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December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas

December 21, 2006

Clever Threads

My friend Maria now has a splashy storefront for her on-line shop of artsy crafty things like fairy wings and button head dolls. She's swell and you really should go buy things from her and support independent craft folk.

December 18, 2006

My son, the vlogger...

As an early Christmas present I got my kids their own web domains and are helping them set up their own blogs. Simon started his with a short video entry. I'm his technical assistant and we had a lot of fun learning how to do some basic video editing. If the quality of the video looks lousy, it's because we're using an el cheapo three year old web cam.

December 16, 2006


Promoting grammar, punctuation, and spelling on the internet is a little like promoting healthy eating at a fast food convention, but one lives in hope. I have come to accept that in netspeak people don't always capitalize their sentences. Sometimes a return replaces a period. Sometimes (and I shudder at the thought) people even substitute the letter "u" for the word "you."

But more than all of these things what annoys me the most is the capricious and wanton use of "lol."

Now, I'm not a purist. I use this abbreviation myself... when I'm laughing... out loud. I don't stop to write, "Oh, Beatrix! How witty you are! I am beside myself with laughter. I can hardly control my bowels I am chortling with such ferocity." No, if I laugh when I am IM-ing someone, I zap off a quick "lol."

What I can't stand is when "lol" is used as a kind of punctuation. An example:

pnk1323: hi lol
ironic1: Hello, how are you?
pnk1323: good lol u?
ironic1: I'm fine. What can I do for you?
pnk1323: lol I dunno lol

I mean, I'm a pretty funny writer and I consider myself to be passingly witty, but no one is that funny.

So, let me add my plea to that of the above video. To all you compulsive lol-ers out there... Stop it, for the love of God! Please, stop! It's not funny. It's not cute. It's as annoying as hell.

December 10, 2006

Empty Spaces

coffee_cup_empty_by_frogg_s.jpgInstead of crosses on gold chains
we should wear tiny caves,
small hollows against our chests.
The empty space for the womb after
Mary delivered the child.
The hollow chamber for the stable after
it hosted the birth.
The spacious sepulchral of the tomb after
the women arrived at dawn.

Michelle M. Hargrave, 2005

This poem comes from my friend and colleague, Michelle Hargrave, who exercises the spiritual discipline of writing a new Christmas poem every year.

I love this poem because while culture seems to celebrate this time of year with abundance and fullness it speaks to the empty spaces and the place for mystery and absence. These are places of use, as Lao Tzu said in the Tao Te Ching:

The thirty spokes unite in the one center; but it is on the empty space for the axle that the use of the wheel depends. Clay is fashioned into vessels; but it is on their empty hollowness that their use depends. The door and windows are cut out from the walls to form an apartment; but it is on the empty space that its use depends. Therefore, whatever has being is profitable, but what does not have being can be put to use.

December 9, 2006

Fate, Life, and Art -
A Theological Review of "Stranger than Fiction"


Harold Crick has a problem. He is aware of his fate.

Well, not entirely, but one morning as he is going through his paces he suddenly hears a disembodied voice narrating his every move and commenting on the mundaneness of his routine. He soon realizes that this voice is narrating a story that will culminate with his ultimate demise... and soon.

He sets out on a desparate odyssey to find this disembodied voice and convince the owner not to finish the story. Along the way he contends with his number obsessed colleagues at the IRS, an anarchist baker who becomes the object of his affection, and a professor of literature who tries to guide him through the narrative of his life.

[Spoiler Alert - Plot spoilers ahead. You've been warned.]

strangerthanfictionpubb.jpgLife as narrative is not a new idea. One theory of psychology puts forward the provocative proposition that we are all storytellers of our own tale and we shape our circumstances, relationships, and choices to fulfill what we think is a stasifying story. One question that confronts Harold is whether he is in a comedy or a tragedy.

The big difference here is that Harold's life narrative, instead of being internal as with most of us, is external, disembodied, and seemingly dispassionate.

An irony in this movie is that, in many ways, the perspectives of narrator and character are reversed. Characters in a novel are blissfully unaware of the narrative being spun around them. Not Harold. He is keenly and painfully aware and takes positive steps to thwart his unfolding fate. On the other hand narrators are supposed to be omniscent. But Kay Eiffel (the novelist desparately trying to finish this overdue novel) is completely ignorant of her creation's awareness and rebellion.

strangerthanfictionpuba.jpgOne of the most poignant moments is when Harold, when given the text of his life, end and all, accepts his fate with solemn resolve. Why? Because it is good art. Even the number crunching Harold wants his life to mean something. Professor Hilbert, after reading the novel, tells Harold that he has to die, because everyone dies sometime, and this ending has meaning.

Paradoxically, knowledge of his death puts Harold on the path of life - a life that suddenly has meaning and vitality. Harold makes bold choices, no longer content with counting toothbrush strokes. He woos and wins the love of Ana Pascal, the baker he is auditing who initially loathes him. And, when it comes down to laying down his life to save the life of a boy he does not know, he doesn't hesitate to do it.

strangerthanfiction.jpgKay Eiffel goes through a life-embracing transformation as well. She realizes that she can no longer be a dispassionate observer of life. What she describes and how she describes it has an impact. She takes responsibility for her words. Postmodern physics has taught us that the very act of observation affects observed phenomena. Stranger than Fiction simply takes this epiphany to the realm of literature.

A perennially taxing question in Christianity is if
a) God is all knowing and
b) all powerful
then is it the case that
c) every step and brushstroke of our life is choreographed from cradle to grave?

In other words, are we free or are we automatons?

emma-thompson-061109.jpgInitially it would seem that Kay is like a god to Harold, dictating his fate. One could also argue that Harold had long ago abdicated the narration of his life, settling for a routine that was predictable, knowable, and unchanging.

As a counterexample Harold's love interest, Ana, transformed her fate. She went to Harvard to become a lawyer bent on saving the world. She discovered in the process she made the world a better place one cookie at a time. She changed her narrative. Ana represents that power of transformation that Harold desparately seeks.

Stranger than Fiction is a satisfying exploration of fate, life, and art which begs the question -

What's your story?

- and if you don't like the story you are in -

What are you doing to change it?

[For more reading in Narrative Psychology I recommend The Stories We Live By: Personal Myths and the Making of the Self by Dan P. McAdams.]

ci_stranger_fiction_2045.jpgRandom Observations:

  • The banner over Ana's bakery (pictured right) says "We are here to fight, to think, to love, to rebel..." which is obviously reflected in Ana's life and more and more so in Harold's life. Does anyone know the source of this? Or is it simply from the movie? Does anyone know if the banner goes on? I missed this in the movie but saw it later in the stills.
  • The name Crick put me in mind of the scientist Francis Crick who is the co-discoverer the structure of the DNA molecule, the blueprint for life that all living things carry within our structure. This made me consider that fatalism of biology may also be a subtheme of this movie. Thoughts?
  • The name of the baker, Pascal, is possibly reminiscent of Blaise Pascal, the famous 17th century French scientist, philosopher, and theologian who went through a radical shift in life focus following a near death experience. He known for his theological essay "Pensées" ("Thoughts") which struggles with the paradoxes of human existence and includes one of my favorite quotes:

    "Le cœur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît point."
    ("The heart has its reasons, of which reason knows nothing.")

    All of which is enlightening to both the character of Ana and the movie itself.

  • It's a not so subtle piece of irony that Dr. Hilbert, the literary expert that is trying to help Harold, also works at the college pool as a life guard. This, of course, steepens when Hilbert argues that Harold needs to make the ultimate sacrifice in the name of art.

December 4, 2006

Next time they want you to wear a name tag...

hello my name is inigo montoya you killed my father prepare to die

This is a product of a very silly conversation indeed.

December 2, 2006

It’s Hummer Time!

h2-hummer-limousine.jpgThis script was written for the second night of Out of the Hat 7, June of 2006. It's not one of my stronger scripts, but it was fun to write nonetheless. In the performance I particularly like how the actors used a music stand for the partition between the front and back of the limo and would slide it up and down while the tech would bump up the ever present music when the partition was down. My prompts were:

Who: Cleopatra
What: Osama bin Laden’s Turban
Where: Back Seat of a Car
Common Line: “There’s a first time for everything.”
Cast: 2 Men, 2 Women

It’s Hummer Time!
by Lawrence Lee

June 10, 2006

Arnold – Chauffeur
Karen – Chauffeur in training
MP - Male Partier
FP - Female Partier
Cop – Offstage voice

[Loud party music blares. Lights up. Music fades down to the sound of loud music being muffled. The distinct sound of squeaking can be heard. Arnold and Karen are sitting in the front seat of a car. Karen’s arms are folded. Arnold is working on a crossword puzzle. The car is rocking.]

Karen: Does this happen often?

Arnold: Hmm? Oh, yes, sometimes the client asks us to go someplace, you know, romantic. I usually take them up here to the Coppertop parking lot. Lovely view.

Karen: I think you and I are the only ones appreciating the view.

[Partition comes down and loud music pours out.]

MP: (dressed in some sort of costume) Hey Mac, do you have a bottle opener?

[Arnold pulls a wine bottle opener out and hands it to MP.]

MP: Not a corkscrew, a bottle opener, like for beer bottles, you know. A bot-tle op-en-er?

[Arnold smiles and pulls out a beer bottle opener and hands it to MP.]

Karen: (disgusted) Is this typical? (referring to MP’s behavior)

Arnold: Costume parties? Not really. Mostly proms and weddings, but occasionally costume parties.

Karen: No, I meant… (gestures to the back) never mind. So how long do we sit here?

Arnold: Hmm? Oh, as long as the client wants, of course. Besides, the longer we sit here, the higher the bill. The higher the bill, the fatter the paycheck.

Karen: Yeah, but it’s disgusting. I mean, they are back there doing who knows what.

Arnold: That’s none of our concern, miss. We’re just the chauffeurs. We’re on the clock, and I almost have enough clues to get 34 across and it’s not even 11 o’clock.

FP: (staggers out of the car and finds a bush to puke in)

Karen: That’s what you do? You sit here in this monstrosity of a vehicle and do crossword puzzles while clients have an orgy in the backseat.

Arnold: (adjusting rear view mirror to see FP) Oh dear, looks like Miss Cleopatra tossed her cookies.

FP: (makes her way back into the car)

Arnold: No, miss, not always. Lately I’ve become fond of those Sudoku puzzles. Have you ever tried those? Those are a right mindbender, those are. Sometimes I’ll do cryptoquips. You might try taking up a hobby if you are going to make a career out of chauffeuring. Marge, for example, she likes the crochet. Mike likes opera.

(MP and FP appear coming out of sun roof, do a drunken pantomime, and retreat back inside.)

Karen: Opera? Opera is his hobby?

Arnold: Yes, he listens to opera in the front seat while they listen to their hoochie coochie music there in the back. He sings along too. He got through the entire Ring cycle last prom season. What do you like to do, miss?

Karen: So, this is a kind of distraction? To get your mind off of what the… (waves) client is doing in the back of the limo?

Arnold: Oh, this isn’t a limo, miss. This here is a stretch Hummer.

Karen: (rolls eyes) I know, I just… I’d rather not think about it. I mean, it’s bad enough that we are exhausting fossil fuels riding around pointlessly for rich frat boys, but the fact that we’re in a Hummer? A stretch Hummer?

Arnold: Oh, most of our clients anymore like a Hummer. Yep. They come in and ask us what we can give ‘em, and when we say, we can give you a Hummer, the discussion is pretty much over right there, I can tell you that. You know, they are mostly men, and men really appreciate a good Hummer, don’tchyaknow? Yep, you tell a guy he can get a Hummer for his next party, and not just any Hummer, but a nice long one, well, that’s a deal closer right there.

Karen: I can imagine. (pause) So, on this job I can expect mainly to be doing this?

Arnold: Pretty much. Oh, and we don’t just have Hummers, you know. We do have your typical stretch limo, black, white, and purple.

Karen: Purple?

Arnold: Prince was having an estate sale. Also we have a stretch Pinto.

Karen: (stares at Arnold in disbelief) A stretch Pinto?

Arnold: Sees a lot of action at Geek Prom.

[SFX: Police siren]

Karen: (nervous) What do we do?

Cop: (garbled voice over PA)

Arnold: (rolling down window) Good e’en officer. Nice night. What did you say? (to Karen) Hand me that bag under the dash.

Cop: (repeats garbled command)

Arnold: Oh yes! I’ve got what you want right here. (opens bag and throws Cop a couple donuts) And one for the Captain! Send my regards! Night officer!

Karen: Nothing fazes you. Cops, orgies, environmentally incorrect cars – nothing. You just sit here doing your crossword puzzle and collect your paycheck while the world goes to hell in a handbasket. Don’t you even care?

(MP staggers out of the car in an Osama bin Laden type outfit, unzips his fly away from the audience, and relieves himself. Drops his turban getting back into the car.)

Arnold: Miss, I keep my nose out of other people’s business and in my own. It doesn’t get out of joint that way. You’d do well to follow my lead on that one, but do as you will. Let’s see, 10 letters, second letter is a “p,” “moment of unveiling.” Hmm. (Checks his rear view mirror.) Oh dear, it seems like Mr. bin Laden lost his turban. (Goes back to his crossword.)

Karen: Arnold, suppose that really was Osama bin Laden in the back of the limo.

Arnold: Hummer.

Karen: Whatever. Suppose that was really him. What would you do?

Arnold: But it’s not really him. It’s just a young man of high spirits dressed up in a sheet.

Karen: Never mind that. What if you got a fare from someone you actually suspected was a terrorist, what would you do?

Arnold: (purses his lips in thought) I suppose I wouldn’t give Bill his usual donut when he came by.

Karen: But you wouldn’t just sit by and do nothing. That’s my point.

Arnold: That’s a real nice point you’ve got there, but I think I’d take up a hobby other than forensics if I were you. I mean, once I got you all trained you’ll be going solo and I don’t think the clients will be as keen to engage in your witty banter as I am.

Karen: No, you’re missing my point. My point is that you just sit here as if nothing you do matters, but it does. These gas guzzling cars that you give people pleasure cruises in cause global warming and wars! And you just sit around in them letting people have their own mobile orgies and you think that’s okay?

Arnold: As you pointed out earlier, miss, we’re just sitting here in this here parking lot enjoying the view. No gas wasted doing that, I don’t believe. Now, I see what your hobby is, and I think you better get a new one.

Karen: What are you talking about?

Arnold: You’re a busybody. You got your panties all in a bunch because they are having a good time back there and you weren’t invited, so you have to go and rain on their parade, thinking you’re all morally superior to them.

Karen: But they’re…

Arnold: You know, back when I was a young man we had a saying – “Make love, not war.” Now you want to reverse that or something? You young folk and your high ideals!

FP: (rolling down partition, loud music coming through) Hey driver, we’re dry back here. Drive us to a liquor store.

Arnold: Yes, ma’am. (puts down his puzzle and adjusts his mirrors preparing to go)

[SFX: Car starting up]

Karen: (after a sulking silence) I’m sorry. I… I am a little judgmental, you’re right. I’m just, this is so new to me.

Arnold: There’s a first time for everything, miss. You got high-faluting ideas about how the world is supposed to be. How people are supposed to act. I’m here to tell you, it don’t always work out the way you plan and people can disappoint you.

Karen: I suppose that’s true. But it doesn’t mean I can’t try and make a difference.

Arnold: I’d be less interested in trying to make people act like I’d want them to and spend more time learning why people act the way they do.

Karen: Wow, Arnold, that’s… I never thought about it that way. I guess you can learn a lot driving around in a limo.

Arnold: Hummer. Ah! I got it. Here, write, I’m driving… 34 across. A P O C A L Y P S E - Apocalypse!

A Monotonous Succession of Jello Salads

27964398_f86a51f060_m.jpgThis is one of my favorite scripts I have written for Out of the Hat and probably one of my most personal. I have way too much experience with what Amy calls "the talk." This was written for Out of the Hat 7 in June of 2006 and my prompts were:

Who: The Devil
What: A Pineapple
Where: A Church
Common Line: “But, is it contagious?”
Cast: 2 Women

A Monotonous Succession of Jello Salads
Lawrence Lee

June 9, 2006

Amy – A young woman about to be ordained.
Emily – Amy’s sister, a rock singer.

Emily: Amy! Amy, what the hell are you doing here in the Sunday School room? They are lining up. Mom’s worried sick about you.

Amy: (sobbing, trying to push her tears away) I know, I know. I just… I’m not doing it, Emily. They can’t make me. I’m not going up there. (tries to compose herself)

Emily: Come again? Because I thought I just heard my little sister say that after years of school, hundreds of papers, thousands of dollars of loans, dozens of interviews, and numerous late night phone calls to her big sister, she’s not going through with ordination?

Amy: Yep, that’s pretty much it.

Emily: The fuck you say. (a beat) What gives? I mean, you’ve been working toward this all of your life.

Amy: I just realized, I don’t want to be a pastor.

Emily: Yes you do.

Amy: No I don’t.

Emily: Yes… you do.

Amy: No… I don’t.

Emily: Who administered last rites to Skippy the Hamster and gave him a burial in our back yard when she was nine?

Amy: (rolls eyes) Me.

Emily: Who baptized each and every one of our stuffed animals one Sunday afternoon when she was five?

Amy: Are you making fun of me? Because I’m not really in the mood right now. Actually, I just want to be left alone…

Emily: Ho, no no no no no. Not a chance. Okay, so, they are lining up upstairs. The service starts in… 22 minutes. The bishop is in the building. What is your big plan?

Amy: (brightening) I could go with you.

Emily: I’m about to start a three month tour next week. What are you going to do? Roadie?

Amy: Sure! Perfect! I’ll be your roadie. I could even do back up vocals like I did in high school.

Emily: Wunderbar! Pastor Amy sings back up vocals for Roxie and the Hellions on their 2006 Devil May Care tour!

Amy: Why not?!

Emily: Why not? Because you are about to receive Holy Orders and become a high holy potentate or something like that. In an hour you will be the Reverend Amy Chesterton, that’s why not.

Amy: (nervously) No. No, I’m not.

Emily: Look, it’s just cold feet. I get it sometimes before I go on stage, we can…

Amy: It’s not cold feet. It’s a moment of clarity. I was walking around downstairs and I saw all the church basement ladies smiling at me as they put out their jello salads with the shaved carrots and pineapple floating inside with dollops of mayonnaise on top and I thought to myself, this is my future. This is what I have to look forward to… for the rest… of my life. An endless stream of gelatinous food with bits of vegetable matter suspended within.

Emily: That’s grim when you put it that way. (snaps out of it) But that’s not your life. You’ll have a life out of church too. I mean, you’ll find a guy and settle down, I expect.

Amy: No. Not going to happen. Guys I’d want to date don’t date pastors… and guys who would want to date pastors… (shudders, sound of disgust)

Emily: I get your point.

Amy: It’s like the wise man said, I’d never belong to a club who would have me as a member.

Emily: Moses?

Amy: Groucho.

Emily: But you’ve dated…

Amy: Yeah, I’ve dated. We go out once or twice, but then there is always “the talk…”

Emily: About sex?

Amy: I wish! No, about my job. You know, everyone else in the world can talk about their job as if it’s just something they do. But no! Not me! I mention what I do for a living and I get to listen to thirty minutes of ranting about all the evils the church has done over the centuries, or worse…

Emily: Worse? What’s worse?

Amy: They start spilling their guts like I’m some sort of Mother Confessor and I need to absolve (makes cross in the air) them of all their sin. Or they look at me like I’m diseased. Like I’m contagious.

Emily: But, is it contagious?

Amy: (stares daggers) Ha very ha.

Emily: (laughs) So, that’s it, you aren’t going to get ordained today because of creepy jello and a bad love life?

Amy: That’s my future. I see it writ plain as day. A monotonous succession of jello salads. And it’s not just that. I mean. What difference can I really make in this screwed up world?

Emily: Oh, don’t even go there, because I don’t cater to no pity parties.

Amy: Why do you care? I mean, I would think this would be a great “told you so” moment in the life of the lead singer of Roxie and the Hellions. Pretty funny, really.

Emily: You know, I make a living catering to the natural and well deserved rebellious nature of youth. I write songs about the hypocrisy I see around me, but none of those songs were ever about you, Amy. Because you are a decent person who actually gives a damn.

Amy: (chuckles) Nice choice of words, Em.

Emily: Look, I’ve met a lot of phony people in my life, most of them in my business actually, but you are not one of them. Kid, you are the genuine article. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to stand by and let you throw away your life’s work. Now get the hell up there, or so help me, I’m going to tell mom where you really were on prom night.

Amy: You wouldn’t dare.

Emily: Oh, I’ve been dying to tell her for ages. I think I even remember where you stashed the empties in the garage.

Amy: (lovingly) You’re a real jerk, you know that?

Emily: Takes one to know one.

December 1, 2006

Plastic Dreams

astroe.jpgIn Out of the Hat 3 I struck pay dirt. Plastic Dreams was not only a hilarious script, I drew amazing actors for the production. My prompts were:

Who: Barbie
What: Palm Pilot
Where: Hockey Game
Opening Line: "Goodnight everybody, and be kind."
Cast: 3 Men, 1 Woman

This show brought the house down when it was first performed and was performed again as a directing project at the College of St. Scholastica.

Plastic Dreams
by Lawrence Lee
June 5, 2004

BARBIE - a real live Barbie doll
KEN - a real live Ken doll
MARTY - friend of Ken's, regular joe
SAM - another friend of Ken's

MUSIC The closing strains of the Star Spangled Banner as if being played on a hockey rink organ.

LIGHTS up on KEN and MARTY standing at attention, hats off (if any), hands over hearts. KEN is rigidly at attention. MARTY less so.

BARBIE (from offstage, bubbly) Goodnight everybody, and be kind! And Budweiser wants everyone to get home safely so drink responsibly! (giggles) Bu-bye! Bu-bye!

KEN & MARTY (sit)

SAM (enters carrying beers and food) Did I miss it?

MARTY Oh yeah...

SAM Damn! How was it?

MARTY Let me put it this way, Ken you are one lucky S O B.

KEN Thanks, Marty! And, yes, I feel lucky. Lucky to live in such a great country. To know the fruits of freedom that so many men - and women - have fought for and laid down their lives. Yes, I am a lucky man.

MARTY Earth to Ken! I meant lucky to be bringing home the bacon to Barbie. She's something else. Hey, there's the puck drop!

SAM The visiting team got it. They're good. C'mon, Marty, at least tell me what I missed.

MARTY Well, Barbie took the ice in this sparkly -

KEN sequined

MARTY - sequined red white and blue thingy -

KEN cape

MARTY - cape and then she skated -

KEN ice danced

MARTY - ice danced to the National Anthem. She twirled these burning sticks -

KEN batons

MARTY - batons and stuff and then she took off the cape and twirled it around her head and started doing these flips and turns and twists and things. Ken, I never knew Barbie was so flexible.

KEN Since 1989 Barbie has been much more flexible through the use of new polymers and subdermal joints.

SAM Yeah I bet she is! But I didn't know she could ice skate...

KEN Barbie has been skating since 1976 with the introduction of Ice Queen Barbie and was an unmitigated success largely riding on the popularity of Dorothy Hamill. But Barbie hasn't been seen skating much since 1994 and the unfortunate series of events involving another blonde figure skater - Tonya Harding. Mattel found the parallels were too disturbing and so Barbie hung up her skates for awhile.

SAM Well, that explains that...

MARTY But, Sam, the best part is that (leaning in) under the cape, she's wearing this get up. I mean, I'm telling you, yowzah!

SAM (punching Ken in the shoulder) You lucky bastard.

KEN Thank you, Sam. Yes, I feel lucky... (starts to launch into same spiel as before)

MARTY (interupting) Ken, I've always wanted to ask you something.

KEN Marty, you know you can always ask me anything.

MARTY Yeah, you know, your wife...

KEN Barbie...

MARTY Yeah, Barbie, um, what size (waves hands vaguely in front of him) you know...

KEN (guessing) Ring size?

MARTY Nah-oh... You know...

SAM (coughs) I think what Martin is trying to ascertain, Ken, is the bra size of your wife. (laughs)

KEN (laughs jovially too) Oh! Ha ha ha! I have no idea.

SAM What?

MARTY No idea? C'mon...

KEN (shrugs) Nope. She's never worn a bra.

SAM & MARTY (look shocked at each other and in amazement out toward the ice where as if trying to contemplate this fact)

MARTY But...

SAM how...

MARTY do...

SAM they...?

KEN (good naturedly) The magic of modern science.

SAM & MARTY (pause to take this in)

SAM Okay, I have a question then too. Why is it you guys have never had kids? I mean... (lecherous look)

KEN (for the first time doesn't look chipper) Well, Sam, I can't have kids.

SAM Oh, Ken, God. I'm sorry. I didn't know...

KEN It's okay, but you see...

MARTY (encouragingly, hand on KEN's back) It's okay, buddy.

KEN I'm not... entirely...

SAM (hand on KEN's shoulder) It's okay. I understand.

KEN anatomically correct.

SAM & MARTY (a take, pause, withdraw hands from KEN simultaneously)

MARTY Ohhhh kay.

SAM (changing subject) Who's got the puck?

BARBIE (storming in, to KEN, none of the bubbly quality of earlier) There you are! Gawd! These crowds are murder. I swear. First I have to parade around like white man's eye candy and then I have to skate by those scumbag hockey players. Coping feels. (flatly) Hi Sam. Hi Marty.

SAM & MARTY (wave weakly, feeling uncomfortable)

BARBIE (rummages in purse) If it wasn't for that fat endorsement check from Anheiser Busch I'd grab one of their overgrown, detached phallic symbols that they carry around and I'd show them how to use it. I swear I will sometime. Assholes! (pulls out palm pilot) Okay, I've got to get to the hospital by 2:45 for scrub, surgery is at 3:30 so assuming the bypass is fairly typical I should back home by 6. Have dinner ready. Oh, but I may be late. I have to teleconference with Houston for that preflight briefing before Thursday's launch. So, be a dear, and keep it warm for me. (looks patronizingly at MARTY & SAM) You boys have fun. (clicks the palm shut and storms out)

SAM & MARTY (watch BARBIE leaving as if watching a freight train move out of sight, look at each other, then at KEN)

KEN (eyes look to SAM and then to MARTY, sighs) It started with the Dream House, and we got the Car, the Camper, and even a Jeep. And it seemed at the time that Barbie was happy. And everything was going to be Barbie Forever. But then Barbie started changing. She seemed to go through these identity shifts. Every time I turned around. There was Teacher Barbie, Runway Barbie, Secretary Barbie, Pop-star Barbie, Silver Screen Barbie, Nurse Barbie, Stewardess Barbie, later to be Flight Attendant Barbie. But she still wasn't happy. Then came Pilot Barbie, Doctor Barbie, Executive Suite Barbie, Veterinarian Barbie, WNBA Barbie, and even Astronaut Barbie. And it never ends. Career girl! She's had 81 careers over the last 50 years! And it never seems to be enough. She never seems... satisfied.

SAM Whoa.


SAM So... what exactly do you do, Ken?

KEN (shrugs) Get dressed up in really nice clothes and get paraded around like a plaything.


SAM Dude. (pause) You need another beer. (stands up)

MARTY So do I. I'll get 'em this time... (gets up to go)

SAM Nah, I'll get 'em. I gotta whiz anyway.

MARTY Yeah, but I want a brat too.

SAM & MARTY (exit talking)

KEN (transforms from his dejected self back to his normal, stiff, plastic happy self perhaps with a twinge of sadness)


MUSIC soundtrack - "It's a Pose" by Nellie McKay ("Get Away from Me" Disc 2, Track 1) at timecode 0:27 fading up so it comes in full at timecode 0:30


Go Your Own Way

Fleetwood%20Mac%2012-10-78.jpgThis is my second Out of the Hat script. I wasn't feeling in a very silly mood when I wrote this so this became the first Out of the Hat drama in the second night of the second Out of the Hat in December of 2003.

My prompts were:

Who: Mickey Mouse
What: Dark Swiss Chocolate
Where: Fleetwood Mac Concert
Cast: 2 Women

I'm very pleased with this script and it was performed again in December of 2005 in a series of student directed pieces at the College of St. Scholastica.

Go Your Own Way
by Lawrence Lee
December, 2003

Liz: Woman in her early forties, dressed stylishly, but not frumpy. Maybe artistically.
Beth: 15 year old, dressed somewhat retro, circa 1979, perhaps a bit provocatively.

(lights up, music up on Fleetwood Mac song, loud at first so that Liz has to shout her opening few lines, but fading as scene continues)

Liz: Amanda! Amanda Mae Barnes, where are you? (as if struggling through crowd) Ah, there you are! (grabs Liz's shoulder from behind, turns her around) How dare you go to this concert without my... (take) Oh, I'm sorry, I thought you were...

Beth: Somebody else, yeah, I got that... (turns back around, moving to music)

Liz: (not knowing what to do) Excuse me, but, I'm looking for my daughter.

Beth: (shrugging) I'm not her.

Liz: (trying again) She kind of looks like you, though. Wears her hair a little shorter, but about the same color. She's wearing a Mickey Mouse sweatshirt, I think.

Beth: (looking with pity) Why do you think she's here?

Liz: She's been talking about going to this concert for weeks, but I told her she couldn't.

Beth: Why not?

Liz: She's not old enough. She's only 15, I mean, really.

Beth: Guess what? I'm 15! Quelle coincidence, n'est pas?

Liz: Well, I'm sure you're a very mature 15.

Beth: So I'm told.

Liz: (an idea) Maybe you go to school with my daughter! Her name is Amanda, Amanda Barnes.

Beth: (shaking head) I'm not from here. I'm traveling... (slyly) with the band.

Liz: At your age!? (holding back, failing) Don't you think your parents...

Beth: My parents couldn't care less.

Liz: I'm sure your wrong. (sniffing) That man up there...

Beth: Where?

Liz: There. He's smoking a (mouthing) joint.

Beth: Oh yeah, that's Larry. (sniffs deeply) Yep, that's a joint all right. You want me to go get you some?

Liz: (wide eyes) I do not! And why do you know about joints anyway, Miss I'm-15-and-my-parents-don't-care-about-me?

Beth: Why do you?

Liz: I'm an adult. Adults know about these sorts of things.

Beth: Oh, and how did you get to know about "these sorts of things?" (nodding gravely) By watching 60 Minutes, I suppose. You never smoked any?

Liz: That's not the point. The point is my daughter...

Beth: The point is you can't stand the idea of your daughter having the freedoms you had at her age.

Liz: (shocked) Listen here, little miss, it was different when I was growing up. Safer. Sure, I hitch-hiked and did stupid things, but it isn't the same as today. There are monsters out there.

Beth: (sarcastically) Oh yeah, 1979 is so much safer. No date-rapes, right? Couldn't exist, because the term isn't invented yet.

Liz: (starts to argue, but stops grudgingly) I see your point.

Beth: And your daughter isn't wearing a Mickey Mouse t-shirt.

Liz: Sweatshirt.

Beth: That either.

Liz: What do you mean? Have you seen her? (starts looking around for her)

Beth: Good lord. No! But would you wear a Mickey Mouse shirt...

Liz: Sweatshirt.

Beth: ...sweatshirt to a Fleetwood Mac concert?

Liz: (thinking for a moment) I might...

Beth: If you were 15?

Liz: I wouldn't be at a Fleetwood Mac concert if I were 15! I'd be at home with my parents who care for me.

Beth: Oh really?

Liz: (unconvincingly) Yes.

Beth: (coldly) I see.

Liz: (pause) What do you see... exactly?

Beth: It's none of my business. Go look for your daughter. She ain't here.

Liz: No, I want to know what you see.

Beth: (talking directly to Liz, sizing her up) You really care about your daughter, don't you?

Liz: Of course I do. That's why I'm here. I don't want anything bad to happen to her.

Beth: (looks around) Oh, show me the bad stuff.

Liz: Well, you said it yourself, didn't you? Drugs, boys...

Beth: "Boys"?

Liz: (quietly) Sex.

Beth: Oh, and I suppose boys don't attend her high school and there aren't any drugs there?

Liz: That's different. That's a controlled environment...

Beth: (laughs) "Controlled environment"? Oh, please. Was your high school a "controlled environment"?

Liz: You know...

Beth: Don't bother answering that. Rhetorical question. We both know the answer to that. Same reason I'm on the band bus instead of the school bus. See that security guard over there? His name is Tony. He's checking right now to see if I'm okay. I'm nodding so he knows you're not trouble. Tony's a good guy. Been out of prison now for 2 years. He's clean and sober and he looks out for me. Marsha three rows back and to the left, she and I go into town to get groceries for the crew every few days. She's a great cook and I've learned a lot more from her than I ever did from some Home Economics class. Bill, the sound techie up there on the board, he's about the funniest guy I know. He's always got a story and he can make an afternoon's work fly by like nothing. Oh, and if you thought it was all pot and sex, we work hard. This is a business after all. So don't talk to me about "controlled environments" until you've spent an afternoon in a high school cafeteria.

Liz: (emotional) I just want my daughter safe and...

Beth: ...and that's the real point, isn't it? Let's make the whole world safe. Let's pass a constitutional amendment to guarantee that we'll all be safe. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of safety, right? It don't work that way and you know it.

Liz: You're right. I made some stupid choices in my life and I paid for them. But there's no reason my daughter has to make the same mistakes.

Beth: You also made some wonderful choices, Liz. Sure, maybe this family is more like Ozzie Osborn than Ozzie and Harriet, but they care for me, they love me, they love you. I'm not Amanda. Amanda isn't you. And you aren't your parents. She'll make different choices than you did, but she knows you love her. I guarantee it. So lighten up!

Liz: Lighten up? (shoe's on other foot now) This from you, who was going to save the world? Miss cause-of-the-week, right? If it wasn't the rain forest, it was apartheid, if it wasn't apartheid, it was nuclear power, if it wasn't...

Beth: Okay, I got the point! And now?

Liz: Now I recycle, write e-mails to my representatives, I drink shade grown fair trade coffee, and occasionally indulge in some organic swiss dark chocolate...

Beth: "E-mails"?

Liz: Electronic mail. Letters, sent over the internet. Wait another 15 years. It's all the rage now.

Beth: Something to look forward to, I guess.

Liz: I'm glad I ran into you. I had forgotten.

Beth: Don't be a stranger. When you find Amanda...

Liz: Yes?

Beth: Tell her I love her too.

(Beth and Liz part as lights dim and "You Can Go Your Own Way" plays)

Campbell of the Mounties and the Maple Syrup Plot

craig-mountie.gifI decided after the good response my last two Out of the Hat scripts got I'd put my previous scripts up here just for fun.

This is my first Out of the Hat script and it was written for the second Out of the Hat in December of 2003. My prompts were:

Who: A Canadian Mountie
What: The Shrinking Machine from "Honey I Shrunk the Kids"
Where: Beach
Cast: 1 Man, 1 Woman

Well, this was my first attempt, and it shows. It was far too ambitious for a script people only had 1 day to work on, but it is still a fun read. Enjoy!

Campbell of the Mounties and the Maple Syrup Plot
by Lawrence Lee
December, 2003

Man - Tour Guide, Reginald Campbell, Arnold Schwarzenegger
Woman - Thief, Border Guard, Star Banner

Scene 1

(museum interior, a stand in the middle with a bottle with a black cloth draped over it)

Tour Guide: (enters from audience, to audience) And we're walking, we're walking, we're walking, stop. Here is the last exhibit on our tour of the Canadian Heritage Museum, eh. This is the last known bottle of John McIntosh's famous batch of 1954 maple syrup, known world wide for its extraordinary purity. It is rated by the Canadian Maple Syrup Board as being 100% pure which gives it certain special qualities. Please put on your protective glasses. (puts on glasses and uncovers case with one bottle of maple syrup) The syrup is of such unsurpassed quality that anyone looking at it unaided could actually be blinded. Canadian Maple Syrup scientists are still discerning its special properties. (recovers syrup) It's been a real pleasure to be your tour guide. Now, if you'll follow me, we'll finish the tour at the Canadian Heritage gift shop where you can purchase Bachman Turner Overdrive albums and autographed photos of William Shatner.

(change of lighting to show museum closing)

Thief: (enters in black clothes and ski mask, rolling, dodging, doing acrobatics as if to avoid security system; takes maple syrup bottle)

Reginald: (enters, change of light as if switching on lights) G'day, sir or ma'am. I'm afraid the museum is closed and the last tour is over. You'll find the ski lift is outside.

Thief: (makes threatening martial arts moves around Reginald, clearly ready to fight) Hi-ya! Ya! Yahhh! Hooo-ya!

Reginald: (looks puzzled)

Thief: (unsure) Yah?

Reginald: (suddenly looking as if he understands, in broken French) Je ne parles pas francais. Pardonez moi, s'il vous plait.

Thief: (looks at Reginald up and down, shrugs shoulders and exits)

Reginald: (rolls eyes good-naturedly and strolls over to stand where syrup bottle was) Oh my goodness! Good golly! (blows whistle) Stop! Thief! (exits, knees up running)

(lights down)

Scene 2

(lights up on border post, line drawn down middle of stage maybe, sign with "USA" on one side, "Canada" on other, flags if we have them)

Border Cop: (on stage as lights up, chewing gum)

Reginald: (enters on Canadian side knees up running, panting)

Border Cop: (tough, waves down Reginald) Whoa, stop, hold on! (grabs Reginald by collar)

Reginald: (runs in place for awhile, realizes he's not getting anywhere and stops, stares at Border Cop) Greetings valued law enforcement officer of our friendly neighbor to the south! What service may I render you?

Border Cop: Name?

Reginald: Sergeant Reginald Campbell of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police!

Border Cop: Mountie, eh? (looks under Reginald) Where's your horse, Reggie?

Reginald: (snaps fingers) I knew I forgot something.

Border Cop: (shaking head) Reason for visiting.

Reginald: (chest out, dramatically) I am in hot pursuit of a maple syrup thief!

Border Cop: (stares a beat) Uh huh. Well I'm sorry, Mr., uh, Campbell, but you have no jurisdiction here. That's the way it works, over there you can chase anyone you want, but over here, we do the chasing. (leans over line, smiles, thumbs up, and nods "yes," leans back over line and frowns, thumbs down, and shakes head "no," repeats several times)

Reginald: (exasperated, but polite) Valued colleague! I understand your need for territorial integrity and we always work in cooperation with our friends to the south, but a scoundrel has absconded with a rare and valuable piece of our Canadian heritage and I must make every effort to retrieve it!

Border Cop: (shrugs) Well, you can fill out a seventy-nine J stroke seven (hands Reginald a form) and I'll send this on to the appropriate authorities, but I can't permit you to...

(phone rings)

Border Cop: (picks up phone from behind sign) Hello? Yeah. Yeah. Oh. Sure. Hold on. (puts hand over receiver) It's for you. Look, I need to go use the little American's room. Promise not to (mimes knees up running) over the border while I'm gone?

Reginald: (salutes) Mountie's honor.

Border Cop: (gives Reginald phone) I suppose that'll have to do. (exits)

Reginald: Sergeant Reginald Campbell of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police speaking! (look of astonishment) Prime Minister! (stands at attention) Yes, Prime Minister! I was in pursuit of the thief and... You have? You've tracked the thief to an evil mastermind's secret island base off the coast of California? You want me to infiltrate the base and discover their plan? I will be meeting an American secret agent to take me there?

Star: (enters, rolling shoulders and hips seductively, looking like a Bond girl in too tight outfit, perhaps with red, white and blue motif) Hello, Sergeant Campbell.

Reginald: I won't let you down, Prime Minister. (hangs up phone)

Star: I'm Agent Banner... Star Spangled Banner. I will be your liaison during your investigation. I'm here to serve your every need.

Reginald: (nervously) Okay, Agent Banner. Well, first we need to get to the evil mastermind's secret base off the coast of California. Any ideas?

Star: (breathy and seductive) Well, I'd suggest we strap ourselves into the jet packs I have hidden in those bushes over there.

Reginald: Jet packs!? Neato! And we'll take those to the secret base?

Star: No, we'll take those to our secret coastal lair where we'll get into my one-man sub.

Reginald: One-man sub? Don't you have a (gulp) two-man sub?

Star: (close to Reginald) Budget cuts. We'll have to (squeezes Reginald) squeeze.

(lights down)

Scene 3

(lights up on secret base, exterior)

Star: (sneaks in, scouting the scene, waves off stage) (sotto voice) C'mon Reggie!

Reginald: (sneaks in a way reminiscent of his knees up running, knees up sneaking?)

Star: (smiles) Reggie, you're so limber.

Reginald: Ahem. Miss Banner, as a fellow law enforcement officer, you will understand the need to model decency in character and moral fiber in the execution of our duties. I think that after that submarine ride it would be appropriate for you to meet my mother.

Star: (ignoring him) I count five guards on the ground and two on the tower.

Reginald: You could come over for dinner this Sunday.

Star: They have submachine guns... there appear to be three guard dogs as well.

Reginald: We usually have a nice pot roast. Don't be nervous. I'm sure mom will love you. What do you say?

Star: Stun grenades on the count of three. You take the tower. (mouths "one, two, three")

Reginald and Star: (throw grenades)

(sound of explosion)

Star: (checking to see if the coast is clear) Let's go. (exits)

Reginald: (smiles) I like a lass with pluck. (exits, knees up running)

(lights down)

Scene 4

(lights up on secret base, interior)

Star: (struggles in shackles, strapped to rack) You monster! You'll never get away with this!

Arnold: (enters, with thick Arnold Schwarzenegger accent) I already haff. Soon it will be hasta la vista time, baby.

Star: You fiend! I never should have voted for you!

Arnold: As Gub'nor I work for the greater glory of California. Now, ver is your little friend?

Star: Uh, I work alone.

Arnold: (diabolical laughter) Leave the bad acting to me, Agent Banner. I know the Mounties sent someone after me. He's here somewhere.

Star: You'll never get Reggie! He'll stop you!

Arnold: Brave words! But already our satellites are in place. All I needed was the syrup. It is ironic that this bottle will be Canada's undoing. You see, Miss Banner, California is suffering from (menacingly) a budget deficit.

Star: (rolls eyes) So, I've heard.

Arnold: We need to promote more tourism to bring in more money. We have everything - mountains, forests, beaches! And yet our 1,114 mile coastline is mocked by Canada's 6,213 kilometer coast. They even make it worse by their intolerable metric system. They task us and they shall pay! When I place this bottle of super rarified maple syrup into the shrink ray I will shrink all of Canada. Today Canada. Tomorrow the world! California uber alles! (exits behind rack, brandishing syrup bottle)

Star: (thrashing on rack) No! You Nazi! You won't get away with this!

Reginald: (emerging from other side of the rack) Governor Schwarzenegger! You are under arrest! Come peacefully. There's no need for innocent people to suffer. (goes behind rack as if to arrest Arnold)

Star: Reggie! You survived the shark-infested pool and the heat ray! We have to stop him!

Arnold: (emerging from other side of rack) No need for innocents to suffer? Obviously you've never seen my films. (moves behind rack as if to attack Reginald, sounds of a scuffle behind rack)

Star: Oh Reggie! Be careful! He's going to use that ray gun to shrink Canada!

Reginald: (emerging head only with his own hands around his neck) Don't worry, Star! We Mounties are trained to handle bad Austrian actors turned despotic tyrannical evil masterminds! Argh!

Arnold: (from behind rack) Now you will die for the fatherland! Let the Anschluss begin!

Reginald: (from behind rack) Not today, Governor!

(sound of ray gun)

Reginald: (emerging from behind rack, starts to release Star) Let us leave this unpleasant place, Miss Banner.

Star: Reggie! You're safe! (looking behind rack) But where's Governor Schwarzenegger?

Reginald: He got a taste of his own medicine, Star. (pats pocket) We Mounties always get our man! (looks into pocket)

Arnold: (ventriloquist voice) I'll be back!

Star: My hero!

Reginald and Star: (strike dramatic pose)

(lights out, end)