Friday, August 10, 2007

Exquisite Corpse




ROBOWRITER ASSIGNMENT

Last night, we played a version of a surrealist game called Exquisite Corpse. We each wrote the title of a made up scene at the bottom of a page and the names of the characters in the left hand margin for each time one of them spoke. It looked something like this...



PHYLLIS
PHYLLIS
PHYLLIS
RAIF
PHYLLIS
RAIF
RAIF
RAIF
BELVEDEERE
PHYLLIS
RAIF
BELVEDEERE
"THE LAVENDER CRANK"



If a character's name is repeated, it just means they are speaking a few lines in a row. We each took turns blindly writing lines of dialogue. Our eyes were open, but after we wrote a line of dialogue, we folded the paper back to hide the line from others. When you wrote a line of dialogue, you never knew what came before it or what would be coming after it.

You usually end up with a very odd scene full of non-sequiters. Right up a surrealist's melting alley. The fun part is when some of the lines seem to magically click together. One memorable exchange was "Where'd that ferret go?" followed by "He bit out my eye and now he's batting it around."

The assignment was to approach our surreal scene as a really rough draft. Take the dialogue you like and any implied relationships or issues and polish it into a stageable scene.

What? You're a loser and you don't have a group of friends willing to sit around and play this game if free beer isn't involved? Not to worry. I'm your friend and I am here to help. Grab a book. Any book. A play would probably work best, but any book will do.

Before you crack open it open, set up your page like we did for The Lavender Crank. I grabbed Anton Chekhov's play The Three Sisters and since I already have it made, I'm going to use The Lavender Crank template. You can do this however you like, but avoid cherry picking your lines. Take the first complete line of dialogue. Not a whole monolgue. Just a sentence or two from a charcter's line. You want to do it quickly and without consideration of logic. I'm just going to randomly open the book and grab the first line at the top of every page. It will look something like this...


PHYLLIS: He's in love! Andrusha's in love!
PHYLLIS: And all my life I have hung around little apartments with two chairs, a sofa and a stove that always smokes.
PHYLLIS: Our director says: the principal thing in every life is its form...
RAIF: I'll have some of that dark vodka...
PHYLLIS: No, it just doesn't match...and somehow it looks odd-
RAIF: (tearfully) Now, why do I say that?
RAIF: Andrusha, what are you doing?
RAIF: I was just thinking- Besides there's nothing to talk about...
BELVEDEERE: How's that?
PHYLLIS: I am seized with anxiety, and my conscience torments me for their having such a mother.
RAIF: You are thinner...And look younger and your face begins to look like a little boy's.
BELVEDEERE: But life will remain quite the same, a difficult life, mysterious and happy.

"THE LAVENDER CRANK"


Quite a mess, our Lavendar Crank is! What I do like, is that I can read into it a relationship. Phyllis and Raif are mother and father. Belvedeere (or Andrusha, who will become Belvedeere) is their son and in love. The parents don't know how to take the news. The mother wants to mine it for her soccer mom acting (or improv) class while the father wants to drink. The mother, a real bundle of motherly nerves, is worried the color of the drink doesn't go with the furniture. Belvedeere's last line makes me think that although he is in love, it is either unrequited or hidden from his intended, therefore, life will not change in spite of his feelings. There's potential for a nice little quirky dysfunctional family scene that I could develop into a first draft. Give it a try!


MORE 411 ON 419


Greg Wendling, a fellow RoboWriter, is a big fan of the 419 Eater website and turned me on to their Letters Archive where some really ingenious scambaiters have posted e-mails, videos and phone conversations chronicling their baiting process. The best one I read is called The Road to Nowhere. It takes awhile to get though, but it's worth it. Just when you think they can't take it any further, they do, in very surprising and gutsy ways. Three highlights you have to make sure you hit are any phone conversations or videos involving "Peter Jones," the scammer's conversation with "John Kimble," and the last phone conversation with "Max N. Paddy." Greg also tells me there are cases where scambaiters were able to convince the scammers to send THEM money!



THE BS NEWS QUIZ OF THE DAY

Yesterday, I asked...

"A Catholic priest in Denver was arrested recently for doing what?"

12% of you responded "Giving a sermon while drunk."
Well, if that were a crime for a Catholic priest...

25% said "Groping a clown."
As much as I love the visual image and the possible honking sounds involved, no.

The popular answer at 38% was "Gambling collection plate money on the ponies."
Alas, no. They'll have to stick with putting bets down on your souls.

25% got the correct answer, "Jogging while naked."
Pretty picture.

According to The Denver Post, Rev. Robert Whipkey was charged with indecent exposure when police discovered him walking home after jogging in the buff at the local high school track before dawn. He told police that he was sans clothes because he's a heavy guy who sweats when he runs. Great. A chubby, sweaty naked priest walking through the neighborhood in the dark. Clearly, there is no God.

If convicted, he'll have to register as a sex offender. My first thought on this was, "Great. Another creepy priest. Do whatever you have to do with this guy." That might still be the best way to go with sweaty Whipkey, however there's an interesting take on this over at Classically Liberal. If running outside naked before dawn makes someone a sex offender, then anyone who's ever gone streaking, ran a naked mile in college or gone on an organized naked bike ride is a sex offender. Seems a bit excessive in that light, doesn't it? Raise your hand if you've ever indulged in any of the above activities. Well, don't raise your hand if it means uncovering your genitals. Go put on some clothes, Lady Godiva.

3 comments:

GW said...

Here's a good story where the scambaiters get money from a scammer. I've seen one where they get $700+, but I can't find it.

http://www.419eater.com/html/joe_eboh.htm

Bob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Devilvet said...

Joe,

I love the idea for the exquisite corpse inspired scenes. I have a few similar exercised I do when I just want to write but what I want to write about isn't coming to me.

I either write down or select 20 random words and then start writing sentences that use 2 or more of these words. As many sentences as I can. I then select the sentences that reverberate with me the most and build a short story, monologue, or even poetry from there.

Nice exercise