Notes from my five day weekend [10/21/08

First of all, if you don’t post regularly, you lose 50% of your traffic. In my case, that means I go from six to three (all of whom, I suspect, have my phone number).

There’s no overarching reason why I didn’t post, just a list of little ones. My kids went to Disneyland, which left my wife and I under some pressure to use our “quality time” wisely. So we experimented with going a day without computers or TV. I got called into work unexpectedly. We have some friends in town because their daughter is in the hospital. None of which would eat a whole weekend, but it all collectively adds up.

With our chance to see a grown-up movie without logistical obstructions, we chose W. Because you can’t torment the current president enough to satisfy my wife. Oliver Stone’s bio has no information that hasn’t been circulating for some time (he should have given Bob Woodward screen-writing credit), s the only new part is the dramatic re-enactments of it. Josh Brolin does a great Bush, but Stone has him eating or drinking through the whole movie, apparently just out of spite. And they dwell on this process with close-ups, which gets old fast.

So I didn’t learn much about the 43rd President, but I did come away with some perspective on the problems with biographies, especially on film. I’ve always been baffled by what directors include and leave out. W spends tme on Bush’s first campaign for congress (which he lost) but almost no time on his legendary battle against incumbent Ann Richards for the governor of Texas. It is mentioned briefly that Ann richards would be hard to beat. Then cut to the victory party.

He beat Ann Richards the same way he beat John Kerry in 2004 – by stirring up the base and making sure they all got out to vote. Now, the 2004 race was outside the film’s focus (which was largely decisions leading up to the Iraq invasion), but some insight into how this idiot keeps beating supposedly smart democrats would be instructive.

I have the same problem with the John Adams bio that ran on HBO. There were some moments I really wanted to see, that the series just skipped over. John Adams playing bad cop in the treaty negotiations between the new nation, England and France probably saved the union. Two lines.

I know you only have so much time, but show – don’t tell.

The good news is that they left that area open for me to write a play about it. Someday.

OK. This is not intended as a collection of other websites, but I have collected a few anyway over the past five days.

Chris Mathews becomes more partisan everyday, but you can still destroy your political career on Hardball. Here’s a recap from this morning’s Fix.

Trying to get your book on the shelves at the bookstore. Publishing marketer Andrew Wheeler explains on his blog why you shouldn’t take the numbers personally.

Why is your child’s textbook a pile of unreadable crap – the same as yours used to be?  The Textbook League explains, with an extended excerpt from physicist Richard Feyman’s account of his time on the California curriculum committee.

And finally, a return to an old and nearly forgotten obsession of mine: pictures of toilets found randomly on the internet (but these in particular are worth seeing!).

Worth waiting for? Probably not. But thanks for your patience anyway.

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One thought on “Notes from my five day weekend [10/21/08

  1. I need to see if I can find the link the study, but there was a great one a while back about the problems with textbooks. It noted that California, Texas, New York and ??? were the largest text book markets, so in general textbooks were written catering to those boards. Many systemic problems were found also. One of my favorites is that reviewers may never read the book, but they will go through and count how many pictures or references there are of a particular race or gender and rate the textbook on that basis. Everyone can count, so the publishers will make sure the numbers are equal. I’ll post a follow up comment is I find the link.

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