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Listen to Paul’s interview.

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players… One man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages. At first the infant, mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.  And then the whining school-boy… the lover,  sighing… a soldier, full of strange oaths… the justice, in fair round belly… The sixth age shifts into… the pantaloon, with spectacles on nose and pouch on side… Last scene of all, that ends this strange eventful history, is second childishness and mere oblivion: sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.” 

— Shakespeare


Although I’m calling this website “a personal memoir in flux,” it is also my hope that the various sections will be of interest to people, whether they know me or not. “Out on a Lim” shares short observations on day-to-day life. “Limerances” chronicles longer remembrances of things past. “Limoscenes” presents descriptions of the plays I’ve written to date, with production photos. “Images in Limbo” shows pictures of the aging process, of me with family and friends. “Limpets” are the non-human dogs in my life, and “Limitations” are tributes to people who are no longer with us. So here I am, past imperfect, present progressive, future tense. Let me know what you think. — Paul

31 December 2009: What’s Inside Your Orifice?

Full-body scanners are designed to penetrate the clothes we’re wearing and, for the common good and safety of the flying public, will show unlucky airport security workers gross images of our overfed bodies in all our naked glory.  But, according to The New York Times, as wonderful as these scanners are, they cannot reveal things which have been tucked between the enormous rolls of fat on the bodies of really obese people, nor can these scanners “see” what has been shoved into the orifices of our bodies.  God help us.  What’s to keep a terrorist from stashing everything he needs up his heinous anus (or her versatile vagina) and then, once in mid-flight, to scratch themselves inappropriately and blow everyone to smithereens? Also, what if someone’s traveling with a pretty pooch who starts to poop sticks of dynamite, or a felonious feline whose purrs begin to sound like a ticking time bomb? Full-body scanners won’t do the job, but full-body x-rays will.  And that’s why everyone needs affordable health-care, even your pets, because full-body x-rays at airports are bound to be expensive, and insurance companies won’t pay for them, especially if you have any pre-existing conditions like…FEAR OF FLYING.

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My Andrew Tsubaki Story

Many people shared their personal recollections of Andrew Tsubaki at the memorial service in Lawrence, Kansas on 20 December 2009.  For me, the two most moving testimonials came from his sons.

Philip, the younger son who lives in Campinas, Brazil, said his father left Japan for North America in 1957, at the age of 26, his character and personality already formed as a young Japanese male from that period—strict, stern, austere, demanding, undemonstrative, unemotional.  Philip confessed that he was surprised, and ultimately comforted by, the many email messages which poured in from his father’s former students—one in particular, which said that “the sensei always had hugs for everyone.”

Arthur, the older son who lives in Rockford, Illinois, spoke of his father’s love of travel, and how he took Lily and the boys with him whenever he could.  But, Arthur said, they rarely actually travelled together, because his father always departed a day or two earlier, to make sure all the arrangements and accommodations were satisfactory.  Having paved the way, he would then meet the family at the airport upon their arrival, and that’s how all their trips began.  Arthur ended the reminiscence by saying this is how he now views the death of his father—that, as is his habit, he has simply preceded them on yet another trip, paving the way for them, and that they will again find him waiting for them at the end of their journey.

Although I thought I would, I was not among those who spoke at Andrew Tsubaki’s memorial service, because I suddenly didn’t quite know how to put my thoughts into words, not after I heard the outpouring of grief and love from his two sons.   But now, a couple of days later, my mind a bit clearer, I’d like to share my own Andrew Tsubaki story.

In 1995, Andrew directed the English Alternative Theatre production of Tea by Velina Hasu Houston, a play about five Japanese warbrides trying to live “normal” lives in Junction City, Kansas.  As the producer of the show, I had made arrangements to hold our rehearsals in a large studio-like space  on the second floor of Liberty Hall in downtown Lawrence.  A couple of days before rehearsals began, Andrew asked me if the budget for the production could include the purchase of half a dozen each of the following items—brooms, dustpans, mops, sponges, buckets. 

“Yes, of course,” I replied, “but what are they for?”

“The rehearsal space is sacred,” he said.  “This place is not as clean as it should be.  The actors must clean this place each night before we rehearse.” 

And that’s what they did, the five Asian women we had found to play the Japanese warbrides, on their hands and knees each night before rehearsals began, scrubbing and cleaning those wooden floors at Liberty Hall in downtown Lawrence.  Needless to say, the EAT production of Tea was wondrous and magical.  Andrew Tsubaki would not have had it otherwise.

Although I love the notion that the rehearsal space for a play is sacred, I’ve never dared to ask my actors to do what Andrew Tsubaki demanded of his.  Only the sensei could get away with it.  I have visions of him now, supervising a choir of angels, all of them on their hands and knees, purifying the heavens, because the final resting place of an artist is, without any doubt, sacred.

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16 December 2009: Ben Who?

At a time when newspaper and magazine readers seem to be abandoning print for sexier electronic media, one might expect Time magazine to select someone more bankable for its much-anticipated 2009 Person of the Year cover story—Sarah Palin? Tiger Woods? The Gate Crashers at the White House?  Heck, maybe even the Balloon Boy.  But no.  The honor goes to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.  My guess is, most Americans will say “Ben Who?” and reach for The National Inquirer at the grocery store checkout counter.  But wait.  Maybe the publisher of Time had a secret deal with everyone on Wall Street to buy a thousand copies of the magazine with their hefty Christmas bonuses, to roll up and use as Yuletide logs in their cozy multi-million dollar homes, as the rest of us continue to shiver and slobber in ours while poring over unsatisfying centerfolds of Carrie Prejean or Levi Johnston.  I guess only Time will tell.

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13 December 2009: Four Hours to Orgasm!

Just when we’ve all become accustomed to hearing about “erections lasting more than four hours” thanks to Viagra, comes word that there is a new drug in the market which cures premature ejaculation in men.  According to The New York Times, Johnson & Johnson “has developed Priligy, a pill aimed at men who ejaculate before copulating or within seconds of beginning…by helping to prolong latency time before orgasm.”  It’s not being marketed yet in the United States, but when it is, I’m sure it’ll come with the usual warnings about side effects, most likely about tireless penises that take more than four hours to orgasm.  Women should be extra careful that their men don’t take Viagra in conjunction with Priligy, or they will all turn into chafing dishes overnight.

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11 December 2009: Tiger Burning…

William Blake (1757-1827) said it all in his poem—a song not of innocence, but of experience.  A true visionary, Blake knew about our man, over two hundred years ago, and that this is the way many among us now wish to remember “The Tiger.” 

TIGER, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand and what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil?  What dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And water’d heaven with their tears,
Did He smile His work to see?
Did He who made the lamb make thee?

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

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10 December 2009: Just Me, Justice

President Obama, in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech at Oslo, spoke at length about “a just peace” and, of course, “a just war.”  He uses the word “just” only as an adjective, meaning “honorable and fair in one’s dealings and actions…consistent with moral right; righteous…valid within the law; legitimate…based on fact or sound reason; well-founded.”  But, the word “just” is not just an adjective; it is also an adverb, meaning, among other things, “merely, only.” 

At the end of the day, how many among us think about the war in Afghanistan as “a just war,” or that it’s “just war,” no different than some of the video games that our children play?  As for peace itself, why must it ever be justified? Do we need to continue to sell the idea of “a just peace” to the families and relatives of all those who died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki?  Is it possible that “a just war” would, in the end, bring “merely” and “only” peace?

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30 November 2009: Tiger Gets a Woody!

Tiger Woods is finally living up to his name.  Okay, so the guy gets a woody with some other lady.  He and his wife alledgedly get into a spat.  He tries to leave in his car.  She chases after him with a golf club and starts swinging.  Did she bash him with an iron or, ironically, with a wood?  In any case, in Puritanical America, if Nike and his other corporate sponsors can’t deal with this “holes-in-one” scandal,  our man really has nothing to worry about.  When the moment is right, I’m sure he will be ready to sign with any of the Mad Men representing Cialis or Viagra.  Sample headline for a new ad campaign:  Tigerrr Plays Harrrd with Viagrrra!

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27 November 2009: I’m Black, You’re Green

It’s Black Friday. Merchants are seeing Green as consumers continue to dream of a White Christmas in a Red economy. 

The English language is nothing if not colorful, and the word “black” is the one which evokes the greatest range of polarities and emotions. On the one hand, we blackball or blacklist people for being blackguards who practise black magic or sell stuff on the black market and give other folks black eyes.  Although juvenile delinquests are the black sheep in their families, even they dread the onslaught of blackheads.  In medieval times, people died of the Black Death and, in our own time, we disappear into Black Holes. But, on the other hand, we copy down useful information which our teachers write on blackboards.  We give out black belts to people who excel in judo or karate.  And Barack Obama cannot live without his Blackberry. 

Some years ago, the University of Kansas Theatre Department decided to cancel its production of Joe Turner’s Come and Gone by black playwright August Wilson because they couldn’t find enough black actors to play all the parts in the play.  In its place, the department substituted The House of Blue Leaves, a dark comedy by white playwright John Guare.  When the department sent out a press release announcing the change, it quite accurately described the play as “a black comedy.”  But, not surprisingly, the local paper in its confusion decided to label this whiter-than-white play about a dysfunctional white family in Queens, New York, as “an African-American comedy.”

All this leads me to wonder, when the season of Red and Green is over, how Barack Obama will deal with all the other hues in the spectrum of American society.  Will he hear the hue and cry of the LBGT coalition who contributed to his campaign and helped to elect him the President of these United States? Will 2010 finally see the White House flying the colors of The Rainbow?

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26 November 2009: Head of Gobbler

Thanksgiving is not one of the holidays I grew up with in the Philippines—and so, although I have much to be thankful for, every year on this special day I find myself wishing that I had written a seasonal theatre piece to be performed entirely by actors dressed as turkeys, a spoof of Ibsen’s HEDDA GABLER, except that mine would be called HEAD OF GOBBLER. 

Since I have yet to write this play, this year I’m just going to amuse myself by searching YouTube for the video clip of Sarah Palin yakking away in that turkey farm in Alaska, totally unaware of that man in the background who’s nonchalantly stuffing one live turkey after another into those deadly decapitating machines.  We’ll need that man again, to do unto us what he did unto those turkeys, if and when Sarah Palin decides to run for anything except dog-catcher or moose-hunter or fish-monger in 2012. 

“Bless us, O Lord, for these thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty through Christ our Lord, Amen.”  And now, while you’re carving the carcass, can I have The Pope’s Nose?  And a bit of everything else, please.  And for dessert….What?  No pumpkin or mincemeat pie? Only Baked Alaska?….Well, then, I’ll just go rogue and say, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

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