Sunday, November 06, 2005

40 years as an Actor

Hey, Bloggers!

Hallowe'en marked the 40th anniversary of the beginning
of my career as an actor, and to mark that auspicious
occasion, here are two anecdotes; the first is the
story of how I got that first job 40 years ago, and
the second is my proudest moment on the Broadway

Don Stitt
In 1965, my best friend's father was president of the
Society of American Magicians, and my freind and I had
a little magic act that we would do at parties, which
consisted of cast-off tricks from the father's
On Hallowe'en, my friend's father invited me to come
along to the SAM's annual convention, which was held that year
at the Roosevelt Hotel.
I remember getting a lot of celebrity autographs that night,
from Henny Youngman to The Amazing Randi, among others.
But my friend's father was there to do business, so Rob
and I were put in a small theater where magicians
were doing their acts for booking agents, and the magician
on the stage was none too good. He was a white guy doing
an oriental magician shtick, complete with bad asian accent,
and he was doing some of the tricks that Rob and I did in
our act.
I leaned over to Rob and said, "If this guy makes the mistake
of asking for a volunteer from the audience, watch what happens."
Sure enough, the magician asked for a volunteer from the audience,
and my hand shot up, and since I was cute and harmless looking
and on the aisle, the magician chose me.
As I stepped up on the stage, I could see that the next trick was
what magicians call a "patsy trick" meaning there are two seemingly
identical props, but one DOES the magic trick, and the other does not.
In this instance, there was a bottle which appeared to remain
rightside-up after being turned upside down.
Because they were identical, I couldn't tell which bottle did
the trick, and which one did not, but I was pretty sure that the
bottle the magician had placed on the left side of the table was
the one he wanted there, and vice versa, so while he stood downstage
of me, explaining the trick to the audience, I switched placement of
the two bottles.
The magician came up to me and said, "You take the bottle and turn it
over, like this."
But his bottle was upside down.
I said, "You mean like THIS?" And I did the trick with the other
bottle, and it "miraculously" remained rightside up.
The crowd roared it's approval.
As fate would have it, the vice president of the Manhattan Savings
Bank happened to be in the audience that night, and was looking for
a small, blond boy he could cast as a Dutch Boy Doll in a Christmas
musical the bank was producing for the holidays. He signed me on the
In no time I was doing four shows a day with pros from the worlds
of nightclubs, vaudeville and circuses.
A lot has changed since that first New York booking in 1965.
Television is in color now, we put a man on the moon, and Univac is
no longer the only computer. (Oh yes, they have added microphones
to the theater since then, too.)
But to this day, I still get a thrill from that unique backstage
smell of sawdust, hot glue and fresh paint, and when the spotlights
are in my eyes, and I can hear a few hundred strangers laughing at
some stupid thing I have said or done, I'm still as happy as that 9
year old boy on that Hallowe'en night 40 years ago.

My role in Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story,
was based on legendary disk jockey
Alan Freed, and it included a loosely-scripted
prize-giveaway "in one" before the main
curtain, as a distraction while the bandstand was
set up.
The director had hired me partly because of my
stand-up comedy experience, explaining that
if something went awry, it would be good to
have a quick witted fellow onstage to cover.
We agreed that a red light would be hung on
the pinrail, and I'd keep talking as long as the
red light was flashing.
My little piece of the action was in Act Two,
and usually lasted between 3.5 and 5 minutes.
But one night at the Shubert, probably around
March of '91, I did my usual shtick, and the light
was still flashing.
No problem. I did the 90 seconds' worth of
"back up material," and looked up.
The light was still flashing.
But, hey, I'm a pro, so I launch into my old stand-
up routine, artfully editing-out references that
would have been anachronistic to 1959. This
buys me 4 more minutes.
And the light is still flashing.
Using the scenario as part of my very-real investigation
of what was wrong, I said, "We seem to be experiencing
technical difficulties." I stuck my head behind the main
rag and Doc, the head carpenter, snarled, "Get back out
But I was not out of ideas. Not quite.
I walked over to one of our backup singers, Jill "Crossing
Jordan" Hennessy, and improvized an interview.
This bought a couple of more minutes, after which I
was pretty much out of ideas.
And the light was still flashing.
So I did something I'm pretty sure nobody ever did
in the Shubert Theater's century of history: I jumped
down off the stage and said to the first guy on the
first aisle, "Hi. What's your name?"
He said, "Mike."
I said, "Hey, Mike, where ya from?"
He said, "New York."
Well, we were all from New York, since the Shubert is
on 44th Street. But we were supposed to be in
Clearlake, Iowa, so I said, "All the way from the Eastern
Seaboard, ladies and gentlemen."
It got a laugh,, and the red light went out.
I knew if I could segue back into the show seamlessly, I
would be the hero that saved the day.
I said, "Mike, what brings you to Iowa all the way from
The Big Apple?"
And Mike said those three magic words, "Rock and Roll!"
I said to the crowd, "Are ya READY to rock and roll?"
They cheered long enough for me to scramble gracelessly back up
onto the stage.
"Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, put your hands together
for a larger-than-life welcome for that larger-than-life rock
and roll star, Mr. Jay P. Richardson....The Big Bopper!"
And the band struck up Chantilly Lace, and Dave Mucci came on
and rocked the crowd.
I went into the wing, and the entire crew had lined up
to give me a standing ovation.
I had covered a 3.5 minute spot for 12 minutes.
Mostly off the top of my head.
It seems they had set up the entire bandstand 18 inches
left of the spike marks. Part of it was in the wings.
They had to unplug the instruments, strike the instruments,
collapse the bandstand, move the bandstand, assemble
the bandstand, restore the instruments and reconnect
the instuments.
They had done all that in 12 minutes.
Oddly enough, the director, musical director and producer
had been in the house that night, and they passed me
backstage, never saying so much as "Thanks."
I mentioned this with some umbrage to my stage manager,
the very witty Peter Mumford. He intoned," Mr. Stitt,
you've been in show business long enough to know that
nobody says anything to ya when you do it RIGHT!"

As George S. Kaufman once said, " I can only fall back
on a cliche and tell you, 'That's Show Business.'
I can further advise you to 'stay out of it.'"

Saturday, October 15, 2005

My Year of Meats - Fact to Fiction

A few years back, I read a book titled My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki. It is about a Japanese-American who has to make a film for a Japanese food production company about the wholesome values of meat. When the protagonist, Jane Takagi-Little, comes to make her series My American Wife the strange odyssey takes some great twist. Funny, sincere and sometimes disturbing, this book covers themes in gender, American image making, family values and of course the horrors of the meat industry.

For all you avid readers out there, my question is why did she write a fictional book about such a controversial topic? Ozeki did have experience as a film maker and could have easily written this into a personal essay, an expose, or a series of investigative reports. However, she wrote it as fiction. My question to writers and to readers is not why specifically did Ozeki write this book as fiction, but what advantages and disadvantages does a writer have in writing something so controversial as fiction rather than non-fiction? How does it change the scope of the work? Does it take away from the value of the information or its importance to public knowledge?

I enjoyed this book and its construction. It was funny and had some good twists and turns. It is a good example of a typical nonfiction book, that turned to fiction. Did it loose any truth or importance in that transformation? What other books do this? Shadows of reality reflect back in our craft, who decides what angle to hold that mirror?

Ron Samul -(I know - it sounds like a an assignment, but I'm trying to stir the pot - I'm sick of looking at the 9/11 post.)

Monday, September 12, 2005

Pipe Dreams on 9/11

On September 11, this year I assembled with the New London Firefighters pipes and drums band in Mystic, Connecticut. We usually gather in some parking lot, tune, drink a few beers and muster up to march and play. While we were tuning, a piper and I were talking.

"Have you noticed, Vern, that every September 11 is just like the day it happened. A beautiful day," I said.

He nodded, "It's like we have to keep doing this day over and over again until we get it right."

As we formed up in our ranks and file, my drum slinging over my shoulder; I was thinking about what Vern had said. He was right. As we marched down the street, food festival guests watching us pass by, I began thinking about living a day over and over, waiting to "get it right." I began to wonder what we might do to put our lives, our nation back on course. I began to wonder how we can change the catastrophic, the sadness, and the mark on such a beautiful day.

We circled and began playing our memorial sets. In that sober moment I watched people show some indication of reverance, taking off their hats, hands across their hearts, looking up to the American flag.

We started the last two songs, Going Home and Amazing Grace, and the crowd grew quiet as the single piper began. As the rest of the band drew in, I felt a surge of sadness and distress, but it was beyond the tears and the mourning. It was the panic of having lost something intangible, and not knowing where to find it and foster it. America has taken the human out of humane and that is evident now down in the south. As we rolled into our final notes of Amazing Grace, I felt a surge of emotions that drew me away from some of the terrible sadness and out, looking for something that has been lost in war, politics and sadness. Looking for the soul of America is better than mourning its loss forever. Until we find it, we have to keep living that day over and over again until we get it right. -- Ron Samul

Sunday, September 11, 2005

some thoughts on the anniversary of 9/11

Hello, all,
I can once again log onto the blog, once again thanks to Laurel.
Have been having copious computer related difficulties, but I
guess that's all part of the education process.
It's 9:52 AM on 9/11/05 as I type this. As one who was in
Manhattan on that fateful day 4 years ago, I have a few thoughts
to share about tragedy raining down on The Capitol of the World
out of a clear, blue summer sky, and I guess this is as good a
place as any to share them.

Here are 2 brief pieces.

Pardon my politics.

I look forward to our continued cyberspace interactions, and hope
this finds you all well.

In 2001, our president took the month of August
to vacation in Crawford, TX.

During that month, briefings stating "Bin Laden
Determined To Strike U.S." and that terrorists
were "planning to fly hijacked planes into
skyscrapers" went unheeded.

The rest is history.

Today, in New York, there is much rancorous debate
about a proposed memorial to the victims of a tragedy
that could have been prevented.

Such a memorial would be superfluous, in my opinion.

We already have a timeless reminder that lives are
lost when warnings are ignored.

It is New Orleans.
---Don Stitt

an opinion
by Don Stitt

The president has called the United States Government's response to
the tragedy in New Orleans "unacceptable."

I concur.

It is unacceptable that this president's federal budget has, for the
last three years in a row, denied New Orleans the minimum funding
they knew they needed to modernize and fortify the levees which
breeched, which resulted in the entire city becoming flooded.

It is unacceptable that this was done despite government reports
which predicted precisely how this sort of situation might unfold in
the event of a hurricane, and despite foreknowledge that Katrina
was likely to hit New Orleans with Category 5 force.

It is unacceptable that we lacked a National Guard that could
respond in a timely, effective fashion, as their presence in
Iraq, (a nation we invaded contrary to international law, and
on the basis of blatantly false evidence,) precludes them from
protecting Americans within our own borders sufficiently in the
event of such a catastrophe.

It is unacceptable that this president has logged in more
vacation time in just over 4 years than Ronald Reagan,
(a world-class vacationer himself,) logged in over his 8
years in office.

It is unacceptable that this president could refer to his return
to work as "cutting short his vacation," when this vacation
still provided him 200% more time off than the average American
receives in a year.

It is unacceptable that the president should make such a weepy,
exploitive, "I feel your pain" photo-op of the tragedy, when he
himself had the power to prevent the degree of tragedy which has
befallen one of our most beloved and historic cities.

And it is unacceptable that the mainstream media continues to allow
this president to shame us in the eyes of the world by their collective
failure to ask hard questions such as, "If we can get clean drinking
water to Tikrit, why can't we do the same in the Big Easy?"

Yes, Mr. President, the government's response has, indeed, been

Harry Truman used to keep a sign on his oval office desk which read,
"The buck stops here."

Our government's ability to respond in times of crisis will continue to
be "unacceptable" as long as your administration fails to accept
responsibility for it's own short-sighted and inept policies.

Because that failure to accept responsibility is, in and of itself,

And that's a fact you're simply going to have to accept.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Greetings and Peace to MFA Family

Just a brief note to say "Hi" from Atlanta to all the MFA folks. We walked away relatively unscathed from Katrina, except 9 tornadoes across the metro area. The majority of stations in the metro area are out of gas since Wednesday and prices have been outrageous since Tuesday, power out in some places Monday/Tuesday, but perhaps things will return to "normal" soon.

I have corresponded with a few of you, and to the rest of you, I hope to say a personal hello soon! Good luck in the program!


Thursday, September 01, 2005

Wide Greeting

Hi all!

Well, I don't really have much important to say, but I like to keep in touch via the blog. For those of you who have e-mailed me, I super promise I'll get back to you soon. Things here have been crazy. My sister finished building her house a little over a week ago, and moved in a few days ago. The problem? This house was smack dab in the middle of Biloxi, Mississippi. So... I've been on the phone with her a lot trying to sort things out... it's been crazy. Apparently her house still exists, but needs a lot of work and they're not allowed to go back for quite some time, so... there's some excitement.

Have we all readjusted to the real world again? Dorm life and superb food for a week really throws you off.

Peace, love, and that chocolate thing with strawberries we had that one time,

My Kids Are Back In School!!!!!!!

I've been hanging on by the skin of my teeth while they were on vaca. Parked them in front of videos on a few beautiful days just to get stuff done. I have two photos from the residency on my phone. One is of me, Tracey and Natie when I brought them to the limo to NYC. The other is a very dim shot from the impromptu reading. I will try to figure out how to get them onto the blog. Otherwise email me at and I will attach them to an e. Hope all is well with everyone.
PS. I agree totally about Laurel, Don.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Enrichment 101

I am doing an online writing course in the next month as part of my enrichment project. I will be running a six module course. The point or the mission of the course is to allow students to interact and work from their computer, as they feel time permits. The links and other reading aspects of the course are supplimental. If they want to read them all they can, but the module is enough to get them started. It is also a course to help older students segway into the computer as a tool for a writer. By taking this course they will learn how to post comments, use their email and communicate on line.

I posted a welcome, #1 and started #2 so everyone can get a feel for the course. If anyone has time - read it over, run through it and give me any feedback you might have. I would enjoy any and all input as to the structure, mode, links, and exercises. Don't be shy - my feelings won't be hurt - what doesn't kill me will make me stronger.

Creative Writing for Creative Minds
Thanks for all your input - Ron

Monday, August 29, 2005

Need any insights on business writing?

Just curious how everyone is doing? There was a flurry of blog activity, and then it calms down. So this is my attempt to get things going again!

Remember, for anyone out there who is looking at corporate communications and/or business writing as one of their genres, I'm happy to give any insight, thoughts, etc. for ideas, information, career coaching, etc. Just let me know either on the blog (someone else may find the topic interesting) or email me directly.


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

God Bless Laurel Richards

If, indeed, this is successfully posted,
I should just like to say that I couldn't have
done it AT ALL without the help of Laurel Richards.
I hope you guys are all doing great. I am having
a lot of difficulty maneuvering through cyberspace
with my 1956 issue brain, but every attempt gets
a little easier. Just back from Scotland, which was fab,
and the WCSU kids did us proud with their 12th Night.
Have submitted a review to Danbury News-Times; let me
know if anyone happens to see it in the paper, please.
May you all enjoy the last days of summer.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Hi ya'll. I'm a little lost. My reading is okay... I'm still working on tracking down some of the books, but it looks like I don't need all of them immediately. I miss CT... that was a fun week. Um... not much else to say, so, uh, I'll duck out.

Peace, love, and big fluffy cats,

Books, Books, Books

I think stock skyrocketed in the last few weeks, given most of us probably did our ordering online. My dear husband has been retrieving the 23 books I reserved at our local library - another $80 worth from "the zon" have been arriving daily on my doorstep. At least while the weather is still nice, I can sit on the front porch, sipping java, and reading through...

Hope everyone is well and enjoying the final days of summer. We had a lovely time on the beach during our vacation - everyone got well-tanned and rested - the blueberry martinis were the best!

Did anyone else make the book bash last Saturday at Whitlock Barn? We got there later in the afternoon....nice to see some of the faculty there, hoped to see some of the "local" students but unfortunately....

Who has those pics from the final night?

Have a good one - ACW

Monday, August 22, 2005

Widow Maker Books

I was talking to a few students about their reading lists, and let's face it - we all love books, but I got the feeling we all have a few widow maker books, (books that are vast and may create a void in your life where people say - whatever happen to (insert your name here)...) on our lists and I was wondering if anyone had any good ones to share. I have Cloudsplitter by Russell Banks which I am really enjoying and although it is massive -- it is very endearing. I know someone had Tolstoy's Anna Karenina and someone had Don Quixote. Anyone else have tombs to read? Are they reading well? I read Anna Karenina a few years back and I really enjoyed it - but I had all the time in the world. And if Oprah's book club can read it then so can we. Let me know how the books are weighing in.

Ron --


well, if i won the lottery, which i never will, but i often dream about it, think about it, that kind of thing...i wont win because i dont play.

if i won, i would take a nap. first thing. after that, i would...i dont know, fix my bus? by my parents a new van? stay in school for as long as i could possibly could/can? even though i already will?

maybe get my own dog.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Greetings within the blog

Greetings all. Wow, it's interesting to get to know this class from a blog. Seems like such a contemporary, techie thing to be doing!

Truth is, I'm really into the whole blog thing. I've been around a while - I'm in my 40's and held a few leadership positions managing global communications in a fortune 50 company for about a decade - so when I started, there was no email and we faxed memos with long distribution lists on cover pages to get the word out! Yes, it's true. I'm from the dark ages! So as I've evolved with technology - first email, then websites, now blogs - I find it absolutely fascinating how the communication process has evolved. Translation: this is really cool stuff!

What am I doing here then? I searched a long time for a master's program that met my "real" future goals - which is to become an authentic, published writer and speaker - for me. I love writing. I'm passionate about it. Enough to have made a BIG leap to leave my company, join another one with a great role but without 80-90 hour weeks and constant travel so I could balance job, school and raising an adorable 4-year old and 7-year old in order to fulfill my dream. Some days I think I'm crazy, but I've got a lot of great support out there.

I'm really interested to hear what others are doing for their enrichment projects. I have a few ideas, but want to make sure that it truly will match with my future goals.

As for the lottery, that's easy . I would quit my job, move into my home office, and write, write, write...and on the side, open an exclusive day spa! Not like I haven't given it much thought or anything :)

Look forward to meeting everyone.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Response to Carmen

If I won the lotto and had allll kinds of money, I'd definitely pay off my student loans (past and present) first. After that I would purchase the finest equipment for my band of struggling local artists (and here comes the cheap plug - check us out at Even though my car is a '93, I wouldn't buy a new one. However, I would pay large sums of money to have the rust spots fixed, and redo the entire beautiful bright green '93 Honda Del Sol in all its ghetto fabulous glory. After that I would buy my mother a vacation in the Bahamas with Benjamin Bratt, 'cause she thinks he's hot. Yeah. That's what I'd do.

Anyone else?

Disclaimer: The above paragraph was typed by the "just got out of work and am relaxing" version of Claire Whaley. This version does not come with grammar and spellcheck. Thank you.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Enrichment Projects

Discussion seems a bit slow getting started here, so, with deference to Carmen's excellent attempt, might I suggest a topic? There's been a lot of email coming through my Inbox about the enrichment projects. I suggest that you all talk a bit about your ideas, some of which have been excellent already. We're going to be asking everyone to write something up at the residency (or bring something written up) about your project. Perhaps this disucssion will help some of you who are having trouble deciding.


Thursday, June 02, 2005


I am a new blogger. I am not really sure what the point of blogging is. For the blogger, a journal of sorts, I guess. For the blog reader, a voyeuristic peek into the daily lives of others. My question is, how to create a blog in which conversation between collective bloggers on one united blogspot might be inspired????
I'm still curious to learn more about my fellow classmates, but not sure how to get this blog moving.....
Why am I trying to organize this? I guess it's obvious I have too much time on my hands. Luxury of riding my bike to work and working mostly at night, I suppose.

O.K., So what's going to get this group talking? Question of the day, Quotation of the day? Are you guys to busy for this blog? Maybe.
Anyway, being the natural born Aries leader that I am, I guess I'll start with the first question.....


Your answer might be practical, considering your commitments/time constraints etc... and/or fantastical, not taking into consideration the fact that you might have a family to think about and/or a job and other commitments etc...

Friday, May 27, 2005

ridiculous waving hands, closed eyes, crazy swaying, and the mouthing of sentiment

I have enrolled in this program because I was on the WCSU website looking for a job when I happened upon an advertisement for the program and became very interested. So instead of getting a job, I was thinking about giving the university more money. Huh, I really hadn’t thought about it until now. So I talked to my wife about it and she offered her support in the plan to have me spend a bunch of our money to make me a better fiction writer.

Just like the indy Christian hip hopper Pigeon John says:

That’s my girl outside the lobby

Slinging my product when I’m fulfilling my hobby

What are we men without the love and support of our women?

I work in insurance just so I can tell people not from Connecticut that I live in Connecticut and work at an insurance company. The person from the other forty nine will have the opportunity to nod knowingly, happy in the reinforcement of stereotype.

I have a newborn son who has crack aim with urine or vomit.

I love Jesus like in the commercials for worship music with the ridiculous waving hands, closed eyes, crazy swaying, and the mouthing of sentiment.

I’m also in this program because says that “Master’s degree holders earn an average of 10,000 more a year more those with only a bachelor’s” I mean, I’m 25 and have at least forty years of toil ahead of me. Without this degree, I could be earning 1,200,000 factoring in a base salary of 30,000 dollars a year or I could be making 1,600,000 during that same period. WCSU should really factor this into its advertising. Think: “TURN 22,000 DOLLARS INTO 400,000 IN ONLY 40 YEARS” Those are numbers we insurance types get all fired up about. But really writing was one of the few things I could occasionally do well and besides, guitar playing, painting, comic book illustrating, and kick boxing, didn’t work out for me. So instead of saving to buy a house, I thought to levy my family under the burden of debt for the hope of one day publishing a novel or I mean 400,000 dollars of future earnings.

Of the last few years I’ve spent a majority of my time in Waterbury, Ct. Where in a ten second span at the Brass City Mall, I’ve seen nymphets make out with each other on the escalator going up next to a group of orthodox Jews waiting in line at the subway while hip hop kids, printed with Ecko and Sean John, talk girls and the feud between 50 Cent and the Game. In the corner of the mall, geeks are playing a Yu-Gi-Oh! card game which has since surpassed Magic the Gathering in popularity among such crowds. While there in the food court, a writer could compile characters for a hundred novels.

Now I live in Torrington, Ct. which is home to a dense population of the mentally handicapped and poor white people who I hope to make proud when they see the inside of my first dust jacket that reads David Hayes resides with his son, and wife in a town in the Litchfield Hills called Torrington.

Greetings from Pittsburgh

Hello, blog readers. I'm not entirely sure how this thing is going to work... I guess we can all post on here? That's pretty cool...

Anyway, I hope that those who read this won't judge my writing abilities by how I write in this "blog." I always write in a very conversational style, somewhat ignoring grammar rules and the like when I'm typing in a blog-type environment. I think it makes it more personal that way. So if I have a comma out of place or a misspelled word, please don't think me less of a writer.

So! I am 23 years old. I graduated from Mercyhurst College (Erie, PA) just about a year ago with a bachelors degree in Music Education. I love music very much, and am (in my humble opinion) a pretty darn good oboe player. However, I've always loved to write, and am looking to combine my love of writing with my love of music to write books for/about music and musicians and even some non-music related things as well. I had a blast writing for the Mercyhurst school newspaper, and got a great response with my articles, so I'm really hoping to sort of be able to do whatever I want with two degrees. The world is our oyster, is it not? (Hate to use a cliche, but it's true.)

I am very interested to get to know all the other people I'll be meeting at the residency and the like, so I hope everyone chimes in here and writes a bit.

So! That's about it from here... I'll be checking back often to see what everyone else has to say. Where is everyone from? What brought you all to be writers? What's the life story here? This is cool...

Peace, love, and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese,

Thursday, May 26, 2005


Hi- I am interested in discovering who my classmates are. Who are you guys? Where do you live? What do you do?
If you are like me and are interested in such details of other people's lives, you can check out my introductory info. in my user profile on this blog.
Carmen Palmer