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12-19-08: Agony Column Podcast News Report:
: Leon Panetta & Jane Harman at the Panetta Institute Lincoln — Jefferson Awards Dinner : Bi-Partisan

The idea behind the Panetta Institute Lincoln — Jefferson Awards is to celebrate bi-partisan politics in practice. Let me quote from their website: "The ninth annual Jefferson-Lincoln Awards dinner, An Evening to Honor Lives of Public Service, was held on the evening of Saturday, November 8, 2008, at The Inn at Spanish Bay. This year's honorees were California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, U.S. Representative Jane Harman (D-CA), U.S. Representative Jim Saxton (R-NJ), and Ron Brownstein, Political Director of Atlantic Media." I talked to Jane Harman and Leon Panetta — here's the MP3 link.

12-18-08: Agony Column Podcast News Report:
Nalo Hopkinson Interviewed at SF in SF : November 15, 2008

SF in SF has many attractions, but one of the most important is the audience's ability to interact with writers like Nalo Hopkinson. Of course, they're in competition with me, but I do try to be gracious. Nalo is clearly a special case, which is clearly demonstrated in the linked audio file. When she talks about researching on the Internet, you'll find her conversation is just as intense as her fiction. Which is to say, quite well worth your time. Of course it will send you to the book store to buy her fiction, but then, that's why you come here, to listen to the words behind the words.

12-17-08: Agony Column Podcast News Report:
Geoff Ryman Interviewed At SF in SF : November 15, 2008

I think listeners will react to this first seconds of this interview the same way I did. I'd just seen Geoff Ryman give an AMAZING performance – I hesitate to call it a "reading." I mean he was so animated and so all-over-the-place that it was really like seeing a play or a work of performance art, which is probably the best description. So when I walked up to him in my usual rather brusque manner and asked for an interview, and he came over and we started talking, his totally down-to-earth manner — actually rather soft-spoken — was kind of disconcerting. But his keen intelligence, razor sharp wit and piercing opinions were ever sharp. You can hear just how sharp, just how entertaining this gentleman can be by following this link. Someday soon, I'm going to put together a total SF in SF Agony Column Podcast, and you can bet this one will be included.

12-16-08: Agony Interview:
A 2008 Interview with Janis Bell : "Rick, the periods belong inside the quotes."

You just never know, do you? Here I think that my questions are the most natural in the world and grammar expert Janis Bell thinks they came in from Mars. I suppose it's understandable. After all, the natural expectation would be that I'd start off with questions about content of 'Clean, Well-Lighted Sentences,' not how the book came about. There's certainly a lot of fascinating stuff in the book, but as I found out, there's a lot of fascinating stuff behind the book as well. I really liked talking with Bell, because she is feisty, intelligent and a great speaker. Not surprising, after 35 years of teaching.

Now look, if you write at all, this book is a no-brainer. You leave it near your desk, it'll get used just about every day until you've memorized it. It's easy to look up stuff ad hoc, and it's easy to read cover-to-cover. Today, we're re-running my original article about Bell's book, with her corrections. Chances are, all it will take is a quick listen to the interview and you'll save yourself some embarrassment. Happily, I'm chalking up all my mistakes to my terrible typing and a fairly significant laziness as well. Typing in all those dashes is a true pain. But sometimes, in this what-you-see-is-what-you-get world, you need to go the extra mile. You need to be shamed into going the extra mile.

Jeff and Ann VanderMeer and Richard Bottoms
12-15-08: Agony News Report:
SF in SF Steampunk Panel, Borderlands Books : November 4, 2008 – A Night To Remember

It was already a frantic week. On Monday, November 3, an emergency meeting brought Erin Brockovich to the nearby town of Half Moon Bay to talk about toxic contamination from the local cement plant. It was same contamination that she had uncovered before, chromium six. It was a cold and foggy night, but I drove up the coast with a colleague to interview the famous ecological interventionist for our local NPR station. The whole event had the feel of history drawn down to a tiny schoolroom in a tiny school on the fog-shrouded California coast.

The next night, as the election unfolded in all its chaotic, tense authentically big-scale historical glory, I found myself out again, uncharacteristically, on another weeknight, this time to record the Steampunk Panel hosted by Borderlands Books and put together with the help of Tachyon Publications and SF in SF. Tachyon had published 'Steampunk,' a wonderful anthology of steampunk fiction, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, who had been in town during the previous weekend for a Steampunk Convention. The upshot is that while the streets were filled with an ever-increasing number of San Franciscans cautiously celebrating what looked to be the victory of Barak Obama in the election for the President of the United States, a small group of science fiction and fantasy fans listened to Jeff and Ann VanderMeer and Richard Bottoms talk about the interest and the import of steampunk – as a literature and a lifestyle. All the while, hooting and hollering echoed outside and cell-phone screens dotted the darkness of the bookstore as those in the audience sought to keep up with the official results.

You can hear the panel via this link to the MP3 file. It's weird to think about the whole flow of those two days, when Steampunk, Erin Brockovich and the results of the election swirled about as I made the two-hour drive home. The following Saturday I attended a formal event at the Leon Panetta Institute, which put a nice ending on the whole wild week. Worlds inner and outer mingled. And changed.

New to the Agony Column

04-29-13: Commentary : Ben Katchor Catalogues 'Hand Drying in America' : Subversive Cities of the Heart

Agony Column Podcast News Report : : A 2013 Interview with Ben Katchor : "...people are hesitant to make their own building into a ruin..."

04-28-13: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: : Time to Read Episode 95: Ben Katchor : Hand Drying in America

04-27-13: Commentary : Mark Morris Introduces 'Toady' : A New World of Horror

Agony Column Podcast News Report : : Thomas Frank from The Easy Chair and Harper's Magazine: TV's DC Fantasies : "... basically, everyone is corrupt ..."

04-22-13: Commentary : Danielle Trussoni Maps 'Angelopolis' : The Afterlife of Angels

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2013 Interview with Danielle Trussoni : "I wanted it to be accurate...absolutely accurate."

04-21-13: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 94: Danielle Trussoni : Angelopolis

04-17-13: Commentary : How Not to Leave the House : Reach for the Recycling

Agony Column Podcast News Report : Matt Richtel, Sophie Littlefield and Terry Bisson at SF in SF on February 9, 2013 : "You cannot do this all day long." Sophie Littlefield

04-16-13: Commentary : Stephen Kessler 'Scratch Pegasus' : Lens of Language

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2013 Interview with Stephen Kessler : "..knit a formal coherence by way of sound and rhythm..."

04-14-13: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 93: Stephen Kessler : Scratch Pegasus

04-09-13: Commentary : Paul McComas & Greg Starrett Sew Up 'Fit for a Frankenstein' : Hands All on Gretl

Agony Column Podcast News Report : Matt Richtel Reads at SF in SF on February 9, 2013 : "I'm much more interested in the mental miasma..."

04-08-13: Commentary : Ruth Ozeki Clocks 'A Tale for the Time Being' : Reading is the Future

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2013 Interview with Ruth Ozeki : "...through the act of writing, she would somehow conjure the reader into being..."

04-07-13: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 92: Ruth Ozeki : : A Tale for the Time Being

04-06-13: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 91: Lawrence Wright : : Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief

04-04-13: Commentary : Danielle Trussoni Excavates 'Angelology' : Gothic Girl

Agony Column Podcast News Report : Three Books With Alan Cheuse : : 'A Tale for the Time Being' by Ruth Ozeki, 'Odds Against Tomorrow' by Nathaniel Rich and 'Pandemonium' by Warren Fahy

04-02-13: Commentary : MacKenzie Bezos Sets 'Traps' : Need to Know

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2013 Interview with MacKenzie Bezos : "...without intention or recognition, we're playing important roles in the lives of other people..."

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