Notes from New Sodom

... rantings, ravings and ramblings of strange fiction writer, THE.... Sodomite Hal Duncan!!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Were the World Mine

Puck: Were the world mine, I’d make everyone gay.
Jack: Were the world mine, I’d make everyone rise up and take it back from me!
Puck: Were the world yours, we would have to take it back before you blew us all to kingdom come.
Jack: Were the world yours, we’d all be in silver hotpants and want to be blown to kingdom come.
Puck: Were the world mine, we’d all just want to be blow-
Author: Not that I want to interrupt the prattle, but is there a point to this?
Jack: We just saw a little indie flick called Were the World Mine. It was kinda peachy. First time director, Tom Gustafson, written by his boyfriend, Cory James Kruekenberg. Based on a short they did called Fairies. It -
Puck: It had us in it! And it was a musical, set in a high school, like a… high school musical, but not with that Zack Teflon, no, but with gayness and fairies and Shakespeare and, and, and it had us in it!
Jack: It was not us.
Puck: Was too! The main character was clearly me. I mean Tanner Cohen’s not half as cute as me, but you fancied him, and he plays this gay kid at this private all boy’s school -
Jack: - whose name is Timothy. Not Thomas. Timothy.
Puck: Tim, Tom… a twinkletoes by any other name still smells -
Jack: - like feet.
Puck: Which smell like honeysuckle and pine cones, Jack, on those of us who actually change our socks. As opposed to wet dog fur and sweaty armpits and… things best left unmentioned.
Jack: Yeah yeah, now my socks stink. That wasn’t the story the other night, toe-rag. Leave them on, Jack. Just the sports socks, Jack. Oh, and maybe the jock-stra-
Author: Please! The film?
Jack: OK. Right, so Timothy has a crush on this closet-case jock-boy, played by Nathaniel David Becker -
Puck: Yeah, and jock-boy’s name is Jonathon. Which can be shortened to what, Jack?
Jack: Jonathon is what he’s called all the way through the film, Puck. Not Jack. Jonathon.
Puck: He’s totally you, and you know it. Blondish hair, all that manly-man, over-compensating bollocks. Like, “Yeah, I’m just one of the lads and I could totally kick your arse… except that maybe I’d secretly rather spank it, baby, spread your peachy cheeks and -”
Jack: He. Is. Not. Me.
Puck: And why is that, Jack?
Jack: [pause] He’s too short.
Puck: You’re such a rubbish gay. You really need to own your vanity.
Jack: I’m just saying, if I’d been playing the Jonathon part… then the heights would have been right. But as it is, Becker’s a fine actor but he’s not me. Besides, I’m not your love interest; you're mine. If the character was me, he’d have had more lines. And blown shit up. Actually, I would have fucking rocked that part. I’d have been all moody and prowling, like a fucking lion, mate.
Puck: Yeah, more lines is what it’s really about. You just don’t like me being the lead for a change.
Jack: Not true. I just think they needed someone taller for the Jack - I mean jock.
Author: Ahem.
Jack: Oh, yeah. Anyway, so there’s this eccentric English teacher played by Wendy Robie -
Puck: - Nadine from Twin Peaks -
Jack: - and she decides the annual school Shakespeare production is going to be A Midsummer Night’s Dream -- but a musical version. See, Kruekenberg retooled a lot of the play’s lines as song lyrics, and they’ve put them to music by Jessica Fogle. Hadn’t heard of her before this, but she’s fucking good. Seriously, you’d love it, mate, the Shakespeare-as-lyrics stuff especially — all that hintertextuality malarky.
Puck: And it’s soooo Broadway. Look! Look! Here’s Timothy’s audition scene! It’s fabulous!



Puck: Aaaaaand what role is Timothy auditioning for, Jack? What character in the play?
Jack: [mumbles] Puck.
Puck: Puck, Jack. Pih. Uh. Kih. Puck. Which means he’s me.
Jack: Look, Gustafson’s just ripping off the same sources as authorman here.
Author: Riffing, Jack. Riffing off the same sources.
Jack: So you say.
Author: And a lot of it’s archetypal, I’d say, what with the Puck character being ultimately a Jungian puer aeternus, to my mind, as much a resonant metaphor of the psyche itself as a recurrent trope in literature. It’s interesting, though. Shakespeare’s classic articulation of that spritely figuration of the Self does have a powerful resonance with me as a queer writer, and I suspect I’m not alone. The character is, to all intents and purposes, the original out-and-out fairy — and I use the term “out” advisedly. He’s outside the strictures of what’s “natural” but, more to the point, liberated because of that, as when one is out in homosexual terms. Even as Oberon’s right hand man (and one can’t help thinking of the Prospero/Ariel relationship here, wondering if there’s a sense of the ephebe-as-male-muse to the queer-writer-as-mage,) he’s empowered in his lawless mischief. A troublemaking trickster who revels in his disruption of the status quo, which of course would include heteronormativity. Not that there’s much queer subext to the original play per se, as I read it, but back in Shakespeare’s day all the female parts would have been played by young men in drag… which isn’t entirely machismo unleashed. And with the metafictional games of the play-within-a-play, I’m curious what twist one might add by, say, staging the main action uncostumed, as if in a rehearsal, with males in the roles of Hermione and Helena. Or… well, one can’t help but imagine the tiniest of changes in the third act, when Demetrius wakes up enchanted — had he set his eyes on Lysander first instead of Helena. If one were to just swap some of the lines about from then on, I do wonder if… what?
Puck: The movie?
Author: Oh, OK. Go on.
Jack: So, Timothy gets the part -
Puck: - of Puck
Jack: - of Puck -
Puck: - i.e. me -
Jack: - and goes off to learn his lines.
Puck: Only one day, he’s practising and the words on the page go all wooooo and aaaaah and -
Jack: They can’t see you wiggling your fingers, you know. He means the page magically transforms into a spell for “Cupid’s Love Juice”, which of course Timothy tries out.
Puck: And the final ingredient is a song! A really cool song!
Jack: Well, it’s pretty cool. I mean, it’s not the Stooges but…
Puck: And it’s like the bestest dream sequence fantasy thing ever!
Jack: If you like your dream sequence fantasy things… well… a bit gay.
Puck: It has dancing boys! In silver hotpants! And fairy wings!
Jack: That’s pretty much what I meant by “a bit gay”.
Puck: You loved it. Just like you loved Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
Jack: Hedwig is punk.
Puck: And The Curiosity of Chance?
Jack: It’s got a cool 80s soundtrack.
Puck: And all those big Broadway ballads in Nowhere Town? Sung by you?
Jack: Shut up and just show them the clip.
Puck: OK.



Puck: See! Isn’t it awesome? So now Timothy has this magic purple pansy that squirts Cupid’s Love Juice, and you just know he’s going to use it on Jonathon at a rehearsal, and on all those guys who’re like “eww, faggots,” and on the rugby coach who’s like “my boys shouldn’t be flouncing around in this sissy play,” and half the town, causing complete havoc.
Jack: I liked the havoc.
Puck: I liked the rugby team going all prancey-dancey. And the silver hotpants.
Jack: I told you I am not getting silver hotpants. Tell him, authorman. Puck equals silver hotpants. Jack equals tartan trews with straps, chains, safety pins; or ripped blue jeans splattered with bleach; or maybe black leathers if they’re not too fucking Gothwank. But never, no, not ever, silver hotpants.
Puck: You totally want to wiggle your arse like that in silver hotpants. Admit it.
Jack: Bollocks I do. Course if you want to wiggle yours like that. In this general direction…
Author: Ahem.
Puck: Anyway, we shouldn’t really tell you anymore about the movie, cause you should watch it and see for yourself.
Jack: He is right. For once. Apart from the bollocks about it being us. It’s peachy keen.
Puck: Were the world mine, I’d make everyone watch it!
Jack: Were the world mine, I’d make everyone watch me in it. Cause, you know, it could use a few explosions. And if I had been playing the part of Jonathon…
Puck: Were the world mine, you’d have been playing all the parts, Jack.
Jack: Were the world mine, Puck, you’d have been playing with all my parts.
Puck: Were the world mine, all those parts would have their chores.
Jack: Were the world mine, all those parts would work you sore.

[Exit author, pursued by monkey (possibly evil).]

4 Comments:

Blogger Jordan said...

Hi- I came across this blog and think your readers might be interested in submitting their work to Narrative Magazine- it publishes fiction, non-fiction, poetry, art-- everything! And they also have some writing contests going on now that your readers might be interested in. Thanks!

5:53 pm  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

Hi Jordan.

Personally, I rather think they wouldn't, or at least shouldn't.

Narrative Magazine requires a reading fee for submissions, so as a professional writer I would actively discourage anyone at any level, pro or amateur, from ever submitting to it. Money should always flow to the writer, period. Any magazine, agency or imprint that asks for a reading fee is reversing that flow -- to all intents and purposes, asking a writer to pay for the privilege of a mere hope of publication. While some might seek to justify reading fees in this or that circumstance, I'm in the camp with many others who say, loudly and clearly, FUCK THAT SHIT. Particularly in this sort of example.

Regardless of whether actual publication is paid, that reading fee places Narrative Magazine in the realm of vanity press and poetry chapbook competition scams. You will most likely not see publication, and will instead simply be out of pocket by the reading fee. Which is to say you will have been rooked, amigos.

All aspiring writers should consider the generally vast slush pile that they are most likely just another speck within. But even on the odd chance that one is lucky enough to earn back that reading fee via acceptance you should then be aware that your good fortune is literally at the expense of all those who have paid money for the privilege of being read (by those who may well already have quite sufficient material for the next few issues, thank you very much, but hey, that's not going to stop them taking your twenty bucks, sucker.) You are leeching off all those who have succeeded only in subsidising the hobbies of the editors and their contributors, all those who have ultimately been treated as dupes to be reamed to support this project. Personally, I consider this a profoundly unethical venture.

I would submit to the most miniscule small press magazine that paid in copies, even to a webzine that could afford a paltry $5 per story -- hell, I'd submit to certain non-paying markets where a positive return might be gained in the form of exposure -- before I would submit to Narrative Magazine, and I'd highly recommend all my readers do the same.

Moreover, the stone cold fact that your comment is revealed by Google to be outright spam -- posted verbatim on other blogs -- not only strengthens my suspicion of Narrative Magazine to outright condemnation, but leads me to leave this comment here as evidence along with this public response, in no uncertain terms:

If you are reading this, please do not ever submit to Narrative Magazine. They are demonstrably spammers and almost certainly scammers and are to be avoided like the fucking plague.

Thanks.

8:58 pm  
Blogger Colin Meier said...

Moving swiftly on...or rather, backwards, to your actual post...MORE like that please! It's great to see Jack and Puck flitting around again. (And -- shhh! -- they're more entertaining than Jeff's evil monkeys...)

11:01 pm  
Blogger David said...

Is popular entertainment now doomed to follow a pattern of High School Musical/Butlins sing-a-longs which as well as having tediously predictable plotting are curiously removed from any kind of erotic feeling, gay or straight? Children in eyeliner dancing around to the musical equivalent of a Steps B-side do not provocative and mature entertainment make.

All in all, not a patch on The History Boys, although, alas, it features no hot pants.

11:47 am  

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