Archive for November, 2011

Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss Biography: Final Cuts, Part 1. What’s in a name?

Crockett Johnson, "How to write a book," illus. from Ruth Krauss's How to Make an EarthquakeI know. You thought that me posting omitted portions of the biography was over months ago. So did I. Thing is, the copyeditor for Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss: How An Unlikely Couple Found Love, Dodged the FBI, and Transformed Children’s Literature (coming September 2012) was also charged with getting the manuscript shorter still.  And so… there are further cuts.  On the mistaken assumption that two or three people might find these interesting, I’ll share a few.  Today’s concern the derivation of surnames — Krauss and Leisk (Crockett Johnson‘s real name was David Johnson Leisk).  I find this sort of information interesting, but there are other proposed cuts that I find even more worthy of keeping.  So, these items (formerly of Chapters 1 and 2, respectively) are cut.

Derived from the German kraus, Ruth’s surname means “curly” — and her hair was curly.  Though it probably originates in Bohemia, Krauss and its variants also appear in neighboring countries Austria and Germany.

The name Leask may derive from the Norse or Danish word for “a stirring fellow,” or it may be a diminutive of lisse, Anglo-Saxon for “happy.”  Johnson’s ancestors spell the name Leask until the latter half of the nineteenth century, when they also spell it Leisk. These two spellings may explain the name’s variant pronunciations — “Lihsk” or “Leesk.” Johnson pronounced it “Lihsk.”

Are there more cuts to share? you ask.  (Or, possibly, you don’t ask.)  Yes.  Yes, there are.  Plus there’s lots more on the bio, stored away in various corners of this blog.  Posts tagged Crockett Johnson or Ruth Krauss or Biography are probably going to lead you to something connected to the biography.  OK, a few won’t  But most will.  Anyway.  Here are some related posts:

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Sunday Color Barnaby: O’Malley in Winter

As has been noted twice before on this blog (see here and here), a color Sunday version of Crockett Johnson‘s Barnaby ran from 1946 to 1948.  Courtesy of Colin Myers, here’s a full-page one from the winter of 1948.  Though it’s undated, “winter” would have to be January or February because the color Barnaby concluded in May of 1948.  Most of the Sunday strips are half a page; this one is unusual in that it’s full-page.

Barnaby, Winter 1948

The artist is Jack Morley, the words are by Ted Ferro.  For the daily strips during this period, Johnson was serving in an advisory capacity; I assume he was also serving as a story consultant for the Sunday strips. While they’re not up to Johnson’s exacting standards, the Ferro-Morley strips are still fun.

Not incidentally, my blog has been unusually quiet during this past week because of two Crockett Johnson projects:

  • The Complete Barnaby, Vol. 1. My afterword (complete!) and notes (nearly complete!) are due in to Fantagraphics on December 1st.  The book is due out in June 2012.  You can learn more about it in the Spring/Summer 2012 Fantagraphics catalogue.
  • Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss: How An Unlikely Couple Found Love, Dodged the FBI, and Transformed Children’s Literature.  The copyedited text arrived on November 18th, right at the beginning of a Thanksgiving “break” during which I already had an impossibly long list of tasks to complete.  It’s due back on December 9th. The book is due out in September 2012 from the University Press of Mississippi.

 

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Radical Children’s Literature Now! (article)

Children's Literature Association Quarterly 36.4 (Winter 2011): art by Kevin Cornell from Mac Barnett's MustahceSince people have asked to be kept informed, “Radical Children’s Literature Now!”Julia Mickenberg‘s and my article — is out in the latest issue of the Children’s Literature Association Quarterly.  Here are the first two paragraphs and their respective footnotes:

          Focusing on literature for younger children published in the last decade—as well as on the incentives and disincentives for writing, publishing, and distributing this literature—we argue here that children’s literature, as well as being a tool of embourgeoisment, has been and continues to be an important vehicle for ideas that challenge the status quo and promote social justice, environmental stewardship, and greater acceptance of differences. We have looked for works that cast aside many of the traditional assumptions about what is appropriate for children, acknowledge pressing concerns of the day as relevant to children’s lives, and refuse to whitewash difficult truths, but which also display literary and aesthetic quality and recognize the cognitive and emotional capacities of children. Such “radical” children’s literature models and encourages activism by children as well as adults, and exposes unjust uses of power. It addresses the reality that the white, middle-class, all-American norm is a myth. Finally, it suggests that it is impossible and unethical to shut children off from the world outside US borders.1

Neither children nor literature for them can be extricated from politics. By choice or by default, children often get drawn into the “adult” worlds of politics, violence, and power struggles. At the same time, children’s literature, though in some ways marked by greater levels of public scrutiny than literature for adults, historically has been a realm for expressing utopian visions and launching subtle critiques of the existing social order. This is so because [End Page 445] of conventions of children’s literature; practices within publishing, libraries, and schools; the meanings attached to childhood; and because individuals and groups interested in influencing the future recognize the need to influence children.2 Just as the word “radical” derives from the Latin radicalis [forming the root], radical children’s books address the roots of many flawed assumptions about children and childhood, as well as the causes of inequality, injustice, and exploitation around the world. (445-446)

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1. According to the 2010 census, 20% of the total child population in the United States lives below the poverty line; 7.5 million children are without health insurance. Sixty-eight percent of American fourth graders are less than proficient in reading, and 34% are below even a basic level. Over 14.5 million children, or nearly one fifth of the child population, have at least one parent who is an immigrant to this country; 43% of those children have parents who are not US citizens. White children are a minority in Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, and the District of Columbia (“Children’s Living Arrangements and Characteristics”; Kids Count Data Center).

2. On the traditions of radical children’s literature, see Mickenberg, Learning from the Left; Mickenberg and Nel, Tales for Little Rebels; Reynolds, Radical Children’s Literature; and Lurie, Don’t Tell the Grownups. Also see much of the scholarship of Jack Zipes; for instance, Fairy Tales and the Art of Subversion.

Citation

Julia L. Mickenberg and Philip Nel, “Radical Children’s Literature Now!” Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 36.4 (Winter 2011): 445-473 <http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/childrens_literature_association_quarterly/summary/

v036/36.4.mickenberg01.html>

How to get a copy

If you or an institution to which you have access (likely a college or university library) subscribes to ProjectMuse, the Children’s Literature Association Quarterly would prefer it if you accessed it via that route — it may require you signing in if you’re not physically in (say) the library in question.  But if you can get it that way, please do.  The readership of the Children’s Literature Association Quarterly supports the Children’s Literature Association.  I don’t understand precisely how this works, but the more “hits” an article gets, the more revenue for the association.  (Academics will already know this, but to my non-academic readers: Authors do not get paid for their contributions. Julia and I have no financial stake in you accessing the article via a subscribing institution or otherwise paying for the article yourself.)

If don’t have access to Project Muse or no library near you subscribes to the Children’s Literature Association Quarterly — in sum, if you otherwise cannot obtain a copy — you may contact me directly.  (Email address is at right, beneath “A note on mp3s.”)

Another way to access this information is to watch it.  We delivered an earlier version of “Radical Children’s Literature Now!” (the Francelia Butler Lecture at the 2011 Children’s Literature Association Conference) on June 25th at Hollins (in Roanoke, Virginia).  The video for the “talk” version is below, and on the Children’s Literature Association’s website.

For more information, see the bibliography we handed out to those in attendance.

Related content

Thank you

… to the organizers of the Children’s Literature Association’s Annual Conference (Roanoke, Virginia, June 25, 2011) for inviting us to give this as a keynote (revised and expanded for the article). For sharing their expertise and their time with us, thanks to Katie Horning and the staff of the Children’s Cooperative Book CenterSusan Griffith, Patsy Aldana (of Groundwood Books), Betsy Bird (of the NYPL and Fuse #8), Julie Walker Danielson (of Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast), George NicholsonMac Barnett, Marcus Ewert, Elizabeth Murphy (of the Austin Public Library‘s Yarborough Branch), Erica Hateley, John M. Gonzalez, Cynthia Levinson, Kelly Halls, Jo Kittinger, Kathleen Manwaring (of Syracuse University Library’s Special Collections), and Ashley Nunn-Smith.

For allowing us to use art from their work in the published version of the article, thanks to Shaun Tan, Molly Bang, Groundwood Books (for Alfonso Ruano’s picture from Antonio Skármeta’s The Composition and Gary Clement’s picture from Thomas King’s A Coyote Solstice Tale), Kids Can Press Ltd. (for Stéphane Jorisch’s illustration from Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky), Houghton Mifflin (for the image from Jeanette Winter’s Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa).  Special thanks to Kevin Cornell, Mac Barnett, and Disney-Hyperion for allowing us to use art from Mustache! for the cover.  Just published (last month), Mustache! is a humorous book with an anti-authoritarian message.  Check it out!

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The People’s Library

“Nazis destroyed books to ‘purify’ German culture. Bigots do it in the name of God, or Allah. What’s Bloomberg’s excuse? ‘Hygiene’?”

— Salman Rushdie, via his Twitter account, 16 Nov. 2011

“If corporations are people, tents are definitely speech.”

— Ben Chappell, prof. of American Studies, University of Kansas (via Eric Michael Johnson [@ericmjohnson on Twitter], who credits @rmmilner and @docfreeride as his sources), 15 Nov. 2011.

The term “fascist” is used too often and too loosely in American political discourse. Mayor Bloomberg is not a fascist. However, in ordering the destruction of a library, the mayor’s actions evoke the symbolism of fascist and other totalitarian regimes. One expects that he did not intend a metaphoric alliance with such groups. Indeed, he wisely ordered the books to be thrown in the dumpster, rather than having them set on fire.

But Salman Rushdie — who knows a thing or two about the destruction of books — is not wrong when he hears parallels between Nazis’ attempts to “purify” culture via the destruction of books that (they alleged) would pollute minds, and Bloomberg’s claim that he’s acting to promote “the health and safety of the public.”  That was his explanation for the Tuesday 1:30 am attack on Occupy Wall Street, and the destruction of its library.  And you can see the appeals of his rhetoric: who would argue against “guaranteeing public health and safety”?  Unfortunately for the mayor, evidence contradicts his rhetoric.  Though Mayor Bloomberg worked to prevent reporters from covering the raid (for their own safety, he alleged), too many people were able to capture the event on film.  Looking at those images, the chaos and violence of the assault does not resemble either “health” or “safety.”

Occupy Wall Street Library (after)

Which is precisely why Mr. Rushdie’s parallel gains symbolic force.  As the mayor’s predecessors (fascist and otherwise) have done, Mr. Bloomberg uses language to mask ideology.  In a delightfully Orwellian use of language, he claims the twin goals of “guaranteeing public health and safety, and guaranteeing the protestors’ First Amendment rights” but, since (he said) the former outweighed the latter, “inaction was not an option.”  In other words, he needed to attack peaceful protesters in the middle of the night, while they slept, because they posed a danger to the public.  This sounds a bit like George W. Bush’s doctrine of preemptive war: the protesters may pose a danger, and so Bloomberg had to attack them before they did.  It also echoes the U.S. Army Major in Vietnam who, speaking to a reporter in 1968, said, “It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.”

The accidentally fascist overtones of the mayor’s purposefully thuggish order may be the greatest gift he could give the Occupy Wall Street movement.  Not only is the violence of this nighttime attack likely to galvanize the Occupy Wall Streeters, but it may also persuade others to join them. When you wage war on a library, you wage war on all who read, write, and think. When you attack books, you attack democracy.  And when you do these things, people fight back.

As Ben Chappell observes, “If corporations are people, tents are definitely speech.” And libraries are both.

The Occupy Wall Street Library (before the raid)

Image sources: “Urgent: Raid of Occupy Wall Street” (Occupy Wall Street Library, 15 Nov. 2011); “Occupy Wall Street Library Removed as NYPD Evicts Protesters” (School Library Journal, 15-16 Nov. 2011).

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Senseless Violence: The NYPD Destroys Library. UPDATE #3

Occupy Wall Street Library (before) Occupy Wall Street Library (after)
Occupy Wall Street Library (before) Occupy Wall Street Library (after)

“I cannot live without books; but fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object.”

Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, 10 June 1815

“Knowledge is power.”

Thomas Jefferson to to Joseph Cabell, 22 January 1820

“Let me conclude by thanking the NYPD, FDNY, and the Department of Sanitation for their professionalism earlier this morning. Thank you.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, 15 November 2011, after the NYPD and the NY Sanitation Department evicted Occupy Wall Street, destroying 5000 books.

“Apparently the NYPD have destroyed the donated library at #ows – I don’t think you need a metaphor, but crushing 5000 books might be one.”

— Simon HB (@norock on Twitter), 15 November 2011

 UPDATE as of 5:30 pm Central Time.  All of the Library has not been destroyed.  It’s being “held captive” by the City.  Here is a photo, courtesy of Mayor Bloomberg’s Twitter account (and The Observer).

Occupy Wall Street Library: "Property from #Zuccotti, incl #OWS library, safely stored @ 57th St Sanit Garage; can be picked up Weds"

UPDATE as of 11:30 pm Central Time: Occupy Wall Street Library asks, “And where is the rest of it?”: “We’re glad to see some books are OK. Now, where are the rest of the books and our shelter and our boxes? Nice try guys, but we won’t be convinced until we actually have all our undamaged property returned to us.”

UPDATE as of 12:30 pm Central Time, 16 Nov. 2011: Occupy Wall Street Library reports “that their claim that the library was ‘safely stored’ was a lie.”  About half of the books are missing; many others are damaged or destroyed.  Initial reports that books were thrown into dumpsters seem, in fact, to be accurate.  And this blog’s initial claim that the NYPD destroyed the library is also accurate.

Books from Occupy Wall Street Library.  They were damaged during the NYPD raid.

Image sources: “Michael Bloomberg Destroys a Library to Shut Down Dissent in New York City” (Irregular Times, 15 Nov. 2011); “URGENT: Raid in Progress” (Occupy Wall Street Library, 15 Nov. 2011); OWS Library Safe and Sound; Held Captive By City” (New York Observer, 15 Nov. 2011); “UPDATE: State of Seized Library” (Occupy Wall Street Library, 16 Nov. 2011).

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Advice from the Least Likely to Succeed

photo of Philip Nel, taken during his first year of graduate school (1992-1993)When I was a graduate student, I would have voted myself Least Likely to Succeed in Academe. I published nothing while in graduate school. I worked hard on my seminar papers, but none would work as an article — so, I didn’t send them out. I didn’t figure out how to write publishable literary criticism until I was working on the dissertation. For these (and other) reasons, I spent my first three post-Ph.D. years as an adjunct professor.1

So, 19 years after beginning graduate school here, it’s both gratifying and astonishing to be back at Vanderbilt as an invited speaker.  I’m both flattered and a little flustered.  I’m honored to be here and secretly surprised to be here.

In addition to talking a bit about our research (Karin on Harry Potter, me on Seuss), we’re also offering some reflections on our success in academe — professional advice, of a sort — to the current graduate students.  For the record, as a graduate student, I would also have voted myself Least Likely to Be in a Position to Offer Professional Advice.  When I look back on it, I’m mildly surprised that I made it to the Ph.D.

The title of our talk — “Accidental Experts: Strategy, Serendipity, and the Places You’ll Go!” — expresses quite succinctly the combination of chance and forethought, luck and pluck, accident and planning that has made my career possible. A failed book proposal ended up yielding two successful (different) books. Writing a chapter on Dr. Seuss in a dissertation that was not about children’s literature led to a career as a scholar of children’s literature.  Creating a website devoted to an author whose work I admired led to me to write a biography (due next fall!).2

If I could offer one piece of advice to current graduate students (in addition to the advice I’ve already offered), it would be this. If you’re serious about academe, if you really want to pursue this, then give it your best shot. It won’t be easy, it will at times be frustrating, and spare time will be hard to find.  But all careers are challenging. (That’s why they’re called careers, and not merely jobs.) To be able to do work from which you derive meaning, and to get paid for doing that work… is a real gift.  You’re unlikely ever to join the 1%, but you’ll be doing something worthwhile.  And that’s a good feeling.

Thanks to Vanderbilt’s Department of English for my doctoral education, and for inviting us both back here.  If you’ll be in Nashville, the talk is tomorrow (Friday) at 2:10 pm in Vanderbilt’s Buttrick Hall, room 309.


  1. Footnote for any non-academic reading this.  Adjunct professors receive low pay, and (usually) no benefits, no health insurance.  They’re not on the tenure-track and are unlikely to get on the tenure-track at the institution where they work.  Indeed, they typically are not guaranteed employment from semester to semester: if there are classes that lack instructors, they’re hired; otherwise, they’re out of luck.  Given that, each year, the academy produces five times as many Ph.D.s in English as there are jobs in English, adjuncts are all too abundant a resource.
  2. Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss: How an Unlikely Couple Found Love, Dodged the FBI, and Transformed Children’s Literature, due in Fall 2012 from the University Press of Mississippi.

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Anxiety, Absent-Mindedness, and Lost Data

flash driveMy flash drive is missing, and I find myself unable to focus.  (I know some people call this device a “thumb drive” or a “memory stick.”  Please insert the term you prefer.  Thank you.)  In an effort to clear my head, I am writing this.

I put everything on that drive — class notes, quizzes, exams, manuscripts of books and articles, scans of images obtained on research trips, the occasional pdf of a boarding pass, playlists for mix CDs, a complete list of all books I own, a complete list of all CDs I own.  Every time I am in my office, I transfer the files from my home computer to my office computer.  I also do this the other way, transferring files from office computer to home computer.  The good news is that I’ve lost hardly any data.  The bad news is that I often leave the files on the drive after transferring copies to the other machine.  The drive holds many gigabytes of information, and thus itself serves as an additional back-up location.

On Sunday, I noticed it was missing.  On Monday, I checked my office.  It wasn’t there either.  That afternoon, a colleague said he saw precisely such a drive in the classroom where we both teach.  Ah!  I must have left it there on Thursday evening, after my last class, I thought.  I couldn’t pick up the drive then because there was a class using the room.  Well, I figured, I’ll just pick it up first thing next morning, before classes begin.  I’ve forgotten things in that classroom before, and they’ve always stayed there.  I once abandoned a DVD of Private SNAFU cartoons there for nearly a month before I realized it was missing.  Sure enough, it was still there, on top of the DVD player.  I’ve left flash drives behind before, too, always finding them waiting for me upon my return.  So, this morning, when I unlocked the door of the classroom (Eisenhower 021, for any Kansas State colleagues who may be reading this), I fully expected to find the drive there.  But there was no sign of any drive at all.

I’ve emailed everyone who teaches in the room: perhaps they picked it up, to bring it to Lost and Found or to see whose it was (my name is on many documents on the disc).  As yet, the drive remains missing, but I only sent the email two hours ago. And four colleagues have already responded to my query, three reporting seeing it there — so, it’s yet possible that the drive will turn up.

As I wait, I’m anxious… and am having a hard time concentrating on my other work.  Only now do I realize how careless I was with that information.  The manuscript of a biography that took me a decade to write is on that drive.  What if some malicious person posts it on the web?  Exams and quizzes are on that drive.  What if they all end up in some fraternity’s files?  Do I now need to scrap all past exams and quizzes?  I post a version of the class notes for my students — it’s a mix of what they said in class and what I prepared in advance.  I only have one copy of that, and it’s on the flash drive.  There are a couple of weeks’ worth of notes that I’ve yet to post.  If I don’t get the drive, the notes my students are expecting will be lost.

It’s also frustrating because I could have prevented this.  On Sunday night, when I realized the drive was missing, I should have come looking for it.  Had I done so, I’d likely have thought to check the classroom, gone there, unlocked it… and found the drive.  Another way I could have prevented this would be regularly purging the drive, deleting documents immediately after I’d backed them up on another machine.

I’m chronically absent-minded — part of this is due to having so much to do, my attention pulled in multiple directions. Part of it is simply disposition.  I’ve always been prone to forgetting.  Once, in college, I found myself exiting the dormitory… still carrying my towel.  I’d intended to hang it on the door before leaving the room, but instead had just kept walking.  That was funny — indeed, often my absent-mindedness is a source of amusement.

But it’s also a source of paranoia. Each night before bed, I make a “to do” list for the next day (or several days).  In addition to the obvious reason for this nightly ritual (i.e., wanting to get the items done), I also do it so that I can go to sleep.  If I don’t create such a list, then I can’t shut my mind off and I can’t sleep.  By transferring the worry about all that I have to do (and thus am likely to forget) onto a list, I can relax enough to sleep.

And now, I’ve just created another source of anxiety.  I do realize that this is very much a First-World Problem.  I only wish that the realization somehow made the problem less real.  So, fellow absent-minded professors (and other absent-minded friends), may you learn from my negative example!  Take better care of your data, lest you pull a Phil Nel and lose it all.  :-(

UPDATE, 6:55 pm, 9 Nov. 2011: DRIVE FOUND. Huzzah!  See fourth comment, below.

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A brief chat with Andy Rooney

Andy RooneyOne of the great things about working on the biography of Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss (due out in the fall of 2012) is getting to talk to interesting people.  One of the sad things is that many of them pass away.  I just learned that Andy Rooney died last night, at the age of 92.

His was one of my earliest interviews.  I’d heard that he knew Crockett Johnson, and so I wrote him a letter.  On the morning of Monday, October 16, 2000, the phone rang.  On the other end of the receiver was … Andy Rooney!  I couldn’t believe it.  Here’s an extract from our conversation, with apologies for my poor interviewing skills. (I talked too much in the early interviews. Later, I became a better listener.)  The “Dave Johnson” to whom Mr Rooney refers is Crockett Johnson — his friends called him “Dave” (his given name).


Philip Nel: So, you were saying that he had a wide range of interests and was a good conversationalist, too.

Andy Rooney: Oh, yeah, he was great.  He got into — the last years of his life — he got into geometry.  I don’t know what that was all about.  He got —

PN: Paintings.

AR: Yeah.  And to his philosophy, how that connected…  (Laughs.)  But one of the things I remember most about Dave.  I was coming out of the post office in Rowayton, and I met him.  I hadn’t seen him for a couple months, and I wondered where he was.  And I said, “Where you been?”  He said, “Well, I’ve been reading the Bible.”  Well, you know, he was such a student.  I mean, boy, if he said he’d been reading the Bible, he’d read the Bible.  I mean, he spent about six months on it without letting any reference that he could track down go by him without his understanding it.

PN: Do you remember when this was, that he was doing this?

AR: Oh, it was two years before he died — what year did he die?

PN: ’75.

AR: Yeah, it was in the early ’70s.  And, I said, “Oh, I’ve never known anybody who really read the bible.  How is it?”  And he said, “Well, there’s a lot of good stuff in it.  [Pause.]  But it’s a mess over all.”

PN: (Laughs.)  That’s great.  When did you meet Dave?  Right after you moved to Rowayton or…?

AR: Yes, we moved there in 1951.

PN: He was living there then.

AR: Yes, he had this great house down on …

PN: On Crockett and Rowayton there.

AR: Yes, it’s right across the road from the harbor.  It was a great house.  Ruth was moderately crazy.  She was a nut.  But interesting.  She would come to your house and, more often than not, fall asleep on the couch.

PN: (Laughs.)  That’s what a lot of people have said —

AR: Have they?

PN: Yeah, a lot of people have said that about Ruth — that she’d come over.  About half an hour later, fall asleep.

AR: That’s right.  And I knew never much about Dave’s professional football career, but I always admired him for it.

PN: Yeah, I haven’t been able to dig up much on that either.  I think he may have played semi-pro, because I haven’t found a trace of professional….

AR: He was big.  I don’t know what his dimensions were, but he must have been 6’ 4”.

PN: That sounds about right.

AR: A big, imposing person.  He had a big head, bald.  But still good looking in his own way.  I mean one of the great things that anyone can possess is enthusiasm.  Dave Johnson just was enthusiastic about anything he got into.  He was just amazing.  I was a great fan of “Barnaby” before I ever knew him. …


Later in our conversation, we returned to the example of Johnson reading the Bible:


AR: Yeah.  But, it was so typical of his enthusiasm for something — getting into it.  I’m certain that when he was wrapped up reading the Bible, he went to all the libraries, he would come in to New York and look up anything that he couldn’t find out there.

PN: Yes, you see that throughout his life, I think — a wide-ranging interest in a lot of different things.

AR: Yeah.

PN: It shows up in the references in the “Barnaby” strips, there’s just a wide range of knowledge that shows up in there.


It was a brief conversation — only 15 minutes.  Andy Rooney (and his wife Marge, whom I also interviewed) did not know Johnson and Krauss well.  They lived in the same Connecticut town.  They were acquainted.  Rooney clearly admired Johnson, and was kind enough to help out an aspiring biographer.  While his TV persona may lead you to think of him as a cynic, to me (in our very brief conversation) he was not cynical at all.  He was generous.  He was kind.  And I am grateful.

Thank you, Mr. Rooney.  Godspeed.

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Accidental Experts: Strategy, Serendipity, and the Places You’ll Go! Free public lecture. Friday, Nov. 11, 2:10 pm

If you’ll be in (or near) Nashville on Friday 11th, Karin Westman and I are giving a free lecture: “Accidental Experts: Strategy, Serendipity, and the Places You’ll Go.”  We’ll talk about children’s literature (me on Dr. Seuss, Karin on Harry Potter), and about navigating academia.

When: 2:10 pm, Friday, November 11, 2011

Where: Vanderbilt University’s Buttrick Hall, room 309.

How Long: About an hour, with additional time for questions.

How Much: Free.

Here’s a pdf of the flyer they’ve created.  And, below, a jpeg of the same.  The flag motif is because — when we were graduate students at Vanderbilt — Karin specialized in British literature, and I in American literature.

Accidental Experts.  4pm, November 11, Vanderbilt University's Buttrick 309

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