I find this discussion very entertaining


My friend Betsy just sent me some new pix from our party in April. This is me with my two best friends, Betsy and Steph.

Even better, this is one of me with my 10th grade sweetie, Bo, whom I hadn't seen in literally 20 years. It was fun catching up. He looks exactly the same. Exactly (but forthe lack of eyeliner al la Duran Duran, which he wore in 1985, even, I think, while playing soccer)


I am a mother who happens to be a writer. Or maybe I'm a writer who happens to be a mother. In any event, one of my favorite websites is one for mamawriters. It's called Mamaphonic, and it's produced by my friend Bee Lavender. It's always chock full of good stuff, but I particularly enjoyed this new interview with writer Muffy Bolding.

I can totally identify with her description of what we bookish girls like in a man...and a deity, for that matter:

 "It's the overwhelming smell of books that turns me on. If a man smells like a first edition Margaret Atwood, I am his for the taking, baby. And it is always with that in mind that I step through the doors of Barnes and Noble, or any of the other Big Book ‘Borgs for that matter, and feel that first blast of sweet book breath in my face. It is in this place of bound glories and shelved rapture that I find my god – and, trust me, he ain’t in the religion section, either."

call for submissions

Hey there blog readers. I'm working on a new book proposal and here is the info. Feel free to submit and definitely pass the message along to any writerpals you may have.





Katie Allison Granju is editing a new anthology, titled "How It Sold: The inside story from real authors on how their books made it into print."

The idea is this: just as women share their birth stories and soldiers swap war stories, writers trade publication stories. Aspiring authors, in particular, are always hungry for these tales, but even those who have already been published are eager to see how their peers "made it."

In "How It Sold," dozens of published authors throw open the windows on how they took their books from initial idea to the bookstore shelf. All the juicy details, including finding an agent (or pitching without one), writing proposals and synopses, negotiating an offer, working with editors and publicists, and more are included. Each individual publishing tale offers a unique, honest and personal view of the many paths to publication.

I am looking for essays of between 1000 and 2500 words from published authors who are willing to share their own journeys through the twists and turns of the publishing landscape. I welcome writers from all genres, including:

-Fiction, both literary and mainstream
-Narrative non-fiction
-How-to guides
-Scholarly books
-Comic books
-Coffee table and cookbooks
-Travel guides
-Self-published books
-Series books
-Books of poetry
-Children's and juvenile books

Writers selected for inclusion in the book will retain copyright to their essays. On publication, writers will receive two copies of the book, plus an equal share (divided among all contributors) of 1/2 of the total advance for the book.

Please send your submissions by 07/15/05 to:

Katie Allison Granju at

loop de loop

I love, love, love this book. It's my new fave knitting book. The patterns are terrific but the writing is smart and funny and thoughtful. It's Elizabeth Zimmerman-meets-Debbie-Stoller.

I am going to start my first cardigan sweater using one of these patterns. Now I need to decide which lucky friend or family member will get it, and shop for yarn accordingly...


I've been asked to be the featured author online chat guest at Mothering Magazine on June 8th at 1pm. I think the topic will be attachment parenting past early childhood.

So stop on by and join the conversation if you feel so inclined.


Jane and Clare Frances

Originally uploaded by kgranju.
This is my daughter Jane with my oldest and best friend Betsy's daughter, Clare Frances, who came to visit us at the horse show this weekend. Betsy and I have been friends since we were 11, so it's really cool for us to see our daughters together.


fugly is the new pretty

Ah, cattiness done right at (thanks Maia for the link).

Representative of the fabuloso writing at this site, a description of Marc Anthnoy, Mr. J-Lo:

"I have dreamed -- yes, mi amores, dreamed -- about someone like Marc. He's so... weensy and bird-like and man-tanned and Living Dead-y. What girl doesn't long for a man who looks embalmed? He's my own adorable little leathery Manoerexic, Tanorexic Marc!"

Another fun time waster:

Drive on By

The two bands in this year's Sundown in the City schedule that I most want to see are the Drive By Truckers and Sleater-Kinney. I'll have to wait until June 30th to see the S-K girls, but tonight's the night for Drive By Truckers. I'll be heading down to Market Square with a friend to see the free DBT show tonight and you should too. It looks like the weather is going to be spectacular - a great night for a southern rock opera in downtown Knoxville. Hope to see you there.



If you like to watch horse shows, and you live near Nashville, I'm going to a really fun one starting tomorrow - it runs through Sunday at Brownland Farm in Franklin, TN. There's going to be a $10,000 mini-prix, which is really exciting to watch. It should attract some of the top show jumpers in the country.

Of course, my primary focus will be on my child and her new pony, who will not be competing in the mini-prix ;-) This will be their first AA rated show together, so she's excited. Plus, I love going to shows in Nashville because I get to spend a horsey weekend with friends and family who live there. Doesn't get much better than that...


bright eyes

What a disappointment. After rave reviews from friends and critics, comparing Conor Oberst to a lot of singer/songwriters I love (like Elliott Smith, RIP), I finally downloaded this record yesterday.

I am going to give it another listen tonight, but on initial play, it seems tepid and formulaic. And Oberst's voice does nothin' for me.


Today is my son Henry's last day of 7th grade. I am so, so glad because keeping him focused on his work lately has been a challenge. His teenage head has already jumped ahead into summer mode.

Best last day of school movie scene ever? Definitely the one from "Dazed and Confused."

Today is also the last day of sweeps for me at work. The end of the book means things slow down a bit and everyone is less tense and insanely busy...


tom cruise

OK, it's official, Tom Cruise has finally revealed himself fully as a complete, freaking nutjob

Run away, still-apparently-normal Katie Holmes. Run away as fast as you caaaaaaan.....


Gannett has migrated my column to a new, permanent home HERE.

best job ever? i think maybe so

_Assistant to the Cartoon Editor_ The New Yorker Magazine

Health, Dental, 401K

Midtown Manhattan, New York, NY

For 80 years, The New Yorker magazine has maintained its status as the premiere outlet for the publication of cartoons. This is an opportunity to be an intergral part of that esteemed history. The Cartoon Editor is looking for a smart, literate, technologically savvy and highly organized person to act as his right hand (though left-handers are encouraged to apply). He/she will be responsible for trafficking and organizing submissions, maintaining schedules, acting as liaison with artists and editorial staff, and overseeing special projects.

Qualified candidates will be college graduates with some experience working in an office, preferably in magazine or book publishing; an ability to multi-task and set priorities; excellent writing, organizational, and computer skills; and a highly evolved comic sensibility. Soul of an artist is a plus, getting to work on time is a must. Plenty of opportunity for growth in this highly creative environment.

Contact: To apply for this position, please send your resume and an entertaining cover letter via e-mail to (No calls, please. Only qualified candidates will be contacted.)


One of my very favorite parts of being a mama is watching my three children's relationships with one another develop over the years. I've consciously tried to create a family culture that values and nurtures their sibling relationships, and now that they are getting older, I'm seeing how that's coming together.

Last night they all jumped on the trampoline for two hours under the very full moon over our backyard. I had the back door to the kitchen propped open (while I worked on the long-overdue task of cleaning my extremely nasty fridge out -yuk) and I listened to them out there yelling and laughing together. They clearly have their own little inside jokes, just among the three of them, and they were just entertaining the heck out of each other.

I try really hard to notice these parts of parenting, and not just the really frustrating and annoying moments in time, of which there are certainly plenty.

I think the relationships among sibs are as important - and probably more important as people become adults - than parent-child bonds. I'm glad they have each other. I think I would have liked to have had a fourth baby...but three is nice.

erica jong

I reread this book last night, finishing at 2 am (kids at their father's). I remember furtively reading my mother's copy when I was 11 and finding it deliciously provocative and fascinating.

Erica Jong is an underrated modern American novelist, I think. Her persona overpowered her stories, which is a shame.



I get a lot of e-mail from readers (especially lately), which I really appreciate, and I've started putting some of it here so other folks can read it as well.

I get a lot out of hearing from people who read my writing and thought I would share some of their comments... (names not included, of course).

I wish I could respond to every single e-mail I get, and I actually really try, but sometimes I get behind on it. Please know that I read every e-mail and really, really do appreciate hearing from readers. Keep writing me.




From Betty Bean's column this week

by Betty Bean

Fast track for 'one-stop' shop?

For the past decade, city officials have been pumping big bucks into
plans to lure more people downtown.

Now mayor Bill Haslam proposes to spend $400,000 to move all the city’s
codes-related offices, including the Metropolitan Planning Commission,
out of the City County Building to west Knoxville. County codes offices
(now housed on Baxter Avenue) would also be moved into Cherokee Place,
a building on Concord Street (which runs north/south between Kingston
Pike and Sutherland Avenue across from the intersection of Kingston Pike
and Neyland Drive).

Offices that are to be moved are MPC, the Transportation Planning
Organization (TPO), City Engineering, County Engineering, Plans Review
Inspections, KGIS mapping and the Fire Marshal and inspections.

Haslam has included the money to implement the move in the upcoming ’06
budget, and his county counterpart, Mike Ragsdale, strongly approves.

"Bringing city and county codes together under one roof, along with the
MPC, just makes good sense," Ragsdale said. "Both governments are here
to serve the public, something we can always do more effectively when
we work together."

The plan to make the move, which will involve at least 150 city
employees and a number of county codes employees, is being pitched in the name
of convenience, and its supporters cite the difficulties of parking
downtown as a primary reason to move the codes and permit offices west.

The relocation plan first surfaced in January when city chief operating
officer Dave Hill organized a series of meetings with developers. In
notes posted on the city Web site outlining the purpose of the
Development Partners Advisory Group (DPAG), Hill said that he wanted the
consolidated codes offices to be "literally and figuratively a ‘One-Stop Shop.’
Everyone in one department, same building, same floor, with one
purpose: To promote public health and safety while promoting development."

The DPAG meetings – where early on developers vented hostility toward
neighborhood, community and homeowners groups, dismissing them as
"housewives and senior citizens" – left the impression with several
constituencies that the primary reason for the relocation plan is to better
serve one particular segment of the population – developers. Many maintain
that Ragsdale’s 2002 move (which he said was based on security
concerns) barring the public from the City County Building’s parking garage has
created the downtown parking problem that the move is supposed to
alleviate. Still others contend that relocating and combining the city and
county services is a move toward de fact metro government.

Fountain City Town Hall board member Jamie Rowe, who attended DPAG
meetings this winter, is one of those skeptics.

"I don’t believe that moving these offices out to Cherokee Place will
make them more convenient. For one thing, this is going to be moving
them away from offices they need to be working closely with, like the Law
Director, the Register of Deeds and Tax Assessors’ offices. And if
they’re trying to revitalize downtown, why are they moving them out of the
City County Building?"

Developer Scott Davis is an outspoken critic of the city codes and
permitting offices. He says he is all for cutting down on red tape and
streamlining the process, but he is leery of combining city and county

"If it falls under the county’s jurisdiction, I’m very, very much in
favor of it. If it is going to come under the city, I’m adamantly
opposed. There’s a reason 83 percent of the residential development here was
done outside the city limits last year."

The plan to relocate and consolidate the city and county offices
appears to be on a fast track to implementation. County spokesperson Dwight
Van de Vate is enthusiastic:

"The co-location of City and County Codes and MPC under one roof is
going to promote accessibility for everyone, whether it’s a citizen who
has a question about remodeling their house, or a civic activist with
concerns about a Use on Review, or a developer who is embarking on a new

"It will also promote a closer working relationship between the city
and county employees who are responsible for codes enforcement, as well
as MPC staff."


Originally uploaded by kgranju.
This is my daughter's half-Welsh pony. His show name is "Boy Wonder."

I think maybe we're gonna go with this superhero theme. Someone suggested "Superpony" as a name today and that's definitely what we will call our next one...

After that, maybe "Green Lantern"...

manufactured consent

The Disinformation Society

by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Vanity Fair - May 2005

Many Democratic voters marveled at the election results. George W. Bush, they argued, has transformed a projected $5.6 trillion, 10-year Bill Clinton surplus into a projected $1.4 trillion deficit-a $7 trillion shift in wealth from our national treasury into the pockets of the wealthiest Americans, particularly the president's corporate paymasters. Any discerning observer, they argued, must acknowledge that the White House has repeatedly lied to the American people about critical policy issues--Medicare, education, the environment, the budget implications of its tax breaks, and the war in Iraq--with catastrophic results.

President Bush has opened our national lands and sacred places to the lowest bidder and launched a jihad against the American environment and public health to enrich his corporate sponsors. He has mired us in a costly, humiliating war that has killed more than 1,520 American soldiers and maimed 11,300. He has made America the target of Islamic hatred, caused thousands of new terrorists to be recruited to al-Qaeda, isolated us in the world, and drained our treasury of the funds necessary to rebuild Afghanistan and to finance our own vital homeland-security needs. He has shattered our traditional alliances and failed to protect vulnerable terrorist targets at home--chemical plants, nuclear facilities, air cargo carriers, and ports. He has disgraced our nation and empowered tyrants with the unpunished excesses at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. These baffled Democrats were hard pressed to believe that their fellow Americans would give a man like this a second term. (see vote-rigging stories)
To explain the president's victory, political pundits posited a vast "values gap" between red states and blue states. They attributed the president's success in the polls, despite his tragic job failures, to the rise of religious fundamentalism. Heartland Americans, they suggested, are the soldiers in a new American Taliban, willing to vote against their own economic interests to promote "morality" issues that they see as the critical high ground in a life-or-death culture war.

I believe, however, that the Democrats lost the presidency contest not because of a philosophical chasm between red and blue states but due to an information deficit caused by a breakdown in our national media. Traditional broadcast networks have abandoned their former obligation to advance democracy and promote the public interest by informing the public about both sides of issues relevant to those goals. To attract viewers and advertising revenues, they entertain rather then inform. This threat to the flow of information, vital to democracy's survival, has been compounded in recent years by the growing power of right-wing media that twist the news and deliberately deceive the public to advance their radical agenda.
According to an October 2004 survey by the Program On International Policy Attitudes (PIPA), a joint program of the Center on Policy Attitudes, in Washington D.C., and the Center for International Security Studies at the University of Maryland:

~Seventy-two percent of Bush supporters believed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (or a major program for developing them), versus 26 percent of Kerry voters. A seven-month search by 1,500 investigators led by David Kay, working for the CIA, found no such weapons.

~Seventy-five percent of Bush supporters believed that Iraq was providing substantial support to al-Qaeda, a view held by 30 percent of Kerry supporters. The 9-11 Commission Report concluded that there was no terrorist alliance between Iraq and al-Qaeda.

~ Eighty-two percent of Bush supporters erroneously believed either that the rest of the world felt better about the U.S. thanks to its invasion of Iraq or that views were evenly divided. Eighty-six percent of Kerry supporters accurately understood that a majority of the world felt worse about our country.

~ Most Bush supporters believed the Iraq war had strong support in the Islamic world. Kerry's supporters accurately estimated the low level of support in Islamic countries. Even Turkey, the most Westernized Islamic country, was 87 percent against the invasion.

~ Most significant, the majority of Bush voters agreed with Kerry supporters that if Iraq did not have WMD and was not providing assistance to al-Qaeda the US should not have gone to war. Furthermore, most Bush supporters, according to PIPA, favored the Kyoto Protocol to fight global warming, the Mine Ban Treaty to ban land mines, and strong labor and environmental standards in trade agreements, and wrongly believed that their candidate favored these things. In other words, the values and principles were the same. Bush voters made their choice on bad information.

It's no mystery where the false beliefs are coming from. Both Bush and Kerry supporters overwhelmingly believe that the Bush administration at the time of the 2004 US election was telling the American people that Iraq had WMD and that Saddam Hussein had strong links to al-Qaeda. The White House's false message was carried by right-wing media in bed with the administration. Prior to election, Fox News reporters, for example, regulalry made unsubstantiated claims about Iraq's WMD. Fox anchor Brit Hume, on his newscast in July 2004, announced that WMD had actually been found. Sean Hannity repeatedly suggested without factual support that the phantom weapons had been moved to Syria and would soon be found. An October 2003 survey by PIPA showed that people who watch Fox News are disproportionately afflicted with the same misinformation evidenced by 2004 PIPA report. The earlier study probed for the source of public misinformation about the Iraq war that might account for the common misperceptions that Saddam Hussein had been involved in the 9/11 attacks, that he supported al-Qaeda, that WMD had been found, and that world opinion favored the US invasion. The study discovered that "the extent of Americans' misperceptions vary significantly depending on their source of news. Those who receive most of their news from Fox News are more likely than average to have misperceptions."

Ultimately for John Kerry, many Americans now do get their information from Fox--according to Nielson Media Research, in February, Fox was cable news leader, with an average of 1.57 million prime-time viewers, nearly 2.5 times CNN's average viewership in the same time slot--and from Fox's similarly biased cable colleagues, CNBC and MSNBC. Millions more tune to the Sinclair Broadcast Group--one of the nation's largest TV franchises. After 9/11, Sinclair forced its stations to broadcast spots pledging support for President Bush, and actively censored unfavorable coverage of the Iraq war--blacking out Ted Koppel's Nightline when it ran the names of the US war dead. It retreated from its pre-election proposal to strong-arm its 62 TV stations into pre-empting their prime-time programming to air an erroneous and blatantly biased documentary about John Kerry's war record only when its stock dropped 17 percent due to Wall Street fears of sponsor boycotts and investor worries that Sinclair was putting its right-wing ideology ahead of shareholder profits.

Americans are also getting huge amounts of misinformation from talk radio, which is thoroughly dominated by the extreme right. A Gallup Poll conducted in December 2002 discovered that 22 percent of Americans receive their daily news from talk radio programs. An estimated 15 million people listen to Rush Limbaugh alone, and on top of the 45 AM radio stations in the country, listeners encounter 310 hours of conservative talk for every 5 hours of liberal talk. According to the nonprofit Democracy Radio Inc., 90 percent of all political talk-radio programming is conservative, while only 10 percent is progressive. All the leading talk-show hosts are right-wing radicals--Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, Oliver North, G.Gordon Liddy, Bill O'Reilly, and Michael Reagan--and the same applies to local talk radio.

Alas, while the right-wing media are deliberately misleading the American people, the traditional corporately-owned media, CBS, NBC, ABC, and CNN--are doing little to remedy those wrong impressions. They are, instead, focusing on expanding viewership by hawking irrelevant stories that appeal to our prurient interest in sex and celebrity gossip. None of the three major networks gave gavel-to-gavel coverage of the party conventions or more than an hour in prime-time, opting instead to entertain the public with semi-pornographic reality shows. "We're about to elect a president of the United States at a time when we have young people dying in our name overseas, we just had a report from the 9/11 commission which says we are not safe as a nation, and one of these two groups of people is going to run our country," commented PBS newsman Jim Lehrer, in disgust at the lack of convention coverage. CBS anchor Dan Rather said that "I argued the conventions were part of the dance of democracy. I found myself increasingly like the Mohicans, forced farther and farther back into the wilderness and eventually eliminated."

The broadcast reporters participating in the presidential debates were apparently so uninterested in real issues that they neglected to ask the candidates a single question about the president's environmental record. CBS anchor Bob Shieffer, who M.C'd the final debate, asked no questions about the environment , focusing instead on abortion, gay marriage, and the personal faith of the candidates, an agenda that could have been dictated by Karl Rove. Where is that dreaded but impossible-to-find "liberal bias" that supposedly infects the American press? The erroneous impression that the American media have a liberal bias is itself a mark of triumph of the right-wing propaganda machine.

The Republican Noise Machine: Right-Wing Media and How It Corrupts Democracy, by David Brock--the president and CEO of Media Matters For America, a watchdog group that documents misinformation in the right-wing media--traces the history of the "liberal bias" notion back to the Barry Goldwater presidential campaign, in 1964, in which aggrieved conservatives railed against Waletr Cronkite and the "Eastern Liberal Press" at the Republican National Convention. In response to Spiro Agnew's 1969 attack on the networks as insufficiently supportive of Nixon's policies in Vietnam, conservatives formed an organization called Accuracy in Media, whose purpose was to discredit the media by tagging it as "liberal", and to market that idea with clever catchphrases. Polluter-funded foundations, including the Adolph Coors Foundation and the so-called four sisters--the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the John M Olin Foundation, Richard Mellon Scaife's Foundation, and the Smith Richardson Foundation--all of which funded the anti-environmental movement, spent hundreds of millions of dollars to perpetuate the big lie of liberal bias, to convince the conservative base that it should not believe the mainstream, to create a market for right-wing media, and to intimidate and discipline the mainstream press into being more accommodating to conservatism.

According to Brock, right-wing groups such as the Heritage Foundation and Scaife's Landmark Legal Foundation helped persuade Ronald Reagan and his Federal Communications Commission, in 1987, to eliminate the Fairness Doctrine--the FCC's 1949 rule which dictated that broadcasters provide equal time to both sides of controversial public questions. It was a "godsend for conservatives," according to religious-right pioneer and Moral Majority co-founder Richard Viguerie, opening up talk radio to one-sided, right-wing broadcasters. (Rush Limbaugh nationally launched his talk show the following year.) Radical ideologues, faced with Niagara-sized flows of money from the Adolph Coors Foundation, the four sisters, and others, set up magazines and newspapers and cultivated a generation of young pundits, writers, and propogandists, giving them lucrative sinecures inside right-wing think tanks, now numbering more than 500, from which they bombarded the media with carefully-honed messages justifying corporate profit taking.

Brock himself was one of the young stars recruited to this movement, working in turn for the Heritage Foundation, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon's Washington Times, and Scaife's American Spectator. "If you look at this history," Brock told me recently, "You will find the conservative movement has in many ways purchased the debate. You have conservative media outlets day after day that are intentionally misinforming the public." Brock, who admits to participating in the deliberate deception while he was a so-called journalist on the right-wing payroll, worries that the right-wing media are systematically feeding the public "false and wrong information". "It's a really significant problem for democracy. We're in a situation," continues Brock, "where you have 'red facts' and 'blue facts'. And I think the conservatives intentionally have done that to try to confuse and neutralize accurate information that may not serve the conservative agenda."

The consolidation of media ownership and its conservative drift are growing ever more severe. Following the election, Clear Channel, the biggest owner of radio stations in the country, announced that Fox News will now supply its news feed to many of the company's 1,240 stations, further amplifying the distorted drumbeat of right-wing propoganda that most Americans now take for news.

Sadly enough, right wing radio and cable are increasingly driving the the discussion in mainstream broadcasting as well. At a Harvard University symposium the day before the Democratic convention, three network anchors and a CNN anchor straightforwardly discussed the effects that right-wing broadcasters, conservative money, and organized pressure have on the networks. And in February 2005, Pat Mitchell announced her resignation as president of PBS, hounded from office by right-wing critics who felt conciliatory efforts to conservatize the network--canceling a cartoon episode with a lesbian couple and adding talk shows by such right-wingers as Tucker Carlson and Paul Gigot--did not go far enough fast enough.

Furthermore, Fox's rating success has exerted irresistable gravities that have pulled its competitors' programming to starboard. In the days leading up to the Iraq war, MSNBC fired one of television's last liberal voices, Phil Donahue, who hosted its highest-rated show; an internal memo revealed that Donahue presented "a difficult public face for NBC in a time of war." CBS's post-election decision to retire Dan Rather, a lightning rod for right-wing wrath, coincided with Tom Brokaw's retirement from NBC. He was replaced by Brian Williams, who has said, "I think Rush (Limbaugh) has actually yet to get the credit he is due." According to NBC president Jeff Zucker, "No one understands this NASCAR nation more than Brian."

Conservative noise on cable and talk radio also has an echo effect on the rest of the media. One of the conservative talking points in the last election was that terrorists supported the candidacy of John Kerry. According to Media Matters, this pearl originated on Limbaugh's radio show in March 2004 and repeatedly surfaced in mainstream news. In May, CNN's Kelli Arena reported "speculation that al-Qaeda believes it has a better chance of winning in Iraq if John Kerry is in the White House"; in June it migrated to *beep* Morris's New York Post column. Chris Matthews mentioned it in a July edition of Hardball. In September, Bill Schneider, CNN's senior political analyst, declared that al-Qaeda "would very much like to defeat President Bush," signaling that Limbaugh's contrivance was now embedded firmly in the national consciousness.

That "echo effect" is not random. Brock shows in his book how the cues by which mainstream news directors decide what is important to cover are no longer being suggested by The New York Times and other repsonsible media outlets, but rather by the "shadowy" participants of a Washington DC meeting convened by Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, an anti-government organization that seeks to prevent federal regulation of business. Every Wednesday morning the leaders of 80 conservative organizations meet in Washington in Norquist's boardroom. This radical cabal formulates policy with the Republican National Committee and the White House, developing talking points that go out to the conservative media via a sophisticated fax tree. Soon, millions of Americans are hearing the same message from cable news commentators and thousands of talk jocks across America. Their precisely crafted message and language then percolate through the mainstream media to form the underlying assumptions of our national debate.

This meeting has grown to include more than 120 participants, including industry lobbyists and representatives of conservative media outlets such as The Washington Times and the National Review. According to Brock, columnist Bob Novak sends a researcher. The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan may attend in person. The lockstep coordination among right-wing political operatives and the press is new in American politics.

A typical meeting might focus on a new tax proposal released by President Bush. Following conference calls throughout the week, the decision will be made to call the plan "bold." Over the next 10 days, radio and cable will reiterate that it's "bold, bold, bold." The result, according to Brock, is that "people come to think that there must be something 'bold' about this plan."

This highly integrated network has given the right frightening power to disseminate its propaganda and has dramatically changed the way Americans get their information and formulate policy. In The Republican Noise Machine, Brock alleges routine fraud and systematically dishonest practices by his former employer the Reverend Sun Myung Moon's Washington Times, which is the primary propaganda organ for Moon's agenda to establish America as a Facist theocracy. The paper doesn't reach more than a hundred thousand subscribers, but its articles are read on air by Rush Limbaugh, reaching 15 million people, and are posted on Matt Drudge's Web site, to reach another 7 million people, and its writers regularly appear on The O'Reilly Factor, before another 2 million. Network TV talk-shows producers and bookers use those appearances as a tip sheet for picking the subject matter and guests for their own shows. And so the capacity of the conservative movement to disseminate propaganda has increased exponentially.

This right-wing propaganda machine can quickly and indelibly brand Democartic candidates unfavorably--John Kerry as a flip-flopper, Al Gore as a liar. The machine is so powerful that it was able to to orchestrate Clinton's impeachment despite the private and trivial nature of his "crime"--a lie about an extramarital tryst--when compared with President bush's calamitous lies about Iraq, the budget, Medicare, education, and the environment. During the 200 campaign, Al Gore was smeared as a liar--a charge that was completely false--by right-wing pundits such as gambling addict Bill Bennet amd prescription-painkiller abuser Rush Limbaugh, both of whom the right sold as moral paradigms. Meanwhile, George Bush's chronic problems with the truth during three presidential debates that year were barely mentioned in the media, as Brock has noted. Americans accepted this negative characterizatiuon of Gore, and when they emerged from the voting booths in 2000, they told pollsters that Bush won their vote on "trust."

In the 2004 campaign, the so-called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth launched dishonest attacks which, amplified and repeated by the right-wing media, helped torpedo John Kerry's presidential ambitions. No matter who the Democratic nominee was, this machinery had the capacity to discredit and destroy him.

Meanwhile, there is a palpable absence of of strong progressive voices on TV, unless one counts HBO's Bill Maher and Comedy Central's Jon Stewart--both comedians--or Fox's meek foil, Alan Colmes, who plays the ever losing Washington Generals to Sean Hannity's Harlem Globetrotters.
There are no liberal equivalents to counterbalance Joe Scarborough, John Stossel, Bill O'Reilly, and Lawrence Kudlow. Brock points out to the systematic structural imbalance in the panels that are featured across all of cable and on the networks' Sunday shows. Programs like Meet The Press and Chris Mathhews's Hardball invariably pit conservative ideologues such as William Safire, Robert Novak, and Pat Buchanan against neutral, nonaligned reporters such as Andrea Mitchell, the diplomatic correspondent for NBC News, or Los Angeles Times reporter Ronald Brownstein in a rigged fight that leaves an empty chair for a strong progressive point of view.

There is still relevant information in the print media. But even that has been shamelessly twisted by the pressures of the right. Both The New York Times and The Washington Post, which jumped on Scaife's bandwagon to lead the mainstream press in the Clinton-impeachment frenzy, have been forced to issue mea culpas for failing to ask the tough questions during the run-up to Bush's Iraq war.

Furthermore, America's newspapers like most other media outlets, are owned predominantly by Republican conservatives. Newspapers endorsed Bush two to one in the 2000 election. According to a recent survey, the op-ed columnists who appear in the most newspapers are conservatives Cal Thomas and George Will. Republican-owned newspapers often reprint misinformation from the right. And red-state journalists, whatever their personal political sympathies, are unlikely to offend their editors by spending inordinate energy exposing right-wing lies.

Print journalism is a victim of the same consolidation by a few large, profit-driven corporations that has affected the broadcasters. Today, a shrinking pool of owners--guided by big business rather than journalistic values--forces news executives to cut costs and seek the largest audience. The consolidation has led to demands on news organizations to return profits at rates never before expected of them. Last summer, just a few months after winning five Pulitzer Prizes, the Los Angleles Times was asked by its parent company to drop 60 newsroom positions.

The pressure for bottom-line news leaves little incentive for investment in investigative reporting. Cost-cutting has liquidated news staffs, leaving reporters little time to research stories. According to an Ohio University study, the number of investigative reporters was cut almost in half between 1980 and 1995.

During the debate over the Radio Act of 1927, an early forerunner of the Fairness Doctrine, Texas congressman Luther Johnson warned Americans against the corporate and ideological consolidation of the national press that has now come to pass. "American thought and American politics will be largely at the mercy of those who operate these stations," he said. "For publicity is the most powerful weapon that can be wielded in a republic....and when a single selfish group is permitted to either tacitly or otherwise acquire ownership and dominate these broadcasting stations throughout the country, then woe be to those who dare to differ with them. It will impossible to compete with them in reaching the ears of the American people."

The news isn't entirely bleak. Progressive voices are prevalent on the Internet, which is disproportionately utilized by the younger age groups that will exercise increasing influence in public affairs each year. The success of Air America Radio, the progressive network whose best-known host is Al Franken, offers great cause for optimism. Despite a shoestring budget and financial chaos at its inception, Air America has grown in one year to include 50 stations, from which it is accessible to half the American people. Most encouraging, a recent study shows that Air America personalities as a group rank second in popularity to Rush Limbaugh. Last fall in San Diego, a traditional Republican bastion, Air America was reported to be the No. 1 radio station among listeners 18 to 49 years old. But progressive activists need also to find a voice on televison, and there the outlook is dark.

If there is a market for progressive voices, as the Air America experience suggests, why don't the big corporate owners leap in? A top industry executive recently told me that he was dead certain that there would be a large audience for a progressive TV news network to counterbalance the right-wing cable shows. "But," he said, "The corporate owners will never touch it. Multi-nationals, like Viacom, Disney, and General Electric, that rely on government business, contracts, and goodwill are not going to risk offending the Republicans who now control every branch of government."

This executive had recently spoken to Vicom chairman Sumner Redstone (a lifelong Democrat) about the corporation's open support of the Bush administration. "I said, "Sumner, what about our children and what about our country?' He replied, "Viacom is my life. I've got to do what's best for the company. I need to buy more stations, and the Republicans are going to let me do it. It's in the company's interest to support the Republicans.'"

When veteran television journalist and former CBS news analyst Bill Moyers resigned as host of PBS's Now in December, he observed, "I think my peers in commercial television are talented and devoted journalists, but they've chosen to work in a corporate mainstream that trims their talent to fit the corporate nature of American life. And you do not get rewarded for telling the hard truths about America in a profit-seeking environment." Moyers called the decline in American journalism "The biggest story of our time." He added, "We have an ideological press that's interested in the bottom line. Therefore, we don't have a vigilant, independent press whose interest is the American people."

Moyers has elsewhere commented that "the quality of journalism and the quality of of democracy are inextricably joined." By diminishing the capacity for voters to make rational choices, the breakdown of the American press is threatening not just our environment but our democracy.


henry, interrupted (by camera-happy mother while he's trying to shop for Etnies online)

Originally uploaded by kgranju.
I think I have reached a parenting milestone.

I now have a child -- this one -- who is bigger than I am. He's taller and his feet are a size larger. He no longer steals my battered, old Birkenstocks because mine are too small. And I am wearing his hand-me-down Chuck Taylors.

I'm going to have an essay about being the mother of a teenage boy in a book coming out this Fall from Seal Press.

you go, bee lavender!

I am so pleased for my friend Bee. Her amazing new memoir "Lessons in Taxidermy" has just been nominated for an American Library Award and it's on the Village Voice Literary Supplement's bestseller list.

It's a really terrific piece of writing. You should buy it and read it.

And then, go buy some more copies and give them to all your friends. It's an especially good read for anyone who has ever been faced with a scary medical diagnosis.


Tonight I had to go buy a new dress for thing I have coming up next week. I ended up at Parisian, the department store. As I was waiting in line to pay for my stuff, I noticed that the woman in front of me was buying at least twenty identical, silver metallic thongs. Super shiny. Really weird looking, especially that many of them all together. After all of them were rung up, she handed the clerk her only other purchase: a single dishtowel with a huge, orange monkey embroidered on it.

This struck me as an odd combo. I think I feel a short story coming on...



We all have our romantic non-starters - phyisical stuff that makes a potential significant other a no-go.

For my sister, now married, it was pointy shoes (I'm with her there) and what a guy said he would name a baby (she once broke up with an otherwise promising man who told her he had always wanted to name a daughter "Cheyenne")

My friend Hal says he could never be attracted to a woman with really short hair.

I have my own punchlist and to be honest, height is right up on top of it. I was looking at this picture of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes today -- she towers over him -- and thought to myself, I don't think I could do that -- date someone shorter than I am. I mean, it's the rare man under about 5' 8" that I find remotely physically attractive. Does this make me shallow? Or just honest.

Of course, given that I am 5'2" on a good day, almost everyone on the planet is taller than I am, so a man being actually shorter than I am is fairly unlikely. But all things being equal, I have to admit to a general lack of attraction for short-ish men.


I have written before about how deeply disturbed I am at the U.S. press's willingness to silently abide by military wishes to limit Americans' access to photojournalism from Iraq. A new Village Voice piece makes this case better than I ever could.

This is not a partisan issue. It's a free press issue. And who is to say that graphic war photography wouldn't help the Bush admin gain support for its Iraq policy? After all, the extremely graphic images Americans saw during WWII -- including the famous Normandy Beach pictures of dead soldiers -- actually solidified Americans' resolve to win the war.


This is a very interesting article E&P about the smart and effective way USA Today now handles anonymous sourcing in a post-Jack Kelley newsroom.


molly ivins on newsweek

As usual, Molly Ivins is kicking ass and taking names, this time in discussing how Newsweek is being scapegoated by the White House.

Ivins details a laundry list of journalists - including some right wing pundits like Andrew Sullivan -- who wrote about evidence of of disrespect towardthe Quran as part of U.S. military prison culture. These cites came before the Newsweek gaffe.

Newsweek was sloppy. It didn't properly source its story. But to blame the riots and deaths and now -- as the White House is -- for the U.S.'s bad image in the Muslim world, is just plain wrong.

true confession

Okay, I think it's time to face facts. I am a hypnotism failure. I am still biting my fingernails. In fact, I think maybe the problem is worse than it was before. I feel terrible about it since the hypnotist is such a nice man (he reminds me of the man behind the curtain in The Wizard of Oz)....


We get a lot of viewer e-mail and a lot of phone feedback from viewers in the TV newsroom where I work. Most TV stations do.

Below is an actual e-mail from a viewer sent to one of our sister stations, in Minneapolis:

"You cancel 30 minutes of a good day on the soap opera "Passions" just to tell us a police officer had been shot????????? And let me plans to show it in its ENTIRETY at another time?? Why on earth does (NAME OF STATION) insist on giving us this ridiculous news that no one cares about, and then say "Too bad so sad" to people who actually want to watch NATIONAL programming????

I am outraged by your decision not only to break in because oh my gosh someone was shot... Stop the entertainment world as we know it! BUT Because you have NO plans to make up for it by reairing "Passions."

Start thinking of your VIEWERS rather than one meaningless police officer.



I couldn't make this stuff up.

jane & cookie

Originally uploaded by kgranju.
Jane and her 7 week old dachshund puppy, Cookie Almeida.

Cookie Almeida cannot sleep alone. She needs a warm mammal or she yelps...a lot...all night. Jane likes this about the puppy. She says she is attachment parenting Cookie Almeida.


I have the perfect job for someone who loves random triviata, as I do.

Today, for instance, I got to edit an AP wire story about how ingesting Kudzu (not clear exactly what the delivery method would be) can make you drunk, faster.

This is good news for us East Tennesseans who, as a population, like to drink, and have a lot of kudzu, but also have relatively low incomes (especially now that we're spending a lot of our beer money on lottery tickets instead).


baby nigerian princess

I enjoy reading through the book deals at Publishers Marketplace, and today, this upcoming title caught my eye:

"Journalist Precious Williams's untitled memoir, detailing her unusual unbringing as a black girl in an all-white part of England, (her mother, an African princess, placed an advertisement in a London newspaper -- 'Pretty Nigerian baby girl needs new home' -- and she was given to the first respondent, a 60-year-old agoraphobic who had read Uncle Tom's Cabin and fallen in love with the notion of having a black baby), a story of mothers and daughters, of racial identity and the search to find a sense of belonging in an alien world."

I can't wait to read this book. It will apparently be out from Bloomsbury in 2006.

regression analysis

Thanks to this book, I now understand a number of economic issues that always seemed terminally dull and maddeningly obtuse.

Five star review from me. Very, very funny as well.

newsweek retraction

I feel really bad for Isikoff and Whitaker at Newsweek. What has happened to them with this Quran desecration story is truly a reporter's worst nightmare. And I believe it was an honest mistake. No one can predict when a source - anonymous or on the record -- will back away from something he or she has told you after a story runs. It happens.

It has happened to me on one occasion - with a Metro Pulse cover story I wrote on the Promise Keepers. A prominent local businesswoman claimed I had not quoted her accurately. The next week, she claimed she hadn't said anything even remotely similar to what I had written. I had my notes, though, and my editor backed me up.

And of course, no one died, as is being claimed in the Newsweek flapped. That seems like overreaching to me - blaming the riot deaths specifically on ten lines in Newsweek magazine, when the same stories about Quran desecration by U.S. troops had been circulating in the Arab media for months.

Anonymous sources are problematic, and increasingly editors won't let reporters use them. But I feel strongly that carefully researched off-the-record sourcing is critical to good investigative journalism. There would have been no Watergate without anonymous sources.

And in Isikoff's case, he actually showed the story to the source before it ran -- a controversial practice itself -- to give that person the chance to correct any errors in his reporting.

The only clear error I see in the story is that Newsweek referred to "sources" when in fact, there was apparently only one source.


ice cream guy

You know how some people have an inexplicable fear of clowns? Well, I have just discovered that I have some sort of visceral aversion to those ice cream vans that play tinny carnival music and tool around neighborhoods.

I grew up in a rural village, so the only place I ever saw these ice cream vans was on TV. And in my old neighborhood in Bearden, we must not have been on a route. But in our new neighborhood near downtown, we are visited daily by these ice cream guys.

I start feeling freaked out as soon as I hear the music ever so faintly, off in the distance. If my children are playing outside, I find myself going out to the yard and ushering them into the house as I hear the guy getting closer.

Of course they think I am totally weird...

I can't figure out where this aversion is coming from. Maybe I had a really bad past life experience with an ice cream van guy.

willis jackson

If you like Diff'rent Strokes like I do, you should definitely read my Pop Culturephile column today for some exciting news!


party people

As promised, I've posted some photos from my party last night HERE

It was big fun.

big chair

party 001
Originally uploaded by kgranju.
This is my new favorite chair. In fact, I'm sitting in it right now. I brought it home from a junk store last week. I wasn't looking for a huge, purple, moleskin chair, but I was driving past this store on Sutherland and the chair was out in the yard. I spotted it and pulled over and within 30 seconds or so, was loading it into the back of my Exploder...

So now it's here in my living room. It's still got the original horsehair stuffing and it's beyond comfortable.



Originally uploaded by kgranju.
My house, today. Check it out, my flowers are finally blooming and the lavender and mint are all springing up near the front walkway...

Next project, planting veggies in back.

random thoughts on not so tiny dancers

This week I went to see my 6 year old niece Eleanor's annual dance recital. She, of course, was adorable and the most talented child there.

But there were a lot of other girls there -- probably 60 or 70 of them -- at all levels of ballet and modern dance. There were five year olds all the way to up 17 year olds, and the thing that struck me as I watched the different performances was how many of them were fat.

I am not talking about girls with a larger frame or a more robust body type. These kids were really fat -- about one out of six of them.

And I guess these girls get at least some exercise, since they dance, so it makes me wonder what they must be eating.

I know that when my kids have certain friends over, these kids refuse to eat anything we have in the house, the stuff my children love. These kids turn their noses up at whole wheat bread (they want white). No apples. No cheese. No guacamole. No oatmeal. No soy milk.... They only want stuff we don't have - like potato chips and cokes... It's disturbing.

old school

I saw the movie Old School in the theatre when it came out, like, three years ago. I think I must have been on crack or something because at the time, I didn't find it that funny. (Actually, I think I was just generally bummed out at the time, being in the middle of the world's most painful breakup)

Anyway, so a friend brought a bottle of chianti and the movie over tonight and forced me to sit down with him and watch it (I had argued with him that it wasn't funny).

He was right. It's really, really funny.

And let me count the ways I love Vince Vaughn and Jeremy Piven.



luke duke

I feel sure that you will enjoy, as I did, reading Tom Wopat's "Dissertation on the State of Bliss"

busy weekend

I am throwing a party tomorrow night. It will be my first big one since I bought my house last summer (I've had some smallish dinner parties and a debate watching party).

Since I love having parties, this will make the house feel really "christened" to me, and to my children, who inherited the party-throwing gene from me and my mother and grandmother.

It looks like at last 60 people are coming, so it should be fun. Tomorrow I need to get keg, food, bug-repelling torches for the yard, etc.... I am hoping it doesn't rain. I am also hoping that all my neighbors, whom I've invited, like parties as much as I do, or at least that they aren't the "Call the police! Katie Granju's guests are drinking wine in her yard!" kind of neighbors.

My nine year old daughter, Jane is also picking up her new puppy this weekend. He's a dachshund she's christened "Cookie" (I was voting for "Pedro" - in homage to Napoleon Dynamite). Cookie was born to my friend Eugenia's dachshund seven weeks ago and Jane has been visiting the puppies regularly, eagerly awaiting the day her puppy could come home with her. Sunday's the day.

I can't say we really need a third dog. We already have Fiat, a slightly insane Jack Russell mix, belonging to my son Henry, and Mabel, a ridiculous-looking pug-dachshund mix chosen and much loved by my son Elliot. So Jane wanted a dog to be "hers" and I'm a pushover. And really, I don't know if you have ever seen a litter of dachshund puppies, but it's pretty hard to say no them. They are so cute that they don't even look real.


the playgroup drinking game

Hey, check it out! My friend Marrit Ingman's brand new book is now available on Amazon. Marrit is so, so funny and clever. If anyone can make postpartum depression a laugh riot, she can.

From the book's description: "Marrit Ingman became a mother on February 27, 2002. She went crazy—also on February 27, 2002. Her journey began with a plate of carne guisada and led to an emergency cesarian, ankyloglossia, colic, gastroesphageal reflux, eczema, Zoloft, Paxil, peanut allergy, suicidal ideation, hepatitis, and a whole lot of pie. Ingman documents the agony of elimination diets and tearful, sleepless nights with the same candor and humor she does the ecstasy of mama’s night out and her own invention, the Playgroup Drinking Game. "


Jay Allen interviewed me last week and the interview is published HERE

PS: The book I mention in the interview, the one called "It's a Boy," and coming out from Seal Press is edited by Andrea Buchanan. I don't know how I failed to mention that...

tell me why i do like thursdays

This is a great record to listen to on a sunny, super Thursday like today. So I am. You might like it too, if you like ska and pop and fun. But then again, who doesn't?


RE: The Amnesty statement (below).

I've written about the treatment of women in many Islamic cultures before, and I continue to assert that if the Saudis or Pakistanis treated some other minority group like they treat women, we wouldn't be so blase about it.

the mideast crisis no one ever talks about

GCC Countries: Time to end discrimination against women
Amnesty International is urging the governments of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to take concrete steps that will significantly improve the situation of women and eliminate violence against them in their countries.

The report GCC States: Women Deserve Better Respect and Dignity, published today, looks at violence against women in the family and the failure of the public authorities, particularly the police, to provide protection. It also looks at social and legal practices that facilitate and perpetuate violence against women, and block their escape from violence in the home. The report examines the situation of migrant domestic workers, including violence against them, the multiple forms of discrimination they face, violations by the authorities, and abuses by employers. It is the result of field research conducted in last year in GCC countries, which include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates.

"Goodwill intentions remain mere words until translated into actions," said Abdel Salam Sidahmed, Middle East Programme Director for Amnesty International. "Governments must not fall short of doing what they can to bring real change in the lives of women who continue to suffer in silence in their countries."

Gender-based violence coupled with discrimination against women is common throughout the GCC countries and affects women at all stages of their lives. As young girls they are treated by their families as subordinate to their brothers. This exercise of control is manifest in restrictions on their freedom of movement and violence in the home. Many unmarried women and girls who are subjected to violence by members of their families put up with the abuse. They may see marriage as the only escape route from violence at the hands of members of their families. Some of the girls and women who choose this route continue to face violence in their new homes. If such violence becomes intolerable, their lack of economic independence or other options usually means that their only way of escaping the violence is to divorce, often on unfavourable terms, and return to their family home where they may be at risk of further violence at the hands of their relatives.

The police usually fail to act in response to complaints of violence by women. Violence against women in the family is considered a "family issue" or "normal" in GCC countries. Moreover, social norms lead police to disregard the criminal nature of such assaults against women. This attitude is one of the main reasons deterring women from reporting violence in the home. Instead of being encouraged to go to the police, women are expected to endure violence from an intimate partner for the sake of "not ruining the family".

J.A., a 27-year-old Saudi Arabian national, told Amnesty International that she had suffered severe beatings by her father since childhood. In desperation, she contemplated committing suicide when she was 14 years old. She attempted to contact the police when she was about 15 years old, but they told her that because she was a child she would be returned to her parents' home, that most girls suffer beating at home and that it is normal. She finally agreed to her family's wishes and married a much older man in order to escape the beatings at home. She told Amnesty International that she did not know that he was 20 years older than she when she agreed to the marriage, and subsequently requested a divorce. However, she had to return to her parents' home where the beating continued, this time at the hands of both her father and her brother. She said that there was nowhere she could go and live safely in Saudi Arabia, and that she was confining herself in her room in her parents' house to avoid being beaten.

"States have an obligation to ensure that their own agents do not discriminate or commit violence against women, and do not condone or acquiesce in such abuses by others," said Abdel Salam Sidahmed. "It is unacceptable for governments to leave it to the victims of violence to assert their human rights. Gender-based violence in the family is a grave violation of women’s fundamental human rights, and states have an obligation to take active measures to protect those rights."

In the GCC countries many women may be denied autonomy in choosing their marriage partner and are subjected by their families to physical violence or to restrictions on their freedom of movement when they assert their right to marry a partner of their choice. In some cases, women have been forcibly confined by their relatives for choosing a husband without their family’s permission.

Between 20 and 40 per cent of the growing number of migrants in the GCC countries are women, yet female migrant workers in domestic service in these countries are deprived of a wide range of human rights protections. They are at considerable risk of discrimination and gender-based violence, by both the state authorities and at the hands of private individuals and employers.

In its report Amnesty International calls on GCC governments to ensure that laws to protect women against violence are supported by official policy and practice, and that measures are taken to ensure their effective implementation.

"GCC countries must publicly condemn violence against women and pursue by all appropriate means policies to eliminate it," said Abdel Salam Sidahmed. "All appropriate measures must be taken to protect women from violence and discrimination, and to ensure they are treated with dignity and respect which is the right of all human beings."

Public Document
For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566
Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW. web:

more jumping

Can I just say that I love, love, love jumping on our new trampoline? It's supah-fun. I find myself going out in the backyard at all hours to bounce up to Sharp's Ridge eye-level.

Two nights ago I went out and jumped on it for a while at about 11pm, after my kids were asleep, thinking no one would see me, but the next day my nextdoor neighbor e-mailed me to tease me about it.

It's a really euphoric thing --- I recommend it.



Since my piece ran in the NYTimes on Sunday, I have received in excess of 500 e-mails. I have read every one and will try to respond to most.

People have shared their own experiences with me, and offered advice and humor and kind words.

But a minority of the letters have been just plain weird. To wit:

-I have received one letter in which I am informed I am "a tool of Satan"

-I have received NINE marriage proposals

-I have had two letters offering me sanctuary if I decide to "go underground"


flaming lips

Oooh! Oooh! A new movie about the Flaming Lips is coming out this month. A definite must-see.

chesney & zellweger

I may be wrong, but I think my column may have been the first to report the Chesney-Zellweger wedding today...

Gee, maybe I should go to work for Star magazine...



My writermama friend Cecelie S. Berry has a terrific piece in today. It's about how she, as a middle-class black woman, deals with the fact that her two young sons belong to a generation that believes race doesn't matter.

liquid tension experiment

If you harbor an inexplicable fondness for 80s hairmetal, as I do, you will probably like this record. It's speedmetalsynthpop.
I've been listening to it loudly, in the car when I'm alone and feeling irritable.

Happy Mother's Day 2005

Hallmark didn't invent Mother's Day; it was the brainchild of feminist/pacifist, Julia Ward Howe, wife and mother of six. She envisioned it as a political day - a day when women the world over would stand up for peace. It resonates this year, another year in which the U.S. remains at war.

This is her original "Mother's Day Proclamation" - 1870

Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:
"We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe our dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God -
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.


joyce maynard

From Joyce Manard's terrific piece about why she publishes personal essays -- stories about her own life:

"As for me, I've chosen to follow a simple course: Come clean. And wherever possible, live your life in a way that won't leave you tempted to lie. Failing that, I'd rather be disliked for who I truly am than loved for who I'm not. So I tell my story. I write it down. I even publish it. Sometimes this is a humbling experience. Sometimes it's embarrassing. But I haul around no terrible secrets.

I have always believed there's a connection between my writing and my sleeping. And the fact is, I sleep well every night. Like a baby -- only better than any baby of mine ever slept.

Mine may not be the sleep of the innocent either. But it is, at least, the sleep of the free. My brain is largely emptied of worries. My hard disk is full of them.">\

elliot on the trampoline

Originally uploaded by kgranju.
My father helped us set up our trampoline today. This is Elliot only minutes after it was assembled (and yes, it was before the safety net was up. It has a safety net and they won't jump on it again without it, but couldn't pass up this picture)
There is now an anti-me website that someone has set up in response to my NYT piece today. I feel special! I wish whomever set it up would tell us who he is. Unlikely though. They never do.

By the by, despite what this person says on his site, I never, ever, ever claim to be or have claimed to be a "parenting expert" or "parenting guru." Never. Anyone who says I do or have is flatly mistaken.

I'm a mother who has written about a style of parenting that works for me and a lot of other folks.

And as for being an expert at anything else - particularly marriage -- well, I'm obviously not that. At various times during my own 13 year relationship, I was very happy and thought it was in pretty good shape. Sometimes I wrote about those times in my life, but I never implied that I knew the secrets to staying married.

But I am flattered that someone cares enough to have set up a website about me and my writing. Wow.



Better than Grosse Pointe Blank

Originally uploaded by kgranju.
Turnout was fab, considering we only had, what, 40 in our class?

In this picture, think I see (Front Row - Left to Right): Gray Anderson (partially out of frame), Steve Neuhaus, L.J., Betsy Babb Kennedy, Stephanie Jennings Edwards, me, Laura Vaughn, Karen Pimental, Burton Freeman, Sandra Berns, Bo Wagner

Back Row, left to right: Ben Huddleston, Todd Tolbert, Lance Romance, David Ordoubadian, Betsy Babb Kennedy, Steph Jennings Edwards, Steve Neuhaus, Karen Pimental, David Ordoubadian, John AUgustine, L.J., Sandra Berns, Connie Cox, Doug Holder, Bo Wagner, Burton Freeman, Thomas Roche, Laura Vaughn, Gray Anderson, Hung Sung Lu, Jimmy Bishop, Bernard Hubbard.

Robert, mon frere

Originally uploaded by kgranju.
This is me with my little brother, Robert, at our party this weekend. He was nice enough to let us take over his house for the night.

Thanks, Bob.

Thanks to all who came to the wicked fun Webb party last weekend in Bell Buckle. I have some photos up RIGHT HERE and will post the others people have sent when I get time.


playground revolution - miriam peskowitz

Two of my favorite writer-pals are Andi Buchanan, who wrote "Mother Shock: Loving Every (Other) Minute of It" (Andi has a new book coming out from Seal Press in October, called "It's a Boy: Women Writers on Raising Sons," to which I am a contributor), and Miriam Peskowitz, who has a new book out called "The Truth Behind the Mommy Wars: Who Decides What Makes a Good Mother."

(Miriam's book's original title was "Playground Revolution," which I loved, but her publisher changed it.)

This week, Andi interviews Miriam about her new book, as well as American culture's love-hate relationship with motherhood. You can read the very entertaining and interesting interview here at


When I was growing up -- and I freely admit to a rather unconventional childhood in many, many ways -- my parents allowed my sibs and me a lot of freedom. We had a farm full of trees to climb, ponies to ride, and a pond to swim in. We jumped out of haylofts, read books on the roof, and slept on the front porch when it got too hot inside our un-air-conditioned (and mostly unheated - except for wood stove) old farmhouse. We had every kind of critter you could imagine, including horses, cows, pigs, snakes, dogs, rats, chickens, rabbits, and even an owl.

Think Pippi Longstocking.

But my parents did have three cardinal rules: no riding motorcycles (deadly); no chewing gum (tacky), and no jumping on trampolines (potential to become quadriplegic).

The trampoline rule was hard and fast. They weren't as popular in the 70s as they are now, but still, when my brother and sister and I occasionally encountered a trampoline, we would look on wistfully as other children hopped on. We weren't allowed.

My parents felt vindicated in their no-trampoline rule when my youngest cousin, Thomas, shattered his leg jumping on one when I was about 14 years old.

Anyway, fast forward 20 years and now I have three children begging for a trampoline.

"No, no, no," I said, remembering my own childhood prohibition.

But they kept asking, and recently, I jumped on a trampoline for the first time in years. It was at my cousin James' house and it was so much fun that I'm smiling just thinking about it.

So I did some research on trampoline safety and decided that maybe one would be okay. I ordered it on ebay, with all the safety stuff, and it arrived in huge boxes yesterday. The children are so excited and really, I am too. I can't wait to jump on it.

Now I need to find someone to help me put it together...

modern love

I'll have an essay running this Sunday, May 8, in the New York Times Style section in the much-discussed "Modern Love" column slot. I'm a little nervous about it because it's probably the most personal thing I've ever had published (and that's saying something, considering that most of my magazine writing is in the form of personal essays).

UPDATE: the piece won't run in hard copy 'til Sunday, but it's already online at -->> RIGHT HERE

Anyway, check it out and let me know whatcha think.



tom 'n' katie, sittin' in a tree (that's katie holmes, not katie me)

Okay, I'm taking votes: how many of you believe this whole Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes hook-up seems a little weird? Weird as in, artificial?

I mean, Tom Cruise is a guy who never discusses his private life and now here he is making out with KH all over the planet, allowing -nay encouraging paparazzi to snap away?

My guess is that he likes her okay, but she's utterly, genuinely smitten, and he's playing her and the media for all we're worth in the run-up to his new movie's premier.

What do you think?

Whatever the real story is, all the PDA the two have been engaged in seems to have given Katie Holmes a nasty rash, judging by this photo taken of her yesterday, while she was out shopping in L.A.

Las Molcajetes

There is a really wonderful new little Mexican deli-type place on Magnolia Avenue that you should try. It's called Las Molcajetes.

It's got incredibly large and tasty tacos for only $1.25 each, and the taco menu includes fish tacos and tongue tacos (neither of which I plan to try. My foodie friend Jay Pfaffman says they are good, though). I can vouch for the chicken and beef. My daughter said her shrimp burrito was tasty.

Hours are 11am to 8pm every day. I don't know the street address, but if you head from downtown Knoxville, east on Magnolia, it's less than a mile out on the right. Small white building - storefront sign. Parking beside. You could definitely walk from downtown. It's really only a few blocks.

So go check it out.

PS: The name means "mortar and pestle," and they have some there.

spelling bee

I really want to go see this play when I am in NYC next month.

I heart spelling bees.


If you haven't already, you should rush right out and buy my friend, Knoxville singer-songwriter Leslie Woods' newest CD.

It's a two-parter, released by Glitterhouse Records. You get her first album, "Velvet Sky," along with her latest release, "Luxury of Sin" -- all packaged up together. What a deal.

Leslie's music sounds like a collaboration between Eudora Welty and The Cramps. Or maybe like if Morrisey and Maria McKee had a lovechild.

My prediction is that Leslie is Knoxville's Next Big Breakout, a la Scott Miller.


Originally uploaded by kgranju.

emmett till

I am so pleased to read that MS authorities plan to reopen the investigation into the murder of Emmett Till.

Till was a 14 year old African american boy visiting cousins in Mississippi in 1955, when he was dragged out of his Uncle's home in the middle of the night by several white men. He was brutally tortured and killed. The men admitted to the murder in a national magazine after they had already been tried and acquitted, meaning that they were totally off the hook because of double jeopardy protections.

But now new charges may be brought against some folks who may have been involved with the killing -- people who are still alive.

When I saw the documentary about Emmett Till -- the one that essentially re-opened this investigation -- the part that hit me hardest was his mother talking about seeing his battered body for the first time, and how sad she had been to see that the men had knocked out her son's teeth. "He had such beautiful teeth," she said. "I was so proud of my baby's beautiful, straight teeth."

My own son is 13 years old.

Jane and Gracie

Originally uploaded by kgranju.
I just got a bunch more photos from our horse show last weekend. This is Jane with her three year old friend, Gracie, who may be the cutest child on the planet.

Jane carries Gracie around like a doll and Gracie thinks Jane is a superhero or something. They are very adorable together. More photos here


Originally uploaded by kgranju.
My grandparents went to New Orleans and all we got were these super-groovy masks...

Elliot and Jane model for their Grandmere Granju. They look thrilled, don't they?

Otis White

I read this blog just about every day. If you are interested in new urbanism or historic renovation in Knoxville (or other cities with downtowns making a comeback), you might like it too.

Originally uploaded by kgranju.
OK, a few weeks ago I posted about bad dates and what makes them bad. Someone asked me what would make a good date, and having now had two with someone very fun, I can tell you some elements of a good one.

First of all, both times, the other person was very decisive about what we were going to do. None of this, "Well, what do you want to do...?" I do want to have a say, but for the first few times I go out with someone, I like them to figure it out because it gives me a good idea of what they like to do and hence, who they are.

So the first time we went to see a fun band after a good dinner at a cool restaurant I'd never been to. The second time we went to see free music downtown after dinner at a good restaurant I like a lot but hadn't told him I like a lot. So that was fun.

He is very, very clever. He says funny, clever things I don't always get, which amuses me. I like that. But I get most of his stuff and he gets most of mine (a rarity - my sense of humour can be a bit obscure).

He looks good and smells yummy. No pleated pants. Good hair. Good shoes.

He told me about a book I might like and hadn't read. I am now reading it and yep, it's one I like.

He did not once ask me about my divorce, which is nice. It didn't seem to interest him that much.

He hasn't called me incessantly, which I hate, but has sent me some very entertaining e-mails. He spells well. He didn't wig out when I said I couldn't see him this week.

On our second date, he brought me gerbera daisies - my favorite - but without uncomfortable fanfair.


I've been running some more in the past few weeks and also hiked to the top of Sharp's Ridge with FiatandMabelthedogs, and I suddenly have bad shin splints, which haven't plagued me in a long, long time.

Nothing anyone has suggested is helping and I am in abject misery. Cannot wear any high heels this week, which is no fun.

So I'm on the hunt for ideas for shin pain relief. If you have any remedies that actually work, let me know...

My 53 year old Uncle J., who runs marathons and is actually doing an ultramarathon this month, says I need different shoes, but I've been wearing the same model NB running shoes for years with no problems.


From A (Allison) to B (Babb)

Originally uploaded by kgranju.
Kate & Bets at reunion '05, still best friends after 26 years (we met the first day of 7th grade). We also wrote a book together.

At the party Saturday night, John Augustine told Betsy and me that he hated sitting between us in chapel every morning (alphabetical, so Augustine fell between Allison and Babb) because we were constantly leaning over him and whispering to each other.

Originally uploaded by kgranju.
Jane and I spent most of the weekend at the Fiesta Farm Spring Horse Show. She rode in 15 classes over two days.

Here are some photos from the Saturday part of the horse show.

Originally uploaded by kgranju.
Jane and Cinco won some very nice ribbons this weekend, including taking first in an equitation medal class. This was their first medal class. The course was very challenging.

after the horse show

sleepy jane
Originally uploaded by kgranju.
Within fifteen minutes of getting home from the horse show today, a very tired 9 year old fell asleep on the sofa with Fiat the dog. She's still wearing her pigtails and ribbons from the show.