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Bad Advice Wednesday: Make Your Own Work

categories: Bad Advice / Cocktail Hour / Movies

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Vasilios Cray

Vasilios, cast and crew, Sixty Grades of Cray


Last November, I directed a movie from a script I had written.


I wrote the damn thing- a comedic short meant to send up trashy literature-  two years ago, then was at a loss for how to produce it.  The actor I wrote it for moved across the country.  I shelved it to focus on my own acting endeavors.  After appearing in dozens of indies, industrials, and commercials, I wrote and acted in another short and learned a bit about bringing people together.  Continued to act, but the work dried up.  Grew despondent and looked for a way to kick the millstone feelings.  Started listening to a podcast featuring an array of names from the entertainment industry.  They all said the same thing: “make your own work.”  A local actor doing just that inspired me and I was resolved.  And who would direct?  “I’ll direct it,” I declared, surprising myself most of all.

Lundgren’s Lounge: “The Narrow Road,” by Richard Flanagan

categories: Cocktail Hour / Guest Columns / Reading Under the Influence

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I have been a fan of Tasmanian writer Richard Flanagan ever since reading Gould’s Book of Fish (Stuart Gersen’s all-time favorite novel). Flanagan’s work might at first seem preoccupied with man’s abject cruelty to his fellows, as many of the stories take place in wretched prison settings. But if one looks more closely, there is a discernible thread weaving itself through through each narrative, examining the nature and limitations of human love and man’s capacity to endure the most dire circumstances.

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Bad Advice Wednesday: Celebrate! (Or How I Won the U.S. Open)

categories: Cocktail Hour

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celebrate 2I’ve always been jealous of the way tennis players act when they win tournaments. The way they hurl their racquets in the air, drop to their knees, lift their arms to sky, lie on their backs. The way they exult in a manner that you rarely see in other professions.


Writing, for instance.


It’s been my experience that almost every writing triumph, no matter how large or small, comes with some qualification. Trained to deal with rejection, we are wary of jubilation. We know that after the rise will come the fall. We temper triumphs with the word “But” followed by some discounting phrases. Our inner Bill Belichicks squash whatever celebration we hoped for.


But this August, watching the U.S. Open and witnessing players in the throes of joyous celebration, I decided I wanted some of it. I vowed that the next time something good happened I wouldn’t immediately reach for my qualifiers but would do a little reveling instead.

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Save the Shack!

categories: Cocktail Hour

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We all have a place where our writing comes from and we should do all we can to protect that place. Alas, I left home at 5 am yesterday without even putting up the plywood window protector on the windows of my writing shack.  It was muggy in North Carolina but the first I heard about a hurricane was when I landed in Montana (71 and dry). Now, if I understand it correctly, Joaquin Phoenix is taking aim at the shack. Here are some pictures from earlier this week BEFORE a new storm was thrown into the mix. With the rains and super moon there was already 2 feet of water inside.  Not sure if it will be there  when I get back Monday….saveshack







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Anxious Bode Tries Out at the Comedy Cellar

categories: Cocktail Hour / Guest Columns

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Thierry Kauffmann, aka Anxious Bode

Thierry Kauffmann, aka Anxious Bode

Hi, I’m Anxious. I want to thank Bill and Dave’s Comedy Grotto for inviting me to try out for the Comedy hour. But let’s get right to it!  I love flying. I do. Getting on the plane can be tricky with Parkinson’s, but once I’m seated, I’m good. Now I’m supposed to make jokes about airplanes and flying and how horrible the food is. Actually the food is pretty good, especially the stuff that doesn’t land on the floor. Have you ever seen the floor of an airplane? Amazing what you find. I was looking for my dessert. Still wrapped in its aluminum foil. I started leaning back at around 4:45pm. At 5pm I was so low I could actually reach the dessert. My neighbor was down too. He had lost his smartphone. So we were both down. He looked panicked. In a cheerful way. He was an actor. Expecting calls. I thought I would help him. Continue reading →


categories: Cocktail Hour

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taraWe are lucky to have this beautiful essay on facing death by my former student and current friend, Tara Thompson.


“Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes, when you fall, you fly.”
—Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol. 6: Fables and Reflections

     The doctor shows it to me on my CT scan as I prop myself up in the bendy, mechanical hospital bed where I’ve spent several consecutive, restless nights with an IV trickling into my veins. You see, here, he points to the computer screen, that’s fluid, which isn’t good, and this is where most of the damage is, scar tissue in your upper lobes. (I’ve been told already by other doctors that this recent lung disease is probably from the chemo and radiation I had years ago for my former disease: leukemia. How many diseases must one person have?) The pneumonia is colonizing here, he says.

     Colonizing? I think that was the word he used. With the IV Dilaudid, Phenergan, and antibiotics coursing through my body, I visualize a colorful map of the thirteen original colonies and images of Pilgrims and Indians fighting each other. These lungs I am viewing stand alone on a textbook page or pixilate on a computer screen. They are not the ones inside my body. Continue reading →

Lundgren’s Lounge: “How to Cook a Moose,” by Kate Christensen

categories: Cocktail Hour / Guest Columns / Reading Under the Influence

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Early in her career author Kate Christensen consistently published some of the smartest, cleverest and most entertaining works in contemporary fiction (The Astral, The Epicure’s Lament and The Great Man. among others). Then she turned her extraordinary talents to memoir with Blue Plate Special; An Autobiography of My Appetites. Now she offers a love affair to her newly adopted home of Maine and the unique culinary culture flourishing there, in How to Cook a Moose: A Culinary Memoir (Islandport Press). Continue reading →

Table for Two: An Interview with Nina de Gramont on Publication Day

categories: Cocktail Hour / Table For Two: Interviews

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Nina de Gramont23

Bill and Dave’s doesn’t always pay for a private jet to Cape Cod for lobster rolls at the Sesuit Harbor Café, nor for 12 professional parachutists to fly our subject safely down to Earth and our dinner conversation, but Nina de Gramont is one of our favorite writers and people and also married to Dave, so.  It’s sunset, it’s summer still, this golden clear month of September, and this is familiar territory for Nina, this storied Cape Cod, but also in part the setting for her new novel, The Last September, about a woman whose greatest love is shattered by a murder that takes place in the first pages, even as the story moves back to the days before all that. But our meal has arrived, and the sun is a red ball on the horizon, and today is publication day.

Bill:  Congratulations, Nina, on a great new book.  I enjoyed it immensely, and couldn’t put it down, also really enjoyed re-reading passages.  It’s beautifully put together, vivid, harrowing, smart, and even in the roughest moments, delicate, musical, compassionate, fine.  Your protagonist, Brett Mercier, is named for the Hemingway character, Jake Barne’s great love in The Sun Also Rises, Lady Brett Ashley, and the characters remark on this.  I remember reading that novel in the sun on the steps at the Egbert Student Union at Ithaca College, 1971, reading it very fast and then starting back at the beginning, more than half in love with Brett and so miserably sorry for Jake, who’d had his dick shot off in the war, to put it as Hemingway does not.  I tried to teach that novel when I was at Ohio State, and the kids really hated it, finding everyone racist and anti-Semitic, also obsessed with animal abuse, and self-pitying.  How does The Sun Also Rises fit in here?  Is it more than Brett’s name? And how do you read Hemingway these days? Continue reading →