Rad note » this entry originated from another page. It was moved here because the subject drifted far enough to warrant its own, separate page, which lets me focus on and reference more easily the concepts under discussion here.
At the end of this entry (that you're reading now) I have included a link that will return you to the exact place from where this entry originated. Here ya go ...
» Writing About the Times' Opinion Writers (In One Place)
Speaking of redeeming destinations ..
I mean, I have read them all. Many times.
They are all different, so I cant really number them 1, 2, 3, 4... (Tho I could, if pressed.)
Opinion writing at the NY Times .. you have to be well-hung, so to speak, to get a gig like that. You know what I mean.
From the perspective of expressing creatively thoughtful opinions .. as a writer .. what better avenue, what better vehicle, what better gig .. than the NY Times?
My point is that .. you might consider an opinion gig writing at the Times the ultimate ego-stroker.
Think about it .. opinions. If there is one thing that everybody has .. it's an opinion. Am I right? You know I am.
The opinion writer is basically giving the reader a piece of his mind. "This is what-the-fuck I think about thus-n-so."
Now normally, you would pay people money .. for them NOT to give you a piece of their mind. Admit it.
Now I do this myself, sometimes, and give readers a piece of my mind. But because I am not a stud at the NY Times, I must include » WHY .. I feel the way I do. Why I have this particular opinion. Why I am not full of shit.
Well, that is another story. Maybe. But I would enjoy it. Comparing and contrasting. Strengths and weaknesses of the Times' opinion writers.
<ignore this intentional body-text marker>
••• today's entry continues here below •••
» For Example
Well, truth be told, I have already written about some of them. But not in one place.
And I am always writing about something else at the time. This entry will allow me to make them my prime focus.
For example, I already mentioned Nicholas Kristof on » this page (Manhattan).
Here is a lovely photo of Nicholas with his wife at a waterfall.
Extra-credit points to you if you know the name of the country where this waterfall is located.
Nicholas Kristof brings tons of credibility wherever he goes.
Update May 28 » Here is a piece of work from Kristof that is too good to let pass without comment.
While reading the column I felt as tho Nicholas were serenading me. Violins and everything.
He gives you the feeling » I been there .. on the inside. I've seen some shit, too.
This is the passage that jumped out at me »
When problems are this widespread, the problem is not crooked individuals but perverse incentives from a rotten structure.
"There is a systemic corruption here," says Sheila Krumholz of the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign money. "It's kind of baked in."
Systemic corruption .. now you might think that our leaders would want to eliminate systemic correction, or at least attenuate its effects.
But you'd be wrong. Because they'd rather have the money.
Here is a nice piece (July 25, 2015) that Nicholas did on George Bush's daughter Barbara and the impressive Millenial generation. I could feel myself giving George points that his daughter was scoring.
</end nicholas update may 28>
<update sept 24 pope francis>
.. the Christian "brand" has suffered from culture wars, hypocritical televangelist blowhards and the sense that Christian leaders have spent more time condemning gays (whom Jesus never mentions) than helping the needy (Jesus' passion). Some young people have gone so far as to avoid the label "Christian," calling themselves followers of Jesus instead. It carries less baggage.
I did not know that last part there, but I can certainly understand the mind set.
This is so weird .. it is 11PM and there is a rooster crowing. Crazy rooster. Must be a glitch in the matrix.
<end nicholas update sept 24>
Feb 4, 2016 » I've been hearing more of that rooster. He's down the hill somewhere. This was very clever .. a bunch of tweets, all on the same topic.
I dont think I've ever seen that done before. I'm sure I havent.
It's always nice to be the first person ever to do something. Shows creativity and innovation.
I'm not really sure why I like it ... but I do. Perhaps because the format brings an immediacy to your views on the debate.
It's like taking a series of small sips of a distilled liquor. And after you're done .. you feel good, but not bloated.
But mostly I was struck by » "I have never seen anything like this before." (The format.) Kudos.
Of all the Times' columnists, you columns are the most difficult to read. Not in a grammatical way .. but rather in a compassionate human being sort-of-way.
After cancer treatment, your ass is tapped out in many ways .. including emotionally. And when you read a column about some heartwrenching injustice ..
.. well, you cant read these things without them affecting you. At a deep level. Surely you know what I'm talking about.
So, some of your columns, I find myself saying, "I cant read this," once I see what the subject is shaping up to be.
But I think, "Good for you, Nicholas Kristof .. that you are writing this stuff." Documents always come in handy down the road of history.
Which makes you something of a stud .. for looking at those things that cause others to look away.
Dude, I found that freaking rooster! It's actually down the hill quite a ways. I am surprised that I can hear him all the way up here at night. It must get very quiet. And there is lots of hills for the sound to echo off of.
This is the same house where we have to stop for the pig that wanders out in the road sometimes. I am no big fan of pigs .. but this is one handsome pig. He kinda walks like he knows that he's hot shit.
I actually brought along my camera one day and took a photo, but I cant get the photos uploaded. (Long story.) Very cool farm house with Al Capone's rusted baby-blue get-a-way car sitting out in the front yard.
I was out on one of my walks when I heard him .. right there. "There's the rooster!" I thought.
I was surprised that I could hear him from so far away. But I shoulda known that he was gonna be at the house with the pig.
March 2, 2016 » The way you created an imaginary Trump supporter and the put words in his mouth .. that was clever.
I dont think I've ever seen anyone else do that before. It struck me as (yet another) new thing from you.
» The Art of Readable Writing by Rudolf Flesch
Back when I was first studying the craft of writing .. The Art of Readable Writing, by Dr. Rudolf Flesch (of the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Index that you mention) was one of the first books that I read .. even before I read Zinsser's On Writing Well.
I combed thru that thing thoroughly and it definitely had an effect on my writing.
His theory seemed to jibe with the punchy, declarative sentences made vogue by Hemingway.
In college, my English Comp professor declared loudly and authoritatively, "If you use big words, people won't trust you."
But notice how well Donald's sentences resonate with such a large part of the population. I read another piece that analyzed the Donald's sentences. He puts the punch at the end .. where words get an extra emphasis.
I am curious as to whether Donald does this on purpose, or if it simply comes natural to him.
Dont be surprised if a string of presidential candidates come straight out of the WWF in the coming years.
Your column today reminded me of what Peter wrote yesterday.
March 9, 2016 » Joust .. what a great word. I have some fine memories tied to a night of jousting, myself. Many laughs. Remind me to tell you the story.
May 26, 2016 » This is so good. A different side of you. You're funny. "Few problems in life cannot be solved with duct tape." True that, bro.
I have some backpacking stories myself.
I've also mentioned how much I admire Egan on this page (Day #23).
Oh, it looks like Egan has taken over California, too.
Egan is versatile. He seems able to write about anything. (And make it look easy.)
He was not an asshole, but he had an older brother (Richie) who toughened him up.
» Lance & Egan & the Fabulously Ferocious Fastballs
Remind me to tell you my Egan story, about how I threw him the fattest fast-ball you've ever seen during the last game we ever played in Little League.
I pitched for 3 years during Little League and nobody ever hit a home run off me. Ever. But this was the last game of the year, of our Little League careers, and nothing would change no matter who won.
Egan batted second in their line-up. Lance batted third. I had struck out Egan before.
Lance was one home run away from being the home run king that year. Because he was tied with Wojo, who was twice his size.
And before the game he was working me to throw him a fatty so that he could claim the title of Home Run King solo that year (giving him 6 to Wojo's 5), his last year of Little League.
To which I agreed, when he said, "Come on, I'll give you 50 cents."
Egan was standing there with Lance and wanted in on the same deal.
Rad note » This section on Egan grew large enough to warrant its own separate page .. see here » Egan Throwsdown with Extreme Prejudice. (At the end of that page, you'll lind a link that returns you here to this exact section.)
» David Brooks
I talk about David Brooks on this page .. and several others. I probably mention Brooks more than any other opinion writer at the Times ..
.. which surprises me, because he is the Times' token conservative, and had a privileged education.
.. is the thing that shook him from his conservative comfort zone ..
David has a new book out (April, 2015), titled » The Road to Character .. listed as a '#1 Best Seller" in the category of » Philosophy of Ethics and Morality.
In March, I wrote a short piece about my oncologists titled » Life-Saving Skill Sets & the Sense of Meaning They Confer.
You can peruse all of David's books » here.
I also noticed that your most recent article, titled » Love and Merit .. is currently the "Most Emailed" feature at the Times.
Developing Character » Child of Privilege vs the Adversity of Injustice
Rad note » this section on David Brooks grew large enough to warrant its own, separate page .. see here » The Provocative Opinions of the Privileged David Brooks
.. a month during which there wasnt much I didnt mention.
Blow is black, and he writes about topics related to blacks.
Unfortunately, there is no shortage of shit for him to write about.
He could write a different article every day and still not address all the bullshit being visited upon black men in our country.
Does being black give Blow more credibility to discuss topics that concern the black man? I certainly think so.
» Violence in Baltimore
Could feel myself becoming-one-with the mindset he espouses. I would put its value as a writing-improvement book near the top of those I've read. The title says it very nicely.
Zinsser must have hung out with Strunk.
The #1 thing I got from Zinsser was » Dont be afraid to use the word » "I".
Before Zinsser I was reluctant to use 'I'.
I no longer have that problem .. as you can see.
You know what I think.
Tho certainly, there is a craftsman's element to writing.
I feel this craftsman element come thru when I read a lot of stuff by Egan. That's one of the reasons why I like him. The way he crafts his columns.
.. thereby allowing let the reader to paint the dimensions and colors of the positive image for themselves.
I wonder how Zinsser would have felt about the idea of the gifted writer. ]
I also like the photo that accompanies your piece.
Of the boy sitting there on the curb in front of the phalanx of officers outfitted in riot gear. Nice contrast.
I have been there myself, sitting on the curb with the police standing around me, just like this lad. (But without the riot gear.)
If you get enough restraining orders, you're bound to meet the men in blue. "Sir, do you mind if I go thru your wallet to look for some i-d?"
You totally kicked ass, Charles.
You seem to be in your element here, your place of power. Your center.
I read it earlier, but caught myself thinking about it later in the day.
Isnt that the goal of every writer? .. to have something you write cause a reader to ponder it later.
I wonder what the trick is for that. Do you know? That would be a nice addition to any writer's toolbox.
[ I remember doing the same thing after reading an article by Nicholas Kristof. Do you hang out with these other writers? Or do yo all live in your own worlds, isolated from the others? ]
Rad note » this section on Blow's piece about Violence in Baltimore has been moved to its own, separate page .. see here » Blow Addresses Black Violence in Baltimore After Freddie Gray Dies in Police Custody.
At the end of that page you will find a link that will return you to this exact section.
I would call Frank the most improved player there. His writing has really come into its own recently (.. or perhaps, I am just reading him differently). It's like he is a different person, almost.
Okay, here is a good example of what I am talking about » The Bitter Backdrop 2016 (May 13).
Tho this is not about gays. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. Because I am not 'qualified' to discuss very much there. Far from being an expert.
And check him out here » Greed & the Presidency (May 16) .. where he nicely turns up the heat. With strong sentences. Strong declarative sentences.
I may return to discuss more about his column, but I feel that is a good example of his writing.
But Frank's piece seems to say to me » "I see things over here. Look. Do you see them, too?"
See if you can find the following sentences in Frank's column » "The government spent its 4-trillion dollar load and the only thing that happened was that the super-rich got even richer. So now what?"
I will tell you, tho, I kinda wonder, given Frank's bulimia .. the sources of which do not magically disappear just because s/he stops vomiting.
I mean, you must treat the vomiting because that can kill you .. sooner or later, But, just because the vomiting stops, the thing that made them want to vomit is » still there.
Can you tell I have thought long-n-hard about this stuff?
Oh, here is what I was goingt to say » And being a gay man .. I wonder how much he would remind me of the wow girl. Personality-wise. Which has nothing to do with his writing, of course.
Or does it?
In order to understand the writing, you need to know about the writer. No? The author? Does not this info provide insight to the text?
Tho this reminds me of the Film school girl .. who, when going to a movie, wanted to know nothing about it. "Dont tell me anything about it. I'll put my fingers in my ears."
Then she would watch it again, later, after having heard what all the critics have espoused on this particular film.
I am getting off topic here (blame it on the chemo), but my point is » understanding the writer, the author (psychologically, temperamentally, etc.) aids in understanding his writing.
Joseph Frank said that, while the Americans were focused on Dostoevsky's writings themselves (his novels, the text) ..
.. the Russians were more interested in Dostoevsky himself .. the man,
and particularly the moral-philosophical implications of his work ..
.. which were very much a function of the socio-political and ideological context ..
.. than they were in his novels themselves, and the stories those novels told.
(I will go get the exact verbiage, later. But that is the gist.)
And the thing that makes Joseph Frank such a stud is that he took BOTH these knowledge bases ..
.. which represents my assertion that we need to understand BOTH the author and his writings.
Sometimes I think that I am merely stating the obvious. Other times I feel like I am trying to justify the impossible.
Okay, I found it. There are actually a few paragraphs that deal with what I am trying to say here .. but I am not going to write out everything.
So here is the eact part that I was referring to .. page 2 of Joseph Frank's 5-page into. It comes right after the part when he mentions how Dostoevsky became persona-non grata after the revolution (of 1917) ..
.. because "his greatest works had been efforts to undermine the ideological foundtions out of which the revolution had sprung" .. he writes »
As for émigré scholars, with very few exceptions, their work dwelt on the moral-philosophical implications of Dostoevsky's ideas rather than on the texts themselves.
Update July 15, 2015 » I dont have time to discuss it right now, but here is a good example of Frank's writing. On numerous fronts. He is clearly not limited to discussing topics related to gays. <end update July 15>
Update Aug 25, 2015 » Dude, this was most enjoyable (Trump-ward Christian Soldiers) with many quotable quotes, such as »
".. as if ugly, groundless partisan rumor-mongering were on a saintly par with washing lepers' feet." and "He just about runs the table on the seven deadly sins. He personifies greed, embodies pride, radiates lust."
Tho I liked that you rightly gave him a pass on sloth, and how you noted that "he doesn't even try that hard for a righteous facade -- for Potemkin piety."
I have been appreciating your columns for months now. You are consistently good. Tho I usually need something extra to motivate me to write .. because of my physically weakened state. (Limited resources.)
This was it.
I just enjoyed this whole column. Very satisfying. You seemed to take the enlightenment factor to a new level.
I particularly noted a technique here where you write things such as » "I'm grasping at straws, because there's no sense in the fact that..." and "I must not be watching the same campaign that his evangelical fans are, because I don't see..."
This worked well for me. It said that, here is this obviously intelligent, educated, articulate dude .. who is having trouble understand the actions and behaviors of a certain subset of American culture.
At which point you naturally think » "What is he so perplexed about?"
My favorite part, tho, was where you wrote »
Last Sunday he apologized to viewers that his wife, Wanda Jo, "cannot be with us this evening."
"She's at our summer parsonage in Hawaii," he continued, "for a week of spiritual introspection and occasional parasailing."
And I loved the ginsu action where you wrote » "..demonstrably inept at it as he is."
I'm sure I will have more to say. Getting ready now to see my chemo doctor. And check this blood again.
Kudos to you, my friend.
Dude! .. I saw you on TV .. and I dont even watch TV.
Strange as it might seem, I learned that self-professing christians do not like it when you tell them what scripture says. No, sir.
But what really stood out to me was not that they disagreed with some of Obamas decisions .. but rather that they didnt like him AS A PERSON. That they actually hated the man. (No, I dont get that, either.)
Update Nov 4, 2015 » I was reading this and it struck me as having that 'density' that you find when a writer writes about somethingn they know intimately.
Nov 7, 2015 » Impressively brave, dawg.
Nov 14, 2015 » This kicked large amounts ass .. much of it belonging to Ted Cruz. I was impressed.
Jan 5, 2016 » Happy New Year, Frank. What a title. I am still reading it, but I want to note this .. before I get sidetracked with something else.
But it's so true that we dont really know people .. unless we live with them. And even then .. there are no guarantees.
I think we often project our selves onto others. We project our values. We project lots of stuff that actually doesnt apply to many people.
I knew this pastor at a church in Pennsylvania .. whose 15-year old daughter got knocked up. He took it hard. He took a year off.
You would hear stuff here-n-there that illustrated so well how we really dont know people .. unless you live with them.
And to really get to know people, they must first open up to you. And before someone opens up to you, they need to t.r.u.s.t you. And to really trust you, well, that can take time. (Because not everyone is trustworthy.)
Feb 23, 2016 » Very confrontational title. I smiled when I first saw it on the Times' homepage. "Go, Frank!"
March 1, 2016 » This may be the best thing you're written .. that I've seen .. in a blow-your-hair-back sort-of-way.
I have thought those very same things about Hillary .. she is one tenacious bitch. Come the end of the world you will find cockroaches, Keith Richards and Hillary Clinton.
» It's So Fucking Hard
April 9, 2016 » I started crying while reading this. And I am not even sure why. That is such a weird feeling, by the way .. when you cant put your finger on the reason why you are crying.
I was so not expecting that. I am going to be tired today, because crying makes me tired.
I mean, I was kinda feeling for the dad .. but these feelings echoed back and touched things already inside me.
It's so fucking hard .. raising kids so as not to fuck them up. Even under the best of conditions. (I'm sure George would agree.)
I was there in the hospital room when my son was born. You have no idea what to expect .. if you have never done it before. I certainly wanted to be mr. cool.
I could go into great detail, but my point here is that » there was a 'thing' in that hospital room. Definitely a thing .. where my son is literally being born .. before my very eyes.
And I flashed thru about a million thoughts .. much of it pertaining to my own dad's lack of what I really needed in a dad. You cannot control your thoughts during these overwhelming moments.
But, for the next couple of decades, you are responsible for another human being. It is a gigantic, solemn, terrifying responsibility. Truly awesome, and you can feel the weight of it hitting you .. like a ton of bricks.
And something in me (on its own) prayed a prayer something very close to this » "Do NOT let me fuck this up. I do not know how to do this. My only example was woefully inadequate. I will not be responsible for doing to this child what was done to me. I am throwingdown my marker right here. So you are gonna help."
This is while he is coming out. And I am thinking, "Oh my God .. it is happening."
It is very surreal. I was so totally not cool. I was just trying to maintain consciousness .. stay vertical, and not require medical attention myself.
But raising kids .. without letting your own shit be transferred to them .. that is not the easiest thing to do. That can be tricky.
» I See You Down There, Maureen
I'm coming for you.
Let me finish with Frank, first.
I will bring the medicine that Willie gave me for you.
Did you see the thing I did on Blow?
To be honest, I never really planned for it to come out that way.
I have never before written align-right like this.
Do you think it means anything?
Remind me to tell you about one of the areas ..
.. where I feel that my writing dishtinguishes itself.
I am talking about » audience.
And how a voice in my head says »
"Dude, you cant just change your audience like that."
To which another voice says » "Watch me."
I mean, here it is okay ..
.. because that is what this entry is about.
But I'm talking about other entries.
Anyway, I really should get back to Frank.
Like with dessert .. I'm saving the best for last.
What do you think of the photo that I chose for you?
And then there's Maureen .. the witty and dangerous Irish beauty.
I also talk about her here » Maureen's Bad Trip & Willie Sage Advice.
But that is not about her writing.
She is very different from the rest. And that's all I'll say for now.
Maureen reminds me of an old girlfriend.
Who blew my mind in many ways. Stuff that is probably beyond publically documenting.
So sometimes Maureen makes me think about other things. (As you can probably tell.)
I am still working on Frank, but I just wanna say that this sentence stuck out for me (near the end) »
While they proclaim they don't want to be on the couch about their misguided dreams of empire, we get ensnared in their "Empire"-style psychodramas.
True that. I feel ya.
I read that Jeb said, "I love my brother."
To which I want to say » "Of course you do. A pox on you if you didnt. But that doesnt mean that your brother is not a world-class fuck-up. And we the people want to know how closely you cleave to his ideals, to his ideas."
No sooner had I read Krugman's column and put him up on my opinion pedestal .. when I read yours. What a dilemma.
I always have to use a dictionary when I read your column .. usually more than once.
And then, when I look up the word, I say » "Ooh, that's a good word. I can see why she chose it."
Update Aug 22, 2015 » I am very much feeling this .. tho in an unusual way.
But I can feel myself exploring things there. And the voice in the back of my head is asking, "Does she do that on purpose? Or subconsciously?"
The question here, of course » what do I mean by 'that'?
But it's like you elevate the thing to a whole, new level.
I read Trump's first big book .. the Art of the Deal, way back when. I liked it. And I wasnt the only one. But it is not the sort of thing that you would ever find Salman Rushdie reading.
<end update Aug 22>
I was laughing out loud and smiling the whole time I was reading. "Begone, Ted Cruz, you jackass! Come out, you unclean devil, Mark Meadows."
» John Oliver's Giant Penis
[( I havent laughed like that since I saw John Oliver clutching a giant penis.
"We live by one hard-n-fast rule here..."
"Testify, Wanda Jo!"
"Some of it looked fake .. but some of it did not." )]
[ Speaking of John Oliver's gigantic penis ..
.. I found a verse of scripture that made me think of it.
See » here. What do you think?
The word that did it for me was » peddle.
Somebody should ask the TV preacher who John Oliver sent all that money to ..
.. when was the last time that he preached on the 'peddle' verse, and what he considers to be 'peddling the word of God'.
I would not be surprised if he said, "Never." Would you be?
As in .. they have never preached that particular verse .. ever.
Or is that particular verse a part of his Apocrypha?
With inequality at record levels and growing, can't you hear them say, "The poor and helpless have too much. Take away what little they have and give it to me."
How can a person who calls for such things even claim to possess a soul? (Let me know if you ever find out.)
They seem to be perverting the righteous impulse to "destroy their temples utterly" and to make no agreements with their gods ..
.. to something like » "Make no agreements with, and utterly destroy anybody who does not agree with my exclusive bizarro, fringe ideas of what a society should look like and how it should be run."
I heard one of these guys respond to accusations of a warped focus on money and material wealth .. by referring to John 10:10 and saying, "Dont the scriptures promise us an abundant life?"
But I know John 10:10 (cuz I can read). And John 10:10 is not talking about money. It is not talking about material riches. It's talking about » life.
But I find it interesting .. how they take this scripture on life .. and reduce it to become their rationale for focusing on the possession of material wealth (.. such as his-n-hers mansions in Newport Beach)..
Dont you feel that they are just a product of a culture that has raised the importance of money to the idol-status? I mean, you kinda almost expect such a thing .. in such an environment.
I can definitely see how somebody could do that.
But what if the society in which they derive this 'abundance' .. is biased and unfairly benefitting them .. at the expense of the less fortunate? What responsibilities do they have to right this wrong?
What if it is really this unjust society .. that is more responsible for their 'abundance' .. than the blessing of God .. what now?
(I'm sure that they feel me. Let me personally welcome them .. to the twenty-first century. The third millenium.)
Is it just me .. or do they not seem more motivated by the dollar than by compassion?
I have never seen one thing in the scriptures where God promises the believer an earthly mansion or where he gave an earthly mansion to a believer.
I have not read the whole book, so maybe I just missed it. But I dont think I did.
What is the difference between a preacher who God blesses with an earthly mansion .. and the one who manipulates the gullible into parting with their money .. so they can buy one for themselves (with cash, of course)?
Not very much to some .. it would seem.
And while I am here, Maureen, I thought that this was excellent. In many ways.
And the photo .. how did you get that photo? ]
Even the title is great » The Speaker, the Pope and the Exorcism.
I stopped half way thru .. cuz it's so good that I want to save some for later.
I caught myself admiring your construction.
But that is the sense I got when I heard the news about Boehner .. that he can't wait to get out of that asylum. Let the crazies have it. "Boehner up out this bitch .. this crazy bitch. See ya .. wouldnt wanna BE ya. Adios."
Great photo, too. Do you choose the photo? Or does some other department handle the graphics? Kudos either way.
<end update Oct 3 the speaker, the pope and the exorcism>
» My #1 Favorite Dowd Column Ever
Nov 7, 2015 » I am impressed on multiple levels. Wow. Some of your sentences, such as » "With other families, the unsaid and circuitous end up rupturing relationships. In the case of the Bushes, it ended up rupturing the globe." and especially
Even for a Waspy American family with scorn for introspection and a long tradition of fathers not weighing in, choosing to let their sons make their own life choices, it's remarkable that two presidents who went to war with the same Iraqi dictator can bluntly talk to each other only through a biographer.
I think this is my favorite Dowd column ever. I cant think of another I was more impressed with. And I have been plenty impressed, plenty of times.
You feel like you know them personally, initimately even. That obviously gives your opinions much weight.
And I thought clever your framing it within the Game of Thrones theme .. and making that seem merely coincidental. You are really good. Downright orbital. Much respect.
You ooze cleverness without even trying. If I were a jealous writer, that's probably where I would feel jealous.
Jan 30, 2016 » You are very good. There is nobody like you .. nobody I can think of. Your signature style seems to be an intimacy with politicians. A real, intimate relationship.
Some of your columns give the reader a feeling of waking with the people, rolling over in the morning and asking intimate questions.
That is an exaggeration, but in that general direction. This was so good that I was wondering if it might've surpassed my #1 favorite.
Sometimes the reader can tell that a column will be good from just reading the title. This was one of those columns.
I am reluctant to mention individual things that spoke to me .. because I could easily get carried away. But I very much enjoyed this. Enough to comment here.
The reader really comes away with a great feel for the Donald .. such as never before. And that is saying something .. because so many cameras and microphones have been trained on him for so many years. How could you ever reveal a side previously unseen?
So it is curious that you were able to reveal a more intimate dimension of him. The imagery you created was great. And I particularly appreciated your line of inquiry. I found it very clever. (And funny.)
Tho I must admit, nobody is as entertaining as the Donald himself. The shit he says .. he cracks me up. He is a thing to be behold.
"I call Trump to tell him my fears." When I read that sentence, I thought, "Ooh, this is gonna be good."
"risking a narcissistic explosion" That is funny, yes .. but no one will deny that you make a valid point.
I would be remiss if I didnt quote this sentence:
I remind him that Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld could manipulate W. into the Iraq invasion because they played on W.'s fear of being labeled a wimp, as his father had been.
I was struck by this sentence » "I am malleable," Trump said, taking it as a compliment, more like I've called him flexible.
But it would take me too long to explain why it struck me.
I loved this » "Using his usual ego arithmetic, he calculates that..." Ego arithmetic .. very nice.
Re » "He's a very sensitive guy, for a guy who can be very insensitive."
I have noticed and obseved this phenomenon myself .. with wonder and awe. How can someone who is so easily offended rail with such hurtful diatribes? I have yet to come up with an answer that makes any kind of sense.
Today's column was a work of art .. that is the feeling I came away with. There is nobody like you.
Feb 14, 2016 » I was going to respond yesterday, but I wanted to wait until today .. so I could write to you on Valentine's day.
The picture of the two young girls, holding the Bernie sign, looking up dreamily, like they are in love with whatever they are seeing .. that was very good. Very telling. You always have the best representative photos.
Re » "This attitude intensified the unappetizing solipsistic subtext of her campaign, which is "What is Hillary owed?" It turned out that female voters seem to be looking at Hillary as a candidate rather than as a historical imperative. And she's coming up drastically short on trustworthiness."
Wow. Not a historical imperative. Ouch. That's gotta hurt. Even if you're Hillary.
You are a female voter, so that gives your voice on this topic more authority. Plus, Hillary is a female. More authenticity for you.
But there is definitely a savageness there. [ Egan, too, can be savage. Tho he usually wraps his in humor. ] But the youth numbers were indeed startling. (Good for them.)
Re » "It's a victim mind-set that is exhausting, especially because the Clintons' messes are of their own making."
Very nice single-sentence paragraph. And hard to argue with. I was just telling Blow about my problem with Hillary's powder-blue duffle bag.
When I read this next part, I thought, "Wow, Maureen just called out Gloria Steinem" :
Re » "Blaming it on hormones was odd, given the fact that for centuries, it was widely believed that women's biology made them emotionally unfit to be leaders."
You systematically dismantle and render irrelevant the entire feminist old guard. Does that feel as muscular as it looks?
Is Matthew related?
Feb 21, 2016 » I felt my respect for you climb while I read this. Not that it wasnt already way up there.
You give the feeling that you know what it is like to live inside their skin .. of almost being part of the family.
Even before any columnist writes about it .. the dropping out of Jeb Bush at South Carolina ( in "Bush country," no less ) after his mom and his brother came to his aid .. that in itself is a serious head-torquer.
Even tho you knew it was coming, it's still difficult to wrap your head around it.
I almost felt sorry for them .. while reading your column. But then I read where you talk about their dirty tricks and I came to my senses.
Re » "W. came out of his oil-painting exile.." This actually reminded me of Egan. Because Egan writes stuff like that. So that is a compliment.
Re » "As the Bush dynasty falls, it must watch in horror knowing that it is responsible for the rise of Donald Trump." What a sentence. And so true. Sad, but true. ( I liked this so much that I shared it with Obama. )
I see that you included a nod to Bill Maher. I read somewhere that he has the hots for you .. that he wouldnt mind taking you for a spin around the block.
Re » "With his uncanny bat-like sonar, sensing how to psychologically gauge and then gut an opponent, Trump went straight for the Bushes' biggest bête noire: wimpiness."
Your sentence here seems to support my argument that it was a sense of insecurity which lay at the heart of W's long string of head-scratching decisions.
I wonder if Cheney could sense his insecurity and took advantage of it. If Cheney was able to manipulate him using his insecurity as a point of leverage.
I had seen it in action, time after time, never really understanding how they were able to pull off the things that they did .. yet obviously the results spoke for themselves. They obviously saw vulnerabilities that I did not see. Weak spots. (Time and again.)
They are able to see where personal liabilities become political vulnerabilities. And yes, there is definitely a survival-of-the-fittest aspect to all of this. Dog-eat-dog street-fighting skills with political stakes.
I could go on and on .. but I very much enjoyed today's column. So rich. We need people like you to help us make sense of this jaw-dropping thing that our political process has become.
There is still something about your writing, about your style, that I am not yet able to put into words .. because I dont understand it well enough .. or I dont see it clearly enough .. to be able to write about.
But I felt myself come closer when I read this. I felt it get clearer .. tho not as clear as I want/need. Layers. Colors. Vibrancy. See .. the right words wont come yet.
But it is definitely a cool thing. Because it's the thing that makes Maureen Maureen. Your signature style.
One of the things I most enjoy .. is when a writer says something that you already know .. yet they say it in a way that is new to you .. and casts the familiar thing in an unfamiliar light.
Or they pair two familiar things in a new and thought-provoking way. Anyway .. your final paragraph does this for me. So much so that it returns to speak after the initial impact.
The country is now aflame with anger and disgust about politicians and bankers who conned trusting Americans and never got punished for it. That fury has led to the rise of wildly improbable candidates in both parties. As the Bush dynasty falls, it must watch in horror knowing that it is responsible for the rise of Donald Trump.
It has that delayed-effect thing I so often get with Egan. That is a good trick. I wonder if he does that on purpose.
It's always when things get real quiet .. I noticed.
If you listen closely, you can almost hear the Republican establishment crying, "Dont believe him. Dont believe Donald. Dont fall for it. He's just saying all the shit that he knows you wanna hear. But he knows it's all bullshit."
Now doesnt that sound familiar. (?)
Feb 27, 2016 » I am going to have to give you your own page if I keep this up.
I have long been fascinated by the way two different people can see the exact same thing and come away with perspectives (points of view) that are not only different but actually opposite one another. "How can such a thing be?"
Of course, you quickly learn that one's experiences of life are responsible for such differences .. which involves living different lives within different cultures .. within skins that are colored differently .. with different sexual attributes. You know.
So your column today had me thinking. Thinking hard. Because you address these gigantic cross-cultural topics.
This is why, when we meet new, interesting people, we want to learn about their life experiences .. so we can understand better their points of view and their perspectives. Which naturally influence their actions.
I have been with people who felt offended if I did not agree with them on things. "Do you want me to lie?" I would ask, "and say that I think the sky is lime green when I really dont think that?"
Perhaps some people want to be only with people who agree with everything they say .. even when the really dont. I mean, what kind of relationship is that?
My goal in relationship-building is simply to understand and to be understood. Then, at least, you can understand why they feel the way they do about certain things.
I could get off on such a tangent here, but I am resisting.
Your opening paragraph .. what a beautifully-constructed sentence. I was feeling the underlying layer of poetry.
You dont just say cool shit, but you also write very well. (And you, likewise, dont just write well, but you also write about cool shit. Very cool.)
Sometimes, when talking to others, I used to feel that they didnt have a right, a valid right, to feel the way they did about certain subjects. But that was only because I hadnt had the same experiences that they did.
One of my most favorite things to do is to sit down with someone from a different culture and explore how they see the world, and epecially the reasons why they see it the way they do.
It's like your world enlarges .. to encompass a larger consciousness. It's the coolest feeling .. that feeling of growth.
It's not about right or wrong or judging them in light of my experiences .. but rather it's about simply coming to an understanding .. which involves a degree of compassion. Perhaps even empathy.
But, for many people, understanding is not understanding without agreement. (You agreeing with them, not them agreeing with you.)
I can feel myself waxing abstract, so I'll quit for now. But our nation is so polarized .. and this is a problem. Because our government has become dysfunctional .. for everyone who doesnt have a hedge fund.
Do you feel that there are things that others simply cannot understand without actually experiencing the things that you yourself have experienced? .. no matter how well you try to explain it to them?
March 5, 2016 » Wow .. on so many levels.
Re » "But some positions are so extreme, there's no coming back. Your deal with the devil is sealed."
What a wrap. Drop the mic .. and go have a beer with the Pope.
I dont know if it's just me .. but this one has a quantum-leap aspect to it. Like you took it to another level entirely. (Which did not seem possible.)
I was just telling Egan about how some of those very same chickens have come home to roost.
If I get more friendly with you, I might have to tell you about the girl who you reminds me of. She is interesting because I was the most like putty (in her hand) with her. Of any girl.
I found her very interesting. She wasnt particularly gorgeous .. so that wasnt the reason for being with her.
She was good with guys. She knew how handle guys .. and make it look easy. Always staying a step or two ahead. Always introducing you to new things that you didnt know existed. (You know.)
So .. in this sense, I was a little afraid of her. In the sense that you respect someone who is smart and who obviously has more experience than you.
She knew a lot of cool stuff .. and we would have the most engaging conversations. She knew a lot about business stuff .. of which I knew jack.
Sometimes she would say things like » "I have to go to York on Friday night for some business. Why dont you ride along with me and afterwards, we'll go for a drink and grab a bite to eat there."
I would ride along in her sporty, sexy Z car. And it is 30 mins to York, and another 30 back. And we would have the most fascinating conversations.
It was obvious that she lived life in a way that I had never been exposed to before. I mean, like, she was like a new creature to me. (In many ways.)
It's difficult to describe, because I dont realy understand it very well myself.
But she had the basket of qualities and values and strengths and experiences .. that fascinated me .. for multiple reasons.
March 12, 2016 » I confess that I have long felt that the jobs that both AO Scott and Manohla have there at the Times .. your film critics .. I have felt these were the most bitchin' jobs in the entire solar system.
I mean, you basically go see a movie and then you write shit about it. What is not to love?
But then I read this and, later in the bath, in the epsom-salt bath that makes me feel pretty normal, actually .. I was thinking about you ..
.. and the thought was something like, "She just jets around around the country and has lunch with fascinating people and then writes about it."
Then I thought, "Fuck, that is even better than the deal that AO and Manohla got."
Does it not feel, at least some of the time .. does it not feel like you have the best job in the universe?
You should write a column titled » Ten Reasons Why You Do Not Want to be Me .. so I wont feel as jealous.
I dont know if you would consider Gary Cutting an opinion writer .. because he is not one of the weekly regulars.
And because he has a different day-job (.. than the writing of opinions).
Gary is a professor of Philosophy at Notre Dame. (How sweet of a gig that must be.)
[ I might mention here that I find the Notre Dame web site particularly good .. like something that I would be proud to have built myself.
Perhaps it's just personal preference, and yes, all university web sites are usually made with love. But I find Notre Dame's noticeably well-made.
I wonder if students did it .. or if they paid outside pro's? Cuz it's definitely a professional job.
And they have such a cool domain name » nd.edu [ it's not easy to get those super short domain names ]
I have traded emails with him, which is why I mention him. And because he throws up some thought-provoking articles. Often in-depth looks.
And how our Philosophy professor (an atheist) said »
» "You kids just missed it. At the end of last semester there were flyers posted all over campus, saying » Come See Professor Roth Get His Ass Kicked."
Because a (theist) philosophy professor was visiting from Notre Dame and was coming to debate him in the auditorium --
.. which was packed to over-flowing .. probably in violation of multiple municipal occupancy codes.
They debated » the existence of God.
One of the students in our class said » "That sounds like a lot of fun. Who won the debate?"
Our professor said » "He kicked my ass. I'm not going to tell you how he did it, but it was probably because he has an I.Q. of about 2600. He toyed with me for a while before giving me the coup de grâce."
So I asked Gary if that was him.
Gary wrote » "That's not me, but I know who that is."
It is beyond the scope of today's entry (hard to believe, I know) but the notion of a theist debating an atheist on the existence of God .. beyond the cool entertainment value ..
By which I mean .. it doesnt really matter who wins. If God does not really exist, then he will not magically become real if the theist wins.
And conversely, if he does exist, the atheist isnt going to make him go away if he wins the debate.
All of which seems obvious. I would have enjoyed the debate.
One night around 10, as I was leaving a class that had just gotten out, I noticed lots of commotion coming from the auditorium. So I wandered over there and stuck my head inside.
Where I saw George McGovern up in front, surrounded by students. (He died a few years ago at age 90.)
He must have just finished giving a speech. I could have walked up and touched him, if I wanted. (But I didnt.)
Transferring a Section to a Separate Page for » Better Focus
I should probably lift out this section on the Times' opinion writers and transfer it to its own page .. where I could focus better on my subject.
Tho there is not yet enough content yet to warrant its own page. Tho it shouldnt take me very long to rectify that shortcoming. So I should probably start thinking about a title.
How about something recursive like » My Opinion of the Writers Who Write Opinions at the NY Times ?
If you are going to write about the opinion writers at the Times, you need, at the very least, a cool title.
Now I have too much content here. It is easy for me to generate large amounts of content when I am inspired (.. like I was flirting with Lauren).
When I writing about the Times' opinion writers .. I think that there is an element of » iron-sharpens-iron involved.
My game rose to a new level every time I played against Lance. (Yes, even when I was getting my ass handed to me.)
So perhaps a focus on these skilled craftsmen, wordsmiths, will take my game to the next level (.. wherever that might be).
So maybe that is my purpose here.
Perhaps this is part of » taking things to the next level.
Because this entry is really part of that entry (13 march ).
An extension of.
Purpose » Not Clear (Yet)
Altho I have had this urge, this impulse to write about these opinion writers, for quite some time now (weeks? months?)
Which got me thinking.
With pretty much every entry, there is a purpose behind it.
But I am not clear about my purpose behind this entry. So I am operating more on instinct.
But this is why I have put it off for so long .. because I can see no purpose.
At least, no obvious purpose. Tho now seems like the right time.
I suspect (and hope) that the purpose will reveal itself later. Or that this entry will because a building block that I need to fit a need that I dont yet realize that I have.
This has happened before .. where an entry that I wrote turned out to be -- down the road -- much cooler than I had ever imagined, or envisioned.
When certain impulses, certain urges, revisit you repeatedly .. is this a sign that you should heed the impulse?
I have many ideas for topics to write about. But the subject I ultimately choose to focus upon .. is usually the one that GIVES ME THE MOST REASONS .. to write it.
So .. when your reason list comes up short .. yet you continue to receive the impulses .. you must ask yourself » what the fuck?
Tho, once I have the basic page up-n-running, it would be very easy for me to return in order to update it with cool stuff. Cuz these opinion writers definitely write cool, thought-provoking stuff.
I mean, sometimes they write certain phrases or sentences that are so good .. that they make me stop in my tracks and sit back and say » "Wow, that is good."
For example, he uses the phrase » "fear-industrial complex" here. How apt. He doesnt even capitalize the letters. Emphasizing the disdain. I feel like I shoulda thought of that.
.. which puts things in perspective by illustrating what is really important. (And what aint.) ]
I have also been doing this recently with Frank.
But they all are able to express themselves and their thoughts in ways that cause me to stop and admire.
This is their craft. This is what they do. They are acknowledged experts in their fields .. or they wouldnt be at the Times.
So yes, you expect this rhetorical wizardry to some degree. But still, it is a thing to behold. The product of a skilled artist working their craft.
And if all this sounds too strange, too bizarre, then we can always blame it on the chemo.
» The Effects of Existential Trauma Visited Upon the Cancer Patient
Sure, I jest about the effects that chemo has on the brain ..
.. but do not think that I havent been observing the effects of this whole cancer dealy-o .. on my writing.
From a certain perspective I am an observer in what I do. (We all are, to a degree.)
Before treatment began, I was wondering out loud what effect "chemo brain" would have on my ability to write.
To focus. To concentrate. (Which takes mental energy.) To weave an intelligent, cogent narrative. Because I didnt know.
And this might be a good spot to mention that .. the thing with cancer that you deal with .. beyond the physical shitiness that comes from the treatment ..
.. the thing that you are really dealing with .. is an existential threat. An existential question posed by presence of (via diagnosis) the cancer » Will you live or will you die?
Rad note » The subject here in this section has drifted far enough to warrant its own, separate page .. see here » Cancer's Mind-Torquing Existential Threat » Will You Live or Will You Die?.
The end. ■
You can return to the exact spot from where this entry originated .. see here » Writing About the Times' Opinion Writers (In One Place). [ in Michelle's entry ]
You can analyze the HTML profile of this page at Andy's site here.
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