Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Adventures of Wee Dickey Drudge, Whoreson

This is a dime story (3 minute stories) I read tonight at the monthly Dime Stories at BarbĂ© in Park Slope.  Thanks for a great event!

 The birds were dead.‭ ‬Every last one of the damn birds was as dead as last week's custard and Wee Dicky Drudge knew it was his fault.‭ ‬He vaguely remembered Oswald the Mystifying giving him specific instructions,‭ ‬something about lighting the small gas heater in the theatre's storage room after yesterday's evening performance.‭ ‬Something about this being a colder winter than anyone in Boston could remember.‭ ‬Something about doves not being penguins.‭ ‬It was all rather hazy in light of his current predicament.‭  ‬Every single god damn bird was frozen solid like a summer icy treat,‭ ‬Oswald the Mystifying was waiting in the wings for his doves,‭ ‬and several hundred already seated patrons had paid up to ten cents apiece to see  doves disappear,‭ ‬reappear,‭ ‬burst into flames and then reappear again.‭ ‬Young Dicky had to think fast,‭ ‬and that was never really something you could have called him good at.‭ ‬His first instinct was to lie,‭ ‬but he wasn't particularly good at that either,‭ ‬and Oswald could always tell and would box his ears.‭ ‬He considered burning the theatre down,‭ ‬but quickly realized that this was probably more than the situation required.‭ ‬As he stood there contemplating arson,‭ ‬his eyes fell on the half‭ ‬open window just behind the cages‭  ‬In that moment his path became clear.‭ ‬You see there was one thing that Wee Dickey excelled at,‭ ‬one talent that he used to compensate for his apparent lacking of all others.‭ ‬Dickey knew how to run away.‭ ‬It had served him well thus far,‭ ‬and it was about to serve him again.‭ ‬He squeezed his small body through the slim window opening and quietly dropped into the alley behind the theatre.‭ ‬And then,‭ ‬he ran.‭ ‬As fast as he could.‭ ‬He ran and ran and never once looked back.‭ ‬He stopped to throw up his breakfast at one point,‭ ‬but that was for just a brief moment,‭ ‬and then he went back to running.‭  ‬He never again came back to Boston.‭ ‬And he never again worked as a magician's assistant,‭ ‬at least not until that time in Bombay after the war.‭ ‬.‭ ‬.‭  ‬But that my friends,‭ ‬is a story for a different time.‭ �

Friday, February 5, 2010

Re-branding - from the pages of The Dramatist

Here is my editor's note from the November 2009 issue.  Reprinted by permission of The Dramatist, Journal of the Dramatists Guild of America.

As I crossed Times Square, on the way to work today, I encountered a giant laptop.  Open, the thing was about two stories high  Perhaps there comes a point when the term ‘laptop’ is no longer appropriate, at least in the absence of a giant lap.  Nevertheless, there it was and it was huge.  It was the kick off to Radio Shack’s rebranding campaign.  From now on, it’s just “The Shack.”  Seriously.  It’s always hard to take this kind of corporate, focus group-driven stuff with a straight face.  It may have tested well with seniors, single moms, and windsurfing paleontologists, but we’re not suddenly going to find ourselves saying, “I’m just swinging by The Shack to pick up some power convertors."    It will never stick. Their multi-million dollar campaign will fail.  You can’t tell us what to call you, and that’s all there is to it. 

But, of course, we know that’s not true. People will use the new handle, perhaps ironically at first. But, as ludicrous as it seems now, in a few years a news anchor will remark that, "most of the components found in Kaczynski’s remote Montana cabin are available at your local The Shack."  And we won’t think anything of it.  Bewildered children will ask you, “What’s Radio Shack?” as if you had handed them an eight-track. 

Well if The Shack can do it, why can’t I?   I want to rebrand myself too.  Isn’t that our prerogative, as artists, to re-invent ourselves every so often?  Robert Ross Parker just seems so, what, yesterday?  I want something fresh, hip, something that bespeaks artistic and editorial prowess, wisdom, and a hint of ‘I don’t really have to try it’s just the way I am’ sexy.  Well, the name has to go, too long for one.  Twitter has a 140 character limit for gosh sake.  We’ve got to trim that sucker down, eliminate all those superfluous vowels.  How about RossPar, BertKer, RoRo or just Ro? 

You have to admire how The Shack flaunts its definite article.  It lifts it above the competition, proves it has no peer.  It’s not just any shack you fool, it’s The Shack.  I’ll steal that, but give it a sophisticated spin.  I’ll use the French “le” for a continental je ne sais quoi.  Perhaps, “Le Park.”  Yes, I like it.  Who is Le Park?  He could be the dashing editor of a sophisticated arts publication, or perhaps an international jewel thief.  It’s hard to say.  Perhaps he’s both.  Does anyone really know Le Park?