Formerly famous


So let's say my book ends up on the auction block and makes me rich (hahaha--will never happen, as even those of you who like it will attest). Let's say it gets made into a movie that Changes the World. Let's say I'm on Letterman and for totally unclear reasons (last-minute compromise?) I am made Poet Laureate of the United States.

Actually no. Let's be honest. None of this will ever happen because I have already burned up my fifteen minutes and I have no reason to suspect I will get a second set.

My big mistake was using them up when I was stranded in a small town on the banks of the Mississippi.

I was part of one of BYU's study "abroad" groups (if Illinois can be considered abroad) and as those of you who have been to London or Madrid or Jerusalem know, a bizarre sort of bonding occurs at these cloisters. And since my time in Nauvoo was at the opening of the Joseph Smith Academy, there were only forty students there to cloister with, and we all knew each other well.

So to sum up (and add a few more details):

Little tiny town
Small intimate group of friends
Miles and miles to decent commercial opportunities
No ready transportation to or from

(Sounds like a good horror-movie setup....)

It was at this time that I wrote a puppet musical called, cleverly, "A Musical Extravaganza."

Starring two black gloves with yarn wigs named Marcus and LeAnn, it was the story of two Nauvoo-based BYU students and, ah, their, ah, relationship.

"A Musical Extravaganza" premiered at a talent show we students put on and went into regular rotation ala "Cats" or "The Fantasticks." I was performing it most nights, often with multiple encores. I would set up stage behind a couch in the lobby and Marcus and LeAnn would sing their way to true love.

The show was not just beloved by the masses, but it was also controversial. If it had not been so powerfully popular, I think the Powers That Be would have shut it down. I was talked to a few times about the appropriateness of its content but c'mon! Did that stop "Titanic"?!

The night before we left on airplanes for home, I performed "A Musical Extravaganza" for the final time--a double-feature with its equally popular (but doubly controversial) sequel which had been debuted less that a week earlier during a long bus ride.

Then I came home to a world that had never known "A Musical Extravaganza," that could never understand the impact it had on all those who loved it and quoted it and sang its songs. And I realized that I had created a cultural touchstone that had changed the world it inhabited.

And that world consisted of only forty people.

I don't imagine I can ever build enough karma to create a life-changing, culture-altering artwork ever again.

And so I've blown my chance at fame and fortune on a smalltown puppet show, performed gratis for a bunch of expatriate byuckers.

It was fun while it lasted.

I just hope it was worth it.


  1. I want totake a moment to get real deep here, but all my deep thoughts are buried- well... deep so you get this instead:

    Of those fourty people whose lives you impacted how many are now married with children? Marcus and LeAnn's impact on those people are impacting the way they see the world, the way they raise their children, and their children's children. You see, "A Musical Extravaganza" could be responsible for the first female president!

    I'd say that it wasn't wasted at all...


  2. I wonder if VH1 Behind the Music has found out about AME yet. Was there a sordid affair between any of the cast members? hidden tensions? drug abuse?

  3. This is what I'm thinking . . . If you post the libretto . . . Well . . . You could continue to change and alter lives. And one of those lives could be mine. Just a thought.

  4. .

    M,E-- Wow. I never thought of it that way.... Maybe it's not too late....

    L-- Um, you mean a sordid affair between me and ... um ... me?

    ---th (master of ellipses)

  5. Why did you never perform this for us, your fobby friends? We watched Batman, for heaven's sake.

    I feel like I missed out on the best part of you.

  6. .

    Well, here's the thing: "A Musical Extravaganza" is so deeply rooted in the culture from which it sprung that I don't think it would really sing outside that culture. It may have rocked Nauvoo and become a touchpoint of every conversation, but outside Nuavoo it is a curiosity only.

  7. I think your project is to recreate Nauvoo for us, then once we have the cultural background, you spring the extravangza on us.

    Curiously, is the extravaganza spectacular spectacular? Can no words in the vernacular describe this great event. Will we be dumbed with wonderment. Are returns fixed at 10%. (We must agree, that's excellent.) And on top of our fees, will we be involved artistically? Is it so exciting, the audience will stomp and cheer? Is it so delighting, it will run for fifty years? Does it involve elephants, Bohemians, intrigue, danger, and romance? Electric lights, machinery powered by electricity?

    (I'll have you know, I wrote that last paragraph completely from memory.)

  8. .

    Curiously, is the extravaganza spectacular spectacular?

    My first performance was on a bare stage. I was dressed entirely in black. I lied on my back and held the puppet-gloves in the air, where they performed. Is not this spectacular?

    Can no words in the vernacular describe this great event?


    Will we be dumbed with wonderment?

    Gracious! I hope not!

    Are returns fixed at 10%?

    Returns have not been fixed.

    And on top of our fees, will we be involved artistically?

    It's a one-man show, buddy. Back off!

    Is it so exciting, the audience will stomp and cheer?

    In the past, yes.

    Is it so delighting, it will run for fifty years?

    Perhaps, if I lived in Nauvoo, I could perform it at the JSA in perpetuity. Although if I wasn't a student, I suppose they could ban me.

    Does it involve elephants, Bohemians, intrigue, danger, and romance?

    No, arguably, yes, yes, yes.

    Electric lights, machinery powered by electricity?

    Um, I guess lights, sure.