I have a very busy day that hits the ground running before 9 a.m. and won’t quit for about 48 to 72 additional hours, and may actually stretch beyond that. (Coffee, be my Rock.) A few things you can discuss today, without my benign moderating presence:
1) Paul Harvey. Couldn’t stand the guy. Everybody says, “Yeah, but he was a great broadcaster.” Woo. OK, then. Still couldn’t stand the guy.
2) “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” about to leave the nightstand and return to the library. I finished it over the weekend, and had that strange experience of a book I really, really despise that is still, nevertheless, a page-turner. You keep turning pages because you can’t believe how awful it is, what fresh assaults on logic and language will be found in the next chapter. The language problems are forgivable; the novel was translated from Swedish, and it has a strange history — the author died “shortly after delivering the manuscript,” the jacket copy says. Perhaps, in Sweden, when the author is dead, it’s considered bad form to actually edit his manuscript, because that’s where the outrage is, in the amount of prose in this hefty volume that’s simply screaming for the red pencil. For example. Here’s a journalist sitting down to research a sprawling family history:
The family consisted of about a hundred individuals, counting all the children of cousins and second cousins. The family was so extensive that he was forced to create a database in his iBook. He used the NotePad programme (www.ibrium.se), one of those full-value products that two men at the Royal Technical College had created and distributed as shareware for a pittance on the Internet. Few programmes were as useful for an investigative journalist. Each family member was given his or her own document in the database.
What the hell? Is that logorrhea, or a product placement?
Warning: The book is called the first volume of a trilogy. Given that, in 465 pages, we encounter serial murder, sexual sadism, torture, rape, Nazis, muckraking journalism, international crimes of high finance and other pulpy shenanigans, I can scarcely imagine what volumes II and III might reveal. Shudder.
3) Go immediately to the “This American Life” website and download the podcast of last week’s show, “Bad Bank.” It’s a companion piece to two others I’ve touted here before, “The Giant Pool of Money,” (about the mortgage meltdown) and “Another Frightening Show About the Economy” (about the credit freeze), and nowhere will you get a better glimpse at why we’re in the fix we’re in, and how it might be repaired. (Bad news: It isn’t. Yet.) Radio doesn’t compete for Pulitzers and TAL already has a Peabody, but they, and Public Radio International, should win some sort of major award for these reports, which are truly heroic explanatory journalism. Maybe a lamp in the shape of a woman’s leg.
A friend, a fellow newspaper journalist, wrote me the other day, “Sometimes I panic. Sometimes I think: What an amazing time to be alive.” Me, too.
6) Finally, a link I’ve been meaning to post for ages. Sometime last year the New York Times began including a daily recipe on their Health section web page, called, duh, Recipes for Health. After several months, there’s now quite an archive, and it’s sortable by main ingredient, which really comes in handy when you’ve got a lot of something and no particular ideas about what to do with it. I’ve made several dishes, and have only been disappointed by one — the beet risotto did not come out a cute Pepto-Bismol pink, but a disappointing muddy color. This is a pretty good percentage with me, and these last few weeks of trying to eat better, I’m turning to it more often. Bookmark and explore.
And that’s it for me. For now.