a note on the actors

Jesus, how many times can a man be told he is a noodle compared to his heroic and stern-visaged namesake, who may have saved civilization as we know it, is that a little pressure on a man or what…”


(by brian doyle, actually)


Ben Brimly, playing Major Jones, is delighted to be back with the Weasel Players. More than delighted. Thrilled, moaning, mooing, babbling. There is a spreading stain on his pantalooons.

Elsbeth Moomaw, who first appeared in The Sun is Our Very Bestest Friend when she was two years old, has seen her career crater ever since. She is in this production because she is the most supple and pliable and flexible human being the director has ever seen. She can pick a nickel off the floor with her tongue while sitting in a chair. Wouldn’t you hire such an actress, and hope for joy beyond your wildest dreams? Well? Wouldn’t you? Thought so.

Ed Edwards, fresh from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where he got lost in the suburbs and ended up working in a gyro shop for two weeks, would like to thank his second wife, Bunni, and his children by his first wife, Krystl, for their support and good cheer during this production. He hopes to someday find a vowel for Krystl.

Betty Furness, of the famous Iowa volleyball Furnesses, has been in so many television productions she has lost count. She joins the Weasel Players to get some fecking theater credit, which she has fecking well been told fifty fecking times that she needs although she sees no particular need for an extraordinary actress to have to memorize inane lines and perform night after night in a tight-fitting pumpkin suit when she could fecking well do the usual forty-fecking-second clips before a fecking camera, that’s why God invented fecking cameras for feck’s sake, so people didn’t have to endure this sort of Victorian fecking torture show that they call theatre, with a fecking swishy emphasis on the fecking misspelling of a perfectly good word.

Aaron B. Tokay used to be a horse. Thank god for major medical insurance.

Matthew Ridgeway is, yes, for chrissake, aware that there was a more famous Matthew Ridgeway, it’s not like he was never told that he is in no ways as cool as the famous General Ridgeway, Jesus, how many times can a man be told he is a noodle compared to his heroic and stern-visaged namesake, who may have saved civilization as we know it, is that a little pressure on a man or what? No wonder he tried to marry his breakfast cereal in Massachusetts.

Brian Doyle is the director. He would go at tiresome length into the litany of his tumultuous career in the theater (note spelling) but we just finished rehearsal for the day and Elsbeth Moomaw is wearing that pumpkin suit, which is giving me a Ben Brimly. There are times when you must forge ahead creatively, or nothing will ever be accomplished, and I would very much like to accomplish Miss Moomaw. On with the show!

— John Richen

Originally published:
Issue Sixty
April 2011


(portrait of aaron b. tokay by brian doyle)

Brian Doyle is the author of books about otters, sea-wrack, tiny rhinoceroses, and the later and more incomprehensible work of William Blake, the part where he invented a vast and mysterious mythology of his own, and even he didn’t understand it, but by God he wasn’t going to admit that to a soul, was he, the poor moist British sot, probably driven insane by the incessant weeping of the sky, not to mention the poor personal hygiene and awful teeth of his fellow islanders, huddled in the mist and terrified of a corporal the size of a fecking fire hydrant across the way, was that guy a first draft of Hitler or what, I mean, who wants to conquer Egypt? What’s the point? Did his pecker not work or what? Isn’t that the only reason you would issue such a nonsensical statement, let’s conquer Egypt! Jesus, two shoeless frogs with asthma could conquer Egypt in an afternoon, if it was a weekday. And why would anyone in his right mind want to conquer Russia? I mean, really? Do you need more snow and ice and mud and iconography in your life? Isn’t there just about enough of that in any normal day? Am I right? It’s not like we get up in the morning and think I need to read some elephantine murk that may or may not be about murder and czarinas and etc., isn’t that so? Because if you do wake up and think that, I have a country for you to conquer. Doyle is also an essayist, which no one is exactly sure what that means, we think it may have something to do with hermeneutics, and he is the author of two collections of something that even he is loathe to call poetry. Now there’s a great word, loathe, which you can, as you know, also spell loath, one of those rare words you can spell either way whenever you want, in bed, or on the road, or in your hotel room with a pencil and a nickel and a girl with few if any inhibitions. I am loathe to go further. Let’s conquer Egypt! Also he has committed a novel. As for the part of the biographical note where the author preens and boasts of his previous blue-collar jobs, from some weird itch to prove that he is not merely an effete intellectual artiste, Doyle had some of those jobs, but he never liked them much, and over the long years since he has very often, like right now for example, considered that he is one lucky toy boy not to be digging ditches, driving a bus, logging, fishing, plumbing, carpentering, and etc. along those lines, but instead he sits around telling roaring lies for fun, and slightly true stories for a living, which the phrase living is something of a joke, isn’t it, because by god these kids are going to eat me out of house and home, and you never saw such a snarling ravenous pack of surly sneering supercilious spawn in your born days, what in god’s name we were thinking when we airily said let’s have children I do not now know, could I not have listened to my gramp’s advice and been leery of the whole process from proposal on, wary of tossing tea? But no. Also Doyle has a dog. More from Brian Doyle can be found in the Vault of Smoke. (bio/2011)

Brian Doyle was the author of many books, including the sea novel The Plover, which has, no kidding, music printed in it, not to mention Mink River, Martin Marten, The Wet Engine, and more than we can recall.  He won the 2017 John Burroughs Medal for distinguished nature writing for Martin Marten, which was plenty cool and much deserved.  Brian passed away peacefully at his Lake Oswego home on May 27, 2017. 

More, much more, from Brian Doyle can be found in the Vault of Smoke.


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