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In The Zone . .Emotional Chaos . ..Number 9. . .September 11


Emotional Chaos
Weekly Column by Brian Codagnone

April 4, 2006


Like most humorists, there's a part of me that wants to be taken seriously as a writer, to produce the next Great American Novel, to be a celebrated playwright, or at least get invited to the sort of parties that the literati and glitterati attend: the kind with free booze. I wouldn't compare myself to F. Scott Fitzgerald or James Joyce, although I did once try to pass a check using the name Ernest Hemingway. I got caught because the clerk noticed that I didn't have a white beard, a Hemingwayesque swagger and hadn't been dead since 1961. Curse you, A&E's Biography!

Anyway, I've faced the fact at this stage in my life that I'll never be lionized like Eugene O'Neill, get to marry Marilyn Monroe like Arthur Miller or have people make Alec Baldwin movies out of my work like David Mamet.

I'm not even a fan of the theatre, which can be a major obstacle to being a great playwright. Except for productions involving six year olds and cardboard sets, I've been to approximately two plays in my life, unless you count "Beatlemania". I do realize that plays come in several categories, Drama, (Long Day's Journey into Night), Musicals (Chicago), Comedy (The Odd Couple), Musical Comedy (Spamalot) and Crimes Against Humanity (Cats). To be considered a serious playwright, though, you have to focus on drama. And while I appreciate good drama as well as the next guy, I find that in the American theatre there seems to be little distinction drawn between drama and just plain misery.

Shakespeare, Shaw, Wilde, they could write comedy, drama, tragedy... if they were alive today they'd probably add musicals, screenplays and a rap album, possibly together. But the American tradition is different. I'm sorry, Tennessee Williams was indisputably a top rank talent who could sling a pen like DiMaggio swung a bat, but I just can't relate to his work. When I was growing up, every single person around me wasn't a drunk, drug addict, pervert or emotional cripple. Uncle Nedgar served all those functions very well, but that's another story. Eugene O'Neill won four Pulitzers and a Nobel Prize writing about his dysfunctional Irish family. My family is only colorfully Thurberesque, so Thurber already beat me to that. That being said, I've decided to wing it and write my own Great American Drama. I call it "Futile Taffy". Here's the climactic scene where dark family secrets are laid bare (essential in any Great American Drama)...

The scene: The living room of a middle class home somewhere in America. Brothers Bip, Lump, Chirp and Lothar have gathered for the funeral of their father. It's a time for introspection and assessment.

Bip: "Ever since I was born, women have abandoned me. As early as I could remember, my mother used to leave me at the bus station for days on end. She claimed it was "a sociology experiment", but as she worked as a taffy puller her whole life, I was skeptical from an early age. That and the fact that she encouraged me to take candy from strangers. After I grew to manhood I fell in love with Catherine. Catherine, the love of my life, sweet Catherine, who tragically died of ennui in the bloom of youth! I thought I'd never love again, but then at the lowest depth of my grief I met Mirabel. Ah, Mirabel, she of the laughing eyes, which is kind of disturbing if you think about it. Sweet and chaste she was, too chaste to consummate our love. I could respect that, although I began to question her devotion to her purity when she ran off with the Green Bay Packers. Life teaches many lessons, some of them harsh."

Lump: "Is life a lesson or a cautionary tale? Can we ever know the meaning? Is the life of the elk less than accountant in the eyes of God? Do we not all end the same, the long night of oblivion?"

Bip: "No man can truly know a woman!"

Lump: "And what of the elk?"

Chirp: "What's with you and elks?"

Bip: "Father once told me that he never loved mother, that his life was a lie. It was the taffy, only the taffy!"

Lump: The taffy!"

Chirp: "Only the taffy!"

Lothar: "I don't have any lines in this scene."

Bip: "Father loved taffy but could not love a woman."

Bip: "Is anyone capable of love? Is love just a metaphor for futility? And where does that leave the taffy in the grand scheme?

Chirp: "See the light fading from the gazebo! We slip into endless night!"

Lump: "Is that an elk eating the shrubs?"


Now that I've got that, the rest of this puppy will write itself.




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Surf Our Site

Home ... Misfits . Rafferty .. . S1019 .. . Star Crossed....
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Ginger & Shadow. ..Writer's Block.. ..Cool Links . ..More Cool Links .
Oddities ..Link To Us... Guest Comics . Online Store..
In The Zone. ..Number 9. . .September 11