Posts Tagged ‘Dave Barry’

Literary resolutions for 2012 … and a review of 2011, a “Festival of Sleaze”

Sunday, January 1st, 2012
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We all feel a little burned out after New Year’s celebrations, and I’m no exception. So here are some notable literary resolutions to fortify and inspire you for the coming year:

No commas, please

Ben Greenman, author of the short story collection What He’s Poised to Do: “I want to reread all the Emily Dickinson poems, in order, at a slow enough rate that I understand them but a fast enough rate to keep it exciting. It’s not as easy at it sounds. And I also plan to think about why, in a time of reduced attention spans, short stories aren’t getting more traction.”

Elissa Schappell, author of the short story collection Blueprints for Building Better Girls: “It’s the Russians. It’s always the Russians. Oh yes, I’ll read the Russians in the summer months. Two summers ago, I developed such a bad case of Tolstoy‘s elbow from hauling around War and Peace I could barely flip through a magazine. The summer before Crime and Punishment doubled as a drinks tray at a lawn party, and when I got spooked staying alone at a friend’s summer house, I kept it by the door as a weapon. This year, however I’m more hopeful–I’m starting, more appropriately, in winter. Beginning tomorrow I’m going to make Anna Karenina my new BFF.”

The Russians are coming

James Hannaham, author of the novel God Says No:  “This year I want to figure out why, when an author says the phrase ‘working on a story collection,’ as in ‘I’m working on a story collection,’ everyone in publishing reacts as if they have instead heard the phrase ‘molesting several children.’ And I will continue to pray for the demise of e-books, or at least the demise of the stupid fear that they will replace printed books.”

Richard Lange, author of the 2013 novel Gather Darkness (Mulholland):  “I’m going to reread Moby Dick, Crime & Punishment, and The Scarlet Letter. Every time I go back to books that I loved as a kid, I learn more about myself as a writer now.”

Marisa Silver, author of the short story collection Alone With You: “Read more poetry. Use fewer commas.”

Read the rest at the Los Angeles Times here.

Meanwhile, Dave Barry reviews 2011: “It was the kind of year that made a person look back fondly on the gulf oil spill”:

Multiple committees, strongly held views

This was a year in which journalism was pretty much completely replaced by tweeting. It was a year in which a significant earthquake struck Washington, yet failed to destroy a single federal agency. …

But all of these developments, unfortunate as they were, would not by themselves have made 2011 truly awful. What made it truly awful was the economy, which, for what felt like the 17th straight year, continued to stagger around like a zombie on crack. Nothing seemed to help. …

As the year wore on, frustration finally boiled over in the form of the Occupy Various Random Spaces movement, wherein people who were sick and tired of a lot of stuff finally got off their butts and started working for meaningful change via direct action in the form of sitting around and forming multiple committees and drumming and not directly issuing any specific demands but definitely having a lot of strongly held views for and against a wide variety of things. Incredibly, even this did not bring about meaningful change. The economy remained wretched, especially unemployment, which got so bad that many Americans gave up even trying to work. Congress, for example.

Read the rest here.

The year in review, 2010: Cheer up! Things could be worse!

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011
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Cheer up! Things could be worse!

There’s lots to post, but little time.  I feel obligated to write something to acknowledge the new year and wrap up the old, but I’m still recovering, and my therapist says Dave Barry has done it so much better than I ever could, in the Miami Herald here.

I don’t usually like his stuff, but I liked this.

Barry reassures us it is not the worst year ever: “There have been MUCH worse years. For example, toward the end of the Cretaceous Period, the Earth was struck by an asteroid that wiped out 75 percent of all the species on the planet. Can we honestly say that we had a worse year than those species did? Yes we can, because they were not exposed to Jersey Shore.”

So here are a few of his highlights for 2010:
  • January: The runaway movie hit is Avatar, a futuristic epic about humans who travel to an alien planet to mine a precious mineral that they believe will give them the power to emit believable dialogue. This being a James Cameron movie, they fail.
  • April: when the Deepwater Horizon rig explodes in the Gulf of Mexico after being struck by a runaway Toyota Camry. BP initially downplays the magnitude of the problem, claiming that the resulting oil leak is smallish and might go away on its own or even prove to be, quote, “nutritious for oysters.” Soon, however, large patches of crude oil are drifting toward land, and it becomes clear that this is a major disaster — a challenge that we, as a nation, will have to meet, as we have met other challenges, with a combination of photo opportunities, lawsuits and tweeting.

    And kitschy, too

  • April: President Obama outlines his bold vision for the U.S. space program, calling for a manned mission to establish comprehensive health-care reform on Mars by 2030. The president also signs a historic arms-reduction treaty with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev under which both countries will destroy one-third of their older nuclear missiles by upgrading them to Windows Vista. In a related development, Iran purchases $78 million worth of used nuclear-missile parts on Craigslist.
  • May:  The pesky Deepwater Horizon oil spill dominates the news as BP tries a series of increasingly desperate measures to plug the leak, including, at one point, a 167,000-pound wad of pre-chewed Juicy Fruit. President Obama, eager to show that he is on top of the situation, develops severe forehead cramps from standing on the shore and frowning with concern at the water.
  • July: The month ends on a troubling note as the United Nations Security Council votes unanimously to send a peacekeeping force to quell Mel Gibson.

    Peacekeeping force en route

  • August: In other economic news, the first family, seeking to boost Gulf tourism, vacations in Panama City, where President Obama, demonstrating that the water is perfectly safe despite the oil spill, plunges in for a swim. Quick action by the Secret Service rescues him from the jaws of a mutant 500-pound shrimp sprouting what appear to be primitive wings. The first family hastily departs for Martha’s Vineyard to demonstrate that the water is also perfectly safe there.
  • September: The 2010 election season enters its final days with polls showing that Congress enjoys the same overall level of voter popularity as hemorrhoids. Incumbents swarm out of Washington and head for their home districts to campaign on the theme of how much they hate Washington, in the desperate hope that the voters will return them to Washington.
  • October: In the month’s most dramatic story, the 33 trapped Chilean miners are all brought safely to the surface, only to be sent right back down because they failed to bring up any copper — which, as the mining company points out, “was the whole point of sending them down there in the first place.” Meanwhile in France, millions of workers again take to the streets to demonstrate, in no uncertain terms, that they are French.
  • Unfortunately, the ball dropped slowly

    November: The lone bright spot is provided by the president’s deficit-reduction commission, which, after months of work, releases a draft of a tough plan that, if Congress can muster the backbone to enact it, would reduce the deficit by trillions of dollars and put the nation on the path back to fiscal sanity. This is a welcome bit of comic relief in the stressed-out capital; everybody enjoys a hearty bipartisan laugh, then gets back to maneuvering for the 2012 elections.

  • December: As the year finally draws to a close, all eyes are on Seaside Heights, N. J., where MTV plans to ring in the new year by dropping a ball containing Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, one of the leading bimbos of Jersey Shore. Millions eagerly tune in, only to find that the ball has been attached to something that makes it drop slowly. A bitterly disappointing end to a bitterly disappointing year.

***

Barry, by the way, currently has the distinction of playing lead guitar in the band The Rock Bottom Remainders, whose other members include Stephen King, Amy Tan, Ridley Pearson, Scott Turow, his brother Sam Barry, his sister-in-law Kathi Kamen Goldmark, and Mitch Albom.