(The Blog)

And now for a few words about words (and many other things)...

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How to get into every Ivy League school, in 650 words or less...

By now, you've likely read or seen or heard the news about one Kwasi Enin of Long Island, who achieved the dubious distinction of earning acceptance to eight out of the possible eight Ivy League universities to which he applied. Poor kid--he's going to have to turn seven of them down. I tend to agree that the attention given to this story is a bit ridiculous and that the glorification of the most highly selective schools (where acceptance for even the most qualified student can be a total crapshoot) is not the healthiest message to celebrate. Even Kwasi ackowledged that applying to all eight Ivies--whether he was truly interested in attending every one or not--was his father's idea, just to see if he could do it.

However, I am happy to see that his successful essay is making the rounds. Despte the subtle hints of humblebrag, it's pretty good--well-structured and clear. He writes about his love of music, and how it "has become the spark of my intellectual curiosity." In an interview, he credits that intangible drive as the difference-maker:

Enin ranks in the top 2% of his class and aced 11 advanced placement classes. The son of two nurses, he also volunteers in Stony Brook University Hospital’s radiology department. But he said he believes what truly sets him apart is his passion.

So, yeah. Whether applying to the Ivy League (you know, as a whole) or the school that's right for you, the essay is a big deal.

Click here for more about how you can make your essay your advantage.


The play's the thing...again

So, adventures in playwriting...and my excitement that others share in my excitement enough to stage another script of mine...continue. This weekend, my short play The Impressionists will have its world premiere as part of the Original Playwrights Festival at the City Theatre of Independence. That's Independence, Missouri, home of our 33rd President, Harry S. Truman, who was, of course, also something of a playwright*, hence his infamous nickname, "Give 'em Hell in the Third Act Harry."

*Unless, of course, further research, which I have not done, reveals that, in fact, he was not.

Unlike my most recent previous effort, The Impressionists features actual human characters. You can find out more about it and even download the script here.



UPDATE: Well, I know that the real honor is in being nominated -- or, in this case, having my play selected for production -- but I'm pleased to announce that The Impressionists also won, by audience vote, the award for Best Script. What a nice thing to have happen. I like to pretend that I'm motivated by rejection -- but, frankly, I find praise much more encouraging.


A little help from new friends...

I was honored last night to have my short play, "To The Dogs," featured in a session of the Ten Minute Play Workshop, an online project created by Jen Whiting at Rider University. It was a rewarding and confidence-building experience. I also got to learn how to use GoToMeeting, and to have a mutli-way conversation with a wall of talking heads on my computer screen (this must be what it feels like to be Wolf Blitzer or Captain Kirk). Best of all, I got some incredible advice for improving my script from a group of writers who know what they're talking about. My sincere thanks to Jen, John Gamel, and Adam Douglas. I look forward to working with you all again soon...


In football, as in life...

Here's just one more reason that I'm proud of my alma mater—and, of course, its football team. After a Rose Bowl championship, Stanford is planning on "using vocabulary to win a national title." Yes, words matter.

PALO ALTO, Calif. – When David Shaw and his assistant coaches go out in search of football recruits capable of playing for Stanford, the list of necessary attributes is long.

Superior academics are mandatory for admission and success at the elite university. Great athletic ability, strength and speed are a necessity to play for the reigning Pac-12 champions. Character, leadership and motivation are highly valued intangibles. 

And then there is something unique Stanford coaches evaluate when meeting with a prospect, something that few would think predicts football success.

"Vocabulary," Shaw said.


"Yes, you look for vocabulary," he said. "Can this kid express himself in a way that befits a Stanford man?

"Does that correlate to football? I say, yes, absolutely. [We seek] a young man that has the confidence to stand up in front of you and express himself as opposed to what a lot of young kids do today – they don't give you eye contact, they kind of mumble when they talk to adults. 

"You walk around and talk to our kids, they look you in the eye," Shaw continued. "And we play that way. We are going to play right at you, in your face, 'Here is who we are, here is how we play.' There is a one-to-one correlation. There is no doubt about it to me. The inability to be intimidated by a person or a situation is something that is significant."


It's always nice to be in the papers...twice

As a freelance writer, it's nice enough to see your name in the paper* in a byline; when it's in the story itself, that's a special treat. And when it happens twice in one day... Well, please forgive my, ahem, momentary lack of modesty (what, you thought this blog was about you?): today, I got to see myself featured—and by "featured," I mean "referenced" and/or "indirectly alluded to"—in the print editions of both the New York Times and the Kansas City Star. The NYT piece actually went online last Thursday and the KC Star story was on the web last night, but both appeared on paper today.

*Note to not-so-future generations: paper is what they used to print some of the newsy parts of the internet on.

Corinne Jacker (Credit: Ken Collins, from In Their Company)Unfortuantely, the occasion for my name appearing in the Times was the death of a wonderful playwright named Corinne Jacker, who I had been grateful to interview for our book, In Their Company, and about whom I was honored to be contacted when the time came to write her obituary.

Alice Pollack, Jeff Shehan, and Josh Brady, in "To The Dogs" (Credit: Keith Myers, KC Star)The Star piece, meanwhile, didn't technically mention my name. But that's okay, because in a larger feature about The Barn Players, it mentioned my play, To The Dogs, and all the actors in it, along with a picture of them in action. In other words, three perfectly normal and very talented people are dressed up in silly clothes, pretending to be racing greyhounds, just because I wrote something that required/allowed them to... I'll take it.