Tag Archives: Anderson Cooper

13: Dispatches from the Edge

Dispatches from the Edge: A Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival by Anderson Cooper

Dispatches From the Edge

Ok, so it’s no surprise I read this. We all know I heart AC. (I just know if I’d have been rich & gone to Yale, we’d have met in the dorms and become BFFs! As it is, I’ll have to make do with those twinny moments when he says the exact thing I just said except he’s on TV and people actually hear him.) The only surprising thing is how long it took me to buy it. I meant to buy it as soon as it came out in paperback, but then I got distracted with all that directed-reading reading and visits from-and-to friends & rellies over the summer. All good, but how could I have forgotten AC? And then on a bookstore foray I saw it. eep! Immediately book was purchased so it could be read on vacay. Yes! I bought a full price new book! Second one this year! Possibly a record! (j/k)

So anyway… if you’ve read his Details columns or his posts on the AC360 Blog, then the writing style will be familiar. If you like it there, you’ll like it here and vice versa. I like the contrast of the simplicity of the writing with the chaoticness of the situations, but I realize that won’t work for everyone. When I looked at the Amazon reviews, I noticed some people think his emotions seem too subdued, but I disagree, because that uber-quiet/shutdown reaction is exactly how I get when I’m really upset (if I’m ranting/raving, I’m fine). The other nitpick is (of course) that he doesn’t discuss his present day personal life. I think those people are missing the point of this book, which is really about how his career has been a way for him to deal with the deaths of his father (when he was 10) and his brother (when he was 21). So the book flips back-and-forth between his present-day reporting and the past, making connections between the two. It’s a memoir, not an autobiography. Memoir doesn’t have to be all-inclusive; it can focus on certain events or elements of one’s life.

Because AC was only 10 when his father died, his love for his dad is that of a 10-year-old—uncomplicated by adult conflict—and it makes you think about both the good and the bad of that. Because we’re so close in age and I also have one brother (I know he has two much older half-brothers, but they aren’t mentioned here), it was hard not to do the “what if…” thing. Without the extraordinary circumstances of the deaths of two of his immediate family, he probably wouldn’t have obtained a fake press pass and headed off to a war zone. In fact, he could have led a very comfortable life without doing much of anything (or at least anything of substance—as we know many children of the very rich do). But I think not only was he on a quest to make sense of his losses, but he also had an awareness of mortality that most people in their twenties don’t have, since there was a history of early deaths on his father’s side of the family. So that probably pushed him to take more risks than the average person—and also to not wait till some magical future date to do the things he wants to (like so many people do).

I Said It First

So last night we had AC360 on and he did a segment on the current annoying trend for everyone and their dog to go into “rehab” to mend their public image after they’ve committed one transgression or another. The thing is, I commented on this a while ago—it’s now almost a rite of passage for celebs and (especially) pseudo-celebs to party a little too much, do a few dumb things, and then go, “Hee hee! I’m off to rehab!”, which seems to trivialize genuine alcoholism, drug addiction, etc. Of course, no one was listening to me because I’m not on TV.

Then just now I’m catching up on my many Bloglines feeds and I run across this Maud Newton post about John Steinbeck, East of Eden and Journal of a Novel, which a number of people seem to have referenced. But wait! Sound familiar? As a matter of fact, I wrote about this first! Yep, I scooped Maud Newton. Oh yes, I did. 😀 Muahahaha.

(Note to self: this writing stuff down business can be very gratifying!)

2006 Books Read – #10

Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

Running With Scissors

Disclaimer: It’s quite possible that six years of reading submissions has left me fed up with Outrageous Antics as plot devices. Yes, I know, this is a memoir.

This was another book I expected to like more than I did. I mean, I liked it, but I didn’t love it. Maybe there was too much build-up (I read somewhere that this & Dry were Anderson Cooper’s favorite books). I don’t know. It wasn’t as funny as I expected. It was more like, enough already, pull yourselves together, people. I mean, I went through one year (I was 11) when I was kind of messy—I think it was more of an experiment than anything—letting the clothes pile up on the second bed and stuff like that. But it always felt so good to clean it up. I mean, maybe that’s why I’d let things slide a bit, because putting them back in order was so satisfying.

Anyhow, point: I’m pretty sure if I’d been stuck living with this incredibly annoying family (OMG, soooo annoying! Not wacky at all. Just irritating. Trying way too hard to Be Eccentric, IMO. I wanted to give them all a good smack.), I’d have come to the end of my rope with the unhygienic living conditions damn quick and would have been doing dishes, laundry, and home repairs in order to maintain my own sanity. I certainly couldn’t have just rolled with it. I’d have lived in a tent in the backyard if necessary.

So essentially I read this twitching with frustration at the inertia.

Anyhow. Props to Burroughs for not taking the “woe is me” road (which he certainly could have just with his insane mother and ass of a father). His take is matter-of-fact, even lighthearted (probably the reason the book has been called funny, but it’s not really the same thing). Burroughs seems to be saying (to use the cliche du jour): it is what it is. No after-school special syrupy life lessons here. That was refreshing.

What’s it about? It’s about nothing.

I don’t know who Brian Hennigan is, but after reading this, I think perhaps I should find out…

This had me in stitches.

It was also another one of those “I said this EXACT SAME THING!” moments (yes, I know exact same is redundant). (It happens w/ Anderson Cooper a lot. Which is why I think we could be BFF. But I digress.) Okay, I’ve not been quite as pejorative as he gets in his closing paragraphs. But this guy is Scottish, after all. I’m Canadian. You see the difference.

This, however, could be a direct quote:

Let me also say that, yes, I have read a Harry Potter book. It was nice enough – for a children’s book. But at no point did I ever think that I was involved in anything other than a book for children.

There was not anything of entertainment value for a fully-developed adult mind.

HP aside, these “Hey! I said that last week/month/year!” moments happen so frequently that I wonder if there is not an audience for my observations/opinions. Perhaps one needs to be semi-famous first before anyone is interested in what one has to say? Possibly. But maybe, just maybe, it’s simply a matter of articulating stuff that people identify with.

TCGN* Update

[*Tom Cruise Goes Nuts]

I’ve been confining my thoughts on this matter to Sallie’s ever-so-funny running commentary at So Anyway…, but I just had to share this tidbit.

Quite frequently, I’ll make an observation on something to myself or someone else, then later on I’ll hear someone else make the same observation in a more public forum. And then I’ll think, hey! I said that yesterday! (or whatever). I’m still trying to decide if this makes me a trendsetter or simply unoriginal.

Anyhoo.

Last Friday I commented on Eden’s post about TCGN’s appearance on Today:


You know back in the day (i.e. the 80s), I liked TC. That gradually wore down to neutrality. My feelings toward him remained pretty much neutral until the last, oh, how long would you say it’s been? two months or so? Now I actively dislike him. I may never pay to see another movie with him in it. And I can’t imagine I’m the only person who’s feeling that way.

Then last night I was noodling around TWoP and after catching up on the AC360 thread, I saw the Today Show thread, remembered Eden’s post (I didn’t actually see the interview) and thought I’d see what the TWoPPers had to say about it.

Just a few snippets:
ctygrltif2:

Between that and the “Matt, Matt, Matt” he was just so offensive. I hate the way he’s trying to force his cult on the rest of the world. I was never a big fan of his movies anyway so it’s no big loss that I’ll never pay money to see one again..

Damaris56:

Well, after this whole thing with Katie Holmes and Brooke Shields and this latest interview on Today, I’m boycotting his films. I’m never giving this guy a penny of my money. I had planned to see War Of The Worlds because Spielberg was directing it, but nothing will get me in to watch any movie with this idiot in it.

Lizziedrew:

Add me to the list of those who will be boycotting his movies in the future. That pompous asshat doesn’t need any more of my money, for damn sure.

BitchySmurf:

I never liked Tom Cruise. I never disliked him. But I never “got” the whole appeal. I’m never going to another one of his movies. War of the Worlds seems like the kind of thing I would enjoy too. But I won’t go.

So, heh. There are also links to transcripts of the interview wherein TCGN proves that he is, in fact, a crazy person. It’s funny (funny weird, not funny haha). The main reason my initial like of TC wore off was because I could never get a read on him in interviews. Maybe this is stupid, but if I find someone to be vacuous or annoying or assholey in interviews, I find it hard to like his/her work. Conversely, if someone comes off as bright or witty, I’m more inclined to enjoy his/her work.

Anyhow, to me, TC never came off as anything. He was like a robot, a shell. I got the impression that he had no personality of his own, he just filled this shell with roles, and when the role ended he was empty again. Now, I realize this was in part due to his publicist (you know, the one he fired) suppressing his urge to reveal that he’s a crazy person. But I also think that my instinct that he had no personality of his own is probably not that far off. That’s the kind of person that cults appeal to, after all, isn’t it?

One more thing: in all this frenzy, little mention has been made of TC’s children. I’ve been thinking about how they’re getting to that age (according to IMDb, they’re 12 and 10) where everything your parents do, regardless of how ordinary, is embarrassing. Can you imagine being a pre-teen and having to watch your dad behave as he has for the last while? I’m mortified for them.