Monthly Archives: October 2008

Randy-learning from Ron Rosenbaum’s book THE SHAKESPEARE WARS

I found Ron Rosenbaum’s book THE SHAKESPEARE WARS enthralling.   I will use a lot of it.   From college I knew the importance of the iambic pentameter line to an actor in communicating meaning to an audience.   That didn’t mean I paid any attention to the important PAUSE, “that moment for breath, that delicate moment of hesitant stasis, that brief instant of intentional silence at the end of an iambic pentameter line;” but now as a director I can’t ignore it.   In that PAUSE, I find so much that’s important to me: where a thinking performer night after night can give the illusion of the first time.

Shakespeare rewrote his plays, Rosenbaum, among many other important things, pulls this out of debates that still swirl around the Barb and his legacy: the “clashing” scholarship, “public fiascoes,” and “palace coups.”   And there is evidence that he (Shakespeare) fussed over punctuation…even with printers…but I hadn’t realized the significance of this for me.   Until now, punctuation hadn’t seemed that important.   How a comma here or there totally chances the meaning of something.   How the presence or absents of three O’s…O’, O’, O…as when Hamlet dies…can effort how one interprets the whole play.   This opened up for me a whole new way of looking at my work.   It gives me a new tool…punctuation.   It gives more freedom.   I could even use, if I wanted, my misspelling: see Rosenbaum’s chapter “The Spell of the Shakespearean in “ORIGINAL SPELLING.”   Well, why not?   (You could tell me that I live in an age after Webster and I should be concerned with satisfying readers.)   Even at this late date, I’m learning.

Rosenbaum’s subject, even when he is focused on a cast of heroes and villains, is Shakespeare. We may have thought we knew Shakespeare before, or hadn’t put it all together.   We may have been saturated with stuff about Shakespeare to the detriment of our curiosity.   I thought I knew enough to get me by and had stopped concentrating on the man from Stratford.   But now after reading THE SHAKESPEARE WARS, I want to reread it, use it and read it again.   I now want to go back through the work of Shakespeare with bottomless wonder.

Ron Rosenbaum studied Shakespeare at Yale.  His best-selling work of cultural history EXPLAINING HITLER has been translated into ten languages.  His work has appeared in THE NEW YORK TIMES, HARPER’S, THE ATLANTIC, and THE NEW YORKER.  He writes a column for THE NEW YORK OBSERVER and lives in New York City.

THE SHAKESPEARE WARS is published by RANDOM HOUSE  New York

Copyright @ 2006 by Ron Rosenbaum

Dedicated: “To Peter Brook and the cast of Dream.  For changing my life forever.”

Randy Ford

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Karen Ferguson Tauber-author’s second short story collection released

      Karen Ferguson Tauber’s second short story collection REACHING FOR A NEW LEAF: STORIES OF TEACHERS DANCING WITH FATE has just been released.  In this second collection, the teacher-protagonists seize upon various opportunities in hopes of creating new beginnings.  Throughout the eleven stories, readers gain an awareness of how new life experiences help us to grow whether the chances we take yield the results we long for or, instead, lead us back to the familiarity of tried and true dances. 

      Karen’s book will be for sale through her at karentauber@gmail.com and look for it at various locations throughout Tucson.  REACHING FOR A NEW LEAF makes a good gift for the teachers in your life and for all those individuals who are curious about the world of public education. 

       Taken from Oct-Nov 2008 THE WRITE WORD the newsletter of THE SOCIETY OF SOUTHWESTERN AUTHORS.

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Randy-writer as self-promoter

I tried for a long time to promote my play ON THE EDGE.   Except for readings I arranged, it has not been produced.   Maybe it is because of the nature of the play that it hasn’t been.   Maybe not.   In this regard, actors and members of the audience agreed that the subject matter and the explicit nature of it made the play difficult to watch; one friend even suggested that I change the ending so that audience wouldn’t leave the theater so depressed.   However, positive responses from audiences and professors and readers tell me I haven’t written a dud.

The reasons why I wrote the play and why I would like to see it produced are the same.   (One director shot me down when I said the play was important.)   My promoting it has moderated, significantly, now that I have a theater of my own and can produce it myself.   I no longer have to knock on the doors of theaters, present myself as a playwright, and have no one acknowledge me.   So I no longer expect a welcome or that a business card or my personality will carry any weight, and I’ve decided promotional tours by and large are a waste of time.

The creation of a theater/creative community arts center in Tucson hasn’t been smooth and swift. From the start, and with me spending a considerable of my own money, there was a reluctance of people to participate in the effort, even after an initial expression of excitement and saying it (the venue) was something they had been looking for.   For now I am content when three or four actors show up and we’re able to explore something new: of course with financial support we could reach out more.   So, I may not have progressed as far as I might’ve hoped (my play still has not been produced and the theater/creative community arts center may still be in its infancy), but I am still me, naïve maybe, and I won’t give up.   I still have my acting workshop this evening to give and feel some original ideas I have about acting are clicking.   Original?   I think so, but there is a good chance I’m wrong.   The germ for my concepts came from Angna Enters, America’s first solo mime artist, with whom I studied under at Baylor University.   She was fond of saying, “mime (to me movement also works) is everything the actor does on stage beyond words.”

Randy Ford

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Randy-Writer named after an Airforce base? True or false?

      My father and mother named me after an airforce base: Randolph Field.   It was where I was born and, for those of you who don’t know, not very far from the Texas hill country where my mother grew up.   “Hill” had more significance to us than a home because down the road from my grandfather’s gas station/store lived the Hills.   Tex Hill earned fame as a Flying Tiger and his father acquired respect as a pioneer preacher:   I’ve enjoyed telling people this most of my life.   Singing “Don’t Fence Me In,” we would cross a cattle guard and pay our respects to the elder Hills.

      I needed a connection with Tex Hill, though I never met the guy.   I imagined that, because I had never been around anyone as famous as Tex Hill and the fact that his folks were neighbors of my grandparents gave me something to brag about that I otherwise wouldn’t have had.   (More recently, in Tucson, we lived near a woman who dated Tex Hill in college: now isn’t that a testament to how small the world we live in is?)   I was back home when I went to college in San Antonio; my dad courted my mother at Alamo Stadium; I courted my wife there (since it’s located across the street from Trinity University where I met Peggy).   Truth, and maybe part myth.   It’s taken me a long time to get around to writing about any of this…and then suddenly today, a glaring trait of mine takes control and I find myself once again boasting, yes boasting about my roots, only this time I’m potentially doing it before the largest audience I’ve ever had.

      My grandfather’s gas station was a squat-shaped, block building.   It contained a wall my father laid for Daddy Carder.   If it weren’t built on a sweeping curve and smack against a steep hill, most travelers would’ve missed a chance to fill up.   (My mother claimed one of her legs was shorter than the other, yes shorter, because of running up and down that hill. Truth or fiction?”)   My grandfather needed an income when he retired from the Baptist ministry?   True.   But was he a “pioneer” Baptist preacher? Truth or myth?   Tex Hill’s father was truly a “pioneer” Baptist preacher (I may have this wrong; for all I know he may have been Methodist); a fact; there was a book written about him.   It was one of the few books we had in our house when I was growing up, almost true, because we had volumes of World Book (I kept my father from letting a salesman go.), and of course, the Family Bible. Up the hill above the gas station, easily twenty-yards up but much further if you used the zigzagged path, my grandfather’s block home still stands but is currently occupied by some stranger, while the roof of my grandfather’s business has since caved in.

      Ingredients for my fictional world are here.   It is a world of fact and myth, and I can’t always sort it out: what’s true and what’s false.   I was just old enough to talk when I started making things up. Now I consider that lucky.   Then people thought it was cute.   I don’t know where I would be today if they had tried to stop it.

Randy Ford

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Connie Spittler-her story UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE appears in CUP OF COMFORT FOR CAT LOVERS

      Connie Spittler’s story “Universal Language” appears in the July released CUP OF COMFORT FOR CAT LOVERS, Adams Media’s national best selling series.  The book celebrating feline friends is available in bookstores or from Connie.  She read from the the CUP OF COMFORT, as well as from her book THE DESERT ETERNAL at the Humane Society’s Adopt-A-Thon Fair on August 2nd.  When Connie read to a group of children there, she noticed one girl about ten years old, hanging on every word.  The child’s eyes widened with the story’s events, and she frowned when appropriate.  The girl also whispered little comments, like “Oh, no,” and “Aw” to add to the reading and flashed a bit smile afterward.  About half an hour later, the little girl came back and whispered, “would you read me the story again?  Of course that is exactly what happened.  It was Connie’s turn to smile, because it’s truly one of the reasons that writers write, isn’t?

      At this same event, Connie sold a copY of CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE GRANDPARENT’S SOUL, which contains her story, “Through a Windowpane,” the true tale of a granddaughter and a baby quail.  The purchaaser had her son with her and a neighbor child.  The woman told Connie the book would be a gift for the little girl’s grandparents, who were adopting the child after her parents disappeared.  That book received a very special inscription, indeed CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE GRANDPARENT’S SOUL is available through Amazon. 

      Recently Connie rewrote the story, “Through the Windowpane” and called it, “The Nest.  Recently she received word that it was selected as a finalist in the Enviornmental Protection Agency competition called the Rachel Carson Sense of Wonder Contest.  Only stories that were intergenerational were considered.  Results expected sometime in the fall.

      Taken from the October-November 2008 THE WRITE WORD the newsletter of THE SOCIETY OF SOUTHWESTERN AUTHORS

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Randy-writing about the past Yep, “Barrow Butt” and “Frog Tit”

      To pick up girls from the country, specifically from deep in the heart of Texas, was to experience something we could hardly believe.   It was our good fortune to run into three of the wildest girls we had ever met, and they said they needed a ride to school.   That suited us three boys just fine.

       They were “Barrow Butt,” “Frog Tit,” and… How in the world have I forgotten the name the third girl gave herself?   (But it would be too late to go back to that small town to look her up and find out, even assuming now she’s still alive and has grandchildren.)   The town was rural; the three of us were from the city (even then only bridges separated Irving from Dallas, so technically speaking we were city boys).   The two girls who piled into the back seat of my blue convertible (1953 Chevy) with my two best buddies were wilder than the girl I got stuck with in the front seat; she wouldn’t French-kiss me. Cursin’…derived from who knew where, smokin’…a cigar without coughin’…fed our unrealistic expectations.   (I don’t know who produced the cigar; I just know us boys didn’t.)   These girls were having a great time at their own expense.   Our imaginations weren’t needed with them; to be perfectly honest they were the ones who suggested we go skinn’-dippin’.   Sure male hormones in great quantities (stimulated by more than a suggestion or two.   If you call yourself “Frog Tit,” you can imagine) played a part in our jumping on the idea of getting naked with these tomatoes (remember this was way before the days of social correctness.)   And to go on our great adventure (if only a hundred miles or so) to see what we could see and find three nasty girls was a dream too good to be true.   And it was too good to be true.   The rest of the story involved a run-in with the local sheriff.

      It is from incidents like this one (from my youth and settings I can recall) that I can draw on for future plays and stories, bits and pieces, here and there.   I have tried to use Barrow Butt and Frog Tit several times, but so far, I haven’t been able to fit them in anywhere.   And maybe that’s a good thing. Or maybe they deserve their own story.   We’ll see.   Randy Ford

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Alex Carnevale (www.gawker.com)-on this week’s review of John Updike’s latest book

 Alex Carnevale is a writer on www.gawker.com

Editor’s note www.guawker.com is a political/gossip blog that is quite irreverent.  They are a little obsessed with writers and publishing also as they are based in Manhattan.  I have to read them everyday.  They certainly have made the political season more interesting.  The reviewer seems not to mind that Updike has achieved anything as a writer beyond money and fame.  Calls into question (in a humorous way) his contribution to the art of writing.  Toni Duprey

                                      HARVARD GUY GIVE ORGASMIC REVIEW TO OTHER HARVARD GUY 

         It was a piece about John Updike related to aging that I couldn’t use.  See www.gawker.com and go from there.  Happy hunting.  Randy Ford

 

     

      Alex Carnevale 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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