We Should Always Remember To Laugh Knowingly at Horror

She hit all the right checkboxes to get this crowd all jazzed up: Obama teleprompter jokes, White House tour cancellation jokes, jokes about her sex life, drinking a Super Big Gulp of Soda, gun talk, religion talk, a heartland twang voice, anti-DC trash talk, a Karl Rove swat, everything else. It worked. It was fun! She also let out a little hint about returning to politics…

…Which was of course a tease. She is not returning to politics anytime soon. She is an entertainer and part of her routine is to tease about how she may return to politics, for attention. She is not running for anything. If you see any story headlines this week like, “Is Palin Running in 2016?” then you should print out the full articles and burn them in a trash can, or bomb them. She likes playing pop star muse to the conservative movement, and that’s all.

From here.

The Guardian’s U.S. political coverage is the best U.S. political coverage. “If you see any story headlines this week like, ‘Is Palin Running in 2016’ then you should print out the full articles and burn them in a trash can, or bomb them.” I love the knowingness, and the comedy, in that.

You’ll Never Get Rich

I was reminded of a single page in “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius”; specifically, the section where Dave Eggers breaks down his $100,000 advance on sales from his publisher. He then lists all his expenses. In the end the author banked a little less than half. It wasn’t bad money — just not the “I bet Dave Eggers totally owns a Jaguar”-type of income I expected. I mean, his name was on the cover of a book! He must be rich.

That honesty was refreshing and voyeuristic. I always said if I ever had a chance, I’d make a similar gesture. As a person learning about writing and publishing, there was something helpful about Eggers’ transparency. So here is my stab at similar honesty: the sugar bowls full of cocaine, bathtubs full of whiskey, semi-nude bookstore employees scattered throughout my bedroom tale of bestseller riches.

This is what it’s like, financially, to have the indie book publicity story of the year and be near the top of the bestseller list.

Drum roll.


Hi-hat crash.

From here.

Writing, people. It’s not for the faint of heart. Or those who want to make any appreciable amount of money whatsoever.

I’m reminded of this interview with writer Neal Pollack, about how little money you actually make being a critical/hipster darling, and how he’s actually trying to make writing work for him financially now:

It’s basically like I have a new publisher, and its this new model because I’m not getting these huge advances for them, but they’re publishing them very quickly. This isn’t an exact number, but imagine they give me a $20,000 advance, which is a pretty normal advance for a book from a mainstream publisher. But that’s not a lot of money when you have stretch it out for two and a half years. But for four or five months, when you’re doing other work, suddenly, it becomes more of a viable financial proposition. I recognize that not every writer is able to churn out a novel every four or five months more than once, but I am. I have journalism training and I have written a bunch of books and I have been practicing. I’m ready to roll. And my plan—my plans always seem to be thwarted—but my plan is to just pound out as many books as I can and make them as good as possible and build a library on Amazon. This a quote from A.J. Liebling that says, “I can write better than anybody who can write faster and I can write faster than anybody who can write better.” So I want to try and apply that math to my own life. Am I as good a writer as Michael Chabon or George Saunders? No. But I can get my books out there quickly, you know?

It makes me sad, to think that we’re in a world where you have to be fast and prolific in order to make a living, instead of being good. But thinking about it, that’s pretty much how I’ve built my career in writing: Just continually putting things out there as quickly as possible and as well as I can.

All in All It’s Just A

jerusalemFrom the Guardian’s Photo Blog:

Palestinian labourers queue to cross into Jerusalem at an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank town of Bethlehem earlier this morning. Barack Obama is due to make his first official visit to Israel this week. Photograph: Ammar Awad/Reuters

I am woefully under-informed on the Israel/Palestine issue; my first response seeing this pic was along the lines of “The wall looks just like it does in the Guy Delisle book!” which is, all told, somewhat pathetic.

Is Falling, All Around Us

snowFrom the Guardian’s Photo Blog:

Police close the M1-M7 motorway outside Budapest this morning, as heavy snow hit Hungary. Photograph: Laszlo Balogh/Reuters

It’s weird; once it hits mid-March, there’s part of my head that’s just “Well, it’s far too late for that kind of weather.” Snow? This late in the year? That’s just wrong, for some reason; snow belongs to December and January, and maybe February if the weather envelope gets a little pushed. Otherwise, I just get suspicious and concerned.

Rock and Roll Will Never Die

Life during Primal Scream’s druggiest period must have been a constant stream of surprises. When I tell them that it’s hard to imagine a rock’n’roll band sitting down to write certain songs on More Light (the sprawling River of Pain’s impromptu orchestral crescendo being a good example), they look unsure as to what I mean, so I illustrate the example by saying that it’s easier, for example, to picture them writing a Stonesy guitar number like 1994’s Rocks.

“Rocks?” splutters Innes. “I didn’t even know we’d written it!”

At first I assume he’s joking but it turns out he’s deadly serious.

“[Alan] McGee phoned us up going: “You’ve got a great song,” and I thought: what the fuck are you talking about?”

“I can definitely remember recording it,” adds Gillespie, as if this deserves some kind of prize.

From here.

Oh, Primal Scream. Never change.

(I am very much looking forward to the new album.)

Good News, Bad News

Pleasant surprise of the day: Finding out that, due to the latest reboot of io9, you can actually access my posts in a way other than Googling them individually again.

Unpleasant surprise of the day: Finding this out because, while researching a piece for something, it turns out I’d already written it years ago. I really have no new ideas, it turns out.


Hello From The Day Job

Secrets behind the Real World! etc.: I wrote a story for Digital Trends that, in the end, I couldn’t actually use today. So I thought I’d let you see it here, instead. Enjoy…?

Exercise isn’t just good for the body, a new study suggests; it also helps mental agility in later life. Which means, yes, now you have two reasons to feel guilty about failing to make it to the gym today.

The study comes from a team led by Dr. Alex Dregan from King’s College London in which more than 9,000 participants were tracked for decades to see the effects of regular amounts of exercise on the human body. Those taking part in the study were regularly interviewed to monitor both their levels of exercise and physical activity, but also their mental agility in terms of learning capability, attention and focus and strength of memory. According to the results, those who had been exercising more than two or three times a month since age 11 ended up scoring higher in mental tests at the age of 50 than those who had not.

(Sadly, the study – the findings of which were released Tuesday in the journal Psychological Medicine – didn’t contain information about the mental health benefits for those of us who gave up on exercise for their twenties because PE was just that traumatic, but eventually returned to it because, well, aging.)

According to Dregan, the results underscore the necessity for people to increase their amount of physical activity. “As exercise represents a key component of lifestyle interventions to prevent cognitive decline, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer,” he said, “public health interventions to promote lifelong exercise have the potential to reduce the personal and social burden associated with these conditions in late adult years.”

The problem, he suggests, may be that exercise is often presented as an all-or-nothing option when that doesn’t have to be the case in reality. “Not everyone is willing or able to take part in the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week,” he said, referring to the British government guideline amount of exercise for adults aged 19 through 64 years of age (Yes, there is really one government-suggested amount of exercise for a forty-five year span of time. It’s probably best not to dwell on that, however). “For these people any level of physical activity may benefit their cognitive well-being in the long-term and this is something that needs to be explored further. Setting lower exercise targets at the beginning and gradually increasing their frequency and intensity could be a more effective method for improving levels of exercise within the wider population.”

If you find yourself more concerned with the long-term mental benefits of exercise than the immediate physical gain, then Dr. Dregan believes that the kinds of exercise you enjoy may impact the levels of future clarity of thought; judging from information in the study group, it appears that intense levels of exercise and activity resulted in stronger mental agility in increased age compared with those who had enjoyed more moderate exercise while younger.