Friday, January 04, 2008

We're Serving Holiday Leftovers

Items Left Over From the Holiday Season. If you're like most people, you tend to be in the giving spirit at year's end. But how about the rest of the year? For Cleveland-area readers, here's a good list of nonprofits and their various needs. While it was published last month, I'm guessing these organizations are just as much in need now as they were during the lead-up to the holiday season. And for those of you hyperorganized enough to begin thinking about next Christmas, if there are indeed any such animals out there, here are a couple of gift guides worth checking out (please note that all I really need for Christmas is this fun little toy to keep me occupied during bouts of writer's block). Finally, this interesting piece explores some of Charles Dickens' holiday stories that have tended to get a little lost in the glare of his enduring monster hit, A Christmas Story.

Michelle Marks Her Tenth Anniversary in Style. Michelle O'Neil, a newish Clevelander and a blogger of my recent acquaintance, turns her blog over to her husband for a note about their tenth anniversary, and then touchingly writes about it herself. Congratulations, Michelle and Todd. While you're over at her place, you might as well also check out this nice riff about how the first "chapter book" she ever read as a child turned Michelle on to lifelong reading. Isn't that how it works for most of us? Sometime soon, I'll take her cue, and tell you about the book that did it for me as a kid, back in Depression-era dustbowl Oklahoma (just kidding about time and place). I'll be eager to hear your stories as well. So thanks for the great idea, Michelle.

I'm Glad at Least One Bulldog Reporter Hasn't Forgotten Cheney. Newsweek's Ace Investigator Mike Isikoff, a name you may remember from le affair Lewinsky, keeps digging on the crucial story of how the Veep and his henchmen have systematically subverted the Constitution. Most of the rest of the media has clearly moved on to newer, fresher outrages. But this one is the gift that keeps giving for those with the attention span to keep at it. And Isikoff is as tenacious and untiring as anyone, famously walking away from the Washington Post in a huff when the paper refused to run one of his tougher pieces, and decamping to its sister publication. Take a bow, Mr. I.

It's Nice to Be Noticed. Former Plain Dealer reporter Bill Sloat, who apparently decided to use some of his severance pay from the staff buyout/downsizing to found the blog The Daily Bellwether, gets this nice tip of the hat from popular Slate media columnist Jack Shafer. It's well-deserved recognition. And here's a public thanks to Bill for having recently added this blog to his links.

The Rest of the Story with Leona's Parting Gifts. Not long ago, the media was awash in stories about how the late "Queen of Mean," Leona Helmsley, left a bequest of several million dollars to her pooch. But the always-interesting Chronicle of Philanthropy recently reported that her total bequests to charity, about $4 billion, landed her in the top spot of charitable givers this year. That may not be quite as titillating a story as giving your dog a few million bucks, but it would be hard to argue that it's a story not worth adding to the Leona files. But I've yet to see it picked up anywhere else.

NYT Book Blog Calls in Reinforcements. The writer behind the New York Times' popular Paper Cuts blog congratulates himself for his 250th post, and then announces that henceforth he'll be getting some help, as the blog turns into a group effort. He also writes this interesting riff on the mixed blessings of feeding the hungry beast that is any good blog. "Writing Paper Cuts has been, lo this past five or six months, great fun and a great, interesting mental derangement - it’s been a bit like taking in an outsize, very friendly stray dog, one that begs for food two or three times a day, sheds on your furniture, slobbers on your best shoes and dumps on the lawn. All in, fundamentally, a good way." That sounds about right.


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