Read me: The Peekaboo Paradox

This story by Washington Post Magazine writer Gene Weingarten is one of the best examples of a profile I’ve read in the last couple years. Notice how it plays with your expectations. And think about where he goes as a writer/reporter where others may not dare to tread. It’s engrossing but it’s pretty damn funny, too.

*Update. I want to add that this story is about a guy named The Great Zucchini, the most popular childrens entertainer in Washington D.C. And it’s about his secrets. I can’t tell you enough how much I love this story, so please be sure to read it because I’m not going to shut up about it.

Start reading this when you can. We will be discussing it in class Feb. 4.

As usual, learn a little bit about Weingarten, too. Five minutes.



amd_taleseDo a little reading about Gay Talese. Just google him and learn a thing or two about him. Spend five minutes doing this. Thanks.

Reminder for class 1/28

For our next class, make sure you have read “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold.” , by Gay Talese. We will be discussing this so come with something to say, especially¬† about character development and scenes. Please print out a copy of the story for your reference and bring it to class.

Also, bring five story ideas, about one paragraph each. In each paragraph, please identify “The Main Thing” and “The Other Thing” in your potential story.

And, identify at least two magazines where you would pitch your story and tell me briefly why.

In order to do that, you’ll need a copy of 2009 Writer’s Market or buy a membership (about $6 per month) to

Any questions? Email me.
Thanks. See you Wednesday.


Here is the syllabus for Spring 2009.

Roger the dog

Also, sometimes I just like to post pictures of my dogs.



Hi, guys

Dan here. I’m looking forward to this class. I’m going to use this Web site to try to get you as much information about class as you need, and also as a place to provide class readings. We may experiment later in the semester by having you post drafts of your work up here for the rest of us to critique. I haven’t quite figured it out yet, though. There are an awful lot of you (29 as of right now).

Anyway, about the readings. College students are often broke and I always resented as a student having to pay hundreds of dollars per semester for books. So here I will post the readings, and you can ingest them however you want. Print it out, read it on your laptops, send it to your selves in a series of several hundred text messages. Don’t care.

But do read them. Do have something intelligent to say about them. Or ask a question. Be prepared to talk.

Any news about the class — room changes, cancellations, etc. — will be found here throughout the semester. I understand that you guys have access to Blackboard, but I am a graduate student myself at another college and I hate, hate blackboard. So we’re not going to use it.

Read Me: Frank Sinatra Has a Cold

This is a link to the Gay Talese profile from 1966, “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold.”

A couple things about this article. Talese was sent by Esquire to profile Sinatra, and Sinatra initially agreed to be interviewed. But when Talese got there, Sinatra changed his mind. He didn’t want to be interviewed any more. But Talese didn’t give up and go home. He hung around for six weeks, talking to everyone in Sinatra’s orbit and viewing his subject from a bit of a distance. What he produced was an amazingly intimate portrait without much one-on-one time with his subject.