A Saturday Letter Season 2

The Clip Show!

To mark six months of this project … I took last week off.

There’s a lot of stuff going on at Saturday Letter Headquarters, not least of which is prepping for the new semester at my other job — the one that I get money for.

I’m excited about what’s coming up in this project in the months ahead (including a major backlog of author interviews). Today’s post is a compilation of some of my favorites from the past six months. Perhaps there’s one you missed?

It’s also the occasion for me to ask you for a favor: would you be willing to share this post (or maybe one of your favorites below) on a social medium of your choice? Or perhaps just a friend or two you think might enjoy it?

You can do the former by clicking this button on any given post:


If this post has been shared with you, and you liked it, won’t you consider subscribing? You can do that with this button:

And now, on with…

The Clip Show

Remember these? Back in the late-80s/early-90s, along about season six or seven of your favorite sitcom (except for The Golden Girls, which apparently featured one in just about every season) the creators would phone one in. There would be some loose set-up, but most of the show would be scenes from previous episodes.

An archetypal example is in this Who’s the Boss episode, in which Sam (Alyssa Milano) defies her dad, Tony (Tony Danza), and heads to Vermont for an illicit ski weekend. But again, that’s just a setup for some interstitials of Milano saying “And then there was that time…” which commences a series of scenes of Tony Danza overacting.

This is not a thing that exists anymore with the bingeable streaming series. Why would you watch an episode that was just clips of episodes you’d been watching for the last three hours?

As I understand it, the clip show was a way for a show’s production team to fill its order of 28 episodes or whatever while only “really” producing 27.

Now that we’ve indulged my inner 12-year-old couch potato, on with the clips.

How Do You Finish a Book?

I think of this interview series as the spine of the newsletter. It keeps me accountable to people other than just me. (And yes, Matt, Brian, and Margo — your days are coming!)

Check out Annie Hartnett’s interview here. That second novel she talks about is now several months closer to coming out:

A Saturday Letter
The Floundering is Part of the Process
Annie Hartnett knows how to finish a book. Her debut novel, Rabbit Cake, received all the starred reviews, was longlisted, shortlisted, best-book-of-the-year-listed all over the place. It was a People Magazine(!) Book of the Week, and it’s being developed…
Read more

And of course there’s my first celebrity “get,” this interview with comedian and podcaster Tom Scharpling:

A Saturday Letter
Tom Scharpling?!?
Tom Scharpling is best known for The Best Show, his long-running radio-party-cum-podcast. It’s hard to call him an “underground” or “cult” favorite — he was a writer on the USA Network show Monk for the duration of its run, and he’s the voice of Greg on the animated series “Steven Universe” — but I’d never actually checked out The Best Show until late ……
Read more

You can read all the author interviews at this link.

Did I Mention I’m a Dad?

The first “real” post was this close examination/head-scratching of the first children’s book I ever bought, “Little Monkey’s Big Peeing Circus.”

A Saturday Letter
Private Parts
<Jay Leno voice> “Are you familiar with this? Have you heard about this?” A week or so ago, one of the stories making the Internet rounds was about John Dillermand, the title character of a stop-motion animation Danish children’s show. Dillermand is your run-of-the-mill, bumbling middle-aged lunk who lives with his great-grandmother, save for the distin……
Read more

I’ve also written more than my share of parenting essays, like this ill-starred journey to Story Land, or this one, occasioned by the seven-year-old’s newfound interest in pranks:

A Saturday Letter
A Theory of the Prank
“It’s my favorite holiday,” the seven-year-old said this week. He wasn’t talking about the one with chocolate eggs or the one with unleavened bread. He was talking about the one that falls on the first of this month, where you express affection for friends or family by lying to them and/or exposing them to mild discomfort…
Read more

That seven-year-old has featured in a number of these letters, including one where I turned a critical lens on some of his first-grade writing:

A Saturday Letter
Some Literary Criticism
An Early Consideration The young writer I.W. Stockman is perched on the precipice of a possibly promising career. Though it’s early, he has nevertheless amassed enough of a body of work for some preliminary appraisals. Here at A Saturday Letter we are uniquely positioned to attempt this appraisal, as we have gained exclusive, unfettered access to the rapi……
Read more

Other Essays

I don’t exclusively exploit my kids in this project. I also write about those golden college days:

A Saturday Letter
A 50,000-mile Tune-Up
This week I’ve felt like a car getting its 50,000-mile tune-up (100,000?). After mostly recovering from last week’s tooth-yanking (yikes), I got my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine (yay!), which landed me in bed for most of a day. And then on Friday I got promoted…
Read more

Two (2!) posts on the music of Bob Seger (!?) of which the first is here:

A Saturday Letter
A Midwestern Boss on His Own
Brian was my very first subscriber. When I wrote to thank him, he replied with a single sentence: I’m going to bet this is not what you expected when you signed up. But we here at A Saturday Letter are nothing if not audience-attentive. So, buckle up (or not, if that would interfere with your enjoyment of the open road…
Read more

That one inspired the most reaction early on, so I inevitably ran a follow-up.

Sometimes, I just… write an op-ed:

A Saturday Letter
"I'm not here to talk about the past."
One of my favorite quotes, for its thick-headed American unaccountability, comes from Oakland A’s/St. Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire: “I’m not here to talk about the past.” It’s the context, for me. Mark McGwire grew up in Southern California, went to USC, played on the 1984 U.S. Olym……
Read more

And, finally, if I’m not running a clip show, I’m sharing an essay I wrote elsewhere:

A Saturday Letter
Home and How to Get There
Greetings, from a long-planned, possibly-reckless family beach vacation. Anyway, we made it to South Carolina yesterday, and all seems to be well. If you’re vaccinated and/or a member of your local NPR station, proceed to paragraph A. If you think the coronavirus is a hoax and/or are a Fox News watcher (but I repea……
Read more

Maybe you found something that ran before you signed up? Or you remembered something you liked? In any case, I’d appreciate it if you liked, shared or took out a Washington Post banner ad on the day of your choice.


Leave a comment