VSL had this to say:
This informative and fun documentary (also available on DVD 9/17) showcases a recent night in New York City when 19 of today’s finest writers gathered to drink beer and, more important, read aloud their contributions to a new book of essays on each of the 50 states. Based on the 1930s Federal Writers Project, the book features talents like Joshua Ferris (on Florida), John Hodgman (Massachusetts), and Susan Orlean (Ohio). Better, maybe, to gauge a state’s true character from them than from those true characters at the political conventions.
If you aren't familiar with VSL, it is "a collection of distinct, free, daily e-mails that each recommend one must–see gem a day." Check it out here.
And click here to find a screening of State by State near you!
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Meanwhile, in not-quite-Book-News-Land...
Last night Senator John McCain chewed through barbed wire, spat bullets at his armed captors, and dug a tunnel through solid concrete with a plastic spork to reach the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, and accept his party's nomination for President of the United States.
Twenty minutes after his historic speech, Senator McCain accepted an award from Hasbro for Greatest Real-Life G.I. Joe Action Figure, where he admitted he should have picked Snake Eyes for VP candidate instead of Governor Mooseburger.
Fortunately, your humble correspondent live-blogged the entire event! Not from the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, alas. Luckily I was one of more than 60 adults who watched McCain take the world by storm live at Chuck E. Cheese's Pizzeria on SE Powell Blvd.
In case you missed it, here was the live blog:
6:30 p.m. I arrive just in time for the closing act of Chuck E. Cheese and his Pizza Time Players' beloved song-and-dance routine. The illegal immigrant who is supporting his family on less than minimum wage who's wearing the Chuck E. Cheese costume does a wonderful soft-shoe with a plastic rifle to conclude the number "Love Those Wacky Second Amendment Rights."
There's a hilarious moment when Jasper T. Jowls steps out of his costume to reveal the actor inside is wearing an Obama T-shirt. A mob of enraged six-year-olds pelts the traitor with plastic balls and air hockey paddles, to the delight of all.
Someone on TV is talking but no one is paying attention.
6:51 p.m. Cindy McCain walks on to introduce her husband, a man who needs no introduction. She mentions that her husband was a prisoner of war for five years in Vietnam and adds that, although she herself was never a POW, she was once held captive for fifteen minutes in the makeup and perfume counters at Macy's by a woman who refused to release her until she tried L'Oreal's new Big Bangs Treatment designed especially for women with huge hair. She noted that Governor Mooseburger took the bottle from her at gunpoint and used it liberally for her own speech the night before.
Much cheering and whooping throughout the halls of Chuck E. Cheese. At first I assume this is because of Cindy's stirring speech — which, I don't mind telling you, has wrung a tear from my eye — but it turns out that eight-year-old Toby Jesperson has beaten the local all-time high score on the ring toss.
6:58 p.m. Cindy changes gears and begins discussing matters of policy. Just as she's getting warmed up, John McCain steps out, pats her on the tush, and announces, "Okay, hon, time to let the men talk — you've got muffins need baking!" At which point McCain declares, "Cindy is making free muffins for every delegate who votes for me!!!"
A thunderous cheer fills the Xcel Center onscreen, and the pizzeria around me. I wonder if the people here realize they aren't getting muffins. Then Assistant Manager Vern McLittleton hollers that every delegate here gets one free topping of their choice! An even more thunderous cheer erupts, as I wonder if there are actually any delegates here.
Cindy leaves the stage, giggling, as her assistants rush on to tie an apron, place a rolling pin in her hands, and stick curlers in her hair. Even louder applause from the convention.
7:02 p.m. When the applause finally dies, Senator McCain begins his speech. Much clapping and hooting around me, especially when Chuck E. Cheese and the Pizza Time Players reenact McCain's grueling tenure as a prisoner of war and his daring escape to freedom to the delight of children and adults alike. Just when Chuck E. rips Mr. Munch's throat out with his bare teeth and opens fire on Helen Henny and Pasqually with an AK-47, Senator McCain cheerfully accepts the Republican nomination for President of the United States of America.
The cheering and hollering is deafening. The children gathered around the fake corpse of Mr. Munch weep with American pride and childlike horror. Free pizza slices and Mountain Dew for everyone!!!
7:08 p.m. Senator McCain starts talking about his plan for America:
You know, I've been called a maverick; someone who marches to the beat of his own drum. Sometimes it's meant as a compliment and sometimes it's not. What it really means is I understand who I work for. I don't work for a party. I don't work for a special interest. I don't work for myself. I work for you.
I call the Xcel Energy Convention Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, and ask to speak to Senator McCain about covering my shift on Monday. I'm put on hold and "America the Beautiful" plays. It takes me a few minutes to recognize that distinctive falsetto: it's Chuck E. Cheese! I kind of wish McCain had picked that loveable rodent for VP.
7:38 p.m. I stir from a restless slumber, unaware I'd nodded off. Glancing around, I see many heads lulling from side to side, some with their eyes closed, others struggling to keep their lids up.
McCain is still speaking. His delivery is fairly monotonous, but I suspect liberal conspirators have drugged our pizza toppings and free Mountain Dew to knock us all out so we won't hear Senator McCain's plans for America. I resolve to get to the bottom of this, right after a nap.
8:55 p.m. I bolt awake at a raucous clamor on TV. Senator McCain is still speaking, but for some reason bells are ringing and confetti is erupting everywhere throughout the Xcel Energy Center. Turns out McCain just made the one millionth mention of his time as a POW in Vietnam — and he's won a free lifetime supply of Red Bull! Everyone around me stirs from their slumber and starts cheering and dancing.
1:21 a.m. McCain finishes his speech to volcanic applause. Around me, the parents whose children aren't throwing angry, tired tantrums talk about the new hope Senator McCain offers.
The mothers compare his policies with Senator Obama's, contrast the candidates' foreign policy experience, and wonder what it means when Obama promises not to raise taxes on the middle class and the GOP claims he's going to raise taxes on everyone.
The fathers talk about how hot Governor Mooseburger is, especially the photo of her in the bikini. I point out that the photo was doctored and a father tells me it was hot doctoring, adds that she'll make the hottest VP, and then stumbles through a pun about the Oval Office that leads the other fathers to slap five and start chanting, "U!S!A! U!S!A!" Finally, they all mention how important family values and God are before walking away.
And so ends an historic evening. Even now, reflecting in slow-motion on the night to end all nights, I am struck by the patriotic fervor of Chuck E. Cheese and his companions... of the parents and children who cheered for their toppings and games... and of the Republicans who so fervently promised to change "Washington," to make a difference in "Washington," to ensure there will be no more business as usual in "Washington," despite the fact that their party has been "Washington" for eight magical years.
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Brockman is the head writer for the daily Book News posts on the Powells.com blog. In his free time he's hard at work on his fictional memoir, which changes titles daily.
The views and commentary posted by Brockman are entirely his own, and are not representative of the whole of Powell's Books, its employees, or any sane human being.
Books mentioned in this post