Sunday, February 27, 2011

Oscar Wrap-Up

Now that another Academy Award night is in the books, I present to you my thoughts.

* The show wraps up at 11:38 (not including the kids' sing-along at the end, which is great but not really relevant to the show).  Not bad.  Last year was much longer and there have been much worse in the past.  It would've even ended a little sooner if go back to the old days, when there were only five Best Picture nominees instead of 100.

* I would've voted for The Social Network.  To me, it's much more relevant, when there's been a revolution in the Middle East that's been referred to as the Facebook Revolution, to select it as Best Picture over a movie about a king who stutters.  Then again, I didn't see any of the Best Picture nominees -- come to think of it, I haven't actually seen a movie in theaters in more than a year, so what the hell do I know?

* Speaking of not seeing any movies, I gotta see Black Swan one of these days.

* It would've been nice if James Franco acted like he cared about hosting the show.

* Nice job by Anne Hathaway in picking up the slack for Franco, though it made her look as if she popped an entire box of Vivarin before the show.  That said, she's very pretty, too pretty to be wearing that much makeup.

* Marisa Tomei was, is and always will be beautiful.

* Melissa Leo -- gotta love the f-bomb. Gotta hate the seven-second delay.

* Chrstian Bale.  Nice line poking fun at his own profanity-laced tirade when referring to Melissa Leo. But is it just me or did he actually FORGET HIS WIFE'S NAME on stage. What was that all about?

* I'm pissed that Cheburashka got dissed for best animated short. OK, fine, there hasn't been a new Cheburashka short since 1983, so he's not eligible, but still. He deserves an Oscar for something. (Stay tuned.  More to come on the little guy.)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Bill Walton

I just got home from a night out and caught the end of the Celtics-LA Clippers game, and was fascinated to see that Bill Walton, a one-time Celtic who has called games for the Clippers for years, doing color commentary for the Celtics alongside Mike Gorman.   
Walton is a different cat. He always sounds like he's on his way home from a Grateful Dead concert. Much of what he says makes absolutely no sense. Yet it's somehow entertaining. A sampling:

* On Paul Pierce: "Pierce is the Humboldt Current of basketball, sweeping northwestward from Antarctica up through the Galapagos on his way to the hoop."

* After a Clippers possession ends in a shot-clock violation: "That was the worst possession in history of the Los Angeles Clippers." (A pretty bold claim, given the history of the Clippers franchise.)

* After the Clippers call timeout following a 16-4 Celtics run: "The Clippers need more than a timeout.  The Clippers need to make some trades."

* On Celtic legend and color commentator Tommy Heinsohn, who apparently just got a Twitter account: "Tommy Heinsohn, driving the train of social media."

Saturday Morning Joe

It's a war zone out there.  I have to duck in and out of close spaces to avoid the snipers trying to hit me.

And that's just in the parking lot of Trader Joe's.

O man, do NOT go to Trader Joe's on a Saturday morning.  I almost got hit in the lot FOUR TIMES by cars angling for the last remaining parking spaces.  It's like their life depends on whether they can get their chicken sausage and get out in five minutes. Once inside, the people maneuver their carriages like tanks, hitting everything in their path, and then glaring at you as if you jumped in their way at the last minute. It's silly, because the checkout lines are so long on a Saturday morning that those whose life depends on a five-minute shopping experience might as well open the box of their whole grain cereal in line and use that as their final meal.

Don't get me wrong, I love Trader Joe's. They have good food -- when the fruit is in season it's top-notch -- and if you look hard enough, you can find great deals.

But I won't be heading over there on Saturdays anymore.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Dinosaur Comics

If you're like me, you love Dinosaur Comics. It's a six-panel strip, and each strip is drawn exactly the same way every day.  Only the dialogue changes.  There's a Tyrannosaurus who's charmingly annoying, a female Dromiceiomimus and a gay Utahraptor (though some insist that he's bi).  What's not to love?

I do have some questions though.

When is that poor homeowner in Panel 3 going to relocate?  Clearly homeowners insurance won't cover them if they constantly rebuild in a Tyrannosaurus-stomp zone.

Why does the woman in Panel 4 continue to take the same path to wherever she's walking to, because every day the Tyrannosaurus stomps on her?

When is Tyrannosaurus going to get some of the story ideas he writes down on paper?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Great American Novelist

In the tradition of American Idol, I think we need a reality TV show for wanna-be writers.  I'll call it The Great American Novelist.  Contestants will audition their novels (or memoirs or short story or poetry collections, despite the title), readings excerpts in front of three judges.  The winner gets a book deal.

I need a host.  Someone like Ryan Seacrest, friendly and approachable but kind of buffoonish.  Conan O'Brien fits the bill.

Then we need three judges.  One of them has to be the sensitive judge, the Paula Abdul/Ellen DeGeneres/J-LO role, the judge who hates to tell contestants the truth about how bad they really are.  I'm just going on hunches here, but I'll pick Janet Evanovich.  She always seems cheery.

The second judge should be an established author, frank but also personable, a la Steven Tyler or Randy Jackson of the pre-Simon era.  I'll go with Stephen King.

Then we need the snarky judge, the Simon Cowell, the a-hole who hates being here but entertains all of us with his/her candidly brutal comments.  I'll go with either Harold Bloom or Jonathan Franzen.

Folks, I think this is gonna be a hit.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Today Is Not My Birthday

Yesterday, for the second time in less than a month, someone wished me a happy birthday on my Facebook Wall even though it's not remotely close to my birthday.

Both times this has happened, alcohol seems to have been involved.

I'm not complaining.  I mean, hell, I'd be happy to accept any presents anyone would like to send my way.  Or money. 

I just find it amusing that alcohol seems to conceal the fact that my Facebook Wall clearly states that my birthday is Oct. 30.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Writer's Retreat

Yesterday I attended a writer's retreat.  I packed up all my latest excerpts from my novel and my laptop into the car and headed to my friend's house.

I arrived at 12:30.  For the first half-hour we sat around, shooting the breeze, as we waited for the last participant to arrive.  From 1 to 2 we munched on chips and Pepsi and procrastinated.

By 2 we were raring to go, and I got four solid hours of revisions done to my novel.  Burying your head in revisions for four hours non-stop is like scuba diving for four hours.  You come up and you have the bends. It was exhausting and a little painful and I wanted to lie down.

At 6 I talked to my gracious host for about a half-hour, hauled my laptop and excerpts back into the car, and headed back home at 6:30.

I accomplished great things yesterday.  Well worth the trip.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


One of the things about living alone is that you're more, say, casual about cleaning.

This came to bite me in the ass yesterday when I thought I would be going to a friend's house to celebrate her birthday and, as it turned out, the party came to my house.  So everybody got to see how messy my place is.

But the birthday girl set me straight, calling my place "artsy."  So, yeah, that's what I'm calling it now.


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Xtreme Writer's Group

This is certainly not intended as a critique of any of the writer's groups I'm currently in.  But I have a vision for my ideal writer's group. 

At my ideal writer's group....

* A camera crew from MTV would arrive to shoot footage for the reality TV show "Xtreme Writer's Group."

* Before we begin the critiques, Christina Aguilera would butcher the national anthem.

* We would invite two published authors to the meeting, and then take their respective books and run them through the shredder, saying, "Nobody should have to read this."

* Before each piece gets workshopped, the author would come running through the door while we blast "Crazy Train"  from the stereo.

* Two people would by in tears by the end of the night.

* There would be a mandatory two-hour break in between the second and third workshop pieces to watch a bad monster movie.

* Three fistfights would break out.

* Green Bay Packers receiver Greg Jennings would put the team on his back and score on a 99-yard touchdown pass despite a broken leg.

* Everyone would be required to write a short poem, one line of which would have to be about either Tyrannosaurus rex or Felix the Cat.  

* Neighbors would call the police, forcing them to bust down the door and break up the meeting.

Anyway, it'll never happen.  That's a lot of stuff to tackle in one writer's group meeting.  But it's just a thought.

Friday, February 18, 2011


This week Borders filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  As a budding novelist (hopefully), it's a disconcerting feeling, since really nowadays it's Borders, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and indie bookstores and that's it.

Alas, there's a Borders about five minutes where I live and, based on my typical visit there, I can understand why it's come to this.

When I walk in there's always a band playing.  As a writer, I want to be supportive of my fellow artists, but the band is always really fucking loud.  And let's face it, if I had tickets to a cool band -- say, Club D'Elf -- and when I walked in everyone was reading a book, it'd be a little bit of a buzzkill.  Likewise, when I go to a bookstore it's a distraction to have my eardrums vibrating.

The next thing I see when I walk in is...teddy bears.  I go through the lobby by the cash register and there's board games, candy and soda.  Finally! After I've been in the store for a minute or two, there is evidence of books.  I agree that it's good for a business to diversify, but there's a difference between diversifying and forgetting your target market.  

If I click onto the Web site for the Shrewsbury Borders, there's info on the corporate sales program, TASTY TREATS (the hot apple pie with ice cream is apparently kind of a big deal), some partnership with Worcester's Hanover Theater, and very little about books.

I'm no business expert, but it seems to me that a business has to have its brand well-defined.  Coca-Cola is the real thing. Wal-Mart is cheap goods. Starbucks is expensive coffee. Subway is fast but healthy food.  And Barnes & Noble has a cafe, but it's usually tucked away in the corner of the store so that they can focus on know...books.

I think Borders is books, but when I walk into Borders I'm really not sure what brand they're trying to convey to me -- concerts, teddy bears, hot apple pie with ice cream -- and this is probably why the folks at Borders are now in the position they're in.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Parks & Rec 2.0

In the past I haven't been shy about expressing my disdain for the NBC sitcom Parks & Rec.

("Thursdays on NBC -- in the tradition of The Office, starring Steve Carell in a mockumentary sitcom that pokes fun at corporate bureaucracy, we present Parks & Rec, starring Amy Poehler in a mockumentary sitcom that pokes fun at government bureaucracy. It'll be hilarious! Trust us, from the network that fucked up the Jay Leno-Conan O'Brien late-night!")

It's particularly frustrating because I've always had a crush on Rashida Jones, and would like to watch more of her but not under these circumstances. (At times, I confess I've watched the show with the mute button on.)

That said,  recently I've gotten into the habit of watching Parks & Rec again, now that it's come off of hiatus as a mid-season replacement.  It's gotten a lot better this year.  I don't know what happened, except that the writers must've figured out that:

* You have to come up with a more original idea than "Let's-cast-Amy-Poehler-as-a-female-Michael-Scott" to make the show work. The less the show is like The Office, the less it'll look like an Office ripoff.

* There are some pretty talented actors around her, so maybe they should utilize them, developing plot lines and story arcs that revolve around them as well.

* Rashida Jones and Aubrey Plaza are both very attractive. (Rob Lowe gets to play the role of Jones' girlfriend and Plaza's boss. How the fuck did he get that gig.)  OK, maybe that's not really part of what makes the show funnier, but just thought I'd mention.

Anyway, it sounds as thought the ratings are still mediocre, so who knows what the show's future will be. I'm also not saying it's a great show yet, but now at least it's a competent show. But it just goes to show that 1) I can have an open mind about something I don't initially like, and 2) shows are redeemable.

Now I'll continue my crusade against 30 Rock.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


For the last three nights, an IBM computer has been kicking the shit out of Jeopardy's two all-time biggest winners, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.  "Watson," as it's called, outearned the two of them combined. 

This is supposed to be a landmark moment in human history, akin to "Deep Blue" beating Gary Kasparov in chess, another example of artificial intelligence software that can outperform humans.

I'm about to call something here.  I'm about to call SHENANIGANS!

Anybody who watches regularly knows that the key to Jeopardy is how fast you can buzz in.  All IBM has really proven is that they've created a computer that can buzz in faster than two humans.  And, true to form, Jennings and Rutter spent the past three nights in agonizing frustration that they were being beaten to the punch, just like they did routinely to others in their long championship runs.  It was pretty obvious that, like Watson, they both knew the answers to just about every clue.  I don't for a second believe this means Watson has more AI than two brainiacs.  I'm much more impressed by "Deep Blue," which had to analyze chess moves and decide what to do next in real time.  And "Deep Blue" was 14 years ago.

It's impressive that they've created software that can interpret natural speech.  But it's not as impressive as IBM wants you to believe.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Facebook Settings

So from what some of my social-networking friends say, Facebook has made a new change (I know, so unusual of them, right) in which you only get posts on your news feed from people you interact with regularly.  You can change this, but you have to go into your settings.

Again -- and this is the type of week I've had -- I have mixed feelings about this.  I'm debating whether to change my settings.

Part of me wants to know what all of my 300-some-odd Facebook friends post.

Then again, it'd be an easy way for me to be on Facebook 24/7, which is a really bad idea.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Lazy Pop Fly of Blogs

I had a couple of people contact me this morning asking about my blog, because I hadn't posted one yet. 

I feel so good and so bad about this at the same time. I love that people have come to expect my blog.

Then again, it also puts a lot of pressure on me to hit a home run with every blog.  And, after an exhausting weekend, today's blog definitely won't be going into its home run trot as it circles the bases.


Happy Valentine's Day, Charlie Brown

I watched "Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown/A Charlie Brown Valentine" on Friday night.  It's the first time I've seen it in years.  I always forget how much unrequited love there is in Peanuts.

* Peppermint Patty and Marcie love Charlie Brown, who loves the little red-haired girl.

* Lucy loves Schroeder, who loves Beethoven.

* Sally loves Linus, who loves Miss Othmar, who has a boyfriend.  I don't know why Linus wastes his time anyway, seeing that a) Miss Othmar would get arrested for consummating a relationship with him, and b) she sounds like a trombone when she talks, which has to get annoying in bed.

So much tragedy in a cute little cartoon.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

I Love Strangers

This is going to be a short blog, because I had a productive but long night last night and have to get up early tomorrow for what will hopefully be a productive but long day later today.

Anyway, I'm ordinarily very stranger-averse.  I'm usually a typical New Englander. I rarely make eye contact with people on the street and I don't start conversations with strangers

Lately, though, it's been fun to discover in recent weeks that I have a few followers and commenters of this blog whom I don't know.

Keep it up! Thank you for your support!

Job Fair

So Tuesday I went to the second job fair in as many days, put on by an employer (we'll just refer to it as The Company) that was hiring for management positions.

I spoke with two of The Company's senior managers, both of whom seemed impressed by me.  They also seemed a little concerned with how much I've made at past employers, but I told them I was willing to be flexible on salary.  They said they like my qualifications and that I would hear back from them soon.

They were right.  Yesterday I received a letter in the mail from The Company.  Never a good sign.  But what struck me was this comment (emphasis added):

"We were fortunate to have many qualified candidates with similar qualifications apply for this position.  Although your qualifications were impressive, we have selected a candidate who more closely fits our current needs.  Thank you for considering The Company as a potential employer."

You held a job fair for ONE opening.  Folks, that's not a job fair, that's a want ad.

Every time I don't get a job I try to look on the bright side and say to myself, it wasn't the right opportunity and it's for the best.  This time, that didn't take a lot of self-convincing.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


As a dinosaur lover, I have a habit of calling attention on Facebook whenever a dinosaur article is named Wikipedia's Article of the Day.

Thus, I've just given Albertosaurus some props.

The last time Wikipedia so honored a dinoraur (Allosaurus, last August), it created a firestorm, as some people weren't sure why I was doing this and posted on my Wall, accusing me of having a hidden agenda.  What this agenda would be, I'm not sure (secret link between dinosaurs and the Tea Party? dinosaur homosexuality?), but it was a minor donnybrook.

I hope cooler heads prevail this time.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Fiction Workout

Yesterday afternoon I had to send out an excerpt of my novel to my professor.  So I challenged myself to see how much I could write in four hours.

I set a goal to write seven pages in four hours, and succeeded.  I don't know how good those seven pages were but the important part was, the felt good.  (In other words, I didn't read them back and say to myself, wow, this totally blows.)

It felt like an exhausting workout. Seriously. There won't be any great writing in today's blog, because I'm kind of fried.  I'm about to go to bed and I feel like I'll be sore when I wake up tomorrow.  But it was a great experience -- challenging myself.  I do think that there are times when, at least for me, no matter what I'm just not in the mood to write.  But I feel like I know myself better as a writer now and that's a great feeling.  It'll help me as a writer going forward.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Dream Analysis

OK, fellow Freudians, someone tell me what this dream means.
It's summertime.  I'm at a party.  The party is at a high-rise hotel -- at the bar at ground level, but my room is on the 27th floor.

I'm not entirely sure why, but I have to go up to my room.  I go in, pick up something and am on my way back to the elevator when I run into a female acquaintance of mine (who shall remain nameless, for reasons that will become obvious shortly).  Her room is also on the 27th floor.

We talk in the hallway on the way to her room.  Out of the blue, she takes off her shirt and we have a brief moment of intimacy.  Normalcy returns, she puts her shirt back on and we go out to the 27th-floor patio.  We're talking and she's laughing and drinking the vodka she brought from her room.  She's becoming increasingly tipsy, and as she giggles a little too hard, she falls over the patio railing and drops 27 floors to her death.

I'm horrified at 1) watching someone fall to their death, which is horrible, but also at 2) the realization that I'm the last person to be with her alive, and we were alone, and there are no witnesses other than us, and there will also probably some of my DNA on her from when she took of her shirt for a few minutes earlier, and all this will become immediately suspicious to the authorities when they arrive at the scene.

Holy shit.  What the fuck is wrong with me?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Super Bowl Monday

The day after the Super Bowl is always a mess.

I didn't get home from my Super Bowl party until midnight.  Then I spend the next couple of hours IMing.  By 3 a.m., I was finally asleep.  I woke up at 11 a.m. -- yes, 11 a.m.  I wanted to do some writing in my novel but never did.

I did go to a job fair for a couple of hours, so that was productive.

It was about the only productive thing that happened, though, as I was still food-comatose from mac-and-cheese, steak, chips, popcorn, chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, candy and Coca-Cola from Sunday's game.  I had some leftovers and finished them off today.

And this is for a Super Bowl in which I hate both participating teams.  Imagine what I'm like when the Patriots are involved.

It's a good thing the Super Bowl is only once a year.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Small Ben

It was a rough offseason for Big Ben Roethlisberger.  Unseemly sexual assault allegations after a little too much partying one night led to a six-game suspension from the NFL (ultimately reduced to four games).  Still, he regrouped himself in time to lead the Steelers to a Super Bowl berth.

I understand the DA's decision not to prosecute him.  I wasn't there that night in Georgia and don't pretend to know what truly happened.  But for better or worse, you need a lot of concrete evidence to generate a sexual assault conviction and it doesn't sound as though there was enough in this case.

That does NOT, however, mean I think Roethlisberger is without blame.  Whether he crossed the line into sexual assault or not, I think it's pretty obvious he acted like a boorish asshole that night.  I've hated the Steelers for years, but even if I didn't, Roethlisberger makes it pretty easy for one to develop a hatred of the Steelers.

Thus, I'm pretty pleased with myself for yesterday's blog, in which I predicted that "I can see the Packer defense dominating and watching Roesthlisberger wear that douchebag look on his face all evening as he throws two or three untimely interceptions."  Indeed, Roethlisberger threw one interception in the first quarter that was run back for a touchdown, and a second in the second quarter that led to a touchdown.

But despite Roethlisberger's asking people to judge him on his actions since his suspension, despite his politeness, addressing former Steelers great QB Terry Bradshaw as "Mr. Bradshaw," I've said all along that the real test of Roethlisberger's resolve will come when he faces adversity.  And, with two minutes to play, the Steelers trailed 31-25 against a Green Bay team that, in the 2009 season, Roethlisberger lit up for a Steeler-record 500-plus yards passing, and led his team down the field under almost exact same circumstances (2 minutes left to play, trailing by six) and threw a touchdown pass as time expired.

(An aside: why in the world did the Fox broadcast team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman not mention the parallel circumstances between 2009 and last night, ESPECIALLY since they broadcast that game too.  That was a pretty glaring omission by them.)

This time, Roethlisberger led his team to one first down, and then feebly wasted away after a dinky 5-yard pass and three other incompletions.  Game over.  Packers win the Super Bowl.

It's called karma.  I'm sure some of the Packer players are a-holes too.  But nobody wants to see a boor win it all.  It was refreshing to see Big Ben turn into Small Ben when it mattered most.

Super Bowl XLV Prediction

I won't beat around the bush -- I hate both the Steelers and Packers.  I still have some lingering resentment over the Packers win against the Patriots in Super Bowl XXI.  And the Steelers, well, they're just obnoxious.

Alas, this is the matchup for the Super Bowl this year.  I think it should be a good game.  Both teams present matchup problems for each other.

The Packers aren't a great running team, and the Steelers are air-tight against the run.  If the Steelers pass rush can get to Packer QB Aaron Rodgers, it could spell trouble for Green Bay.

On the other hand, the Steelers are banged up.  Center Maurice Pouncey is out.  Taking his place will be Jeff Lagursky, who has four career starts, none at center.  Green Bay has a fearsome pass rush too, and they could be in Ben Roesthlisberger's face all day.  The Packers also have great cover corner who could shut down Hines Ward, Mike Wallace & Co., which would make the Green Bay pass rush that much more effective.

I can see this game going either way.  I can see the Steelers defense dominating, and watching Aaron Rodgers going to the sideline after bloodied and battered after every possession, and I can see the Packer defense dominating and watching Roesthlisberger wear that douchebag look on his face all evening as he throws two or three untimely interceptions.

But I have to pick one.  I hate the Packers less than I hate the Steelers (the fact that the Patriots have won three Super Bowls since their loss to the Packers probably contributes to the pain over Super Bowl XXI abiding to some extent). 

And the Steelers won Super Bowl XL as a #6 seed.  So, it'd be only appropriate if they received payback from the #6-seed Packers.

The last time these two teams played, in 2009, the Steelers won 37-36 when Roethlisberger completed a Steeler-record 500-yard passing day by throwing a TD pass on the final play. It could be just as exciting a finish today.

But with a different result.  Packers 24, Steelers 19


Friday, February 4, 2011

24th Follower

Erin is the coolest.  She's always great for a laugh, and she's the best little sister I've ever had.  Figuratively, not literally.  I'm an only child so I don't have any "real" little sisters.  But I did have a dream once that I had a little sister, and the girl in my dream was very similar to Erin -- sense of humor, outgoingness.

She (Erin, not the fictitious little sister in my dream) is also now the 24th "follower" of this blog.  Yay!  Only 76 away from triple-digits!  So now we can keep ourselves motivated to write as we follow each other's blogs.  It's a win-win.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Good News

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about my cousin going into surgery. 

I'm happy to report things seem to have gone very well.  She's on the mend and it'll be nice to have her sharing her wacky stories again.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

An Interview with Punxsutawney Phil

I had an opportunity to interview my namesake, Punxsutawney Phil, the Pennsylvania groundhog who’s a rock star every Groundhog Day, via phone last night after his big prediction.

He’s a little difficult.  Here’s the transcript:

Phil: Thanks for your time. 

Punxsutawney Phil: No prob.

Phil: So I understand you did not see your shadow today, which means an “early spring.”  I just looked outside my window and we’re getting snow and ice and sleet today.  Can you clarify for us what constitutes “early spring?”

Punxsutawney Phil: It means "early spring."  What more do you want?

Phil: Can you elaborate?  I mean, “six more weeks of winter” puts the calendar at March 16.  But does “early winter” means that today is the first day of spring, or does it mean spring will begin, say, Feb. 25?

Punxsutawney Phil: Jeez, you and your specifics. 

Phil: I think the people have a right to know. 

Punxsutawney Phil: Fine, spring begins today.

Phil: What constitutes spring anyway?  Here in New England, we usually get one or two snowstorms every spring.  It’s not like snow will end once spring is officially declared.

Punxsutawney Phil: Man, why you gotta be such a ball-buster about this?

Phil: So, according to your Web site, you’ve been doing your predicting for 121 years.  Groundhogs only have a life span of 6 to 10 years.  Care to comment on this?

Punxsutawney Phil: I drink Groundhog Punch.  It’s a top-secret formula.

Phil: Oh, so you’re on steroids? 

Punxsutawney Phil: No comment.

Phil: Maybe there should be an asterisk next to some of your predictions.

Punxsutawney Phil: I don’t know if I like this line of questioning.

Phil: When I spoke with your agent I told him this would be a tough interview.  I’m not here to lob a bunch of softballs at you.

Punxsutawney Phil: I’m gonna have a chat with him.

Phil: According to the Stormfax Weather Almanac, you’ve only been right 39% of the time.  That’s kind of a mediocre record.

Punxsutawney Phil: It’s not like that’s any worse than Pete Bouchard.  Okay, I think I’ve had just about enough of this interview.

Phil: You can’t hide from your record, you know.  If I don’t ask, someone else will.  

Punxsutawney Phil: I’m done. You can go fuck yourself.  (Hangs up.)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Good Story + Good Writer = Good Book

This past weekend an article appeared in The New York Times that wasn't exactly flattering to memoirs.  It reviewed four recently published memoirs, ripped three of them to shreds and was complimentary, if brief, on the fourth.

This has generated a wide range of opinions, everything from "About fucking time somebody comes out and says that memoirs suck!" to "How dare this author say bad things about the genre?" to "The author criticizes memoir as too stereotypical in a review where he stereotypically lumps all memoirs into the same boat." (I like that last comment, actually.) The author invites memoirists to reintroduce themselves to "the lost art of shutting up."

I have to admit I had mixed feelings about the article, which at times made me chuckle and other times made me feel squeamish, as if, "Wow, this guy REALLY needs to get laid."

Here's how I feel --

I believe that the following statement is true: there are some really bad memoirs out there.

I believe it is just as true as the following statements: there are also some really bad novels out there, some really bad screenplays out there, some really bad short story collections out there, some really bad essays  out there, some really bad poems out there and some really bad blogs out there (hopefully few people feel that way about this blog).

But you can't define a genre solely on its bad apples.  There are also some brilliant memoirs, novels, screenplays, short story collections, essays, poems and blogs (hopefully a lot of people feel that way about this blog).

As someone so eloquently stated: "There's always room for a good story from a good writer."  That holds true for all genres.


I used to dabble in yoga every once in awhile, but in the past year or two I've gone less and less. Last night I took a yoga class for the first time in awhile.  Getting back into the swing of things was a real experience.

First of all, it was a class of 14 and, of course, I was the only guy. This would make most guys feel like the luckiest man in the world.  Me, I got self-conscious that they all thought I was there to hit on girls.  This awkward feeling was only enhanced when one girl, who happened to be directly in front of me, abruptly walked out during class.

During the warmup, when I first bent into warrior pose, my knees ached.  Great.  Were my knees suddenly shot?  Was my yoga career over before it started?

After a couple minutes though, my knees felt fine and I shook off the kinks.  Nobody else walked out of class. It's a great workout. Like, really great, just as good as cardio, if not better.  My abs are sore this morning, but it's a good sore.  I feel like I might've lost a pound or two yesterday.

I gotta get back into this.