LawrenceCConnolly.com » Lawrence C. Connolly

 

Frankenstein, Karloff, and Spike the Mutant

September 3rd, 2021

“I was euphoric in June. Look where we are now.” So begins a new essay in the New York Times that considers how the summer we hoped for got preempted by Covid-Delta. That’s the thing with monsters. You can never be sure they’re gone for good.

Take the creature in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein … [read more at The 21st Century Scop].

Cartoon by Dana Summers, Copyright 2021 Tribune Content Agency, from The Week.

Frankenstein, Karloff, and Spike the Mutant

September 3rd, 2021

“I was euphoric in June. Look where we are now.” So begins a new essay in the New York Times that considers how the summer we hoped for got preempted by Covid-Delta. That’s the thing with monsters. You can never be sure they’re gone for good.

Cartoon by Dana Summers, Copyright 2021 Tribune Content Agency, from The Week.

Take the creature in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. He ends the 1818 novel by promising to vanish forever, but then – after leaping onto an ice floe in the frozen north, he returns again five years later in the Richard Brinsley Peake stage adaptation titled Presumption: or the Fate of Frankenstein. And then, after Peake dispatches the creature in an avalanche, the monser continues to return in countless stage-and-film adaptations.

All of which just goes to show, you can’t keep a good monster down.

Alas, the same is true for real-world monsters like Covid-Delta. A few months ago, it seemed we were moving on from the coronavirus, so much so that the good people at Prime Stage Theatre officially announced that my new adaptation of Shelley’s novel would premiere November 5 at Pittsburgh New Hazlett Theatre. But now, in a scenario that sounds like the elevator pitch for a Toho monster movie (Frankenstein vs The Mutant Spiked Protein), it appears covid is back with enough vengeance to force a delay.

Poster art for Toho’s 1965 release Frankenstein vs Baragon. (Yes, it’s a real movie.) 

Here’s the official press release from Prime Stage announcing their revised 2021 season.

To ensure safety for our patrons, actors and staff, we have changed our originally scheduled large-cast production of Frankenstein to a oneactor playKARLOFF The Man and The Monster. Frankenstein is rescheduled to be produced in November 2022.

This is a proactive measure to limit exposure to the COVID19 coronavirus. Given the uptick of cases, we believe caution for the balance of the year remains appropriate.

On November 5th, Prime Stage Theatre will present KARLOFF The Man and The Monsterwritten by Randy Browser and directed by Art DeConciliis. Tickets to this show and our entire season will go on sale soon.

This will be our first inperson performance at the New Hazlett Theater since March 14, 2020, when we had to close The Outsiders due to Covid19 and present Prime Online streaming for our 24th Season.

KARLOFF is an original oneactor production where the famous cinema favorite Boris Karloff comes to life.

This multi-media oneact experience traces the origins of Karloff’s career and carries the audience into his rise as one of the most renowned movie monster actors and stage actors of all time.

And so we’re going to have to wait a little longer for our Frankenstein to premiere.

Nevertheless, in the meantime, Prime Stage is planning a virtual event titled Beyond the Imagination, during which I will be joining Director Art DeConciliis and Producing Artistic Director Wayne Brinda for a conversation about all things Frankenstein. The free event is scheduled to take place on October 4 at 7:00 PM.

In addition, also on October 4, we’ll be launching the third season of the podcast Prime State Mystery Theatre, with new episodes dropping each Thursday through the beginning of November. Our new story, which takes place in a theatre during a production of Frankenstein, will invite listeners to follow clues that involve trap doors, a devil’s portal, and a roster of eccentric characters – some of whom may not be entirely what they seem.

Looking farther ahead, I hope to produce a couple more Frankenstein-themed stories for Mystery Theatre between now and the play’s new release in 2022.

We’ll get there, and when we do, I trust you’ll find it was all worth the wait. After all, you can’t keep a good monster down.

Splash Music:
What are the shortest songs ever recorded?

August 2nd, 2021

Two of the more popular posts featured on this website deal with flash fiction. That is according to Google Analytics, which shows Putting the Flash in Fiction and The Shortest Flashes Ever Written continue to garner clicks years after being posted.

Such interest in ultra-short stories has me pondering their musical equivalents … and contemplating the question What are the shortest songs ever recorded?

With this post, I don’t intend to provide a definitive answer so much as open the discussion and hope some of you will chime in with thoughts and recommendations. Given the number of songs out there, the search for the all-time shortest … [read more at The 21st Century Scop].

Splash Music:
What are the shortest songs ever recorded?

August 2nd, 2021

Two of the more popular posts featured on this website deal with flash fiction. That is according to Google Analytics, which shows Putting the Flash in Fiction and The Shortest Flashes Ever Written continue to garner clicks years after being posted.

Such interest in ultra-short stories has me pondering their musical equivalents … and contemplating the question What are the shortest songs ever recorded?

With this post, I don’t intend to provide a definitive answer so much as open the discussion and hope some of you will chime in with thoughts and recommendations. Given the number of songs out there, the search for the all-time shortest really is one for the hive mind.

So … to begin, let’s consider what qualifies as a song. Does it need a verse, chorus, bridge, instrumental, refrain? If so, the chart-topper “Stay” (1960) by Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs may be considered the shortest pop song ever. Clocking in at a scant 1:34, it topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 1960 and went on to sell over 8 million copies.

But is it the all-time shortest song?

Although never released as a single, Queen’s “Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon” from their album A Night at the Opera (1975) has all the requisite components – among them a brilliant guitar solo by lead guitarist Brian May. Be warned. Listen once, and this one will be in your head the rest of the day.

But what about shorter?

Here I think we can move past Barbra Streisand’s so-called “Minute Waltz” (which at 1:59 makes it the “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” of short songs) and consider the true one-minute wonder “Little Boxes” by the Women Folk (which hit #84 on the Hot 100 in 1964) and the shorter still “Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen” by Pikotaro (#77 in 2016). At 45 seconds, Pikotaro’s may be the shortest pop song ever.

But can we go shorter?

Here we might need to modify our definition a bit, but if we can agree to do so, we might give a nod to The Beatles’ “Her Majesty,” which occupies a scant 25 seconds at the end of their penultimate album Abby Road.

No chorus or bridge, and it all ends abruptly one beat short of where it seems to be going – but it’s a sweet little ditty. I’m inclined to give it a nod.

Shorter still?

Here we really need to bend things a bit to consider a piece of political satire from John Denver’s album Rhymes and Reasons (1969). Titled “The Ballad of Spiro Agnew” (remember him?), it runs a scant 15 seconds. Written by folk-singer Tom Paxton, the song also appears on the album Politics. Recorded live, this version opens with Paxton introducing the song and concludes with a round of laughter and applause – all of which contribute to a track with a running time of 44 seconds. The song itself, however, clocks in at 11 seconds – short enough to make it a top contender for the shortest song ever recorded. Unless we are willing to amend our definition even more. In which case …

We might return to Queen, this time to the album Made in Heaven and a track titled “Yeah.” Consisting of a single word (can you guess what it is?) and running just a little over a second, it seems to be even shorter than the track that the Guinness Book of World Records lists as “the shortest song ever recorded.” That song, by the British grindcore band Napalm Death, is “You Suffer.” Its official run time is 1.316 seconds. But, with all due respect to Guinness, I think Queen wins this one by a nose, unless we’re willing to bend our definition a little more. In which case we descend (as we did in “The Shortest Flashes Ever Written”) into the realm of zero content.

No words.

No music.

Pure silence.

Believe it or not, there are quite a few of these zero-content tracks – and, although all boast official running times of a few seconds to a few minutes, we might argue that none have any length at all. Consider John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “Two Minutes of Silence” (1969) or John Denver’s “The Ballad of Richard Nixon” (1969) – both of which seems to be taking a page from the playbook of John Cage, who gives us silence in three movements in the orchestral piece “4’33” (1952).

So what do you think? Have I missed any good ones? I’m particularly interested in hearing about tunes that fall between “Lazing on a Sunday” and “Her Majesty” – fully realized recordings clocking in somewhere between 30 and 60 seconds.

In the meantime (to return to the topic of flash fiction), I’ve recently updated this website’s stories page to include audio links to some of my flash fiction stories as well as a few longer works – all offered for anyone who might want to “stay just a little bit longer.”

Until next time … scop on!