Friday finds

Cinderella

A staple of Kurt Vonnegut’s public appearances was his use of graphs to chart out the lives of fictional characters, and how people feel the need for more drama in their lives because their favorite stories have led them to expect something more eventful than running errands and going to work. Of course, some of us occasionally get the feeling we’re characters in somebody else’s story.

A couple of my New Press homies managed to get four wrongly convicted Wrong Guyssailors pardoned and released from jail with their book The Wrong Guys: Murder, False Confessions, and the Norfolk Four. I think the last time something like this happened was when an Errol Morris documentary, The Thin Blue Line, got Randall Dale Adams exonerated and released from prison after being wrongly convicted of the murder of a police officer. The book includes a great deal of interesting information about the psychology of false confessions, and their role in death-penalty convictions. Read about it here in The New Yorker, then buy the book here.

A pity nothing like this happened for Cameron Todd Willingham.

It’s back-to-school time for Mr. Prezbo, aka Geoff. Think of it as a special extended edition of the fourth season of The Wire.

The inner life of a waterspout on the Washington National Cathedral. I’m serious. Work with me on this, people, and just check the link.

The genre that dare not speak its name, and an author who doesn’t want you to know she writes it.

Dumb things writers say in their query letters.

“There was a night at Worldcon (the annual convention of the World Science Fiction Society) in Montreal, when, at two in the morning, in an absinthe bar, I found myself accosting the writer Larry Niven, one of my childhood and for that matter adulthood idols, and begging him for forgiveness because I stole an idea from one of his short stories and used it in The Magicians. It had been preying on my conscience. And I’d had a lot of absinthe. Niven, probably wisely, was ordering two glasses of ice water. He forgave me. But that may just have been to make me go away.”

Look forward to the Rapture without worrying about your pets. But, wait — I thought all dogs were supposed to go to Heaven?

Dust off your crayons, charge up your iPod, and order up The Indie Rock Coloring Book.

Anglophiles, here’s your next reading list. And your next listening list, too.

Civil War historian James M. McPherson talks about Abraham Lincoln.

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