The Weird Week in Writing: Bill Murray, Damon Wayans, plus the showdown between Team Gatsby and Team Prynne


Freaky Friday—the latest from the weird (and typically wonderful, with the exception of item No. 3) world of writing this week:

Bill Murray dons a hard hat: To read poetry to construction workers. (Really.) Awesomely strange.

Damon Wayans dons a red hat:
And things take a turn for the serious as the “In Living Color”/Mo’ Money comedian releases his novel Red Hats—“an inspirational story about a recently widowed senior citizen woman, Alma, who rediscovers life through a special group of pals that call themselves the ‘Red Hats.’ ”

Write what you know (or else): A Providence man reportedly awoke to find three police officers in his sister’s apartment. They found a copy of a topical poem he’d written. According to the writer, the officers then said the following, and beat him up: “What does it [the poem] mean?” “If you don’t tell me what this [the poem] is, I’m gonna slap your face across this cabinet.” “You shouldn’t write about things if you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Team Gatsby v. Team Prynne: Personally, I’m a Team Vonnegut man. What about you? Check out Novel-T’s new line of authorial baseball shirts. My credit card is calling my name (and calling me a nerd).

* * *

WRITING PROMPT: Naming the Nemesis
Feel

free to take the following prompt home or post your
response (500
words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments section below.
If you’re having trouble with the
captcha code sticking, e-mail it to me at
writersdigest@fwmedia.com, with “Promptly” in the subject line, and I’ll
make sure it gets up.

As fate would have it, you’ve been invited to do the introduction for your longtime archenemy, who is speaking at your company’s annual conference. After drawing a breath and making sure you have everything you need, you approach the podium.

Writer’s Digest University’s new 2nd Draft manuscript review service has gone live. Check it out here!

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13 thoughts on “The Weird Week in Writing: Bill Murray, Damon Wayans, plus the showdown between Team Gatsby and Team Prynne

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  6. Sue Burkholder

    Good evening. When I was asked to introduce our next speaker to you, I was not sure I would be up to the task. Who among us has not worked in the presence of someone who evokes such a humbling response to our thoughts, actions and ideas as our guest of honor does? Who among us is not flattered when our ideas are taken wholly to the Board for presentation with little thought as to authorship, the true epitome of our all-for-one and one-for-all team spirit? And who among us is not sympathetic to the project u-turns that are brought about when her sudden new ideas create a need to re-think and re-structure a presentation, allowing us to prove our worth, allowing us to sacrifice our personal lives?

    Our guest speaker really needs no introduction. She is a face and voice familiar to all, from our Chairman down to the mail room and janitorial staff. She brings to our company a spirit and drive that is in a class by itself. Her own story began in the mail room, a young girl without credentials wanting to learn all there is to learn in the marketing world. It did not take long before she was noticed by the management staff, her own style and actions presenting themselves to those in a position to tutor and guide her the most. She learned the basics of marketing at the knees of those who could train her, and practiced what she had learned, not in the lap of luxury but in the laps and hearts of our clients.

    Our guest speaker knows no boundaries in her quest for excellence, in her ability to diffuse the demands of her clients by spreading the projects amongst those who know how to get the job done. I wonder how many of you realize how hard it is to sit with a client over a two or three hour lunch meeting? I wonder how many of you know the sacrifices she makes when her weekends are taken up by a golf game with a client or a trip to Las Vegas, time away from her home and her two little dogs? Among us all, I believe she truly understands the word sacrifice and is willing to do anything and everything for the good of her clients, and ultimately for the good of our company.

    Ladies and gentlemen, without further introduction, I give you our guest speaker, Sharon Lyzowski, Director of Media Relations.

  7. Mark James

    I don’t know Zac. . .we might have to decide this in a face off between the American Canons and the National Puncs, ’cause I’m a Poe (#13) guy . . .

    In five minutes, I had to get up in front of roughly five million people linked in around the world and introduce the man who was the reason I spent my last anniversary visiting my wife’s grave.

    I walked through the double doors at the back of the crowded auditorium, across the lobby that looked big enough to fit Grand Central Station, and went down steps that led to the backstage entrance.

    Without looking, I got out my phone and speed dialed.

    “Make me happy,” Lennie said.

    “Murder’s still outlawed,” I said.

    My brother and I always answered each other’s calls like that. “You in?” I said.

    “Does it rain in Arizona?”

    “Showers. Doesn’t rain.”

    “Water is water,” he said. Then his voice tightened and I knew I was talking to x-man, the internet hacker who broke into the President’s Blackberry and sent him pictures of his wife doing things she shouldn’t be doing. “Put in your ear piece. Switch to Blue Tooth.”

    I’d let my hair grow a little long so nobody would see the flesh color headset I was fitting over my ear.

    I made the change on my phone, slipped it into my right jacket pocket and said, “How do you hear me?”

    “Like God talking to Moses.”

    I was showing the backstage guards my pass.

    “Got the jump drive?” he said.

    “Ready to hand it over,” I said.

    “Standing by.”

    I could tell by the way the speaker who was introducing this part of the billion dollar fundraising circus kept glancing at the curtain, that he was stalling. He saw me, wound down, said my name, and stepped back from the podium.

    I slipped the tech guy the jump drive and walked onstage.

    “Data acquired,” Lennie said in my ear. “Even if they yank the drive, I’ll keep feeding the pictures.”

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    I let them applaud before I reached under the podium and pressed the button they’d shown me during rehearsal. The twenty foot screen over my head came to life. Without looking I knew it was a tight focus on Eleanor’s grave stone.

    The audience gasped.

    “I don’t know how to introduce the man who taught me about death and grief, but I thought this would be a good start.”

    From the horrified faces in front of me, I knew the screen over my head was showing Harrison Mead, the most famous heart surgeon on the planet, naked, kneeling on his hands and knees, with his Doberman behind him.

    “I’d just like to take this moment,” I said into the silence, “to thank Harrison.” I found his pale face in the front row. He looked about two seconds from vomiting. “Thank you Harrison. Now I know that revenge is the only real answer when the woman you love died because her freaking heart surgeon is a drunk.”

    I saw security coming down the aisles. Didn’t matter. Lennie had downloaded the pictures in an email to every computer that was linked in around the world. Harrison Mead was just as dead as Eleanor.

    And me? That’s okay. I have time. The rest of my life. Without her, I don’t care where I spend it.

  8. CJill Friend

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  9. Chris Sweet

    Good evening ladies and gentlemen. When I was asked to introduce tonight’s speaker, I was honoured. I’ve known this man for as long as I can remember. He was there to hold my place as vice-chairman when my wife fell ill and was still there after she died. He graciously kept that position even when I was able to come back to work and was so concerned for my well-being that he threatened me with a lawsuit when he saw I was too eager to get back to work. So solicitous was he that I not overwork myself in my time of sorrow that he even sabotaged my application to come back to work and falsified documents showing I had leaked company secrets, making sure I would never have to worry about the stress of working again. Knowing how modest he can be, I wasn’t going to mention this but he’s done so much for me that I just couldn’t help sharing with you how he’s touched my life. He’s shaking his head behind me, embarrassed to be exposed for the kind soul he is, I’m sure. He’ll really like this. I found out shortly after her death that my wife had been having an affair. It hurt to find this out, especially after having sat by her side and watching her die. I’m so relieved however to have found out that it was only our speaker, keeping her happy. Always looking out for me aren’t you? I was hesitant to believe he could have been so thoughtful until I found this. Ladies and gentlemen please turn your attention to the video projector behind me. The man you see in this clip is none other than our speaker tonight. And yes, that is my bedroom and my bed and my wife. So I’d not only like to introduce our speaker tonight but also to thank him for looking out for me as long as we’ve known each other. I think I’ve gushed a little too much about him now, I can see he’s starting to blush. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s my distinct pleasure to introduce our speaker tonight; your vice-chairman and my older brother. Please welcome Cam Brewer to the stage.

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