Can’t Change the Usual Process; Paper first then Computer! by Debbie Bagnato

As I struggle to write the "lines" in my head quickly so as not to lose something good, I think, "Maybe I should just go on the computer?" Which sounds logical, rational, and a means to more speedy results. BUT, the rule of writing for me,always begins on paper. When I was a child learning to write, there really was no alternative so when I established my personal writing habits (a very long time ago) this was the routine. To abruptly change the process now is not only a sacrilege of sorts but has also proven to be unproductive. Whenever I try to tackle a new project this way, I end up back on the paper, scribbling notes, scratching out lines and feeling my confidence return. In the case of Lysistrata (rewrite) I seem to be making so little progress, mainly because the book is large and the print is rather small, but this is the translation I prefer to work from. The feeling of "Oh God, I'll never finish" is simply because the opening section of my intended Scene I is taking forever to adapt in the fashion I have planned. There are many different "voices" in his opening scene and I want to make them all real and also saying something worth hearing. The outcome is that I seem to move forward ever so slowly, that the possibility of finishing by May 2017 seems unlikely--and I am  being gentle... In truth, I know it will happen, and I am almost to the place I set as my initial goal for putting the paper aside, moving to the computer and typing it all up neatly. I know this is the place where massive editing, line changes, and assorted other sundries can be as simple as the touch of my delete key. The only problem is that now, because it has taken this long to arrive here, I am nervous to take the plunge. Perhaps I know that this step up to writing on the computer will pull me in to the story I am creating from his great piece, even further than I am already and I will need to edit almost all of what I have written thus far. More importantly...drumroll, please...I will have to move forward with the writing and completion of this iinsanity. Then will begin the true editing process, and all the bigger changes, additions, and stage business needed to make my humble, though overreaching attempt at transposing Aristophanes seminal piece of humor from 411 B.C.E. Athens to a downtown Jersey City Shoprite circa 2016. And make that transposition something worth reading and hopefully seeing onstage.. It is intimidating--daunting actually--so it's no wonder I have cold feet. BUT, I promise you all, the numerous pages of handwritten "stuff" will be getting an upgrade to the bright screen of my desktop as I have only a small piece of opening"rewrite" to finish and I will then be at that goal I set. I have decided the balance of the small changes, additions of lines, voices, and stage notes will be more easily accomplished on the computer so, after that part gets finished--this evening for certain--we are moivng on up to the shiny screen. Please say a prayer, I really need it.

Fright Fest

     My wife and I absolutely loved going to Six Flags when we were younger. We would get season passes and, due to the fact that we lived so close, go a few times a week. Most times we went in the late afternoon or on rainy days since the crowds would be small. As great as it was to ride Medusa several times in a row, it paled in comparison to the park's annual Halloween celebration Fright Fest.

     The amount of work that must go into transforming the park into one big haunted attraction is mind-blowing. The level of detail is actually quite amazing. Caskets, tombstones, and pumpkins litter the park. Workers dress in costume, ranging from gory to nightmare-inducing. Even the old Warner Bros. characters like Porky Pig get in on the action, dressing in robes to shock the younger crowd. It was really quite amusing to see the people who scare easily freak out over what I considered to be little things.

     Until it happened to me. One particular night, my wife and I were there with my brother and his girlfriend. It was getting dark out, usually when the kids started to leave and the adults had dominion over the park. As we made our way over to the part of the park that housed Runaway Train, a favorite of ours since childhood, I noticed what looked to be the detailed dummy of a clown hanging from a post.

     I approached this mannequin to get a closer look at the level of design, completely oblivious to the fact that I was in a place designed to try and scare everyone. Looking back at the level of naivete that I exhibited, I'm a little embarrassed that I approached the dummy as calmly as I did. I began to reach out to touch it, all too curious to see what could be stuffing this garment in such a lifelike fashion.

     When I was within reaching distance, it happened. The employee who had been lying in wait for some schmuck to get close enough sprang into action. He made as if to grab at me, hoping I would shriek, followed a few laughs at how ridiculous I had been. That's not at all what he got.

     Unfortunately for him, the arm I had been extending to touch his costume reacted quite violently to his sudden jumpscare. I connected with a clean rabbit punch that would have made Rocky proud. Equally unfortunate for this guy was the fact that he was standing on a pedestal so that he would appear to be hanging from the post. This was enough to put him crotch height with my fist of fury.

     As he groaned in pain mixed with shock he crumpled to the ground. I found myself twenty feet away, seemingly teleporting myself away from further danger while proving my autonomic nervous system capable of fight-and-flight. The rest of my party remained at the scene of the crime, laughing uncontrollably.

     After this incident, which my wife still reminds of occasionally, I don't ridicule people who freak out over seemingly safe scares. Everyone has a different threshold, some just take longer to reach.Thinking about this incident brings to mind images of the people who get scared easily, and how they are generally able to laugh it off afterwards. They seem to seek that feeling of knowing they are safe after this potential threat. This realization is the high they are looking for.

     The other thing this brings to mind is how ridiculously dangerous this whole idea is. Put a large group of strangers together, under the anonymity of costumes that are inherently gory. This seems like an invitation to do bodily harm to someone unnoticed. It's almost as ridiculous as telling kids they should never take candy from strangers and then sending them out on Halloween to do just that.