Well, duh.

A look at more than 10,000 children aged 8 and 9 found better classroom behavior among those who had at least a 15-minute break during the school day compared to those who did not, Dr. Romina Barros and colleagues at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York reported.

“The available research suggests that recess may play an important role in the learning, social development, and health of children in elementary school,” the research team said in a study published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
But today many children get less free time and fewer physical outlets at school “because many school districts responded to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 by reducing time committed to recess, the creative arts, and even physical education in an effort to focus on reading and mathematics,” they added.

What disgusts me most is that the suggestion seems to be that only one fifteen minute break is needed to improve the situation. Fifteen minutes to play, sing, dance, draw, write, be creative. Fifteen minutes.

World to writers: “Meh…”

Novelist and poet Vikram Seth:

“I approve of staying with one’s parents if you can pull that off,” he said. “A dressing gown, a hot water bottle and some whisky, if you can procure it, are really all that you need, they are the absolute essentials for a writer.”

He has some good advice, namely “just do it,” but you have to choke down this tidbit to get to it:

“I was lucky enough that my parents were supportive of my decision to abandon my PhD at Stanford and take up residence in their house to do my writing even though not just the neighbors , even the domestic staff looked on me with a puzzled contempt.”

Yeah, it’s pretty tough when your domestic staff looks on you with contempt. He’s preaching to the choir.

John Updike, 1932 – 2009.


Updike learned to write about everyday life by, in part, living it. In 1957, he left New York, with its “cultural hassle” and melting pot of “agents and wisenheimers,” and settled with his first wife and four kids in Ipswich, Mass, a “rather out-of-the-way town” about 30 miles north of Boston.
“The real America seemed to me ‘out there,’ too heterogeneous and electrified by now to pose much threat of the provinciality that people used to come to New York to escape,” Updike later wrote.
“There were also practical attractions: free parking for my car, public education for my children, a beach to tan my skin on, a church to attend without seeming too strange.”

Live life in order to write about it.
Rest in peace.

Is anyone paying attention?


Monty Python started a YouTube channel with tons of their sketches streaming for free. The included links to their DVDs at Amazon. The result was a whopping 23,000% increase in sales.

This is astounding. What’s really astounding is that anyone is surprised by it. Free content whetting appetites. Is this really any different than going to the mall and passing the store handing out free samples of cheese and year-old sausage? Am I the only one who remembers the lines that free food gets you? Every media industry, especially publishing, needs to think about what they give away for free, what gains the public’s interest, not how they can control control control content.

Oh, Will Ferrell. Is there anything you DON’T know?

This NYTimes article discusses Will Ferrell’s one-man Broadway show, “You’re Welcome America.” In the show Ferrell reprises his caricature of Ex-President Bush. The article includes this bit of inadvertent advice:

Mr. Ferrell said he had never received any feedback from Mr. Bush, which comes as a relief: “Not for fear that he would punch me in the face or anything, but more just to help me stay unbiased about how I play him.” Mr. Ferrell’s sense of Mr. Bush’s personality is neither one-dimensional nor ideological; as he describes it, it sounds somewhat complicated.
“I kind of feel like he’s someone who — and I think this is documented — he is someone who is seeking acceptance throughout his entire life, and finally got into the most prominent position of power in the world, and then thought ‘My way or the highway,’ ” said Mr. Ferrell, who paused as he discussed Mr. Bush, choosing his words carefully rather than cracking jokes that might seem demeaning. “There are times when I was doing him and I thought, ‘I kind of feel sorry for him.’ But then I’d think, ‘No, he’s a grown man, he needs to be held accountable for what happened.’

This is a perfect illustration of the writer’s advice that you must love your characters, all of them, even the villains. Especially the villains. They must remain fully human to you despite flaws, more likely because of them. If you don’t, your reader will see right through you and yell ‘bullshit.’ If you don’t, your reader will know that you’ve created cardboard cut-outs and parodies for them to throw mud at, but they won’t throw the mud at the characters. They’ll throw it at you.

First rule: know what you’re talking about.

“For us, I think, it was always this idea of magical realism, that these things happen, and they could be magic or they could be real. It’s sort of up for you to interpret that. The butterflies in the story and the things that happen could be something sort of guiding things along, or it could just be nature.”

–David Green, executive producer of “Kings” on NBC, totally missing the mark on all accepted meanings of “Magical realism.”