Two other quick book notes.
My son, Ben Baur, has launched an online book review program, “The Shirtless Dude’s Book Club.” It is what the title says. He comes on, takes off his shirt (he lives in L.A., so it’s OK. Not like Minnesota or the North Pole.) He’s using a platform called Periscope, which I had to download onto my phone. It’s pretty simple. It’d have to be, or I couldn’t use it. It allows him to use his phone’s camera, shows him who’s on, allows people watching to ask questions.
The Periscope show broadcasts live, then they’re available on Periscope for two days. He also uploads them to youtube so they’re available for virtually forever (albeit, without the interactivity.)
The next one is scheduled for 7 p.m. Eastern time Monday, so that gives anyone interested a chance to get the Periscope app and figure it out. You can see one of his earlier ones here.
What impressed me is how well it works. I’m not just being a proud dad when I say he comes off as charming, thoughtful, funny and passionate about the books he’s talked about.
Ben is an actor, trying to make it in one of the hardest businesses there is to succeed in. He’s had a lot of online success, done commercials, filmed a movie last summer, done stage in New York and L.A. He’s putting all the pieces together and I really think he’s on the edge of a breakout, where everything comes together. He’s really good, and the Shirtless Dude’s Book Club shows another side of him.
There’s also a very funny clip he did a few weeks ago, part of something he calls “Ben Attempts,” in which he tries things he’s never done before. This one shows him trying (and succeeding!) to ride a bike, which he was never able to master as a kid. As one of the people who ran along behind him holding the bike seat, then letting go and watching him totter and fall, I couldn’t have been more delighted,
Anyway, give it a look. It’s fun.
And another thing –
I received a book as a Christmas present last week, and I’ve decided not to read it all at once.
It’s “Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy,” by the improbably named Dinty Moore. That’s his real name, just liked the brand of canned beef stew. I read an article about him in The Writer magazine; he’s also a writing teacher and a funny guy and has a lot to say on the subject.
For the book, he asked a group of essayists to write questions about the craft to “Mr. Essay Writer Guy.” The questions (there are twenty of them) are mostly quirky and kind of funny, touching (usually tangentially) on the craft of essay writing. The first, for example, asks “Mr. Essay Writer Guy” how to write about former girlfriends without coming across as a male chauvinist pig. The answer is, to perhaps not be a male chauvinist pig. He then offers some advice about a writing persona, then illustrates it with a delightful essay on “Of Old Girlfriends,” which begins with these lines:
First of all, I am grateful.
And I wish there had been more of you.
But I fully understand.
Anyway, there are 20 such sections. Christmas is typically a busy day, but by the time it was over I realized I was already halfway through the book. I stopped. I put it down.
This is clearly one of those books that you could read in one gulp. But how much more fun, more rewarding and special, to sip at it. To pick it up periodically and dip into it for a chapter, then set it back down, knowing that you’ll pick it up again in a few days for a delicious morsel of wit and wisdom.
Still haven’t finished the book, and I’m enjoying it a lot.