Open-Mic Night at Ohio University’s Front Room: 8 October 2021

Bruce Dazell, emcee
Riley James
Dan Canterbury
Rilee Bapst
Joshua Corbett

David Bruce

David Bruce’s Spoken Word (More or Less)

8 October 2021

I used to write for The Athens News in Athens, Ohio, partly to make extra money and partly to show my composition students that I am a competent writer. I once wrote a preview story for an Ohio University School of Dance performance. The only place for interviews during a rehearsal was in a closet, so Ohio University dance teacher Michele Geller told the dance students, “This is David Bruce. He is going to interview you for a story he is writing for The Athens News, so don’t be shocked if he asks you to go into a closet with him.” 

I remember the first article that I wrote for The Athens News. It was about the OU women’s basketball team and appeared just after Thanksgiving in 1983. I was standing in line at a bank just behind a man who was reading a copy of The Athens News. He came to my article, read the headline, and then started to turn the page. I tapped him on the shoulder and said, “Sir, I wrote that article. Please read it.” 

Ohio University Front Room Open Mic Night 9-3-21

Riley James (above)

Rylee Bapst (above)

Xander Stultz (above)

Bernhard Debatin (above)

Meg (brown hair) and Sid (blonde hair) — (above)

Joshua Corbett (above)

Bruce Dalzell (above)

David Bruce (above)

David Bruce’s Spoken Word (More or Less)

3 August 2021

The angels among my students made me marvel at their work. I frequently taught freshman and junior composition and technical writing, and I attempted to make the writing my students did useful. I would assign the writing of a 10- to 20-page manual in many classes, but I would allow students to write more pages and many students responded with 60-page manuals. Why? They got into the project and knew that it would help them. They were writing for themselves, not just for a grade, which is the way it should be. 

Two of my students who had studied in France as part of the Ohio University Study Abroad Program worked together on a manual for students who would be in that program. Jobs in France opened up that were associated with the Study Abroad Program, and both students applied for those jobs and both submitted copies of the manual they had co-written. One student was given a job immediately. The other student was officially a little too young, but she got the job after a slight delay. Why did she get the job? She got it because of the manual she had co-written for my class. In fact, the person who hired her was flipping through the manual and looking at and reading it as he talked to my student on the phone to tell her she had the job. These two students got paid to live in France. Nice! 

Another student wrote a 60-page employee manual for the job he did working for the Ohio University football team. He was responsible for such tasks as getting things ready for game day. He was in Sports Sciences, and he ended up getting a very competitive job internship because he sent the sports organization a copy of the manual he wrote for my class. 

Michelle Griesmer wrote a huge manual about how to be a lighting director. She worked professionally one summer on a TV program and was excited to get a copy of the program. Of course, she looked for her name in the credits; unfortunately, she was listed as Michael Griesmer. 

Another student did a long problem-solving manual for the company she worked for. She identified problems at the company and made recommendations about how to solve those problems. She was given a $1,000 bonus for writing the problem-solving manual. 

In my composition classes, I always had the assignment of writing a problem-solving letter in which students identify one or more problems and make recommendations about how to solve it or them. I have had students actually mail the letters, which was optional in my class. At least one student received the offer of a promotion and a raise to come back after graduation and work at that company. (She turned the company down because she had a better offer.) 

One of my favorite assignments in some of my composition classes was the autobiographical essay, which focused mainly on funny incidents in my students’ lives. I well remember many of those essays. For example, Maggie Wendell wrote about the first day of her first class as a freshman at Ohio University. It was a public-speaking class, and she was shocked when she learned that the professor was going to have the students speak for five minutes without preparation on a topic that the professor would tell them. Maggie is a student who likes to be super-prepared for every test and every assignment, so impromptu speaking is not at all her thing. When it was her turn and she got her topic, she immediately began staring at the back wall and spewing whatever verbal diarrhea came into her mind. She even invented an Asian-American friend as she talked about the youth in Asia. When her five minutes was up, she stopped talking and saw that the other students were looking at her and trying to stifle laughter. What was wrong? Were her pants unzipped? Her professor said, “Thank you, Ms. Wendell, for your enlightening talk on the youth in Asia, but your topic was euthanasia. You may know it better as mercy killing.” She said weakly, “I know what euthanasia is,” sat down, and after the class was over, immediately dropped it and took another class. Fortunately, embarrassment plus time equals comedy, and by the time Maggie was a senior, she thought that what had happened was funny. 

One of my students was a United States Marine, where he had to take a wilderness survival course that taught him such things as bugs are a very good source of protein if you are trapped without food behind enemy lines. As part of the course, my student and some other soldiers parachuted into the wilderness, where they made good use of their problem-solving skills. As they parachuted into the wilderness, they looked around and noticed a road in the distance. Once they dropped to the earth, they used their compasses to find the road, then they walked into a town and ate pizza. 

By the way, when David Bruce, one of the co-authors of this book [KIDS ARE NOT ONLY ANGELS], was in Navy boot camp, he and the other recruits were sometimes given the order to “Groucho March”! When that happened, he and the other recruits would bend forward, put their hands behind their backs, and in unison do an imitation of comedian Groucho Marx’ famous stooped-over walk. 

When my student Molly Gedeon was still a fetus, her parents had discussions about what to name her, but each parent thought that they had picked a different name. One parent thought she would be named Monica, and the other parent thought she would be named Molly. The name Monica appeared on her birth certificate, but her father insisted on calling her Molly. This created some confusion with friends and teachers because her mother called her Monica and her father called her Molly. On her eighteenth birthday, Monica had her name legally changed to Molly. Her father now calls her Monica. 

When one of my female students was very young, she had a sister who would sometimes become very naughty and very angry. Once, she was naughty at the dinner table and was sent to bed early while the family continued to eat. My future student heard disturbing noises, thought about a recent nature lesson she had learned at school, and said to her parents, “Mom, Dad, a wolf is in the house.” They laughed, and her mother told her, “No, dear, that’s just your sister howling with rage.” 

Of course, freshman students don’t want other, older students to know that they are new to campus. One of my students carried a campus map in her backpack for her first few days at Ohio University. Whenever she got lost, she would find a building, go into the women’s restroom, go into a stall and shut the door, and then look at the map and find out where she was. If anyone had seen her consult the map, that person would know that she was a freshman. 

Speaking of freshmen, one of my students was from out of state and did not know even a single person in Ohio. She spoke to her sister about being worried that she wouldn’t make any friends at Ohio University. Her sister told her, “Don’t worry! You’ll be fine! Just don’t talk to strangers!” 

Final Story:

Each summer, lots of incoming students go through freshman orientation at Ohio University. They stay in dorms, go on tours of the campus, and visit the library, among many other things. After the library tour, students get free Freezy-Pops, but librarians tell them that a student first has to ask a question before the members of the tour group get Freezy-Pops. Of course, this encourages students to ask questions about the library; however, once an incoming student, a young woman of wit and intelligence, asked, “Can I have a Freezy-Pop?”

Drew Bellamy, Dakota Braaten, Xander Stultz, Dalton DeVoe

Bernhard Debatin on YouTube


Bruce Dalzell on YouTube

David Bruce on Amazon

Open Mic Night at Ohio University’s Front Room (28 February 2020)


Hardika Singh, poet (Above)


Tim Pike (Above) 


Lauren Davis (Above)


Sun Boats (Above)


Sam Debatin of Sun Boats (Above)


Zack Shafer of Sun Boats (Above)


Harper Reese of Sun Boats (Above)


Dallas Craft (Above)


Dallas Craft (Above)


Joshua Corbett (Above)


David Bruce (Above)


Bruce Dalzell (Above)


Below: Two YouTube Videos by Bruce Dalzell


Sam Debatin and Harper Reese of Sun Boats are also members of Velvet Green.

Velvet Green Brings “Junk Funk” Music to Athens (Backdrop Magazine)

Velvet Green, a local band formed in 2018, is composed of six members: drummer Shea Benezra, guitarists Sam Debatin and Harper Reese, keyboardist Liam McSteen, bassist Mitchell Spring and vocalist Cora Fitch. All members, except for New York native Benezra, met each other while attending Athens High School.

“Real Lizard” by Velvet Green

“Slipping Into Darkness” by Velvet Green


David Bruce’s Spoken Word (More or Less)

  • Rise above.

Theater director Tyrone Guthrie advised his actors and crew to do this. The advice means to rise above whatever forces are working against you. All of us have personal problems. No one’s life is perfect. Sometimes, life seems to conspire against us. Rise above all that, and produce the best work you can.

  • Astonish me.

Dance impresario Sergei Diaghilev advised his choreographers to do this. The advice means what it says. Do such good work that the person who commissioned the work—and of course the audience—is astonished. (Tyrone Guthrie also used this phrase.)

  • Do it now.

As a young man, choreographer George Balanchine nearly died and so he believed in living his life day by day and not holding anything back. He would tell his dancers, “Why are you stingy with yourselves? Why are you holding back? What are you saving for—for another time? There are no other times. There is only now. Right now.” Throughout his career, including before he became world renowned, he worked with what he had, not complaining about wanting a bigger budget or better dancers. One of the pieces of advice Mr. Balanchine gave over and over was this: “Do it now.”

  • Go out and get one.

Ruth St. Denis once taught Martha Graham an important lesson when Ms. Graham was just starting to dance. Ms. St. Denis told Ms. Graham, “Show me your dance.” Ms. Graham replied, “I don’t have one,” and Ms. St. Denis advised, “Well, dear, go out and get one.” (Everyone needs an art to practice. Your art need not be dance. Perhaps your art can be writing autobiographical essays. Of course, you may practice more than one art.)

  • Work a little harder.

“I think high self-esteem is overrated. A little low self-esteem is actually quite good—maybe you’re not the best, so you should work a little harder.”—Jay Leno.

  • The only way to do it is to do it.

Asked “What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?”choreographer Merce Cunningham replied, “‘The only way to do it is to do it.’ It’s advice I gave myself as a young man, and I continue to give to students now.”

  • Add a little color to the facts.

You don’t need to be 100 percent truthful in your autographical writing. As the great bard Fflewddur Fflam says, “I can’t help, ah, adding a little color to the facts—most facts need it so badly.”



FREE davidbrucehaiku PDFs #1-#10

FREE davidbrucehaiku PDFs #11-?

David Bruce on Amazon

Ohio University Front Room Open Mic Photos (12-6-2019)


Above: Bruce Dalzell, Host of Open Mic for over 30 years at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio


Above: A few members of The Ohio University Ukulele Club


Above: Winter Wilson, Singer-Songwriter


Bruce Dalzell — The Run (She’s Leaving Now)

Ohio University Ukulele Club

Travel On – Winter Wilson Original