COMING SOON!!!

COMING SOON!!! The Cary Grant Sanatorium and Playhouse - A disgraced Hollywood starlet, Donna Darling, and two-time German Army deserter, Séamus von Funck, meet in 1942 at an idyllic Ohio home for unwed mothers—or a Nazi abortion slaughterhouse, depending on whom you talk to. Their love endures despite the efforts of a power-hungry congressman, an overzealous religious tabloid, and Donna's Hollywood past. (Psst, it includes Cary Grant.) They prevail despite Séamus being a suspected Nazi spy and America's first prisoner of the second World War—and also the first to escape.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

On Meeting Michael Stipe

My apologies for not posting in a while (if either of you are still tuning in). I began a job (after over 2 ½ years unemployed) that was supposed to be just weekends but has added some week nights and I'm all out of whack. (No excuse, I know.) To recap: I'm documenting famous people (mostly writers) I've met, mostly for my own sake. So far I've made it through John Gardner, Raymond Carver and Kirby Puckett. Today's installment: REM's Michael Stipe.

REM came to Minneapolis back in the 80s. To the Orpheum, I believe. Afterward, I managed to get into an after-hours party at First Avenue on the coattails of the Fabulous Welch Sisters. I found myself at a table with Michael Stipe seated to my right. To his right were three of the sisters, all vying for his attention. Somehow I managed to squeeze into the conversation and asked Michael about a particular song lyric that was bugging me—something about Nero and that horse. He explained what he meant by it, then turned his attention back to the women. As I pondered his explanation, he turned back to me and said: "You still don't get it, do ya?"

Now, anyone out there who knows me has asked me that same question a time or two. I admitted that no, I didn't get it, and he went on to explain at length. I was very impressed that he would take time away from these lovely women to explain his lyrics to me. I mentioned that he must get stupid questions like that all the time and asked how he usually handled them. "I usually ignore them," he said and went back to the sisters.

We later found Michael wandering in the parking lot and asked him if he needed a lift over to the hotel. I was the only guy in a car full of women and he jumped in on my lap.

I can't remember the last Rolling Stone I read. I don't keep tabs on rock stars, but I tuned into one of Jimmy Fallon's first shows a while back because Michael Stipe was a guest. They began their chat by discussing Michael's boyfriend. I thought back to that night long before, how good I felt that this guy took time to have a thoughtful discussion with me about his work. And all the while, the creep was hittin' on me! 😀

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

On Meeting Raymond Carver

[Wikipedia: Raymond Clevie Carver, Jr. (May 25, 1938 – August 2, 1988) was an American short story writer and poet. Carver is considered a major American writer of the late 20th century and also a major force in the revitalization of the short story in the 1980s.]

The University of North Dakota conducts a wonderful—free—writers' conference every March. Back in 1986 I attended because Raymond Carver was to be the featured writer. Carver had studied under John Gardner (see earlier post), so I figured I had a minor connection and, as much as I wanted to meet Carver, I was also curious as to any insights he might have regarding Gardner.

Carver didn't arrive till the final day of the conference because of his wife-to-be Tess Gallagher's health. We went to a few parties that evening that Carver wasn't likely to attend (he'd long since quit drinking) and we finally made it to an on-campus gathering—that we likely weren't invited to—much later than I'd hoped.

We entered some sort of faculty club and there was Carver, putting his coat on and looking anxious to leave. I approached him anyway (it was my only shot) and extended my hand. "Mr. Carver," I said and introduced myself. He reluctantly shook my hand and said he was waiting for his driver. I mentioned a Georgia Review article he had written about Gardner, shortly after Gardner's death four years earlier. Carver smiled like he was pleased I'd at least done my homework. I went on to mention meeting Gardner two weeks before his motorcycle accident and his accepting a story of mine for publication. Carver took off his coat and we began to talk. His driver came down and Carver told him to wait. We talked for ten minutes about his early writing days with Gardner and my experience at Bread Loaf.

Raymond Carver died in 1988. He is sorely missed as a writer and—as I found out for ten minutes—a good guy.