Dan Mirvish goes beyond Slamdance and Eisenstadt in “Between Us”

June 28, 2013


When I first met Dan Mirvish, he was the behind-the-scenes half of hoax political operative Martin Eisenstadt (who was played by actor Eitan Gorlin). And while my mind was kept busy trying to keep journalists like David Shuster from being tricked by Eisenstadt, Mirvish’s mind was busy with thinking about the film “Between Us.” Unfortunately for Mirvish – and many other small filmmakers – the financial crisis began and money for independent films was scarce. Luckily, Mirvish had a built-in bridge in Eisenstadt.

While working to adapt Joe Hortua’s award-winning play, the character of Eisenstadt went viral, with news organizations reporting on his exploits in Iraq (where he “appeared on a talk show” to promote casinos in Baghdad, or his gossip about Kristen Wiig making out with Joe the Plumber at an SNL after party. Mirvish & Gorlin teamed up later to write a book about Eisenstadt’s exploits and unique political views and took some meetings for a possible TV show.

“When Eisenstadt turned into a book offer, I was presented with the option: Do I keep not getting paidto not direct a movie, or get paid to write a book. My wife wisely advised that I write the book,” said Mirvish. “When Eisenstadt more or less ran its course two years later, I recalibrated “Between Us” as a microbudget and went ahead and made it.”

“Between Us,” despite being written for the stage in 2002, was prescient in its views regarding student loan debt and wealth inequality. The story centers on two couples, portrayed by Taye Diggs & Julia Stiles and Melissa George & David Harbour who have all been friends since college.
While each couple faces pressures with marriage and family, the movie becomes a tale of two men and how one’s decision to “sell out” has led to a much more comfortable life. Still, the fact that one couple has means while the other struggles does not translate into happiness, leading to sometimes shocking dialogue such as this exchange between George and Harbour during a fight:

“One day, I’m going to murder you,” he says
“I look forward to it,” she says.

While all the actors give strong performances, it’s Harbour and George who steal the show and, with Mirvish’s direction, give what could be a simple four-person ensemble a depth and passion that will keep a viewer riveted.

For Mirvish, the film is the latest effort in a mercurial career. Having started the popular independent film festival “Slamdance,” and once worked as a speechwriter for Sen. Tom Harkin, Mirvish has earned a reputation of being a true Independent filmmaker – a reputation not hurt by how he scored such a well-known cast for “Between Us” on a minuscule budget.

More than anything, for Mirvish, “Between Us” comes from a place he can recognize.

“It also resonated with me on a more personal level with where I was in my life – dealing with young children, marriage, financial issues, and artistic authenticity,” said Mirvish. “I now have three kids and the issues the characters raise in the film are definitely ones that I can relate to, or have friends who have dealt with them. Thankfully, my marriage is much better than the ones depicted in the film, and my kids are great, too.”

For information on how and where to see “Between Us,” click here.


Paula Deen explains it all

June 26, 2013

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

This is just amazing television.


Wolfrum Chronicled: Finding my way

June 22, 2013

It’s been, what, 10-plus years since I quit drinking? Time, it does fly. Mind you, it’s not that I take my sobriety lightly. I don’t. I just don’t use time as a gauge as much any longer. In too many ways, I’m the same person as I was the day I quit. For me, I will always be newly sober and need to be ever-vigilant.

Ok, I have no ability to write about my alcoholism without sounding like a complete tool. I’m Mr. Inspiration, producing hings like this from 2008:

It was 1,825 days ago that I nearly drank myself to death. And it wasn’t some party gone wrong. It was a culmination of nearly two decades worth of drinking. It was a desperate attempt to keep drinking when every part of me knew it was way past time to stop. It was the final act of a nightmare. It was my bottom, and I hit it as hard as possible.

And now five years later, I haven’t had a drink since.

While I quickly discovered that AA wasn’t for me, I adopted several of the 12 steps to help what has been a recovery pf 1,824 days and counting. My main step was basically accepting my wife as my higher power. She means everything to me, and has helped me in more ways that I can imagine or even express. And she continues to, every day. Mainly, I’ve taken sobriety seriously, and never take it for granted. I’ll always be an alcoholic, but I never want to go back to where I was.

1,826 days ago I saw no way out. I never could have imagined I could be sober for five years and eager for more. I was lost. My wife and family helped me find myself, and I am more thankful than I can say.

If you’re lost, just know you don’t have to be. That recovery can happen. That no matter how bad it is, and how deeply you’ve buried your secret, you can be the person you want to be and should be. If you’d like to chat with me about anything, click on my name in the “Contributors” section over on the left. Or find a family member or friend you trust. It’s hard, I know. But it’s worth it. Because life can be beautiful if you’re willing to see it with a clear mind.


And this:

One of the big things I’ve gotten from blogging is the ability to be more open as a person. And the one area of my life I’ve tried to be more open about is my alcoholism.

Not too long ago I celebrated my fifth anniversary of sobriety, and I wrote about that here. It was received with a lot of positivity and a lot of people sharing their own experiences.

But this weekend, I wanted to write to those of you still out there fighting your demons, whether it be alcohol, drugs, food or anything else that has grabbed a hold of you and won’t let go. And really, my message is simple and as non-preachy as could be:

I’m thinking of you.

Because this weekend is a holiday weekend. And whether you celebrate Easter or not, I know that holidays can be just plain awful for the addicted. I have drank away more holidays than I could ever hope to remember. And I have spent holidays actively trying to get away from friends and families so I could drink. Holidays can really suck if you have an addiction.

So if you’re out there, and fighting through this holiday weekend, know that you aren’t alone. Know that others are struggling just as you are, and that others like myself have struggled through holidays. Whatever your addiction is, there are others out there, even among the Shakers that have a pretty good idea of how you’re feeling this weekend. So please hang in there.

Because you aren’t alone. We’re thinking about you.


Now, I really felt those things at the time, and still do. But that’s just a part of being a recovering alcoholic. It’s great and useful to try and express a level of positivity, but it doesn’t mean I’ve shared anything. How drinking affected and continues to affect me in day to day life are areas I’ve rarely tread. It’s too real for me, I guess.

All I can say is, it’s made me feel older than I am. More tired than I should be.

It’s a lot like when you see a basketball team gets down by 25 points and then make a valiant comeback but falter at the end. I feel like I just can’t completely overcome it. The battle for me has been to close the deficit, not overtake it. I just don’t feel like I have the gas to get all the way to the finish line, that I’m developing into one of those aging ex-addicts who have the look of a whisper and time.

It’s more than a decade later. The feelings of shame have gone. The strong urges have gone. All that’s left is me, trying to make up for lost time. And, you know, speaking of time, I just did the math and today is day 3,794. And I still don’t want to go back.


(Note 1: The full story can be found on the Wolfrum Chronicled Main Page.)

(Note 2: For an explainer on this project, please go here.)

A Brazilian Whitewash

June 19, 2013

As this is being written, thousands of Brazilians have risen up in a sort of “Brazilian Autumn.” What started as a protest over a small raise to public transit fares has now blossomed into a full-on wail of dissatisfaction with the government. And rightly so. While all the world hasspoken ofBrazil’s nascent economic power, the average Brazilian still sees a government that taxes them at ridiculously high ile offering very little in return.

The beginning of he Confederations Cup has taken the feeling from dissatisfaction to anger, as Brazilians see new soccer stadiums - all much less accomodating to the poor - and an effort to push as much dirt under the rug as possible. And all this bowing to FIFA - including suspending parts of its constitution during the World Cup - has opened people’s eyes to a nation that still lags behind on basic infrastructure. “It’s like a war zone here,” said my brother-in-law Marcelo after visiting a poor northern state in Brazil.

Aside from the myriad changes and problems the World Cup brings, here’s another - the soul of Brazil is already being sold. Take this recent advertisement from Nivea:

As a friend told me, “I wonder how much it cost to get all the Black people off the beach?”

There are some areas in the south of Brazil where the people come from a Scandanavian decent (Imagine Gisele Bündchen), but those are the exception. Brazil is defined by its diversity and even more so by its Black population and the legacy of slavery. Unlike in the U.S., there was rampant relations between the different sects - Portuguese, African slaves & Native Brazilians - from early on. It makes for a diverse populace.

But, you know, there are still Black people here. Especially being it seems the ad was shot in Rio, which has a teeming Black population. Who go to the beach.

You view Brazil as a growing economic power and as a land of beautiful people who love samba and soccer. I live here and see a country of ordinary, hard-working people who have grown tired of the status quo and are now protesting a corrupt and out-of-touch government.

And I support them.


Wolfrum Chronicled: A Contender

June 5, 2013


I’ve generally lived my life based on one simple philosophy - things will eventually work out. I don’t know how they will, but they will. They always do. Sure, lots of people have that essential plan, but it really seems to work for me. I’m just special that way.

So, I won’t say that I’m surprised that I was contacted yesterday by a book publisher who was interested in this project. It was, in fact, just a matter of time before what I was doing would be recognized, wouldn’t you say? I mean, c’mon, I’m talking about selling this book, while writing it and including reviews and even a soundtrack. If this isn’t genius than Einstein was a plumber.

Thus, I imagine that a lot of this year will be spent doing promotional stuff, a book tour perhaps, probably a guest spot on “The Daily Show” or “Colbert Report.” You know, high-end stuff. Stuff worthy of me. But don’t worry, this will book - the first draft, at least - will still be available here at the blog. After this, you’ll have to pay for my words, but that’s to be expected. Because everything is working out for me. Just like it’s supposed to.


(Note 1: The full story can be found on the Wolfrum Chronicled Main Page.)

(Note 2: For an explainer on this project, please go here.)

Wolfrum Chronicled: I Belong With You, You Belong With Me

June 4, 2013


I have been many things in this life, and many of those things have been bad. I am not just an imperfect man, I am the imperfect man. But everything started to change 12 years ago, when I married Emilia. I became a better man, human and living entity.

My wife had no business marrying me, but luckily, she seemed eager to marry below her station. Together, however, we have made an amazing duo. Together, we are far more than two individuals.  We are a team. A sometimes ridiculous team, sure, but a team nonetheless. I wrote this in 2008:

I try not to mention my wife, Emilia, in my work because, well, I don’t know why. She sure as hell talks about me at her work. She has several bits down pat about the adventures of the silly American in a strange land.

Generally, however, I keep Emilia in the background. But I had mentioned a story in a blog post about her innocently (I’ll testify to that in court) about something we did on a cruise ship. I feel like this might be embarrassing for her, but I thought, “hey, If I justwrite a really sweet post about her first, I’d probably be ok on this one.” If there’s one thing they don’t teach you about marriage, it’s this – variables. Get to know them, and play them.

So anyway, this one time, on a cruise ship …
My parents, showcasing again why they are the greatest parents in the world and shining proof that conservatives are not all evil people, took myself, my two sisters and our spouses, as well as my sisters’ kids on a five-day cruise.

First of all, let me just wrap this part up now: If you are thinking of taking a cruise, do it. It’s a fantastic, relaxing time where you can do whatever you like. It’ll run you when you’re on board especially, but they do treat you right (and I’m just speaking of the top-named ones because those are all I know).

So the trip was a blast for all involved. But right in the middle, on the third night was a contest I’d convinced my wife to join with me. We had been married just over a year, and the ship was holding a bawdy “Newlywed Game” of sorts. So we went to the “audition” as it were, which was scheduled just 45 minutes before the show in one of their big fancy show rooms. Shockingly, a lot of couples wanted in on this. There were maybe 30 couples there, for only three spots. And then one of the spots went to a couple that had been married 700 years and were as sassy and funny an older couple you could find. They should have their own show.

Then the next spot went to a younger couple, who were married the least amount of time. They had actually been married on the boat, a few hours earlier. So, there was just one spot remaining, and to make it onto the show, they lined us all up and gave us an “American Idol” audition of who could perform the best “Tarzan and Jane” impersonation. The odds were stacked against us. I told Emilia not to worry, I’d get us there.

So as there were less than 10 couples left, doing their lame Tarzan and Jane imitations, I came up with the plan: A three-part plan, actually:

1) Art: Emilia would perform “Tarzan and Jane” via interpretive dance.

2) Stand up:
 I would tell a “Tarzan and Jane” joke acting live a Vegas comedian.

3) Porn: Emilia would then fall on her back, I’d give a Tarzan yell, and pounce on her.

Let me tell you, for having merely seconds to come up with this, it was pretty impressive plan. Emilia kept saying “I have to do what?” and “Don’t make me do that,” and “Oh please don’t make me do that,” and other things on the same variation. But aside from that, things were going smoothly. And then it was our turn. And we nervously stepped forward to the center of the room, the audience having already reached 500 or so. We lept into our roles …

… and it worked. Brilliantly.

The main reason it worked was the fact that once Emilia decided that she was going along with this plan, she was going to give it her all. She interpretive danced her ass off.

She was behind me so I couldn’t see as I threw a lame joke at the audience like “What did Jane say to Tarzan when he came home? Hey Tarzan, you’re starting to smell like a cheata.” But the crowd was going nuts. Emilia was just back there working it for all she was worth. When I finally ran over to her for the finale porn scene, she was exhausted, but fell to her back and dutifully kicked her legs up comedically after I roared and pounced for the ultimate porn act.

It was the scene, man. The crowd was going bonkers, we went back and stood in line and awaited the rest of the act. We were nervous and somewhat humiliated.

Because here’s something I left out: My parents were there. As were my sisters, their husbands and combined six children. We could see them in the balcony. It was surreal.

So the finale came down to the audience giving a “Clap-off” with another couple. That couple had made it to the finals because he had shouted “Me Tarzan, you Jane,” lifted up her top and rubbed his face all over her ample bosoms. The audience was in varying taste that day, as I’d swear the clap came back a virtual tie, but the host chose us, and Emilia and I, who had been front of the stage, ran around and got on stage, facing a thousand fellow travelers, ready to put on a show. Even with the darling newlyweds and the cute-as-a-pool-of-kittens older couple, we were the favorites. Because Emilia had won the crowd over with her interpretive dance.

The Newlywed Game

The show itself was taped (but sadly, not the audition, Emilia’s dance will only remain in the minds of those who watched, family included), so I’m not going to go into it too much. Go ahead and find a tape and post it on the Internet, I dare you. I own one and I know a few others exist.

But one answer sticks out. You see, what they do is send all the guys back stage and ask the girls a question, then vice-versa. I had just come back from being backstage, and the question presented to me was “How do you know your wife is in the mood?” I answered – just as she had previously answered – “When she puts her hair up.”

The crowd was already laughing.

“Why does she put her hair up, Bill?”

“Well, you know, so she can go, you know, down there. You know.”

Crowd goes nuts. The younger guy on stage with us – in an impressive bit of comedic timing – stands up to me and shakes my hand and gives a small hug. I turn around, the older man had gotten up to, and was shaking my hand vigorously. The crowd loved it.

Oh yeah, my parents and family were there. Did I mention that? Thought I should remind you.

Anyway, we somehow did whatever we had to do to win, got enough answers right and took home the prize. I said I’d come up with a way to get us there, but it was all Emilia after that. We were Newlywed Games Champions, and received a bunch of crap to prove it to the world. It was a memorable night.

My parents just pretended it never happened.

The Fall out

After it was over, we were stars. Literally stars. A cruise ship, you see, is it’s own community. And we were the celebrities of that community. Everyone came up to talk to us, we could see people looking at us, a guy even took our picture. It was a nice little glimpse of what it’s like to have some fame. It added to the cruise’s enjoyment.

The Truth Revealed

Emilia cheated. Yes, my wife cheated to win at “The Newlywed Game” on a cruise ship. She cheated out a couple that were married during the Nero Administration.

It’s not her fault really. When it comes to games, Brazilians are the cheatingest group of people on the planet. It’s a cultural thing. Cheating and gaining an advantage is how you play. Watch Brazilians play soccer some time, their flops can be more athletic than when they net the ball.

So keep in mind, this is a culture issue. When it comes to games, it’s important to not get cheated on, and to find your own way to cheat. It’s part of any game. It’s frowned up in the U.S., but it’s a purely cultural. Brazilians like to win. And will do whatever is needed to get a win.

So in the end, my wife wasn’t being dishonorable, she was being true to her culture.

Basically, it happened as me and the guys returned from back stage. I got on stage and she gave me a quick hug and whispered “Sex motel” in my ear.

In Brazil, a motel, is basically by definition, a place for sex and partying that you can rent by the hour. The better ones are really fancy, have jacuzzi, sauna, hot and cold running porn and the likes. They even deliver food to you that’s quite good, and it’s all done in an environment of complete secrecy. Even the poorer sections of town have the, even when all they have is garages that close.

So when the Question was asked of me “Where did your wife say your strangest encounter was” I had my answer. I would have answered that anyway, because it was strange. Awesome, but strange. Place even had a waterfall. I told the crowd all about it – the crowd that included my parents.

No one has ever known about this until now. My parents, family, all those who fawned over us afterward – they were cheated. We pulled one over on them. My wife cheated at “The Newlywed Game” on a cruise ship.

And really, how can you not love that?

An elderly lion lay in the grass, suffering and watching his days slip away. A group of animals that he once terrorized walked up to him and began mocking and laughing at him.

“Look at you,” said a rabbit. “You couldn’t hurt a fly.”

“Haha, you can’t even catch me now,” said a turtle.

The lion looked at the group with a calm expression of his face.

“What you say now may be true,” he said. “But I was once a lion.”

When I feel my path has taken me to dark places, I always and stop and think, “I once had a love affair. And I still do.”

My legacy is safely in the arms of the woman I love.


(Note 1: The full story can be found on the Wolfrum Chronicled Main Page.)

(Note 2: For an explainer on this project, please go here.)

Wolfrum Chronicled: What Is Real?

June 1, 2013


Look: I quit taking Paxil last week. Ok, let me rephrase that - I’ve been taking Paxil about 10 years ago for a panic disorder. This week, I finally decided I was done with it. While it has done its job in controlling panic attacks, it has left me about as dull and shiftless as a man can be.

Of course, one of the great secrets of Paxil is that - despite denials from Smith-Glaxo - quitting Paxil leaves one with a wide array of withdrawal symptoms. Imagine sticking your head underwater while riding a roller coaster after smoking some weak weed. Add to tat a feeling of having the flu, body aches, depression and periodical electric zaps to the brain. Paxil withdrawal is essentially like that, just less fun.

Having a mental illness is someting Ié always been loathe to write about. I’m not against discussing my faults or mistakes - I’ve been upfront that I lost my last newspaper job because I showed up drunk to work, for instance. But, like most, I’ve allowed the fact that I have a mental illness to cause me shame. My left shoulder is almost worthless from bursitis. I’m cool talking about that. But the fact that my brain produces too much serotonin leaves me feeling like a failure.

I generally blame my panic disorder on having been an alcoholic for two decades (More on that later). But I really I don’t know.  I just know that I’m 46 years old and it’s time for a change. I’ve done well for myself the last several years and have become a prominent voice.  Paxil took away my ambition, however.

But now I stopped. Maybe the panic disorder will return (it hasn’t yet) and maybe it won’t. I just know that I’m now exhausted with fighting my own brain.  So, I’ll exercise, take vitamins and work hard. I’ll do whatever I can to keep my brain as an ally. But whatever happens, I’ll have my ambition back. And I’m never letting go of that again.


“As a sometimes hoaxster himself, Wolfrum would know to be dubious of any tips, distrustful of any information fed his way. If a dubious sources said X, he would print Y. And would do it proudly and vainly. That was his nature. That was his character.”

– From “I Am Martin Eisenstadt: One Man’s (Wildly Inappropriate) Adventures with the Last Republicans.”

I made my name exposing Martin Eisenstadt. But the creators of the hoax conservative - Dan Mirvish and Eitan Gorlin - had me figured out the entire time. In the end, though, it brought me fans from all walks of life.

(Note 1: The full story can be found on the Wolfrum Chronicled Main Page.)

(Note 2: For an explainer on this project, please go here.)

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