Submit to Reader Appreciation Week!

Here’s a trifecta of photographic vanity: Me, my kitten, my merchandise. Thank you, thank you very much.

But enough about me. Let’s talk about you. My logs tell me that a few thousand of you drop by each day, which I think is darned nice of you all. Thank you for making me part of your work avoidance routine. Normally in this space I prattle on about whatever it is I feel like prattling on about (hence the name), but I thought that for a refreshing change of pace for all of us, and to recognize the fact that it’s my readers who have made me what I am today (i.e., some guy in a small room in Ohio, typing out missives to people he doesn’t even know), for the next week I’d prattle on about whatever it is you want me to prattle on about.

That’s right, for the next week, I’m taking requests. If you ever wanted to know what I thought about any topic you might think of, now’s an excellent time to ask it: I’ll be posting answers as new “Whatever” entries. Any topic, general or personal, is up for grabs, although sometimes (probably as regards personal questions) the answer might be “none of your damn business, bub.” But for the most part I’ll be forthcoming and full of prattle-osity about the topic of your choosing. Serious or silly, thought provoking or maddeningly random, whatever topic you want. I’m here to perform like a monkey just for you.

So go on, ask me anything. Just drop it in the comment thread for this entry or send it in e-mail. The more requests I get the less work — er, that is, the more fun — it will be for me! Thanks in advance for playing.

(In case you’re wondering: I’ll start writing reader request entries on Monday.)

56 Comments on “Submit to Reader Appreciation Week!”

  1. I’d like to hear you jaw on about the Middle East, from the way things are now, to the way things should be, to the ‘Pundit Fights’ that CNN stages every now and then.


  2. We’re a few weeks past Memorial Day with a big honkin’ summer to go. I’d like to hear what John thinks of the remainder of the upcoming summer movie season, and which flicks he thinks are gonna be actually good.

  3. Since you write in a gaming magazine but don’t talk much about it here, how about some gaming topics? What excited you from E3, what are you playing now, and what you liked from the last year might all be interesting topics.

  4. WORDS CAN NOT EXPRESS, JOHN…WORDS JUST CAN NOT EXPRESS… This has never been done before as sincerely in practice or theory.

    By the way, why would you pick Friday the 13th for this announcement? Is there any planetary alignments above the parsnips and beets in the garden–the Newton and gravity and apple thing?

    Since you are a blogger, yourself, what are your thoughts about whether a blogger should have a researcher–online ofcourse–to facilitate his webblog writings?

  5. For reasons I don’t fully comprehend, I’m somewhat homesick, so could you talk about your adventures at the University of Chicago? Oh, and did I ever tell you about the time Hannah Gray screamed at me?

  6. Why, why, why does Pamela Anderson still have a career. I just checked “Spike TV” and apparently she is doing the voice over for a cartoon (“Striperella” or some such thing).

    On the same thought, any thoughts on “Spike TV”.


  7. I find it intensely amusing that the subject line for this post is “SUBMIT TO READER APPRECIATION WEEK!” I keep expecting it to dominate our wills or something.


  8. I’d like you to discuss the rise, fall, and subsequent second renaissance of the comic book movie franchise.

    Seriously, I have no real ideas for you. If I did, I’d write about them myself! :)

  9. The state of Washington’s ‘new’ problem with their sex offenders registration act. Apparently it’s causing many offenders to have difficulty finding housing and causing them to loose jobs if they can get them in the first place.

    Here’s the link to the NPR article I heard about it on.

    Here in MI where I live, we have a web site run by the state.
    Just enter in your zip code and find out the name and adresses of all of your local convicted sexual predators. There has been much debate about this site and it have been put up and taken down several times as deemed by courts injunctions granted and then removed.

    I’m wondering what your thoughts are on the subject of tracking where offenders live and the publicizing of that fact to neighbors, non-neighbors and employers/potential employers and the general public.

  10. What’s up with Ted Rall? I used to read him constantly and really valued his observerations (especially on his travels to Russia and Afghanistan). The election of Bush and then the September 11 attacks really seemed to send him off the rails and his writing seemed to be more about lashing out at everyone and everything American (which is ok) but providing progressively less enlightenment(which is not). I stopped reading his stuff. How is he doing?

  11. Hmmm, its like the genie granted me a wish and I don’t want to waste it. Well, since a lot of your views on Bush and the middle east seem to come from very mainstream sources, yet you do pull out some obscure references on occassion…I’d like to know your take on “mainstream media.” Too corporate? Too sold out? Too liberal? Too conservative? etc. And along those lines, since you are encouraging independent thought, according to your T-Shirt, what is your take on independent media and its role? And the media of other countries vs. US…something along those lines.

  12. First topic: Spike Lee. Your thoughts on his lawsuit, and a judge actually granting an injunction against TNN.

    More important topic: Mykal Burns.

  13. Hey John.

    One subject that still perturbs me is music rights. I know you’ve talked about this several times in the past, but as both a writer and a music critic you must have some thoughts on this.

    When I buy a CD, what am I actually buying? Apparently, some very limited usage rights, and a shiny plastic shell – but not only are my rights not made clear on a disclaimer on the disc, I’m not sure anyone really agrees on what these rights are. I’m not allowed to use it in any way that might conceivably make me money – at a concert, over the radio, whatever; I can’t play it in my restaurant or aerobics studio without paying the RIAA (or whoever). Fine. They’d really rather I didn’t play it on my computer, make mp3s out of it, make backup copies for my own use, make my own mixes, sell the CD to a used CD store, or buy one from that store – but either technology or pesky constitutional issues still allow some of these in some form. If the disk gets scratched – I can’t get a replacement for a discount. If I accidentally double-buy one I already own – too bad so sad for me unless the record store takes returns. If my house burns down – thousands of dollars of CDs up in smoke. If I “own” the record, and I want a CD or to download it from a music service, I have to repay full price. And even so – almost no money from my purchase actually ever gets to the artist who created it.

    I would like to be able to purchase a media-independent licence for music – with reasonable, specific rights defined by some Creative Commons style document. These rights should include rights to cover/included artwork contained with the media. And for which a large portion of the licence fees go to the artist and producer of the music. I could then “show” this licence anytime I want a copy of the music/materials on some form of media – and pay the media distributors a reasonable price for that service.

    What do you think?

  14. Martha Stewart.

    Monica Lewinsky.

    How to get your 2 year old to poop in the potty.

  15. Martha Stewart.

    Monica Lewinsky.

    How to get your 2 year old to poop in the potty.

  16. Cow belching as the cause of greenhouse gases.

    Montessori schools

    Al Sharpton’s presidential bid

    What does one do with $4B dollars (EBay founder’s net worth)

    Can the children of movie stars grow up normal?

    What’s your best Athena-accepted recipe?

    Movie remakes: homages or shameless money-grubbing?

    Best noir films you’ve seen

    What (or who) lives in the corn which surrounds your house?

    Historical places/events near your home

    Clowns: Scary or funny?

    Enough for now.


  17. OK, a chance to annoy a writer. How about this:

    where do you get your ideas?

    Just kidding. Really. But I am curious about a few writing-related subjects.

    * What kind of freelance work do you do. I’m not so much interested in the record reviews, which you’ve linked to before, but the other work that don’t get mentioned as often.

    * The recent Writer’s Digest ran another article by Robert W. Bly about how to make $100,000 a year freelancing. (Basically, work hard, make your time count, charge high prices, work for the big companies, write books about how to make $100,000 a year freelancing, etc.) Are you nodding your head in approval or spraying Coke at your monitor?

    * Fiction writing. Do you prefer plotting or letting it rip? Have you discovered some insights into the mechanics of writing over the course of these novels? Do you have specific goals as a fiction writer?

    That should do for about a week’s worth right there.

  18. As a fellow inhabitant of a small town in Ohio, I would love to hear your memories of the Bob Evans farm in Rio Grande. I would also like your impressions on the proliferation of Amish and Amishesque folk in Ohio.

  19. Life online. I have my own thoughts, based on a website nearing its fifth anniversary. (Fifth? Sixth? I can’t remember just now – my wife is giving birth in the other room…) As someone who’s a contemporary, with a website as old as mine – what’s your take? What’s changed? What’s the same? What’s is all about, Alfie?

  20. The relationship between violence in media and violence in those who experience the media. Do violent video games and movies create violent people? What about violence in the news? In a D&D game? This is very general, I know, but I’d like to hear your thoughts on just how responsible media is for its viewers’ violent actions, and on the legal activity that has risen around the issue.

    Talking about the University of Chicago would be great, also. I’m off to my freshman year there in September.

  21. How about starting a new column called ‘Whassup’ alongside ‘Whatever’ ;-)

  22. First of all – the concept behind Spike TV is LAME, being intentionally and over the top stereotypical and offensive in the name of a more targeted branding strategy.

    Apparently TNN has been changing its lineup to more ‘male oriented’ fare for months to gear up for the switch, with only a few more shows to be added (the high profile Gary the Rat, Barbarella, The Orlando Jones Show, and Ren & Stimpy).

    So….it kind of pisses me off that I’ll have to stop watching the cool ass channel it’s become since they’ve made such asses of themselves. What the fuck is wrong in this country that everything has to be win-lose? Why do you have to bash one group to elevate another? Are straight men so terribly insecure that they have to be spoonfed and coddled in order to shore up their delusions of stereotyped masculinity? Why does the male/female dichotomy have to be set up so that one is good and the other is bad? WHAT THE FUCK?

    And don’t get me started on Lifetime or BET.

    Ok, I just really needed to say all that.

  23. Susan McDougal

    While you expound on other topics, let’s take her case in particular.

  24. It’s like Evenin’ at the Improv! Except you get to research your responses. Oh, and it’s probably nothing like Evenin’ at the Improv because I’ve no idea how it works, I just like the idea of “improv” (whatever I think of the results).

    There’s an entry idea right there: improvised humour.

    Seriously, now. Add my vote to “dinosaurs”. Also, the physics involved in neutrino pathways, and, if you get time, proton decay.

  25. You could always write some more about ‘creatively intelligent long-haired totally hot brunette[s].’ Mmmmmm.

  26. You could also write about how science is nothing more than a hole-riddled fairy tale of how man aspires to become a god. That’d spark some good, albeit amazingly narrow-minded, I’m sure, discussion from the opposing factions that are found to frolic amongst the clover here in Scalziland.

  27. Sometimes I feel like a major evolution in computing must be coming. It seems like people need a faster way of getting info in and out of the personal computer. The extinction of the mouse? The extinction of the keyboard? Expound on technology and timeframes if you find that at all interesting.

  28. How about something on the scourge that is urban sprawl? The increasing suburbanization of our cities has created nightmare traffic and forces us to find a feeling of community in new ways, which often involve the use of a car, rather than in our actual neighborhoods. We can’t all escape to rural Ohio, so what’s the answer?

  29. Hey John,

    How about that Howard Dean, huh? I don’t know your view on him personally, but he is definitely the one generating the buzz this time around. A lot of it, from a tactical point of view, comes from his unprecedented use of the Internet. What do you think of the way he is using to gather grass roots support and the aggressive way his team is courting bloggers?

  30. Could you give us an update on how you’re doing with avoiding Microsoft products?

  31. Raising children. And how to do it without going utterly insane when your 2 year old is more stubborn than you are. And maybe whether the AP people are right and a child will grow up to be an antisocial psycho if you don’t share a bed and breastfeed for the first 4 years.

  32. You’ve used a number of posts to debunk the arguments of creationists. I’d love to see a single post that covers all the major arguments and why you think they’re wrong. Of course, I’d also like to see the creationists that post here actually defend their position. What we’ve mostly seen is “I disagree but I’ll keep my reasons to myself.”

  33. How about the uncontrolled immigration that is plaguing America. 10 million immigrants in the last 10 years and more on the way!

  34. You’ve written little about the beloved Idiot Box (TV) in your years on the Whatever (I Googled to make sure there wasn’t something I’d missed that you’d already done), awarding “The Simpsons” the title of Best TV Show of the Millennium, and declaring your “recent TV choices” 15 months ago as “Nickelodeon (for SpongeBob Squarepants), Cartoon Network, CNN Headline News, the Science Channel, and The West Wing.”

    Anything to add?
    What did you think of the season finale of West Wing and its future without Aaron Sorkin?
    Ever seen “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, or what have you said/done to people who say “You ought to watch Buffy”?
    Have you ever seen Alton Brown’s “Good Eats”, or will you find out which channel is ‘Food Network’ in order to watch Lileks’ guest appearance on Al Roker’s show?
    What’s your favorite show on Cartoon Network?
    Please please please explain the appeal of ‘Spongebob Squarepants’ (I have enjoyed many cartoons in my adult life, but NOT THAT ONE).
    Can you name all the spin-offs of “Law & Order” and “CSI” (trick question)?
    How would you use TiVo if you had it (I’m assuming you don’t but you know what it is)?
    Is it possible to spend too much time online AND watch too much TV?

  35. A science fiction writer and a tech evangelist? I’d like to hear you expound on NASA and the future of space exploration. Is the shuttle program done? Is a space elevator practical? How long until we start making practical/profitable use of space (mining asteroids, colonizing, exploring Mars, etc)?

  36. Jealousy, and I guess as a part of that your relationship with your wife. You’ve recently mentioned ex-girlfriends a couple times and on indiecrit have mentioned that if you weren’t already with your wife you’d happily marry at least on of the artists (and have mentioned how others are hot). Are you jealous, is your wife jealous? Do you end up having a big discussion about the hot new artists you just reviewed (or maybe it never gets back to her if she doesn’t read the Whatever)? Maybe my jealousy is an abnormal thing and the rest of the world can say someone is desirable without it being an issue.

  37. As has been noted, I am now a father. And I’ve got this bug up my ass about kids’ music. To wit, I think it stinks – or most of it, in any case. You’ve done a nice job of anatomizing just what kids’ TV is worth watching – is there anything decent to play for your kid on the gramophone that won’t move a parent to cauterize their earholes?

    (By the way, I just wrote a big stinking rant on this on my website:

  38. I’m curious about what your thoughts are on what is currently wrong with NASA. Not the technical aspect like “not enough funding” or “need cheaper launch methods”, but more in the “what SHOULD NASA’s goals be?”. Such as international space station? colony on the moon? manned mission to mars? manned exploration of other parts of the solar system (planets and nonsuch)? mining space for resources? etc.

    The current problem i see, is no one has a specific goal in mind. After the president’s declaration of a manned moon mission, NASA seemed to have purpose and was focused on achiving the goal. In recent times, basically everything after the moon landing, they’ve been just kinda wandering around putting no specific effort into any specific project. So i’m curious what are your top choices for what the new goal should be?

  39. John:

    Although some readers requested specific details relating to Ohio, I’d be interested in a general description of life in the Buckeye State. As a New Yorker, I’ve always had a romantic view of the place, and I’d like to compare the dream with the reality.

  40. Mebbe perhaps some comments about the medical and health community, how their recommendations/guidelines/treatments flip-flop every other week?

    How drug companies are (and really have little choice but to be) so driven by profit that they send drugs to market tested only slip-shod, with lists of side effects that seem worse than the problem they’re meant to help?

    On the problem of obesity today, and how it ties into the decreasing trend of responsibility for one’s self and one’s actions in the US today? And as well on the poorly defined “exer-psycho” recommendations for “good health?”

  41. John…

    Great series, and we appreciate you right back.

    Lend us your wisdom, if you will, on the subject of children and the Internet. How are you (or how are you planning to) teach Athena to use the Internet wisely? What, if any, restrictions will you place on her use of it at the outset?


  42. John,
    I hang out on your site quite a bit and probably post more comments here then I do on most others. What I’d like to here is how you feel about your readers? Particularly the ones you don’t know? You’re a very personal web author, never shying away from the personal topics, like your family and your craft. I doesn’t seem to bother you posting personal information to the web? Ever have second thoughts about a particular post? What do you make of the anonymous interaction with strangers through your site? Does it engage you? bore you? both? Does anyone post to your site that you hate? Anyone that you really enjoy hearing from? What do you make of the diverse viewpoints found in your comments? Does that amaze you?

    I know there some overlap with your life online comments and I know this topic is a bit self-absorbed but I’d like to know. So how about telling us readers what you think of us for reader appreciation week.

  43. John, I’d like to hear your views on the various gaming platforms and how you think they stack up against each other (Playstation bias notwithstanding).

    If not that, then how about your opinion on plutonium vs. unranium as used for fissionable material?

  44. how about “litigation and its effect on the american social fabric”… (pet peeve of mine, having come south from the more or less non-litigious cdn society)

  45. Here’s one for you, although I doubt you’ll get to it by the end of the week.

    What is involved – legally and otherwise – in re-recording other people’s music?

    I have a musician who wants me to produce his “All Acoustic – Other People’s Songs” album. He is not published, nor does he have an association with a record label. The long-term goal is to put some CD’s up on CdBaby and see what the response is.

    Do you have any insight as to what trenches must be trudged through in order to re-record other people’s music?

    Oh, and thanks for all the posts you’ve already made.

  46. John:
    What’s your favorite word in the English language? Mine is “panties”. A great word if ever there was one. It’s a joy to say. Your thoughts? BTW, don’t restrict yourself to just one word, perhaps you have a top 10 list you’d like to share with us.

  47. How about an article on Affirmative Action. I believe it is wrong! Two wrongs dont make a right.

    I am a person of color, but I find the NAACP organization to be all baloney these days. They are losing track of the core issues and focussing on nonsense like “There arent enough blacks on the TV show Friends!”

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