Thursday, November 18, 2010


Is it the end of the world as we know it? And do I feel fine? Do you? Does anyone? I have been watching a lot of shows on the cable about the Mayan calendar, end of days, and all that- and I sometimes wonder: What if the world does end in 2012? What does that mean to me, right here and now?

Well, first off- I think that would suck, because even if I got a script sold and a movie was made from it and I won an Oscar- I'd only have a year or less to enjoy the good life- the money, the accolades, the travel. You know, all that stuff we all think about when we buy that lottery ticket. Wouldn't it suck to finally have that dream come true, just
in time to look up and see a massive tidal wave crashing over the Rockies? Or a fleet of invading ships from Planet X? I mean it- the end of the world would really be a drag for my personal goals.
So, I think, on top of writing every day, sending out query letters, entering contests for writers, and all that- I am going to try and do something for myself everyday. As if it's the last day of my life.

For instance- there's this crazy lady who wanders my neighborhood with her little dog. She's nice enough, I suppose, but doesn't seem to be able to stop talking, ever. I don't really know what she talks about, because the moment she begins to speak, my mind sort of numbs out, my eyes glaze over, and I just smile and try to appear like I'm actually listening to her. This can go on for five, ten minutes- maybe longer sometimes. (it's hard to tell, as time loses all meaning when stuck in conversation with her) Well, that's time wasted. Time that could, and should, and will be better spent. There's a worldwide apocalypse coming, for crying out loud. I can't listen to the latest adventures of Fluffy the dog who really needs a bath. So, next time she approaches me, I'm going to say "Shut up, crazy dog lady!" Hmmm. Okay, that's a little too harsh. I know, I'll say "If you don't have a point to speaking, I shan't listen." No, too snooty. Alright, I've got it. Next time our paths cross, I'll just turn around, and briskly trot off in the other direction. Subtle, yet clear. Perfect.

Also, and this is from something I saw on the tv show- I have decided that from now on, whenever I am flying anywhere, when it comes time for me to be patted down or x-rayed or whatever it is, I'm just going to go ahead and get naked. Why not? Along with making it easier for everyone involved, it's fun. There was a time in my life where I got naked in public quite a lot. I stopped when it went from being a spur of the moment type of thing into an institutionalized thing. Well, time for the skin to come back. Be ready, fellow travelers. In fact, I urge you all to do the same. I think, somehow, everyone getting naked more often will make the world a more harmonious, kinder place.

And while I'm on this whole make my life better before it's over kick, I think I shall be brutally honest with people. Like the next time I'm at some fast food joint, and I get that thousand miles away stare from the person behind the counter, I'll just tell them "you need to get out of this hell hole and do something else- anything else- with your life. Hell, rob banks if you have to- don't shoot anyone or anything like that, just take the money from those banker bastards and go to Rio or something. Alright, scratch the bank robbing thing- become a cat burglar. It's safer and sounds cooler. And speaking of banks, from now on, whenever I go to one, I shall inform the tellers that they work for devils, and if I see any real bankers there, I'll either flip them the bird or at least give them a very mean look.

And one more thing. I will no longer read the results of any polls. I mean, who cares what thousands of other people think? Do I know these people? How many of those thousands polled are either crazy dog ladies, or bankers, or non- streaking bankers? Throughout history, there are many, many, many instances of thousands of people getting behind some really stupid ideas. Case in point- is there anyone in the country who doesn't think at least one of the people who got elected in this last cycle is a total jerk off, and that the people who elected said jerk off are themselves massive jerk offs?
Already, I feel better about the approaching doom of civilization.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Okay. So I've been busy, writing lots of stuff- new short play, new long play, new screenplay-
Busy Busy Busy.
Now it's time to hear feedback. I've decided to put part of new play on blog. See what people think. If they dig it, groovy.
The New play is titled "Riddle Lost". Here is first few pages.


Excuse me, miss?

Hel does not move. Riddle politely waits for her to answer.

RIDDLE (cont’d)

He looks around the room, pokes his head out of the tent, then back inside.

RIDDLE (cont’d)
Could you tell me-

Hel raises her hand to silence him.

Who are you?

I’m...I’m Riddle.


My name-

Your name is a riddle?

No- my name is Riddle.

Am I’m supposed to figure it out?

Figure what out?

Your name.

My name?

You’ve come here seeking answers, no?

No. Yes. I’m not sure.

Hel places a Tarot card on the table.

You lie.


You say you’re a riddle.

I come from a long line of Riddles.

Don’t we all?

My father was a Riddle-

My father is the King of Riddles.

Look, Miss...I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name.

I didn’t throw it.
Hel stands, slowly walks to Riddle, until she is standing right before him. She sniffs the air.



Hel takes Riddles hands, smells them, then drops them.

HEL (cont’d)

I apologize if I’ve upset you.

I am not upset. I am Hel, Queen of the Dead. And you are?

I told you- I’m Riddle. Jeff C. Riddle. Perhaps you’ve heard of me? I wrote a book once.

Hel reaches out and begins to feel the top of Riddles head.

RIDDLE (cont’d)
What are you-

You hope I will show you clearly what has become clouded with time.

No. Could you tell me where I am? Last thing I remember I was in my car-

You seek a boy and a man and a legend and a body.

I do?

You don’t know what you want.

Hel slowly lifts her veil, looks directly into Riddles eyes.

HEL (cont’d)
You don’t even know you’re dead.

I’m dead?

Tell me- in that last memory- the one of you in the car- do you remember anything else? Like a truck coming at you with great velocity?


Yes, truck. Riddle me this- when a truck hits a car head on, what usually happens to the man in the car?

So you’re saying I’m dead?

Look into my eyes.

Riddle looks into her eyes, shivers, backs away.

What’s...what’s happening?

Hel walks towards him, their eyes locked.

Don’t you know?

Are you hypnotising me?

With effort, Riddle looks away. Hel reaches out, turns his face back to her.

I’m measuring the thread of your soul.

If I’m dead, why don’t I feel any different than I did before?

How did you feel before?

Hard to describe.

Try. Tell me what your life was like.

Sometimes good. Sometimes...not.

Hel sees something in his eyes.

The Everytime...what’s that?

How do you know about the Everytime?

Tell me.

Oh, well- the Everytime’s just a theory I had. Have. About life, memory, things like that. Every now and then, all my memories sort of just happen again. All at the same time. Like a tule fog made of memory and time.

The Everytime?


Tell me about the tule fog.

It’s a really thick fog that hits from out of nowhere- we had it a lot where I grew up.

Where was that?

Lost River.

A river was lost?

No. Well...actually, I suppose you could say that. Yes.


Sometimes- often when whiskey is involved- I get sort of...I don’t I become part of my memories, part of that fog. Lost in the Everytime. And it always feels like it’s supposed to mean something- but I can never figure...never quite stitch all the moments together. I thought that after I wrote my book I might have... but even that wasn’t- I don’t know. What was your question again?

What was your life like?


It wasn’t always like that.


Hel turns and goes back to the table and sits.

Let us gaze into the past.

Is this some kind of side show or something?


Riddle goes to the table and sits. Hel looks at the crystal ball.

HEL (cont’d)
Now, why don’t you tell me what your name used to be.

So, is that goofy, or should I post more?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

We can, and we will!

Ah, election season. Time for commercial after commercial with really over dramatic music, slo mo shots of the opposition that fade to black and white while an ominous voice tells us the end is nigh, and the disclaimer about how so-and-so approves of this ad. Yippee.

And along with that, the time honored tradition of complaining about it. It's really kind of amazing, when you step back and look at the bigger picture. We live in the land of opportunity, we really do- but somehow, most of us think it an affront to our way of life to have to listen to ads for a political candidate or initiative. For some reason, ads for politics piss us off. We can take ads for beer, fast food, oil, you name it- but not politics. Oh, we hate those ads. Maybe it's me- but I've heard more people complain about political ads than about all those public relations ads BP has been running for ever, trying to convince us that they love the Gulf of Mexico and all it's inhabitants. Why? Is it just a way of venting that everyone accepts, so we pour our frustration at life in general into those specific commercials? Is it purely aesthetic? Is what angers us about them the poor production values and cheesy voice overs? Just wondering.

Another topic I've been pondering: it is considered rude to talk politics with anyone who has a different view than you do? I have often heard it said that one should never talk politics or religion. That to me is kind of crazy- why shouldn't we talk about what we believe in? Why is it that in a supposedly democratic society we are given, as common wisdom, the advice not to talk politics? I've been doing some work for a political organization out here in Colorado, talking to people door to door about the upcoming election- and it's been really amazing. I am finding that most people really don't mind talking politics, once the ice is broken. But that breaking of the ice is key. Usually, when someone opens the door, they assume I am some evil seller of some evil product. Then, when they find out I want to talk politics, they kind of roll their eyes. But after that, by and large, most folks are happy to tell me what they think, what they're worried about, what political decisions have affected their lives. It's nice to experience. Of course, there are some who can't be bothered to talk with anyone who has the audacity of coming to their door. And some folks are just plain crazy. But the majority of people I've met so far are just families and individuals, all trying to do what they think is best, and have a good life while doing it. I have also not experienced the so called "enthusiasm gap" that is supposedly infecting the democratic party. All the democrats I've spoken with- and I speak to Democrats, Republicans, and Independents of all stripes- seem quite energetic about the upcoming elections. That might be because the opposition in our state is a little bit this side of looney- and just a little bit. Anyway- my point is this- talk politics. Talk religion. Talk about anything you like- if you do it with respect, listen to the other person, and don't yell, you can really find out some interesting things, and make lots of new friends while doing it.

And please, register to vote, and then do so- if you can vote by mail, do it as soon as you get your ballot. Why take any chances. I do think the races are all tight, but I also know that there are more democrats and progressive minded folks out there than there are tea party members and conservatives. Have faith, my friends- we still can, and we will make the world a better place, bit by bit. (if you are reading this and are conservative and/or tea party- sorry, I'm a commie pinko lefty, and I want the Dems to win, and win big)

So, if some person comes knocking on your door and wants to talk with you about the upcoming election- why not take a few minutes and meet a fellow American? Look at it this way- you will probably get to miss a few of those horrible commericals on the tv.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


So. I am at that point where I need to get some West Coast representation. Which means, I am at that point where I have to write query letters, seek out old connections, old friends, new friends, and so on.


Something about trying to find someone to represent me just kind of sucks. I mean, don't we all just want to have people knock on our door, with a bag of money over their shoulders, and say "Hi, I'm here to announce that your ship has come in, you have finally been discovered, and all your troubles are over. Here is a large amount of cash to start you off. See you soon. Enjoy your new life of wonderment."

Is that so much to ask for?

It's not like I don't have some credentials. I have written several plays that have been produced, published, and all that. I've won awards for writing, and have been translated into Czech. I even had a guy who worked development out in Hollywood who somehow got a hold of one of my plays, read it, and called my agent saying "this guy should be writing for tv." So what do I have to do, and why can't someone do it for me?

I have several screenplays, but the one that seems to catch most people's attention is called Ghostlight- a thriller set around a high school drama club's production of Our Town.

Today, I did research on query letters- the letter you write to agents and/or producers introducing them to a specific script you want to sell. Most of the articles and blogs I found on the subject said the same thing: be concise, beware of typos, and let the story sell itself. Brilliant. I can do that. Here's what I'm thinking:

Dear So-and-So,

I am seeking representation for my horror/comedy screenplay Ghostlight. It's about a group of teen-agers involved in the high school production of Our Town who are killed off one by one every time a theatrical tradition- whistling backstage, quoting MacBeth, etc. - is broken. Please let me know if you are interested, and I will send you a copy.

Dude who wants to quit his day job

Aside from the sign off, that is basically what I am going to be sending out.

Like I said. Wahoo.

On the more fun side of writing, I am working on a new play, working title Lost River, and that really has me excited. It takes place in a carnival sideshow tent, where Hel, Norse goddess of death, tells peoples fortunes. At the top of the play, Jefferson Riddle, real life survivor of the Modoc War of 1872-3, wanders in, unaware that he has just died. Hilarity ensues.

Every time I work on this play, I feel happy- like I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

I want to be able to do that all the time. Sadly, I need to make money as well- and theatre in general, and weird plays about the afterlife in specific, doesn't generate a lot of income. Hence the need to sell a screenplay. I have a friend who works in LA who once told me that all I have to do is sell on hit movie, and I can spend the rest of my life writing for non-profit theatre. I would like that.

So, if you have any friends who are agents, producers, or millionaires looking to finance the next great horror film, let me know.

Until then, Go Yankees, Go Giants, Go Life.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Facebook of the Dead

I have dead people on my Facebook. It just sort of happened in the way things like this always happen, I suppose. People I know died. First one, then another...the slow parade of the lost. It's a strange feeling, looking at a page for someone who has shuffled off this mortal coil. There they are, smiling at the camera, alive and kicking, part of the ether, part of the web wide population, but at the same time gone past forever.

Sometimes, on the space where it suggests getting in contact with people I haven't talked to in awhile, Facebook tells me I should contact one of the dead- but there are no instructions on how to do that. Face the clouds and pray? Should I write of their wall? Maybe send an instant message saying " OMG, how r u & what's it like up there?" Is there a way to twitter a ghost?

Usually, when the "get in touch with them" directive pops up on my Facebook page, I chuckle, then grow sad. Because I would like to get in touch with them, tell them good bye, wish them well, thank them for being in my life. Like pretty much everyone I know, I want to speak with the dead. I want a ouija board that works. I want to hold a seance and really hear my fathers's voice. There is something about the impossibility of death, about the finality of it all, that I do not understand. How could something that existed ever not exist anymore? Isn't that against the law of physics?

I also have contact numbers in my cell phone that belong to the dead. I know I should delete them- but that feels like it would be a betrayal somehow. Like I would be saying "yes, that's alright, they're dead"- and I am not really a fan of death, and I do not approve of gently going into that night or whatever it was Dylan Thomas said. So, I have phone numbers and email addresses and Facebook pages for people who aren't around anymore.

Of course, some will take this new dilemma- that Facebook has pages of those that have passed- as a sign of how alienated we are in modern society, how out of touch technology has made us...but I don't really think we were all that in touch a hundred years ago or a thousand, for that matter. No doubt in ancient Egypt someone was walking around saying "we spend so much time absorbed in our papyrus scrolls that we've forgotten to look at each other! Oh, for the simpler times of yesteryear, when a Pyramid stood for something real!" It seems to me that things left by the dead, reminding us they're gone, have always been around, and always will be, and the sting of remembering that you can't call your mom ever again, or that your old pal Adam will never recite the opening lines of the Godfather to you again, is a sting that will seem new and horrible forever. That's part of the deal, I think, of life. We love and laugh, and miss our friends and family when they go away.

Or, as Carlos, the Toad of Infinite Waters says, "Forever and Never and Life and Death are just illusions we make up to help us understand things. We all fade into the ocean of the Universe, and we all remain true to our immortal essence."

Monday, April 5, 2010

Peanuts and Crackerjacks

Baseball season has begun, and all is well in the land. I love baseball. I love everything about it. I love baseball movies, baseball jerseys, baseballs hats. I even play the soundtrack to The Natural when I do the dishes after dinner. It's magic. Don't ask me why, because I don't really know, but there is something about the game that is different- at least for me- than all the other sports we like to watch, play, and pay a small amount of people incredible amounts of money to play on the professional level.

I'm a Yankee fan, and a Giants fan. The Giants were my father's team, and his father's team. To the day he died, he could name the line up for the Giants for year I was born, the year my brother was born, and the year my sister was born. I wish he could have seen them win the World Series once before he died, but it was not in the cards. The Giants are a team of hope- of dreams not yet realized, and perhaps that's where their magic lies. I mean, look at the Red Sox. Something weird happened to them after they broke the curse of the Bambino. Some magic got stolen.
The Yankees were my mom's team. She loved them. One of my favorite baseball memories is calling my mom from Yankee Stadium, and just when she answered, Soriano hit a home run. Maybe it's magic thinking to believe that the Baseball Gods meant for me to call her just at that moment, so that for a brief second we could share the great excitement of thousands of people cheering one of their heros- but so what? I believe in magic and the Baseball Gods. It's like Zorba said, a man needs a little madness in his life.

Being a Yankee fan, I get a lot of ribbing from people who are not Yankee fans. Some of it is good natured fun, but some of it is kind of disturbing. Some people hate the Yankees in a way that just seems unhealthy for the soul. I mean like how the Tea party folks hate Obama. I mean, I hate the Dodgers because I'm a Giants fan- but that doesn't mean I curse them or wish them ill- I just want them to lose each and every game they have against the Black and Orange in the most humiliating fashion possible.
Maybe James Earl Jones character in Field of Dreams had it right when he said:

Ray, people will come, Ray. They'll come to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up your driveway, not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. "Of course, we won't mind if you have a look around," you'll say. "It's only twenty dollars per person." They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it; for it is money they have and peace they lack.

And they'll walk out to the bleachers, and sit in shirt-sleeves on a perfect afternoon. They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they'll watch the game, and it'll be as if they'd dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick, they'll have to brush them away from their faces.

People will come, Ray.

The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again. Oh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.

Monday, March 29, 2010

I have a time machine in my kitchen

It's true. It's on right now, and the portals of time have opened wide. Time it was and what a time it was, it was, a time of innocence. A time of confidences. I am, right now, sitting in a van stuffed full of my fellow Blackford High Schoolers, and we are heading North to Canada to backpack for a week. The floor of the van is really warm, and Kim has just informed me that the only reason Tom and I love the song The Boxer is because it has the word "whores" in it.
And I blink my eyes, the machine does its thing and...
I am skipping down Fifth Ave. in NYC, and I am in love, and I am singing into my cell phone, and I don't care who hears me, and all is well.
And I go upstairs a few minutes ago which is also right now, because time has liquefied this morning, and I am watching some movie with Drew Barrymore and I am also in the airport in Fairbanks, Alaska meeting my father for the first time in my grown up life, and I am heading back to the airport three weeks later, and also, at the very same time, I am thirteen years old and it's the middle of the night, and some man I don't know is talking to me and I can't make out what he's saying, but my older brother is telling me it's my father.
My dog has just died and I am learning to drive and I am in college and I just got published and I just lost my mother and I am in the shopping mall and in trouble because my sister told me to take the coins out of the fountain and I did it and now mom is going to have to get me and on it goes...
Sometimes, like Billy Pilgrim, I think we all become unhinged in time- we go to what I used to think of as the Everytime- a place where all moments, past present and future, roll together in a torrent of emotion and old songs and movie quotes and photos, and while it is tempestuous and overwhelming there is a sort of order to it all- and just like any strong current, the only way to get through it is to work with the flow.
Hello darkness, my old friend. And Brian and Tom and Vinnie and Dan and Tim and Jay and Taft- hello old mentor wise man genius.
The halls of my memory are so crowded.
And it's now today and it's now yesterday and it's now forever.
I am I, and I am singing Man of La Mancha with Myles in the back station at Bryant Park, and I am holding my nephew up to the sky on the day he is born, and I am getting married in the town square in Prague, and I am going with the flow.
And it's yesterday now forever.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Soul Is Like a Shark

There's a great scene in Annie Hall where Woody Allen likens a relationship to a shark- if it doesn't keep moving, it dies. I think the same is true of our souls. We must keep moving, growing, trying new things- or we slump over and die, and join the living dead. Fortunately, this zombie-fication is not permanent, and there are many quasi- voo doo rituals that can restore us. A trip to India, planting flowers, learning a new language. The list is infinite and groovy and unique to each of us.

I ponder all this because of my buddy Jack, who is painting again, after many years. Hooray. He's even presenting some of his art to the public. Double Hooray. It's been something like fifteen years since he last delved into the waters, and I am vicariously thrilled.

Jack was my room mate many moons ago in the magic land of Salinas. Salinas? Si, Salinas. We lived the Bohemian life with our fellow room mate Greg- and we were always short on money but never short on inspiration. We would have parties- well, we kind approached life as a continual party. At any given time, you could find someone writing a poem, painting, making up an interpretive dance to Gershwin or Jane's Addiction.

On top of that, we were working on a three part, nine hour adaptation of Steinbeck's East of Eden at the Western Stage, which was one of the most amazing theatrical experiences of my life, so far. They were salad days in the salad bowl of the world, and we were all Caesars and Cleopatras. To put it simply, life was groovy.

So, life went on, we went on, and presto change-o, fifteen years go by and we're elsewhere, doing other things. And that's cool- but at the same time, it's become much easier to forget that life is for the living, that one must howl at the moon now and then, that the chimes of midnight demand to be heard. Somehow, we spend more time worrying and less time celebrating. And that's no good.

So Jack, who like all of us has had his share of ups and downs, of remembering and forgetting, has found his way back to creating something that expresses the mystery of existence.

And that gives me hope. It inspires me. It reminds me that we are all of us artists, that we all must keep our souls on the move, or close our eyes and stumble along towards oblivion.

Click on this: Jack : to see more on the show Jack is showing his stuff at.
And here is a poem I wrote in Bohemia:


Jim dropped the ball

on Greg
but then again
We all gathered in the dark
between the lights
My God
it was all so
Every one of us
were in the Land of Nod
And in that filthy dirt
we reached
For at least 9 hours
or maybe one act
Hard Times became
than just a song
and then
in the final approach
to what was death
We watched them all
and cheer
as we
Walked into the grave
of a moment
that will never
come again

Thursday, March 4, 2010

March Fourth, the only day that's also a sentence

So. What's been happening since last I posted? There is this weird guilt thing that goes with having a blog- it goes something like this. "My goodness, I haven't posted in a while. I should do that. I feel bad." This is followed by many thoughts on what to blog about. "I know, I'll give them my take on healthcare!". The blog gets plotted out in my mind. Oh, the wit! The brilliance of it all. Then, somehow, an hour has passed and I have to go tend to other things like paying bills and walking the dog, and teaching my classes. A day or week goes by, and no blog. Then I think, "My goodness, I still haven't posted!", and the vicious cycle continues.

Well, Hell with that. I write when I write, and if there are months in between, so be it.

So, a quick update on all things me- and yes, I do think the world revolves around me, just like you think the world revolves around you. We are all our own little universes, aren't we?

There are two readings happening on either side of the country. On Sunday, the Seattle Playwrights Collective is doing a reading of "Sunny" as part of their First Look series. This play was originally called "Fenway: Last of the Bohemians", and is co-written with my wife, Lisa Holub. It's loosely based on Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekov. It is set on a faded hippie commune in the mid-1980's- you know, back when conservatives were running around talking about how liberals were ruining the country with all their social and environmental programs. Such a different time. Anyway, if you are in the Seattle area, you should check it out.

The other reading is a benefit performance of Burning the Old Man being put on by the Boomerang Theatre Company as part of it's Legacy Reading Series. So far, this play has been the most successful, and it got it's start with the Boomerangs, so please come out and support a great theatre group. There are lots of things going on with that show- lots of possible productions and such- so please, after reading this, face west, turns around three times, spit, curse, and think good thoughts. And if you are a producer looking for that next big thing, send me an email, and we'll talk.

So that's some of what's going on, theatre wise. As for politics, I still think the far right is out of it's mind. Seriously. The Tea Party people, and followers of Rush and Glenn- I think they are collectively insane. Something about the whole things makes me think of the Brown shirts and the SS in Nazi Germany. See, at first- and I could be remembering my history all wrong- the Nazi's were this group of unhappy, conservative nationalists who blamed the commies and lefties for their ills. Some said they were racist morons. As they grew in power, they were mostly Brown Shirts, or SA. These were the equivalent of moderate conservatives, and I bet some of them said "Well, I don't know about the whole Jew things, but I do think we need to take our country back." After awhile, a more hardline group formed. The SS. These were the super far right crazies, and they eventually took out the leadership of the SA. And by took out I mean killed. No doubt it's my overactive imagination.

Okay- now I have to walk the dog. So I might write more tomorrow, or in a month, or a year. In the mean time, I wish you all well.


We got away for a few days. Away from the news, from the Mask Wars, from Memes and Madness and My God Where Are We Going, and it was numinou...