What sparks your creativity?

Calvin Trillin: Well the mortgage. You mean do I get up in the morning and think, “Wow. I see the end of that rainbow, and there’s something telling me, ‘Write the great American story about parking’”? No. No I don’t have that.

Calvin Trillin: Well it’s hard for me because I do different kinds of writing. And so . . . I mean there are non-fiction writers. I mean the one who has always been sort of my hero is Joseph Mitchell – who was a New Yorker writer for many years who died seven or eight years ago I guess – who I admired partly as just his craft. I mean what he was able to do in a . . . I don’t write the way he writes, but . . . So it’s not a stylistic thing; but I was always amazed that he was able to get the marks of writing off of what he did. And also he approached people head on and without any sort of condescension, or certainly without any fawning. I mean he didn’t write about the people that some reporters fawn over. I mean he wrote about . . . often people on the waterfront or in the fleabag hotels or something like that. The stuff was wonderful, and . . .

And I think as far as humor goes, one writer who is now sort of half forgotten who I have always admired a lot was Peter De Vries. Again, I don’t write the way he writes. I mean he had a lot of word plays, and puns and things; but I think there are a lot of good, humorous writers now who write short pieces that are funny and often wise, which is remarkable when you think of how many other avenues there are for somebody who’s funny.

I mean you know it’s sort of legendary now, but the bright kid from the Harvard Lampoon doesn’t come to The New Yorker now. He goes to Hollywood and writes sit-coms or something or television or movies.

So considering how many other outlets there are, most of which pay a lot better than writing for a magazine, or a newspaper, or even books, it’s remarkable how many of the good ones there are, I think.

 

The New Yorker's Joseph Mitchell has always been an inspiration of craft; Peter De Vries has been an inspiration for humor.

Why a federal judge ordered White House to restore Jim Acosta's press badge

A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration likely violated the reporter's Fifth Amendment rights when it stripped his press credentials earlier this month.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 16: CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta (R) returns to the White House with CNN Washington bureau chief Sam Feist after Federal judge Timothy J. Kelly ordered the White House to reinstate his press pass November 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. CNN has filed a lawsuit against the White House after Acosta's press pass was revoked after a dispute involving a news conference last week. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Acosta will be allowed to return to the White House on Friday.
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How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
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Scientists just voted to change the definition of a kilogram

The definition of a kilogram will now be fixed to Planck's constant, a fundamental part of quantum physics.

Greg L via Wikipedia
Surprising Science
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