Saturday October 27
Tony Danza has written a book, I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had: My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High, which chronicles his year as a 10th grade English teacher at a Philadelphia high school. His first semester was also taped for a reality TV show called Teach. Tony talked about his experiences growing up, being “discovered” while a professional boxer, acting on shows such as Taxi and Who’s the Boss?, and pursuing his dream of being a teacher.
Teaching was much harder than he expected. He feels strongly that the public school teachers should be responsible for fewer classes and students. We wondered if his colleagues appreciated a celebrity who taught one class a day and was suddenly an expert on public education, but most of the internet chatter about his year as a teacher is positive. I’ve also read that Teach was cancelled by A&E when Tony refused to facilitate “situations” to make the classroom more exciting, but he did not mention this at TBF.
I must confess that I made my friend wait in line for an hour to see the only author on my must-see list, Robert Caro. (I am still complaining about not getting in to see David McCullough a few years back.) Since we were among the first 100 people in line, we got to sit in the coveted floor seats in the Texas House of Representatives chamber. Well worth the wait, in my opinion!
Next we attended The Onion Book of Known Knowledge session over at First Methodist Church. Two staffers from The Onion displayed highlights from the book on a large screen. They noted that the book did not mention Austin (therefore it did not exist) and made a few jokes about Dallas and Houston to noticeably little laughter. Fortunately most of their encyclopedia-type entries were funnier.
Essay contributors for The Forty-Acre Outlaws: UT Confronts the Modern World discussed their perspectives on events from the 60s and 70s while students at the University of Texas. One person described how he finally felt comfortable at UT as a gay student; another author wrote about performing Shakespeare in a barn. Cartoonist Sam Hurt told an interesting story about how the student government was disbanded and then reinstated in the late ’70s and early ’80s.
Author Kurt Eichenwald talked about his new book, 500 Days: Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars. Kurt discussed the decisions that were made by the government and the military in the 500 days following September 11th. An interesting topic that makes me want to read his book.
I decided to wait in another hour-long line to see Dan Rather. (The hour went by fairly quickly because the guy next to me had a cool lens attachment for his iphone.) Once again I snagged a floor seat and listened as Dan answered questions from the moderator and the audience. Dan is promoting his memoir, Rather Outspoken: My Life in the News. He complained about three prevalent trends in journalism today: commercialization, politicalization, and trivialization. He listed single mothers, police officers, Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela among those who inspire him. Not surprisingly, Sadam Hussein stuck out in his mind as one of the “bad guys” whom he had interviewed.
In the final session of the festival, Robert Draper talked to The Texas Tribune’s editor Evan Smith about his book, Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives. Robert demonstrated an amazing knowledge of the inner workings of the House and covered topics such as the debt ceiling debates, the Tea Party influence, redistricting, and the (then) upcoming elections. But it was all rather depressing.