Tag Archives: the legitimate theatre

Strawberries and Cream

I discovered yesterday, three nested directories down in my math department account, that I still had a bunch of files from my last desktop Mac, which retired in about 2003. And among those files were backups from my college Mac Plus, and among those files were backups from 3 1/4″ discs I used on the family IBM PC in the late 1980s. Which is to say I have readable text files of almost every piece of writing I produced from age 15 through about 25.

Very weird to encounter my prior self so directly. And surprising that so much of it is familiar to me, line by line. I can see, now, who I liked to rip off: Raymond Carver, a lot. Donald Barthelme. There’s one poem where I’m pretty sure I was going for “mid-80s Laurie Anderson lyrics.” Like everyone else back then I was really into worrying about nuclear war. I produced two issues of a very mild-mannered underground newspaper called “Ground Zero” with a big mushroom cloud on the front, for the purpose of which my pseudonym was “Bogus Librarian.” (I really liked Bill and Ted’s. Still do, actually.) Anyway, there’s a nuclear war story in this batch, which ends like this: “And the white fire came, and he wept no more.” Who is “he”? The President, natch.

But actually what I came here to include is the first thing I really remember writing, which is a play, called “Strawberries and Cream.”  I wrote it for Harold White’s 9th grade English class.  The first time I met Mr. White he said “Who’s your favorite author?” and I said “I don’t know, I don’t think I had one,” and he said, “Well, that’s terrible, everyone should have a favorite author,” and I probably should have felt bullied but instead felt rather adult and taken seriously.

A central element of his English class was writing imitations of writers, one in each genre.  So I wrote an imitation John Cheever story, and I think an imitation Edna St. Vincent Millay poem (I can’t find this one, tragically.) But the thing Mr. White asked me to read that really sang to me was The Bald Soprano.  Was it that obvious, from the outside, that it was mid-century Continental absurdism I was lacking?  Or was it just a lucky guess?

Anyway:  below the fold, please enjoy “Strawberries and Cream,” the imitation Eugene Ionesco play I wrote when I was 15.

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July math link dump

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Is there life after Potty Power?

We watched Potty Power a lot this summer. I mean, a lot. Like, John-Hinckley-watching-Taxi Driver a lot. After a while, I started wondering: who are the actors in Potty Power? Is this the kind of gig you take on your way to stardom? Or are there actors whose whole career is in toilet-training videos?

Jessica Cannon, the peppy MC and vocalist who manages to deliver lyrics like “Wash your hands / wash ’em real good / wash your hands like you know you should” with a winning supper-club flair, appears in the New York Daily News in August 2006 as a struggling actor, working kids’ birthday parties and cocktail-waitressing between auditions to keep afloat. She’s now giving piano lessons in New York City. Matt Dyer, who plays the King to Cannon’s Queen in the play-within-a-play, “The Princess and the Potty,” got good reviews this year in a Norwich, CT production of “The Last Session,” a musical about AIDS and the music industry. Also appearing in “The Princess and the Potty” is the biggest success story of all, the scene-stealing jester Todd Alan Crain. He’s continued to appear in kids’ videos, but also seems to get consistent Off-Off-Broadway work, has some appearances on Comedy Central and the Onion News Network, and, best of all, toured the U.S. as Slim Goodbody. It sounds like what pays the bills is a steady series of jobs in the pharmaceutical industry, being the guy in the suit behind the desk who looks a little like a news anchor and introduces the in-house promotional film. I never wondered about who did jobs like that, but now I know — graduates of Potty Power.

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