Tuesday, November 4, 2008
It’s just my policy…
(Thanks to faithful reader Devon for sending this along, based on an earlier tweet
Monday, November 3, 2008
"The people reign over the American political world as God rules over the universe. It is the cause and the end of all things; everything rises out of it and is absorbed back into it." — Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
10:01 PM |
I voted last Tuesday afternoon, casting an absentee ballot at the Board of Elections in anticipation of the work and travel that will keep me away from the polls tomorrow. Without comment on any of the other issues and races on the ballot, it will come as no surprise I suppose when I tell you that I voted, freely and proudly, to elect Barack Obama
the next president of the United States.
I will not directly encourage you to do the same. Voting in a democratic republic is a sacred right, and it is also an intensely personal one. To me, the most important thing is that you do it: inform yourself, engage yourself and then vote in accord with your mind, heart and beliefs. If they differ from mine, well, that too is a sacred right which we rightly fiercely defend. If we differ in thought, so long as those differences are expressed deliberately, thoughtfully and—most importantly—respectfully
, then you and I will be find each other to be good and challenging company.
Respect, along with an effort to move beyond and above the coarseness that has attended campaigning for the presidency in recent years, is what I have seen in Barack Obama. Respect for his opponents, respect for the deep and deeply-felt differences among the people of this country, respect for the democratic and diplomatic processes upon which our nation is based, respect for thought and debate, respect for language and learning—all of these are things I believe we as a nation need to embrace and should see in our leadership. Not fear. Not threats. Not anger. Ultimately, policies and promises aside, it is what I see of Senator Obama's respect for the American democratic ideal
that has brought me to support him, his seemingly whole and heartfelt belief in and embrace of what we are
and what we strive ever to be: good.
We live in difficult times but, truly, it has ever been so. The election of one man, or one Congress, or the passage of one bill, or the enactment of one measure will not fix what divides or troubles us. But it is a beginning. And if there is to be what has been so often promised by so many during the past few months, if there is to be change
, then it will not happen on November 5. It will not happen by pitting red against blue. It will not happen at all, unless we do it together
I don't know if Barack Obama can bring us together as a nation. But I do know that his candidacy and his promised dedication represent the best opportunity I've seen for it to happen in my lifetime.
Whether you agree or not, I hope you'll take time tomorrow to do what I did last week: please, vote.
November 3, 2008 at 3:10 PM
Our Wacky Government
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
"At times, one remains faithful to a cause only because its opponents do not cease to be insipid." — Friedrich Nietzsche
1:02 PM |
A Conversation From the Bar Scene
Jeff: Take a look at him. He's hot
. Nice tan too.
Brad: That's not a tan. I believe he's a Native American.
Jeff: Mmmmmm. He could poke-a my hontas any time he liked.
Brad: You don't even listen to yourself talk anymore, do you?
Jeff: I...I do not.
October 8, 2008 at 12:19 AM
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Neil Patrick Harris and my future husband Jason Segel totally
making out? Yeah, that's going on my fantasy highlight reel. (It's an outtake from season three of How I Met Your Mother
. Video here.
) Hubba hubba!
Thursday, October 2, 2008
To celebrate its 10th birthday, Google has briefly brought back its earliest available index, from 2001. Back then, I was number one.
9:51 AM | (1)
Monday, September 29, 2008
An empty seat at the Mighty Wurlitzer
It seems as though every day another obituary signals the clock running down on the time when people deserved to be called "entertainers". Stan Kann has died
. He was 83.
With no offense intended to the achievements of a certain local sporting legend, for those of us in the entertainment business, Stan Kann was "The Man".
Saturday, September 27, 2008
"The trick of living is to slip on and off the planet with the least fuss you can muster. I’m not running for sainthood. I just happen to think that in life we need to be a little like the farmer, who puts back into the soil what he takes out." — Paul Newman
10:41 PM |
Sometimes, I wish I knew what to say about all of this.
9:17 PM |
Saturday, September 13, 2008
David Foster Wallace
Author David Foster Wallace has died
. He apparently hanged himself in his Los Angeles area home. He was 46.
I spent the day with Wallace in 1997, shortly after he'd received the MacArthur Foundation grant and while he was on the road touring for the publication of Infinite Jest
, and interviewed him for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
David Foster Wallace sits at a conference table in the International Writers Center at Washington University's West Campus in Clayton, sipping coffee and chewing toothpicks, an oral substitute for the cigarettes he forswore a few months earlier.
"I'm 35 years old," the author of Infinite Jest says as he begins to describe himself. "I've been doing this for 13 years. I think I'm pretty good, but I don't think I'm real good yet."
This is a rare moment of conciseness for Wallace, whose prose is filled with convoluted but perfectly logical sentences that sometimes seem to go on for pages. Hailed by critics as the most gifted chronicler of his generation, he clearly doesn't believe — or read — his own press coverage.
Although his first two books, a novel and a collection of short stories, showed the promise of a rising new writer, Wallace really caught the attention of critics last year with Infinite Jest, his second novel. It's a 1,079-page work set mostly at a tony tennis academy and a drug rehabilitation halfway house in the near future.
Infinite Jest is actually an assortment of loosely related stories. At its center is the tale of three brothers, the Incandenzas, and the shadow cast over them by their father's suicide. A side plot concerns a band of wheelchair-bound terrorists seeking to control the eponymous "Infinite Jest," a film believed to be so entertaining that it puts anyone who views it into a blissed-out haze. Another side plot follows Don Gately, a drug addict who will found a new religion.
It is a complex book that Wallace insists is just as long and involved as it needs to be.
"The version that I turned in was about 500 pages longer than what came out," he says, "which in and of itself isn't terminal for me, but there's a lot of that 500 pages that didn't really need to be in there. It was very hard for me to listen to the editor, but I did it."
When Little, Brown published Infinite Jest, the book hit store shelves accompanied by an intense six-month publicity campaign. That, coupled with the critical notice Wallace's previous work had garnered, established the media-shy writer as the new literary celebrity.
Wallace, however, is pragmatic about the "publicity tsunami."
"Because of the economics of selling books right now, it has a lot to do with the big stores and with (the publishers) not getting a lot of returns," he says.
"The publishers don't really care if anyone actually reads it, they just want (consumers) to buy it from Barnes & Noble so they don't get a lot of copies back.
"I would rather that fewer people bought it and the people who bought it actually read it, but that's coming from my own ego."
His ego, Wallace acknowledges, is fragile and a large part of why he doesn't care to read reviews of his work.
The high that comes from celebrity, he says, is too seductive and too dangerous to the work of writing to succumb to it. Although first noting his respect for their work, he points to the examples of friends and contemporaries who enjoyed early success and weren't as sheltered from the hype.
"I thought, for instance, Bret Easton Ellis' book Less Than Zero — it's not Dante, but for the guy's age and for the moment — there was magic in it," Wallace says. "And I thought the same thing about Jay McInerney's Bright Lights, Big City."
Wallace tries to put the attention paid to him in perspective, and he gets a lot of help from his friends.
"I'm protected in a lot of ways that I think certain other people aren't," he says. "I'll have this chat with a newspaper, which will mess me up for a few days because it makes me feel more important than I really am, but then it'll go away and I'll go home and my closest friends aren't writers and life is very real."
Home for Wallace is near the campus of Illinois State University in Normal, Ill., where he teaches writing and literature. He grew up in Urbana, where his father was a philosophy professor at the University of Illinois and his mother an English professor at a community college.
"I mostly teach the freshman classes that the other professors don't want to teach and think I'm very gracious to do so when in fact I much prefer it," Wallace says.
Part of the joy of teaching entry-level courses, Wallace says, is introducing his students to works that engage them on their own turf.
"There's an Amy Homes story called 'A Real Doll' about a pubescent boy's affair with his sister's Barbie doll and that story's actually created a few literature majors at ISU," Wallace says. "They had no idea that a story could be that sick and smart and spiritually sophisticated and speak a language that's the same language as their own."
Wallace is taking the year off from teaching, thanks in part to a fellowship he received earlier this year from the MacArthur Foundation, the organization behind the so-called "genius grants." The five-year award, worth up to $75,000 annually, has given the author the freedom to concentrate on his own work.
While giving him the luxury of a sabbatical, the grant has also brought an odd kind of pressure into Wallace's life.
"There are a whole lot of things about it that are real nice that aren't what people would imagine," Wallace says. "They very nicely did a thing in my hometown newspaper that made it sound like you get all the money at once and it's tax-free, so every friend of mine who is some wacko investor came to me with ideas about silver futures and like that. In fact, what it is is like five years of a teaching salary.
"But I quit smoking a few months ago, so I haven't been working very well. It's very easy to run this guilt thing on myself, like when your parents are paying for college and you're screwing off. You feel like 'Oh, God, I just cost the MacArthur Foundation 50 dollars and all I did was watch a movie.'"
Wallace is working on several projects now, mostly short fiction. He says he feels no real pressure to produce another work on the scale of Infinite Jest anytime in the near future.
"I don't have any real desire to have a best seller," he says, "mostly because I think the sorts of books that become best sellers are not really books. They're sort of like television you can carry around with you."
He's content just to write and enjoy his time away from academia. He's not concerned with the critics who have branded him the literary spokesman for his generation.
"I feel that there's such an irony about anybody talking about a spokesman for my generation," Wallace says. "By definition, there can't be a spokesperson because there isn't a collective.
"I do love the term 'Generation X,' though. I don't know why people roll their eyes at that.
"A generation identified by a variable. That's deep."
September 13, 2008 at 7:42 PM
David Foster Wallace
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
PR maven Helen Weiss has died
. Our city has lost another top-notch flack. Helen was a model for what a corporate publicist should be, and a hell of a dame into the bargain. I shall miss her.
8:44 AM |
Monday, September 8, 2008
Not necessarily the news
magazine looks at the folks who create the fake news graphics for shows such as The Daily Show
and the Onion News Network.
8:12 PM |
Just when you think you're a few steps ahead: I've discovered a cache of unanswered e-mail, mostly messages sent through this site. I offer apologies to anyone awaiting a long-overdue response, and ask your patience for a while longer.
4:52 PM |
I've mentioned before that I was inspired to put together the weblog-version of The BradLands by—and in fact lifted more or less wholesale the original design from—Steve Bogart's original weblog, News, Pointers and Commentary. Now Steve has dug into his old Frontier database and put the original 1997–1998 archives of that site back online
. It's an old-school weblogger trip down memory lane!
4:48 PM |
Monday, August 11, 2008
The video for cutie crooner Spencer Day
's "Movie of Your Life" (my favorite of his songs) pays homage to eight classic films
. Can you name them all? (The short was put together by St. Louisan Chris Lawing.)
6:41 AM |
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
"In a country that has, at best, a conflicted relationship with public support for the arts, we are made to think more and more every year that art is a luxury. I was raised to believe it is a necessity. Art, in all its forms, is the expression of who, why, and where we are at any given time in history. It allows us to question, in a nonliteral, academic, or linear way, who we are, why we do what we do, and where we are going. Incorporating art into the fabric of everyday life is an obligation and a sign of a healthy democratic society." — Stanley Tucci
1:46 PM |
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
And so should you…
Recommended for anyone
who works on the web—even duffers, hobbyists and "other duties as assigned" folks like I—the second annual Survey for People Who Make Websites
from our pals at A List Apart
Take a few minutes and do it!
Friday, July 18, 2008
"...when another artist asked what I had against actors, I said writing for them was like painting not in oils but in colored mice; after the painting was finished the mice began running around. It was dawning on me that I was perhaps not a theater man." — William Gibson, The Seesaw Log
9:35 PM | (1)
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
How lovely: They're brothers with benefits
. "Of all the men I have loved or tried to love in my life, my brother is easily the most significant."
3:18 PM |
Sunday, July 13, 2008
By reports, it appears that Anheuser-Busch will be bought up by InBev. There is no joy in Budville.
8:29 PM | (1)
Friday, July 11, 2008
If I am ever asked to give the commencement address at my former high school—and it doesn't look particularly likely, alas—I hope I could do as well as Patton Oswalt did at his
7:53 PM |