Month: July 2011

American Players’ Theater

Mike and I saw the American Players’ Theater production of the Critic. A bad play about bad plays, it had only one actor who was much of a standout (Mr. Fretful Plagiarist) but was otherwise a good enough diversion on a muggy, mosquito-wet night. The play, while consciously awful, had some hilarious bits of truth for anyone who writes or who critiques literature of any kind. As I do both, I think I caught some in jokes hanging around for centuries now.

What I really found interesting were the people attending the play. While vaunted as a tourist draw, it became clear from listening in that most of the audience consisted of season ticket holders… i.e. locals. These were the people tailgating in the parking lot at the base of the hill with wine and cheese (because you know, hot dogs just don’t say “theater.”) It was weirdly hilarious to me, listening to the woman next to me “The last time I went it wasn’t this crowded!” she sniffed, as I took my assigned seat – that she’s been leaning onto when I approached. The women in the row behind me told me about watching the play toward the end of the season when the frost set in.

And when we walked down the hill, in the wonder of a night worthy of a Midsummer Night’s Dream, people began to critique the play. “It wasn’t as good as…” what followed wasn’t as much evaluation as it was just something to say. It’s theater. It’s art. It made people so self-conscious and pretentious it was almost sad. I wanted to whisper, “Just pretend it’s like a movie and say what you really think.”

I sensed strain, a need to prove that they understood. The very need to prove understanding demonstrated understanding’s absence.

But maybe that’s because I grew up with theater performances as a backdrop in my life. I know teachers and actors are real people, flawed, egotists, awesome and awful. Just say what you thought – the very point of the Critic is that it is just … awful.

I suppose it’s different when the actors might belly up next to you at the bar on a Tuesday night.


For some reason, this time, I reacted badly to Taliesin. I don’t remember much about the first visit – walking through the drafting studio, the admission requirement that you only needed a high school diploma which has now morphed into graduate school and a whole lot of licensing, being really bored and Wright’s assertion that tall people were “weeds.”

This time, I was uncomfortable, bored and annoyed that no photography was allowed. I also got kind of grossed out. Wright houses are famous for their leaking roof  problems, and the smell of mold in the building with the theater in it nearly prompted me to run screaming outside. When we were asked to sit on the velvet-pillowed seats of the space, my squick level went sky high. Mold and FABRIC? They wanted me to TOUCH FABRIC? WHERE THERE’S MOLD!???

While tour folks were ever-so-slightly unpleasant, as they will be at the height of tourist season when it is also the height of dumb questions and bad behavior season, it was not really them that put me off. It was the mold, the dust, and the raving Wright fans. I could appreciate the architecture, and that he’s the most famous US-American architect in our history so far. But mostly, I associate him with mold, Ayn Rand, and silly fangirls.

Also, while I knew there were fires at Taliesin, I wasn’t aware there were murders. I still don’t know much about that, and I doubted I’d get much besides spin if I’d asked.

The most interesting part to me was the dining hall where students gathered and ate.  Unfortunately, no pictures. Bastards.

The Usonian

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This time, Mike and I stayed at the Usonian. The only motel built with that architectural style, it sits on the side of Highway 14, one of those random small-side tourist attractions that seems random until you recall the presence of nearby Taliesin.

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The property is one of those “historic preservation” places; even the furniture is kept to a T. While I wish they changed the carpeting – I have this thing about textures on my feet – and the room had slightly bossy signs all over it (turn off the A/C or we’ll turn it off for you, keep your kids of this ledge) and an inspirational poem I found a touch annoying (it makes assumptions about guests’ religious beliefs. I am offended more by the assumption about rather than the belief itself.) The bedspread also didn’t feel quite right to me, but again, I have a thing about textures that most people do not.

Our wireless was terrible, in part because we were the furthest possible room from the office.

Still, the room proved a great retreat during the nasty heat wave we endured while there.

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The woman who ran the office was quite nice, did her best to make us at home, and had a small wine shop that consisted of Romanian wine productions. Wine was one of the more peculiar themes of Spring Green, given its location in a beer producing state. I grabbed a Riesling (which I wasn’t aware could be produced outside of Rheinland-Pfalz) and it was middling enough to get us through a night of cable TV and the safety of air conditioning.

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The grounds were beautiful, and like most of Spring Green, the surroundings were heavily rural. People live their lives, every day of them, out in these areas, and while I was pushed to be one of the people that made such a choice, I still can’t imagine having such limited choices. For a respite from the drama and drudgery of my daily life, it’s nice, but the drama that would come from living in such a teapot might make me crazy.

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I didn’t get all the interior pictures I wanted – it screamed “swinging 60s” with a really well-designed small space short-term living motif. I loved that chair, too.

Still, for the price and where it was located, we got quite a bit out of lovely, compact motel room.

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Twin flames

This was from a ritual between Beltane and Midsummer. One was for me, and one was for my friend Brenda. ((Former friend, unfortunately.)) We were performing an uncrossing using some new stuff I’ve developed. I’ll probably show more of it once I figure out how to ship it – it’s actually pretty cool. It involves dissolving little skulls in water; not really groundbreaking chemistry but great when you’re paying a premium for fire insurance.

My writing to-do, and a sort of roundup of what’s up this month

I know, a lot of you have heard/read this before. For the few of you that haven’t…

In progress: The Spellcasting Picture Book (I know, I know, you’ve heard this quite often) is now available in print over at If you have a blog – and can send me the link to it – I will be glad to supply you a review copy on the condition that you review the book, with a link back to one of the places a person can obtain it. You can comment here or go through the website contact form. I would also be happy to send a review copy to any metaphysical shops that carry books. I am in the process of contacting as many shops and magazines as I can manage. Why? Because these days, that’s what a writer’s gotta do. I’m also exploring Smashwords, as I believe they may have a fairly friendly setup for bookstores and distributors. I’m new at this, so if you’re an old hat who is finding my stumbling interesting and you know something that could keep me from bumping into a wall or taking out the antique furniture, do be a dear and tell me.

For the grand list of places to get it:

In Print

In Electronic

Further To-do and Ta-da

  • PNC-Minnesota ran my piece on a festival that was caught in a flash flood, that also got picked up on the Wild Hunt. I’m glad that those involved are all OK. It has also led me to think further about the differences between news, public relations, and community sharing. It seems that PR and Community work is about the future, while news is about preserving the past so that we have lessons to draw upon later. I have another interview/piece pending, so I’m making time to follow up with that this week.
  • I have four books to review for Facing North. For those who are unfamiliar, Facing North is a large and growing repository of metaphysical book, card, music and festival reviews. Not only is it useful to people who read heavily (most Pagans) but for those of us who write in the metaphysical field, it’s becoming incredibly useful for market research. The books on deck: the Un-Spell Book by Mya Om, the Witch’s Bag of Tricks by Melanie Marquis, Bridging the Gap: Working Within the Dynamics of Pagan Groups and Society by Crystal Blanton, and Trigger Point Therapy by Donna Finando.
  • Divorcing a Real Witch is in its rewrite phase. I’m always leery of making specific time goals on a work, because feeling rushed causes me to reduce quality. It’s coming. It’s shaping up at this point to be about 60,000 words, give or take, and I have yet to start the online documentary part of the work. It’s already been turned down by an agent, but that’s one agent… who left the field shortly after the rejection. I am also reworking the book proposal, and looking closely at prospective publishers. The reason that I’m hesitant to bring this to a publisher before I do an agent is because, while an agent also expects you to have a marketing plan, it seems like publisher’s demand for an author’s marketing plan is daunting to the point of ridiculous for a first-time book author. The field is messy right now, and the players are changing. Writing metaphysical/mind/body/spirit books has always run counter to what the traditional market does in certain ways, but is just as much subject to the same rules as all other books in other ways. I may be working in a mudslide right now, but the ground is still there somewhere. Part of the reason I’m expending so much energy on the SPB is in preparation for this book: with Borders now out of the picture for market possibilities, I may just need to handsell it. I’d like to have those resources prepared when the time comes.

Other stuff:

Mike and I are planning to go to Paris in September. We’ve been taking beginning French classes, which now has me even more terrified to try speaking with real French people. We haven’t found a hotel, but tickets are booked.  Aside from the tourist stuff, I have no specific plans. If I can find an occult shop, a Daria fan, or places that sell plus-sized clothes, awesome. I won’t have time to go to Grasse, and I’m just not as fascinated by French perfume as I am apparently supposed to be. Mostly, I plan to walk around and take pictures, which is pretty much what I do everywhere I go.


Mini Bullwer-Lytton contest

This is a passage for a mini Bulwer-Lytton contest on Absolute Write. For reference, Bulwer-Lytton was the “it’s a dark and stormy night,” guy.

He found her that morning, casually catapulting the neighbors’ prodigious collection of cats from the fourth story balcony onto the hapless pedestrians below, her elegant fingers wrapping a clip binder at the nape of each kitten while her lilting voice sang delicate songs best forgotten. “Coffee?” he offered, sidestepping an errant cat, narrowly missing the loss of his ear by an inch. She smirked at him, her pouting lips showing shadows of the night’s playful platitudes, and offered him a cat.


Want more?
We got it. This is part of a monthly blog chain, as other wacky writers try their hand at worst ever opening lines:

De’s Stories

“By now I’m hoping that you have the urge to scratch your eyeballs out.”

dolores haze

“The Celestial Wanderer, flagship of the Covenant Of Worlds, had cowered in the Newt Nebula for three solar days before Captain Washington laid down the order to emerge, the cosmic war cannons readied for engagement.”
Ralph Pines

“She was so nervous that she dove deep into a sea of sesquipedalian loquaciousness in order to extract herself from the precarious conundrum she found herself ensnared in.”
Diana Rajchel –
pezie –
Guardian –
egoodlett –
Alpha Echo –
Euclid –

the Right to Write: Bad Writing on Purpose

according to the every awesome Weekly World News, this is a chupcabra. It could also be a blurry chihuahua.

For reasons of pure villainy, Ernest Hemingway and Sylvia Plath have been raised by the dead by two Nietchzian cults for what one witness calls a “Celebrity Death Match.”

When asked as to the purpose of such a match, a black-clad adherent of the nihilist ways responded, “Nobody knows, and nobody cares.” He then lit a cigarette, ashing and igniting a nearby tree on his way across the parking lot to the Har Mar mall. “If you’ll excuse me, we have a serious schedule of standing outside under trees looking spooky,” he said.

A copy of the Necronomicon was found on top of a Cub foods garbage can, near the trees where the nihilists hang out and smoke. The Necronomicon had no comment.

Further probing (we asked his mom) revealed that while Mr. Hemingway and Ms. Plath are indeed flesh again, they too seem apathetic as to the outcome of the match. Upon inquiry, Plath seemed far more interested in expressing distress at the rapid disappearance of honeybees.

Hemingway refused an interview unless compensated with Viagra.

Filed under: Exercises