Archive for the 'good writing' Category

Tuesday’s Tools: an oldie but goodie

January 15, 2008

If you’re not familiar with Roy Peter Clark’s “50 Tools for Writers” you ought to be. These tools aren’t literal hammers and nails (pens and pencils), or even pieces of software. Rather, these tools are rules and guidelines for crafting a sentence, a paragraph, a story. They range from the overarching (“Work from a plan”) to the nitty-gritty (“Begin sentences with subjects and verbs”). There are now podcasts for each of the 50 tools–neato!–and a book. For me, I just tape a printout of this page over my desk and I’m good to go.


Joel Stein: Read this guy!

December 2, 2007

Thanks to a random night of Googling with Chris a while back, I (we) discovered a food writer at Time named Joel Stein. This is the guy I aspire to be one day: Forget about restaurant openings and specialty coffee roasters. Stein writes about horsemeat, wine in juiceboxes, and that one time he fasted for 48 hours for the sake of journalism. Yeah. That’s right.

Check this guy out. All his recent Time articles are here.

Those darned crispy onion things

November 22, 2007

For all my professed cosmopolitan leanings, I’m still a Midwesterner at heart, because for me, without these, it’s not a holiday. As more proof that great journalism doesn’t have to be about taking down the mayor and changing the world, Post writer Monica Hesse takes us to the one and only French’s French Fried Onion plant, in New Jersey:

The texture on this test batch is good — thin and crispy, no soggy onions in this kitchen. The taste? Fuggedaboudit! Now this is one delicious fried onion. Sometimes, if the national crop is weak, you’re going to end up with a product that’s not as sweet as millions of Americans have come to expect. But these? They’re good. Sprinkle on top of a green bean casserole and bake it at 350 for a couple-five minutes, and you got a holiday meal.

To ask why we eat FFOs is an attempt to get at the root of Thanksgiving gluttony itself. There is no reason except that we are Americans and it is our God-given right.

I grew up with a green-bean-and-french-fried-onion casserole (sorry, hotdish) at every Thanksgiving and Christmas. Some fellow Midwesterner expats (during a study abroad trip) conceded that no matter how horrible the idea of these stringy greasy fried things are, it’s not Thanksgiving without them. (And despite the gruesomeness of the idea, they taste darn good.)

I was gratified upon reaching adulthood to find that a) pretty much every can of FFOs has a recipe on the back for green bean casserole–they’re not used for anything else (despite what the Post article might say about “the chicken”), and b) even Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s carry FFOs in autumn. Long live the FFOs.

Worth Reading: on barrel chairs and taste

November 19, 2007

This piece in an old Washington Post Style section cracked me up.

Taste, guilt and barrel chairs are beasts preying on couples shopping on 14th Street. Perhaps they should seek counseling from Jennifer Marshall, a Stanford art history professor who specializes in 20th-century American aesthetics. Marshall listens to a description of the chairs. She says they sound like they were “made in a home workshop . . . completing the picture of a guy’s dream den.” She says the chairs may be part of the Do-It-Yourself age. In such cases the very garishness of an object is what makes it appealing.

After seeing a photograph of the chairs, she states: “Okay. Those are pretty ugly.” Then again, she doesn’t have to live with a man who loves them. [“Before You Have a Seat, Take a Stand“-WaPo]

Worth Reading: Why We Compete

November 7, 2007

Why We Compete has been updated with its latest installment. This one’s about BASE jumping.

Why We Compete: Adrenaline

Edge of your seat rush, that’s for sure.