I recently switched my gchat buddies list to “large” (yeah, yeah, that’s what she said, nyuk nyuk), and so I basically get a list of almost everyone I’ve ever emailed if they’re online, because, of course, the fundamental difference between gchat and IM is that gchat adds people automatically. I was talking about this with Jessica last night—basically, about how people show up who you really might not be interested in chatting with. Yes, you can always block them, but that seems so… so… I dunno, final? Or rude in some way, even though they would never know. But, like, this guy who quoted me in a story that he kind of misrepresented to me always shows up in my gchat list, and not only do I have no desire to ever chat with him, but I don’t even really want to be reminded of his existence. Ah, I just noticed that I can change the setting to “never show,” which seems somehow less aggressive than “block.”
It all sorta reminds me of the kind of silly story about Facebook I wrote about in the Observer a few weeks ago. It’s this whole idea that the Internet is great for many social connectivity things—but that also means it’s much easier to be reminded of people you’d just as soon forget about.
What is there to say about a woman who lived in an iron lung—an iron lung—for almost 60 years and then died… not because she was sick, but because her family’s house lost power and they couldn’t get the emergency generator working?
Family members were unable to get an emergency generator working after a power failure knocked out electricity to the Odell family’s residence near Jackson, about 80 miles northeast of Memphis, brother-in-law Will Beyer said.
“We did everything we could do, but we couldn’t keep her breathing,” Beyer said. “Dianne had gotten a lot weaker over the past several months, and she just didn’t have the strength to keep going.”
GOD. That is just horrible. (I think on this one I will leave the puns to Balk.)
In this week’s Observer, I wrote about Jeff Lewis, the “deeply neurotic” (my words) host of Bravo’s Flipping Out. The quote in the headline is from his assistant, Jenni, who does things like dance and rap for him. It’s quite a work environment.
It may be this one: the “Top 10 Worst American Accents,” by British actors in American film and television, as voted upon by the good people of the United Kingdom! (The winner: Michelle Ryan, the star of the late Bionic Woman.) This poll might be pointless but it also made me giggle. Maybe because the article about it contained paragraphs like this one:
Helen Hackworthy, the editor of RadioTimes.com, which carried out the poll of 3,000 people, said: “Just as Dick Van Dyke struggled with his English accent in Mary Poppins, so too are some Brits failing to pull off convincing American accents.”
So Newsweekran a story in their print edition this week about this crazy new phenomenon—perhaps you’ve heard of it? Apparently people called “bloggers” can sometimes get deals for their “blogs,” but some of these “blogger books” (at least they didn’t call them “blooks”) haven’t sold a lot of copies so maybe all blog books will FAIL.
The author, Jessica Bennett (who didn’t contact me or my co-editor, Jess GroseUPDATE: Jessica contacted our publisher, who never informed us she contacted them), uses Postcards From Yo Momma as an example: “Now loyal contributors to Postcards From Yo Momma can revel in anthologized maternal mail as well as the knowledge that the site’s creators sewed up a “comfortable” deal with Hyperion.” Sure, just take Balk’s word for it, why don’t ya.
Bennett takes a what we call “selective” view of books that have been published based on blogs; there’s the obligatory Stuff White People Like mention, but then she points out that although the Hipster Handbook (which is based on Free Williamsburg, which she doesn’t mention) sold 40,000 copies, “many bloggers just repackage what they’ve already done.” Then she points to the Gawker and Daily Candy books as examples of flops, with no mention of the runaway success of, say, PostSecret.
This is curious! The Gawker book was hardly a “repackaging” of the site; it was written, for the most part, by people who didn’t even write for Gawker. It was a guide to mastering the media and NONE of the material had ever appeared on Gawker. The other thing is that Gawker and Stuff White People Like are, like, not even in the same LEAGUE. Gawker is barely a “blog” anymore; it’s basically a 24-hour, online subjective news operation. It’s even more preposterous to lump in the Daily Candy book with the other blog books—you can just imagine Bennett’s conversation with her editor: “But it’s a website!”
(I would even go so far as to make the case that PFYM isn’t, technically, a “blog.”)
Also, she quotes one “Brettne Bloom of the Kneerim & Williams agency” as saying that for a blog book to be successful, “the reading experience for a book needs to go deeper.” Well, duh. But just who is Brettne Bloom? And just what is the Kneerim & Williams agency?
Well, let’s see. They are a “literary and dramatic rights agency” with offices in Boston, Washington, DC and New York. Their company’s mission is “to help talented writers achieve their publishing goals.” According to Publishers Marketplace, Brettne Bloom sold this book in March: “Journalist Christine Coppa’s memoir about becoming a single mom at 26, inspired by her blog, Storked!, on Glamour.com, to Christine Pride at Broadway, by Brettne Bloom at Kneerim & Williams (world).” (Someone tell Moe.)
Huh! Wonder why that book wasn’t mentioned. Oh, and look at that. Brettne also represents J. Courtney Sullivan.
So last night’s doubleheader of The Paper was mostly enjoyable, except for the elaborately staged ritual of Amanda running out at 7:15 in the morning to check the mail (also: why does the mail come at 7:15 a.m. in Florida? Do they have a different union or something?) to see if she got into NYU early decision (non-spoiler, since it’s already been reported a gajillion places: yes, she does). Annnyway, I’ve been on Team Amanda pretty much since the get-go, and I was totally down with her chats with the really pissy, immature Alex, especially when she told him that he was living in the past and just needed to get over the fact that he wasn’t elected editor-in-chief.
But what I wasn’t down with was Amanda’s curious opposition to Mrs. Weiss’s team-building excursion. First of all, ropes courses are fun. Second of all, Amanda’s been beating the team-building drum since the beginning—remember the ice cream social? So why was she all of a sudden flaking because she had to work on her college essay? Another episode made a big deal about how she gets everything done in advance—she finished her editor-in-chief application way before everyone else, and then she made a big deal about talking about how much mroe responsible she was. So why was she leaving her college application to the last minute?
My theory is that she couldn’t handle someone else coming up with the idea for a team-building exercise, and her control-freak tendencies got a little ugly. Team-building was all well and good when she was the one in charge, but as soon as Mrs. Weiss (who, let’s face it, is kind of awesome—her dance moves ruled) wants to build the team, Amanda is all pouty. Unbecoming, my friend. Unbecoming.
Also, what’s the over-under on Amanda getting her own show about Washington Square News, the NYU student newspaper that has written 451 stories about Starbucks?
Well, it certainly would be interesting for someone to examine it, but I’ll warn you: It’d be pretty much impossible to do such a thing without challenging the sincerity of most of it, given that it’s basically a requirement for resumes and getting into elite schools. It’s hard to think of kids doing volunteer work nowadays without thinking “wow, you’re very focused on getting into the right schools and are probably quite affluent.”
Heh. And cleaning up an inner-city park on a Saturday with your fraternity also doesn’t count.
Sometimes I feel like I’m reading bulimic: There are weeks when I can’t stand to pick up a book and all I want to do is look at the pretty pictures in Domino magazine of Craftsman cottages in Venice or charming one-bedrooms (terrace, d/w, w/d, wbfp) in the West Village; and then there are weeks when I feel like I must absolutely devour the books I pick up. Right now I’m in the binging phase. I just finished Richard Price’s Lush Life, which I loved, even if it got a bit saggy in the middle. Now I’ve moved on to Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland, which is taking me a little while longer to get into but I’m liking it more and more as I read on. I guess I’ve been doing a lot of New York reading lately—Lush Life and Netherland are both set here. For work I had to read Barbara Walters’ autobiography, Audition, which was also set in New York for the most part.
Books I plan on reading soon: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Unaccustomed Earth, my friend Ben Wallace’s new book The Billionaire’s Vinegar. I’m also strangely intrigued by the Chris Farley bio. Oh, and Kate Christensen’s The Great Man. And I read YA author Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight for a story I did on teenage vampire books, and it was really great in a kind of beach reading kind of way, and so when I go on vacation next month I might bring along her new book for adults, The Host.
Books I’m not interested in reading: James Frey’s Bright Shiny Morning. And, always, Eat, Pray, Love. Though a part of me feels like I should, in a sort of know-thy-enemy way.
The power was on and John, the manager, wished me a happy belated birthday and bought us a round of drinks, and we ordered way too much food but it was all delicious: to start, crab ravioli and scallops (which were much tastier, I’m sure, than Dale’s disgusting butterscotch scallops—all I could think about was Butterscotch Stallion, thanks!—on Top Chef last night, though [SPOILER!] I wasn’t prepared to see him go home over the sour-faced Lisa); then I had the halibut and Sam had the veal cannelloni (with sweetbreads!); and for dessert, carrot cake with a candle in it, and Sam had this little “Snickers” concoction, which were both on the house, as well. And to drink, Beaujolais. And delicious, warm little bacon-sage rolls. I felt mildly nauseous afterwards, but in a good way. I think. Let’s just say I had to eat extra Go Lean this morning.
In this week’s Observer I did a piece on Jimmy Fallon and how he’s gonna be the new Conan. Well, not exactly, but he IS taking over Conan’s job. Then I get into all sorts of heady discussions about what late-night talk show hosts really mean. Jimmy’s take? “It’s like hosting a party—I’ve just got to make sure it’s all fun. Once it’s fun and you’re all having fun, that’s when the show’s gonna be the best.” Keg’s over there, kids.
It’s Gawker week at the Times! In addition to Emily’s piece, there is this kind of odd piece by Eric Konigsberg up on the City Room blog about Nikola, Gawker’s photographer. Nikola’s right when he says:
“I like that hour between three and four in the morning when desperation sets in, when you see all the anticipation of going out starting to fade. The masks drop and everybody realizes the night is not going to be everything they were hoping for.”
Going to events with Nikola was always super fun, because you could say things to him like: “Hey, Tina Brown is talking to Heidi Montag! Get them! Go!” and he would bound over and before either of them knew what was happening, he’d snap a photo. He usually didn’t bother asking, unless he wanted people to pose, in which case sometimes they would have to make out or take off their clothes.
One of the weirder New Yorker pieces I’ve ever read is in this week’s issue; it’s sort of a reported personal essay by Ian Frazier about a writing workshop he’s run at a Chelsea soup kitchen for 14 years. I found myself oddly captivated by it, but I couldn’t tell if it was because of the WTF quotient or if it was really interesting on its own. Maybe both? It’s got a touch of the “what I did for my community service credit” air to it, but that’s probably unavoidable given the subject matter. And it’s also long as hell and not online, so I wonder how long they’ve had it in the queue.
Anyway. It DOES have one of the best exchanges I’ve ever read in the magazine, which goes as follows:
Once when I was sitting at my table by the door, a tall, thin, long-faced black man with deep-set eyes made deeper-looking by the hood of his dark sweatshirt stopped by my table. As he was adjusting his clothing for outside, he looked at my sign. “Writers’ workshop!” he said, in a tone indicating that he was not impressed by the idea.
"Yes, we meet every Wednesday at twelve-thirty in the narthex, that little room in the front of the church. Would you like to join?" I asked.
"Uh-uh, no," he said. "I ain’t doin’ no writers’ workshop. I done that shit before.”
"Really? You were in a writers’ workshop before?"
"Hell yes I was. And my teacher was a better writer than you.”
"Oh? What writer was that?"
And it turns out to be true! It was a writers’ workshop in prison. Also, now I know what a narthex is, which could come in handy.
For Urban Baby newbies, it takes a little time to catch on to the patois. The gist is that the SAHMs (stay-at-home-moms) trade barbs with the WOHMs (work-outside-the-home moms) and the women who E.B.F. (exclusively breast-feed) go after the mothers who F.F. (formula-feed). But some find the redesign more confusing than the code.
“I’ve been on several times since the change, but I find myself not posting,” said Melissa Senate, 42, a novelist in Yarmouth, Me. “Everyone seems a little hesitant. Even the ‘I hate my mother-in-law’ posts aren’t getting any response.”
No consideration of Park Slope is complete without a discussion of stroller semiotics, of the stroller as synecdoche for the perceived evils of the neighborhood and indulgent urban child rearing in general. The high-end stroller — which is not confined to Park Slope — has become an epithet as inseparable from the Slope as “wine-dark” is from the sea.
To their detractors, expensive strollers are in-your-face, in-your-way status symbols. They say, “I paid for this stroller, to say nothing of my three-story town house, which authorizes me to take up nine square feet.”
Sharyn Wolf, a psychotherapist in Manhattan, had fun with the query, taking it even further. “They’re a metaphor for power,” she said. “And whoever is in power, we hate.”
Sam took me out to Allen & Delancey tonight to celebrate my birthday. Neither of us had ever been there before. We decided to get there a little early to have a drink at the bar (I had what was basically a mojito, he had a Manhattan) (incidentally, having a drink at the bar before dinner is criminally underrated). We sat down and ordered wine. Arcade Fire came on the stereo and I remarked that their playlist seemed very similar to my iTunes. (I’m apparently not as original as I thought.)
That was when most of the lights went out and the music stopped.
"Maybe they blew a fuse," I said. "They probably just need to flip a circuit breaker or something."
A few minutes went by.
A few more minutes went by.
The waiter came over and said he would keep us updated. Then the manager came over and said the electrician was coming; his entire kitchen was out, including the coolers and the hood and the stove. We were welcome to wait, or leave.
"Could we have some bread?" I asked.
He looked pained, but he said I could not, because they bake the bread in a convection oven right before they bring it to the table.
Several more minutes went by. We were getting rather hungry.
The manager came over again and apologized. He told us that this had apparently happened once before, quite recently, and they thought that the problem was fixed, but it wasn’t, and he was so sorry but could he rebook us at another date, any time we wanted, and of course the drinks were on the house.
Of course, Daily Intel has the Gossip Girl roundup locked down, but they missed one very crucial unrealistic point, which is that Blair had a shopping bag from Bluefly.com in her bedroom. Uh… NO. This show isn’t quite getting the product placement right; first there was the laughable Victoria’s Secret episode, now this. What’s next, Serena starts wearing shoes from Payless? Chuck drinks mudslides at TGI Friday’s? God, let’s hope not.
Noticing that the NYT is going to great lengths to keep the identities of its correspondents in Yangon under wraps; I’ve noticed a bunch of bylines are just The New York Times, and today’s story has this reporting byline: “A correspondent for The New York Times reported from Yangon, Myanmar. Graham Bowley contributed reporting from New York.” Creepy.
"The singer and his family declined to be interviewed at the event, but David Archuleta did speak with the Salt Lake City Fox affiliate, KSTU-TV. “Wow,” he exclaimed as he viewed the cheerleading squad outside his stretch limousine.”
There’s an article about my old boss in tomorrow’s Styles section. It’s all about how she has bipolar disorder and blogs about it and is apparently part of a “mad pride” movement that says, Hey, it’s okay to be crazy!
I’m glad that a lot of people are reading her blog and finding some sort of solace in it, or what have you. But… sometimes she was pretty miserable to work for. You never knew which Liz you were going to get on any given day.
I don’t really know what the answer is. Mentally ill people should, obviously, have jobs! But I don’t think I want another bipolar person to be my boss. It’s pretty hard to deal with, and that part of it was never really addressed—that is, the effect she had on the rest of the staff because of her mental illness. It was like that couldn’t be acknowledged, or something.
That kind of attitude is why we never get anything done around here!
On April 11, the finance ministers of the United States, Canada, Japan and Europe said they were “concerned” about recent “sharp fluctuations in major currencies,” a statement widely seen as endorsing the possibility of an intervention by the United States Treasury and other finance ministers to prevent a steep drop in the dollar’s value.
So I’m heading to LA tomorrow for a few days. I’ll be staying with friends in West Hollywood but I’ll have a car, and other than a few random plans I’m going to be on my own a bit… so who has suggestions for me. High on the list is wanting to eat amazing tacos and ramen. But really I want to eat/shop/do other stuff you can’t do in New York. I’ve been to LA a bunch of times and I’ve done some touristy things before (Getty Center, blah blah blah) … but I’m open to any and all suggestions. Email me or leave in comments! Thank you!
Good thing I screengrabbed Nick Douglas’s completely gross post before the post was hurriedly taken down, probably because like five people got fired in the time that it was up! I’m not going to post it because this is a family blog. So there. And to think, I got in trouble for posting an image of a dildo! Not even a real penis! Nick posted full-on penetration! I think that calls for at least a suspension.
I reviewed Barbara Walters’s new autobiography, Audition, for Wednesday’s Observer. (It’s not up yet! You’ll have to wait at least another day for my scintillating thoughts!) The manuscript Knopf sent me came with a big warning across the top that no reviews were to run before May 6. Lo and behold, the Timesran their review today. On the one hand, whatever; embargoes, as I have expressed previously, are pretty lame. On the other, if there IS an embargo, it’s sort of bullying of a paper like the Times to publish their review first, just because they can. It’s not like Knopf is never going to send Janet Maslin another book.
(Also, overkill! The Timesran an interview today of Walters by Bill Carter, whom she mentions, flatteringly, in the book. Yucky!)
In Salon today, Megan Hustad—whose new book, How to be Useful, I hear is quite entertaining—rehashes this REALLY tired idea about people’s online profiles and which books they put on there and what that says about them and BLAH BLAH BLAH, OMG I could never date anyone who put How to Win Friends and Influence People on their Nerve.com profile or whatever people are looking at these days! But seriously, can we please permanently retire this story idea?? Doesn’t anyone read any other publications anymore, or is this one of those evergreens that editors are all like, “Yeah, whatevs, we’ll get a lot of hits, so what if this idea is old as the hills”? And I don’t mean the TV show, either.
Check out Fredericks of Hollywood Dita Von Teese collection. Very nostalgic and tasteful.
Love Ya, Mom
I love when moms talk lingerie with their daughters. This one reminds me of one of my favorite PFYM posts, which of course I can’t find right now, where a mom buys a lace bra for her daughter and writes, “You only live once.”
I wrote about Lifetime TV for this week’s Observer. I sort of loved Lifetime’s whole shtick, and if they can pull of the Project Runway transition—and I don’t see why the shouldn’t be able to—then they’ll be golden. But not the Golden Girls! I forgot to mention in the piece that Lifetime has actually given GG the boot. I think they’re going to the Hallmark channel or something. (I don’t think I even get the Hallmark channel.)
I suppose I should point out that martinis have never been my drink of choice, but other than that, Balk’s post is remarkably accurate, though he left out the part in which Jess and I cackle maniacally while throwing our doubloons in the air.
“The New York Times ran a “correction” of their Business section front page story yesterday on how young Miley “Hannah Montana” Cyrus was totally topless on the cover of Vanity Fair, due to her recent run-in with a Jewish lesbian mystic, who hypnotized her.”—Gawker, Manhattan Media News and Gossip