About the Blog
I’m Derek Wood, and I am responsible for the blog you are now browsing. I hope you are finding it interesting, and that this expository page will stoke rather than dampen that interest. What I’m trying to do is tempt you to click on by many more times in the future, or maybe subscribe to the C&B feed or email updates — it’s like instantaneous free delivery.
I began this blog largely as a means of keeping family and friends abreast of what was going on with me. I imagine that many others who have tackled the task of catching up on personal emails have found themselves thinking the same thing I did: “I’m having to write the same stuff about what I’m up to in so many different emails, I might as well just start a blog.” It was eminently sensible… for a short time. Before long C&B was comprised mostly of my perspectives on the world around me, with very little reportage on the events of my own life. The best-laid plans of mice and men, yadda yadda yadda, & etc.
The central subject of the blog is best stated as the first post category I created: America? The question mark is operative, i.e., I write about the never-ending stream of conditions and events in my nation that surprise and befuddle me, or arouse my passions in a way that seems to warrant expression in print.
Writing this blog, I have come to not expect the discovery of fully-formed, definitive answers to society’s problems. If C&B ends up helping any of us to put together a few puzzle pieces, I’ll be well satisfied. After all, America is a magnum opus — an expansive human tapestry of discord and rhyme, far too unwieldy to be distilled into a single line of arithmetic or a catchy epigram. How could it be otherwise? Human nature is endlessly complex, and man-made institutions that seek to contain it by imposing dogmatic absolutes pave the way for repression and suffering. The most humane societies are those whose structures reflect the variation and diversity of the people living in them.
From the general basis of American social commentary, C&B blusters its way outward through many sub-topics. A quick examination of my tags page reveals a handful of other subjects which I touch upon with some regularity:
- Words. As the late, lamented George Carlin said, “There are no bad words — there are bad thoughts. Bad intentions.” I love language. Its use (and misuse) reveals so much about the speaker.
- Politics. I considered making this a completely apolitical blog, but decided this would be too restrictive. However, if you’re turned off by politics (and who could blame you), take heart: for the last couple of years, considerably fewer of my posts have been political.1 Readers who do have a taste for political stuff will soon perceive my solidly liberal orientation. I sincerely hope that those who disagree with my views won’t just reflexively click away, never to return, but instead post their disagreement in a comment. I value principled debate very highly, and I want to encourage the expression of all viewpoints. My site-administrating scalpel will be unsheathed only in cases of blatant trolling, comment spam, or in the distasteful event of a flame war.
- (in)humanity. The conjunction of these two opposites terms is my point: humanity, or the lack thereof. My concern is that in today’s American culture, we seem disinclined to treat each other very well. The hell with community — get what’s yours, and love your neighbor if you have extra time. Or don’t, he’s probably an asshole anyway. People choose to buy into these convenient but very false choices: it’s me or him, us or them, red or blue, you’re with us or you’re with the terrorists. With that in mind, I didn’t want to separate “inhumanity” and “humanity” out as keywords. Maybe this is hurting me SEO-wise, but whatever.
- The news media. There is a mindset that if it doesn’t happen on TV (or at least on YouTube), it doesn’t happen. Why doesn’t it happen, one might ask? Because if it’s not on TV, no one is making a profit from it. Filmed media is about drama, and for drama you need conflict. Simple, objective reporting of news for the sake of maintaining an informed populace is a concept that has become downright quaint. No great insight is required to see that the commercial news media is less about journalism than it is about selling advertising. Much less. So pick a current event, bring on two guests of (purportedly) opposite political leanings, and have them yell at each other. Hooray for the Information Age!
- Comedy. Has it ever been more necessary, if only to cope with the world around us, than it is today? Not in my lifetime. This is why my stupid little lists of silly names or twitter hashtag memes are crucial for the survival of humanity.2 Satire never sleeps, baby.
About the Blogger
Derek Wood was born and raised in the leafy suburb of Palo Alto, California, during the time when the area was becoming known as Silicon Valley. It was (and presumably still is) a college town through and through, with an atmosphere of scholastic achievement emanating from Stanford University on the west end of town.
If growing up in a place where grade-schoolers rode their bikes to school wearing Princeton sweatshirts wasn’t enough, being the son of two teachers with Ivy League diplomas was, for Derek, the extra “eleven” notch on the academic amplifier. Aware though he was of his good fortune compared to the average American public school kid, within the sphere of Palo Alto High School Derek wore his status as a B+ student in AP-level classes somewhat sheepishly.
A sports-obsessed youngster, Derek excelled in youth league athletics — especially soccer and baseball, plus basketball and, after being enthralled by the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, track and field.3 At age 13, the gawky nadir of his adolescence, Derek experienced a game-changer: he got involved in theatre (or in the parlance thereof, he started “doing shows”).
The stage struck at just the right time. Performing in the theatre was ideally suited for Derek’s top priority at the time, which of course was showing off for girls. Although he had been a good athlete, Derek’s talents as a performer proved to be considerably greater, particularly for a fellow of his age group. Best of all, the performing arts was and still is an arena characterized by 1) an abundance of attractive females, and 2) a relative scarcity of other guys with romantic interest in girls. With age and maturity, Derek’s infatuation with performing would deepen into abiding love for the craft of acting, and indeed for the theatre itself; suffice it to say, however, that at the outset he was in it for the chicks.4
A graduate of Palo Alto High School and the University of California at Irvine, Derek has studied acting and musical theatre with teachers including Uta Hagen, Robert Cohen, Helen Gallagher, Buzz Miller, Andy Gale and Ron Melrose. His stage credits include Once In a Lifetime and Mall America (Theatre Neo, Los Angeles), Aldo and the Magic Lamp (Vineyard Theatre, New York/off-Broadway), The Royal Family (American Conservatory Theatre, San Francisco), Forever Plaid (ArtPark, Lewiston, NY), as well as Ah, Wilderness! and Into the Woods (TheatreWorks, Palo Alto).
Despite his northern California roots, Derek lives in Los Angeles. He even kind of likes it, the poor bastard.
- Not by design – it’s just how it has turned out. If I had to guess why, I suppose it might be because I’ve simply been in a lighter, happier state of mind. ↩
- There, I said it. Fuck modesty. ↩
- It’s possible that Derek still holds the shot put school record at his old middle school, although this may not be verifiable. ↩
- Nowadays he’s in it for a handful of reasons, the chicks being only one. ↩