I’m criminally tired today, to the point that a third cup of coffee is not the solution. What is? Short Attention Span Bloggage Theater, that’s what!
A lede that made me laugh:
British Oscar winner Kate Winslet has revealed exclusively to marie claire magazine that she was bullied as a child and lived with the nickname ‘Blubber’.
When I started as a freelancer, I thought maybe I’d pitch some stuff to women’s magazines, even though other freelancers warned me off with waving arms — “they’re run by insane people, they make ridiculous assignments, they change their minds when you’re 90 percent done and expect you to redo the whole thing for no more money, and they take forever to pay.” I never did much pitching to them, as it turned out; they didn’t like my ideas, so I turned my efforts elsewhere. The only person I’ve even heard of who is successful with the lady books writes under a pseudonym, so as not to sully her more upmarket reputation as an respected essayist.
But mostly I’m discouraged by, you know, reading them. Someone sat down at a keyboard and had to actually write that stuff about Kate Winslet. I hope they had as much fun writing as I did reading. It’s the “has revealed exclusively” that slays me every time, that Hedda Hopper/Deadline USA/stop-the-presses usage that only serves to underline the triviality of the revelation. It’s a staple on the gossip blogs. Someone is always revealing something exclusively to some ink-stained hack. In fact, I think they’ll keep calling themselves ink-stained hacks well into this century, long after ink has gone the way of quill pens.
That was my favorite part of “Shakespeare in Love” — the scenes of Will at work, sharpening his pens, dipping and scratching, the ink gradually spreading up his fingers. You had to be motivated to be a writer, once. Which reminds me of my favorite passage from that Christopher Buckley piece we discussed earlier in the week:
He fired up his computers. He hunched unsteadily over his keyboard. I hovered behind, ready to catch him if he pitched forward.
“I’m going to have to dictate to you,” he said.
“I’m a little rusty at WordStar,” I said. “It’s been a quarter-century or so.”
Pup still used the word-processing system he first learned in the early 1980s. Generations of his computer gurus had had to install this antiquated system in his increasingly sophisticated computers, which were like F-22 fighter jets with the controls of a Sopwith Camel.
WordStar, jeez. I hadn’t thought of that in a thousand years. I can’t even remember what word processor I used back in the Cenozoic era, on my very first IBM PC — WordPerfect, maybe? The thing required so many floppy swaps that I went back to the typewriter after the novelty wore off, and stayed there for a few years, until we bought our first Mac and adopted MS Word, a program I have come to loathe. Lately I’ve been doing most of my in-and-out writing on Google Docs. Walter Feigenson has an amusing recollection on his intersection with the Buckleys and WordStar, prompted by the same passage.
Right before my last Mac died I downloaded WriteRoom, which is sort of like WordStar for those of us who suffer from fatigue-induced ADD — green letters, black screen, no distractions.
Finally, Jim at Sweet Juniper is not only ten times the reporter I am, he puts me to shame with his curiosity. He’s the full-time dad to two little kids, and he still finds time to photograph dozens of bottles of hobo pee. If you don’t click that link, you will be sorry.
I was working my way through this story about today’s GOP dilemma — a broader party or a purer one? the headline asks — when it occurred to me this is exactly what some were saying, with great pleasure, when the current pope was elected. It would be a smaller church once Benedict XVI drove out all the lesser souls, but a purer one, and yes, that was exactly the word they used — purer. And while the Catholic church and the Republican party have very different missions in the world, it’s interesting that both are having the very same discussion, isn’t it?
I’d make my own observations about it, but as I may have told you: I’m tired. You feel free.
And now it’s 10 a.m. Work beckons.