My name is Nathan Bransford. And I only have basic cable.
Now, if you are stopping by the blog for the first time, this may not be such a big deal. But know this: I LOVE TV. I love TV like Tyra Banks loves models screaming at her surprise arrival. I love TV like Chris Harrison loves rose ceremonies. I love TV like Don Draper loves almost but not quite unattainable women.
You get the picture.
The decision to cut the cable wasn't the result of some high-minded, erudite reasoning, like waking up and realizing that TV was rotting my brain. (That dream about Jeff Probst interrogating me about my job performance at Tribal Council? Totally normal!)
My wife and I just noticed something one day: we weren't really watching TV anymore. And cable is a really, really expensive thing to pay for if you're not watching it.
In my old job as a literary agent, on weekdays I was working from 7:30 in the morning to 8:00 at night, and I was spending a huge chunk of that time reading. On the weekends I was writing from morning until night. After a day of reading and writing, it's not particularly relaxing to end it with still more reading
. TV was the perfect antidote.
And it just so happens that my time as an agent coincided with a Golden Era of Television, with both reality TV and scripted shows that raised the bar for what was thought possible on television. It was really easy to get sucked in when there was such excellent entertainment to be had (and also The Hills and The Bachelor, which were non-excellently but deeply entertaining).
But now that I no longer read for work, I have rediscovered this crazy indulgence called reading for pleasure. Including books published before 2005! Before 1930 even! I'm even re-reading books I've read before! It is amazing!
And I'm sorry to say that I'm feeling like TV overall just isn't as awesome as it was five years ago, with many reality shows feeling stale and only a few scripted shows that are really killing it. At this point there are only three shows that I feel like I can't miss:
Parks & Recreation, Modern Family, and Mad Men.
Two of those are on network TV, and one is on hiatus.
Hence: basic cable for us. It still gives me the chills from time to time when I realize I can't watch ESPN, but the truth is that I'm too busy with other things anyway. For anything else I can't get on network TV, there's Netflix, Hulu, and iTunes. We're saving a ton of money, I'm re-reading THE GREAT GATSBY, and I couldn't be happier.
How about you? Have your TV habits changed at all, and have you thought about cutting the cord?Regarding the reference to Jeff Probst and Survivor, which is produced by CBS, which is the parent company of CNET, which is where I am employed: the opinions expressed herein are purely my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CBS.
This week! Publishing!
Lots of good stuff this week in publishing, but first, I thought I'd lead with a tremendous post by my friend Kristin at Camels & Chocolate, who has some tough, honest, real-world advice about freelance travel writing. She should know - she's extremely good and successful at it, which does not come easy in the freelance world. If you've ever thought about plying your writing trade around the globe, that article is a good place to start.
Meanwhile, this week's End of Publishing as We Know It articles were brought to you by, well, me, and also former Random House Executive Editor-in-Chief Dan Menaker, who starts off a long post about the myriad challenges facing editors in today's industry with Point #1: "Publishing is often an extremely negative culture." It doesn't get much more uplifting from there.
And speaking of, The Millions pointed me to a self-publishing success story by author Kemble Scott, who hit the SF Chronicle bestseller list for a book released in a limited hardcover edition and e-published on Scribd. Scott is far from an unknown (his book SoMa was a bestseller published by Kensington), but he didn't want to wait to get his book out and just got to it.
Reader/commenter Lady Glamis and friends are hosting a Genre Wars contest at The Literary Lab. Submit your short stories and (possibly) win prizes, including a shot at being included in an anthology.
Also in short fiction news, my colleague Sarah LaPolla is soliciting material for her bright and shiny new blog Glass Cases, so check that out as well.
Some guy named Dan Brown has a book out (via Danny Parker), and apparently the e-book version has been selling as well as the hardcover on Amazon. The Guardian summed up the early responses, and also posted a pained defense of Brown. Kind of.
And now that THE LOST SYMBOL is out, I'd like to make a personal plea that literary bookish types abstain from the whole "I'm so above his writing but okay the books are kind of fun to read" attitude. People! They're entertainment. It's okay to like them without apologizing. Or don't like them. Whatever. Just don't be too cool for school. It's not like I watch The Bachelor in the hopes of finding deep meaning and spiritual enlightenment!! That's just a bonus.
In more serious topics, World Politics Review notes the dearth of works of art that have emerged from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, in contrast to long conflicts in the past. Their theories: changing media landscape, the Internet, publishing trends, and a professional military. (via Andrew Sullivan)
Those wacky kids over at Google are partnering with an on-demand publisher to make all 2 bazillion out-of-copyright books available through the fancy Espresso book machine, which churns out a finished book and a mean latte (I wish) in just a few minutes. (via Scott Spern)
My colleague Katherine Arathoon passed me some pretty awesome links, including two post that rename classic books according to current publishing trends. My favorite: Old: THE WEALTH OF NATIONS. Now: INVISIBLE HANDS: THE MYSTERIOUS MARKET FORCES THAT CONTROL OUR LIVES AND HOW TO PROFIT FROM THEM.
Almost finally, my most excellent client Rebecca Ramsey tackles one of my great loves: strange idioms in other languages. In this post she runs down the different expressions for when it rains really hard. I think the Danes win hands-down for "it's raining shoemaker's apprentices."
And finally, thanks so much for all of the very interesting comments on yesterday's anonymous commenting question. Your input was extremely helpful, and I was surprised at how evenly divided people were on the pros and cons. After giving this a lot of thought, I've decided to leave anonymous commenting on since people articulated some very good reasons for posting anonymously, and hopefully the comments will be more open and free-ranging if people can use the anon option to evade the purview of their employers and/or (politely) go out on a limb with a contrary opinion.
As Spider-Man will tell you, with great power comes great responsibility. Because of the tendency toward abuse of the anon option and the lack of context for an anon post, I'm going to unabashedly hold anonymous commenters to a higher politeness and constructiveness standard than those who post under a name or handle so that the anon function is not used as a cover to espouse an unproductive attitude that might otherwise not be written if the person were associating their own name with the comment. Hopefully this will best facilitate a constructive dialogue, and polite anons will have nothing to worry about.
Have a great weekend!
Mark Peters, the genius behind the blog Wordlustitude in addition to being a Contributing Editor for Verbatim: The Language Quarterly, a language columnist for Babble, and a blogger for Psychology Today, is our guest blogger this week. Below Peters encourages us to make old words hip again.
Did you hear about the nude pictures of Lindsay Lohan and Roger Clemens drinking a human growth hormone/grain alcohol smoothie?
You have? Then let me tell you what my brother’s nanny has been up to with your father’s mechanic in the gazebo. (more…)
RIP Randy Pausch, the professor who touched millions of people with THE LAST LECTURE. He was only 48. Very very sad.
The good people over at Fine Print Literary Management have started a master agency blog, to go along with the already awesome individual blogs that they already blog on. Blog. Adjust those feed-readers accordingly.
And one of the first blog topics on the new blog (blog blog blog!) is news that Sony has made the innnnnteresting move of opening up the Sony Reader to books purchased through non-Sony e-tailers. An electronics manufacturer opening up their device to competition from other retailers so that users can better use the product??? What a concept!! I salute Sony's non-evilness.
Meanwhile, say goodbye to the LA Times Book Review. Good grief.
So remember Dennis Cass's hilarious video in which he detailed all the things he wasn't doing to promote his book, which ended up being a good book promotion tool? Well. Not only was this mindbending metapromotion through nonpromotion, turns out it sold some books too. Bella Stander caught up with Dennis and talked to him about the video. (Thanks to Kristin Nelson for the link).
You know how in the Sex & the City movie Carrie was reading that book called the Love Letters of Great Men? I mean, not that I was dragged to that movie, WHICH WAS LONGER THAN BEN HUR. Ahem. Anyway, sure enough, here's an item of note from Publishers Marketplace:
FICTION: GENERAL/OTHER: Edited by Ursula Doyle's LOVE LETTERS OF GREAT MEN, the romantic book from the Sex and the City film that didn't exist...until now -- ranging from the simple devotion of Robert Browning to the exquisite eloquence of Oscar Wilde, all the letters from the film and many more, to Lindsay Sagnette at St. Martin's, for publication in fall 2008, by Margaret Halton at Macmillan UK (US).
And finally, in reality TV news, are you sitting down? Are you sure? Well, that British Bachelor whose name I've already forgotten has broken up with Shayne, that girl he called his monkey. I WILL NEVER BELIEVE IN TRUE LOVE AGAIN. This means that 10 out of 11 Bachelors have broken up with the women they've chosen, and that doesn't even include Brad Womack, who didn't choose anyone. As the kids say, LOL! Can't wait for the next season.
And finally finally, it behooves me to point you to the Season 4 preview for The Hills, which is just, I mean, it's..... all you need is one quote from Lauren: "Brody's in jail????"
And finally finally finally, if you haven't watched Mad Men, YOU'RE MAD. Ha! Get it? Get it? Oh. You got it. Um. Well, this show about an ad agency in the 1960s, which was originally recommended to me by Berkley editor Shannon Jamieson-Vazquez way before it was a Emmy darling (I mean, it airs on AMC!!), is just so incredibly awesome. Now that The Wire is gone, dare I say best drama on television? You still have time to catch up on Season 1 before Season 2 premieres on Sunday.
This Week! Publishing!
This week marked the publication of CHURCHILL BY HIMSELF, edited by Richard Langworth, a book you also might know as one of the books that is posted to the right side of this blog. This is THE authorized collection of Winston Churchill quotations, it is exhaustively researched, superbly accurate, and is simply an amazing, authoritative, and essential book. It would make a fantastic Christmas present for your Churchillian-inclined friends and relatives. I'm just sayin'.
I'm still saddened by the death of Michael Crichton. C. Max Magee over at the Millions sums up what Chrichton meant to my generation -- he was the guy who really sparked our love of reading when we were growing up. SPHERE, quite simply, blew my mind. What a great book.
In book promotion news, The Swivet recently featured a guest blog by Courtney Summers, who broke down the different social networking sites and provides pros and cons. Bonus points for a Phil Keoghan reference.
Also in book promotion news, at the indispensable HarperStudio blog, Seth Godin is sanguine about the powers of free. He offers this wildly comforting quote: "Novelists and musicians can make money with bespoke work and appearances and interactions. And you know what? It's entirely likely that many people in the chain WON'T make any money. That's okay. That's the way change works." Ahh... don't you feel better already? Embrace the poverty.
Less sanguine is Booksquare, who notes the recent Random House e-book and downloadable audio adjustments as Not Good Things, and I think correctly notes that they are moving in the wrong direction.
Remember the hullaballoo when Knopf paid Bill Clinton seventy three gazillion dollars to write his memoir? Well, Hillel Italie assessed the interest for the coming Bush memoirs and....... not so much.
I can hardly bear to open Publishers Lunch these days for fear of reading about more horrendous publishing news. This week's carnage: HarperCollins' operating income fell to $3 million in the third quarter, Barnes & Noble's CEO noted that we're in the worst retail climate ever, and Borders lost its credit cover. Uncle!!!
And finally, in still more tragic news, I'm not sure if you heard but the Bachelorette has shattered my belief in true love YET AGAIN. Yes, Bachelorette Deanna Pappas and her erstwhile fiancee Jesse Csinsuiwnelkfj have shockingly called off their engagement. This marks the 14th time the Bachelor or Bachelorette has forever destroyed my belief in true love. Luckily we have an upcoming season to restore my faith that love can be found on a reality TV show in which you date multiple people simultaneously.
Have a great weekend!