Blog Gone Fishin’

the bust of Hermes that gave this blog its name

In the days when I owned a car, if it needed brake pads, the oil changed, a tune-up, a new muffler – the countless things that keep a car running – I would take it to Arnie’s Auto Service, a neighborhood operation near my office. Every summer this garage would shut down for a few weeks. Arnie closed the blinds and taped a sign to the window informing the world that he had “gone fishin’.” The garage would open back up a few weeks later.

The blog you are reading is goin’ fishin’. I’m taking a couple of weeks off and when I return I am discarding the weekly publishing schedule. I will still write the occasional post when I feel compelled or I want to share news about my theatre career.

I’ve been publishing these blog essays pretty much every week since January, 2011. In those seven-plus years I’ve written 320,000 words in the service of 400 or so posts. In case you were wondering, that’s a little more than half the words Tolstoy discharged in War and Peace, his masterful door-stop of a novel. This blog’s readership isn’t any higher now than in the first year. A few hundred of you somehow find and read it each week. I am not Leo Tolstoy and “Lapis Loquens” is not the next “Huffington Post.”

In the last couple of years I’ve taken on new projects that are demanding time. In 2016 fellow playwright John C. Davenport and I launched Red Rover Theatre Company to produce our own plays. That venture has been a success – three plays staged so far – but it has also taken a chunk of our time. And I continue to write new plays.

I am also embarked on a history book about Utah. My ancestors on all sides were Mormon pioneers who helped settle the Utah Territory in the mid to late 1800s. They came from Scotland, England, the Isle of Man, South Africa, Vermont, Massachusetts and Alabama to join America’s westward expansion. Why? While not ignoring their religious motivation, I am paying attention to the economic, social and political conditions of their lives and homelands prior to conversion, and then recounting their physical journeys. They walked the last 1,200 miles across the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains; I come from hardy stock. Their great-grandson has discovered that telling their stories is an ambitious project.

Occasionally some of you have asked what the heck is “Lapis Loquens,” the name I originally slapped on this blog. At the time I launched this, my desk looked out onto a garden that featured a stone bust of the Greek god Hermes (Mercury in the Roman version). Hermes was the trickster god and the patron of travelers and roads, as well as of herdsmen, thieves and graves. Conducting souls into the afterlife was another job he had. I was fond of this moss-headed Hermes and, being an amateur Latinist, I decided to give these essays the name “talking stone,” or as a Roman would put it, “lapis loquens.” You now know more than you ever wanted to about this blog’s name.

Thank you for the attention you have given my essays during these past seven years. Perhaps you’ll continue to find them, now to be published irregularly.

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Cartoon Tomfoolery (#609)

You are invited to play this quick minor league-version of The New Yorker Caption Contest. Every week I enter the magazine’s contest, using it as a comic writing exercise. Below are five captions. Three are the magazine’s semifinal selections, one is the winner, and two are mine. See if you […] Continue reading »

Writing for Stage and Television

The arrival of “The Sopranos” in 1999 can be credited with ushering in the current era of television, which has become a golden age for scripted programs. These series have breathed new life into adult drama, a genre that had been expiring in the movies. These series have also proved to be a […] Continue reading »

Cartoon Tomfoolery (#608)

You are invited to play this quick minor league-version of The New Yorker Caption Contest. Every week I enter the magazine’s contest, using it as a comic writing exercise. Below are five captions. Three are the magazine’s semifinal selections, one is the winner, and two are mine. See if you […] Continue reading »

Self-Producing for Theatre

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Cartoon Tomfoolery (#607)

You are invited to play this quick minor league-version of The New Yorker Caption Contest. Every week I enter the magazine’s contest, using it as a comic writing exercise. Below are five captions. Three are the magazine’s semifinal selections, one is the winner, and two are mine. See if you […] Continue reading »

Identity Politics and Fictional Characters

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Cartoon Tomfoolery (#606)

You are invited to play this quick minor league-version of The New Yorker Caption Contest. Every week I enter the magazine’s contest, using it as a comic writing exercise. Below are five captions. Three are the magazine’s semifinal selections, one is the winner, and two are mine. See if you […] Continue reading »

Finding a Director, and Bidding Farewell

When a script has the merit and good fortune (both are necessary) to move off the writer’s desk into production, a lonely orphan is getting adopted into a big, noisy family. The person charged with focusing that family’s talent and bursting energy is the director. He is the hub from which […] Continue reading »

Cartoon Tomfoolery (#605)

You are invited to play this quick minor league-version of The New Yorker Caption Contest. Every week I enter the magazine’s contest, using it as a comic writing exercise. Below are five captions. Three are the magazine’s semifinal selections, one is the winner, and two are mine. See if you […] Continue reading »