Tag Archives: Nebraska

Author Expounds on Labor of Love

 

Peter Brav

The “331 Innings” Interview

with Kam Williams

Author Expounds on Labor of Love

Peter Brav is not much of a baseball player but he’s written three novels where the diamond provides a setting for triumph over adversity in one way or another. Sneaking In (set during the 1999 Yankees championship season), The Other Side Of Losing (set during a Chicago Cubs championship season) and now 331 Innings (set in a small Nebraska town). Add in Zappy I’m Not, a memoir of a cranky middle-aged man reincarnated as a small dog, and you have a literary celebration of all manner of admirable underdogs.

Peter Brav, 331 Innings, Interview, bullying, war, life, Lincoln, Nebraska, Princeton, NJPeter has written several plays including South Beach, African Violet, Later, The Rub, Good Till Cancelled, and Trump Burger which have all been performed in staged readings. A a graduate of Cornell University and Harvard Law School, he resides in Princeton, New Jersey with wife Janet and three Papillons.

Kam Williams: Hi Peter, thanks for the interview.

Peter Brav: Totally my pleasure, Kam.

KW: What inspired you to write 331 Innings?

PB:Well, first of all, it’s not a baseball book. That plays a very small part of it. It covers ground I’ve become comfortable with. Trying to understand why we’re all here for such a relatively short time and yet make it harder on each other and ourselves than it should be. I was thinking about bullying and war, specifically, and how they’re linked. And what a better world we’d have, if we could minimize both of them.

KW: How would you describe the novel in 25 words or less?

PB: It’s a pretty powerful 16th year in the life of John Schram, an undersized, underappreciated underdog. Anger’s getting the best of him and he’s most certainly heading in the wrong direction. Hopefully, he’s going to turn things around before it’s too late.

KW: Was the book’s narrator, Jack Schram, based on a real-life person?

PB: John’s Uncle Jack is a fictional 84 year-old lifelong Nebraskan. But Jack’s an amalgam of many older people I’ve met, whether they be relatives or folks at my father’s assisted living center. Like Jack, they’ve made livings, raised families, fought in wars, and watched loved ones and friends pass on. And if they’re like Jack, they marvel at how the younger generations around them keep making the same mistakes they did. I’ve always felt comfortable with older people, perhaps an old soul and all that. It remains to be seen whether that continues now that I’m getting there more rapidly than I’d like.

KW: How much research did you have to do in order to set the story in Nebraska?

PB: I drove through Nebraska four years ago and spent a wonderful week in Lincoln. I know there are significant differences from the Northeast and they’re highlighted on a daily basis on CNN with red and blue colors. But for my time there, on a closeup and personal level, I encountered nothing but personal warmth. And beautiful landscapes. The story wrote itself when I got back.

KW: What message do you want readers to take away from the novel?

PB: Well, some of what I just alluded to. We’ve got no shortage of underdogs in this world, battling whatever adversity comes their way to try and make a good life for themselves and others. What we could use a little more of is leaders, let’s call them overdogs, with a conscience. And that’s pretty much what happens near the end of the novel. Something brings the high school in-crowd and outcasts together, for one really long game anyway, and the rest of the world comes along for the ride. In my 2009 Chicago Cubs fantasy, The Other Side of Losing, I had a very protracted week-long rain delay during the World Series where people come together. This is a bit of the same thing, taking a break from “winning” to maybe show a little love.

KW: Are you already working on your next opus?

PB: Well, as you know, this lawyering thing keeps getting in the way, especially in the spring and summer. But I’ve finished a play called Propriety I’m hopeful about and I’ve started a new play set in the pre-war tumult of the late Thirties.

KW: AALBC.com founder Troy Johnson asks: What was the last book you read?

PB: Great question, Troy. I wish I had more time to read but I’m getting better. I’ll mention two. The Berlin Boxing Club, a great young adult novel by Robert Sharenow.

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/006157970X/ref=nosim/thslfofire-20

And I’m just finishing War Against War, a terrific nonfiction book about the years before World War I by Michael Kazin.

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1476705909/ref=nosim/thslfofire-20 

KW: Ling-Ju Yen asks: What is your earliest childhood memory?

PB: Thanks, Ling-Ju. My beloved mother Adele, a survivor of the Holocaust who passed away two years ago, schlepping my sister and me on subways to see a matinee of Carousel in Manhattan. I believe I was 4 years-old.

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?

PB: Cooking’s never been one of my strong suits, Kam. But my kids would say my scrambled eggs are perfectly edible.

KW: Craig Robinson asks: What was your last dream?

PB: Hi, Craig. My night dreams are gone shortly after I wake up. There are nights I’m pretty dream-prolific, too. But my daydreams hang around forever; they’re in 331 Innings.

KW: Sherry Gillam would like to know what is the most important life lesson you’ve learned so far? 

PB: That’s such a good question, Sherry, and I want you to know I learned it very early on. It’s to evaluate everyone I meet on the basis of individual character only. No wealth, race, religion, nationality, age, popularity considerations, or anything else. And I’ve been the beneficiary of that lesson, with a diverse group of friends enriching my life on a daily basis.

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

PB: I don’t know, give me a minute, and I’ll get back to you with a quite pained response. I see someone super blessed to have had the love and encouragement of my incredible wife Janet and the rest of my

family and friends.

  

KW: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

PB: I’m going to assume you mean intentionally. Most of the “crazy” things I did only look that way with hindsight. But I’d say naively taking my MGB without snow tires into the mountains of Vermont in the winter of 1981 ranks right up there.

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?

PB: For the powers that be throughout the world to have a collective Moment of Zen, to borrow from Jon Stewart, in which they realize they have more power and wealth than could be consumed in multiple lifetimes. And then actually do something about it to reduce war, oppression, inequity, ignorance, and the planet’s deterioration. It shouldn’t take the arrival of a worse species as happened in Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks! to bring people together.

KW: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?

PB: That’s tough since most of us will be remembered by very few. But I hope it’s for more than those scrambled eggs.

KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?

PB: The usual I’m sure. Five dollars and a completely illegible idea for a new novel scrawled on a napkin.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Peter, and best of luck with the book.

PB: Thank you, Kam, I hope folks enjoy it. Writing it was a joy for me.

To order a copy of 331 Innings, visit: https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1544237944/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20 

Read more of Peter’s work at www.peterbrav.com

and follow him at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3299307.Peter_Brav

and: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorPeterBrav/

and: https://twitter.com/PGBistroPG

 

Source:  Baret News 

Experience the College World Series of Omaha: “The Greatest Show on Dirt!”

 

Experience the College World Series of Omaha: “The Greatest Show on Dirt!”

by Amy Lignor

 

Baseball lovers, the time is upon us. The College World Series of Omaha is gearing up for 2017! Opening Celebration Day will be held on Friday, June 16th. Free and open to the public, activities begin at 9:10 a.m. (CDT) with team practices followed by College World Series of Omahateam autograph sessions. The CWS Fan Fest will provide family-friendly entertainment, including NCAA-sport interactive games, photo opportunities, prizes and more. Evening activities kick off with a parade of the eight teams competing, followed by singer-songwriter Aloe Blacc’s headline performance and wrapping up with a stellar fireworks grand finale.

For those who don’t know the history of this event, the College World Series of Omaha most definitely earned the title “The Greatest Show on Dirt” for many reasons. When it all first began, this particular event was an experiment, if you will. But now, more than fifty years later, Omaha has become synonymous with the sport of men’s college baseball, and people from all over the country flock to Nebraska in June in order to be a part of its incredible history.

First played in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1947, the College World Series only remained in Michigan one more year. The tournament was then moved to Wichita, Kansas, which is when a former President by the name of George H.W. Bush held the “job” of captain of the Yale baseball team.

 

Moving the College World Series to Omaha in 1950, actually placed the citizens of Omaha and their ideas of community, faith, and belief in each other into the history books. Why is that? Because when the Series was first held, the total attendance was under 18,000 people. Losing money for 10 of its first 12 years (1950-1961), Omaha literally banded together in order to save the Series and bring more public interest to the event. In the end, baseball fans everywhere can thank four particular Omahans who maintained their interest in the Series for keeping it going through that extremely dismal time period.

 

In 2017, the College World Series of Omaha, Inc. is the non-profit organization that works as the local organizing committee for the annual NCAA Division I Championship Baseball College World Series. And it was just one week ago (May 30th, to be exact) that the field of 64 teams competing for the 2017 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship was announced.

 

The national top eight seeds are: Oregon St. (49-4), North Carolina (47-12), Florida (42-16), LSU (43-17), Texas Tech (43-15), TCU (42-16), Louisville (47-10) and Stanford (40-14).

 

It is the Southeastern Conference (SEC) that leads the way, having eight teams selected. Both the Atlantic Coast Conference College World Series of Omaha(ACC) and Big 12 Conference have seven teams in the field. The Big Ten Conference ties a conference record with five, and the Pac-12 Conference has four selected to compete. The American Athletic Conference (AAC) has three and, rounding things out with two teams each, is the Big East Conference, Big West Conference, Conference USA, Missouri Valley Conference and Southland Conference.

 

The news that makes Yale fans extremely happy is that this is the first year they’ve won a bid since 1993. Along those same lines, Holy Cross is headed to the tournament for the first time since 1978. When flipping the coin, it is Florida State that claims the longest consecutive streak with its 40th straight appearance this time out.

 

Selection of the eight super regional hosts will be announced on www.NCAA.com/cws, Tuesday, June 6 at approximately 8 a.m. (ET), and then the 71st Men’s College World Series begins play at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska on June 17th.

 

For an event that came from such humble beginnings, it is a true pleasure for all Omahans to see the national news, websites and wealth of fans now supporting the College World Series – an event that most definitely defied the odds.

 

No doubt, this year will once again prove to be “The Greatest Show on Dirt.”

 

General Admission Tickets are on sale now at http://www.cwsomaha.com/, as well as news and updates for all Season-Ticket holders.

 

Source:  Baret News

331 Innings

 

331 Innings

by Peter Brav

Zappyness Media

Paperback, $7.25

164 pages

ISBN: 978-1-544237947

Book Review by Kam Williams

“331 Innings is a powerful tale narrated by elderly, Nebraska native Jack Schram, a lifelong witness to the folly of war and hypocrisy. Jack tells of the bullying encountered by his nephew’s teenage son, John, born with physical disabilities. It hasn’t been any easier for John’s close friend, Sarah Jenkinson, harassed at school since moving to the area a few years ago…

Will John continue to cast his lot with two older ne’er-do-wells… or find a better path? In a time when people ask what is going wrong with our children and ourselves and tragedies abound all over the globe, this is truly an inspirational story.” 

— Excerpted from the Bookjacket

331 Innings  is the latest offering from Peter Brav, the gifted author of a number of baseball-themed novels, including “Sneaking In” and “The Other Side of Losing.” His new book represents a bit of a departure in that it is a coming-of-age tale which only makes occasional references to America’s pastime.

The opus’s title was inspired by Brav’s creation of the longest game ever played in Nebraska, a weeks-long contest attended by Jack Schram. The 84 year-old widower is the omniscient narrator of an engaging bildungsroman revolving around his late brother’s grandson, John.

At the point of departure, we learn that Jack has been serving as the 16 year-old’s surrogate father for about a decade, ever Jack Schram, inspirational, Peter Brav, Nebraska, bullying, book review, physical disability, powerful talesince the day his immature dad skipped town with another woman. John was more than a handful for his mom, Becky, between his  learning disabilities and a spinal deformity that not only left him a head shorter than his pals but with a cranium oddly cocked off to one side.

All of the above left the lad an easy target for bullies at school. But John considers himself lucky to have forged solid friendships with several classmates: Steve, the North High Lions’ pitching star, computer geek August, slacker Aaron, and Sarah, the girl of his dreams he harbors a secret crush on.

Trouble is, he also associates with Ted and Jake, a couple of delinquent dropouts four years his senior. They tempt John to venture to the dark side, much to the chagrin of the impressionable teen’s great-uncle.

The action unfolds in a humble, Cornhusker community littered with colorful characters who frequent down-home haunts like Mom’s Diner and the Sun Don’t Shine saloon. The plot thickens when a traumatized Sarah takes down her Facebook page after being mercilessly teased. Will John prove that chivalry is not dead and come to the aid of his beleaguered BFF-in-distress? And will her anonymous tormentors ease up or further escalate their tactics?

A sobering, modern morality play contemplating the degenerating state of human interaction in the 21st Century.  

To order a copy of 331 Innings, visit: https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1544237944/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20 

 

Source:  Baret News

Oscar-Nominated Father-Son Road Trip Released on DVD

Nebraska

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Oscar-Nominated Father-Son Road Trip Released on DVD

 

51XxWpOAcEL            77 year-old Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) is an addlepated alcoholic whose brain is so bent out of shape that he’s convinced he’s struck it rich after getting one of those mass-produced letters in the mail announcing that you’ve just won a million dollars in a magazine sweepstakes. Nevertheless, he soon sets out on foot by himself from Billings, Montana to collect his grand prize in Omaha, Nebraska.

Once it’s clear that the cantankerous curmudgeon can’t be talked out of that foolhardy endeavor, son David (Will Forte) opts to drive his dad there. This doesn’t sit well with Woody’s acid-tongued wife, Kate (June Squibb), who’s too well-grounded in reality to indulge the old coot’s nonsense.

However, as futile as the quest might sound, the pair’s ensuing sojourn across four states does prove rather fruitful. After all, not only does it afford father and son a chance to spend some quality time together, but they also get to catch up with lots of long-lost friends and relatives they visit along the way.

Eventually, Kate and elder son, Ross (Bob Odenkirk), join them en route, grudgingly making the long jaunt a family affair. It’s understandably hard for them to be enthusiastic about an outing inspired by a fraudulent marketing scheme.

Still, sometimes, getting there is all the fun, as is the case with Nebraska, a nostalgic road trip unfolding against the barren backdrop of the heartland’s crumbling infrastructure. Nominated for a half-dozen Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor (Bruce Dern) and Best Supporting Actress (June Squibb), the film was directed by Alexander Payne whose decision to shoot the picture in black-and-white was nothing short of a stroke of genius.

For the lack of color only serves to further emphasize the absence of hope in a rural region left devastated by the failure of its factory, farm and small town life. It’s no wonder, then, that some of the pour souls the Grants encounter might seize on Woody’s pipe dream as a way of alleviating their own misery.

Grounded by Bruce Dern’s career performance, Nebraska is a lighthearted character study which, ironically, offers a stone, cold sober look at the downsizing of the Midwest’s American Dream.

 

Excellent (4 stars)

Rated R for profanity

Running time: 114 minutes

Distributor: Paramount Home Entertainment

Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Extras: The Making of Nebraska.

 

To see a trailer for Nebraska, visit:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvW_DmfKfSk

Or: http://www.nebraskamovie.com/videos.php

 

To order a copy of the Nebraska Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack, visit: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00H9L28OO/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Father and Son Bond during Nostalgic Road Trip across America’s Aging Heartland

 

Nebraska

Film Review by Kam Williams

 

77 year-old Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) is an addlepated alcoholic whose brain is so bent out of shape that he’s convinced he’s struck it rich after getting one of those mass-produced letters in the mail announcing that you’ve just won a million dollars in a Nebraskamagazine sweepstakes. Nevertheless, he soon sets out on foot by himself from Billings, Montana to collect his grand prize in Omaha, Nebraska.

Once it’s clear that the cantankerous curmudgeon can’t be talked out of that foolhardy endeavor, son David (Will Forte) opts to drive his dad there. This doesn’t sit well with Woody’s acid-tongued wife, Kate (June Squibb), who’s too well-grounded in reality to indulge the old coot’s nonsense.

However, as futile as the quest might sound, the pair’s ensuing sojourn across four states does prove rather fruitful. After all, not only does it afford father and son a chance to spend some quality time together, but they also get to catch up with lots of long-lost friends and relatives they visit along the way.

Eventually, Kate and elder son, Ross (Bob Odenkirk), join them en route, grudgingly making the long jaunt a family affair. Nebraska 2It’s understandably hard for them to be enthusiastic about an outing inspired by a fraudulent marketing scheme.

Still, sometimes, getting there is all the fun, as is the case with Nebraska, a nostalgic road trip unfolding against the barren backdrop of the heartland’s crumbling infrastructure. The film was directed by two-time Oscar-winner Alexander Payne (for writing Sideways and The Descendants) whose decision to shoot the picture in black-and-white was nothing short of a stroke of genius.

For the lack of color only serves to further emphasize the absence of hope in a rural region left devastated by the failure of its factory, farm and small town life. It’s no wonder, then, that some of the pour souls the Grants encounter might seize on Woody’s pipe dream as a way of alleviating their own misery.

Featuring a career performance by Bruce Dern destined to be remembered during awards season, Nebraska is a lighthearted character study which, ironically, offers a stone, cold sober look at the downsizing of the Midwest’s American Dream.

 

Excellent (4 stars)

Rated R for profanity

Running time: 115 minutes

Distributor: Paramount Pictures

 

To see a trailer for Nebraska, visit:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvW_DmfKfSk

Or: http://www.nebraskamovie.com/videos.php

 

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