January 25th, 2011

So you want to be a biographer...

Stacy Schiff’s new biography of Cleopatra is drawing rave reviews as well as strong sales. In an interview, she talks about writing biographies, saying, “I do the bulk of my research — interviews, reading, archival work — before I contemplate putting words on the page. Only then do the themes and repetitions and contradictions emerge; only then do I begin to see the shape of the book. As research is much easier than writing, I naturally put off that moment as long as is humanly possible.”

Read more about writing biographies here.



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Portland done right - and Portland done as Any City, USA

There’s two ways to portray Portland onscreen. One way is represented by the new show, Perfect Couples. As a story in the Oregonian explains:
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“As for Portland, producers are buying stock footage of the city for use in establishing shots. "Portland feels modern, laid-back and cool," Ackerman said. "There's something about young couples in a setting like that that just felt right to us....Ackerman said if "Perfect Couples" lasts long enough, more Portland references will be incorporated in future episodes.

"Over time, the more we commit to the details, the more it's going to give us specificity," he said. "And specificity gives you awesome stuff. It puts you in a place."

Silveri has his own plans for celebrating a second season if "Perfect Couples" is successful.

"When people win Super Bowls, they say they're going to Disneyland," he notes. "If we get our second-year pickup, we're going to Portland."
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Then there’s the second way, as shown by the new IFC show, Portlandia. As the New York Times says:
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“The first episode of “Portlandia,” a new television show that pokes at this Northwest confection’s urban preciousness, includes a scene in which a couple at a restaurant interrogates a waitress about the quality of the life lived by a chicken they hope to order.

The couple soon learns that the bird was raised locally on sheep’s milk, soy and hazelnuts, and that it had a name, Colin.

“He looks like a happy little guy who runs around,” says the character played by Fred Armisen, a Saturday Night Live star and a creator of “Portlandia,” when he is shown a photograph of a pre-plucked version of the bird. “A lot of friends?”
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That does, for better or worse, sound a lot like the Portland I live in. As does this video:



You can read the whole NYT story here.



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