Librarians are over thinkers.
That is, after all, how we make our living. We are also not known for confidence, or the ability to keep things in perspective.
As a librarian, I’ve done a few articles interviewing people about their work. It’s always fascinating. Everybody’s got a story. If you can’t see that, if you can’t connect, that’s your problem.
Comedians get paid to do that, when you think about it. They get paid to connect with people. Laughter, in and of itself, is a connection with the people in the crowd. I’ve listened to hundreds of hours of standup and interviews with comedians. They’re interesting people. They love to talk. Interviewing one should be really easy. Continue reading
Bill Watterson is one of the best cartoonists of all time. I’d say he’s the best. I can’t imagine a better art, better characters, or a better strip than Calvin and Hobbes. It was brilliant when I was a kid and it’s brilliant now. It’s easy to wonder how such a prolific author came up with so much great art in one lifetime.
In the Calvin and Hobbes 10th Anniversary Book, Watterson speaks about his own creative process, specifically how he came up with ideas for his strip. He wrote:
People always ask how cartoonists come up with ideas, and the answer is so boring that we’re usually tempted to make something sarcastic. The truth is, we hold a blank sheet of paper, stare into space, and let our minds wander. (To the layman, this looks remarkably like goofing off.)
Like most of the work Watterson has produced, there’s a gem in it: goofing off is how creativity works. The really great ideas, the really incredible ones, usually come from the metaphorical gambol. Continue reading
10,000 is a funny number.
In most libraries across the country, you’ll find one book that focuses on that number like a hawk. That book, of course, is Outliers: The Story of Success, by Malcom Gladwell.
The book describes the success of many people, from the Beatles to Bill Gates. The author attributes their success to mastery over their given craft, and posits that this mastery comes from 10,000 hours of deliberate practice; inborn talent is only allowed to grow if the person commits to practicing that skill in a deliberate way for long periods of time. This is not the only piece of the success puzzle that Gladwell posits, but it is a large one, and one that’s being debated.
What’s implied by this theory is that in order for a person to be a success, they must specialize at an extreme level. They must get really, really good at a single thing.
One of the people who’s put in their 10,000 hours is a comedian named Louis CK. He’s been in the stand-up game for quite awhile now; he has a successful sitcom, stand-up specials, and roles in Hollywood films. By any measure, he’s a great success, a seminal figure in pop culture today. Continue reading
A poet laureate can be understood as an official poet of a government. The US has had a national laureate for many years. I was reading an article in the New York Times that there are actually 45 state poet laureates in the US. This number doesn’t count those lower than the state level; there are tons of them on the county and city level as well. Hell, even my city has one.
The funny thing about this article, in particular, is that it wasn’t an article about how poetry is a dying art.. The writer even mentions this multiple times in the article, as if surprised herself. There was another article the Times published more in line with this narrative. The author calls on the nation’s schools to begin teaching poetry again. What is funny here is that the article is based on three false assumptions.
The first assumption is that poetry is a dead art form here in America. It most certainly isn’t.
For proof, I turn to Fancy by Iggy Azalea.
Stay with me now. Continue reading
Manhattan is a great place to be in the springtime.
Walk out of the subway on to 42nd. It’s only a block to you destination, of course; you couldn’t come to New York and not see the library. You can see the lions from down the street.
Past the arches you walk, and the place opens up. It’s beautiful. The walls are painted with murals, the ceilings painted with clouds. There’s marble everywhere. Woodwork is everywhere. In the reading rooms, up the stairs worn smooth by centuries, they’ve got pieces like Toledo enamel suspended so high above you it might as well be in the sky.
The true heart of the collection is beneath your feet. It’s dug in many stories beneath the surface. That’s where the beating heart of the collection is housed. 15 million items.
It’s as fine a temple as ever has been built, and it’s built to awe.
How does somebody build something so incredible? It’s hard to even wrap your head around that question. Where does one even begin?
Now, with that in mind, I want you to look a little more closely at something.
Look at the wall. Really look at it. What do you see? Continue reading
These pages all started out blank.
“Kill your darlings.”
“Show, don’t tell.”
“Write what you know.”
As a writer, it’s easy to believe that there are certain rules of writing that, if followed, will result in your success. Rules are comforting, in a way. They offer certainty.
The problem with this is that writing is not certain. We can see the end result, pick that apart, and see what works for us. We can fiddle and tinker.
Rules are a different matter. Continue reading
Raymond Chandler was not the most prolific of writers. He only started publishing in his forties, after losing a job in the oil industry thanks to the perils of being an artist, which are eerily similar to being a drunk.
He remains, however, one of the most brilliant writers of the 20th Century. The iconic private detective Phillip Marlowe was his creation; anytime you see a private detective in a trench coat, talking about ‘dames,’ and drinking, you’re looking at the cultural contribution of Mr. Chandler.
His taste in food, much like his writing, were simple and direct. ‘Cooked well and fast’ were his prerogatives. Every scrap of his writing reads that way, spiced with the acerbic wit that made Marlowe famous. Continue reading
I’ve met a pastor named Shandy
And vicar named Brandy
And a sister named Whiskey, it’s true
But for my tribulations
Across this creation
There’s but one thing that can get me through
For when I’m gone
And it’s rough
It’s that licorice stuff
That leads me to my life again
He’s a Greek
He’s a cloudy-white freak…
Father Ouzo, forgive me my sins. Continue reading
A book about magic…
Suzanne Clark is one of the best writers I have ever read.
She can build worlds, write dialog, and build plot in ways that seem absolutely effortless. I admire her wholeheartedly. Continue reading
“Your diet isn’t only what you eat; it’s what you watch, what you read, what you listen to. And so I’m mindful of what I ingest.”
Saul Williams is a poet.
In hip-hop, nobody sounds like him. And there’s a reason for this.