Monthly Archives: May 2008

california dreaming

“That is the stupidest story I ever heard, and I read the entire Sweet Valley High series.” -Moe, “Homer the Moe,” The Simpsons

I read a lot when I was younger.  Standard kids stuff, Narnia and Little House on the Prairie and all that.  Then in sixth grade, I read Julius Caesar for a book report.  It was a big leap, but I managed to trudge through it, relying heavily on the footnotes.  It should have been the start of my literary life: next Macbeth, then Dickens, then, I don’t know, Proust?  But something happened that year, something complicated and indescribable, and pretty soon, I was on my way to owning and/or reading every book in the entire Sweet Valley franchise.  

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this ain’t news

“The assumption that it was done to conceal a crime is just that: an assumption … This ain’t news.” -Attorney General Michael Mukasey  

Where have these people been for the past six months?  Tap dancing at John McCain rallies?  Butchering Tom Jones classics?  Or maybe they’ve been reveling in their perceived political irrelevance and slipping in the same old policies under the radar.  At this point, it can’t be all that hard: no one seems to be paying any attention. After all, would you rather hear about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or the way Barack Obama likes his eggs?  Some of us have been tired of George W. Bush for seven years; just about everybody’s tired of him now.

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idolization

“You have just invented a new form of torture.” -Simon Cowell 

I’m going to lower the bar a little bit here.  I have a couple posts of germinating – the attorney general, the sub-prime mortgage and credit crises – but I think there might be one thing out there that takes precedence. An image of a bound and gagged Simon Cowell can only mean one thing: I’ve succumbed. I’m not sure why I’m letting people know this, but I’ve been a regular viewer of this season’s “American Idol.”  I’ve never done it before, I’m not sure I’ll do it again, but it hasn’t been half bad. In light of this evening’s drawn-out, overdone finale (and the relatively surprising conclusion), I’d like to say one or two things about “American Idol” – what it’s been, what it is, and why, despite its ridiculousness, it might be worth watching.

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welcome to shirley

“I wrote much of this in a room in our small farmhouse in the middle of nowhere in rural Pennsylvania and I think that was necessary. I was in no shape for human interaction for much of it, and being in this landscape allowed me to go deep into those cracks and crevices, feel that pain again, and stay there a while.” -Kelly McMasters

I spend most of my days doing editorial work at the Commonwealth Club and desperately searching for ways to make money on the side.  But in my spare time, when I’m not doing things that normal young people like to do, I work for SMITH, an online magazine devoted to nonfiction, memoir, and collective story telling.  I caught SMITH at a weird, intense time – their first book, Not Quite What I Was Planning, was just hitting the New York Times bestseller list.  I was thinking about moving to New York and they were ready to toss me in with all the publicity and the readings and whatever they’re still doing over there.  And then I moved to San Francisco.

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the place to be

Well this is, as you can tell, my first book tour. It’s the first book I’ve ever written, and I can’t tell you how much I love it! I walk around the house hugging it. I love the heft of it and the permanence of it and I even love the fragrance – a fresh book has a fragrance to it. I try to sneak looks at it but my wife catches me every time. She says, “Put the book down!'” -Roger Mudd

I can’t imagine having a conversation with a national news anchor. Wolf Blitzer is too scary, Brian Williams is too polished, and so many of the rest seem to let the teleprompter do all the work. I can imagine meeting Anderson Cooper at a cocktail party and getting really flustered. But their unapproachability gives them this false air of authority, boosted by slick graphics and intense theme music. People wax nostalgic for the old network newscasts and those steady, honest anchors. They probably weren’t particularly accessible, but at least they seemed smart, trustworthy, and genuinely charming. I get frustrated when older journalists rail against our generation and the bleak future of reporting, but when I went to see one of those old anchors a few weeks ago, I couldn’t help but think that we’re all missing out on something these days.

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a starting point

I’ve been talking about doing this for a while. I’ve been thinking about doing it for like a year and a half. But I couldn’t start a blog just like that; I needed some sort of focus, something to keep it from turning into a laundry list of my daily activities or a whiny rant about the rude people on the bus. There are a million people out there blogging with a focus – moms, joggers, cooks, bird watchers, people who think it’s charming to write from the perspective of their dogs. Maybe it goes without saying, but none of those categories really work for me.

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