Thursday, August 21, 2008

Good Mike Leonard column about Jeff Zaslow

A columnist writes about a columnist ...
> Commentary
> ‘Last Lecture’ co-author has reason to give daughter an extra hug Mike
> Leonard 331-4368 | August 21, 2008
> Thousands of parents will be helping their children move into
> residence halls, apartments and other living quarters in Bloomington
> over the next two weeks. Most will give their child a hug before
> heading home.
> That hug might have been a little more heartfelt and a little more
> emotional than most Tuesday evening when Jeffrey Zaslow said goodbye
> to his daughter, Jordan, an Indiana University sophomore. Zaslow was
> the co-author of “The Last Lecture,” the best-selling book he wrote
> with the late Carnegie Mellon professor, Randy Pausch.
> “Randy told me maybe two months ago — I’m addicted to Googling his
> name — he said ‘Stop Googling my name and go hug your kids.’ He was
> right, of course,” Zaslow said. “I’m still addicted to Googling his
> name, but I still think of him when I hug my kids. Now I know I’ll be
> thinking of him because you brought it up.
> “He didn’t get to have kids my kids’ age,” he went on. “I’m so lucky
> I’ve raised a new adult here. Randy always said he would have been a
> good father of teenagers because he’s been hanging around them so long
> as a professor.”
> It was Zaslow who drove from his home in Detroit to Pittsburgh last
> September to hear Pausch’s last lecture. The school has a tradition of
> featuring a last lecture by professors who are retiring. Pausch was
> stepping down because he knew he had pancreatic cancer and would die
> soon. The 46-year-old computer science professor wanted to devote his
> final months to his wife, Jai, and three small children, ages 5, 3 and
> 1.
> Pausch lived longer than doctors estimated, dying on July 25 at age
> 47. And neither man could have dreamed what would transpire over the
> professor’s last year.
> In a column for the Wall Street Journal titled, “A Beloved Professor
> Delivers The Lecture of a Lifetime,” Zaslow described the wisdom and
> good humor of the Pausch speech. “The minute we posted my column, and
> a little five-minute (video) clip, at midnight at the Journal online,
> I started getting e-mails immediately,” Zaslow said. “By morning, it
> was linked on dozens of Web sites and by noon it was on hundreds. By
> the next day, it was in the thousands. People were sending and sending
> and sending it. I knew pretty quickly that this was touching people
> more than anything I’d ever done before.”
> It was more than a compelling story of a brilliant young scientist and
> professor dying at a young age and leaving a wife and children behind.
> It was more than a tale of courage — who among us could get a death
> diagnosis and stand up and deliver a funny and inspiring speech
> without losing our emotions?
> It was clear that Pausch had a gift for absorbing life’s lessons and
> communicating them through quotes and parables that resonate with
> people. “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the
> hand,” he said. “The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the
> brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want
> something.”
> Not only was Zaslow’s column e-mailed around the world at lightning
> speed; the video of Pausch’s speech, posted on YouTube, received more
> than a million viewings in just a month. The professor became a
> sensation, appearing on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and, eventually, an
> hourlong television special hosted by Diane Sawyer.
> In the meantime, Pausch and Zaslow committed to writing a book to
> expand on the original lecture, which was titled “Really Achieving
> Your Childhood Dreams.” In order to savor every precious moment with
> his wife and children, Pausch talked on the phone to Zaslow when he
> took bicycle rides around his neighborhood to keep up his strength.
> “He put on a cell phone headset and we talked practically every day
> from November through January,” Zaslow said. “I spent 53 hours on the
> phone with him, taking notes. It had to be written so fast. They (the
> publishers) wanted him to be alive when the book came out, and we
> weren’t sure that was going to happen.”
> Since its publication April 8, “The Last Lecture” has consistently
> hovered at the top of the best-seller list. More than 3.4 million
> copies are in print, and the book has been translated into 35
> languages.
> Zaslow said he’s not at liberty to discuss the financial aspects of
> the book, but it has been reported that the authors received a $6.7
> million advance. Sales have far exceeded that amount and Zaslow,
> Pausch’s family and pancreatic cancer research have all been
> beneficiaries.
> Zaslow was already on a “book leave” from the Wall Street Journal when
> the Pausch story came his way. He was writing, and recently completed,
> a book titled “The Girls From Ames.” It’s a story about the
> extraordinary lifelong friendship shared by 11 women from Iowa.
> He really isn’t sure what his next move will be. But he does know that
> his own life has been forever changed by the friendship and
> inspiration imparted by the late computer science professor. His wife,
> Sherry Margolis (a Detroit television anchor) and daughters Jordan,
> 19; Alex, 16; and Eden, 13, have become more precious than ever —
> something he wouldn’t have thought possible a year ago.
> “People who have seen the lecture and read the book all say they
> finished it and wanted to hug their children. As I was writing it, I
> was hugging my children — except for the times I said, ‘Go away, I’m
> writing the book,’” he said with a laugh. “Of course, Randy would have
> traded all of the fame and everything for just another month with his
> kids.”
> © 1997 - 2007 Hoosiertimes Inc.

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