Friday, May 25, 2007

Comedy Tonight

Annette Andre
"An honest virgin"

The 1966 film adaption of the hit Broadway musical comedy, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum: A Comedy Tonight, wasn’t one of director Richard Lester's better efforts. Still it has great comedic actors, funny dialogue, and some great scenes.

As with anything Mostel ever did, visuals are important. The song and dance number “Everybody Ought To Have A Maid” with Mostel, Silvers, Gilford, and Hordern is priceless. Anyway, those are some of the reasons "Forum" always shows up on my list of favorite movies.

I had the opportunity to see the revival of the Broadway stage version with Phil Silvers in the lead role of Pseudolus. Once you adjusted to the idea of a Roman slave wearing horn-rimmed glasses, it was great. He had to go without his trademark glasses for the film, as director Richard Lester did not want any historical anachronisms. According to Wilipedia http://, he turned down the original role, as did Milton Berle..

What follows are just a few of my favorite quotes. Enjoy!

Bayou Bill


Cast & Credits:

PSEUDOLUS: Zero Mostel (slave)
HYSTERIUM: Jack Gilford (chief slave)
SENEX: Michael Hordern (their hen-pecked owner)
LYCUS: Phil Silvers (flesh peddler)
ERRONIUS: Buster Keaton (befuddled old man)
MILES GLORIOSUS: Leon Greene (army captain)
PHILIA: Annette Andre (an honest virgin)

Director: Richard Lester
Script: Larry Gelbart & Burt Shevelove
Music & Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim


Lycus: I'll kill him! I'll kill him!

Crassus: Who?

Lycus: The lyingest, cheatingest, sloppiest slave in all Rome!

Crassus: Oh, Pseudolus.


Pseudolus: An honest virgin! What a terrible combination!


Senex: A word of advice: never fall in love during a total eclipse.


Hysterium: I live to grovel


Pseudolus: I shall return in a nonce. At most, two nonces.


Miles Gloriosus: Arrange food, drink, entertainment, and a sit-down orgy for forteen.


Miles Gloriosus: Oh, her bridal bower becomes a burial bier of bitter bereavement!

Pseudolus: Very good! Can you say "Titus the tailor told ten tall tales to Titania the titmouse"?


Miles Gloriosus: What is she like?

Pseudolus: A face so fair, a heart so pure - Sir, if you had been born a woman, you would have been she!

Miles Gloriosus: As magnificent as that?


Miles Gloriosus: You, slave, will be torn apart by horses, to the plaudits of the troops and the amusement of the children.


Erronius: My daughter, a eunuch?


Philia: That's the brute who raped my country, Thrace!

Pseudolus: He raped Thrace?

Philia: And then he came and did it again! And then again!

Pseudolus: He raped Thrace thrice?

Monday, May 21, 2007

On Being a Happy Hooker

by Gil Elvgren


by Bill Fullerton

For the benefit of any unsuspecting reader, let me state now that this is NOT an article about how one might become a contented courtesan or smiling strumpet. Nope, not even a titillated trollop. Sorry about any confusion. That Gil Elvgren portrait is, of course, his skillful depiction of a struggling youug writer so destitute she can't even afford clothes, honest.

Truth be told, this assault on good taste and English letters is concerned with the fine art of creating attention grabbing hooks in the opening lines of your next Pushcart Prize winning short story or Nobel Prize contending novel.

The biggest single rule those eager to become happy hookers should always keep in mind. There is NO single rule that can guarantee success. Not one. There are, however, some guidelines that might be of some help, maybe. Here are five.

1. The mission of those first few words at the beginning of your story is to intrigue--not inform--your readers, and keep them reading.

Don't fall into the trap of using that priceless piece of writing space to describe people, places or things that can be mentioned later. Consider the following opening line by Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

“ Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice." One Hundred Years of Solitude

The reader doesn't know who the Colonel is, or any of the other W's (what, where, when, why). But ask yourself, would including any of that information have made the sentence stronger and the "hook" more compelling?

2. Instead of falling back on description, try to open with action. That doesn't mean you need to begin with a car chase, shoot-out or at the climax (so to speak) of a hot, steaming love scene. There is, of course, nothing wrong with any of those. Just remember that action doesn't have to mean frantic activity. Here are a couple examples:

"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen." 1984, by George Orwell

"They shoot the white girl first." Paradise, by Toni Morrison

3. High on the list of things to avoid describing is the weather. Granted, the opening to 1984 includes a brief mention of the climate. But even if you pull off an Orwellian caliber job, editors, agents, reviewers and other such literary flotsam and jetsam seem predisposed to not liking the practice. No doubt this goes back to the infamous opening line from the novel, Paul Clifford, by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton:

"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

4. One of the better ways to intrigue and thereby "hook" readers is to begin with a question. It doesn't have to be explicit. In fact, implied questions often work best. For instance:

"Nobody was really surprised when it happened, not really, not on the subconscious level where savage things grow." Carrie, by Stephen King

"There once was a boy named Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it." Voyage of the Dawn Trader, by C S Lewis

5. If you feel compelled to use a direct quote, try to make it short, as in, very. The problem with any quote is your reader has no idea who is speaking or the circumstances. If the speaker rambles on for several lines, once “all is revealed” readers may stop to go back and re-read the quote. Here's one example of a great short-quote opening:

"Take my camel, dear," said Aunt Dot as she climbed down from the animal on her return from High Mass. The Towers of Trebizond, Rose Macaulay

Whatever the genre or format, writing is writing. With all writing, to quote the great Dooley Wilson, "The fundamental things apply." One of the most import “fundamental” is to create strong openings. For when it comes to cranking out successful, commercial fiction, there are no unbreakable rules, EXCEPT, don't bore your reader--hook their interest from the beginning and never let go.

Happy hooking.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

WORKERS WRITE: Tales From The Clinic


Tales From The Clinic

Anthology - Paperback
184 pages
$8.00 U.S.
ISSN: 1556-715X

The Dark Marks by Cortney Davis
Third Shift by Amy Simonson
Drawing Blood by David Yost
Your Test Is Positive by Lisa Rutledge
Last of the Richardsons by Peggy Duffy
You Lose a Few by Anna Sykora
A Voice in the Room by River Adams
Tests and Measurements by Dory Adams
There Are No Poems at Hospital Management Meetings by Cortney Davis
Melon by Lewis K. Schrager
Near-Death Experience by Bruce Hillman
The Call of the Rain Crow by John Sparks
The Notebook by Carol Scott-Conner
The Thirteenth Floor by Davi Walders

The Kiss by Bill Fullerton
(an excerpt)

“In other national news, a Defense Department spokesman said 18,000 of the 31,000 US troops ordered into Cambodia by President Nixon have been withdrawn.”

Gwen Kaplan gave her bangs one last touch. Before this summer, news about the war in Vietnam had been background noise to her life. She cared, but had been hearing about the war since junior high. Now things were different. Now she knew someone who had fought over there, and been wounded.

“Investigations are continuing into the killing of protesters at Kent State and Jackson State universities. Authorities are discounting recent allegations by Mississippi officials that both incidents were started by snipers firing from student dorms.”

Two weeks ago, the south was just a blur to her. Now that was also different. Now she also knew someone from the south. The same one who’d been wounded in Vietnam. Her hair would do, she decided, and put the brush into her purse.

Blue Cubicle Press
has just release, Workers Write! Tales from the Clinic, which includes, The Kiss, a story by your modest scribe (that's me.)

This is a very good thing for this "yet to be published" inchoate novelist, since, The Kiss, is a short story version of chapter one from my first novel, A Brief Affair. Now all I need is for some far-sighted editor, publisher, or agent to pick up a copy of, Workers Write! That's not much to ask for, is it?

So here's the deal; for only eight dollars you can get an anthology of tales with a medical theme that includes a short story of mine, The Kiss, a semi-autobiographical account of a more-or-less actual event.

What a bargain!

While copies will be available at more discerning bookstores, to order online just click on this link and pull out your credit card.

Beaming Bayou Bill

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Do I REALLY need to indentify this iconic image?

The last two posts, You Must Remember This, and, A Kiss Is Just A Kiss, have been the same "love scene" but presented from different perspectives. The first is told from the man's point-of-view, while the second is from that of the woman.

The scene in this post occurs during the summer of 1968, approximately three months later. Thanks to the "hippie" wedding of a couple both know, Amy and Mark are back near the site of the kiss. After the wedding, they begin talking about what did and didn't happen that night, and struggling to understand its impact on their friendship.

I would greatly appreciate your thoughts on the concept and the execution.

Bayou Bill


Last Of The Southern Romantics
an excerpt from Chapter 19 of, We Danced to Ray Charles
by Bill Fullerton

The wedding crowd soon headed over the levee toward the line of cars parked along the edge of the old river road. From their places of honor in the bed of a pick-up, the bride and groom lead the procession back to the Big House for the reception.

Mark and Amy were left alone at the now quiet bridal bower to wait for the return of their friends, Libby and Bob. At some point in the ceremony, the newly engaged couple had wandered off and never returned.

Amy stood and studied the downstream shore. “Where do you think they are?”

“Out of sight.”

She shook her head and sat back on a sun bleached, driftwood log next to Mark. “Thanks for the help, Joe Friday.”

“I think of myself more as the suave, sophisticated, Peter Gunn, private-eye type.”

“Well, I think of you as a nut. And before you say it, I know, birds of a feather flock together.”

“Takes one to know one, I’ve always heard. Of course, I’ve also heard that opposites attract. So you pays your money, you takes your pick.”

“Seriously, do you think they’re all right?”

Mark nodded, lit a cigarette, and handed it over. “They’re in love, remember? If one of ‘em had fallen in, the other would be raising all kinds of hell.”

“Oh, that’s a real comfort.”

After taking a puff, she studied the cigarette. “Weren’t we going to quit these things?”

“We did,” he said, placing the pack back in his shirt pocket. “It was our end-of-finals resolution. But it just applies back home in Pinefield.”

After lighting his own cigarette, he pointed to a spot near the river. “Now, as for our non-smoking lovebirds, odds are they’re hiding in that little thicket and doing God knows what sort of disgusting things. You wanna sneak up and take a peek?”

Amy laughed and shook her head. “Of course not.”

For a change, Mark said nothing. They sat together in the comfortable silence only old friends can share. After exhaling a long stream of smoke and watching it drift away in the warm, gentle wind, Amy broke the spell. Gesturing toward the small clump of driftwood and tiny willows Mark had pointed out, she asked, “Is that the same place, you know, where we--. I mean, is that the place?”

Mark glanced over and noticed a faint blush on her cheeks. It made her look like a little kid, a very cute little kid. “You’re asking if that’s the place where we made out like a couple of wild weasels?”

“Well, yes.”

“Well, no. That was back in the spring. The water was a lot higher then. We’d have needed scuba gear to do anything where those two are probably carrying on. The hallowed ground in question, a sacred place forever etched in my memory, is upstream from here.” He twisted around and pointed north. “You’ve gotta look back from where dat ‘Old Man River’ is rolling along now. See that big pile of brush and logs? It was just above the shoreline back then and made a perfect nighttime hideout.”

With unconscious grace, Amy spun around on the log and studied the spot. When she spoke, it was in a low, hesitant voice. “Mark, this is a little embarrassing, but that night, why didn’t you, well, why did you stop?”

Mark swung his legs over the log and faced upriver. After glancing at Amy, he gazed at the place where they’d kissed. “Something wouldn’t let me. It just wasn’t the right time, or place, or thing for us to do. God knows I didn’t want to stop. I mean, it damn near gave me the bends.”

They exchanged tentative smiles, then he continues. “The thing is, you mean a lot to me, lady, a whole lot. I didn’t want to risk losing my best friend. If might have been different if we were in love, but we’re not, at least not in the hearts and flowers romantic way. And I guess I was afraid we might not be able to keep on being friends like we’ve always been if we, you know, made love.”

“I knew that’s what you’d say. And you’re right, I suppose. But I still feel guilty. After all, I’m the one who started it. So it’s kind of my fault you got the bends.”

Mark shook his head. “No complaints. You were ripped, bummed out, and very vulnerable. And don’t forget, the party was my dumb idea. I’m just glad I happened to notice you wandering away, and a certain creep start to follow. Besides, if it hadn’t happened, how would I have learned my best friend is such a great kisser?”

“God, but you saying that—It’s so bizarre. Because while we were kissing, I was thinking the same thing about you.”

Before he could reply, Amy continued. “Damn, but life would be so much simpler if we weren’t such good friends. What I mean is, sometimes it seems like everybody I know wants us to get married.”

Mark waved away her embarrassed look. “Same here. My mother would think she’d died and gone to heaven if we got married.”

“Mine feels the same way about you. But like you said, we’re not in love, not like that anyway. The thing is, our being good friends has gotten us so screwed up we can’t, well, we can’t even screw. And it seems like everybody’s doing that these days.”

Mark nodded and flipped away his cigarette. “Right as usual, superstar Amy. The way I figure it, our problem is we’re the last of the unrepentant, unreconstructed, hopeless southern romantics. Someone should have kept us away from, Ivanhoe, when we were kids. And I know we’ve read and seen, Gone With the Wind, way too many times.”

He dropped his voice and assumed an overly dramatic tone. “Both of us think we want, we need, we must have a great love, a passionate romance. You know, drama, rockets red glare, bombs bursting in air, thunder and lightning, high winds, higher emotions, and a torrid, maybe even dangerous encounter with a mysterious lover.”

Reverting to his normal voice, he continued, “Instead, what we got was two old friends who were so smashed they started making out at a levee party. And while it was one helluva lot of fun, at least for me, I don’t think that qualifies as either great love or romance.”

“So what do we have?”

“We like each other. That’s what we have. At least, it’s what I have. Because I like you very much, Amanda Nicole Marshall. I always have and always will. Maybe even more now that we’ve kissed. And that feels nice.”

Taking Mark’s hand in hers, Amy leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. “You’re right, Mark Henry Cahill, we do like each other, a whole lot. And that does feel very, very nice.”

Saturday, May 12, 2007

A KISS IS JUST A KISS? - excerpt

by Rodin

For the last few weeks I’ve been enmeshed in the re-writing of my second novel, We Danced to Ray Charles. The night the story’s two life-long friends, Amy and Mark, first kiss is a key moment. In the book’s current version. The scene occurs about half-way through as a flashback/dream told from Amy’s perspective.

What I’m thinking about doing is adding Mark’s version of the same scene to the opening chapter. Tha appeared in my last post. Today's post gives Amy's perspective. There'll be one more related post, detailing what happens when they chance to return to that spot.

For those faint of heart and/or weak of stomach, they don't go, "All the way." Maybe they should. Maybe it's too detailed or not detailed enough. Maybe the very idea of presenting the same scene from the perspective of each participant is weak. Your feedback, whether it be brickbats or bouquets, hallelujahs or hand-grenades, posted here or sent by email, is needed and will be appreciated.

Bayou Bill


A Kiss Is Just A Kiss?
An excerpt from Chapter 17 of, We Danced to Ray Charles
by Bill Fullerton

Aaron Duplantier was an architecture student from an old New Orleans family. With his long, almost black, hair and dark eyes that were so sexy, he was hard not to like. His also being cultured, fun, easy-going, and a gentleman had made it impossible for Amy. They began dating during her second year at school. Last fall, Aaron gave her his fraternity pen.

Being “penned” was serious business, one step short of being engaged. With that symbolic sanctification, she gave herself to him. And while there was no one for her to compare him with, she sensed he was a talented lover who enjoyed giving her pleasure.

After Christmas break, he came back to school with a tall, longhaired creep named Rodney Mannheim. “Rod’s a part-time student and full-time poet,” said Aaron. “We met in Mexico over the break. I convinced him to come to LSU.”

In the weeks that followed, she saw more and more of Rod. That meant she spent less and less time alone with Aaron. By the beginning of May, it’d been weeks since she and Aaron had made love. Even going on a date without Rod tagging along was a rare event.

That’s why she was so happy when they managed to get away by themselves. After supper at their favorite Italian restaurant, Aaron told her he was transferring to some school in California. He said that in the world outside of backwater Baton Rouge things were happening that he needed to experience. He said Rod, who hated Baton Rouge and wanted to go back to the coast, had convinced him to make the move and would be going with him.

There was no mention of her in these plans. He’d always treasure their time together, he said, and was sorry if this hurt her but….

The rest of that night and the days that followed were a hazy memory. She got around on autopilot, moving like a zombie to classes, and then coming back to her room. Once there, she’d collapse on the bed and cry herself to sleep.

It was Thursday before she worked up the courage to call Mark. She felt hurt, mad, embarrassed, confused, and didn’t think she could handle a face-to-face meeting. Over the next few days, they spent hours talking on the phone.

Near the end of another marathon confessional, she heard him say something about a party that weekend on the nearby Mississippi River levee. While not sure about what he said, she remembered telling him that going to a party was the last thing she wanted to do on Saturday.

Saturday afternoon, her room was invaded by three girl friends. Saying she’d been in bed all day, which was true, they forced her to get up and come with them to the party.

As she’d suspected, it was Mark who arranged things and turned her friends into kidnappers. When they arrived, he was waiting for her with a grin on his face and a beer in his hand.

LSU students are always ready to party. It seemed like everyone she knew was there. At first she tried to be a good sport and get into the spirit. But the laughter and good times just annoyed her. After a few beers, some cheap wine, and her first experience with marijuana, she was a little drunk and, for all she knew, maybe even stoned. But most of all she felt more miserable than ever. Rather than be a wet blanket, she grabbed a beer and wandered away.

As the sound of the party began to fade, she found a small driftwood sanctuary near the riverbank. That’s where Mark found her a few minutes later, sitting behind a big log, crying.

Without a word, he sat down beside her. There was a light, cool breeze coming off the river. When she shivered, he put an arm around her shoulders and pulled her close. That did it. She let out a sob that was a mixture of despair and release, then laid her head on his chest and cried until she ran out of tears.

When her breath began to even out, she noticed the front of his old dress shirt was soaked. Fascinated, she slid a fingertip across the damp cloth. He’d come to be with her, to comfort her. And in return she’d drenched his shirt with her tears and probably smeared it with mascara.

She lifted her head and looked up at him. In the moonlight, she could make out his familiar, comforting smile and felt better.

He’d always been there, close and caring, whenever she needed a friend, needed a shoulder to cry on, just like tonight. Because, because he loves me. And I love--. A new emotion swept over her, a warm, tingly sensation that had nothing to do with friendship. She no longer just needed Mark—she wanted him, now.

Slipping both hands behind his neck, she pulled his face to hers and began kissing her best friend.

Later, much later, their lips parted, and they looked at one another. There was an uncertain, questioning expression on Mark’s face.

It was his turn. She silently prayed he wouldn’t be sensible or cautious or, even worse, make a joke. Damn it, Mark, just kiss me. Please.

Then he leaned forward until their lips met and he began kissing his best friend. At some point it crossed her mind that Mark was a very good kisser. In a strange sort of way, she felt proud that her best friend was so gifted. And she loved being on the receiving end of his gift.

The next time their lips parted, she could tell Mark was about to say something. It was going to be about how they should stop. She was sure of that and sure he was right. They’d have to do that, soon. But not now, not just yet. Before he could speak, she snuggled closer and pulled him back onto her waiting mouth.

After that, the kisses became more intense, the touches more intimate. Mark’s hand slipped under her sweatshirt and she shivered with pleasure. The smooth, sensuous pressure seemed to ease the anguish in both her body and soul.

His fingers took possession of her breast and gently massage its hard nipple. The feeling was incredible.

When lips replaced his fingers, she moaned and arched her body to meet his touch. She felt loved and wanted and safe. This was Mark who cared for her, who was always there when she needed a friend, who she could count on to do what was best. Would that include their making love?

On some vague level, she was aware of his fingers sliding down to her jeans. Then he started fumbling with the zipper. They were going to do it! She and Mark were going to make love. She shivered at the thought and wrapped her arms around his head. When the zipper began to yield, she gave up thinking.

It wasn’t until she felt his body sag, that she realized Mark’s fingers, lips, tongue were motionless. After giving each breast a parting kiss, his lips moved up to her mouth. As their lips re-united, his fingers began to caress first one breast, then the other. It was a gentle, searching touch, as if trying to memorize their texture, shape, and warmth.

With an unsettling mixture of relief and regret, she understood he’d decided their making love wasn’t what was best. The kissing continued, but now it was with increasing affection and decreasing passion. He was, she realized, letting them both ease down from their physical and emotional high.

A sudden dip in the road banged Amy’s head against the window. At first she couldn’t figure out what had happened. Instead of sitting in the moonlight near the river kissing Mark, she was in the front seat of his car speeding down a four-lane highway.