I’m pleased to announce the following… Jean-Claude Van Damme Joins ‘Pound of Flesh’… I’m so happy right now.
A short play sample from my collection The Joshua James Project
MAN ONE: Career Diplomat in a suit.
MAN TWO: Career Diplomat in a suit.
Outside the United Nations
MAN ONE stands outside, smoking a cigarette to relieve his stress.
He is joined by MAN TWO.
They nod to each other politely. MAN TWO gestures for a light for his cigarette.
MAN ONE gladly gives him a light.
They both stand and stew for a moment.
I know, I know.
Those backstabbing bastards.
I’m with you.
You can’t trust ‘em.
You said it.
They’re just not … trustworthy.
Not one bit.
It’s a cultural thing, I think, it’s just not genetically possible for them to be trusted, there’s just something …
Something somewhere, in their wiring, something in their …
DNA, it’s in their fucking DNA …
That’s right, in the DNA, something that’s programmed to be …
Untrustworthy, Yeah. Yeah. I’m with you. Yeah.
Those bastards. After all we’ve done for them.
And there’s no talking to them!
You try and be reasonable, you state your case with logic and intellect and fucking … fucking …
Reasonableness! And what do they do? Drop their pants, turn around and immediately start talking out of their ass!
I know, I know. It’s shameful. Nothing but Ass-talk. It’s a Goddamn shame. It’s like they think every day is their birthday or something.
Those fucking bastards.
Where would they be without us, anyway?
Nowhere, that’s where!
Between you and me …
Just between you and I. I sometimes think that the best thing to do in the name of world diplomacy …
Best thing to do, and I wouldn’t say this to anyone else on the council but you …
I hear you, same from me to you, big guy …
And this is just my opinion, but I sometimes think that the best thing to do with those people, would be to just simply drop a big fucking nuclear warhead right in the Goddamn center of them. I mean, I’m all about peace, I want the peace just as much as anyone, but sometimes, sometimes you just wanna go, okay, you’re going to be that way? BOOM! Take that you ungrateful fuckers, BANG! WHOOSH! All gone.
Between you and me …
I feel the exact same way.
I’m telling you …
That’s not our official policy, mind you …
Ours neither, of course.
Our OFFICIAL policy is to TRY and be diplomatic with the stubborn fuckers. TRY TO, anyway.
Same with us, same with us.
Because they bring SOME assets to the table.
A few, a few, that’s true, they do.
But there are days, I’m telling you, there are days …
I hear ya …
There are days when I dream of us, our people, doing just that same exact thing to those greedy fuckers. Just go, is that what you have to say? Okay! Bang! Whoosh! Boom!
Bang! All gone!
All gone! Those bastards.
Those fucking bastards.
All we’ve done for them and this is how they treat us?
It’s a disgrace, how’re they’re behaving, seriously. This is a problem, this is a big serious fucking problem.
You know what I think? Fuck those guys. You know? Just fuck ‘em!
Fuck ‘em! Fuck those assholes and their Ass-Talk, fuck ‘em!
Fuck those fucking bastards. Just what do they offer the world in terms of culture, anyway?
Shit. Not much.
Try nothing! Nothing! They make a few decent movies …
That they do, it’s true …
But we always remake them for ourselves anyway …
We do too!
Other than some cool movie ideas and an okay film festival, they do nothing!
Their cuisine is pretty good, too. But other than their food and movies, there is NOTHING that they have to offer to the civilized world, nothing. Those bastards.
That’s right, those bastards. Wait a minute. You said food?
Sure, the food is good.
Are you serious? Their … cuisine?
Come on, admit it, their food is pretty good, they got good restaurants. I always eat like a pig when I’m over there.
Wait a minute, wait a minute. Who are we talking about again?
Who are we talking about? Who do you think we’re talking about?
Aren’t we talking about the Americans?
What? Are you fucking crazy? We’re talking about the Goddamn FRENCH, why would you think that we were …
(Short pause as they look at each other.)
You’re from America, aren’t you?
And you’re with the French team, aren’t you?
Well. At least we’re PRETTY MUCH on the same page, save one or two wrinkles.
Right, right. We should probably …
Get back to the table, get on with the diplomatic talks …
Got a lot of work to do …
You said it, you said it.
(The two men walk off in opposite directions.
They stop and glance each other.
They turn toward the audience.)
POSTSCRIPT & PRODUCTION NOTES
This piece was developed and presented through No Shame Theatre (which allows artists to present new, unfinished work, without staging or memorization, in front of audiences) during the white-hot days of protest in New York right before the Iraq War.
“Diplomacy” debuted February 21, 2003, featuring:
Adam Devine as Man One
Joshua James as Man Two
Performed at No Shame Goes To War (Los Angeles), on March 8, 2003. Directed by J.J. Hickey.
? as Man One
J.J. Hickey as Man Two
Performed at No Shame Goes To War (Charlottesville), on March 21, 2003, performed by Chris Patrick and Scott Silet.
Performed at No Shame Goes To War (Cedar Falls), on April 4, 2003, performed by Luke Pingel and Grant Tracey.
An early version of this script was subsequently presented through No Shame Goes To War, a non-profit protest against the war seen at theatre venues throughout the country.
DIPLOMACY received its professional world premiere in the summer of 2006 at The City Theatre in Miami, Florida, as part of their Summer Shorts Festival. James Randolph directed the production.
A personal note. I wrote this piece in one afternoon and performed it that very same night at No Shame (back when it had a New York City branch) with my buddy Adam Devine. Nothing more exciting than to get an idea and put it on stage right away.
It always cheeses me now to hear wealthy pundits proclaim on TV that “everyone thought Iraq had WMDs,” completely forgetting that we renamed french fries and french toast because the French weren’t buying it at the time (not just the French, of course, but the UN and hundreds of thousands of Americans were smart enough to see through it, which is why a half a million Americans marched in protest of the war before the invasion … just in NYC alone).
Like it? There are 44 royalty free plays in The Joshua James Project, please check it out and share with your friends.
As warned, I’m going to keep the topic of discussion about The Joshua James Project.
For those new to this, The Joshua James Project is a collection of 44 of my short plays that are now royalty free for independent and educational production.
Because I got an email or two asking about it, I’m posting the complete list, from my table of contents.
THE TEN MINUTE PLAYS
MY TOP FIVE
1 – All The Rage (1M, 1W)
2 – Burnmarks (1M, 1W)
3 – Ambivalent (2M, 2W)
4 – Something Situation (2W)
5 – Extreme Eugene (1M)
1 – A Gay Thing (2M)
2 – Pretend It Is (1M, 1W)
3 – The Forgiven (1M, 1W)
4 – Three Times (1M, 1W)
5 – Bad News (1M, 1W)
6 – The Call (2W)
7 – Bigger and Better (2W)
8 – Little Details (2M)
9 – The Dance (1M, 1W)
10 – The Taste (1M, 1W)
11 – Whatever (2W)
12 – Broccoli (1M, 1W)
13 – The Big Question (1M, 1W)
1 – Pauline On The Plane (1W)
2 – Paul On The Plane (1M)
3 – Jerry In Jail (1W)
4 – Doctor (1M)
5 – Lanna (1W)
6 – Ryan and The Beaver (1M)
7 – Wally In The Waiting Room (1M)
8 – Happy Wendy (1W)
9 – The Futility (1M)
POLITICS, SATIRE AND SHIT LIKE THAT
1 – I Am America (4 actors of any sex)
2 – Diplomacy (2M)
3 – New Texas: Or Now That The War Is Over, Party On! Written with Joshua Peskay (4M)
4 – Afraid of The Dark (2W)
5 – All Fun And Games Until… (4M)
6 – Fast Learner (1M)
7 – F**k You! (3 actors of any sex)
8 – F**k You! The extended City Theatre version. (5 actors of any sex)
THE ONE ACT PLAYS
1 – The Beautiful One (3M)
2 – Best Shot (2W, 1M)
3 – Prudence (2W)
4 – Something Situation, extended one act version (3W)
5 – Like The Song (2M, 1W)
6 – Bodily Functions (2M)
7 – Quitting (2M)
1 – Love, Lust & Life (3M, 3W)
These plays cover the near entirety of my short play library (there are only six missing, which were already published in The THE Plays, bringing my total to fifty) and now the performance rights for these forty-four are essentially free for independent production.
So there you go, if you’re interested in doing one of these works, all you have to do is pick up a copy of The Joshua James Project at Amazon.
Please check them out and, if you don’t mind, spread the word.
So I just recently launched The Joshua James Project and I have to say, it was a surreal experience to look back over years and years of work…
For the record, I actually arrived in New York City, fresh from school, exactly twenty years ago this coming week. I drove a truck here and had only a few hundred dollars in my pocket.
Before I left Iowa, I began the short play A BOY, A GIRL AND A DOG but had no idea how to finish it. The ending, and the subsequent plays A MAN, A WOMAN AND A CAT and GRANDMA, GRANDPA AND THE CAR would come to me the following spring and be produced the fall afterward, directed by the great Nick Corley, and set me on a path that would continue up until this day.
And in those years, I’d be fortunate enough to meet a work with a whole bunch of great and wonderful people, actors, directors and producers and learn so much from each and every one… I named as many as I could in the book, and I’m going to list the names here, too…
Catherine Zambri Riggs
R. Paul Hamilton
Liana (Riccardi) O’Connor
My thanks to you all…
It is with great pleasure that I announce The Joshua James Project!
“New York playwright and screenwriter Joshua James (SPOOGE - The Sex & Love Monologues) has made forty-four of his popular short plays royalty-free for independent and amateur production in THE JOSHUA JAMES PROJECT. Included in this collection are the favorites ALL THE RAGE, A GAY THING, AMBIVALENT, SOMETHING SITUATION, THE BEAUTIFUL ONE and the Off-Broadway premiering EXTREME EUGENE, among many others.”
“Joshua James’ work is bold, intelligent and subversive. Read it. Then find a way to make it happen on stage.” - Obie award-winning playwright Naomi Wallace.”
Please check it out, friends…
The Joshua James Project
I now have a Facebook Page Writer Joshua James which you can like and follow my adventures there, if you’re of that mind.
Today actually marks nine years since I started this blog.
Usually I go on and on about how blogs have changed (and they have) and so on and so forth… I’m not going to do that this year.
Instead I’ll note that when I began this blog, I worked part time in a vet’s office while supporting my theatre habit, had been married for just two years and change, and had no kids. And I had just stopped training Muay Thai, spent far too much time playing Xbox and was gaining weight fast.
Today, nine years later, I’m a professional writer, full time, with work in development. I’ve seen words I’ve written uttered onscreen (tho’ I wasn’t credited, heheh), I’ve been published and produced, untold number of scripts, pilots, plays, pitches, treatments, and novels written in that time since. I’ve learned more than I could have ever imagined about being a writer (and continue to learn every day), I have a disciplined approach to my craft, I’m back into martial arts again (Brazilian Jiujitsu, baby!) four years strong and, even better, I’m still married and the father of two very rambunctious boys.
I’m very aware now, more than I ever was when this began, of how precious time is. It’s been a wonderful nine years to share that with you, my precious few readers, and I am grateful and thank you for it. I hope the next nine are even better.
I wish you all a wonderful thanksgiving.
My latest column is up at Sessionville, it’s called How To Appease The Distracted Creative Mind | Sessionville… please check it out.
I’m going to be doing some columns for my friends at Sessionville and my first one is up, it’s called Writing To Music. Please visit and let me know what you think of it in the comments over there.
They used to have these things called drive-in movies theaters.
They still have them here and there, I’m told, but it’s mostly for nostalgia’s sake … like LP records and cassettes, they’re for a specific group looking for a throwback experience (well, regarding cassettes, maybe not) rather than a cinematic one.
But back when I was very young, they were plentiful and very much the thing to do on the weekend, especially in the summer. You’d drive to the theater, pay to drive in and park next to a speaker post, hang the speaker on your car window and watch the movie from the comfort of your own vehicle. The sound was tinny and thin from the speaker, nothing no one would want to put up with today (especially after Star Wars) but damn it, it was fun.
They often had double and triple bills, so for a family it was ideal. Three movies for the price of one.
Our parents took us to the drive-in a lot when I was very young, and I remember my brother and I were always very excited. We’d pop our own popcorn and put it in a large brown paper bag and we’d pick some green apples from the neighbor’s tree and that’d be our snack, along with a lot of sugary soda (which is called pop in the Midwest, by the way). We often fell asleep before the second movie started, but that was part of the fun.
We saw a lot of “bad” movies, as that my father’s tastes skewed toward Roger Corman type of films. A double bill of Ron Howard movies, EAT MY DUST and GRAND THEFT AUTO come to mind, for example. A lot of flawed movies that had more than a bit of fun in them.
Some of the drive-ins had swing sets and stuff for the kids to play on until it got dark enough for the movie. There was always a cartoon before the show, and sometimes we took the truck and sat in the back on lawnchairs, the movie before us and the stars up above. It was a pretty awesome time.
We also loved Chuck Norris movies and for a few days afterwards would have “play” karate fights with my dad throughout the house. He usually won those, at least until we got bigger, then we stopped doing those.
We stopped doing a lot of things once we all got older.
Many things change as time marches on.
But for the first ten to thirteen years of your life, your father is the one who picks you up when you fall down, who you run to when you’re scared because the thunder was really loud or that bad dream you had was really, really frightening (likely inspired by a Corman movie).
He seems large, impregnable. When you’re a child, that’s your father.
Everyone’s memory of their father probably starts the same, a large man with a deep voice holding you. Because that’s how it starts out, you remember a big man with big arms picking you up. Even after you’ve grown, that image of your dad is implanted in your memory forever.
In my father’s case, he was always bigger than me even after I grew up. Had me by a couple of inches and, up until I was thirty, by at least forty pounds. Even after I put on weight, he still tipped me by about ten or fifteen. And he was pretty rowdy, wasn’t afraid of wading into a bar fight or three when we were kids, he even named one of his country bands ROWDY, in fact.
No one is impregnable, naturally, and the natural course of things is that as you grow older, you begin to notice your father’s flaws. We all have them, but you notice his first, especially if you’re a son and competitive … males do that. You notice those and they become an issue. Then there are other issues. Young males can be very unforgiving.
It’s part of the growing and separation process, part of finding your identity is rejecting that which you already know and moving on toward the unknown to discover what you can be. You rebel, you fight and you deliberately walk away.
For some sons, the separation is short, lasts about as long as puberty. For others, it is longer, through college perhaps. For a few, as was my case, it was far too long, years and years.
Right up until I had sons of my own, in fact.
My father lived in the small town he grew up in and never wanted to leave. I couldn’t wait to get out and move to the most populated city in the country. My father loved and played country music and called himself a “proud redneck”. I am a former theatre geek and proud progressive. We were opposites in many ways, even though we looked alike.
But when I had my own boys, I began to understand him, if only a little bit.
A good buddy of mine around my age who is also a father told me that once you embark on being a parent, it’s not a question of if you’ll make mistakes, but when. You can only hope and pray that it will be something small and ordinary when you do. It keeps you up at night.
One night, decades ago when I was around six or so, we were at the drive-in and my father was walking my little brother and I to the concession stand in between features, so it was really dark.
As we walked along, a car rocketed out of the night, headlights off and driving far too fast. The rule for drivers at the drive-in was that one supposed to creep along in your vehicle because everyone walked. This dude wasn’t abiding by that rule, he zipped along fast and without his lights on, we didn’t see him until it was too late.
My father grabbed my brother and I with each hand and shoved us away hard out of the way in opposite directions just as the driver slammed on his brakes and hit him. My father went up and over the hood of the car, stopping at the windshield. He rolled off the hood, hopping mad, and gave the driver, a scared and pimply teenager on a date, a spectacularly profane ass-chewing.
I forgot about that incident for decades as I got caught up in my own shit and my own issues as a young male.
But I remembered it when my own sons were born, and never forgot it. It allowed me the space to reconnect with my father, too. My father was always his own man, a stubborn and proud redneck who loved drinking Budweiser out of a bottle, and while he wasn’t without flaw, there is no one who is.
He was still my father and he threw himself in front of a moving car for his sons.
He was there, then. All the other issues I may have had with him were small and insignificant compared to that.
My dad passed away on September 8th, 2013 after a long battle with multiple illnesses. He was a rough, tough man, he still had the big hands and arms and he was my father. I was fortunate enough to be there with him when he moved on, just like he was with me when I transitioned into this world. It’s not just my loss, but a loss for many, his wife, his sons, his grand kids and his great-grand kids and his devoted dog Jack. The many who knew him as a neighbor and friend, and many more who were fans of his bands and music.
It took me too long to understand what it means to throw yourself in front of a car for your boys, but I’m glad that I did finally get it in time.
He was my father. That’s what they do.
Rest it peace, Beau.
That I sadly must take yet another blogging break… I am writing like a mad beast, and the unfortunate tradeoff is that the blogging must wait… but I will have more to report, and soon, of that I promise you…
In the meantime, be safe, be well and I will eventually see you back here on the mats…