Pipkin, Turk 1953–

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Pipkin, Turk 1953–

PERSONAL:

Born July 2, 1953.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Austin, TX. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer, actor, and director. Worked as a stand-up comedian with Rodney Dangerfield. Director of feature documentary, Nobelity. Writer for television series, including Night Court and Going to California. Actor, appearing in films and television series, including Night Court, The Alamo, Friday Night Lights, Waiting for Guffman, and The Sopranos.

WRITINGS:

NONFICTION

Be a Clown!, Workman Publishing (New York, NY), 1989.

(With Harry Anderson) Harry Anderson's Games You Can't Lose: A Guide for Suckers, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1989, reprinted as Games You Can't Lose: A Guide for Suckers, Burford Books (Springfield, NJ), 2001.

The Winners Guide to the Texas Lottery, Softshoe Publishing (Austin, TX), 1992.

(With Marshall Frech) Barton Springs Eternal: The Soul of a City, Softshoe Publishing (Austin, TX), 1993.

Born of the River: The Colorado River and the LCRA, Softshoe Publishing (Austin, TX), 1995.

The Old Man and the Tee: How I Took Ten Strokes off My Game and Learned to Love Golf All Over Again (memoir), St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2004.

(With Willie Nelson) The Tao of Willie: A Guide to the Happiness in Your Heart, Gotham Books (New York, NY), 2006.

FICTION

Fast Greens, Softshoe Publishing (Austin, TX), 1994.

When Angels Sing: A Christmas Story, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC), 1999.

TELEVISION

(With Harry Anderson) "Attack of the Mac Snacks," Night Court, Starry Night Productions, 1989.

Farm Aid: The Tenth Anniversary Concert, Turner News Network (TNN), 1995.

World's Greatest Magic V, National Broadcasting Company (NBC), 1998.

In the Mood: The Glenn Miller Band Reunion, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), 1998.

Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade, Planet Grande Pictures, 2001.

SCREENPLAYS

(And director) Nobelity (documentary film), The Nobelity Project (Austin, TX), 2006.

Contributing editor to Texas Monthly and T & L Golf. Contributor to periodicals, including Playboy and Golf Digest.

ADAPTATIONS:

The Tao of Willie: A Guide to the Happiness in Your Heart was adapted as an audio book, Penguin (New York, NY), 2006.

SIDELIGHTS:

Turk Pipkin's multifaceted career involves stand-up comedy, acting, and writing in many genres, including fiction, nonfiction, and television. As a comedian, Pipkin has worked successfully as a oneman show and also in partnership with other comics, such as Rodney Dangerfield and Harry Anderson. In all, his career in comedy performance spanned fifteen years and more than 3,000 shows while touring. His recurring role as Aaron Arkaway—a born-again, narcoleptic songwriter—in the popular television program The Sopranos was originally conceived as a one-time character, but Pipkin's humorous portrayal of Aaron was so successful that Aaron was written into additional episodes. Initially, Pipkin's main focus was performing, but over the years, he has come to define himself principally as a writer. He has produced nonfiction books as prosaic as The Winners Guide to the Texas Lottery and as philosophical as his memoir The Old Man and the Tee: How I Took Ten Strokes off My Game and Learned to Love Golf All Over Again. He has also written many articles about his fishing and golfing expeditions and other adventures during his travels around the world.

Pipkin's novel Fast Greens incorporates the author's love of golf with a coming-of-age story about the narrator, Billy Hemphill. Billy grows up in the care of his grandmother in West Texas during the 1960s. Working as a caddy, he becomes involved in a strange competition between two old oilmen. Money, property, the love of a woman, and a decades-old grudge are all part of the stakes between Roscoe Fowler and William March. The story also involves two professional golfers (Fowler and March's golfing partners), Carl Larsen and Sandy Bates. The fateful round of golf is described in detail, along with all the ways the players try to cheat and take advantage of one another. Scott Veale, a reviewer for the New York Times Book Review, felt that the plot of Fast Greens was at times predictable but noted that this flaw seemed inconsequential, because the writing "is endowed with a vivid sense of time and place, the characters are wonderfully drawn and the dialogue is sharp and colorful." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly credited the author with telling "a familiar coming-of-age story in whistle-clean prose."

As a young man, Pipkin was taught to play golf by his father. The elder Pipkin had always wanted to play at least one round of golf at the Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, California, one of the most difficult golf courses in the United States. Unfortunately, he was never able to do so. Turk Pipkin was not able to keep his golf skills at their peak due to his busy schedule. His father's death spurred him not only to play at Pebble Beach, but to become serious about his golf game and achieve a score under eighty on the demanding course. Given his skills, this presented a monumental challenge. Nevertheless, he went after the goal. He left his family and career behind in order to travel to various courses around the world. Along the way, he worked with several different instructors to try to improve his game. In the end, The Old Man and the Tee is a book "about life and golf, and how some individuals can enjoy both regardless of the numbers they write down on the scorecard," according to Stuart Shiffman in a review for Bookreporter.com. He added that Pipkin "has found a magical formula for combining physical instruction and mental awareness of the game of golf," calling the book "an engaging and pleasurable story that all golfers will enjoy and savor … a keeper for your collection of golfing literature. Who knows—this book may be the answer to your golf dreams." A Publishers Weekly reviewer expressed a different view, noting that the book seems to indicate that to improve your golf game, one needs "to be wealthy enough to forgo work and play luxury courses aided by the very best equipment and golf instruction available." Nevertheless, the Publishers Weekly reviewer still found The Old Man and the Tee to be a "breezy and enjoyable memoir."

Pipkin, with his friend, singer and musician Willie Nelson, coauthored The Tao of Willie: A Guide to the Happiness in Your Heart. Nelson's "bromides, aphorisms, and observations" are presented in "an upbeat, warm-and-fuzzy manner," related Mike Tribby in a review for Booklist. The book captures the "friendly, endearing manner" that has ensured Nelson's popularity, stated a contributor to Publishers Weekly.

Nobelity is a documentary written and directed by Pipkin. In the film, he records the vision of various Nobel laureates—Desmond Tutu, Ahmed Zewail, Jody Williams, Sir Joseph Rotblat, Wangari Maathai, Richard Smalley, Harold Varmus, Steve Weinberg, and Amarya Sen—in regard to the future of the world's children. Pipkin's documentary is associated with the Nobelity Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the world for children.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Pipkin, Turk, The Old Man and the Tee: How I Took Ten Strokes off My Game and Learned to Love Golf All Over Again (memoir), St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2004.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, September 1, 2004, Bill Ott, review of The Old Man and the Tee, p. 50; April 15, 2006, Mike Tribby, review of The Tao of Willie: A Guide to the Happiness in Your Heart, p. 8.

Internet Bookwatch, August 1, 2006, review of Nobelity.

Library Journal, July 1, 2004, Steven Silkunas, review of The Old Man and the Tee, p. 91.

New York Times Book Review, July 21, 1996, Scott Veale, "Life Among the Worm Burners," review of Fast Greens.

Publishers Weekly, May 13, 1996, review of Fast Greens, p. 57; May 26, 1997, review of Fast Greens, p. 83; June 14, 2004, review of The Old Man and the Tee, p. 51; March 20, 2006, review of The Tao of Willie, p. 46.

Southern Living, December 1, 1999, review of When Angels Sing: A Christmas Story, p. 98.

Virginia Quarterly Review, June 22, 2000, review of When Angels Sing, p. 99.

ONLINE

Austin Chronicle Online,http://www.austinchronicle.com/ (October 29, 2004), Robert Faires, "Playing for Time," review of The Old Man and the Tee.

Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (June 22, 2008), Stuart Shiffman, review of The Old Man and the Tee.

Internet Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com/ (June 22, 2008), biographical information about Turk Pipkin.

Nobelity Project Web site,http://www.nobelity.org/ (June 22, 2008).

Turk Pipkin Home Page,http://www.turkpipkin.com (June 22, 2008).