Archive for June, 2007

Bloggers: get over yourselves & Start talking

Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

294580766_979cb6e401_m.jpgNewsweek (the one with the cover that reads, After Bush) had an interesting piece about “the journalistic interview in the user-generated 21st century.” In a nutshell, Wired writer Fred Vogelstein wanted to do a piece about a Silicon Valley blogger named Mike Arrington. Vogelstein, like any good journo, set out to interview Arrington’s fellow bloggers. Only problem was, the bloggers would only do the interview via e-mail. One of them even said he would reply to the e-questions on his blog. A big thumbs down for Vogelstein. The reason: they didn’t want the writer or any writer to paraphrase them or twist their point around by using only part of sentence.

Good reasons, I suppose, but the author of the Newsweek article makes a very valid point as to why the interview — either in person or over the phone — is so crucial to good reporting.

Says Steven Levy,

A live interview allows me not only to follow up quickly but to sense the verbal cues that direct me to more fruitful topics. In e-mail, people talk at you; in conversation I can talk with subjects, and a casual remark can lead to a level for discussion that neither party anticipated from the beginning.

Ok, I confess. I have been known, when necessary, to send questions via e-mail, and while it’s nice not to have to transcribe a tape every now and then, Levy is quite correct. The exchange between the interviewer and subject is key to telling a compelling story. Otherwise, it would be like Matisse painting one of his great works in three different shades of gray. Boring.

Awesome Cause, Awesome Idea: Write Your A** Off

Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

250235189_bb8fda34f9_m.jpgThis weekend: Our friends at the NY Writers Coalition invite you to Write You A** Off at its second annual Write-A-Thon this Saturday, June 9.

Simple notion: Get your friends and family to donate in support of your day of writing. The dough goes to support NYWC’s creative writing programs for at-risk youth, the homeless and formerly homeless, the formerly incarcerated, seniors, among others who have a story and want to tell it. All writers at all levels are welcome, as long as you raise at least $100 to attend, which, let’s face it, you can do with two trips to your local Internet cafe.

Special guest: Chris Baty, the author of No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days, and runs the org which brings us National Novel Writing Month and its screenplay cousin, Script Frenzy (which SMITH’s assistant editor Miles van Meter is doing now and says is the best thing that ever happened to his flick dreams).

Prizes, tons of them, for top pledge-getters: a manuscript review by Patricia Mulcahy of Brooklyn Books (former Editor-in-Chief at Doubleday); free memberships to Paragraph, the writing space on 14th Street and the Brooklyn Writers Space, the writing space in Brooklyn; Mets tickets; a poker lesson from Matt Matros; an astrology reading from writer/astrologer Emily Trinkaus; a private yoga session from writer/yoga instructor Shaina Feinberg (note: we love her!); dinner for two at Song in Park Slope; subscriptions to the Bellevue Literary Review; a gift package of official Major League Baseball merchandise from MLB.Com (even if you choose not to write about doping).

Click here for lots more information and registration.

Writing sample from Flickr’s Churl.

Even YouTube Celebrities Can’t Get Laid

Friday, June 1st, 2007

Sometimes I wonder — if I were a celebrity, would women like me? The answer, of course, is probably, but I can’t sing, dance, act or play any sports worth a damn, so I’m kind of screwed. But maybe, I think to myself (OK, I don’t really actually think this, but bear with me, the video intros are a lot more fun this way) what if I just put up videos on YouTube? Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that I put up funny videos that got hundreds of thousands of views? Would women like me then?

Yeah, turns out the answer is still no. Sigh.

Summer Night Storytelling

Friday, June 1st, 2007

When I met Dr. Brobson Lutz, doctor, A.D. character, and man-about-New-Orleans, he told me hedoctor.jpg knew everyone in town. I had a chance to test that assertion last night, when a NOLA-raised friend invited me to a cocktail party with her parents. Her father was full of wonderful stories, and as soon as I mentioned Dr. Lutz, he laughed out loud.

Then he recounted a story I hadn’t heard before, about Dr. Lutz at Galatoire’s. It seems he’d decided it would be hilarious to smuggle his pet turtles into the turtle soup, giving a little live soup-swimming surprise to anyone who ordered it. But after much drinking and lively conversation, no one was hungry enough for soup. The prank went forgotten, and the turtles went missing. Apparently Dr. Lutz went so far as to put an ad in the paper requesting the safe return of his lost pets. We also got to hear about Dr. Lutz’s uncanny ability to diagnose infectious diseases that stump other doctors and his pride in hosting the Playboy Girls of New Orleans.

All hearsay, of course, but there are few better ways to pass an evening than swapping stories of common acquaintances over wine and cheese in a ninety-degree fifth-floor walk up on the Lower East Side.