The Autumning Empire

Culture, Politics, Etc.

Archive for the month “April, 2012”

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Blogs

Everyone has his or her hell month; mine is April. I just haven’t had time to write.

Well, I guess that’s not true. Actually, I’ve been writing tons of letters to the elected officials of Portland, Oregon, begging them not to eliminate my son’s afterschool educational program. This is a rough time for parents, but it sucks even worse to be a kid. Portland Public Schools cut $17 million from its budget last year, and we’re looking at $10 million more for this one. Film critic David Denby recently attributed the success of The Hunger Games to the fact that “it makes teens feel both victimized and important.” What he neglects to mention is that teens are important, as are all kids. And unfortunately, as funding for public education tragically demonstrates, that feeling of victimization is not pure fantasy. *

I guess that’s a long way of saying that for April I got nothin’. I actually should be completing my mid-term evaluations right now.

But blogging is so addictive.

I’ve been having incredible fun with these posts since I started last December. I guess that’s no surprise. The shocker is that people  actually read them. Not just in the states: The Autumning Empire is now an international, pan-continental….success? Drop in the bucket? Cultural footnote? Non-entity? All I know is that somebody has read (or clicked on) this blog on every single continent. Call me geeky, but I’m thrilled. I can’t be entirely sure why my work seems to connect with so many people in Sweden, but I’ll take it.

So since this blog has nothing new to offer its international readership in April, I’d like to direct you towards other blogs that do. I came to the blogosphere party rather late, but the whole thing still feel very new and vital, kind of the like the Elizabethan publishing explosion towards the end of the 16th century. There’s a lot out there, and I have papers to grade, so this list is by no means complete. Please! Feel free to comment or reply with your own recommendation (especially if it’s your own blog!). We’d love to check it out.

At the top of the list is Writer’s Wavelength. My dear friend Cindy McGean posts this blog, and it is wonderful. Read her last three posts, and you’ll get everything from a meditation on writer’s block, to a lovely analysis of Fitzgerald’s imagery. I owe Cindy big time for advising me at the beginning of The Autumning Empire, although I have yet to follow her advice by making my posts more brief.

As a huge fan of parody, I can’t get enough of Yelping With Cormac. If you’ve ever wondered how Cormac McCarthy Yelp reviews might read (and honestly, who among us hasn’t?), then wonder no further. I’m particularly fond of the Trader Joe’s review:

A sweltering breeze hissed among the grape vines soldiering in rows up the hillside. The earth and the grass baked and golden and high above the white orb of the sun left the farmer spotlit and shadowless as the riders approached. They came from several directions winding among the vines insouciant and lordly with their rifles and before them like some conquering general rode a man in spotless denim and wearing a ten dollar stetson. He pushed his black thoroughbred forward till the farmer could smell the hay on the animal’s breath. The rider stood the horse there and watched the farmer for a long time. Do you know who I am, said the rider.

I wish I’d written this, but the credit goes to EDW Lynch.

Credit for bringing this blog to my attention goes to Glen Weldon, one of the regulars on the NPR podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour

This is incredibly addictive show comes out every Friday, and I highly recommend it. What do you like to talk about? John Cheever? The Muppets? The Oscars? Samuel Barber? The Hunger Games? Regretable Television? The Superbowl? This (roughly) hour long, weekly conversation is hosted by Linda Holmes, author of NPR’s pop culture blog Monkey See. The roundtable regulars are Holmes, Weldon, Trey Graham, and Stephen Thompson, and they are fun, fun, and more fun – your time will be very well spent.

Those of you who read my post Your Own Republican Jesus will not be surprised to know that my politics do not lean towards the right. But I that think educators of any political stripe will benefit from Rethinking Schools. The blog and website are both incredible resources for teachers, and owe much of their success to my former Global Studies teacher Bill Bigelow, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing for The Autumning Empire earlier this year.

For my fellow progressives, an FB friend recommended Shakesville, which I’ve checked out and enjoyed. And I continue to be a huge fan of the blogging and reporting found at The Nation. Eric Alterman, Christopher Hayes, John Nichols, and Katha Pollit are just some of the excellent writers you’ll find at this website. Playwright Tony Kushner occasionally makes an appearance. I can thank him for helping me discover Emerson’s Harvard Commencement Address, which is as lovely a piece of writing as I’ll ever hope to find.

Of course, you could help me find a lovelier piece by posting in the comments section. I’d like to hear more from my readers. (Especially the ones in Sweden! Why are there so many of you? How did you even find me?) April is your month. Promote your own work! Promote someone else’s! Enjoy some nice weather! (If you live outside of Portland, that is.) I’m going to grade papers, and celebrate my first blog ever that’s clocked in under one thousand words.

Just for you, Cindy!

David Berkson


*Denby, whose work I usually love, didn’t even bother to connect the dots between his review of The Hunger Games and Bully, which appeared in the same edition of The New Yorker.

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