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Category: Story

Mad Men Decisions

by Scott Smith

Once again, Matthew Weiner delivered a Mad Men episode that made hard character¬†decisions. Joan paying for her 5% ¬†with her body, and Don holding and kissing Peggy’s hand as she leaves the agency. Mad Men isn’t a tv show but a novel. You know why you read novels? For the kind of gift that ‘The Other Woman’ episode gave us. Perhaps a better way of putting it is Mad Men is a tv show that novels aspire to.


Ghosts of Chicago Coming Soon

by Scott Smith

John McNally\'s \'Ghosts of Chicago\'

John McNally’s latest short story collection, Ghosts of Chicago, comes out next week.

In October, he’s reading and signing books in Pittsburgh, Chicago, Indianapolis, Iowa City and Lincoln, Nebraska. Book tour link.

Patrick Winston’s lecture ‘How to Speak’

by Scott Smith

Madel and I were driving into Kalamazoo today for an appointment. I drove the truck which means no iPod or CD player. So we talked about school.

I struggle to figure out how this high school does classes. There’s such a thing as a skinny class and a regular class. Madel’s band class is 45 minutes (skinny class). Her math class is 90 minutes (regular). That’s right, Gull Lake thinks it’s a good idea to have classes over 50 minutes long. By the way, she only has one skinny class.

She asked about foreign languages and which majors required them in college. She seemed overly concerned with language requirements. Eventually we ended up discussing what I think is a good approach to college: A lot of writing and reading, classes requiring communication skills (speech, theater, TV, radio and cinema), some science, and math.

As you can tell, I’m heavy on the communication part. Whether it be a job interview, blog post or a presentation, one’s ability to get a point across can make the difference in getting that job or spreading one’s ideas.

Harvard has posted a lecture by MIT prof Patrick Winston given in 1997 on how to speak. One of his opening remarks — he believes communication skills can make the difference between a successful career and a frustrated career.

This lecture topic may sound dull. It’s not. Professor Winston delivers on presentation and content. I only wish now that I had watched his lecture at noon and not so late tonight. My mind is too alive to sleep.

Lecture link via Hacker News.

McNally Story in VQR

by Scott Smith

John McNally’s story, I See Johnny, is in this quarter’s The Virginia Quarterly Review.

It is the best story I have ever read.