Welcome to Torg Stories!

Dear Reader,

Thank you for stopping by the Torg Stories site. I’m an ex-basketball coach and English teacher turned writer, filmmaker, podcaster, and professor. Originally from a small town called Winamac, Indiana, now I split my time between Asheville, North Carolina where I live with my family and New York City where I teach First Year Writing at St. John’s University in Queens. Torg Stories have found their way into the world taking many forms including…

Books

Click here for Torg books for sale on Amazon

Indiana, basketball, love, divorce, winamac, Indiana, Pat Conroy, book club

Pat Conroy called The Coach’s Wife“One of the best books about basketball and coaching I have ever read with a love story so complicated and wonderful it will have book groups talking about it for years.”

Thanks to Pat. I learned a lot about writing from reading his work and was a big fan. May his soul rest in peace!

MIdwestern Gothic, novel in stories, Winamac, Indiana, basketball, Flannery O'Connor, William Torgerson

Horseshoe is Midwestern Gothic collection of stories with themes about love, sin, guilt, and redemption.

romantic comedy, eighties, John Hughes, Say Anything, Olivet Nazarene University, basketball, college writing, winamac, Indiana, book club

In Love on the Big Screen, Zuke is a college freshman whose understanding of love has been shaped by late-80’s romantic comedies.

Films

morel mushrooms, hunting, Indiana, France Park, Bill William Torgerson, Martin Torgerson

The Mushroom Hunter is about my father and his buddies’ passion for hunting morel mushrooms.

Click here to watch “The Mushroom Hunter” free online.

More Torg Stories films: Christopher’s Garden and For the Love of Books

 

Life in Asheville: Launch Trampoline Park

It was a rainy summer day in Asheville, North Carolina, and my girls kept after me to take them to Launch Trampoline Park. Because one of the girls won a complimentary pass at the local high school basketball camp (Hot Shot Champion!) they’d been before with my mom and wife. This would be my first time to Launch. It’s located at 24 Walden Drive in Arden, North Carolina, south of Asheville on Highway 25 / Hendersonville Road.

We Made a Video Review Below

I checked online about how much tickets cost.  They have some online coupons that you can sign up for. The good thing about checking the website was I realized they have specific jump times. We decided to jump for an hour from 6:15 – 7:15. I think you could get by with 30 minutes for $8, but I recommend an hour’s time for $14. Any more than that would have been too much for my girls, ages eight and ten.

Launch Trampoline Park, Asheville

the line for the obstacle course

I didn’t buy myself a ticket, but once I got there I could see that I would have a good time, especially dunking on the basketball hoop and doing the obstacle course. However, I would have had to overcome the fact that at 45 years of age, I would have been the oldest person jumping by at least a decade.

 

navigating the obstalce course

Navigating the Obstacle Course

There were only a few small negatives to consider:

  • Maybe the $14 is just a bit expensive? I felt this way more before going than once I got there.
  • The line was pretty long for the obstacle course. I think they might be able to send the next person onto the course a little sooner.

 

Launch Trampoline Park, Asheville, North Carolina, Things to do, family, Life in Asheville, tourism

Whew, all this jumping is tiring!

Reasons we recommend Launch:

  • Very fun!
  • My youngest especially loved the dodge ball. The referee did a good job.
  • Great exercise
  • Super clean facility
  • Friendly Staff

I do more “Life in Asheville” posts on this site.

We just started a Life in Asheville Facebook page. Click here and “Like it” if you’re interested in our Blue Ridge Mountain town in Western North Carolina.

If you have favorite things to do in Asheville or Western North Carolina, let us know about them as a comment below. Please consider subscribing and/or sharing this post.

Thanks for stopping by the Torg Stories website!

Armpit Travel and Beer Poems: Torg Stories Podcast with Editor Peter Gregutt

I met Peter Gregutt when he worked with me as an editor on a piece published in Asheville’s Mountain Xpress titled “How Christopher Mello Sows Peace and Community in his West Asheville Garden.” 

In addition to listening above, you can click here for the iTunes link or just search for “Torg Stories” in the Podcast App of your iPhone.

When I learned Peter had climbed volcanoes in Guatemala, trekked the Himalayas, and spontaneously took a boat to Africa, I wanted to get him on the podcast. I was interested in his time in New York City studying English at Colombia, that he’d spent decades as an editor, and I admired his clever phrase Armpit Travel as a way to capture some of his experiences on the road.

Armpit Travel, Peter Gregutt, Travel, Mountain Xpress

***

As a way into our conversation, I asked Peter to read from the introduction to his collection. Here it is:

 

My Slime, Your Dime, High Time

Some folks “travel” via flickering images that dance across the screen. Others prefer to plant their ample posterior on a cushy seat in plane or train or air-conditioned motor coach and watch the world pass by beyond the glass.

And then there are the Armpit Travelers, those intrepid souls who strive to sniff out places a less ardent sort might choose to skip entirely in favor of a visit to the proctologist’s office.

Guided only by their own nose or gut, these indefatigable wayfarers aim to see the world — to taste the motley pleasures of the road and touch the very essence of experience — while ducking the troublesome encumbrance of paying for it. (Inevitably, of course, one does pay, though perhaps in blood and suffering in lieu of legal tender.)

To some, the words “budget travel” evoke visions of bland, greasy food; filthy, flea-infested beds; bathing in frigid water thick with icky microbes; and long, arduous bus rides that seem to go from nowhere to nowhere else. But to the true Armpit Traveler, the rewards of the road don’t stop there.

Beyond thrift, beyond grit or grift, beyond sanity, even, there lies a further storied realm whose streets might well be paved with gold if only they were paved at all. And to those with ears to hear and a nose that isn’t overly particular, that unceasing siren song may ultimately prove as irresistible as the last unprepossessing-looking person who’s still lingering in the singles bar at 2 a.m., blurry but determined, and casting inflammatory glances your way…

No travel agent orchestrates the Armpit Path; no map can aptly delineate its putative treasures. No, it’s up to the self-annointed pilgrim to discern and pursue the elusive way, guided only by the kind of enigmatic inner prompting that drives the arctic tern on its annual pole-to-pole journey and makes lemmings take their fateful leap…

But to the curious, the damned, the misfit or the annelid, a hint or a whistle or a tissue of outright lies just might prove to be the fire that lights the fuse, the fire ant whose mordant mandible incites the sluggard’s reluctant posterior to forward motion…

And to any and all who thus succumb to the blandishments and ballyhoo presented in these pages, I bid you a hearty bon voyage, albeit tempered by the slippery wisdom of an old Scottish proverb: “What may be, may not be…”

Thanks for checking out this edition of the Torg Stories podcast!

Coming soon: French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson and Grail Moviehouse owners Steve and Davida

To Create, Consume, and Be Consumed: #FridayReads

That phrase content consumed strikes me as on the crude side when it comes to reading a work of art created by a writer or watching a film that is the vision of a director. However, I’m going to share some of the content I’ve consumed and want to consume as the beginning of a conversation with you all about some of the good stuff you have watched, read, or listened to. My lists are below and I hope you’ll add some of what you have watched, listened to, or read in the comments section at the bottom of this page!

I hope to make this a regular Torg Stories post.

Torg Stories, podcast, writing, Bill Torgerson, This American Life, Longform, The Ringer, SI Media Podcast

the podcast app on my iPhone

Content I listened to, watched, or read…

  • “The Fix is In” on This American Life podcast. About price fixing.  It was the Matt Damon movie called The Informant. Didn’t see that one but thinking about watching it. Hard to fit movies in these days unless they are 8 and 10 year old girl appropriate.
  • Longform podcast “The Really Big One” podcast. About the imminent earthquake in the Northwest. After listening to this, I also read Kathryn Schulz’s New Yorker article of the same title. Click here to read that.
  • Graeme Simson’s novel The Rosie Project. A researcher who probably has a degree of Asperger’s Syndrome devises a grand plan to find a wife that involves passing out questionnaires to women at parties. Hilarity ensues!  I highly recommend and thanks to my friend Katie for sending it my way!
  • I’m reading The French Broad by Wilma Dykeman as I begin a writing and film project something along the lines of “On the French Broad.” If that’s too broad (pun intended) then maybe “Asheville on The French Broad”? I hope to take a look at who is on the river, how I might navigate it with my family, and the political and social issues that surround the water. While reading this book published in 1955, I have learned to think more complexly about where men fought during the Civil War in Western North Carolina and East Tennessee, AND I learned a really interesting story about how Dr. Mitchell lost his life on the mountain that now bears his name.

I want to read, listen to, or watch…

  • Kathryn Schulz’s book Being Wrong and maybe watch her accompanying TED Talk. Given the number of views the talk has, looks like I’ll be about the last one to see this one.
  • Rob Sheffield’s book On Bowie. I read the first 20 pages while my family browsed in the local bookstore. I skipped ahead and read the last ten, AND I’m still going to buy this book and read it all again. I really loved Sheffield’s book Love is a Mix Tape, and I liked Talking to Girls About Duran Duran and Turn Around Bright Eyes about singing karaoke. I like Rob Sheffield’s writing almost as much as I like Nick Hornby’s writing. I also often suggest the fill in the blank “On ________________” to students who can’t think of a title. For example “On Being a Father to Girls” or “Notes On My First Trip to Madison Square Garden.”
  • I can’t wait to watch Lorne Michaels on Jerry Seinfeld’s web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. One of my fantasies for myself is to be a sort of Lorne Michaels of Asheville in putting together a local version of SNL.

 

And finally, what I’m working on…

  • I’m 9,000 words into an essay about my experience participating in what is called The 48 Hour Film Project for the third straight year in Asheville.
  • I’m planning to reshoot a few scenes, hopefully in the next week, to clean up the Torg Stories short film, “Captain Ice Cream.”
  • I’ve scheduled an interview with a representative of MountainTrue and a man who is the French Broad Riverkeeper about issues that surround the river in Asheville. This is the beginning of work that I hope will lead to a writing and film project about The French Broad and the people who use
  • I taped an interview for an upcoming Torg Stories podcast with Peter Gregutt. I met Peter when he worked with me as an editor on a piece published in Asheville’s Mountain Xpress titled “How Christopher Mello Sows Peace and Community in his West Asheville Garden.”  When I learned Peter had climbed volcanoes in Guatemala, trekked the Himalayas, and spontaneously took a boat to Africa, I wanted to get him on the podcast. I was interested in his time in New York City studying English at Colombia, that he’d spent decades as an editor, and grabbed hold of the phrase Armpit Traveller as a title for a travel themed collection he’d written.

 

In the comments section below, let me know what you’ve read, watched, or listened to that I should take a look at. Thanks for joining the conversation!