PREVIEW: Word of Mouth StorySLAM: Something From Nothing

Ever gotten something from nothing? Come tell us about it! Join Word of Mouth Stories for its next slam!

Thursday, January 19 – Helmut F. Stern Auditorium in The UMMA- 7 PM

This month’s theme event is held in collaboration with The UMMA and WCBN radio. The theme is “Something from Nothing,” inspired by the Mark di Suvero exhibition “Tabletops.” Currently on display at the UMMA, the exhibit is composed of “dynamic and monumental works made of industrial steel and salvaged materials that populate museum grounds, landscapes, and urban environments around the world.” Check it out!

Never been to our slams before? Audience members tell five-minute stories from their lives relative to a theme. Events are always free, no experience necessary. In the mean time, check out our Facebook event and our very own blog.
Whether you come with stories or just to listen in, we hope to see you there! As they say on NPR, have a story worthy week.


University of Michigan’s student radio station is broadcasting a live performance!

Here are the basics:

Woody Goss, Julian Allen, Katie Battistoni– Wednesday, January 18– 8 pm– Work Gallery (306 S.State)– FREE entry!

Here are the details:
WCBN DJ’s Bennett Stein, Cory Levinson, Eleanor Dumouchel, and Shelley Salant present a live musical performance. Details from the WCBN website site describe the event as thus:

“Woody Goss makes a live soundtrack to projected footage from the 2001 film Winged Migration, a documentary showing the migration patterns of birds the world over. Then Woody will be joined by Julian Allen on drums and Katie Battistoni on electric guitar to play songs. All three musicians went through the jazz program at U of M. Katie’s playing is dedicated to the marriage of her twin sister, Julian is playing for what’s left of his innocence, and Woody is playing to world premiere his new secret technique. A magical gathering, indeed!”

Before Wednesday, be sure to check out the Facebook event. Oh, and apparently there will be free WCBN 40th Anniversary Coffee from the Ugly Mug. Can’t miss that!

Keep your eyes open for another upcoming Live WCBN Event at Work Gallery next week:

Living Writers with T. Hetzel–LIVE wsg Zell Distinguished Poet in Residence Naomi Shihab Nye– Wednesday January 25– 8pm– Work Gallery (306 S. State)– FREE entry!

See you there!

REVIEW: The Descendants

“How was your break?”

“Good, great; not long enough.”

Common back-to-school banter. How many times have you undergone this interaction since returning for the new semester? Several, I am imagining. Break was good, but not long enough to do all the things you had wanted. My unfulfilled bucket list included making a white bean pie à la….whoever that one special baker is at the Eastern Market, knitting a scarf, and seeing “The Descendants.”

Fortunately, the new Alexander Payne film is still showing at the State Theater, long after the holidays. The screenwriter who brought you About Schmidt (2002) and Sideways (2004) is back with another round of cleverly spelled out, real-life drama. Based on the book of the same title by Kaui Hart Hemmings (2007), the movie stars George Clooney, Shailene Woodley of The Secret Life of an American Teenager, and several other highly talented albeit B-List celebrities (Beau Bridge, Matthew Lillard, Judy Greer). I say confidently that The Descendants makes for a solid cinematographic success. In an artful balance of raw tragedy and tender love, dark moments and comic relief, the movie deserves a heartfelt nod.

The story is about Matt King, a busy lawyer living in Hawaii with his wife and two teenage daughters. Why Hawaii? Matt is the heir to a substantial piece of undeveloped property that once belonged to his great great great (great) grandmother, an important island native. The land is in the process of being sold to resort-ville, the money in turn funding Matt’s cousins- or- the descendants. An interruption to the business plan interferes within the first five minutes of the flick: Elizabeth, Matt’s wife, is involved in a boating accident that leaves her in a serious coma.

Suddenly, Matt is confronted with losing his wife, fathering his unruly, dirty-mouthed teenage daughters, and managing the sale of his sacred inheritance. To add a little flavor to the mix, as if that isn’t spicy enough, Matt finds out from his oldest daughter that his wife is not everything he had thought (spoiler alert!): she has been cheating on him. (don’t worry too much though, you find that out in the trailer).

In an unusual series of events, Matt, his daughters Scottie and Alex, and Alex’s unbelievably dense boyfriend, find themselves on an adventure to uncover the man with whom Elizabeth has been unfaithful. A whirlwind of shouts, tears, laughter- the usual gammat of emotions- brings the family to a new and unexpected place of closeness.

Am I glad I saw the movie? Yes.

Did I think it was one of the best movies I’ve ever seen? No.

Did I appreciate the clever writing, skillful timing, atypical story line, and unbearably realistic acting? Yes.

Did it make me laugh aloud? A few times.

Did it make me cry? No, but if I’d been having a hard day it sure would have.

Was the soundtrack worth downloading? Absolutely, check iTunes now.

Did the scenery make me want to move to Hawaii immediately? Yes and yes.

Did I enjoy watching George Clooney do his thing? I think we all know the answer to that one.

I recommend seeing it, if it didn’t make your bucket list over the holidays. If nothing else, I appreciate a film that is complex enough that you have to actually watch the whole thing to truly understand the derivation of the title. And, once again, the acting was top notch.

The Descendants is playing at the State Theater through Thursday, January 19th at 4:30, 7:00, and 9:30 pm. Student tickets cost $8, and matinées cost $7. Take a friend, take a box of tissues, take a break from studying (already!) Let me know what you think! Read More

REVIEW: Word of Mouth StorySLAM

The Word of Mouth StorySLAM took place on Friday December 9th at Work Gallery on State St. The theme of the night was “Stuffed,” and while hors d’oeuvres included double stuffed Oreos and peanut butter filled pretzels, the theme garnered stories beyond the topic of food.

The first story of the night, told by senior Art and Design student Laura Gilmore, told of a performance art piece she created in which she stuffed a box full of her ex-boyfriends belongings and presented them to him in a dramatic- yet unsuccessful- fashion. Another, told by LSA sophomore Sylvia Gindick, was about the time she was quarantined in France because a member of her American travel group spread Swine flu to the country. Her companions were advertised in the French news as American bearers of infectious contagions. She stuffed into a clinic and detained as a result. Embarrassing.

Food related stories included one by Word of Mouth regular Garnett Bruell: the magic of his grandmother’s cranberry sauce had the power to nearly mend his dysfunctional family at a holiday meal. In one less sentimental by sophomore Hania Bigoszewska, her dog scarfed a wedding cake master piece that her mother labored over for hours. The dog was banished to the yard for days. For shame.

It was not only students who participated but townies as well. Austin Murphy, avid member of the Ann Arbor Atheists, made a brief guest appearance, delivering a story that hardly referenced the theme but did include talk of the origin of the universe, a tale about mama cave bears, and a shameless plug for his new book…? Oh Ann Arbor locals…

RC sophomore John Coats delivered the winning story of the night. In a series of chaotic events in an unexpected hospital visit, he unconsciously mooned an attractive nurse through the revealing flaps of his hospital gown. Oops! Guess it happens to the best of us. As a prize, John is invited back as a story teller in the final Grand Slam event of the year in April.

In between stories, the MC reads anonymous mini-slips submitted by audience members. Last night included short tales of being stuffed to the brim in competitive eating contests as well as a few suggestive ones about what “Stuffed” might denote, but those are too lewd to be repeated here.

Overall, the night was a success. The gallery space was decked out with student art work from the A&D All Student Exhibition, giving the white walls a flare that enhanced the creativity of the gathering. While Word of Mouth usually packs the room, however, attendance last night was lower than usual. Could have been because of finals or the plethora of other end-of-semester events taking place simultaneously, including F.O.K.U.S’s Pause, which was happening down the street at the Kelsey Museum (in fact, many attendants alternated between arts events throughout the evening). Because Word of Mouth relies on audience participation, a small or shy crowd can change the face of the event. Yet eventually, the space filled. It was stuffed with people listening to stories and laughing along with the anecdotes of the raconteurs.

To stay posted on future Word of Mouth events, check out the blog! Pictures and sound bites from “Stuffed” to come!

To get involved with planning the events, email

As they say on NPR, thanks for listening and have a story worthy week!

PREVIEW: Word of Mouth StorySLAM

Hey all! Nina here, a lucky new writer for [art]seen. Taking the opportunity to christen my writing profile with a preview about an event that is near and dear to my heart. Shameless plug: a student organization that I help to run is holding its last event of the semester this Friday night!

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Word of Mouth StorySLAM . STUFFED. Friday December 9. Work Gallery on State St.  6pm.

Still full from Thanksgiving? Come tell us about it! Join Word of Mouth Stories for its next StorySlam at 6 PM on Friday, December 9th, at the Work Gallery on State Street. This month’s theme is “Stuffed,” and the event should be full of tasty tales. Never been to our slams before? Audience members tell five-minute stories from their lives relative to a theme. Whether you come with stories or just to listen in, we hope to see you there. In the meantime, check out our blog!

Word of Mouth began as a student organization in Fall of 2010, inspired by NPR’s The Moth. The Moth holds StorySLAMS in major cities throughout the country, including Detroit and, recently, Ann Arbor (third Tuesdays of every month at Circus Bar on 1st St.). Originally the student group was called The MothUP, as offspring groups of the radio program go by. After growing in publicity and popularity on the internet, however, NPR contacted our student org and us we had to change the name if we wanted to avoid a lawsuit. Oops! But at least we made a splash in the literary world. Now we go by Word of Mouth. Events are just as fun, just as moving, just as creative as ever before.

Here is a clip from our last event on October 21st. In the spirit of Halloween, the theme of the evening was “Night.” The speaker is last month’s winner Maddie Sharton, a junior in the school of Music, Theater, and Dance.

Also, check out the muse of our org, The Moth. Here is a story from 2006 told by playwright Michaela Murphy. It is about her her Irish Catholic family who “lovingly spies on the Kennedy compound from afar.”

Take a listen, tell me what you think. Hope to see you on Friday!