Last weekend we went to Brookline, MA to see the author and humorist Bill Bryson speak on the first stop of his national book tour. I have enjoyed Bryson’s books for quite a while now and I have a specific memory of being on a beach in North Carolina one summer, laughing so hard while reading “A Walk In The Woods” that people started to look at me. The best part is that I haven’t even come close to reading all his books, so there’s a lot of great catching up to do. It’s similar to when you listen to a specific album and from a great band you haven’t heard before, and then you realize they have another four albums!

Anyway, they had Bryson speak in a theatre that held about 175-200 people and it was packed to the gills. Bryson walked in and it was obvious that he was flattered and slightly overwhelmed that so many people showed up. He arrived to the front of the podium, got settled, and as soon as the applause started to wane, he skillfully waited a few moments – that exact point where the appluase dies down entirely, slowly glanced around as the theatre got completely silent and simply said “fuck.” Great start! He ended up speaking and keeping us dutifully entertained for about 45 minutes, reading a passage from his new book, A Short History Of Nearly Everything, along with a couple of older passages from past books, and then took some questions from the audience. One particular question was the highlight of the hour:

Audience member: “Do you have favorite or memorable criticisms of any of your work?”
Bryson, tongue-in-cheek: “Are you saying there’s been criticism of my writing?”
Audience member: “I was just wondering if you had ever read any reviews of memorable or humorous criticism?”
Bryson, dismissive: “No. Next question.”

In looking at the guy who asked the question, I could tell he was a little steamed at Bryson’s utter dismissal of his question, but it was handled wonderfully by the author. I mean, who wants to talk to a sold-out theatre about people who don’t like your work? My favorite moment!

Yesterday Howard Dean laid out his plan for national healthcare. We’ve been hearing about these plans from every politician for years now, so it’s really hard to gauge how this compares to all the other plans without some more detailed investigation (don’t expect that to happen on this website), but Dean struck a chord with me with this quote: “If you operate a business that can afford to pay its executives large salaries and provide them with generous bonuses and benefits, then you ought to be prepared to pay for health insurance for your employees.” Damn straight, my man. Anyway, in a nutshell, Dean’s plan calls for healthcare for every American under the age of 25, and tax punishments for corporations who don’t offer ALL their employees healthcare. Part of the funding will come from rolling back the portion of Monkey Bush’s tax cut aimed at people making more than $300,000 annually. Read the story. It’s a good start, and I continue to admire Dean for his honesty – I do believe he’s as honest as a politician can be. Not saying much, I guess, is it?

Song now playing: Jets To Brazil – “Little Light”