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<<August 2015>>
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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: play, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Mermaid sightings

The twins are fast approaching ten!
"Tween twins!" Winnie reminds me.
"Double digits, doubled!"

And just like that, a decade ebbs with moon and tide.

Having soaked up the Emily Windsnap books lately, 
they want to be mermaids. 
So, I've been making art.
Mermaidy tattoos!
Painted shells. 
Waves of seaweed.
Glowy lights.  
Cupcakes + art = yummy.   

Mermaids, this way. Your party awaits.


The Tail of Emily Windsnap (Emily Windsnap, #1)

132391 18048914
The Mermaid and the Shoe by K. G. Campbell
The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler
The Little Mermaid - Hans Christian Anderson, ill. by Lisbeth Zwerger 
Breathe - Scott Magoon

Down, Down, Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea - Steve Jenkins
Shh! We Have a Plan - Chris Haughton
The Storm Whale - Benji DaviesPlastic Ahoy! Investigating the great Pacific Garbage Patch - Patricia Newman
Shackleton's Journey - William Grill

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2. The ‘Golden Nikes’ for Greek tragedy

With Greek tragedies filling major venues in London in recent months, I have been daydreaming about awarding my personal ancient Greek Oscars, to be called “Golden Nikes” (pedantic footnote: Nike was the Goddess of Victory, not of Trainers). There has been Medea at the National Theatre, Electra (Sophocles’ one) at the Old Vic, and Antigone, just opened at the Barbican. There are yet more productions lined up for The Globe, Donmar and RSC.

The post The ‘Golden Nikes’ for Greek tragedy appeared first on OUPblog.

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Why? Why must you torture me like this? What did I ever do to deserve this treatment other than heap undying love and devotion to your upkeep?

(MR. EVERYBODY glances up and returns to reading his book)

You seem to be dying slowly right in front of my eyes and I'm at a loss how to save you

(looking around)
You talking to me?

Fed you top of the line nutritional supplements and this is the thanks I get

I appreciate your cooking, honey. You make fantastic meals and really, I'm in great shape

You are not aging well, sweetheart


(gets up to examine himself in the mirror on the wall behind him)

For the record, I'm in better condition now than I was when we married. Sure there's a few extra inches on my stomach but that's due to your good cooking. Work out on the tread mill...

I fear it's time for us to part, sweetheart. You are halfway between this world and the next

Say what? Is it something I said?

You've given me a lot of pleasure over the years. Your nightly performance kept me riveted and it's something I will cherish all my life

Hey! There's still a lot of life left in this body! Is there somebody else? I can change, y'know!

(MRS. EVERYBODY turns around and stares at her husband)

It's just so hard to say goodbye! Did you say something?

You never said a word. I deserve to know who's the new love of your life!

Say what? What are you babbling about?

You're leaving me!

Are you insane? You thought that... That is really funny

There is nothing funny about being informed that your wife is leaving your for someone else. It's always the husband that is the last to know

Husband of mine - I was talking to my prayer plant here that is slowly croaking after 40 years and I'm about to replace her with a new one

How was I supposed to know? There was only you and me in the room and I never guessed you were talking to a...a... house plant

I've raised this houseplant from a small little stalk. Fed her...coddled her...and she gave me years of pleasure but lately she seems to have taken a turn for the worst. The writing is on the wall...or in this case, in all those brown leaves.

A plant is a plant is a plant. Don't know what the big thing is. Just empty the pot and replace it with a new one. Simple

How could you be so cruel and callous! You just can't...discard it like it that!

I dunno. Never bothers you to do that with your clothes

Besides, I read an article that said plants can sense pain and they react to it. How could I betray my friend after all the years we've been together? I feel like a killer! I feel like I'd be ripping out her guts and tearing her apart

Not that I pretend to feel what you feel but check this out

(MR. EVERYBODY shows her a page of the newspaper)

What's this? The Plant-a-atrium is having a sale on houseplants?

(turns to look at plant and at newspaper ad)

(MRS. EVERYBODY cont'd.)  'Parting is such sweet sorrow my formerly green friend. Go meet your other friends in the composter! Do not think badly of me for I shall remember you with great fondness.' I'm ready.

Ready for...?

To make new friends at the Plant-a-atrium, silly! We all gotta go some time. I mean, it's just a silly plant for heaven's sake...

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4. Still waiting - what does that mean, she who pens plays ponders...

As mentioned on numerous occasions in this blog, patience isn't one of my strong points. This usually doesn't work in my favor especially when it comes to waiting for updates/news regarding the fate of my plays. Many of them took cyber trips to numerous geographical locations around the globe in the hope that they would see a stage but so far, no response one way or the other.

According to the various playwriting related sites where this topic is discussed and digested, this is not a good sign but perhaps no definitive decision has been made as to their stage-a-bility. At least that's what I tell myself.

There is a pattern as to my follow up process, which includes avowing to myself that I will wait to receive "the word."

"Gotta give it time," I tell myself. "People don't respond because you want them to. Your plays are among hundreds, maybe thousands, that are submitted with dreams of production."

Patience today, patience tomorrow, inevitably, and when experiencing a particularly discouraging "why do I bother" or "maybe my plays suck" period, a follow-up e-mail is sent out. Usually, the end result is no response followed by a period of "why didn't I wait."

Upon reflection, perhaps a follow-up questionnaire to the submitted theatres would facilitate the process. Something to the effect:

Dear blah-blah (insert theatre name/producer/to whom it may concern),

Recently, (insert date that play was submitted), you were the lucky recipient of my play, blah-blah (insert name of play).

It has been (number of days/weeks/months/years/who remembers) since there has been any updates as to whether said play strikes your fancy. Perhaps the lack of communication on your part is a result of (pick one) a) stunning dialogue requiring further thought b) seeking a period of time in which to program the play to optimize audience participation  c) unable to open file.

When could a decision on its fate one way or the other be expected: a) days b) months c)years d) never (please circle one)

Yours forever in hope,

A. Playwright

It's worth a shot. Am I right?

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5. Snippet from Dead Writes - revised

Started writing this play a while back and have been slowly - accent on the slowly - adding-to and tweaking the play over time. Recently gave it yet another read and after deep thought and concentration, have finally come to what I believe and hope to be, a good ending. Still not finished, yet, but I've been making progress, which in itself is a good omen. Sometimes omens are all we have to propel us along.

I've shared bits and pieces of it here before but here is the latest incarnation. The cast list will most likely grow slightly. I've adapted it for this blog but the cutting and pasting isn't ideal. Comments welcome.

The story: Sometimes lessons in life come at a cost especially when the cost involves sacrifice on behalf of another.

By Eleanor Tylbor


CHARLOTTE PEMBROOK:     50-something; former reporter, deceased

JOSIAH:                 Heavenly "Spiritual Adviser - Disembodied Souls Division:

MIA STEVENSON:          Ambitious young reporter





SETTING:   A funeral parlor

AT RISE:   A group of people are seated in a funeral chapel, socializing for the most part, while waiting for the service to begin. A coffin is situated on an elevated stand in the middle of the room.

CHARLOTTE PEMBROOK, wearing a diaphanous flowing dress lays next to the coffin. Slowly she sits up, looks around in a confused, slightly stunned state. Touching her arms and body parts, she moves to an upright position and pulls at the material of her dress

                                  FX: SOMBER MUSIC


Really must'a tied one on last night. Weird, though. No hang-over like usual.
Stands upright, moves closer to coffin, straining to see inside. A funeral organizer passes by without acknowledging her presence. She pokes him in the back, to no avail.

'Scuse me…hello'? Could you tell me…? Wait a minute. Don't ignore me. You are so rude!’

He ignores her, focusing on the coffin

Lemme be blunt like the real me: who's the corpse?

         Man continues to ignore her

What is your problem? A name - that's all I want! It's not a lot to ask.  Fine. Suit yourself. I'll find out on my own…creep!

A man, JOSIAH, enters and stands directly behind CHARLOTTE. Dressed entirely in white, he glitters from head to toe


There's really no need to yell. I can provide you with that information
          Startled, she whirls around to face him


You could give a person a heart attack sneaking up like that. And I thought I looked bad in this outfit? If you don’t mind me saying, sir, you look like a bad case of indigestion after eating too many Halloween candies. I've been trying to find out what's going on but the guy over there is ignoring me. Some people just don’t have any manners



He can't hear you



It’s not like me not to remember some details of the night before but my mind is a complete blank. Not even a few flashes. Nothing



Not surprising. You’ll get used to it



I get it now! This place is one of those new theme clubs and you're the bartender, right? Explains a lot especially the look. So – like - you doing Liberace? That would explain my dress, too. Go figure a funeral parlor would double as a club. So where’s the booze?



The one thing I can assure you is that this is not a nightclub. You know…if you really want, Icould tell you who's in that coffin



How would you know that unless… What’s wrong with me? Here's me going on about nothing and you're burying someone who means a lot to you. That’s it, isn’t it? Sometimes I'm so dense. My sympathies.


You could say I’m related to that dead person. In fact - I'm close with most people that pass through



You work here, then?


In a way. Death is the human equalizer, don't you think? Everyone is on an equal plane no matter how important your life was or how much money you had or how much power you wielded



I suppose so - can't say I've given it much thought, lately. You wouldn’t happen to know how I ended up here, though, would you?



Do these mourners strike a familiar chord?

CHARLOTTE glances at the mourners


Vaguely... Hang on a minute!  These people work with me!

(Aside to mourners): ‘This is a surprise party, right? It's all a big joke. I should have known. Whose birthday is it? 'Ya don't hafta worry 'bout me giving it away!  Hello? I’m talking to you all!’

Weird. They're all ignoring me like I wasn’t here or something. Dumb…dumb…dumb. Ignorance, thy name is Charlotte! This is a "for real " funeral. That has'ta be it and this here is a real body in a real coffin! Okay –so – then - why am I here? Must be somebody I knew…

She strains to see in the coffin again without results


You seem to know a lot about this. Was it Don McGrath or Pete Winston? Don't know how many times I warned them both to slow down, but did they listen? ‘Course not! What does an old broad like me know, right? Burn the candle at both ends and you’re gonna burn your light out, I told them time and time again. Everyone thinks they’re gonna live forever



It wasn't either one of them



That's a relief 'cause we're the last three old farts left at The Sentinal. Started out together at the same time and we've seen 'em come and we seen 'em leave. Some on to bigger and better and some like this here person, in a wooden box. Things are sure different now. Back when we were in our prime, the only thing we had'da know was a keyboard. Nowadays everything is electronic - cyber this, cyber that. They'll soon find a way to replace us all with computer systems and you know what? Nobody will give a damn



They'll always be a need for the human touch



Look at 'em all…young kids just out of J-school. What do they know about getting’ a story? How can you write about life if you never experienced it?  This really is a real funeral, isn’t it?



Unfortunately, you are correct



Guess you were a friend of the corpse, then, or related?



I'm friends with a lot of people. You can say that I help them through a difficult period



So you're one of those - what do they call them - grief councillors? Bet you go to a lotta funerals



I can honestly say that I've never missed one






Never in all the years I've been assigned here



Have we met somewhere before, maybe a long while back? The more I look at you, the more familiar your face seems to me. Wait a minute! It’s so obvious as the nose on my face. You're a new bartender at Pat's watering hole. I'll pay my tab next week, I swear, it's just that I've been running a little short lately…



We've had a few close encounters in the past, Charlotte, but this is the first time we've met one-on-one. My drinking days are history in the true sense of the word but you seem very caught up with alcoholic beverages



Got it now. You own the new funeral parlor down the block and you're here to scope out the competition



Not…exactly but you could say I'm in the funeral business since I make a point never to miss any. In fact, funeral parlors are where I first connect with…



(backing away)

Hey! You're not one of those slimy creeps who pick up rich, lonely women at funerals. Listen buddy, I'm not rich and certainly not in the market to add a new man in my life.  Been there, done that, too many times. Know what I mean?




You're quite priceless, my dear. Trust me when I say my interest in you is anything but corporeal in nature. You do like games, don't you, with all your questions that I would be glad to answer. There really is no secret



It's my nature to snoop and dig for answers



You don't have to. I'd be most happy to supply you with the necessary information but if you insist. Have it your way



Strikes me that this corpse wasn't too popular in life judging by the amount of people who showed up here



It's all quite sad, actually. She believed she never needed people and in the end, seems that people weren't there when she needed them most

Mourner moves to front of room and stands in front of coffin

So the departed is a female. Looky who's here! It’s my friend and co-worker, Janice. Hey girl, we were supposed to meet for lunch yesterday! I showed up but what happened to you?



Miserable, lying witch! At last you made a useful contribution to the world and left it! Good riddance to bad rubbish



Is that the way to talk about the dearly departed? Even dead people deserve respect from the living. Your mama never taught you any manners?

JANICE touches the coffin and returns to her seat

(aside to JANICE): ‘Janice? You-hoo! It's me.’

(aside to JOSIAH) I'm not surprised! She was always a grudge holder. We better take a seat…the minister is here

Gives Janice "the finger" while passing her by and sits with others, accompanied by JOSIAH

(Cont’d. CHARLOTTE - aside to male, PETE): ‘Heeeey Pete-eee! So, how things goin' with you? Sorry 'bout that story, but I just couldn't help myself. In fact, I did just that. I'll return the favor in the future. You know how it is in our biz’


(PETE) ignores CHARLOTTE and talks to female on other side

(Cont’d. CHARLOTTE) Still mad at me, huh? See if I care! That’s the last time I share a lead with him, let me tell you



He can't hear you



What are you talking about? Of course he can but he's busy chatting up the new receptionist. Probably still pissed 'cause I stole a lead on the story he was after! Far

be it for me to beg forgiveness. He knows that's the way things work. First come - first served!


And you certainly helped yourself, a lot, didn't you?



Listen, if something falls into my hands, who am I not to take advantage? I needed a lead and Pete was nice enough to do the legwork for me. We're old friends anyway. He'll come around, won't you sweetie?



You find a way to justify everything. Has it dawned on you, yet, why you're here and that people are ignoring your presence?



What other reason than to pay my respects to someone in the paper 'biz. Really bugging me, though, how I got here and landed up lying next to a coffin. I've covered practically every kind of story but I can't ever remember spending the night in a funeral parlor. Maybe I was after a story but why is my mind blank?



Merely a temporary fog that will clear after you -


- sssh! Talk softer. We're gonna get kicked out and I'll never find out who's in the coffin

MINISTER steps behind podium




           Voice calls out:

'She didn't have any, so move on!'



..we are here to bid goodbye to one…

Another voice:

'Good riddance to bad rubbish!'



…a…good reporter, a good friend and colleague.


This dead person must'a really screwed them over but good, but she – you did say it was a woman? Like I was saying, the dead deserve some respect too.

CHARLOTTE stands up and addresses everyone

'That's no way to speak about the dead, you bunch of parasites. Have some respect!'



Is there anyone here who has something positive to say, about the departed? Surely there must be one person in this entire room that could say a few nice words about the late Charlotte Pembrook?



Excuse me? I can speak for myself, thank you very much… What's with this "late" junk?


No one? Then we'll proceed with the service


What in the hell is he talking about? 'I'm still among you, in the flesh! Look! I’m here’



Please try to control using the "H" word? I've been trying to tell you that no one can hear you – or see you, either


They're doing it on purpose to teach me a lesson. ‘Well, it won't work people! I'm on to you all!’

CHARLOTTE stands up on chair, waves and screams on top of her lungs


‘Charlotte is here! The old witch is alive and kicking. You can't ignore me forever’

JOSIAH walks to the front of the room and stands behind the coffin


I'm the only person who can see you, at least for now


Calm down, Charlotte. There’s a very simple explanation for all of this. I’ve had too much too drink and this is just a nightmare. Soon I'm gonna wake up and everything will be like it should. That’s it. A nightmare.


What’s the last thing you can remember?


Food! I was at The Rib Rack gnawing on a rib. Must’a been a bad rack or something to give me a nightmare like this. Alright – gotta calm down. I’m okay…gotta will myself to wake up…time to wake up now… C’mon body – wake up!


Come over here and take a peak inside

CHARLOTTE moves slowly to the front of the coffin and peers down. She jumps back


If this is a bad joke, I don't have a good sense of humor, today. Enough is enough, already. I don't know how you did this, Joey or whatever your name is to make a person look just like me. A dummy - it's a dummy, right? Hey - it's been a blast meeting you, but I got things to do, places to go…

           Aside to mourners

‘Okay you guys. You pulled off the ultimate practical joke. Got me fair and square. I give in. C'mon – don't be such grudge holders! You know I was only doing what you would'a done in my place’



It's you in there for real

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6. To Drive The Cold Winter Away by Tess Berry-Hart

It's still winter! The bone-shaking chill of a new January with its winds, ice storms, broken healthy resolutions and humourless deadlines (tax payments, school applications, etc) can make even the bravest of us want to curl up in a cave next to a blazing fire and hibernate until spring arrives.

And to some of us who suffer from depression (episodes of persistent sadness or low mood, marked loss of interest and pleasure) either constant or intermittent, winter can be one of the hardest times. Depression being a multi-headed hydra ranging from many states of unipolar to bipolar, I'm not suggesting that there is one single type of depression; for instance not all of us are affected by the winter or weather, while some people who don't even have depression in the clinical sense might be experiencing a mild case of the winter blues, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Creativity is like a fire that we can stoke to drive away the cold winter (whether physical or psychological, internal or external). So I'm deep in my cave trying to work out ways that I can stoke my creativity without resorting to biscuits!

Bibliotherapy's been around for a while now, and is the literary prescription of books and poems against a range of "modern ailments" - including depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. A form of guided self-help, it's not exactly a new idea - the ancient Greeks spoke of "catharsis" - the process of purification or cleansing, in which the observer of a work of theatre could purge themselves of emotions such as pity and fear through watching and identifying with the characters in a play. All of us in the modern world can attest to the feeling of connection and joy when an author so precisely describes a state that we are ourselves experiencing, and the nail-biting, cliff-hanging state of knowing exactly what our heroine or hero is going through. We root for him or her because s/he represents ourselves battling our own demons in an idealised meta-state.

But how does bibliotherapy work? According to the various proponents, it helps perpetuate a shift in thinking, so that things are not so inflexible (black and white thinking, for all you cognitive-behavioural depressives out there!) which is crucial to tackling depression. Being able to gain distance and perspective by viewing problems through the lens of fictional characters means that in real life our fixed thought-patterns which contribute to our problems can start to become unpicked.

And of course, identification isn't the only joy to be found in books; good old-fashioned escapism is surely the reason why many of us read so avidly. A new world, a new family, a new life, perhaps even new biology or physics, takes us away momentarily from the mundane world so we can return refreshed, hopefully to see our lives with new eyes.

I've obviously been self-medicating for a long time, but I always called it comfort-reading. By comfort-reading I mean a well-known book that you can plunge into at will like a warm bath or a pair of slippers. At school when I was anxious about exams or bullies I would find solace in re-reading the heroic adventures of Biggles or the magical quest of Lord of the Rings; at university it was in the dreamy memories of Brideshead and the vicissitudes of Billy Liar or Lucky Jim. When I started my first office jobs I would read 1984 or Brave New World (odd choices for comfort-reads but I think it was to remind myself that things could actually be worse!) but when I started writing my own books, I ...er ... stopped reading for some years. I think my tiny little brain could only take so much exercise!

I started comfort-reading again when we first had our children; during long and frequently painful breast-feeding sessions my husband would read my childhood favourites Charlotte's Web and Danny the Champion Of The World to me as distraction and encouragement. And these days my prospective comfort list numbers hundreds of books; for me, reading is re-reading.

So what could I take to bolster myself against the winter chill? I've written myself a prescription but I'd be interested in hearing yours!

1) A dose of James Herriot's short animal stories, to be administered when needed (they are nice and short so you're not left hanging after a few pages) or chapters from Jerome K Jerome's Three Men In A Boat, or virtually anything by PG Wodehouse;

2) A daily dose of half an hour "joy-writing" - half an hour in the morning when I can sit down and let ideas spill out onto the page. (If it ends up with me writing about what happened last night then so be it. It can often lead to something more ...)

3) A small creative project on the horizon, easily identifiable and manageable, that I can look forward to; in this case getting a small group of actors together to read through a new draft of a play that I've written (there'll be a blog post on this soon so stay tuned!)

4) Connection with others - I'm a member of a local book group, which not only makes me keep on top of what new books are coming out, but also participating in the joy of discussion; there's nothing more frustrating than reading a good book only to realise that nobody you know has read it!)

So I think that's enough to start barricading myself up against the January snows!

But what about you? What kind of comfort-reads do you enjoy to drive the cold winter away?

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7. New Resource for creating Play Spaces in Libraries!

Are you thinking of incorporating play spaces into your library, designing a new library space or something in between?  If you are looking for a good place to start, some research to support play and steps to take to make it all happen, you might be having a hard time.

When I first started working to incorporate play in libraries 5 years ago there were little to no resources on how play might look in a library or how to get started. Since then there have been many ground breaking libraries who have presented conference sessions, written blog posts and posted information on webpages. Then the second edition of Every Child Ready to Read, released in 2011 included a great module on Learning Spaces in Libraries. Over the years, information has become easier to find as research on the value of play has become an important message in early literacy.  Best practices, ideas for types of play and practical steps for incorporating play in libraries are harder to find.

Stoltz_Power_of_Play_300“The Power of Play: Designing Early Learning Spaces” by Dorothy Stoltz, Maria Conner and James Bradberry is a great resource no matter how big or small your learning space project.  This practical guide provides research in support of play, steps to creating play spaces, planning guides, examples of play spaces and management tips.  The information in this book is applicable to any size library or play space project and highlights how these spaces are supported by research and early literacy goals. It is to read from cover to cover or to use as a step by step guide. I wish I had something like this when I was getting started!

I love this empowering excerpt from the book that highlights the true power of play.

“Play is a first step in life by which a child can mature into a thinking person….Although play is important, it is not an end in itself, or a time for avoiding chores or ignoring others. Play is “a jumping-off place” that can set in motion the possibility of learning. Socrates set the tone for this kind of play in his debate on the virtues of citizenship in The Republic. He asks Adeimantus to reflect on how the serious play of philosophical leaders who encourage original thought compares to the common play among certain tyrannical political leaders who are interested in manipulating and controlling the crowd. Socrates guides his student to think about how a city or society pursuing noble virtues compares to the individual doing the same—that unless play from earliest childhood is noble a man will never become good.  Plato likewise engages in noble play through his dialogues with his fellow readers to pursue the knowledge of the “Good.” He distinguishes between good play—that which leads to the good—and bad play—that which diverts the learner from this goal.”

You can purchase “The Power of Play: Designing Early Learning Spaces” from the ALA Store at http://www.alastore.ala.org/detail.aspx?ID=11157



The post New Resource for creating Play Spaces in Libraries! appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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8. Freshly Pressed: Friday Faves

WordPressers, day in and day out, you entertain us, you make us think, you make us laugh, and you make us grateful to be exposed to so many voices all over the world. It’s a pleasure to read what you’re writing. Like everyone in the community, we value that feeling of connection that comes from reading something that speaks to you, that resonates, that makes you feel not so alone.

For this edition of Freshly Pressed Faves, we’re looking at three posts that do just that, all around the idea of “busy-ness.” Modern society seems to embrace the idea that unless you’re “swamped” or “super busy,” you just aren’t being productive enough. Free time? Fill it up, preferably with something that pays! This attitude permeates children’s lives, too, with scheduled after-school dance classes and soccer practices and violin lessons and foreign language tutors. The idle hours that once allowed kids to daydream seem to be no more. When’s enough enough, though?

Doing more only to do less — do we glorify busy?

Author Tim Kreider believes ‘Our frantic days are really just a hedge against emptiness.’ We feel we are nothing, not worthy, unimportant or left out if we have nothing to do.

But there is another aspect to it. Perfectionism – that shadow from our childhoods. We want to be excellent – because if we are, we will be worthy of love. So we take on anything and everything that is thrown us. Even when we are aware we are overwhelmed, we find it hard to say ‘NO’. Because we fear that if we do – people will think less of us. So we end up doing more than our fair share.

Sofagirl at Campari & Sofa writes eloquently about her own fight with the “busy” beast and the scary personal episode that drove her to question it all. Weaving in others’ research on the topic, she presents a compelling argument for taking a step back — and a deep breath — and for refusing to participate in the tyranny of “busy” any longer. Bet you’ll find it difficult to disagree.

The Quiet Contemplation of Inactivity

As kids we could come up with 16 ways to put our lives on the line using the jungle gym in ways no designer ever intended. They were days when we simply looked at clouds and imagined animals (or teachers or, for the juvenile delinquents, body parts) hiding in the puffy expanse of the heavens. … We were bored, but no one was ever bored enough to learn something.

Except it appears, according to recent research, that boredom is good for the brain. Evidently, boredom switches our brain’s little buttons and the synapses and neurons start firing on more cylinders, pushing us to creativity and intellectual growth.

John Wegner of Consistently Contradictory harkens back to a time when “boredom” and free time were acceptable and even encouraged, when we didn’t rely on technology and scheduling quite so much, and when we allowed our brains to wander. Are we losing the benefits of this today? Should we re-introduce some “slack” into schools? Read John’s convincing and thought-provoking post and you’ll probably be answering “yes.”

The Kid Stays in the Picture

When I was a kid, Dad made it clear that ‘mere play’ was being idle—something lazy people did. And boy, you couldn’t get lazier than me.

Michael Maupin from Completely in the Dark takes us back to his childhood and the lasting effects of not being encouraged to “play.” He explains, “As a shadow, it darkened the room, filling me with anxiety and self-doubt: ‘What am I doing now? Is it practical? Is it useful? Shouldn’t I be ashamed?’ … For years that sound, that shadow, was all around. It blocked up my writing, my artwork, my self-esteem — everything. I was psychologically held at gunpoint by an ethic that carries little currency in my world.”

Not one to be bullied, however, Michael has found ways to protect and embrace his natural tendencies towards “play and reverie.” Read his post, and you’ll be inspired to do the same.

Did you read something in the Reader that you think is Freshly Pressed material? Feel free to leave us a link, or tweet us @freshly_pressed.

For more inspiration, check out our writing challenges, photo challenges, and other blogging tips at The Daily Post; visit our Recommended Blogs; and browse the most popular topics in the Reader. For editorial guidelines for Freshly Pressed, read: So You Want To Be Freshly Pressed.

7 Comments on Freshly Pressed: Friday Faves, last added: 4/20/2013
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9. Time To Imagine

Each day is filled with work. My work is fun, but there are still decisions to make and a path to stay on. There are meetings to schedule and deadlines to meet. It can be a constant process of thought and movement.
I have stopped for the day. I stopped to look over my idea book and enjoy the summer breeze. The are ideas everywhere and sometimes you cannot find the ones that are in the calm of the day if you don’t stop to look and listen.
My doggie stands guard to protect me from squirrels, my other doggie wanted the cool of the air in the house. I listen to the wind kicking up. I hear cars from a nearby street. I feel sure that the birds are discussing what’s for dinner. My feel are hot in my sneakers that are still on since my morning walk. My daisies look like they are reaching for the sky. The weeds are tall on the north side of my house. My thoughts travel to what to make for dinner. (I resist that thought for now). My daughter turned 35 today! That makes me smile as I remember her entrance into this world and her loud voice!

All of these are but fleeting thoughts. Sometimes a fleeting thought will make into a story, but you must take the time to stop, look and listen.

Now I dive into my idea book!


Filed under: All Things Artsy, change, dream, Inspiring, Kicking Around Thoughts, Work is Play....?

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10. Just thinking

I would like to think that I could come up with some Geo-Terra-forming-hyper-thoughts but can only come up with the belief that I am correct to feel immortal and know that even after I go to the next eternity, that itself will end, and “I” become some horrific to these “Now ” eyes, some specimen of thing unknowable to this consciousness, yet another “thing” that feels correct to it’s nature and has no thought of being not correct, that after an eternity of these formations and resurrections and deaths I will sink into the opposite sludge of nonexistence but after a time, that is not time, will again float to the surface *POP* out and start all over again.

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11. Flipping all year long

Today is Pancake Day! Also called Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday if you take part in Lent. It’s traditionally a day to eat up all sorts of yummy things in your house that you are promising not to eat during Lent, like chocolate. It’s a long month if you’re giving up your junkiest habit so first of all you need to eat a shed-load of pancakes.

It’s strange people MAKE and EAT pancakes only one day a year.

HOW ODD?! Why only eat such a great food one day out of 365? We must change this silliness once and for all.

But how? …Time for a Seed Agent Mission.

WHAT IF?! We rename pancakes Flippers! Every time we make a pancake we call it a Flipper. Everytime we eat a pancake we call it Flipper. Everytime we see a pancake we call it a Flipper. Soon the world will call pancakes – Flippers!! And then we can eat Flippers ALL year round, and not just on Fat Tuesday.

There’s nothing that can’t be used to fill a flipper, sweet or savoury, hot or cold, the choice is yours Seed Agents! Try some veg-flippers! “Move along old-school lemon and sugar”, “Bye-bye gooey joys of chocolate”, “Hello pongy cheese, spinach and mushrooms!”

Have a go at making your own flippers here and experiment eating them with different fillings. Discover which one you like best!

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12. Another tasty morsal of "Neighbors"

Another snippet from "Neighbors."

Following yet another verbal confrontation, Portman has invited Taylor for a friendly drink at the neighborhood bar. Enter Joseph Martini, a customer, who after listening to the pair discuss their views on life and the garden, makes them an offer they decide to accept.

The place is Patty's Place, the bar co-owned by Patty and Portman.


I think I got the big picture. Don't know how'd you feel about this, but would you consider using the services of a mediator?


Ain't that a person who makes street dividers – what's that gonna do for us?


You'll have to forgive my good friend here, since his vocabulary is somewhat limited. A mediator, dear neighbor, is a person who's not familiar with the parties involved, who listens to two sides of a story and then presents an unbiased opinion. Do you happen to know anyone who could do that for us? I’ve already contacted somebody who knows somebody at City Hall but if you you’ve got someone you could recommend… Of course she or he would have to have some experience with property disputes…


Believe it or not, it so happens that I'm a semi-retired land surveyor by trade, and I've listened to hundreds, maybe thousands, of stories involving issues like yours. I'd be willing to investigate in the way of thanks for your warm welcome here


Go on! Now you tell me that this ain't fate, Taylor! Here we are in the middle of tryin' to find an answer to our problem and Martini here just happens to drop by for a drink. I mean – what are the odds of that happening, huh?


Indeed. A little too convenient if you ask me


Chalk it up to fate, is all


I dunno - a supposed stranger shows up out of the blue and…


I can assure you, sir, that this is the first time I've visited this bar. If you'd rather pass on this opportunity…


Of course he wants to get your legal opinion. Listen Taylor, if Martini here says he made a living settling arguments like ours, then he's the man for the job


I'll need to examine the house plans first…


It's just too convenient for my liking. Do you have anything that says you’re a surveyor?



Do you ask your trash collector for identification or the local delivery guy? Why should our new friend here, have to prove to you that he is who he says he is? Don't pay no attention to him. The man’s got no manners whatsoever


I understand your suspicions and need to know more about me professionally but I have to tell you that I'm very busy doing contract work. So if you're not interested…


Hang on a minute – I'm willing to let Martini here study the situation - and I'll even go along with his findings. How's that for blind faith, huh?


The only thing I'll agree to is that he can listen to both sides and offer an opinion, period. Let’s see what he comes up with



You were the one who threatened to call a land surveyor just this very morning. Well – here he is! Any land surveyor you call in is gonna be a stranger. D'ya want this man to medicate our dispute, or not?  We're here to fix fences, not build new ones


You mean mediateour dispute…


See what I mean? There he goes again. Medicate…mediate…what's a 'c' between friends?


I didn't mean to insult your professional integrity, Mr. Martini


Well, Ihappen to believe that friends take each other at their word, so I say - let's get on with it! Why don't we drink to…Mr. Martini's -


- Joey -


- Joey's findings. Line 'em up Miss Patty and lemonade again for you Joey boy? And whatever my neighbor wants here


That's it for me or I'm gonna have to swim outta here. So, how we gonna do this?


Listen – here's a plan. Why don't we wait 'til early evening, once the sun goes down, when it'll be cooler for you to measure our land.  We could hang 'round here for a while and catch the bodacious babes playing volleyball on TV


I haven't agreed to Mr. Martini becoming involved yet


Of course you have! You wanted a meditator and now you got one! What more could a person ask for?


Sounds good to me. It'll certainly make my job easier waiting until things cool down a bit


In more ways than one


So, it's agreed? We might as well stay here. Patty here will take good care of us


I suppose it can't hurt. As much as I would love to hang here with you guys, my green peppers need staking and my tomato patch needs de-weeding. How 'bout we meet later, say about…seven?


We won't have to worry about workin' in the dark since my neighbor installed flood lights near his garden, to scare away veggie thieves


It's to discourage a family of groundhogs that steal at night. I don't spend all those hours to have all my stuff eaten by animal


You do know that you're insultin' me again, Taylor. We're supposed to be getting' to know each other and I'm being ditched for some peppers and tomatoes? 


It's not that I don't appreciate your invitation, but I've got a lot to do around the house. Like I said, we'll meet in my back yard if that's okay with you, Mr. Martini?


Sounds like a plan to me


Perfect-o-mundo!. Me and Joey...I mean, Mr. Martini will get to know each other better, right guy?


Then it's settled. We meet at seven on your territory. By the way, I'm out of salad. If 'ya happen to have an extra head or two lyin' around…


Nice meeting you Mr. Martini


You into beach volleyball, Joey boy? Wait 'til you get a look at those players. Mama mia!


Do they carry volleyball on basic cable?


After switching on the television, PATTY brings over two drinks. TAYLOR lingers for an instant and then leaves

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13. Life imitates art

On occasion during our run of the mill existence here on planet earth, life imitates art. This was the case during a recent visit from a plumber to unblock a bathroom drain. The visit was routine but there came a point during a conversation that seemed straight out of my play, “Gin: an Allegory for Playing the Game of Life.” You know how it is – that Twilight Zone/déjà vu feeling we’ve all experienced at some point where a conversation seems familiar and you’re not sure if you’ve heard it before.  

Here is the scene from the play where Lyle, the super, arrives to address the blocked sink of Becky, the main character and the cynic. SARAH, another character is one of those people who always sees the good in everyone and everything. I cut and pasted parts so the formatting isn't ideal. This is one of my favorite plays but then that's what I say about all of them.

                         BECKY opens the door to LYLE, the super, who is leaning on
                         the side of the door, engrossed in music coming out of earphones.
                         His dress is grunge with long stringy hair and grimy


Well, well. Look who the wind blew in. Hello up there? Anybody home?

                         BECKY taps him on the shoulder and he jumps in response

Forgive me but you do remember why you're here? To unblock my pipes? Lyle super - me tenant?

I know that

Of course you do and I'm Madonna

Hey – and they tol’ me your name was Becky Bitch. Oh… I see. Becky Bitch Madonna!

                         LYLE pushes Becky aside

Okay…what and where's the problem?

You for a start but I gotta take what I can get. My sink has been blocked since last week

Okay… hold it a sec…this is a good part

                         Lyle starts gyrating and playing an invisible guitar

My God – the kid has overdosed on drugs right here in my apartment. Call 911

(stops abruptly)
That was the best part of the CD. Bet'chu wash your hair in this sink, don't you

And your point is? Most normal people wash their hair, Lyle, but there are exceptions, like you for example

Ladies your age never wanna admit it but we supers know better. If I had a dollar for every time I've unblocked a sink and removed a big blob of the stuff, I’d be a gazillionaire. Wait a sec’…

                         LYLE begins gyrating

I hope I'm not disturbing your musical interludes or anything. Listen, there's no way, my hair, blocked that drain. Maybe you don't clean the pipes often enough, did that occur to you? So? Fix it. Hello? Lyle!


This band is like… fab-u-lo-so… We'll try chemicals first and if that don't work, we'll use the snake

You're gonna use strong chemicals in my sink? Come to think of it, you're probably no stranger to chemical mixes

OhmyGod! They use poor defenseless snakes to clean out drains, now? But I'm sure you use the non-poisonous type, right? Do the animal welfare people know about this?


Sarah dear, count your cards or something. Just do what you have to do and unblock it?

Got some news you won't wanna hear, lady

If it means you're quitting your job after unblocking my sink, it's good

I'm wrong about the blockage

Told you it wasn't hair. I'm not a plumber and even I knew as much

It's deep down in the main pipe system, under the sink

And this means that…

…it's gonna cost. Might hav'ta call in a plumber

Can't youfix it? What are they paying you for?

I'll try but I ain't making no promises. I'm gonna go look for my tools, downstairs. Whoever you get to do the job will take a half a day, at least. Maybe more


This is really good. A handyman with no tools

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14. To be Indigenous or not to be that isn’t a good question even!

A quite lively discussion has blown in from space on a friends Face-postcard about something I forgot because it went a completely different way in short order and is now a history lesson on indigenous peoples.

It was said the “Native “”American”” people” were here first and that they claim to be “Indigenous” and that they have their traditional stories to back up their claim to properties etc.

That got me to thinking (usually leads to minor disasters) that just because someone in your past lived some place and told creation stories doesn’t always mean you have any more rights than the guy who was born there after you lost the battle, in my case way after.

I know, growing up, my mother used to tell me, when I asked how I got here that I came from heaven and perhaps, if I’m a good boy, God will give me land there again though I think he may balk at the casino I want to build even if it is to take all the sinner’s money or credits or what ever the currency of his realm is.

And further more if in the past there was only one super continent, Pangaea or what ever they really called it, then we all have a claim to everywhere cause we are all descendants of the original inhabitants and I’ll bet a dollar to a doughnut there aint anywho who can tell me where they thought they came from even after the break up.

I thought perhaps we are all from Mars via the Pleiades star system but had to leave cause the Marshonians wanted the place back so we moved on as they had come from the Hercules system to Mars first.

To send every one back to where they came from is stupid, you can’t fit that many people on Ellis Island let alone grow enough hemp there to have a trade economy with New York.

I don’t know the answer other than if we don’t start being natives from “EARTH” the little grey men will boot us out and wipe out the myths of our origins from then to eternity.

HareBrained_II_smJPGIt’s a race none us may win …

0 Comments on To be Indigenous or not to be that isn’t a good question even! as of 5/2/2014 10:21:00 PM
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15. Arks to Go II: the Flood - The Plan

Angie and her male friend, Joe, evening together is interrupted by a knock on the door. Angie attempts to ignore the interruption but it continues, growing in intensity
Aren't you going to answer the door
Knock? I don't hear a knock. Now where were we...
You're such a joker, Angie. It sounds urgent
Probably the neighbor upstairs, complaining again. She is such a pain. Bangs on the ceiling even when I sneeze. 'Get a life, Mrs. Plotnik!'
If you don't answer the door - I will!
O-kay...if you insist but I know I'm gonna regret this
(Angie opens the door to an elderly man (NOAH) with a very long white beard and hair down to the floor, dressed in army fatigues. He rushes by her)
Hel-lo! Noah's my name and arks are my fame! A little frivolity always helps to break the ice in a social situation, don't you think? Angie - introduce me to your friend, here
Noah - remember I told you my carpets don't need cleaning? Call me in a few years - preferably longer. Now if you'll excuse me...
(she tries to lead Noah to the door, unsuccessfully)
You're just joking, aren't you! We're old friends, remember?
How can I forget?
                                                                                                         SOUND: ELEPHANTS
What's that? Sounds like elephants
He comes with his own sound effects. Um - didn't I mention that Noah here, does sound engineering for movies?
No I don't! Aw - you're just teasing, right? 'I'll be back soon, guys!' They don't like to be left alone. Elephants are such babies. They're afraid of the jackals and the monkeys love to tease them. You know - when the boss is away... So...Joe - whad'ya think of all the rain we've been having?
Haven't given it a lot of thought, to be honest
Maybe you should. Could be the beginning of ...
...Noah here runs a zoo. Perhaps you should be getting back to your animals, Noah! Nice of you to visit...
(Angie attempts to move Noah towards the door but he resists)
You two seem like old friends. How did you meet?
Well...Angie phoned me about six months ago and asked me about building an ark...
...as a gift for my nephew. He's into arks and I wanted to give him something unique
...and we've been friends on-and-off
Good to see you again. Call me sometime
Somehow we lost touch with each other and I came across her number while cleaning out the parrot cages the other day and here I am! So Joe - do you like to sail boats, perchance, or maybe you build boats?
Stop with the questions, already, Noah! See you around....
As a matter of fact, I'm handy with a hammer and nails
No! What a coincidence. I'm looking for someone to help me with a project I'm working on that involves someone who knows how to put two pieces of wood together
Seriously? Maybe I could help you
You don't have to be an expert. I have a set of plans laid out by Someone who makes building an ark as easy as 1-2-3
Hello? Joe? I'm here. I think I hear the elephants calling you, Noah.
Why don't I give you my cell number? We can discuss this further over lunch
No need for that. I'll get in touch. Isn't this exciting, Angie? You, Joe...building a new ark together...think of the possibilities
My heart beats with eager anticipation at the aspect of spending time with wild animals. Why do I think my life is not my own, anymore...
I know what you mean. It's going to be such fun. Now Joe - do you get sea sick?

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16. Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: July 18

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include authors, book lists, the Cybils, common core, aging, ebooks, apps, growing bookworms, kidlitcon, reading, writing, play, schools, libraries, and summer reading.

Books and Authors

Stories from authors about school visits "gone terribly wrong" at Wild Things blog http://ow.ly/zcwJO  @SevenImp @FuseEight

75 Years Old, Still Showing off her Scar, fun details about Madeline from @SevenImp + @FuseEight at Wild Things blog http://ow.ly/z94Jk 

Book Lists and Awards

Amazon-backed Booktrust Best Book Awards‘ Lifetime Achievement Award turned down by Allan Ahlberg | @TheBookseller http://ow.ly/z3OLT 

The Wildest (bold + unique) Children’s Books of 2014 as picked by @100scopenotes http://ow.ly/zcxat  #kidlit

Teen blogger Summer from @miss_fictional looks back on Favorite Books from her Childhood http://ow.ly/z5flg  #kidlit

Who knew that there could be a list of Top 5 Picture Books about Ninjas? @rosemondcates could! http://ow.ly/z3KJl  #kidlit

Thanks! RT @145lewis: #CYBILS are an amazing resource Looking for summer reading ideas? http://dadtalk.typepad.com/cybils/finalists/ … #kidlit #edchat #elemed

Common Core and STEM

#CommonCore Becomes Touchy Subject for Governors Group, reports @WSJ, as both parties are internally split on CC http://ow.ly/z5fA0 

Tap the STEM Resources in Your Community! | ALSC Blog post for librarians by @amyeileenk http://ow.ly/z3KzZ 


RT @tashrow 5 Stereotypes Positive Aging Picture Books Avoid | Lindsey McDivitt http://buff.ly/1zmZLk9  #kidlit

eBooks and Apps

RT @TWhitford: Great Apps To Introduce Coding to Young Kids http://goo.gl/uUdGX0  via @mattBgomez

Malorie Blackman: ‘I love gadgets, but e-reading has to be carefully handled’ | @GuardianBooks http://ow.ly/z3P8z  via @PWKidsBookshelf

Growing Bookworms

What Do Phonics, Phonemic Awareness and Decoding Mean? @CoffeeandCrayon has the scoop http://ow.ly/zeLEb  #literacy

How #Comics Create Life-Long Readers -- @MaryAnnScheuer interview with @jenniholm http://ow.ly/zeLPW  #kidlit #literacy

Teaching My Daughters to Read -- Part III, Phonics from @ReadingShahahan http://ow.ly/zcvyn  #literacy

RT @LiteracySpeaks: 5 Simple Ways to Improve Reading Comprehension from This Reading Mama! http://fb.me/6BtWnEOln 

Fun times @everead | How I Stopped My Children's Whining with Story Club http://ow.ly/z5eUD  #literacy


KidlitCon2014_cubeBOOM: And we are LIVE! Why you should attend this year's KidLitCon, from co-organizer Tanita Davis, FindingWonderland http://ow.ly/zcvbM 

The registration form for #KidLitCon14 Oct. 10-11 in Sacramento is now live: http://ow.ly/zc0lr  A great way to see friends + talk books

October will be here soon, soon, soon — @bkshelvesofdoom is coming to #KidLitCon14 Are you? http://ow.ly/z3GYs 

RT @CBethM: The 8th Annual @KidLitCon - Spending Time Face-to-Face with Kindred Spirits by @JensBookPage #nerdybookclub http://wp.me/p21t9O-1zS 

On Reading, Writing, and Publishing

On having (and integrating) multiple Reading Lives by Kristin McIlhagga @TeachChildLit @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/z94kV 

Cultivating Curiosity, on love of stories vs. love of words at So Obsessed With blog http://ow.ly/z94SO  via @catagator

Food for thought at Stacked: Growing Up, Leaving Some Books (Narnia) Behind by @kimberlymarief http://ow.ly/zi3Ac  #kidlit

Why Book Reviewers Would Make Awesome Authors, by @Miss_Fictional http://ow.ly/zcvDd 

A proposal from @100scopenotes | All Middle Grade Novels Should Be 192 Pages. No Exceptions. Thoughts? http://ow.ly/zcvYJ 

Here's what @medinger thinks about @100scopenotes idea for Putting a Stop to Middle Grade Novel’s Increasing Girth http://ow.ly/zcwej 

Confessions Of A Binge Reader (Or, How I Read So Much) | Ryan Holiday at Thought Catalog http://ow.ly/z3LKY  via @tashrow

Why Readers, Scientifically, Are The Best People To Fall In Love With @EliteDaily http://ow.ly/z3NZQ  via @librareanne

On Kids

How Much Activity Do Our Students Need? asks @katsok How do you help kids who can't sit still, in era of less recess? http://ow.ly/z92pA 

Did What You Played as a Kid Influence Who You Became as an Adult? asks @FreeRangeKids http://ow.ly/z933H 

Powerful post @KirbyLarson by Michelle Houts on adults looking back and regretting childhood acts of bullying http://ow.ly/z3K36 

Schools and Libraries

Bridging the Gap: Making #Libraries More Accessible for a Diverse Autistic Population | @sljournal http://ow.ly/z3Omk 

Corporal Punishment in Schools: Can it be Justified? @TrevorHCairney thinks it's not the right approach http://ow.ly/zi3el 

Top 10 Ways to Turn Classroom into a Hotbed of Enthusiastic Readers by @megangreads + @muellerholly @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/z5eFi 

Summer Reading

This could keep us busy for the rest of the summer! 50 Fabulous Movies based on Children's Books from @rosemondcates http://ow.ly/zcvGP 

#SummerReading Tip20 @aliposner Set up your vacation accommodations in ways that make literacy more likely to occur http://ow.ly/z3LbF 

#SummerReading Tip21 @aliposner Encourage your kids to author “vacation books” when you are traveling this summer http://ow.ly/z5eOF 

#SummerReading Tip25 @aliposner | Read the SAME BOOK that your child is reading independently + discuss it together http://ow.ly/zeM9u 

#SummerReading Tip26 @aliposner | Try to connect reading to your kids’ summer activities http://ow.ly/zi3mT #literacy

Reading Is Fundamental Study Says Summer Reading Is Not Priority | reports Lauren Barack @sljournal http://ow.ly/z3OeW  @RIFWEB

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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17. Four People and a Playwright Looking for a Decent Play

This was a time-waster while developing characters in my play, "Gin..." As the playwright plodded along adding and deleting dialogue, the characters of the play began to show signs of rebellion - at least they thought it was rebellion since they weren't exactly sure what a rebellion was. It's a longer piece but an enjoyable light one. It's cut and pasted from Word so ignore the formatting.

By Eleanor Tylbor
AT RISE:      
Four women are seated on fold-up chairs around a card table, absorbed in adjusting the playing cards in their hands. Bowls of popcorn and soft drink cans litter the surface of the table. On the other side of the stage the playwright (JULIE) is sitting at a computer desk, arms bent at elbows, staring out into space. She works the keyboard as the characters recite their lines
In case anyone cares, something is about to happen…very soon now…could even be momentarily…I can feel it…
                         Lays cards down on the table and thrusts remaining card in the
                         air for all to see
(Cont’d.) Victory is at hand – or inmy hand, in this case! Oh I’m a winner all right!
                         Shoving a hand full of popcorn in her mouth
Goof fo' you. Paf me de drink, Miffi
Didn't your momma teach you it's not nice to eat and talk? Then again for some people, a full mouth is part of a lifestyle. Isn't that right Mitzi, honey?
Jealousy will get you nowhere, sweetie.  At least I'm not a dried up where it counts!
Touchy! I was merely commenting to Charlene that well-bred people don't speak with their mouths full! But then being that you’re a multi-tasker…I mean handling more than one person at a time…
Breeding comes naturally in your family, doesn't it? Did they forget to give you your cube of sugar today? Clop your hoof once for yes and two for no
(to herself)
Bicker, bicker…bicker, … It would be nice to have a quiet game of cards for a change without throwing verbal knives at each other
I think I'm close to calling Gin…
I would stay out of this if I were you, Chloe. Is your brother eligible for parole, yet?
I'm gonna start calling you Bossy, along with the other "b" word that rhymes with itch, and usually associated with a female dog! I try to be nice to you and what do I get in return?
                         CHLOE stares into space for approx. 10 seconds in silence
What do I get in return? Does anybody know?
Do we guess?
I don’t think so. My mind is a complete blank. Is that normal?
           Pause of 10 seconds while they all stare out into space
I’m waiting

Me too. What are we waiting for?
Some words and sentences I think

Don't blame me for what comes out of my mouth. I just say the words. I don't create them. By the way, Chloe, what's your brother in for this time? Armed robbery or is it murder? I didn't mean to say that…or maybe I did…I’m not sure
I really don't know why but I feel compelled to tell you…
                         Stands up and leans over the table towards BRENDA
(standing up)
What? Anybody?
Why am I standing? I mean, what's my motivation? Could somebody tell me, please?
So sit down if you’re not sure. My philosophy is when in doubt – don’t
Don’t what?
Um - I dunno. Take my word for it and just don’t. That’s all
Gin! What’s supposed to happen, now?
I’m not sure but I think something important is gonna happen. I can feel it in my bones. Does anybody have any ideas?
Well…for starters, we’re all holding these hard pieces of paper in our hands
I wonder if that’s significant. What do yours look like, Brenda?
Let’s see… White background with red and black thingies…
I dunno what you call them but they’re pretty, though. And there are numbers in the corners
Same here! Go figure!
Ours too!
Okay. We’re making progress here. Hey! These are playing cards
You think?
I know for a fact! Those words just popped into my head!
So you say. You could’a just make them up on the spur of the moment to impress us
Have you ever heard me use them before?
I never heard them in my entire life and that’s the truth
Then you’re all just gonna hav’ta take my word for it! These things are called playing cards
Let’s say you’re right. What about them?
I dunno…What comes next?
Y’know - I’ve been wondering if I should be eating popcorn or maybe change it for something else like, candy for example or ice cream
All you think about is food, food, food! There are more important things in life
Really? Like?
Well…there just are. I feel it

Sometimes, I get the feeling like I'm a puppet on a string or something, bowing to someone's wishes. Do any of you ever get that feeling?
I said, ‘Gin’! Hello? I'll try again. Gin… Gin… Gin!
Darned if I know. We show up every day and twice on weekends holding these playing cards in our hands. Why I keep asking myself. Why am I here? Why are we all here? Sometimes I yell out,  “Gin!” out loud but nobody answers. Shouldn’t somebody answer me? I’ve been screaming that word for the last six months. Always the same words and lines and then I call out, "Gin!"
                         Stares out in space and babbles to an invisible person
 (Cont’d.) ‘…she tries to make the others understand but they just stare at her blankly…she must determine the reason for her very existence…’
Who are you talking to?
I really can’t say. Suddenly a bunch of words came tumbling out of my mouth for no reason. It's not the first time this has happened
Ask Mitzi. She knows all about objects in mouths
I'm so sick of your sexual innuendoes, Brenda
Why do you react that way whenever the word “mouth” is mentioned?
It’s not that I want to but I feel I have to. It’s as if I don’t have any choice in the matter
 MITZI stands up with hands on hips, leans forward until her face  is directly in front of Brenda

And…um…something else…
                         Moves away from table, hops up and down and starts
 shadow boxing, fists waving in the air
(Cont’d.) I took a self-defense course! My hands are lethal weapons!
                         Cuts the air with side of hand
And that means…?
You are so not with it.  It means…it means…
Oh pllleeze! She doesn’t know
Let's settle this once and for all! C'mon – right here and now
Fine with me…what are we supposed to do next?
Just… keep hitting the air and dancing around I suppose
                         BRENDA and MITZI spar, fists jabbing the empty air
                         Stands up and places her purse strap over her shoulder
That's it! Nobody seems to care that I have yelled “Gin!”…whatever that means, but I'm sure it's important.  I don't know about you all but I'm leaving! Anybody else gonna follow me?
                         Attempts to attract the attention of the playwright
Hello? You up there? Could you stop staring at that screen for a minute? This isn't working for me at all. I'm sick-and-and tired of being a slut with a one-track mind. This play of yours is a bunch of words with no plot or direction and it breaks every playwriting rule in the book. Where's the protagonist and antagonist?
What are you complaining about? My character is insecure, indecisive and naive, and those are her strong qualities. How'd you like to have those? I'm smart, you know! I am very smart… I think
Off the top of my head, I would guess that part of your problem is that you're a minor character, while mine plays a major role and more attention is required to develop Brenda, properly
See what I mean? How come I can't be the smart one for a change?
With all due respect Charlene, honey, I don't think you have the emotional range to assume an analytical role of deep thinker, like we do. Right ladies?
                         CHLOE and BRENDA together:  ‘I dunno’
It's just not fair! Every day I hav'ta play the part of a simple minded female when in reality, I got it up here (points to her head) I think this is what makes the words come out
You see, Charlene, sweetie, my background lends itself to being a character with class…one of the rich, beautiful people, while you – well dear - let's just say that you have interesting words in your sentences
I'm as good as anyone here! You're all forgetting that we are the sum total of the playwright's vision. Hey – I can talk smart too! Why can't we take turns being each other?
Let's not forget here that our origins are a computer memory chip. The only rich and famous person we're connected to is Bill Gates. I say…we walk. Are you with me, ladies?
Is there a problem?
                         Hands on hips, facing direction of playwright
We got your attention, huh? We've had it with these crappy lines! We're bored of being portrayed as vacuous women with blank minds. We're people too! We have feelings and we hurt and…
May I remind you that you're nothing more than a bunch of words strung together to make a sentence? I make you who and what you are and I can eliminate you all with a push of my forefinger and a delete button. You're only communicating with me now because I'm exploring dialogue choices. You're all a figment of my imagination
No need for threats, here, dear. There's only so much that characters can take and we've reached the end of the line, so to speak. Do you like that, ladies? End-of-the-line?
Trés wit-ty, my dear
What should I say? I've re-written and re-written you all at least two dozen times and no matter what I do, the dialogue sounds… wooden. And don't even ask about the plot, or lack of one, thereof
That's because you really don't really believe in us, do you? Deep down inside you're toying with the idea of deleting the text and starting a whole new play that will move in a new direction. Do you know what it's like living under that threat? I'll tell you – it's very disturbing
Did I write that? I don't remember writing those words…
Now there's a perfect example of what I'm talking about! We never know where you're gonna take us next, right ladies? It's like…there's giant hands hanging over the stage dangling precariously, ready to strike at a moments notice.  It's the uncertainty of the delete button that gets us down!
For example, why do you always make me as an over-sexed whore? Maybe it would be good to be an upright female for a change.  Not necessarily a nun or anything but an intelligent woman who has a direction and purpose in life. Not somebody who dresses in clothes three sizes too tight. Let Charlene assume that part for once. Wouldn't you like that, dear?
I'll pass but I know where she's coming from! In spite of all your attempts at re-writes, you still make me out like an empty-headed - duh! I want to be respected like the rest of them, except Mitzi…no insult intended…
None taken, dear. I'm used to it by now
I never realized you all felt this way
0 Comments on Four People and a Playwright Looking for a Decent Play as of 7/27/2014 10:06:00 PM
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18. "Retribution" - the play was read with positive feedback

As a playwright, the overall goal when crafting a play, is to create a scenario that will carry the story to an engaging conclusion. Once the story is completed, it is the hope of the playwright that the story will have legs so to speak and find the right home, in order to share the playwright's vision with the public. It's always gratifying when one's aspirations are rewarded with the opportunity to realize this goal with actors reading the words of the play. On Thursday, August 7, "Retribution" had its first date with the public via Sundog Theatre's, "Summer Reading Series" and by all accounts having not been in attendance, it was well received.

In the way of background information, the one-act play was born in a writing forum as part of a playwriting challenge a number of years ago. The only stipulation was that the subject matter had to focus on revenge. Before embarking on all writing projects, I always start with two words, "what if..." Initially, "Retribution" began as a short 10-minute play called, "A Close Shave" focusing on a barber and a man receiving a shave. Over time and during the editing process, it took on a life of its own with an adaption of the story and taking a different angle. The play itself can best be described in the quotation, "revenge is a dish best served cold."

In as far as reaction to the play is concerned, Sundog Theatre's Eric Petillo, Curator of New Works and Administrative Assistant, wrote of the actors reaction when reading the play that "they all raved about your play. They told me that it had taken them all by surprise when the script suddenly took a left turn. One of the audience members said that it was a cross between "Steel Magnolias" and a Quentin Tarantino revenge fantasy."

Ask me if I'm happy. My story being compared to a Quentin Tarantino revenge fantasy AND Steel Magnolias, which is a favorite film, is some compliment! The only complaint was that it was difficult to visualize the graphic imagery accompanying the dialogue with the  reading of my stage directions, The overall conclusion was that the whole play would benefit more from a full-scale production. Agree whole-heartedly.

For the record and in case anyone reading this is interested, the play is ready for its debut and if Mr. Tarrantino is interested, my people can speak to your people...or something.

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19. Parents Just Don’t Know How to Play!

Toys scattered among the stacks, puzzle pieces askew, kids popping from mess to mess and over in a corner you see a parent on their cell phone or device. Does this scene sound familiar to you?

Libraries with play spaces often report that they have parents who seem disengaged from their children’s play. While this isn’t the majority of library users but seems to stand out because of the mess and noise children who are not engaged in meaningful play can create. While it is our intention that parents will use the play space to interact and play with their children, they often observe play or expect their little ones to discover the play on their own.

How do we teach these parents to use the play spaces provided as an interactive time to share with their little ones?

  • Model play! Library staff can often engage a parent by simply asking a question or starting a conversation with a child. When you see a child playing alone, ask them open ended questions that extend the play. When the parent sees the interaction they will become interested and then you can pull them into the play as well. We model how to share a book in story time, let’s model play on the floor.
  • Provide signage! Be simple with your signs and remember you are not posting rules but suggestions for play. http://www.alsc.ala.org/blog/2012/03/instructions-included/
  • Keep it Clean, Keep it Organized! While children can look at anything and find the play in it, somewhere adults loose that ability. Make your play spaces clean, organized and obvious. http://www.alsc.ala.org/blog/2012/04/keeping-it-clean/
  • Choose meaningful play! When selecting your play spaces and what is included think of what learning is going to take place and what values the parents will see in the play.

Your turn! How do you engage parents in play?

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20. Congress of Crows



As they come together and chatter about this and that the world watches to see if they can really fly or are just a lot of noise …

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21. Uplift: The Infinite Possibilities of Imagination

Hi, folks! This month I'm calling the series Uplift. The idea of uplift is to improve socially, culturally, morally, spiritually, etc.  We are all hungry, our hearts beating, struggling for contentment and a sweet spot to thrive. This part of my journey for uplift. 

Short and sweet, this week, folks. I  have to say that my imagination is my biggest gift.  It bubbles around inside me. It is the best part of myself. I had a fun conversation with an imaginary friend this week, and bonus it was not my imaginary friend but Sam Garton's imaginary friend.  Sam is the otter keeper of Otter. You might want to check out this blog: I am Otter

I followed Otter this week.  You can too: 

Here is our conversation.

 I have to say, my conversation with otter was one of my favorite things this week. 

Here's the deal. My capacity for play has never diminished. I still have my favorite doll from childhood. I still color and draw almost every day. I never stop making up stories.  I love to imagine the possibilities. Even in my darkest days, the angel of my imagination stirs within me. 

There are journeys ahead, friends. Trust the infinite possibilities of your imagination. 

I hope that your are jazzed this week!  Please consider letting your imagination run wild. Let it take you beyond the possibilities to the impossible. Open a new door. Turn a new corner. 

I will be back next week with the last in the series. 

A doodle from me: Twos.

When you have exhausted all the possibilities: remember this. You haven't.  Thomas Edison

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22. Got Mail?

Because everyone needs a reason to hide secret notes...

I made a mail kit.

It's our Narnian Lamppost.
Our Portal.
Our place where the real world transforms into the magical one.
See, Pip and Winnie haven't exactly been excited
about writing time.
They moan and whinge when it's time
to pull out notebook and pen.

But now they have a reason to write.

All manner of small letters, notices and lists
have been appearing in the mailbox, begging for a reader. 
Secret message makers, word lovers in the making, I hope.
And if we're not so concerned with punctuation just yet,
still Something is being kindled,
and that Something is what we're going for - 

getting so lost in play so that the unseen world
shines brighter within us,
and the ordinary world shines brighter on our return...

This is what I want for myself, too.
To take more time to play
with my words, with art, with the kids
without focusing on how much I get done.

I have a choice every day -
wear myself out trying to blast through my goals,
or find the sweet spots and savor.

Relish the revision. 
   (thank you Gail Carson Levine and
     Molly Blaisell for your great advice.)

if you need a reason to play with your words,
or an incentive for young heel-dragging-writers,
may I suggest a mail box?

Our kit is compiled of:

A domed box (thrift store find)
Mod podge.
A cardboard swing arm fastened with a nut and bolt.
I added a mail sack, felt envelopes and flannel stamps
plus a thick stack of paper
for good measure.

My dad's old mail carrier hat tops the cake.

Any mail today?

Books of Note:


The Dove's Letter by Keith Baker

The Jolly Postman, by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
The Gardener by Sarah Stewart, illustrated by David Small
Toot and Puddle by Holly Hobbie
Letters from Father Christmas - J.R.R. Tolkien
Love, Mouserella by David Ezra Stein
 Writing Magic
Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly - Gail Carson Levine

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows
The Enchanted Chocolate Pot - Patricia C. Wrede, Caroline Stevermer

And an experiment. 
I've been trying to set up some freebies for my small writer friends, so here is my first attempt to provide a download. 

You are welcome to use this art as long as you credit the artist (Hey, that's me - Faith Pray!) and as long as you don't try to pass it off as your own work, or sell it (That would be illegal). If you are going to pin or webshare this, please credit me as the artist, and link back to this original post.
Thank you for the respect.

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23. Re-thinking and re-writing. "The Lemon" could be sweet

Go figure. Here I was under the impression that the BBC International Playwriting Competition was on hold or cancelled altogether. Much to my surprise, read on Facebook to stand by since they are about to announce the details of this year's competition.

While this is great news and under the assumption that the competition was cancelled, I've been re-thinking entering "Old Soldiers" as my entry.

"After all that waiting - you're going to abandon us?" Joe would probably ask. The issue is whether or not 'soldiers would be radio-friendly due to the necessity of sound effects.

A while back, I wrote a short play entitled, "The Lemon" focusing on the trials and tribulatiion of a female owning and trying to unload her car, which as the title infers, is a "lemon." A comedy, it's a fun story line and the characters would lend themselves to radio. At present it would run about 20-30 minutes but it wouldn't be difficult to add to the story.

This week I'm going to re-examine The Lemon with a critical eye to see if and how the story can be expanded. Meanwhile, I'm waiting for the announcement of the new deadline. Progress reports to come.

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24. Turn off screens and turn on your (writerly) life.

I’ve become a little too connected in recent years. I became an e-mail addict freshman year of college. I got a cell phone right after September 11th. An iTouch came into my life… Read More

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25. Turn off screens and LIVE life.

Screen-Free Week goes from 4/29-5/5. While it might seem drastic and unfeasible to completely unplug, think about what steps you can take to be less connected next week.

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