November 6, 2010

In the middle of writing about pessimism, David Rakoff finds out that the burning pain in his shoulder, that pinched nerve...

... is a tumor. Here he is — bald and hilarious — talking about his book. Watch for the reference to the Roberts Court...

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
David Rakoff
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

You can buy the book — "Half Empty" — here. I highly recommend the audio version. His reading style is very funny — and also easy to sleep to (which is 2/3 of the reason why I buy audiobooks).

I discovered that book after watching David Sedaris on "The Daily Show" and going off to buy "Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk" — which you can buy here. Again, the audiobook is highly recommended — but "Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk" isn't easy to sleep to because it's tricked up with a lot of music... and also actors read some of the stories and actors try so hard. It's wakefulness-provoking.

34 comments:

The Crack Emcee said...

I don't try to work on my pessimism. There's no point.

There's nothing anyone can say, nothing anyone can do, and nothing that can be done.

It's like an alternate reality, but it's the really real one.

garage mahal said...

Walker told company officials that his decision to stop a proposed Madison-to-Milwaukee passenger rail line is "not final."

"Company representative says governor-elect expressed indecision on high-speed rail line."

Looks like Scott Walker was against the train before he was for it? Man up Scott Walker! This is making you appear weak, impotent, and well, limp. I know if would be disappointed if I voted for Scott Walker after he promised to stop the train. Always easier to campaign than make decisions and lead.

chickelit said...

Althouse wrote: (which is 2/3 of the reason why I buy audiobooks).

Would love to hear your take on Johnny Depp reading Keith Richards' autobiography.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

I think Rakoff is wrong about pessimistic patients living as long as optimistic ones, and it has nothing to do with mind-over-matter mumbo-jumbo. People with positive attitudes are simply more likely to do the things necessary for survival. Pessimists are more likely to give up.

Ann Althouse said...

"Would love to hear your take on Johnny Depp reading Keith Richards' autobiography."

I have that, actually. Depp is a nice, calm reader. Not acting it up, so it's very nice.

Ann Althouse said...

"Pessimists are more likely to give up."

I think a lot of pessimists are horrified by death and fight hard. It's a different attitude. Think about it. An optimist might accept death.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Ann Althouse said...

"Pessimists are more likely to give up."

I think a lot of pessimists are horrified by death and fight hard. It's a different attitude. Think about it. An optimist might accept death.


I think the distinction here is semantic. There is a difference between a pessimist and a worrier. I think your pessimist is a worrier. A true pessimist is sure things will turn out badly.

shoutingthomas said...

I hate to inform your of this, but...

Death don't have no mercy in this land
Death don't have no mercy in this land
Comes to your house, don't stay long
Look out your window and your family is gone
Death don't have no mercy in this land

Keep up the wishful thinking.

Alex said...

Always easier to campaign than make decisions and lead.

As Teh Won has found out...

The Crack Emcee said...

Optimists are people who walk into light posts trying to smell the flowers:

Watching as they do so is the most fun pessimists get.

ricpic said...

For an adult take on reasons to be pessimistic try We Are Doomed by John Derbyshire.

madawaskan said...

Pessimism and hypochondria go together.

garage mahal said...

As Teh Won has found out...

As Republicans are already finding out. Spending cuts, trains, health care repeal. All big promises surely to be broken. :(

ricpic said...

It is utter crap to say that Jews are pessimists. Secular Jews may be. But the heart of Judaism is optimistic: God made the world AND SAW THAT IT WAS GOOD.

Ross said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ross said...

It is utter crap to say that Jews are pessimists. Secular Jews may be. But the heart of Judaism is optimistic: God made the world AND SAW THAT IT WAS GOOD.

Yeah, and then he flooded it and killed everyone but Noah, his family and two of every animal.

Lem said...

Maybe he couldn't write about pessimism (aside from the tumor) because writing, in itself, is an optimistic act.. is something he was doing for pay, with an editor..

Lance said...

I can see where he might not like the Roberts court, but does Rakoff really believe Citizens United was an overall bad decision? Or was he just playing to Stewart and the audience?

Meade said...

Yeah, and then he flooded it and killed everyone but Noah, his family and two of every animal.

Message from God: I care.

Meade said...

So try to be good and eschew evil.

chr1 said...

My sympathies, but what hat the hell does a tumor have to do with the Roberts court? I guess if you're a good enough writer you works would outlast your identity, and you be wouldn't be part of a group of people whose ideas are so flimsy they have to politicize the courts, their Jewishness, and ride the waves of current sentiment.

I'm sure such people are floating through New York, vaguely liberal, joining hipster klezmer bands and being clever and witty. Slowly sinking into idealism...

Thanks for your cowardice.

traditionalguy said...

That was hilarious entertainment. Crack, you need to socialize more with safe people of all ages. Life is a lot of fun. When I faced mortality, the surrounding good people of faith pulled me through when the surrounding Dr Spock thinker types were of no use. I remember that Ronald Reagan had started out his working career as a very successful lifeguard. When we were going down for the third time as a nation, that beautiful man jumped in and saved us. Anyway, when you have no strength left, and you are cast upon the will to save you of the strong loving ones around you for HELP, then you become very thankful for good people. Maybe that is what people like me see in Sarah Palin: the willingness to jump in and help.

Christy said...

Wasn't the last word on pessimism written a couple of millennia ago by that seed of the Judaic King David, Ecclesiastes?

1jpb said...

Trad guy,

You must be able to understand that you are too removed to have any deep insight, such as this. Sure, you can have basic understandings and impressions. And, you have your emotional responses and feelings.

But, you're an outsider. Your insights are, necessarily, more limited than those of the folks on the inside.

traditionalguy said...

1jpb... Noonan has her job to do, and she is doing her supercilious hit pieces on Governor Palin. It is a repeat of the Bush opinion just leaked for another hit piece. The common meme is," that Sarah Palin brings shame on America as that illiterate nincompoop that Crazy John McCain picked without either Peggy Noonan's or the Bush family's permission." And now she is shamefully acting like she is a part of the GOP tradition of MEN WITH GRAVITAS. The RINO GOP should be so lucky as to get her.

traditionalguy said...

News Flash...There is no pessimism in Fort Worth today. TCU is destroying Utah.

The Crack Emcee said...

Tg,

Crack, you need to socialize more with safe people of all ages.

And these "safe people" are to be found where, exactly?

Hell, I only talk to you guys because there's a screen, and lots of distance, between us. Naw, the average human being is now of no worth to me what-so-ever, except as a warning:

"These crazy, craven, contradictory creatures care not - and they act on assumptions - approach at your own risk."

They could start wearing markings, like bees and wasps, but I wouldn't trust that either. (Once a liar, always a liar.)

Any chance you could turn back time?

traditionalguy said...

Crack...Becoming whole again and losing our isolation from others is the gift offered to all of us in the Gospels, only costing us a belief in the substitutionary death on the cross, the burial and the resurrection of the Jewish Messiah. I would not tell you that if it was not true, and found to be true by many millions of men and women for 50 generations over the last 1900 years.

Penny said...

"Any chance you could turn back time?"

Naw, if Cher can't, nobody can.

Lem said...

Doesnt that bony ass Noonan remember her boss Ronald Reagan came from humble beginnings.. just as Palin.. Reagan didn't go to an elite ivy league school.. neither did Palin.

Noonan doesn't even have the guts to run for anything herself.

The Crack Emcee said...

Tg,

It's not HIM I'm worried about, it's his sinning creations:

I just can't find one who'll stop.

Lem,

Fuck her: she was wrong about Obama, and now she's wrong about Palin. Read her for what she does best - atmosphere. It's like when I read the NYT, and the New Yorker, I only take the movie reviews seriously. They can say whatever they like, and I may even read it, but, politically, they have no credibility.

rhhardin said...

Tumors are the sized by vegetables, according to George Carlin.

Hailstones by sports equipment.

Cancer is writers' material. You get to say something in print.

A writer taken by a heart attack gets no material.

A stroke leaves you with a YouTube option.

Last words are a tricky business. Peter deVries advised preparing them in advance and arranging with somebody to say what they were, because you may not be up to anything worthwhile.

Thoreau was only up to "Moose." And then, "Indians."

Goethe said "More light."

Einstein said something in German which the nurse did not understand.

Cockpit voice recorders find "Oh, shit" to be popular.

Plan in advance.

kathleen said...

"reference to the Roberts court"

you mean his citizens united is baaaad remark? please. I'll bet you $10 million he hasn't read one paragraph or one sentence of the opinion. that's not a "reference to the court", that's just leftist snark, one more in an infinite parade of liberal cheap shots.

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