Stunning ‘Auld Lang Syne’ from University College Dublin’s choir
‘Auld Lang Syne’ has long been a song performed as a new year enters, with words that capture bittersweet reflection and a spirit of goodwill. And in the video below, it’s sung so powerfully.
The poem ‘Auld Lang Syne’ captures two friends catching up over a drink or two, their friendship having been long and occasionally distant. The words were written by Scottish poet Robert Burns in 1788.
The song’s famous title translates as ‘old long since’, or ‘for the sake of old times’ – in other words, looking back, as a way to look forward.
Steve Alten, author of "Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror" and "Meg: The Trench," has optioned an original football movie, Mr. Irrelevant, to producer David Rubenstein (1917), and his partners Ken Atchity and Scott Becher of Win-Win Partnerships (formerly producer/director NFL Films).
WE ALL FEEL OVERLOOKED AT SOME POINT — EVEN THOSE AT THE PINNACLE OF THEIR PROFESSION. MR. IRRELEVANT SHARES THE JOURNEY OF A STAR COLLEGE QUARTERBACK WHO, AGAINST ALL ODDS, OVERCOMES HEART-WRENCHING PERSONAL AND ATHLETIC CHALLENGES TO ACHIEVE HIS SPORTING DREAM.
FROM THE PRODUCER OF THE MEG, MR. IRRELEVANT IS A STORY OF UNBELIEVABLE COURAGE, PERSEVERANCE, AND UNEXPECTED SECOND CHANCES.
To begin with, Robert Rivenbark discovered he was a natural writer in the sixth grade. His homeroom and English teacher, Mrs. Lee, elected him as Program Chairman in their class elections. He became the class playwright and short story writer. He read his stories to his classmates and wrote and directed plays inspired by his favorite sci-fi and horror movies and books.
Writing is in his blood. Robert earned a master’s degree in Creative Writing from Antioch University. As a result, of that degree, he received a full academic scholarship to study for two years in Oxford and London, based on his winning short story collection.
Robert will tell you he has a relentless work ethic. He takes writing seriously. Consequently, he adopted a “Failure is not an option” attitude.
What is speculative fiction? According to Robert, speculative fiction draws on science and technology, as in hard and soft science fiction. There can be fantasy elements, too. Therefore, the distinction between speculative, science fiction, and fantasy can merge. Whatever the setting, the stories in this genre are driven by curiosity and the possibilities of what could be. As a result, the stories have endless possibilities. Enter, the speculative fiction novel, The Cloud, written by Robert.
The Cloud is the first novel in The Cloud trilogy. It’s also in development as a film or series with producer/literary manager Kenneth Atchity of Atchity Productions and Story Merchant. “When Everyone’s a Virtual Reality Slave, Who can Free the Human Soul?”
“The Cloud” is a terrifying vision of a possible future I hope we can avoid. It’s a cautionary tale with sexy, suspenseful thriller elements that will keep you turning pages, hoping for the hard-won redemption of the male and female protagonists, who face near-impossible odds.”
“What I hope listeners take away is that my novel The Cloudexpresses their fears, anxieties, challenges, and hopes for healing and transcendence in a deeply flawed world. I’ve dramatized a possible future I hope we can avoid, based on research into what’s already happening. I hope my characters’ struggles will wildly entertain and stimulate a thoughtful, cathartic response that provokes discussion, debate, and insight.”
Are you curious? What happens in this Virtual Reality thriller?
Robert’s personality is contagious and that makes him an excellent storyteller!
Author of Write Time (A Writer's Time), Writing Treatments That Sell, How to Publish Your Novel Dr. Kenneth Atchity joins with internet marketing guru Ridgely Goldsborough to bring you this breakthrough program for expanding your reach as a free-lance writer through communicating your WHY? instead of your HOW?
What they're saying about Why? Marketing for Writers
There are hundreds (or thousands) of how-to books for writers, this book cuts through the chaff and get's down to what's real. Why we write, why we want to communicate. It helped me - as a writer - get down to the core of who I am, why I write, and it connected me with my deeper purpose. Best of all? It's practical and it's real - not one of the all too common airy fairy, new age, get in touch with your emotions and discover your unconscious forces. NO, this is practical, sound advice that made sense to me and helped me connect and clarify my why - Why I do the things I do, and what I am here to contribute. In short, it connected me with my true purpose, with my true calling and it gave me practical advice about sharing it effectively - so other's pay attention. As a ghost writer of 5 titles, this book has inspired me to publish under my own name. (Truthfully, I had always felt there was nothing else I could contribute). This book and the teachings it instills - showed me different!
While this book is primarily geared toward writers, I found it to be a great blue print for anyone--regardless what industry or profession--who needs help navigating that social media slippery slope. An excellent primer for those like me who have for the most part avoided it because it seems so overwhelmingly intimidating. But so packed full of tips and strategies that I'm sure even the most social media savvy can learn something new that can be applied to their business.
“I love the process of writing,” April Christofferson, BS’73, says in a 2007 U profile, “but I write because I’m trying to make a difference.”
The difference this Illinois native is talking about includes many of the most complex and conflicted issues of her adopted home in the American West, including wildlife and public lands management, tribal rights, and development. Most recently her passion as a writer has turned to the issue of more than 6,000 missing and endangered indigenous women in the country, many of them in the West.
This year, the reissue of the first two books of her Judge Annie Peacock Series, Alpha Female and Trapped, by Burns & Lea Books—along with its shopping of them by publisher/agent Story Merchant for a television miniseries based on the characters’ adventures in Yellowstone National Park and beyond—speak to the enduring interest of her literary creations, characterized by deep-dive storytelling that started more than a quarter-century ago.
Growing up in Chicago, Christofferson came to love the West during summers visiting Yellowstone and her grandfather’s ranch in Wyoming, where both parents had been raised, and later her paternal grandparents’ homes in Salt Lake City and Richmond, Utah. But the road she traveled to become a successful writer is a long and winding story in itself.
In many ways, it starts with Christofferson’s maternal grandfather, Floyd “Doc” Carroll, a rodeo champion and Wyoming state veterinarian who was inducted into the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum’s Hall of Great Westerners in 1998. He was a stunt double for the famous movie cowboy. “My grandpa was such an influence,” says Christofferson. “I knew from when I was a little girl that I was going to live out West and be a vet.”
After receiving her undergraduate degree in biology from the U, Christofferson began a veterinary medicine program at the University of Illinois in Champaign. But after her first year, she realized she truly wanted to be back West.
“Throughout college, I worked at an animal hospital, but I was always upset—they would try not to tell me if someone was bringing in an animal to be euthanized, because I’d do anything I could to persuade them not to” if treatment were at all possible, she recounts in the alumni story by Marcia C. Dibble. “I realized I wasn’t really emotionally cut out to be a vet.”
Christofferson and her husband, Steve Leach–also a Utah graduate, BS’76, communication–quickly relocated to Coeur d’Alene, where April focused her love of animals on rescuing those in need. She began a series of odd jobs waitressing, loading UPS trucks, and working as a pharmaceutical rep, while determining what else she could channel her passion into next.
A friend began nudging her toward romance writing, telling her anecdotes about others who had made the transition from completely unrelated careers.
“I thought, I don’t have a creative bone in my body, but I had just turned 40, so I sat down and wrote a scene about it—and I just got hooked that day.”
It wasn’t a straight line between getting “hooked” on writing and publishing her first novel. Inspired by her oldest sister, Christofferson attended law school at nearby Gonzaga University in Spokane, where she graduated with a JD in 1983, followed by a stint as counsel at the Seattle-based entertainment company Miramar. But she continued to write, and for her first book, After the Dance, set in the entertainment industry with which she was then intimately familiar, the underlying issue was that of a family dealing with the death of a son from AIDS.
After the novel’s release by a small publisher in 1994, Christofferson swiftly got an agent and quit Miramar to write full time. Her second book, Edgewater, introduced more thriller elements into what was essentially a romantic narrative, with a plot involving a heavily armed northern Idaho militia. After the release of her second book, she promptly signed a book deal with national publisher Forge Books.
But the impulse for biology was always in Christofferson’s peripheral vision. Just as she was finishing Edgewater, she was contacted about a short-term gig helping a biotechnology company with its contracts and other business agreements. “I had really just started writing full time, but I thought, biotech would be such a great area to get experience in; it could provide such interesting background.” Working in that environment did indeed provide new fodder and depth for her next three novels, The Protocol, Clinical Trial, and Patent to Kill, all medical thrillers favorably compared by reviewers to the work of Michael Crichton and Robin Cook.
She centered the plots of the second and third of these thrillers around the abuse of indigenous peoples by unscrupulous westerners, a theme first introduced into her work in Edgewater. Then for her next book, she focused the action around another issue she had come to see as an inexcusable abuse of power: the slaughter of bison that wander outside the boundaries of Yellowstone.
Following the publication of Buffalo Medicine, she started getting gratifying feedback that helped her see that her work was making that difference she had always hoped it would. She got an email one day from a woman “telling me she’d made a donation to the Buffalo Field Campaign,” a nonprofit organization that works to protect the Yellowstone herds. “Most people didn’t know buffalo were being slaughtered, didn’t know about the issue with brucellosis,” a disease that can cause spontaneous abortions in bison and cattle, she explains.
Alpha Female, the first in the series now being shopped for television, revolves around poaching (in this case, of wolves) and addresses the threat to national parks from drilling. In addition to using her writing as a vehicle for educating readers, Christofferson currently devotes time to Footloose Montana, a grassroots nonprofit she helped found, which is dedicated to protecting all wildlife, including predator species. She presently serves on the advisory board.
Now a resident of Bozeman, Montana, where her son and one of her two granddaughters live, Christofferson has a full life. It includes regular visits to the Blackfeet Reservation, where her daughter and other granddaughter live, writing daily in a small but cozy outbuilding, hanging out with her kids/grand daughters and husband, and, of course, entertaining a herd of furry friends, currently featuring five cats and four dogs, including an “all heart” black lab. Always, there are animals nearby, a tribute to her original impulse to be a veterinarian, now turned to animal rescue with her husband, the executive director of an animal shelter in the town of Livingston, north of Yellowstone in the Absaroka Mountains.
Christofferson’s most recent book Grizzly Justice is about a recently fired ranger who disappears into the backcountry, hell-bent on saving a wounded grizzly bear whose fate is all but certain: euthanasia. Her current project Wolf Killer is more than timely; it feels ripped from the headlines after Montana Governor Greg Gianforte was reported to have trapped and killed a collared Yellowstone wolf who had wandered 10 miles out of the protected space of the park. (Gianforte was given a written warning for failing to take the required trapping course).
Even though she had started drafting the manuscript before the incident, the wolf, who was named “Max,” became a cause celebre. The issue of wolf hunting in Montana and the American West is classic Christofferson fodder for the kinds of stories she excels at rendering.
Generously, she attributes the beginning of those stories in part to her undergraduate years in Salt Lake City. “I’m a big fan of the University of Utah,” says Christofferson, recalling the extra semester she spent after graduation working on the University Health campus, and her senior project in biology, when she had been studying the molting of snakes.
“I was obsessed with snakes,” she says. “I had 20 of them [Coluber constrictor foxii, commonly known as “blue racers”] in an aquarium in the greenhouse. I would go up there, weigh them, record my observations.” One day when she arrived, someone had left the aquarium open, “and there I was lying on the floor of the greenhouse, trying to catch snakes, with my husband helping me,” she says with a laugh.
We will have to wait to see if that story ends up in one of her books.
by David Pace
This story is an excerpt and update of Marcia C. Dibble’s profile of Ms. Christofferson that appeared in the U’s Continuum, now Utah Magazine, in winter 2007-08.
Twenty-five years after the Srebrenica Massacre, the worst genocide in Europe since World War II, survivor Melika Žbanić encounters two vicious men from her past. Intent on revenge, her plans are derailed by disgraced FBI agent Thorne Hightower, who has personal reasons to involve himself in her affairs.
Melika escapes Hightower’s pursuit only to be kidnapped and taken somewhere in the Balkans where a grim fate looms. With the clock ticking, a persistent Hightower follows clues to her whereabouts—and by chance meets Melika’s daughter Valery, a physically impaired but gifted young woman determined to confront her own existence—and soft-spoken Victor Alvarez, whose sole purpose in life is to keep his wife alive. Amid the splendor of a desolate mountaintop nouveau riche hotel, they find themselves locked on an emotional collision course between brutality, and the GIFT OF LIFE.
My Favorite Year,’ comic salute to TV’s golden age, hits 40
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Peter O’Toole was famed for his commanding, Oscar-nominated turns. Mark Linn-Baker was a fledgling stage actor. Richard Benjamin, who’d made a leading-man splash in “Goodbye, Columbus” and “Westworld,” had a few TV directing credits.
The sum of these unlikely parts was the zesty 1982 movie comedy “My Favorite Year,” starring O’Toole and Linn-Baker, directed by Benjamin and produced by Mel Brooks. It paid loving tribute to the original golden age of TV in the mid-20th century and the variety shows that were the “Saturday Night Live” hits of their day.
When Benjamin read the screenplay credited to Norman Steinberg and Dennis Palumbo, he immediately turned to his wife, actor Paula Prentiss.
“I hope they want me for this, because it’s just great,” Benjamin recalled saying.
The film, marking its 40th anniversary, is set in 1954 and topped by O’Toole as faded but still-glam movie idol Alan Swann, who’s appearing on “Comedy Cavalcade” only to pay off his IRS debt. Linn-Baker plays Benjy Stone, an energetic young writer tasked with keeping Swann out of trouble (read: sober) until the broadcast.
The inspirations for “My Favorite Year” included Sid Caesar, the decade’s reigning TV comedy star, and “Your Show of Shows,” the hit he topped from 1950-54 and was followed by “Caesar’s Hour.” The movie also is infused with the spirit of Errol Flynn’s swashbuckling films such as “Captain Blood,” with Swann’s “Captain from Tortuga” seen in a faux clip.
Brooks, who wrote for “Your Show of Shows” alongside another future giant of stage and screen, Neil Simon, said in his 2021 memoir “All About Me!” that the movie represented “my love letter to Sid Caesar and the early days of television, and it was also a damn good story.”
“It’s one of the three best productions about live TV that I’ve ever seen,” said David Bianculli, a TV critic for NPR’s “Fresh Air” and author of “Dictionary of Teleliteracy.” His other top picks: “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and Simon’s play “Laughter on the 23rd Floor.”
“My Favorite Year,” which is available on streaming services, had a respectable box office opening in October 1982, coming in third behind “An Officer and a Gentlemen” and “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.”
Dr. Shelly, a brilliant psychologist, forever haunted by her father and his murderous past, is driven by the need to find out why we do the things we do? Is the concept of free will just a concept and nothing more, a construct that blinds us to a less palatable truth, that who we are is predetermined and encoded at birth? Does anyone really choose to do the bad things we do or are we just doing what comes naturally?
Shelly constructs an experiment using a sensory deprivation tank and virtual reality, allowing the darkest part of ourselves, the id, to run free. Unencumbered by morality or remorse, Shelly finds the perfect subject in Adam. A borderline psychotic born into a world of neglect and crime. Delving into the deepest pits of his subconscious, Shelly surfaces with far more than she bargained for.
Detective Hopper, responsible for Adam’s capture, remains a broken man. After suffering a breakdown due to the escalation of his own violent behavior, he is placed under the care of Dr Shelly. Encouraging him to go looking for his own redemption, Hopper becomes a pawn in her web of deception until the lines of reality are redrawn as Hopper and Adam come full circle to an explosive end.