19 years!

This month marks the 19th anniversary of this site. 19 years! That means it’s older than Google, older than the iPod, older than the word “blog” itself. We called them online journals or homepages back then, and most of them were ugly. This was way before social networking screwed up our lives and everything had to be “shared.” Mark Zuckerberg was 12 years old in 1996, most people didn’t have cell phones, and I had a lot more hair.

Every year I use this post to tell newcomers what this site is all about and what I’m working on. I write a weekly column for The Saturday Evening Post (every Friday morning) and I contribute to Esquire and Playboy. I published an essay and humor collection in 2003 titled Book, with Words and Pages, and you can read it here for free. I’m currently working on another book and a couple of other projects but I don’t want to talk about them yet. You can find out more about me here and read some of my writing here.

I’m not on Facebook or Twitter. I consider this my HQ on the web and I update it all the time. If you’d like to contact me you can leave a comment on any post or send me an e-mail. You can sign up to get an e-mail when I update the site (scroll down and enter your e-mail in the box on the right). I also send out a handwritten letter via snail mail (the old-fashioned way) every month, in an envelope with a stamp and everything! If you’d like to subscribe the details are here.

Have a great rest of the week. It’s currently 88 degrees and humid and gross and I’m ready for the fall to begin.

Curse of Five Things About Media and Technology Right Now

(Part 7 of my ongoing series. Here’s part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, and part 6. This time with hashtags!)

1. Post the news on social media ASAP! So what if it’s wrong? We’ll just delete it or update it! What’s the problem? #journalismtoday

2. “You’re a what? Oh, you mean content creator.” #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter

3. I don’t know what I want to see in my next President, but I do know it’s not someone who spends all day on Twitter.

4. This is an interesting piece about phones from The Atlantic, though I disagree slightly with some of the conclusions (it’s not just the design of/how people use smartphones that’s the reason younger people don’t make a lot of calls, it actually is anxiety and laziness/speed/convenience).

5. I don’t think humans were made to experience things at the speed of social media.

Capital M

The other night I watched Bad Words, the movie with Jason Bateman as a 40-year-old who is allowed to enter a national kids spelling bee because of a loophole in the rules. It’s funny and dirty with a couple of good twists in the story, and Bateman does a fine job of directing. It’s quite entertaining.

But it made me think of something that happened four decades ago, when I was in fifth grade. We were on a class outing to a part of my hometown called Stage Fort Park, a large recreation area with lots of green grass and rocks to climb and beaches. There was food and games and other activities, including a spelling bee (they had to mix in some learning with the sunshine and running around). I was pretty damn good at spelling so I entered. I got through a few rounds no problem, and then I got the word “Massachusetts.” I spelled it correctly – M-A-S-S-A-C-H-U-S-E-T-T-S – and my teacher even said “That was really great Bob.”

I think I gave a little smile and maybe even a silent sigh of relief, but then he added “…but you forgot to say CAPITAL M.”

I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach, and I lowered my head in shame and disappointment (D-I-S-A-P-P-O-I-N-T-M-E-N-T). All that work and I was disqualified (D-I-S-Q-U-A-L-I-F-I-E-D) because of what I consider a technicality (T-E-C-H-N-I-C-A-L-I-T-Y). I’m pretty sure I thought of some bad words as I walked away. I don’t remember too many things that happened in my fifth grade class but 40 years later I remember that.

Random thoughts

1. Twitter has gotten rid of their 140-character limit on direct messages. Yeah, I remember when this was called “e-mail.”

2. At the supermarket last week I was pushing my cart down an aisle when I saw an attractive woman in front of me. Just then a guy comes around the corner into the aisle and makes the wolf whistle sound towards her, so she’s obviously his girlfriend or wife. She kinda laughed and shook her head and said “what are you doing?” in that playful way couples do, wondering why he was acting like a goofball. For a split second I thought of saying to her, “oh, he’s doing that for me,” but I stopped myself because I didn’t know them and who knows how they would take it. Just then, he points to me and says to her “oh no, that was for him.” We laughed.

3. I don’t go to the movies as much as I’d like to (I think I’ve been once in the past three years), but I’ll be in line first day to see this:

4. I have a theory that people are dumber/lazier/more irritating during the summer. Discuss.

5. Peg Lynch passed away a few weeks ago in Massachusetts at the age of 98. If you don’t know who she is, she pretty much invented the sitcom. She was an amazing woman who not only starred in her radio and TV shows but also wrote all of them – thousands of scripts – without the help of a staff. One of my heroes. Here’s her official site, run by her daughter, and her NYT obituary.