Lee Wochner: Writer. Director. Writing instructor. Thinker about things.


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A play for Keith

Monday, May 13th, 2024


Setting: Lee, 61, is sitting comfortably in a cushioned chair on his mother’s enclosed porch on a warm late afternoon. To his left is his friend Keith, a good-looking man in his late 60’s with warm eyes and a voice touched by honey and silk. Also present, Lee’s mother, aged 98, and her old friend Sue.

Lee (to Keith.): It’s nice to see you.

Keith (cheerily.) It’s nice to be here!

Lee sips coffee from a flowered teacup, part of his mother’s set that she’s used for thirty or forty years or more. Keith also has a cup, as do Sue and Mom.

Lee: Did you hear me on National Public Radio today?

Sue: I did!

Mom: I did too!

Keith:  Sorry, no.

Keith’s phone buzzes. He looks at it.

Keith (cont.): Sorry, I have to take this. It’s London.

He rises, phone in hand. He starts to walk inside.

Lee(calling after.): Keith, wait. Wait! Keith! Before you go!

Keith comes back in, barely.

Lee: Before you go. Didn’t you… die? I remember you dying. A few months ago. Didn’t you die?

Pause. Finally:

Keith (it dawning on him.): I… do remember that.

Lee: Me too.

Now no one knows what to say. 

Lee (Cont.): Go take your call, then we can talk. But you come back, hear? You come back.

Keith:  Okay.

Keith goes back inside.

 Mom: I thought he was dead. That’s why when I heard he was coming over I waxed the floors!

 Lee: Yeah, he died in January. I don’t think either of us expected it.

Sue: Who is he again?

Lee: One of my closest friends, for a period. We did a lot of plays together. I really loved him and miss him. I didn’t expect him to die!

Sue: Oh, nobody ever expects it.

Keith returns.

Lee (re the phone call.): Well?

Keith: It was nothing.

Lee: I was just telling Sue and my mom how much I miss you. Miss knowing you’re around. Really didn’t expect you to go.

Keith: No, me neither.

Mom: That’s what Lee was sayin’!

Lee: It’s nice that you came back to say hi.

Mom (to Keith.): Did you eat yet?

Keith: I’m good, thanks. (He gets up.) Well….

Lee: Well. (A beat.) Is it nice?

The setting melts away, and Mom and Sue with it. Now Lee and Keith are in a mausoleum of sorts: Keith’s final resting place as envisioned by Lee in this dream.

 Lee (cont.): Looks nice! For… y’know.

They walk down three steps, taking it in, and come to Keith’s casket, tucked around an inside corner. It’s open. Keith runs his hands over the fabric within.

Keith (with appreciation.): Velvet…!

Lee: Very nice.

Keith: Feels soft. 

Lee: (ruminating.) I just realized that Mom is dead too.

Keith: Really.

Lee: Yeah. One month before you. But she was 98! Sue died a long time ago; I always liked her.

Pause.

Keith (eyeing his coffin.): Well….

Lee: Nice seeing you, Keith! Didn’t think I’d get the chance. Be well.

Keith: You too.

The setting shifts again, to the morning of May 13, 2024. Now Lee is in his bed, having just awakened.

Lee (To us.): Hah! I guess I got to do one last play with Keith. (A beat.) Although given the chance, I would’ve done better. Given them more to say to each other. It was just so nice to see him that we didn’t need to say much.

                                                      BLACKOUT

Awards and rewards

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2024

“It’s an honor just to be nominated.”

That’s what someone I used to know would say during her Oscar party whenever the phone rang and she answered it. The joke being, of course, that that’s what nominees used to say in the press interviews when they’d lost:  “It’s an honor just to be nominated.”

I say “used to say” because I haven’t watched the Oscars since I stopped going to that party, and that was… about 30 years ago… so I don’t know if the losers still say this. I don’t have anything against the Oscars, but I don’t have anything for them either. I don’t see many movies, the show isn’t very entertaining, if there is something entertaining no doubt it’ll be shared a zillion times on social media where I’ll come across it regardless, and overall I figure that rich celebrities already get enough attention.

So when Greta Gerwig got snubbed, with no nomination for Best Director, I couldn’t get worked up about it. I didn’t instantly assume that it was part of a vast anti-feminist conspiracy led by Academy voters, as evidently everyone on social media immediately began to claim. I just figured that most of the people who vote for these nominations gave more votes to other directors.

For the record, I thought “Barbie” was an astounding achievement. (Hey — a movie that I saw. And in a movie theatre!) But if we’re going to talk about theoretically deserving artists who never got the award that they were theoretically entitled to, well, that list will be very long indeed. 

Among many other distinguished personages, Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, Sidney Lumet, Akira Kurosawa, and Stanley freaking Kubrick never won an Oscar for Best Director. 

F. Scott Fitzgerald never won a Pulitzer. Although Edward Albee did win the Pulitzer (three times), in 1963, the advisory jury nominated “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” but the board awarded the prize to… no one. (Maybe it’s not always an honor just to be nominated.)

The enormously influential Gertrude Stein never won the Nobel Prize for literature. (She did win the first-ever Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.) Franz Kafka never won a prize of any sort (although there’s now one named for him).

Five times, Mahatma Gandhi was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, without winning once. Meanwhile Henry Kissinger won the peace prize for murdering millions of people, and Barack Obama got one for doing nothing that merited it.

I could go on with lists of scientists, writers, painters, playwrights, business heroes both local and not, animal saviors, environmental champions, people of high talent or a do-gooding nature and on and on, who never got properly recognized, sometimes because people didn’t like their work, sometimes because they preferred other people’s work, sometimes because they just didn’t like these people, and sometimes because the decision was arbitrary.

Case in point:

One story goes that in 1969, the jury deciding the Nobel Prize for literature was evenly split between Samuel Beckett and Eugene Ionesco, three-to-three, with much heated debate. It was finally resolved when, after lunch, one of the Ionesco supporters, who also liked Beckett’s work, simply changed his vote. Result: a Nobel Prize for Beckett (who called winning it “a catastrophe”) and none for Ionesco, whose plays are less widely recognized and less frequently produced.

What will be the result for Greta Gerwig of this terrible snub? Probably $20 million to direct “Barbie 2.” Not the worst outcome.

A good year (in many ways)

Saturday, December 30th, 2023

Every year, New York Times writer Nicholas Kristof shares the good news in what seems otherwise to have been a bad year. 

“[Even with Gaza, Darfur, Trump, and climate change], something else is also true: In some ways, 2023 may still have been the best year in the history of humanity.”

Two factors he lists: In 2023, global child mortality reached a record low, and extreme poverty also reached a record low (about 8% of people worldwide). 

It’s easy to overlook the positive, as Kristof notes:

“None of this eases the pain of those who have lost their children in 2023, nor is it a balm for those caught in war or climate catastrophes. Yet at year-end, it’s worth acknowledging this backdrop of progress — not to distract anyone from all that is going wrong, but to offer a reminder that when we try hard enough, we can accomplish amazing things. Right now, looking at the anguish worldwide, I’d say we’re not trying hard enough.”

In that spirit, and in recognition of the good luck I’ve been blessed with, and also with recognition that many people haven’t, both among my circle and elsewhere in the world, I have to acknowledge that I’ve had a good year. Maybe it also helps to be older, and wiser, and to recognize good happenings when they happen to you. 

Here are just some of the highlights.

Romance

Atlantic City, September 2023.

In May, I met and fell in love with my girlfriend. Instantly. I don’t understand how this happened, but when she showed up at the restaurant where we’d agreed to meet, I was struck by a thunderbolt that told me, “This is it. This is the woman.” I’d had many dates, and two previous actual girlfriends, over the course of two-and-a-half years, but this was instantly different, because she was and is instantly different. I’ve been in love before, and vividly recall how I felt when at age 20 I met my now ex-wife, but I don’t know if I ever before knew what romantic “butterflies in my stomach” meant. And every day since then, I ask myself what I can do to do even better, to keep this going, and if possible to keep it going for, oh, the next three decades. She tells me that she loves me too. I can’t believe my good fortune.

So, right there, that has made for a damn good seven months. Long may it last.

Music

2023 was a terrific year for music, with spectacular new albums from old-timers like Yo La Tengo, Peter Gabriel, Blur, John Cale, and Pere Ubu. Even the Rolling Stones put out a new album that I think is pretty good — and I don’t generally care for the Rolling Stones.

Lots of great concerts in 2023, too, most memorably Yo La Tengo (!!!) at the Teragram Ballroom, and Devo (even more exclamation marks) at the YouTube Theatre, at which I got so excited that my girlfriend caught me on video pogoing along to the music.

It was an honor to host two members of Pere Ubu at my house this summer (!), and for my sons and I to help the band load in and load out for their fine show here in Los Angeles. And I enjoyed meeting up with other longtime Pere Ubu fans for drinks after the show in New York, which I flew in to see.

Theatre

Let’s be honest:  It’s always a dice roll going to see a new play. Jukebox musicals may be idiot-proof (enlist some great singers to do classic songs you love against the backdrop of a thinly concocted narrative), but the successful production of a compelling new play is a true highwire act. Forty years of attendance has taught me that if you expect a 90% failure rate, you’ll never be disappointed. There were other plays I enjoyed, but these were the two standout productions this year:

“Heroes of the Fourth Turning” at Rogue Machine, an intellectually honest look at extreme-right-wing evangelicals and their worldview, brilliantly written, acted and directed, was a production I doubt I’ll ever forget. I don’t go to the theatre to be entertained, I go to delve; one way I can be sure I’m in the right place is if a few disgruntled fellow attendees leave mid-scene. In this particular case, success! Those of us who stayed were riveted.

“Kill Shelter” at Theatre of NOTE, about a struggling single mom who also has to daily euthanize dogs who have no future, was both heartbreaking and uplifting — and, somehow, occasionally comic. When each puppet-dog was put down, I cried, even though it was a thing of wire and felt; to someone who has spent 45 years in the theatre, that was epic suspension of disbelief. The play also offered an even-handed defense of kill shelters, a subject I’m sure most people would rather not hear about. Ashley Rose Wellman is a young playwright of talent. I wish I’d seen this earlier in the run, because I would have gone to see it again.

Life and Death

My mother died. That might not seem like a good thing, but it was. She was 98, she figured her time had come, so she lay down, slept for a few days, and passed away. Making her, right to the end, an inspiration. If you pray to a god, you should pray to that god that some day you’re so strong and wise as to be able to do the same. Almost none of us will get this kind of death. Will I miss her? Absolutely. My father died 31 years ago, and I still miss him. But they both left me a lifetime of instruction, so I’m grateful.

Family and friends

Playing Cosmic Encounter, of course: me, son Dietrich, John D., son Lex, and great-nephew Brody, November 2023.

I took my son to London for 10 days, my other son came to join us for Thanksgiving, those two plus my daughter and I were all together for my mother’s services, my great-nephew has come to stay with me twice, and I got to spend five days with my whole extended family back East both in September and earlier this month. It’s been a good year for family.

It’s also been a great year for friends, both new friends, and friends of 40 years. 

If you’re lucky, your romantic partner will have quality family and friends of her own, and mine sure does. We’ve been having dinner and playing cards with her sisters and her brother-in-law (and at some point, I will win). We’ve gone to lots of events with her circle of friends — what I’ve started calling her Legion of BFFs — and always had a great time, whether it was the Pops in the LA County Arboretum, the holiday light show, a country-club fundraiser, dinner and drinks, or seeing the Barbie movie. Good people attract other good people. 

As for my own friends, the level of caring some of them dropped on me when my mother died, as well as the heartfelt way they embraced my new love, said everything about their friendship. Friends I hadn’t seen in decades showed up at my mother’s viewing to pay their respects. Others called me more than once just to make sure I was doing okay. My friend Ski single-handedly cooked and catered an entire evening for all attendees at my sister’s house the night before my mother’s funeral service. True friends show up for you even when it isn’t fun.

2023 and 2024

At The Americana at Brand, November 2023.

If you haven’t had a good 2023, I’m sorry.

I’m sharing all these successes because I know I’ve been lucky. And because I know luck runs out. Not every year will have as many bright spots. More people will die, you will meet with misfortune, your health will fail, some despicable figure might make a comeback.

But when you have this much love dropped on you in a year, you must acknowledge it. Both to get through the bad times, and because you want to do right. Only a churl would let good times go unrecognized.

My best to you in the new year. Even when trouble befalls – and it will — pick up on the positive.

No-labor days

Monday, September 4th, 2023

Contrary to personal type, I did pretty much nothing all Labor Day weekend. Well, no work of any kind anyway. Didn’t even work on the play I’m writing (decided to do some submissions instead).

I did see the excellent production of the excellent play “Heroes of the Fourth Turning,” at Rogue Machine Theatre. It runs until October 2, and gets a “highly, highly, highly recommended” from me. A play that drops us into the deeply intellectual and passionately expressed arguments of conservative Catholic evangelicals during the Trump presidency, it’s brilliantly written and unnervingly well-acted. Yes, there will be walkouts (there were two behind me); go see it and don’t be one of them.

And I did things like go to the gym, cook a mean Irish lamb stew, read comic books, take my dogs for walks, pine after my girlfriend (still on a family vacation in Europe) and… watch several episodes of “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.”

If you ever doubted the importance of William Shatner in helping to launch the Star Trek phenomenon, this current show will convince you. Say what you will about Shatner, he fills every moment with something unpredictable. The lead in the new show, Anson Mount, is no comparison. Granted, Mount is saddled with playing Captain Pike, an anodyne character without a hint of flavor or spice, so dull that he is referred to by his own crew as “The Boy Scout.” But one could argue that the episodes where Mount is freed from this charmless character do even more to reveal his limitations as an actor, as in a truly childish episode where the crew is magically transformed into characters in a fairytale setting; tasked with playing a cowering quisling, Mount dives right into the cliched. In other episodes, you’ll see the setup for a reaction that he never quite brings. When one can remember Captain Kirk’s derring-do, his bet-it-all gambits, watching Pike shrug and smile wanly just doesn’t carry the day. “Star Trek: Discovery” at least had one strong season before sliding into juvenile concerns. Nine episodes in, “Strange New Worlds” starts off dull, then gets duller. When you’re reduced to doing a show that weakly rips off the movie “Alien” 44 years later but with far less suspense, isn’t it past time to try something new?

If Quentin Tarantino isn’t going to be allowed to rescue this franchise, can we find some other audacious brat somewhere to do it?

In praise of plotlessness

Sunday, April 2nd, 2023

“Suspense is cheap,” my writing professor told me when I was an undergrad. But he was a poet who for some reason was teaching fiction writing to a fledgling playwright, so what did we know? If your literary sensibilities are informed by the short stories showing up every week in The New Yorker, then no, there’s no suspense, no plot, and probably no conflict, just theme. Most of those stories end with a tiny “ah-hah” moment, only slightly a twist, and only barely ironic.

(I say this as an admirer of many of those stories.)

Movies, most of them, operate differently of course. There, suspense is the principal factor: How will our hero Tom Cruise get out of it this time? The answer:  with CGI. Ditto comic books, which is where most movies now take their cue.

Theme without plot as we generally understand it is principally the province of literary work, either on the page or in the theatre, whereas plays that flow primarily from plot are old-fashioned. We now view plays that operate mostly from plot as melodramas; literary plays as exemplified by Harold Pinter and Caryl Churchill and Ionesco or Beckett may have some element of plot, but they mostly investigate and express themes. Audiences get less caught up in asking what’s going to happen than in trying to understand what they’re watching and what to make of it. The real whodunit is a whatisthis.

What brings this to mind is a weekend of seeing two of these thematic and ostensibly plotless pieces:  “Playtime,” the Jacques Tati film, and a dynamic production of “Love and Information” at the Antaeus Theatre.

“Playtime” presents a fascinating case. Its two-hour runtime is occupied mostly by the bumbling of our hero, Monsieur Hulot, as he is waylaid while trying to meet for a job interview, and later as he’s the unfortunate participant in the very bad opening of a new Parisian restaurant. Add in a young American tourist who wanders into and out of scenes and occasionally encounters him and you have just about the entirety of the story. But the story is beside the point. The point here is that the then-new age of 1964 presents a confusion of ill-conceived modern technology that alienates and flummoxes everyone who comes into contact with it. Useless gadgets fill our lives, and constant intrusions by the latest things and ideas drain our attention. While we’re all individuals, we may have one or two or three doppelgangers in any crowd, making us easily mistaken for someone else. The theme? The creators are at the mercy of the systems and services they’ve created. In an AI age, that’s compelling.

It should also be said that “Playtime” is riveting and funny. While bereft of plot, it’s full of action — and also tightly choreographed sight gags that fill every scene. What makes the movie so watchable is the fear it creates that one might miss something by looking the wrong way. Tati abjures closeups; the entire film is told through master shots, forcing us to choose where to look. Sometimes there’s too much to see, while other times potential distractions are stripped away to present us simply with a chair to be sat upon or a portfolio to be unzipped loudly.

That this abstract film lured more than 400 attendees out to see it and then resulted in raucous laughter and applause is a testament to its achievement. That it does it without much in the way of what we ordinarily consider a story puts paid the myth that Aristotle must be obeyed.

After seeing “Playtime” on Friday night, I caught “Love and Information” on Saturday night at the Antaeus in Glendale. I will go anywhere I can, any time I can, to see a play by Caryl Churchill, a brilliant playwright who tears off the shackles of conventional storytelling norms but nevertheless produces completely absorbing tales. In this particular play, 49 separate short scenes ranging from a few seconds to a few minutes set about immersing us in the reality of modern human life:  quests for information, conflicts and debates about misinformation, people coming together and breaking apart. 

Further credit where it’s due:  The script comes with no stage directions, no character names, not even any character descriptions, so every choice must be made by the production cast and crew. In this case, director Emily Chase and the cast have made decisions to situate each of the varied scenes in various places and to cast them as they saw appropriate. We may be watching what’s clearly staged as a couple, but listening to the text reveals that that has been designated by the production, not the playwright. Some scenes now take place on iPhone screens we see projected on the walls. The dominatrix in one scene isn’t referenced in the text; neither the raucous music behind the wall or the evident interrogation going on aren’t clearly demanded by the writer. But every choice made by the cast and the director pulls it all together with the text to result in something completely entertaining, and riveting, and astonishing. I only wish it were running longer so I could go see it again.

Almost everyone know how to tell a story. We all know the rudiments:  beginning, middle, and end. But there are other sorts of stories, stories that don’t have all those elements, and don’t have things like rising conflict, and opposition, and denouement, and more.  Plot is by nature mechanical; theme is emotional. The advantage the theatre presents us with is the presence of the actors and of each other — the sense that we are all of us in this room at this time for this one time and that we’re all going to share in a feeling larger than ourselves. 

You can engage in plot. But in the theatre, you must pursue theme.

Ah, that special feeling…

Sunday, November 27th, 2022

… that comes from two hours of work on your new play that result in exactly one new page of writing.

It was Dorothy Parker who said, “I hate writing. I love having written.”

About death

Sunday, May 15th, 2022

Every morning when I wake up, I remind myself, “I’m going to be dead soon.”

You might be surprised how inspirational that is. Rather than depress me, it jars me into making the most of every day.

 “Making the most” can be advancing my business career, or my writing career, or reading, or handling a bunch of niggling tasks so they can be out of mind, or spending time with friends or loved ones, or even just playing “Skyrim” for an hour on the PS4. But whatever it is, I do my best to make sure it was what I felt I should be doing.

Because I’m going to be dead soon.

Over the years I’ve been accumulating dead friends. A couple of them killed themselves, some of them were much older than I was, some of them misused drugs or alcohol or both, and some died relatively young of terrible diseases or accidents. Someone I went to high school with died on his motorcycle shortly after graduation when a car hit him on a back road. A very close friend died seven years ago last month; tomorrow, he would have been 66. I still miss that guy every day.  Another friend I started my theatre with died of ovarian cancer probably… 10 years ago? 15? I’m not sure because I can’t find her obit on the internet any more. That alone should tell you how fleeting life is. 

I’ve also got dead relatives. My father died 30 years ago. (Still miss him.) My grandmother died when I was 8. Every single one of my many aunts and uncles are dead, and some of my cousins, too, including my cousin Suzie, who was a dwarf and who was my favorite when I was a boy. My mother is 96, strongly aiming for 97 in September, but in a reasonable amount of time she’ll be dead too. And so will I, and you, and everyone else, too.

So it’s best to appreciate people while they’re here, and to enjoy every day possible.

I think often about death because I also ask people what they think happens after we die. When I asked my father in 1992, shortly before he died from cancer, he instructed me about ancient history. “When Pharaoh wanted a pyramid built, he invented Ra the Sun God so those guys would build it for him.” Solid practical insight from an atheist. My friend who would have been 66 tomorrow believed that variations of himself would live on in the multiverse. Meanwhile, ironically, my practicing-Catholic dating partner doesn’t believe in an afterlife, while my non-practicing Lutheran self does. 

I’m generally healthy, generally well-situated, and generally filled with joy. I don’t know why. I certainly have known plenty of depressed or depressive people; I’ve just rarely been one of them. When my wife of many years left me last year, I was sad for a bit, but it didn’t last. I wish her well, we’re parting amicably, and I’m very happy with a woman I’ve been dating seriously for five months now. (In fact, my soon-to-be ex-wife said to me recently, “I’m glad you’re dating. I want you to be happy.”) Life goes on (until it doesn’t). You just have to remember to do your best to treat people as well as you can. It’s true what they say:  You get back what you put out. So if you put out positive things, you’re generally more likely to get positive things.

I don’t know that I always knew this, but I know it now.

Via Twitter, I know a writer dealing with perhaps the worst affliction to get:  amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, aka ALS, aka “Lou Gehrig’s disease.” It’s hard to imagine anything worse than gradually losing complete control of your own body and getting locked into it — unless you’re lucky enough either to die first or to take action on your directive and get a friendly attendant to end your life for you. Every choice associated with ALS seems horrible. And yet:  This writer has said that now she values every moment, has a new book coming out, is traveling, and is starting another book. Good for her.

And, no. There’s nothing wrong with me, yet. I plan to be here as long as I can — even though I have little literal control over that. The most you can do is increase your odds:  eat right, exercise, and don’t be an idiot on the freeway or the slopes. And so that’s what I’m focused on:  increasing my odds, and putting every day to best use.

Because while death may be around the corner, in the meantime there’s life.

Wisdom

Sunday, March 13th, 2022

I do my best to impart helpful insights to the boards I sit on. Yesterday at the board meeting for my theatre company was no exception, as I learned that we might have an improv class renting our space soon.

“Be careful doing business with improv actors,” I advised. “They just make it up as they go.”

1 day left for 7 steps

Saturday, June 19th, 2021

My play 7 STEP PROCESS debuted last night, live on Zoom, where it went over better than I ever could have expected. More than 50 people stayed for the live virtual talkback, and flooded the cast and crew with questions and praise, making for an adventurous discussion about just what “theatre” is, especially when the actors have never even met in the same room.

I started writing that play in December precisely with the idea of getting it up on its feet — over Zoom — because not getting to do any theatre was weighing on me. Yes, I was writing all the time, but when you write plays, you want to see them get performed by actors. Plus, I wanted to explore this new medium of doing live theatre online, and turning the proscenium into a small rectangle on people’s computers. What would that be like? Would punch lines still work, in the absence of an audience? Plus plus, I wanted to write about change — because we’re in only the beginning stages of massive cultural and technological change, and not everyone is adapting well. (As we see in the play.)

The second performance starts in under an hour — and we’ve got audience members logging on from across the U.S. and other nations as well (which is thrilling) — but there’s still one more playdate, tomorrow at 3 p.m. Pacific, if you’d like to check it out. Here’s the link.

https://www.eventbrite.com/o/7-step-process-33397834725?fbclid=IwAR2PbSHkgg2cfokOCOIHSrYlN-Rr4CQ0nd1XCP3ZChA9XJWCqlpiV-B_pCk

The end-of-the-month post

Friday, April 30th, 2021

So, no, I can’t end April with only one post. So here we are, with the end-of-the-month post.

I remember the years when I used to post here every day. Maybe I’ll get back to that. If it gives you any comfort* — because I’m sure you no doubt want comforting about what I’m up to — I will tell you that I’ve been very productive during our little global pandemic.

I wrote three full-length plays**, and one of them is headed into production now with an opening targeted for June. (More about that soon.)

I also devoted a lot of time to listening to, and interacting with, and researching even more about, the world’s greatest rock band.*** Time well-spent indeed!

I bought about eleventy-billion more glorious old moldering comic books from the 1940s through 1980s and carefully curated them right into my collection.

And I’ve been doing a lot-lot-lot of reading, and I’ve been working on some exciting projects and initiatives at my company, and I’ve even occasionally had friends over to sit in the back yard and smoke cigars and drink bourbon and talk about writing and the theatre.

And somewhere in all that, I went and got vaccinated. I hope you do that too, if you haven’t already.

And we’ve had lots of repair work done around the house and yard, even up until today, and even more scheduled, and… ugh.

I thought I’d just catch you up somewhat obliquely on some of these things before May hits us smack in the face in the morning. And at some point — perhaps this weekend? — I’ll write one of the two longish posts that have been floating around in my head for literally months now, one of which I’ve actually written notes for, and one of which I’ve taken a photo for. The former one involves the Bee Gees, while the latter one involves Philip K. Dick and Adam Strange.

Stay tuned!

* It actually gives me comfort, as someone raised very German Lutheran, and therefore tied to work. Work is my joy. My people, when we die, say, “I wish I’d worked more.”

** When asked how many of his plays were full-length, Edward Albee famously replied, “All of them.” (Even his 10-page ones.) But in this particular case, I mean a running time of 75-120 minutes.

*** Pere Ubu, of course! There’s always something great going on over here!