Monday, December 29, 2008

American Film Institute's Top 100

For about the past two years, I've been steadily watching films off the 2007 American Film Institute list of the Top 100 U.S. movies, and I've finally seen them all. The last one for me, by the way, was "Bringing Up Baby," a romantic comedy from the late 1930s starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. "Baby," it turns out, is a little leopard that distracts the audience while Hepburn desperately tries to woo Grant. Forgive the lame segue, but this film-watching process has felt a bit like birthing, at least in its duration. Most of the movies were at least worthwhile, though, and I highly recommend this sort of list approach to anyone, like me, who can't ever seem to find anything to watch at the video store. I discovered many fantastic films on the list that I probably never would have seen otherwise. Those include: "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre," "Raging Bull," "Network," "Some Like It Hot" and "Gone With the Wind."

My least favorites: "The Searchers," "High Noon," "Dr. Strangelove," "A Night at the Opera" and "Annie Hall."

On my list, the No. 1: "The Wizard of Oz."

Although I love many of the films on this list -- including "Citizen Kane," "The Godfather," "Star Wars," "The Sound of Music," "West Side Story," "Cabaret," "The Sixth Sense," "Pulp Fiction," "Toy Story" and the ones listed above -- "The Wizard of Oz" best captures in my mind the mysterious magic of film making, when the process of character and plot development perfectly complements the imagery and the journey of the viewer to a very special place.

Next, I'm going to look back at the original list, from 1997, and see what films were dropped off in 2007. I'll view those efforts, too, and consider what changes I would make to the overall list, then report back.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Tempted to write in dialect phonetically?

Read this piece by Roy Peter Clark of Poynter first:

Tom Robbins at the Seattle PI

If you didn't catch the Seattle PI series involving collaboration with a dozen top Northwest writers, such as Robbins, here's a funny snippet from it:

And here's a link to the entire 2007 series:

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Discussion with Anne Lamott

Just read Anne Lamott's "Bird by Bird." Many inspiring passages. Also found this lengthy video discussion with her.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Lewis Black on writing a book

If you think you could (or should) write a book, listen to this first, then decide if you still have the courage. Ha!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Six-Word Journalism Mottos

Ran across this clever little contest for short journalism mottos, hosted by the Poynter Institute. Here are the Top 10:

* Doing more with less since 1690. Ken Fuson, Des Moines Register
* We'll always have Paris ... or Britney -- Jim McPherson, Whitworth University
* It's how I change the world. -- Nick Escobar, The Elgin (Ill.) CourierNews
* Get it right, write it tight. -- Margaret McDonald, McDonald Wordsmith Communications
* They'll miss us when we're gone. -- Scott Powers, Patrick McGeehan, Matthew Jones, John Davenport
* Feed the lapdog, euthanize the watchdog -- Roy Peter Clark
* Who, what, when, where, why, Web -- Greg Phillips, The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer
* Facts, schmacts ... how is my hair? -- Kathy Sweeney, anchor/investigative reporter, Heartland News
* Dirty commie latte-sipping liberal scum -- Ryan Kelly, Christopher Newport University
* Please stop griping, now start typing. -- Jeff Unger, University of Illinois

And the honorable mentions:

* We're sorry about all the trees -- Ken Fuson
* We checked: Our mother still loves us -- Ken Fuson
* Stop the presses! Oh, you did. -- Jim McPherson
* Information you can trust until tomorrow -- Jim McPherson
* No news is not good news -- J. David Knepper and Leah Etling
* Black and white, but not green enough -- Robert Timmons
* How many inches is the truth? -- Casey Bartels
* Got stry – will txt u asap -- Lynn McMahon
* Seek the truth, not the money -- Angele' Anderfuren
* Not tonight, dear. I'm on deadline -- Christopher Ortiz
* We don't make this shit up -- Deb Sutton
* Writers' block is on Fleet Street -- Anand Raj
* Dead wood floats. So can we -- Ray Martinez
* A journalist's work is never done -- Randy Rogers
* If we go, who will know? -- Steve Riley
* History's first version, updated every minute -- Rebecca Jones
* Five Double You and One Age (Quinque Bi Tu Et Unum Aetas) -- Sebastian Moraga
* We break stuff. Like the news -- Ryan Kelly
* Critical thinking? We outsourced to India -- Dennis Alchemist
* It beats working for a living -- Jim Naughton
* Speak truth to power, or else -- Peter Gates
* Journalistic bias? There’s no stinking bias! -- Tim Owens
* Journalism lives where the truth lies -- Daneja Kirkland
* But this IS my day job! -- Mike Gruss
* We won't bore you with context -- Lois M. Collins
* News now: We'll fix it later -- Lois M. Collins
* Accuracy, accuracy, accuracy! No, seriously. Accuracy! -- Tim Schulte
* Every silver lining has a cloud -- David Vossbrink
* Must be readable on the crapper! -- Michael Sweeney
* Eye on the ball; ear on the ground -- Peter Dannenberg
* Mainstream media: We’re your grandfather’s blog -- Jim McPherson
* Filling the space between the ads -- Jim McPherson
* Write the truth between the lines -- Lynn McMahon
* Ding dong, the print is dead -- Russel Nichols
* There's a period key. Use it. -- Dan Close
* Journalism: Sizing down, so bottom's up! -- Matthew Cate
* Pyramids to blogosphere, and everywhere in between -- Bill West

What to look for in an agent

Harold Underdown, the author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books," has posted an impressive new section on his web site about literary agents:

Underdown about agents

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A model for future journalists

Tom French, one of America's most interesting and accomplished journalists, takes readers/viewers behind the scenes of a zoo in ways that should inspire practitioners about the potential future of journalism:

Tom French's zoo

Friday, April 11, 2008

Kurt Vonnegut's advice on writing short

One of my favorite authors, giving great writing suggestions.

Joyce Carol Oates on creating characters

Insights from Oates about finding your characters.

Journalism of yesteryear

Some fascinating images and hilariously dated ideas about the craft.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Helping people find your site on the Web

Here's a great resource about search-engine optimization:

SEO book

What can the new journalism do?

How about embedding information at specific places using bar codes and cell phones?

San Francisco already is doing this

Imagine being in a city, walking down a row of restaurants, and being able to instantly access reviews from the last 10 customers of each place. That's news you can use.

How Web 2.0 began to change everything

Wonder what Web 2.0 is? How we've come so far so fast in terms of information delivery? This short video provides an entertaining overview.

The Information R/evolution

A quirky video overview of the changes to information delivery in recent years:

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A new story form?

The Internet is going to bring us many interesting new forms of nonfiction storytelling, if we pay attention to the possibilities. Here is one intriguing model being developed through blogs by Josh Benton, a Nieman fellow.

Monday, March 10, 2008

23 great places to look for writing gigs

Here are some great resources, via:

23 Places to find freelance writing jobs and freelance blogging jobs


I don’t do this too often, but every now and then I offer up a list of places to search for freelance writing jobs. Today, I’m expanding that to include freelance blogging jobs. I hope that now that you know where I look, you won’t abandon us here!


23 places to find freelance writing jobs and freelance blogging jobs.

  1. Freelance Writing Jobs - We are the number one freelance writer community online. How cool is that?
  2. About Freelance Writing - Anne Wayman’s awesome resource includes leads three times a week. I’ve been talking to Anne about trading some guests posts and collaborating on some things. She’s good people and looks out for writers. Also visit her blog The Golden Pencil.
  3. Problogger - Darren Rowse’s blog about blogging features a job board filled with blogging gigs. I found a few great gigs here.
  4. Performancing - In addition to checking out our job board, check out some great articles and forum posts about blogging.
  5. Craigslist - Don’t laugh. Craigslist is an amazing resource. I found one of my biggest corporate clients on Craigslist. Just be sure to keep a wary eye out for scams and people who want something for nothing.
  6. Indeed - Try this job search engine to narrow down your search. Better yet, use the Indeed search box in the sidebar to the right.
  7. Writers Weekly - I found my first freelance writing gig through Angela Hoy’s list at Writer’s Weekly.
  8. Freelance Writing - Though this is a haven for extremely low paying jobs, you might find a gem or two.
  9. Blogger Jobs - A blog listing blogging jobs and bloggers looking for jobs.
  10. Poe War - A daily stop for freelance writing and blogging jobs and advice.
  11. BlogHer -I found my gig with Oxygen Media here. Occasionally you’ll find some very cool stuff.
  12. Gawker - A very cool list of “New Media” opportunities. Many of these jobs pay very well.
  13. Media Bistro - If the big magazines and newspapers are hiring freelancers, you’ll find it here.
  14. WAHM - Lists several telecommuting jobs, including freelance writing and blogging jobs, a few times a week.
  15. Freelance Switch - Jobs for all sorts of freelancers including writers, bloggers and web stuff.
  16. Telecommuting-Writing Jobs - One of the regulars, Amy Derby, has created a resource for telecommuters including freelance writing jobs.
  17. Sunoasis Jobs -A regularly updated job lis. I haven’t had any luck here, but you might!
  18. Absolute Write - Occasionally lists jobs in their forum.
  19. Journalism Jobs - Plenty of freelance writing jobs.
  20. All Freelance Writing Jobs - Lists freelance writing jobs a few times a week.
  21. Writer Find - Sometimes has decent jobs.
  22. Freelance Blogging Jobs - A great list of blogging gigs.
  23. Freelancing for Blogs - This is a new one for me, but I’ll be checking it out more often.

I hope you’ll still come back!!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

A response you don't want from an editor

This David Mitchell and Robert Webb comedy sketch illustrates the writer-editor tango, in a painfully comical way.

Friday, February 29, 2008

How to pitch a story: Food & Wine

Food & Wine, the title aptly describes this magazine. Found this video series from, dubbed Pitch Slam, that asks top editors how writers can break into their magazines. This one quizzes Food & Wine editor-in-chief Dana Cowin.

How to pitch a story: Redbook

Redbook is a classic women's magazine. Found this video series from, dubbed Pitch Slam, that asks top editors how writers can break into their magazines. This one quizzes Redbook editor-in-chief Stacy Morrison.

How to pitch a story: Best Life

Best Life is a men's health magazine. Found this video series from, dubbed Pitch Slam, that asks top editors how writers can break into their magazines. This one quizzes Best Life editor-in-chief Stephen Perrine.

How to pitch a story: Cookie magazine

Cookie is a lifestyle magazine for parents, not a parenting magazine. Found this video series from, dubbed Pitch Slam, that asks top editors how writers can break into their magazines. This one quizzes Cookie editor-in-chief Pilar Guzmán.

How to pitch a story: Esquire magazine

Found this video series from, dubbed Pitch Slam, that asks top editors how writers can break into their magazines. This one is from Esquire, quizzing articles editor David Katz.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Moving this blog from

I'm moving my blog / links from being hosted on to this blogger site. If you would like to visit the beginnings of this blog, please go to:

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

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