Samples from the Other Side

The Splatterverse now includes excerpts from some of my plays, in case anyone wants to do some casual reading.

Rather than pick the most dramatic points in the works, I thought it more interesting to find moments that caught the flavor or spirit of the play, the characters, or the situation. If nothing else, I hope they’re vaguely entertaining:


Sympathy for the rare Picasso Shark

So the reading of “Turquoise and Obsidian” went well last night. The turnout was pretty good for a Sunday when all the clocks had been scrambled, and the audience was very responsive. Cast was superb, and I’ll send them a thank-you when I can pull together a conscious thought.

Where the play stands at this point? Pretty well, I think. I expect I’ll get some decent notes, probably have to tweak a few things, but, when it comes to be big global changes, well, I doubt it. There’s a certain point where you have to go: that’s as good as it’s going to get. Move the hell on!

Writers are kind of like sharks: if we don’t keep moving, we die. Or at least we do a decent impression of a dead person who still drinks and smokes and burns holes in ratty recliners.

Though he was kind of reprehensible in the way he treated others, especially women, I’ve always admired Picasso in that he was never afraid to try to new things. So many artists achieve a certain success and freeze, terrified to slip outside of their hits. But, firmly established post-World War II, Picasso, arguably the most famous painter in the world, pulled up his roots and moved his whole family to the south of France so he could study pottery with noted artisans in this one town. So he did pottery, and it was brilliant and still distinctively Picasso. When he got old, he amused himself by repainting famous paintings by other, older masters, seeing them through his style and poking fun at both the canon and himself.

I don’t know if he died with a brush in hand, but there are worse ways to cash out.


Herradura Blanco, por favor….

You know you’ve had enough tequila when, during the Day of the Dead, whilst staggering down a narrow, cobbled Cuernavaca lane at night, you stop to look at an ofrenda in a shop window, and head of a skeletal mannequin turns to stare back at you.

The next thing, you’re back in bed at the Hotel Bajo el Volcan, once the apartment complex where Malcolm Lowry wrote “Under the Volcano,” and the bed begins turning like a rudderless skiff. No point in sleeping, standing being much less vertiginous; so you go out on the balcony and light a pipe, reflecting that Malcolm Lowry smoked a pipe and probably stood smoking away the spins on this very balcony that overlooks the barranca, the canyon that surrounds Cuernavaca and into which the Consul, the protagonist of “Under the Volcano,” falls at the novel’s climax. And it strikes you that as much as you love “Under the Volcano” and admire Lowry’s writing, you vowed never to be like him. Yet here you are, smoking a pipe, struggling for balance, and leaning over the barranca.

That was me about nine years ago today, and on Sunday, my play “Turquoise and Obsidian”–the project that put me on that balcony–will have a free reading at Miracle Theatre/Milagro Teatro in Portland.

I’m very much looking forward to it, very much anticipating the play’s arrival in a form where I can begin shopping it around to theatres. And yet….

It’s cold in Portland today, really feels like the beginning of winter. But in my heart, it’s 82 degrees. Among the broad trees shading Cuernavaca’s zocalo, black butterflies with a five-inch wingspan silently drift, their wings splashed with irridescent green. I can’t get over the butterflies. I used to collect them as a kid, and occasionally, I’d send off for foreign species from a mail-order catalog. They’re dead, of course, and you have to treat them so their wings lie flat. I had one of these black and green ones in the collection, probably even knew the Latin name for it once (some kind of swallowtail, I think). Here it is now, nameless and alive. Drifting through warm, clear air, with a volcano in the distance.

And the tequila is very memorable as well, also clear, with the liquor’s characteristic smoke and burn, but also wtih a silkiness akin to cognac. The Mexicans keep the good stuff for themselves.

No matter what happens with “Turquoise and Obsidian,” whether or not it goes on to full production, and despite all the years I’ve worked on it, it’s already given me more than I can ever give it.