The lies our culture tells us about what matters — and a better way to live (David Brooks)

Our society is in the midst of a social crisis, says op-ed columnist and author David Brooks: we're trapped in a valley of isolation and fragmentation. How do we find our way out? Based on his travels across the United States -- and his meetings with a range of exceptional people known as "weavers" -- Brooks lays out his vision for a cultural revolution that empowers us all to lead lives of greater meaning, purpose and joy.

E.B. White on a Writer's Responsibility

In an interview for The Paris Review in 1969, White was asked to express his "views about the writer's commitment to politics, international affairs." His response:

A writer should concern himself with whatever absorbs his fancy, stirs his heart, and unlimbers his typewriter. I feel no obligation to deal with politics. I do feel a responsibility to society because of going into print: a writer has the duty to be good, not lousy; true, not false; lively, not dull; accurate, not full of error. He should tend to lift people up, not lower them down. Writers do not merely reflect and interpret life, they inform and shape life.

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On June 21st, join popular LGBT Horror podcast Blumhouse’s Attack of the Queerwolf for their first live show! – a screening of 1988’s Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers,

Everyone’s favorite serial killer camp counselor, Angela Baker, is back to slew a whole new group of teenagers. After years of therapy (and surgeries), Angela is given a job at Camp Rolling Hills – but history begins to repeat itself when she goes on a murderous rampage once the campers begin misbehaving…
The show begins 8:30PM!  Throw on your shortest summer shorts and prepare to camp until you die!
Says Blumhouse’s Attack of the Queerwolf LGBTQ, “The token queers at Blumhouse go through the horror canon to see where on the undead Kinsey scale your faves belong! Don’t be nervous: we’ve done this before! Hosted by Brennan Klein, Michael Kennedy, Nay Bever, and Sam Wineman!”
Directed by Michael A. Simpson | 1988 | 80 minutes | Rated R
Friday, June 21 — 8:30pm
“I like the out of the box approach — not too many 80s slashers focus mainly on the killer (an unmasked one at that), and was a rather unique way of more or less remaking the original film . . . while giving it its own identity. ” — Brian Collins, Horror Movie A Day
“Every good horror movie deserves a equel and the 80’s classic Sleepaway Camp has thankfully delivered a second helping. . . . Just as the original, the second installment of this movie has some really unique kills.” — Absolute Horror
“What saves this enterprise is its winking, self-referential (and self-mocking) quality, something that makes it a bit of a progenitor for later entries like the Scream [franchise]. . . . The fun of Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers is not in any putative character information, but in the nonchalant way Angela marauds her way through a series of boorish victims. On that level, this is one camp worth visiting.” — Jeffrey Kauffman,

Andrea Bocelli in China

On May 15th, by the invitation of President Xi and First Lady Peng Liyuan, Andrea Bocelli performed at the Beijing National Stadium in front of over 1.7Billion viewers on live TV and streaming.

Andrea Bocelli and Frankie Nasso

This portion of the program was produced by Jules and Frankie Nasso, Nova Entertainment Group, working throughout China, Italy, the US and the UK to deliver Maestro Bocelli to a live audience filled with Presidents and Leaders from 48 Asian Nations, from Australia to Israel to Japan and beyond. 

This was the largest government-sponsored entertainment event ever hosted in China, with over 8,000 performers on stage throughout the evening. 

Wouldn't it be great if we did this here in USA?

Research shows that helping others makes us happier. But in her groundbreaking work on generosity and joy, social psychologist Elizabeth Dunn found that there's a catch: it matters how we help. Learn how we can make a greater impact -- and boost our own happiness along the way -- if we make one key shift in how we help others. "Let's stop thinking about giving as just this moral obligation and start thinking of it as a source of pleasure," Dunn says.


Diane Warren doesn't want to miss a thing

Robert and Kenny start the show talking about the trend of the high quality mini-series taking the television spotlight, Godzilla's box office disappointment and run down our guest's incredible songwriting resume.

The only show that takes you inside the studios of Hollywood composers, with engaging conversations and musical demonstrations. Based on the hit film SCORE: A FILM MUSIC DOCUMENTARY, the weekly SCORE: THE PODCAST celebrates the musical heartbeat and emotive power of modern storytelling. Join hosts Robert Kraft and Kenny Holmes as they open the door to the creative, musical and fascinating personalities of the men and women who create music for the world’s most popular films, TV shows and video games. Follow us @ScoreThePodcast.

An Interview with Dennis Palumbo and Barbara Hodges Mysterical-E

Dennis Palumbo, M.A., MFT is a writer and licensed psychotherapist in private practice, specializing in creative issues. His acclaimed series of mystery thrillers— Mirror Image, Fever Dream, Night Terrors, Phantom Limb and the latest, Head Wounds (Poisoned Pen Press)—features psychologist and trauma expert Daniel Rinaldi. He’s also the author of Writing From the Inside Out (John Wiley), as well as a collection of mystery short stories, From Crime to Crime (Tallfellow Press).

Formerly a Hollywood screenwriter, Palumbo’s credits include the feature film My Favorite Year, for which he was nominated for a WGA Award for Best Screenplay. He was also a staff writer for the ABC-TV series Welcome Back, Kotter, and has written numerous series episodes and pilots.

His first novel, City Wars (Bantam Books) is currently in development as a feature film, and his short fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, The Strand and elsewhere. He provides articles and reviews for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Lancet, and many others.

His column, “The Writer’s Life,” appeared monthly for six years in Written By, the magazine of the Writers Guild of America. He’s also done commentary for NPR’s “All Things Considered.” Currently he writes the “Hollywood on the Couch” column for the Psychology Today website.

Dennis conducts workshops throughout the country and overseas, at both clinical symposia and writing conference. (A list of recent appearances is available on request.)

His work helping writers has been profiled in The New York Times, Premiere Magazine, Fade In, Angeleno, GQ, The Los Angeles Times and other publications, as well as on NPR and CNN. He’s also appeared numerous times on Between the Lines, the PBS author interview show.

A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and Pepperdine University, he served on the faculty of UCLA Extension, where he was named Outstanding Teacher of the Year.

BMH: What is something you wish someone would have told you before you became an author?

DP:     That in today’s marketplace, the book author has to do an incredible amount of self-promotion. In my former writing career (as a Hollywood screenwriter), that was all handled by the TV networks and movie studios. The hard part was just getting the job and surviving the tortuous process of getting something on the air or in the movie theater.

BMH:  Why did you become a writer?

DP:     Hard to say. It felt more like a calling than a choice.

BMH:  When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

DP:     By high school, I knew I wanted to write. However, until college (at the University of Pittsburgh), I’d never actually met a working writer, nor any peer who also wanted to be one. That’s why I started out as an engineering major (!), then switched over to the English Department.

BMH: Do you have a daily writing routine?

DP:     Since I have a day job as a full-time licensed psychotherapist, it’s hard to keep to a firm schedule. Which is one of the reasons that, unlike my mystery writing colleagues, I only turn out a new Daniel Rinaldi thriller every three to four years.

BMH: Why crime fiction?

DP:     Ever since my Dad bought me the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes when I was ten years old and home sick from school, I’ve been hooked on the genre. Maybe because I like strong characters in intense situations. I also like trying to figure out the puzzles.

BMH:  Have you written in other genres?

DP:      Yes. I was a Hollywood film and TV writer (MY FAVORITE YEAR; WELCOME BACK, KOTTER, etc.) for 17 years before retiring to go back to grad school and train to be a therapist. In those years I mostly wrote comedy. However, I also wrote a novel, CITY WARS (Bantam Books) that was my one and only foray into science fiction. I’ve also written a nonfiction book about dealing with the psychological aspects of the writer’s life, based on my 27 years working as a therapist specializing in treating writers. It’s called WRITING FROM THE INSIDE OUT (John Wiley & Sons).

BMH:  What is something you’ve never written about, but hope to some day?

DP:     I think I’d try to write a play at some point. I don’t know if I’d be any good at it, but I do think about it. Probably because I so enjoy writing dialogue.

BMH:  What two words best describes your writing style?

DP:     Maybe “visceral and propulsive,” but that’s only when it’s going well! Otherwise I’d have to go with “self-indulgent and hurried.”

BMH:  What comes first for you, characters or plot?

DP:     Characters, always. I believe in Henry James’ description of plot: that it’s characters under stress.

BMH: How do you create your characters?

DP:     There’s no blueprint for it. I usually just see a particular person in a particular situation, start writing, and see how he or she got into that situation.

BMH:  Outliner, seat-of-your-pants writer, or a mix of both?

DP:     Total seat-of-my-pants writer. In my crime novels, I start with no idea who either the victim or the killer is going to be. I like to let my writing flow organically. Of course, this means I have to go back and re-write a lot, to make sure things line up. But that’s okay, I’d always rather write than think.

BMH: How much editing do you do as you write your first draft?

DP:     Not much, since I’m essentially making it up as I go along. I’m a firm believer in the fact that you don’t actually know what book you’re writing until you finish the first draft. It tells you what needs to be done to the plot, what characters really pop (as opposed to the ones you THOUGHT would do so), where to tighten things up and where to loosen them, etc. I think that if you’re doing it right, you and the text sort of co-create the book. You respond to where it’s going, and then it responds to your editing. If that makes any sense.

BMH: What authors influenced you the most?

DP:     Too many to mention. But the list would include Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane, Richard Price, Patricia Highsmith. Non-genre favorites include Scott Fitzgerald, Joan Didion, Phillip Roth, and, in particular, John Fowles.

BMH: How do you handle research?

DP:      I don’t do any until I’ve finished the first draft. Then I do the minimum necessary for accuracy and verisimilitude. As both an author and a psychotherapist, I always try to ensure that I’m depicting the reality of therapeutic treatment (and the state of the current mental health system) as accurately as possible.

BMH:  How do you handle marketing?

DP:     Certainly not as well as I should. For one thing, with a busy therapy practice, I don’t have much time. I must admit, however, I also haven’t investigated all the avenues for marketing available today. Part of my nature rebels against it, I guess.

BMH:  You can go back in time, meet and chat with anyone, who would it be? What would you talk about?

DP:     Again, too many to name. Emily Dickenson, Thoreau, Jane Austen, and Emerson come to mind quickly. Hawthorne and Melville. But especially Joseph Conrad. That covers the writers (with whom I’d talk about writing). Maybe some of the Continental philosophers (Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein). Probably not a lot of laughs, but interesting as hell.

BMH: You are going to be alone on a desert island, what three things will you take with you?

DP:     Assuming Internet access, my laptop, my paperback of Emerson’s Essays, and a flare gun to alert passing ships of my presence.

BMH:  How big a part did your upbringing have on your writing?

DP:     As a psychotherapist, I’m aware of the crucial role our childhood experiences and the communication dynamics in our family of origin have on our self-concept later in life. Since these experiences (and the meaning we give them) are inextricably bound up in our creative work, I believe our upbringing plays an enormous role in our desire to write, what we choose to write about, and how we write it. It also influences how we deal with the response to our writing, both positive and negative.

In terms of content, since my Daniel Rinaldi mysteries are set in Pittsburgh, and feature an Italian-American therapist with a beard and glasses who grew up in Pittsburgh and graduated from Pitt, I’d say my writing in that regard is quite influenced by my upbringing!

BMH: How about some hard-earned advice.

DP:     Don’t follow trends. As a writer, keep giving them YOU until YOU is what they want.

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Dublin, Ireland - Emmy Award-winning script-writer Michael Hirst, the script writer for all 69 episodes of the Vikings TV series will be awarded the Bard Award for Story Excellence at the Dublin Writers' Conference this June.

Michael is best known for his films Elizabeth (1998) and Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007), as well as the Emmy Award-winning television series The Tudors and Vikings.

Dr. Ken Atchity, author, literary manager, publisher and producer will be awarded the Bard Award for Story Management at the Dublin Writers' Conference.

Ken is best known for The Meg, the blockbuster movie of Summer 2018, The Kennedy Detail (Emmy nominated), and his novel The Messiah Matrix.

The Conference was established in 2015 by successful Irish thriller author Laurence O'Bryan, as an event dedicated to helping writers.

The Conference will feature five separate session streams over three days and 29 speakers.

There will be break-out sessions including the popular “Pitch a Producer” feature in which participants get a chance to make a brief oral presentation of their work to a panel of producers.

The Saturday evening will feature the Annual Conference Dinner and Awards presentation.

The impressive list of speakers this year also includes New York PR guru Dee Rivera, and million selling Irish author Patricia Gibney, the latest best-selling Irish publishing phenomenon.

Full details of the conference are to be found at:

To contact the organisers email:
Or call: +353 86 8369254
5 Dame Lane, Dublin 2, Ireland
Contact: Laurence O'Bryan

"Lest They Forget" by Opinion by Jerry Amernic in The Globe and Mail (Ontario Edition)

Lest they forget: D-Day will fade from memory if we don’t teach the youth

Jerry Amernic is the author of several books, including the novel The Last Witness.

The other night, I watched Saving Private Ryan. It was Memorial Day in the United States. The opening sequence depicting the landings at Normandy on D-Day – June 6, 1944 – is riveting. Although the film never mentions Canada, the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division penetrated further inland at Juno Beach on D-Day than did the Yanks or Brits at the four beaches they tackled.

The biggest military invasion in history, D-Day turned the tide of the Second World War. The 359 Canadian dead and 715 wounded were among 10,000 Allied casualties that day, and next week is the 75th anniversary. It will be the last one with actual veterans, which means there will soon be no more witnesses and that can be a dangerous thing.

We all know the words Lest we forget, but I fear that young people today know little, if anything, about D-Day and the Second World War. This became obvious to me when I taught college. They just don’t know. But when the last combatant is gone, knowing what happened and why it happened will be crucial.

My father served in the war, but was stationed in Newfoundland and never saw combat. I have his dog tag tucked away in a velvet pouch with other things from his youth. While I was born in the 1950s, I learned about Canada’s war effort in school and from my work as a journalist.

I once did a magazine profile on retired major-general Richard Rohmer who showed me his Distinguished Flying Cross, awarded for his service as a reconnaissance pilot. Mr. Rohmer saw the entire Normandy invasion from the skies that day and told me about it.

Another time, I covered the last annual reunion of a group of Belgian citizens and the Canadian soldiers who liberated them in 1945. I still remember the camaraderie, the kinship and the love that existed among them.

A few years ago, I wrote a novel about the last living survivor of the Holocaust. It takes place in 2039 when my protagonist is 100 years old, but knowledge of past history is remote. My agent shopped it around, and one editor turned it down because he didn’t buy the premise about society becoming ignorant about the Holocaust in a generation. The editor said he had to suspend disbelief.


After my novel was rejected by that publisher, a videographer and I interviewed students at a Toronto university and asked them questions about the Holocaust. We asked them about the Allies. We asked if they knew about Churchill and FDR. We asked about D-Day. With few exceptions, these kids knew practically nothing. The video we made has gone viral around the world.

When I asked if they knew what happened on D-Day, their responses ranged from, “It happened in England,” to “It was a place where a lot of bombs went off,” to them just shaking their heads.

My daughter is a high-school teacher, has taught history and is dedicated to her job. But the problem might be rooted in the fact that the young have so many options today, not just in school but outside as well, and maybe there is no room for knowing about the past.

I have a 576-page document from the Ontario Ministry of Education. It’s supposed to explain what is taught in Grades 10 and 11 in high schools in the area of Canadian and World Studies, and it uses phrases such as “Concepts of Disciplinary Thinking across Subjects.”

Frankly, when it comes to teaching history – or any subject – I don’t care what it says in a document about what is supposed to be covered in the curriculum. The fact is that, for whatever the reason, young people who graduate from Ontario high schools do not know seem to know basic history.

Two weeks ago, I attended the funeral of Milton Berger. He was 94. Milt was a long-time Toronto city councillor and we met when I was a young newspaper reporter covering municipal politics. He was also the father-in-law of a close friend.

Milt was said to be the first Holocaust survivor to serve as a politician in Ontario. When he was 17 he was sent to Auschwitz.

Lest we forget? It’s time for us to wake up and ensure that our young know why we have the freedoms too many take for granted. Having them not know disrespects those who made the sacrifice – such as the men at Juno Beach – and may even foretell a future that we don’t want to imagine.

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