Wednesday, November 25, 2009

After an exceedingly long hiatus...

A long, long time ago on a planet far, far away before I had to start worrying about outlines and exams, I had a blog. I used the blog as a forum through which to enlighten the world with my thoughts on important matters like mediocre television shows and celebrity gossip. While I have not abandoned this mission, I must spend the coming weeks devoted to other endeavors. There will be Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to break and contracts to breach -- and little time for blogging.
In the interest of time, I may adopt the list form of which I have become so fond. In fact, as a precursor to what might become a blog full of lists, I've attached an essay I wrote about list-making during my semester abroad in Australia. The essay was a part of a portfolio I submitted in my Creative Non-Fiction class. The class was AMAZING. My professor was a very cool writer named Tony Birch who looked exactly like Harvey Keitel in Pulp Fiction.

I've had the good fortune of having excellent writing teachers in my life, Birch among them. Another, Polly Devlin, afforded me the good fortune to learn different types of writing -- travel writing, celebrity profiles, blurbs, just to name a few. Bonus: She brought Rachel Weisz, a recent Oscar winner at the time, to class for each of us to interview. For reasons still unknown, Polly selected me to retrieve Ms. Weisz from the lobby of Barnard Hall and escort up to our classroom on the fourth floor. Best elevator ride of my life. Well, actually, there was this one time when [the rest of this sentence has been censored].

Anyhow, I'm thinking of writing a new musical. It's going to be called "Defying Gravity: The Falcon Heene Story". What? Lame? Nobody cares about Balloon Boy anymore? Man, pop culture phenomena these days have the shelf lives of ripe avocado. As such, I find it amazing that, after all these years, Brett Favre has been selected as one of Barbara Walters' 10 Most Fascinating People of 2009. He's right up there with Sarah Palin. The people in Mississippi must be pumped.

Note: That last sentence was not in any way meant to demean the good people of Mississippi. Anyone who is anyone knows that I love Brett Favre the way he once loved Oxycontin -- and he may have even bought his stash from Levi Johnston's mom. Small world.

In Glee news, Teri is getting more and more grating. Producers, get a clue. No one likes her. Jessalyn Gilsig may have been a "celebrity" hook, but it's time to show her the door. And, let's face it, when your "celebrity" is Jessalyn Gilsig, it's less of a hook, more of a tap on the shoulder.

22 minutes until Thanksgiving now...I'm gonna run and get them on over to 1010 WINS so they can show me the world.

I'm thankful for you. Happy Turkey Day!


A Life in Lists, June 9th 2008

I love making lists. Of everything. Of people to call, of books I’ve read, books I’d like to read, of places I’ve been. I find it therapeutic. There is something inherent in the act, or art, of making lists that soothes me. It orders the otherwise disordered. And keeps me distracted from the incongruities of life.
I make lists of celebrities that have been in movies together and celebrities who have not been in movies together. And then, I wonder why they haven’t worked together. Is one too prejudiced? Another too proud?
And then, I jot Jane Austen’s name on my favorite author’s list

[Chabon, Michael
Didion, Joan
Halberstam, David*
Hornby, Nick
Krauss, Nicole
Safran-Foer, Jonathan]


while adding US Weekly to the list of trashy magazines that might hold the answer to my above query.

[Life and Style

As you can probably tell, most of my lists don’t serve any overt purpose. A lot of people make lists to keep organized. They make shopping lists and fix-it lists, to-do lists and expense lists. My lists are not particularly practical. In my life, lists are constantly multiplying and floating out into the universe, evenly dispersing themselves like perfume from an atomizer.
I rarely accomplish the things on my practical lists, and I let the impractical lists crowd the margins of the pages of my being.
A swift survey of the pages of the notebook of my life has lists scribbled in corners and on dog-ears.
A list of things that make me happy in a subject notebook.
Best Television Theme Songs obfuscating a grocery receipt.

I Love Lucy
National Football League on Fox
The Office, US Version*]

*Also on the “Things that make me happy” list. Check it out. It’s that good.

I like to think that I have an active mind; the kind of mind that generates ideas. And those ideas have to go on a list.
As a child, my lists would take pictorial form. There would sketches of dresses it would be fun to wear and rudimentary likenesses of pets I wasn’t allowed to have.
There were also lists of things to make lists of.

[Foods to eat
Foods to avoid
Movies to see
People to avoid]

My friends make light of me and my precious lists. They know that my subject binders are full, not of class notes, but of vertical blocks of randomly classified information.
I can’t help it. I think in list form and have the pathological need to record them. One could argue that it’s an OCD thing. But for someone with an obsession-compulsion, I’m awfully messy. I’m way too busy making lists to put away clean laundry – still in the hamper, or unpack from a recent trip – suitcase still full.
I’d much rather sit down with a cup of tea and an empty notebook and make a list of my grandest ambitions or my weirdest dreams.

[#5. Me on a trivia game-show hosted by a human-sized chicken. I win the grand prize.
#2. My first love marrying an equestrian from Singapore on the roof of my college dormitory.]

Sometimes I worry that making lists is causing me to miss out on a lot of things I should be doing – like schoolwork, or travel, or learning to swing-dance while de-boning a raw chicken. So, I start a list of all the things I’m missing out on while making my lists.
And apparently, I’m not the only data-organizing freak out there. Even Google, God bless its soul, has begun to indulge my habit.
I’ve recently discovered that list-making is cool in the blogosphere. Google Blogger has recently added a list-making feature – and I’m loving it.
Now, my loyal readers – or parents, as they’ve been known to be called – can stay up to date on my “Melbourne Bibliography” and “Sites to See”.

[Great Barrier Reef
Fraser Island
Sydney Opera House
Franz Joseph Glacier
Blue Mountains
Great Ocean Road
Wilson’s Prom]

Recently, while walking through a bookstore (#3 on the “Things that make me happy” list), I stumbled upon “Listography” – a book dedicated to keeping lists. The book features thirty pages of list topics and encourages readers to fill in the lists based on their own preferences.

[Favorite bands
Favorite foods
Favorite travel spots
Favorite nightspots]

The categories are bit generic, but it’s a great jumping off-point for people who are as neurotic as I am. Of course, since the book is only thirty-pages long, I’d get through it in less than a week.

Since my lists are about more than their contents, but the organization of those contents as well, often times a list will need to be amended, updated, or destroyed altogether. When Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre retired from the NFL, I had to overhaul my “Hottest Active Quarterbacks” list. Brett’s deactivation pushed New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to the top of the list, and the ever-present New Yorker in my brain just couldn’t have that.
These lists mean something to me and so do the entities that comprise them. Brett’s retirement was a blow to the whole system.*

*If you saw his green eyes, you’d understand.

Some might say that there is something a bit kooky about turning your life into a ship’s manifest.

On board:
44 kilos, emotional baggage.
18 kilos, neuroses.
13 kilos, indulgence in soppy 80s teen flicks.
14 boxes, breakfast cereal.
Assorted closet skeletons, pink elephants, front stories.

But I like to hope it’s endearing. Yes, it means that I categorize -- but life is about categorizing. Isn’t it?

Friends, family, those are all lists. Aren’t they?

Order in which you’d eat acquaintances if stranded on a desert island?

These things are important to consider. Matters of life and death – you might say.

Speaking of life and death, there are plenty of people who make Bucket Lists nowadays. Even Jack Nicholson is doing it, and he’s done everything. A Bucket List is a list of things you want to do before you die. In the world of list-making, it just may be the Holy Grail.

I’m thinking that might be something I should get cracking on.

[Swim with dolphins
Become fully trilingual
Learn about wine
Meet Bruce Springsteen
Sing the National Anthem at a professional sports game]

If I don’t, I know I’ll regret it.
And don’t get me started on regrets. That’s a whole phone book full of lists.

I love making lists the way Nick Hornby loves mix tapes. I think that they are the only way the world makes sense.
I’m pretty sure it was Isaac Newton who discovered inertia. You know, that thing where the world tends toward greater and greater disorder. So I guess you could say that making lists is my futile attempt at subjugating science.
God knows that science has always tried to subjugate me.*

* How else do you explain puberty?

For whatever reason, inertia or not, I need to make my lists. My “things that make me happy” list, because just reading it makes me happy.
Have you ever experienced anything as smile-inducing as reading your “happy” list? Or anything as fulfilling as crossing something off your “I really don’t want to, but I have to” list?
And it’s a vicious cycle, because once you start, list-making earns itself a spot on your “happy” list. It’s on mine -- sandwiched somewhere between fresh flowers and the New York Times crossword puzzle.

My lists are a record of my consciousness. And in my pathetic attempt at being James Joyce, I’ve found interesting ways to keep recording.
For several summers I managed to get myself a job making lists. I worked for a Genealogy Institute helping people research their family trees. We compiled lists of where each client comes from. Lists of people, birthdates, countries, and towns. We are all the product of lists, of ancestries. And we are the living continuation of those lists. So why not create expressions of our heritage?

You might think I’m crazy with my list-maker’s complex. Some freak with a constant need to order, re-order, and simplify. But isn’t everyone a little bit crazy?

[Your mum?
Your boss?
Your Auntie?
Your boyfriend?]

Just add me to the list.


Imagine my simultaneous melancholy and glee when I discovered New York Times columnist Virginia Heffernan’s interest in my particular field. In this past week’s New York Times Magazine (June 8, 2008), Heffernan published a piece entitled “Rank and File” in the Magazine’s “The Medium” feature. The article’s tagline, “Online lists, and the (many) people who love them,” immediately caught my attention. Could it be? Has the world’s biggest newspaper finally caught on to the fabulousness of listmaking?
Indeed, thanks to, it seems that it has.
Heffernan, who I can only assume did not steal her idea for this article from me, begins her piece with a benediction: “Blessed are the list makers, with their sharp pencils, their certainties, their mix of words and numbers.” She goes on to discuss how Whitman, Nabokov, and Byatt have made lists. Even Tom Wolfe, my favorite father of the “New Journalism” is mentioned as a list maker. To be in his company is ...well, unreal.
The focus of Heffernan’s article is “Listmania,” a new feature on, allowing users to rate their favorite books, or their least favorite, should they so choose.
How I was unaware of this list maker’s tool, I’ll never know.
Not shockingly, Heffernan notices that list-makers have a thing for Nick Hornby. Hmmm...Hornby, a familiar name.
While I am sad to learn that I am no longer unique in my love of list-making, I am pleased to learn that my life-long passion is finally getting some street-cred.
“Blessed are the list makers” indeed.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Political Pun-dit

By now, you have all suffered the unfortunate consequences of my obsession with puns. What you might not know is that, after several consecutive nights of watching cable news at the gym, I have recently been thinking about becoming a pundit. As a pundit, you pretty much get paid for telling people what you think. Since I rarely stop telling people what I think, exhibit A being this blog, I figure that I might as well cash in. Between Rush Limbaugh's failed bid to buy the St. Louis Rams and Lou Dobbs' "surprising" announcement that he's leaving CNN, the word pundit has been thrown around a bunch lately. Yet, it seems that it's a label constantly being slapped on Conservatives only. Confounded by this phenomenon, I decided to examine the word's etymology. Turns out, the word has two common definitions and is derived from Hindi. The first definition of pundit is "a learned person, expert, or authority." The second is "a person who makes comments or judgments, esp. in an authoritative manner; critic or commentator." A "pandit," yes, with an "a", is "a man in India esteemed for his wisdom or learning; often used as a title of respect." Hmm. That's odd. How did we get from a title of respect to an epithet that is hurled at the right-wing media more times than you can say Glenn Beck? Are Liberals not deemed to be learned people, experts, or authorities? Wait, don't answer that.

I'm not really looking for an answer to my above questions, I just think that it's interesting how much of our news coverage focuses on news personalities rather than the news itself. It makes me long for the days of Edward R. Murrow. Or Edward R. Murrow as conceived onscreen by David Strathairn and George Clooney. That was a good movie. Good Night, and Good Luck. Watch it.

Now that I've bored you with an incoherent rant on the virtues of punditry, I should dig in to the usual topic of my own personal commentary- Glee.
Yes, you're sick of it. So am I. But this week's episode was actually rife with ideas worth talking about. Or typing about, as the case may be.

First off, this Sue Sylvester sub-plot has got to be a joke. She has a sister with Down's Syndrome? Fine. But why did that cause her to grow a conscience this week? Presumably, this sister has not just entered or re-entered Sue's life. As such, it doesn't really make much sense for Sue to randomly develop an affinity for the disabled right now, particularly after being mean to Artie in an earlier episode. That being said, this is also a Glee-typical hackneyed way of getting at the reasons Sue is the way she is. She has a family secret. Look how shocked I'm not.

Secondly, what's the deal with Emma being MIA? Did Anthropologie not have any bow-laden citrus colored outfits to clothe her in? Did she stay at home out of fear of contracting the H1N1 virus? While I am certainly glad that Terrible Teri was nowhere to be seen, Emma's inane insecurity would have been a welcome addition to what was a pretty psycho-traumatic episode for the Glee kids. She could have at least counseled Puck on his failing quest to win back his deceitful Baby Mama.

I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure Quinn should be showing by now. After all, Teri's belly padding in previous weeks indicates that she's several months along. Are the producers not thinking about this? Were they too distracted by Mike O'Malley's chiseled auto-mechanic bod to notice such a glaring fact faux-pas? Mr. O'Malley is certainly moving up in the world. First Guts, then Yes, Dear, now Glee. What could possibly be next? You heard it here first, kids. I smell an Emmy.

So, do you think I have a future in punditry? No. How about Access Hollywood host? I promise I wouldn't make fun of the celebrities to their faces. That's what the internet is for.

Over and out.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Instant Karma

Admittedly, I have been remiss in posting over the past few days. But, who has time to blog when they are consistently being harassed by the unemployed people who hand out Bill Thompson leaflets at the entrance to the 96th Street station?

Yes, I am glad that this election season is behind us. Attack ads are downers. I'd much rather be watching a deliciously tasteless Billy Mays impersonator hawk Bud Light. While I do give Bloomberg props for clarifying that "you don't get a medal for rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic," I've had quite enough. These campaigns are becoming more and more cloying and less and less entertaining. Despite my disillusionment, I did indeed take up my civic duty and vote. Lest you speculate about my political proclivities, be warned. I'm mightily unpredictable. My choice of candidates might surprise you. Though probably not.

In the great non-partisan wash of time that has passed since I last posted, our dear friend Jay-seph has started a blog of his very own: I encourage you to give it a look -- if only to contemplate the ingenuity of the concept. One man, thirty days, sixty lottery tickets, endless possibilities. Time and money (well?) spent.

Speaking of the lottery, there is a dangerous gang of outlaws on the loose desperately trying to shut down state lotteries. These people argue that state lotteries systematically prey on the poor by selling them on the unlikely prospect of a better life. Sounds about right. But, if they didn't squander their earnings on lottery tickets, they'd probably just buy drugs, right?

Ouch. That was way harsh.

In the "Clueless" vein, could anyone have predicted that the men from that movie would go on to relatively fruitful careers while the women would have fizzled and, in the case of Stacey Dash (Dionne), possibly died? (Seriously, has she been in a project since?) (No, the "Clueless" TV show doesn't count.) Jeremy Sisto (Elton) is maintaining "Law and Order," Donald Faison (Turk) and "Scrubs" practically invented Bro-mance, and Paul Rudd is Paul Rudd. If you name any successful project that either Alicia or Brittany Murphy has had in the past five years, I'll give you a prize. It will probably be a small prize, but a prize nonetheless.

And with that, I bid you adieu. I have mounds of work to do...which means I'll probably just end up watching Hulu. Oh, well. More grist for the mill.

"I'm Audi" - Y