The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell. I don’t love this one as much as her Assassination Vacation. This one is a compilation of essays (which is a boring word to use, but keep in mind how entertaining Sarah Vowell is), some longer than others. And some better than others. But the great ones really nail it.
The one I read last night was particularly relevant for an election year. It talked about how when Al Gore was a presidential candidate he gave a very well-received speech to a high school about school violence, but a reporter misheard, then misreported just one word wrong in his speech. And then this inaccurate sentence snowballed into a huge media frenzy on what an exaggerater/liar Gore was. And this inaccurate coverage completely overshadowed his real (actually quite profound) message–that even high school students can make a difference in the government. Expectations manipulate our perceptions; Gore had stretched the truth before, so the reporter heard (incorrectly) something that confirmed what she already suspected. And it’s beside the point whether or not Gore really did have a tenancy toward exaggeration–this colored a successful and meaningful interaction into a joke. But success doesn’t make headline news. Blunders do. So I guess the take-home is to really question whether that story someone shared on Facebook is true, or whether it’s someone’s perceptions tainted by expectations.
Don Quixote on audiobook. I was expecting something like The Count of Monte Cristo, but it’s not even close. It’s really witty, but I admit most of the wit goes over my head until I go back and read the Cliff Notes for that chapter. I haven’t relied on Cliff Notes since high school, but it really is helpful in catching some of those clever nuances.
A mysterious eye problem. My eyes (especially the left one) were bloodshot with no other symptoms for about a week and a half, but then suddenly they were unbearably dry and I felt like I’d been punched in the eye. So I finally went to the eye doctor and got a prescription, but then I couldn’t wear my contacts for about a week. It was miserable. No peripheral vision, never shaking that just-woke-up feeling from my eyes, avoiding makeup because it’s so hard to put on while wearing glasses… I hated it. But I’m back in my contacts again, and so far so good.
April Fools Day. But that’s for another post.