Tag Archives: Bruce Goodman

Dear friends

This is an announcement!

For fifteen days starting tomorrow I shall be posting here, chapter by chapter, my new “book”! It is not a big book. Each of the fifteen chapters is only a couple of pages with a smattering of photos. The usual story-a-day will resume on 2nd October.

This book is called My Neck of the Woods: roads travelled, houses lived. It is really a collection of vignettes of my life over the last twenty years – taking as a unifying theme the houses I have lived in. (In my 71 years I have lived at 36 different addresses – I think).

Those of you who enjoyed my first book of autobiographical vignettes, Bits of a Boyhood, might also enjoy this, although possibly life these days doesn’t hold the same charm as those earlier years!

When all is posted I shall make a downloadable pdf file and put a link in the header of this blog as has been done for other stuff.

Give it a read if you wish – else the stories will recontinue at the start of October! Thanks.

Bruce

2000. The nicest you’ll get

A celebration of the 2000th story, in which Pravin Pilkington-Hooghiemster reposts his favorite interview. It is with the famous author, Bruce Goodman (aka Brieuse Bernhard Piers-Gûðmönd), with a reprint of the magazine cover in which the interview first appeared.

The Self-Effacing National Treasure

“If you set out to take Vienna, take Vienna”

“The nicest you’ll get”

Monday, 16 November 2020

Seated at a wooden table on the veranda of a log cabin in the Appalachians somewhere, it’s hard to imagine that one is talking to New Zealand’s most performed playwright. And it’s most profound.

“Profound?” he smiles. “Who said that?”

“I read it somewhere,” I answer.

“Then you’re better read than I am,” he chuckles. It’s hard to believe. The walls of Bruce Goodman’s log cabin are lined with bookshelves of ancient Greek plays, the complete writings of Napoleon, the novels, short stories, plays, poetry, biographies, philosophical treatises, and histories of old and modern North America, Europe, the Indian Subcontinent, Central and South America, Africa, and Oceania.

“It’s too far from here to the library”, he mutters. “Besides, they won’t give me a library card.”

I ask which of his prolific outpourings is his favorite play. “The latest one”, he says without hesitation, as if he has been asked a thousand times before. “It’s always the latest one. In this case it’s Café Play, yet to be performed. And Qatar. There’s one of them getting done in Qatar at present. They put it into Arabic.”

Goodman has an impressive list of works and awards to his name. “The first full-length play I wrote was Cloud Mother. The reviewers declared during its successful run that Goodman was an experienced playwright. I tried to announce that in fact it was my first, but no one seemed to want to listen. So they keep on getting written and performed. I’ve been experienced since the start”.

How then does it feel to be compared at various times and by various critics to Shakespeare, Goethe, Chekhov, Ibsen, Miller, Brenton? Beckett even. And Ionesco. Pinter. Ian Baird.

“It’s all in the head,” he says. “I write one scene with King Neptune’s wife wearing a rope chignon and they think it’s reminiscent of the second part of Goethe’s Faust. The truth is – I reckon – that they find it hard to categorize the plays. The best observation probably was from the person who said my scripts were all upside down and backwards. I don’t mean them to be. It’s just that I don’t know any better”.

And why no agent?

“I used an agent once. For a whole year not a single script got performed. So I took them back and pushed them myself. The following year there were over 1200 productions.”

And what’s the secret?

“Well, as Napoleon said, if you set out to take Vienna, take Vienna.”

The interview has ended. I’m offered a cup of tea; a proper tea, not the apricot-scent-of-Alaska that can be gotten from specialty shops.

And may we take a photo for the magazine cover?

“I got one here you can use. It’s old, but it’s the nicest you’ll get”.

1894. Wild game

Pieter had an obsession with wild game. He had tried to eat as many legitimate wild things as possible. He not only hunted them, just one of every variety, but he thoroughly researched the best possible way to cook them. What was the best way to prepare wild pork, for example? Did one devour it with an accompanying apple sauce or perhaps wild blueberry chutney?

His list of tasty wild creatures was comprehensive. His favourite game taste at present stood at wild turkey, although the drumsticks of a wild turkey were quite stringy and tough. It must be because of all the running and scratching these wild birds do. But it was far tastier than the domestic turkey and quite different. People don’t realize.

Of course, although it was legitimate to hunt some things Pieter stopped at having grilled bat. One never quite knew what dingy guano-riddled cave the bats had been in. Besides, Chinese cooking wasn’t Pieter’s favourite form of culinary delight.

Although wild moose meat was good enough there was an awful lot of it. A single animal filled Pieter’s freezer. His wife wouldn’t touch moose – “too gamey” – so Pieter spent months ploughing through the moose carcass. He was not one to waste things, but by the end of it he was totally sick of elk.

There were two creatures on Pieter’s list that he had never tried: wild hare and wild swan. Where he lived one could hunt swan, although numbers hunted by each hunter was limited. Still, one needed only the one to try it. And then Lady Luck stepped in!

A friend gave Pieter a hare and a swan on the same day. The same day! Pieter was ecstatic. “When shall we eat them?” asked Pieter’s wife. Pieter knew exactly what they would do:

HARE TODAY, SWAN TOMORROW.

1889. Award 22: Mystery at Te Popo

How wonderful to be nominated for The Mystery Blogger Award by Dumbest Blog Ever. The Dumbest Blogger ain’t as dumb as he makes out so go have a peek. He’s also going through a bit of a no-job patch, so see if you can have a read. He’s a good friend too.

Te Popo (in the title of this posting) is the name of the area where I live. It means “The Black Night”.

The award was established by Okoto Engima. She (apparently) is your everyday writer who turned her boredom, love for fashion, and passion for writing into something productive. So, being a fashion icon in my own head, I’m delighted to provide a link.

I’m meant to answer the five questions asked, and then say TWO THINGS ABOUT MYSELF. Of course the very things that some would want to know about me shall remain a secret. Oh! What the heck! Why not expose all? Read on!

Then I’ve got to nominate other bloggers, ask them a similar number of original things in the manner in which I was asked, and finally skedaddle off to bed.

Here are the five questions:

1. Where do UFOs come from?

Three weeks before my fourth birthday (i.e. 21 days before) my parents put a dozen eggs underneath a broody hen. I didn’t know, but they were due to hatch on my birthday. Then on my birthday eve my mother told me the hen was going to hatch out baby chickens tomorrow for my birthday. I went to the chicken coop and watched. Being on a farm I knew that babies came out of the mother’s bottom – like calves and lambs and things. I also knew that chickens came out of eggs. But how did the mother hen get her babies into the eggs after they had come out of her bottom?

I was going to solve this mystery once and for all. I watched all day, and not a thing happened. The next morning the hen had twelve chickens. I do not know how the hen puts the chickens into the eggs, and nor do I know where UFOs come from.

This is my faverolles rooster in my later years!

2. Do you like Mexican food?

We don’t have Taco Bell within a thousand miles of where I live, so all Mexican food has to be hand-crafted – a skill which I have developed to a high standard, especially when opening the can of kidney beans. So yes, I like Mexican food. Once, a couple of years back, the farming neighbours asked me to look after their farm for three weeks while they went away for a vacation. (They had never had such a capable neighbour before, and I said yes because they had lots of farm bikes and I was able to roar around all day on motor bikes here and there – it could have been interpreted as testosterone but it was simply post-adolescent inanity).

By way of thanks the neighbours invited me over for a meal, and we had Mexican. I was foolish enough to declare that one cannot claim to have eaten Mexican tacos properly unless one takes a freshly stuffed taco shell and eats it while jumping up and down in a white shirt on a trampoline. That’s what I had seen Mexican children do.

Some idiot actually photographed it

Who cares? The shirt was old anyway. Of course, those of you who want to see me with my shirt off will have to wait until the TWO THINGS ABOUT MYSELF later. I don’t like to reveal everything all at once.

3. Do you believe in life after love?

I’d like to say yes to this question, but basically I’m a bad loser. I don’t know how many times I’ve fallen in love, or even fallen in infatuation. But each time when the saga is over I turn into a complete wreck. I’m trying to select an example…

Once, when all possibility of romance dissipated, approximately around one in the morning, I screwed up an entire packet of cigarettes and threw them into the fire. The nearest in-the-middle-of-the-night cigarette selling place was about two hours walk away and I didn’t have a car. By the time I got home at five o’clock it was sunrise and I was in a ripe state.

No, there’s no life after love. Or, yes, perhaps there is, but it’s a different life – I have subsequently discovered.

I know it’s confusing but this is not me. These are actually models.

4. What’s your theme song?

I’m a bit “yesterday” when it comes to choosing a theme song. I guess it would have to be the song my father banned from us playing on the (back-then) gramophone. It was the flipside of Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren’s “Goodness Gracious Me”. The song was called “We’re removing Grandpa’s grave to build the sewer”. I absolutely loved it back then (and still do). I suppose part of the appeal was that Dad had banned it and it could only be played when he was out of the house. Apart from that as a ten year old I got given a collection of recordings of music by famous composers and I thrashed Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” to death. Mum would say, “Turn that horrible music down” but I didn’t.

I still get immensely excited by every note of it, and sometimes take the score to bed with me to read like a novel. But for the time being, if you’re hoping to get an insight into my excitement you may have to wait until you hear about the TWO THINGS ABOUT MYSELF towards the end of this reflection.

Getting ready to take Stravinsky’s Rite to bed.

5. Would you rather eat rice or potatoes?

I had two great-great-great grandmothers die in the Irish Potato Famine, so it would be treachery to claim a preference for rice. Besides, I associate rice with China, and they’re not my favourites at present.

There’s so much more one can do with a potato. Rice one can boil or throw over the bride and groom at a wedding. What a waste! Imagine throwing boiled potatoes at a bride and groom. It could be the harbinger of awkward things to come, especially if the groom got bits of mashed potato on his black tuxedo.

TWO THINGS ABOUT MYSELF

At last we have arrived at this most revealing section. Some of you have been faithful online friends for seven or eight years, and some just a few weeks. Some know things about me that others don’t. Anyway, here are bits of me in no particular order and for no particular reason:

1. I was a catholic priest for nearly thirty years. Those years, plus the eight years of training, were an important part of who I am. Sometimes, when people hear of my past, they say “Good on you for leaving”. I always get a little hurt by that. It was almost forty years of my life! I don’t think there was much wrong with what I did!

2. I have had a chronic heart condition for 25 years or so. Apparently I need a heart transplant but I’m not going to be given one because there’s a paucity of hearts about and I haven’t made a big enough contribution to society to be very far up the list! I said to the heart specialist when he told me that, “as long as the heart I would’ve got goes to someone younger who has a life ahead then that is fine”, and he said that no one had said that before and he burst into tears. I thought that might’ve improved my chances but it made Sweet Fanny Adams of a difference!

Anyway, it’s just as well that this wonderful award asks for only two, otherwise I’d be talking about myself all day.

I now have to ask five questions and nominate others. Well, this is the sad bit. I should’ve said it at the beginning. I don’t nominate, but I mention the blog addresses of other bloggers I follow that I like and maybe you miss out on. If I don’t mention you, know that I don’t NOT mention you to make you feel bad.

a). Passing on the flame. This is an archive of poetry translations (Medieval/Baroque/Modern/etc) from the German, by Peter Lach-Newinsky. I like this site because it exposes something to me that I wouldn’t have a clue about otherwise.

b). Observation Blogger. Lifelong learner and blogging enthusiast. Matthew is an Australian who lives in Colombia with his family. I think he’s currently in permanent lockdown – the poor bugger. He posts interesting stuff about music and things. The bits I like most are his introductions to Latin American music, singers, and songs.

c). Lisa of arlingwords blogs about a number of things, but mainly about her communal garden in Washington DC where she creates produce for the poor and gets eaten out by wild and pernicious rabbits.

d). European Origins. As a (lily) white Caucasian I enjoy Marcel’s blog and dream about my European ancestral lineage! I hope I’m allowed to…

e). Sweet Life Kitchens. Noel presents country-style cooking and baking. I like it because it gives a few ideas and shows how to cook things without a million pop-ups and ads that have now taken over recipe sites. This is good stuff!

Now I have provided no questions because these are not nominations but recommendations. But if so desired then recommended bloggers can answer the same five questions no doubt more satisfyingly than my response!

Thanks again to The Dumbest Blogger for his kindness in nominating me.

Here’s a picture of my washing to let you know that despite all I’ve said, it’s a cow of a life.

1870. Quotations and Announcement

I said a day ago that this week I’d do a couple of self-indulgent postings. This is the second. It could be fun, since it will rightly never be done in real life, to pretend astonishing fame and glean quotations from various theatre plays I’ve written over the years and present them as if in a quotation anthology!

No sooner were these words out (and this is true!) than an email arrived saying that six of my poems had been selected by a publisher in Wisconsin for an international anthology! I had been invited last November to submit some poems. More about that at a later date. Thank goodness my portrait shown below had already been hung in the National Vallery otherwise I’d need to go for a more pretentious look. In fact I had a terrible time taking the selfie this morning while everyone was still asleep. I didn’t want anyone to see and think that vanity was a motivation. My right hand is on the computer mouse to press the button. What a relief I had a post-lockdown haircut yesterday. But enough about me – here’s more about me!

Famous Quotations by Cloven Ruminant
whose portrait hangs in the National Vallery

I don’t know fancy names for coffee. Just give me the stuff with the fluff on. – Café Play (1998)

It’s a great mystery – how we pass by. It’s sort of… meaningless. – River Songs (1994)

I just killed what would have become the ancestor of the first intelligent moth. – Here Legends Lie (1993)

There was no need for you to tell me that what I was doing was a waste of time. I have to do something. – Voyage in a Boat (1989)

A real man does shrimp cocktails and garlic bread. No, no. Not my Arnold. Over done. Over boiled. – Deep End (1992)

So you’ll be sitting on the veranda in the still of the evening will you, barely changed from your wedding gown, and be admiring each other’s brains? – Cloud Mother (1990)

There’s a great silence before a funeral. As if heaven waits to let them in. – Sheer Silence (1999)

Just because I say I want two budgerigars doesn’t mean to say I want two blue ones. – Café Play (1998)

It was a satire – like “King Lear”. – Zachustra (1993)

I’ll not be sitting here day after day taking all this muck from two tarts when you could be up in the rigging swinging with a sailor and doing whatever it is your profession demands. – Cloud Mother (1990)

It’s all very well for Thingy in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to fall in love with Who-dacky by taking a bit of stuff but with… you think I’m wandering don’t you? – Um (1997)

There’s so little we know. About what goes on. It’s best to be guilty. – The Chimney (1996)

All straight lines in the universe are human lines – have you noticed? – and I can’t stay on a straight line. Straight lines are perfection, and I can’t be perfect. I can’t. – Secundus (1992)

I don’t want a happy marriage. I want a tragic marriage. It’s very fashionable. – Fishbone in the Blancmange (1997)

Although he was computer savvy, he died drunk, unhappy, friendless, twisted and embittered. – Weave a Web Blog (2020)not from a play but I thought I’d throw it in because it’s rather amazing to discover that it’s more than 20 years since I wrote a play. The “quotation” is not biographical!

Thanks for reading. There’s over 60 plays (I think) if anyone these days ever wants to do one!

 

1795. Future classroom dialogue – c. 2162 CE

Student: Excuse me Miss. Do we really have to study this?

Ms. Honeybun: Yes, Zenith. It’s written by a great writer. It will stretch your imagination. It will open your eyes to possibilities.

Student: But we have already studied his novel and poems, and now we’re expected to study his short stories. Why can’t we study someone interesting, like Shakespeare or Emily Bronte or Thorkel X. Kaftan. (Note: Thorkel X. Kaftan didn’t appear on the literary scene until around 2098 CE).

Ms. Honeybun: Shakespeare is so very yesterday and greatly overrated. In my opinion we are studying the greatest writer since Euripides.

Student: But Euripides wrote plays. This stupid idiot didn’t write plays.

Ms. Honeybun: He’s not a stupid idiot, Zenith. And oh yes, he did write plays. His plays are the next thing on the syllabus we will be studying.

Student: I hate having things shoved down my throat.

Ms. Honeybun: When you are older you will thank me for having so forcibly introduced you to this lustrous author. Euripides and Bruce Goodman are undoubtedly the two greatest writers in the history of the world.

Second Student: Speaking on behalf of the rest of the class, we simply adore what you are teaching us, Miss Honeybun.

Ms. Honeybun: Thank you, Echinacea. I’m glad most of the class recognize greatness when they see it. Now could you please all turn to Story 1795: Future classroom dialogue.

Footnote: See the links at the top of the blog page!

1695. An unapologetic promotion

Wally was bored silly over the holiday period. His mother was up the wall. She’d asked him again and again to mow the lawn and in the end the only way she could get him to do it was bribery. Bribery usually worked as a last resort. The lawns got mowed and Wally was slightly richer. But he was still sour, sullen, and selfish.

At least he had his computer, but that had long since ceased to provide any sort of novelty.

“Being on the computer is no different from being at school,” said Wally. “I’m bored.”

“I know what you could do,” suggested his mother. “You could read Bruce Goodman’s Bits of a Boyhood about growing up in rural New Zealand. I think you’d like it. It’s available online for free.”

The online version is HERE.
The downloadable pdf version is HERE.

Wally reluctantly went to the site and began to read.

“I couldn’t put it down,” said Wally. “I texted my girlfriend and now she’s reading it. I told my friends and now they’re all reading it. When my father gets home from work I’m going to tell him to read it and get everyone in his office to read it, even while they’re at work. The whole world should read Bruce Goodman’s Bits of a Boyhood. It’s the best thing to happen since Adam was a boy. I have no idea why it has never been published. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he got the Nobel Prize for Literature.”

When Wally finished reading it he wanted more. His appetite was insatiable. But sadly, although there are other momentous works by Bruce Goodman, the autobiography finished when the author had just turned eighteen.

Filled with enthusiasm, Wally went out and mowed the lawn a second time. This time there was joy in his heart and a spring in his step.

The same could happen to you, dear Reader, if only you would let it. I wish each and every one of you a happy day!

The online version is HERE.
The downloadable pdf version is HERE.

P.S. If you find yourself mowing the lawn don’t say you weren’t warned.

Music 222: Piano Sonata 1

Hi Everyone

Here is a piano sonata (in three movements). There’s an audio link for those who may want to listen, and the second lot of links is to download the written music for the many thousands who want to learn it and play it in concert halls all over the world. Each of the three movements is downloadable separately.

So here is the Piano Sonata, Opus Who-knows-what. Thanks

Click on a link to listen
1st movement – audio
2nd movement – audio
3rd movement – audio

Click on a link to download the written music
1st movement – sheet music
2nd movement – sheet music
3rd movement – sheet music

1500. Reaching the pinnacle

 

Bruce hadn’t achieved much in his life. There was one thing, however, he could do: he could be the first in the history of the world to climb one particular peak of the local mountain range. Reaching the top of this peak had been an insurmountable problem for many who had attempted it. Although few had died in the attempt, no one had arrived where apparently “no human had ever trod before”.

It wasn’t the most earth-shattering thing to do, but Bruce would attempt it come what may. At least to himself he would achieve something of note: a legend in his own mind.

He set out.

After many strenuous days, after falling rocks and slippery shingle slides, after warm days and freezing nights, after scratches and insect bites, after encountering inquisitive tourist parties and aspiring solo mountaineers, he had only a few feet left to go. He reached up to the last crevice on the mountain peak to pull himself up to the top. And…

… he did! He did it! “At last!” he said, “at last I have arrived where no human had ever trod before!” The view wasn’t as spectacular has he had imagined. And scattered about were a couple of squashed coke cans and some cigarette butts.

Post Script:

Dear Reader,

This is the 1500th story on this blog, and the final posting! I would like to end on a personal note:

Back in 1986 I was studying for a degree in a relatively famous institution in Boston, Massachusetts. It was possibly the most flamboyantly happy time of my life. I was very popular! North America was big, and I came from a tiny island at the bottom of the globe. I revelled in the vastness of it all, and delighted in the generosity and openness of Americans!

When I came back to New Zealand, in the first month I received over two hundred letters. This was the days before the media revolution. I began to answer the letters, starting with the ones from people that I didn’t have a clue who they were! The people I was closest to could wait. The people I didn’t know answered. I replied to them again. The people I knew the best waited. And waited. And in the end, all drifted away.

These days I would not know who is dead and who is alive. These people are memories, but no longer personal friends. This seems to be the friendship cycle in my life.

For the past 1500 stories – and some music and poems as well – I have enjoyed the company of many – some for a long long time. I would like to mention names but won’t! Most I don’t know much about. Have you family? Where do you live? In many cases I’m not sure I even know your real name. That’s the strangeness of friends on the blogs! Some I have offended, and I’m sorry.

Thank you to all who walked all or part of the way with me (those of you who are still alive!) I have enjoyed the privilege of your company. I suspect there are other adventures waiting for me. I hope so.

I sometimes thought (in highfalutin moments) that some people (maybe creative-writing teachers) might like to use these stories as “starters” for their pupils to extend to new and exciting conclusions. There are enough weekly starters to last roughly 38 years before a teacher need begin to repeat! (Boring bloody teacher, repeating stuff after 38 years).

I wish you every possible wonderful thing for always.

Bruce

1499. I’ll take you there

Andrew lived with his grandma in a little cottage. He helped his grandma grow vegetables and flowers. He also helped his grandma milk the cow. The cow lived in the shed out the back.

A big snowstorm came. Andrew was sad because the weather reminded him of the day his mother died. Grandma said that if he looked into the frosty night sky he would see lots of stars brightly shining. Perhaps his mother was looking down.

Andrew made a great big star out of silver foil and hung it in the window so his mother would know where to look.

A little later Grandma was busy making cinnamon cookies in the kitchen. There was a knock at the door.

“I’ll get it, Grandma.”

Andrew opened the door. The winter wind swept in.

There stood Three Kings. What a glorious sight! They were dressed in cloth of gold studded with jewels. They wore crowns and had rings galore on their fingers. They carried gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

“We have been following a star,” they said. “We saw the star in your window and wondered if this was the right place.”

Andrew said he didn’t think it was the right place, but there were some people in the shed out the back sheltering from the snow. They might know something about it.

“I’ll take you there.”

And that is how Andrew changed the history of the world.