Sunday, August 13, 2006

Inside The Writer's Studio

James Lipton is the rather eclectic, ethereal host of Bravo’s “Inside the Actor’s Studio,” where he chats up stars of stage and screen and asks them rather pointed and sometimes off-the-wall questions. He’s also a Detroiter – having attended Wayne State University back in the day. If you’ve seen the show, you know his questions can be as if they came from a combination of William F. Buckley Jr. and Ayn Rand.

So what would Lipton ask me? How would a special edition of “Inside the Writer’s Studio” go, with a certain sportswriter and magazine editor sitting across from him on that stage in front of an audience of aspiring journalists?

Heaven help you all …

Lipton: He is, without question, one of the foremost advancers of rudimentary writing of sports as anyone on this molecular planet. He has been known to wax mediocre about the inane in a benign fashion, and can certainly be considered banal to a fault. We are indeed fortunate to have with us a sportswriter who, if I weren’t sitting here, would need no introduction. So please, without anymore hesitation, join me in welcoming Greg Eno to the Writer’s Studio.

(applause and whistles)

Lipton: Tell me … why are you here?
Me: (confused but polite) I … was … invited?

Lipton: And why was that, in your own words?
Me: I suppose you thought I’d be an interesting person to talk to.

Lipton: If you were a tree, what would it be?
(audience snickers)
Me: Boy, that’s a toughie. There are so many out there that I like. I’m a big fan of trees.

Lipton: Well, if you had to pick ONE.
Me: OK, the mighty oak.
(audience applauds)

Lipton: You once wrote that you thought Kirk Gibson’s homerun off Goose Gossage in the 1984 World Series, and I’ll quote you, “Caused an entire city to exhale.”
Me: (still waiting for the question) Yes …

Lipton: Why did you write that?
Me: It was … my impressions. I felt strongly that the city of Detroit did, indeed, exhale after Gibson connected. It was the first championship in Detroit in 16 years, and only the second in 27 years.

Lipton: Why do you suppose that was?
Me: Why do I suppose WHAT was?

Lipton: That that was the first championship in Detroit in 16 years, and only the … well, what you said.
Me: (shifting in chair) Well, mainly because it was the first one since 1968, and only the second one since 1957.

Lipton: What do you hate?
Me: Hate? Umm … Mondays? (chuckle)
(audience claps)

Lipton: What do you love?
(audience applauds, then breaks out into loud cheering)

Lipton: Why sportswriting?
Me: I’ve been a passionate, almost maniacal sports fan since I was seven years old, and writing is another passion. The two together made perfect sense.

Lipton: The late, great Jim Murray, no less, never was able to comment on your career, as he had passed away before it took off. Your reaction.
Me: (exhaling in deep thought) Wow. That’s a toughie. (audience snickers) I guess I’d have to say that I’m sorry that Jim never got a chance to read my stuff.

Lipton: If he read it today, what would he say?
Me: I would hope that he’d think I was pretty good.

Lipton: Let’s change gears. I want to talk about a column called “Why I Like To Go To The Ballpark Alone.” (audience claps loudly)
Me: (unsure again of the question) OK … what would you like to know?

Lipton: Why?
Me: Why … what?

Lipton: Yes.
Me: I think it was fate. It was meant to be.
(audience giggles)

Lipton: Why do you write?
Me: I have so much to say, I’m finding, and I find the written word the perfect outlet for me.

Lipton: As opposed to …
Me: The … spoken word?

Lipton: What’s your favorite swear word?
(audience giggles)
(audience giggles)

Lipton: What’s your favorite sound?
Me: A baby laughing.
(audience goes “Awwww”)

Lipton: What’s your least favorite sound?
Me: The sound of the last piece of pizza being eaten – by anyone, including me.
(audience murmurs knowingly)

Lipton: You write about sports in a style that’s been described as creative. Do you agree?
Me: Really? Who said that?

Lipton: I … am not allowed to tell you.
(audience giggles)
: (chuckles nervously) Well then, I appreciate the compliment. And yes, I agree, I can definitely be creative at times. I’ve always admired creativity, especially in writing. I think the words “creative writing” go so well together.

Lipton: What turns you on?
Me: Spaghetti.

Lipton: What turns you off?
Me: No spaghetti.
(audience laughs)

Lipton: Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a sportswriter, I’d be …
Me: Wishing I was a sportswriter.

Lipton: And if that failed?
Me: You’re losing me again, Jim.
(audience roars)

Lipton: OK, let’s instead talk about sportswriting.
Me: Weren’t we just?

Lipton: Perhaps. Why do we need sportswriters?
Me: I think sportswriting is the last true form of writing: impromptu, improvised, and full of human drama.

Lipton: Well said. This has indeed been a pleasure and a treat. Let’s now take some questions from some of our writing students.
Student #1: What advice do you have for someone like me who wants to be a sportswriter, but just doesn’t know anything about sports?
(students nearby nod with interest)
: Well, what DO you know?

Student: (giggles nervously) I’m a big movie fan.
Me: Then write about movies. Maybe become a movie critic.
(audience claps as student smiles, thanks me, and sits down)

Lipton: Well, sadly, we’re short on time and have to cut it right there. Greg Eno, thank you for joining us on “Inside the Writer’s Studio.”
Me: My confused pleasure, Jim.


No comments: