Saturday, September 17, 2011

Newspaper Clippings...

I'm going to miss newspapers.

Besides losing the depth of reporting of full-time, dedicated reporters and health-of-the-republic issues, besides even the pleasant crunchiness of newspaper in my hands and the way it takes ink when doing the Sudoku, I like the randomness of a newspaper...

Sure you can find ANY information online - but do you?  Mostly you find only what you look for.  As websites and blogs become more and more "targeted" to their readerships, we get less and less information we aren't prepared to find.  Conspiracy theorists, for example, can visit only conspiracy-friendly sites.  Ditto Republicans.  Democrats.  Vegans.  You can spiral tighter and tighter into your own worldview - until you forget there IS any other world.  But an old-fashioned newspaper, designed to have something to please anyone, is guaranteed to have something to surprise or annoy everyone too.  Useful thing, outrage.

How are we going to replace newsprint's random assault on our personal Ivory Towers in the digital age?

Today's paper didn't annoy me more than usual (death, bad behavior, heroism, weather...) but it did surprise  me with two tidbits:

1)  Yarn Bombers have attacked the Arts District!  By invitation, to coordinate with Hair at the Winspear.  Seen yarn-bombing?  I love it.  Knitting Ninjas wrap yarn around everyday public items - a lamp post, a bike-stand, a tree - and suddenly the mundane is colorful! crazily patterned! wooly!  It's the cuddly side of anarchy.  I saw it several times in Europe; around here, there's a Michaels (on Greenville?) where the entry has been yarn-bombed.  Fun and fuzzy stuff.
Photo borrowed from TacticalAssalt's post on Knitta, the Houston art group

2)  A Highland Park middle school student wrote a novel.  (Cheers!   Literacy is not dead.)  Except... the numb-nut used names of real students and faculty in his book.  Apparently these characters-with-real-people-names, you know, Do Stuff.  Stuff you wouldn't want your real name on.  A few copies got out and now lawsuits are flying.

After my woohoo! Middle Schoolers want to write novels! fist-pumping reaction, comes the head-smacking, "But not enough sense to change names?!"

A  Highland Park family cannot possibly be so naive not to have heard of libel or lawsuits.  Even a kid ought to have more sense, certainly his parents should.  It's the first (most instinctive) law of writing fiction: write about your mother, lover, or enemy, but disguise them.  Exaggerate - it IS fiction - make them funnier or more horrible, but different looking and with a new name.  

Why is this camouflage instinctive?  Because no one wants a punch in the nose, that's why!

In her great writing book, Bird By Bird, Anne Lamott talks about this.  (Not to freak Internet-hall-monitor filters I'll substitute the letter P for one anatomical label; you might figure out the quote anyway):

"The best solution is not only to disguise and change as many characteristics as you can but also to make the fictional person a composite.  Then throw in the little tiny P and anti-Semitic leanings, and I think you'll be Okay."

Funny and wise.  Good writing/design advice too.  I love her book.

And don't you love this yarn-bombed bus?  Lets have Art Buses!  Ridership would go through the (decorated) roof if we could choose to ride the knitted bus or wait for the 5:15 that's decorated with Billy Big Mouth Bass and singing Lobsters.  There's an Art Car decorated with them called "The Sashimi Tabernacle Choir" - they sing multi-part harmony.  Kid you not.  Let's do it!  Art Buses.  Art Buses Now.

Photo of yarn-bombed bus borrowed from Fritinancy

Earlier posts on Bird by Bird here and here.

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