2nd Quote of the Day: Kellyanne Conway

“I’ve noticed a lot of people are very bold and blustery on Twitter, because it’s easy to do that with the poison keyboard and a hundred and forty characters.”

— quoted by Ryan Lizza in The New Yorker, 17 October 2016

Quote of the Day: Aimee Nezhukumatathil (The Writer’s Chronicle, Sept 2016)

“I do think persona is helpful in however heavy or light the disguise, if only to announce to the reader that if my persona says or does something they don’t find agreeable, it’s just a character, not the person.”

— Aimee Nezhukumatathil, in her interview with Eric Farwell, The Writer’s Chronicle, September 2016

Quote of the Day: BRAZILLIONAIRES, Chapter 8

Never in self’s wildest dreams did she imagine she could go as far as p. 207 of a book about Brazillionaires, but here she is. She did, briefly, consider giving up, but Cuadros is a very dogged and thorough writer and well, she’s pretty sure she’ll never read a book like this again, so what the hey.

Quote from Jorge Paulo Lemann, worth an estimated $20 billion, according to Alex Cuadros:

Brazil is full of people who think equality is great. I think equality is great, too, just that it doesn’t work. Equality of opportunity, yes. But equality for equality’s sake . . . People are not equal.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

The Loneliness of the Swimmer

  • You get very tired and depressed, and you wish you had the social life that a lot of your friends have, you wish you could go out with this girl, but it’s so hard to have that. You’re too tired . . .  You wake up and your alarm goes off at five, and you just, you just hear the snow blowing outside, and you’re in a nice warm waterbed and you say, I don’t wanna go out there. Who wants to dive into water at five o’clock in the morning?

Victor Davis, in the swimming documentary The Fast and the Furious, by Alex Baumann

Lynn Barber for The Guardian: Self Dies

Paul Theroux, 19 February 2000:

. . .  he didn’t look remotely like the Paul Theroux I met 15 years ago at a dinner party in London. That Theroux was urbane and elegant — this one is wearing shorts and has a string of dolphins tattooed around his ankle. Oh, please! You cannot be a serious writer and have dolphins tattooed around your ankle — I am sorry, it would take too long to explain, but you just can’t.

She is hilarious. Self first made her acquaintance (via The Irish Times) at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre (or TGC), spring 2014. She was instantly smitten.

Then forgot about her. Until just now.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Short Stories, Plays, Process: An Interview With Playwright Penny Jackson

Penny and self have been friends for a long, long, long time. Since before either of us were even married.

Self remembers having Penny over to her little one-bedroom in Menlo Park. She met Thomas, Penny’s then-boyfriend, soon-to-be-husband.

We were in the Stanford Creative Writing Program together. Penny lived in the City. She hitched rides to the writing workshops with Jeffrey Eugenides and his dog. They split on the gas.

In recent years, Penny has been writing plays at a terrific rate. Her most recent production was during last fall’s Solo Festival in New York City.

Self wrangled an interview out of Penny. No mean feat, as Penny is terrifically busy. Here are some of her answers to self’s questions:

What attracts you to playwriting as a form as opposed to, say, writing a novel or a short story? What was the first genre you started writing?

I first began writing stories when I was in college (Barnard). I am very comfortable with writing in short forms, and I have adapted three of my plays from three stories, All Alices, Louise in Charlestown, and Before, which have worked very well onstage. Although I wrote a novel, Becoming the Butlers (published by Bantam when Penny was a 20-something), I find writing a novel to be more challenging. Keeping track of the plot and characters over a length of time is difficult. Perhaps I like playwriting now because each scene is like a short story to me, with a beginning, middle, and end. That’s not to say I won’t return to novel writing. I still love fiction writing, and unlike playwriting, you have a sense of control you have to somewhat relinquish when you hand your play over to your director and actors.

Are there conditions that need to be present before you feel you can write your best?

Absolute quiet and no distractions. I joined The Writers Room, which provides a haven for writers. I wish sometimes that the Internet did not exist. When I was at MacDowell, there was no Internet, and I could really focus.

What keeps you writing?

The world. I am inspired all the time by the news and what I see in the city and hear from my friends. I write to be able to understand the complexities, the unfairness, and also the joys of life. If I didn’t write, I think I would go a bit crazy. I hear the same sentiment from actors: if they don’t act, they can’t handle the world. Right now I’m sick about the gun violence in our country, and writing about the issue really helped me with my sadness and disgust at our politicians.

What is the biggest difference between playwriting now and playwriting when you were just starting out? Does it get easier? Why or why not?

Playwriting is becoming somewhat easier. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to work with several brilliant directors, actors, and dramaturges. I understand the form better now. What is not easier is finding a theatre to produce your plays if you are a female writer who is not a recent Yale graduate. Ageism and sexism very much exist in theatres, when I began and still today.

Do you experiment with form and/or dialogue? Who or what inspires you?

Because I’m trained in fiction writing, which is character-based, I always begin with people. An old lady drinking in a decrepit Irish bar. Two teenage girls talking to a mysterious older man at Starbucks. A drag queen waiting for his show in Las Vegas and having to talk to his daughter about marriage.

I love dialogue. I write down snippets of dialogue I overhear in the streets of New York City all the time. And if you follow me on Facebook, you can frequently read about remarkable conversations with New York cab drivers.

In your opinion, what is the best play ever written?

I am a huge Eugene O’Neill fanatic, so I will say Long Day’s Journey Into Night. Family secrets and family guilt and pure poetic language. But of course, King Lear is top of the canon. King Lear howling about his dead daughter still takes my breath away.

Which playwright has taught you the most about your craft?

Rogelio Martinez is a wonderful playwright who has taught me so many important aspects about playwriting. I also love the Lark Development Center which gives you the space and time to try out new works in a safe environment.

Did you have a mentor? Do you think playwrights need one?

Yes, having a mentor is important. So many women directors have been my mentors: Joan Kane, Gloria Kadigan, and Shira-Lee Shalit are three tremendously talented women artists who inspire and instruct me. Writing is a very lonely business. You need a cheerleader!

What’s the worst thing about being a playwright?

That it’s just too damn expensive to produce a play in America. Unlike Europe, we don’t have government funding for theatre. The costs are astronomical. As a female playwright, I face other challenges. Walk down Broadway or The West End. Do you see any female playwrights on the marquee? My organization, The League of Professional Theatre Women, is working so hard for gender equality in theatre, but it’s a very long, frustrating, and seemingly endless battle.

 

 

Quote of the Day: Sophia Loren

Sophia Loren is such a Fabulous Goddess of Cinema. She’s the new face of Dolce & Gabbana’s beauty line (Self wants that lipstick!) Here’s a snippet from her answers to “20 Odd Questions” in this week’s “Style & Fashion” section of The Wall Street Journal.

One of my secrets to success is: you should never do too much of one thing. You have to leave people saying, “If she had done even more, it would have been better.” Let them suffer!

LOL.

Stay tuned.

Quoting from the Authors Guild Bulletin, Spring 2015

Oh the sheer joy of being surrounded by writers and an auditorium’s worth of books at the AWP Book Fair in Minneapolis.

One of the tables she visited today was the Authors Guild. Self is contemplating becoming a member.

She’s currently reading a copy of their latest Bulletin, which features an interview with Mary Rosenberger, Authors Guild’s new Executive Director.

Here’s her take on copyright and the digital world:

  • With new technologies, the means by which books are disseminated and read may change over time, and publishers may come and go, but you can’t have books without authors.
  • People like to read and, even with all the competing media, they will continue to read . . . Regardless of format . . . the need for professional writers isn’t going to disappear.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

New: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is, fittingly enough, NEW.

Hence this post is about 1) New Books 2) New Experiences and 3) A New Play

New additions to self’s personal bookshelf. The Neruda she bought in Venice Beach. By the Book was a Christmas present.

New Books for the New Year

New Books for the New Year

First Time to Visit Chicago in the Fall:

Downtown Chicago: October 2014

Downtown Chicago: October 2014

Caught the U.S. premiere of Abbie Spillane’s new play, the scorching Strandline, at Chicago’s A Red Orchid Theatre:

This Chicago theatre was founded 25 years ago by actor Michael Shannon.

This Chicago theatre was founded 25 years ago by actor Michael Shannon. It’s an intimate (not to say wee) space. The night self saw it was the first night of previews and most of the people in the audience were actors and actresses.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

WSJ Weekend Confidential’s Alexandra Wolfe Interviews Christoph Waltz

Self has sort of had a crush on this guy ever since she saw him in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. He was so evil, and yet also so charming (That’s what makes charming evil people so dangerous; they insinuate themselves into your brain without you even being aware of it).

She also loved him in Django Unchained.

Anyhoo, there’s a really fabulous picture of him to go along with the interview. A few highlights:

  • Talent is a “little pet that needs to run” — something with a life of its own. “I always had the feeling that my little pet that needs to run couldn’t run properly because of this or that,” he says. “But now all of a sudden, everybody wants to take it for a walk.”
  • “My conviction is we don’t have any ideas about our talents,” he says. “People always overestimate their talents, always, and maybe as a consequence underestimate unexpected or unrealized talents.”
  • “The biggest advantage of my new life is that I can actually pursue the parts I want.”

Unfortunately, self is creeped out by the new movie he’s in, Big Eyes. First of all, the eyes of the figures are just too blank and static, like doll’s eyes. And she’d hate, positively hate, to have one of those things hanging in her house. It would lead to all sorts of nightmares.

In Big Eyes, which happens to be directed by Tim Burton, he plays another variant on the charming rogue. The casting of Amy Adams as his exploited artist/wife makes him seem even twice the rogue.

Stay tuned.

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