John William Tuohy lives in Washington DC

Know your craft...purple prose

In literary criticism, purple prose is prose text that is so extravagant, ornate, or flowery as to break the flow and draw excessive attention to itself.

Purple prose is characterized by the excessive use of adjectives, adverbs, and metaphors. When it is limited to certain passages, they may be termed purple patches or purple passages, standing out from the rest of the work.

Purple prose is criticized for desaturating the meaning in an author's text by overusing melodramatic and fanciful descriptions. As there is no precise rule or absolute definition of what constitutes purple prose, deciding if a text, passage, or complete work has fallen victim is a somewhat subjective decision. According to Paul West, "It takes a certain amount of sass to speak up for prose that's rich, succulent and full of novelty. Purple is immoral, undemocratic and insincere; at best artsy, at worst the exterminating angel of depravity."

Wow...great sentence

“Life has been your art. You have set yourself to music. 

Your days are your sonnets.”

— Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1890.

A thesaurus

Irish soul, William Butler Yeats

The double Asian tragedies of Archie Mitchell.

By John William Tuohy

On Saturday, May 5, 1945, an Imperial Japanese Fu Go balloon, or fire balloon exploded in a forest near Bly, Oregon. The explosion killed, Edward Engen, age 13, Jay Gifford, age 13, Joan Patzke, age 13, Dick Patzke, age 14, Sherman Shoemaker, age 11 and  Elsie Mitchell, age 26, and pregnant. They were the first and only known American civilians to be killed by enemy action in the Continental United States during World War II.

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May 5 was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, there was a pleasant wind blowing when the Reverend Archie Mitchell and his wife Elsie, 5 months pregnant, loaded the five children from Elsie Mitchell’s Sunday School class and took off for a drive through a rolling mountainous road on their way to a picnic near Klamath Falls.

After a few miles, they came to an impassable section of road being worked on by a construction crew.  Elsie told the children to get out of the crowded car and stretch their legs while her husband turned the car around. Elsie and the kids strolled a few hundred yards into the wood and Elsie called out to Archie to come and see what they had found.
A grader operator named Richard Barnhouse, could see the children formed in a semi-circle but couldn’t see what they were looking at. Elsie Mitchell called out two more times to Mitchell  who said, ‘Wait a minute, and I’ll come and look at it.'

Image result for Elsie Mitchell, bomb

“As I got out of my car to bring the lunch” Pastor Mitchell recalled “the others were not far away and called to me they had found something that looked like a balloon. I had heard of Japanese balloons, so I shouted a warning not to touch it.”

There was a second or two of silence and then an enormous explosion shook the ground. Richard Barnhouse leaped from his grader and joined Reverend Mitchell in a race to the place where the children had been. They found four of the children already dead, their small bodies badly mangled. They watch the fifth child die and Elsie Mitchell, who was on fire, died a few minutes later.  

What the kids had found, what they were holding when it exploded was a Fu Gu bomb. The Fu Go balloons were huge, about 33 feet in diameter, and required 19,000 cubic feet of helium and the Imperial Japanese Air Force had launched more than 9,000 balloons at the United States, carried there by the strong Pacific winds. The balloons were churned out in assembly-line fashion at Japanese defense plants   

Although 9,000 of the floating bombs were sent our way, only several hundred are known to have landed on the U.S. mainland but did virtually no harm until the balloon in the Oregon forest killed those five children and the expectant woman.

What the Japanese had hoped to accomplish with the bombs was mass forest fire but what the Japanese had considered was that when they sent the balloons, during the high wind month of November,  by the time the balloons made it to the west coast of the United States the rainy season had set in and heavy rains soaked the rice paper balloons and light firing mechanism.


At first, the public, caught in a news blackout, assumed the balloons were being sent from the within the US but after murder of the six civilians, the White House lifted the censorship currant and informed Americans, for their own good, on what the bombs were, who was sending them and what to do should they come across one.   

Twenty years passed and in May of 1962, Pastor Mitchell and his new wife, Betty (née Patzke, the older sister of two of the children killed by the fire balloon in Bly) and their four children, were working as missionaries in Da Lat, Viet Nam, a city northeast of Saigon. He had arrived there in 1950, to work at a place called the Leprosarium, a hospital that housed and cared for a leper community.

Image result for Elsie Mitchell, bomb

At dusk on Wednesday, 30 May 1962,  a group of 12 armed Viet Cong guerrillas strutted into the Leprosarium compound. They were after medical supplies and personnel. The Viet Cong knew that a medical seminar had recently been conducted at the leprosarium. They needed doctors and assumed doctors would be there.

The Cong split up into three groups of four members each. One group went to the Mitchell home, ordered Archie out of the house, tied him up, and led him away with Dan Gerber,  Gerber, a Mennonite farmer from Ohio who oversaw the Lepers farm, while Mitchell’s wife and children looked on in horror.

"They cut ropes from the kids' swings and tied Archie," his wife said.
Another group of Cong went to the home of Houston physician Ardel Vietti, found her in bed, ordered to get up and dress, and then she was led out of the compound, at bayonet point, unbound, to join Pastor Mitchell and Dan Gerber.

The guerillas ransacked the buildings for any supplies they could use, including linens, medicines, clothing, and surgical equipment.  At around 10:00 p.m. two hours after they arrived the Cong left with their prisoners, Pastor Mitchell, Dan Gerber, and Dr. Vietti
Dawn Deets, one of the four missionary nurses, watched as the three disappeared into the darkness. "I felt so badly for Dr. Vietti. I remember seeing her being walked away. She had trouble walking. That night we waited and prayed that they might come back."
Pastor Mitchell and Dan Gerber were probably taken because the Viet Cong assume they were. At least that’s one line of thinking. An expert in the case said  "The Viet Cong usually did what they said they were going to do. When the communists came in, they took the three people they thought to be in charge of the leprosarium. I have always said they killed them that night, but other missionaries don't want to hear that."

The assumption was that the Viet Cong believed that the missionaries were spies because just before the raid, there had been a firefight between the communists and the South Vietnamese military. A villager came to the leprosarium and sought out the doctor, pleading with her to come and treat someone who had been wounded. Dr. Vietti went and brought the wounded Viet Cong back to the leprosarium, where she performed surgery to remove a bullet. He was still at the hospital when two U.S. military advisers dropped by the leprosarium a few days later, none of this was lost on the Viet Cong who had leprosarium under watch.
Dan Gerber

Right after Viet Cong left the compound, the remaining missionaries notified authorities in Ban Me Thuot and that same night  South Vietnamese marines and U.S. military advisers began a search. They caught up with the kidnappers but by then their ranks had been heavily reinforced and an assault on the force would have been bloody and fruitless.

Missionary officials also attempted to negotiate for the release of the captives but to no avail. In 1975,  Pastor Mitchell’s wife was also kidnapped along with several other Americans in Ban Me Thuot. The captives were moved to several prison camps before ending up in a Hanoi prison. She was released several months later. One of her  captors assured her, "If I ever hear anything about your husband, I will let you know." She adds, "Of course, he never has."

As the war dragged on, reports drifted in from Montagnard tribesmen and other Vietnamese about two white men and a white woman seen around Viet Cong mobile prison camps. In 1967 one report had a white woman asking for a Bible as she was marched past a village. Another report reached the US military in 1968 about the threesome being alive and working a Viet Cong hospital.  In 1970, a group of Montagnard reported seeing the three American captives near the Cambodian border.

Victor Vietti, Ardel Vietti's brother said "The Viet Cong have never to this day admitted that they took her. But somebody knows what happened, and someday they are going to return”
None of the three have been seen since. Theirs is the oldest unresolved POW case in Vietnam.

Matsuo Basho


Ben Franklin’s son in Connecticut

 William Franklin was born the illegitimate son of Benjamin Franklin, no one is certain who his mother was, and his father was secretive about his son's birth. He was raised by Benjamin Franklin and Deborah Read, ben’s his common-law wife.
 As a young man, he fought in Albany in King George's War, raised to the rank of rank of captain in field promotions. A lawyer, he occasionally acted as his father’s secretary. William may have been the actual author of Poor Richard Almanack, or, at the least, was its co-author with his father. While in London, William Franklin sired an illegitimate son, William Temple Franklin, and, like him, the child’s mother has never been identified.
 Thanks to his father’s contacts in London and hard lobbying on Franklin’s part, in 1763, William was appointed as the Royal Governor of New Jersey and by all accounts, he was a just and able administrator. At the outbreak of the revolution, Ben Franklin urged William Franklin to resign as governor and join the patriot cause but William, certain the colonist would lose the uprising, refused. In fact, he acted as a spy for the crown.
 In January of 1776, colonial militiamen placed him under house arrest and then sent to Connecticut where was jailed, held under guard actually, at homes in Wallingford and Middletown where he continued spying for the crown. Finally, he was sent off to jail in Litchfield and placed him in solitary confinement in a windowless cell with no heat bed or toilet.
 His father, humiliated and angry about his son's position, made no effort to help him.
William wrote to Connecticut’s staunchly pro-colonist governor Jonathan Trumbull “I suffer so much in being thus buried alive, having no one to speak to day or night, and for the want of air and exercise, that I should deem it a favor to be immediately taken out and shot.”
 He was released in a prisoner exchange in 1778, moved to New York City, which was still occupied by the British and then left America for England in 1782 and lived in London, where, much to his father’s chagrin, he became a leading spokesman for the Loyalist community. His wife Elizabeth, scion of Barbados to the sugar plantation, died in New Jersey while he was in jail in Connecticut. He later remarried Mary Johnson d'Evelin, a wealthy Irish widow.
William made an attempt at reconciliation and the two did meet, briefly, one last time in 1785, when Ben Franklin journeyed to Europe. The meeting went badly when Franklin suggested that William hand over lands he owned, which Franklin had given him, to William’s son Temple, who had served as Ben's secretary during the war. William did transfer a portion of the New York land but kept the rest for himself.
 Except for a piece of distant, wooded virtually worthless land in Nova Scotia, Benjamin Franklin left William virtually nothing in his will. Franklin reason that had Britain won the war, he would have had no wealth to leave his son.

William died in 1813 in London. He was buried in London's St Pancras Old Church churchyard but somehow the grave has become lost. But he is not forgotten. Franklin Township in Bergen County, New Jersey, was named in William's honor, as was the borough of Franklin Lakes. Williams son, Temple, went into business and failed. He eventually moved to Paris and never saw his father again.

The Effortless Effort of Creativity: Jane Hirshfield on Storytelling, the Art of Concentration, and Difficulty as a Consecrating Force of Creative Attention

“In the wholeheartedness of concentration, world and self begin to cohere. With that state comes an enlarging: of what may be known, what may be felt, what may be done.”

The Continuous Thread of Revelation: Eudora Welty on Writing, Time, and Embracing the Nonlinearity of How We Become Who We Are

“Greater than scene… is situation. Greater than situation is implication. Greater than all of these is a single, entire human being, who will never be confined in any frame.”

The Only Story in the World: John Steinbeck on Kindness, Good and Evil, the Wellspring of Good Writing

“Try to understand men, if you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and nearly always leads to love.”

T.S. Eliot on Writing: His Warm and Wry Letter of Advice to a Sixteen-Year-Old Girl Aspiring to Become a Writer

“Don’t write at first for anyone but yourself.”

Jennifer Egan on Writing, the Trap of Approval, and the Most Important Discipline for Aspiring Writers

“You can only write regularly if you’re willing to write badly… Accept bad writing as a way of priming the pump, a warm-up exercise that allows you to write well.”

Jeanette Winterson’s 10 Tips on Writing

“Turn up for work. Discipline allows for creative freedom. No discipline equals no freedom.”

Rachel Carson on Writing and the Loneliness of Creative Work

“If you write what you yourself sincerely think and feel and are interested in… you will interest other people.”

Ursula K. Le Guin on Art, Storytelling, and the Power of Language to Transform and Redeem

“One of the functions of art is to give people the words to know their own experience… Storytelling is a tool for knowing who we are and what we want.”

I write

“I write for a species of man that does not yet exist: the masters of the earth.” F. Nietzsche, The Will to Power

Image result for F. Nietzsche

And he should know, having shot himself and all


Richard Brautigan Poem: A Boat


O beautiful
was the werewolf  
in his evil forest.  
We took him
to the carnival  
and he started  
when he saw
the Ferris wheel.  
green and red tears  
flowed down
his furry cheeks.  
He looked
like a boat

out on the dark water

John Tuohy's Art for the Blog of It: Painter

John Tuohy's Art for the Blog of It: Painter: Young painter at his easel, Theodore Gericault The Artist’s Studio, 1868, Camille Corot

John Tuohy's Art for the Blog of It: Look at these wonderful faces...

John Tuohy's Art for the Blog of It: Look at these wonderful faces...: Merry, 1893, John Everett Millais Girl with the Cornflowers, Alexey Venetsianov Family portrait, 1635, Frans Hals

John Tuohy's Art for the Blog of It: Five watercolors attributed to Nazi dictator Adolf...

John Tuohy's Art for the Blog of It: Five watercolors attributed to Nazi dictator Adolf...: The Nuremberger Nachrichten newspaper reported Sunday that no bids were received on the paintings, which had starting prices of be...

Well done !


Greetings NYCPlaywrights


Beyond the Realm Festival
Playwrights Realm Festival of Works in Progress

February 10-18


Watermelon One-Act Festival is an excellent opportunity to showcase an original one-act play in a competitive environment and to receive instructional feedback that will help to further develop the play for future productions. Cash prizes totaling more than $1,000 will be given to the best overall script, audience choice, production/director, ensemble, and performers.


Experience Theatre Project is currently seeking one-act and full-length scripts.
We seek work that:
- Has [relatively] simple casting, tech, costuming, and prop requirements
- Would work well in a non-proscenium seating environment, allowing the possibility of being performed in non-traditional spaces like a storefront, rooftop, restaurant, pub or brewery
- Feature immersive elements or takes advantage of being performed amidst or among (not “at”) a live audience
- Is entertaining, bold, and collaborative
- Has not had a fully-produced production in the past three years (workshops and readings are fine).

In a time when cannabis is moving from taboo to dinner table conversation, we here at The Green Room offer a space for artists to use theater as a medium of discourse. We are a pot-positive environment! Weed/Pot/Bud/Dope and all of its nicknames, we want to collaborate with theater communities, both near and far, with a purpose to open the conversation of cannabis with their unique voices and perspectives.

*** For more information about these and other opportunities see the web site at http://www.nycplaywrights.org ***


If you’re a playwright and you’ve been trying to get your plays produced for at least a few years now, you’re probably well aware that it’s not easy to get your play produced by a major theatre company. Even if you wrote a fantastic play, it takes months and months to even hear back from the theater after you submit to them, and even then, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get a response saying that they want to produce your work. Often, if it ever gets produced by a theatre company at all, it might take a few times submitting to different companies before to hear back from one that says “yes”.

The reality is that for the vast majority of playwrights, it’s not particularly easy to get produced on a consistent basis in today’s era. Indeed, for the average playwright, getting just one play produced anywhere by a major theatre company can be a challenge. H, there is a way for them to get their work out into the world, although it requires a lot of work that you yourself need to put into it, to put it mildly.



Before you go self-producing your work dear friends you need to ask yourself a few questions:

1) Are you ready to work a ridiculous amount of hours to make it happen knowing that you might not even make a profit?

2) Are you organized? I mean super duper organized or are you kidding yourself?

3) Are you insane?

The last question is probably the most important one to answer. It also depends on your definition of insanity. I like this one: insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. I’m realizing quickly what works and what doesn’t, however there is no science to this kind of existence at all. There are so many factors that can make a run have high attendance and lots of buzz, as well as unseen elements that can cause you to lose your shirt even if you repeat the same system that worked the year before. Believe me I just experienced it first-hand.



When I graduated in 2011 with an MFA in playwriting that included a scholarship and teaching fellowship at Boston University, I just assumed I would be jubilantly welcomed by the Boston theatre community with shouts of, “Where have you been all of our lives?” Instead, all I heard were crickets.

Then the reality of the situation hit me. Theatres always have been reluctant to produce unknown playwrights, and now a volatile economy makes them even more so. MFA programs are glutting the market with playwrights and new plays, and digital submissions are stacking the deck against discovery.



Embarking on a new production can be daunting, filled with questions like: How are we going to build the set? Will we have enough rehearsal time? And who’s going to make sure every actor has a costume? Here are 10 easy steps to lay the groundwork for a successful production.

1. Choose a show that you love. You’re going to be spending the next 4-6 months deep in the trenches of the show you’ve chosen. If you love the show and the music, working hard on the show will be worthwhile. When picking a show make sure the language, number of roles, themes, and style are appropriate for your performers and audience.



Producing a Play: Getting Started

Producing a play or musical doesn't have to be a hair-raising or hair-graying experience.  All it takes is desire, organization and knowledge (some resources help too!).  While we can't make you want to produce a play or produce a play for you, what we can do is help you organize your efforts and give you the knowledge to make it a successful experience for all involved.  Whether you want to learn how to produce a play or just need some ideas in a few specific areas, you've come to the right place.



There is no set template for producing a play. I once read that a producer is a banker, a cheerleader and a fireman – which summarises it quite nicely. 

I’ve been producing theatre for four and a half years professionally. I started by working on a show at the Finborough Theatre that needed a general manager. I made it up as I went along, and have been doing it much the same ever since. Every day is different: I learn every day, and every day I have to make decisions that I have never made before. It can be stressful, but the good far outweighs the bad. Here are my tips... 

Find your play
No good show was ever made out of a bad script. Many bad shows have been put together out of good scripts, but good shows have only ever come out of good scripts. The cliché is correct – the play very much is the thing. If you can find a good new play, so much the better; critics and industry in general are most interested in new work, particularly in smaller venues.



O’Riordan put on his first comedy show at his local pub, the Harold Park Hotel in Sydney back in 1996. Since then, he has written, directed and produced many of his own plays for theatre company Barestage Theatre. But it was this first show that taught him one important piece of knowledge: it’s not as hard as you think. Don’t be fooled, it’s not exactly easy, but sometimes we build it up in our heads so much that it becomes off-putting for those just starting out when it really should be something exciting to tackle.

‘I learnt a lot about the fear of having to take on the responsibility of coming up with something that people would come to see, but on the other side, the great pleasure and feeling of validation.’ That’s why his advice is to have a go.


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