Thursday, December 28, 2006
The Way Forward Is Over Here. Seriously. (2007)
One can't blame the ISG for trying to recapture the magic- and sales – of their debut work so it's not surprising that this volume covers territory familiar to readers. Truth be told, it's the exact same book but with a flashing LED read-out cover, several small horns attached to it that sound whenever movement is detected in the room, numerous pre-attached post-it notes indicating the most urgent passages, and a free video game where you get to be a baseball playing robot. It is hoped that the president will notice this new edition and read it.
Sitcoms: The Way Forward – A New Approach (2008)
After seeing strong sales but disappointing real world results from their previous works, the Iraq Study Group takes on the perilous state of the American situation comedy. Beset with the ongoing and worsening threats of reality shows, medical dramas, and a deadly new strain of reality medical drama, the state of the sitcom is bad and worsening. The group's ideas are sometimes distressingly meek (hold summit conferences with networks, invite Michael Bay to the bargaining table) and sometimes baldly self-serving (cast Lawrence Eagleburger as a wacky neighbor on "Coach: The Next Generation", create sitcom called "What About Vernon Jordan?"). Taxpayers are right to wonder if their tax dollars have been well spent.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays: The Way Forward – A New Approach (2010)
While it's very possible that Sandra Day O'Connor's grandson is a fine baseball player, the Iraq Study Group seems to be losing focus this time out. Ed Meese's knowledge of minor league economics is strong as is Leon Panetta's lengthy chapter on proper bunting technique and both offer hope to fans of the beleaguered franchise. But the overall tone of the report is bleak. The no longer publicly funded group suggests stemming the flow of bats, balls, and other equipment into the Tampa-St. Petersburg area while simultaneously launching a series of phased trades to disperse players. The group also seems to fail to take into account the possibility of Tampa native and strongman Jose Canseco regaining power. The photo section of Eagleburger shagging fly balls feels tacked on and is in fact difficult to look at.
Are You There God? It's Me, Lawrence Eagleburger (2011)
The rest of the group still includes their names but there's only one member truly behind this atrocious coming-of-age story. The fact that the "woman's special time" section was not removed in editing is proof that there is no God.
The Iraq Study Group Report on the Iraq Study Group: A New Way Forward (2012)
After widely reported acrimony between members of the once close-kit group and ill-advised offshoot projects (Charles Robb's emo-core concept album, Allan Simpson's backyard wrestling league), the ISG has found itself at a crossroads. Should they disband or try to keep the team together? Sadly, they chose the latter. Meeting in a trailer specially airlifted to the featureless great plain where Iraq once stood, the members crafted a series of recommendations for how the group can continue making recommendations. But their string of critical and commercial failures, the advancing age and declining health of the members, and their lack of government funding leading to abject poverty, make for a tough ride on the road to new ideas. The matching jumpsuits sound like fun and everyone loves trust walks but where will the money come from for the underwater fortress and the rocket bikes? Sadly, these ravings are proof enough to anyone still doubting that the ISG's time has passed.
Iraq Study Group Babies: Journey to Lollipop Island (2017)
Everyone's favorite group of adorable pint-sized future-ex-government insiders are on a magical journey to help a lost candy bird find her way back home. Based on the #1 animated series in the world, this is sure to delight toddlers, preschoolers, and select members of the Project for a New American Century and the Brookings Institution. Will Sandy, Jimmy, Lee H. Hamilton and the rest of the gang get the bird home before deadly sectarian violence rips Lollipop Island apart? Read and find out!
Saturday, December 23, 2006
then it becomes transcendant.
HIM: Why is 4th of July a big deal?
ME: That's when people signed the Declaration of Independence. It was this thing they wrote that said America was its own country, separate from England.
HIM: And that's when George Washington became President?
ME: Shortly after that, yeah. But they wanted to make him king and he said no, I'll be president because we shouldn't have kings. That way when people want a new president, they can elect one every four years.
HIM: Bush shouldn't have been elected again. Or even the first time. He starts wars!
ME: Well a lot of people agree with you, Charlie.
HIM: Why does he do that?
ME: I think he's very confident in the decisions he makes and often doesn't listen to people who try to tell him he's wrong.
HIM: Yeah. His brain is all zig-zag and wobbly. Barack Obama will be better when he's president.
ME: You mean if he's president.
HIM: Oh come on, Dad. He's going to be president. People are sick of all the light-skinned men, they want a girl or a dark skinned man.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
HIM: Dad, who is Santa's Dad?
ME: Wow. I don't know. I never thought about it.
HIM: I think I know. Jesus.
ME: Really? Why?
HIM: Well...just think about it.
The book tour for Conservatize Me pretty much wrapped up on 12/12 at the Elliott Bay Book Company in downtown Seattle (well, Pioneer Square, which is quasi-downtown). It was a wonderful way to wrap things up, at least mostly, at least until the paperback, with a couple of small exceptions.
Matthew Baldwin led off the evening reading things from the estimable Defective Yeti blog he maintains. It's unorthodox for readings to have an opening act but I asked him to read for two reasons: 1) he's oh so funny and should receive a much bigger audience and b of all, it made the event feel more festive, like a celebration of words and jokes and things like that.
I read mostly the same passages I usually do but the crowd, quite enormous (I mean in numbers, they weren't obese), was vocal and happy and energizing. Best of all, for me anyway, was the appearance of my family. Jill and the kids sat in the back row and except for occasional bouts of wiggliness, listened. When I opened the floor to questions, Charlie had the first one. It was funny because readers of my work know that he's kind of my muse and a hush went over the room when he spoke. Afterwards, with no real provocation to do so, he walked to the front of the room and took a bow. Later, he signed some books. I would do my studied, rehearsed author signature with a black Sharpie (fine point) and he would follow with a huge CHARLIE in purple marker. I felt like I was doing a joint appearance with a Star Wars obsessed 6-year-old J.D. Salinger.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Criticism is part of the deal when you write a book. Recently someone posted on their LiveJournal this assessment of my efforts:
"Wow, this was bad. Moe's writing style, you know, is like full of verbal, you know, tics. Um, yeah. Like, hard to, you know, read? That's not counting the overwhelming condescension he walks into every situation radiating. The bits worth reading are where Moe interviews Rich Lowry and Jonah Goldberg and some of the other bright conservative lights and realizes that they've thought their way into their positions. But mostly, it's full of cheap shots and knee-jerk silliness. This book too could have been great and isn't even close."
Their friend, or cyberfriend, or electrofriend or whatever, said this:
"I heard Moe speak at the Texas Book Festival (on a panel with David Rakoff, who was who I went to see). I thought he was hysterical, but I can see how a book of his could be annoying, since it sounds like he writes much as he speaks. Which is rarely a good thing. Guess I can cross that book off my "to read" list--thanks!"
To which I replied this:
"No. In person, I'm a complete boor. A total disappointment. You think you're going to like me but I just let you down. You become sorry you ever spent the money to be with me. Sure, I might be to some people's tastes but man, you just won't get it. Save your money and just hang out with David Sedaris instead. He's always reliable.
Friday, December 15, 2006
HIM: Dad, women have nipples to feed babies.
HIM: And do you know why men have nipples?
ME: No. Nobody seems to know the answer to that one.
HIM: I think I know. It's for doing oogas.
HIM: Oogas. Like gorillas beating their chests or Tarzan when he beats his chest and yells. It makes those sound louder.
ME: Men's nipples are drums?
HIM: Well, I think so.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
It's a new blog (thank goodness! new blogs!) by Jeannie Yandel and Aaron Jeannie Yandel's Boyfriend. Jeannie is the former bass player for Sleater-Yandel, a band that went on to bigger things and a name change after she left. But not really.
It's much better than some other new blogs.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Happens tomorrow night (12/12) at the esteemed Elliott Bay Book Company at 7:30. This is it. No more readings. Unless you're in Walla Walla in January. But otherwise: your last chance. Until the paperback comes out in the fall. But really: step up. Opening act will be the dangerously funny Matthew Baldwin of Defective Yeti fame. Seattlest.com promises that we will be "creating a vortex of funny that will swallow Seattle whole." And that is true.
Makes a great gift!
Did I mention I wrote a book?
Friday, December 08, 2006
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Watchers of television programs will be able to see me on one of those programs tonight. I'll be appearing, probably for like three minutes, on the Glenn Beck show on CNN Headline News. It airs on the west coast at 4pm, 6pm, and 9pm. If you're in other time zones, hey, what am I a mathemagician? If anyone ends up YouTubing it, lemme know.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
69 Photos of Children Terrified of Santa
Ho ho ho! Here they are!
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Sincere love and gratitude to all who responded to my little...ah... emotional collapse a few days ago there. Feeling better now. More resolute. The laughing baby video is a much better reflection of state of mind.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
I've always loved Tom Waits a whole lot. I once paid $500 for a pair of tickets to see him in concert and would do so again in a heartbeat. He was on Letterman last night, one of the few places he's ever interviewed, and just killed. "Most of them are hit by cars while dining".
Monday, November 27, 2006
Saturday, November 25, 2006
mostly because I'm just sick of myself. And I'm a little sick of this whole self-promotional machine that I built or at least piloted for the book. I'm sick of thinking worse of myself when my Amazon ranking goes down and I'm sick of thinking better of myself when it goes back up again.
I'm sick of some blogger making me feel like crap (calling me a "disembodied voice", no god damn it I am a human being with a body and a voice, thanks) and making me forget about the legit book reviewers who said good things about the book and the cool MySpace comments from random teenagers who latched on to the book.
I'm sick of people leaving comments on this, my more or less personal blog, ripping into me about the method in which I chose to write a damn book. I delete those comments, and that might be against the code of blogging or whatever but screw it, I don't care, I'll do whatever I please, but honestly, what possesses people to say nasty things about someone while commenting on their blog? I mean, have we fallen so far that we simply cannot be civil?
I'm sick of the acrimony of politics and people who feel like I should be a receptacle of that acrimony just because I wrote a book about my own experiences. At this thing I did the other night, I was supposed to be "playing the part" of a conservative at this completely liberal-packed event and the guy I was supposed to be arguing against got to be himself and just say really mean horrible things. That was the schtick, I understand that, but geez, I was the Guy Fawkes statue at their post-election celebration.
I'll try to update this thing as events warrant or when my kids say weird crap. But Christ, even though I don't have a scrap of the writing chops of Thomas Pynchon, I understand why he's just said Screw it, all you people. I understand why Douglas Brinkley doesn't own a computer or why Daniel Schorr types on a typewriter.
There were some other fairly intense things going down at the same time as the book launched as alert readers know and maybe now I'm just decompressing but I almost feel like I got a case of the bends. Not to worry, I'll be back to relentlessly publicizing myself soon I'm sure. I mean, boo-hoo, right? The poor guy gets to write a book and tour the country supporting it and we're supposed to feel sorry for him? No, you're not. But it feels like living on a stage. A stage I walked on to willingly.
I'll probably delete this post later.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Seattle Follies: The Brawl at Town Hall
Thursday, November 16, 7:30 pm
Seattle City Councilmember Sally Clark hosts the post-election edition of Seattle Follies. Joining her, and providing slashing and trenchant commentary on who really won and lost in the vote are blogger and humorist David Goldstein of horsesass.org, speaking from the left, and John Moe, public radio personality and author of the recently published book, Conservatize Me, promoting the view from the right. “The Brawl at Town Hall” will feature these two in a verbal boxing match with timed rounds, refereed by Ms. Clark. Councilmember Richard Conlin, former chair of the Council’s transportation committee and a champion of mass transit and sustainable neighborhoods, offers his tongue-in-cheek alternatives to the current and controversial proposals for the new 520 bridge. Musical guests are the great Irish musicians Dale Russ and Finn MacGinty, and Rob Jones tickles the ivories all night long. As always, the audience plays, “Who Said What,” the currents events game with chocolate prizes for the winners. Beer and wine available. Downstairs at Town Hall, enter on Seneca Street.
Advance tickets are $12/$10 Town Hall members, seniors & students only at www.brownpapertickets.com or 1800/838-3006. $15/$13 at the door.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
HIM: Dad, I don't like a lot of the shows that Kate likes.
ME: Well, you're older and you're a boy and you just have different tastes.
HIM: I like grown-up shows. I like to watch them with Mom.
ME: Like Oprah?
HIM: Yeah, I like Oprah. And all the grown-up shows with people arguing. So I'm kind of a weird kid, huh?
ME: I don't think you're a weird kid.
HIM: I do.
ME: You have some weird tastes but that doesn't make you a weird kid.
HIM: Well, I think it does.
We agree to disagree on that one. But the occasion of his birthday today makes me reflect on various things written about him as I've slowly and methodically exploited his childhood.
REAL AND IMAGINED THINGS MY 3-MONTH-OLD SON CHARLIE HAS SAID (McSweeney's)
WHAT I FOUND IN MY TWO-YEAR-OLD SON'S PLAYROOM (McSweeney's)
Conversation At The Toy Store Between Myself And My Son Charlie (Almost Three)
A Conversation With Charlie (Age 3) In The Car Last Night (Joined Midway Through)
A Conversation With Charlie, Age 4
The Imminent Threat of Chickens
The Home Improvement Plan
A Brief Conversation with Charlie (Age 4) About Future Plans
A Conversation with Charlie (Age 5) and Kate (Age 3) About Responsibilities
Jokes Written by Charlie (Age 5) That Indicate Either a Lack of Understanding About What Jokes Are, or an Absolute Mastery of the Medium
You May Wish to Avoid Charlie (Age 5) on April 1st
Happy birthday Charlie.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
HER: Charlie, where's Mom?
HIM: She's in your brain.
HIM: She's in your brain, Kate. Mom is insiiiiiiiiide your brain.
HER: No, she's not! Mom isn't inside my brain!
HIM: It's true.
HER: DAD! CHARLIE SAYS MOM IS INSIDE MY BRAIN!
ME: I'm going to let you guys work this one out on your own.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Complete with disquieting photos and a headline that evokes Kafka. I have mentioned I wrote a book, right?
Thursday, November 09, 2006
ME: So there's going to be some new people helping to run the country.
HIM: What does that mean?
ME: It's these people who don't agree with President Bush on some things like the war and they'll have more of a say in it than the people who usually agree with President Bush.
HIM: And what are their names?
ME: Well, there's a lot of them. But they're called the Democrats. You probably haven't heard of them, they haven't been around much since you were born.
HIM: Are they going to flush Bush down the toilet?
ME: No. Well, in a philosophical sense, perhaps--
HIM: REALLY?! THEY'RE REALLY GOING TO FLUSH HIM DOWN THE TOILET?!
ME: No, no they're not going to flush him down the toilet.
HIM: That's too bad.
Monday, November 06, 2006
If this goes the way everyone seems to think it will, it's going to be a result of the conservatives abandoning the Republicans and perhaps shacking up with the Democrats.
Coming back from the tour, I waited at the baggage carousel. Nearby there was a table designated for public use and it was covered with signs saying that the airport is not responsible for what goes on at the table, it's just a soapbox for groups to do whatever they like. There was a LaRouchie on duty with crude hand drawn signs calling for Bush and Cheney to be impeached and stacks of literature, all of it about LaRouche and all of it, presumably, with bad copy editing. He was there to proselytize. But people kept coming up to him to ask where to get a cab or where Delta airlines had it's baggage claim office. I watched him try to talk to these folks about his theories and calls to arms but they just wanted to get a cab and go to their hotels. Finally, he just started telling them where the cabs were. And he offered them some literature. No one took the literature.
It will not be raining indoors. This is your penultimate chance to see a Conservatize Me (hardback edition) reading. The magic phrase to win a special prize is "Your book is a choco-taco of insight and hilarity". Tonight's prize is pretty special, too.
Monday • November 6 • 7pm
Friday, November 03, 2006
In the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. It's the paper that makes you intelligent afterwards.
David Rakoff is scared that he's about to be shot to death. I don't know this even though I'm seated right next to him. The murder of the acclaimed writer, if it happens, would be even more shocking for me since minutes ago he gave me a pecan that he found growing wild on a path often walked by George W. Bush. This came a few minutes after he and I seemingly presided over a session of the Texas state senate. Am I about to be splattered with the very finely developed brain of David Rakoff, so soon after, I think, becoming friends with him?
I am in Austin, Texas. It is the Texas Book Festival. It was started by Laura Bush.
There were writers flying in to Austin in great numbers for the festival and t-shirt clad festival volunteers swarming the airport ready to give them rides. There was a Live Strong convention happening simulataneously and volunteers for that one were picking up attendees as well but since no one ever accuses writers of living strong, confusion was not an issue. I was delivered to my hotel around 5pm and with little else to do until morning, went to the restaurant and ordered a big steak and a glass of red wine.
This was followed by one of my regular constitutional strolls around the city, down 6th street where every building is a bar and every bar has a live band and it's 6pm and every band is quite fond indeed of Stevie Ray Vaughn.
The next morning I woke up (which is normal) and went to breakfast at the Texas Governor's Mansion (which is not) but the governor was not there to join me for breakfast (which is normal) nor were many of the other big names at the festival. They let us tour the inside of the house but served us breakfast on the lawn since we are, after all, writers.
I was told that my event, a panel discussion with the estimable David Rakoff, would take place in the Capitol building itself. I figured that meant a conference room somewhere, possibly a hallway. But nope: we were in the senate chambers. Massive room, ornate decor, statesmanlike. Many folks coming to watch sat in the gallery but the senators' seats were also filled up with festival attendees as if they would vote on our funniness quotient. After an hour of warm reception and jokes flying about, we were escorted to our signing tent. Along the way, David found pecans on the ground and was told that they grow on trees in Austing. Delighted, he offered me one, which I gladly ate (how often do top-notch humorists give you pecans? you've got to carpe the diem).
At our table, there was a small stream of autograph seekers for David and a trickle for me. This, we consoled ourselves, was due to the Shea-Stadium-for-The-Beatles-like mob that was going bananas for Barack Obama. He had been in the House chambers while we were in the Senate. I never even saw him, whisked, as he was, from building to signing tent and then off to save the country or something. As David and I sat there, a man approached wearing a big parka (on an 85 degree day) and appeared to be reaching for something in his pocket as he looked straight at/through David Rakoff. It turned out to be...a book which was quickly signed and the fella dispatched with less small talk than normal. Turns out, David was convinced the man had a gun and that this would be the end of his life. He had made some disparaging remarks about the famously hostile Barbara Bush in his book and thought "aha, now that I'm in Texas, her posse has come to rub me out."
After the signing petered out, Mr. Rakoff, who I'm happy to report is a heck of a nice guy despite living in fear of assassination, walked with me to the C-SPAN BookTV traveling bus for my interview. You sit down, a microphone is clipped on, and before you quite realize it, you're on television. Or at least you will be. When they air it. And I don't know when that will be.
David was doing an event with Amy Sedaris later, giving me a chance to get her book signed for my wife (Amy is also very nice, it's okay to be a fan). Then I walked back to the hotel, was driven to the airport and my book tour was over. I flew from Dallas to Seattle in first class, the first time I had ever flown first class in my life. It was much nicer than the first time I tried chewing tobacco. That experience is chronicled in my book. Have I mentioned I wrote a book?
Thursday, November 02, 2006
ME: So who do you play with at recess?
HIM: Oh, lots of people. Boys. All the boys.
ME: Any...uh...particular boys?
HIM: There's sort of like a boys team.
ME: And are you on that team?
ME: And what does the boys team do?
HIM: Oh, mostly tries to destroy the girls team.
ME: Destroy them how?
HIM: Hmm. Well, I don't know about all the plans just yet.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Monday, October 30, 2006
The Pernice Brothers are one of my favorite bands. They make beautiful thoughtful music that can make you wonderfully sad and peaceful. Their audio/video page really ought to be experienced. Particularly the Cribs episodes and the video for Working Girls where Death has some pie and then plays stickball.
Milwaukee is an old Indian word meaning “My gosh, there’s a lot of bookstores here and I’m going to visit all of them immediately after getting off the airplane”. I know it seems odd that they would have such a term but they were a strange and mystical people. Later, they would form the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team. What was especially noble was that they used every part of the buck for that team: the organs would be used for the ball, the pelt for the uniform, and the antlers would be used for antlers that the players would strap to their heads, thus intimidating opposing players, especially in the low post.
I was met at the airport by Cathy (see previous day’s entry on the niceness of upper Midwest media escorts) who quickly began squiring me about Milwaukee and its surrounding areas. Something about a situation like this: they’re driving you around, sometimes even telling you the name of the town or neighborhood you’re in, but it means nothing to you. Having never been to Milwaukee, the geographical names meant nothing – Mequon? Brookfield? Wha?- so it’s just a long disorienting ride in a car with a pleasant person you’ve never met punctuated by brief drop-ins at bookstore where you make small talk, sign books, try to make a joke or say something unique about your book so they’ll remember you, and then move along. But we did have a great lunch…somewhere… and I first felt the rush of love I now have for the fine people at Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop. We went to all eleventy billion of their stores and met folks like Johnny in Brookfield who had read the book, sold most of his stock, and was discussing it with a co-worker as we walked in (or at least gallantly pretended to be). We met Stacey at the Downer Avenue (not a depressing street at all, actually) who had read the galley and spent a great deal of time evangelizing it to friends. And ultimately we met Dan, who was hosting me at the Bayview store, who told me that “several of us at the store are fans of your work.” Since I doubt he had gained an appreciation of my temporary office worker placement in the mid-90’s, I’m thinking he means McSweeney’s or maybe NPR but probably McSweeney’s.
I get to the Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee around 4:30 and have a couple of hours before it’s time to go read. The lobby of the Pfister is just absurd. Palatial, grand, ostentatious, The Sun King would say “oh my goodness, this is just too much”. It looked like an ornate cathedral and featured, in two different places, the word “SALVE” in huge letters. I don’t know why. I’ll try to find out. I meant to ask. A hotel worker (I hate to use the word “bellboy”) helped me to my room and provided helpful, non-intuitive advice on how to find the light switch since I would have never thought to look on the walls near the doors. He must have been 55. I gave him five bucks.
Cathy picks me up and we head for the store, getting there a few minutes early. Since I’m not the kind of famous author who will always have 50 people get there early, this part is nerve-wracking. Will I get 30 people? 60? Any? At Schwartz in Bayview, there are some. With 15 minutes before I go on, I go for a walk in the rain, refusing an offer of an umbrella with a quick “I’m from Seattle”. On Kinnickinnic Avenue, I notice a billboard for a country music station with a picture of Toby Keith (major character in my book) (did I mention I wrote a book?) and the words “My Country”. It appears the nation has now been consigned to Toby. Of course I mention this in the reading and it goes over big because it’s right there. I love when that kind of thing works out.
The crowd is fairly large, very enthusiastic, asks great questions, and makes me feel even better about Milwaukee than I already did. I heart Milwaukee. Two extra things made the event better still. My mother-in-law, Susie, took the train up from Chicago and is in attendance. Her other two sons-in-law are, respectively, a Georgetown-trained lawyer and a nuclear physicist. So by having a book published, I’m only just now getting in the race. Also showing up: dear friend Carson, my wife’s best friend from college, who drove in from Madison. Afterwards, we all were taken by media escort Cathy, the queen of Milwaukee, to a restaurant.
Here’s something else Cathy did: when taking Susie back to her hotel, Cathy also drove the route from hotel to the train station so that when Susie had to find the train station in the morning, it would be easier. So nice. I guess that’s part of being a media escort but not really, just being a nice person.
To the Pfister, past the mysterious Salve signs, off to bed.
Friday, October 27, 2006
The friendliness of upper Midwest media escorts should not be underestimated. As their weather is to snow, as their arteries are to cheese clogs, so too are there media escorts to genuine hospitality. Tim picked me up from the airport and shuttled me to eight bookstores over the course of a very busy day. He knew everyone. Made specific small talk with each bookseller regarding their particular lives, even asked one hotel concierge how his recent trip to the Streisand concert was. These guys are good.
The afternoon featured a trip to the studios of radio station WCCO, a station that positions itself as “Your Friendly Neighbor”. They tried going with “Your Creepy Neighbor with Broken Down Cars in the Yard Who May be Holding Satanic Seances or Maybe Amway Meetings and Never Takes the Newspapers off the Windows” but that one didn’t test as well in focus groups. Go figure. My host was Jack Rice, a lawyer and former CIA agent who is now a talk show host, so there’s lots of different ways he can kill you. To my delight, he actually read the book and loved it and had great questions. Also to my delight, he kept mixing up Jeff Gannon (fake reporter/man whore) with Rich Gannon (former Vikings QB/ not man whore).
The hotel I was staying in was preposterous. In a good way. Plasma TV in the bathroom. Just absurd. I loved it.
Minneapolis is delightful, treating older buildings in just the right mix of development and preservation, the way Seattle has never figured out how to. I have no doubt that if I lived there I would revert to that accent within minutes. The Boston accent, meanwhile, is one I could never achieve.
For dinner I met up with dear old friend Spike Booth, who is now a famed Minneapolitan actor and used to be a frustrated grad school actor with me in New Jersey. I got to see his lovely wife Tippy and meet his two robust boys who favor Narnia and the Minnesota Twins. We all ate pancakes.
Later in the night, after a fiasco involving a bookstore I shall never forgive (mitigated by a polite hipster clerk who’s book I signed) (a McSweeney’s based fan, I’m thinking), I met up with Larry, my former neighbor in Seattle and now an ad man in Minneapolis. I’ve romanticized his new city for a long time but he told me to, pretty much, shut up and enjoy Seattle. Outdoor recreation options, great culture, proximity to tremendous variety. Apparently the place I live has a ton of reason to live there. Thanks Larry! The night ended with meeting up once again with Spike at the hotel bar where we had mojitos while a sad lonely drunk woman made a fool of herself.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
(these feature more detail than you need but I’m not much of a picture taker, I’m a writer so I’m creating written souvenirs)
“Ah, there’s my favorite cab driver,” said the hotel porter, a sort of service-industry Mike Ditka. “I pay him with the Globe.” He gave the cabbie the newspaper, refused my tip and I got in.
“This is where I start my day. I get a free paper!” he said in, I think, a Boston-Pakistani accent. Ten minutes later, we were at the airport. I had gone out with friends the night before and that, combined with time zone maladjustment and knowing I had a 5:45 wake up call, meant I slept almost not at all. “Book tour…” I muttered while waiting for the commuter flight to DC.
Media escorts are good at finding the people they’re escorting. Long before you see the book they’re holding up, they’ve already found you. The Jefferson Hotel mercifully let me check in at 10 in the damn morning, though they didn’t have easy internet access, requiring me to use the lobby computer, a PC that was all cloodgy and weird. And you can check email but it seems weird to sit around reading Deadspin or The Onion or McSweeney’s there. I hung around the hotel for a couple of hours, never quite sleeping or doing much else.
The afternoon picked up a bit. Dropped in at a couple of local bookstores to sign stock copies. At one, I learned that Ol’ Man Hodgman would be appearing in Washington, the largest city in the whole District of Columbia, that same night. My interview with John Hodgman was the closest I’ve ever come to not being able to continue an interview due to laughter.
HIS APPEARANCE IN WASHINGTON WAS NOT PART OF SOME LARGER PLAN TO SEIZE CONTROL OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, APPOINTING ME AS A SOULLESS YES-MAN AND CABINET TOADY. STOP ASKING.
Walking around that day, I realized I was nearby some of the places discussed in the book, including the Family Research Council and it’s attached gift shop, which, in the book, I mock. A lot. Not sure if they were still open but the shades were all drawn and they did not appear to be welcoming. Hmm. Maybe they knew I was coming.
I like all the people I’ve met in DC and it’s certainly fascinating. But man, it feels like a cold city to me. I mean, it’s built on power, politics, and trying to get re-elected/re-appointed. It’s tense.
That afternoon, I also had a chance to visit my co-worker Phyllis Fletcher who is temporarily stationed at NPR headquarters on Massachusetts Avenue. The building is featured briefly in my book (I wrote a book, have I told you?) when, after an awkward tea with “Jeff Gannon”, I stand outside longing to go in but not allowed to by my self-imposed rules. So I stand there humming the All Things Considered theme song.
But this time, I got to go in AND watch ATC being broadcast. Watched Robert Siegel and Melissa Block at their microphones doing the show. I’m a public radio veteran by this point but I was star struck. Here’s something you might want to know: Robert wears a suit—on the radio! Awesome! I also met a ton of producers, including some who I’ve been trying to get booked through. Here’s something else about NPR: their offices have cubicles with fabric walls just like yours. Don’t romanticize it too much, it’s a job.
Walked back to the hotel, stopping at Caribou Coffee to check email.
Reading that night at the Barnes & Noble in Georgetown to a pretty decent crowd. The crowd size was helped considerably by ringers: Jill’s two sisters, various of their friends, and my brother-in-law, a former Christian Coalition honcho and Bush appointee. Plus the requisite college hipster/McSweeney fans. Again, the eclectic crowd I’ve come to expect. Good questions, lively crowd, lots of books sold. I even signed a book for Ralph Reed, which blew my mind in about twelve directions.
I’ve been working in an anecdote about Charlie when I talk. The other night when I was in San Francisco, I talked to Jill on the phone at about 10. When I asked her how Charlie went to bed, she told me he was still up. “What’s he doing up at 10?” I asked.
“Oh,” she said, somewhat resigned, “Oprah was on and she was talking to Barack Obama. Now he’s all excited about Barack Obama and can’t go to sleep.” Obamamania has reached the Moe house.
When I got home, he told me, “Dad! Good news! Barack Obama is going to fix all the things Bush broke! Because Bush is the worst president but it’s going to be okay!” I love my son quite a lot.
TONIGHT'S SECRET PHRASE TO WIN A PRIZE (AT MAGERS & QUINN IN MINNEAPOLIS): "YOUR BOOK IS LIKE AN ORDER OF TERIYAKI WHERE THE CHICKEN IS THE INSIGHT AND THE SAUCE IS THE FUNNY". GOOD LUCK!
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
There's a new place in my heart and it's squishy and it's where Boston will now live. I love Boston. I flew in from Seattle, taking the full course of the flight to, I believe, successfully sell my seatmates on the book. Then, after some wandering around chaotic and LaGuardia-esque Logan Airport, I got a cab ride to the Bostonian Hotel from Ben Affleck's character in Good Will Hunting.
On the advice of a friend, I wandered that evening around the North End, seeing the Old North Church (Paul Revere's ride) and a bunch of places where Ben Franklin allegedly did things. Next morning was an hour on the phone and the air with Wisconsin Public Radio followed by bookstore drop-ins. And all the stores I went to, turns out, were quite well stocked with Conservatize Me. I mean, yes the streets don't follow any discernible grid or really any geometric construct. But, I don't know, it really feels like you're somewhere.
I got on the T train, found out I was going the wrong way, got on a different one, and was in Cambridge before I knew it. Cambridge! Where Harvard is! I know! I was stunned and thrilled to find my book in the Harvard Bookstore and something called the Coop, which is pronounced like a place you keep chickens and not a hippy grain sharing system. At 3:13 I decided to get back to the hotel and get some relaxing in before the night's reading. I had hoped to be back at the Faneuil Hall hotel by 4:30 or 5. But it turns out Boston is not like Seattle where you'll be on buses all day long. I was relaxing by 3:40. Zoom zoom.
The reading at Boston University's bookstore (run by Barnes & Noble) was a good time. As it often seems to be, it was a mix of politically aware baby boomers, young hipster McSweeney's fans, and two to three elderly people. I don't know why I tend to attract this crowd but the patter repeats itself in nearly every city. That's why it's a pattern, I guess. Making matters cooler still was that people bought books. Even the hipsters! I've noticed that in some cities, folks will come up to me after and say "It sounds like a great book! I can't wait to check it out from the library!" And, you know, uh, that's fine, I guess. And not everyone can or even wants to buy the book. But I can see now why the righty books sell better. Because that audience doesn't work in social services. They work in the for-profit or even the for-a-lot-of-profit sectors. They buy the book.
On to DC today where I'm hoping to drop in for a visit at NPR Headquarters. I wanted to visit there when I was researching the book but The Experiment was taking place and I would not allow myself to do so. So I just stood outside humming the All Things Considered theme song, like Spinal Tap singing Heartbreak Hotel at Graceland.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Ever have one of those days when, by the end of it, you look back on how the day started and you can't believe it was the same day? I did.
9am - leave for SFO airport aboard a shuttle bus that, after 45 minutes of driving around downtown picking up passengers, I began to suspect had no intention of leaving the city.
11am- fly to Seattle. I think I read a book.
1pm- land, catch a cab, tell him I wish to take the backroad highway to West Seattle, put up with his passive aggressive sigh, arrive home, shower, change.
3pm- arrive at KUOW to voice my weekly bit for Weekend America
3:45pm - have quick visit with my own family in the parking lot of Archie McPhee's of all places (Jill's sister and nephew were in town, they were all out running about)
4pm- begin drive to Bellingham
4:30pm- get stuck in traffic
5:15pm- seethe more
6:15pm- arrive in Bellingham, hasty dinner with dear friends Sean and Rebecca
7:30pm- reading at Bellingham's most awesometacular Village Books, a store I've long admired. Either there were bribes or the KUOW cache carries northward because the place was packed. Great energetic crowd, that made me ham it up more, it was almost theater. Afterwards, Sean and I went out for drinks (me, one small beer) with Village Books events maven Lindsey who manages to lure not just me - I'm easy - but even Jonathan Safran Foer up to her stoer. Also joining us: Lindsey's cool friends. Not joining us: bookstore cohort Jill who had a hot date with a man who's hear was like that of Rita Coolidge. But macho. Or something.
10:45pm- drive home
12:15am- arrive home, assist in the preparation of house for Kate's 4 year old birthday the next day
12:45am- drift off to sleep, thrilled to be home with family, thankful to HarperCollins for letting me have a day with family before beginning the second part of the tour.
TOUR DIARY: BOSTON sneak preview. People here talk different! And there are many bars!
Another day with not a whole lot scheduled during the day. This leads to more walking around San Francisco (because how often do you ever get to San Francisco?). I headed down Columbus toward downtown, passing the Zoetrope building. It's big and old and green and the sort of headquarters of Francis Ford Coppola's empire. A rather wordy plaque informs visitors that this was the place where Godfathers 1 and 2 were edited and mixed. They omitted Godfather 3 but mentioned Rumblefish. I stopped in at City Lights, the famous beatnik and hippie bookstore. It's not, apparently, a Conservatize Me bookstore. I think it's about time I realize I'm fairly mainstream.
Then I went to see The Departed. In that movie, everyone shoots everyone else. It's directed by Martin Scorsese. Made me a little nervous about the upcoming tour stop in Boston.
Back at my room, I had a phone interview with a print reporter for the Washington Post Express. As I tried to answer his questions, there was a knock at my door. A really persistent knock. For, like, five rounds of knocking. Finally, I asked the reporter to hold and I went to the door. "What?! What?! What is it?!" It was the guy delivering my jacket that I had pressed. I hope the reporter didn't overhear my lack of patience with the persistent laundry deliverer. I wasn't rude, just more exasperated than I like to get.
For that night's reading, we parked in front of a stop sign, altered to read "STOP and smell a flower." The reading was in Berkeley. Big crowd at Black Oak Books, a mix of politically aware boomers and young McSweeney's post-hipsters. I'm beginning to see this mix a lot. Also in attendance, semi-clandestine Republicans who I've also been seeing periodically. They're always quite polite. At the Q&A we had one of those "I challenge your assumptions" guys who does more commenting than questioning. When I didn't seem to loathe conservatives enough, he walked away indignantly. Lots of other good questions and even appearance by Ian, my former co-worker at a Seattle temp agency. Also at this reading, someone finally claimed the secret prize. I guess I need to get a new secret prize. The old one was a polka CD.
So new secret prize. Anyone who says YOUR BOOK IS LIKE A MERINGUE PIE EXCEPT THE MERINGUE IS INSIGHT AND THE PIE IS A BOOK.
Nick from Black Oak introduced me, just as he did at the Northern California Independent Booksellers' Association in Oakland a while back. As with everyone introducing me, I continue to be impressed by the high quality of writing on the part of booksellers. I just feel like sitting around and listening to them for a while but then I have to get up and talk.
This was my last night in the Bay Area. I'll miss it.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
TOUR DIARY: SAN FRANCISCO - DAY THREE OF FOUR
On the docket for Wednesday: nothing all day, Santa Rosa at night. So I had the whole day to fill/kill/THRILL! At the urging of my wife (who alert friends and readers know is much smarter than me), I decided against sitting around the hotel room and stewing about book publicity and in favor of perhaps seeing more of the city I was in, which was conveniently one of the beautifulest around.
On the advice of the concierge, I hopped a trolley car (I know!) and took it up a steeeep hill, all the way to Union Square. Trolley cars are noisy. Since I was alone and self-conscious and kind of a weird guy, I didn't want to let on that I was a tourist. So I tried to blend. Had a lovely walk around downtown and a stroll through Chinatown where I picked up a silk purse for Kate.
Something about SF: there are lots of little shops and restaurants that don't seem to be open in any reasonable or consistent manner. It's like a nice little business but then the door is barred but the lights are on. Vexing. It's as if all of San Francisco decided to start businesses and then sort of lost interest in running it and stopped showing up.
I also got good news on a couple of publicity fronts. The Washington Post Express, which is not a delivery service but a whole nother paper, is doing an interview that will appear the day of the DC appearance. The Express is a free shorter version of the Post that's handed out at Metro stations. So while the regular Post is well regarded, the Express is actually read. Also, the book will be reviewed in the New York Times Book Review. Thrilled. Terrified. All that.
We drove over the Golden Gate Bridge all the way up to Santa Rosa and Copperfield's: home of tremendous generosity, lovely teapots, and Louisa, the hostess who politely asked my permission to compare me to Barbara Ehrenreich and Lemony Snicket (permission granted!). I trotted out the SUV passage instead of the Nixon passage and it was well received. Lots of folks sticking around to chat afterwards, a few even buying books.
Next time: we find out if there are any liberals - oh excuse me, the word is progressive now - in Berkeley.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
On day one I went way down to Santa Cruz. On day three, I go way up to Santa Rosa. But day two was within the San Francisco city limits. I did a pleasant phone interview with Shepherd Express, which is not the speediest rounder up of sheep anywhere but rather an alternative weekly in Milwaukee.
Then I did this thing that I had never heard about. My media escort picked me up at the Argonaut Hotel and we went to four bookstores in an hour or so, dropping in, saying hi, signing every one of my books they had and moving along to the next. They knew we were coming so it wasn't a cold call but it was still occasionally awkward. Like, I wanted to make friends with the booksellers because a) it's good to make friends and b) then they'll recommend the book. At store #1 I noticed Noam Chomsky's Hegemony Or Survival and commented to the clerk (a dead ringer for the non-Jack Black employee in High Fidelity) that I had written the Amazon editorial review for that one. "We don't use the a-word around here." Tension. Dude, I'm just making small talk. "Well, now I work in public radio" I said. That seemed to help. But not much. "Okay, thanks for your time" I muttered.
Other stores went better, including Booksmith's in the Haight-Ashbury where everyone was way cool and I even met the owner. I wished I could have stayed and shopped. At some of the stores I offered to sign Mitch Albom's books too but they politely declined. Then back to the hotel for a phone interview with a radio station in Bellingham.
The reading/signing was at Books, Inc. downtown, a store that has been in business for, oh, about a month. Although sort of a long time before that as A Clean Well Lighted Place For Books (only the greatest bookstore name ever). Not a ton of people since getting actual SF press was tricky but a lot of enthusiasm and alarmingly large poster displays featuring the picture Jill took of me on our side deck.
Someone asked me if tour was a drag. It's not. It's an all expenses paid trip around the country where you occasionally go to bookstores where people who think you're interesting tell you so. But let's see how I feel round about Milwaukee late next week.
In my book, CONSERVATIZE ME, (have I mentioned I wrote a book?), I review various movies based on their alleged conservative messages. Among them are the three Lord of the Rings movies. I've received some scoffing from lefties on that since they don't see the connection. But Rick Santorum does.
Santorum used the analogy from one of his favorite books, J.R.R. Tolkien's 1950s fantasy classic, "Lord of the Rings," to put an increasingly unpopular war in Iraq into terms any school kid could easily understand.When you're trotting out Tolkein two weeks before the election, that's trouble.
"As the hobbits are going up Mount Doom, the Eye of Mordor is being drawn somewhere else," Santorum said, describing the tool the evil Lord Sauron used in search of the magical ring that would consolidate his power over Middle-earth.
"It's being drawn to Iraq and it's not being drawn to the U.S.," he continued. "You know what? I want to keep it on Iraq. I don't want the Eye to come back here to the United States."
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Oh well, this is quite nice indeed. Oh my goodness yes. They’ve put me up in the Argonaut Hotel, which is right at Fisherman’s Wharf. It’s an old cannery but has now become a swank hotel. They replaced all the cans with swank. I can look out of my window and see Alcatraz and boats and lots of tourists. The only drag is that I packed my toothbrush next to the deodorant. And the deodorant's cap came off. Aaaaand then I brushed my teeth.
Last night, my media escort David Golia drove me two hours (!) down the coast to Capitola, California, which is indeed right near Santa Cruz. Across the street, they told me. I was appearing at the Capitola Book Café and my name was up in reader board letters. Not quite a name up in lights but still new and thrilling to me. We had a good turn out as I spoke from a round information desk thingy. I read parts of the book about the Rexburg, Idaho mayor who renounces the Republican Party, the dawning of my Nixon man-crush, and I added my Toby Keith concert chewing tobacco hallucinations. That last part was new but seemed to go well.
In the front row was a guy in a cowboy hat, grey camouflage (I’ve never understood that – is it to hide among trees made of cement?), and , I kid you not, a toothpick in his mouth. So here I was making all these jokes about the right and all the while thinking, “I wonder if this guy is a representative of a lynch mob? And if so, what are the odds that the hippies in attendance would be prepared to fend them off?” But nope, just a regular guy.
David, the media escort, is a musician and big time music geek. In the four hours of round trip driving we had plenty of time to talk rock. It sometimes stuns me how much information about pop music I’ve amassed over the years. Perhaps this is my next book, something about pop music. Or I could leverage all that sports knowledge I’ve gathered up.
Just got off the phone with a reporter in Milwaukee who is doing a print piece on the book, then off to sign books at various stores, and finally read and sign at Books, Inc. in San Francisco.
I find myself with time on my hands for the first time in a while. Family’s at home. There are readings and interviews but they’re spread out. So I instantly convert that free time to stress: now is when I should accomplish ALL those things I’ve meant to do. Now. In the next two hours.
CONTEST: FIRST PERSON TO SAY TO ME “YOUR BOOK IS LIKE A CHALUPA BUT STUFFED WITH INSIGHT” AT ONE OF THE READINGS, GETS A PRIZE.
Monday, October 16, 2006
I may just take up residency here in the Portland airport. Free wi-fi AND the delicious coffee of the indigenous Coffee People. My flight to SFO is delayed so I just get to love it all more.
Yesterday I had a delightful phone interview with the improbably named Billy Sunshine Show. As you can guess, Billy Sunshine was apoplectic with rage. Fortunately, it wasn't directed at me but rather at the modern American right. He and his co-host/producer Barbara had actually read the book, which is always nice since it often leads to questions I hadn't heard before (Barbara wanted to know about the footnotes).
The day before I had been on David Gold's show. He's a conservative in the Bay Area and we had a lot of fun sparring on a number of issues related to political identity. He tends to call folks on the left "libs". I asked him if he called the other side "cons" or just "people" or "Americans". He wasn't sure. It got a bit shouty, more so than I'm used to in The Urbane World of Public Radio, but it was always civil and even friendly. Afterwards we both agreed it was fun. One caller said that if I couldn't get what was so great about Reagan, I was an idiot. Also that all liberals are communists and socialists. Sigh. This is the kind of dumbing down of discourse that I hope I can change just a tidge. Gold appeared to be embarrassed about the caller. I just feel bad that the caller has to go through life with such a filter. I don't think it helps you understand the world better to do crap like that.
Last night was my reading at Powell's, the famed "takes up a whole damn city block" bookstore in Portland. When I got there, I learned that it was all coordinated by esteemed McSweeney's veteran Kevin Sampsell who also introduced me. Maybe 50-65 people at the event. I knew six of them and while the personal me was glad to see friends, the professional me was pleased to see strangers. I'm still stunned and delighted that strangers are paying to read my book and going to bookstores to hear what I have to say.
I was a little nervous to see hippies in attendance given that I empathize with Nixon in his battle against the hippies and generally read that part at bookstore events. But the hippies can take it. They are a docile race (and thus easily conquered if someone really wanted to, which no one does).
After the event, I went out for zesty macaroni n' cheese (hipster gourmet style) at a place in Portland that might have been called either Montage or Collage (but not, I don't think, Corsage or Fromage or Dressage).
On to the Bay Area to read tonight at Capitola Book Cafe. I think it's part of Santa Cruz. Billy Sunshine is expected to be in attendance.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
I'm now actively despised on the right and on the left, at least among people who do their despising on blogs and comment spaces. Hell, that was easy. Earning enmity among the humorless hotheads is a snap, turns out. There's a phrase for the meaning of having a cross section of the constantly furious mad at you: doing something right.
Your "willing tool of the rightwing project",
ps. I'm also a willing tool of the Alan Parsons Project!
Friday, October 13, 2006
I'm in the blessedly wi-fi-packed Portland airport having just finished the first of two rapid fire trips to Portland, Oregon. I gave a talk at the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association yesterday afternoon. It was this program where they had ten authors speak for 12 minutes each and we were told to not read from our books. I was scheduled to go on 9th. For a while, we were ahead of schedule and all the authors moved along briskly. But then someone went and mentioned that and the next author, a teacher by trade, happily gobbled up the loose minutes. The 7th speaker was my pal Ryan Boudinot, author of the darkly brilliant book The Littlest Hitler. He pushed us from "on time" to "way over" as he read his title story. That made the 8th speaker annoyed, which was a bad thing because she was already a poet so she's inevitably annoyed anyway.
She talked about how little respect poetry gets and then, as she tried to find her place in her own book to read something, she commented on how nice it was to have silence. And I'm thinking "the only reason we have silence is because you've lost your place". And then she talked about genocide for quite a while.
And then I had to get up and talk about my book and make jokes and try to have fun. A laugh was a lot to ask of the poor booksellers by this point but they did their best. Later at the book signing table I had a huuuuge long line of people waiting for me to sign. Which was awfully nice. So I think it was a big success.
On the air this morning with Thom Hartmann today, Portland lefty radio host. He's earnest but I got some jokes in. Flying back to Seattle to do Michael Medved's show at 1. I was scheduled to be on Rachel Maddow's Air America show too but that got postponed.
Update: Just got off the air with Medved. Nice guy. Had a lovely time. But conservative talk radio can be such a weird prism of reality. He said things like "well obviously the major network news organizations have a liberal bias and so do the colleges and even the high schools" and then move on to another point. And I sit there wondering if I should challenge that fairly ridiculous simplistic supposition or just let it pass. I let it pass and waited for my next chance to tell a joke. He obviously never met, for instance, every single high school teacher I ever had ever.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
- KCTC in Sacramento, interview with Scott & Sims, one of whom (I think it's Sims though it could be Scott) is wearing sunglasses!
- Interviewed by Dr. Alvin Augustus Jones for WCBQ-AM & WHNC-AM in Oxford, NC. And if you think he has a big name, wait til you see his big web site.
- Talking to Michelangelo Signorile later today for his show on Sirius. I hope there is no live spelling of his name.
Just go right here. I could just copy and paste the whole thing but this is more sporting, don't you think?
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
I might have a chance to be one of them quoted people on the side of Starbucks' cups. They're interested, I'm interested, I've got the form. What ought I to say?
"I wish they had more locations"
"No, please, accept more money for this latte"
"I think the mermaid digs me. No, I mean the older hotter mermaid."
Yesterday I pointed out that all I seem to do anymore is ask you to buy the book. And on the air I badger people pledge drive style. So here are gifts.
It's the mid-80's Lakers telling you not to do drugs via "rap music". Here are some ways they do so:
1. Huge grandma sunglasses
2. Golf shirts
3. Kareem not even showing up at the same time as the other guys at the studio but still calling himself "the captain of the team"
4. Kurt Rambis rapping
5. Lots of rapping in the "I'm (x) and I'm here to say" fashion of the day.
6. Mob of children.
7. Horror, horror, horror.
Monday, October 09, 2006
The fall pledge drive at some radio station where I work began today. So between that and the publicity for the book I now spend almost all of my time trying to get people to give up their money for something that I call thought provoking.
It will all pass.
Meanwhile, enjoy Strindberg and Helium.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
I’m in Oakland, California, home of my Mariners’ much better operated division rival, at the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association conference. I had been asked to deliver a 12 minute speech about…something. The book or me or books in general or something. I was intimidated a bit but then I realized I had been working on this thing for, all told, 27 months. So 12 minutes? Not so hard. I was told it was a big success. Whew. Then today I signed a ton of books for people who had never heard of me.
Also today, I went to the Barnes & Noble in Jack London Square and there was the book. I know: a book in a bookstore? Wha?! But it's still such a thrill.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
710 KIRO in the greater Seattle area. Pretty sure I'll talk about the book, not sure if I'll talk about Tony Snow calling Foley's messages to pages "naughty e-mails" and what that says about conservatism and Republicanism. Pretty sure we won't talk about Dave Reichert's unspeakably tight t-shirts.
Also, tonight is the big official launch party for the book at the Big Picture in Seattle's Belltown neighborhood. Come on over! You're welcome to ask me about Reichert's t-shirts there.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Some time ago, I posted this in this here blog:
Thursday, May 12, 2005
A Brief Update
So it turns out I'm writing a book. It's tentatively planned, I don't even want to say scheduled, for October of 2006. This is something I've been working toward for a long while and I'm grateful that it's happening. Not sure what it means for this blog but my intention is to keep it going. You probably won't need to check it more than about once a week but I will endeavor to post whenever I can.
Well, here it is October 3rd and the book is out. In fact, it started showing up on people's doorsteps yesterday if they ordered through Amazon. But as of today, it is also in stores. Not sure if the Barneses and Nobles will have it, probably depends where you are. But if not they can order it. Me, I'm going down to Elliott Bay Book Company in downtown Seattle tomorrow to see it on the shelves. For as long as I can remember, I've been going to that place and often wandering by certain shelves and picturing my book there, generally right after Dennis Miller, alphabetically.
I want to thank readers of this blog for your help in this effort. A blog keeps a writer in shape. And especially when you know people are reading it, it makes you work harder at it, even if all you're doing is typing out some weird thing your kid said about God and dinosaurs or something. I have found the book writing process to be fascinating, exhilirating, exhausting, frustrating, and different than I ever expected in almost every way. On the little business cards they've given me to hand out it says that you can learn about my next book by going to AuthorTracker.com. And I was all, What next book?! No plans yet. But I do hope to do this again.
It was over a year of research, writing, and editing. Now it's all publicity. Did I mention it makes an outstanding gift?
Anyway, thanks. If you read the book, I hope you enjoy it. This guy in Buffalo did.
And here is a picture from the Seattle Times that you may find unsettling:
Sunday, October 01, 2006
ME: You guys want to go to church today or go to the Farmer's Market and buy fruit?
KATE: Fruit! Farmer's Market!
KATE: I don't like church!
KATE: They make me go away with babysitters.
ME: And you want to stay with Mom and Dad.
KATE: Yeah. I love you.
CHARLIE: I don't like church because it doesn't make any sense.
ME: What do you mean?
CHARLIE: All they want to talk about is God and Jesus. And it doesn't make sense. All the stories are just so weird. All day long they talk about that every day. It bugs.
ME: Fruit makes more sense.
Friday, September 29, 2006
So it's like this. My daughter Kate (Age 3) is a wonderful person. Passionate about music, enthused about travel and life experiences, fiercely loyal to friends and family. She's also two other things: a dwarf and adorable. She's cute as hell, there's no denying it. When you see Kate, you realize that she's proportioned differently than most other people and, as is the case with anything anomalous, that catches your attention and you need a second to make sense of it. And what happens when you add in the cuteness, well, people end up staring at her in public places. Sometimes with a smile on their faces, sometimes not.
That happened today. About a half an hour ago. We were in this coffee shop, waiting in line, and this woman kept staring at Kate.
ME: Please stop staring at my daughter.
HER: But she's so cute!
ME: That doesn't make it okay to stare at her.
HER: Well, I just think she's adorable.
ME: Stop staring at her. It's not okay.
It's not okay to stare. It's not. It's rude. But because she's a child, many people think the rules that apply to civilized society don't apply to her.
But. They. Do.
You shouldn't stare at people with physical differences. You shouldn't even stare at people who are cute just because they're cute. It's not okay.
Here's the deal. If you'd like to meet Kate, or anyone for that matter, walk up and introduce yourself. Show some respect.
Sometimes I'm glad that Kate (Age 3) fills me with such joy for the world. Because that prevents me from punching people in their eyes.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
(simul-blogged at conservatizeme.com)
The book comes out in four more days. Available on shelves, deliverable by Amazon, the whole thing. And at that point, my descriptions of various people and accounts of my time with them become public. Perhaps it's good to take occasional inventory of some of the Conservatize Me cast of characters.
Dinesh D'Souza - Pundit. I never meet him in the book but I think I describe him as the most boring writer in the world. But because he's boring (and smug and busy), dude will never read my book. Status: safe!
"Jeff Gannon" - Fake reporter/possible real gay porn star. I had tea with him during the book and learned that maybe what he wanted all along, the reason he concocted this whole weird career trajectory is that he wanted to be a conservative pundit. And he figured the whole gay porn thing would never come up. Among conservatives. "Gannon" has plenty of people writing worse things than I did. I was almost too fascinated to be cruel. Still, what if he shows up at a reading, furious and wild-eyed? Status: mostly safe!
Rich Lowry - editor, National Review. I like Rich but he might be offended when I describe the National Review offices as looking like a fly-by-night telemarketing operation and their library as looking like the set of a high school play. And I dis their implementation of the Dewey Decimal System. Oh man, I'm adding all this up. He's going to KILL me. Status: Severe danger!
William Kristol - neo-con Godfather. I do compare him to a vampire but I also point out his eerie resemblance to my late father. He's too busy resuscitating the dying body of his ideology but hell, maybe he'll show up at the Georgetown Barnes & Noble for a reading...with a taste for blood! Status: Slight danger!
Lee Greenwood - musical atrocity. I take down Greenwood in the book. I am not kind. I am also not remorseful. In fact, I want Greenwood coming after me, shambling on over looking for a fight. Calling me out. Throwing down. Stepping to me. Two hits: me hitting him, him hitting the floor. Actually three hits: me hitting him again once he's on the floor. Status: safe!
Whew. There's a lot of these. And I haven't even gotten to Kid Rock or the mayor of Rexburg, Idaho.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
I think I'll end up doing a fair amount of public radio interviews for this book. But today I found out that I'll be doing an hour with Michael Medved on 10/5 from 1-2pm pacific time. Medved is in the book. I spent a day sitting in the studio with him while he did his show. It was the day of the London bombings. Was the word "Islamofascism" brought up? Yes. Yes it was.
But he's not the only one who probably thinks I'm dramatically underestimating Huge Threats. Someone on the left does too!
Thursday, September 21, 2006
A long time ago, when I used to review books for Amazon, I was assigned the latest Chomsky tome. It was okay. My review appeared on the site.
But now Hugo Chavez has endorsed and the damn thing is at #4.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Both here and at conservatizeme.com. My first post is up there. It's about senators.
Friday, September 15, 2006
Also known as completely contemporary national radio.
Tomorrow (9/16), I'll be co-hosting Weekend America. It's a national public radio show (not a National Public Radio show - bonus points for caring about the difference). In the first hour airing in Seattle (12-1 at some radio station where I work), I'll be co-hosting with Bill Radke. It's the first time we've ever done radio together where I wasn't subservient to him as writer/producer/lackey. And so I shall make him pay. No. I won't. Actually, I owe Bill much of my career. Here's the trick: he'll be in Philadelphia, I'll be in Los Angeles. Should be fun. In the other hour, I'll be co-hosting with Barbara Bogaev, which is also fun but less monumental to Rewind fans.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
ConservatizeMe.com is up and running. Once I can borrow a digital video camera, there will be a YouTube welcome thingy on there too. I will continue to blog here and may also blog differently over there.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Recently, in a desperate bid to boost ratings, we went on a family trip to Kauai. "The Moe Family is going to Hawaii!" we shouted. Mysterious goings on with tiki gods soon followed. We all learned to surf and even won a contest. A huge luau was held as Charlie (age 5) fell in love with an adorable Hawaiian girl. Okay, most of that didn't happen. But we did go to Hawaii.
So what does every sitcom do when the Hawaii plotline has passed? That's right: the new baby. Coming in March. Because honestly, the ones we got won't stay cute forever. This will buy us a little more time. A third kid. Completing the trilogy. Working title: Return of the Jedi Moe. There will never be a Phantom Menace Moe because those movies never happened.
Friday, September 08, 2006
Conservatize Me, I've just been told, is now this:
BookSense Notable pick for November
Featured Alternate Selection of Quality Paperback Book Club and InsightOut Book Club
Update: I think InsightOut is a Gay/Lesbian thing, so...huh? But okay!
My boy is awfully fond of Star Wars. In the same way that a koala is fond of eucalyptus. He thinks about it all the time and consumes it some form (book, stickers, Lego, prying Dad for more information) almost constantly. He's very intrigued by the Darth Vader - Obi Wan light saber battle because it's dramatically important and because it's too scary for him to watch so I need to describe it nearly every day.
HIM: Kate! I'm going to bonk you on the head! I'm going to strike you down!
ME: You can't bonk her, Charlie. If you strike your sister down, she will become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.
HIM: Okay Kate, hold up the bat and I'll be the thrower.
HIM: And I'm going to strike you out!
ME: Careful, Charlie. If you strike her out, she will become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.
HIM: Dad, why does Obi-Wan say he will become more powerful if he gets killed?
ME: Well, he means his ghost will become powerful.
HIM: How can a ghost be powerful?
ME: He can talk to Luke once in a while. Give him advice. Be kind of a friend and helper.
HIM: Like a ghost helper?
ME: That's right.
HIM: Well, that's just stupid.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
10/4 SEATTLE, WA/Seattle Book Salon w/Seattle Magazine/Party& Signing - The Big Picture in Belltown
10/5 SEATTLE, WA/Queen Anne Books/Speaking & Signing
10/6 OAKLAND, CA/NCIBA/Speaking @ Welcome Reception
10/7 OAKLAND, CA/NCIBA/Signing
10/12 PORTLAND, OR/PNBA/Speaking & Signing @ Celebration of Authors
10/15 PORTLAND, OR/Powell’s Bookstore/Speaking & Signing
10/16 CAPITOLA, CA/Capitola Book Café/Speaking & Signing
10/17 SAN FRANCISCO, CA/Books Inc./Speaking & Signing
10/18 SANTA ROSA, CA/Copperfield’s Books/Speaking & Signing
10/19 BERKELEY, CA/Black Oak Books/Speaking & Signing
10/20 BELLINGHAM, WA/Village Books/Speaking & Signing
10/23 BOSTON, MA/Boston University Bookstore/Speaking&Signing
10/24 WASHINGTON, DC/Barnes & Noble(Georgetown)/Speaking&Signing
10/25 MINNEAPOLIS, MN/Magers & Quinn Books/Speaking & Signing
10/26 MILWAUKEE, WI/H.W. Schwartz Bookstore/Speaking & Signing
10/27 AUSTIN, TX/Texas Book Festival/Speaking & Signing
10/28 AUSTIN, TX/Texas Book Festival/Panel & Signing
11/1 LAKE FOREST PARK, WA/Third Place Books/Speaking & Signing
11/6 SEATTLE, WA/University Bookstore/Speaking & Signing
Sunday, September 03, 2006
It's this: one night will be the first night your son (Age 5) will really discover the full range of possibility surrounding flashlight shadow puppets as he lies in bed awaiting sleep. And he'll call you urgently into his room to see something. He'll be holding the flashlight under his arm so the arm casts a shadow on the ceiling. "Dad!" he'll say, "Look! I'm strong!" Yes. Yes you are.
Friday, September 01, 2006
I took a leave of absence, you see. Went on vacation. To Hawaii, a state that can make a lot of words out of only 12 letters. I didn't announce it here in advance because we both know you'd rob my house.
Anyway, there's a thing happening at Bumbershoot (big Seattle arts hoo-ha) this weekend where I'm going to do live readings of some of my fave bits from the Pop Song Correspondences column in McSweeney's. I'm calling it "Pop Song Correspondences Comes Alive!" and it will involve music and jokes and me. 1:00 pm on Monday. For only half an hour. If it works out, maybe I could become one of those solo theater artists, like Whoopi Goldberg but hopefully without the unfortunate Ted Danson period.
Book tour dates to be announced soon! Conan doesn't want me! Olbermann does!
Friday, August 11, 2006
It's the most awesomest lineup ever. Today, on some show at some radio station where I work, the lineup is this:
1. The Long Winters play live and I interview them
2. Tommy Chong shows up and talks to Dave Beck
3. Movie reviews!
(I know it seems like I've turned into a book promotional machine lately but honestly it's necessarily consumed almost all of my brain).
Thursday, August 10, 2006
When your wife has a killer migraine and is getting some much needed sleep, when your kids were up til 10 and then sleep late, when you had to get some radio writing done and woke up at 5:30 unable to go back to sleep, here's what you do: you finish the radio writing by 6:30, you read the paper for 20 minutes, then you realize that you should be promoting your book more so you get on MySpace and invite lots of people to be your friends. So here's what idle time yields: craven neediness. The lesson? Either sleep in, get your kids to bed earlier, or cure migraines.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Well, it's been working toward having one for a while. But now it really does. It's on Amazon. I'm relieved/excited/wonderstruck. The itty-bitty blurb at the top, in case you can't read it, is from John Hodgman, Former Professional Literary Agent, and better known today as author of The Areas of My Expertise, a regular on The Daily Show, and, in commercials that play every four seconds, a PC.
You can buy the book here if you want. Lovely gift and all that. And it has jokes.
HIM: Dad, who's your favorite in Looney Tunes?
ME: Daffy Duck. He's the most crass.
HIM: What's that mean?
ME: Oh, I just like how he rages against the world. It's funny.
HIM: I like Bugs Bunny. You know why?
ME: No. Why?
HIM: He has the most plans.
ME: The most plans? Like what kind of plans?
HIM: He's always tricking people and making jokes. And he always has these wonderful plans for how to do everything.
(we're in the car and the top of the hour NPR news comes on. I scramble to turn down the volume on the lead story but accidentally turn it up instead)
RADIO: Eight people were killed today, their bodies found hours afterw (CLICK)
HIM: Whew! That's good!
ME: What's good?
HIM: That only eight people got killed.
ME: That's good?
HIM: Well, it could have been a lot more. Like hundreds!
Friday, July 28, 2006
Army specialist dismissed for being gay was questioned about his involvement with community theater.
Haven't updated much lately. Sorry about that.
Been having some tribulations that have caused me to smack head against table. Won't go into it here but everyone's fine, everything's fine, all will be fine, but man it was, as Charlie (Age 5) would say, FUSStrating. But now it's good. Buy me a cup of coffee some time and I'll tell you about it.
A song this morning by Charlie (Age 5):
Oh, imagination is stupid
Imagination is stupid
Imagining things is dumb and a waste of time
Imagination! IS! DUMB!
(Make up some random melody. He did.)
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Okay, so the most brilliant sitcom you're likely to see in a while can be found at YouTube. Everyone's watching it. It's called Nobody's Watching (see the pilot in three installments: 1, 2, 3). It's scripted. The concept is this: two high school pals love sitcoms, they send a video of themselves to the WB asking for jobs, the WB moves them to LA to make a sitcom but they make them live on a sitcom set and have a studio audience in place at all times, the guys then must make a pilot. It's funny as hell. Anyway, the pilot (real) was not picked up by the WB, sending the show to purgatory. Now it's on YouTube and is so popular that it's being seen by everyone. And it's really funny.
It got me thinking. What if my life is a big sitcom? And it's all being filmed? Like in the Truman Show?
Evidence to back up theory:
1. I work in a radio station, popular sitcom setting.
2. I have adorable wisecracking kids.
3. Guest stars seem to drop by (in the last few weeks I've talked with David Cross and Lewis Black)
4. I'm fond of making jokes.
Evidence to cast theory into doubt:
1. My issues are generally not resolved.
2. No laugh track, as far as I know.
3. Co-workers are fairly homogenous; I don't have the stuffy one, the sleazy one, the oversexed one, the stupid one. They're all normal smart people who quietly go about their business.
Still, maybe it's like an artsy sitcom. Like a new kind of sitcom. And it's certainly not a drama, a reality show, or a news program. Like a sitcom on the Sundance Channel where no one actually laughs.
So let me ask you this: if you're life was a TV show, what kind of show would it be?
Monday, July 17, 2006
They asked me to make remarks at the beginning of the program.
Remarks I made:
"It's a night of fun, memories, schadenfreude. And because we have Federal Way High School educations, I'll point out that that's a word you can look up on the computer. And because we have Federal Way High School educations, I'll point out that the computer is that little TV with the box attached to it that don't seem to work with the REE-mote."
The Judas Priest lyric study group will not be doing their presentation tonight. They will be meeting at the regular time next week at CoCo's. This week's topic is Turbo Lover. Please wear leather wristbands.
"11:15 has been set aside for the drunken "I've always had a crush on you" confessional. I see the cheerleaders have once again formed a tight closed circle so you know where to find them."
High school classmates, then and now
Then: Mormon girl I had a crush on
Now: Former mormon and current lesbian
Then: Obnoxious football player
Now: Obnoxious sheet metal worker, 100 pounds heavier
Then: Cheerleaders (4) who found themselves fascinating and assumed everyone else did as well
Now: Same but only three of them now
Questions I asked of other people:
So were you hooked on speed at some point? (answer: No! My god, what are you talking about?)
When you got married, did you think that would take care of the lesbian thing? (answer: yes)
Who are you? (answer: Someone you went to school with for six years, my god, I can't believe you don't remember!)
Questions asked of me:
What kind of music does your radio station play (answer: It's not that kind of... see, the way public radio works is....never mind)
Did you ever go to all these parties? (answer: Nope)
Who did you hate the most? (answer: That guy riiiiiiight there. And evidently I still do)