How We Got to Where We Are

a satire in one act


David Budbill

Synopsis of the Play
Through satirical send-ups of Television Network News, advertising and a Game Show, THINGY WORLD! or HOW WE GOT TO WHERE WE ARE exposes America’s self-centered, all consuming materialistic way of life and how it has created a culture of waste and destruction which in turn has helped create climate change and global warming. The play also exposes the ways in which racism and the inequitable distribution of wealth are integral parts of “the environmental crisis.”

The play takes place in 1991–immediately after the great victory in Iropistan–on a TV Newsroom set with Tina Newsworthy and all the O.W.O.W. TV News Fantasy 90 reporters and staff, including weatherman–Barometer Bob, Periodicals Reporter–Luigi Magazini, and Fine Arts and High Culture Reporter–Nigel Fitchingfield. They give us the news, special reports from The All American Toy Fair, two exclusive interviews with The President as he discusses the great victory in Iropistan and what it means for the Free Market Economy, an exclusive interview with Mimi Mebaby, Editor-in-Chief of Self Now magazine and so on.

The play then moves to the set of THINGY WORLD, everybody’s favorite Game Show–where “you get what you want if you want it bad enough and where we always say ‘The one with the most toys at the end, wins!'”–and starring game show host, Stan “The Man” Fanofferly–with Lily White, Big Guy, Martha Greed and The THINGY WORLD! singers and dancers.

The play then returns to OWOW-TV for The Noontime News: What’s New in the News Behind the News at Noon.

There are also commercials for the Elegante Magnifico, “a Luxmobile for you,” McKing Burger, Coaxie, the Operation Iropistan Commemorative Knife and Rifle Barrel, etc. plus a public service announcement.

THINGY WORLD!: HOW WE GOT TO WHERE WE ARE is a funny, over-the-top, satirical look at American greed and racism and how “the American way” has contributed to our environmental crisis.

The play calls for an ensemble of variable size plus prerecorded and live music. Running time: about 60 minutes in one act and is especially suited for staged readings.





Partial Staged Reading, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA, March 13, 2012

Rehearsed Staged Reading, Vermont Contemporary Playwrights Forum, Harwood Union High School Stage, East Duxbury, VT, June 18, 2008

Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, TN, November 13-17, 1991

Plays in Progress Production, Trinity College, Burlington, VT, June 14, 15, 16, 1990

In House Reading, American Conservatory Theatre, San Francisco, CA, January 19, 1990


Literary and Theatrical Agent:
Susan Schulman,
The Susan Schulman Literary Agency,
454 West 44th Street
New York, NY 10036
phone: (212) 713-1633
fax: (212) 581-8830



The last installment of this blog, if you want to call it that, was on June 16, 2011, and was titled ADVANCED COPIES HERE! Since then the book has been published and is making its way out into the world, and doing very well.


The actual publication date was sometime August. The first review, in the Los Angeles Timeswas on August 1st. To read that review go to:http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/jacketcopy/2011/08/the-reading-life-mountain-hermit-poems.html  Other reviews, blog posts, interviews, articles and quotes are available from me at: david@davidbudbill.com.


My haiku poet friend, Steve Sanfield, out in northern California let me know that HAPPY LIFE was on the Poetry Foundation best seller list, otherwise I’d never have known. I was shocked, incredulous. It started in September with HAPPY LIFE at #3, then over the weeks since then it dropped to #10, #17, #22, then back up to #21 and now it’s at #12.


Being on the poetry bestseller list means, you understand, that you sold maybe 3 copies of the book that week. This is, after all, poetry. It’s fun though to watch it jump around. To view the list, go to: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/features/books/contemporary


My friend Jane Hirshfield, who was just ahead of me on the best seller list with her new book—COME, THIEF—in September said, in a note, “Are you running around doing readings, as I am, or is your book sauntering into readers hands all on its own (with a little help from Garrison Keillor)? If the latter—kudos! If the former—sympathy!” The comment of a true introverted poet.


I’ve never done fewer readings from a new book. Bookstores just aren’t asking me to come read and other venues aren’t either. I’ve done a few bookstores here in Vermont and one festival and William Parker, my avant garde jazz bassist and multi-instrumentalist friend, and I just completed a mini-tour on which I read poems from HAPPY LIFE, but other than those things, I’ve never read so little from a new book.


One of the answers to Jane’s question is Garrison Keillor and THE WRITER’S ALMANAC. Keillor has read three poems from HAPPY LIFE since September 26th, thus proving what I’ve always said that THE WRITER’S ALMNAC is THE POOR POET’S OPRAH. Every time I’m on there my sales go up for a few days.


The other answer to Jane’s question is—I think, although I’ve got no way to prove it—I joined Facebook and Twitter about this time last year. I’m in touch, therefore, with a whole new audience. Facebook and Twitter must account for some of the increase in sales of this book.


Also, my publisher, Copper Canyon Press, has available on Kindle now all three of my books of poems. I’ll not know how many books were sold electronically until I get a royalty statement next May or June.


The flurry of first publication is over. I’m home and hunkered down for the winter and off to work on other projects, like a new book for a year from now called PARK SONGS.


HAPPY LIFE is going to have to make its way on its own for a while.


David Budbill

18 November 2011


Yesterday’s mail brought me two advanced copies of my new book of poems, HAPPY LIFE. It’s gorgeous, both inside and out. Valerie Brewster, the book designer, ought to get an award for this one.

Even though it is only mid-June, the publication date for the book, so far at least, remains September first. Once the books are packed for shipping at the printers, they have to go out to the distributor, Consortium, and then to bookstores around the country plus plenty to Copper Canyon Press to fill individual orders. All this will take at least six weeks, so the September first pub date is not that far ahead of schedule.

On the other hand, I think this may be the first time since Gutenberg invented the printing press that a book is actually off the presses early.

Now the hustle begins to sell this thing that now exists in the world.

As I said the last time, stay tuned.

David Budbill

16 June 2011


The back cover is now completed and added to the front cover and the entire book has been shipped, electronically, to the printers. Here’s the cover, front and back:

Here’s the text for the back cover:


David Budbill continues a wry, joyful examination of life on his semi-metaphorical Judevine Mountain, writing about the New England seasons, fame and fortune, self-reliance, aging, and the engaged cre- ative life. Profoundly simple and immediate, Budbill’s poems radiate a dialogue with nature through absolute clarity of expression.


                  Yet and still every day the sun rises,

                  white clouds roll across the sky,

                  vegetables get planted and grow,

                  and late in the afternoon

                  someone sits quietly with a cup of tea.


“His poetry is as accessible as a parking lot and as plain as a pair of Levi’s.”



“A recognizable immediacy and honesty, accompanied by an endearing wit… Budbill’s economical, brush-stroke approach… evinces a hard-won clarity, a pure, human tone.”

         —Library Journal


“One of the most readable American poets ever.”



At this point, the book is supposed to ship from the printer to the distributor on June 23rd, which is about a month ahead of the original schedule.


Stay tuned!


David Budbill

May 27, 2011


The last set of page proofs for HAPPY LIFE arrived here electronically—a practically instantaneous way of sending something—on April 22nd. Sending page proofs electronically, albeit swift, as opposed to snailmail, presents a particular difficulty for someone like me with an old printer. I, being an old fashioned kinda guy, wanted to sit at my desk and read the pages on paper as opposed to a computer screen. But when I went to print out the proofs from the attachment, I got gobbledygook, because my printer couldn’t handle the fonts the manuscript was in. I was forced to read the book this last time on-screen, which I did but didn’t much like. The moral of this story is: keep up to date or you will be, like me, lost.

Because of numerous other obligations facing me when the proofs arrived—I had to smoke a leg of lamb on Easter Sunday (I smoke with apple wood), the second part of my interview on Amanda Hoving’s blog MY WRINKLED PAGES went up on the internet on Monday, the 25th, (Part II is at: http://t.co/5qxY3tV, Part I is at: http://t.co/nDB0ql4) which meant writing numerous responses to readers, plus a day’s worth of meetings on the 26th and a phone interview with a poetry class at University of the South, in Sewanee, TN, on the 27th—all of which meant I had to proof the last set of proofs willy-nilly, in the cracks between all those other things, plus trying to spend some time outside getting gravel back in the drive and replacing snowplow divots. But I did it, and I sent the proofs back Thursday morning, April 28th.

In this last round of proofs almost everything is as it was during the set of proofs before this one, at least that’s what you hope for. New to this set was the CIP, Cataloguing in Publication Data from the Library of Congress, and the acknowledgements for Lois Eby’s artwork on the cover. At this point the back matter gets added: the “About the Author” page, a page acknowledging the various major contributors to Copper Canyon Press, and the colophon.

A colophon is the press mark—for Copper Canyon Press it’s the Chinese character for poetry—plus a paragraph saying with what fonts the book was composed, giving a little history of those fonts, and also telling who designed the book, in this case Valerie Brewster, (http://www.olympus.net/personal/brewster/scribe.html),

Here’s the colophon for HAPPY LIFE:

This book is set in Minion, designed for digital composition by Robert Slimbach in 1989. Minion is a neohumanist face, a contemporary typeface retaining elements of the pen-drawn letterforms developed during the Renaissance. Display type is set in Woodland, designed by Akira Kobayashi. Book design and composition by Valerie Brewster, Scribe Typography. Printed on archival-quality paper at McNaughton & Gunn, Inc.

Barring any unforeseen difficulties, the page proofs are now off to the printer and before long this thing that’s been in the works now for almost a year and a half will be a book.

Now, I, as the author, move away from those who work in composition and design and over to the publicity department and I get ready to do my part in promoting the book, trying to get it noticed among all the tens of thousands of other books that will be published this fall.

Until next time … Sincerely,

David Budbill

April 28, 2011