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i'm just a literary tease, my reputation's on its knees.

Culture Funk'd

April 19, 2005

Recently, I read a play called "Pick Up Ax" by Anthony Clarvoe. The play told the story of three men: Keith, the stereotypical computer nerd with a dark secret (kinda), Brian, the stressed out bad businessman, and Mitch, the devil (dum dum duh!) in disguise. What caught my attention about this play (and take this as you may) were all of the cultural references.

First of all, the general class reaction to the play made me feel really old: a lot of the people in my class didn't seem to get most of the dated references and weren't familiar with a lot of the songs mentioned in the piece. I didn't know all of the songs or references either but I did know most of 'em and, holy crap, I've got a good, what, 7 - 9 years on most of my classmates. You have kids reading this in another couple of years and they won't get any of the references at all.

As Dr. J pointed out in class, a writer has to be cautious about overdoing the cultural references for this very reason: by refering to current events, especially ones related to the entertainment industry (i.e. tv shows, popular songs) automatically dates your writing. If you use *good* references this isn't such a big deal but if you're referencing a one-hit wonder, you might be in trouble.

Secondly, I enjoyed the imagery of Keith and Brian as ex-hippie stoner dudes. Early in the play, Keith says to Brian, "You want to go out tonight? We could get stoned and play miniature golf?" Later, when Brian is having trouble with the board of directors, he describes his situation by saying, "I'm down to stems and seeds." This is a definitive reference to marijuana - and if you've ever, er, researched the topic, you'd know that being down to stems and seeds means that you are s.o.l.

Also, Keith uses his know-how to create a mood-room, a play off the concept of Mood Rings, way big in the 70's. The songs mentioned are big hippy songs: Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead, etc. Oh yeah. Rock on.

Moira at 05:41 PM :: Comments (3) :: ::
Comments:

Remember that the play came out around 1990, so the late 70s music would have been less obscure. But you're right -- the passage of time is making this play more and more obscure. (It's also harder and harder to find enough copies when I teach it.)

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at April 19, 2005 06:37 PM

Dont feel so bad Moira! You arent the only one who got the references.

Posted by: Lou Gagliardi at April 20, 2005 01:49 PM

Sounds like excellent use of cultural references IMHO, adding another name to my list of authors to seek out

Posted by: Chris Doing at October 20, 2005 12:54 PM
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