Another One to Love

Love is not an exhaustible commodity.

We know this because when a new person enters our lives, and we love them, we don’t have to release love’s pressure valve and let out a little love from our opposite end to compensate.

Love is more akin to the expanding universe. It finds new voids and new spaces which weren’t there, and it doesn’t spread thinner and thinner like a tsunami eventually drying up on land. No. Love is as deep at its origin as it is at its point of expansion.

That’s a marvelous thought, isn’t it?

This topic has been on my mind, mainly because today I became a grandfather. My grandson, whom I will not be able to meet for a few more months, is a new and immediate object of my love. He hasn’t done anything to earn my love. He just has it by the virtue of being born to my daughter.

Love is automatic. It’s not coerced. It’s not purchased. It’s there. Just like that, the number of people in the world that I love has expanded by one.

And this got me thinking.

What would the world look like if we all understood this truth about love and acted on love’s expanding principles? What downcast soul would be brightened? What violent act would be stopped? How many broken hearts would be mended?

What would happen if we each expanded our reach of love by one more person outside of our regular sphere of influence?

We would all be richer for it.

This is my first lesson of being a grandfather.

Valentine’s Day Excerpt: Princess Pearl Speaks of Her Love, Casimir

For Valentine’s Day, here’s an excerpt from my new play “The Secrets of the Magic Pool.” In this excerpt, Princess Pearl is anxious for her Prince to arrive, and she banters back and forth with her loyal servant, Majji.  


PRINCESS: (overly dramatic) But it’s truer than the rise of mercury in the noon day sun. He commands my every breath.   (worried) Does my face look blotchy?

MAJJI: Perfectly clear, unlike your cloudy, dust-ridden mind.

PRINCESS: Do you think I’m too mad for him?

MAJJI: Well, he is dapper.

PRINCESS: Dapper. You talk of him like he’s a basset hound dressed in a silk tunic.

MAJJI: You talk of him like he’s a Greek god.

PRINCESS: If it were true, Zeus himself would bow down in front of him, and slightly peak up with jealous eyes to see his well-defined physique, heroic jaw and dreamy blue eyes.

MAJJI: Zeus would be jealous of his eyes?

PRINCESS: Truer than the azure sky around Mount Olympus. Do you think I speak too highly of him?

MAJJI: Zeus?

PRINCESS: No, Casimir.

MAJJI: All I know is there can be only one sun in the sky at noon.

PRINCESS: And his eyes emit rays of poetry. Love poetry. Romantic poetry. Silly rhyming poetry.

MAJJI:  (laughing) You are quite insane.

PRINCESS: Do you think he knows my true thoughts?

MAJJI: As obvious as deep burgundy sits on a petal of a rose, or as red as the blush on your cheeks.

PRINCESS: You said my cheeks were clear. Ohhh— (like a spoiled child) Then why doesn’t he come?

COMING to PENANGPAC:  May 13-14, 2016

Image has Nothing to do with Love.

Image has nothing to do with love.

When was the last time that an “unattractive” woman was the subject of a Hollywood love story?

I suppose it happens. But very infrequently.

Hollywood is obsessed with image, as is TV, the Internet, and just about every person who is honest with themselves.

It’s not often that you have an obese heroine. It’s not often you have a grotesque protagonist with which the audience is supposed to sympathize.

It happens, but infrequently.

We all know the drill – thin bodies, hard bodies, six packs, big breasted, tight chested, photo-shopped bodies – that is what appeals and that is what the people crave. But, of course, it isn’t real. And the public doesn’t care.

It’s like we like to live out our fantasies vicariously through Hollywood dribble. And we plop down good money to do so.

But here’s a shocker to think about: a beautiful woman’s love is no different than an obese woman’s love. A six-pack ab love is no different or no better than an “ugly” man’s love.

We could easily blame Hollywood and the media for perpetuating this lie, but that would be grossly disingenuous.

We, the people, perpetuate this lie. We think that hard bodies and glamour, brilliant sex, and glossy bodies on the screen constitute love – but we all know better. It has nothing to do with it.

Love is a human emotion – perhaps the greatest of human emotions and it has nothing whatsoever to do with the shape of one’s body.

And so I am using this blog post to let it be known that all love is valid, regardless of body shape and image.

I would like to see Hollywood and TV try something different: show real love from real people who have real bodies.

Of course, TV and Hollywood is driven by profits. Profits driven by image. There lies the dilemma.

No one wants to see the love of an obese couple on screen. They want to see sleek, slim, hard bodies. That’s the honest truth about our society.

But don’t let the screen fool you. Love is love. It has nothing to do with image or body shape, and if we can get that into our consciousness, we’d all be better off.

An Old School Love Poem for Valentine’s Day

I found this poem I wrote twenty-six years ago. It still applies to my very same Valentine.

Meet me tonight amidst the darkening trees,

The lunar view they call the lover’s land.

We’ll gaze with wonder at the sparkling sea,

And walk our world together hand in hand.

The lamp lights flicker wildly through the wind,

But my heart steadily wants beyond the light.

I leave all cares a million thoughts behind,

And search the shadow of my heart and night.

For, aye, I see the starry silhouette,

Who stands with grace among the timber pine,

And lights my soul as sun of after set;

I long to understand the endless shine.

For I shall laugh and love and lose my load,

That wears me down this long untraveled road.

Who’s Romantic, and Who’s the Fool?

Let’s talk about romance.

A while back, I went to the theater to see a play called “Romantic Fools.” It was a local production of an off-Broadway hit (perhaps it was on Broadway at some point – I don’t know.)

From the promotional material, I thought it would be a nice evening out for my wife and I – I even pulled some strings and got free tickets. Should be great, right? Light-hearted romantic romp, some good jousting back and forth about the funny conflicts of the sexes, some situation comedy, ending with the guy getting the girl of his dreams, etc… you know what I mean – romance.

I should have known better. This is modern theater after all.

It had nothing to do with romance – it was all about sex to the lowest common denominator, and it really ticked me off – and it made us leave the theater even before intermission.  This had nothing to do with the acting. Some of the actors were quite talented. It had nothing to do with the sets which were done tastefully and creatively. It had everything to do with the writing. Someone who doesn’t know the first thing about romance had the audacity to call this a romantic play. No. It wasn’t.

Before I get more specific with my critique of the debasing of love and romance in our modern culture, let me make a few things clear about what I believe as a writer and, even, audience member concerning love, romance, and sex in literature or performing arts.

There are certain things in my own writing that I would never describe or never say because I believe they would be completely unnecessary and detract from the story rather than enhance the story. But I understand how a well phrased word, even a word that makes some people uncomfortable, can add the force or effect of a scene or situation. If a writer includes a scene that visually I may be uncomfortable with but is crucially necessary to get across an emotion or effect that could not be achieved any other way, then I’m personally okay with that. I don’t believe that every piece of literature, play, or movie needs to be PG. We live in a messy and even funny world where crazy things sometimes happen. I get that, and I’m okay with portraying that.

But, when we devolve romance to nothing more than a degrading spectacle of gratuitous sex that shows no consequences, no love, no romance, and no reality, then I call it lazy, modern writing.

We see it all the time. Just turn on the TV. Just watch a comedy in the cinema. Pick any one. It doesn’t matter. They are all the same.

Big laughs – at what? Hookers? Sado-masochism? Anything-goes no consequences decisions? The degradation of women? All of this was being portrayed in this play as the epitome of romance.

The comedy writers of today have bought into the lie that all the public wants – all the public needs is a few dirty jokes, a few degradating images and then they’ve done their job.

Where’s the creativity? Where’s the plot-lines that speak of true tensions between real men and real women?

Where are the writers who believe it is more effective to understate and allude – leaving the audience or reader to imagine or think through things?

You’ve probably seen this quote from Hitchcock before:

“Suspense is like a woman. The more left to the imagination, the more the excitement…”

I would say that good romance is like that too. Say a lot through what you don’t say. That, in my estimation, is one of the true marks of a good writer. One can be vulgar without swearing. One can be alluring and romantic without having to be on a nude beach.

I really felt bad for those actors who had to “act” like they were being romantic in a play that wasn’t remotely about romance.

Perhaps it’s time to for me to put up and write the kind of romance I’ve been rambling about here. Stay tuned.

What’s your take on all of this?