One of Gene Weingarten’s chatters Tuesday says what I was thinking yesterday:
Billings, Mont.: Thought your Bell in the Metro story was good and all, but your Great Zucchini story from two years ago was the best thing you’ve ever written. Was that story submitted for a Pulitzer?
Pulitzer Prize-winner Gene Weingarten: It was. And I was only recently reliably informed that it got real consideration, but was ultimately rejected because it was perceived as not serious enough.
I’m not surprised; the Pulitzers are like that. It strikes me that of the journalists I’ve known who’ve served on Pulitzer juries, they tended to be at either best-or-worst ends of the spectrum, so it figures they get a few wrong. The Great Zucchini story was a work of storytelling art. I urge you to read it; it’s that good. And while the Joshua Bell story that earned Weingarten the big P was great, it was something you could stand at the beginning of and see all the way to the end. When I told Alan what the story was, I said, “They got this virtuoso violinist, Joshua Bell, to be a subway busker in D.C. and watched how people reacted.” He replied, “And they ignored him, right?” He didn’t know anything about the story; he just guessed that if you put a virtuoso playing a Stradivarius in a busy Metro station at rush hour, he’s not going to draw a crowd. The telling of the story is wonderful, but there’s no real surprise.
But the Great Zucchini had a huge surprise halfway through. You thought it was about one thing (a story about a children’s party entertainer), and then it turned out to be another thing (the common roots of fear and humor). Let’s see, what did win that year?
Jim Sheeler of Rocky Mountain News, Denver, Colo.
For his poignant story on a Marine major who helps the families of comrades killed in Iraq cope with their loss and honor their sacrifice.
See? Serious enough.
Oh, well. It may be like Paul Newman winning an Oscar for “The Color of Money” when he should have won for half a dozen better performances that preceded it, but it’s all good. (Bonus: I’ve linked to it before, but just in case you’re having a slow day at work and have some time to read it — Tears for Audrey, another Gene-sterpiece.)
Yesterday I mentioned writers who don’t get the web. I think Weingarten gets it. I don’t know another columnist who could pull off what he does every week with his live chat, and I think every single columnist should give it a try sometime. I’d love to know what the traffic is for that.
OK, then. Found this via Leo, and oh my, what was I saying about that word just a couple weeks ago?
Three reporters from Arizona, on the condition of anonymity, also let me in on another incident involving (John) McCain’s intemperateness. In his 1992 Senate bid, McCain was joined on the campaign trail by his wife, Cindy, as well as campaign aide Doug Cole and consultant Wes Gullett. At one point, Cindy playfully twirled McCain’s hair and said, “You’re getting a little thin up there.” McCain’s face reddened, and he responded, “At least I don’t plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt.” McCain’s excuse was that it had been a long day. If elected president of the United States, McCain would have many long days.
Whoa! I know Mrs. McCain favors girly clothes and high heels. If that didn’t call for a shoe to be slipped off and applied, heel-first, to Mr. War Hero’s forehead, I don’t know what would.
You think this story is true? It’s getting a lot of blog attention, but then, we’re allowed to say “cunt” right out in the open, whereas a newspaper won’t even say “the c-word.” It’ll be “an insulting name related to her gender,” and most people will think, “Oh, well, once I told my wife to stop being such a little bitch during an argument; it could happen to anyone.”
I’m fortunate to live with a mellow soul. My dad was a grump, and he could curse, but he generally saved his profanity for inanimate objects, bad drivers, circumstances beyond his control and the like. I can’t imagine him using such a word on my mother, and to do so in front of witnesses? I like to think I’m as tolerant of human frailty as the next gal, but that one required an instant correction, as the dog trainers say. With a shoe.
This week has been seductively beautiful. I’ve been out and about on the bike every day; for once I’m caught up with my library accounts because hey, returning books is a good excuse to ride two miles. Next week, not so much, but oh well. I’m still looked on as something of an oddity around here, where driving half a block is not considered wasteful or slothful, only vigorous support of the local economy. One of my doctors is a cyclist, however, and at my last appointment we made small talk about the cost of being one in the Motor City. He’s been pulled over three times in the last year, he said; twice for running stop signs and once for resembling a person last seen stealing CDs from a car. While I teach Kate to obey stop signs on her bike, sooner or later she’s going to figure out that, for cyclists, a stop sign at a quiet intersection with no cars in sight can safely be ignored. You’re traveling slower, you have the advantage of eyes and ears, and you can’t hurt anyone but yourself. With all the piss-poor drivers I see on a daily basis, I guess it’s a credit to the low crime rate around here that police even bother to bug cyclists about such infractions. (And you should see my doctor, a white-haired soul in his late 50s who looks about as likely to break into cars as the Pope does. Please.)
OK, I’ve run dry. How about some bloggage making cruel fun of the pain of others? Here you go.
Ken Levine’s back with his “American Idol” recaps this season, and he correctly puts his finger on what was wrong with last night’s, which was nearly unwatchable:
While Syesha Mercado was screeching out some faux inspirational song that strung together every “I believe/Catch a shooting star/There’s time for every soul to fly/Reach within your heart/Strive to be the very best/Anything is Possible” bullshit cliché (and every one of those lyrics actually WAS in that song), Doug Davis, a young pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks took the mound and pitched the game of his life…knowing that in two days he will undergo surgery for thyroid cancer.
THAT’S inspirational. THAT’S real.
Disclaimer: I do not watch “American Idol” voluntarily. I watch it because my kid watches it, and while one day I will take her to see Iggy Pop, that day has not yet arrived.
This week’s theme was “songs of inspiration.” Every single one sucked, although the leadoff singer did have the advantage of menace:
Michael Johns sang “Dream On”. Most inspirational songs are not angrily shouted at you. Okay, okay, I’ll dream on. Don’t hurt me!
Three-day eventing isn’t for sissies. I watched an Olympic-caliber cross-country phase in Lexington a few years ago, and just being a spectator made my knees shake.
Someone actually makes a semi-amusing ad for special-event mass transit, and Catholics are outraged, so the ad is pulled. Someone make these pinheads direct traffic, then. The ad lives on, where else? On YouTube. Be subversive, and laugh at the Pope.
Me, I’m off for a bike ride.