Thursday, September 2, 2010

Reality Has Always Had Too Many Heads

Congratulations to Mr. Cole Griffith (who for unknown reasons decided to pose as my wife) for correctly naming "Atlantic City" by Bruce Springsteen as the Wednesday Song of the Day.

I thought about writing an introductory sentence that provided some sort of rational justification for what's about to follow, but I'm just going to give it to you straight, my friends and readers.

Here, in no particular order, are my 5 Favorite (Living) Canadians:
  1. Morley Safer: I've really started to love 60 Minutes, and I don't think there's anyone on the show whose segments I enjoy more than ol' Morley's. Andy Rooney, if you read this I'm sorry, but that's the way I feel.
  2. Malcolm Gladwell: The highest compliment that you can pay a writer is that they make you see the world in a new way, and there's probably not anyone who does that better right now than Gladwell.
  3. Alex Trebek-I got chastised by the wife for this one, but I've always loved Jeopardy!, and no one epitomizes Jeopardy! like Trebek. Plus, he used to have an excellent mustache. Always a strong selling point in my book.
  4. Neil Young-I almost chose the Crash Test Dummies to take Young's spot on the Canadian rocker list but thought better of it. My favorite Neil Young moment is probably his performance of "Helpless" with The Band during the Last Waltz concert.
  5. Steve Nash-With all apologies to The Great One, I have to choose Nash as my favorite Canadian. Does this have more to do with the fact that Nash is a massive soccer fan than his NBA bona fides? Probably yes, but don't hold that against me.

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

They Blew Up the Chicken Man in Philly Last Night

Congratulations once again to my beautiful wife for correctly naming "Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise" by the Avett Brothers as the Tuesday Song of the Day.

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend an Astros game with an old friend. We talked about baseball, we talked about memories, and we talked about work. My friend works in the journalism industry, and I felt compelled to ask where he thinks the print media field is going to be in 10-15 years. He said that he thought things were going to continue to move towards digital format but that if newspapers, especially local newspapers, were going to survive, they would have to offer top-notch local content that readers couldn't get from national sources such as USA Today, the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.

I offered my (admittedly) amateur point of view that if newspapers and magazines want to survive, they don't need to try to be the internet. They need to do what they do best, which is do top-notch, in-depth long form writing. Before you stop me and say that internet journalists can do top-notch, in-depth long form writing, I'll agree with you, but when I want to sit down and devote 15-30 minutes to reading a longer article, I want to have that article in my hands. I want to feel the paper in my hands and be able to turn the pages. Call me old-fashioned, but flicking the scroll button on a mouse is just not the same as turning a page.

Even if you know just a little bit about me, you know that I love books, but if I had to choose my favorite form of journalism, I think it would be the magazine/newspaper feature article that generally runs in the neighborhood of 7-15 pages. There's something about reading an article that feels like a short story that truly has the ability to take me inside of a subject and give me insight into a topic that I might have previously known nothing about.

Within the past year, my favorite feature article was Michael Hastings' piece on General McChrystal that appeared in Rolling Stone, but my favorite feature article ever is John Updike's "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu", which appeared in the October 22, 1960 edition of The New Yorker.

Oh, and before you say anything, I do realize the irony of linking to electronic copies of those articles when I've spent a few hundred words extolling the virtues of print media. I would have mailed all of you copies, but have you seen the price of stamps these days?

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Decide What to Be and Go Be It

Congratulations to my lovely wife (who asked that I drop the "lady friend" moniker) for correctly naming "Run" by Vampire Weekend as the Monday Song of the Day.

For years, whenever people would bring up the subject of controversial Oscar winners, I would, without fail, address the travesty that was the Best Picture category for 1998. As you may, or may not, remember "Shakespeare in Love" brought home the top prize in 1998. As a young, testosterone-riddled male, I couldn't fathom how the Academy could refuse to honor a film like "Saving Private Ryan" with a Best Picture win, and instead give the award to something as namby-pamby as a period piece featuring innumerable shots of Joseph Fiennes in tights, an odd leather jacket and a pencil beard.

Here's the problem, though: Up until, oh say, 5 minutes ago, I had not seen a minute of "Shakespeare in Love." Oh, sure, I would rail against the film and decry its victory, but now I'm not really sure how much legitimacy those tirades had.

If there's anything I've learned in life, and certainly in argument, it's not that you have to agree with everyone on everything, but if you're going to disagree, you probably should have at least seen/read/heard the film/book/article that you summarily dismiss.

That's a standard that I'm going to begin holding myself to...starting right after I tell you that the Justin Bieber album sucks even though I haven't heard a second of it.

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Monday, August 30, 2010

We Mostly Work to Live Until We Live to Work

It's truly been a pleasure to write in this space for the last 70 months. That's why today I'm beginning a little experiment. I'm going try to, no, I will, write something, anything, here everyday until October 25th.

Why October 25th? That date will mark the six year anniversary of when I first began this blog, and if I'm still enjoying the writing process on that date, I'll try to keep at it for another six years. If I"m not, I'll sign off for the last time and ride into the great blogosphere in the sky.

Until tomorrow, please enjoy the dulcet tones of The Band.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I Lost Track of the Score Long Ago

Congratulations to Ms. Amanda Pierce (a.k.a. "The Lady Friend", a.a.k.a. "The Soon to Be Permanent Lady Friend") for correctly naming "California" by Phantom Planet as the Tuesday Song of the Day.

I would also be remiss if I didn't direct all of you to this website, where you can drop a note for the future Mrs. Scott and yours truly.

Part 30 (My Response)

I've told you this before, so hopefully you won't still be too mad at me, but I've never read Atlas Shrugged. I've read other Rand books, but I've never tackled Atlas or The Fountainhead. I'll just borrow your copy of Atlas when you finish in 2011.

The lady friend has said that I over-think these kinds of questions (favorite book, movie, album, TV show, etc.), so I tried to find a nice middle ground between thinking too much and too little about it by taking my gut reactions, looking them over a little bit, and then deciding if they made sense.

In high school, I loved A Separate Peace by John Knowles. I'm not sure if you hippies in Boulder were required (or even allowed) to read a book loosely based on John Knowles' experiences at a bastion of northeast elitism like Exeter, but I loved the book, not only for its vivid depiction of someone else's high school experience, but also for how accurately it portrays the volatility of high school friendships and relationships.

In college, the one book that stands out is A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. That's not to say that I didn't read a number of other books in college that I loved, but Heartbreaking Work was the first book that I remember reading and thinking, "I've never read anything like this before." It's also funny that I've recommended the book to other people and been surprised at how difficult they found the book to be.

In particular, I'm remember my Mom reading the book, and as we were discussing it she said something along the lines of "I guess you just have to be a guy in your late teens/early 20's to get that book." While I don't think that's universally true, I think there is something to the idea that sometimes we read books at these critical points in our lives, and if we had read that same book 10 years earlier or 10 years later, it would not have nearly the same affect on us. I don't think I would have connected with Eggers' description of how he tried to balance the loss of his parents, raising his 8-year old brother Toph, and at 22, trying to figure out who he was going to be, if I had read the book at 11 or at 31.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

We've Been on the Run, Driving in the Sun

Congratulations to Micah for correctly naming "Psycho Killer" by the Talking Heads as the Monday Song of the Day.

Part XXIX (Luke's Response)

Yeah, there is this awareness renaissance for most collegians that is seemingly always tied to literature. My answer has got to be the most common one you'll hear: Ayn Rand. Atlas Shrugged was the first book I was able to unequivocally call my favorite.

It was my favorite not necessarily because the ideas therein resonated with my own, but because the book made me think like no other one had.

As is the case, the book was added to my life stew just after the right mix of ingredients had already been combined. Consider the following ingredients: Born in Texas to parents who attended a private, faith-based university. Raised in Boulder, CO among millionaire hippies. One side of the family prone to sign over their entire paycheck to a homeless guy; the other side of the family near-militant capitalists. Add the dynamic Bring all those ingredients to a simmer then top with a dollop of Atlas during sophomore year, and you'll have a memorable experience.

Funny you brought this up. Recently I was thinking about the book and it's affect on me. I wondered how the book would strike me now, so I started to read it again. I'll let you know what I think when I finish it in 2011.

What you got?

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Don't Touch Me, I'm a Real Live Wire

Part XXVIII (My Response)

No, the jump is not a difficult one at all, but when I think about whether we care about sports too much, I return to the idea that maybe we don't care about sports more than we once did, it's just become easier to have sports (or anything really) in our lives all the time now because of the explosion of television and the internet. Thanks, Al Gore!

The money that we pour into follwoing our teams could certainly do much more good if it was going to pay for anti-retroviral drugs in Africa, reinforced concrete in Haiti, or clean water in Southeast Asia, but then again, so could all of the money that we spend going to movies, buying books, iPods, and all of the other things that we use to amuse ourselves. I think you're right that the key point is not to realize that sport has the ability to teach us some very valuable life lessons, and then to use those life lessons in the arenas of life that truly do matter.

I'd like to take things in a different direction and ask you which book you read during college that, for whatever reason, still sticks with you. I'm not sure exactly why, but it seems like books that people read during high school and college stick with them through many seasons of life and become these old friends that we return to time and again. Even if we don't read those books again every year, we remember their characters, we recommend them to others, and we have this weird connection with anyone who mentions that they really enjoyed the book as well. I'm just curious what book(s) fit that description for you?

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