Festival of Books: The annual scheduling boondoggle


pic by Annika Malone, used under Creative Commons
pic by Annika Malone, used under Creative Commons
As per tradition, this morning’s L.A. Times contains a fold out, full page schedule of the newspaper’s annual Festival of Books, being held next weekend at UCLA (or check out the sked online). Without fail, the weekend itself always falls among other events that I have to choose between, such as The Cowboy Festival’s, but the book fest’s numerous free panels with authors and experts of assorted interests tends to always win out. But the bigger challenge is deciding which of the multi-track panels to pick among others scheduled at the same time.

This year, I’m looking right at the fest’s panels beginning Saturday’s 3 o’clock hour. I’m torn between “History: Unknown Los Angeles,” including panelist D.J. Waldie, and “The Future of News” with Times editor Russ Stanton. Also in the same hour: a California mystery novelist panel with Robert Crais, T. Jefferson Park, and Joseph Wambaugh, and another called “Humor & Race” with Lalo Alcaraz, moderated by Tod Goldberg. Again, all begining at either 3 or 3:30. Decisions, decisions!

Earlier in the day, scheduling picks are little easier, but still some sacrifices need to be made. “Status Update: Social Networking & New Media” at 10:30am is a no brainer – heck, Wil Wheaton is a panelist. ‘Nuff said. Even though it will run through  “Future of Power & Partisanship” panel with Mickey Kaus beginning at 11:30am.

Fortunately, this still leaves enough gap in my schedule to head over to a “Broken Government” panel pitting Amy Goodman against Hugh Hewitt.

Sunday appears to have less challenges, but your mileage will vary depending on your own interests. (Mine tend to be: 1. The future or current state of news, 2. Anything to do with Southern California, 3. Current issues/politics.)

The panels on the second and final day kicks off at 10:30am, with my pick being something called “Packaging Fear: America & The Art of Persuasion,” which I imagine is about product marketing. The subject of panels at the Festival of Books are notoriously vague, with past moderators commenting that they were given the titles of the panels along with the names of authors, and had to come up with questions based on these details alone. Also at 10:30, “Mystery: Cold Cases,” which I’d have assumed was about true crime, except that with crime novelists Denise Hamilton and Tom Epperson on board is probably more likely about the portrayal of crime in fiction.

The 12:30 challenge pits a one on one dialogue between Patt “The Hat” Morrison and James “Demon Dog” Ellroy, and a panel about the upcoming film, “The Soloist,” with producer Gary Foster and Steve Lopez, whose LA Times column the screenplay was based on.

And finally, in the 2:00pm is a panel called, “Media: Where Do We Go From Here” with James Rainey, Marc Cooper, and Arianna Huffington, which is painfully up against “History: The Underbelly of California” with leading Black Dahlia expert and LA Times crime historian Larry Harnisch… which I hope CSPAN is able to capture so I can watch later. Also of note in the same hour: “Dirty Fingers, Clean Hands: Sustainable Living” with Russ Parsons, Jenny Price, and Boing Boing regular (and frequent Metblogs subject) Mr. Jalopy.

Unfortunately, dear readers, I’m just scratching the surface of everything the Book Fest has to offer, which includes appearances by the Yo, Gabba Gabba! crew, Michael J.  Fox (as in Alex P. Keaton), S.E. Hinton, dozens of booths catering to every literary interest, and some of the best lemon-aid ever (don’t worry about looking for these vendors – you won’t be able to shake a stick without knocking into one). Note: panels require a ticket via Ticketmaster, but only cost 75 cents each. Some tickets will be kept onsite, but I’d recommend grabbing some from a Ticketmaster location or online.

If there are panels you’re especially looking forward to, or want to pimp, feel free to leave it in the comments.

2 thoughts on “Festival of Books: The annual scheduling boondoggle”

  1. I worked the Festival of Books the entire time I was a student at UCLA, working in BookZone in Ackerman Union (the non-textbook bookstore). It was a painful experience and it’s turned me off going to the Festival forever.

  2. There are other book events at Bookstores but to publicize it here may enter into the realm of spam. Also some books that are promoted are on satellite television the book channel.

    I don’t think most authors will add more input to the books that they just finished writing. However book signings is just a way to get the author to sign the book.

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