Captain Spaulding on Skull Island

“Despite my ghoulish reputation, I really have the heart of a small boy. I keep it in a jar on my desk.”

This quote is often attributed to Stephen King.  It was on this day in 1974 that King’s first novel, CARRIE, was published.  Happy Publication Day, Stevie!

The quote is actually from author Robert Bloch, who would’ve turned 100 today.  Bloch wrote the novel PSYCHO which would become one of Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest films.

Bloch wrote hundreds of short stories and dozens of novels.  He also had a keen sense of humor, as you can see from these quotes:

“The man who smiles when things go wrong has thought of someone to blame it on.”

“Friendship is like peeing on yourself: everyone can see it, but only you get the warm feeling that it brings.”

“So I had this problem — work or starve. So I thought I’d combine the two and decided to become a writer.”

Happy Birthday, Bobby!

Some Recommended Robert Bloch Stories and Books:

“The Real Bad Friend” – inspiration for PSYCHO

“Lucy Comes To Stay” – -also an inspiration for PSYCHO

PSYCHO

“Yours Truly, Jack The Ripper”

“The Man Who Collected Poe”

“The Animal Fair”

THE KIDNAPPER

“That Hell-Bound Train”

“The Scent of Vinegar”

STRANGE EONS

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Gumbo Joe and His Smokey Tent

February 28th, 2017

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At work last week, we were talking about what sells tickets to plays and the boss commented on star power.  He said, ‘If So-And-So is in ‘Gumbo Joe and His Smokey Tent,’ then people are going to buy tickets to see it.”

 

So here, just in time for Fat Tuesday, is

 

GUMBO JOE AND HIS SMOKEY TENT by John Weagly

 

(Lights up.

The stage is filled with smoke.  In the haze, we hear the voices of ANNA and GUMBO JOE.)

 

ANNA

Hello?

 

GUMBO JOE

Hello?

 

ANNA

Gumbo Joe?

 

GUMBO JOE

Hello?  Who ‘dat?

 

ANNA

(Coughing.)  This is disgusting!  I can’t see a thing!

 

GUMBO JOE

This old tent, it catches the cookin’ smoke and holds it in.

 

ANNA

Don’t you people down here know that smoke is bad for you?

 

GUMBO JOE

What can I do for you, lady?

 

ANNA

I came to get some gumbo.  I wasn’t thrilled about coming all this way to deal with people that reside in shacks and tents, but I’m having a Fat Tuesday party and it wouldn’t be much of a Fat Tuesday party without gumbo.  Everybody claims you make the best on the bayou.

 

GUMBO JOE

That I do!  That I do!  Gumbo Joe knows quite a few secrets about good gumbo!

 

ANNA

Maybe we could step outside for a minute.  I’m not accustomed to…

 

GUMBO JOE

Why, lady?  Why you want to leave?

 

ANNA

(Coughing.)  This smoke… it’s so grueling…

 

GUMBO JOE

It’s good, that’s what it is!  It’s good!  The best smoke for you that could be!  This here smoke is the dichotomy between Heaven and Hell!

 

ANNA

It’s difficult to breathe…

 

GUMBO JOE

Smoked sausage – the finest sausage for good gumbo!  The smoke, it gives the meat that savor-flavor, that kick, that zing!  It makes you think the Devil made that sausage in his own fire just so the smell of it would make the angels weep!

 

ANNA

But, when you’re in here, how do you… (She starts coughing and can’t finish her sentence.)

 

GUMBO JOE

Okra and tomatoes and nice bell peppers, some onion and garlic and cayenne spice, chicken and shrimp and… and the most important thing, you know it’s true… smokey-dokey sausage!

 

ANNA

I must get outside… (More coughing.)

 

GUMBO JOE

Smoke – that makes the good gumbo!

 

ANNA

(Coughing.)  I have to… I can’t… It’s so strenuous… (ANNA dies from smoke inhalation.)

 

GUMBO JOE

And what’s the best kind of meat for gumbo sausage?  You, lady, you!  Some of ‘dat good fancy long pork!  A little of ‘dat smoky Soylent Green.  And the smokin’ is already half the way there!

 

(In the smoke, we hear GUMBO JOE drag ANNA’s body to the back of the tent.  Soon after, we hear meat being put into a grinder.

Lights down.)

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RIP Bill Paxton

February 26th, 2017

I’ve never thought of Bill Paxton as one of my favorite actors, but he sure was in a lot of great movies.

He was also an excellent director.  His film FRAILTY is terrific and one of his only other directorial efforts is the video for “Fish Heads.”

Rest in peace to the only actor to be killed by the Terminator, an Alien and a Predator.

Some favorite Bill Paxton movies:

Streets of Fire, 1984

The Terminator, 1984

Aliens, 1986

Near Dark, 1987

One False Move, 1992

Tombstone, 1993

Frailty, 2001

Hatfields & McCoys, 2012

Edge of Tomorrow, 2014

Nightcrawler, 2014

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Did you know that every February Gumbo Fiction Salon does a special Mardis Gras show?

And this year, in that special Mardis Gras Show, they’re going to feature a reading of five of my short New Orleans plays?

“Alligator Whiskey at the Neon Cypress”

“Fire-Belly Beignets at the Neon Cypress”

“Spirits of the Swamp at the Neon Cypress”

“Jug Band Blues at the Neon Cypress”

“Fat Tuesday Fabian at the Neon Cypress”

Mardis Gras at the Neon Cypress Roadhouse will feature Philip S. Bloch, Taylor Humphries, Alice Liddell & Maria Schrater.

There will also be an Open Mic!

And a raffle!!

And you can buy the excellent food and drink that Galway Arms Serves!!!

Thursday February 9 at 7:00 – Galway Arms – 2442 N. Clark in Chicago

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The nice people at Out Of The Gutter Online have published my holiday short story “Molotov Cocktails on Chimney Cake Lane” as part of their Twelve Daze of Christmas.

Enjoy!

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Happy Holidays!  Here’s a short play I wrote for the festivities.

THE YULE-GATOR AT THE NEON CYPRESS by John Weagly

(Lights up.

The Neon Cypress, a roadhouse down by the swamps.  There are a couple of signs advertising Abita beer and Old Crow whiskey.  Cajun Christmas music plays on the jukebox.  JUVENAL tends bar and looks like he’s been tending bar here for several decades.  WALLY sits at the bar, an abiding barfly.  After a moment, ALICE enters. She is in her early-twenties and attractive in a wild way.  She carries a log.)

ALICE

Got it!

JUVENAL

Look at that there – As fine a pagan tradition as I ever did see.

ALICE

Found it over by the Black Willow Cascade.  It should burn just fine.

WALLY

Light it and don’t let it go out.

(ALICE puts the log into a barbecue grill that the Neon Cypress uses as an impromptu fireplace.)

ALICE

What’s the point of a Yule log, anyway?  I never did know.

WALLY

It’s bad luck to let it go out.

JUVENAL

‘Round about these parts, the stories go back year after year about the Yule-Gator.

ALICE

Is this one of those ridiculous swamp legends you like to tell?

JUVENAL

Legend – yes, ridiculous – no.  This happens every year around this season.  Now-a-times we call it the Eve of Christmas, but, long ago, it was just Winterpeak.  On Winterpeak, from out of the coldest, deepest, darkest part of the swamp, came the biggest alligator the bayou ever seen – the Yule-Gator.

ALICE

The Yule-Gator?

JUVENAL

That’s right, to be sure.

ALICE

Let me guess, the Yule-Gator roams the countryside with nary a care in the world, gobbling up all the bad little boys and girls.

JUVENAL

That’s it!  That’s what he does!  Grown people, too!  The Yule-Gator goes after anybody that’s done somethin’ in the last year that they was ashamed of.

ALICE

That don’t narrow the field too much, does it?

JUVENAL

Long as a fallen tree that grew for a hundred years, heavier than all the marsh-mud that could be dredged up by ten thousand men – he has eyes like frozen hearts and claws like insults from an ex-lover.  His teeth are so long and sharp that…

ALICE

We get it!  He’s a nasty dude.

JUVENAL

That he is, surely.  The only thing that keeps that ornery monster away from people trying to love each other is the light and the warmth of a Yule log burning.  People sit around that fire together and that kind of comradery gives them safety and protection from things that mean to do them harm.

WALLY

It’s bad luck to let it go out.

ALICE

Okay – so that’s the point of a Yule log.  Keeps away the Yule-Gator.  I guess now I know.

WALLY

Light it and don’t let it go out.

ALICE

Okey-doke.

(ALICE searches her pockets for matches or a lighter.  She finds nothing.)

ALICE

Looks like I’m all out of fire tonight, fellas.

(JUVENAL and WALLY both search their pockets.)

JUVENAL

I ain’t got nothin’.

(WALLY makes a gesture to indicate “Me, neither.”)

ALICE

So, how do we want to handle this?

(Something starts scratching at the door to the tavern, something that sounds very large and full of ill will.)

ALICE

That him?  That the Yule-Gator?

JUVENAL

It ain’t Father Christmas.

ALICE

How ‘bout that.

(They listen to the scratching for a brief moment.)

ALICE

Got any ideas on getting’ rid of him?

JUVENAL

Either of you done anything in the last year that you’re ashamed of?

ALICE

Nope!  I live fine with the stuff I do.

WALLY

Me neither!  All year I’ve been lit and I didn’t let it go out.

JUVENAL

Me, too.  My guilt is pretty inconsiderable.  (Calling.) You hear that, Yule-Gator?  No shame here!  No need for you!  Go on, Gator!  Git!

(The scratching at the door ceases.)

ALICE

Back to the coldest, deepest, darkest part of the swamp he goes!

(JUVENAL pours three drinks and raises his glass in a toast.)

JUVENAL

To the holidays and tradition!

(JUVENAL, ALICE and WALLY all drink.)

ALICE

Anybody got any stories about eggnog?

(Lights down.)

A Mitchum in Every Stocking

December 12th, 2016

Tomorrow night December 13, come see (and maybe perform) a reading of my holiday monologue “A Mitchum in Every Stocking.”  It’s part of The Make Ready, which is done every other month by the good people at Dandelion Theatre.

Here are the details:

Tuesday, December 13

7:00

The Make Ready

Featuring “A Mitchum in Every Stocking” by John Weagly and other short scripts by other talented playwrights.

Vagabond School of the Arts

4001 N. Ravenswood, 5th floor

Chicago

Presented by Dandelion Theatre.

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Happy 100th Kirk Douglas!

December 9th, 2016

Happy 100th birthday Kirk Douglas! Here are a dozen Douglas movies to celebrate with:

Out of the Past, 1947
Champion, 1949
Ace in the Hole, 1951
Detective Story, 1951
The Bad and the Beautiful, 1952
20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, 1954
Lust for Life, 1956
Paths of Glory, 1957
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, 1957
The Vikings, 1958
Spartacus, 1960
Lonely Are The Brave, 1962

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I’ll be hosting a round table discussion about playwrighting at the “So You Want To Be An Author” Seminar presented by the Myth-Ink: SFFH Writers of Columbia College this Sunday November 13.  I’ll be talking about writing plays, sending scripts the theaters and all sorts of other playwrighty stuff.

If you’re so inclined, check it out.  It’s FREE!

Tina L. Jens, a professor at Columbia, uses my short play collection TINY FLIGHTS OF FANTASY as a textbook in her class “Fantasy Genre Writing.”  You can purchase TINY FLIGHTS OF FANTASY here.

Here are the details on the seminar:

Myth-Ink: SFFH Writers of Columbia College presents

So You Want To Be An Author

A professional development seminar

Sunday, November 13

11:00am to 5:00pm

Columbia College – 1104 S. Wabash in Chicago

Myth-Ink, the student science fiction, fantasy, and horror writing organization, is putting on So You Want to Be An Author, a one-day professional development seminar and Immersion Event in partnership with the Career Center. This seminar will focus tightly on real-world advice about the publishing industry: how to break into it and how to advance a burgeoning career.

So You Want To Be An Author is being held in conjunction with the Chicago Book Expo, which will have three other tracks of panels, along with an Expo Hall. All events are free and open to the public.

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Table Tennis Terrors

October 31st, 2016

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I know what you’re thinking – “I hate this time of year! I get so sick and tired of all of the ping pong Halloween plays.”

Sorry – here’s another one.

I wrote this short little ditty for a fundraiser that Promethean Theatre Ensemble was doing at a ping pong bar.  Check Promethean out – they do good work!

And then the incredibly talented Greg Owens was kind enough to post a recording of the script on his HIGH COUNTRY DRAMA podcast.

It features me and Brian Pastor.

Here it is – the table tennis terrors of… “Table Tennis Terrors.”

Happy Halloween!

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