M. Robert Grunwald

Award-winning playwright and author

Muses...with apologies to Calliope

The muses. You've heard of 'em, you love 'em. If you're a writer, like me, the Olympic goddess looking over your shoulder is Calliope. If you're a dancer, Terpsichore's your go-to. A historian? Clio.

But I've got a few personal muses in addition to dear Calliope (who must be cursing my lack of self-discipline from on high). First and foremost is my wife of 23 years. More on her in another post. Maybe when you and I have known each other a little longer. Beyond Mrs. Me, I've got five biggies. While some of them have written in various forms, only one was actually a writer.

Today, I choose to honor my five chosen muses (in no particular order).

George Lucas - For the people who know me, this is probably a given. I can draw a chronological line straight from Star Wars to my current career. That makes Mr. Lucas (regardless of what others may think of him) a cert for number one elective muse. I may write here on my history with Star Wars someday. Maybe when you and I have known each other a little longer.

Walt Disney - I was born in San Diego, and let's face it: when you're a kid, at least in the early 1970s, Uncle Walt owned Southern California. My first trip to Disneyland was in a stroller. I remember E-tickets, the pre-1983 Fantasyland with Skull Rock, and a Matterhorn whose interior was just a big open room (a real let-down to my six-year-old imagination the first time I rode it). All this, combined with the infusion of movies, weekly television, and storybooks, and Mr. Disney couldn't have missed a place on this list.

Jim Henson - A creative guy, sure. But more than anything, the Muppet King taught me the meaning of the word sensibility. It's an ineffable concept, hard to grasp, but when the sensibility of a creative artist just clicks with you every time, you feel it.

Groucho Marx - I got hooked on the Marx Brothers when I was about 17 and had most of their movies committed to memory by the time I left for college the next year. While I still love them, it's Groucho's persona on screen and (more importantly) off screen that makes him one of my muses. You know that question about who you'd invite to a dinner party, living or dead, from throughout history? Groucho's always my number one.

James Thurber - Not really part of the Algonquin Round Table, but adjacent (much like Groucho, who's connected to many of the same people). When I was growing up, my stepdad's mom gave me money for my birthday. When I turned 17 I bought a leatherbound Thurber anthology that I still have. Mix him with his good friend Groucho, and you get an idea of what i strive for when I write.

To Calliope, Mrs. Me, and the five guys above, thanks for pushing me to be my best, even when I don't.

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