.

On the plus side, I’ve made headway in my own head towards thinking about getting the thing actually published. Part of that effort towards world domination was establishing Lichtenbergianism.com, which is not nothing.

But actually finishing the book? No.

3 Old Men

If my goal was to expand my burner theme camp to include a 50-foot square arena for “yelling at the hippies,” well… cras melior est. We didn’t have enough campers at Euphoria in May, and for Alchemy, we didn’t have enough space.

But there in the last paragraph of last year’s post, look:

I also want to continue working with Flashpoint Artists Initiative, the nonprofit which runs Euphoria/Alchemy, as a small-time volunteer on various projects.

Ha. I was certainly accomplishing that goal, doing my usual webmaster volunteering for the art fundraiser and even going so far as to volunteer to be Co-Lead for Placement, right up until the morning that I woke up one morning to the email saying that I was THE LEAD FOR PLACEMENT, KENNETH.

So if my goal was to remain a “small-time volunteer,” I failed miserably. You can read about it here.

Backstreet Arts

My goal was to work with Kim Ramey as she established a public art studio for the homeless/underserved population here in Newnan.

Cras melior est. I lent a sympathetic ear to Kim Ramey and offered what I hope was helpful advice, but mostly I was missing in action. However, she has forged ahead and this past month the studio (behind Bridging the Gap) passed its inspection and will soon be open for business. I hope I can get my act together enough to volunteer down there and create a space for writing and publishing.

???

This was my Undefined Universe Project, in which I decided not to work on music which had not been specifically commissioned for a performance. As I said in the post,

So my goal is to allow the Universe to send me a project which is attached to actual production.

Cras melior est, although that’s on the Universe, right? I did decide to pick back up on SUN TRUE FIRE on Retreat (here and here), but otherwise the Universe certainly gave me the finger. Oh well. It’s not as if I haven’t been busy or creative in other ways.  Which is the point of TASK AVOIDANCE in the first place, right?

Onward to 2017!

A Christmas Carol: The Sleepover Edition

Astoundingly, I have not been blogging about this year’s production of A Christmas Carol, my musical retelling of Dickens’ classic.

To be honest, it’s been a scary rehearsal process, starting with the first night of auditions.  Why?  Because instead of the 20 or so adults I needed to perform the roles and sing my not-very-easy songs, I got eight little girls and a handful of teens and adults, most of whom had not done theatre in a while.  And on top of that, several of the adults dropped out the first week of rehearsal; I’m sure they were daunted by the prospect (as you will see).  I’d hate to think they thought it was not going to work.

Usually in community theatre when one does not have the cast one needs after auditions, one gets on the phone and recruits people.  But I was not in the mood, and on top of that I was up to my earballs in designing the nation’s largest regional burn at the time, if you will recall.

And so I made a fateful decision: we would use the performers we had and screw all those people who didn’t bother to come to auditions.  This meant, of course, re-envisioning the entire piece.

Oy.

I decided to invent a frame story—I know, I know, but hear me out—about Natalie Fairgood, a spoiled, horrible little rich girl, who was born on Christmas Day and resents it because she feels as if she never gets enough presents.  That’s why, she says, she celebrates the week after.  This year she’s having a sleepover with all her friends, but she’s been forced to invite her mother’s personal assistant’s daughter, Jessica.

When the show opens, Natalie’s grandfather shows Jessica into Natalie’s bedroom and chats with her a moment before leaving her to wait for the other girls, who are somewhere in the huge house.  When they enter, Natalie immediately begins taunting Jessica, ending in  a meltdown because Jessica is holding one of her dolls.

Grandfather intervenes, and when he offers them storytime to chill them out, Natalie demands a ghost story.

“I have just the story,” he says.  “I read it every year, and I’m reading it now.  I’ll read it to you.”  They all sit, attentively, and he begins: “Marley was dead…

Figures emerge from the shadows and begin to narrate as well, and soon we are back in Scrooge’s tale.

As the show progresses, the girls go from being passive listeners to Grandfather’s reading to observing the action directly.  Soon they are taking part in the story, using toys and costume pieces from Natalie’s shelves as they become guests at Fezziwig’s party to shoppers on the street to Young Cratchits.

By the time we reach the Finale, they are fully empowered to join Grandfather in telling the story themselves, and that’s the point: we celebrate the power of story, how we listen to stories, become part of them, and in turn pass them on to the next listeners.  Hearing a story changes us.  Telling a story changes us.

And by the end, both Scrooge and Natalie have changed.  And so have we.

Script now available upon request.

A pome

No one mourns the armadillo,
No one sighs, so o’er-woe’d.
No one plants the yew or willow
Where he lies beside the road.

Hm. I think it needs moar verses.

edited: changed “grieves” to “mourns” because euphony

edited again: changed “died” to “lies” because euphony

Lichtenbergianism: a new frontier

No, I haven’t written any more on Lichtenbergianism: procrastination as a creative strategy, and no, I haven’t done any more work on the book proposal.  But I did establish a new front in my battle for world domination.

As I posted the other day, I bought the domain name for Lichtenbergianism.com and started a trial website at Squarespace.  Within 24 hours I had ponied up for a business website; within 48 I had a new email address and a MailChimp account.  Soon I shall have a new Twitter account.

(The MailChimp account means you can sign up to have a digest email of the week’s blog posts sent to you every Saturday, i.e., you can procrastinate about learning how to make procrastination work for you!)

Now if I only had actual content for the website.  Hey, I’m working on it—every day is a glorious flood of SUCCESSIVE APPROXIMATION as I figure out what it is I have to offer and how to put that before the public.