Tag Archives: interview

2098. An interview with Silenus

Interviewer: What a thrill! I have the opportunity to interview Silenus. Silenus is an old drunkard who taught Dionysus how to party. Dionysus is the Ancient Greek God of Wine. Silenus himself is the God of Dance, the God of the Wine Press, and the God of Drunkenness.

Good evening, Silenus. Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed.

Silenus: My pleashure. It’s not often I can afford to take time out from dwinking to indulge in a bit of interfornification, if that’s what ya call it. I had to shneak away from Dionysus to do thish interview. Last time I shneaked away he changed this guy’s ears into donkey’s ears. At leasht that’s what I remember. Dwink? It’s not just wine I’m the god of but other shtuff as well like whishkey and vodka. Shherry. When I go to the dwink shhop I always look at the label not to see what type of booze it is but to check on the alcoholic percentage. That’s why I’m not fond of beer. Ya have to dwink a lot of beer to get dwunk and then I end up pisshing in my pants half the night. Not that I wear pantsh as ya can see. So how ya doing?

Interviewer: I’m fine thanks. And I was wondering if…

Silenus: One of the things people don’t know is that mosht of the gods up here are fucking pisshheads. Pisshhead is a Britishh term meaning ya get totally dwunk mosht daysh. It’s alsho used in Aushtralia and placesh like that. So anyway, mosht of the gods up here are pisshheads. I taught mosht of them how to party – it’s my job – but a good number of them these days know how to party a lot more than I taught them. Aphrodite has her work cut out all day every day and there’s not much I taught her I can tell ya. When I vishit her she’s busy busy busy. I don’t know how she fits everyone in.

Interviewer: Do you still operate in teaching people how to party today or was it something you did only in ancient times?

Silenus: I’m busy in the modern world. I did a good job on Hunt…

(The interview seems to have been suddenly and mysteriously terminated).

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”.

1757. You’re hired!

Congratulation, Elric, you have the job. We were delighted with the quality of your experience and expertise shown in both your interview and your CV.

Your ability to cut through nonsense and get straight to the core of the matter was the singular feature of your interview that stood out from all the other almost eight hundred applicants. Your Harvard degree certainly helps but it’s not everything. It’s how you use your degree that matters.

So we are delighted to welcome you to the team. You start tomorrow. Dad said to say “Well done”. I was wondering when you go home if you can tell Mum that I’ll be a bit late home for dinner this evening.

Award 12: Blogger Interview Tag

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The inordinately kind Oscar Alejandro Plascencia of California (pictured) has nominated me for The Blogger Interview tag. This award is a means of getting to know the person behind the blog.

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Getting this nomination from Oscar is thrilling; it’s like Albert Einstein nominating a four year old for the Nobel Prize for Physics for creating a toppling dominoes arrangement. Thank you, kind lovely Oscar. Oscar’s blog, called In So Many Words, is an exploration in metrical writing of love, hope and faith, frequently with a gay theme. At present Oscar is engaged in a dream campaign for “Performer of the Year”, via the entertainment blog known as The Neighborhood in a one-of-a-kind online show called “A Star is Born”. He would undoubtedly appreciate your weekly vote. Please support him!

The rules of The Blogger Interview:
Mention the person who tagged you.
Answer the questions in full.
Tag up to ten bloggers.

The interview questions:

How did you get into blogging?

My partner has a translation business, translating chemistry safety procedures into over eighty languages. (He doesn’t translate them all himself! He’s only got nine languages! He has chemists all over the world doing the translations.) His website is on WordPress. I said I would manage it. What better way to learn how to do something than to do it! I set up my blog on WordPress. But what to write about? I shall write a story a day… I still managed the translation website, but my personal blog provided an interest.

Not long after starting the blog I slipped and broke my ankle (bending down to pat my cat on a slippery path) and got all sort of spiral fractures. Clots formed on the lungs. My limbs swelled like there was no tomorrow. They couldn’t operate. I had to lie on my back with my leg tied to the ceiling. They put pins in my ankle. My heart began to fibrillate. Basically, I was out of action for twelve months.

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But – OH MIRACLE! – at the beginning of all this my blog was Freshly Pressed on WordPress, for this story: It won’t last. I was getting over a thousand emails a day. I answered every one. What else was there to do? Within weeks I had over two thousand followers! Google the phrase “family picnic” and this story was number one: Family picnic.

And then the landlord, eager to return to his dwelling to live, gave me notice to move. I was encased in plaster! I could hardly move, let alone pack and carry boxes. The blog languished while I put things in cartons one hobble at a time. I lost so many friends on the blog. Christmas came and went. I had a Christmas tree but got no presents!! The landlord stole all our firewood and our two cows. We moved.

What advice would you give to a blogger just starting out?

Get yourself totally organized before starting. Work out your theme, chose a style, carefully select very particular pages and categories BEFORE beginning. Stick to them. I have two pages:

  1. About
  2. Home

And four categories:

  1. A Story a Day
  2. A Music Composition a Week
  3. A Poem a Month
  4. Awards.

There’s no good, for example, getting an award and shoving it under “Music” because you don’t know where to put it. I had to start blogging again from scratch, and lost the readers, because apart from the reasons given above it needed reorganizing.

I also find that regularity of posting is helpful. I watch the most wondrous blogs go down the gurgler because the author posts erratically. Likewise for those who post too often. There are poets who post twenty or thirty times a day. After a day you get sick of them. (They’re not actually poets; they’re just people who don’t know how to shut up.)

What would be your dream campaign?

I’m not sure what a campaign is! Does it mean: what is you methodology for getting more followers, more likes, more readers? I don’t think a campaign is necessary. If someone likes your blog they might tell a friend. Gradually over time you gather people who are interested. I’m back to plodding towards around three hundred followers since I started the blog again. I’d imagine it could reach a thousand by the end of the year.

Just be nice – I try to answer every comment. If you want to gather honey, don’t start by kicking over the beehive.

Having said all that, I would like to be Freshly Pressed again on WordPress. It was such a thrill, even though it meant an inordinate amount of work. It’s not so much the gaining of numbers as the exposure and the excitement of the moment!

Do you have a plan for your blog?

Yes. I want to write 1001 stories in 1001 consecutive days!  Why 1001? Because for 1001 nights Scheherazade in the Arabian Nights told stories to stay alive!

When they’re complete, I wish to join them together with some thread – in the manner of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, or The Decameron, or the Arabian Nights. These are collections of stories that have a linking plot joining the telling of each story. Once that is done, there’s no way anyone would publish 1001 stories! The book would be 1001 pages fat! So I guess I’ll simply trash them!

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Story-telling in the Decameron

I’m thinking next year, apart from continuing the daily story and the weekly piece of music, of increasing the poetry output from once a month, to once a week. I find the writing of poetry enormously challenging, and really in fact I need a new challenge. The lovely and down-to-earth and enormously gifted Cynthia Jobin is a constant source of both inspiration and challenge.

What do you think about rankings?

Bloomin’ heck! I don’t know what rankings are! I’m starting to feel a bit of an ignorant fool. Many years ago, I wrote a play called A Treatment of Thomas Chatterton’s Manic-Depressive Psychosis to the Accompaniment of Vivaldi. I was a teacher at the time. We performed the play at a High Schools Theatre Festival. At the end of the Festival it was announced that the competition had been won by A Treatment of Thomas Chatterton’s Manic-Depressive Psychosis to the Accompaniment of Vivaldi. We WON! We WON! The trouble was I didn’t even know it was a competition! We took home cups and trophies and shields like you wouldn’t believe.

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Scene from the Chatterton play

So I’m like this with ranking. I don’t actually know what it is!

Nominations:

I’m not nominating everybody I follow. Just a few. It is with great pleasure that I nominate these talented people:

Yvonne of Hello World

Lisa of arlingwords

Susanne of Wuthering Bites

Yinglan of A Simple Life

Poetry by Amit Rahman

Thanks again to Oscar Alejandro Plascencia of In So Many Words for the kindly encouragement.