Hip Shots

August 31, 2012

Feet

By Mary Azrael

(Click images for larger versions.)

The “Hip Shots” series of photographs will feature images that were grabbed “on the fly,” with little or no regard for framing and focus. The object of the exercise is to create dynamic pictures, not perfect ones. With this ” shoot-from-the-hip” method the more frames exposed, the better the chances are that you’ll come up with something interesting — a related series that may be arranged as a post. If you’d like additional tips for using the technique, or to submit your own images, drop a question or note in the “Leave a Comment” section, below. This feature will appear most Fridays.

Copyright © 2012 Mary Azrael.

Neil Simon On Playwriting IX

August 29, 2012

Adapted From Paris Review, The Art of Theater No. 10

Interviewed by James Lipton

(When) my parents would take me to visit family, they’d offer me a cookie or a piece of fruit, but no one spoke to me, because they knew I had nothing to contribute. I wasn’t offended. I just thought it was the accepted norm. And that led me to believe that I was somehow invisible . . . . To me, invisible seemed the greatest thing you could be! If I could have one wish, it was to be invisible. First of all, you could go to any baseball game you wanted to. Free. You could go into any girl’s house and watch her get undressed! But it works another way too. It means there’s no responsibility. You don’t have to integrate, to contribute. This becomes a part of your personality.

I’m not quite sure who I am besides the writer. The writer is expressive, the other person can sit in a room and listen and not say anything. It’s very hard for me to get those two people together. In the middle of a conversation or a confrontation, I can suddenly step outside it. It’s like Jekyll turning into Mr. Hyde without the necessity of taking the potion. It’s why the Eugene character speaks to the audience in the trilogy—because in a sense he is invisible. The other characters in the play don’t see him talking to the audience. They go right about their business. As I wrote it, I thought, I’m now living my perfect dream—to be invisible.

In all three of my marriages I’ve been accused of this separation: You’re not listening to me . . . .  I could be looking at (my wife) and not thinking about what she’s saying. It’s rude. It’s selfish, I guess. But it’s what happens . . . .  one of the worst and most frightening examples of that was the first time I was ever on television. I went on the Johnny Carson show . . . .  I walked out and froze. I thought, My God, I’m out here, I’ve got to deliver something, I’ve got to be humorous, that’s what they expect of me. I sat down opposite Johnny Carson and he asked his first question, which was fairly lengthy. After the first two words I heard nothing. I only saw his lips moving . . . . When Johnny’s lips stopped, I was on. But I had no answer because I’d never heard the question. So, I said something like, That reminds me . . . and went into something completely irrelevant that fortunately was funny and we just seemed to move on with the conversation. It happens while I’m speaking to students at a college or university. I’ll be talking. I’ll look over the room and see one face not interested, and I’m gone, I’m lost. I wish I were out there, sitting among the invisible, but I’m up there having to deliver . . . . In a sense, being in this office, I am invisible because I can stop. When I’m writing, there’s no pressure to come up with the next line. I always need that escape hatch, that place to go that’s within myself. I’ve tried coming to terms with it. I feel, as long as it doesn’t bother someone else, I’m happy with it. When it does bother someone else, then I’m in trouble.

If you’d like to read what people such as Arthur Miller, Sam Shepard, Joyce Carol Oates and other famous — and not so famous — playwrights have to say about the art and craft of writing for the stage, type “On Playwriting” into the small sidebar window and tap the “Search” button.

Part X of the Neil Simon series will post next Wednesday.


Today’s Gag

August 27, 2012

To purchase reprint and/or other rights for this cartoon, buy a framed print, or have it reproduced on T-shirts, mugs, aprons, etc., visit my archives at cartoonstock.com and jantoo.com by clicking the sidebar links.

Copyright © 2012 Jim Sizemore.

Hip Shots

August 24, 2012

Persia II

By Isabel Perl

(Click images for larger versions.)

The “Hip Shots” series of photographs will feature images that were grabbed “on the fly,” with little or no regard for framing and focus. The object of the exercise is to create dynamic pictures, not perfect ones. With this ” shoot-from-the-hip” method the more frames exposed, the better the chances are that you’ll come up with something interesting — a related series that may be arranged as a post. If you’d like additional tips for using the technique, or to submit your own images, drop a question or note in the “Leave a Comment” section, below. This feature will appear most Fridays.

Copyright © 2012 Isabel Perl.

Neil Simon On Playwriting VIII

August 22, 2012

Adapted From Paris Review, The Art of Theater No. 10

Interviewed by James Lipton

I never thought I spoke the lines until my family told me I did. They said they could walk by and tell if it was going well or not by the rhythm of it. I guess I want to see if I’m repeating words and, because I write primarily for the stage, I want to make sure the words won’t be tripping badly over some tongues.

When I wrote the Sergeant Bilko show my father asked me naively, Do you just write Sergeant Bilko’s lines or do you write the other lines too? When you write a play, maybe even a novel, you become everybody. It may seem like I only write the lines spoken by the character who is like Neil Simon, but in Lost in Yonkers I’m also the grandmother—and Bella. And to do that you have to become that person. That’s the adventure, the joy, the release that allows you to escape from your own boundaries. To be Grandma every other line for a couple of pages takes you into another being. It’s interesting how many people ask, Was this your grandmother? I say, No, I didn’t have a grandmother like that, and they say, Then how do you know her? I know what she sounds like. I know what she feels like. The boys describe it when they say, When you kiss her it’s like kissing a cold prune. I describe her in a stage direction as being a very tall, buxom woman. But she doesn’t necessarily have to be tall and buxom. She just has to appear that way to the boys. You can’t really use that as physical description, but it will convey something to the actress.

(W)hen Come Blow Your Horn was playing, the theater doorman, a black man in his sixties, was standing in the back of the theater, laughing his head off. I went over to him after the play and asked, Why were you laughing so much? He said, That’s my family up there. I don’t write social and political plays, because I’ve always thought the family was the microcosm of what goes on in the world. I write about the small wars that eventually become the big wars. It’s also what I’m most comfortable with. I am a middle-class person, I grew up in a middle-class neighborhood. I try now and then to get away from the family play, but it amazes me that I’ve spent the last thirty-one years writing plays primarily about either my family or families very close to it. Maybe the answer is that at some point along the way you discover what it is you do best and writing about the family unit and its extensions is what I do best.

If you’d like to read what people such as Arthur Miller, Sam Shepard, Joyce Carol Oates and other famous — and not so famous — playwrights have to say about the art and craft of writing for the stage, type “On Playwriting” into the small sidebar window and tap the “Search” button.

Part IX of the Neil Simon series will post next Wednesday.


Today’s Gag

August 20, 2012

To purchase reprint and/or other rights for this cartoon, buy a framed print, or have it reproduced on T-shirts, mugs, aprons, etc., visit my archives at cartoonstock.com and jantoo.com by clicking the sidebar links.

Copyright © 2012 Jim Sizemore.

Hip Shots

August 17, 2012

Persia

By Isabel Perl

(Click images for larger versions.)

The “Hip Shots” series of photographs will feature images that were grabbed “on the fly,” with little or no regard for framing and focus. The object of the exercise is to create dynamic pictures, not perfect ones. With this ” shoot-from-the-hip” method the more frames exposed, the better the chances are that you’ll come up with something interesting — a related series that may be arranged as a post. If you’d like additional tips for using the technique, or to submit your own images, drop a question or note in the “Leave a Comment” section, below. This feature will appear most Fridays.

Copyright © 2012 Isabel Perl.