Nora Ephron died last night at age 71, and I was surprised at how sad I am about it – until I realized that she had a skill that I admire so very much: she wrote and told the truth and was funny about it. As I said on Twitter, a LOT of other people said her words, but we knew the words were hers. When she made movies, we knew it was her voice. That is one powerful writer's voice.
If you have some time today, you might enjoy her 1996 speech to the graduating class at Wellesley College:
I want to tell you a little bit about my class, the class of 1962. When we came to Wellesley in the fall of 1958, there was an article in the Harvard Crimson about the women's colleges, one of those stupid mean little articles full of stereotypes, like girls at Bryn Mawr wear black. We were girls then, by the way, Wellesley girls. How long ago was it? It was so long ago that while I was here, Wellesley actually threw six young women out for lesbianism. It was so long ago that we had curfews. It was so long ago that if you had a boy in your room, you had to leave the door open six inches, and if you closed the door you had to put a sock on the doorknob. In my class of, I don't know, maybe 375 young women, there were six Asians and 5 Blacks. There was a strict quota on the number of Jews. Tuition was $2,000 a year and in my junior year it was raised to $2,250 and my parents practically had a heart attack.
Ephron, to my surprise, was likely the source of a quote I found in other places in other movies: be the heroine of your own life. Word to that. What a legacy for a writer: to have your words embedded in a generation's vernacular: “I'll have what she's having.” “Baby fish mouth.” Her voice remains now that she's gone – still one of the most powerful writer's voices I have experienced.
Via Me & My Kindle, a tale of artistic tomfoolery: artists have created a program that automates every step of the Amazon ebook self publishing production process.
“Where does authorship start and end?” wondered two artists in Berlin. So as a digital project, they created a software program which automatically performed every step in the publishing process for an ebook in Amazon’s Kindle Store. And then two weeks ago, in a special press release, they revealed their project’s dark twist. “Our bots are compiling and uploading hundreds of ebooks on Amazon.com with text stolen from the comments on YouTube videos.”
The books had titles like Wierd song you cute by Timsest Pitigam. The fake names were also generated by the computer, so you’d end up with ebooks like Sparta my have by Loafrz Ipalizi. A writer at MIT’s “Technology Review” blog identified those as two of his favorite titles, calling the whole project “a masterpiece of machine-generated unintentional comedy.” But behind it all, the artists insisted, they were trying to make a point.
Somehow I ended up on a list of names of people looking for piracy protection services. This results in hilarious email. For example:
“Armed Piracy Defence also provides its own Armed Guard teams, under water security surveliance divers and commissioned
remote vessels that can escort slow ships, yachts or oil rigs ready for deployment within 48-72 hrs between any of the
25 major ports.”
“For as little as $3500-$3800/day for 3 guards, our experienced staff can give you the peace of mind you need to keep your
crew and cargo safe.”
ALL TO PROTECT BOOKS?! Awesome.
(I'm kidding, but the idea of deploying armed guards and divers to protect a digital shipment of books makes my brain chuckle.)
(That would make a great movie!)
And finally, I'm over at Kirkus Reviews today talking about three books I cannot wait to read- but alas aren't out quite yet. What books are you looking forward to this summer? Is there a book you absolutely cannot wait to read?