Public vs. Private Lives

I just got done spending a week or so traveling around with my kids and dad in the northwest. Along the way, my dad was reading a terrific book of collected essays by Paul Theroux (a prolific travel writer I’m sort of embarrassed to say I hadn’t heard of before).

As we got accustomed to new rooms in new cities, my dad would read me passages from the essays, most notably one about the friendship between Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson. The passages got at the quirky, silly, often warm-hearted affection and loyalty they had for each other. And it made me think about what people do in their public lives versus their private ones. There’s so little we can really know of someone beyond the surface unless we spend time with them in an intimate setting. Another fascinating essay was about Graham Greene who seemed to bounce back and forth between needing affection (read: sex) and needing distance from those he loved.

This, in turn, got me thinking about my own relationship with public versus private messaging. I post things on social media fairly often which anyone can see, and I post things on this blog sometimes too (though I never publicly mention it and only occasionally get feedback about it so it doesn’t really feel public in the same way, even though it’s still available to anyone who seeks it out).

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Digesting Negative Feedback

I’ve been struggling with a longer work of fiction for a while, and recently had someone I trust in the literary business read it and give me some great, constructive feedback.

She had a lot to say about its strengths (which I appreciate, of course) but also lots to say about its challenges (which is harder to hear, but also crucial). I left the discussion feeling sort of disparaged. It reminded me a little of how I felt in college after working like crazy on a term paper, putting everything into it, then getting a B back, with a comment about how it needs some work at its core.


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Ride the Mole (if you can)

So a while back my kids were asking about my old band days, and I mentioned that I was in a group called Ride the Mole out of Brooklyn back in the 90s. They asked me if I was kidding. I said no.

Then yesterday my son sends me a text that he found them on YouTube in a video I don’t think I’d ever seen before.

So here it is. It’s grainy, you can barely see me because Big John is standing in front of me the whole time, but I make a brief ghost-like appearance at the end.

The video has two songs in it: Wasting Time and Ride the Mole (our rockin’ anthem). I really liked playing with those guys, especially in contrast to my previous, much-more-manicured musical experience.

And I poked around and found out that Marc (guitar/vocals) and Darlene (bass) now have their own rockin’ thing going on in Vermont. It’s been like 20 years and so I sent ‘em a note on their site. Haven’t heard back yet, but I’d love to head up there at some point and have a reunion. Their new drummer is good.

That’s all. I’m so happy to see this video (I felt at home playing this stuff) though I don’t think anyone else will be interested (although it has gotten TENS of views over the past 10 years or so it’s been online, so….).

Oh, I’d also like to point out that I’ve now been in two bands with great names: Ride the Mole and Big Dead Fish. (and if we ever get Massive Imp off the ground, that’ll be the third…)

One Minute Play Festival v5.0

The fifth year of this festival is around the corner (August 20, 21 and 22 at Ground Floor Theatre).

Always wacky, always stressful, always fulfilling. I don’t have a whole lot to say about it right now, but I did feel like posting my draft play here, especially with the Supreme Court news out today.

So here it is, in all its too-brief, political glory…

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Haiku Challenge

My friend Rita and I were talking about different combinations of words the other day. I said that I’d love to use behest and bereft in a poem somehow. And then she threw in the word behemoth.

Then I wrote this:

At Big Bird’s behest
A behemoth acts bereft

And she shot back with:

It leaves me bereft
All behemoths are the same
At God’s behest, eh?

After writing an earlier draft of this, my friend Marla picked up the mantle and came up with this:

Are you bereft
Of Ma’s Behemoth vermouth
At Dad’s behest

Those key words take up 7 of the 17 syllables. So this is a fun challenge to me. Got anything?

Playing Racquetball with a Cartoon

I’ve been playing racquetball with my son the last few weeks, and there’s something about the experience I find so entertaining.

First off, I just don’t think you see anyone that small playing the game very often, if ever. I mean… you don’t usually see anyone under 60 playing it, honestly. Something about those safety goggles and the confined spaces and the bright fluorescent lights make it seem kind of convalescent somehow.

Don’t get me wrong, it can be an intense and exhausting sport, and I love the quickness of it.

But seeing my son–who looks extra small in those big glasses–just flying around the room, screaming at the top of his lungs in that echo chamber, with hair flying in all directions, reminds me of playing against someone like Animal from the Muppet Show.

(sorry, kiddo, if you’re reading this, I love it and you, and the experience is wonderful; don’t get me wrong; let’s talk)

Anyway, I’ve been searching for illustrations that would somehow convey what it’s like to watch him play. I haven’t found any, so started making my own (and he made one too, which he said he’s okay with me sharing; see if you can guess which one is his).

This still doesn’t quite do it justice. I might keep drawing these, but I’m happy it’s recorded somewhere.

No, I Will Not Go on Your Booze Cruise

I’ve got this friend who keeps going on these cruises. He always calls them booze cruises. And now he’s telling me I should go on them too, that they’re really great.

  • You should go on the booze cruise with us
  • Man, these booze cruises are great
  • You’d really like the booze cruise

No. I wouldn’t.

I feel like nothing could represent wanton privilege more. Hey, you should spend a bunch of money to get on a massive block of steal and plastic that’s spewing oil into the ocean so that underpaid folks in uniforms can hand you alcoholic drink after alcoholic drink as you just sit there getting ferried from coast to coast.


But two things to the expression’s credit:

1) It turns out that the original meaning of booze cruise was about getting cheap alcohol across country lines (which isn’t quite so wanton, but it’s also not the currently understood meaning of the phrase)

2) At least they’re calling a spade a spade. Better “booze cruise” than “cross-cultural heritage liquid voyage” or some crap

That is all.

#petpeeve #rarerant

Gift Baskets, Testify, and New Play Feedback

It’s a hodgepodge of stuff!

So when my son and I went to see Nicole O’s fine new play about young womanhood last week, they had a raffle for a few different gift baskets. We entered and…. I won this!

As someone who’s organized and put together prizes for events, it feels really good to win. Super rewarding.


Hey! I’m doing this show on Thursday. I haven’t practiced as much as I’d like, and have my last review with the producers tomorrow. But I somehow think it’ll go fine. Which is an odd feeling for me. I guess I’ve been doing it once or twice a year for the past five years, so…. It’s almost comfortable?

As a follow-up from my recent post about writing a new play super-fast, here’s what Caridad had to say about my 38-pages:

I think you have bones of a good draft here.
there’s a clear trajectory.
a memory/ghosted play.
and a desire to find reconciliation and peace.

given that you now know what the bones of the piece are,
I think you can easily go back into the piece and decide where to open up and expand the material. esp. if you wish for it to be a longer play.

whose play do you think it is?

I would say it is Carol’s. but the clearer you are about this, the stronger the overall arc of the piece will be.

love the dry, sad humor in the piece.
how these people need to find order in their lives
and connection.
despite all.


Aww, she knows what to say; great blend of encouragement, suggestions and recommendations (she recommended I read The Lost Formicans too, a relevant play that I’d never heard of before; have it on my list).

I’m going to keep working on this one, possibly doing another class on rewrites with her in the fall. How convenient!

More on this play as it comes together (I hope).

See you Thursday? Maybe?

The Last Lap

I guess I’m continuing with the running theme…

So I’m at the tail end of this 4-week writing sprint, the same class I took last year around this time which resulted in this play I was pretty happy with.

I’ve got four days left to wrap the whole thing up. I’m supposed to get to page 40-50 by the end, ideally. Right now I’m at page 29, and last night I may have sliced and diced enough to pull me back to page 27.

So that’s like 5-6 pages a day for the next few days. Probably not gonna happen.

Also, as my son and I discussed, I’d rather have 5 quality pages of something than 50 pages of crap. So I’m struggling with that a bit, whether to just write for writing’s sake.

But maybe I’ll track here just to keep my honest and motivated.

Monday: Page 28 (being generous)
Tuesday: Page 30 (ugh, I know…)
Wednesday: 36
Thursday (by midnight): 38

All right, I sent in my 38 pages. I kept cutting stuff that wasn’t working and then had to just throw an ending on there. I wasn’t crazy about it, but there is some good stuff inside. Here’s what I wrote to Caridad:

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Big Decision: Hills or Flats

So I’m signed up to run this race in just under two months.

My friend Tom and I have to decide which of us is going to take which series of three legs that are left on the team (there are 12 of us running 216 miles in three days; I know, it’s totally nuts).

The choices are basically:

  • Run 3 long legs on level ground
  • Run 3 medium legs on hills

Here’s an example of one of the flat legs (the first):






And here’s the last of the hilly legs (rated WTH because the climb is about 1000 feet the last 2-3 miles):






Anyway, mulling all this. Part of me thinks hills would be more “fun” because it gives you some variety and a change of pace; and part of me thinks longer and flatter would just be… more pleasant… and less death-defying.

Stay tuned! (or don’t; I probably won’t write about the decision)

BUT there is a little part of me that thinks if I’m going to run 22 miles in three days (the flat version) I might as well run another marathon at some point. Maybe in 2020? Hmm….

p.s. Yeah, those giant mosquitoes on the maps?? Frightening! (not sure what to make of them either)